You are currently browsing the Ted Kennedy Watson blog archives for December, 2011

A Simple Tomato Salad

20111231-075040.jpg We really do try and eat seasonally and locally as much as we can, but one of the things I can’t live without through the year are tomatoes. Besides being healthy for you, they are just plain beautiful to look at. The market the other day had a small box of these lovelies pictured above, from Mexico. They were just too pretty to pass up. This really is the simplest thing to do with tomatoes, and it is also one of my favorite. Just slice them in half, or quarter them if they are larger. I find the smallest tomatoes to be the sweetest, so that is what I search out most. Sprinkle liberally with fleur de sel, or whatever chunky sea salt you have on hand. This will help draw out the juices of the tomato, and make them perfect for serving solo. I like to serve them this way with a sandwich for lunch. They are also great this way as a snack in the late afternoon with a piece of cheese. Simple, simple, but of so yummy.

A happy New Year’s Eve to all of you!



Snapshots of the Studio

20111230-080903.jpg We actually call the studio, the treehouse, as it is surrounded by trees, and is a flight of stairs above the main house, which we refer to as the clubhouse.

20111230-081252.jpg You are able to sit at the large built in desk/work table and look thru the trees and see the water. The space is very serene. You also see the large pile of stacked wood, which I find so comforting on these cold, windy and rainy days. In the Winter, we have a fire going in the main house from the minute we wake up till the moment we go to sleep.

20111230-081831.jpg The studio has 2 sets of French doors. One set looks out to the courtyard, which is covered in hazelnut shells.

20111230-082016.jpg The other set of French doors opens to Colvos Passage, which is part of Puget Sound. It is a passageway for boats, large barges and sailboats. It is great just to sit in the treehouse and watch the boats travel by. It is also lovely to have both sets of French doors open when the weather is nice. The space open to the sounds of the Sound.




20111230-083044.jpg One wall is completely covered in pages from vintage books that our friend Amy Duncan & I spent a day doing oh so many years back. Pages of books on nature, birds, nautical maps–all things that represent WestWard.

20111230-083514.jpg We took words from a favorite poem of ours by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sudden Light, and stenciled them throughout both spaces on the white painted floor.




Snapshots of a Well Loved Home

20111229-045311.jpg We bought our house on Vashon Island over 10 years ago, from a former Mayor of Seattle. Magical is a word folks have used when they visit. The house is set amongst the very tall trees, on 2 very quiet & private acres, steps from the beach.

20111229-050312.jpg The house and grounds were neglected, and were just waiting to be brought back to life. The house had not really been lived in, in quite some time.

20111229-050525.jpg He had painted the house red, and had a huge flagpole installed in the front yard. Maybe there was always a flag flying when he was in residence. We decided Americana would be the prevailing design concept.

20111229-050832.jpg Ticking stripes, denim, slipcovers, painted floors–all things meant to evoke comfort. Open shelving, tableware at the ready, and always a well-stocked bar.

20111229-051222.jpg Collections abound. White pottery, seashells, artwork–all things we love.





20111229-051646.jpg The above painting is of the beach in front of the Wells cabin in Southold, on the North Fork of Long Island, where we stay each August.

20111229-051921.jpg Comfort and visual interest are key.



20111229-052445.jpg WestWard was featured locally in the magazine, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles. It was then noticed by my now dear friend, writer and editor, Jane Dagmi, and photographed beautifully by Grey Crawford and written about by Jane for Country Living magazine. That lead to a story in an international edition of House Beautiful.



20111229-053441.jpg It was also highlighted on HGTV’s, Small Space, Big Style, and I picked up a Northwest Design Award for the interiors. I laugh as I type all the above, because if you could have seen the house before we bought it (we know some of our friends thought we were crazy), the idea of it ever getting any design coverage would not have been in the cards. It just took a whole lotta love, a ton of work & vision–all things we have enjoyed tremendously along the way.

Tomorrow, snapshots of the studio.



Chicken Breast with Cracked Pepper Chevre & Meyer Lemon Sauce

20111228-045607.jpg What is it about being on vacation–you are doing quite a bit of nothing, and yet you are still starved when dinner rolls around? This was the case last night for us. I had picked up a bag of Meyer lemons at the market, and was wanting to incorporate them somehow into dinner. I have also been on a chevre kick lately, so I thought that would work nicely into the meal, as well. Here is what I came up with.

You will want bone in, and skin on your chicken breast for this recipe. The bone in the chicken really helps to keep the meat moist, and I just like the earthiness of the bone as part of this dish. Take plain chevre and add a good amount of freshly cracked black pepper to it. Working carefully with the chicken skin, slip your finger under the skin and create a pocket. Insert the peppered chevre in that pocket. Place the chicken in a skillet that can work in the oven as well as the stovetop. Lather the chicken breasts with a healthy amount of extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper liberally. Place the skillet with the chicken breasts into a pre-heated 400 degree oven. Depending on the size of the breast, it will take 35 to 45 minutes to cook. A few minutes before they are done, turn the broiler on. Place them under the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking. This will also make the skin a beautiful golden brown and do great things to the chevre that is now oozing out from under the skin.

While the chicken is finishing up, juice 3 Meyer lemons. This juice, along with some of the pan drippings will help create the sauce. Once the chicken is done, carefully take the skillet out of the oven and place on a burner on the stovetop. Take the chicken out and place on a plate to rest, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while you make the sauce.

I can not stress the importance here of being careful as the skillet and the handle are still really hot. Add the Meyer lemon juice to the skillet. The burner should be on medium to medium high. Take a whisk and try and get up any bits that have formed from the cooking of the chicken. These little bits are culinary gold. Those, along with the chicken fat, olive oil and salt and pepper that have dripped off the chicken in the cooking process, along with the lemon juice, are going to create an out of this world sauce. Once the liquid has reduced by half and thickened, the sauce is done.

I take a sharp knife and create a slit in the middle of the chicken breast, and spoon in the sauce. It creates a bit of a well, and moistens the chicken even further. This also helps to keep the skin nice and brown, instead of pouring it over the entire breast and saturating the skin. I had not done this step yet when I took the above photo. The sauce is great spooned over rice or mashed potatoes too.



A Week on the Island

20111227-073818.jpg Our ritual of spending the week after Christmas at our home on Vashon Island, WestWard, has begun. It will be a time to recharge & reflect on the year. Many naps will be taken, many books will be read, and many good bottles of wine will be enjoyed.

20111227-074453.jpg I have a bunch of new things I want to try out in the cooking department too. I will let you know how some turned out. We received so many yummy treats as gifts this Holiday, I also want to put some of them to good use.

20111227-074817.jpg But sitting outside wrapped up in blankets while listening to the sound of the water will be at the top of the list.



French Feasts

20111226-081416.jpg My new favorite cook book that I am taking to the beach with me this week is, French Feasts. Compiled by Frenchman, Stephane Reynaud, this book contains 299 traditional recipes for family meals & gatherings.

20111226-081830.jpg This is way more than just a cookbook. The photography is spectacular, with many photos giving you a glimpse inside of home kitchens and restaurants, as well as close-ups of beautifully presented food.

20111226-082158.jpg There are also whimsical line drawings of recipes and food groupings.

20111226-082257.jpg But mostly it is like I just stepped off an Air France flight and into culinary heaven.

A happy Boxing Day to all!



Merry Christmas from the Pike Place Market

20111225-093113.jpg It is our tradition to spend Christmas eve night at the Inn at the Market. It is a perfect way to end a busy day, and season, of working the shops. We just walk across the beautiful courtyard into the lobby, and take the elevator up to the suite that has been their gift to us for many years now. They always have a bottle of Veuve chilling and waiting to be opened. It takes me seconds to be in my Brooks Brothers pajamas, sitting on the sofa and looking out to the Puget Sound, watching the ferry boats coming and going.

I hope all of you are having a joyous Holiday and a very, very Merry Christmas and a happy, happy Hanukkah.




A Quote by Matisse

20111224-060149.jpg I have long been a fan of Henri Matisse. His work always inspires me. I found this quote card yesterday in the stack of cards we sell. I think it is perfect for the day, well every day really. “There are always flowers for those who want to see them” to me is about being aware of your surroundings, living in the moment, and savoring the small details that fill our lives.

We arrived home late last evening as we kept the Home shop open longer for Holiday shoppers. I popped open a bottle of champagne, scrambled some eggs with herbed chevre, and topped that with sautéed morels, toasted bagels then spread on a bit of cream cheese & layered on the lox, then lit the extra tall rolled beeswax tapers on the dining table. A simple dinner after a long day.

I am up early today as the retail marathon is nearing the finish line. TPS and I always work the Market shop on Christmas eve day. Please stop in if you are in the neighborhood for a celebratory rose’ tangerine mimosa.



35 Countries and Counting

20111223-064853.jpg I received a Google report this week telling me that folks from 35 countries have checked in to read the posts from my daily blog. It just tickles me to think someone is reading it in Brazil, Russia, Japan, France, China, Ireland and Croatia–and other spots around the globe. I thank each and every one of you who stop in to read the daily posts. It brings me great happiness to write something each day, and it means the world to me that you join me on this journey. I have always relished the small details of life, and to be able share them with you makes me appreciate them even more. Much, much love, Ted




Meyer Lemon Love

20111222-215650.jpg I am crazy for citrus even more than usual this time of year. The citrus I seek out the most are Meyer lemons. My friend Catherine gave me the gift of a Meyer lemon ohhhhh so many years ago, and I have loved them since. The lemon is actually named after the fellow, Frank Meyer, who introduced it to the United States after collecting a sample on a trip to China in 1908. The thing I like most about them is the sweetness, and how less tart they are than a regular lemon. A slice can transform a regular glass of sparking water into something extraordinary. I was so happy when I found these little twists on one of my buying trips. They are a great little jar to have around when the Meyer lemon is out of season.

They are more expensive than a regular lemon, but they are such a treat. The Meyer lemon yields quite a bit more juice than a lemon, so they are great for when you whip up a vinaigrette or any other recipe that calls for lemon juice.