As a chef, I wanted to celebrate the season — which at the time was Fall — with wine grapes, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and all of the fabulous northwest bounty. We decided to have the wedding at a local organic farm, using their fabulous prodcuce and beautiful grounds.
The day was a celebration of not only our wedding, but bringing together the family we created from our friends. We threw together a day of fun, food, wine and a representation of who we are, and the feeling was relaxed, informal and farm-to-table focused.
The style was rustic, with butcher paper, burlap, antique amber glassware, flower-filled mason jars, and thrift-store silverware tied with butcher’s twine.
I had a local designer from Seattle, Lizzie Parker, create for me a flowing, cream-colored wrap, while my husband and son wore simple cream colored linen shirts and Converse kicks.
I wanted the style to be informal and farm friendly – jeans and boots. So I wore rubber Wellies… it is the Northwest after all!
My bouquet was a simple arrangement of hydrangea tied with a cream colored, satin ribbon made by one of my best friends. The boys both wore simple boutonnieres fashioned from fresh lavender and sage from our garden, wrapped in butcher’s twine.
My favorite moment of the wedding was a shared one: my son walking me down the aisle, my sister presiding over the ceremony (she became ordained just to marry us), and my husband waiting for me at the altar. I should mention that the wedding march was replaced with a cat-walk stomp to Al Green.
You are not seriously doing the food yourself?! OK, not all of it. I had a lot of help. I wanted to create food the way my chef friends and I approach our lifestyles – local, sustainable and artisan.
We had small jars of olive oil roasted nuts and marinated olives for snacking. Of course, there was copious wine – we are chefs after all. The wine was a simple, crisp white and a food-friendly, easy drinking red.
For the non-wine drinkers we had a selection of local beers. For water pitchers, we collected glass milk bottles all summer. Each bottle was laden with lemon verbena stems and fresh mint.
We filled shallow wooden boxes and platters with what I feel are my favorite food groups – cheese and fruit. I like to offer guests a variety of cheeses and almost always rely on this formula:
- a tangy fresh goat cheese
- a bloomy triple or double crème
- a hard, nutty aged cheese such as a Parmesan Reggiano or Comté
- a washed, ripe cheese with serious character such as a Tellegio
- a bold blue
Along with the cheeses, I love to put together baskets of warm sliced breads, seeded crackers, long shards of crispy olive oil crackers and finally roasted grapes, a fig or apricot spread and fresh berries.
The weather was drizzly that day. So much for the s’mores by the fire, but we held the reception inside the farm greenhouse for feasting and dancing.
I collected smaller jam jars to fill with a buttermilk and Oregon blue cheese dip and crisp farm veggies.
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip
*makes about 2 cups.
- ½ cup old fashioned thick buttermilk
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup good quality sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 4 oz crumbled firm blue cheese (1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
- salt and cracked pepper to taste
- Blend buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, and salt until smooth.
- Fold in parsley, blue cheese, chives and seasonings~ serve with crisp veggies or thick cut potato chips or anything else you can think to slather it on.
- Dressing keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.
I wanted pig! All things porcine. I called my friend and fellow Chef Instructor Sara Wong (butcher-at-large) to do pig, and she did a complete utilization of a local pig, from breakdown to charcuterie. We had smoked hams, sausage, grilled and cured with a team of students… we did that pig proud!
Roasted grapes are a delicious accompaniment to roasted meats or a beautiful presentation on a cheese board. I like to serve them as a topping to bruschetta that’s has been spread with a creamy soft blue cheese or a tangy goat cheese and drizzled with honey.
- Start with black or red seedless grapes that have been washed and dried.
- Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan
- Drizzled with olive oil
- Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes until hot and glazed
- Serve immediately
I baked flat breads to go with the charcuterie, and blue cheese short breads for the jam.
We stocked up on cases of local tomatoes, which I wanted to showcase alone with olive oil and fresh herbs. I grow all of my own herbs, and had spent all summer fostering pots for center pieces on the wedding dinner tables.
No cake for this girl! Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, and it was my day. So my good friend and fellow Chef Instructor Rebecca Johnson along with her lovely students baked and baked, then filled cookie jars and plates with fresh, fantastic, gooey cookies. To go with the cookies, we placed tin tubs filled with pitchers of ice-cold milk with mason jars and straws.
One of my colleagues who, in addition to being a Chef Instructor, is also a beekeeper, gave us two five-gallon buckets filled with fireweed honey. We used it to fill small mason jars for each guest to take home, as well as to drizzle over cheeses. Guests also took home boxes of fresh produce from Willie Green’s Farm.