Friday, July 29, 2011

{organic veggie wraps and fresh fruit salad}

I started something fun and new this week: CSA food drops!
If there's anything I dislike more, it's the chore of going to the local generic grocery store. Especially when I'm hungry. I end up buying random, pointless things... like ice cream sundae flavored pop tarts.

But my irrational food purchases aside, the worst part of going to the store is trying to pick out an assortment of vegetables from the "fresh" aisle, while wondering where exactly they came from -- or what has been put on them to make the colors so bright and the texture so perfect?
I adore farmer's markets, but unfortunately, I work a job that doesn't always allow me weekends off, so my trips there are inconsistent (at best) or nonexistent (at worst). And even when I do visit the market, I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of vegetable choices, paired with my inability to cook with them.
Thus, I have happily signed up for a CSA! (that actually stands for "Community Supported Agriculture", just in case you were worried I had joined the Casting Society of America.)

Not only is it surprisingly affordable, it's also home grown, supports local farms, and it gets delivered right to my doorstep. My first drop came this week and I was a bit surprised by the weight of it. Apparently a "small bin" translates to a small ton of food. Here is the gorgeousness inside:

The contents?

1/2 lb Cherries
1 Cantaloupe
1 lb Apricots
3-4 Plums
1/2 lb Sugar Snap Peas
1 bunch Collard Greens
1 Cucumber
1 lb Zucchini
1 Lettuce Head
1-2 Green Peppers
1 lb Fava Beans
1 bunch Green Onions
1.5 lb Potatoes
2 Spring Onions

Not only does that equate to a large amount of food (especially considering Tanner's distaste for anything the color green, leafy, healthy, or rhyming with the word "fegetables") but a lot of the stuff I simply had no idea what the hell it was. Fortunately the CSA's website had a handy print-out list that classified all my food stuffs, so I didn't have to sit staring at a pile of fava beans and wondering if they were some kind of mutant green bean.

The other thing is, I would never willingly buy fava beans at a grocery store. Much less collard greens, or apricots, or even a cucumber on Wednesdays. (Plus, am I the only one who mistakes those for zucchinis? I always have to look twice.) Having them in my house now forces me to look up new recipes and try out a fun assortment of meals I've never attempted before. It's pretty exciting.

And this doesn't even include the lettuce, collards, or green onions!

However, I will note that the preparation for fava beans doesn't look too promising. Something about de-podding the beans and then blanching the shells and then still having to struggle with the little suckers to make them edible. I'm not sure I have one pound's worth of patience for that, but we'll see. You may be able to convince me otherwise with a compelling recipe.

To start with, I chopped up all the fruit and made myself a pleasant, surprisingly orange-hued fruit salad. It's worth noting that a lot of the cherries did not make it to the bowl (yummm) and the same goes for the cantaloupe. It was so juicy it practically fell off the rind. Is there anything better?

At this point it was quite late in the evening, and if I didn't make something for dinner quick I would be on the verge of diving into that box o' pop tarts. Rather than do anything fancy with the veggies, I simply divvied up a couple of my favorites and created myself an impromptu veggie wrap.

Here's how to make it:
Sliced and diced green pepper, spring onion, and zucchini. I pureed a can of Great Northern beans and used it as a spread on a tortilla (I'm not a fan of the texture of beans, so you don't have to puree them if you like it), added a chopped up slide of smoked Gouda (my favorite) and sprinkled the veggies on top. I warmed the whole thing up on the stove and topped it with crushed red pepper and parmesan.

I would share photos of the final creation, but it got devoured as quickly as the fruit salad.

I will note that the spring onion was the most amazing thing I have tasted in a long time. Crisp, flavorful, and just a tiny bit sweet. The combination of that and the smoked Gouda was a veggie wrap well concocted.

More recipes to come!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

{our new entryway}

Now that Tanner's here, we've been doing some renovations on our apartment. Namely, we've been spending a lot of time at IKEA picking out pieces of furniture that will help complete our abode. A few weeks ago we got a new bookshelf for the guest room (the $20 white bookshelf from WalMart was put together by my lonesome and was... er... crooked...) and also a fun new shoe cabinet for the front door.

If you recall (or maybe you don't... I've been avoiding taking pictures of our entryway...), our front door since March has looked like this:

Not only does that shoe rack look just horrible (and I'm not too fond of the giant white wall above it, either... that cross doesn't quite do it) but we couldn't open the door all the way. Something had to change.

I wanted either a nice coat rack and bench, which definitely wouldn't fit in that confined area, or a shoe storage cabinet from IKEA.
My absolute favorite? This one:

Or, perhaps, this one:

Unfortunately, they were both a little too big for the space, and a little too big for our budget. After browsing our other options at the store, we came across this guy:

Definitely not as cute or classy, but for $30, it fit the space AND held eight pairs of shoes... I think I call that a win. We took it home and put it together (and by we, I mean Tanner put it together and I took pictures) and we were surprisingly delighted by the quality and final look of the piece.

And now... ta da! The brand new space looks like this:

A pretty good change, wouldn't you say? Obviously we've still got some work to do to fill that awkward white wall behind it...  but it's a step in the right direction!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


We received the sad news this weekend that Borders, after a long struggle, is closing its doors for good. With this news I feel as though I'm losing an old friend, someone I could pop in on during my days off, just to say hello, and browse the fiction section until I discovered a new title that jumped out at me.

Now, I know you're thinking that there are other bookstores (Barnes and Noble, for example), or even used bookstores (Powells in Portland is pretty amazing) and even the library, which makes your book fetishes free, so why be so upset about Borders closing? It's simply that I'm afraid this is the way the world is going. If one store can't stay afloat, then what's to say the others won't be far behind? The e-book and Amazon sensation is certainly convenient (especially for travel's sake), but nothing can quite replace the feeling of running your fingers over the spines of books, waiting for the perfect one to look so intriguing that you can't help but take it home.

In my book quest, I discovered a website dedicated to the confessions of book lovers, entitled {bookfessions}. It's written entirely by book enthusiasts, who explain, confess, share and willingly spill their own secrets about why they love books so much. So many of the blurbs I can relate to, and even just reading them makes me want to pick up a new book and get lost in it's pages.

The confessions remind me of my own childhood, they remind me of my own book obsessions, and they remind me why I love reading in the first place. And how true that writing is the tie to my love of reading: it's a way of making a mark on the world and letting it resonate through history.
If I were writing my own confessions, they might sound like this:

"When I move to a new city, I don't feel like I truly live there until I've gotten myself a library card."

"I miss the earthy feel of looking up a book by card catalog. So many rows and drawers of cards... it's a very physical representation of all the new books there are to discover."

"Don't you love when you're so engrossed in a book that all you want to do is stop whatever you're doing and keep reading? But then again, you don't want to finish it too quickly, because you don't want the story to end..."

And this one is true of both Tanner and I (it was one of the early signs that I knew we were so alike):

"All my books have to match. If I have a series partially in hardback and partially in paperback, I have to buy another copy just so I have a perfect set."

"Some of my fondest early memories are of going to the library daily with my mom and sister and bringing home stacks of picture books. My mom has been buying our favorites throughout the last twenty years to keep for my children. I love looking through them and remembering the best parts of my childhood in their pages."

Have fun browsing {bookfessions} and discovering that there are thousands of others who love a good read just as much as you do.

Monday, July 25, 2011

{the hunt for mr. potato head, part 3}

The hunt for Mr. Potato Head continues!
Read {part one} and {part two} if you haven't already!

When we last left you, Mr. Potato Head was mostly found, but still sadly missing his feet, hat, and hand. For those who need a recap on the set of clues, here they are, in a postcard written "to" Brandon "from" Mr. Potato Head:
Hey Brandon,
I made it to Brittany's! Don't worry, I don't have cold feet about the trip and found a familiar place to hang my hat. So far eye have been taking pitchers, trying my hand at real estate, and my other hand is giving a peace sign. Oh how I love Alanis Morissette. Talk about slippery slopes.
And here's what we know so far:
  •  The body was found in a backpack pocket.
  • "Eye have been taking pitchers" = Eyes hidden in the lemonade pitcher
  • "Trying my hand at real estate" = Hand in the Monopoly game
  • "Slippery slopes" = Tongue in a pair of slippers

Apparently I was wrong about the "cold feet" clue being about the slippers. It was just a coincidence that something happened to be hidden there.

It had been my original idea weeks ago that the feet were hidden somewhere cold, so I searched every cooler, ice box, fridge and thermos that I could find, but no luck. Then I searched everywhere I could think to warm up cold feet... ovens, heaters, blankets, stoves... nothing. I even got the brilliant idea that the feet could be hidden in one of my small, backpacking stoves, but I pulled out my Jetboil and it was empty. Hopes dashed.

Then, I woke up one morning with a sudden realization. I had two Jetboils. One was mine, and one was Tanner's. I had checked the one that was in our kitchen, but I had forgotten about the one that was stowed in our gear closet. I quickly rummaged through the bin, found the stove, and...

Success! Mr. Potato Head had himself a set of feet.
(By the way, during these escapades Tanner and I found ourselves watching one of our favorite movies, Toy Story, and I couldn't help giggling over the Mr. Potato Head...)

Now only two pieces were left. Having completely run out of ideas about what "other hand is giving a peace sign" could possibly mean, I tackled the clue "a familiar place to hang my hat." But every coat closet, hat rack and pocket I looked in came up empty.

Knowing my sister was an accomplice to Brandon's clever planting of Mr. Potato Head, I called her to try and get a little help with the clue. She stubbornly refused at first, but then finally offered up the question, "what place is familiar to Mr. Potato Head?"

I had no idea at first. After all, as far as I knew, this was Mr. Potato Head's first trip to Oregon. But he had done a lot of hiding in the past in my stuff, so I racked my brain to remember where Brandon used to stash him. He was hidden in my bookshelf once... and in my desk... taped to the top of the cabinet... in the fridge... in my cereal box... I searched all these places to no avail.

And then I remembered where Mr. Potato Head had been hidden last.
I even wrote about it in my Part One post: "For the first time since 2003 I didn't have a roommate, and I thought the games were over. But while on a bike ride one afternoon, I discovered a familiar friend: Mr. Potato Head was hiding in my saddle bag."

I went to my storage closet, opened up my saddle bag...

And there was a familiar place to hang my hat.

All that was missing was the other arm. I had mostly given up on it when I packed up and spent a weekend in North Carolina, leaving thoughts of Mr. Potato Head behind. I spent the weekend with old friends, Brandon included, and discovered upon my leaving that a small, plastic hand had been carefully tucked and hidden in my purse, waiting to be discovered.

Mr. Potato Head is whole at last, and awaiting his next adventure...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

{a trip to the zoo}

Tanner, Elizabeth and I all had a day off together this week, so we decided to explore a new corner of Portland. Lately we've been working so much that we've been missing out on the gorgeous, sunny and cool Pacific Northwest summers, and that needed to be remedied.

Unfortunately, our day off happened to be cold, overcast and rainy. Go figure. I was told it didn't rain in Portland after July 5, so I would like to know to whom I should file a complaint?

Actually, I'm just so stoked that it isn't 97 degrees and humid like North Carolina summers, that I could care less if it's raining. A pullover and jacket in the middle of July? Yes, please.

After walking around downtown (and finding some absolutely delicious truffle-oil french fries and veggie burgers... YUM) we chose to spend a good portion of our day visiting the zoo! I'm not going to lie... we may have been as excited as little schoolgirls on a field trip. Visiting the zoo always puts one in childlike happy spirits, don't you think?

Here's the photo recap of our adventures. I personally like the photos of Elizabeth and Tanner acting like bears, although the last few silhouetted shots are some of my favorites. I'm totally in love with taking the perfect back-lit photo. :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...