Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Now I Feel Like a REAL Bicyclist

as a result of having my first bicycle crash (at least in a very long time). And, maybe "crash" is a bit more dramatic than the accident warranted. I had an up close and personal meeting with the pavement this afternoon. Since I started riding again on a somewhat regular basis, I've wondered if I was going to be able to avoid a fall. In the main, I ride pretty slowly and cautiously, so it didn't seem to be terribly likely.

But, I believe somewhere in Bicycling 101, they tell you not to try to cross streetcar tracks at an angle. Duh. It's not like I don't know this rule. I regularly have to cross railroad tracks to get to the path along the river and always am careful to cross as close as I can to a 90 degree angle. Today, I was riding down to the south waterfront area on the west side of the river. Had gotten as far as the Spaghetti Factory restaurant and was looking to figure out where I could turn to head back. In hind sight, I know that I should have gone one more block and would probably have been just fine. But, instead, I turned on the same block that the streetcar turns down there. And, just about the time, I was figuring out that there was no place for the bike to ride, I went flying. Ouch! Double ouch! (and a lot of other words that I need to leave out in case Mom reads my blog.) Sad to say, it was my own darn fault, no one else I can blame!

I was, in fact, very lucky in two ways. One is that I really wasn't hurt in any significant way - painful, yes, but not serious. And the other is the number of people who came to offer help. I was so impressed. One woman who was just walking by, came over quickly and helped by getting my bike out of the way. (I was a bit concerned because I was sprawled across the tracks and not feeling ready to move any too quickly.) Another woman came out of a business across the street and offered bandaids or other first aid paraphernalia. A shuttle bus driver stopped and asked if I needed help. The business across the street was "Paradym Events" and, as it turns out, the kind folks there took great care of me - fixed my handlebars so I could actually ride the bike again (had the tools and the knowledge to take care of that), gave me alcohol wipes for all the scrapes (did I say Ouch?!) and water. How great that there are people who will take time to do things like that. So, as much as I would like to whine, I do feel quite fortunate.

I'd love to show photos of my injuries, as some of my blogging sisters and others like to do. But this is a high-class blog - none of that blood and guts stuff. And Catherine would be grossed out. Nevermind that, if there were pictures of my "injuries", I'm afraid there would be a lot of guffawing out there amongst the real athletes. In addition, right after I got home, I needed to drive to go pick up our CSA share. Another woman came in for her produce with a serious black eye and bruises on her face around her eye - saying she'd had a recent bike accident. She'd even had a concussion. So, my tale was a lot less glamorous to tell. (Didn't ask her if she was wearing a helmet.)

Grady is offering zero sympathy, for some reason. I just mention this in a blatant appeal for words of sympathy from blog readers. :)
(Well, in the interest of fairness, I guess I should add that, after I rode a bit less than half way back home, and things were starting to hurt quite a bit, I called him and he did come and pick me up. So maybe he didn't feel any additional words of sympathy were required.)

Instead of unpleasant photos of my arm and knee, I'll offer instead a picture of one of the herbs from our CSA share today - borage. Another new adventure in cooking.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 8

Our week was chopped up again since I went to Manzanita for three days. I brought some of our backyard greens and some leftovers, so not much exciting to report on there. And, I have no idea of what Grady ate here on his own.
But, we had a lovely breakfast one morning:

Probably the last picking (sigh) of our raspberries and loganberries in the backyard.
I combined them with some Oregon Blueberries to make a Summer Fruit Compote (Art of Slow Food, Alice Waters). We had it on top of multi-grain pancakes. I have not yet investigated the source of the grains that I buy in bulk at the grocery store, so I can't designate them as local. But, the butter, eggs and buttermilk used with them to make the pancakes were all local. The berries in the compote soaked nicely into the pancakes and made for a delicious combination.

Today, I needed to make something to take to a neighborhood potluck picnic down at Ladd Circle. I started out looking for something in which to use the fennel from our CSA share since it was probably more than we would be likely to use during the week on our own. I think fennel is something of an acquired taste and I'd have to say that Grady has not yet made the acquisition. I found a recipe for Fennel Slaw on Epicurious and took this to the potluck.Fennel - CSA share
Cabbage - from Washington, not really local, but close
Carrot - grown in Oregon
Walla Walla scallions substituted for the onions - CSA share

It's hard to believe we are already at week 8. We've settled into some routines with our local eating. I haven't been to a farmer's market in a while - keep missing them because of being out of town. But, between the little bit we get from our tiny garden and the small share we have from Little Frog farm, we're in pretty good shape for vegetables and fruits. And now we have a locally grown chicken available at New Seasons, plus fish, beef and pork. I think it's time for me to pursue more about the grains as we move into week 9 - or when we run out of the flours that we have on hand.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Random observations from our B.C. Road Trip

Every town in British Columbia has:
  1. a community center - usually large and quite beautiful, no matter how small the town
  2. one or more of the following - Subway, A&W, Dairy Queen- all three usually unless town is very small
  3. log house builder
  4. at least one liquor store - no exceptions; three or four unless the town has a population under 50; often they are combined with something else - liquor store and tavern, liquor store and gas station, etc. - very efficient
  5. at least one "Chinese and Western" restaurant
  6. taxidermist
  7. An official 'Information Center - in which the employees are paid by the number of maps and brochures they are able to hand out to visitors, more points if they can mark up the map with random points of interest first; but the Info Centers always have a restroom, so I am a big fan
  8. a drop-dead gorgeous scenic view - including rivers, forests and mountains in the distance
OK, maybe there are just a few generalizations here, but not too many. Most of all, it is a beautiful province and we felt welcomed by friendly people every place we stopped or stayed.

Two Highlights of the trip:
1. Visits to two first nations cultural centers and several galleries that specialize in native arts in Victoria -
'KSan Historic Village - for centuries, the home of the Gitxan in the upper Skeena River region near Hazelton; a replication of the houses, totem poles, and other artifacts of their culture
Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre
run by the Cowichan Tribes; in addition to an interpretive tour and opportunity to talk with a basket-weaver and a carver, we lucked into an opportunity to see a performance of aboriginal songs and dances by the Cowichan Tzinquaw Dancers.

In Victoria, we browsed through several galleries that focus on art of the northwest coast. Our favorite were prints by Coast Salish artist, lessLIE at Alcheringa Gallery. After a fair amount of looking, hemming and hawing, we managed to decide on one print to bring home.

2. The ferry trip from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy
A 15-hour ride through the inland passage along the west coast of B.C.. Again, gorgeous scenery on both sides of the boat. And many wildlife-viewing opportunities throughout the day- LOTS of whales, dolphins playing in the wake of the boat, eagles flying overhead and a few seals. Observation of the wildlife on board also helped pass the time. I believe we were among a small minority of people on the boat who were native speakers of English. It seems to be quite a popular trip with European tourists. It was also my observation that we were among a similarly small minority of people on the boat not wearing travel pants - men, women, children, couples in matching travel pants. (If you ever see Grady and I wearing matching travel pants and matching jackets, please put us out of our misery.)

Lastly, here are a couple of the house fronts and totems in the 'KSan village:

And, for those of you who heard (or read in last year's travel blog) about our "rough crossing" of Lake Michigan, I thought I might show you a picture of me not throwing up on this ferry ride. Note: no white knuckles on the seat arms, no extra large barf bags in sight. Whew, what a better way to travel.

A group of my photos from this trip are on my flickr page.
I'm hoping Grady will get his developed soon. He actually took two FILM cameras. On the ferry ride, he was stopped frequently by other folks who were curious about these antique cameras he was using! But, of course, he has not only a better camera, but actual knowledge and skill in using it. So, his pictures of the whales and dolphins are likely to actually look like something. And, maybe I can get digital versions to post later on.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 7

Just back from our road trip through British Columbia, so tonight's dinner is the only meal I've made here at home this week. It was an almost all local meal. We haven't had chicken in a while and I had a hankering for it. So we've grilled some local chicken breasts that I had marinated in ginger, garlic and chili powder - based loosely on a recipe in The Farm to Table Cookbook.
Chard from our garden sauteed with garlic and some hot pepper.
Gratin with local fingerlings, shitakes, and mild. I didn't have time to look for a local substitute for the cheese, so I went ahead and used gruyere as called for in the recipe. This was also a variation on a recipe in Ivy Manning's book.
And, finally, a green salad with lettuce from our garden.

The potatoes look a lot better in the before picture than they do in the completed meal - partly due to my picture-taking abilities, but also probably due to the fact that it got overcooked while I was waiting for Grady to get back from a visit to the neighbors. (Always handy to have someone else to blame!)

I haven't posted any pictures of Molly lately - the namesake for the "old dog", as I explained in the very first post of this blog. The potatoes gratin may have been overcooked, but that didn't keep her from showing her interest. She was happy to have us back home and she always appreciates it when we eat on the deck since the table there is lower than our kitchen island, making it much easier to get her nose up close.

We did have a lovely dinner in Victoria that also qualifies for One Local Summer. I asked our host at the B&B for suggestions of restaurants that use local products in their cooking. He enthusiastically suggested three restaurants that he said were all very good. We chose Paprika Bistro and it was excellent. I started with a salad of local organic greens, green apples, Poplar Grove Tiger blue cheese and hazelnuts. Then followed with Cowichan Bay Farm duck with sour cherry and ginger sauce and a potato strudel.

A few more observations on our trip through B.C. later. I managed to come home with one souvenir I didn't appreciate, a full-on cold with all the usual symptoms. So, this is about all the effort I can muster tonight.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Road Trip 2008

We’re off in the little red car again, heading north – farther north than either of us have even been. On our way to Prince Rupert, British Columbia - four days worth of north. We should get there by tomorrow evening and then we'll be taking a 15-hour ferry ride to Vancouver Island. I don't feel up to a frequent and detailed trip blog as I had done with our road trip last year (huge sighs of relief from the hoards of readers). But, I'll post an assortment of pictures and comments for the family. Then it should be easy to scroll through.

The first day and a half was urban:
Seattle - dinner with Barb Williams and a stay at the Chez Rinehart/Young, relaxing in the front yard looking out over the sunset on Greenlake.
Vancouver - lunch with Chris (friend of our Kris), Ashley (his wife) and Riley (friend from Montreal who had just ridden his bike from Portland to Vancouver); transported "gifts" and wine for Chris and Ashley
The Alex Fraser bridge heading into the part of town nearest to where Chris and Ashley live. Very cool looking.

Saturday - drove along the "sea to sky highway", up through Whistler and on to Pemberton. We were curious about the amount of road construction until we saw the signs reminding us that the 2010 Winter Olympics will be in that area. Pemberton was a lovely little town, particularly the restaurant where we had dinner and the farm at which we had breakfast the next morning. (more on the food in both places in the last post about local eating)

Grady relaxing and enjoying the view from the patio of the Pemberton Valley Vineyard Inn and Restaurant.

And this is the view he was appreciating.

The North Arm Farm has been farmed by the Sturdy's since the mid 1990's. They grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including the strawberries and cherries we tasted, without herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. They are open for visitors and have a bakery where they sell pastries and pies made on site using the fruit that is in season. In addition to enjoying our breakfast, we walked around the farm and said hello to some of the animals.

But, when I headed even a little close to mama and baby (behind a fence, mind you),

these three members of the family (or close friends, I'm sure) immediately headed my way making loud remarks that did not sound very much like "hi, come on over, you're welcome here any time."

Here is another version of what the folks who work on this farm get to look at while they're working (the other being in that post about the local eating in Pemberton).

Our next stop after Pemberton was in Quesnel after a very dramatic and scenic drive along the Cariboo highway. We stayed in the lovely "Garden Gallery B&B".

Grady relaxing on the deck with our hosts, Don and Darleen (and their dog, Dudley). With a bit of wine and lemonade, we learned about their careers as teachers and how they turned their home into a B&B after they retired. We had the whole second floor to ourselves. In the morning, they fixed us a full breakfast of potato pancakes with herbs and scapes from their garden, sliced tomatoes and fruit, and some locally made sausages they picked up that morning at the farmer's market.

A fairly uneventful drive today. Lunch in a nice park in Frasier Lake (next to a large grouping of those red hat ladies). I'd have to say that the highlight of the day was a walk on the trail around a wetlands area here in Houston called the "Duck Pond Trail". It was good to get outside a bit more and we got to see several ducks, geese and other birds in the pond.

So, there's a recap of the trip so far. On to Prince Rupert tomorrow after spending some time in one of the three Hazeltons.

Eating Local in Pemberton, BC - OLS Week 6

I thought I would report in from the road and share a little of our local eating efforts in British Columbia. During the first part of this week, we were mostly just trying to use up leftovers and bits of things in the refrigerator to clean it out before leaving for 10 days. We had lots of lettuce from our garden and our CSA with all those leftovers. But, otherwise, it was not too interesting.

We are currently on a road trip loop through British Columbia, on our way to Prince Rupert (four days worth of north). From there, we take a 15-hour ferry ride wouth along the inland passage to Vancouver Island. At the moment, I am sitting in a park in Fort Frasier using wifi from the public library, I think.

Day before yesterday, we were in the little town of Pemberton, a short distance north of Whistler. Saturday night we had dinner at the Pemberton Valley Vineyard Inn and Restaurant. We started with a salad of several types of greens, and both red and golden beets from their garden.

I had wine-poached Pacific west coast halibut with Across the Creek baby new potatoes. The Pemberton area has quite a bit of farming and potatoes are a specialty. These were served with some zucchini spears and onions also from their garden. I don’t remember the name of the duck entrĂ©e that Grady had, but I believe it was also raised in the area. I also had a glass of the Pemberton Vallery Vinyard wine.

ncidentally, we had a lovely evening because of the beautiful setting and the fact that they were not busy. So, we were there three hours, getting to watch the sun go down and the moon appear and make its way across the tops of these mountains.

Sunday morning, we drove to the North Arm Farm. We walked around the farm a bit and then got a pint of strawberries they had just picked and pastries made in the kitchen there. They have a bakery in which they make pies and other pastries using whatever fruit is currently in season.

This is a cherry strudel. Doesn’t look like much in this picture, but it was so delicious. Quite decadent to have, basically, cherry pie for breakfast, but we tried to be more circumspect the rest of the day.
It was a beautiful warm sunny morning and we ate our breakfast out on one of the picnic tables looking at this view.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Strange Men Outside Our Bedroom Window

...and look at the mess they've left!
Well, I guess it's kind of hard to tell from this view. You have to know that the house has been blue for about 20 years.
Here is a little closer up view
Our lovely old 1911 Portland Foursquare is not so lovely these days. Of course, it hasn't been lovely for some time since it has been WAY overdue for a new paint job. So, now it is on its way to getting its new coat of paint.

I understand that the wood has to be prepared first. And I understand that, in these days of high temperatures in the 80's and 90's, that the crew doing this work might want to start early in the morning when it is still cool. But, I was just NOT prepared to be awakened at 6:45 a.m. to the sound of men's voices outside my bedroom window. And, not prepared to go into the bathroom and find another one looming outside that window. And, then to try to get clothes out of the spare bedroom and - yes, again - guys outside my window. These are all on the second floor of a big old house, mind you - not a place you expect to find people lurking. Well, maybe lurking is not really what they were doing. There was also the noise of equipment being scraped across the siding and torches getting the paint all heated up. So, I know they were working and I know the house REALLY needs it. But, cheesh, wasn't I just waxing philosophically about how much I appreciated having time to myself again in the summer?

And, don't even get me started on how much this is costing us - just to have them work on two sides of the house plus the rafters on the other two. It is just obscene. But, Rex (our mailman) said he's never seen such a good job done on a house and he's seen plenty of this type of work on his route. So, Grady will finish the other two sides (which are not in as bad a shape) and then he will do the actual painting. And, maybe by November (!), we'll have a beautiful new greenish blue foursquare again.

Thank goodness we are leaving on our road trip on Friday so I won't have to wake up to men standing on scaffolding right outside my window after tomorrow. They'll be done by the time we return. I can make this trip drag on if necessary to ensure that is the case.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

34 years, but who's counting?

It was July 6, 1974, in Manchester, Michigan in the presence of our families and many good friends that Grady and I decided to make the big commitment. And, here we are - 34 years later - graying hair and wonky knees, but still going strong.

We spent part of the day with a day trip to Mt. St. Helens. We like to go up there every so often to see how things are progressing, but it has been quite a while since our last trip. On May 18, 1980, we made the unfortunate decision to drive from Seattle to Portland with Grady's mom and our 11 month old daughter. Seven hours later, we arrived at home after spending quite a bit of time on the freeway near Chehalis waiting for I5 to re-open. The one payoff was seeing the mud and debris-clogged Toutle River rushing at an amazing speed on its way to the Cowlitz River. Truly an amazing sight, but, boy, what a long day.

After our trip up to see what we could of St. Helens (low clouds getting in the way), we went to LePigeon for an anniversary dinner. It has received very positive reviews since they opened and they were recently rated Restaurant of the Year by The Oregonian. We decided that was a good call based on the wonderful dinner we had. Feeling brave after a delicious dinner, we tried an unusual dessert - cornbread with honey and apricots, topped with maple ice cream and small bits of bacon. The chef is known for inventive combinations and this certainly qualified. It was delicious. Although quite a small serving, we were glad we were sharing it since it was so rich. And, since seating is at communal tables, we met some nice folks from Piedmont, Ann Arbor, and Chicago.

All in all, a fine day for a couple of old birds who enjoy being together.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 5

I decided I should just go ahead and write up one of our local meals now because we are eating out or with other people the next three nights and I don't know how much control I will have over the options.

Boy, I am loving this not working most of the summer. Reminds me of when I was first teaching. There is so much you can do when you have big stretches of time available. Today, Is started out doing some volunteer work in the morning, had a workout at the gym, and ran some errands. And, then, in the late afternoon, I rode my bike to the Eastbank Farmer's Market. We're lucky to have a couple of mid-week farm markets and both are in easy biking distance from our house.

Back at home, I picked basil and made pesto. The freshly made pesto with basil right out of the garden is SO much better than other versions we've had.

Our dinner tonight:

Pesto Pasta Genovese: basil from garden, potatoes and green beans from farmer's market
Whole wheat penne: didn't make pasta from scratch today - too hot!
Salad: greens from CSA; tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions -today's market trip
Pinot Noir: King's Ridge made in Newburg, Oregon
Baguette: made by the bakers at New Seasons

The Pesto Pasta Genovese recipe was in my new Ivy Manning cookbook. This is a variation of pasta with pesto that we first learned about from our cooking teacher in Siena several years ago.

In fact, all our meals so far this week have been pretty much local thanks to the garden, our CSA, and local choices available at the grocery store. It is getting easier and easier with so many options this time of year. I'll have to try to remember these good feelings along about next February when the choices are quite a bit less plentiful.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

JAM makes Jam

Here is my first effort this summer in the food preserving category. Raspberries from our backyard plus Mt. Hood strawberries - a small batch of each. Used a kind of pectin that allows for using less sugar than normal. These happen to be a cooked and then processed version. Next time, I think I'll make some freezer jam.

I did this project yesterday and then decided that we would have to have something with jam for dinner. So, I made cream biscuits (The Art of Simple Food). But, since it didn't seem quite right to have just biscuits and jam for dinner, I heated up some risotto with squash from the freezer and made a salad out of the garden. (We're also trying to use up stuff in the freezer these days.)

Today, I picked up our first CSA half-share.

By way of miscellaneous trivia, my initials before I was married were JAR. And, for the past 34 years, they've been JAM.