Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

Yesterday, we explored some national forest just east of Salem. The hike we chose was called Opal Creek.

The forest where this hike took place is considered a rain forest that contains some of the last old growth douglas fir and western red cedar trees.

Another cool thing about this place was that it is a historic mining settlement in which 11 people still reside. Mining doesn't take place anymore, but the people who live there carry on educational camps for kids and families. This place is "off the grid", so they have to supply their own power, which comes from the creek rushing nearby.

There were all these random items sitting outside, like this old woodstove, named "cheerful". Strange.

Not much else to report except it was beautiful, pristine and green as green could be. Lots of great photo ops.

Today, we will ride our road bikes on Sauvie Island, which is a small island off the Columbia River that's filled with farms and orchards. Apparently, there's a great ride that goes around the perimeter of this place. I'm sure we'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Gimme Some of Your Tots!"

I'm going to fill you all in on some of the other wonders of Oregon, other than the natural ones. Let's talk for a minute about some of the child rearing we've witnessed in Portland thus far. Take friday night for example:

On a usual rip-roaring friday eve, after watching the Presidential Debate, we headed over to the local pub for a beer and a game of chess. In walks a typical Portland family with two kids under the age of 5. The eldest, a girl, begins to freak out "I WANT TO SIT AT THAT TABLE!!!! I DON'T WANT TO SIT HERE!!! WITH YOU AND MOMMY AND THEM AND....!!!" She almost begins to hyperventilate. Luckily for us, the table she so desperately wanted to sit at was right next to ours. The mother, wanting her dear daughter to be happy and comfortable, obliges and moves the entire party of 5 to a table for 2 + three extra chairs. Once everyone was in place, the same child shrieks "I WANT MY SUGAR PACKETS!!!!! I WANT THEM!!!!" Mother says "you have some sugar packets right here honey". Girl responds "I WANT THE SAME ONES FROM THE OTHER TABLE!!!!!". The mother smiles at her husband and says "can you go get the other sugar packets honey?". Not only was this child emotionally unstable at this point, but also high on refined white sugar. Oh boy. Adam and I continue to play chess. And the only reason he is beating me is because I can't take my eyes and ears off this family.

Later, the food arrives. The younger child, a walking and talking 2.5 (maybe 3 year old) is asking his mother for some "nummies". He doesn't just want his tator tots, he wants tater tots with breast milk. Mother responds "Honey, I can't give you nummies in the restaurant. We'll have to go out in the car if you want nummies". This was only after she attempted to give him "nummies" once and he just kept casually going from the boob to the tots. Unbelievable! Not many kids can say they've had that for dinner! So, they leave. And I'm not sure if I'm happy or slightly disappointed that I won't be entertained anymore.....The chess game ended, if anyone cares, as a stale mate game.

Okay, not ALL Portlanders parent this way, but stuff like that happens an awful lot more around here than anywhere else I've lived. I can say after this experience, no child of mine will be getting "nummies" in the bar while I sip on a good heifewizen. I think, as a personal rule, once the child can ask for his own breast milk is when they probably don't need to be nursing anymore.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"It's Like Buttah"

Guess what? You're not gonna believe this...Adam and I went to yet another farmer's market this weekend and processed more food for our back shelf. I know, it's so unlike us. This time, we went to the big deal though. The downtown Portland Farmer's Market. It was so huge and so crazy, but tons of fun. There were ALL KINDS of cool things to look at and think about buying. Mushrooms, fresh roasted peppers, flowers, bread, any kind of produce you would ever want, wine, chocolate, cider......the list goes on.

Adam bought me some of the biggest, most beautiful dahlias I've ever seen. Take a look....

We had a project on the brain going into the market, so we tried our best to stick with our plan. The project was apple butter and more dried tomatoes. So our first stop was the apple stand. It may seem easy, going to the apple stand and buying some apples. Well, you have to choose between over a dozen varieties, which is oh-so-hard when they are all delicious. After moments of deliberation and sampling we chose a mix of Tokyo Rose and Gravestein varieties (as well as some Ginger Gold for snacking).

So we did buy lots of tomatoes, but nothing special, so I won't bore you with those details. We also picked up mushrooms: shitake, lobster and chantrelle. I need to get a picture of the lobster ones. They are pretty weird looking. Perhaps in a later update.

I will post the recipe for the apple butter below. It turned out to be (not to toot my own horn) the best apple butter in the history of apple butters. And we had to make homemade biscuits to give our apple butter a proper delivery system. Those turned out equally as good. I'll go ahead and throw that one in too, but I'm ashamed of how much shortening is in them, so on second thought...

Apple Butter:
4 lbs of apples (we chose a mixture of tart and sweet varieties)
4 cups of sugar (however, after pouring 3 cups in, I decided that was enough and it was)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Peel, core and cut up apples. Put in a large stockpot with two cups of water. Simmer until they are soft. Puree softened apples in a food processor or blender. Mix the pureed apples with the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer slowly in the pot until the mixture turns out round on a spoon when you scoop it out. Ladle hot butter into hot, sterilized jars. Place lids and seals on. Put the jars in a hot water canner bath and process (boil) for 10 minutes. Listen for the lids to "pop".

Now we need to roll ourselves out the door and go for a bike ride to work off those biscuits! Take care :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just Around the River Bend!

Again, its been one of those weekends where we're both exhausted. So, don't expect too much from this post. We packed a lot into this weekend as well: road riding in wine/farm country, paddling the Columbia River, eating and drinking lots of good food and beer. That's really what we do. We explore the outdoors, burn up some calories doing so, and then we take in calories in the form of microbrewed beer and and amazing food (usually pizza).

Today, we just got back from paddling ten miles in our kayak along the Columbia river (around Bachelor Island). It was a gorgeous day and for some reason, I thought I was excused from having to wear sunscreen. I was wrong. My back and chest are fried! And Adam is even more of a red neck than he was before.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. We miss you all!
Blue Heron on Bachelor Island. This area is a protected wild bird refuge. It has one of the largest colonies of Great Blue Heron's in the Pacific Northwest.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Oregon River Trails Galore

So, this post will be quite short, as I am about to fall asleep typing it. We rode our mountain bikes this weekend. Alot. Lots of miles. In the saddle. Along this one.........................

The Klickitat River (Washington)

The first was in the Columbia Gorge Region (or as someone from our family - Ruth or Tracy - has renamed the Gulch Area). We rode approximately 20 miles on the Klickitat River Trail. It was quite nice. A nice flat spin on an old railroad line. We passed numerous wild blackberry bushes and apple trees along the way.

We stopped at a great new joint in White Salmon, WA afterwards called Everybody's Brewing. Yum is all I can say about that food. I might still be full from it.

On our way to the above named trail we got a call from our dear friends in Southern Oregon who had travelled north to an epic trail called the McKenzie River Trail. It is strategically located about halfway between us and them and they called to see if we were interested. We were.

We got up nice and early this morning to meet them and shuttle. We rode the length of it (approx. 25 miles). It was a long haul, but the sights were well worth it. Check out Sahalie Falls. AMAZING.

And yet, another self portrait of Adam and I in our bike helmets. Won't I ever learn?

Another thing that makes all the hardwork well worth it is Adam's grandma Mary's Bread Pudding. That was the Grand Finale. I'll post the recipe, but I have to say that Grandma Mary didn't leave all of the info (like oven temperature, baking time...). That will have to be up to you.
4 slices old bread
1/2 cup raisins (we leave these out, I like to add chocolate chips)
2 cups milk
2/3 sugar
1 T butter
1/4 t nutmeg
3 eggs
pinch of salt
2 T cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar (half brown and half white)
1/4 cup butter
1 t vanilla
2 cups water

*crumble bread into buttered baking dish, add raisins (or choc. chips). beat eggs, add milk , sugar, vanilla (this amount wasn't specified in our recipe. I bet a tspn or two would be great), nutmeg and salt. pour over bread cubes and dot with butter.

*sauce: mix all ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. add rum or bourbon to taste (you might need to taste each a few times before adding...). serve warm over pudding.
Oh Yeah.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Backpacking. Oh, the joy of packing up what one needs for a few days in the wilderness, hiking in to a beautiful, secluded part of the earth where you can breathe the fresh air and clear your mind. Adam and I did just that this weekend and for some reason we can never get off without a glitch. Rewind to friday night...........

We set off for a camping spot for friday night at Breitenbush Lake, which is about 70 miles south of us. Within a few miles (or so we thought) of our turn off, we see a stopped line of cars on this godforsaken road in the middle of nowhere. The flaggers tell us there's been a fatal motorcycle accident and we won't be moving for an hour or two. Hmmm. Okay. We were in good spirits about it, grateful we weren't a part of the accident. We got out our camp stove, cooked our dinner right there in the middle of HWY 224. Fast forward an hour and 45 minutes to when they let us through. We drove for a few miles until we realized we had passed up our turn off (which just so happened to be about a mile or two away from where we were stopped in the OTHER DIRECTION!) Turns out we didn't have to wait in the traffic. Oh well - We didn't let it get us down. We made it to our camp site in the dark, set up our tent, had a beer and went to sleep.

It was chilly up there at 5500 feet. Probably about 40 degrees or so in the early morning hours when we woke up to set off into the backcountry. Once we got going though, it wasn't bad. And,once we saw some of the views everything was worth it. We were hiking to Jefferson Park. A wilderness reserve in a valley at the base of Mt. Jefferson.

At 5.5 miles along the trail, the valley where we were camping came into view. It looked like a quaint Swiss Village in the Alps. It definately wasn't any warmer there though. A cold Canadian front was moving in, freezing our noses and fingers. It was okay though. We had found our campsite and Adam was preparing our fire to keep us warm and toasty.

This is Adam making our fire.

Enter Williamette National Forest ranger.

Ranger: "Hi - Ranger Service".
Us: Hello.
R: "You can't have fires in Jeff Park".
U: Huh? I called the contact # in our guide book
and the lady there told me of NO fire restrictions.

R: "Oh really? Sorry".
U: And this fire pit was already here with a burnt
log in it.

R: "Really? Well, I still have to write you a

U: But we didn't see any signs at the trailhead on
our way in....

R: "Sorry guys. If it were up to me, I wouldn't
write it, but I have to. You can contest it..."

(bla-bla-bla...turns out she wrote us a dang ticket for $250. can you believe it? and in a frenzy to put out the fire he had just got going, adam dumped on it all of our clean drinking water. when he went to the lake to use our pump filter to get us more clean water, he discovered it was BROKEN. we had to boil anything we wanted to drink now AND we had no fire to keep us warm in this steadily dropping alpine air).

So we were 0 - 3 against the odds with this trip. We were so cold we spent the majority of the evening in our tent playing cards and drinking whiskey. It didn't break our spirits though.

I guess you could say for only $250 per night, you can get a room with this view.

Check out my glacial ice climbing skills.

Just kidding. This is the hike back through the semi-permanent snow fields. We were a little loopy. I should also mention that on the morning we woke up to pack up and hike back to our car, it was probably in the upper 20 degrees and snowing. Maybe we shoulda stayed home and drank beer.....?

    • Oatmeal, couscous, peanut butter, bagels, dried fruit and instant coffee: $12.50
    • Tank of gas for car ride: $54.00
    • Pint of Jim Beam: $8.95
    • Seeing the look on Adam's face when he returns from the lake with frothy lake water in our drinking bottles: PRICELESS!