Of Hashtags & Hashbrowns – Pommes de Terre Dauphinoise (Potatoes Baked w/Cheese) & Onion Biscuit Squares

Tweeterpated, twitterish, tweetastic, twitterific, tweepstakes….. For the longest time, I avoided Twitter, basically because I had no desire to follow #bieber, #littlemonsters and felt silly to even think about publically typing something like #LesNipplerables. Besides, it was the darts in the dress people.

What changed? Two things 1) wanting to grow my Facebook, blog and Etsy traffic (with the hopes of someday quitting my day job) and 2) Martha Stewart showed me how easy yet empowering it is on the new Macy’s Commercial. She basically tells Marcus Samuelsson what’s what about coriander – devilishly in less than a 140. So simple. So powerful. So Martha. I long to wield such power… Thank you #marthastewart.

Don’t worry, it won’t be a play by play of my doldrum day, but much like how I decided to start blogging (again coming from a place of denial), I have things I want to say or share. Now I can share them even if not worthy of a blog post. Something new to learn too – so much more than useless LiLo tweeting (Hurricane Sally?). I came across this post on the 7 Deadly Sins on Twitter. On day two, I have already committed a twittersin or two – mostly out of ignorance. First sin – Voracity, I just got excited and tried different approaches, resulting in a lot in a little. There was also more self-promotion than ideal (but hey, I had to start somewhere, and it was ONE day. Second sin, although not on the 7 list – inappropriate hashtag applications. In theory anyone can hashtag anything, nothing is stopping you. And so I did, jumping right into Twitterdom. However, I am law abiding and decided after the fact to educate myself about these pound-sign-preceded-string-of-letters.

Key Hashtag Points –

  1. There are “official” hashtags. While going rogue is “ok”, you aren’t going to start trending unless a superfamous with millions hanging on each precious letter or First Lady #bestdressed #michelleobama
  2. Hashtags.org is a real site. Helps with trending and defining
  3. You can and should define your hashtags in a tweet, especially if inventing new ones
  4. Don’t overuse them, it benefits no one and #how #canyou #readif #tweet #looks like this? #OMG
    1. They should add VALUE to your message
  5. Pick a single hashtag early for special events or themes
  6. Unless reading a tweet, don’t start saying “hashtag” or making some hand gesture to suggest the emphasis

Tomorrow is a new Twitter day. Now on to hash browns… the thought conceived on the bus ride home from work, pondering how to blog about Twitter but not lose my “voice”. I just let my mind wonder while watching a lady make and fly paper airplanes crafted out of bus schedules, while asking people to stop talking because her mind was full. I know the feeling.

Another vintage cookbook gem: from the 1950s – Gourmet Cookbook (a la Gourmet Magazine). I also flipped through my new, but old, Duncan Hines Adventures in Good Cooking book but didn’t come up with anything tonight other than apparently oat cake on page 48 “stinks” (see picture). Chuckle but I’ll take their word for it.

To accompany dinner tonight, I looked for a starch, #fancypants hashbrowns to be exact – Pommes de Terre Dauphinoise (aka potatoes baked with cheese) – not exactly hash brown, but yummy and deceivingly easy.  Although filed in the Vegetables-Molded Potato section (potatoes are borderline vegetables), it was spot on. Looking at the recipe and seeing a 45 minute bake time, I knew I could cram in something else. Enter Onion Biscuits. Meal was delish, although maybe a bit disjointed with grilled peppers, though they added a nice pop of color albeit more Bobby Flay than Gourmet. Enjoy my interpretations!

Pommes de Terre Dauphinoise (potatoes baked with cheese)


  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (note – I didn’t have regular milk but had some goat milk I was waiting to try, worked like a charm!)
  • Few onion slices (I used the rest in the following biscuit recipe), probably not a deal breaker if you don’t have any on hand
  • Butter for pan, 2 T to dot on the top
  • Garlic for pan (preferably whole cloves to rub on the bottom – I only had minced, turned out just fine)
  • Gruyere cheese, about 1 cup grated, more if you want


  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare a baking dish or individual baking dishes by rubbing the bottom with butter and garlic. I just spread a tiny bit of minced garlic on the bottom since I didn’t have full clove to rub.
  2. Scald (bring to boil) 1 cup of milk with a few slices of onion in it. Pick/strain out onions
  3. Put peeled and sliced onions in a mixing bowl and add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. I basically put salt, pepper and nutmeg (such a fun ingredient!) on all over then mixed the potatoes around to “expose” the slices to the seasoning, then added a bit more pepper and nutmeg (I didn’t do more salt, always cautious to not over salt) until it looked good to me. I also though my nutmeg might be less potent and did one last pinch for good luck. Hopefully the picture helps guide you. Remember you can add it at the end if not enough
  4. Add the milk to the potatoes, and then add in the beaten egg. Mix. Mix
  5. Pour into baking dish(es).
  6. Cover generously with grated Gruyere, dot with butter and top with another slight sprinkley of nutmeg
  7. Bake for 30-45 minutes and watch that cheese brown up. Yum, burnt cheese bits!
  8. Enjoy.

Onion Biscuit Squares


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4-6 tablespoons shortening
  • ¾ cup of milk (again, I use the goat milk I had on hand, worked like a charm)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups onions sliced
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ sour cream (I used my plain homemade yogurt, as I always have it on hand)
  • Cayenne pepper, couple pinches, depending on your level of “kick”


  1. Heat oven to 400 F
  2. Thinly slice onions and brown in pan with butter. Stir them (or find someone to stir for you) frequently. Add salt, pepper and cayenne. Goal is caramelized. If you just want plain old biscuits, don’t do anything with onions….
  3. Sift 2 cups flour into a bowl with 1 tsp. salt and 2 tsp. baking powder.
  4. With fingers or pastry cutter, work in 4-6 tablespoons shortening.
  5. Stir in ¾ cup of milk to make a soft dough
  6. Turn dough out onto floured counter and need for about 30 seconds.
    1. Now, if you just want biscuits, stop here. Roll out dour to about ¼ -1/2 inch, cut with a biscuit cutter or knife and bake for 12-13 minutes until nicely browned
  7. Flatten dough and place in a pan 10 in square or so. I had a 6 x 11 or some odd size that worked fine; I just kept out some of the dough. I don’t think the pan size, if larger, is really critical, just different.
  8. If lots of grease, drain off. Spread the cooked onions on top of the biscuit dough.
  9. Beat one egg with ¾ cup sour cream (or yogurt), season with salt and pepper. Pour over the onions.
  10. Bake in hot oven for 20 minutes until nicely browned.
  11. Cut into squares and serve hot
  12. Tasty for dinner but I think would be delicious for brunch too. Left overs here we come!

Any Twitter sins you have committed? Do you Tweet? What do you want to see or hear from me?


(oops, just sinned, made that one up I think)

New Diggs – Chicks are getting older!

First. Thing. – Last. Day. to vote for the chick names over at Sweet Sixteen.

Second – chicks grow fast. Hence they need an upgraded abode.

Original Brooder Set Up

  • A bit different than the more traditional set up
  • Made with items we had lying around house
  • Safety first!


  • Used a clear tote, with paper towel and timothy hay for the bottom. Have to watch the slipperiness of things like newspaper.
  • Place a window screen over the top to keep chicks in, other stuff out and promote air circulations.
    • You can pick these up inexpensive at Home Depot or the like. I use mine with my bees for applying powder-sugar treatments or when opening up the hives
  • Simple mason jar water, you can pick these up at the feed store. I had one for feeding my bees sugar water in a similar fashion but couldn’t find it for the life of me. Elevate the water just a bit off the ground to help keep the hay et al out of they. They learn to scratch from minute one.
  • Dish for food. We used Asian restraint sauce dishes. Granted they can stand in it but it is working fine for now. They make chick feeders that work too.
  • Heat source. Many use heat lamps mounted above. I just feel like it is so risky for fire and I didn’t have one. I did have a space heater, that does not generate drafts or wind movement (“electric oil heater”) has a thermostat, is pretty new and we felt less of a fire hazard
  • Safe place (away from the dog and looky-lous). We went with our guest bathroom: tile (sweepable) floor, small (so not too much to heat), skylight (natural light cycles) and water. The sink is a handy place to put them short term while cleaning. We also left the box they came home in sans top for fun. Not usefully but they did play in it for a bit.
  • Chicken crumble

Upgrade! Upgrade!   Essentials

  • Still consider safety, need for heat (but less now)
  • Bigger space as the girls are springing up, except the little silky – she’s puny but eating and feisty
  • Food needs to be raised up

Interim Brooder

  • Large sturdy cardboard box (aka kindling for a heatlamp IMHO)
  • Same waterer set up
  • Puppy pee pads for lining under the timothy hay/orchard grass (we happen to have a lot of them)
  • Same feeding set up (for now, working on something better)
  • “My first roost”, soon they will be ready to start roosting. I used skewers to make the first one, it won’t be big enough for long
  • Some ‘décor’, because why not?
    • Pet goose
    • Canopy bed
    • Sitting Room
    • Eiffel Tower view
    • Garden View

      What ideas or set up for baby chicks have worked for you? What was less the useful?

Howdy Mister Crunchy/Bonjour Croque Monsieur!

Melty, brown cheesy goodness? Oui, s’il vous plait!!!

I have been reading and enjoying my Clementine in the Kitchen cookbook. Another member of my vintage collection….

Inspired by the Clementine’s brief recipe and description of Croque Monsieur (roughly “Mister Crunchy”), my own taste memories from Café Presse (Seattle), a corner café in Paris, and some Gruyere loitering in the fridge, I set out to make a “basic” toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Definitely more advanced than a Kraft single grilled cheese, but pretty simple given the results.

Clemetine’s recipe calls for Swiss cheese and milk, then dipped in egg, sounds simple but I wanted more “Frenchiness” and looked to a few other recipes for inspiration. Thank you to Food Network’s Ina Garner and Simply Recipes, here is my version. Not too shabby, next time a little lighter on the sauce, touch more nutmeg, a little béchamel hiding under the sandwich and broiling with the rack down a little lower.


  • 1 Tbsp butter (salted)
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cups milk (I used ½ cup skim and the rest half-half, since I had some)
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg (~ ½ tsp) or more to taste
  • ~ 1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated (doesn’t have to be exact)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 slices of French or Italian loaf bread
  • Ham, sliced, ~ 2 per sandwich depending on your love of ham
  • Dijon mustard, don’t go cheap
  • An egg per sandwich – If you would like a more “feminine” Crunchy

Heat the oven to 400F.

Make the special sauce – aka Béchamel

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium/low heat. Add the flour and stir stir stir until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking or stirring continuously.
  2. Keep stirring/whisking until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg to sauce.
  4. Add in the about ¾ c Parmesan and about ¼ cup of the grated Gruyère. Stir. Stir. Set aside.

Make the sandwich

  1. Place out the bread slices on a baking sheet lined with foil and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side. Buttering is optional.
    1. OR assemble the sandwiches as follows and grill them on a skillet with additional butter, followed with just a broil in step 9.
  2. Spread half of the bread slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and most of the remaining cheese. Add the other half of the bread.
  3. Place sandwiches on foiled baking sheet. Spread the béchamel sauce on the sandwiches.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  5. If you didn’t grill them in step 5, bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubblicious and lightly browned.
  6. To make it a Madame, and add even more heart, fry an egg and place on top of the finished sandwich. Or crack on top then broil (not my recommendation)

Au revoir!

Hemming and Hawing Part 1 – Invisible Hem on Dress Pants

I FINALLY dove into the pile of items in my “mend and alter” bin. Three items were in need of some basic hemming, that I thought others might be interested in my approach or be looking to follow a tutorial on. I am working on three part post, one for each hem. Segments are 1) invisible hem for dress pants 2) preserving original hem on jeans and 3) shortening a sweater dress into just a sweater. I am not a professional, but the results are good enough for me, and I am pretty picky (with some things). This is my first sewing tutorial, so feedback welcome. In reading it I can see how to do future ones better.

General approach – know what your goal of the alteration is going to be and don’t be afraid to do it…

Key point – Measure twice (or twelve), cut once OR don’t cut at all.

Invisible Hem on a Pair of Dress Pants

Background: Banana Republic Sloan fit, I have others that are the right length already, to use as patterns. They are a tad too long and require heels (and still a touch to much), but I have been trying to wear more flats. In addition, because they were just a tad long and I had worn them anyway, there is damaged piece that needed patching too.

  1. Lay out pants on the floor.
  2. Lay second pair of pants for pattern on top, matching the crotch seam (is that the PC term?). If you don’t have then try them on and pin them up to the right length and/or measure the goal inseam.

  3. Investigate how the hem is done on the pants, so you know how to undo it. I really try to avoid buying pants in general with a cuffed hem. They are a tad harder to alter. On this pair of pants, you can see that the hem has an overlock (serger) stitch on the raw etch to keep from fraying and then tacked with a separate stitch.
  4. Undue the hem with seam ripper or small sharp scissors.

  1. Layout pants again with pattern or tape measure to goal inseam. Note that I haven’t cut anything that can be re-done. You have a choice at this step (life is all about choices, right?). You could cut off some of the extra pant above the overlock seam and leave enough for creating a new hem. In this case, there are about 3.75 inches, so you could remove 1.5 to 2 inches or something. BUT if you cut, I would recommend finishing the new raw seam or turning under 3/8 then folding up hem. That thought alone, and knowing that turning up 3.5 inches would be ok on these pants, was enough for me to just leave it. I even had my Serger threaded for it (and if you know what a PAIN that is, you understand). You should consider how much bell or taper your pants have – when you turn them up there can be some extra, and that is ok, but if too much you probably need to cut so you aren’t cramming a 20 inch bell bottom into an 8 inch leg. Also, if skinny or taper jeans, it might be too tight to turn the bottom part in and up. Hopefully this makes sense…..
  2. Fold up the pant to the desired length. I just did it until it lined up with the pattern pant (black pair). In the photo to the right below you can see where the bottom of them is at (3.75) . Being able to feel it means that you now know where to pin when the time comes. Do give it a good press now to “mark” the new bottom of you pant

  1. Now, the next few steps are particular to this pair of pants, since they needed some mending too.
    1. Locate the hole and put copious amounts of fray check around the edge
    2. Cut a patch out of fabric, apply wonder-under or other fusible webbing (do this step in your favorite fashion – I didn’t plan ahead and had to cut the webbing out separate and then iron, not ideal)
    3. Iron onto the pants on the right/outside (remember this will be turned up and inside) to affix. Notice my copious Fray check came through. Dries clear, no worries.
    4. Take your zig zap stitch and shorten the length so that it is close to a satin stitch and go around the edge of the patch to permanently fix over hole.
    5. Done!

  2. Back to hemming – now that you know your goal length, it is time to get set up for your invisible hem. It is really what it says, pretty darn hard to see. It is basically a straight stitch that darts out to the left (zags?) with stitch and then back into straight line. Many machines should have one, if not, you will need to stitch by hand (more like a whip stitch) or do a top stitch (changes the look). The goal is to just catch the fabric with the side/zag stitch. Your straight stitch will be on the part of fabric that doesn’t show and isn’t attached to anything. There will also be a special foot. I didn’t use mine, didn’t want to go have to look for it. It is adjustable left to right so you have something to line up with and also clear, for your viewing pleasure.
    1. The tricky part is to describe how you get your pants folded right for this. It will seem backward, because it is. You need to turn your pants inside out. Don’t worry about losing your goal, new hem, because you pressed it in real good and probably have a pin or two holding it
    2. With your pants inside out now, go ahead and pin all the way around your hem (don’t need to over do it) and place the pins closer to the fold than the serged end.
    3. Take the pinned hem and turn it inside (which is really the outside) so that you now have a new fold of fabric for the needle to catch. DO NOT press this fold. You turn the hem inside leaving the serged portion out and to the right. It is a single layer.
    4. Now, set your machine to the right stitch and align the pant material under the needle, starting with it on the serger part only.
    5. Sew ahead slowly. It should take 3-4 straight stitches on the serged part, then jog to the left and catch the fabric fold to the left.
      1. The KEY is to just catch a thread or two. The less you catch the smaller and more invisible the stitch.
    6. Do this all the way around. If you miss one or two of the zag stitches, no worries, it will be just fine. This stitch is also nice because it forgives when there is extra material from the pants having a taper or bell.

  3. Voila! Turn your pants, right side out. You should really not see much, especially if you just caught a few threads and picked a good matching thread. I do have, as you can see, a few stitches that stick out more than the others. I am ok with this. I did want to point out my flaws, so you realize that I am only human too… then I went back and fixed that one really glaring stitch….After a good press (no photo), you can’t see them and besides, they are way down near the floor.
  4. Blind hems are great for skirts, dresses, curtains etc. Knits, cottons, denim, synthetics etc

Sweet Sixteen is Here – Peepstakes Madness

Peepstakes Madness – we are down to the Sweet Sixteen Name Peepstakes (ok, more like two dozen, but they were so gooood!!)  on the road to the Final Four (names) next week.  Be sure to vote, get your friends to vote and share share! There is a poll for EACH of the four hens…  Big Thank You to all who contributed to Hung’s Hen Harem’s name pot.

Chick # 1 – South Bracket031713_2214_NametheseCh2.jpg

Chick # 2 – Midwest Bracket031713_2214_NametheseCh3.jpg

Chick # 3 – The West031713_2214_NametheseCh4.jpg

Chick # 4 – The East 031713_2214_NametheseCh5.jpg

Get out and rock the vote. And remember, don’t show up to the game thinking your jersey’s going to win it for you…. and free throws win the game… That’s all I got. Can’t wait for the answers come Final Four next week.

NCAA inspired Blood Orange Vodka Soda with Basil

It is very out of character for me make a cocktail for home consumption, but when one’s hand is forced with basketball at every turn, one must respond rationally. Life is about choices after all and I choose to watch DVR’d Project Runway (way behind on the most recent season so no spoilers), work on a quilt and have a cocktail. Because I am not one to waste my calories (ok, that is a stretch), I opt for good vodka, soda (tonic, other than glow in the dark doesn’t do much for me anymore. I like vodka because of who it is, not what it does….) and blood oranges with basil. The produce selection inspired by what is in my fridge with in a freshness count down AND I enjoyed similar libations before (but not with fresh squeezed). Below are the instructions in pictures only, except a tip about cutting basil strips. Can’t really mess this one up… unless you use crap vodka. I support pulp in drinks too.

Blood Orange Vodka Soda with Basil

To cut Basil strips: layer leaves on top of one another and then roll up. Cut. Strips.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

I am going to get dangerously close to my professional life but important parts of it “Venn-Over” (another verbified noun of mine). Overlap, similarities, parallels, reflections… you name it, not a clear boundary between personal and professional. As part of my professional life I try to focus leadership and also personal development. A primary tool I employ with those in my tutelage is self-reflection (of course, at work, this is required, minimum of two per month, power point and not clinical aha’s, but life aha’s) and as a good teacher, I do it along with them. This adds some rigor in my own personal development. HOWEVER, there is room for us all to reflect in that other part of life, and I would go out on a cherry tree limb to say that most of us don’t take enough time for this given all our distractions in life.

Today, as I was catching up on some work email (gasp! no one ever falls behind on that inbox o’fun!) I happened across a great blog entry over at hbr.org. I quickly skimmed and then forwarded it along to my pupils for potential reflection fodder. Deleted. Paused (tug-tug when something in my mind). Then I searched and pulled it out the trash. And here I am delivering you a play by play of my thoughts.

So, what is this Jesuit practice? In addition to the HBR article description, I did some quick internet research (everything is true on the internet). Here is a nice site summing up these teaching and providing more drill down. If you wanted to take a deeper dive straying further from my blog intent, there is an excellent book, Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World by Chris Lowney (the blog author). But in simple modern non-secular Megan-life terms: dedicated time to log-off from the complexities around us (work, phone, technologies, people). How might I incorporate into my life? A three legged stool!

  • Stop: Express gratitude. Chose a mechanism that is meaningful to you – might be in prayer, just unfettered thought, writing, drawing, medication.
  • Listen: Internal inspection. What went well, what didn’t go well, what could I do better? Did I stay true to myself and principles? Debrief, like any good manager would do after a project or “incident”. Derive some insight that might help in the next few hours to either right your path or keep the upward slope. Just be present, and do not dwell or ruminate
  • Collaborate: Set you external trajectory for the next part of the day, until you examen again
    • Origin of COLLABORATE: Late Latin collaboratus, past to labor together
    • Merriam and Webster: to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor

Sure I have it in a different order than Vanilla Ice so eloquently articulated and collaborate might be a stretch but breaking it down, everything we do invariably involves and impacts many, near and far.

Alternate blog title: Stop and smell the cherry blossoms!

Yo! It’s time to get outta here. Word to your mother!

Photos: courtesy of me in Seattle! On a walk in SODO. Garage door mural, cherry tree blossoming

Peasy Squeezy Clams are Easy

Caprese Inspired Steamed Clams

This is a definite go-to, easy, tasty dinner. Scale it up for many, scale it down for fewer. Or just eat more. Every time I make it there are variations, pretty hard to mess up though. I thought today I would pay attention to the inputs and share the resulting output.

Caprese Inspired Steamed Clams


  • Fresh Clams – as many as you want…. We buy the 5 lb bag at Costco, eat about 3 lbs for a 2 person dinner and give the other 2 lbs to MIL. We could totally eat all five…..
  • ¼ Cooking Sherry (If you have it – if not, just use a chicken broth or white wine)
  • 1 can chicken broth, reduced sodium preferred
  • 3 TBSP butter, salted or unsalted, just know which one
  • 1 shallot (if you have them, I don’t always, ok to leave out, but I am discovering the nice dimension they bring), chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, or so, cut in half
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • Salt (I don’t use if using sherry, broth and salted butter – adds up quick)
  • Pepper
  • 2 – 4 TBSP fresh basil


  1. Clean/rinse/wash the clams, if so inclined. Sometimes I soak, sometimes I don’t….
  2. Melt 2 T of butter in a large fry pan
  3. Sauté chopped shallot and chopped onion for a few minutes until they just begin to brown
  4. Add half the garlic and keep sautéing another minute or so
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes and sauté them for just a quick minute
  6. Add some fresh ground pepper
  7. Add half of the chopped basil. Stir around and give it about a minute to cook with the other fine ingredients
  8. Add the rest of garlic. (I think having some cooked more and some less, provides variations on flavor. AND the chance for you to customize to taste)
  9. Add about a ¼ cup of cooking sherry, to sort of deglaze the pan. Cook for a minute or two until the liquid reduces down a bit
  10. Add in about ½ of the chicken broth can and another 1 T of butter, for good measure
  11. Cook at a near boil until the butter melts. Taste the broth. Is it flavorful? Balanced? You are good to go. If not reduce a little more and/or add a scosche more of sherry or butter. Taste again
  12. Drain your clams, if soaking them, and add them into the pan. Pour in most of the remaining chicken broth.
  13. Turn up the heat, put on the lid and Steam, Baby, Steam!
  14. Steam maybe 5 minutes, then lift the lid and check if they are opening up. Put lid back on but leave it cracked to allow liquid to reduce. For another minute or so.
  15. When all the clams are open, they are ready.
  16. Sprinkle on remaining fresh basil and stir it all around.

Serve in bowls with bread to mop up the tasty broth. Also, clam shells make excellent spoon to with which to slurp the sauce. At our house, we put the pan on the table and scoop into our bowls right out of it, not messing around with the middle man serving bowl. You can also make up pasta and serve, with a little less, broth, and add some parmesan cheese.

Bivalve mollusk Party Trivia:

Oh the irony!
“Clamor,” means a lot of noise, racket – the real life opposite of “clamming up.”

Fresh clams should be moist, and cold, but when something, like your hands, is moist and cold it is clammy, the word “clammy” is not related to “clam.”

Get with the lingo! One (especially if eating this recipe) can be “happy as a clam.” The rest of phrase that explains the source of happiness has been dropped with time, but probably has to be something like … at high tide..

But when we refuse to talk, we “clam up” and become “quiet as a clam.” Clams are pretty darn quiet and good secret keepers.

Small but Mighty! Clams filter up to 20 gallons of water each day (about 2 per hour) but an oyster can do at least double that. But even more impressive the blood sugar of the clams served as the energy source for the biofuel cells. Holy Moly! Learn more about this here. A bit Franksteiny looking but I will take a clam over a cyborg snail (wasn’t that in Terminator or something)

Keep Clam and Carry On….

Thank you to Google for rounding trivia sites up, ivars.com, mnn.com, Rutgers, weloveclams.com for the factoids

You Can Bánh Tráng Anything – Salmon Rice Paper Rolls with Wokked Up Garlic Pea Vine

This isn’t the most exotic thing you can bánh tráng, but it is pretty darn tasty.

What is bánh tráng? It’s really a noun that I made into a cool sounding verb…. And is Vietnamese term for the rice paper wrappers (or tapioca) use throughout their cuisine. On our vacation in 2005 to Vietnam, I actually was able to watch the traditional method of making bánh tráng while touring the Cu Chi Tunnels (a quite surreal experience, ask me about it sometime. But it involved M-16s, Sony, propaganda, flash backs, closter phobia, booby traps and underground crawl-sized tunnels). The whole rice paper process appeared painstaking and not really sure who had the idea or time to come up with this ‘back in the day’. Essentially (thank you Wikipedia) it is: “soaked raw rice is ground with water into slurry. A bit of thick old batter is then added to the slurry for a wonderful tang. The bánh tráng maker sits on a low stool to spread the batter onto a cloth that’s stretched over a wide pot of boiling water. After the batter has been thinly spread, a bamboo lid covers the bánh tráng. The resulting bánh tráng is steamed for probably about 30 to 45 seconds. A long narrow stick is used to lift and transfer the cooked rice sheet to a cooling “rack.” The cooling rack is a very wide convex (slightly domed) round bamboo rack with a cloth covering it. The rack spins around.” I suggest you just buy them in a convenient pack at any Asian grocery store and some well stocked US stores. They come in varying sizes.

Wrapping is cornerstone to some of our most favorite Vietnamese meals and is insanely easy and even more healthy. You can do a variety of fillings, meats, tofu, left overs, hot pot……. Tonight we made bánh tráng cuốn cá hồi (salmon rice paper rolls) and wokked up garlic pea vine. You can find the ingredients at any store and order the bánh tráng (and nuoc mam) off Amazon if you are out in BFE. We stopped into an Asian store on the way home for a few remaining items, but had most of the stuff in our fridge for one reason or another. Anyone who thinks it is too expensive to eat healthy is not acquainted with Asian stores. For $7.47, we purchased all the tasty treats in the photo below: cilantro, mint, watercress, pea vines, lemon grass ($0.08), cookies, bánh tráng and mung bean sprouts. Herbs have to be the best buy there…. This is not meant to be insensitive. I see urban food deserts everywhere here in Seattle, the rest of you, just don’t fear the Asian grocery. Sure they smell bad (like Chinese medicine and fish) and have strange things in foreign languages but that is the allure – revel in the mystery (and try some cookies).

Back to the meal plan: bánh tráng cuốn cá hồi (salmon wraps) and sautéed garlic pea vine

Vietnamese Salmon Wraps


  • Lettuce (we had baby romaine, worked great but even salad bags, butter lettuce etc would be just fine)
  • Carrots (I didn’t bother making match sticks, just grated, otherwise, I would still be cutting 3 hours later)
  • Cucumbers
  • Apple (my MIL usually uses canned pineapple, we didn’t have around the house, apple turned out better IMHO)
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Tomatoes (we had a mix of cherry and a roma)
  • Pistachios (normally it is peanuts, I don’t have any and really get on a tear about WHY they have to put peanuts on everything. It adds no value, just calories. This is me being a tart. Don’t buy pistachios or peanuts for this if you don’t have them. :))
  • Bánh Tráng – we used the bigger ones tonight, sometimes I prefer the smaller and either break them in half or buy the smaller disks
  • Herbs: Basil, mint, cilantro (there are many others you can use but not necessary)
  • Fish, Salmon
    • We like the salmon Costco sells with the dill butter. Pop in the over 400F for 15 minutes. Done. Good.
    • Can use any fish, a lot of fish, or a little (you know, one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish)
  • Fish Sauce (nuoc mam) for dipping BUT NOT the dark brown straight out of the bottle.
    • This is prepared using the concentrated liquefied fish (another interesting tour we went on). I have made it in the past using my MIL lesson. My suggestion to you – find someone with a Vietnamese mom and have her make you some, or buy some from a restaurant you like. Makes all the difference
    • Add a little red chili sauce, to kick it up a notch.
    • I will blog better directions for this another time


  1. Bake/steam fish.
  2. Wash Wash: all the veggies
  3. Chop Chop: cucumbers, apples, carrots, tomatoes
  4. Plate Plate: it all, see photo
  5. Prepare a medium sized mixing bowl with warm water (for bahn trang)

Eat: I am providing the eating tutorial, as I have seen one to many wrapping tragedies go down at local restaurants, where a waiter didn’t bother to show the proper way. Not hard, but makes a difference.

  • Key: DO NOT soak the bahn trang. Repeat DO NOT soak it. Ok, do it just once to see why you don’t do it. Big sticky glob that you will spend 34 minutes trying to straighten out on your plate to wrap.
  1. Take wrapper and run it once through the water just so it all touched it once. ONCE.

  2. Place the dampened wrapper on your plate. I like to try to keep my plate dry during the meal and wipe it with a napkin, since the wraps might dribble a little bit and it cuts down on the mess when wrapping the next ones.
  3. Plan your wrap wisely. Start (always IMHO) with the lettuce first. This is the backbone of your wrap. Don’t load up the center of your wrap either. Work on either the far left or right third, depending on if you are a south paw or not.

  4. Add in all the ingredients for this wrap. Each wrap is and should be unique. Don’t get greedy though. It will bust out of the wrapper and make a big mess.

  5. Now roll it up firmly. Key here is to use your chop sticks or other utensil (fingers included) to hold the filling in while you pull up on the side and begin to roll it over. The goal here is to take the edge of the side you put the stuff on and tuck it over the ingredients so that the rest of the banh trang is rolled over itself. Holding your ingredients in helps get it wrapped tighter, so easier to dip and eat. I then like to tuck in one of the ends to hold it in when you turn it vertical to eat. A good wrap will impress the locals, in – laws or future in – laws. Pretty sure my wrapping skills and ability to tell time in Vietnamese sealed the deal with hubby’s family. “party tricks”

  6. Ready to dip and eat. So, as with other things that are dipped, in the privacy of my own home or with my hubby only, I like to bite off part of the end first and THEN dip it in the sauce. I see this as a superior way to get the sauce to infiltrate the roll. Otherwise it is just on the outside and not mingling with the goodness inside. Whether or not you choose to do this in public or at home, is your prerogative.
  7. Repeat! Left overs can be tossed together (minus bahn trang) for a salad the next day.

Wokked Up Garlic Pea Vine – great side dish, takes about 2 minutes!

KEY: High Heat! Wok is helpful, but I would in no way say required.


  • Pea Vines, or other greenery
  • Oyster Sauce, about 1 table spoon
  • Minced garlic, about 1 table sppon
  • Water about ¼ cup
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil (or so)


  1. Wash and dry really good your veggies (water will splatter when it hits the oil)
  2. Heat up wok and add oil, move wok around to coat the bottom with the oil
  3. Once oil is hot, add in garlic (will splatter) and stir stir to brown
  4. Add in pea vines and give them a few stirs and tosses to begin to wilt them (45 seconds)
  5. Add in oyster sauce, do not go overboard with this sauce. Stir and toss (wok it!)
  6. After about 30 seconds, add in part of the ¼ cup of water, just to help you wilt the rest of the pea vine.
  7. Don’t overcook (leaves will be wilted but stems still have some shape), so probably just another 30 seconds or so. This will really vary with your pan and stove.

If you are in Seattle, I am happy to give a demonstration.

đồ ăn ngon!