About Me

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Just a simple gal living on the outskirts of Portland making ends meet. I have lived in Portland for over 20 years and I am happy to call it home. On this blog you will find everything from cooking to my crazy life. I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lazy Days of Summer

Finally and thankfully summer is drawing to a close. I can feel fall right around the corner each morning with that slight chill blowing through my open back door. Honestly I can hardly wait to hear that first goose fly over head, smell my neighbors start up their fireplace, make my first pot of stew and have dinner guests over where the menu won't involve ketchup, mustard and potato salad...I tell you it's the little things. I don't cook much in the heat 1. because I am not hungry and 2. because I can't deal with my brain cooking inside my skull, but I did manage to come up with a couple of super easy summer meals that aren't reeallllllly cooking.
Guacamole on toast This is super easy, tasty and requires little brain work. I take some avocados do a rustic mash (depends on what texture you want) add a little lemon or lime juice (I had lemons laying around)some salt, pepper and whatever other seasoning you prefer (I used some fresh mint from my garden). Then to the mash I added some chunks of feta cheese mixed it in, covered it, and placed it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. When I served it I put the Guacamole on sourdough toast and cut up some fresh tomatoes for the top. This is a perfect meatless Monday option. The avocado is versatile so you can use whatever you want flavorwise (should be a word) I went in a Greek direction.
Caprese Salad Sometimes a salad is all you need. Simple, satisfying and delicious. You simply slice up a juicy tomato some fresh mozzarella cheese,chiffonade some fresh basil and dress with some balsamic and olive oil. Dash of black pepper and a sprinkle of salt and TaDa! salad.
Asian Salmon Bowl This awesome recipe comes to me from Epicurious and is absolutely perfect in every way shape and form. Just to let you know, no you can't use regular soy sauce it HAS to be light, so go out and buy some. We have had this dish a couple of times since I first made it, and it is going back on the menu for next week.
Eggs in Purgatory So the next dish all you really need is an onion, 3 lbs of fresh tomatoes, 4 eggs and 1/2 a jalapeno seeded and diced...Oh and some garlic. Basically what you do is saute in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil half a onion (diced) along with some minced garlic (I used 3 cloves) until they start to brown. Add in 3 lbs of chopped fresh tomatoes and the 1/2 jalapeno (seeded and diced). Add some cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and cook it down until the sauce thickens and the tomatoes start to break down. Make four wells in the sauce and carefully break an egg into each one, put a lid on the pan and cook until the whites are done and the yolks are soft. Sprinkle some fresh cilantro on top and serve a side of fresh bread. This is another great meatless Monday option. Fast and fantastic.
Happy Hump Day Everyone! have a fast rest of the week.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Smoking Salmon

The bf was given the lovely opportunity (thanx T.S.) to spend a day salmon fishing in our lovely Pacific Ocean. He was hesitant to go because he has never, ever gone fishing before...He caught 5 kept two for himself and shared with others less fortunate (less fortunate means green and seasick)and others that were having no luck at all. The bf came home with two lovely tasty salmon one he had left cleaned and whole the other had been turned into two very healthy fillets that were screaming to me...SMOKE MEEEEE!
The first thing I ever smoked was salmon. I know there are people out there who fuss and worry about it and I am sure there are some tall tales told around campfires that start something like...I remember the first time I ever had me some smoked salmon. I didn't really put much thought into it except one thing...I remember my Unk saying "keep it simple and don't ruin the flavor with too much smoke"...clear as mud to a 13 year old.
But those very words came back to me when it came time to smoke my first fish, and that is exactly what I did. I used a simple solution for the overnight brine of the fish. Ingredients6 to 8 cups of cold water, 1 cup of non-iodized salt, 1 cup dark brown sugar (you could use light, I prefer the flavor of dark better), 5 big cloves of garlic peeled and crushed and 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce. Mix all of those together in a glass, plastic or stainless steel container making sure that the salt and sugar has mostly dissolved. Place the salmon into the brine at least 12 hours. I brine my fish over night. I also cut the salmon into long strips before I put them in the brine.
Salmon floating in nice brine going into the fridge for the night. I love this brine recipe the fish comes out with a nice clean flavor.
The next morning you take the salmon out of the tubs and pat the pieces dry with paper towels. I don't rinse my fish even though a lot of recipes call for it. Then after you have gotten them all dry the fish gets to sit at room temperature on a cookie sheet for about 4 hours and it develops this sheen to it called pedicle...You want that to happen.
Spray your racks with non stick cooking spray and leave enough room between the pieces of fish for good circulation. Load your smoker with the racks of fish.
I used Alder chips for the salmon, it has a nice mild flavor and works well with fish.
Then for the next several hours (depending on the size of the pieces of fish and the thickness)you rotate the wracks of fish and change out the pans of chips once they get burned up. I went through 4 pans of chips.
The end result is totally worth spending a day doing this. The fish is a wonderful treat for us, and we are enjoying it. Make sure you keep it in an airtight container in the fridge after it cools and you remove it from the racks.
Well that is all for today...It has been hot out and I am getting tomatoes every single day off my two plants. I need to start taking care of those. I think I am going to start by giving some away...lol. Have a great week everyone.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Little Green Tomatoes

Gardening for me is hit or miss and usually it is a miss. I just don't have time or energy to plow under the remaining bit of my backyard and turn it into my own vegetable patch. What I did manage was to grow a couple of tomato plants and some fresh herbs, thanks to the bf who put in some really great planter boxes just for that purpose. He built me a super sized one in the back yard just for tomatoes. We filled it with fresh dirt and some mushroom compost (I love that stuff)and stuck in a couple of new varieties of tomato plants and BAM! these things are insane. I at first thought maybe these plants were going to prove to be a waste of my time...I couldn't have been further from the truth. Once they took off they really took off. We have placed stakes outside the box to hold up the stalks, branches and tomatoes as they get bigger every single day; and so many tomatoes. I think I must have close to 20 lbs of green tomatoes. The scary thing...I have not used one speck of fertilizer this year. Like I said gardening with me is hit or miss, and I usually miss by a mile. I don't know what I did right this year, but I did it well.
I am also growing some herbs this year in a ground level planter box that the bf put together for me in the front yard. I managed to start basil from seed this year and it took off. Both Thai basil and regular basil. So I go out every couple of days and snip some off and what I don't use in a meal I dry and jar for the winter months ahead. Scary to think that they are closer than we would like.
Just in this past week I have had to rearrange the stakes holding the tomato plants to catch up the branches that are heading toward the ground. I am getting desperate, and the tomatoes just keep coming.
I am looking forward to being able to gather up a bunch of juicy tomatoes and turn them into a lovely homemade base tomato sauce...a big pot of it, so I can put it all in quart bags and freeze it flat. My recipe is really simple. Saute up some diced onions and minced garlic (and diced carrot if that is your thing) in a heavy pan (big pan) until soft add all your chopped up tomato, fresh basil, rosemary, salt, sugar (trust me on this) and oregano. and simmer add a little chicken stock, red wine or both and simmer some more. Let it cool and measure it out into quart freezer bags and zip em shut! Lay the bags flat onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze solid. Later remove from cookie sheet and stack someplace in your freezer and TaDaaa (should be a word) you have the base of some delicious sauce in your freezer...perfect for those nights when you don't feel like cooking after dealing with impossible people in the mid west all week long at work...Oh wait that might just be me. Trust me this is just the ticked for great sauce for pasta or added oomph to your chili.
Now if they would just ripen.
Puppy Update Katsu is growing at a crazy rate, and is twice the size of two of his siblings from the same litter. This I am told can be explained by the size of the litter (there were 8) and his placement in the birthing order (which is unknown). Katsu is currently loosing baby teeth everywhere...the other night during puppy obedience class for example...blood everywhere, dog owners checking to see if my puppy had maimed their puppy during free play, the trainer, the bf and of course Katsu had blood all over his mouth. Ahhh my little Chupacabra strikes again. It is funny Katsu's brother is in the class with him and they don't get along well (work in progress), but the minute one thinks the other might need help they have each others back...Pack mentality at its finest. Because Katsu has been growing visibly daily he seems to always be hungry, but it is too hot to eat, so he won't, which gives him a sour stomach and for a while he was barfing up stomach acid in the middle of the night onto my bed...not pretty. With help from the vet we figured out a program of feedings that include a small amount of wet food before bed with a pepcid crushed and mixed in...worked like a charm.
Well I need to get myself organized to start my day (code for I need more coffee). I have salmon to turn into lovely smoked salmon tomorrow, so look for a blog on that. Have a great weekend everyone!