The Epic Saga: the Beginning of the End

As early as 2001, after the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually earthquake hit the Puget Sound area, officials have been discussing what to do with the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The double-decker roadway, which separates downtown Seattle from the waterfront of Elliott Bay, has been an integral part of people’s daily SR-99 commutes since it opened in the 1950’s. But the Viaduct sustained significant structural damage during the earthquake, and Seattle residents have been hearing about various plans and budgets to replace the Viaduct for almost 18 years ago. Now that it has been closed permanently to road traffic earlier this month, this officially marks the beginning of the end for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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December Bonus Recipe: Pralines

“There’s no other treat that’s more Southern, definitely none that’s more New Orleans than pralines.”

At this very moment, I am sitting on a plane heading New Orleans, getting ready to eat all the flavors that the city can offer. Pecans are native to the Southern United States, and New Orleans is the city where the American recipe for pralines originated. So what better was to celebrate my time in the Big Easy than with Louisiana’s favorite candy?

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December: Shrimp and Grits

“Grits are hot, they are abundant, and they will by-gosh stick to your ribs.” – Janis Owens

I wanted to explore Southern cooking, but I’ve never actually spent time in the region. With the help of my sister-in-law who was raised in Alabama, I’ve been learning the finer points of how to cook foods that you’d find in kitchens from Texas to Virginia. In fact, that area is referred to as the “grits belt” of the United States because the food has become such a vital part of the region’s cultural identity, and Georgia has even named it the official “prepared food” of the state. Grits are typically a breakfast food, although shrimp and grits became popular for dinner sometime in the 1980’s.

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November Bonus Recipe: Pan de Muerto

Quien con la esperanza vive, alegre muere.

Translation: “He who lives with hope dies happy.”

Pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, is traditionally made during the Dia de Muertos holiday celebrated in Spanish-speaking communities. Families make offerings of food, marigolds, calavera sugar skulls and pan de muerto to their deceased loved ones and eat their favorite foods to honor and remember them. The sweet bread differs slightly by region and is often shaped to look like a skull and crossbones, and is believed to help give the spirits strength after their journey back to the world.

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November: Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna (America’s Test Kitchen)

“There’s a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work.” – Silent Bob, Clerks

I don’t have a love affair with cheese. I use it in cooking sometimes and I love cheese pizza, but up until a few years ago, you would never see me add more than one kind to a dish. I’ve only recently started exploring blending cheeses and using them more frequently, so I figured it’s about time for me to dive in and use all the cheese as I can get my hands on to make this hearty lasagna!

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October Bonus Recipe: Choco-Cherry Bliss Bombs (Cookies)

“If sad, eat cookie. If still sad, talk to doctor. Sounds serious.” – Cookie Monster

Cookies are easy to make, versatile, portable and bite-sized. Plus, who doesn’t like cookies? This cookbook features tons of recipes that go “above and beyond” your standard chocolate chip cookies: delicate pink macaroons, tiny shortbread sandwiches filled with mousse, and elaborately iced cookies for every occasion!

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October: Cioppino (Sunset Cookbook Classics)

“In the hands of an able cook, fish can become an inexhaustible┬ásource of perpetual delight.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Cioppiono is a familiar stew if you live on the Pacific Ocean, so I’ve definitely eaten my fair share. It’s a little intimidating to spend so much money on seafood if you’re making it for the first time, but this recipe is ridiculously simple and forgiving, easy to customize to your individual preferences, and my roommates claimed it was “marvelous.”

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