Monthly Archives: July 2010

WILFing for WILT #13, in which I just want to lay in bed and listen to Hanson

Apparently, that’s what I told Jesse yesterday when he woke me up at 1 PM. My 8-hour shift from the night before had turned into a 13-hour shift.

I like to keep my shizzle together, you know? There’s just a lot of it to keep together these days.

So this week, I’m taking a leetle time to re-charge.

Atticus is helping:

Mmm-bop, indeed!

WILT #12, in which I have breakfast with a deer

The yard here isn’t a yard so much as a pasture in a valley belonging on a picture postcard. Proof:

Not kidding.

On a clear day, we have full view of Mt. Hood.

And then down at the back of the “yard,” there’s a wooded creek full of slugs and unicorns.

This morning, though, I had the particular pleasure of taking my breakfast on the deck and enjoying my yogurt and blueberries in the company of a little deer.

See her? (One day, a big fatty digital SLR and telephoto lens shall be mine.) Zoe got curious:

Baroo?

She was right to wonder–this wasn’t our usual white-tailed deer, and she was all by her lonesome. Her butt and tail were a darker brown. Her ears were silly-big. I maxed out the optical AND digital zoom on my Canon point-and-shoot to get a better look:

Blurry, yes, but clearly not a white-tailed deer. At first, my future pa-in-law and I thought we might be looking at a rather runty girl-elk.

A little Googling later, and I’m mostly certain I was sipping coffee with a black-tailed deer, also known as the Columbian black-tailed deer or coast deer. They populate the stretch of the West between British Columbia and northern California, so Wikipedia tells me. Using binoculars, I could see a bigger rump and Yoda-ears on this ours. Just like in this precious picture from Wikipedia Commons:

His knobby knees are killing me.

I grew up rural, and I’ve been (and let’s be honest, I still am) a city mouse–but this whole semi-country business is pretty delightful. Jealous yet? I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

I Love Rachel!

A week ago today, I was sitting in my mother’s dining room at a table set with her antique china and a beautiful centerpiece with hydrangeas and yellow roses. I was surrounded by her ladies, friends of mine from high school that I hadn’t seen in years, and a favorite high school teacher whom I hadn’t spoken with in years. She didn’t even know I was dating anyone, let alone engaged.

My mother had more or less demanded to throw me a wedding shower, and though I railed against the idea for weeks she finally figured out that if she went through Jesse, I couldn’t ultimately say no. So it was that a month ago, Jesse informed me that he’d be taking me to the airport on the morning of the 10th and I was going to have fun, dammit.

And what fun I had!! I arrived in St. Louis after eight hours of travel and was immediately taken to Aya Sofia, a Turkish restaurant just across the street from the iconic Ted Drewes. My mom and I slid into the booth at which my stepdad Mark was waiting. I saw three place settings. We picked up the wine list. And then all of a sudden, a tall body approaches our table and I hear, “Would you mind if I joined you?”

IT WAS MY SISTA-FRIEND RACHEL!!! Completely out of her Minneapolis context!!! Surprising my face off!!!

She had already been in St. Louis for a day, helping my mom and Markdad prepare. Grocery shopping, cast-iron skillet rehabbing, recipe-prepping. She planted it next to my shocked face and we proceeded to order a bottle of Junehog and a plate of sarma, fried feta-stuffed phyllo wraps (left ’em for the gluten-eaters), and hummus with slices of tomato and cucumber. We talked–well, I mostly squeaked, as I was too surprised to form sentences–and drank and ate and then I ordered the most amazing lamb I’ve had in this country. Leg of lamb with a white bean sauce, served in a puddle of rice swimming in lamb juices… I was back in Spain. The flavor was so sweet and full and warm. I literally had a dream about it that night. I shot a crappy picture before digging in, but I sure don’t need it to remember how good that meal was, and how excellent the company. Here it is anyway:

The next day, I awoke to the smells of Rachel’s killer cornbread. I was glad to have brought a dress with some give in the midsection.

***

I had the day off on Thursday and decided to make the meal that Rachel had designed and prepared with my mom and Markdad last Sunday. I followed the recipes she posted on her most excellent blog with barely any alterations. See Rachel’s site for the recipes and instructions–she gives kitchen directions like nobody can. As for my adaptations:

Quinoa & Black Bean Summer Salad


Market of Choice had poblano peppers (well, I think these are poblanos) but had them erroneously labeled as pasillas (which are technically dried chilaca peppers). So I’m not exactly sure what the hell kind of peppers I used, but they were poblano-esque. And I roasted them too long–they turned out mushy but still delicious.

All-Time Favorite Sour Cream (Gluten Free) Cornbread


My baking powder was old. So I just used more of it. And I didn’t cook bacon in the skillet prior to pouring in the batter, but I did rub about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat all over the pan. What, you don’t keep a jar of rendered bacon fat in your fridge? (You  should.)

Lime Chicken


Chicken is such a versatile animal. I have a favorite shredded chicken recipe, a favorite roasted chicken recipe, a favorite chicken stock recipe. One of these days I’ll tell you about my favorite way to make quick chicken breasts for weeknight suppers. But anyway, I now have a favorite grilled chicken recipe. Markdad grilled these chicken thighs on his big gas grill; Jesse and I fired up our charcoal briquettes on the Weber the other night. Jesse showed me how it’s done:

1. Coals.

2. Lighter fluid. A LOT of lighter fluid.

3. Flame.

4. Wait for ashy embers.

I cannot say enough about how juicy, chicken-y, and fabulously lime-y these thighs turned out. The combination of olive oil and lime juice is literally genius. The marinade dripped onto the coals and flames jumped up, surrounding each thigh just enough to impart a crispiness and smoky flavor. Thighs are stupid-easy to grill, too, because it’s nearly impossible to overcook them and dry them out. Have you heard Lynn Rosetto Kasper of The Splendid Table wax poetic about the chicken thigh? Get on it.

I served this meal to a chorus of “mmm.” I’ve been eating that unparalleled quinoa salad at work for the last few days and I can’t wait to eat it again tonight. Who comes up with this stuff? Rachel, obviously.

WILT #11, in which I got home at 2:30 AM last night

This is Zoe.

She’s a muppet.

A Bouvier des Flandres, actually. And yes, she’s slightly out of focus–but even if I had taken the time to steady my wrist before snapping this shot, you wouldn’t be able to see her eyes. I think she likes it like that, though. There are two other very gorgeous champion show Bouviers in the house, but Zoe’s the homely pet who’s too stupid to come in out of the rain. We love her.

And this is what she spends most of her day doing.

And after coming home last night at 2:30 AM–new admits, falls, a full census on the unit, oh my!!–it’s also how I spent my morning today. Which is why I’m WILTing about Zoe.

Wheeee!!

WILT #10 (10!), in which PDX has it all

So today I went up to get a haircut in NW. I basically asked the guy to trim and furminate–“keep the length (for now), cut off the fried stuff, and de-bulk what you can.” I had been going to the same fabulous haircutress in St. Paul since 2006 and wish I could have brought her out here with me. It’s not easy to find someone who isn’t afraid to cut curly hair. So many stylists think that curly hair should only be worn long in layers. I object!… though I am, currently, wearing my hair long in layers. But I need to know that my stylist can give me a pixie if I want one without batting an eyelash.

Am I seriously still talking about this?

Anyway. I got a trim.

And then I headed to SW where I dropped off my sparkly ring to have it re-sized. I parked and walked two blocks to the jeweler… and found myself walking past a Nordstrom Rack. Really? 95% of my clothing comes from either Target or the Rack. And I have a dress-worthy shindig coming up this weekend. Perfect. I stopped in and 15 minutes later walked out with that delightful bright blue Rack bag.

And the Waterfront Blues Festival was this weekend! Oh! I’m definitely taking all three of those days off next year. I was working on Saturday and Sunday, so Jesse and I headed up on Friday with a giant Costco-sized package of Zatarain’s red beans and rice to donate to the Oregon Food Bank. We meandered past smaller stages and some vendors’ booths and tents until we found an ATM. I walked into a booth selling silver jewelry of all kinds and bought a couple hoops for my nose for less than a latte. Suddenly, the Blues Fest became a one-stop shop. Finding a sterling silver nostril hoop had been on my list for a month.

I wonder how many other people had that sitting on their to-do lists last week.

And then I mused to Jesse, “I wonder if they can sell me a non-beer adult beverage that is not a crappy chardonnay?” And there they were with Mike’s Hard Limeade. Soda, basically, and NOT safe for celiacs (see the email from a Mike’s communications coordinator here), but for someone like me who at this point doesn’t have to worry too much about cross-contamination, the risk was small. And delightful, I’m not a little ashamed to say. (Never fear, though–my recipes here are celiac safe.)

So Jesse with his beer and I with my Mike’s headed to the main stage where Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue was just about to start. We stood by the production tower with our outrageous timing as the band got started. 89.1 KMHD had been playing the crap out of Trombone Shorty over the last few weeks and I knew I had to see the band live. And no disappointment!

The set was bananas. The bass player had a wild solo that was as entertaining as it was musically developed. The sense of humor these guys showed both in their performance and in their arrangements was clever and punchy. They layered a verse of “Blister in the Sun” into their finale, a killer version of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and my head exploded.

Jesse can corroborate.

Seriously. Next year? I’m taking three vacation days and camping out with my beach chair like the pros who’ve been attending the festival since it began in 1987. Y’all are welcome to join me. One fellow I met while standing in line for a taco told me that he’d just driven up with some friends from Jackson, Mississippi. 48 hours of driving. For the Waterfront Blues Festival. I made sure to buy a t-shirt.

So the moral of my story, my 10th WILT, is that Portland is great. And has everything. Right around the corner from all the other things.