22 December 2010

Tasty Treats for the Holidays ~ Second Course: Feast of the Seven (or 10 or 12) Fishes and Pecan Pie

Happy Holidays, Everyone!  Here is the second installment of my favorite holiday recipes from Casa Fiore past.  Buon Appetito!

    Casa Fiore, January-February, 2004

20 December 2010

Tasty Treats for the Holidays ~ First Course: Christmas Cookies from My Family

Happy Holidays, Everyone!  As we wind our way through the winter holidays, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite holiday recipes from Casa Fiore past.  Enjoy!

18 December 2010

A Gift for You: "The Gift of the Magi"

Happy Holiday to everyone!  Have you read O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" recently?  No matter what creed or tradition you honor, the message in this classic will stick with you well beyond this season. 

Please take a moment to enjoy this small gift from me to you.

16 December 2010

Casa Fiore #56: Published and in the Mail!

This month's offerings include:
  • Invitation to Casa Fiore's Cucina Cooking Class #2:  Spaghetti alla Frutta di Mare, Grilled Prawns, Killer Super Fudge Brownies, and more!
  • Fiore = 5 Star Realtor 4 years in a Row! as selected by Seattle Magazine
  • From the Chef:  A Casa Fiore Classic  -  Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
  • Just Sold! Just Listed!  Way Cool Maple Leaf New Construction and more
  • Observations from the Field: Smart Buyers, Smart Sellers, Prices Up in Seattle Residential Market in '10
Stay tuned to CasaFioreOnline.com for the web release of selected articles.  Care to join the hundreds who receive their own old fashioned, snail-mail version at your doorstep?  Send along your address and let me know!

10 December 2010

From the Realtor ~ Observations from the Field

Smart Buyers.  A good home is hard to find, so when “the” home came on out-of-the-blue, as they oftentimes do these days, my clients moved quickly, wrote a smart and professional offer, responded to a competing offer, and got the home of their dreams.

Smart Sellers.  My clients made an offer on a fine but under-the-radar Tudor.  The sellers had made routine price drops, but had just not found their buyer.  When we came in 5% off their list price, they countered back nearly at our price.  When a $2500 sewer line issue was detected, they responded quickly to remedy the situation.  When we asked for monetary compensation for a range of fix-it items, they promptly signed off on the inspection, moving the transaction toward closing.

Prices Up in Seattle Residential Market in ‘10.  Whenever you read real estate statistics, remember that old adage, “All real estate is local”.  Residential home values (including town homes but not condos) in Seattle neighborhoods have increased over 2009 in 10 of 11 months.

Source:  Northwest Multiple Listing Service


19 November 2010

From the Realtor ~ Observations from the Field

From time to time, I report on the trends we are seeing both in the body of statistical infomation on hand and in what is currently happening "on the ground" with buyers and sellers.  Here are some of my latest observations.

October and November Bump.  The feeling on the street is that both buyers and sellers got a little more serious and decisive as we moved towards year’s end.

More Old Inventory, Less New Inventory.  It’s true:  we have more total inventory in Seattle than we did last year at this time. Diminished sales since the expiration of the tax credit certainly plays a role in our increased stock of homes. Conversely, we are seeing less new inventory come on the market in the same time period, and desirable new listings can sell fast, leaving the same, tired old listings to languish longer.

Low Balls and Multiple Offers.  With lengthy market time comes low ball offers, though not all of the time.  While some buyers choose to go this route, many will simply dismiss an overpriced home or wait and watch to see what happens—sometimes only to lose the home. Conversely, nice new listings at fare prices are selling every day in 2, 3, 7, 9, 13, and 24 days. A strange dichotomy, yes, but it makes perfect sense when considering the importance of a good value today.

12 November 2010

From the Cook: Uncle Joe's Turkey Pot Pie

I used to host a huge Thanksgiving bash the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. I’d supply two roasted 25 lbs. birds, stuffing, and homemade eggnog, and my guests would contribute their favorite side dishes. It became an annual competition—who could whip up the kitschiest dish?  Imagine all of the legendarily weird Thanksgiving-Americana dishes you’ve ever seen assembled on one table—curious casseroles of unknown origins, Aunt Sill’s marshmallow-ed this alongside Great Grandma Mayflower’s jello-ed that—and you’ll get the picture. Of all the oddities that showed up at my table, there was nothing that I feared as much as the dreaded turkey pot pie—who knew what horrors lurked beneath that golden Crisco crust?

But alas, times change. I stopped holding that wild turkey rager - scraping pecan pie from the ceiling at 3 am lost it’s charm. And thanks to Uncle Joe, I got over my silly turkey pot pie queasies—I cannot wait for this year’s batch! Joe, take it away… “Years ago, we were sitting at my in-law’s beach house on Vashon the day after Thanksgiving, contemplating the mound of leftover turkey in the fridge. ‘Let’s make turkey pot pies!’ I suggested. Despite their questioning glances, the recipe was a huge hit, and it has now become a family tradition.”

Purchase or prepare a double recipe of your favorite pie crust.  Grease a couple of 9” pie pans or several individual pie pans and casserole dishes. Heat 6 T. butter in large pan over med.-high heat. Add: 1 cup chopped onion; 1/2 cup chopped celery; salt & pepper to taste, and cook for 2 min. Add 6 T. flour and cook 3-4 min., stirring constantly. Add 2 cups chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce to med.-low and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 min. Add 1 cup half and half and cook 4 min. Add: 1 cup peeled and diced potatoes; 1 cup diced carrots; 1 cup peas; 2 cups shredded leftover turkey; 2 T. chopped parsley; salt & pepper to taste. Fill pie pans—there’s no bottom crust. Cover with pie crust. Vent crust.  Bake in preheated 400º oven for 25-30 min., cool briefly, and enjoy! 

Casa Fiore #55 - Published and in the mail!

This month's offerings include:
  • Fiore = 5 Star Realtor 4 years in a Row! as selected by Seattle Magazine
  • Uncle Joe's Turkey Pot Pie recipe
  • Just Sold!  Cool Lake Washington View Property
  • Observations from the Field: October Bump; More Old Inventory, Less New Inventory; Low Balls and Multiple Offers 
Stay tuned to CasaFioreOnline.com for the web release of selected articles.  Care to join the hundreds who receive their own old fashioned, snail-mail version at your doorstep?  Send along your address and let me know!

01 November 2010

Pesto, Puttanesca, Pecan Pie! Just a Couple of Spots Left for Casa Fiore's Cucina!

There are still a couple of spots left for this Saturday's cooking class - Pesto, Puttanesca, Pecan Pie!  And, oh yes, other things to eat and drink, probably a surprise recipe, and my vaunted homemade liqueur tray, now featuring 10 confections to sip from.  I've been featuring recipes I love in my real estate newsletter Casa Fiore for years now, and I've listened to the requests of my audience and offered this class.  Now you can see some of these recipes in action - this will be a good group and a lot of fun!  Let me know and you are in.  See my post below!

22 October 2010

You are invited to... Casa Fiore’s Cucina!

You’ve made the requests, I’ve listened!  Introducing by popular demand...

Casa Fiore's Cucina

Saturday, Nov. 6, 6pm

Spaghetti allaPuttanesca (Casa Fiore,Sept.,’03)
Pasta al Pesto (Casa Fiore, July-Aug., ‘05)
Pecan Pie (Casa Fiore, Jan.-Feb., ‘04)

Please join me as we prepare together some of my favorite dishes while having a fun and tasty meal.  You will leave with three new dishes, a full stomach, and a happy smile! 

Class maximum:  10 guests. 
Material costs:  $35. 
Register with me at:      

21 October 2010

From the Realtor: Observations from the Field

From time to time, I report on the trends we are seeing both in the body of statistical infomation on hand and in what is currently happening "on the ground" with buyers and sellers.  Here are some of my latest observations.

It’s a fantastic time to be a buyer.  Let’s see, where do we start… lowered values, soft prices, a buyer’s market, super low rates, and some incredible deals.  Wall Street Journal’s Brett Arends recently spelled out “10 Reasons To Buy a Home” in today’s market.  Check out this compelling article on my Casa Fiore Facebook Page—or email me and I’ll send it out to you!

Super Low Rates vs. Lower Prices.  Wait for prices to potentially drop a notch or grab today’s unprecedented rates (4.3% at time of publishing)?  As Arends points out, “These are the lowest rates on record.  As recently as two years ago they were about 6.3%.  That drop slashes your monthly payment by a fifth.”  In concrete terms, a $600K mortgage that once would equal $3,150/month now equals $2,580—a $570/month savings.

 Values Up, Inventory Up, Pending Sales Down.  Since late spring, this is the trend we have been seeing.  Many will point to the April 30 deadline for the federal tax credit, and it appears that the credit may have contributed to knocking some future demand off the fence.  However, we have also seen some of our best year-over-year appreciation in a long time, something worth celebrating.  (Year-over-year statistics represent Seattle neighborhoods.  Source:  NWMLS)

Priced High:  List Long, Sell Low.  Priced Well:  Sell Fast and at 97% of List Price!  In a June snapshot of the market, homes that sold in less than 31 days sold for 97% of their original asking price, while homes with 32-90, 91-180, and 181+ days on market, sold for 94%, 91%, and 76% of their original asking price.  It pays to price well.

13 October 2010

Why Buy a Home in Today's Market? Check Out This Article...

While there's some trepidation about entering today's real estate market, Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal presents 10 compelling reasons why stepping up right now would be a smart thing to do.

05 October 2010

Casa Fiore's Thanksgiving Extravaganza, Part I: Dad's Minestrone Soup

My ever-popular real estate newsletter Casa Fiore is in its eighth year of existence.  Here is the latest recipe from issue #54.  As always, let me know if I you have any questions along the way.  Enjoy!

 My favorite Thanksgiving dishes aren’t the stuffing or the roasted bird. Instead, I prefer a couple of family food traditions. I shared my favorite pumpkin pie recipe with you (Casa Fiore, Oct.-Nov., 2005), made from denser, sweeter Hubbard squash.  Now for two more Pignataro favorites. First, Dad’s minestrone, or literally, “big soup”. Lately, Dad’s made a vegetarian version; in the past, he made a beef stock from scratch (and omits the bouillon cubes) and builds from there. Like Dad, I use the recipe that follows as a general blueprint—there are always modifications in the field, like pancetta for salt pork, more olive oil and oregano or the addition of a flavorful rind of Parmigiano. So, think of me this Thanksgiving as you are deep into your tryptophan gaze—I’ll still be plugging away a this hearty, annual “big soup”.

1. In a large soup kettle, sauté 1/4 lb. minced pancetta and 3 minced cloves garlic in 2 tbsp. hot olive oil.  Add the following diced veggies: 2 carrots, 1 large onion, 3 cups celery and cook over med. heat for minutes.  Add one 6-oz. can tomato paste.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add 4 quarts water (or beef stock, either homemade or store-bought) and bring to a full boil for 5 minutes.  Add seasonings:  3 tbsp. salt, pepper to taste, 1 tsp. oregano, 3 beef bouillon cubes.  Mix well and add the following:  2 diced potatoes, 1/4 head chopped cabbage, 2 seeded diced green peppers.  Cook 5 minutes.
3. Turn heat to med.-low.  Add 2 diced zucchini and 1 bunch finely chopped spinach.  Cook until all veggies are tender.  Add 3/4 cup cooked pasta of your choice (1/3 cup uncooked), one 12-oz. can drained and chopped tomatoes, one 12-oz. can drained garbanzo beans, one 12-oz. can drained kidney beans.  Heat through and serve.

Stay tuned for Part II:  Joe’s Turkey Pot Pie!