Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Solo Hike in the Oregon Desert

After a heartache-y breakup in April 2011, I decided that many of the things I had been waiting to do with a guy, I was going to just do on my own. 

I always loved going camping, but I was never the one in charge. My guy was always the planner, the organizer of things to eat (which were often less culinary than I preferred, like only couscous for 3 meals in a row!),  the packer of supplies, the charter of maps. 

My turn, I decided! 

I knew that a night alone in a tent, where I was responsible for all the planning, all the amenities (I could have whatever I wanted but I had to carry it all too!), was just what a broken heart needed.

So my friend invited me to stay at her dad's ranch in Eastern Oregon, near the John Day river for a few nights, and I packed up all my gear, borrowed a cookstove from my roommate, my special ceramic mug, a borrowed tent from my artist friend Daniela, and after enjoying 2 nights with my friend and her family, I set out in the morning with a large 2 gallon jug of water, my backpack full, and fixings for one dinner, and one breakfast.

I found a perfect spot to set up my tent beneath a large cedar tree. I was only a few miles from the house where I had stayed the past nights, but I felt all alone in the big wide openness of the high desert. 

The sagebrush was with me at every turn, and I followed it's sweet perfume. There was a small river, a creek where cattle go to drink and I was SO LUCKY! I stumbled upon a patch of stinging nettles. 

I learned to harvest these in the spring in Portland, but I didn't know they would grow in the desert. I put on my gloves and plucked them by the tops of the leaves to avoid too much stinging on my fingers, and carried them back to my campsite folded into my shirt. 

I steamed them with a bit of water, and then added my quick cooking polenta to the mix. I brought 2 bags of polenta with me on the trip, one pre seasoned with zatar (an amazing middle eastern spice mix), salt, and pepper; the other one I put raisins and cinnamon, cardamon and raw sugar. 

My dinner was extra delicious with the surprise of nettles. I was so grateful for their texture, earthy flavor and healthy vegetable addition to my meal. 

The night was windy, but I was happy reading in my tent, full from my special meal, and feeling content. I had accomplished what I had set out to do, but I found something even greater in that adventure, I found peace, ease, and living perfectly in the moment.

my special thrifted mug, filled with pourover coffee and some whiskey
Nettles from the nearby creek!
my dinner of polenta with spices, and wildharvested nettles
The AMAZING view of the sun about to set over the mountains

Time Flies

It has been a long time since I gave this blog any attention. So many changes have occurred in my life, I can't even believe it! I moved out of my cabin, bought a van with every intention of traveling across the country all by myself, and then fell in love. Well, I say that is a really good reason to change plans. 

I no longer have the chickens out my front door to gather eggs from, the photo above is from last summer. And my tiny kitchen where I cooked all those meals for 1, 2, or more has been replaced by the dream home I live in now with my sweetheart and 2 of our friends. 

Digging through photos from the past year I realize how many I still have to share here, and I plan to go back and revisit some of my favorite meals and adventures in this venue, but I also plan to get out there and live, cook, feast, and love. 

I hope you enjoy the stories to come and that they inspire you to live your life deliciously.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dinner Party At Jessica's

Ramps wrapped in proscuitto
Fried hen
Pear cakes with blue cheese
Arugula salad
Homemade Tiramisu icecream cakes

Lots of things I shouldn't eat, but did anyway...
new friends, old friends
new alliances
hell yes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dinner with some of Love Menu

Bobby and Jeevan telling stories and feeling the good times...

Stewed Plums, pickled grapes, and olives

serious talk. heart talk.

eggs from my chickens!!!

Creamy polenta
Fried egg
Candied shallots
Sauteed mushrooms
Stinging nettles
that I wild harvested that very day.  
Coconut Bliss ice cream
While gathering the nettles with a friend, 2 bald eagles soared above us! amazing!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dinner with the Ladies

Smoky paprika chickpeas
Sauteed nettles (wild-harvested!)
Spring greens salad
Lots of delicious wine from Daedalus Cellars
The company of amazingly thoughtful and wonderful ladies

even put the white tablecloth out for this one...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dinner with Lizzy


Grilled Pork Loin, caramelized peach compote
Roasted beets
Arugula and radish salad
Pears in Moscato

Lizzy is amazing and threw this meal together like it was nothing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Breakfast with Niko

I sure know the way into a man's heart...

Gluten Free banana pancakes, with candied ginger and sunflower seeds
perfectly ripe pear
fried eggs (from my chickens)
real maple syrup

I was so hungry I couldn't wait to take the photo!

Dinner with Anna

Anna was so blissed out from the her sweet sleepy smile...

   Sprouted Chickpea pancakes

The menu:

Sprouted Chickpea Pancakes with homemade peach chutney
Smoked Salmon
Mizuna (from the garden) with apples, cashews and raisins

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

spring is on it's way

Friday, December 17, 2010

Steak with Jessica

Puree of Cauliflower
Spinach, Pear, almond salad
white wine
dolin blanc vermouth
a whole jar of pumpkin brittle
 the best conversation with a lovely friend

Monday, October 11, 2010

New embroideries from Luxury Dinner Party now ONLINE

I've posted more images from the Luxury Dinner Party entry on my site for sale!

swing by and check them out!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Jeremy's Birthday Feast, or Luxury Dinner Party, Project Food Blog Challenge #3

Birthday dinners are always a reason to celebrate with decadent food and drink, but sometimes our busy schedules leave us with little time to plan and less time for evening festivities. I had wanted to throw a wildy epic dinner party, but I was in the middle of packing and moving! There didn't seem to be any time to plan and cook and keep my head screwed on straight.
On top of my own crazy schedule, my beau, Jeremy, was having the craziest week of his life: his company was pitching big bold ideas to new clients, planning a lecture, organizing a photo shoot, building a bar, and somehow hoping to celebrate his birthday...

First Course
Pearl Unpasteurized Cow's milk Cheese
Sliced Baguette
 Captured By Porches Beer

Main Course
Grilled Skirt Steak
Wild Caprese Salad with Local Nectarines
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Cameron Gehrtz Vineyard Pinot Noir

Salted Caramel and Coconut Toffee Ice cream
Stroopwaffle Honey Cookies
Moet Chandon Champagne

The Project Food Blog Challenge # 3 before me, I knew I could create a meal for him that was special, delicious, fit into my restricted diet, was quick to make. It also had to be fuel for the late night work he and his 2 partners still had to do after the dinner party concluded.

Pearl, unpasteurized cow's milk cheese

His business partner's wife, Victoria, and I planned the menu together, and with her tiny infant, Enzo, in tow, we braved the grocery store. I have actually never shopped with an infant, and this was quite the experience, getting lots of attention! And though he squirmed, our list was simple so we were surprisingly efficient.

Red Potatoes with Rosemary

Wild Caprese Salad with Local Nectarines

Back at her house, she hung a HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner, and set the table with dishes from her wedding. Lit candles around the warm room, and played the new record by The National on the stereo.
Meanwhile I chopped potatoes, tomatoes from her garden, nectarines. Tore the tiny mozzarella into bite sized morsels, and dressed the salad with large basil leaves, so fresh and green against the colorful mix of fruit and tomatoes.

Even thought the guests, totaling 8, would arrive within 20 minutes, I was calm and collected. What is the point of stressing out about things? I may have dropped potatoes on the floor, or dipped my finger in the cayenne instead of paprika, and threw this whole thing together in a matter of a few hours, but I wanted the evening to be fulfilling and special, free of pressure, free of stress. Like a back massage for the senses...

The steak I marinated in a mix of cumin, coriander, paprika, olive oil, salt and pepper. Simple and elegant. My favorite combination. When Victoria's husband, Fritz, arrived, he threw them on the grill for me, and honestly they came out perfectly.

Skirt Steaks, medium rare...yumm!

My plate, with a heaping pile of salad and steak.

Captured by Porches is a great local brewery, The owner used to do DIY style parties where he would show up secretly and serve beer... don't know if that still happens...
Our friend Jack's birthday was the day before Jeremy's. He received this amazing bottle of local Pinot Noir, and decided to share it with the table...I LOVE THIS WINE.
A little fancy, eh? Moet Chandon
The bottle of Champagne was a gift to Victoria and Fritz when their son Enzo was born. It added a touch of class and took the dinner party to a new level of decadence. Sipping it out of mismatched tumbler glasses, sitting with my friends at a long wooden table, we were the perfect mix of high and low brow. Of casual and classy. I love to create an effortless atmosphere that makes you feel like you rolled out of bed instantly looking fabulous.

Lovely's 50/50 makes the best salted caramel ice cream ever.

The dessert was a Stroopwaffle, a sweet cookie of Danish origin, nestled into a scoop each of the delicious Lovely's 50/50 ice creams. Victoria had a box of mixed letter candles to put into Jeremy's dessert. We had the option of T, O, L, I, !, A. I thought about TAIL,  or TOIL, but settled on LIT as being the cleverest, and hopefully not reminding them too much that they were "TOIL"ing for sure with the intense workload.

In the end, everyone was gracious, happy, and full, A success for sure. Jeremy was able to have a luxury dinner party with his close friends, without too much stress.

To me, the most important parts of a dinner party, are to sit and enjoy it with your guests, to not take things too seriously, and have fun. I think that these rules apply to every aspect of life. I am so grateful I get to enjoy it surrounded by such wonder and beauty, so many amazing things to eat, and incredible people to share meals, smiles, and birthday celebrations.