Friday, November 28, 2008

A little holiday cheer: Thanksgiving with friends and Rudy

There are times when I realize how lucky I am. Friends make me feel that way, and so does Rudy. But the really great thing is introducing Rudy and our friends. Special thanks to our friends who opened their home to us, and Rudy, this Thanksgiving. 6 women and Rudy, it was a blast.

Here's what Rudy thought:

Rudy's Thanksgiving from LeloNopo on Vimeo.

And here's a bonus movie for you. What happens when we discovered the Lightsaber application on our iPhones.

Lightsabers from LeloNopo on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Emergency Thanksgiving Holiday Jello Salad Post! Alert! Emergency!

I received an e mail from a lovely woman named Pat. She had read my previous post about Jello Salad recipes, and asked me to share a few with her. In particular, she's seeking a Waldorf type of Jello salad, and a cranberry salad recipe. I sent AdRi on a mission to sort through the recipe cards (you know I inherited hundreds of them, right?) and we've selected three that hopefully fit the bill for you Pat. So here goes...

Church Salad
Church Salad
(looks like this came from Florence)
Combine 2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Cook for 2 minutes. Then take potato masher and mash up berries. Add 1 pkg of any red colored gelatin to hot liquid, plus 1 envelope plain gelatin that has been dissolved in 1/3 cup cold water. Turn half of this into a glass baking dish, 7x11 and let stand until firm.

Mix 1 8 oz. package of room temperature cream cheese with 1/2 cup orange juice. Add to it 1 envelope plain gelatin that has first been dissolved in 1/3 cup cold water, then melted over hot water. (?: I'm just transcribing this as written people!) Add 1 cup of very well drained crushed pineapple.

When bottom layer of red cranberry mixture is firm, add the cheese pineapple layer. When cheese pineapple layer is firm, use remaining red cranberry mixture to spread over top. Serve on lettuce, cut in squares.

Delightful Cranberry Mold
Delightful Cranberry Mold
Recipe from the kitchen of Bunny Spring
1 can 8.5 oz crushed pineapple (drain)
2 cups liquid - juice and water
2 3 oz pkg. raspberry or cherry jello
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese (mash)
2 Tbsp salad dressing (blend in cheese)
1 cup cream (whipped) or a 2 oz. pkg topping mix
1 lb can whole cranberry sauce
1/2 tsp KK raspberry flavoring (I believe KK stands for Kitchen Klatter brand)
1/2 cup nuts (chopped)
1/2 cup apples, diced
Heat liquid and dissolve gelatin. Coo. Beat cheese mixture and salad dressing, add to gelatin. Fold in remaining ingredients, pour into mold. Chill, unmold and top with salad dressing or with flavored cream cheese.

Christmas Salad
Christmas Salad
2 cups raw cranberries
1.5 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 package cherry jello
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 tart apple, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Add water to cranberries and simmer 10 minutes. Add sugar. Stir and add gelatin. Remove from stove and partially cool. Add drained, crushed pineapple, a little of the pineapple juice, chopped apple and nuts. Pour into molds and chill. Yields 8 to 10 servings of tasty salad that will add color to your Christmas table.

That was a lot of gelatin people. Phew!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to make insanely delicious cupcakes

cupcakes with orange cream and candied orange peel
I recently made some cupcakes for a little shindig, and I have to say, they were really good. And there were many thumbs up and oohing and aahing in the room as people dug in. But you know they're really good when people have seconds. And thirds. So I thought I'd share with you my secrets.

1. Consult with a real pastry chef. Thanks to Purpletwinkie, we came up with a winning combination. And through the wonders of video iChat he held up photos from his books and also demonstrated the technique for hole punching the cupcakes. We'll get to that in a minute. If you don't have your own personal pastry chef to consult with, just copy me.

2. Go for a really strong flavor combination. Word was the birthday girl likes orange flavored desserts, so we chose chocolate + orange. But not too much. There's vanilla in this too.

3. Cupcakes with something stuffed inside of them, like orange bavarian cream, are always tasty. They're the surprise in your bundle of goodness. Punch a hole into your cupcakes with something wide, like the end of your rounded handle salad tongs. See? Press down, but not all the way through. Just enough to create some space for your cream.
cupcakes ready to be stuffed
And then fill them with something. Bavarian cream is good. I used this recipe. (I tripled the orange peel though: I wanted it tangy!) bavarian cream

4. Piped goodness of frosting makes everything pretty. I always use this simple recipe, thanks to Amy Sedaris.

5. Top it off with something fancy. In this case, it was candied orange peel. I followed these directions for candied orange peel. I have a whole lot of it left over.
candied orange peel

And in the end? Chocolate cupcakes stuffed with orange bavarian cream, vanilla frosting, and topped with candied orange peel. Sweet mother of god, they were good.
super yum

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Horrors of the Holiday Kitchen: What won't you be making this year?

Welcome Utah, welcome Pennsylvania, welcome California! It's that time when people are furiously searching the interwebs for recipes and ideas for what they'll be making for that special holiday meal, and many of them are ending up here on my blog. If you haven't read these favorite posts of mine, you should (they really should be titled Horrors of the Holiday Kitchen or something).

The famous holiday cheese salad? (pineapple + cheddar cheese + lemon jello) Yep, it's here.

Cherry berry on a cloud? Yep, it's here too. Along with the many other jello recipes I inherited from my grandmother.

Perhaps you're seeking Frog Eye Salad? It seems to be a most popular search with visitors from Utah. You can find it here.

I don't believe I'll be making any of these this year. Have you ever made the green bean casserole? I haven't, but am intrigued with it for some reason. But the sodium content scares me. It uses that classic standby of cream of mushroom soup.

What horrors from Thanksgiving pasts are you avoiding? I'm all ears.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

After the harvest

After the harvest
It's been quiet here. After all of the hubbub of planting and growing and cooking and preserving and canning and harvesting....I'm on empty. It's quiet time.

Well, not too quiet. I'm just not having my camera handy all the time. (And work is keeping me very busy right now.) We've been cooking up stir fry, roasted beets, pumpkin, squash....and I have no idea what we'll be cooking up next week for turkey day after we deliver Meals On Wheels.

I do know that I restarted our Organics To You delivery. They're a great local company that delivers organic produce boxes every week from local farms. We used to get their produce but stopped when we went into The Great Remodel (oh it hurts to remember that time, but oh how wonderful the outcome). I enjoy it because it forces you (in a good way) to eat and create meals with the produce that's current and in season. I first learned how to cook kale thanks to our Organics To You deliveries. So hopefully it will kickstart my creativity in the kitchen and provide some blogworthy content. In the meantime I need some more nature. And nurture.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's time to get busy: LGBTQ equality post the 2008 election

This past election was a whirlwind of excitement and celebration, built up to with a whole lot of anticipation. I’ve held back from sharing here on my blog my complete disappointment and sadness, however, for so many LGBTQ people and our families across the country who suffered painful defeats at the ballot, for fear that I didn’t want to take away from the elation of electing a man of color to the highest rank of political seat in the nation.

Sigh. But it is disappointing. It was a hard election. The majority of Arkansans voted to prevent adoption or fostering of children by gays and lesbians. Think about that. They would rather children be parentless than be raised by gays or lesbians. They join other states, such as Florida, who have passed similar legislation as well.

Also this election, Arizona and Florida passed laws preventing not only gays and lesbians from marrying, but from benefiting from civil unions and/or domestic partnerships as well. And of course there’s California, who passed the equivalent of Oregon’s Measure 36 of 4 years ago, defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. This vote puts in jeopardy the 18,000 marriages that have taken place in that state. My heart goes out to those couples: it’s a hard day when your marriage license fee gets returned to you. This election has dealt hard blows for the gays.

But I have hope. Within days of Barack Obama’s win, his website went up, including information for how to apply for a job with his administration. And in his non-discrimination clause was sexual orientation and gender identity (it's there at the bottom). There was no discussion, no voting, no chatter, it was just included.

And that gives me hope.

So what are you doing now? What are you doing tomorrow? What are you doing to turn this tide around? I’m thinking of five, simple things…

• Come out. The more people know us, the less they can deny us. Maybe we all need a button that says I’m Gay or I’m Queer or however you want to identify. (Hmm. I’ll work on that.) Just don’t be invisible.

• Speak out. Write, talk, create film, art, photography about injustices and about equality. And never underestimate the power of writing letters and making phone calls. You will be heard. Demand it.

• Get involved in your local LGBTQ organizations. These are the places that are making the good fight, creating community and building capacity for the future. Here in Portland that may be Basic Rights Oregon, Q Center, Pride Foundation, PFLAG, Equity Foundation, among others. Become a member, become a donor, become a volunteer. Be the change.

• Stand up for injustice everywhere, including those who are the targets of the fundamentalist right. This means immigrants, people of color, those with disabilities: remember that we are all in this together. We can’t just fight for ourselves, we must fight for us all.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. —Martin Luther King

• Remember that just because you may not experience injustice in your own progressive bubble, it is not the same for others across the country. Listen to and share their stories. Fight for yourself, fight for them.

I’m inspired by today’s rally in Downtown Portland. All of the young faces, and the faces of friends who have been fighting the fight for years. It is so easy to become complacent in our progressive bubble of Portland, Oregon, a place where we’ve been fortunate to have a mayor, Tom Potter, speaking out tirelessly for us his entire life, even when he was police chief, and where we are soon to have the country’s first major city’s gay mayor, Sam Adams. But it’s not time to say we’ve made it. The hard work is yet ahead, just like our president elect said in his acceptance speech. It’s time to get busy.

Photos from today’s Rally for Justice in Portland, Oregon:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The word fabulous does not do it justice.

Imagine a world of glitter and feathers, gilt and mirrors. Monkey fur and capes, bling beyond your wildest of dreams. Put a little piano music behind it all, drop it into a strip mall in Las Vegas, and you have the Liberace Museum.

Ta da!!!
high step kicking in front of the liberace museum

Purpletwinkie and Mr. J. were our escorts, and we had 45 minutes to take it all in. It was very, very hard to focus. So many shiny reflective surfaces.
Scott taking a photo of me taking a photo
me taking a photo of scott
me waving in reflection. tiny wave.
So many costumes.
patriotic liberace costume
So many pianos to play.
keyboards everywhere. i must play this one!i can play the wall piano!
So many lines that were just meant to be read out loud.
Why don't I?
It was a magical and mystical visit. Even a rainbow filled the sky as we left.
and the clouds parted and the rainbow came out
What a heavenly visit. Thanks, Purpletwinkie and Mr. J. You guys are the best.

To see more photos from our visit to the Liberace Museum, go here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You've got two weeks people

You've got two weeks to get it together
And that turkey is going to be here. Just sayin'.

I'm back from a whirlwind tour of Vegas but now I'm sick. Will post photos tomorrow. Promise.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Here's a challenge for you and your garden

Calamagrostis "Karl Forrester"
Don't do it. Don't do a massive fall clean up. Leave those perennials, let the rose hips fully set on the roses, don't cut down those grasses. The leaves? You can push them onto your beds. But whatever you do, don't bag them up and put them out at the curb: that's just plain silly.

My latest Sassy Gardener column talks about the why and the how. Take a rest people. You've earned it.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."

President Obama
President-elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech, November 4, 2008:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics -- you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to -- it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington -- it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America -- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek -- it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers -- in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House -- a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends
though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn -- I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world -- our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down -- we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security -- we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright --tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America -- that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

No matter how you say it, it can be done.

si se puede
Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people's plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.
—Cesar Chavez

Monday, November 03, 2008

Experimenting with substitutions: pumpkin bread

Pumpkin bread
I love good quick breads. Meaning zucchini bread, pumpkin bread: paying $2/slice at my favorite local coffee shops just seems silly when I can make it myself so easily. But the amount of sugar and oil the traditional recipes call for made me want to see if I could do a healthier version.

I had read about applesauce being a substitute for oil, so instead of using a whole cup of vegetable oil, I used half oil, half applesauce. This is one of the reasons why I had frozen applesauce in small containers. I thought I'd start out with minor substitutions and see if I could tell the difference, and I'm happy to say I couldn't. The recipe called for a whopping three cups of white sugar, and there's no way I was going to use that much. Instead, one cup white, one cup of brown sugar, and to help enhance flavor, I doubled the amount of spices to punch it up some.

And then finally, I've found out the hard way that you can't substitute whole wheat flour for white flour 1/1. Oh no. I tried that a few months back and baked what came out like a granola crumble. The recipe called for three cups of flour, so 2 cups were white, and 1 cup was whole wheat, but I made sure to sift all of the dry ingredients to help aerate it. I read this helps when you're using whole wheat flour, so what the heck. I gave it a go.
Sifting wheat flour
The verdict? Excellent. Moist, flavorful, not overly sweet, this pumpkin bread is a keeper. It's a great Sunday afternoon or evening project. The recipe calls for two loafs, and I've sliced and frozen one for quick morning take-aways, with a fresh loaf for this week.

Next time I'll try increasing the applesauce even more, but so far, this recipe is a more healthful version than I've used in the past.
Pumpkin bread loaf
Pumpkin Bread
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 15-oz can pumpkin
2 cups white all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two loaf pans (I used 8x4x2.5 or so) with butter and flour. In a large bowl, beat sugars, applesauce and oil to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift the remaining dry ingredients (flours, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, baking powder) into another bowl. Stir dry mixture into pumpkin mixure. Mix in walnuts.

Divide the batter between pans. Bake 1 hour, or until a knife insert into center comes out clean. Transfer to racks and let cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool.
Do you use substitutes in baking? I'd love to hear your hits and misses.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Finding great Mexican food on N. Lombard in NoPo

La Superior's menu board
I'm a chilaquiles fan. I always have them when we're in Mexico. Here in the states, let alone in Portland, Oregon? Not so much. Yes, I've had the ones at Autentica, and eh, they're okay. Once they had them on the menu at Por Que No and what I was handed were chips layered with scrambled eggs. I remember looking at them and thinking WTF. It was like scrambled egg nachos or something. Very disappointing. So I guess I'm a chilaquiles snob. Whatevs. Chilaquiles are a simple breakfast item in Mexico, made from chips (usually day-old ones), cooked with fresh sauce and topped with crema, queso y cebolla (cream, cheese and white onion). Usually you have them with scrambled eggs and frijoles on the side.
But I've found some really good chilaquiles here in North Portland at La Superior, not very far from where we live. AdRi has been checking them out for awhile now. The minute she heard they made their own tortillas (corn) her ears perked up. This isn't another Mexican burrito place on North Lombard. They're making posole here, and caldo (soup), and their beans? Really good. Saucey and with whole bits, and just the right amount of queso sprinkled on top.

Chilaquiles come in either a red or green sauce. I've had the red, and it puffed my lips up like Melanie Griffith. The green is still spicy, but not so intense. AdRi had Huevos Mexicanas, a plate of delicious scrambled eggs, tomatoes, sweet onions and parsley with beans, rice, and 4 fresh, homemade corn tortillas:
Huevos mexicanas

The service is great and friendly, the music is a good combination of modern and rancheras, clean and bright, and the fresh salsa bar lets you spice it up at will.
La Superior inside
Definitely a thumbs up from LeLo and AdRi.
La Superior is on N. Lombard at the intersection of N. Greeley.
La Superior exterior