Our Favorite Tuscan Soup

Some people live in a place where they don’t really experience all the seasons, and we feel sorry for them because having four seasons a year is really a non-negotiable. Here in the Pacific Northwest, Fall is arguably the best season. The trees start to boast their fiery oranges, mellow yellows, and rusty red leaves. The air gets just crisp enough that you can wear a sweater comfortably but don’t need to be weighed down with a heavy coat just yet. The seemingly endless drizzle we know so well as Seattlites has yet to begin and there are still some sunny days randomly making their appearance. You might even fit in a hike before the season ends if you time it right. 

But how swiftly and slyly Autumn makes its transition! One day you’re in shorts and flops and laying on top of your covers at night, and then before you even know what happened―as if a switch was flipped―you’re back in jeans and looking for your beanie. Autumn brings so many comforting traditions like chunky knit sweaters, sitting around a fire, hot cocoa, and the awe-inspiring color changes in the flora of the Pacific Northwest. But today we’re here to talk about an old friend we may not have seen in a while due to the heat of the summer. 

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Yes, that’s right! Soup! We’ve had no desire to eat (hot) soup for a couple of months, but now that Autumn has hit, we get so excited about soup again. There is something wonderful about getting home in the evening when it’s actually dark since the days are shortening and knowing you have a hot pot of your favorite soup on the stove. Your entire house fills with the savory aromas, you cozy up with a throw blanket and a bowl and DIG IN. And let’s be honest, half of the joy of soup is in having an excuse to toast up a crispy baguette...because some good bread can turn soup from an accompaniment into a meal itself. There’s just something special about the simplicity of enjoying a good bowl of soup and breaking bread (literally) with those you love. Also, let's talk about leftovers.  Since when do leftovers actually get better with time?! They do with a good hearty soup like the one we are about to share with you! It's simple and fast, easily adaptable, super filling, and basically a ten on the cozy scale. I get requests for this soup all the time, so I thought this would be a fun opportunity to share it!  

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 

The recipe is as follows: 

Ingredients

4 pre-cooked sausage (or vegan sausage or omit altogether)

3 ribs celery, diced

2-3 carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

1 fennel bulb, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 bay leaves

1 tsp Oregano

1 tsp Basil

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp thyme

Chili flakes

2 tbsp or more of fennel seed, powdered in your spice grinder/coffee grinder

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

8 cups broth

1 can white beans

chopped kale

Directions

Measurements are rough. Soup should be brothy and spicy.

Saute sausage in olive oil in large dutch oven. When slightly charred add in celery, carrots, onion, and fennel and bay leaves. Saute until veggies are softened and reduced down. Add in garlic and rest of spices and saute for 1 minute.

Add in can of tomatoes, beans, broth, and spices. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 20-30 minutes then add in kale. Simmer until kale is wilted (about 5 min). Top with parmesan 


Are you looking to make a move?

We’d love to talk real estate over soup!

Livin' La Vida Starbucks

Okay. We want to just start by saying we know this can be an oddly controversial topic. People seem to either look up to Starbucks as the best possible way to start their day or… look down on Starbucks as a corporate giant destroying the coffee business. It’s a bit extreme we know, but we like to find ourselves sitting comfortably in between the two. Living here in Seattle, the home of Starbucks, we thought we’d give our two cents on what it is to live the Starbucks lifestyle.

First of all, let’s talk about what Starbucks is great at.

It can’t be stressed enough how valuable the combination of fast wifi & a reliably clean bathroom is. Whether you’re meeting friends or just headed to work, being able to stop in somewhere that feels familiar and has clean facilities is a lifesaver. Gas stations and fast food spots filled this hole back in the day but we all know we’ve been on a road trip and bought some Starbucks coffee strictly so we could use a CLEAN bathroom. Ok and maybe a cake pop or two… I mean we’re there we might as well.

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Which brings us to the drive-thru. Usually associated with not so healthy fast food options, Starbucks really gave the drive-thru a better rep when they started introducing them into their cafes. Utilizing technology like video screens where you can see your barista has slowed the process, but made it more of an enjoyable experience from a consumer standpoint. The time a customer may spend in a Starbucks drive-thru compared to the top fast-food chains is about double. But there’s no mistake that the experience and reward is generally far more enjoyable.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that you can find Starbucks in over 80 countries. The current count is a little over 29,000 stores! That’s insane. This does provide a level of familiarity and comfort no matter where you are in the world which is a pretty nice benefit. Starbucks has mastered the art of consistency. Your two-pump-vanilla-soy-triple-tall latte be made virtually the exact same way no matter what location you walk into, and there is something to be said for knowing your drink will taste the way you want it, consistently from day to day, anywhere in the world. If it doesn’t taste the same, you can ask for it to be remade and as consumers, we are willing to pay for that consistency and guarantee.


Let’s dive into the not so great aspects of this $3.5 billion company.

One thing that most people who strongly dislike Starbucks seem to have in common is this: They consider themselves to be “true coffee lovers.” They drink interesting single-origin coffees from a Chemex and add absolutely no cream or sugar. Starbucks has made super dark french roast coffees their primary workhorse and for good reason, most people pour a whole lot of cream and sweetener into their coffee. Darker roasted coffees can stand up to that battering of sweetness. So if you’re looking for uniquely artisan coffees extracted in an extremely precise way and brewed by an award-winning barista, your friendly neighborhood Starbucks is probably not the place to go. It’s ironic, if you look up Starbucks’ top competitors, you find companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. If Starbucks were a “coffee company” why would it be compared to a burger joint and a donut shop? This is more ammo for the coffee purists out there who think Starbucks shouldn’t even fall in the realm of a coffee shop.

All people agree, though— Starbucks is a really great dessert shop.

Okay, we’re half kidding, but seriously: Frappuccinos make up close to 1/5 of all Starbucks sales. Outside of that, quite a few of Starbuck’s items are more sugar than coffee. For instance:

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Venti (extra large) white chocolate mocha with whipped cream -- 73.8 grams of sugar (about 18 teaspoons)

Venti chai tea latte -- 52 grams of sugar (about 13 teaspoons)

Venti caramel macchiato -- 42.1 grams of sugar (about 11 teaspoons)

For comparison, a can of Coke contains 33 grams of sugar.

This is a growing concern of Starbuck’s as they are currently working on changing some Frappuccino recipes to be more healthy. Bottom line is it’s not a favorite of the third wave coffee lovers. But guess what? It’s ok to not be a coffee snob! Its okay to drink a little coffee in your cream if that’s how you like it!


Now all that being said…

In an effort to show true coffee lovers that Starbucks does actually know it’s stuff they’ve opened up stores like The Reserve Roastery which we recently toured and absolutely loved! With more of a focus on single-origin coffees and interesting brewing methods, this place is a must if you’re in the Seattle area. You can’t help but feeling just a little bit cooler as you leave!

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Whether you are team Starbucks or not,

the fact IS they have become a world recognized brand that has been both praised and mocked almost more than any other. They have an undeniable stronghold on the market and have built the empire to prove it. If you’re looking for a reliable place to sit comfortably on good wifi and sip a reliably decent coffee no matter where you are in the country or world, Starbucks is likely the best option.

But, if a truly third-wave experience of artisan-roasted coffee is what you’re after, visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery or, here are some of our absolute favorites in Seattle.

Enjoy!

Slate Coffee Roasters

Stumptown Coffee

Victrola Coffee Roasters

Caffe Vita


Let’s meet at Starbucks!

We’d love to help you get settled into the PNW

2 Refreshing Spring Cocktails

Spring is finally here and so are spring cocktails! 

With the weather changing comes a change in our taste buds as well. Hence, why we love lemonade and a not hot chocolate in the spring and summer months.

Bethanie and Brea here to share two of our favorite drinks you can try out when your outside enjoying the sunshine. 

First try the Cherry Blossom Tini.

A sake based cocktail, similar to a Cosmopolitan, making it light and perfect going into spring and summer. Perfect for a brunch or bridal shower, stepping up even the most casual event.  The alcohol content is fairly low making it easy to have simple flavors. 

 Supplies: 

  • Shaker

  • Jigger

  • Strainer

  • Stir Stick

Glasses of your preference, we used:

  • Martini glasses for the Cherry Blossom Tini

  • Mason jars for the Kentucky Mule

What you need for the Cherry Blossom Tini

  • Ice

  • 1.5 oz of sake (Fred Meyer’s only $8.00 — easy to find!)

  • 0.5 oz Cointreau Orange Liqueur (substitutes are fine!) 

  • 0.5 Cranberry Juice 

  • 0.25 (half of a jigger) fresh-squeezed Lime Juice 

  • 2 dashes of Orange Bitters (less is more!!) 

  • Lime garnish

Secondly, try the Kentucky Mule.

Similar to a Moscow Mule, but there’s a twist. Instead of vodka, you use bourbon (preferably bullet bourbon) for the Kentucky Mule - think Kentucky Derby style. With this kind of taste you can serve it anytime to enjoy with your friends and family to enjoy these beautiful seasons.

What you need for the Kentucky Mule:

  • Ice

  • 1.5 oz of bourbon (bullet bourbon is our fav!)

  • 0.25 (half of a jigger) of fresh-squeezed Lime Juice

  • 6 oz fill the rest with Ginger Beer

  • Lime garnish 

Overall, have fun with it! Get creative with what you have as far as barware, no need to restock your kitchen and who knows you could start a new trend! 

We understand you may want your kids to enjoy or maybe you’re cutting back on alcohol so we wanted to include some mocktails to try out as well:

Lime Rickey: 

  • 30ml Lime Juice

  • 30ml Sugar Syrup 1 

  • 15ml Orange Bitters

  • 120ml Soda Water

  • 1 Lime

The Real Shirley Temple: 

  • 45ml Grenadine

  • 180ml Ginger Ale

  • 1 Lemon

Have fun sippin!