October 31, 2009

Happy Halloweenie!

Day of the Dead
All Hallow's Eve

However you celebrate.

Our menu:
Thai spiced pumpkin soup (recipe from 101 cookbooks)
Cheese bread
Apple crisp
Rum spiced cider
Lots of candy. (Watch out for those Milk Duds.)

Trick or Treat

October 28, 2009

Apple Pie for Breakfast

I like my apples crisp.
Crisp and tart.

No Red Delicious for me. I prefer Gala, Fuji, a small Honey Crisp and of course my childhood favorite, Granny Smith.

I have memories of my mom fixing my brother and I an afternoon snack of apple quarters and sprinkling them with salt. I think the apple/salt love came from her mom.

Ahhh childhood..... apple quarters and Perry Mason take me back.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, it's easy to take apples for granted. We have access to an amazing variety grown locally. Here are some fun apple facts courtesy of the University of Illinois Extension.

  • Apples are fat, sodium, and cholesterol free.
  • A medium apple is about 80 calories.
  • The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Sea.
  • In colonial time, apples were called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth.
  • 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States

EZ Orchards is a fall favorite. When my kids were younger we would visit for their fall Harvestfest and now we visit mainly for the farm market.They have lots and lots of apples. And lots of other fun stuff, too.

At my house, a bowl of apples usually sets on the butcher block or dining room table and apple pie is just about a weekly event. As my kids get older the pie disappears faster. This year, the weekend pie only lasts a day or two at most.

Pie for dessert and pie for breakfast.

I discovered what has become the family's favorite apple pie recipe on the website - allrecipes.com. It is Grandma Ople's Apple Pie. This pie isn't your traditional apple pie. It's a lattice-top pie with a rich caramel sauce poured over the top which drips down into the center. The lattice itself carmelizes quite a bit adding to the yummy goodness. Using a good crust makes a big difference. Remember these three words. Freeze the butter.

With that being said, I don't always have the time to make "Grandma Ople's" pie. Times like those call for either a quick pie or simple crisp.

My quick pie is just that. Quick.

I normally use a no roll pie crust recipe (again, recipe on allrecipes.com)  and mix together my apples, sugar, spices with a touch of flour and top it with a simple crisp topping of flour, sugar and butter. I use mostly Granny Smith's along with another type of apple for variety.

My crisp (or crumble by another name) is similar but without the bottom crust and topped with an oatmeal/nut based topping. I add brown sugar to the apple mixture then add the spice to the topping. I like the apples to get a bit more loose and gooey.

Time to make more pie. Who wants to peel the apples?

October 24, 2009

Diner Love - Court Street Dairy Lunch

I love me a good diner.

After a quick stroll through Bush Park I've been known to mosey over to Chad's or White's for breakfast. For a mid-week downtown bite, Court Street Dairy Lunch is a favorite spot. I can always count on a familiar face behind the counter.

Recently, I heard an interesting story on the radio. It was an interview with Candacy A. Taylor who has written the book, Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress.

As noted from her website, Taylor Made Culture;
"The waitress project features women who have been dishing out everything from eggs to insults for up to 60 years. They are among the healthiest, most vibrant, hardest working women in the US. They have raced to our tables, quarreled with the cooks and brought humor and culture to the American roadside dining experience. Despite the social stigma of being ‘just a waitress,’ this multimedia project tells the stories of women who enjoy what they do. Although waitressing is hard work, these lifers say the job keeps them feeling younger, sharpens their minds, and fulfills their desire to make meaningful human connections with their regular customers."

The book was published in September 2009.   ~ Annie Bloom's Books ~

Wonderful photo essay via The New Yorker.

Next time I visit my favorite diner, Court Street Dairy Lunch, I'll be reminded of the importance of leaving a good tip to the familiar faces behind the counter. They've been serving me since my first visit over 25 years ago.

I'll take a Ranch burger with fries and a vanilla milkshake please. Thousand on the side.

October 22, 2009

12th Street - Tong King and Jack's

What's there? 

My favorite Chinese restaurant in Salem. Tong King. 

Love the #93 Cold Noodle Salad.  Love it. I could marry it. I also love the sweet and spicy Schezuan Beef. 

I know, it's somewhat dingy and, to be honest, the restrooms need a major remodel but it's family run and the food is great. 

This is their neighbor. Jack's.

October 21, 2009

Sick Day

Sick Days are no fun.

At our house, TV is off limits when under the weather. Sick days involve lounging in bed or on the couch, drinking lots of tea and reading.

Hmmm, that actually sounds pretty good except for the SICK part.

October 19, 2009

The View Point Inn as a Birthday Destination

This last spring I was lucky enough to be part of the thirteen year birthday celebration for a wonderful girl I know, Em. Specifically, she is my college roommate's eldest daughter.

Now, in 2009 most thirteen year old's are familiar, if not briefly obsessed, with the Twilight series of books by Stephenie Meyer. (Em was no exception. I myself was no exception and I'm not thirteen anymore.)

Em's mother organized a wonderful night at The View Point Inn. This Inn was used in the filming of the movie adaptation of Twilight, specifically for portions of the prom scene.

We stayed the evening in The Roosevelt Suite, a beautiful two-room delight. The oldies read and chatted while the youngies played music and games, perused magazines and munched on junk food. As it was a suite, there was ample room for separation of us oldies from the youngies. What thirteen year old wants to hang out with her mom and friends?

The Inn is near enough to Troutdale that we were able to brave the winding road down to I-84 and head over to McMenamin's Edgefield for dinner and a pint (for the oldies of course) at the Power Station Pub and Theatre.

In the morning, we were served brunch in a beautiful dining area, adjacent to a great room with a lovely fire. Brunch was outstanding. I enjoyed the Dungeness Crab Benedict but eyed the wonderful looking Crown Point Burger from afar. Perfect.

Em's sister El, ordered tea and a few sides, including fruit, english muffin, and yogurt with granola. It was presented beautifully on a tray with tea service. What a delight.

The view, for which The View Point Inn is likely named, overlooks the Columbia River and is amazing. Why don't you see for yourself.

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October 17, 2009

La Capitale and Spanish Coffee

I know a few people who like to go La Cap'n and when they do you'll find them at La Capitale, a stellar French bistro on the corner of State and High in downtown Salem.

I'm part of 'that' crowd.

La Cap is the perfect spot for meeting friends for a cocktail or two. It's comfort, with style.

It's where you can order a lavender martini, peach julep, sidecar or experience the absinthe fountain.

What I love:

The ambience at the bar
An open kitchen
Fresh ingredients
Outdoor seating
Pommes frites
Infused liquors
Black & white movies
Fresh herbs on the bar
The absinthe fountain
Booze and coffee

Oh, and I can't forget Rob the bartender.

Speaking of booze and coffee and Rob the bartender. He makes a spectactular Spanish coffee, not only is it tasty but it's a visual delight.

I love the welcome.

October 15, 2009

Project BLT

I am digging this.

You must check it out.
Discovered via Michael Ruhlman's Blog and his BLT from Scratch Challenge.
I am into this.

Project BLT

I am into making things from base ingredients. This probably stems from my fascination with the pig bladder balloon I read about in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series as a child. I wanted one of those balloons.

As you will note, Jared Dunnohew was the overall winner. This is his blog.... One Hungry Chef.

Check it out.

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October 13, 2009

Motherhood is a roller coaster

Sometimes you read something that totally hits you in your gut.

That is what happened when I read a recent post of Ree Drummond's from her Confessions of a Pioneer Woman website/blog. Her post These Are the Days reminded me of some of the care free moments from my kids' early days.

My kids are now either teens or tweens and heading down their own path. This often translates to willful, stubborn and sassy. Don't get me wrong, they are amazing and wonderful but gone are the days of their carefree innocence.

Here's to yesterdays grins and tomorrow's adventures. Thank goodness they're still cheeseballs...

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October 12, 2009

Chili is good

Soup.... Stew....Chili.

These are three of my favorite things about fall.

My coworker, Mike, makes good, simple chili. He brings it to team potlucks on a regular basis. The last time he brought some, I was tied up with a meeting and when I finally arrived, with bowl in hand, the chili was gone.

Enough was enough. I needed that recipe.

The story he tells, is that a roommate of his in college (I suspect he was in college about 35-40 years ago) created this simple, but delightful recipe.

It is simple. It is delightful.

The recipe he provided didn't use many measurements. I have amended the recipe, as is my way, and alter it a bit every time I make it. For example, adding tomatillos, experimenting with a variety of different peppers and amending the spices here and there.

Miguel's Chili


2 lbs ground chuck, lean
2 anaheim peppers
2 jalapeno peppers
1 large onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
3 15 oz cans of kidney beans (dark and/or light)
chili powder
canola oil

Dice the onion and garlic, set aside in separate piles.
Chop the peppers. I use a course chop on the anaheim and a fine dice on the jalapeno. (if you wish to minimize heat, de-vein and seed the jalapenos)

Over medium high heat in a large pot or dutch oven.

Brown the onion in 1-2 TBS of canola oil.
Add the ground chuck. Drain. (If not using lean, drain the majority of the excess fat)
Add the garlic.
Add the peppers.
Add the cans of kidney beans, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes with their juices

At this point stir and add spices.

The original recipe didn't call for measurements and neither do I. Sprinkle approximately 1 TBS, enough to cover the top, of the chili powder and about half that amount of the cumin. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add approximately 1-2 tsp of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and to even out the flavor. Sample and adjust spices as needed.

Stir and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least a half hour before serving. If I'm serving several hours after putting it together, I bring it to a boil, let it simmer a bit and just leave it covered and turn off the heat.

I have used poblanos in place of the anaheims, added red/yellow/green peppers for a bit of color, and have added 5-6 chopped tomatillos, all on different occasions.

At this point, it's up to you. Tell me what you add.


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October 11, 2009

La Perla Tapatia has simple, good food

Enjoying a simple day.

October 6, 2009

October 4, 2009

Weekend mornings are all about soccer

Soccer is an integral part of fall in my household, whether one of my kids is playing or one match or another is on the telly. That's just how it is.

October 3, 2009

San Xavier Mission del Bac

An amazing church in Tucson, founded in 1692 by a Jesuit priest. The present church was built in 1783.

Now that the weather is beginning to turn I once again remember the wonderful warmth of Tucson in spring.

October 1, 2009

The Killers 9.24.09 ~ My daughter's first concert


Anyone need any leaves? I've got a few extra.

I live in a lovely older neighborhood in South Central Salem surrounded by lovely old trees. In my yard alone I have an old Butternut tree, a Maple and a majestic Oak. I cherish these trees.

I remember while growing up and wandering through these older neighborhoods (I grew up in a new subdivision) I was amazed by the permanence of those grand trees. I remember watching movies which depicted neighborhoods with tree lined avenues. I wanted that. I wanted those trees. Now I have them.

Guess what, those trees are now mine and so is the associated maintenance. (Well, I guess I have to give credit where credit is due, the associated maintenance falls into my husband's lap. Thank you J.)

We knew the leaves would fall. We didn't realize how many other things would fall and the stages that fall would go through. We've got whirly birds, sap drip, acorns, butternuts along with some other fluff and stuff of one type or another. None of these things falls at once, oh no, it's conveniently staggered for fall weekend work-out's.

This year, with a little research we have learned that our funky walnuts are in fact butternuts. Thank you internet. We are attempting to harvest some of our butternuts this year but I'm sceptical of our success. The yield has been amazing and suspect it has something to do with the hard winter this past year.

For the next research project, I'd like to determine what type of Maple is out there.

I could complain about this fall clean up but really it's such a small price to pay for these amazing beauties. I love my big trees.

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