Lemon Cream Cheese

5 04 2014

IMG_4675As spring brings warmer days and brighter vegetation, we gravitate toward lighter meals to mimic nature. What better ingredient to refresh our palates than lemon? Lemon is a feast for our eyes, noses, and taste buds, adding zip to our dishes on all accounts. I decided to share this easy Lemon Cream Cheese recipe as I spread it on a blueberry bagel for my daughter’s school lunch. The recipe equals one cup, but you can use any amount of cream cheese and adjust the lemon and sugar to your taste preference.

 

Lemon Cream CheeseIMG_8371

  •  8 oz. cream cheese, softened or whipped
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest entirely
  • 3 T. powdered (confectioners’) sugar

 

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Spring Gleaming

6 03 2014

IMG_4022With the emerging buds outside my window and a flip of the calendar comes another change of seasons indoors. I fully enjoy each season in the Pacific Northwest, so when one nears its end, I get antsy for the next. This celebration of seasons displays its evidence most in my home. Before you imagine kitschy dustibles littering my cave, I’ll admit I’m a minimalist on the subject of décor. Or, possibly I might just be a lazy duster–fewer things to lift.

Many years ago, I heard a quote from English designer Jasper Conran that planted a seed in me. Conran said, “A house should change. It should never stay static. If it does, it’s symbolic of your life.” I’m not afraid of change, and in fact, crave it sometimes. I do, however, love stability and predictability. I marry these seemingly opposing desires by changing up my environment with familiar objects. I do buy something new once in awhile, but the familiarity of heirlooms, gifts, and children’s crafts awaking from storage puts a song in my heart and a spring in my step. (Couldn’t resist that last comment!)

Right now, it’s all about spring in my home with light colors, flora, and eggs. I say goodbye to the beloved stark branches outdoors and inwardly cheer on their emerging buds.

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Oregon’s Wild Food Industry

22 02 2014

pearsOregon hangs out in the Pacific Northwest part of the United States of America and receives scant global recognition for its food. When the world thinks of famous chefs, fabulous cuisine, and flourishing gourmets, Oregon remains off the radar. Oregonians, however, claim a rich epicurean history and a spot within the top five states producing crops. Families and foodies know that Oregon leads the wild food industry by offering the best quality raw food in the world because its crops mature slowly in the mild climate. These include melons, pears, grapes, berries, mushrooms, potatoes, onions, nuts, and over 200 additional crops.

The diverse geography breaks Oregon into three crop-growing districts: The Oregon Coast, the Willamette Valley, and Eastern and Southern Oregon. Plant-based crops like trees, herbs, wheat, and grass seeds find the most ideal land in the world right here. Seafood such as fish and shellfish sustained Oregonians for centuries and continues baiting Pacific Northwest palates and beyond.

This trendy farm-to-table movement isn’t a new concept in Oregon, where small farmers’ markets prosper because locals want to know the origin of their food. Eating fresh by adding little to the food allows natural flavors to shine through and provides a healthier diet. This idea influences restaurateurs who buy locally grown ingredients and serve them raw or wild. Another term I heard for this is “unfussy.” I like that; it sums up Oregonians perfectly.

The late chef and food writer James Beard was born in Oregon and became a culinary figure by the mid 20th century. Beard appeared on the very first cooking show on television in the 1940s called I Love to Eat, 15 years before his fan Julia Child stepped in front of the camera. He founded the James Beard Cooking School in 1955 with a passion for teaching clean cooking and pulling the American society out of its Jell-O-mold fog. Beard advocated the farm-to-table philosophy along with preparing and eating the fare with others, so we gain the most enjoyment from it. Beard detested industrial agriculture popularized after WWII saying, “Unfortunately, we’re living in a convenience age where people merely eat to add fodder to the body.” Oregon’s leadership in the current wild food industry would make Beard proud.

To learn more about Oregon’s food history, check out the first uniquely Pacific Northwest cookbook from 1885 called The Web-Foot Cook Book.

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Happy Birthday, Oregon!

14 02 2014

IMG_3919On Valentine’s Day in 1859, 155 years ago, President James Buchanan signed the bill that officially made Oregon the 33rd state in the United States of America. Previous to state status, the government formed the Oregon Country in 1843 and then the Oregon Territory in 1848. The Oregon Country encompassed an area that is now Canada’s province of British Columbia, all of the current American states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, and portions of Wyoming and Montana. Many countries tried claiming the Oregon Country as theirs, but in 1846, it was divided between the United States and Great Britain. The new Oregon Territory still included the previously mentioned states with the exception of British Columbia. When Oregon became an official state on February 14 of 1859, the remaining states became the new Washington Territory. Happy birthday, Oregon!

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Sundae Supper

13 02 2014

IMG_3917We all want a memorable meal on Valentine’s Day, but circumstances don’t always comply with the ideal. Restaurants can be crowded, expensive, or inadequate for a family celebration. Maybe you’re homebound by situation or choice. What special dish can you serve for Valentine’s Day? Concoct a decadent sundae brimming with scrumptious ingredients.

I stunned my children when I first served a sundae meal. This traditionally balanced-meal mom got three wide-eyed stares before the cheering erupted. I serve those sundaes without guilt because the ingredients are healthy. You can include anything that suits your Valentines or that you already have on-hand. They’ll also have fun building their own sundaes. I’ll share a variation of what I include at times, even for a Valentine’s breakfast. These sundae ingredient ideas can be fat free and sugar free for a healthier twist.

Sundae Ingredient Ideas:

  • Frozen yogurt or ice cream
  • Bananas
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Chopped nuts
  • Peanut Butter or almond butter
  • Chocolate hazelnut spread
  • Chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, strawberry syrup
  • Cookie bits
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips, vanilla chips, butterscotch chips, or cinnamon chips
  • Fat Free whipped cream
  • Sprinkles

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Pittock Mansion Celebrates 100 Years

4 02 2014

IMG_3600Portland, Oregon’s historical Pittock Mansion turns 100 this year and honors its anniversary with free admission now through February 10, 2014. Visitors may tour 23 of Pittock’s rooms and its grounds on their own or with a guide. The original property included the 16,000 square-foot mansion, terraced garden, greenhouse, three-car garage, the groundskeeper’s Gate Lodge and servants’ residence. It featured progressive amenities like an intercom system, indirect lighting, an elevator, and a central vacuum system. The Museum Store currently resides in the former garage. The Pittock Mansion sits at an elevation of 1000 feet on 46 acres and overlooks downtown Portland, the Cascade Mountain Range, and the Willamette River.

Portland Pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock hired local craftsmen and used Pacific Northwest materials to build the house that they resided in from 1914 until their deaths in 1918 and 1919. They shared this residence with some of their six children and 18 grandchildren. The Pittocks deeply connected with their community and spent their time improving the lives of local residents.IMG_3662

Henry’s entrepreneurial spirit led him into a variety of industries such as transportation, paper, mining, ranching, banking, and real estate. He worked his way up to becoming Publisher of the Weekly Oregonian newspaper, now named the Oregonian, and changed it to its current daily format. Georgiana’s community service to mothers, children, and single women in the workplace involved her in the founding of the Ladies Relief Society, a Children’s Home, and the Martha Washington Home. Both of the Pittocks relished the outdoors. Henry joined the first party to climb Mt. Hood, the very mountain that he viewed from his home. Georgiana enjoyed her garden and decorated her home with cut flowers. Her botanical experience led to the founding of the Portland Rose Festival. She watched Henry ride his beloved horses in its annual parades.

IMG_3648Pittock relatives remained in the house until a grandson—who was born there—moved out in 1958 and sold the dilapidated property to the City of Portland in 1964. The City of Portland saved the Pittock Mansion from demolition, restored it, and opened it to the public in 1965. The Bureau of Portland Parks and Recreation owns Pittock Acres Park. Hiking Trails originating from the parking lot connect Washington Park to Forest Park, one of the largest urban forest reserves in the United States. Picnickers find panoramic views of the metropolis and distant mountains from the expansive yard.

The Pittock Mansion holds special events, tours, and camps throughout the year. Behind the Scenes Tours are on February 22 and March 22 of 2014. These guided tours reveal areas of the mansion unavailable to the public. Tours include Henry’s private den on the third floor, servants’ bedrooms and bathroom, the massive attic, underground halls, the original underground furnace room, the vault, electrical panels, and the 1914 elevator maintenance room. Tours begin every hour between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and last approximately 45 minutes, require reservations and prepayment, and cost $19 per person or $7 per member. Tours are not recommended for children under 10.

IMG_2395The Pittock Mansion is open daily from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., and from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. July 1-September 2. The Museum Store is open from 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily. General admission costs $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors 65 and over, $6.50 for youth ages 6-18, and is free for children under 6 and members. General tours are partially wheelchair and stroller accessible. Staff can assist with the elevator and can provide wheelchairs. Oversized and motorized wheelchairs do not fit in certain spaces within the mansion. The Pittock Mansion is located at 3229 NW Pittock Drive in Portland, Oregon 97210. For additional information, contact the office at (503) 823-3623 or pittockmansion.org. Whether you visit during this free week or not, it’s worth the trek up to the Pittock Mansion.

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Dust Off Your Sled and Pull It Indoors

25 01 2014

IMG_3691Pacific Northwesterners do not sit on the fence regarding snow and passionately stand behind personal opinions. Those who live here either bemoan a wintry forecast and hope “snow stays in the mountains where it belongs,” or anticipate weather that delivers a fairytale snowfall. I join the snow lovers who desire a frozen wonderland. You see, even though the Pacific Ocean along our Northwest coastline is ghastly frigid even in the middle of summer, it rarely ushers in the winning combination for a winter storm. We all have closets and storage bins stuffed with neglected winter clothes and accessories ready for a freak snow or ice storm, or for a trip to the mountains. So while I wait, I pull out those winter accessories, display them in my home throughout the season, and free up storage space. And, if by chance, we get a surprise storm or plan a last-minute trip to the Cascades, I’ll be ready to head out.

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