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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Finally, after what feels like weeks (months?) of rain, spring seems to be making a slow return.  Yesterday was a lovely day, a few clouds, an amazing downpour complete with thunder in the afternoon, but mostly a day sunny enough, and warm enough, for a trip to see what is blooming at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden on the SE side of Portland.

Before getting far enough to see more than a hint of the profusion of color to come, we were greeted by a pair of mallards, resting close to the path and completely unafraid (probably because of the many children who feed them cracked corn, sold at the entrance).

There were a lot of other birds (I recognized a cormorant and many red winged blackbirds) but I’ll have to visit with S to get a more complete list.

The first flowers we really noticed were not rhododendrons, but instead subtle and intriguing hellebores.

Then, around another corner, it was clear that the rhododendrons really were “the thing,” and they were truly amazing.

Varied in color (we stopped once in front of a wall of blooms in at least 4 distinct shades of lavender), shape and size, the blooms, on bushes and even full-sized trees, were truly glorious.

Striking,

subtle,

complex,

and just plain lovely, they were everywhere we looked.

Some of the flowers aren’t blooming yet,

and there are clearly many  irises still to come

so a trip to the Rhododendron Garden is definitely something to try to fit into your busy schedule over the next few weeks.

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I know.  It’s February 20th.  But in spite of what the calendar would have you believe, today everything in Portland is screaming SPRING!

The warm sun and bright sky (and the fact that we have been staying at a downtown hotel all week during some home renovations) drew us out for a walk after breakfast this morning.  I’ve wanted to show S the Eastbank Esplanade walk along the Willamette River for months now so we headed down to the river and across the Hawthorne Bridge.

It’s always cooler on the east side of the river and much nosier, too, as you make your way alongside and under the freeway.  Even the incessant roar of traffic couldn’t keep us from enjoying the sights along the way — from the natural

to the industrial.

I’m not sure if it’s good for the bridge, but all the rust on the Steel Bridge is remarkably photogenic.  This shot reminds me of a map.

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My stepson G arrived yesterday for a visit.  His arrival, and the yummy shrimp tacos S was making for his “welcome to Portland” dinner, inspired me to bake the Bittersweet Chocolate Tart on the 101 Cookbooks blog.

The recipe also gave me an excuse to break out one of my collection of tart pans,

experiment with my new camera lens and play with creating some black and white images.

The tart turned out well even though I decided to make it at the last minute and had to rush a few things.

First, my butter was frozen.  Not a good place to start when the recipe called for butter at room temperature.  Ever resourceful, I searched for suggestions for quickly thawing butter and found this site.  I quickly cut the butter into thin strips and by the time I was done it was soft enough to begin making the crust.

My other shortcut did not work as well.  The recipe tells you to chill the prepared dough for at least an hour before rolling it out.  I decided that 30 minutes in the freezer would be enough. Probably not a good idea.  The dough was very soft and required a lot of patching to get it evenly in the pan.

In the end, it baked up satisfactorily, but there was some slumping and unevenness that I think I could have avoided with more time in the refrigerator.

Luckily, none of this mattered in the end.  The bittersweet chocolate filling (I used Scharffen Berger 70% cacao), sprinkled lightly with flakes of sea salt, is so rich and flavorful that the slumped and slightly irregular crust didn’t matter.

So, next time you have at least 2 hours before dinner, give this recipe a try.  Everyone will love you for it!

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