It has been an incredibly cold and stormy winter here in Portland with record snowfalls and I’m just about done with winter! But with this cold rainy weather I’m dreaming of our trip back in November when we went to Palm Springs and I wish I could be there RIGHT NOW! If you’re lucky enough to head out there anytime soon, here are a few fun things to visit and see while you’re there.
Joshua Tree National Park
One of the cooler national parks I’ve been to. Definitely worth the 45 minute drive out. It truly encapsulates the desert beauty. You can easily spend all day there, if not more, depending on the experience you want. There are hikes and viewpoints all over. Just a fair warning, bring enough water, food and gas before you go into the park because there isn’t any inside the park.
Moortens Botanical Garden
So stinkin’ cool. Originally opened in 1960s and had just a few cacti, and in the off season Mr and Mrs Moorten would travel the world collecting cacti to eventually what it is today. Their son and daughter-in-law own it today and live on the property. You’ll find a prick load of cacti and inside their cactacarium you’ll find a lot of rare super cool looking cacti you’ve never seen before. Including one that grows horizontal.
Renting bikes and biking around town
Super super super fun! We rented bikes and biked around town to look at all the cool architecture and buildings. You can rent them all day long and just bike around to everything you want to see. The town is small and flat, so biking is super easy, and environmentally friendly too!
Uptown design district
Design and art stores which transport you back to the fifties. Unique mid-century modern designs to inspire you and because they’re so personalized to Palm Springs. There, you’ll find various design and antique shops while being able to dine in some hip restaurants.
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately while I walk my dog and I’m learning a ton about people and myself listening to these TEDx talks, but I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from the hours of radio I’ve been listening to is that fear is the biggest hindrance in anything you do. But, I think more specifically, I think fear of what others might think or react stops me the most from doing things that are out of my comfort zone. Now, imagine how liberating it can and will feel when we let go of fear and start working on things that we always have wanted to do, but were too afraid to start. I know Autumn isn’t traditionally known for new beginnings, but this time it is. and…
Autumn is in full swing and the cooler weather brings warm soup and squash. LOTS and LOTS of squash. So here’s to new beginnings and new soup recipe. I roasted the squash and carrots so the soup is a lot sweeter. Not to mention turning on the oven has a dual purpose of making my dinner and also heating my apartment at the same time. I like to accompany the soup with toast to bring a crunchy texture to the soup. The easiness of this soup will make it a classic fall recipe.
Sage Butternut Squash Soup
serves 4 as side
1.5 lb butternut squash,chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb carrots (3 skinny carrots)
1/2 large onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp chopped sage
2 C chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425. Place squash in single layer on baking sheet and toss with salt and olive oil.Bake for 20 min,turning once. Meanwhile, heat burner to medium heat and sauté onions and garlic for 5-6 minutes,or until soft and fragrant. Add sage and cook for another minute. Add chicken broth and roasted squash tot meld flavors for 4 minutes. Blend in blender until soup is smooth.Salt and pepper to taste.
1/2 C grated parmesan
1 mini baguette
Slice baguette into 1/4in slices, diagonally. Top with grated parmesan. Arrange toast in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes at 425 degrees
Don’t put away those campfires just yet! It may be too cold to be camping in a tent outside, but it is more than better for cabin camping with a little outdoor fired. In our case this past weekend, the lake house was FREEZING when we got there, but within minutes my husband was able to whip up a fire in no time (he’s an Eagle Scout ya know?) !
It really is an experience you can’t get any other time of year, with the leaves turning and the cool air that is crisp, yet I am enveloped with warm hues all around, which invite me to stay.
Nothing like whipping up some warm smokey burgers. We actually had portobello mushrooms on top as well, so it was quite the meaty burger.
The trick to campfire cooking is to not cook your burgers like the pic above (things got a little outtahand!) but over some hot coals to keep the heat consistent and even.
This weekend marks the first “winter storm” of the year in Portland, which means it will start raining today and won’t stop until April… but also, it makes me go into emergency preparedness mode, which is 25% being prepared and about 75% being paranoid. I have about 48 Larabars and 10 bags of chips that will hopefully keep me, Bryce and the dog alive for 3 days until someone will come to our help.
But, since the storm is supposed to be here are there is no wind and no rain currently, we can just continue to enjoy how beautiful it has been the last weekend and how apples are just taking over the farmers market with their sweet goodness.
My favorite way to enjoy an apple is probably just sliced apple and peanut butter, Justin’s honey peanut butter to be exact. If you haven’t tried it, it is a must! it will change your life. Interestingly enough, when I was in 5th grade, this was one of our home ec lessons in cooking.
But when I crave something a little more because I went a little crazy at the farmers market and bought way too many apples, apple hand pies is the way to go. I dunno, there’s something about a handpie that makes everything a little bit cooler, because it’s a pie… that can fit in your hand. (or maybe I’m just craving the $1 for 2 apple pies from McDonalds)
Apple Hand Pie
3 C apple (firm tart variety)
1/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
sugar to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven 425 degrees. Cut apples into 1/2 inch squares and mix together all ingredients. place a little less than 1/4 C into each pile on half the pie crust and then fold over crust to cover all the apples. Press firmly around each pile of apple filling to seal pouch. Separate each sealed pouch with a knife. Brush the top of each pie with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before eating.
Olympic Provisions is the old name of this beloved Portland cured meat shop and restaurant. But apparently, the International Olympic Committee had a thing to say about it and so now it’s Olympia Provisions… Because the first thing I think of when I purchase a smoked kielbasa is of figure skating and track and field events… Anyway! I recently ate here for brunch and had an amazing eggs Benny!! I think ham is a difficult… It’s either too salty or too sweet, I usually go for other options, but being as Olympia Provisions is known for their pork products, I thought I would give it a try, and MAN was it worth it! Just the perfect balance of salty and sweet. Charcuterie board is delish, as always. My favorite is always the rillette. But with all that meat, the orange salad was a perfectly paired touch of freshness.
I don’t think I ever appreciated how good oranges are until I bought a bunch of in season organic varieties, and my life was changed forever! There is nothing better than a juicy sweet orange, and there’s nothing more disappointing that a dry non-flavorful one…
Inspired by this seasonal goodness, I put together this instant classic. The main trick is to make this salad when oranges are at their best! This does nothing more than pay tribute to how great citrus is in the wintertime, turning our Pacific NW seasonal depression right out of snap!
I used cara cara and naval oranges, but feel free to use any great citrus you can find.
1. Peel oranges and slice into 1/4″ slices and top with roasted pistachios, chopped mint, and chèvre.
2. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and salt
And that’s it! A simple but elegant salad that has a lot more than meets the eye!
It’s probably easier to make almond milk than to buy it at the store, and as always it tastes so much better when you make it yourself. All you need is a cup full of almonds, water and some sort of sweetener. It’s a great alternative to dairy milk and I feel that it’s a meatier milk, if that makes sense in any way. I enjoy using it in granola, drinking it straight and using it to thicken up my chia seed puddin’ (FYI- I think it’s disgraceful when then g is added to the word puddin’). Warning though, if you try to microwave it, it’ll curdle and overflow (I learned this the hard way…). To be honest, my favorite way to use almond milk is to use it to make a mean hot chocolate. actually, now that I mention it…
Makes 1 Quart
2 Cups Almonds
4 Cups Water (more for soaking)
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put almonds in a bowl and fill with water so almonds are completely covered with some room for expansion. Soak overnight.
- Strain almonds and rinse with cold water.
- Blend almonds and 4 cups of water in blender until smooth
- Strain mixture through a fine mesh nut or cheese cloth and express as much liquid as possible.
- Add in maple syrup and vanilla extract, stir well and enjoy!
If you’re feeling really ambitious…
All that extra almond grinds, you can turn into about 1 Cup of almond flour. Simply spread almond paste on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees until dry (about 1.5 hours) re-mixing it every 30 minutes or so. After it is dry, pulse it in a food processor until it has the texture of flour.
Once I see asparagus at the farmers market , I can’t help but count down the days and weeks until all the summer produce come around. Of all the delicious produce to ripen up and overtake the markets, my favorite by far is the strawberries.
Strawberry picking isn’t my fav though. The berries are not at a very comfortable picking level, and they have little stickers or something that make my arms swell and itch… not the most inviting berry I would say, but the allergic reaction was well worth every tiny burst of juicy berry!(Pro Tip: the smallest berries are the sweetest berries). After I gobbled as much as I could down fresh, I couldn’t help by make strawberry shortcake.
Excited to finally use the biscuit recipe from The Boat, A Whale and a Walrus, I was able to complement and elevate the flavor of the Oregon Strawberry, by adding just a touch of sugar to pull all the sweet juices out of the berries. You don’t want to add too much, because then you’ll loose the flavor of the strawberries in all the sugar, and all you’ll have left is sticky sugar. Same thing with the whipped cream. Make sure you don’t add too much sugar to the cream, I hardly add any sugar, because the cream, is mainly to make the dessert smooth, not to make it sweeter. (can you tell i’m anti-tons and tons of sugar in desserts?) And the biscuit. Well… that speaks for itself.