Thursday, July 28, 2011

5 Things for Wednesday

1. Fava Shoots. You may be asking yourself, "What does that mean? Is that a sentence!?" It is a noun, a type of vegetable. At one of the farmers markets in town, there is a stand that always has interesting things that I've either never heard of before, or have heard of but never had the opportunity to see in real life or try before. Usually, it's somewhat pricey, but not a lot of money. Like $3 for a small amount of something. So, if you wanted a lot of that thing, it would be pricey, but $3 is not a lot of money and, in my opinion, worth it for nice, fresh produce and trying something new. The bag of fava shoots that I purchased from that stand nearly two weeks ago was huge, however, and the shoots kept. I was able to try them a number of different ways. The woman who sold them to me told me to, "use them like pea shoots," and when I told her I had never eaten pea shoots before, she gave me some suggestions. I made them into a salad with arugula from my balcony garden. I grilled them. I made them into a salad by themselves. (Actually, Handsome Man did.) Finally, last night, I used them up by making a pesto. It was really good, and really interesting. So, if you ever find yourself with the opportunity to try fava shoots, I recommend it. They taste familiar, yet I'm having trouble describing them. Sort of green, sort of earthy.

2. Things Happening In The Balcony Garden Speaking of legumes, my pea plant is finally producing some pea pods. I think I counted three yesterday. And after several weeks of being lushy and leafy, my zinnias and nasturtiums have flower buds. My crocosmia started bloomning, at least two weeks later than anyone else's in the neighborhood, while I was out of town. My mustard greens, lettuces, and arugula, on the other hand, bolted. They flowered before the things I wanted to flower showed the tiniest suggestion of a bud.

3. The Summer That Isn't. Speaking of the slow progress of my north-facing balcony garden, this has been one of the least summery summers I've ever known. This isn't to say we've had beautiful weather. A sunny, cloudless sky, with temperatures in the comfortable 70's and a light breeze is nothing to complain about. But it hasn't even reached 90 in Portland this summer, not once. For someone used to summers with temperatures nearing 100, and the percentage of humidity nearing that number, too, it's just strange. Sometimes I think that the weather in Portland is just fall or spring, for twelve months.

4. Best Baguettes. Speaking of things you can do when the temperature is below 90 degrees, I made baguettes. This is kind of an ugly picture, but I don't care. I am so proud of my baguettes.

From Food

5. Change First of all, you may note that while the title refers to Wednesday, today is actually Thursday. This should tell you something about my life right now. (Or, well, all the time.) One reason for a short, list post. Also, I've drafted some posts from the list posted yesterday, but I want to wait until the pictures get developed and uploaded to Picasa before I post all about the Southern Oregon Adventure. Things are changing now, and the biggest is that tomorrow, I can start moving into the new apartment with Handsome Man. I asked Handsome Man if I can stop calling him that on this blog, and just use his real name like normal life. He wavered, and so from tomorrow on, Handsome Man will be referred to as The Roommate.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What We Did On Our Trip To Southern Oregon

Many things to write about resulted from this trip. For now, the short version is here, in list form.

From Southern Oregon Adventure July 2011

1. Handsome Man and I left Portland at about 4:30 on Thursday.
2. We stopped at the Santiam rest area, where I saw a rainbow!
3. We drove to Albany and stopped at a Fred Meyer for some trip essentials.
4. We drove to Market of Choice in Eugene for more trip essentials (beer and hot sauce.)
5. South of Eugene, we left the freeway for Highway 58, the most direct route to the North Entrance of Crater Lake, which goes through the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests and therefore, would take us by lots of cheap, no-reservations-required Forest Service campgrounds. This is what I thought.
6.ODOT was doing nighttime road work and paving on Highway 58, causing us to get to our campsite very late.
7.We didn't get to set up camp until 10:30pm. In the darkness, we did not know we were camping right by lovely Odell Lake which reflects majestic Diamond Peak. On the bright side, we were less than two hours from Crater Lake.
8. On Friday morning, we got back on Highway 58, heading for US-97, the Dalles-California Highway.
9. We stopped in a town called Chemult to eat breakfast at the Big Mt Cafe
10. We went to Crater Lake National Park and went on a hike.
11. We swam in Crater Lake. I did not know that was possible. In fact, I was thoroughly convinced that you could not swim in Crater Lake! (You can only get to the shore and swim in the lake in one place, Readers, so don't get any ideas!)
12. We drove completely around Crater Lake.
13. Starving and tired, desperate for cheeseburgers, we drove another hour south to Klamath Falls, the seat of Klamath County, 20 miles or less from the California state line...a city I never planned on visiting.
14. We went to The Creamery, the restaurant/brew pub of the Klamath Basin Brewing Company.
15. We got fried mac and cheese. It deserves its own list entry. Trust me.
16. The next morning, we explored downtown Klamath Falls before stopping for breakfast.
17. We started driving back north toward Portland, passing Klamath Lake and many other beautiful things I'd like to someday visit again.
18. We decided to bypass Highway 58 and stay on US-97 a little longer, heading for Bend and for the Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Deschutes National Forest.
19. We hiked the Big Obsidian Flow trail at Newberry National Volcanic Monument. It is as awesome as it sounds.
20. We continued driving north, bypassing Bend and stopping instead in Sisters, where we ate dinner at Three Rivers Brewing Co.
21. We drove west on the Over the Rivers and Through the Woods Scenic Byway, through the Santiam Pass and more national forest land, toward I-5, toward Portland, and toward home.

Monday, July 25, 2011

To the person who found my blog by searching for "harissa ice cream"

Who are you? I think we should be friends.

Also, please let me know if you were successful in your search for harissa ice cream. I still haven't tried to make it, but I'd like to someday. I haven't found a good recipe yet!

To the person who found my blog searching for, "toestes aperitif," ........ what????? What does that even mean? I wish I could help you, but I have no idea what a toestes is and when I did the same Google search, Google asked me if I had really intended to search for, "testes aperitif." I am not sure I want to know what that is.

To both of you, I am just thrilled with both of you, for not having found my blog by searching for "high school girls thighs" or any variation of "haired girls." These seem to be common lately.

Back from Crater Lake

We made it to Crater Lake!

And now I'm back in Portland!

More later!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A new announcement and an old story

I'm moving again. This time, it's just upstairs. I'm in the same building, I barely have to pack, and I won't even have to change my address. It is a bigger apartment, big enough for two people. Handsome Man and I are moving in together, in the apartment upstairs from where I live now.

In light of these facts, a specific story seems appropriate. It's been in my drafts folder, and it's been on my To Write About list since April. As I assess what I have, what Handsome Man has and what we share, and how they will all soon be under the same roof, it seems like the time to write about some specific objects and the events surrounding them.

One day in April, my boyfriend told me about a cryptic phone conversation with his mother. It was shortly after my birthday and shortly after his parents, who had been visiting Portland, had returned home to Colorado.

"She said she's sending a package to me and to open it at your house," he told me. We wondered what it could be and what was the reason for these cryptic instructions.

It became more cryptic still.

"Whatever it is, is for both of us, but we have to keep it at your house."


The final instructions were that, "We can open it at either house, but we have to bring everything to your house and that's where it is supposed to stay."

Finally, the box arrived. It was a sunny day, so I had walked from my house to my boyfriend's instead of driving. This takes more like thirty minutes instead of five, so by the time I arrived at his door, he was overcome with impatience. Two giant boxes waited on the table.

One box was actually for someone else in the house, but this had me temporarily confused.

I was directed to the correct box. "Let's open it!"

Inside the box was paper, for padding. We moved it aside and found another box.
We opened the second box. Again, more padding. We rapidly tore through it, hurling it around the living room. We found...

Another box!

Even more quickly, we tore into the third box, expecting to find a fourth box buried within. Instead, we found dishes!

Beautiful dishes, in red and white to match my kitchen. With a red and white serving platter to use and to hang on the wall when not in use. Plus two beautiful wine glasses and two tall Tom Collins glasses.

(The platter is hanging on the wall above all that other junk.)

I was nearly speechless, so surprised by this generosity.

Here's a shot of the Tom Collins glasses:

"What's Spanish Fly?" I asked, reading the label on the Tom Collins glasses.

Handsome Man was speechless now.

"Is it some kind of drink?" I asked.

It is not. Handsome Man directed me to the Wikipedia page. One of his roommates had joined the conversation at this point. After we both read the Wikipedia page, his roommate asked, "Why would your mother send that to you?"

"I bet she didn't see that," Handsome Man answered. "She must have just saw that they were red and thought the zipper was cute and didn't read what it said."

A closer look:

On Easter Sunday, Handsome Man's mother called. The subject of the glasses came up. I heard Handsome Man say, "It's something to get you turned on."

At that point, one of his roommates peeked into the room. "Are you still on the phone with your mother?" she asked.

He nodded.

She was incredulous.

Soon, he got off the phone. "It was what I said. When she brought them home, my father said, 'Why did you buy that for Sarah and Handsome Man!?'"

Apparently, after learning what Spanish Fly is, Handsome Man's mother decided to send the red zipper Tom Collins glasses to us anyway.

I would have done the same thing.

Here, the perfect place for that red and white platter. A few hours after I moved the refrigerator to hang it there, I learned that we would be moving upstairs! Oh well.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stability and Quality of Life

Frequently, these past couple of weeks, I have stopped to think about my quality of life. I reflect often on my improved quality of life this summer, as compared to July 2010. At that time I was at kind of a crossroads, and a year before that, I was just arriving in Portland and getting used to a new life. I've thought the most about this time of year in 2010, and that's what I'm going to write about today. My thoughts about July 2009, learning to accept that I had a new life, and learning to be an Oregonian, are worth writing about, but some other time.

About a year at this time, I was in the midst of moving. Also, some medical stuff was going on, and is still, in a way, going on, but a year ago, it was really just beginning and consuming my thoughts much more than it is today. Additionally, this was before I had any job security or even, technically, a job. I was still considered an intern at that time. It wasn't until August that I had a six-month contract and a real position.

At that time, I was afraid to go home. I was living out of an overnight bag in someone else's home. I took any opportunity to house sit that came my way, so that I'd have a bed to sleep in, a shower to bathe in, and a kitchen to cook in, without fear of harassment in what was technically my home or of intruding on someone else's home, which is how I felt making myself too much at home in the place where I was staying--with a friend who had lots of roommates.

Now, I never worry about harassment at home. And that is just the beginning of how my home has improved my quality of life.

I realized yesterday, during my lunch break, that I have a strange habit of going to work with my own fork and cloth napkin in my purse. I started to ponder how I developed such a quirk. It was a habit I formed at the place I worked last summer. How did that happen? It may have started because I stored some of my cookware at work. There were two reasons for this. When I wasn't really living at my home, I wanted to be able to use certain things, like my coffee grinder and my French press. I didn't want to clutter up the kitchen at the home where I was staying, and I also found that keeping my French press at work meant I could wait to make my morning coffee until I got to work. When I moved to the next place, where I did not feel harassed, I still felt that there wasn't a lot of room in the kitchen for me to store, use, or clean my things, so the French press and coffee grinder continued to live where they did until this winter, when I got my own place. (And soon after, quit that job, although the French press most likely had nothing to do with that.)

Anyway, those are the reasons I initially brought kitchen items to work. As I felt less able to prepare my daily meals and coffee at home, because of harassment at home or because of a crowded kitchen at home, I brought more and more items to work. To prepare my workday lunch of tempeh-avocado-arugula sandwiches with ease, I'd stop at Trader Joe's before work, buy my sandwich components, and at lunchtime, open the desk drawer where I kept a chef's knife and a bamboo cutting board for slicing the tempeh and the avocado.

It felt normal at the time.


I actually might have started bringing my own forks and spoons to work before even that! This habit was actually related to the workplace more than my home. The kitchen at the last place I worked--and this is no reflection on the staff--was often gross. No matter what the staff did, things just happened, such as inexplicable sink clogs. For awhile, however, the real reason I brought my own silverware to work, was that we never had any dish soap. It was always watered down inside a bottle that had probably been in that kitchen not only before I started, but probably before the at-the-time executive director had started. It may have been there, perhaps, before I moved to Portland. While the organization, much like my life at the time, was in transition, the dish soap did not get replaced. The same bottle became empty, and subsequently became filled with water, its contents growing weaker and weaker. It was because I never trusted that my forks got clean, or that the fork I was eating off of from their drawer was clean, that I would bring my own clean fork to work and then bring my dirty fork home to clean.

You can see that I had to REALLY think about this! And it felt normal. As normal as keeping a cutting board and a chef's knife above my hanging file drawer.

Things feel stable now. I suppose I can start leaving my forks at home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Checking in

So much for NaBloPoMo this month. I should have known that, with a broken laptop and no Internet, that goal was unrealistically ambitious.

The good news is that my laptop has been fixed! I'm still relying on other people's and other place's Internet, so posting may be a bit sparse for awhile. I planned to write drafts at home, to upload later, but it has just been so nice out. Too nice to sit inside and type any more than what I am required to do for school.

So I will share with you some pictures from this summer to give you a preview of what I will write soon.

Strawberry lemonade cupcake. I think it was even topped with a Hood strawberry.

I am learning to grill!

The first strawberry of my balcony garden!

Lacking Internet at home, I have time to do things like clean out, organize, and label the contents of my freezer.

Well, I hate to end on such a riveting note as organizing my freezer, but class is starting!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Trillium Lake

National Blog Posting Month's theme for July is "swim," and today's prompt is, "Where would you love to go swimming?" My post title is my answer.

Around this time last year, my friends and I started to make use of my new Northwest Forest Pass to go to Mount Hood National Forest, frequently stopping at Trillium Lake to walk around, picnic, and even once, swim.

Where I am from, you can swim in lots of lakes. Here, I have never found a lake that anyone would normally want to swim in. The water comes from snow melt on the mountains. It is always ice cold.

Except once. Portland had its yearly summer heat wave. All my friends and I wanted to do was swim in a lake. It was so hot, that even glacial Trillium Lake sounded nice. And it was. Nice, but not glacial. It had been so hot, that even the waters of Trillium Lake were warm. We swam in waters that reflected the towering Mount Hood, like a white and silver snow-topped pyramid.

It would be nice if I could provide illustration for this, don't you think? The pictures exist, but they are locked on my main laptop, which is currently in a near-dead state and in the hands of a friend who may be able to revive it. If he succeeds, I will come back and add photos to this post.