Archive for August, 2009


The other day we decided to drive over to Nehalem Bay State Park for a walk on the beach. The park is located on a spit of land that runs parallel to Hwy 101 just south of Manzanita. On the ocean side, there are high dunes and a wide sandy beach.


You probably can’t tell, but this picture shows sand being blown in the fierce wind that was gusting around us that afternoon. After a very short walk, we decided to head back over the dunes to what we hoped would be the less breezy, bay side of the spit.


Fortunately, the dunes provided a barrier to the wind and we were able to wander comfortably for over an hour.

One of the most visually interesting features of this beach were the rafts of driftwood piled up along the dunes. There were tree trunks and branches of all kinds everywhere you looked.


Some of the logs had great features made more distinctive by weathering, like holes



and cracks

treecrackand aging bark.


Of course, given my tendency to look at the ground, I also noticed the rocks, even when they were partly buried in the sand.



And then, just as we were getting ready to leave, I saw this:


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On the edge

A few weeks ago I took some pictures of the edges of things that I was going to save for a post.  Other than the pictures, I wasn’t sure what the post would be about.  Now I know.


Even though I am on vacation I find myself reading the news online and this morning’s New York Times “Room for Debate” feature on the value of an education degree has me feeling particularly edgy.


As a person who has dedicated most of the last 20 + years of her life to teaching and to helping others become good teachers, I feel both offended and discouraged when I remember how many people think that “anyone” can be a good teacher with little or no preparation other than some knowledge of the content they plan to teach.


Most people who have spent time in the classroom as teachers know that teaching is complex, challenging, exhausting (on some days), and exhilarating (on others).  Not everyone can do it well, and pretty much anyone, in my opinion, can benefit from participating in a thoughtful, well-conceived teacher education program that provides opportunities for developing pedagogical skill, deepening content knowledge, building relationships with colleagues and students, and that includes occasions for extended reflection.


No one would consent to going to a doctor who knew biology but had no medical degree, or a lawyer who knew history but not how to practice law.  At a time when so many people seem so concerned with the quality (and, sadly often, the quantity) of the American system of education, it dismays me that they also seem intent on arguing that teachers do not need the specialized knowledge that will enable them to meet the needs of the diverse students in their classrooms.


And with that, I think it is time for a walk on the beach.


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Late summer produce

Yesterday, on our way to the beach, we made a stop at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market for a few supplies.

It’s peak season for a lot of vegetables and the tomatoes were practically glowing,




as were the peppers.



Add a little garlic, and I could almost taste the salsa!


As if I needed more temptation, artichokes are also in season.  The Globe (top) and Italian (bottom) varieties are both available.



Beans are ripening now, too.  These are cranberry beans, and even though I didn’t get them this week, they are on my list for the next time I get to the market.


Finally, I couldn’t resist these exquisite hen’s eggs.


I can only imagine how great they will taste, probably poached and served on top of one of S’s delectable crab cakes.

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Showing friends around your new home town has to be one of the most intimidating, and potentially exciting, challenges one can face.  It can be a total disaster or an eye-opening adventure that lets you see things from a new perspective.

I was fortunate to have the second kind of experience as I took my old friend M and my new friend C around Portland over the last two days.


The visit began somewhat crankily, with what should have been a simple three hour train trip from Tacoma, WA to Portland expanding through a cascade of difficulties into a nine hour journey that resulted in an eleven pm arrival.  Too late for a real dinner, we hurried to Clyde Common to take advantage of their late night bar menu.  Worn out, we headed home to sleep.

First Day

The next morning S sadly headed to work and M, C and I  made our way to breakfast at the Bijou Cafe.  There we feasted on, among other things, their renowned Oyster Hash, a plate full of cornmeal dusted oysters, potatoes and onions that provided a perfect base for the day.

Our next stop, inevitably, was Powell’s, where I managed to find a substantial stack of books to take home.  There is something magical about exploring the rooms and rooms filled with books and seeing all of the people there who want to read them; it casts a spell on me that always results in a big purchase.

After leaving my new books in the car, we walked through the Pearl stopping here and there to window shop or explore local stores. One of my favorites for wandering through is Cargo, always a feast for the eyes and imagination.




As a next stop, we decided to head to the Lewis & Clark College campus where we found S and took a look around.



A scenic drive through the Sellwood neighborhood and an expensive stop in Multnomah Village at Switch Shoes brought us home for a brief rest before our dinner reservation at Andina.  There we had a fantastic meal of shared small plates that ranged from a fresh citrus-drenched cebiche to the subtly flavored, delicately salted musciame de atun (cured tuna loin).

Second Day

The big plan for day two was a trip to taste some wine.  Before embarking, though, we headed to N. Mississippi Avenue for an amazing breakfast at Gravy and a quick stop for chocolates and salt at The Meadow.


At about 12:30 we picked S up at work and headed for Willamette Valley wine country.

Our first two stops were at the Adelsheim and Penner-Ash vineyards, both of which specialize in pinot noirs made from grapes grown locally in the Willamette Valley AVA.

fromthe winery

We then headed a bit further west to Cana’s Feast where they specialize in Italian style wines from grapes grown in southern Washington state.


Finally, we stopped in the town of Carlton and slid into the Tasting Room, a small shop that specializes in wines from smaller producers who don’t have their own vineyard tasting rooms.


At last, with a car filled with bottles, and having tasted at least 20 different wines, we headed back to Portland and dinner at Ken’s Artisan Pizza, a perfect end to two days of eye-opening exploration, conversation, and laughs.


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Picking and pickling peppers

Today I decided it was finally time to pick some of the peppers that are ripening on the deck.  Even after I picked all of the ripe ones there are still a few more out there that are not quite ready yet.


After picking a selection of ripe peppers (we have jalapeno, cayenne, and a third kind called a Tunisian Baklouti), I brought them in and got them ready to pickle.


There is nothing fancy about the method I used for these pickles.  I cut the stems off the peppers, peeled some garlic cloves, quickly blanched a few spring onions, cleaned the baby carrots some friends had brought us from their garden, and squeezed everything into two wide mouth, pint-sized, mason jars.


I tossed in some whole pink peppercorns and some Penzey’s Shrimp and Crab Boil, and filled each jar to the brim with boiling white vinegar.


I let the jars cool and then refrigerated them.  These pickles will need to stay refrigerated, and should keep for at least a month.


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In the front

Even though I see it every time I come home, for some reason I don’t usually think of the front of my house as something worth photographing.  The roses are lovely


and so are the other flowers.


It wasn’t until this morning, when I went out to get the paper and realized that the roses needed some attention, that I found this visitor:


a Large red slug (aka European red slug).

This particular slug really is quite large (at least 2 inches when not fully extended) and seems to have made itself right at home on the stem of what I think are peonies.


Good thing we have these guys guarding our door.


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Margarita time

Most Fridays when we get home from work, S and I are ready to relax.  Often that means cooking together.

Tonight I found some frozen roasted peppers from last summer and decided that, since this summer’s peppers are almost ready to harvest and roast, it was time to make something good with them.  I settled on enchiladas.

That decision led to another, maybe obvious, choice:  we needed margaritas!


Making margaritas is not my specialty, so I headed to the internet for a recipe and found this one.  It looked great, but a quick read made it clear that I didn’t have all of the essential ingredients.  There was no Triple Sec anywhere in the house.  After adding it to the grocery list


I found a potential substitute:  Spicy Ginger Cello Liqueur, an organic botanical liqueur made by the New Deal Distillery here in Portland.  I’d used it in martinis before, but never thought of it as an ingredient in a margarita.


And the result?  It was great!

Ginger Lime Margaritas for Two

3/4 c Patron Tequila

1/4 c LOFT Spicy Ginger Liqueur

3 oz fresh squeezed lime juice

3 Tbs sugar, divided

2 cups ice

2 Tbs kosher salt

3 lime wedges

Combine Tequila, Ginger liqueur, lime juice and 2 Tbs sugar in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake well.

Combine remaining 1 Tbs sugar and 2 Tbs salt on a small plate.  Use one lime wedge to moisten rims of two glasses and, holding glasses upside down, coat rims with the sugar and salt mixture.

Strain the margarita mixture into glasses and serve garnished with lime wedges.


Put some Los Lobos on the stereo and enjoy!

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