Cherry blossoms

Posted Apr 14, 2021

East Prospect Street and 21st Avenue East, Seattle
RAW on iPhone 12 Pro Max, 7:01 p.m., April 14, 2021

Jack Block Park

Posted Mar 27, 2021

Seattle skyline seen across Elliott Bay from Jack Block Park in West Seattle
March 27, 2021
If you have a bet­ter prod­uct than I do, you can be a bet­ter chef than I am. Per­haps the quick­est way you can become a bet­ter cook is to buy bet­ter ingre­di­ents.” — Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc at Home

As some­one who loves to cook and eat, I can attest that great ingre­di­ents make a huge dif­fer­ence. When I’m shop­ping for gro­ceries or pick­ing out pro­duce at the farmer’s mar­ket, I try to choose the fresh­est and most fla­vor­ful options. It might take a lit­tle bit more time and effort, but it’s well worth it because the end result is so much better.

A sweet, juicy toma­to in a sal­ad or sand­wich will add a depth of fla­vor that can­not be achieved with a taste­less, out-of-sea­son super­mar­ket toma­to. Sim­i­lar­ly, using high qual­i­ty herbs, spices, vine­gars and oth­er ingre­di­ents can take a dish from ordi­nary to extra­or­di­nary, adding depth and complexity.

If you want to ele­vate your cook­ing and take it to the next lev­el, start with great ingre­di­ents. Your taste buds will thank you!

To more eas­i­ly locate prod­ucts sold by sup­pli­ers rec­om­mend­ed by Thomas Keller, Car­la Lal­li Music, Joshua McFad­den, Samin Nos­rat, among oth­ers, I cre­at­ed a cus­tom Google search engine. I also includ­ed taste test reports from Amer­i­ca’s Test Kitchen, Cooks Illus­trat­ed and Cooks Country.

(Note that I have no finan­cial inter­est in any­one using this tool — it’s sim­ply some­thing I made for myself that I found use­ful, and I’m shar­ing it in case it’s help­ful to any­one else.)

The cus­tom search pulls results from these sites:

  • amer​i​c​as​testk​itchen​.com/​t​a​s​t​e​_​tests
  • anson​mills​.com
  • blue​bird​grain​farms​.com 
  • bob​sred​mill​.com
  • chef​shop​.com
  • chocos​phere​.com
  • cookscoun​try​.com/​t​a​s​t​e​_​tests
  • cook​sil​lus​trat​ed​.com/​t​a​s​t​e​_​tests
  • dartag​nan​.com
  • delau​ren​ti​.com
  • del​later​ra​pas​ta​.com
  • food​sof​na​tions​.com
  • gui​t​tard​.com
  • hay​den​flour​mills​.com
  • katz​farm​.com
  • jacob​sen​salt​.com
  • kingarthur​bak​ing​.com
  • lev​il​lage​.com
  • mar​kethall​foods​.com
  • pen​zeys​.com
  • pur​cell​moun​tain​farms​.com
  • ran​chogor​do​.com
  • reluc​tant​trad​ing​.com
  • span​ishtable​.com
  • spar​rowlane​.com
  • thes​pice​house​.com
  • tien​da​.com
  • true​foods​mar​ket​.com
  • world​spice​.com
  • zinger​mans​.com
Bet­ter ingre­di­ents help you cook bet­ter food, and pro­duce that’s in sea­son where you live is gen­er­al­ly bet­ter than pro­duce that’s endured a jour­ney of thou­sands of miles before reach­ing your kitchen.

You hear this advice again and again — in cook­books, on cook­ing shows, in online arti­cles. Sim­ple enough, except as a city dweller, it’s not exact­ly obvi­ous what’s in sea­son and what’s not. There’s the oft-advised look to see what’s on sale in your pro­duce sec­tion,” but I’m not con­vinced. It tells you what the retail­er wants to get rid of, pos­si­bly for any num­ber of rea­sons, among them that the pro­duce might be about to go bad — exact­ly the oppo­site of the desired outcome.

Thus began my quest to dis­cov­er what is, in fact, in sea­son here in west­ern Wash­ing­ton state. Among the resources I found: the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (PDF), PCC, Pick Your Own, The Spruce Eats, and Seat­tle Neigh­bor­hood Farm­ers Mar­kets. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, infor­ma­tion var­ied from one source to the next, and was­n’t pro­vid­ed in a stan­dard, easy-to-work-with for­mat. You can’t sort a PDF, and it is no fun to hunt through an alpha­bet­ized list of more than 150 fruits and veg­eta­bles try­ing to find things marked in sea­son for the cur­rent month. For some rea­son I could­n’t just find a list of here’s what’s in sea­son this month,” either.

So I cre­at­ed a uni­fied Google Sheets spread­sheet. One sortable, fil­ter­able source of infor­ma­tion to rule them all. Each source has their own tab / sheet, and with­in each sheet you can fil­ter by month, sort by name, search, etc — all the things you can do with data in a spreadsheet.

I’ll also be post­ing through­out this year with a list each month of what ought to be in season.

(Obvi­ous caveat: grow­ing sea­sons aren’t set it stone and depend on weath­er, grow­ing con­di­tions and I’m sure many oth­er fac­tors. This is just a rough guide.)

Cherry Creek Falls

Posted Jul 15, 2020

Cherry Creek Falls
July 12, 2020

For Seat­tle-area folks, Cher­ry Creek Falls is rel­a­tive­ly close by, just a few miles out­side the near­by town of Duvall. 

A five mile round-trip hike through mossy rain­for­est takes you to the falls and back. At first, you’ll take what feels like a trip back in time, trav­el­ing the remains of a long-aban­doned road, pass­ing an ancient crashed car or two along the way. Even­tu­al­ly, though, you’ll leave the old road behind and delve deep­er into the for­est, fol­low­ing a net­work of paths past sev­er­al lit­tle water­ways and pos­si­bly encoun­ter­ing a few com­mu­ni­ties of bees and mos­qui­toes if you don’t keep mov­ing, before reach­ing the falls — a nice spot for a pic­nic or a lit­tle wading. 

The trip through the for­est is pic­turesque and some­times mys­te­ri­ous, though a lit­tle bush­whack­ing can occa­sion­al­ly be required. The falls are a pleas­ant reward, and this hike is an easy way to get out­side and get a lit­tle exercise.

Rialto Beach

Posted Jun 30, 2020

Washington coast in winter

Posted Feb 22, 2020

Rain, Washington Coast
Feb. 16, 2020

A pass­ing cloud dumps rain and hail at Rial­to Beach, on Wash­ing­ton state’s Pacif­ic coast, on a dark, mid-Feb­ru­ary afternoon.

All pho­tos were shot with an iPhone 11 Pro Max, most using the new Night Mode feature. 

Soumaya, Mexico City

Posted Sep 02, 2019

Roma Norte, Mexico City

Posted Sep 02, 2019