Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Somedays I just need a cookie!… or two! I cannot recall where I found this recipe so please forgive me if it's yours and I've stollen it. And, just like everything else in this world… it's always better if it's stollen. Not funny I know but seriously, some things taste better when you've swiped it! I recall a moment when my mother accompanied me to my kiddos school one day to help out in their classrooms. We had to trek over to the teachers lounge where there was a pass-through window in to the schools cafeteria. On the counter, within my mothers reach sat about a dozen cookie sheets filled with warm, just baked chocolate chip cookies. She took one! I couldn't believe it but my mother just stole a cookie. No one was around so does that make it okay? I think not but I'm not sure I've ever seen her enjoy something so much in her life. It made me laugh a little and as the warm cookie was devoured, she laughed a little too. There's just something about a warm chocolate chip cookie that makes everything perfect in the world.
I have the second batch of these babies in the oven right now and my house smells so good. The boys will be happy when they get home;)! Happy baking and happy Spring from Portland.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES:
2-1/4 cup flour
2 teas. baking soda
1 teas. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, although today I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening and wow… delicious!
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, cold
1 TABLESPOON vanilla
36 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, I don't use that much but you go for it!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
Cream butter, shortening (if you use it), both sugars until mixed but not fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
Add the dry ingredients and stir until almost absorbed, then add the chocolate chips and mix till they are fully incorporated.
Scoop dough into one inch balls onto the cookie sheet and bake for about 15 min. or until edges are golden brown. Let the cookies finish baking on the sheet out of the oven for 5 min. then remove and let cool… or not. Just eat them!
Monday, March 23, 2015
|Beer Making at F.H. Steinbart!|
Here in Portland, most of our days are extraordinary. However, every now and again, we have one of those days times ten and then I have to tell you about it! Last Saturday, we had a day filled with learning, tasting, walking, touring and enjoying and it all happened in one little corner of the city. So, if you are looking for a day like this, filled with "Portland" things to do, check out the rest of the story and start planning!
As a Christmas gift to our son, we booked the three of us in to a beer making class at F.H. Steinbart. I love this shop and included it in to a tour itinerary about a year ago that took me on a trip through many of our home type shops around the city. It's one of many but seriously the one stop that has pretty much everything if you want to make wine, beer, cheese and more! Our class began at noon as about 20 of us gathered in the back room of the warehouse to take notes and taste beer!
Learning about the grains, the hops, the water, etc. and all the stuff that makes good home brewed beer was pretty danged interesting. Our household has been itching to begin our first batch for some time so this only perpetuated that desire to get brewing. Looking for a mid Spring batch to come our way. This was only the beginning of our day and I want to include it in to this itinerary for you however, there is only one beginning beer making class a month so check that out if you're interested. If you just want to included F.H. Steinbart and do a walk/shop through, that's ok too! Enjoy the stills, the growlers and all the things that make any type of home brewing fun and interesting.
We rode over by car to the first stop of the day. Beer making class lasted about three hours and the tastes were pretty good too! One of the beers shared was a great example of one of our local brewers, Base Camp Brewing. Only a four minute walk from F.H. Steinbart to Base Camp, I highly suggest you save this as a possible last stop of the day cause you'll want to linger.
After our class, we walked a block over to Meat Cheese Bread which I had enjoyed about four months ago. Loved the Fall Panzanella so I was pretty excited to still see it on the menu. This place is pretty small, indiscreet and tucked into a little older style strip of buildings and so unless you are looking for it, you may not see it at first. Ray had the chicken salad and really loved that too!
From Meat Cheese Bread, we walked a block and a half to Woodblock Chocolates! Time for a quick tour and meeting Charley was pretty sweet! I suggest you call ahead if you'd like a tour of this "manufactory!" It's a small production with huge flavor and one of those Portland love stories that you could hear over and over again. Quite simply one of the best chocolate makers in the area.
If you wanted to get started earlier in the day, I suggest you check out my last blog as it tells of this food lovers quarterly report on places I have enjoyed since the beginning of this year. Although, when I think of brunch perhaps which would be perfect on this kind of day, my mind and gut goes to Autentica or even the Arleta Library Cafe. Either would do.
Again, ending this day at Base Camp Brewing is not only a great idea, it's one of the best and most interesting breweries in Portland. Beloved by all who enter and taste, Base Camp has a great story all its own. Ask around and if you're lucky, you'll get a quick info session and perhaps a little tour of the facilities. Be sure to have someone in your party get that stout with the toasted marshmallow on top. Great shot for a good photo and a delicious brew.
|Cacao Beans at Woodblock Chocolates!|
|Roasting the cacao beans.|
|Charley and roasted cacao beans!|
|Chocolate hair… that's Charley!|
|Fall Panzanella at Meat Cheese Bread!|
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
So, I'm trying something a little different this year. I decided that when my list gets this full, it's time to share it! I don't want to wait till the end of 2015 when you can take this list now, print it out and stick it in your back pocket and then make your rounds to the places I've tried out! Please note as I say below, if you see this *, it means it's a "new to me" place. Without it, I'm just a returning customer which says a lot too. Remember also, you are reading my private notes and my opinions. I almost always have something good to say at each place I visit and understand that even some of my most favorite places have off days. It's ok, we all do. Enjoy my list and let me know how you like it or used it in your food journeys.
Places I’ve been so far: 2015
- Old Salt Marketplace/Miss Zumstein’s fo New Year’s Day Brunch... really good!
- Fly Awake Tea Garden for chai and they had some delicious looking food cooking up around a pit.
- *Lan Su Chinese Garden/Teahouse... We had a pot of tea and Chinese Dumplings and this was our first time for real food. Really good dumplings but really hot!
- *Olé Latte Food Cart for a Portland Pine Latte at their cart on Alder... really good!
- *Frank’s Noodle House on Broadway... good but not a huge noodle fan. Ray took leftovers home and cooked them in a pan the next day and said they were a lot better.
- Nuvrei for Macarons with Steven and Drew... loved them and Steven loved the cin roll.
- Sweet Red for Book Club and as always.. nice! That's in Albany!
- *Sirene Cafe in Albany... not good, horrible decor and very cold feeling. In Albany!
- *The Ranger Station on Hawthorne... our first time and not so great feeling when we walked in. Service is weird with only one person bar tending and doing food. Didn’t eat but the menu sounded good. Only had beer. Disappointed in the decor… I guess my expectations were different.
- *The American Local... Loved the vibe, the cocktails and the food! Smaller plates and I had the fried macnchz. Ray’s cocktail had bourbon and salted caramel bitters and I had tequila with apple juice. Pretty nice.
- *North Light on Miss Ave.... Sunday night for a whiskey tasting and intro to a new cocktail, Stone Barn Brandy Works. Ray liked the whiskey ok. I had a cocktail the bar tender made up with Stone Barn’s coffee liqueur. She also had several jars on the bar she calls tinctures. Some with almonds, walnuts, etc. She uses everclear to make them. They offer smallish bites but we didn’t eat anything.
- Liberty Glass... just went in for a beer on 1/11 and there were a few people around. Wish this place was busier but it was a Sunday night.
- Lovely’s 50-50... wow... pizza shared, a smallish beer and ice cream made there!
- *Oui Presse... really cute and I had a cafe au lait served in a bowl... loved it! Also, liked the coffee cake which I think was esspresso?
- *OSO Market... got Ray some snacks and me a tea to go, they mis-charged me.
- *OSO...we went back to straighten it out and was offered some wine. Talked with the bar tender for half hour. Great place for a drink and they have lots of snacks, etc. all made local.
- Cafe Nell... brunch for Jo’s bday… ummmm!
- Uncle John’s Market on Taylors Ferry Road.. not a big deal.
- Baker and Spice on 1/25 with Steven. He had coffee cake and we brought home something chocolate for Ray. They loved it!
- Branch Whiskey Bar for drinks only. Loud this night but it was an Alberta night out. We had dinner out on the patio last summer and enjoyed it and the food was pretty good.
- Tea Bar... I had a London Fog on 1/28 and loved it! I’m in to tea latte’s now.
- *Richmond Bar on Division... went after we picked up Steven from work... 11pm. Ray had a burger and I had macncheese with Steven. Really good and love the bar. Old fashioned in a fun way. Tots were good too!
- Pips... had the Emmylou again and tried the everything doughnuts Steven gets. Really good!
- Old Salt Marketplace... Dinner on 1/31 and not as impressed with this menu this time. I had a rahicchio salad that was ok and the biscuits I found out, are made out of lard. The cheese polenta wasn’t right this time and was like congealed. But, this is still our fav place for brunch thus far and we still enjoy taking folks visiting here!
- *Autentica... amazing brunch and I had the enchilada mole on 2/1. Ray said the best Huevos Rancheros he’s ever had. Really loved all the food and they give you a lot, almost too much!
- Ecliptic for a Lunation dinner. Really nice, weird menu though. Lots of beer and tar tar…ick for me anyways!
- Barista for a cafe au lait and Roman Candle Sweet Potato Muffin…yum!
- Prasad in the Pearl... All vegetarian/vegan. Liked the juice.
- *OSO brunch... already posted that but ate here on 2/8 and really enjoyed the Polish brunch!
- LaTaq... again, YUM!
- The Pied Cow for dessert on 2/14 and it was ok. Ray had a banana split and I had pie. This place is just sticky. As always.
- Tin Shed for brunch.... so freaking good!!!! With the Medina’s.
- *Multnomah Whiskey Library... loved the bar, the cocktails so-so. Nice selection of whiskey and beer.
- Lovely’s 50-50... again, love the pizza and ice cream!
- Tasty & Son’s... first time in a long long time and really good brunch! Loved the flakey and moist biscuits and chocolate potato doughnut.
- Sunshine Tavern... good food as always but loud!
- Milk Glass... cookies only this time. Chocolate salted caramel for Ray, thee best!
- *The Old Gold for a Whiskey 101 class. Bites were just so-so but they have a nice whiskey selection and the bar is great and we really enjoyed the class!
- Cheese and Crack for sundae’s... will prob go back for food but enough with the sundae’s for now… can't be this bad all the time;)!
- *Petite Provence... my first time and the croissants are good, butter, flakey and huge! Very good with jam. Coffee was good and by Nossa Familia!
- Branch Whiskey Bar.. I’ve eaten here before, last summer on the patio. I like the atmosphere and the small bar feel where I as a local could picture myself hanging out now and then. The veggie burger is ok and should be eaten with fork really to get the most out of it. The fries are good and be sure to ask for them without the duck fat oil!!!!
- *Juniper’s Food Cart on SW Washington. I had the Chocolate Malt yesterday, March 5th and it was good. Not like a shake, it’s more like chocolate milk. I also enjoyed half of the Italian Sammy, all vegan btw and it was tasty.
- Tidbits Food Cart Pod... I had the Pyro Pizza and it was really good. Also enjoyed the Scout Beer Cart where I had a Friem Family Brewery beer.
- *City State Diner and Bakery... Steven had The Best of Both Worlds which was a portion of each eggs benny and biscuits and gravy. He said the biscuits were a bit rich and too much. I had eggs, potatoes and toast and a bit of his coffee cake which was delicious and tasted like a cinn roll.
- *Motor Coffee Co... went Sunday 3/15 with Patty and had coffee. They serve Stumptown but it was ok. Great place just wish they had a diff. location.
- *Donnie Vegas on Alberta... great little bar with delicious Taptails and I really enjoyed the vibe and my drink, Moscow Mule with locally made ginger beer, I think Rachel’s? Hot dogs from costco or wherever were ok and great for a little snack or lunch perhaps.
- *Bison for coffee on Tuesday, March 17th. Had a chai which was delicious. Steven had a latte made with Heart Roasters coffee and Joanna had a really good smelling tea. We shared a Bison shaped sugar cookie which was good too. This is on Cully in the middle of nothing so again, wish it was on my street. Just opened in Nov. 2014.
- *Char Burger in Cascade Locks... Ray had a burger and fries which were good. I had onion rings that were fresh and so good. View is awesome so go just for that if for nothing else.
Monday, March 16, 2015
|Reuse, re-purpose… esp if it's too cute to toss!|
|Collections can be art! My collection of wool blankets and a vintage quilt!|
I'm not saying that I don't have things in my home. As you can see by my photos I shot this morning, I do have things. However, I have learned over the years that keeping only the things that I really love, things that bring meaning to my life, things that offer me happiness and make me feel good are the things I will keep. All the other crap can be tossed. This is also where I tell you that when I say "toss," I always mean "donated" or given to a friend, etc. I almost never just throw things away in the garbage. I do believe that junk or things that I am just done with can surely be someone else's treasures and vice versa.
As a young woman and starting a home, it was all about things. How many things can I get, fit in to my home, finagle from family members to put in my space and I always thought more was way better. I started in an apartment as a lot of people do and I proceeded to fill my place to the brim with things. Eventually moving from the apartment to homes throughout the years, I found myself wanting to bring even more things in to fill empty spaces like mantels, tables, shelves and more! Styles change of course so some things stayed and some things left but for the most part, most of my adult life was about how much stuff can I decorate my home with. This feeling or habit stayed with me well in to my early 40's when our family moved from a newer home to a smallish historic home in a neighborhood I loved. I had to pare down so some things were given away or tossed. In the process, more things didn't make the cut as we quickly learned our home was tinier than the former and even more had to go. This was a great feeling and donating items to a needy cause felt really good too. Once we were settled in our new old home, the collecting began again. Smaller things but still, things were accumulating and at some point, it became once again, overwhelming.
Planning our move to Oregon to open our BnB in late 2007, it was time to rid our home of the things that wouldn't make the move. Still, too many things made the cut and we hauled a lot of crap up that we now don't have clue where it's gone. Filling our 5600sf 1908 Craftsman Bungalow and decorating it to look and feel like a BnB, I used some shabby chic stuff I had, some things purchased at nearby antique shops, etc., the big house began to feel like "too much!" One big huge yard sale later about two years in to our BnB business, the house was cleared of everything that we didn't love, didn't need, couldn't eat or drink, etc. What a good feeling that was. I could finally see the gorgeous house for what it was, a beautiful piece of historic art, the fir and white oak floors, the built-in leaded glass hutch, the woodwork around the windows and doors and every detail that made it a craftsman. Even our guests began to tell us how much they loved how clean lined the home/BnB felt. Many said they had a hard time explaining how they felt being in our home but they did know, it made them feel really good.
As time went on, we did get rid of even more, I quit spending unnecessarily and focused on buying things that could be read, consumed or given away as gifts. I have to stop here and tell you that if you have ever done this, purged yourself of all the "unnecessary" things in your life, it's so freeing and it's truly happiness in my opinion.
|Remind yourself of family!|
Forward a few more years, over five to be exact and we decide it's time to close our business and move to Portland. We've been here for about 1-1/2 years now. We sold literally everything from our BnB, well, I kept the personal stuff like family photos, papers and a few tiny items that I couldn't part with. We had our condo in the Pearl and decided we didn't want a storage unit to pay for each month again, concerned with too much stuff in our lives, we paired down a few more times once moving and enjoyed having space in our condo storage and inside our unit. Fast forward a few months and we begin looking for our house in the Alberta Arts area of Portland.
We've been here in our new home in an old Portland neighborhood for almost one year already. I am so glad I had learned less is way better before moving again as we have found most of the things from our condo filled our home nicely. We had to purchase some bigger items and decorate a bit but we really have tried to keep the home personal and filled again with only the things we truly love. Books, consumable items of course and those family photos. The one "thing" we decided we'd splurge on, is Portland art. Our small collection only consists of 3 or 4 pieces which added to a few other pieces we have had for years and just could never part with.
|Shared full length mirror in hallway with a small family gallery.|
So, I think I need to get to the part about "cleaning!" Who really wants to do it, it has to be done and how easy can it be? Well, let me tell you… less is way better when it comes to stuff in your home! If you have less stuff, it's easier to sweep, easier to dust, less to vacuum around and less frustration for sure. But, that's just the physical "stuff." I am a big believer that when you spend money on crap, crap that junks up your house, makes no improvement on how you feel or how much happier you think the crap makes you feel, you just simply feel like crap. That's a lot of crap but I'm serious. There's something truly special when you surround yourself with only the things that really mean something to your life and well being. I can tell you that almost everything in my home has meaning of some kind, for example: our dining room table is a very long farm table we had made a few years ago by a gentleman that is a retired Oregon State Police Officer. I asked the man to write a letter about the table and what it meant to him to make it for us. He shared in his letter some history about himself but the most special part of the letter talked about the labor he put in to making the table. He spoke of the wood he used the old wood legs and how important that we know that this wood and table if taken care of carefully and lovingly like a marriage, could last forever. Yes… I did wipe a little wetness from the corners of my eyes and put the letter with my important papers to keep forever. This is exactly what this whole story is about folks. Keeping in your home, where you live with the people you love only the things that add meaning to your life.
|Small side of wall gallery!|
|It's ok to keep the things you really love!|
I will give you my secret on "how" to keep the clutter down to a minimum and remember, donating your unwanted items is a good way to feel good about what you are doing by helping others. That secret… every month, I grab a brown grocery bag and I flip though my closets, my drawers, my laundry/storage room and pretty much literally open every cabinet door and try and find things that need to go! I almost always at least partially fill a bag. This technique not only makes you go through your stuff, it's a tactile experience that reminds you what you have and helps you realize if you still want or need the item or not. Try it and see how you feel. One more note: be sure to find a worthy place to donate. For example, there are these green bins around Portland that accept clothing and shoes and I believe they actually give them away, people don't have to pay for them. There's one on Alberta St. in the Nutri Taco lot but I have also seen them all over town.
One more note and I'm done: you can certainly find a lot of cleaning ideas on Pinterest but try and not spend too much time on it. It's really about the time you are here, how much of that time you can spend doing good things, fun things, loving things and making your home a happy, comfortable and relaxing place to be. Super clean is nice but not necessarily the key to life. I'd love to hear your comments and please share ideas that you have had in this experience.
Enjoy and Happy Spring!
|Guest rooms are ready for guests!|
|Bike is going to the bike shop in two days!|
|Table is ready!|
|Cleaning out the garden… getting ready to plant!|
Monday, March 9, 2015
|The best ingredients make the cake!|
I remember one time while watching Ina Garten on TV, someone called in and asked her what she meant when she said to use really good butter, or really good olive oil, etc. in a recipe she was making. The look on her face and her pause said so much. I was thinking she was thinking the same thing I was thinking before she responded. She was probably thinking that this person asking this question really had no business in the kitchen. But then I recalled my early days of cooking and learning to follow recipes and that person asking what I thought was a silly question was me many years ago. Everyone has to begin somewhere.
I have written many times in the past about my cooking education. For the most part, I learned everything I know from my grandmothers, my aunt and my mother. Throw in being married to a firefighter for over 28 years and all that "on the job" training hubby brought home helped me master salsas, rice and bean and so much more. Many many hours in my kitchens and running my BnB for over five years with all the family help, I feel pretty confident in changing up a recipe and make it my own. Using a basic cake recipe, I've found that this Aged Whiskey Cocktail Olive Oil Cake, changed and maneuvered turned out quite lovely. The recipe follows and know that this little cake is pretty delicious as is. However, feel free to play with it and make it yours!
1/2 c olive oil (or whatever oil you like for cakes)
1/2 c agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 c palm sugar (or any sugar you'd like)
1/4 c aged whiskey cocktail (or just plain ole whiskey is fine I'm sure)
1 teas almond extract (or vanilla if you aren't fond of almond)
2 c flour
2 teas baking powder
1 teas baking soda
1/2 teas cardamon
1/4 teas kosher salt
Heat oven to 325 degrees and line a square baking pan with parchment.
Beat the oil and agave in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached at medium speed for about 3 minutes until combined and light. Add the palm sugar one-half at a time beating 3 minutes, until mixture is lighter in texture.
Add the eggs one at a time and be sure to fully incorporate the first egg before adding the second. Add the whiskey (cocktail) and almond extract and beat till combined.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt in a medium bowl. Once the liquid ingredients are combined, add the dry ingredients all at once, mixing on low speed until smooth.
Using a spatula, put the batter into the pan and bake for 35-40 min. Check doneness with a toothpick and let cool for 20 minutes. I usually lift the cake out by the parchment and let cool on a rack for a bit.
Top with homemade whip or "really good" whipped cream from a can. The best can be found at Whole Foods by the way.
This is really a simple cake and it packs a ton of flavor! Enjoy making it and thank you Natalie for answering my cake baking questions!
|Warm with sliding whip but so good!|
Sunday, March 8, 2015
I too was not eagerly anticipating last Sunday. I knew it was coming up on the time for season five of Downton Abbey to end but I was in denial. But, as I lay there cozy in my bed covered in my vintage wool blankets in all the crazy shades of orange, my window slightly ajar, cause I'm weird like that, and my iPad fired up and playing, I watched the last episode of season five and cried only a little toward the end.
My guilty pleasure, Downton Abbey has been a part of my life for a few years and I love that I know the characters so intimately and really have come to care for them. This coming from someone that lives in the now and present time of course, this is pretty far fetched for me even. But, don't judge, everyone needs an escape now and then. For me, that escape is only for a short time each January and it lasts a few months then life can carry on. Enjoy the article from Houzz.com as I did and let's see how many things you enjoy doing to carry on till next season!
Saturday, March 7, 2015
|February 2015… in front of my home.|
I've been checking my blog stats a lot lately because this is the time of year people are getting excited about road trips, vacations and family outings so I love seeing what they want to to do here in Oregon. I can tell there are a lot of folks planning for Spring break which is coming up very soon. I am getting hits like crazy on my Spring in Portland stories and so I just wanted to ease every one's mind and tell you that you won't miss it if you can here in a few weeks or so.
|Aiden… a wee snow angel just north of Dallas. February 2015!|
I just got back from Dallas where I played with my five grand kiddos in the snow for five days. Yeah… there was snow and snowmen and this sweet snow angel pictured here. That's Aiden and he's 4-1/2 and loves the snow… a lot! It was pretty strange to leave warm, for Portland anyways and land just in time in Texas when a snow storm was about to hit. We woke the first morning to everything covered in white and I knew it was going to be a great time. We were careful driving on the snow and we were pretty much able to do all the things we wanted to do which in hind sight, was just to enjoy our family and watch the kiddos have a blast doing anything they wanted to do. It's great being grandparents!
Anyways, five days, some snow and then it was back to sunny Portland! I was dying for a trek downtown so a few days ago, I decided to take the bus and see for myself the trees blossoming around town and how our fair city was holding up to the early Spring. Let me just say this… there are some trees in full bloom and yet these darlings down by the waterfront have yet to pop. Walking along the Burnside Bridge I was literally holding my breath for a few minutes until I saw them. Rows and rows of big old trees and they are hanging on and just waiting to bloom. There were a few full blossoms but I know their peak is still a few weeks away. I know this because I've been watching these for a few years now and have a huge canvas print of them in full bloom hanging upstairs in my hallway. I walk by every now and then and think about just how beautiful they are in full bloom with that bridge in the background and the Willamette River rushing by. Portland is truly beautiful in the Spring.
|Portland Waterfront… early March 2015!|