Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm back!

I had a wonderful time, but I am in need of a little time to re-acclimate to my daily life. Until I've collected myself and feel a bit more centered, I will leave you with a couple of snippets from my lovely, lovely trip to far away.

Anyone have any tips for re-entry into life after vacation? I'm feeling a little overwhelmed...

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I'm off to Mexico for a long overdue vacation....

calla lilies

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Margherita Pizza

Cooking Light is one of my absolute favorite places to look for foolproof recipes. (and no, they didn't pay me to say that). I think the magazine is fantastic, with great pictures, recipes, party menus, and quick dinner ideas. I got this recipe from my Cooking Light Complete Cookbook, and like all the other things I've tried, it turned out really yummy. You can see the recipe here, but here's a synopsis:

I used a pre-kneaded, but fresh pizza dough from Whole Foods, brushed it with olive oil, garlic and herbs from my garden, then baked it at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.

unbaked crust


Then I topped it with my garden tomatoes (purple cherokee) and fresh buffalo mozzarella (bufala, as they say in italy. I'm still reading Under the Tuscan Sun)

margherita pizza toppings

Back in the oven it went for another 12 minutes

I topped it with more fresh basil, salt and pepper, and a tiny splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It smelled divine, and tasted even better.


We finished off the meal with some watermelon from the farmer's market.

farmer's market melon

Oh summer, won't you stay just a little longer?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

breathe life in...breathe out. Repeat

Let's pretend today was perfect.

Let's pretend that I didn't buy a nice bottle of wine only to drop on the pavement upon getting out of my car...crash...mmm, what a lovely bouquet with notes of pear, apple, and hot cement.

I didn't plan my family's whole dinner around one key ingredient in my refrigerator that turned out to be quite moldy.

I didn't leave my toddlers favorite, special, lovey blanket at daycare. No. Please tell me I didn't. (screaming, tear-filled toddler tantrum ensues while I do the same, in my head.)

All of these things worked themselves out, and in the end, weren't that big of a deal after all. It was a lesson in picking myself up, dusting myself off, and moving on.

And really, there were some quite lovely moments.

A quick trip to the antique mall.

Addison found a few things he loved


and so did I
parisian antique dresser

Then we headed to the Moreland Farmer's Market to meet up with some friends and see all there was to see and hear and smell and taste and touch

The dinner I botched took a turn in a different direction and also turned out quite delicious and beautiful, which I can't wait to share with you tomorrow.

Until then, did you catch Stephanie and Maria on the Martha Stewart Show? So inspiring to see them get the recognition they deserve. Plus, a whole show dedicated to blogging? Very, very cool.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Meme: 100 foods to try or not to try

Stefania, over at CityMama, posted her Omnivore's Hundred, and it looked fun. Unfortunately, I'm not as well-versed in culinary adventurism as I'd like to say I was. I tapped out at 50! (but half ain't bad, no?)

Want to try it?

Here’s what you do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Italicize any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos Rancheros

4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (does alligator count?)
6. Black pudding (no. way.)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush.
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13.PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Umeshu!)
19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese (no weird meat products for me, thank you)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O shots
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal ( I had to google it. I don't like too much heat in my foods)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
(overrated in my opinion)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (huh? I googled this and its like kaopectate?)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (ewwww)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (see # 68)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (oh hells yes.)
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini (nope but dang that sounds yummy)
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Which thing should be next on my list of things to try?
If you've eaten one of the things that I haven't tried yet, tell me why I should!

Hot Beer and Harriet

Thank you, Amy, for sharing a link to these amazing historical volumes on cooking and keeping a home in the late 18th to early 20th century. I, too, could spend hours looking at these windows into the past.
Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project

After delving into the world of "Aunt Babette," I learned that we make coffee the same way she did 141 years ago. But she had some other interesting ideas for drinks, like Eierbier (Beer with eggs in it..mmmm) and Hot Beer (Hot beer with eggs and milk...whoa).

In another volume, The American Woman's Home, by Harriet Beecher Stowe (remember Uncle Tom's Cabin?), I found evidence of her early efforts for gender equality.

"The authors of this volume, while they sympathize with every honest effort to relieve the disabilities and sufferings of their sex, are confident that the chief cause of these evils is the fact that the honor and duties of the family state are not duly appreciated, that women are not trained for these duties as men are trained for their trades and professions, and that, as the consequence, family labor is poorly done, poorly paid, and regarded as menial and disgraceful.

"To be the nurse of young children, a cook, or a housemaid, is regarded as the lowest and last resort of poverty, and one which no woman of culture and position can assume without loss of caste and respectability.

"It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the remuneration of all the employments that sustain the many difficult and sacred duties of the family state and thus to render each department of woman's true profession as much desired and respected as the most honored professions of men."

It is easy to discount the past, finding humor in the ignorance, mistakes, and follies of people who lived before us. I like this passage because it reminds that women not only fought for equal voting rights, but for keeping a home and raising children to be respected and on equal standing ground with men's professional work.

I don't think we've quite arrived yet, since child care is still one of the lowest paid professions, but we have come a long way.

Thank you to all those who have gone before!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

outside and inside

September has taken its seat and settled in. Its cold cold nights and scorching days have left me changing my clothes multiple times a day and doing my best to savor these last bits of summer.

We've tried to spend as much time outside as possible during the daylight and curled up with movies at night.

Here were some of the goodies from our week:

Smith & Bybee Wetlands just minutes from my house.

Smith & Bybee Wetlands Trail

Smith & Bybee Wetland grasses

Blue Heron

Its hard to believe that all this exists just a couple hundred yards from a major road in the city. You've got to love Portland.

You've also just got to see this movie, Bella.

For the serious movie-lover, it is a unique gem of a movie that appealed to all the senses. It is unpretentious, and lacks the banal Hollywood movie formula that I have grown so tired of.

For those who just want a little eye candy, the lead role is a serious hottie. And who doesn't like that?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

he brings me joy...and design

Like my new banner?

I had it designed by a professional graphic designer.

He also just so happens to be my husband.

I'm a lucky girl, eh?

Monday, September 8, 2008


upon arriving at the ranch

I didn't mention it before, but my Labor Day weekend left something to be desired. That's putting it mildly. Ever since I became a parent, actually, since I was pregnant, I have liked camping less and less. This year's Labor Day weekend was the culmination of my growing dislike of the dirt, the packing, the unpacking, the extreme effort it takes to shower, cook, wash dishes, and sleep comfortably (if at all). By the time Monday rolled around-- well, let's just say that an angry, rabid raccoon would have been better company. Camping is not my idea of a relaxing vacation.

Fortunately, this past weekend made up for the relaxation lost on camping. We stayed with some friends and family in their vacation home at Black Butte Ranch. The weekend carried with it all the things that make a good weekend memorable:

face-to-face time with nature

both day...

and night.
night bandits

We enjoyed good food and good company
pantry soup

good company

a little excitement

and a lot of relaxation.
a good moment

I couldn't wait until the weather got cold to read this delicious novel, like I said I might. Turns out, it is the perfect book to read on vacation. Very little plot. Just one delicious description after the next of making dreams a reality and living a beautifully simple life. Yes, please!

For now, more weekends like this one are welcome in my life at anytime.

Friday, September 5, 2008

neither here nor there

What a crazy week!

Back from one vacation, catching colds, busy busy work week, fighting off colds, then on to another vacation! This time to stay with some friends and family at Black Butte Ranch -- I promise to take pictures!

The end of this week did come with some lovely treats and rewards. My husband and I had a lovely date at a fun and yummy new neighborhood Portland spot, Radio Room. 50s decor and waitresses outfitted in vintage-hipster style set the tone, and our food, while nothing toscream about, was good and very affordable on the Happy Hour menu. I had a cheeseburger, side salad, and Cowboy Coffee with a layer of sinful whipped cream on top. Ben did the double-dip-deep-fry with Cheddar fries and calamari. Unless you are a die-hard calamari-goer, or its pitch black outside, I don't recommend this dish. I got a little squeamish when the mix of whole little octopi and rubbery tentacles showed up. But Ben insisted it was tasty.

This morning we had a rare chance to sleep in and then I headed out for some of the last garage sales of the season in hopes of finding some treasures. Boy, did I!! I happened upon one of the most amazing garage sales I've ever seen. A beautiful historic house in the Piedmont district here in Portland, whose owners had just unpacked their late parents' storage unit.

Wow. Their gorgeous yard was full of quirky antique furniture, amazing old dresses, rustic mirrors, beautiful books, artwork, vintage dishes and china, imported antique rugs -- a collection of things from someone's life of travels, no doubt. Gifts that could only be received by someone dearly loved by many.

garage sale finds

The Bodum french press was brand new in the box, never used. It even had the Christmas card from "Mo & Bonnie" still inside, which reads "Have a wonderful holiday you dear people - you two are so special."

This quilt made my heart skip a beat.
handmade persian quilt

Look at the hand stitching!

As soon as I saw it, I unfolded and knew I had to have it.
handmade persian quilt

Won't it be nice to curl up under it with a cup of coffee from my new press and read this book from cover to cover when the weather gets cold?

It's almost enough to make me wish it were cold already... almost.

For now, I'm hoping for mid 80s all weekend so I we can test out the new pool at Black Butte Ranch. Have a great weekend!

ps. Here are the things I wanted desperately to buy at the sale... but I knew I shouldn't.
Now you can pine over them too....sigh