Date Night In: Pre-Order!

Date Night In // Not Without Salt


photos by Boone Rodriguez

I had a dream the other night, a nightmare really, about seeing my book for the first time. I ripped into its yellow parcel pouch with the same enthusiasm as my four-year-old at Christmas. I flipped over the cover so I could take in the culmination of three years worth of work but inside I found hideous beige and fabric textured paper with a similarly beige font. Instantly any hope I had of people actually reading the book were dashed. They made a last minute change to divide the book by meals which made no sense for a date night book (let’s just say the breakfast chapter was very lacking) and there was one whole section dedicated to the fried chicken and biscuit sandwich (maybe that’s not so bad after all). The narratives were tucked in the back like an afterthought and the images were small and often distorted.

The rest of the night I lay there trying to convince a very nervous and anxious self that “it was just a bad dream. They wouldn’t really print beige-on-beige. Go back to sleep.”

It feels surreal to be at this place. Less than two months from the pub date, I mean. It seems like I’m the only one who feels like this time has flown by. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been deep in the process of actually creating it as I’ve watched the due dates come and go and poured myself into the project every step of the way. So much so that while I’m absolutely thrilled to finally be able to share it with you all, I’m also a bit terrified.

You may have noticed a lull here over the past couple of years. Those of you who have been reading the site for years may have noticed posts that were a bit more light, quick and airy. I’m still proud of those posts and stand by the recipes they served but I tried real hard to save all of myself for the book. I wanted to stand at the point where I am at today and say, “I am damn proud of this book.” And guess what guys, I am really damn proud of this book.

I have tears in my eyes as I write that because I am so happy with how true that statement is and I also know how hard it is for me to say that about anything I create.

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Date Night In // Not Without Salt Date Night In // Not Without Salt Date Night In // Not Without Salt

I’m proud of this book for many reasons; the food is ridiculous (I’m convinced that the Salted Chocolate Pecan Ice Cream Pie with Bourbon Butterscotch and Pretzel Crust is worth the cost of the book alone) the photos make the food look as good as it tasted, and this book was created by a village. But what makes me the most proud is that this book is about so much more than the food. As much as I love food what I really love is what happens around the table and what happened around our table last year gave us the absolute best year of our marriage.

Side note: Writing a book about date nights is the best accountability to actually having a weekly date night. I highly recommend it.

A couple weeks ago I was speaking at a Food Blogger’s conference about being vulnerable on the blog; the importance of that and why I do it. Inevitably the book came up because this book is quite possibly the most vulnerable I have ever been. Tears streamed down my face as I stood up on stage and told the audience about this project. I found myself anticipating the question of “why do it if it makes you so scared?”

This is what I told them; “I’m terrified. I’m afraid of this book being judged or me being judged because of the book. I’m very afraid of bad amazon reviews. But I will take that fear any day if it means that I get to share my heart, my passion and myself with others in the hope that someone may find help, hope and inspiration in it.”

I don’t want to live a safe life, I want a meaningful one.

Last night I got an email from my editor that the book is one its way. The moment I’ve dreamed (nightmared) about is happening in a matter of days and I couldn’t be more excited and yes, terrified. You all will have to wait a bit longer before you get to hold the book in your hands but just as I reward my own children for their patience I plan to do the same for you.

While the book has over 120 recipes I couldn’t stop there so I went ahead and created five additional recipes that make up what we are affectionately calling our “Holi-DATE”.

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The Holi-date is the perfect menu to celebrate surviving the craziness of the season that is right in front of us. Here’s the menu:

Classic Champagne Cocktail

Gruyere Gougeres

Stuffed Pork loin with Prosciutto and Prunes

Cranberry and Cabbage Slaw with Orange Ginger Vinaigrette

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread


*Bonus* The extra Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread that you don’t eat for date night makes a great holiday gift.


I want you to all have these recipes but first I need you to do something for me: Pre-order the book. Please and thank you.

For the first 150 people who pre-order and then fill out this form I will send you a set of five beautifully designed (thanks, babe!) and photographed recipe cards along with a downloadable PDF of all the recipes from this menu. If you aren’t one of the first 150 don’t worry, you’ll still get the PDF.

You can choose to pre-order the books where ever you like (if you do so here it’ll be a signed copy!) the important thing is that you pre-order. I’m new to this whole book making and selling process but apparently the pre-orders are a big deal because bookstores like to see that the book is legit and people are totally into it. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is all just so huge for me, my family and my sweet friends who are ready and waiting to pass the tissues, raise a glass of bubbly and give me loads of hugs and eager pats on the back. All that to say, your support means so much to me. I can not wait to share this book with the world and to finally start the conversation that I’ve been writing about and thinking about for such a very long time.

Once you pre-order the book go to our book page (here) and fill in the form.

(The book page will be the home for all book tour events. I’ll be updating it regularly so don’t be afraid to become friendly with that page.)

Looking for where to pre-order? I’ve got you covered.


Indie Bound

Book Larder (pre-order here for a signed copy!)

Powell’s (the cover here is not the most recent edition)

Running Press






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Olive Oil Zucchini Bread

Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt

Renee taught me how to like smoked trout, she opened my world to octopus and made me a preacher of the wonders of oysters. She did this slowly and without even knowing what she was doing.

She earned my trust at Boat Street, a beautifully casual yet elegant restaurant in Seattle. Year after year I would ask to go there for my birthday. I trusted her pickles, her pork made me a fan and her chicken liver mousse showed me that anything this woman makes is amazing.

So when The Walrus and The Carpenter opened with the premiss of esteeming the mighty oyster I knew I too had to get on board with these sea creatures that had always caused me such angst. Because if Renee says it’s good it has to be good. And she was and is right.

It was her book, A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories – with maybe just the exception of mine – that I’ve most anticipated this year and once again Renee has not let me down.

Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt

I’ve had her food for so many years across all of her bustling restaurants so when the book arrived I feared it might fall in to the category of so many books penned by chefs; “well, that looks pretty but I’d never actually make that.” But hers is so not like that. It is inspired food done simply, with smart technique and the right ingredients – exactly how I like to cook.

This recipe shows off Renee’s style beautifully. I mean, have you ever seen the humble piece of zucchini bread on a dessert menu before? Most people wouldn’t dare but Renee does and somehow she always knows exactly what we want to eat and how we want to end the meal. She doesn’t just stop at a piece of zucchini bread. She slices it thick then toasts it in an ample supply of butter that has been browned until nutty in color and smell. While still warm it cozies up to generous billowy mounds of cremé fraiche and then – and this how I know Renee and I would make dear, dear friends – she tops it all with flaky salt. It’s the most beautiful and delicious taste of comfort.

Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt

A few things to note before you run into the kitchen to start grating your zucchini. First of all I wanted to share this short little video that A & E Studios put together for their new web channel It’s part of their series, Inspired and I think it is serving it’s purpose well. I’ve watched all the episodes so far and have loved getting a glimpse into the lives of other creatives: What inspires them? What does their day look like? How did they get to where they are at? And what really is important to them?

Anyway, I’ll just go ahead and put this right here and if you have a moment to watch it I’d LOVE it.

The other thing I wanted to say is that my cookies are finding their way all over Seattle and the internet. Meaning, you have several options now as to where you need to get your cookie fix from. Here’s what we have so far:

Ballard Sip & Ship

The Pantry

Acme Farms + Kitchen

Bright Coffee (Monterey, CA)

250/flora (Bellingham, WA)


And of course you can still buy them here. Soon we’ll let you know about our holiday flavor! It’s real good. I made sure of that myself.

Olive Oil Zucchini Cake

recipe from A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories

This recipe is pretty much exactly as it appears in the book with the exception of two changes. I added salt to the batter and I used turbinado sugar (raw sugar) when she called for demerara sugar – which is more intensely flavor and what I would of used had I not just had turbinado on hand.

makes 1 9-by-5-inch loaf pan


3 cups grated zucchini (from 1 pound zucchini)

2 cups granulated sugar, divided

Unsalted butter, for the pan

2 cups (about 256 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for the pan

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg

3 large eggs

Grated zest from 2 large lemons

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

for serving:

Unsalted butter

Créme fraiche

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon or Jacobsen


Preheat the oven to 350•F.

For the cake: In a mixing bowl, blend the zucchini with 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh strainer and set the strainer over the mixing bowl. Fill another bowl, this one just big enough to fit inside the strainer, about halfway with water and carefully set the water bowl directly on top of the zucchini. (This presses the water out of the zucchini.)

Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended. beat in the olive oil in three stages, whisking until it is thoroughly combined each time.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no white spots remain. Working with a handful of zucchini at a time, use your hands to press and wring all excess moisture out of the zucchini. When all the zucchini has been pressed, add it to the batter, and stir it in gently until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with the turbinado sugar. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 70 to 75 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely.

To serve:

Cut the bread into 1-inch-thick slabs. Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. (Use the same amount of butter for however many pieces of bread will fit into the skillet at once.) When the butter is melted and foamy, add a few slices, and cook for a few minutes on each side, until warm and toasted. Serve the bread over a smear of créme fraiche, sprinkled with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining bread.

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