Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

This year, I'll be cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time. I've lured my parents over the windy 4-hour drive along the Columbia from Walla Walla to Portland, and I will be serving (perhaps a bit to the initial disappointment of my traditional, meat-loving dad) an entirely vegetarian meal. I was surprisingly nervous pulling together the menu - this is a notable right-of-passage in American lore, no? I'm thankful to be given the chance to show my family how much I appreciate them, and good food is usually the way.

~ Thanksgiving Menu 2011 ~

Wild Mushroom Lasagna

Roasted Parsnips and Root Vegetables with Caper Vinaigrette
(also from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty)

(from the lovely Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com)

A couple rustic baguettes from Grand Central Bakery 
Some hometown, Walla Walla Valley Blue Mountain Cider from Bushwhacker Cider (yes, Portland has cider-specialty shop) and a bottle of red from L'Ecole 41, just down the road from my parent's house, which has now been taken over (in a pleasant way) by wineries...

A simple pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert
(although if I were a richer lady, I would spring for a half dozen whiskey apple hand pies from Portland's Pacific Pie Co.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Back, Eat Soup.

  by Eden from Sweden
, a photo by Eden from Sweden on Flickr.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy National Coming Out Day!

live and love

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11

 A younger me in Washington, D.C.

Like too many things in my life, I’ve told myself that one day I should write down my memories of 9/11 and never did. And here we are, an impossible ten years later, a day to the anniversary. I tell myself I can still make it, I can still remember.

The impossibility of that day was amplified by my life at that time. I was a little more than a month away from my 22nd birthday. I had arrived in Washington, DC only six days earlier – 9/11 was one of my first days as an intern at a legislative affairs consulting agency. The prestige of the job was in sharp contrast to the mess I had left behind in the other Washington, my home of Washington State. I would not be going back to school for my senior year – I was on indefinite break from college, after my best friend’s death and the dicey year of being depressed that followed. By the time I came home from college for summer break, I had beat the heavy shroud that paralyzed me, but my parents, rightfully concerned, demanded I stay home and heal. But home was laced with memories and the past. I knew that to move on emotionally, I had to escape physically. And so, I ran.

At 21-years-old, I was far to old to be considered a runaway, but my escape to DC had that feel about it. I announced to my parents on Friday that I would be leaving on Monday – they forbade it, I went anyway. One friend drove me to Portland, OR to catch the train (a plane ticket being way to expensive) and another lent me $600 – the only money I would have for the indefinite future.

So I got on the train, with a friend hastily arranged for me to stay with some college alumnae upon my arrival. The train ride took 3 days. I don’t remember a lot of it. I do remember waking up to dawn and crossing the continental divide, seeing buffalo and getting off to buy a coke in a small town in North Dakota, imagining not getting back on and what my new life would be like. I remember seeing Chicago and Philadelphia for the first time, rolling in and rolling out without exploring. To this day, stepping on that train against all common sense was the bravest thing I’ve ever done.

And suddenly I was a resident of Washington, DC. I rented an stuffy attic room in a group house ran by a Chinese woman in Georgetown. The house always smelled like Chinese food and I was the only non-foreign, non-graduate student there. Rather than get lost on public transportation, I would walk several miles across Georgetown to my new job in Dupont Circle. Sometimes in the early morning, I would see deer wandering out of Rock Creek Park into the streets. On one of my first days in town, I looked at the building in front of me, hot and frustrated that I was lost again. “Where am I?” I thought. A minute later I realized I was staring at the White House, and laughed at my own stupidity.

In DC, every lobbyist has a small TV in their office, to keep on top of media reports and what’s happening on the hill. My fellow intern and I sat in a corner area with two desks and the copy machine, outside one lobbyists’ office. We had only been at work for about 20 minutes when she started talking about something that was happening in New York. A plane had flown into one of the twin towers, but we didn’t know anything more. We watched the TV in her small office for a few minutes, then went back to our desks and tried to work. The lobbyist grew quiet and gradually more information was released. She had said goodbye to her husband just that morning – he was on a flight headed for LA.

I didn’t comprehend the extent of what was happening for probably too long. The initial images of the plane hitting the twin towers were disturbing, of course, but the building was so large, dwarfing the size of the plane on the television screen. I imagined a small personal two-seater Cessna, and an office area with some blown out windows and lots of glass. I do think it was the unbelievably beautiful fall day making it impossible to imagine anything serious was happening in those first few hours.

I tried calling my parents to let them know I was ok, but my mother was scheduled for a major hysterectomy operation, so they had been at the hospital all morning getting her ready for surgery. When I finally reached my dad at the hospital, he seemed confused about why I was calling, and talked only about my mom’s condition.

The next 90 minutes increased the confusion. There were reports that the White House, only three blocks from our office, had been hit. We were advised to go to the roof and see if we could see anything, and then they thought we should leave the building, and then stay put. Finally, it was decided that I would go home with my fellow intern, who lived much closer to work than I did. I protested that I could just walk home, still somewhat enamored with what a nice day it was and the opportunity to leave work early, but was shook to reality when someone said, “No, you can’t. The city’s under martial law now – you shouldn’t be out by yourself.”

The other intern’s apartment was at The Cairo in Dupont Circle – the tallest residential building in the District, although still only 12 stories high. It had been infamously covered in the news that summer for being where the intern Chandra Levy lived when she went missing in May.

In one of the most surreal moments of the day, we sat quietly in her apartment on the 9th floor, in front of the TV that was positioned in front of the tall living room windows. The windows looked out across the neighborhood, and at the edge of the skyline, we could see the Pentagon burning. At one point, we watched the national news, with Peter Jennings reporting from his news desk, a small window in the corner of the TV screen with an image of the Pentagon burning, while the real-life scenario hovered immediately behind the television through the window.

The days and months after, as everyone knows, were equally confusing, unbelievable and hard to reconcile...can we ever, when terrible things happen? I learned to love DC and feel safe there – despite Chandra Levy disappearing into Rock Creek Park earlier that summer, despite the unspecific terror threat that settled over the federal buildings and monuments after that day. But when I finally moved back to the west coast, after finishing my internship, college, and my first post-college job in DC, I did it without regret.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Song for Your Supper

Via 101cookbooks

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dirty Gifts

I've been given lots of gifts from the garden lately. Basketball-sized sweet onions pulled from the field just for me, eight perfect stems of chard and a ruffled ball of butter lettuce. Strawberries from the foothills of the Blue Mountains that I roast with ground pepper and balsamic vinegar, a lentil chili made meaty with barley and a giant, prideful zucchini. Such simple, thrilling gifts.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blog Resurrected for Easter!

The great thing about having a blog nobody reads is that you have a platform for talking about things nobody would otherwise listen to. For Easter Brunch I made lox from scratch. I used this recipe from April's Food and Wine magazine. I was especially taken that it was a recipe from the chef of Sitka and Spruce, a restaurant in Seattle I always mean to visit but never do. Meanwhile, favorite pubs are hit repeatedly. Resolve!

So, here is my photo-journal of Eden's attempt at lox. I was pretty happy with the result (and really, really happy that nobody reported food poisoning).

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20th, 10 PM: Brine that mother!

I gathered fresh mint, parsley, cilantro and dill from the Portland Farmer's Market and spread the sprigs across the amazing marbled wild salmon I got for an arm and a leg from Whole Foods. Resolve!

One makes a salty mess with shallots, dill, anise and coriander seeds, and garlic, and drowns the salmon (well...).

You drape the mess in paper towels (or if you're a hippie like me, you don't have paper towels on hand so you use a very stained flour towel that you had planned on throwing away long ago).

You wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap. I refer to this step as the Salmon Mummification Project, but Food and Wine calls it something much less interesting. Pop it in the fridge and wait for 36 hours.

SATURDAY, APRIL 23rd, 9 AM: Peel that mother! Unwrap from the plastic, burn the flour towel and recover the dressed fish with (recycled, unbleached) paper towels that you sprung for, embarrassed that you ever thought using a flour towel was appropriate. Mentally apologize to Food and Wine (and, your guests for brunch tomorrow). Rewrap in plastic, place back in fridge.

SUNDAY, APRIL 24th, 9 AM: Hehasrisenhehasrisenindeed. Peel that mother! Again! Scrap the dressings off of your lovely fish and place it on a bakers rack in the fridge to chill out for two hours. The goal of this step, disturbingly enough, is a fish that's "slightly tacky". 'Where is that flour towel?' you think.

SUNDAY, APRIL 24th, 12:00 PM: The reveal! Of course, I failed to take pictures at this critical point. A picture of Andrea, protesting that she can't eat another bite and then stacking a bagel with more lox, is the best I could do -- and good proof, I think, of the project's success.

(THE REST OF THE MENU: besides the lox, on Kettleman's bagels with whipped cream cheese, red onions and capers, Easter brunch included a spinach and goat cheese quiche, a rhubarb jam with red chile and lemon, a sweet cream cheese with honey and hazelnuts, a fabulous dressed salad with crunchy greens, and plenty of mimosas with raspberries.)