Author Archives for Charisse Colbert

About Charisse Colbert

My inspiration comes from animals, art, baking, cooking, design, flowers, humor, kindness, spirituality, travel and yoga.

Gift Givers

How I got through Thanksgiving without gaining any weight is a mystery especially since I had pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner the past two days. I read people gain an average of 7 pounds during the holiday season. I put up two trees, the outdoor lights are up and now my focus is on Christmas baking and gift giving. Giving someone the gift of something to eat or drink is a useful gift. Here is a list of some of my favorite things to give from Arizona.

Peanut Butter Americano – I purchased mine at the Scottsdale Farmers Market. You can buy them online too. The cinnamon roasted almond is really good.

Goldwaters – I’ve been purchasing their products for many years. They are at all the grocery stores here in Arizona. and are available online too.

Chateau Tumblweed– I had the opportunity to taste their wines recently at a street fair in Cottonwood, Arizona. The owners were friendly and sweet. Their wine is available at their winery in Clarkdale, at many local street fairs, shops and online. 

Iconic Cocktail – Recently I went to a holiday open house at a lovely store in Phoenix called Urbana. The owners of Iconic Cocktail were making drinks with their inufused mixes. They made me a mocktail with the cranberry thyme. It was spectacular. It is so festive and delicious. Their products are available online.

Queen Creek Olive Mill – Their products are so good. I love the fig balsamic reduction. Their products are available at their main location is in Queen Creek, at Kierland in Scottsdale and online.

 

Happy gift giving! Here are my ultimate gift givers!

Gift Givers watercolor by Charisse

 

Fall Cooking

Do you collect cookbooks? This time of year, I like to go through mine and put sticky notes on all the recipes I want to try. This week I made the white lasagna from the 1998 Williams Sonoma Holiday Celebrations cookbook. It was a lot of steps to have ready but was easy to assemble. It’s a perfect recipe for a vegetarian made with butternut squash, mushrooms and lots of cheese. It is delicious. I also baked the pumpkin pound cake from the 2001 The Thanksgiving Table cookbook. Baking is scientific and you never know what you’re going to get. I ended up baking it 20 minutes longer than the recipe instructions. It is dense and moist. I used the rest of the pumpkin pie filling and added it to my vanilla ice cream recipe and omitted the vanilla and added fresh nutmeg instead. The ice cream was soft but is still excellent.

Every year I tell myself I am going to make the croquembouche from John Clancy’s 1982 Christmas Cookbook. This is my oldest cookbook and I adore it. Here’s hoping this will be the year!

Winter White Lasagna

1 butternut squash cut lengthwise, remove seeds and fiber and bake on 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until tender. Let cool and slice.

1 package of oven ready lasagna noodles

6 Tbsp. butter

6 Tbsp. flour

3 cups half and half

½ cup Parmesan cheese

¼ Tsp grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups ricotta cheese

½ cup grated Romano cheese

2 eggs

¾ cup finely chopped Italian parsley

2 Tbsp. olive oil

14 oz. fresh mushrooms cleaned and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

2 cups shredded fontina cheese

Bake butternut squash on 350 degrees for 35 minutes and set aside to cool. Peel and slice into thin slices. Make a béchamel sauce by cooking butter in a sauce pan, slowly add flour, stir in half and half, add parmesan cheese and grated nutmeg and salt and pepper. Set aside. In a mixing bowl add ricotta cheese, eggs and half of chopped parsley. Set aside. Sauté the mushrooms with remaining parsley and garlic in olive oil.  Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10” X 14” baking dish and layer lasagna by placing noodles first, then top with ricotta cheese mixture and slices of the butternut squash, top with another layer of lasagna noodles, top with sautéed mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese. Place another layer of noodles and cover with béchamel sauce and sprinkle the top with the fontina cheese. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until golden brown. Let stand for 15 minutes and cut into squares.

 

Holiday Celebrations

White Lasagna

Thanksgiving Table

Pumpkin Pound Cake and Ice Cream

Fall Baking

This time of year I get excited to bake cookies. I’ve been collecting cookie cutters for a long time and have them organized by occasion and holiday. Recently someone anonymously sent me a fox cookie cutter which appeared at my front door. Here are the cookies I made this week. Let the baking begin!

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Fall Cookie Cutters

Fall Cookies 2018

Fall Cookies

Angel Hair Amore

This summer I had a fabulous pasta dish at Fountain Cafe in Port Townsend. Yesterday I made a vegetarian version of the dish they called Capellini Amore.

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Fountain Cafe Port Townsend

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Recipe

  • 1/2 Lb Angel Hair Pasta
  • 2 Ripe Tomatoes Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Basil Chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Kalamata Olives Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Capers
  • 4 Garlic Cloves Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Pasta Water
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Cook the pasta and reserve some of the water for the sauce. Chop the garlic, tomatoes, basil and olives. Saute the garlic in olive oil and add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, add the pasta water, olives and capers. Right before topping the pasta with the mixture add the basil. Serve with Parmesan cheese.  I have to admit this dish is wonderful but the Fountain Cafe’s was better.

Angel Hair Pasta Dish

 

My Trip to a Victorian Town

At the beginning we learn to travel, then we travel to learn.
William Least Heat-Moon

This summer I had the good fortune to spend five weeks in Port Townsend, Washington. It was a dream of mine to spend time there ever since the first time I stopped there in 1981. After spending another long, hot summer in Arizona, last fall I found a vacation rental in Port Townsend with the intention of spending time there in 2018. Driving there was the hard part. Once I arrived in Port Townsend my dream became a reality. The town is located at the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. The city is known for its natural beauty surrounded by water and mountains, artists, Victorian buildings, boat builders, cultural events, and maritime center. The city is small with a population of less than 10,000 except during cultural events like the Film Festival in September when I was told the population rises to 30,000.

View of TownVictorian House 1.JPGVictorian House 2

Since this is a food blog, I’ll share with you some of the fantastic food I ate. Even though the place had a kitchen, I decided not to cook. The place I rented was on Morgan Hill overlooking the city and was accessible on foot to Uptown, Downtown and Fort Worden State Park. Every day I walked by 19th century Victorian homes adorned with beautiful gardens. I also had daily visitors from deer and robins. One fawn came by so often, I named her Dawna and painted her.

Dawna

Dawna watercolor by Charisse

There are two areas of town that I frequently visited, uptown which is uphill from downtown.  Every Saturday there was a farmer’s market on Taylor and Lawrence from 9 am until 2 pm with fresh organic produce, flowers, handcrafted items, fantastic food, baked items, wine and cider tasting, handcrafted cheeses and live music. There was also a fabulous bakery there called Pane d’Amore. I went there more than once! They made a morning glory muffin which was delicious. You could buy a mini one for $1. The uptown area had a grocery store, shops, restaurants, a movie theater, yoga and a pub.

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Organic Lettuce.jpgSalmon Booth at Farmers MarketSalmonSeafood Spot.JPGSweet Lamb BakingCrust Pie PT

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I got to go to the farmers market four times. There were so many delicious things to try it was hard to choose. During the four visits I had a pesto and heirloom tomato croissant from Sweet Lamb Baking Co. a chocolate pastry and fig bar from Crust Pies, the salmon sandwich from Cape Cleare Salmon In Season Catering , a crab cake from The Seafood Spot and finally tried an oyster at Johnston & Gunstone Shellfish. There I purchased red alder cheese from Mt Townsend Creamery. The salmon sandwich was the best thing I ate there. Everything about it was superb, the bread, tartar sauce, greens and salmon.

Pane d Amore.JPGBaked Goods.JPG

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Rothschild House Overlooking the Water

One of the best things about Port Townsend is Fort Worden. Originally Fort Worden was designed as a military base to protect Puget Sound. Now the park is home to cultural events in art and music, woodworking classes, conferences, camping and family reunions, and weddings. While I was there I enjoyed music from fiddle tunes and jazz week, took a yoga class, walked the grounds, visited my friend’s campsite, and enjoyed a glass of wine at Taps.

Fort Worden Looking at Point Wilson Lighthouse

Fort Worden Point Wilson Lighthouse

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Madrona Mind and Body Yoga Studio at Fort Worden

While there I took many trips to places nearby. Olympic National Park and Lake Crescent is less than a two hour drive away. I had breakfast at Lake Crescent Lodge before hiking to Marymere Falls.

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Lake Crescent Lodge

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Lake Crescent Lodge Breakfast

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

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Marymere Falls

Downtown Port Townsend is a picturesque area on the water with historic buildings, art galleries, a ferry dock which takes you to Coupeville, restaurants, gardens, bookstores, hotels, bakeries, ice cream shops, various shops, movie theater, Northwinds Art Center and the Jefferson Art and History Museum where we took a historic walking tour. During my stay I tried many of the restaurants including Doc’s Marina GrillAlchemy BistroSiren’s, BayviewFountain CafeCourtyard CafeHillbottom PieSea J’sBamboo LeafPippa’s Real TeaBlue Moose Cafe, and Silverwater Cafe. My favorite place was Hillbottom Pie where I went three times. They had the best Caesar salad I’ve ever had and their clam chowder was the best too. Doc’s was great too. I won’t be mean and say the one place where I was ignored twice (it was overlooking the water and was always busy and not enough help.) I also went to Cellar Door a few times for open mic and that place was a lot of fun. So was Port Townsend Brewery where I listened to music a few times outside on their patio and Pourhouse where you can bring your own food and listen to music outside near the water.

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View of the water in downtown Port Townsend

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Water Street

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Art Gallery on Water Street

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Eisenbeiss Building

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Hastings Building on Water Street

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Green Eyeshade

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Salmon Salad at Alchemy Bistro

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Blue Moose Cafe

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Blue Moose Cafe Breakfast

Hillbottom Pie

Hillbottom Pie my favorite place

 

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Doc’s Marina Grill best fish ‘n chips

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Sea J’s best dive restaurant & best fishwich with my friends from Seattle

Sea Js Sign

One Sunday I drove to Chimacum to listen to music on the patio and did a cider tasting at Finnriver Farm & Cidery.  I also made sure and visited the downtown movie theaters and saw Won’t You be My Neighbor at the historic Rose Theater and watched Leave No Trace at The Starlight Theater my last night there.

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View at Finnriver Farm & Cidery

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Finnriver Ciders I tasted

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Rose Theater

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Starlight Movie Theater

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Starlight Movie Theater Concessions

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Starlight Theater with my friend

 

Watercolor Collage of Summer 2018 by Charisse

 

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