Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pancakes and the overuse of quotation marks

Can you smell the enchiladas? Can you smell the pancakes? Can you smell the enchilada pancakes?
There's the pancakes-disguised-as-enchiladas aspect, here, but the example of having a lot of fun with the Aunt Jemima recipes is great. The flavor's bright as Old Mexico at fiesta time—and the simple figurines establish an intriguing table theme that salutes your imagination. This idea is catching on in Hollywood and along Park Avenue. Oh, to be a copywriter for this one. Fantastic.

Maybe you're more of a hot dog and pancakes person. You're in luck with this one...
Those are slices of hotdogs with pancake batter poured over them. The copywriter got excited writing... Serve immediately with hot syrup or barbecue sauce...and yell "'Penny-Cakes' ahoy!" The copywriter loved extensive use of punctuation. And quotes. Or should I say "quotes."

You might be surprised to know these "recipes" come from this booklet:

Because pancakes aren't unlimited, they're "unlimited."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Because we all need more photos of cute dogs

In a turkey haze. #dogagram

Diego is cute, right? He recently had to have his hair cut short due to his dislike of having me brush him. That means he gets matts and voila! Off it goes. He's wearing lots of fleece and seasonal sweaters to keep him warm until his hair grows back in. Also, he says "woof" in a greeting to you all.

Monday, November 26, 2012

#1 on the high tech wish list of every home cook... 1974. It's a conversation piece. No really, that's its name. The Frigidaire Conversation Piece. But I'm not sure if I'm most intrigued with all of its high tech features, such as the cassette tape player and recorder, or its design featuring shelves "elegantly trimmed with the look of teakwood." Oooh la la.

Honey, there's a message for  you in the fridge. Just press play.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blooms from the garden this time of year

Thinking of those we lost this year. The beauty berries honor Picasso and the hydrangeas Wink. ❤
We had a very simple bouquet at the Thanksgiving table this year. The flowers and berries evoked softness in my heart as I picked them from the garden. The hydrangeas came from the row of white hydrangeas planted in memory of Wink, who we lost almost a year ago. The berries from the gorgeous beauty berry, evoking the memory of gorgeous Picasso, who we also lost this year. They both joined us as we gave thanks to all that we have, even if they are but memories and love.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Four things I'm craving right now

I really want some chia pudding and chia with juice. Probably because I just read this article.
Here's a recipe I wrote for my column a few months back for chia pudding. You should make it.

And for some reason, I'm craving kale salad. I know. It sounds weird. But it's the truth. Look at this and tell me you're not too. 

Also. Downton Abbey, series 1. Love, love and love. 

It's the time of year for my favorite seasonal ice cream. Peppermint. Candy cane. It is what it is people, and it is delicious.

And there is your random post.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A beet salad that doesn't suck

I like my beets somewhat simple, but with a few strong flavors, and I never, ever, never, like my beets from a can. I like them roasted:
Roasted beets will be joined with rosemary dressing, shallots and tangerines

We had a delicious beet salad I made for Thanksgiving, and I didn't even follow a recipe. Rebel! I've been making it long enough, I know what I like, and it's really pretty easy, and a great salad for a holiday meal, because it can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge.

I like the earthy flavors of beets combined with the strength of rosemary and the brightness of orange. It's a wonderful combination around the holidays, using the bounty of California's citrus harvest along with an herb hardy here in Portland, and root vegetables plentiful during these dark days.

Roasted beets with rosemary and tangerines

4-6 beets (a mix of gold and red is pretty)
5 tangerines
3 T olive oil
2 T vinegar (I used a wildflower vinegar I had on hand, because I wanted a little sweetness)
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
2 large shallots
1/4 cup feta crumbles
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub your beets  under running water. Trim off the ends. Place in a casserole dish with cover, along with 1 inch of water. Roast in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check with a fork: if it easily goes into the beet and out, it's done. If it's still hard, keep roasting. It may take 45-60 minutes, depending how large your beets are. Remove from oven, and remove from dish to cool on a cutting board.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Peel one of the tangerines, and squeeze the juice into the vinegar and olive oil, whisking it all together, salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the rosemary while you're whisking. Remember, grind the pepper until your arm is tired. Then you know it's enough for dressing.

Slice the shallots and saute in a little bit of olive oil until soft. Set aside.

Once the beets are cool enough to handle, slide the skins off, then cut into 1.5 chunks, approximate. Toss beets with shallots in bowl of dressing.

If preparing ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, toss the beets well, then add 4 tangerines, peeled and separated into slices, then cut into halves. Sprinkle in feta crumbles. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Yes, the obligatory thankfulness post

I've never said I'm thankful for my health before, but on today's Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my health. I'm thankful to have such a healthy, strong body, and one that I honor by eating well and physically moving it. After shedding so much weight in the past two years, and putting a little of it back on, I realize that it's an ongoing continuum, and for many of us, a struggle of finding and staying at our ideal body size.

But I'm trying to listen to my body, and honor it. My body says it really loves being pushed to the limits with cardio work, even if the first ten or twenty minutes it wants to fight with me. My body is stronger with the training I'm doing with a personal trainer, and I'm finding I'm really strong. No, I'm really strong. And it aches less and moves faster in the world with strength training.

My body is responding. By migrating towards the things it loves: exercise, vegetables, calmness, and not so much focus on what it shouldn't have (carbs, sugars, cookies) I'm finding my body much prefers the carrot and will give a big middle finger to the stick approach.

With that said, we ran the Turkey Trot today. Do not let the fun name fool you. It's a 4 mile run — longer than a 5K which is 3.1 miles — and while it's downhill in the beginning, it's all uphill the way back. In fact, the uphill is an equivalent of 47 flights of stairs (thank you to my FitBit for telling me that!). Much of the uphill we walked, but in the end, we completed the race in 54 minutes, a minute better than our time last year.

Post run:
4 miles, an incline equalling 47 flights of stairs, 54 minutes. We beat our record!

I'm so thankful for a body that allows me to do this. For strong legs and feet that can power me forward, and for all in my life that allows me to honor my body through healthy living. Even if it's hard sometimes, I'm coming to learn that the difficulty only lasts a little while, and that I'm strong enough to keep on pushing through it.

Just don't ask me how my thighs are going to feel tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A low stress, no pressure holiday meal. This post is the opposite of that.

It's almost the big meal day, and in 1935, this lovely little book was published, so as to help all brides with homemaking.
Chock full of tips and tricks, the rules and guidelines contained within are absolutely daunting. So when faced with setting the table, here is some help for you...

The ABC's of every successful hostess scare the bajeezus out of me. Talk about pressure! I love this bit...
"Her husband watches her with quiet pride. The smooth way things are handled, the luxurious appearance of his table, the obvious pleasure his friends and business associates take in his hospitality, and the surprisingly good time he has at his own parties." 

But here's the reason for today's post from Cupid's Book. The handy guide for setting your table. I'm sure we'll all be using this tomorrow for the Thanksgiving table:
So simple, right? I'm right on it. You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A little realness, a little gratitude

I try to practice gratitude every day. For awhile, I kept a gratitude notebook, jotting down things in my daily life, as they crossed my path, that I was thankful for. It's easy to fall away from this practice, and find yourself sliding into the other side of sarcasm or complaining.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, found that your happiness increases with your ability to note the things in your life you can be grateful for. It's this constant attention, a noting of kindness, goodness, beauty, and joy in the little things that brings deep satisfaction.

I think being attentive to my garden and the little things I can note daily, helps me be better attune to this. Being a photographer helps train my eye to see and frame the beauty of what may be right in front of me. Meditation silences the busy-ness, and brings a grounding to open my senses to the world around me. Intense exercise does the exact same thing as meditation. Funny, isn't it?

I had a moment of beauty today. Having spent many nightmare trips to the grocery store in the days or hours leading up to Thanksgiving, I experienced a true Thanksgiving Miracle today. I did my Thanksgiving shopping at my local New Seasons market. Known for its atrociously small parking lot with small and difficult-to-maneuver parking spaces, I was prepared to see a not-so-pretty side of my fellow humans. It was a full lot, but I was easily able to wait for a woman loading her trunk to then back out, and take her parking spot. Not so bad, I said to myself, as I hustled into the busy store just two days before the big turkey day. Aisles were not crowded, staff were readily available and happy to answer questions. And when it came time to check out? No line. And a checker who was kind and fun to chat with. (We chatted about the tastiness of the No Pudge Brownies I was buying. Not for Thanksgiving!) But here's the creme de le creme. As I went to leave, I could see the deluge that was happening outside. Buckets of rain were pouring from the sky. Buckets. Drenching water flowing like a river from above. I'm not exaggerating. And at the door? A New Seasons staffer, in a raincoat slicker with a walkie talkie and a big giant umbrella, offering to escort shoppers to their car. My groceries and I made it to the car without getting drenched, and as I wished him a happy Thanksgiving, he took my cart to return to the store.

And that, my friends, is what I'm grateful for today. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Twinkie Rant

Our connections to foods of our childhood can be powerful, though not always healthy ones. I've written about my love of Jello, but honestly, it's not so much as a food source, but as a cultural mapping to my family and grandparents. I get it.

But the recent media attention around the closure of Hostess, leaving Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Twinkies about ready for removal from production, is a little surprising. It's not like these are products that have stayed current with the times. Let's look at the content of a Twinkie:

Enriched wheat flour, sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable and/or animal shortening – containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed and canola oil, and beef fat, dextrose, whole eggs, modified corn starch, cellulose gum, whey, leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), salt, cornstarch, corn flour, corn syrup, solids, mono and diglycerides, soy lecithin, polysorbate 60, dextrin, calcium caseinate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, wheat gluten, calcium sulphate, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, yellow No. 5, red #40

I have a hard time accepting that something with the above ingredients is worth saving. That's a lot of crap. And so is the whole "blaming it on the unions" line. If there's anything to learn by this recent "news story" is that a really great way to increase sales of your crappy product is to threaten to close.

End of rant.   

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Planning your Thanksgiving salads

Salads. The word evokes fresh greens, vegetables, perhaps fruit: light and refreshing. What. Not this?
My pamphlet on salads suggests in full black and white glory that  your guests can select their own salads from a salad bar. Hopefully your salad bar has more color than this.
And of course when you think of salads you think of aspic, right? Chicken, ham, chicken and olive, we have you covered.

Oh it's so depressing. Let's live a little and have some color. Here you go....

Everything is better with Jell-O.

Do you need more inspiration? There's always the famous Holiday Cheese Salad.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dare to be different with your holiday meal!

I know in a recent post I introduced you to the fine recipes for Ham Loaf in Blanket and Roasted Squirrels. But you could really step it up a notch by planning your holiday meal to be...wait for it...
(I love what constitutes a foreign dish in days gone by.)  Okay, so you love Mexican food like I do, right? Here's a winner for you...
Basically you boil the crap out of some green peppers (I'm imagining bell peppers), butter up some cooked onion, mushrooms (from a can?), and ham (because nothing says Mexican food like ham), and add some brown sauce to the mix. Brown sauce? According to my researcher on the topic (thanks mom!) it's a butter, red wine, beef bouillon sauce with tarragon and thyme. I guess in 1935 you just had brown sauce on hand. Perhaps you make it while you're boiling those bell peppers.

But the creme de la creme, or should I say, muy sabroso, ending is serving it all on toast.

I wish I had a photo of AdRi's face when I read this recipe to her. I bet it's the same face you're making right now too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Guilt through leaves

It is fall. These are our trees.
Alas, we have yet to pick up our fall leaves.

Go ahead. Throw stones. Rocks. Mock us as necessary.

The street cleaners came through this week and I was wrecked with guilt.

And to the school children, I am so sorry. I am so busy with work, and my partner works full time away from home, and we have not gotten to the leaves. But then I pause and look at them. How beautiful, how gorgeous, how capturing-the-time they are. It is autumn here in Portland, and we do our best with the bounty.

It is a gorgeous time of year. Stay in the moment. See it for what it is. Fleeting. Decaying. Amazing. We are so lucky to be here, aren't we? Yes, yes we are.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Planning your meaty Thanksgiving dinner (in 1965)

Let's say the year was 1965, and you were faced with Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps you wanted to forgo the traditional turkey, throw caution to the wind, and live a little. "Let's do something different this year, honey" you would say to your husband. "Let's!" he would reply, and am I the only one picturing him wearing a mock turtleneck? See, I knew you were too.

So off you go to your stack of pamphlets, and of course you start your menu planning with "250 ways to prepare MEAT." So many options, so many choices. But there it is. On pages 24 and 25, there they shine.

The ham loafs.


What. You don't love a ham loaf? Ha!

(back to 2012 for a moment)...AdRi and I love playing the "which would you rather" game, listing two things, both pretty terrible, against each other, forcing the other to choose which of them they'd choose if they had to. It can get pretty painful. But wickedly fun. So when faced with, "which would you rather" and the three different ham loafs listed in the book — Ham Loaf, Ham Loaf in Blanket, or Jellied Ham Loaf—after making a face of disgust, went for the Ham Loaf in Blanket. We have a winner!

(back to 1965)....So it's settled. Ham Loaf in Blanket will adorn your Thanksgiving table this year. Here is the recipe. (I'm sure this will soon be wildly pinned all over Pinterest!)

Ham Loaf in Blanket
1 onion, chopped
Bacon drippings
2 cups finely chopped cooked potatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked ham
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
Baking powder biscuit dough (made with 2 cups flour)
Brown onion in drippings, add potatoes, mix well and combine with next 5 ingredients. Heat thoroughly. Roll biscuit dough into rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Shape hot ham mixture into a loaf and draw dough up over mixture to form a roll. Press edges of dough firmly together. Slash top, bake at 425 F 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with Mushroom Sauce. Serves 6 to 8.

But wait. Flipping through the book, you realize perhaps Ham Loaf isn't the answer this year, because you've found this:
I have a large collection of vintage cookbooks and pamphlets. As the holiday season approaches and we're collecting our recipes, I thought it would be fun to take a look to the past menus of those who've come before us and take in some retro fun. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A passion flower update (and a shocking photo!)

Outtake from a photoshoot for my gardening column
I know you've been waiting on the edge of your seat wondering how my passion flower is going. So as to keep you not in wait any longer, I tell you, it's been a very successful year for the passion flower here in Jardin Encantado.

Planted at least eight years ago, if not ten, our passion flower has always done well. Dying back every winter, sometimes even to the ground, it always comes back. It can be tricky and not leaf out until late spring, making us think it's muerte. But it never is. 

But this summer? Banner year. Best ever. Tremendous. Shocking, really. Thanks to our mild winter last year, it didn't even die back hardly at all. And with our long warm summer? It completely covered the back arbor. Completely. Full shade. Shocking photo proof:
It's been a good year for the Passion flower. Vigorous, you think!?
Photo taken from a second floor window looking down on the arbor. Can you see all of those blooms?! And yes, it's also climbing over the garage. It's a good thing we have neighbors who enjoy having it on their side of the fence, too.

Literally dripping with hundreds of passion flowers. Passion flower decadence. And then one evening while sitting at the table underneath the exuberance, I looked up and saw something round and orange. Lo and behold, it had produced fruit.
My passion fruit vine has produced passion fruit! #gardening #npdx #pdx

That is a first. And today, in mid November, blooms still abound on the vine. Year of the passion flower!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

There's a color trying to get my attention

There's a color story that seems to be repeating itself to me lately. Purple to fuschia to red. It's showing up in different ways. So I'm matching it and putting it into projects. Hey, it's trying to get my attention!
Building color studies on the studio this morning.
Dahlia as seen on November 6th
And then I put it in my hair.
Ooohh! Changes!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A visit to the Dallas Arboretum: thanks mom!

Tower of yellow chihuly
Combine the magic artistry of Chihuly's dreamy glass with the setting of an arboretum, and that's what you can find at the Dallas Arboretum up until the end of the year. My mom recently sent me these photos, but I thought you'd probably like to see them too.

Talk about punctuation in the garden...

These remind me of steam rising, or ghosts rising out of the water.
the glass is like ghosts rising in the water

Dreamy spires

Looks like it's time to harvest!
Is it time to harvest?

Red hot pokers on water...
red hot pokers

I really have no words for this fabulousness...

Doesn't this look like sea holly?
doesn't it look like sea holly?

And look how it's set up for an approach...
lined with pumpkins

blue flames of glass

 How fun is this?
Chihuly on the lake

Chihuly on water

There were also pumpkins...
Ghost pumpkins

And here's your bonus. My mom is a princess!
My mom is a princess

Thanks for the eye candy mom!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ah, November.

Did you notice? It's been ten days. 10 days. Of blogging. A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. Actually, I remember how I'd blog every day in the month of November. Nowadays, the  poor month seems to be known for the month the guys grow a mustache. Movember, you know.

But I'm calling the muse to visit this month, and attempting to post every day. It may be difficult for a multitude of reasons, work travel, busy business, and a wandering mind. I'm giving it the old college try, and while I wasn't going to say anything, at least I've gone for ten days, 10 days, so far, so I'd say, so good.

In other news...

My muscles are sore today. I started seeing a personal trainer this week, and I thought I so had it in the bag. Push ups on the ball? No problem. Crunches? You got it. Squats with the kettle ball? Easy peasy. And then the day after hit. I revise that. The day after, while attempting to put on my coat I found it extremely painful to actually put my arms behind my back to insert arm into jacket sleeve. Oh my. And then I noticed I was walking with a cowboy gait. Good god. I've been duped. This shit is hard. Well done, personal trainer, well done.

I'm taking requests for topics this November. God, I hope I don't regret that. Gardening questions? Recipe questions? Personal questions?  I promise to respond. I triple dog dare you.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Gardening fashion

Looking for a knitting project? May I suggest these. Actually, I think the hat may be felted? I suppose the red tipped Q-tip here is deadheading her azaleas, though reaching some of them with that wide collar and bell shaped sleeves and sweater bottom may make that difficult. But it looks like she's persevering.

Portlanders, get knitting.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The fuchias are still hanging in there

Mme. Gadski, Bay Shore  (LOC)
Alas, I've stopped watering the hanging fuchsias, but they seem to have a mind of their own and just keep on blooming.
Aren't fuschias amazing?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

And the dahlia played on

Dahlia as seen on November 6th
As seen on November 6th. Dahlias in our neighborhood are still blooming their little heads off.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Seeing a blogger I admire

Smitten Kitchen packs Powells
I suppose I've been more of a blog reader than a blogger myself lately. I have a handful of blogs I like to read. Actually, it's more than a handful, and when I have the time, I catch up on them. They range in topics from design to politics to gardening to food to weight loss/healthy living to folks who just have lovely points of view I enjoy reading. The topics have ranged over the years, and many blogs have been unsubscribed from when they've lost their voice, moved to prioritizing making money or getting popular with their blogs, or have just disappeared.

But one that's stayed steady in her voice and in my blog reader, is Smitten Kitchen. It's my go-to blog for spot-on recipes with flavors well balanced, and while I may visit when searching for a great holiday meal recipe, she also doles out great salads and vegetable based meals as well. Her broccoli salad is one of my favorites during the summer.

It was wonderful to see her in person tonight while on her book tour. Alas, her books were already sold out at Powells so I couldn't buy one, and the room was hot and packed with admirers (see photo above for proof), but it was great to see her personality in life, not just on screen. I think I might like her even more now.

Here are some of my favorites from Smitten Kitchen:
Broccoli Slaw
Triple Berry Buttermilk Bundt Cake 
Her recent farro and butternut squash salad
Nectarine Galette