Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rainy days and spring soups

Well old blog, old pal, I've been very neglectful. I apologize for the lack of blogging. I have no excuse. It's not like I haven't been busy cooking all fall and winter. I just got out of the habit of writing. It is easy to do, but yet so silly cause when I write I always feel good.

So winter is over, spring is here. In Portland, that means rain and flowers. I don't mind the rain, really. I don't get what all the fuss is about. Maybe it is my midwestern roots, but it isn't cold, it's green as hell so what if it's raining. The temperature rarely drops below freezing and that is just fine by me. I don't want to live somewhere where it is hot and dry anyways. All that heat makes me suspicious. I embrace the opportunity to wear fleece for 80% of the year and have 2 good rain coats. Plus, the rain gives me an excuse to stay in, make soup, and knit. What more can a gal ask for?

What is new? Well, I have decided I need to blog more. I am considering changing the format of my strange little blog to more of a personal journey blog. That way I am not forced only to write about food, but also to write myself, what I'm up to, and of course, knitting.

I've had two big changes this winter. I made some friends in my new town and I learned to knit. Both of these accomplishments have made Portland an even better place to live. I took a knitting class at Northwest Wools. I knew I would love knitting before I even picked up a needle. I started knitting in early December and joined a knitting group in January. I have made so many things, it is kind of crazy. The only bad part is that knitting in front of the TV is easy so I've ended up watching more TV. I guess tried to pawn it off like, well, I'm not watching it, it's just on. I have had my fill of Law and Order.

I will post some pictures soon. Here is a new recipe for you......

In honor of SPRING

Spring White Bean soup w/ greens

Addapted from White Bean and Escarole Soup by Mollie Katzen in the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. This recipe needed some serious help. It was BORING and I made it fabulous. All it takes is a few herbs and some broth. Seriously, who mades soup w/o broth, wtf.

2T Olive Oil
1 large chopped onion
2 stalks celery chopped
2 medium carrots diced
1 T. better than bullion
6 c water (or veggie broth and skip the bullion)
1 bay leaf
1 c dried white beans* (i like the tiny ones) or equivalent canned -probably 2 cans
10 cloves chopped garlic
1 bunch of minced greens like chard, collard, escarole, kale, spinach (i used red chard - don't tell chad - he thinks it's spinach)
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

*Prepare beans day in advance or quick cook day of. Rinse beans, soak overnight in cold water. Next day, rinse beans, add 2-3 c water and one bay leaf. Heat on stove. Bring to a boil. Boil for 7 min. Turn heat down. Simmer partially covered 1 hr or till done. Check after 1/2 hr. Quick cook method - Rinse beans. Add 2-3c water and 1 bay leaf. Heat to boil. Boil for 7 min. Remove from heat. Wait one hour. Rinse beans, add fresh water. Bring to a boil. Simmer partially covered 1 hour or less till done.

Chop veggies. Heat oil over medium heat in pan and add veggies. Cook till onions are transluscent. Add water and bring to a boil. Add spices and veggie bullion (aka better than bullion). Stir well. Simmer covered 20 min. Add cooked white beans, chopped greens, and garlic. Stir in, cover, cook 10 min. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot w/ some grated parmasan cheese on top. YUM.

Hint: don't tell people there are cooked greens in it unless you know they like them. This soup is good, but people are afraid of cooked greens. I say, trick 'em into eating more greens!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


There are many little differences in Portland. I thought I'd take a moment to point them out. That way if you ever visit me here, you know what's up.

1. People use the word "spendy" and use it frequently. I have tried to use it. I felt like a dork. It was funny. I guess it is a combo of expensive and pricey. I like pricey.

2. Most people drive slow. The speed limit. They are also mostly very courteous and it would be very likely that at an unmarked intersection 2 Portlander's would very politely offer others the right of way.

3. Bike and pedestrians are kings of the road and if you cross them, they will yell at you and claim you must be from California (if it was me, I'd say you were from Illinois).

4. You cannot pump your own gas here. Try it, you will get yelled at.

5. When exiting the bus out of the back door almost EVERYONE says thank you to the bus driver. Meaning they have to yell it and people here don't think that is strange.

6. NO SALES TAX. Most locals I have talked to about this think it is a good thing. I don't know. I guess I'd rather pay sales tax than have high income tax, property tax, and random fees for everything.

7. You have to pay a monthly fee to have your garbage picked up. This is not the mountains or the middle of nowhere. I live IN the city of Portland (not Beaverton as some people wish the SW were). I've never had to pay for garbage and it seems strange.

8. They vote by mail here. WEIRD.

9. Freedom of expression is very protected out here. Somehow this means there are strip clubs everywhere. Some even claim to have good food. Don't worry, I would never EVER go to a strip club especially one that served food.

10. ROSES. They really are everywhere.

Those are just a few little differences I've noticed and thought I'd pass on. I'll add on as I discover more about this strange new land.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

comfort food

Well, it may be a heat wave in Oregon this week, but that doesn't stop me! I'm still going to cook. Sure I keep making spring rolls and forgetting to take pictures! I just love them so much, I just eat them right up! I actually don't have a recipe for them, someone told me once (I think it was Krista - props) how to use rice paper and the put anything you want in it. It was a food revolutionary moment for me. I love rice paper and do put everything in it. Next time, I promise I'll try to hold back and take a photo first.

OK as I type this is what I'm eating....

coconut yams from food front coop deli - i am in love w/ these!
kale slaw - also seriously in love w/
bbq tofu - made it myself
lentil salad - made it myself

Remember a few weeks ago I posted a pesto recipe, but didn't show the finished product, well, here it is. I added some smoked mozzarella cheese I found on sale. I couldn't resist the smoked cheese addition! Also lightly sauted peppers, onions and baby tomatoes. I used quinoa noodles that's why they are yellowish.

served it w/ a salad w/ the delish spicy pumpkin seeds.

Finally - the couch is here!!

I sat on it. I will sit on it again. I prefer to not sit on it and just look at it cause it is so pretty.

Well, this post kinda sucks, but I gotta run. I really just wanted to post a pic of the couch since I said I would.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

oh crepe!

Tomorrow is the day I've been waiting for since we moved! OUR COUCH GETS DELIVERED! I will post a picture of it, don't worry. It's red and going to be awesome.

So, what have I been up to? I've had a very busy week so far and am really enjoying today's laziness. I am doing quite a bit of volunteering and really enjoying. I am working w/ an art center to help w/ their annual benefit auction and also spending time as a companion to the elderly at an assisted living facility. This week I met with some folks from the art center and we brainstormed about our mailing announcement, what items sold well at last years benefit auction, and how to procure more items for this years auction. I've also met a new friend and we've been walking 3-4 times a week in the park. It is great to have someone to talk w/ and to have somewhere to go!

I haven't neglected my kitchen. It seems like everything I make lately is very large and we eat leftovers for days! I am excited to post some new pics.

Here are some apples in my yard!

Here are the plums! The plums are so good and I eat them all the time. This weekend I'm going to try to make a plum cake or something.

We went hiking at Tryon Creek State Park and saw a many woodpeckers. This was the best pic even though we saw much bigger ones!

After having savory crepes at a restaurant, I decided to try my hand at these delish little things.

First, I froze to tofu in the package. I took it out the morning I was going to cook so it could defrost. When it was time for dinner, I made a stir fry of onion, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and tofu. Then I made a peanutty sauce w/ 1c of veg broth mixed w/ 3 T of natural peanut butter, a few dashes of soy sauce, some spicy red pepper flakes, chopped cilantro, and chopped green onions. After lightly cooking the veggies and tofu, I added the sauce and simmered until it was all done! Meanwhile, I made the crepes. Crepes are not easy. That's for sure. I decided to follow a vegan crepe recipe. While they tasted awesome, I had a hard time getting them to turn golden brown. Luckily, they were delicious. I topped then w/ a little shredded unsweetened coconut and some slivered almonds. I like a nice garnish.

I also made the millet stuffed zucchini recipe from Vegan w/ a Vengeance. This time I decided to use quinoa instead of millet. I have been eating millet porridge for breakfast, so decided on quinoa for dinner. Unfortunately, I just learned it is not good for people who have thyroid disease to eat too much millet. Great. Of course, I finally find a healthy breakfast grain I love and I'm supposed to avoid it. Lame. Luckily, I do like quinoa.

This is a picture of zucchini stuffed w/ tomatoes and quinoa and seitan cutlets w/ mushroom gravy (from Veganomican). I do love me some veggie gravy.

Next is the feast upon which i gave chad the next day.....leftovers. He claimed to need bread w/ his gravy and i had some beans to use up. He had a food baby after this meal.

Here are some pics of a black berry and strawberry crisp I made last week. I had picked all the berries on the side of the road near my house. There are TONS of berries and I plan to go back tomorrow and get some more. It is amazing to me that strawberries are still available out here! Go Oregon! Get your fruit on! The recipe is your standard crisp - whole wheat flour, oats, cinnamon, vegan marg. I modified the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

Last but not least....this is a pic of my lunch from my new Co op, Food Front. I am in love w/ the kale slaw! It is made w/ sunflower seeds and has a slightly asian flavor. Also, the spicy baked tofu is to die for. Really, I almost perished. I added two olives because it was my lunch and I like olives.

Monday, September 1, 2008

C'est la vie

As many of you may know, I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the Food Front Co Op in the Hillsdale neighborhood of Portland, OR. Yesterday was the glorious first day to shop. I was so excited. I got my list and my bags out and I even borrowed the car so I could get as much stuff as I wanted without having to carry it home! It was so wonderful to see the doors open and people busy shopping away inside!

OK, on to the my review of the co op. I love most everything about it. The location alone is awesome cause it's within a fifteen minute walk from my front door and it is near many bus lines. Good choice on location.

I got a cart and headed to my favorite section - PRODUCE! I had walked over to the Hillsdale Farmer's Market yesterday morning, so I didn't need many veggies, but I did forget/need a few things. I went over to check out the onions. The onions were in a bin and I pulled one out and 15 or more onions all came crashing down on the floor next to me. I had to laugh. I was so embarrassed, but some girl came and helped me pick them up and said, ya, this is onion display is not working out so well. Luckily the onion bin was only inches off the floor. I grabbed a slightly bruised onion and made my way to the bulk section.

The selection of items in the bulk section was not as good as I would have liked. They didn't have sucanat which is weird. They had a bin labeled evaporated cane juice, but it didn't look like the evaporated cane juice I normally buy, it looked like processed sugar. I asked this nice guy working in the bulk section and he said he'd check into it and a few other things. The only types of flour they have in bulk are regular white, whole wheat, whole wheat pastry (which I LOVE), and rice flour. No chickpea flour, what? I seriously need some more flour choices. I know, I am not your average shopper. I can't shop in "regular" grocery stores (aka Fred Meyer or for the folks in the midwest, any Roundy's owned store). I end up getting frustrated and asking where they keep the tahini or the arrowroot powder. Then, if they have it, I am not happy with whatever brand tahini they are offering. I guess Chad is probably right (meaning he is right) I am a food snob. I can't help it.

I was looking to buy a larger quantity of whole wheat pastry flour, but the bags they had out couldn't even hold 2 cups. I asked some guy for a bigger bag for flour. The guy gave me a produce bag and I was like, ah, this is probably not the best bag for this, so I only filled it w/ about 5 cups of flour. Sure enough, bag ripped and flour all over the flour of the brand spankin new coop floor. I was AGAIN mortified. I tell ya, it is a good thing I don't know these people and don't really care what they think. The guy working in the department just looked at me and laughed. I put the remaining flour in a paper bag and muttered my apologies. I guess it just wasn't my day. Oh, well, I know the people at the coop are going to get sick of me coming in there 3-8 times a week asking for special items and wanting large quantities of whole wheat pastry flour. OH, I can't believe I almost forgot to mention the best part!!!! SPICY PUMPKIN SEEDS! Can you say spicily delicious?

The bread selection was priced better than expected. I was hoping to be able to buy bread for $3.50 a loaf and tada! I got bread for $3.50. The refrig section was not fully stocked yet, but still nice. They were already out of almost all the brands of firm tofu. I guess that is something that will be a top seller! I was able to pick up some Stumptown coffee for $9.50/lb, which is a better price than New Season. They are also carrying Zbeans, but it is $12.50/lb. You can get it for $11 at the farmer's market, so not going to buy it at the co op.

The surprise is an entire isle dedicated to all natural home and body products. Very spendy stuff. I didn't really look closely cause I was afraid I'd up my bill by $20 with a tiny bottle of moisturiser.

The deli looked really good and I had to try some baked tofu and vegan pasta salad. I was planning on taking some photos, but it was so good, I just ate it. Chad loved the pasta salad and I promised to buy it again. The baked tofu was outstanding. Tasty!

The boxed food and freezer selection looked good, but to be honest, I try not to buy that stuff (especially since i have all the time in the world to cook) so I didn't look too close. I was able to get some vital wheat gluten flour from bob's red mill. I know, wheat gluten isn't something we should be eating a ton of, but Chad loves the Chickpea Cutlets and Seitan Cutlets from Veganomican so I just make it every once in a while. I gotta say, good homemade seitan is good w/ some beans and gravy. OH, ya. I'll post pics from our feast tonight later.

Lastly, I will mention, there is a beer and wine selection. They are going to have to work on their lack of IPAs. I mean, Full Sail IPA is a staple in any good Portlanders diet.

As expected, the staff were all dressed in their trendy Portland best. The cashier supervisor guy was wearing skinny buttonfly white jeans that were so tight you could see the buttons and a tiny tshirt w/ a scarf - if I didn't know better, I would have thought he was in the Kings of Leon. The outfits of the staff may be a fun side reason to go there! I'm not meaning to judge, I mean, if I had those legs, I'd probably wear those tighty whity jeans, too. I just am too lazy and wouldn't put that much thought into what I would wear to work at a food co op. I'm more of a jeans (not tight) and t shirt w/ a bright colored purse and tennis shoes kinda girl myself. I'm just saying, it's good times. However, if I take on a new and funky "Portland Persona" that I've seen so much of out here, please, cut me some slack. I promise not to get a tattoo for the sake of a tattoo.

OK, the good stuff....

It's been cool out here in the pacific northwest, so we've been eating soup. OH, I love me some soup. My favorite soup is a combination of black bean and any veggie. I never make it exactly the same, but I'll share the jist of it w/ you.

Black Bean Veggie soup (a variation)

Seriously - ADD WHATEVER YOU LIKE. If you screw it up, well, you can't it's that easy.

4 c veggie broth (i prefer 4 c water boiled then add better than bullion brand)
1 chopped onion
cloves of garlic - do you like garlic - yes - add 5 big cloves. not really - add 2.
1/2 or 1 chopped pepper
1-2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 med potatoes
1 - 22oz can of diced tomatoes (i like the muir glen fire roasted)
1 t ground cumin
1 t chili powder
1/4 c or more chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
can add any other favorite spices to increase spiciness. i like cayenne and chipolte ground. just a bit to heat it up!

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained) or 1 cup dried black beans, soaked, rinsed, cooked, cooled.

So, here is it. Boil water, add bullion. Add everything else EXCEPT BLACK BEANS. Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer about 30-45 minutes. Lastly using blender or food processor or immersion blender (not in soup pot), blend black beans to a puree w/ some of veggie soup broth. When pureed, add to soup and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Let soup chill out for 20 minutes while you make a salad or do dishes or whatever. eat. enjoy.

I like to add random stuff I have in the fridge to this soup. Last time, we had a 1/2 cup of chickpeas in the fridge, I threw that in there. This is the soup for people who say they don't like bean soup cause the beans are pureed. I never thought I'd like a black bean soup. I always thought they were too salty, but after using dried beans, I now LOVE black bean soup and make it often. Hearty, healthy, and tasty, NICE!

Here are some pics. If you like cheese, add some cheese. I like some green onions. The more beans you add, the thicker the soup. Seriously, you can't mess up this soup. Well, technically, you could, but I don't know how you would.


Vegan Peanut Butter cookies (not too sweet!)
These little itty bitty peanut butter cookies are low in sugar and taste more like a breakfast cookie or something, but I still love em. These are a great afternoon snack and easy to make.

1c whole wheat pastry flour
1c oats
1t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1c all natural peanut butter
1/8-1/4 c soy milk (or more) - you probably could use reg milk
1/2 c brown sugar or sucanat or natural sugar
1/4-1/2 c chocolate chips (dark is GOOD)

Preheat oven to 375. Heat peanut butter in micro to soften. Still in sugar and soy milk.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix w/ wood spoon. Add oats and chocolate chips. Stir till combined. It will be tough.

Use greased cookie sheets or line cookie sheets w/ parchment paper (I've just began to enjoy parchment paper). Make cookies into cookie shape. They will not raise or spread so make them nice. if you like, sprinkle a few w/ sugar.

Bake 10 min on center rack.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

what does it take to have a good time? PIE!

This is a picture off my patio this am. So beautiful!!!

I can't believe it! This upcoming Saturday, there is going to be the Portland Pie-off. What luck?!?! I love pie. I love to make and eat pie. I love sharing. Now the only question becomes what type of pie to enter into this contest. I think I am shaking with excitement, oh, wait, that might be from all the coffee. So many kinds of delicious pie. What kind to make? I wish the plums in my tree were ripe.

Chad and I had a great weekend of eating out and hiking around town. Friday night we walked to the Corbett Fish House. I guess this is where all the Green Bay Packer fans gather to watch the green and gold. Let's just say, they do not have any Wisconsin beers. Surprise, they have a fish fry. Not much for vegetarians. The beers are served in huge (not) pint glasses. I was so full just from my beer. Bonus- they have the Walking Man IPA and I am a fan. The restaurant is OK, but the bar is decorated with all the essential Green Bay Packer memorabilia. It was very homey and made me a touch sad. On a side note, this is not a place that we can walk home. We picked up this Southwest Portland Walking Map last weekend and used it to navigate to the Corbett Fish House. In order to get there we had to walk down about 1000 ft through a park w/ switchbacks and on these trails that go under the highway. I am all for an adventure, but on a Sunday AM going to a Packer bar - I'll just take the bus, thanks.

On Saturday AM, I really wanted to go out of town to hike, but after spending the morning lounging, we decided to again utilize our trusty Southwest Portland Walking Map. I've now learned that just because it is marked on the map as a "walking route" doesn't mean there will be sidewalks, a well groomed path, or that the path will be well marked. We decided to walk from our place to Council Crest Park, the highest point in Portland proper. It was a quite a walk. I knew we were going to go uphill the whole way, but it was still pretty intense. The lack of trail labeling added to the excitement (or irritation when were slightly lost). Luckily, we knew we were going to the highest point in the area so we just kept going up. At one point, a nice lady stopped her mercedes and asked if we were lost and gave us directions. The houses up on the very top of the hills are crazy. A lot of them are on stilts. I guess I don't think I'd feel all that comfortable sleeping in a house on stilts. We saw garages on stilts. It is pretty insane. How do you get homeowners insurance?

mt hood from council crest on a semi clear day

the tower (sort of near our house)

Anyways, we got to the top of Council Crest and the veiw was breath taking. You can see Mount Hood, Mount Rainer, Mount St. Helen's. It is a really cool park. After enjoying the view, Chad and I took the 51 bus downtown for dinner. The 51 is the craziest bus ride I've ever taken. It goes on the hilliest and curviest roads I've ever bussed on. I can't believe the driver didn't take out a porsche or a audi along the way (or at least clipped a mirror). We ended up taking another bus to the NW where we both had tofu crepes at a restaurant called Virgo and Pisces. Yes, I was attracted to their celestial name. It was very good. Strange menu, but I both of us really enjoyed our tofu crepes. I know must learn how to make these crepes. Finally, we bused back to downtown, then back out to our neighborhood. When we were almost there, the bus driver pulled over and told us he could no longer drive the bus because it was unsafe to drive and we all had to get off. He had broke his glasses and could not see. We soon caught another bus and were on our way. What a day.

OK. On to the food.

So, we ate out a bit this weekend, but I have still been busy in my kitchen.
On Sunday, we went to Baker Spice for espressos. Very nice. Then to the Farmer's market. I love the Hillsdale farmer's market! It is awesome. I am so glad that I moved from somewhere I could walk to the farmer's market to another part of the country where I could walk to the farmer's market. That is pretty cool.

Sunday night I made falafel. Used the recipe from Vegan w/a vengeange. Turned out to dry then I added water - that was bad. It was kinda flat, but the flavor was perfect. I'll try again. I served it in a pita w/ tomatoes, lettuce, and homemade goddess dressing. Delish.

Last night, I had a bit of a dilema. I had tempeh that went bad (which I was pissed about because it was before the expiration date on the package). It had a lot of mold on it. I didn't notice cause it was in the package, but I almost tossed my cookies when I opened it and it was green and PINK. Now that is some scary mold. I threw it out, took out the trash, washed hands and wiped out fridge. YUCK. My dilema was that I had already made the marinade for the tempeh and had not had any other back up dish in mind. So, I pressed some tofu and then used the tempeh marinade (for grilled tempeh in Veganomicon) to marinade the tofu. I used my grill pan to fry up some peppers, onions, zucchini, and daikon radish. Then I grilled the tofu. I love my grill pan. It is awesome. I didn't know what I was going to do with the veggies and tofu so I just decided to serve it on top of a toasted pita. It worked out really great. I have to admit I was surprised how good it was. Finally, I looked in the freezer and noticed I had some leftover samosa potato filling so I defrosted that in the micro. Samosas are so good, but such a pain to make that I like to make extra filling so I can have just the potato, pea, onion potatoes if I want the flavor w/o all the work. Here is last nights dinner!

This morning I tried to make fried millet slices. I thought it was good. I mean, it tastes kinda healthy, but I really like the nutty taste of millet. Last night I just cooked the millet in a saucepan. Then added some soy milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmug. I let it sit till it was like thick oatmeal and then pressed it into a loaf pan. This morning I sliced it and fried it in a pan and served w/ 100% maple syrup (not HFCS). Chad didn't really like it. He thought it was going to be like french toast or pancakes. He kept saying how much he liked the cornmeal pancakes. I know, I know. He loves cornmeal pancakes w/ blueberries- I mean, who doesn't?

Friday, August 22, 2008

a bright new day

It is beautiful Friday afternoon and just before I go sit outside in my hammock and read my book, I thought I'd drop a quick note.

I've been reading this really interesting book by David Wann called "Simple Prosperity: finding real wealth in a sustainable lifestyle." There are many ideas within this book that I feel are worth sharing. One of the key points in this book is that by purchasing less unnecessary junk, we get a lot more out of life.

I 'm only about a third of the way through the book, but I am finding it very enlightening. Maybe it is just because I am trying to figure out what I am going to do with the rest of my life, but I really want to have a job that I feel passionate about. I want to do something that will bring good things to humankind, not waste.

Here is a great quote from the first page of the book. I'll probably write more about it after I've finished the book. I'm only 1/3 through.

"Currently, more money is being spent on breast implants and viagra than Alzheimer's research. So in the very near future there should be a large elderly population with impressive breasts and magnificent erections, but no recollection of what to do with them."
-Sally Feldman

On to the good stuff.

Well, I made a huge pot of chili con carne this week - not real carne - seitan sausage! I am a lucky gal because my man loves some seitan. I followed the recipe in (yet again) Vegan w/ a Vengeance. I just can not get enough of that book! I added a few more veggies than it called for. I just can't do w/o my veggies! Fortunately or unfortunately, the recipe made a lot so we ate chili most of the week.

Tonight I am going to make a frittata! I have some zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, onions, oven dried tomatoes, and spinach! It is going to be a treat (plus we can have left overs tomorrow for breakfast)! Tomorrow we are going to go hiking. I am pushing for a trail on Tom Dick and Harry Mountain that has an elevation gain of 1500 ft and is like 3 miles total. Sounds pretty awesome to me. The views from the top are supposed to be spectacular. We will see if I can get Chad up and ready to roll early enough to go.

More food will be made next week. I am planning trying some new reciepes. I don't want to rush into autumn, but I could really go for some butternut squash!!

In other action today, I missed my bus home from the SW Community Center by 1 min! So, I figured I could either wait 45 minutes or just walk. I got home in exactly 45 min. Now I 'm tired.