Monthly Archives: May 2009

Surprise out-of-town guests for lunch

Whew, lots to write about and little time. Just a quick note to say that if you are a GL alum, I just had a surprise email from Dan Clarke to say he was in Portland. After a quick phone call, I was outside on the sidewalk at Jake’s eating lunch with him and his awesome wife Marianne. Their son lives in Seattle, and he has an aunt and uncle in Medford, OR, so they were heading back from visiting them.

A nice surprise, although I’m feeling slight lethargic after a caesar salad topped with freshly blackened salmon (mmmm) and a Ponzi pinot gris. Feeling a little spoiled today and great to see them!

Monday, Monday. Ahhhh ahhhh ahhhhh ah ah ah.

On Monday nights, we’ve been heading to Old Town Pizza on MLK to watch movies. The first night we went, it was old (1940s and 1950s) beer commercials. They were completely awesome. One of them completely startled me – I had no idea that in-your-face foreplay was on TV back then. I’ve looked all over the internet and can’t find the one that scandalized me, which is disappointing, it was really cool. I wonder why beer companies don’t use their old commercials? It’d definitely make me pay more attention to them.

In any event, it was pretty cool to watch them listening to the thwap thwap thwap of the film project (16mm, Brian said). Not to mention having a beer or two while doing that.

Last night’s was crash test dummy films from the Ford Motor company. Also good, but even better was the 1950s PSA-like movie for teenagers on not drinking and driving. Old Town doesn’t particularly turn the music off in the restaurant while we watch these, so it was a bit surreal to watch it to electronica music, watching it storm outside and drinking a beer.

The guy who does this didn’t remember what he had planned for next week – he says he just grabs them out of his basement. He’s quite a character too as he sets up the film. I think we are starting to make friends with the bartender too, who is from Edinbourough. He’s fond of Brian’s full name, which makes me giggle. And I was amused this week because he was less one beard and Brian was less one head of hair. Almost timed, that.

Pretty cool night, except for the fact that when we went out to get in my car, we noticed that my car was spraypainted sometime between Sunday night and Monday evening. Brian had moved my car to the street while we were gardening because he wanted to pull some weeds in our driveway and I left it there knowing we were going somewhere Monday night. The morons didn’t get Brian’s car thankfully, but they clearly thought about it because they spraypainted a penis on the street in front of his car. Reported to the police, of course, and my car has already had it removed. I’m working with the city to get the sidewalk and street penises removed, so hopefully that’s that. I’ve got enough of my family in me to think that if they’d like to do that again, there will be BAD. CONSEQUENCES. But all in all, part of living in a city, I get that.

No one to go to prom with; another hike.

Mt St Helens from Sauvie Island

Mt St Helens from Sauvie Island

The weekend has been great! Brian took Friday afternoon off (gasp! Unheard of!) and suggested we walk to the Kennedy School for lunch, sitting in the garden and drinking beer. Heaven. On our way out, I peeked into the movie theater where they had set up for prom.

Anyone want to go to prom with me next year? Brian has no interest in dancing, and he rolled his eyes a bit when I told him it was an 80s themed prom. I need someone to go with – it looked awesome! Here’s a slightly gritty picture of the set up. Note the disco ball. C’mon! It’d totally be fun.

Prom set-up at the Kennedy School.

Prom set-up at the Kennedy School.

Saturday after the farmers’ market (you’d laugh if you saw the amount of strawberries we now have) we went for a hike on Sauvie Island. I’ve never done the hike out to Warrior Point and it had been on my list for a while. Sauvie Island is Oregon’s largest island, one that has an island on it too. It’s in the Columbia River, just north of Portland. It is popular for U-Pick berries, a huge corn maze, and pumpkin picking in the fall. It has a huge wildlife preserve on it, which is where our hike was.

Just before we crossed the St John’s Bridge, we stopped at Burgerville to split a lunch of lightly battered asparagus spears (o dear lord) and a tomato-aspargus melt (which is mainly a provolone-mozzarella grilled cheese on sourdour with veggies set in it. They can keep this on the menu, please, change the veggie with the season. mmmmm). I <3 Burgerville, I'm sorry but I do. When we stopped at the grocery store on Sauvie Island to grab our wilderness pass, we got to see four mountains: Mt St Helens, Hood, Adams and Rainier (just a peak, but still!). [caption id="attachment_677" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Columbia River from Sauvie Island"]Columbia River from Sauvie Island[/caption]

We drove down the gravel road past the clothing optional beach to the trailhead. We walked down to the beach and walked along it until we ran out of beach. It’s still spring – the water was cooooold, as cold as Lake Michigan usually is, as cold as the ocean in Lincoln City. All the snow runoff. This is the time of year where inevitably someone doesn’t pay attention to how dangerous the water is in May and drowns (it’s happened already this year, hopefully that’s it) because it’s hot outside but the water is swollen and cold.

It was a beautiful day – lower 80s, it looked like summer to me. Here’s just a few pictures of the hike, I’ll put the rest on my flick account so I’m not boring you too much. Most of the hike was through woods after the beach. We saw two blue sand cranes, a couple snakes, and an eagle. No underwear this time, just two hoodies hanging from a tree branch.

This is buried in the beach.  Sauvie Island, Oregon.

This is buried in the beach. Sauvie Island, Oregon.

Most of the hike looked like this.  Trees on  Sauvie Island, Oregon.

Most of the hike looked like this. Trees on Sauvie Island, Oregon.

At Warrior Point, the turnaround for the trail and the lighthouse.  Sauvie Island, Oregon.

At Warrior Point, the turnaround for the trail and the lighthouse. Sauvie Island, Oregon.

When we got home, I used some of the strawberries to make a pitcher of agua fresca. I’m not certain that it’s a good thing that I figured out how to make agua fresca. Definitely one of my alltime favorite drinks and definitely the drink of this summer (I’m done with you, mojitos). When I get it at Por Que No, I have them add a shot of tequila to it. We didn’t have tequila so we added a shot of rum to each, alternating with glass of pure agua fresca. While we drank those in the sunshine, Brian grilled freshly caught halibut and potato chips on the grill. A great reward for hiking seven miles!

Strawberry Agua Fresca

Strawberry Agua Fresca

Today, we start some house remodeling, so I am going to think fondly back on yesterday.

Recipe: Shrimp cakes (Zucchini cakes)

Zucchinis and squash blossoms at the PSU farmers' market.

Zucchinis and squash blossoms at the PSU farmers' market.

We’ve been making all sorts of veggie cakes. Last night we modified my recipe to use up the bay shrimp I bought at the farmers’ market. Other than changing the vegetable or seafood, the recipe stays the same (well, mostly, I toss other things into it as my mood dictates). They have about the same texture as crab cakes, so if you’ve liked those, you’ll probably like one of these.

I mince some onion very finely. I do the same with a clove or two of garlic (heh, I’m kidding, I probably throw four or five in there, but you don’t have to do that, I’m just a garlic fiend). If I have a fresh herb, I mince it and toss it in. Grate about a cup or a cup and a half of cheese (last night we did cheddar and monterey jack and it was awesome). Toss in two cups of panko (or breadcrumbs if panko is not your thing). I always use paprika – maybe 2 teaspoons? Salt and pepper. Other spices as my mood changes. Often a dash or two of cayenne pepper, it doesn’t make the cakes hot, but gives them a nice sharpness.

Then I grate or mince the veggie I’m using. With last night’s bay shrimp, I ran a knife through the pile once or twice just to make the majority smaller. With zucchini, I grate a few of them, toss them into a towel, squeeze a good amount of the water out of them). Toss the veggie into the mix. Add two or three eggs for moisture and binding. Mix it all up. I use my hands because I’m going to use my hands to form the cakes anyhow.

Make them into patties, slightly smaller than a hamburger. Heat some oil in a skillet (we are trying to use less and less oil for this part). Fry each side until they are golden and have a slight crust. Put them on a plate with paper towel as you finish each of them.

We tossed some wheat germ into the ones we made last night and it did great things for the texture. I thought the ones we had last night would have been good with some cornmeal and lime tossed in because we put cilantro in the ones we made last night. We’ve been super low on protein and have been working on that, so I was happy to see that while each cake was about 220 calories, they had a whopping 26 grams of protein, making yesterday the first day that Brian and I had anywhere near what we should for protein (it’s bad – when I first started tracking protein, we would often only get 20 or grams of protein. We definitely don’t have the “eat too much protein” problem so many people in the U.S. have).

These are starting to be our favorite food, especially as the farmers’ market gives us more and more veggies over summer.

We make enough for dinner with a salad one night, and then eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. mmmmm.

More walking

View from the Cascade Head trail.

View from the Cascade Head trail.

It was a pretty good weekend.

Friday night, we walked down to Moon and Sixpence in Hollywood for a beer or two. The bartender there that night was super nice – I really have to make myself sit at the bar more rather than at a table because I like talking to people. After we were there, we decided to walk back on Broadway. Which meant that we needed to stop off for a snack. One plate of nachos, jalepeno poppers and a jalepeno-infused blood orange margarita later, and we continued our walk. Nice that we can walk to so many neighborhood from our house, depending on mood. All in all, we walked for about an hour and a half.

Saturday was pretty mellow – Brian had some work to wrap up and I wandered over to the Hollywood farmers’ market. Not so much my thing, I’ll head back to the PSU one next week. We cooked out, and that’s about that.

Sunday we got up and went to a hike on the coast. I had a few planned out, but the first made it difficult to determine how to get the day pass, so I’m going to do more research before we try it.

The next one we wanted to do – Harts Cover – turned out to be difficult to find (unmarked road to the trail off of Hwy 101). We eventually found the turn-off, but it’s not open for the season yet.

Brian just past some tree hazards on Cascade Head trail.

Brian just past some tree hazards on Cascade Head trail.

While we were looking for Forest Road 1861, we found a different trail – Cascade Head, and that ended up being the trail we took. Afterwards, we found out that it was closed due to tree hazards, but someone had torn the sign down and tossed it off the trail. We walked along a stream which provided a great background to a nice forest hike. Eventually, we came to the tree hazard – there were a lot of trees down, probably from the huge windstorm we had last year. There were a good number over the trail, and we limbo’d under them or jumped over them when possible.

Trail interuption.

Trail interuption.

Evenually, after a few switchbacks, the trail was gone, eaten by a tree. We could see the tree down the slope, and after carefully finding some footing, we navigated our way across the gaping hole left in its wake. It was pretty slippery, and with a good drop to the left of us, it was definitely dangerous. We continued climbing for a bit, and then came upon another gaping hole – the one was probably four or five times the size of the last. We could see a not-too-easy way for us to get across it, but at this point, it sounded like a good time to turn around and head back to the car so we’d have some time to play on the beach.

There had been a car parked by mine when we started up the trail, and we didn’t pass anyone so I was surprised to see it gone when we got back to the trailhead. Brian was not surprised, as he noticed the underwear they left behind, which lead us to a spirited conversation about why you always see that people leave their underwear behind. I don’t get that at all – I can’t imagine hiking in remote areas with nothing particularly protecting my more delicate bits.

After noticing where a car had driven off the road down the mountain slope toward the stream (a long time ago), we hit the road. It’s eery seeing a detached bench carseat snugged up against a stand of trees, and when Brian pointed out the bits of the hood that were still left in one of the trees, I vowed to drive even more carefully than normal. Yikes.

We didn’t do a lot more on the coast. We drove down towards Newport, and pulled over at Beverly Beach. We saw two whales closer to the shore than I’ve ever seen them before – they were right on the line where the waves start to break, and they looked big enough to be greys, so I’m not sure what that’s about – have any of you read about that behavior before? They were there long enough for us to see three or so bursts of air, maybe 10 minutes. Very strange, and it didn’t look like the water would be deep enough for them there, but maybe there was a drop-off we couldn’t see.

So all in all a good weekend – an urban hike, a coastal forest one, and whales.

Driving

Car

Car

As I checked to see how much gas I had yesterday, I began to think about how infrequently I put gas in my car in Portland. I still haven’t filled it up since we returned from San Francisco – I think we put gas into it in Grant’s Pass or in Eugene that night. I don’t really expect to put any gas into it for a week or two yet.

When I was at college, for a while, I commuted one hour each way – so every day, I’d drive down Hwy 43 for two hours. I didn’t have a CD player at that point, but m sister bought a cassette deck – the kind that you could pull out and take with you given how lousy the neighborhood by Marquette could be. I listened to the entire, unabridged Lord of the Rings twice one semester. One winter night, I hit some black ice at 65 miles per hour and spun out, but managed to keep it on the road. For one terrifying minute, I was facing the oncoming traffic, and then, I was back on my way. I was so terrified, I pulled off on the next exit, and shook for about an hour before I could get back on the road. There was no indication at all that there was any ice on the road.

These days, I don’t think I am in my car two hours per *month* unless we have an out-of-state guest. I walk nearly everywhere. I get my groceries often on foot, and if I were slightly less lazy on Saturday mornings, I could take the bus to the farmers’ market and back. I am planning on biking to the Hollywood farmers’ market this summer, and then that’s one less weekly car trip.

It’s strange how that changes – when we first moved to Madison, I lived without a car for three years. It took me 45 minutes to walk to work. Often at 20 degrees. I used it to stay in shape, and when I got a job that required a car, I gained forty pounds or so relatively quickly.

I wouldn’t be without my car now – it’s paid off, it gets good gas mileage, and I can feel the ocean’s pull on me pretty frequently. I also like being able to drive to San Francisco, or Seattle, or Coeur d’Alene or wherever I feel like driving when I want to travel. However, I’m pretty pleased that I’m not so dependent on it, and that my first thought when I want to go somewhere isn’t to jump in the car but rather how long it will take me to walk there.

While I was looking for a picture to post with this, I came across a picture from the winter before we left Madison. This is Brian’s car, out of the back of the house, with one evening’s snow on it. I don’t miss that, even a little. You’d have to plan a good 15 extra minutes in the morning to shovel off your car and warm it up to be able to drive. Strange.

Brian's car with one night's snow in Madison, WI.

Brian's car with one night's snow in Madison, WI.