Category Archives: Food

Portland Food Odyssey — Shut My Mouth!

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Durfur Oregon

There are thousands, if not hundred’s of thousands of millions of words written about food; how to grow it, buy it, cook it, eat it. Words written attempting to describe a flavor or smell, texture or color of food.  I have a friend who is not a foodie; she’s described food as fuel and can eat the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner for days and be satisfied.  My sweetie on the other hand loves food; meal planning, purchasing, preparing is a joy for him and partaking of the finished result is most often a joy for me. Though at one time I did ask that he cut down on garlic … everything, no matter how distinct the dish sort of tasted the same.

With the hundreds of thousands of millions of words written I will not attempt to describe the foods we’ve enjoyed these past two weeks, but I will share a few of the restaurants, joints, bakeries, and spots that when you find yourself wandering around Portland you really should try. These places are in no particular order, and are spread all over the place.

Though it did start with an impromptu decision on our drive through the Columbia River Gorge to stay 12 miles south of The Dalles, OR at the Balch Hotel in Dufur. No that’s not a misspelling.  The hotel was built in 1907. Restored beautifully and located in a small town farming community which isn’t tumbling down and nearly deserted. Our room was full of antiques and original light fixtures, the bed and pillows were totally comfortable, and the claw foot tub was the highlight of the renovated modern bath. The morning’s surprise, the included breakfast was fresh with homemade yogurt and granola, sun-dried tomato and spinach omelet, a blueberry muffin, and fresh squeezed orange juice.  I think that breakfast was an omen of our forthcoming culinary ‘joys’.

After Sweetie did some urban forestry, removing some poorly placed old trees in son’s backyard we were taken on a 20 minute ride to try our first ever Khao Man Gai at where else? Nong’s Khao Man Gai … Rice, Chicken with Asian spices and too-die-for chicken broth soup.

Later that night we Google Mapped our way to downtown Portland located on Mississippi to taste oyster nectar at the Olympia Oyster Bar , just so you all know, I don’t eat raw oysters … they creep me out. I did have the seafood bucket overloaded with clams & mussels. Their bread was thick and rustic, just perfect for soaking up the liquid gold at the bottom of the tin. Sweetie’s son runs the kitchen and cooks (you don’t cook oysters) and sitting at the bar we watched him in action.

Remember that was just our first afternoon in town …

Breakfast was en’joy’ing perfectly cooked eggs, while sitting next to a lovely fireplace, on an enclosed patio at the Tin Shed Cafe, which is dog-friendly in case you wanted to know. They have a Fido Menu, served along with a dish of water for your furry friends.

Truly mouthwatering vegan, gluten-free lemon bars

Wandering through the Alberta District where the Tin Shed is located, we were introduced to what I think  is the first time I’ve eaten vegan, gluten-free baked goods where the sweets taste like desserts. Shut my mouth! Yep! On a scrumptious lemon bar. I heartily recommend the Back to Eden bakery … it’ll be worth the hunt for a parking space, I promise. And I don’t make promises lightly …

Mid-afternoon found the gaggle of us meeting at Cathedral Park and then a cross-town jaunt again downtown (where we found an actual parking garage) and later a very large bowl of fresh raman from at an eatery called ???? that’s right I don’t remember, but it was tasty and I can’t even tell you where it was. I nearly forgot brioche donuts from Blue Star Donuts … they were sold out of my favorite lemon poppyseed so I settled for spicy mexican hot chocolate (and a few other varieties that disappeared just as quickly)!

Can you believe I didn’t take any photos of dinner? No family snaps, snaps of food, or the building. you’ll just have to take my word that the Authentica Mexican restaurant was worth the hike after finding a parking spot a few blocks down the street. Opps! I almost tried to describe the food… I’ll just say “try it ” we loved the Chili Relleno.

Come Saturday and topping off our food odyssey the daughter of my heart  had us over for brunch before we headed home … my mouth is watering thinking of it and I think I may have to try to recreate the potato, egg, and asparagus dish, and hope I don’t forget the fresh mango on the side.

After our tantalizing odyssey I’ve decided that we’re in a food rut .. a stuck-in-a-rut make the same easy favorite recipes when it’s time for a meal kind of rut; or when we head out for dinner we go the the same 3 or 4 places and it takes a road-trip and time with family and friends who really are foodies with a capital F to shake things up and get us thinking on another plane. My other local food plane will include trying that small, place down the street that’s tucked into the little shopping mall, stop at a new food truck … or that Bosnian sandwich shop whose parking lot is always full … I’m thinking of looking for a Khao Man Gai somewhere in Boise … well a girl can hope, can’t she?

Life is soooo good and tonight’s dinner is quail with mushrooms, asparagus and basmati rice.  See ya later friends … quoting Julia C. “bon appetite”!

4,530 Miles & Popcorn Crack

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Oven-Baked Popcorn — Beware! It’s Addicting

I’m eating oven-baked caramel popcorn (aka popcorn crack). A nibble becomes a taste, becomes a handful, becomes three handfuls, then what the heck! I’ll just eat the whole dang bag full. In lieu of eating the whole dang sack of popcorn and randomly wandering through the never-ending pages of Pinterest (which is as addicting as my popcorn crack) I started counting Wanderingkeri  miles … it started when I noticed the Escape-mobile turned 45,000 while driving to Council last night.

Then I thought of the miles I’ve driven just since November … from Boise to Riverton, Utah (baby shower 358 x 2), Boise to the gas station at Sweetzer Summit (meet Mom 1/2 way 193 x 2), Boise to Highland Utah for Thanksgiving (367 x 2), Boise to American Fork, Utah (funeral 369 x 2), Boise to Orem, Utah (help Mom move 378 x 2). Of course this includes the trips from Boise to Council (at least 5, I think @ 120 x 2) but not the miles around town, or the miles within the trips. (that’s just too OCD for me right now).

So the major legs of travel, point to point adds up to:  4, 530 miles and December isn’t even over yet!!

What to do these miles mean besides calluses on my rear end ? They mean LOVE, they mean FAMILY, they mean TRADITIONS …  a perfect trifecta. Better than this popcorn, but not by much! BTW  this is a great travel snack (you’ll want to bring extra – make a double batch).

Oven-Baked Popcorn aka Popcorn Crack

Pop 1 cup of popcorn & set aside

Melt 1 cup (2 cubes) butter

Add 2 cups brown sugar

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt

On medium heat bring mixture to a slow boil, then boil for 5 minutes

Remove from heat

Stir in 1/2 t baking soda

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla

When mixture becomes creamy, but still hot, gently pour over popped corn mixing as you pour (I put popcorn in a tall sauce pot so kernels don’t spill out)

Once popcorn is evenly coated, spread out onto a roasting pan or cookie sheet(s)

Place in Pre-heated 250 degrees F oven

Bake for 1 hour

Every 15 minutes using a spatula carefully turn popcorn over and separate kernel clumps.

Once out of the oven, tip onto the counter-top to cool, continuing to separate kernel clumps.

Once cooled store in large plastic storage or paper bags.

 

Merry Christmas my friends!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV #lighttheworld

 

Breaking the Doldrums & A Major Personal Milestone

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House bound with rain, rain, rain smooshing the piles of snow outside into bogs of slush.  It hasn’t stopped raining here in Council for more than 48 hours…not gully washer rain, but steady drizzle. The rivers are raging, the creeks overflowing, basements are flooding and my cell phone blasted an emergency alert during a major REM sleep cycle about 4 a.m.

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Frosted ear piece … cold, cold day

Anyway, last week’s girls weekend was a hoot … the snow was fab down at Brian Head Resort outside of Cedar City Utah. My skiing partners even got me on some powder filled, choppy mogels and very, very, very cold … frost on the ski helmet.

Which made our spa day  at the Flamingo Las Vegas even more perfect (facials, feet pampering, steam/sauna rooms, and hot tubs). I’m putting the spa day on my TO DO agenda every time we head south … OR find ones closer to home?! Duh!

So good we had breakfast here 2 days in a row!

So good we had breakfast here 2 days in a row!

The cute Vegas neice, Catlin, showed us a hidden gem for breakfast named Crepe Expectations (it’s one of those Diner, Drive Ins, and Dives notable places). So good we went two days in a row!

In that same shopping plaza we tasted and I bought the MOST yummy hummus I’ve ever eaten … When in Vegas I highly suggest you find Happy Hummus  and buy their Lemony Spinach … it’s heavenly.

Back home and house bound, I’ve taken on the eBay world selling the ‘let’s clear out the shop’s 40 years of we won’t use this’ stuff. Easy to learn how and it’s kept me occupied … and we know I have to be occupied or I start planning stuff! Well, full disclosure I’m planning stuff anyway … a family camp out , & fishing trip, a southern Utah/Arizona road trip, and I’m still hoping for a few days on the slopes of Grand Targhee.

Keeping the doldrums at bay I’m also working on a measly little 500 piece puzzle .. my one puzzle for the year … yikes! It has driven me nuts … these little pieces of pink and green bushes are so much harder than the mostly black Star Wars one I did last year. Can you imagine that?

The sun is finally out and shining for the first time in weeks … I’m outta here … hello Brundage!  Well, I will be once Sweetie is ready 🙂

Noteworthy in My Life:  On February 14th I will be 21 years sober! I’ve not done this alone … thank you to God and my wonderful family and friends. I would not be where I am without them!! I love you All!!

 

Pick, Pit, Slice, & Juice … It’s Harvest Time!!

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Boxes of Love

Boxes of Love

It’s Harvest Time! Pick, pit, slice, juice,  freeze a little here, bottle a little there, dehydrate a bit over there. My backyard garden has reached the tipping point … we can’t eat the fresh goodies fast enough, and the neighbors are starting to hide when they see me coming.  … Monday it was pear sauce, pear leather, and whole tomatoes, along with drying fresh mint. Yesterday, a small batch of green beans and today it’s more apple slices for the dehydrator, hot pepper jelly, and grape juice.  I do have to fess up that I burnt a batch of pears … the house smells yucky.

Hot Pepper Jelly

Hot Pepper Jelly

For at least a month I’ve been harvesting apples, making apple butter and dried apple rings (with cinnamon and sugar).  We had to fight for our pears this year; blister mites started early, ugly things, but they tasted great. We also have a dwarf apple tree grafted with 3 different types of apples; early summer, mid-summer and late-summer which spaces out the dehydration time (thank goodness)! Don’t ask me what kind of apples they are … ’cause I don’t remember … in fact, I’m not certain I ever knew.

Beans from a Bucket

Beans from a Bucket

And blackberries! It’s been a bumper crop; I’ve frozen blackberries, given blackberries away and away and away again. I have so much blackberry jam from 2 years ago … I don’t think I’ll be doing that again for a while. And the Chilean Chimnaya Peppers are are brilliant red and ready for rista tying.  And just a note, these babies are HOT …  1/2 of one replaced 10 jalapenos in my hot pepper jelly recipe.

Our dwarf peach tree is totally loaded.  So tomorrow early on it’ll be peach jam, bottled peaches, peach pie, and peach cobbler … and more whole tomatoes. Which to remind myself, I’d better check the zucchini; when I came home from fishing last week there was one that grated out 6 1/2 cups … the double chocolate zucchini cake was irresistible!

A Little Bit Here ... A Little Bit There It's Harvest Time!!

A Little Bit Here … A Little Bit There
It’s Harvest Time!!

Now, why am I bragging about the harvest in my yard?  Because this bountiful harvest comes from a small, city lot with poor rocky, clay-based soil.  How do we do it? Well, Sweetie built 6 grow boxes (4′ x 5′), pick axed and pry bar’d holes to plant 6 fruit trees (we only have 4 surviving though)  …  and dirt, manure, sphagnum moss, and compost comes in bags!  Anyway, I love having fresh produce and fresh fruit  all summer. I can feel a bit virtuous that I’m ‘Eating Local’ … mostly,  I love the feeling of having a ‘bit put by’ … just in case. I am not a ‘farmer’, nor a great gardener, just someone who love the smell of freshly turned soil in the spring, who loves the buzz of bees around the fruit and vegetable flowers, and who loves the taste of tomatoes warm and sweet from the vine.

Growing something from seed, or a greenhouse plant can change us.  There is hope  in planting a garden …  faith that the tiny seed will grow into a plant willing to share all it has with us.  Once you fall in love with a box of dirt and a garden catalog … whoa Nelly … your tomorrow will never be the same.  So why not give it a go? Next spring … find a corner, dig a hole, build a box, salvage a pot or bin  and plant something you love.  Your world will never be the same. I promise.

  Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; (Jeremiah 29:5)

 

 

All Things Basil

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First Harvest ... Basil 2016

First Harvest … Basil 2016

Wanderingkeri has actually been wanderingkeri at home this week … I admit that wandering is in my blood … but love it when my domestic garden-y self has time to just “be”. I arrived home from last week’s journey to discover a dying apricot tree, over-watered garlic, tomatoes in need of fertilizer and burgeoning basil plants.  Garden & yard “work”, I use the term work loosely because for me it is “Dirt Therapy” … my mind is free to ponder thoughts I don’t often make time for when I’m on the move … and as I go about the tasks of tilling the earth, planting and watching the miracle of seed, to plant ,to fruit, to table happen I marvel at the hand of our Creator and how perfectly the world is put together.

Well, my first harvest this season was basil … from seed, to seedling in the greenhouse I tended the plants, wished them well when as greenlings they moved into their summer beds and last evening pinched off a colander full of perfect leaves. The plants wanted to become a bit leggy with little fullness (kind of like a sprouting teenager). Then I had this colander full of basil; Sweetie was up at Council and what was I going to do with all this basil by myself? I texted Peter, my step-son, who is a fantabulous chef, asking for suggestions.  I declined to make pesto (my standard go-to) and besides, I haven’t replaced my blender/food processor that I tossed out in a fit of “oh heck! this isn’t worth the effort to keep fixing” moment. Between Peter’s suggestions and a broader web search I spent the evening making all things basil for dinner.

It's not chicken

It’s not chicken

Paula Deen’s Chicken with Butter & Basil … which I will still have to try using chicken … because the chicken breast I thawed wasn’t actually chicken … turned out it was a tiny pork roast (note to self … be more specific on labeling your freezer food Keri).  I’d already prepped the ingredients for the recipe, so in another “what the heck” moment, I cut the roast in half (lengthwise), buttered it and popped it on a very hot grill. Turns out pork is Yummy with basil and butter … along with avocado and tomato slices and Giada’s refreshing Italian Lemonade.

Ah .. Italian Lemonade ...

Ah .. Italian Lemonade …

While I was in the midst of my “that’s not chicken” moment, I was also making Giada De Laurentis’ Italian Lemonade (another use for basil) and from one of Peter’s suggestions I found Jamie Oliver’s Lime-Basil Sorbet recipe for dessert. The sorbet wasn’t ready for that evening’s meal, but the following night … another score point for fresh basil.  The sorbet was perfectly sweet & tart and the basil added an unusual twist that brought it all together.  Refreshing and light for an end of the evening nosh. And if that wasn’t all; last night, cold from the fridge, Sweetie pronounced  the left-over pork roast “wonderful” and ate it with a bit of mustard, he said it would have been perfect if the mustard was Chinese rather than Trader Joe’s spicy brown.

Well, later today we’re heading for an over-nighter on the river … the goal is catch fish, not mess with camping & cooking.  Our go-to for a quick evening meal … we buy a Costco rotisserie chicken, a couple of small sides along with some muffins or rolls for breakfast then toss them into a small cooler along with the Jet-boil, a couple of bags of mint tea & Starbucks Via packs and we’re set.  No muss, no fuss and plenty of time for tossing a line … tossing a line, now that’s another perfect time to ponder.

Here’s to Pondering what’s important … and, Oh! Do I need to ask if it is okay to eat sorbet for breakfast?

Everywhere is a 1000 Miles from Boise

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Hello! Ciao! Nǐ hǎo!  We’re hommme! Another successful roadtrip in the memory; 5 nights in Washington state with Sweeties family.  We live ‘in-between’ … my children & gkids live southeast of us in Utah & Colorado, whereas Greg’s children live northwest in Oregon & Washington.  For us to get together with any of them it’s a 1000 mile road trip, which takes a bit of scheduling to spend much time with any of them in their busy, busy lives. Last month was Utah (4 times) and this month, Packwood & Seattle WA.

Mid-June Sunset in Packwood Washington

Mid-June Sunset in Packwood Washington

Packwood is a typical small northwest mountain town, a couple of hours from Portland or Seattle; tourists, trees, and rivers.  It is about 5 miles or so from Mount Rainer National Park and is tucked inside the Gifford Pinchot National Forest so hiking trails under the canopy of ancient and second/third growth forests abound. IMG_2514 We  became bewitched walking in the Grove of the Patriarchs in Mount Rainer National Park, we donned our rain gear and tramped along the rocky edged Cowlitz River at the end of National Forest Road 1270. The next day, the rain left and a full sunshine morning found us on the rather steep Three Peaks Trail to lunch later in a meadow with clear views of Mount Rainer and the Tatoosh Mountains.  So many places to see, much to short of a weekend … so many things to look forward to seeing over the next few years.

Mount Rainer in the sunshine

Mount Rainer in the sunshine

The NW Family in the Meadow

The NW Family in the Meadow

Besides just seeing the kids, our main objective was a chainsaw wielding weekend clearing dead timber from around Tess & Ali’s new cabin in Packwood and help them begin the process of building a fire defensible space. After a morning stretch along the Cowlitz River Sweetie fired up the Stihl and began felling dead and dying trees while we hauled & piled the slash for burning.  We piled dead as well as over grown green tree limbs and when the match lit that pile the green branches exploded and burned as hotly as the dead ones. One result from the drought … green does not mean it won’t burn. If you want to learn a bit more about Firewise Landscaping & Maintenance check this link out.

In the best sense our NW family are all foodies … every meal they prepared for us was 5 star, and I mean every meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner (day after day) breakfast? not your typical scrambled eggs … sliders for lunch? yes, but with a twist … asparagus for dinner? yes, but cold with mint, roasted hazelnuts, and a vinaigrette. Yes, I’m remembering and smiling and I am going to try my hand at the breakfast dish this weekend.

After 3 days and 6 hikes we headed further west to Seattle to check out their new house on the Sound. Within walking distance in one evening we had a meal of small plate tastings at The Whale Wins on Stone Way North, strolled the Fremont area and enjoyed one of my favorite desserts, gelato, from a small shop named The Fainting Goat (all organic ingredients), before walking under the Fremont Bridge to oogle the houseboats docked near the rowing club, and heading up the hills for a welcome rest.

View on our morning walk

View on our morning walk

A Smile from FS Road #1270

A Smile from FS Road #1270

Our last morning, Tessa took us to Pike Street Market where we tasted smoked salmon (bought some), had warm, fresh from the oven almond croissants from Le Panier and where I went back and brought home 2 loaves of fresh bread. We stopped for real greek yogurt at Ellenos  on the corner … it is The Best, Freshest yogurt ever (I recommend the Marion Berry)! … we had to bring some home with us …that’s my lunch this afternoon ,along with chunks of that tender french bread.

When we travel, we eat; local specialties and small shops, diners where the parking lot is full, street carts with a line, we always look for “that place”, you know, the one that you can’t forget.  I truly believe that smells and tastes make the strongest memories.

We finally rolled in just after 10 last night, with a few stops, one just to grab a few cups of fresh picked Washington cherries … and his morning? we are getting back into our routine … and later today?  I’ll start planning our next 1000 mile trip … everywhere from Boise is 1000 miles. This time I’m thinking, FISHING!!

 

Feeding My Red Rock Addiction

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Hello from Southern Utah. I am a red rock loving, open spaces, sage brush and sand, Ponderosa pine, small town loving addict. One can hardly imagine what will be found at the end of the long (often boring landscaped drive) from Boise down the main arteries of I-84 then I-15.  But I know… red rocks. When we took the exit toward Panquitch my heart started beating faster …

At Dawn's First Light

At Dawn’s First Light

This morning I’m sitting in a fabulous VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) discovered by Greg’s sister & brother-in-law (Paula & Jim) located not too far up the Alton, Utah turn off from Highway 89 … watching the sunrise over the pine topped mountains and the upper reaches of Bryce Canyon in absolute silence. My soul is sucking in the beauty of God’s creations and I am soooo at peace.

We left home a few days ago … breaking up the 9 hour road trip with an overnighter with my beautiful Daughter No. 1 and her fab family … then headed south after a yumm breakfast at One Man Band Diner in Lehi, Utah.  We met up with Sweetie’s sister just inside the entrance to Bryce Canyon where they’d been biking all day and decided to take the short drive into Panquitch for dinner at Cowboy’s Smokehouse Cafe. Their smoked meats and country  gravy bring us back here time after time. We had plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere before heading back to ‘Bryce’ to participate in the ‘full moon hike into the canyon’ lottery.

Moon rise over Bryce Canyon

Moon rise over Bryce Canyon

Of course we won the lottery … The full moon light hike down the Fairyland Trail in Bryce Canyon only fueled my red rock addiction. For a spot in the full moon guided,  super secret location until your number is picked,  hike show up at the Bryce Canyon Lodge at 4 p.m. with your hiking shoes … they actually check the tread on the soles to ensure you won’t slide off the trail in the dark. We had smiles when our party of 6’s number was drawn.

Somewhere along Wire Pass Trail

Somewhere along Wire Pass Trail

Yesterday it was SLOT CANYON time!! Taking the 38 mile road trip east of Kanab on Highway 89 to the turn off at White House Rock Road to sloooowwwly drive the 8 miles over a fairly rutted dirt road we finally reached the Wire Pass Trailhead . This is a spectacular and fairly easy slot canyon hike with some petroglyphs low on the right hand side of the canyon wall … just before the open T junction and not too far out of the first slot canyon. Take a right at the T for miles more awe inspiring slots to enjoy.

FYI …  About a quarter mile into the first canyon there is a climb over a rock and down about an 8-9 foot drop, that with care is easily maneuvered …  the caveat being if you are short it is much harder to leverage yourself back up (says the short girls Karen & Paula).

After a 6 mile hike, and the hour or so drive back into Kanab we were all looking forward to sustenance … Sweetie and I took our Kanab-newbie family to the only place we ever stop to eat in Kanab which is at Houston’s Trails End restaurant for their Chicken Fried Steak dinner (always go for the famous favorite).

Today its off to Moab … Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and a couple of Canyonland’s hikes.

Stay tuned.