I like food. A LOT. I like real food. Whole food. Good food.
I think that eating good food is important. We should be conscious of what we put into our bodies because... um... we have to live with them for the rest of our lives?
So that's why I'm infuriated that I accidentally bought fat free cream cheese the other day when I was going to make a mocha cheesecake. Seriously? Fat free cream cheese? Why? Why do they even make this shit? If you are concerned about getting fat, don't eat cream cheese!
So, needless to say, the cheesecake didn't turn out. I gave it a shot, and it failed. Miserably.
The first ingredient in fat free cream cheese: cultured skim milk solids. It also includes modified potato starch and a long list of things I can't pronounce.
Gross, right? I guess I need to do my grocery shopping when I am a little less tired from now on.
I'm meeting my new friend today. A very special friend. And I am very excited about it.
I signed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters a couple months ago. I've always felt that it is really important for everyone to give back to their communities. Its just that I've always been SO busy (and aren't we all?). And its not that I'm not busy anymore, but I just felt like with the weight of school being off my shoulders, and with all the things that I do have, like a job, an education, and a stable home, there's really no reason why I can't give something back.
So I began looking into ways that I could do this. Hands On Portland has an amazing website that lets you search volunteer opportunities by region, interest, and availability. There were so many different options! Did I want to work at a local non-profit movie theater? Help out at a school garden? Teach art classes? I started getting a little overwhelmed with all the options.
I guess that I chose Big Brothers Big Sisters because it seemed like a very natural and fun first step in the giving back process. After an in-depth interview and training, Big Brothers pairs you with a Little (sisters paired with sisters, brothers with brothers), age 6-17. They try to match you with common interests, backgrounds, etc. Then, you basically become a friend and mentor to this person, meeting with them at least once a week. Basically, you just have to be a friend to this person indefinitely.
I'm friendly. I can do this.
So, after about 6 weeks of waiting for the right match, I am going to meet my little today! I know that she is 10 years old. She wants to be an artist and likes writing in cursive. She also wants to learn how to garden and ride horses. She has two sisters and a brother. I think she sounds awesome!
So, I'm coming up with ideas of things to do together. Thats something I am supposed to bring tonight when I meet with her and her mom.
Which means that these giant, sometimes intimidating garden beds were starting to feel a little empty. So I filled them. Straw, old leaves, 6 months worth of compost and some new soil does the trick.
Then I take 6 months worth of toilet paper and paper towel rolls and cut 'em up.
They get filled with soil. Seeds. A little water. And lots of love.
Onion seeds look like rocks. Weird.
Soon these babies are gonna sprout. I'm gonna put 'em in the ground. They'll blossom and grow. I'll spend every morning giving them food and water and fighting off evil (aka weeds). They'll get big. And then we'll feast.
Need something to amuse yourself and take you mind off absolutely everything for about an hour? You could do some origami, or maybe even some kirigami (thats where you cut the paper before you fold it).
Occasionally the ol' office day job gets real boring. Making powerpoint presentations and whitepaper layouts... it's just about the least creative creative job there is.
But I've been working on a project with a couple folks where I am trying to get customers to click on a banner ad on the blog. The only rule about the banner ad is that it can't be Webtrends branded. Pretty easy, huh?
So my idea was to give people something for free. At first we were thinking a sticker. Click the banner. Give us your contact info. We mail you a sticker.
But then we thought, no! Let it be instant! Like a template that you can download to make origami or kirigami! And it could relate somehow to the products we sell. An informative little folding project....
What do you think?
While you think on it, why don't you go do a little origami and kirigami yourself?
Pre-second job I used to have 2-3 days off a week. Although much of that time was consumed with job-searching and side graphic design jobs, I also had a lot more time for me. I put a lot more energy into dinners, I rode my bike just for fun, and I was always caught up on my blog-reading.
These days, I'm lucky if I don't collapse on the couch in complete exhaustion by the time I get off work. I can't complain too much. I like being busy almost as much as I like (or rather, need) the extra moola. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that with the warmer weather comes increased energy levels.
So. Thats why I haven't spent as much time around these parts lately. I will be posting some very pretty wedding invitations I designed from friends very very soon! I just need to photograph them. A few other fun things to come soon too... I swear!!!
In other news, Saucebox has a great happy hour. :)
I had the pleasure of having a few friends over for dinner last night, so I made a dessert out of this lovely book and modified it just a bit to match the things I (and the grocery store) had on hand. Chocolate Torte with Marsala Sabayon. It's a rich chocolate cake, with a boozey eggy cream, which was then drizzled with my sister's homemade raspberry cordial. Then enjoyed with Michelle's homemade sangria. A dessert that leaves you *ahem* well oiled.
Chocolate Torte with Marsala Sabayon
adapted from Cooking with the Wines of Oregon
2 cups Marsala
1 package chocolate graham crackers
1 cup butter
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/4 cup sugar
12 egg yolks
6 egg whites
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325.
In a small saucepan over high heat reduce 1 cup of the wine to 1/4 cup, then set aside.
Place graham crackers in a food processor and process to fine crumbs.
Melt 1/4 cup of the butter, then add to the food processor and process briefly.
Pat the crumbs onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Combine the chocolate, 1/2 cup butter, and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a double boiler over simmering water.
Melt and blend well, then remove from heat.
Mix in 6 egg yolks and the reduced wine.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form.
Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture.
Scoop the mixture over the chocolate crust.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Allow torte to cool before removing from pan.
For the Sabayon:
Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup Marsala and the remaining 6 egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl.
Place over barely simmering water and whisk constantly until mixture thickens.
I participated in my first Urban Iditarod this weekend. What's that, you say? It's where a team of silly adults pull a shopping cart (sled) through Portland, stopping along the way at a few different points to refuel and socialize. The cart is built around a theme, and the team is decorated to match it.
I built a cart around a wedding theme because this event was also a part of my friend Loren's bachelorette party. I made a wedding cake out of cardboard that I placed on top of the cart, but it didn't last too long in our Portland drizzle. Lesson learned: next year, use a lot less cardboard and paper products!
For costumes, the bride-to-be wore a wedding dress, and we wore ugly bridesmaids dresses.
Our boy's team won Ninkasi's best cart award! They built theirs around horse races. It's actually an interactive cart where you can play the drinking/betting game!
And here are the lovely ladies dressed as firefighters! They made their costumes out of duct tape. So creative!
One of the stops along the way: a giant dance party in Barracuda. At 2:00 in the afternoon!
Check out this video to see the teams running. You can get an idea just how creative and wild it is!
Thanks to my lovely friend Debbie Lee for taking these photos! It's so wonderful to have a photographer in the group!
March is the month in Oregon when things start to get a little rough. Long patches of rain, cold and the absence of sunshine and general daylight starts to really wear on people. Another driver actually threw a water bottle at my car the other day. I understand. This weather is depressing.
So we were super excited when yesterday we didn't get rain, and even got a few patches of blue sky.
We packed our bags and headed out into the Oregon wilderness for Bagby Hot Springs. Soaking in log tubs with a bunch of other hippies does wonders for sore muscles and dampened spirits.
So you can imagine that we weren't so thrilled when we were only 3 miles away from the hot springs, having already driven an hour and a half, when the Probe in front of us got stuck in the snow. On a one-lane road.
At first, the idea was to try to get the probe down the hill, and try to let the 7 or so cars behind it past. But after a couple hours of digging snow and pushing cars, it became apparent that we would all be going home.
At least we met lots of very friendly people on that road. We all had to work together to get all of our cars turned around.
After it all we decided that we still needed some soaking time, so we headed to McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous! It has a hotel, vineyard, winery, distillery, golf course, movie theater, spa.... and soaking pool! They normally only allow hotel guests to use it, but thankfully they took pity on our situation.
This place is seriously blissful. If you ever have the opportunity to stay at Edgefield, DO IT!
After a couple hours of soaking and trading shoulder rubs, we enjoyed a movie ($3 a piece!) with dinner. Even though the day didn't go just as we had planned, I sure can't complain. Great company and beautiful Oregon makes for a fantastic Sunday.
When I was in college, I lived only two blocks down from the best restaurant in the world.
Debate this all you want, but I've never had anything like the food at Morning Glory, a sweet little breakfast joint in an cute old house across the street from SOU in Ashland, OR. It wasn't uncommon to find us skipping class to get a taste of the Tandoori Tofu, Smoked Salmon Scramble, or Rock Shrimp Cakes with Poached Eggs.
It was so dang good.
And every time I left I felt uncomfortable for the rest of the day. And every time I would tell myself 'I am NOT doing that again!', but the next week I would be back. Stuffing myself to the brim, then trying to make room for more.
Now... one of the best dishes they had there was their oatmeal. Don't go rolling your eyes at me. I know that sounds stupid. I work in a restaurant for goodness sake. I think its PATHETIC when somebody goes out for breakfast and orders oatmeal. I mean, really? It takes 2 ingredients (one of them being water) to make it at home in about 4 minutes.
But! They're oatmeal is a completely different story. Its savory. Yes, savory oatmeal. You just have to try it. I know its not everyone's cup of tea, but give it a shot anyways.
With the help of the internet, I think I've gotten as close as I can to recreating the recipe.
Its got toasted coconut, pecans, golden raisins, dried cranberries, and dates... oh those dates!
Its also full of spice, isn't that nice?
Curry... cinnamon... ginger... nutmeg....
What I do is put all the ingredients in a big ol' jar.
Then I shake it up really well. Then I have it all ready to go for breakfast each morning. Quick and easy.
Morning Glory Oatmeal
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans because I'm allergic)
1/4 cup shredded, toasted coconut
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons date pieces (I put in more :)
2 tablespoons craisins, or other dried fruit
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Put all ingredients in a lidded container and shake well.
To make one serving, put 1/2 cup oatmeal mix and 1 cup water in a small pan over medium high heat.
Stir occasionally for a few minutes or until oatmeal has desired consistency.
There are these cookies that I started making a few years ago. I was feeling the need for a healthy cookie. Something that I could be enjoyed equally as breakfast or dessert. In my search, I stumbled across this recipe for a cookie full of seeds, oats, and of course, chocolate. It is gluten free, vegan, and possibly the most dangerous cookie I've ever made, since I'm never able to stop at just one. Since baking these just a few days ago, I've probably consumed upwards of 20 cookies. I'm. Not. Kidding.
I've been making these ever-so-regularly, and just a few months ago I was in the very beautiful and expensive Whole Foods Market. I was perusing their cookie selection, when I noticed a very similar cookie. I checked out the ingredients, and sure enough, it had most of the same key players. That cookie: more than $2 a pop.
What can I say? They're healthy. They're delicious. They're expensive!!! (they really don't cost much to make, but you can tell yourself that as you gobble them down)
Planet Organic Cosmic Cookies
adapted from Food.com
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 cups spelt flour
1 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup flax seed
1 cup granulated unbleached cane sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 3/4 cups dark chocolate chips or carob chips (to make it vegan)
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup soy milk
Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine dry ingredients, from oats to craisins.
In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients, from water to soy milk.
Stir dry and wet together until just combined.
Scoop by the large spoonful onto baking sheets.
Bake 20-24 minutes.
Recipe makes way more cookies than you could ever dream of consuming, even with a large appetite, so consider placing cookies into ziplock baggies and storing in the freezer for a quick, healthy snack.