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03 July 2010

the dinner at Dog Mountain Farm

perfect day at Dog Mountain

We haven't had much summer here in Seattle yet. (People say it really doesn't start until after the 4th of July. So we'll see.) Usually, we receive a stretch of sun in May that makes us all feel grateful and makes the gloom of June more palatable. Not this year. It has been seeming months on end of grey skies and 56°.

However, the day we cooked the dinner at Dog Mountain Farm, the clouds scooted away. Here is the farm, just before the guests arrived. 72° and perfect blue-skied joy.

That's what the entire day felt like.

cherry tomatoes, finally

Actually, there had been a little splash of sunny days in the week preceding the dinner, as well. Vegetables finally ripened and made our cooking much brighter.

Cherry tomatoes. Oh, what a welcome sight.

the kitchen staff

Don't you love the kitchen? Just off the woods? I wish that I could cook dinner in a kitchen like this every summer evening.

This was part of the kitchen crew. Danny was in charge, of course. (That's such a Danny look on his face, fierce concentration as he decides what to do next.) Without Jean and Ed, this dinner would not have happened the way it did. And without their darling girls there, that little person working pantry might not have been so happy that day.

spent shells

We needed the help. There were piles of English peas to shell, red lentils to cook and puree, duck breasts to be broken down, trout to season and prepare, and a dozen dozen other kitchen tasks before we could think of feeding people.

Every time I work with Danny, I feel a little pang of jealousy. It's such good work, this cooking food to feed people. Every moment was filled with the urgency of needing to finish the task but also the lovely relaxed feeling of doing something with my senses. Sometimes I wish I could cook for a living instead of sitting at this computer.

(Really, though, there's no choice. I'm here. It's where I belong.)

Danny never erupted into stress or pushing people. He was calm, laughing, and focused. It's nice to respect what your partner does, so deeply.

Danny's station

This was his station for working that day. That's the galley for our cookbook. (It comes out on September 28th, which suddenly doesn't seem like that long from now. Gulp.) It was Danny's idea to have this dinner be mostly recipes from our upcoming book.

gluten-free baguettes waiting to be toasted

Those are gluten-free baguettes, ready for grilling. They became crostini with curried red lentil puree, microgreens, and fresh feta, sharp and salty.

barbecued duck skewers

These are barbecued duck skewers, made with Danny's barbecue sauce and ducks from the farm.

baby carrot soup

Baby carrot soup, made bright with fresh carrot juice, topped with goat's milk yogurt made on the farm and English pea puree.

spring onion salad

Spring onion salad with radishes, Rainier and Bing cherries, basil, soft chevre from the farm, and a Balsamic-raspberry vinaigrette.

getting the trout ready to grill

Ruby-red trout wrapped in La Quercia prosciutto, drizzled with olive oil, then grilled.

millet salad with sea beans and wild mushrooms

Millet salad with sauteed morels, porcini, and sea beans, to go with the trout.

chocolate mousse, rhubarb jam, and creme fraiche

Chocolate mousse with rhubarb jam made on the farm and homemade creme fraiche.

Danny, me, and Jean

We could not have done this dinner without the help of our good friends Jenise and Mike, who volunteer at Dog Mountain Farm dinners regularly and introduced us to the farm. Those two were professional, helpful, and a constant source of good humor during the day. We dig you two.

Farmers work harder than anyone we know. Cindy and David were a whirlwind of activity during the day, after driving down to Seattle that morning to sell their produce at a farmers' market and back again. They are some of the most energetic, kindest people we've ever met. You rock.

Pictured here, with us at the end of the dinner, is Dr. Jean Layton, one of the smartest, most compassionate people I've met. And she can break down a duck like nobody's business. Jean writes GF Doctor, a fascinating look at the latest gluten-free and other health trends, as well as as GF Doctor Recipes, while she runs her practice as a naturopath, all the while being the mom of twin 11-year-old girls. This woman has more energy than us! Along with her wonderful husband, Ed, Jean really helped make this day possible. (Those beautiful baguette slices you see above? They are from Jean's recipe for sourdough baguettes. Stay tuned for more information on this.)

Thank you, all.

lots of photos and happy people

That was a beautiful day, in so many ways.

Everyone in the field seemed happy. There was sunlight and good food and photographs being taken (hi, Mike!) and wine from Tefft Cellars and laughter and more sunlight.

We were amazed, all day.

One of our favorite parts of the experience was sitting around talking with some of you as the evening moved toward the gloaming. We laughed after the dishes were done, talked about restaurants in Vancouver and getting gluten by mistake and the new cookbook. It was wonderful to meet so many of you who read this site.

(We can't wait for more of those meetings in the fall.)

Before we left, we learned from Cindy that many of the people who attended the dinner clamored for our return next summer. We are honored. And we'll be back, next July.

We hope that many of you can come sit in the field and share food with us next year.


At 1:13 PM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

What a beautiful day you created! Bravo! I wish we could have been there....who knows - maybe next year we can be, given a few weeks' notice. It's been too long since I've been back to the Pacific NW, and I used to live there!

Looking forward to the sourdough baguette recipe - I just got "Heathy Bread in 5 minutes a Day" on your recommendation, and can't wait to dig into the gluten free section to make their baguettes!

And if your book tour brings you to Chicago, know that we'll welcome you with open arms (and a place to stay if you want/need), and we'll bring out the best cooks we know!

At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Shauna for letting my sister and I watch Lou. She was a joy!That was a very fun evening,we had a blast.We hope to see you soon!
-The Layton Twins

At 4:21 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

You guys create beauty wherever you go. Come do this on OUR island sometime... (I'll try to convince a local Inn Keeper we know - the one who has the organic farm up the hill and reefnet fishes for sockeye) to invite you to do this at HIS place. More and more folks on the island have discovered that THEY have celiac. (One of Booth's ping pong friends went for his 50th birthday check-up and they do that awful thing they do to you at 50- you know... and the biopsy came back with a celiac diagnosis.) He's a brand new man now.

Are we still on for the end of this week?

At 7:14 PM, Blogger Tara Barker said...

Wow, Shauna, that all sounds wonderful! (I like the little glimpse into some of the recipes that will be in your cookbook!)

And I know what you mean about feeling a pang of jealousy for Danny & his line of work. Whenever I'm at Josh's restaurant, the energy of the kitchen is so vibrant, so focused, and I wish I were a part of it. But when he reminds me of all the things he misses here at home, with the boys, I know I'm where I need to be. But still . . .

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for letting us help, for sharing your joy of food.
Thanks for letting our girls get to know Lu. They have a new appreciation of what having a child is like. I actually was complimented by them for having twins!
Ed loves to cook with fun folks, so we would love to volunteer to be galley cooks for next year.

A big thank you for the shout out about my gluten free sourdough.
Soon there will be a cookbook to go along with the classes I teach in Bellingham.

I'd love to be able to teach more places, perhaps an RV tour like yours is in my future too.

At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Gaile said...

So glad to hear you'll be back next summer. I hope by then to have a job and be able to attend! That food, omg that food looks amazing!!! So very glad the weather did the right thing for you all!

At 11:53 PM, Anonymous Dana said...

I'm so glad you guys had a beautiful day. The food looks incredible and I can't wait for the next one. I'll be there for sure.

At 12:54 AM, Anonymous bed frames said...

That is one great place to eat. The whole place is so peaceful and quiet. I wish I can visit that place.

At 4:39 AM, Anonymous David said...

I love summer meals outdoors...looks like fun : )

At 5:21 AM, Anonymous sarah said...

we're planning on moving to seattle, and it can happen any time after I defend my thesis in december. i hope we can join you next summer!!

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Rebecca Tien said...

Wow, the food looks beautiful and joyful. And the pictures of the farm and the surrounding mountains made me miss living in Seattle so much. I second Jenn that if you are doing this again next year, it might be a great time to plan on visiting old friends in the area.
I'm excited about the sourdough baguettes. That's my favorite kind of bread and I miss it. Your cookbook looks great too and if the food photos from the dinner are a reflection of the recipes in the book I can't wait to get a copy for myself!!

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous heather @ chiknpastry said...

wow, that is some great lookin' food and a gorgeous day!

i agree with you - i wish i could quit my day job and cook for people all day. i could, i suppose, but then i'd have wasted grad school dollars :(

enjoy summer!

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Jennywenny said...

Wow, looks incredible.

I'm hoping to help out with a similar dinner in a couple of weeks. Just the desserts though.

I too love that feeling of stress but enjoyment of creating food for people.

Scared to be cooking for 150 people but only one way to find out if this is what I want to do!!

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

When I saw your first blog post about the dinner and realized it was the same day as my fiancee's birthday I knew I had the perfect gift!

There's something really special about eating on china with white linens in the middle of a orchard. This was only improved by the food, wine, and table-mates.

We can't wait for next year!

Joe and Leslye


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