Thursday, November 29, 2012


"Kimodo dragon! Thhhbbbbpt!"

Feeling brave, Pip?
"Yup. Thhhbbbbpt!"
That one's not actually real.

"This one is! Thhhbbbbpt!"
Pipkin is brave when they're behind glass.

"Snake! Ssssssssssthhhbbbbpt! Okay, that's enough."

Pipkin finally tired of teasing the scary animals behind glass at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood. In fact, he found them a little sad. He remembered what it was like when he lived a boxed life, and it was rather dull and adventureless. Now he's free to travel, and he shouldn't be teasing the predators.  But it's tough being a labbit. Labbits have a thousand enemies, wolves among them.

Pipkin is glad he's not in the jaws of a wolf. Labbits have to stick together and warn one another of their enemies. Kind of like these meerkats.

"Hey guys, what are we all looking at?"

Suddenly Pipkin got hit with homesickness. It's been fun traveling with his best friend, Domo, but he misses his labbit friends, too. Time to wrap up his travels in Seattle, and head home to Vermont to be with the warren. or two more stops!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Labbit Travels: Seattle's Pink Door

If you're visiting Seattle, there are a lot of attractions to see by day, but there are some things best left to the evening. Some recommendations: The Seattle Space Needle (with your admission ticket, you can visit twice in a 24 hour period, so plan accordingly), the Chihuly Garden (breathtaking at sunset), the view from Kerry Park, where you will see the city lit up beneath you, and for food and frisky fun, there's the Pink Door.

Nestled on the west side of Post Alley in the heart of Pike Place Market, the Pink Door doesn't have a sign to tell you where it is, but do look for a metal pink door. There you'll find the coziest Italian-American restaurant with nightly live entertainment. A tarot card reader will open your eyes to your past, present or future. Trapeze and aerial hoop artists will twist and contort over the dining tables. Live musicians will jazz up your evening meal.  And late into the night on Saturdays is the Pink Door's infamous cabaret!

The cabaret show is popular and a tightly packed event. While the show doesn't start until 11 PM, priority seating is given to those having dinner, so do yourself a favor and eat there before the show! The food is fantastic, although pricey. The show is an additional $15 cash, and well worth it. You must, MUST get to the Pink Door early for seating. Pipkin recommends getting there at least a half hour before 9 PM (or even earlier) to begin queuing up for the show. Don't be surprised when you're met with a wait before getting a table, and if you're at the back of the queue, you may not get a seat and you'll miss out on the show. So be early!

The cabaret show varies each week, but expect anything from bellydancers, vaudeville acts, and Seattle's best burlesque dancers. Obviously this is a 21+ show and photography is not allowed inside the Pink Door, so unfortunately Pipkin can't show you what went on. He can tell you his favorite acts that night were Bellydancer and Burlesque entertainer Fuschia Foxx and Burlesque entertainer Randi Rascal. Their links are somewhat NSFW and PG-13, so please click with caution.

The Pink Door is used to fans hanging around backstage after the show, but it's likely you won't meet the lovely ladies who perform that evening. They like to keep an air of mystery about them. (Pipkin caught a quick glimpse of Fuschia Foxx as she sneaked down the alleyway to go home.) You will get to meet the friendly emcee, as the picture above with Pipkin shows. The emcee complimented Pipkin on his fantastic moustache, and thanked him for coming to the show.

Be sure to check out the Pink Door when you visit Seattle!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Play With Me!

Clover was hopping through the woods a few weeks ago when she came across this little piano in the woods.

It was sitting at the bottom of a hill amongst some young maples, all alone, minding its own business.

How did it get here?

Did anyone play it?

Would it even play? Clover pressed a few keys, and it did play! It sounded delightfully tinkery and clanky in the woods amongst the birdsong and chipmunk calls. She was tempted to have Captain Holly and the labbitlings haul it back to the warren, but the warren already has a big, beautiful piano, and this one was perfect just where it was.  Clover stayed and played until the sun started to go down, when it was time to say goodbye.

Goo-bye, piano in the woods! Play with you next time!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pie, Pie, Again!

Captain Holly wasn't 100% happy with the Green Tea Cream Pies he made a few days ago. When at first you don't succeed, pie, pie, again! So Captain Holly whipped up another round of pie crusts (easy peasy!) and brewed a stronger green tea for a full 15 minutes. He also decided to add chopped pistachio on top of the whipped cream and white chocolate. It needed something green but he didn't want to resort to food coloring.

Steeping the tea

Then he thought, why not try another flavor of tea? How about Chai Latte Cream Pie? Yes! With the bold flavor of black tea and warm spices, it would make a delicious cream pie. All he did was swap out the Green Tea for Chai Tea.  If he had thought it through, Captain Holly would have added a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of the whipped cream.

Yogi Teas have thoughtful notes on their teabag tags.

To make these pies, click here. The Chai Latte variation has been added to the recipe. Next experiment in the kitchen is homemade Chai - but the Captain will have to raid the local food co-op for some fresh whole spices. For now, try the simple version with chai tea bags. Both of these pies were absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Labbits Like: Green Tea Cream Mini Pies

Pipkin bugged Captain Holly to recreate the green tea cream pie he had in Seattle, and he must have caught the Captain in a good mood, 'cause he was up for the challenge! Captain Holly looked online for recipes but couldn't find anything, so he figured he would try the simplest thing: making a cream pie, and adding in green tea flavor to the milk. He'd steep the green tea in hot milk (sort of like making a green tea latte) and then finish up the filling as if it were any other cream pie. And if that failed, well, he'd just have to try again.

So this was his first attempt. The result? Quite tasty, although, not quite green tea-y enough, and not green enough in color. He steeped 2 bags of tea for a little over 10 minutes, but used a very mild green tea, resulting in a mild taste and not much color. Still, these mini pies were tasty, with just a hint of the apple-green tea Holly used.

The recipe is below, and Captain Holly recommends steeping 3 or 4 bags of a mild tea, OR 2 bags of a strong tea for 10 - 15 minutes. He'd also cut out a bit more sugar so it's less sweet, but you can always adjust the sugar your taste!

As for the pie problems there! This is a flaky pie crust that is buttery and oh so good. This recipe is good for a 9" uncovered pie, or 6 mini pies, which Captain Holly made by using a muffin tin. With portion sizes like these mini pies, you don't have to feel too bad about indulging in a such a buttery, flaky crust.

Oh - since Captain Holly was making this up for the first time, he also made too much filling. You might be able to fill twice as many pie shells as Captain Holly, so if you're going to make these mini pies according to the recipes below, make twice as many mini pie shells.

Edited to add: There's also a variation below for Chai Latte Pie. Give it a try! Also, you can make slightly bigger pie crusts by cutting your dough with a 5" cookie cutter and spreading the dough over the back of the muffin tin. No need to stuff with parchment paper and beans, the tin will hold the shape of the dough for you. Don't forget to poke some holes in the dough to let steam escape, and enjoy your bigger mini pie crust. It holds more stuff!
Print Mini Pie Crust recipe here.
Print Green Tea Cream Pie Filling recipe here.

Mini Pie Crusts
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 lb cold butter, cut in small pieces
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp ice water
up to 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar (optional, Captain Holly didn't use any)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, sift together flour and salt, and up to 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar if you want to sweeten the crust slightly.
Cut in the butter with your paws (wash them first!) or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal or tiny peas.

Thanks for not smorkin' in the bowl, Captain Holly.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolk and water together, add to the flour mixture, and blend until the pastry is smooth and holds together in a ball.

Wrap ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Remove plastic, and sandwich ball of dough between two pieces of wax paper and roll the dough into a disk about 1/8" thick.

Use a 4" cookie cutter (or the lid off a jar of Ovaltine, which is all Captain Holly had - work with what you've got, like a cup, a clean tin can, etc.) to cut out a circle of pie crust dough. There should be enough dough for 6 mini pie crusts. Take all the leftover pieces of dough for the last circle, and roll it out with your paws.

Press the disks into a lightly greased muffin tin. Place the muffin tin in the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool. Keeping the dough cool will help the crusts retain their shape while baking. Meanwhile, cut out 4" squares of parchment paper.

Press the paper into the pie crusts and fill each paper with dried beans or uncooked rice, gently pressing the beans or rice into the sides of the paper. This will also help the crust keep its shape when baking. Bake on the middle rack at 425°F for 6 minutes.

Remove the parchment paper and beans or rice, and lightly score the bottom of the crust to allow steam to escape. Pop the muffin tin back in the oven to bake another 4 minutes* or until the crusts are a light golden brown. Set aside to cool before removing from the tin.

*Note: if you are making these mini pie crusts for pies with filling that require baking, only bake for another minute, then fill the mini pies, and bake according to your recipe.

Yields: 6 muffin sized mini crusts

Green Tea Cream Pie Filling
2 cups 2% milk
3 - 4 tea bags of green tea, depending on desired strength of green tea*
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, softened
Whipping cream (optional, for garnish)
White chocolate (optional, for garnish)
Chopped pistachios (optional, for garnish)

Chai Latte Cream Pie Variation:
Instead of green tea, swap in Chai tea! Captain Holly used 4 tea bags of Yogi Tea's Chai Rooibos and steeped for 15 minutes. Follow the rest of the recipe the same way, top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

*Although Yamamotoyama's Apple Green Tea is pictured and used in the first batch of pies, Captain Holly found it was too mild tasting. The next batch of pies was made with Choice Organic Teas' Premium Japanese Green, which yielded a stronger green tea flavor. 

In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a near boil, but do not boil, and stir constantly with a whisk. A thermometer should read between 140°F to 150°F. Remove from heat, add tea bags, cover, and allow to steep for 10 - 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and whisk in eggs. Strain the steeped tea into a bowl through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove and solids and tea leaves. Return liquid to the saucepan and over medium heat, bring liquid back to 140°F, stirring constantly.

Gradually add in the egg mixture, whisking constantly (seriously, do not leave the stove. Keep stirring!) for 10 minutes or until filling is thick and bubbly. Add the butter and stir to mix evenly.

Remove from heat and immerse the saucepan in a large bowl of ice water to cool the filling. Cool for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Captain Holly added ginger to a couple just to try something different
Spoon the filling into the mini pie crusts and cover with plastic wrap. Chill pies for 3 hours or until set. Remove the wrap, whip up some whipping cream and shave some white chocolate for garnish. Enjoy!

Yields: 6 mini cream pies, although there was enough filling for 12 mini pies. Double up on the crust recipe above if you want a dozen delicious mini pies!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Time Is It?

It's time for pie!

While walking past the Armory at the Seattle Center, Domo and Pipkin noticed this sign. PIE! Thank goodness for clear directions. They followed the arrow "thattaway" and found this:

In a darkened corner of the food court in the Armory is small counter full of delightful hand sized pies. That would be human hand sized pies, which for a labbit would be regular pie size. But this shop also makes mini mini pies, which are perfectly sized for domo and labbit and great for humans wanting to try more than one pie at once. Who doesn't want to try ALL the pies? You can see a list of their pie flavors, both sweet and savory, on their website here.

Mmmm, lemon custard pie, mini mini sized! Pipkin's saving this for later.

If you want to save a little money and don't mind not having fresh-out-of-the-oven pie, you can enjoy yesterday's goodies for the price of π.

Domo couldn't wait to duck into this hand sized apple pie. Human hand sized pie you say? Domo thinks they fit between his hands just fine. Thus, hand pie. Who needs a fork? Rawr!

You won't find Pipkin's pie on the menu. He went for a special one-off flavor they were experimenting with for the day. The woman at the counter described it as a "spiced green tea cream pie with white chocolate shavings".

They were trying it out to see how customers would like it. It's certainly not your standard chocolate cream pie, banana cream pie, apple pie or blueberry pie. It's rather exotic sounding, but Pipkin loves green tea ice cream and figured green tea cream pie couldn't be too far off the mark.

It was delicious! He gave the shop his feedback, but who knows if they'll make it a regular item. Until then, he will have to do his own experimentation in the kitchen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Views are Free

Domo: Know what I like about Seattle, Pip?
Pipkin: What's that?
Domo: The views have been free.
Pipkin: (looking around) Well, yeah, it's all around us.
Domo: No, I mean the viewers. At the Space Needle, and here. We don't have to put in change to use the binoculars.
Pipkin: Oh yeah! That's real nice. Especially since we both don't have pockets.

Sunny Skies, Great Wheel

Days and days of sunny, blue skies are rare enough in Vermont, but in Seattle it's just freaky. Pipkin is missing the rain and would gladly take at least an overcast day. But while the sun is shining, the sky makes a beautiful backdrop for Seattle's Great Wheel, a large ferris wheel on the end of Pier 57 on Puget Sound that is a recent addition to the city.  Opened in late June of 2012, the Great Wheel is the largest on the US west coast, boasts 42 cars (including a VIP leather seated and heated car) that can take 300 people around and around to a height of 175 feet, and 40 feet out into the Sound. At night, the ferris wheel lights up and the lights will change color according to the season, or whether the Seahawks are playing. Pipkin's going to skip the ride and hop around the waterfront today. It's just too nice to be inside a little car!