Come summertime, I head for my neighborhood farmers' market. Seasonal ingredients are best, but I never met a pie I didn't like or invited too many people for a dinner party. I've been baking bread and collecting cookbooks since high school beginning with the classic Joy of Cooking. I've even written a few cookbooks, both as the designated author and as a ghost writer. My first career was handweaving, which I studied for a year in Finland while traveling extensively throughout Scandinavia. I love the plain, simple food of the far north, especially Norway sardines and brown goat cheese, cod from the Lofoten Islands, and Danish yellow cake with fresh raspberry or strawberry puree between the layers and luscious whipped cream icing.
My favorite things to cook
Blackberry pie made with handpicked Northwest berries, ginger cookies, Mississippi Mud Cake, flourless chocolate cake, wild Alaska salmon, roasted beets, Hassleback potatoes, roasted chicken from a local farm, and angel food cake.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Danish rice pudding on Christmas Eve, plank-roasted King salmon to mark midsummer, pumpkin-bacon-sage risotto in October, real pecan pie at Thanksgiving, and chocolate pudding made from scratch when I'm feeling blue.
My cooking triumphs
Mastering the Norwegian/Danish "kransekake," or almond ring cake, which is made from only egg whites, ground almonds and confectioners' sugar. The rings are baked separately in 15 to 18 special round tins, cooled and stacked to make a pyramid, then decorated with loops of royal icing. Plus, last summer, I successfully made Danish puff pastry for the first time.
My cooking tragedies
The kransekake for a Swedish friend's farewell party that sagged like the Leaning Tower of Pisa instead of standing upright! Everyone said the broken sections were delicious, but the baker was most distressed.