A Naked Cake

I've been wanting to make a naked cake gobbed in fruit for awhile, but I don't have many reasons to make a full cake. I finally got my reason :) We also happened to have a bunch of free fruit around this week- with blackberry season, free plums from someone at work's tree, and blueberries from a lovely friend it was an easy decision to drape the cake in fresh berries and stone fruits (also red currants are such eye candy!)

I wanted a light flavored cake with a stark white lightly sweetened frosting and I really ended up loving this flavor combo: cardamom orange scented cake with almond frosting:

2 3/4 cups sifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cardamom
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
first things first line 2 8x8 cake pans with parchment paper, spray with oil and four them
preheat oven to 350 degrees F
1   Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cardamom until it is all fine powder, no clumps.
2   In yet another bowl beat the butter until creamed and then add 1 cup sugar and beat 3-5 minutes
3   Add the 1/3 flour mixture and 1/4 cup milk, mix in slowly
4   repeat in 2 more batches with remaining flour and milk
4   Mix vanilla and orange zest, don't overmix
5   In another bowl beat egg whites until foamy and add 1/2 cup sugar gradually until it forms soft peaks
6   With a spatula fold the egg whites into cake mixture 
7   Pour 1/2 of mixture into each cake pan and bake 25-30 minutes, toothpick should come out clean
8   let cool completely
almond frosting:
1 cup butter; room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tbs cold milk
1 tsp almond extract
1   beat butter until light and fluffy
2   slowly beat in powdered sugar
3   add in milk on low 1 tbs at a time
4   beat in extract
to assemble:
1   place one layer on cake plate or stand
2   place 1/2 the icing onto cake and smooth around in an even layer
3   add the next layer and smooth around the second half of the icing on the top of that cake
4   slice up fruit some fruit and start assembling berries and peach slices around the bottom and top of the cake, the currants are nice to drape over the side or tilt up so they stand in the icing in the center layer of the cake

Ombre Beet Terrine

I saw a photo of this and have been dying to make it, I love ombre and Joshua LOVES beets so it was a win win. We sat down together the other night and got our hands nice and pink skinning beets and layering them up and smashing down goat cheese. Honestly one of the more fun things we've made together and it's so pretty! The flavors and texture also turned out the be really great over just a simple bed of kale.

Ombre Beet Terrine:

10-12 beets; as much color variation as you can find in red and yellow beets
8 oz goat cheese
olive oil
salt & pepper
basil or kale for serving

1   boil beets for 20-25 minutes, the should be easily pierced with a fork
2   peel the skin off with a fork or peeler and let cool off some
3   slice beets as thinly as possible
4   line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, enough to overhang the sides
5   start with your lightest color beets and create a layer on the bottom of the dish
6   smash some goat cheese on top, can't really spread it so we just smashed some in most places across the layer of beets
7   drizzle a little olive oil over it, add some salt and pepper
8   repeat this all the way up through your colors of beets ending with darkest and most red on top
9   place plastic wrap over the top of the beets and place a few canned goods on top to smash then down a little and place in fridge for 1-2 hours, or up to overnight
10 serve with basil leaves or over a bed of kale with a little salad dressing of your choice

Herb & Parmesan Soft Pretzels

We started off our little dinner party with some soft pretzels. They are very very chubby pretzels too. They normally only need to rise for 1-2 hours but I was gone all day so they sat in our warm apartment for 5 hour, hence no holes. I think they look kind of adorable though.
Herb & Parmesan Soft Pretzels:
4 1/2 cups flour
3 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs salt
1/2 cup cold water
 6 eggs
1 cup + 6 tbs butter; room temperature
 3 tbs of mixed dry herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano
 1/2 - 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
coarse sea salt

 1    in a mixer fit with a dough hook and combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water and 5 eggs
2    beat on low for a few minutes, stop and start to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated
3    beat for another 3-5 minutes, it should form a very shaggy dry looking dough, then add in the mixture of dried herbs and about 1/2 cup cheese and mix in well
 4    then, mixer on low, add in the butter one slice at a time, make sure each disappears into the
      dough before you add the next
5    once all of the butter in incorporated run on low for about 10 mintues
6    then turn up the speed to about medium and beat for about 15 minutes the dough will look shaggy for awhile but eventually it will start to become sticky, smooth, and shiny
7     then turn up the speed to medium-high for 1 minute, the dough should start to make a
      slapping sound on the bowl
8    put the dough in a oil coated bowl and place plastic wrap directly on surface of dough, let it proof in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight, or at this point you can freeze it for up to a week
9    then pull the dough out and place it in a warm dry place for 1-2 hours to let the dough come
to room temperature, if you have frozen it let it sit in the fridge overnight and then do step 9
10  preheat the oven to 350
11  divide the dough gently into 8-10 even pieces
12   roll each piece with your hands into about an 18" rope
13   hold the dough by the ends over the baking sheet and make a full twist near the ends, then fold them down over the bottom, forming a pretzel
14  repeat this with the remaining dough balls
15  beat the remaining egg in a small dish and gently brush the tops of the pretzels, then sprinkle them with cheese and some coarse salt
16  bake for 15-20, they should be golden brown
17  let cool for a few minutes serve, best within 4 hours or store in airtight container

A Dinner Soiree

These 4 people have let us take over their homes once a week for at least 2 years. They offer us their nice wine, when we don't have enough potluck food they quickly whip up food they had bought for dinners later that week, we track in our muddy shoes, overstuff their coat racks to the point of falling out of the wall, and leave huge piles of dishes. They don't complain or even make it seem like we're in any way a burden, instead they continually treat us like us coming and doing all this is a gift and a joy. Their warmth and giving hearts have made our small groups so amazing to be a part of. They host us all with a humility and grace that Joshua and I look up to. So we wanted to have them over for dinner- a dinner where they couldn't bring anything or help in any way. We just wanted them to get to feel hosted. I hope that we succeeded and at the very least Joshua and I had a wonderful time doing it all :)
We prepped all week and made cute leather bunting with their names stamped in
(I REALLY love dinner parties, really!) for place settings.
A menu breakdown:
started off with stone fruit rose sangria, cherry lemonade and homemade IPA's
nibbled on herb and parmesan pretzels with mustard and olives
(it was cute we all sat on the floor around the mustard and chatted)
then onto a beet and goat cheese terrine on a bed of mixed kale
onto the main course of balsamic glazed ribs with rosemary
finishing it off with cardamom and orange scented cake overflowing with fruit
We filled the rest of the evening with changing out records, guitar playing, funny hand gesture playing, and some nightcaps made by Joshua.
Nights like this leave your heart full for weeks
*I also used this word correctly, so fancy

noun: soirée

an evening party or gathering, typically in a private house, for conversation or music.


Just Hangin'

I forgot to post these! We went to Shakespeare in the park again this year and were joined by some friends this time. This year it was Othello, I was a little worried it would  be too dreary but they did a great job and we still got in good laughs. I grabbed a variety of food from a great place in Pike's place Market and the Aaron's brought a whole roasted chicken (haha) It was a delicious feast and a great view of the sunset before the show started.

We had a restful weekend and just mostly hung around in our neighborhood. Ran some errands and accidentally ended up at a brewery on our way home. They had really fun ones so I couldn't decide- raspberry tea infused beer, orange spice, pina colada (not that good) and summer ales. mmm


Gothic Basin & Foggy Lake

We intended to go backpacking with Joshua's coworkers this weekend but we couldn't make it out on time on Friday, so he found us our own little trip. It was hard, and we both whined! The grade was probably the steepest we'd hiked, and we did it with backpacks, also there was a lot of scrambling over wet rocks and we were hungry. I may have complained that he picked the wrong trail but in the end I retracted that! We crossed 3-4 waterfalls that we could dip our fingers in and splash water on our faces as we hiked up through walls of fog and whiteness. At the top we were amongst at least 15-20 other backpacking tents, the most we'd ever seen (a backpacking hotel according to Josh). We found a sweet spot where we couldn't see any of the other tents and we had our own little stump filled pond of water to keep us company. We drank some wine and fell asleep reading Harry Potter.

The next morning we lazily trampsed around the rocks, coffee in hand, and watched as the whispy fog flowed through exposing parts of the mountains around us we couldn't see the day before. We found our way down to a beautiful waterfall and a view of a hidden turquoise lake and scrambled up bunches of rocks before packing up. Then we ditched our packs near a rockface and scrambled up to get to Foggy Lake. I dipped in my toes (and sadly my left boo,t oops) and we got a little sunburnt as we starred at the beautiful lake reflecting the changing mountainscape as the clouds opened up or cloaked different peaks. Then headed back to stare in the other direction at what had been surrounding us as we slept amongst the fog and made some lunch.


Since the hike up had been so steep we knew our knees couldn't take a slow hike down, so we ran! We jumped over rocks and ran past people who had started down while we were still eating, I think we scared them a bit, we also humbly discussed how we were like nimble agile elves from Lord of the Rings. We made it down in less than 2 hours and retreated to our favorite (closest) restaurant to home and shared a pepperoni pizza. It was the most relaxing backpacking trip we've taken and the slow morning and meandering around the top and the lake and fun run down the mountain felt oddly hopeful, bring it on week.



Elrod's Mini Hiking Guide

Our very first Seattle hike, Mt Rainier.
It was to snowy to hike but we were too naïve
to know it would be snowy in June.
Also we're wearing jean - kids!

One of our most recent hikes that was 12 lovely miles up a mountain.
Outfitted like a true northwesterner and smart enough to bring hats.
We've come a long way :)

We've been asked a few times about good hikes for different occasions and while all our hikes are listed HERE I've made a little guide to help narrow down some choices:

lake twenty two

Close Hikes:
most of these hikes involve a decent amount elevation gain and therefore offer nice lookouts once you're there, you can even see Seattle from some of them. Since they're close though it also means they are crowded trails, get there early for closer parking.

+Less than an hour outside Seattle:
Rattlesnake Ledge - 4 miles/1,160 ft elevation gain
Wallace Falls - 5.6 miles/1,300 ft elevation gain
Mt. Si - 8 miles/3,150 ft elevation gain
Bandera Mountain - 8 miles/3,400 ft elevation gain

+Hour and twenty minutes outside Seattle:
Heather Lake - 4.6 miles/1,034 ft elevation gain
Lake Twenty Two - 5.4 miles/1,3500 ft elevation gain
Lake Serene - 7.2 miles/2,000 ft elevation gain
Mt Catherine - 3 miles/1,330 ft elevation gain
Otter Falls - 10 miles/650 ft elevation gain

bridal veil falls

Rainy Day Hikes:
these hikes include trails that have a nice pay off even though it may be rainy or they don't require high visibility to be able to enjoy what they have to offer. They shine with their waterfalls, mushroom hunting, old growth forests, and rivers instead

Evergreen Trail - 3 miles/250 ft elevation gain
Bridal Veil Falls - 4 miles/1,000 ft elevation gain
Wallace Falls - 5.6 miles/1,300 ft elevation gain
Sauk Trail - 6 miles/150 ft elevation gain
Lime Kiln Trail - 7 miles/625 ft elevation gain
Goat Lake - 10.4 miles/1,400 ft elevation gain
Hoh Rainforest/Deer Lake - 16 miles/3,450 ft elevation gain

sahale arm

Best Mountain Views:
These are our favorite mountain view hikes, we love em up close and with 360 views at the top and most of these fit all of those. They don't disappoint but they are usually a little farther away, longer, and more elevation gain- but also worth it!

Skyline Loop Trail/Mt. Rainier - 6 miles/1,400 elevation gain
Yellow Aster Butte - 7.5 miles/2,500 ft elevation gain
Chain Lakes - 8 miles/1,700 ft elevation gain
Hidden Lake - 8 miles/3,300 ft elevation gain
Skyline Divide - 9 miles/2,500 ft elevation gain
Hannegan's Peak - 10.4 miles/3,100 ft elevation gain
Marmot Pass - 10.6 miles/3,500 ft elevation gain
Sahale Arm - 12 miles/4,000 ft elevation gain

gothic basin

1 Day Backpacking Hikes:
These are all do-able in 1 night with plenty of time to explore all that's around it. Also very worth staying up there for a night and soaking in sunsets/rises and the views of the stars

Teanaway Ridge - 6 miles/1,900 ft elevation gain
Yellow Aster Butte - 7.5 miles/2,500 ft elevation gain
Baker Lake - 9 miles/500 ft elevation gain
Gothic Basin - 9 miles/2,840 ft elevation gain
Fourth of July Creek - 12 miles/4,370 ft elevation gain

mileage and elevation gain gathered from the WTA website (my favorite website ever!)


Hand Pies

After we rounded up about a gallon of ripe blackberries I set to work making my favorite pie dough, Almond Lavender. I made a big lattice pie which I froze, love knowing I have that for whenever it may be wanted, and a bunch of hand pies to take over to dinner with a friend.

I've never made the hand pies before and I was so sure that although most peoples leaked, mine totally wouldn't. Mine totally did, less than half of them did but some totally did. In the end I kind of loved the messy homemade look it created.

Blackberry Hand pies
makes 10-12

lavender almond crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup almonds; ground up in food processor into almond meal
1-2 tbs lavender buds
1 tbs sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup cold butter; cut into pieces
1 cup water with ice cubes in it
honey or agave syrup
1 egg; lightly beaten
coarse sugar
1    mix flour, almond meal, lavender buds, sugar and salt in a bowl
2    using a pastry blender cut in the butter until only about pea size pieces
     are left
      (you want pieces because it makes the crust flaky)
3    once blended  mix in 1/2 cup cold water (no ice cubes)
4    if dough isn't quite able to come together add more water 1 tbs at a time
      (shouldn't need the full cup)
5    bring dough together into a ball and split in half
6    wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 1 hour
      and up to overnight
7    preheat oven to 375 degrees F, flour your rolling surface and bring 1 dough
      ball out of the fridge
8    roll it out to about 1/4" thick then use a 4-6" circle and trace around it cutting circles
      out of your dough
9    place parchment paper on 2 baking sheets and transfer half the circles to a sheet
10  place a handful of blackberries in the center of each
11  drizzle a small amount of honey or agave syrup onto the berries
12  top with anther circle and crimp the dough together with the bottom by pressing
       your thumb between you middle and index finger all the way around
13   then cut 3 small slits in the top of the pie
14   repeat with the second ball of dough
15   then beat and egg and lightly brush the tops of each pie and top with coarse sugar
16   bake for 30-35 minutes, tops should be golden brown
17   let cool a little before serving


Hunter & Gatherer

Ok so not hunter, but I always feel so accomplished when I go pick my own berries and come home all loaded up. We biked out to Discovery park this past weekend and picked over a gallon of blackberries, and it was deeply satisfying.

The sunshine, quiet, and foraging for the best spot as deep inside the bushes as you can go without falling into a bundle of thorns, I love that feeling! We both came away with a fair number of battle wounds but that just means we worked to get the best ones, I think. Just one of those perfect ways to spend a lazy Saturday where you still feel totally accomplished.


Then the next day I made them into homemade pies, eek it just makes me giddy!

Then we finished off the night biking to a few breweries with some friends and soaking in all the fresh outside air we could handle. O and then we really finished it off by having a giant plate of poutine under cute twinkly lights!