The Quilt

18 04 2016

IMG_6334The quilt came into my life upon marrying my husband. This colorful, multi-fabric square was his college graduation gift, stitched by an unfamiliar group of women. They composed a quilt for each graduate with the sole purpose of blessing young clergy as they set off for a life of adventure within their calling. The quilt was meant to comfort, a reminder that my husband and his fellow pastors and missionaries were covered physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My husband remained single for a decade after graduation, busy with church and missions work. The quilt resided in storage.

After the honeymoon, I integrated my belongings and our wedding gifts into his—now our—household. Our 1950 bungalow lacked adequate storage, so when I moved items around to include the new, I discovered the quilt neatly stored and in perfect condition. I had to free it. Within the week, it found itself sprawled beside a rippling creek in the Cascade foothills for a summer picnic.

Since that initiation day, the quilt regularly accompanies adventures expanding years of marriage and three children. The quilt protects sleeping bags from bumpy tent floors and comforts shivering bodies from chilly air. It spreads across sandy beaches, backyard grass, and rustic picnic tables. It absorbs earth from its bottom and spills from its top, and still launders beautifully. If and when, however, it begins to show wear and tear, we will not retire it. This quilt will be ready to escort future generations.

 

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Baked Rainbow Trout

5 04 2016

IMG_5854Rainbow trout are coldwater fish in the salmon family native to the Pacific Northwest. Some trout remain in fresh rivers and lakes for their entire lives, while others migrate to and from the Pacific Ocean. Migratory trout are called steelhead. Freshwater rainbow trout are smaller with a milder flavor and flesh color than their saltwater counterparts. They are delicious baked, fried, smoked, or grilled.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 rainbow trout, cleaned with heads and tails removed if desired
  • 3 lemons, sliced
  • 4-6 rosemary sprigs
  • Canola or extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley, if desired

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking sheet with foil and coat with canola or olive oil.
  • Place trout on foil. Sprinkle flesh with salt and pepper and stuff with rosemary sprigs and lemon slices. Drizzle skin with oil and lemon juice, and season with additional salt and pepper. Lemon slices lined on top of trout and sprinkled with parsley also gives a nice presentation along with flavor.
  • Cover with foil and bake for approximately 20 minutes until trout is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

 

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Speckled Cookies

15 03 2016

IMG_5780I once found the shell of a speckled egg and have been smitten ever since. This year, I wanted to create a new twist on a spring dessert for my family and decided to mimic various speckled eggs. My speckled sugar cookie egg takes only a few store-bought ingredients! Roll out refrigerated sugar cookie dough, cut with an egg-shaped cookie cutter and bake. Once cooled, spread with canned white frosting and sprinkle with crushed chocolate cookies. For colored eggs, add a few drops of desired food coloring to a separate portion of frosting. This cookie epitomizes spring, and chocolate with vanilla or cream cheese frosting pairs perfectly. Try it for any spring celebration from Easter to Mother’s Day!

 

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Easy, Healthy Quiche

9 03 2016

IMG_5705I love brunch for the variety it offers including protein dishes, pastries, and fruit. Quiche is a brunch staple—especially for Easter—and I have an easy quiche recipe that even works for a weekday morning. I prefer this recipe because it requires only three eggs. Sometimes we don’t have or don’t prefer nearly a dozen eggs for one dish. This recipe exchanges several eggs for less than a cup of Bisquick. I make it even healthier by using Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake and Baking Mix.

Easy, Healthy Quiche Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, whole
  • 1 C milk, fat free
  • 1 C grated cheese, reduced fat
  • ¾ C Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake and Baking Mix
  • ¼ C Greek yogurt, plain
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Meat and/or vegetables, to taste

Note: Modify your quiche to your preference by adding a combination of your favorite ingredients. Some ideas include bacon, ham, salmon, sausage, onion, zucchini, broccoli, bell pepper, tomato, and spinach—the possibilities are endless. Squeeze out excess water and plan on baking quiche a bit longer if needed. Experiment with different cheeses too.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine ingredients and pour into a 9×9 round dish. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. This recipe can be doubled into a 9×13 dish and baked for approximately 35 minutes.

 

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Football-Shaped Sandwich Ideas

3 02 2016

IMG_5248In the weeks leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, we get inundated with menu ideas for the big game. I fluctuate between staying simple and tackling all the recipes I discover. This football sandwich is a touchdown in my household because it’s super easy and everyone likes it. That’s a win-win in my playbook! It works for any football game from professional teams to peewee leagues, and even for a fun lunchbox surprise.

I made a grilled cheese version with cheddar laces on the top, but any filling of your choice works between two slices of bread shaped into a football. Cheese laces pair well with many sandwich flavors, but several lace options complement a variety of sandwiches. Try piping on mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, cream cheese, peanut butter, or frosting onto your savory or sweet sandwiches. Embellish them a bit more by making smaller laces and leaving room to stripe both ends of your bread. You’ll easily have these football sandwiches ready by kickoff!

 

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Pendleton Woolen Mills

6 01 2016

IMG_1636-2Anyone familiar with the Pacific Northwest knows that we like our plaid shirts so much that they’ve grown into a stereotype. We wear them throughout all seasons. They double as coats in spring and fall. We layer them with puffy vests in winter. These shirts tie around our waists and drape over shorts on summer days, dutifully warding off chill from air-conditioners or cool evenings. We owe this trend to Pendleton Woolen Mills that began over 100 years ago.

Thomas Kay, a skilled English weaver, traveled by ship and burro to arrive in Oregon in 1863 and begin his own company in a region ideal for raising sheep and producing wool. Oregon held many positives such as a moderate climate, fresh water, and established wool operations. Kay worked for others before opening his own company in Salem, Oregon where he trained his eldest daughter, Fannie. Fannie married retail merchant Charles Pleasant Bishop and moved their family to Pendleton, Oregon. Their new hometown along the Columbia River already hosted a shipping center for local wool producers on a main railway. The three Bishop sons named Chauncey, Clarence, and Roy, caught the family’s passion for wool and founded Pendleton Woolen Mills in 1909. Pendleton Woolen Mills operated on the original site of a wool scouring plant that washed raw wool before shipping, and also of a previous woolen mill that produced blankets for Native Americans.

Pendleton Woolen Mills employees consulted local and Southwest Native Americans about their preferred colors and designs for blankets. Blanket production continued and included robes and shawls. Native Americans used these products for warmth and for trade among tribes. They preferred wool to animal skins because of its ability to capture heat, repel water, and sew or patch easily. Pendleton’s Nez Perce nation traded among themselves and with other nearby tribes such as the Navajos. They traded for jewelry and various valuables. Native Americans valued Pendleton Woolen Mills blankets for everyday apparel, dowries, gifts, and ceremonial pieces. The most traditional pattern in the Pacific Northwest continues to be the Hudson’s Bay point design with a white background and a stripe of green, red, yellow, and indigo.

The company expanded its location and product line after opening in Washougal, Washington and producing men’s shirts. Women’s apparel, non-wool items, surf wear, and accessories for body and home followed in the subsequent decades. The Bishop family continues to operate Pendleton Woolen Mills to this day.

Interesting Facts

  • The Beach Boys originally were called The Pendletones and wore plaid Pendleton shirts as their band’s uniform. The iconic blue and charcoal plaid remained their favorite and appeared on 45 record covers including Surfin’ Safari and Surfer Girl! That pattern is sold today as the Pendleton Board Shirt.
  • Actor Jeff Bridges wore a classic Pendleton sweater called The Westerley in his film The Big Lebowski! The Westerley sweater gives a nod to the hand-knit Cowichan sweaters made by Pacific Northwest Tribes.

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Altitude is Everything

30 11 2015

IMG_4652This photo has been a family secret; hidden in my files for five years. I know it’s bad. I wish the picture better exhibited this colossal baking failure. The “before” shot displays the unadorned first attempt at hiding it under frosting. Doesn’t chocolate frosting make everything better? Clearly not. Notice the evidence of two swipes of little fingers across the top. I’m not sure who the culprit was, but I can safely guess that it was one or both of my two youngest children and not their big brother or cousins.

IMG_4654The “after” shot is the final product, presented as a joint-birthday cake to my husband and brother while on vacation. My creative sister-in-law (truly talented at everything!) brainstormed the idea to add marshmallows and chocolate syrup. These marshmallows were the special, ginormous ones meant for some amazing s’mores. The kiddos couldn’t wait to toast them over an open fire. Didn’t happen. We confiscated them with the intention of holding up the cake to keep it from becoming even more of a pancake. It did help some. Next came squirts of chocolate syrup to fancy it up. The positive about that stellar move is that it didn’t hurt the cake or alter its form in any way. We sprinkled the top with powdered sugar and added a few festive (and perhaps, confused) birthday candles, and voila!

How did this cake emerge from the oven looking like a crime scene, you ask? We followed baking instructions explicitly, except we missed that note every box includes about baking at varying altitudes. We didn’t even realize this issue until well after vacation. Rookies. We’re used to baking along the Willamette Valley at about 200 feet in elevation, and we threw this beauty together in Sunriver, Oregon at 4,200 feet. My advice for all traveling or relocated bakers out there is to remember what altitude you’re at and adjust accordingly. Your desserts—and guests—will know otherwise!

 

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