Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day in Gig Harbor

Mark and I went to Gig Harbor a few weeks ago to enjoy some sunshine and to go for a run. We started off at Epic Coffee in Puyallup where we got some mochas (that I wished had been iced! It was already hot at 9 am) and then took off.

Mark showed me his favorite spot to go running in Gig Harbor, along the Chapman Trail. We found a nice little park along the way and I definitely want to add this one to my trail running book, although I suggest not running in the middle of the day during a heat wave. It was hot!

After running, we went to the Gig Harbor post office to get my picture, then headed to find some food. We walked around and stopped at the bakery for a quick snack. I was snapping photos everywhere, finding new shots that I didn't see during my last trip.

After the bakery, we were super hungry, so we went to try Gateway to India, which we had run by on the trail. We sat outside, soaking up the sun while enjoying some vegetable biryani. That has to be my favorite Indian dish, other than chicken tikka masala.

The whole day was perfect, even though it was too hot for me. I really enjoy wandering around towns of Washington and taking my picture in front of post offices. I'll be posting lots more from my more recent trips soon!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Peas and Shrimp with Rice Noodles

The other day, I was feeling hungry, but I didn't want to make a trip to the store. I stared at my freezer and refrigerator for several minutes, before deciding that something with shrimp sounded good. I didn't want to make my usual spicy tomato sauce, so I opted for an Asian twist using rice noodles and a ponzu hoisin dressing. I added some peas and green onions to make it even more delicious. This meal is perfect when you only have a few minutes to cook something and happen to have all three ingredients on hand!

Peas and Shrimp with Rice Noodles
serves 2

1/3 lb shrimp, thawed if frozen and shelled
1 c. peas, frozen
1/2 package rice noodles
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp ponzu or soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

sliced green onions, to serve

1. Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil, and cook rice noodle according to package. Add peas during the last minute of cooking, then drain and set aside.
2. Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and saute garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add shrimp and saute until cooked for a total of 3-4 minutes. Stir together rest of ingredients for sauce, then add to shrimp. Add noodles and peas and toss to coat. 
3. Garnish with sliced green onions, and serve.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Staircase Rapids - one crazy adventure!

Even though I've lived in Washington my whole life, I have yet to explore the Olympic Peninsula. So this last weekend, I did! I had originally planned on hiking Big Creek, but unfortunately it is still closed due to logging operations. My back up plan was to do the Staircase Rapids hike, which was at the other end of Lake Cushman.

The whole drive was scenic. The views of Hood Canal from Hoodsport were amazing! Same with the drive along Lake Cushman. It was cloudy and a little misty, exactly how I thought the Olympics will be. The hike started at the Staircase Ranger Station and was a nice, beautiful hike next to the Skokomish River. There were only a few people out, and so it was very peaceful.

The bridge across the river made a very nice loop, but we wanted to see how far the Staircase trail went. We crossed a washed out former meadow that had been burned in August of 1985. The silver snags were beautiful and you could still see some burn marks on trees. We continued along until we came to a bluff above the river that had slid, and we weren't sure how much of an overhang there was, so we stopped. The trail continued on into the forest, but according to the map and guide book came to a dead end where a bridge across a creek had washed out years ago and was never replaced. We ate lunch, then returned back as it started to rain harder.

On the way out, we drove through the campground and all decided that we would come back and camp there. As we drove along Lake Cushman, there was a very drenched woman flagging us down. We stopped and she asked for a ride back to the boat launch since the motor on the boat she had been in with her husband and friend had died and they were forced to paddle across the lake. We had one seat left, so we gave her a ride.

She told us that they lived in Allyn and had decided to go fishing since it was sunny and gorgeous out. They had some motor troubles on the way out into the lake, but ignored them. Eventually on the way back to the boat launch, having gone all the way to the other end of the lake, their motor died. Luckily, they had oars and rowed across the lake in hopes of catching a ride back to their truck. We were the first ones to stop, and it was on our way back.

We got to the boat launch and their truck was the only one there. She thanked us many times, then went off to rescue her husband and friend. We headed back to Hoodsport in hopes of stopping at a distillery or winery. The first stop was Hardware Distillery. It was owned by an older couple who got into making spirits by their son, who is a brewer in Seattle. The lady showed us around and we had a few samples, and I bought a mini sampler box with 4 different bottles.

After the tasting, we decided we were hungry so we went to the Model T Pub, where we devoured our food. The funny thing was, that no one was in there when we walked in, but soon after, the place was packed, including the group we had met on the side of Lake Cushman. The husband came over to say thanks for giving his wife a ride back to their truck and we said it was no problem. I thought that would be that, but then the husband came back over and said that our bill was covered. We were all in shock that he payed for all of us, but we thanked him and he thanked us, and then we went to get ice cream.

It was definitely a memorable trip. I'm so looking forward to more adventures this summer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Hello there!

After doing some thinking, I have decided to make some changes. My blog, formerly Huckleberries and Rain, is now going to be known as Rachel's Kitchen. Since coming out with my cookbook, I have felt the need to create a brand for myself that is separate from my jewelry and hat making business on Etsy. I thought since I mostly post recipes on here (and traveling) that I would simply change the name of this blog, but keep everything else the same. My travels will also be here and my food will still be here, but just under a different name.

My Huckleberries and Rain shop is still open on Etsy and I will still be running its Facebook page, but now I will also have a Facebook page for my new Etsy shop (which is tied to my cookbooks and this food blog) called rachelvdolekkitchen. I'll update all the links in the upcoming days and get everything sorted out.

Thanks for reading and I will keep you up dated on any new changes!

Have a lovely evening,


Apple and Endive Salad with Roquefort Dressing

I love easy French food. Well, I just love French food in general. They really know how to make everything simple but delicious. Like this salad. It is amazingly simple, but so divine. The apple and Roquefort pairing is so classic and so good. I could eat this salad every day. Well, almost. I think I would like to try it with pears next time. 

Apple and Endive Salad with Roquefort Dressing
serves 2 as main salad and 4 as side
adapted from The World Kitchen

1 apple, preferably Pink Lady or Honeycrisp
2 Belgian endives
1/2 shallot, minced
1" square chunk of Roquefort or any blue cheese
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

1. Cut apple into quarters and core. Slice thinly using a mandoline, then stack slices and cut into 4 smaller stacks. Put into a large bowl. To cut endive, remove outer leaves, then cut width wise to make 1/2" slices. Place into same bowl as the apples.
2. To make the dressing, mash the cheese in the bottom of a smaller bowl until broken into smaller pieces, then add shallot, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, then pour over apples and endives. Toss to combine, then serve.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Vegan Broccoli Raisin Salad

Broccoli raisin salad was typically one of my favorite picnic or barbecue salads, since I am not a fan of macaroni salad or potato salad. I have not had a good broccoli raisin salad in years because most are, sadly, made with mayo, which I can't eat. 

So tonight, after being long overdue, I decided to make my own version. It's super simple, tastes almost like the actual thing, except I left out the onion and the bacon. I added in some almonds for crunch and used a vegan mayo that I have learned to love. Mine is also different in that I used the stalks in addition to the florets, so I didn't waste as much broccoli, and I also cooked the broccoli so it was a bit more tender. I'm definitely making this again for my next summer barbecue.

Vegan Broccoli Raisin Salad
serves 4

2 heads broccoli
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. almonds
2 tbsp vegan canola based mayo
1 tbsp agave syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. To prepare broccoli, trim florets from stem, setting florets aside. To cut stalks, peel thick outer layer off, trim off bottom of stalk, then cut into 2 lengthwise. Cut each half into half again lengthwise, then dice.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tbsp salt, then boil broccoli for about 4 minutes, until stalks are tender and florets are emerald green. Drain and set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, mix together broccoli and remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Deception Pass

Even though I've lived my whole life in Washington, there are so many places I haven't been. Deception Pass is one of them. I'm sure my parents or grandparents took me over the bridge when I was little, but I can't remember. And I'm definitely sure I never explored the state park that is there. Wow is it a gem! 

Tonya, Tina, Mark and I drove up to the park and were all hoping it wouldn't start raining on us. We were sure lucky, because soon enough, blue skies came out and it was a gorgeous day.

The hike itself isn't hard, but we took a really long time anyways because it was so picturesque and lovely in every direction! I had to stop and take pictures all over the place.

Being the "first" hike of the season (quotes because I've done other hikes this year but this was the official opener!), it was perfect weather and perfect scenery. I'm definitely going back to do this one again and camp at the state park.

Deception Pass Headlands
5 miles
350 ft elevation
Perfect year-round

More photos here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Spring Kitchen

Wow, I am finally done with my first cookbook. It took lots of work and re-working to finally finish it. It's definitely been an experience to try and self-publish, but I think it will definitely be worth it. Part of my struggle has been to get my cookbook down to a reasonable price while keeping the quality of the final product the same. I went from having it at $54 down to $27, which is still a little high for a cookbook, but for my first one AND being self-published, I think that's not too bad.

I already have my next book planned out called The Summer Kitchen. I am definitely going to need to cut out some recipes and pictures in order to lower the price, but I still want to have a really beautiful cookbook, and I do believe I will. A third book that I'm also working on (with no title yet!) has recipes inspired by dishes from Southern Europe, especially meals focusing on lots of plant-based ingredients. I have about 30 cookbooks roughly sketched (with many just an idea but not a single recipe ready!), so I will definitely be busy. 

My goal for this year is to have a four volume cookbook based on seasonal eating, which is so important to me. All of my recipes are dairy or egg free because of my allergies, and lately I have been trending towards eating more plant-based foods and really discovering a love for fresh fruits and vegetables that was deeper than I originally thought.

It feels so good to finally have my cookbook done! I'm really looking forward to seeing the final product, since I just ordered my final copy today and it won't be delivered until almost the end of the month. I am so excited now and this whole process has felt so healing almost. I feel so relaxed and happy, and I have discovered that I love having projects that take a few months to do, but in the end I will have an actual product to show for. Writing cookbooks is going to be something big for me, I can just feel it!

For a 15 page preview of my book, check it out here!

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