Farmers Market Snacking Cake

Berries

The first few weeks of August in Portland are spectacular.  Everywhere you walk, there are blackberry bushes overflowing with ripe berries.  The air is heavy with the smell of jam.  The farmers markets are filled with all sorts of exotic berries.

My eyes are always too big for my stomach.  I cart home flats of berries with no hope of eating them all before they get mushy or threaten to grow mold.  So, I make cherry snacking cake.

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Cherry snacking cake is not too sweet and tastes like cherry fruit rather than fake cherry syrup.  Its really good as an afternoon snack with an Arnold Palmer.  . . or glass of sweet tea . . . or really anything to combat the 90+ days and no air conditioning that seems to be causing all native Portlanders to melt.  Me?  I say bring it!  My California soul is thrilled with the heat.

The key, when you have housemates native to Portland, is to sneak into the kitchen late at night when things have cooled down so you don’t accidentally bake the housemates along with the cake.  I substituted 1.5 cups cherry puree for the bananas in this banana bread recipe and omitted the cinnamon.

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Farmers Market

 

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I have always loved the idea of a farmers market – gorgeous produce, people engaged with their local community, and a chance to soak up summer sun.  I reality has been consistently stressful.  I run around trying to find the things on my list and worrying about the best price among so many vendors.  I have tried a couple of different ways to go through a farmers market to make it less stressful and finally found the solution.

I don’t go in with a plan for the what I am going to cook for the week like I would with a grocery store.  Instead, I go in with a few platform ideas and look for tasty produce to pile on top.  Some platforms I have used are salad greens, toast, pasta, and pizza.  Almost all produce taste’s good on one of the above.

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With this strategy in place, I get to enjoy the farmers market.  Wander around, buy whatever looks good, and not stress too much about how I am going to prepare it.  Next project CSA’s.  If you participate in a CSA – let me know!  I want to know how you enjoy the experience without getting drowned in zucchini.

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In the Moment with my Amo

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My grandmother was in town this weekend!  One of the things that struck me about spending time with her is how good she is at being in the moment and rooted in her own experience.  Following her at her rhythm allowed me to experience so much more or Portland than I normally do.

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We happened upon a free live opera in the rose garden Friday night.  While we wandered around the rose garden, she was completely focused on finding the best rose smell.  Once the Opera started up, she started cry – live music just does that to her.

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We sat and watched some folks play life size chess in a park downtown.  We tried to figure out the game and were completely content sitting quietly and watching them play.

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It was so much easier to explore and see Portland through new eyes when I was with her.  I think some things that helped me be in the moment was 1) doing things I haven’t done before.  2) Not needing to be anywhere at any given time.  3)  cultivating a mindset of play  and exploration.

 

What helps you be in the moment?

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Cool Things this Weekend

 

 

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Art by my rad grandma, Beth Summers http://bethsummersartist.blogspot.com/

My grandmother is coming in to town this weekend!  She is 78 years old and is arriving via solitary road trip.  My grandmother is an incredibly cool person.  She worked hard as a teacher all her life to support her family.  She always wanted to travel and be a professional artist but didn’t have too many opportunities to do so – until she retired.  She now has a thriving professional art career and visited something like 50 countries with her late spouse.  When he passed in February, she committed herself to continuing to have adventures and live the life she loves.  She went to Iceland by herself in July and is now on a solo roadtrip from SoCal to Portland.  I am so excited to see her and so proud of her.

I asked my friends where I should take this badass, art loving woman and got some great recommendations so I wanted to share some of them with you.

More amazing work by Beth.

More amazing work by Beth.

 

The 17th annual Alberta Street Art Festival is happening this Saturday.  Art, music, beer and more for just a $2 suggested donation.  Looks awesome.

It is free family and community day at the Portland Art Museum on Sunday.  The Portland Art Museum is featuring plein air painters which is awesome because I am pretty sure that is one of the types of painting in which my grandma is interested.

Whenever Amo talks about Portland, she talks about berries.  Since we are in the height of berry season here, we will absolutely hit the Beaverton Farmers Market for some tasty berries.

 

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Stuffed Artichoke with Homemade Aioli

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I had an amazing time in Tahoe.  I got a chance to meet KJ’s family who are warm and welcoming and lovely.  The lake was gorgeous and, since I was staying with fellow foodies, the food was amazing.

While I was in Tahoe, I got a little rebellious.  Maybe it was just the freedom of being on vacation.  Perhaps I have gotten spoiled by living in Oregon for 3 years now and the great stretches of beaches, forest, and park.  All of Tahoe’s No Trespassing signs may have come as a bit of a shock to my system.

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Whatever the cause, I was feeling a bit rebellious on the night that we made dinner as a group.  I broke two of my cardinal cooking rules.  1) Never cook something new for guests.  2) Let the product shine.

I made Stuffed Artichoke with Homemade Aioli.  I had never cooked an artichoke and never mind made a homemade aioli.  Steaming an artichoke is fairly simple as is making homemade aioli.     The results are spectacular – an amazing, buttery vegetable served with garlicky, rich aioli.  I would highly recommend it.

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All that said – don’t stuff it.  No seriously.  It sounds like a good idea- stuffing always makes things more delicious, right?  Nope!  It covered up the artichoke flavor and the stuffing was a weird, gummy texture.  We ate around it so the dish was still tasty.

Which leads me back to my rules- 1) Let the product shine.  2) Never cook something new for guests.   After the weekend in Tahoe, I am revising my rules.  1) Let the product shine – always, always, always – no excuses.    2) Only cook something new for guests if they are warm and welcoming and kind and willing to eat around the flops.  KJs family really are lovely people.

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There was something really satisfying about making my own aioli.  Kind of like a foodie merit badge?  It was work in the form of a whole lot of whisking.  Ultimately, not too much work though and it came together successfully on my first try.

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So this weekend, steam an artichoke, whisk up some homemade aioli, and crack a bottle of very dry wine and enjoy your foodie cred :)

 

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Postcards from the Washington County Fair

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I went to the Washington County Fair this weekend.  It was such a clear cross section of where I live now.  I wish you could have come.  If you had been here:

We would have laughed about how clearly the fair expressed the weird juxtaposition of tech and agriculture in Washington County.  Then we would have agreed that it is really cool balance – thriving jobs with the beauty of rolling hills and baby goats.

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We would have made plans to go to the upcoming Ren Faire on the same fair grounds so that we could talk about how the space is being used differently to cause a different effect.

I wish you were here.  It is the strangest thing having pieces of my heart spread all over the country.  I am making new friends here who are wonderful.  But I still think you should move to Oregon :P

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Postcards from Tahoe

I had such a lovely time in Tahoe this weekend.  I will write more about it after it has had some time to roll around in my brain.  For now, here are some pictures and highlights from the trip.

 

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Time with KJ :)

 

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Gorgeous Views

Cooking, eating and chatting with KJ's family.

Cooking, eating and chatting with KJ’s family.

 

Sunbathing!

Sunbathing!

 

 

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New House!

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I have a new house, a new kitchen, and fabulous “new” housemates.  I say “new” because I have known these folks long enough that they are almost family.

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There is so much potential in new kitchens and this one has so much space!  I am already starting to dream up tasty things to cook.

Did you notice this detail in the picture above?  You gotta love a house with a golden moose in the kitchen window :)

Did you notice this detail in the picture above? You gotta love a house with a golden moose in the kitchen window :)

The first thing that that I always cook in a new house is a roast chicken.  It is easy and makes the house smell like home.  So good.  And it also helps me start to figure out where I put everything that I just unpacked.   Roast chicken is one of the few things that I can make without a recipe.  That said, here is a great recipe from the always fabulous Ina Garten.

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Photo Shoot with my Mom

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While we were in SoCal celebrating my sister’s graduation, my mom and I did a quick photo shoot.  As I am typically the person behind the lens, I so appreciated her taking the time to get some good shots of me.  My favorite is posted above.  Thanks Mom!

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My Baby Sister Graduated!

 

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My baby sister graduate from UC San Diego with a Bachelor’s in International Studies.  I am so proud!

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Rather than going through the traditional ceremony, Christi opted for a family created celebration.  We dressed her up in cap and gown.  Then, we wandered around campus and played a graduation march on the kazoo.

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The highlight of the weekend was the graduation party that night.  We toasted my sister and her accomplishments, my parents for all their hard work putting both of us through college, and the friends and family that helped get Christi to the finish line.  It was a joy to see my Mom so very happy and proud.

 

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