Wannabe Green Thumb

Alaska Grown Raspberries

I am not a good gardener.  I kill a lot of plants.  The most productive plant in my yard are the raspberry bushes because they have nothing to do with me.  They grow back every year, rain waters them, I pick them and eat them and it happens again next year.  My big plan is to successfully go blueberry picking this year.  I am always too late and I end up crowberry picking.  Everyone goes crazy during blueberry season up here, no one shares “their spot” and if you are a couple days late, forget it.  Crowberries are fine, they are more tart and seedy and not great on their own, but I use them the same as I would blueberries.

Tomatoes in greenhouse

I do have my greenhouse that turns into a jungle every year, sometimes I’m afraid to go in there because something will brush against my leg and I will think it’s spider.  Sometimes it is.  But I’m being brave because I have tomatoes coming in and that’s about the best thing ever.  I even have a jalapeño, we shall see about that one.

kale

My other spot is the raised bed, this year its kale and Swiss chard.  Other years I have done carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, beets and lettuce.  I like the greens because you can pick the leaves you need and more grows back.  The carrots and turnips were so great, but after months of waiting for them and only getting maybe a few dozen for the season I wanted a higher yield.  If I had more space/time/motivation it might work better.  But this year the greens are pokey, I think maybe because it’s been so dry, they are made for Alaska greens, meaning not hot/dry summers.  They have always been super happy during the rainy season, and if you remember from above I am not good with plants.  However, it is beyond satisfying to make your own meals with produce that you have grown yourself.  If you haven’t tried, get yourself a big pot and go for it!

Summer Days

Backyard

These days are involving less cooking, not necessarily a bad thing.  We have had some really warm days up here, meaning no oven use.  It is also means I have close to no energy, being 39+ weeks pregnant now.  I helped the husband make toast with Fire Island bread this morning and rinsed some strawberries, that’s something.  He scrambled eggs with spinach and goat cheese

Husband cooking eggsbreakfast

If you happen to be looking for some good store bought eggs, I recommend Vital Farms.  Their eggs are super flavorful and one of the highest rated eggs by the Cornucopia Institute based on sustainable, family run, humane farming practices.

Vital farms egg

A good egg

I am working less and less so that should mean more time to garden and blog and organize, and be nesty.  But no, it means thinking about all the things I should be doing but can’t get the motivation to do because I don’t know where to start.  I did make a to do list, and yes there are things crossed off.

What’s left:

1. Finish cleaning out fridge

2. Organize stuff to donate/sell

3. Finish writing thank you cards for baby shower (they are coming)

4. Do work paperwork (I plan on putting this off for a long time)

5. Blog

 

I have accomplished things like paying bills, making some freezer meals, washing the sheets (yes I had to put the on The List).

Kitchen remodel

As much as I want this baby out, we still have a gaping hole in the kitchen, but it’s not as bad as it looks.  The main part is done, and we can cook, clean and eat in it, what else is there to do in a kitchen?  The husband is now building a pantry that will sit behind the fridge, then we should be pretty much done.  If you decide to remodel your home, the general rule is that it will take at least double of what you think it will, even if you have already accounted for that.  So if you think 2 months, but maybe it will take 4 because things take a while, it will be more like 4-6.  We were initially thinking 3, maybe more.  It’s been almost 8.

Remodeling kitchen with cat

Cooking Binge Time

Blackberry Galette

I was almost a little sad to go on vacation, but as I was looking out the window watching snow fall I became less sad.  The husband and I haven’t learned to appreciate the art of the stay-cation, so I’m cooking my heart out while I can because I have a kitchen sink with a disposal and a dishwasher too!  No more cleaning black beans out of the sink while I brush my teeth.

Preparing Ricotta Gnocchi

I am instead learning about convection baking and experimenting with the Pie setting on the oven.  Yes and there is a Pizza setting too.  Aren’t we fancy?  Say yes.

Galette in KitchenI made ricotta gnudi from my Gourmet Today cookbook which is one of my favorites, I ended up making a quick marinara from the next recipe for fresh manicotti.  The galette I made by making a simple all butter pie crust, doing about 2/3 wheat flour and no sugar, I did a little egg wash and coarse sugar around the edge.  Filling is just 5 cups blackberries, 3/4 cup sugar, couple teaspoons vanilla, a bit of cinnamon (no I didn’t measure).  It’s simple, rustic, the wheat flour gives it a little hearty nuttiness that balances the tart and sweet of the blackberries.  I suggest homemade vanilla ice cream as a serving suggestion.

 

Cooking Rocitta GnocchiThere has also been: cinnamon rolls, chocolate cupcakes, ribs, collard green rolls (plan on recipe post for that), sourdough bread, banana barley muffins, kale chips, goat cheese souffle to name a few.

Future plans: carrot cake, coconut cake, waffles, oven fries, raspberry pie.  I should make some vegetables too…

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

I still haven’t gotten sick of Portland.  Just enough city for me.  I like the weather with its not too hot summers, but the cool rainy winters are even a nice break from Alaska’s cold, dark funk.  It’s easily walkable, affordable and if you haven’t guessed plenty of restaurants, bakeries, and such.

Bone Marrow appetizer at Little Bird Bistro PortlandFirst night at Little Bird, there is always a night at Little Bird.  Something about it just makes me comfortable, it feels European enough that I can sit at a table for 2-3 hours and not feel guilty about it (which we did).  We started with the bone marrow smiley face pictured above.

Ice cream flight at Salt and Straw PortlandThere is usually always a stop at Salt and Straw, my favorite ice cream was the pear and blue cheese.  The snickerdoodle was a close second.  I recommend showing up on a cool and cloudy day to avoid lines.

Bagel at NuvreiCan’t forget about Nuvrei.  We walked by one morning for breakfast and they were closed because of a power outage.  When my hysterics were over we walked back to Lovejoy Bakers and were not disappointed.  How could you be sad with a flaky cream cheese danish?  As you can see by that fantastical bagel, we did finally make it to Nuvrei.  Best thing ever.  The bagel was slightly crusty and chewy, I asked for a fried egg instead of hard boiled so add runny egg yolk to that with crunchy fleur de sel.  The veggies make it all healthy.

Danish at Lovejoy BakeryWe didn’t just walk from bakery to bakery eating pastries and ice cream.  A new stop for us was Bluestar Donuts.  The husband and I lay awake at night and reminisce about the buttermilk old fashioned at Bluestar.  That’s a normal thing people do.  It calls to me in my sleep, singing it’s buttery siren song.

Bluestar Donuts

Bend, Oregon

Lavender Cottage Bend Oregon

We were thinking of babymoon locations, I thought of Paris, then thought no wine for me..so that was off the list.  Hawaii sounds nice anytime but a long flight.  So yeah Bend.  It is one of the happiest places in the world if you haven’t been.  The husband was running the Bend half marathon the morning after we arrived.  First night at Spork which is described as a “globally-inspired green-conscious mobile street food kitchen” when they first started their food truck.  That is still a pretty accurate description.  We were there Saturday night and they have self seating tables and an order at the counter deal going.  My one complaint is the sign that says not to seat yourself until you order.  This always gives me won’t-find-a-place-to-sit-anxiety.  I always get this at weekend dinners without reservations.  The table that I had been eyeing with death lasers shooting from my eyeballs was still there as a I tried to nonchalantly power walk over as soon as the gal up front had taken my order.  My spicy fried chicken with cucumber salad was worth the anxiety.  Super crispy with a spicy sweet sauce that paired well with the cucumber.  The husband had the carnitas sando, one of many pork sandwiches he had over the trip.  With a side of fried plantains, crispy and starchy and not enough places serve plantains!

Spicy Fried Chicken at Spork

Next morning up at 5:30 ish for race morning, we were super stoked to get a early start to our day after flying all day before.  Getting up way before sunrise is always fun and the husband always has such a spring in his step when he has to get up early.

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After a forced and silent breakfast the walk to the start was brisk and sunny with a little frost on the foot bridge heading to downtown.

 

Bridge at Drake Park in Bend, OregonWhile the husband ran 13 miles, I warmed up with a cappuccino and cheered on runners as they went through town.  He didn’t make me wait too long.  I felt sad not being able to race, there was a cut off of 3:30 and I don’t think it would have happened.  Maybe they will add a 10k or 5k in the future for the non prepared pregnant folk.  I also don’t have much use for a bottle opener medal right now, but it’s still way cool.

4-DSC00784Beer is always a good way to finish a race.  With no more early mornings ahead we could really get to work on relaxing.  It’s nice to not have plans or obligations.  Eat when hungry, sleep when tired.  Eating included lunch at The Lot, which is a permamnent food truck gathering with a covered eating area, beers on tap too.  Husband had Korean tacos, I am stuffing my face in the background with fish tacos, I could not make time for a picture.

Tacos from The Lot Bend Oregon We had a leisurely breakfast at La Magie, where I stopped the day before to get the husband a post race pastry (and one for me).

La Magie Bend, Oregon

 

One day included way too much sun for our pasty Alaskan skin.  The sun and warmth was too glorious to not enjoy though.

 

Drake Park Bend OregonThe best cure for sunburn is to eat a lot of gelato, prevention with some sunblock may have been smart too.

Gelato at Bonta in Bend, OregonNext, on to Portland.

A Lazy Idiot

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I planned never to have to say this, but I have neglected my blog and been lax on the posting.  I had the time, I even did some cooking, but I really just wanted to eat my food.  The kitchen has been up and down, and I think now is definitely at an up.  Meaning I can cook in the room that is supposed to be a kitchen.  There is like a stove and a cook-top and some sort of cabinets.  It also looks really good.  The husband and I like to stand in there at night and just stare at it.  It’s not done, and it’s not perfect but it’s getting there.

Chocolate Cake in Kitchen

I have been more motivated to cook, especially with multiple burners and an oven.  But I am still washing dishes in the bathroom so now is not yet the time to go crazy.  I’ve been holding back on the my deep, primal urge to bake a cake.  Until today as I was sitting on the floor staring straight on at my new oven (really 2 years old, but sitting unused in the shed) and decided it was time.  Nothing crazy, I will save my carrot cake with apricot and cream cheese frosting with layers of something curd for later.  So of course David Lebovitz to the rescue again.  I have been eyeing his chocolate idiot cake for a while.  So few ingredients but the combination cannot be wrong.  I of course did not have enough bittersweet chocolate, so used some unsweetened baking chocolate and added a touch more sugar.  Then I added some salt, and maybe some bourbon.  I did not use a springform pan in the water bath because I decided it was too hard, that is what makes it lazy idiot.  Fitting that I have also been too lazy to write blog posts.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with gelato

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