Monday, June 30, 2008

One last hurrah: licuado

Quieres licuado? Es facil: fresa y leche. Delicioso. Buen provecho.
Licuado is what we call smoothies in our household. In Mexico they're really popular, using lots of fresh and local fruit. Mainly blended with milk, we add yogurt and it's more like a smoothie, but we still call it a licuado. If it's fruit blended with ice/water, it's agua fresca. And if it's mainly fruit and frozen, it's a paleta. Mmmm. Paleta. Fruit popsicle. Hold the sugar and any of that other crap that might be put in it. Mexican paletas are super delish. The best one I ever had was eaten at a gas station in Tulum. My favorite place for licuados might just be downtown Guadalajara. The warm weather here in Portland is making me dream of Mexico...
ruins meet the ocean in tulum

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's Saturday night....time to get a little frake-ey...

I'm practicing my dance moves.

Saturday Strawberry Bonus

Oregon strawberries, fresh in the field
It's been fun reading your responses to strawberries, some of you were also born in California's Strawberry Capital (also known as home to the lowrider), and memories of picking as kids or Oregon strawberries themselves. I love Malady's story in the comments of craving strawberries during her pregnancy and eating a pound of them a day! They are that good, aren't they? It's also been fun hearing of friends and some of you inspired to make Strawberry Freezer Jam. AdRi reported yesterday that North Portland's Fred Meyer is sold out of pectin. You go you jam makers you!

So I had extra frosting from the cupcake episode, and I knew right away what to do with it...
Strawberry frosting sandwiches
Graham crackers left over from camping (for s'mores, duh!) were quickly put to work for frosting sandwiches. My mom used to make these, and a little plate of them would be in the fridge. I loved them. I sent a plate of them home with my visitors, but kept a few for myself. The perfect way to use leftover frosting. Mmmm.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I think my love of strawberries may be inspired by a doll

In college I had a kick-ass summer job. I worked on short film and commercial sets in Los Angeles, assisting an art director. The hours were crazy, the driving with a Thomas Guide all over LA was crazy, but it was a crazy fun summer. I worked on the sets of Splash Mountain at Disneyland, Queen Mary, McDonalds, and a bunch of industrials and a short artsy film. On the film I was wardrobe assistant. It's all about attention to details.

But the set that stopped me short in my tracks? A studio set for Strawberry Shortcake. The doll. Oh, I grew up loving Strawberry Shortcake, and Holly Hobby. And here I was assisting on a commercial for them. It also featured her blueberry friend. But my eyes were glued to Ms. Strawberry Shortcake. Pink and fluffy and girly, without any of the sexual innuendo we see in girl's dolls today (hello, Bratz dolls? horrific!). I grew up longing for the Strawberry Shortcake dolls and accoutrements in the aisle at Sav-On Drugs. (Don't get me started on the Rainbow Family.)
Strawberry cake + strawberry frosting + strawberries
I think of Ms. Strawberry Shortcake when I think of strawberry cake. And this week I made strawberry cake with strawberry frosting. Originally this began as strawberry cupcakes, but with extra batter, it turned into cupcakes and a wee cake topped with fresh strawberries. I had seen this recipe and felt the 9-year-old girl in me perk up with the thought of pink cake and frosting. I think if I had a choice of chocolate or fresh strawberry, I would always jump at fresh strawberry. So pretty...

I didn't follow the frosting recipe to a T: I thought it seemed like too much frosting, and way too much butter. So I increased the berries and decreased the butter, and it was quite good.
Patiently waiting for a drop of those cupcakes
I had some extra hands in the kitchen to help frost, and it only seemed appropriate to be doing this with a gaggle of young girls. Lots of giggling and playing around made it more fun. And afterwards we fed a spider to my Venus Flytrap. More screaming insued. Happy strawberry summer.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Drink your strawberries

Strawberry Rhubarb Cooler
Today in our week of exploration of the strawberry, we shall drink them. Cheers! Strawberries are perfectly delicious in a little drinky drink. Mashed and muddled, or cooked and strained, they add a bright taste as well as bright color to your libations.

Pictured here is a lovely creation by our friends (waving at S & K!) and is a Strawberry Rhubarb Cooler. Yes, we’re back to Rhubarb! But this time it’s not a Rhujito. Tangy from the rhubarb, sweet from the strawberries, it’s the liquid combination of those two fantastic late spring flavor pairings. Brightening it up with lime and boozing it up with vodka? Perfect. And you know the heat is coming this weekend, right? Best be prepared and make some of this now. Just to be safe, you know. Safety.
Strawberry Rhubarb Cooler

Clean and dice 4 stalks of rhubarb. In a saucepan, combine rhubarb with 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 T sugar. Heat on medium while stirring frequently, until it slowly comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour rhubarb mixture into blender. Add 1 cup of cold water, 1 pint of strawberries (stems removed), the juice of 2 limes and 6 fresh, chopped mint leaves. Blend that puppy up, and pour into glasses with vodka and ice. A lime garnish is lovely.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Easy Peasy: Strawberry Freezer Jam, made with Sauvie Island berries

Strawberry freezer jam is so vibrant red
“I never knew the color could be so beautiful, or taste so fresh.” So AdRi pines sweetly about her beloved strawberry freezer jam. I didn’t get it. But after making it and eating it this week? I get it. And I’m so glad we have 18 containers of it in our freezer.

Strawberry Freezer jam is easy peasy. Really easy. There’s no canning knowledge or major equipment needed. No thermometer, nothin'. And there are only a few steps. And get this: you don’t cook the strawberries. I think that’s one of the reasons why it tastes so fresh and so good. Strawberry freezer jam is only strawberries, sugar, pectin and water. That’s it. You’ll also want to get some of those freezer containers (you can get them in the canning section near the baking section of your local grocery store).

I checked in with Mark about what kind of pectin to use. I had seen he had blogged recently about making freezer jam. He recommended the pink box of Sure Gel, because you can use less sugar with it. Love that. Don’t you hate jam that’s overly sweet and sugary? I just wanted the true taste of the berries. Bonus info: Shuksans are his berry of choice for freezer jam making. And we got them right from the place he recommended: the stand just north of the Sauvie Island convenience store. Found her! And the recipe to follow? It’s in the box. Don’t try and get information from their website, because apparently it was built in 1989 and has not been updated. Different recipes for different pectins, just trust me when I say follow the recipe in the box.

And did I tell you how easy it was? Mash the strawberries….
Mashing strawberries
Cook up the sugar, water and pectin as the recipe calls for, remove from heat and stir in your strawberry mash. Pour into containers. Let cool, and set for 24 hours at room temperature, then freeze.
Strawberry freezer jam jamming
And that’s that. A great way to preserve those delicious strawberries that are so plentiful right now. Easy peasy.

Next up in strawberry week? Drink your berries!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oregon strawberries: Whatever you do, don't compare them to California strawberries

Oregon is so proud of local strawberries
A few years ago I challenged a small group of friends to a strawberry taste-off: California vs. Oregon. Ooooooh weeeeee. Is that a touchy subject or what? Touchy, touchy, touchy. But we did a blind tasting of berries. The results? (I'm preparing to quickly run the other way with the answer because most Oregonians who hear the following will argue with me forever.) California strawberries won. Even the tasters argued. How could it be? I do not know. But I promise to never do it again. Especially if I ever want to finally be able to call myself an Oregonian. I promise. I won't touch the Holy Grail of Oregon strawberries are better than Californias. I won't share the story of being born in California's strawberry capital, or driving through fields after fields to get to my Catholic high school. Or what it was like to live directly behind the strawberry fields, especially the scent that permeated our house when they piled the fields high with chicken manure. Or that my brother would sit in his diapers, in our backyard strawberry patch, eating red juicy berry after red juicy berry. Nope, those are my California strawberry memories. I'll share with you my Oregon strawberry stories though...
strawberry fields forever
We went strawberry picking at Sauvie Island this weekend. AdRi loves picking strawberries. She relives her Oregon childhood of picking berries, and becomes the row boss and performing quality control. Saturday morning was overcast and warm, and the fields weren't too crowded at all. The strawberries were just ripening, and perfect for picking. Columbia Farm on Sauvie Island is a great place to pick, and we quickly filled our boxes.
so gorgeous these Oregon strawberries
The colors, the scent, these berries are delicious. These ones were Hoods. We stopped and bought a half flat of Shuksans as well, to make Strawberry Freezer Jam with. I'll blog about that tomorrow.
Fresh Oregon Grown
In fact, I'm so smitten with these Oregon strawberries, I'll be blogging strawberry recipes and photos the coming few days. And maybe, just maybe, someday, I'll be able to call myself an Oregonian. But it's hard to let go of my love of California strawberries.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A perfect Sunday in Portland

Do you ever have those quintessential summer moments? Or maybe it's a Portland moment. Or maybe it's just a all-is-right-with-the-world moment. When you're just really happy? I had some of that yesterday. AdRi, Wink and I walked 4.5 miles in the Sunday Parkways event in North Portland. It was really fun. 6 miles of roads were closed to cars, and the streets were filled with walkers and their dogs, runners, kids on skateboards and scooters. And then there were the bicyclists. Holy crap. There's a lot of bikers in Portland, in case you didn't know. And that means a lot of different kinds of bikes. We originally thought we'd ride our bikes, but wanted Wink to enjoy the walk. She kept wanting to get on the sidewalk, and it was hard for her to understand we could walk in the middle of the street. She's such a good dog. And of course she had her walking outfit on. I know I know. I've become the woman who dresses up her little white poodle. I don't care. It's fun. Here's Wink taking a break at our halfway point. Restin' in the rose garden.
Wink was tuckered out
To come to intersections where the cops were there to make sure the cars stopped for us? Wow. To walk in the middle of the road? Wow. To walk through parts of my own neighborhood I had never walked before? Wow. To discover a secret pedestrian crossing over Interstate 5? Wow. It was really fun. See? Here I am with one of my favorite finds on the walk.
I need some help getting into this thing
Can you imagine getting in and out of that thing in a dress and heels? I'd rather not.

There are a lot of really great photos on Flickr of yesterdays events. Go check them out. And let's hope there are plenty more Sunday Parkways events in the future. We loved it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Live from the nopo parkways event:aerobics!


It's hard to see, but there's a group of people clad in "Let's Get Physical" aerobics wear workin' it hard around the water fountain.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My dog is Magnum PI

the epitome of summer: an unbuttoned shirt
Nothing feels quite like summer like an unbuttoned hawaian shirt.
Wink is Magnum PI
Wink wishes you a happy weekend, the first weekend of summer. She'll be accompanying me in the garden today: lots of pruning and tying up to do. Things are getting flopsy mopsy. Yes, my dog is Magnum PI. She needs a case to crack. There's a white cat who's been showing its face in our back garden, and she's quite intent on chasing it away. I think it's bigger than she is. But that won't hold Magnum PI back. Happy weekend!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Can we give a warm welcome to the First Day of Summer? Give it up!

((((((((((((mad cheers and applause))))))))))))
The first day of summer, June 20, 2008, is upon us in Portland. For once, the sky burns blue, the yellow glowing orb up there hangs precariously, and the green grass jumps to great lengths after so much soaking from the rain. Lawnmowers know they're going to be tested this weekend: can they cut through so much growth? BBQs are preparing for The Big Scrubdown for on-going use over the coming months. And AdRi surprised me this morning by putting our rain chain fountain on a timer. Did you hear me just squeal with delight? I did. It's the little things like that make my day. See? It's going to be a very, very good summer.

In Spanish, summer is verano. But if you know Spanish, the pronunciation doesn't look anything like that. And just one little mis step and instead of saying summer, you're saying deer. I know. Spanish is tricky like that. Verano. Venado. Don't mess it up.

So The Summer List has still not been completed, nor has The Summer Playlist in iTunes been constructed. But I have some thoughts about both of them. Prince will most definitely for sure definitely be on the Summer 2008 Playlist. Old school Prince. As well as George Michael. More of his later stuff though. After George sang me to tears on the American Idol finale (stop smirking, or as my mother would say, wipe that smirk off your face or I'll wipe it off for you!) I have a newfound love for him. But I need some current music on that playlist. I welcome any suggestions. Last summer's playlist included Fleetwood Mac, Butterfly Boucher Feat, Bon Jovi, Blondie and Dolly Parton. Among others. Yes, my taste is all over the place. It also included Ann-Margret singing C'est Si Bon (It's Go Good). Oh sheesh, I should just make you a Muxtape of a few from last summer's playlist and you can listen to them here. Go on, go listen to my Muxtape from Summer of Freedom: 07. It's free and fun.

As to the Summer List? I'll see if I can get to that this weekend. We'll be making Strawberry Freezer Jam, riding bikes, and BBQing with friends. And all of those things should be on the summer list anyway. See? Maybe it's the summer list that makes itself. Ingenius!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yes, this is a clip titled I'm Voting Republican

I'm not sure which lines are my favorite....
"We're voting Republican because we just love cheap plastic crap from China!"
"I'm voting Republican because women just can't be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies. Never, ever, never, ever."
"So, if the label says it's food, that's good enough for me!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bites for Rights: Eat out all day and put your money where your mouth is

A list of participating restaurants, bars and cafes can be found here. Yeah! Go!

Updated: I'm so on the run Thursday, but I hope you'll consider joining us at Russell Street BBQ for dinner. We'll be there with friends, and after their terrific float and turn out at Pride this past weekend, we thought they'd be a fantastic dinner to vote with our dollars. Come!

Are you eating out on Thursday? Here are some fantastic LGBTQ bloggers who I hope consider joining Bites for Rights! Lewis, Roger and Mark, and Koen!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wrap your brain around this one

A black hassidic jew growing up in Omaha. Who's into competitive ice skating.
"...his advisers would have a hard time choosing which of his compelling story lines would most dazzle those college admissions officers: The story of growing up in the only Hasidic family in Omaha? Or the story of being the only student of color in his yeshiva? Or maybe the story of being the only Hasidic person of color in Omaha’s competitive ice skating circuit?"
Loved this article.

But make sure you read the clincher at the end. Now that's shocking.

My gayest gardening column yet

Pot of succulents
Can you say gayfeather? How about basil 'lesbos'? But then there's my favorite nod to the Bear community with Acanthus Molis. Horticulture humor! Read the whole thing over here...

Bonus photo: here's how our side garden is looking right now. Green! Luscious! Bountiful! Can you find the buried pig?
the side garden

Monday, June 16, 2008

I love me some religious icons

Virgin Mary sighting
But here? Someone is in big, big, big trouble. Big.

Are you laughing after watching that? Sinner.

Props to Syd for sending that gem.

My Gay Meter is High

While it was the first time in several years that I sat by the sidelines and didn't march in the Pride Parade, it was lots of fun people watching and cheering on others. Figured since I'd been so sick, and actually still am but I'm not going to blog about it anymore (you're welcome), it was best to hang.

So many fun contingents, including the radical faeries...
the faeries are always fun
...and of course the sisters...
...lots of jesus believers, but bless the hearts of this group, they were singing their little hearts out and were doing great...
lots of jesus believers in pride
...and since I just showed you a photo of the jesus believers, I think it's best to follow up with the naked ladies...
naked girls, of course
...did I mention that people watching is one of the best things about Pride? As my friend KriSte said, this outfit here is a statement. A sparkly statement.
i love this outfit
AdRi was a trooper to go to Pride. I wish we had both felt better and could have gone to all of the parties and events and the festival, but it was fun to connect with and watch the parade with our good friends S & K, RSG and HG, and the best part? This was her mom's first Pride. A newbie!
at pride
I have a long list of work this week, but I've squeezed in plenty of fun stuff, too. I've been dreaming of the summer, a theme for this year's summer, and will blog soon about that. In the meantime, my gay-o-meter is at high, and it's going to be a great week. Happy Monday!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Life is a blur

it's a blur
family + deadlines + new clients + volunteer work + new volunteer work + illness + cancellations + sleep + family + deadlines + deadlines + awesome new client + more new work + networking + cancelling networking + illness + cough + cough + more cough + doctor + sinus infection! + codeine + missing fun + Pride + friends + missing friends + graduation + party + sleep + sick + working weekend + sun? + sun! + soup + toast + soup + throat coat tea + tissue + exhaustion = quiet blog

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tree torture

Tree torture
Come on, people. Trees should not be pruned like this. SRSLY. It makes them weaker, and the new growth is not as strong as the older growth. FUGLY.

Along with today’s theme of torture, is the fact that I’ve been very very sick. I don’t know where the term sicker than a dog comes from, but I know I’m sicker than my dog. She’s too cute to be sick.

I’ve been in bed since Sunday night, and working a bit in my PJs (like that’s new) but not doing much talking. Since talking brings about coughing spasms. And night time. That brings about coughing spasms as well. Thank goddess for NyQuil. Poor AdRi had to do all of the cooking and hostessing for a family brunch here on Monday while I layed in bed sicker than a dog. And since I was sick, I couldn’t come down and hold the babies. Oh the babies. And yes, I am very good at hostessing my own Pity Party, which is what I am doing right here and now on this very blog. Care for a ricola? Cuppa Throat Coat tea? Now this is a party. Back to the torture…

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"I will tolerate him, if I must"

I will tolerate him, yes I will
Oh who am I kidding? Wink loves babies so much it almost makes me want to get her one. Psyche. But she does. She wiggles and wags and plays and protects non-stop when there are babies in the house. She is always nearby. Just in case. And here she had to be on the piano bench. Just in case.

We're on the baby train at Casa de LeLo & AdRi. Family weekend is bringing them all in, via PDX. Lots of breakfasts to be made, lots of besos to be had on sweet cachetes. Graduation approaching this weekend.

And then the motherloads of all motherloads: a brunch featuring homemade biscuits and gravy. And even homemade butter. I know. I've gone over the edge. It's all those sweet cachetes I must kiss. And Wink must protect. Because she's a guard dog, you know.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Can you smell the Rose Festival?

Bountiful bouquet
The Rose Festival is happening here in Portland, the Rose City, at the same time our own Rose Festival is occurring in the garden.
Old fashioned rose: swirls
I've been searching for the blog plug-in for smell-o-vision so that you could smell this post, but alas, no such luck. But today I was thinking, while I was roasting garlic, and grilling asparagus and red bell peppers, and making strawberry rhubarb cobbler in preparation for our guests, how lucky I was to be able to be doing this. I can work when I have work, and play when I have play. And cook with all red things apparently, too.
cooking with all red items
And today I picked buckets of heirloom roses from the garden and filled the house with their heady sweet scent. Some smell deep like spice. Some smell like sugar. Others smell like rose water. I crazy love heirloom roses. Not the fussy hybrid tea roses. These are roses that grow on their own roots, passed down among families and growers. Roses with french names, and romantic names. Roses that grow in cupped whirls of decadence. Indulgence. Sweetness. Simplicity.
A mix of roses from the garden
See the deep purple one? It smells deep and musky, almost like cloves. With an edge of sweetness to it that turns into layers of thick velvet wine. It blooms only once during the season. And now's the time. Sieze the moment is its message. So I am.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hunting the summer cocktail: Yes, I'm on a rhubarb bender

The Rhujito: Rhubarb Mojito
I've fallen in love and I can't get up. It's this again: rhubarb. And now, I'm drinking it. Why not? It's beautiful, it's pink and it's refreshing. Certainly it qualifies for a summer cocktail. And now that I've collected and potted up flavored mint on the steps out back (orange mint, chocolate mint, mint julep mint, apple mint) it's time to explore.

The Rhujito: A Rhubarb Mojito.
First make a simple syrup with the rhubarb. I found this recipe and gave it a whirl. Look how pretty that syrup is.
rhubarb syrup
Next, muddle a sprig or two of mint. I tried the Apple Mint. Fill the glass with ice, pour a shot or two of light rum, 1/4-1/3 cup of the rhubarb syrup, and top with mineral water.
rhujito with ice
Outcome? Refreshing, pretty, not overpowering or heavy or coy. Not tons of flavor, but perfect on a really hot day.
Welcome to the first of a series, Hunting the Summer Cocktail. I like to have a signature seasonal drink when it comes to summertime. Summer is a season to celebrate here in the Northwest. It's what gets us through the rest of the year and the nonstop parade of grey, grey and more grey...followed by rain. That glowing orb in the sky deserves a special sip, and every summer I seek to find it. Past years have uncovered the caipirinha, and various mixology. Who knows what we'll find in '08. Next up? The Summer Slushie.