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A Productive February

February is an important month. It’s often a defining time where resolutions either loose steam or pick up their pace. At Nooks & Cranberries, we stayed busy, kept our momentum and came out with a lot of inspiration to share.

We introduced you to some destinations from our visit to San Francisco, including 21st Amendment with great brews and the mouth watering pastries of Tartine.

Tartine Pastry Case

We took on challenges by trying to add a little romance to our writing with the Valentine’s Day Special and stamina with Christina Katz’s 21 Moments writing challenge.

Romance and Roses

Finally, in the Writer’s Kitchen, we explored the delicious possibilities of asparagus and quick meals for the writing life.

Roasted Vegetables

Another productive month! We hope you’ve had great momentum as well and we look forward to sharing more inspiration next month.

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Destination Inspiration: La Boulange, Hayes Valley

La Boulange Quinoa Salad

We happened upon La Boulange in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley after getting coffee at Blue Bottle on New Year’s Eve. With an eagle eye for anything resembling a French boulangerie or patisserie, Daytona spotted the corner restaurant from our bench in Patricia’s Green, and we made a beeline over to see if La Boulange would serve as an appropriate lunch spot for four hungry adults and two toddlers.

With 20 locations, this Bay Area bakery prides itself in making authentic and delicious French food and strives to provide the French neighborhood cafe experience for its customers. The founder, in fact, has a background in working in presigious bakeries in Paris and near Bordeaux.

La Boulange Interior

Food and Beverages

On a sunny winter afternoon after enjoying coffee and pastries at the nearby Blue Bottle, we all needed a real meal but didn’t want anything too heavy. The fresh sandwiches and salads on the menu at Boulange sounded like just the thing; little did we know that the portions would be twice as large as our appeties could handle. The flank steak sandwich, served open-faced, was flavored with roasted onion, tomato, arugula, and aioli. Served with a quinoa salad on the side, it was a hearty yet fresh option, that would have been perfect to split with a friend. As for the salade niçoise, we’ve had some incredible versions in our time, including the one at Brasserie Four in Walla Walla, which is one of the best we’ve ever had, so unfortunately the one at La Boulange, had high standards to meet, and while it was tasty, there was nothing notable about it.

La Boulange Bread

Location and Atmosphere

La Boulange is on the corner of Hayes Street and Octavia Street across the street from Patricia’s Green park. The cafe was crowded, despite the spacious dining room – a good sign in our book! We managed to snag a cozy corner able that was just big enough for the six of us, with toddlers on our laps and the umbrella strollers folded up and tucked away. The atmosphere was upbeat, bustling and overall charming.

Writeability and Purchased Presence

If it’s crowded, you’ll want to be mindful of the other people waiting for tables. If not, feel free to take your time as you enjoy your sandwich and sip your beverage.

La Boulange Steak Sandwich

Price: $$

Pricing is reasonable especially for the hearty portions. Sandwiches (including an option of sides) start at $8.00. And don’t forget to bring a little extra for pastries!


If you’re coming from Blue Bottle, as we did, you don’t have to worry about parking as the two locations are an easy stroll away from each other. If not, expect to seek out street parking.

La Boulange Interior

Writer’s Tip

After a successful writing or brainstorming session, treat yourself to a trip to Miette, the beloved pastry shop that’s located nearby.

Find It

500 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Destination Inspiration: 10 Barrel Brewing Company Pub

10 Barrel Sampler

We hope you enjoyed our recent Walla Walla-based Destination Inspiration series. For the next several weeks, we’re going to be highlighting some of our favorite spots in Bend, Oregon, where we recently visited for a beer-tasting tour.

Upon arriving at Sunriver Resort about 20 minutes south of Bend on a Thursday evening, we were definitely ready to stretch our legs and unwind. Six hours is a long time to spend in the car, after all. But with two babies and an impending bedtime, we couldn’t exactly hit the town. So our husbands set out to find some of the local beers to bring back to the resort. That’s when we got our first taste of what 10 Barrel Brewing is up to. We sipped their Apocolypse IPA (and some red wine of course) while watching the sun set and the wildlife roam outside our rooms. It was a great introduction to 10 Barrel’s beer, and we were excited to visit their pub the next day.

10 Barrel Caprese

Food and Drink

Having tasted just one of 10 Barrel’s brews the night before, we were ready on Friday morning to head straight from our resort to the company pub for lunch. First things first, of course, we ordered a round of beverages. Sarah opted for a pilsner while Daytona ordered the sampler, which included a taste of 10 beers, including their award-winning S1NIST0R Black Ale and Apocalypse IPA.

As for the food, we were pleased with our orders ranging from fish and chips to caprese salad and steak nachos. Any time a restaurant has a caprese salad on the menu, it catches our eyes. However, this classic salad can range from bland and watery to nothing short of spectacular. The caprese at 10 Barrel fell somewhere in the middle, with too much emphasis placed on a mediocre dressing, and no ingredient really standing out as superb. The steak nachos, however, were amazing. The fish and chips were good too. And so was the beer. With the family-friendly approach to dining (all ages are welcomed until 11pm), we’d come back frequently if we were locals.


10 Barrel Fish and Chips

Location and Atmosphere

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Bend when the sun is shining, don’t miss the patio here. The patio has the feeling of a really nice backyard party, with happy, laughing people and great food all centered around a big enclosed fire pit. The atmosphere is light and uplifting. This place is family friendly, with kids being welcome until 11 pm.

Writeability and Purchased Presence

This is the sort of place you visit with your writing group or a writing partner. Bring a pad of paper, leave the laptop at home. Be jovial. Have fun.


The pricing is about average for this quality of pub fare with appetizers starting around $8 and main entrees running between $10 – $15. Their fresh made pizza pies run between $11 – $24. And of course you can’t miss trying out some of their beer!
10 Barrel Patio

10 Barrel Interior


Plenty of parking is available in the lot.

Writer’s Tip

Practice your beer tasting descriptions. Being the foodies that we are, our focus is often on the food. But for this trip we switched gears to center our writing energy on the beer. With a writing partner or group, order a sampler and try your hand at beer tasting. Without looking at the bottle or drink menu, try writing your own description and see how close it matches up.

Find It

1135 NW Galveston Building A
Bend, OR 97701


*This meal was provided to us courtesy of Central Oregon Visitors Association.

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Destination Inspiration: Monteillet Fromagerie

Monteillet Sheep in Field

One of the highlights of our recent trip to the Walla Walla Valley was an afternoon at Monteillet Fromagerie just outside of Dayton, Washington. When you have just a few nights in Walla Walla, it can be hard to decide whether to dedicate your time to visiting as many wineries as possible or to break it up and check out some of the region’s other specialties as well. However, we highly suggest seeing if you can work the fromagerie into your schedule.

Pierre-Louis and Joan Monteillet are the couple behind the fromagerie. They lovingly tend French Alpine goats and Friesian and Lacaune sheep on their 32-acre farmstead that seems worlds away from the city life that we’re so used to and that even a smallish town like Walla Walla provides.

Monteillet Cheese

Monteillet Goat


Just visiting the fromagerie is a treat in and of itself, but then you get to taste the cheese. If you choose to do a sampling, you can order a plate of their current cheeses to enjoy at the small counter inside or outside in the garden. If it’s a hot day, a glass of chilled rosé is a welcome pairing.

Location and Atmosphere

If you’re checking out the foodie scene in Waitsburg during your stay in the Walla Walla Valley, a trip to the fromagerie is well worth your time. It’s just eight miles past Waitsburg, and if you get your timing right, you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the fromagerie before dinner at the Whoopemup Hollow Cafe. The question is, will you ever want to leave?

That’s right, the Monteillets have created an oasis of sorts in their little corner of Eastern Washington. The world seems to slow down there, and just sitting in their lovely garden has the ability to melt away any tension you may have brought with you.

Monteillet Lanterns

Monteillet Tendril

Writeability and Purchased Presence

Bring a notepad–the same one you use for wine tastings, perhaps–and make notes on the cheeses you taste. Sit back, relax. Observe, brainstorm, dream. Take notes just to help you remember. Otherwise, just enjoy. If the Monteillets have a moment to chat, take the opportunity. You’ll be in for a treat.

The Monteillets also have a gite, or French holiday home, which would make an excellent place for a writer spending a little time away from the busyness of life.


Tasting runs about $10 and a glass of wine is about $5. We also recommend bringing a cooler in case you want to take some cheese home.

Monteillet Sheep

Monteillet Outdoor Kitchen


Parking is abundant here. Drive down the long gravel road until you come upon the tasting room and you’ll be sure to find a place out in front.

Writer’s Tip

Lose yourself in the remote countryside atmosphere. Taste the variety of cheeses and write about your experience. Consider it cheese tasting practice. And, as we always advise, notice the people around you and take notes for future character development. Above all, relax and enjoy yourself!

Find It

Monteillet Fromagerie
109 Ward Rd.
Dayton, WA 99328

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Writer’s Kitchen: Learning to Improvise

Absinthe Cake

Life is all about improvisation. Improvisation and reinvention.

Back in the days before we had children, Sarah and I would get together frequently to cook and bake, always finding some intriguing recipe to try, such as raclette macaroni and cheese or David Lebovitz’s absinthe cake (pictured above and featured in a previous edition of Writer’s Kitchen). While those kitchen dates with my dear friend virtually stopped for a while, I’m happy to report that we’re back to it, albeit in a modified and not-so-efficient way (have you ever tried cooking while supervising small children?). And we’re back at it just in time for fall, with its bounty of comforting stews and warm spices.

When Sarah and I used to work through complex recipes, we had a routine. I would take the role of recipe reading, making sure we were following the correct steps and keeping everything on track. Sarah would prep ingredients and keep the kitchen remarkably tidy as we went on. We were a great team. We would take our time and savor the experience, marveling in how well we worked together and talking about whatever was on our minds. These days we improvise–something our new identities as mothers requires. And while it may take twice as long to bake a simple batch of cookies, I have to say that our reinvention was totally worth it. You should see us as we wrangle very active baby boys while trying to get a recipe just right–and keep the kitchen moderately clean!

I never would have expected that becoming a mother would change the way I cooked, but it has–and in the most interesting way. I used to stick comfortably to the flavors and techniques in a recipe, veering only a little to compensate with ingredients on hand. However, in the past few months I’ve found myself coming up with ideas and running with them, sometimes piecing together a few recipes to help me with technique (as was the case with mushroom- and cheese-topped rockfish atop steamed spinach that I made over the summer) and other times boldly pulling experimental flavors together into an improvised side dish (such as the linguine with garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes, and cilantro from earlier this month). Maybe it’s because I don’t have the time to menu plan as extensively as I used to, and therefore am forced to improvise more often. And maybe developing recipes for some recent articles in Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine and the Norwegian American Weekly has had something to do with it. In any case, it’s been exciting to watch how the kitchen skills I’ve developed over the years now serve me well as I trust myself to create something delicious, and I can’t wait to try out my newfound confidence with the bounty of fall foods.

What are some of your favorite original kitchen creations? I’d love to hear from you and get some more inspiration!

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Writer’s Kitchen: The Food Writer’s Moment of Truth

Salmon on Lentil Salad

Being a food writer is a scary thing–exhilarating, fun, and delicious, to be sure, but also anxiety-inducing. Especially when it involves sharing a recipe. Once that recipe is published, there’s no going back. I experienced a bit of those nerves a few months ago when submitting my recipe for Fennel-Scented Salmon atop a Lentil and Spinach Salad to Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine. It was a sidebar for my article called “Craving conspiracy: Ten ways to work with your cravings—instead of against them—to give your baby the best start,” and it was my first recipe to be published in a national magazine. However, part of the job of being a food writer is testing recipes, so my family ate well as I tweaked the proportions until the flavors were just right. After months of waiting, the article and recipe are now in print in this month’s issue, and my husband and I got the pleasure of cooking from my own recipe, right there on the glossy pages, a few days ago. I’m so familiar with it by now that I can make it without following the recipe to a T, but that was my moment of truth. Guess what? It’s delicious. Phew.