We Ate Our Way Through Portland – PART I

I skipped out of work last Friday grinning like a fool in excitement. On Saturday, I hopped on a plane to Portland, Oregon with my good friend Nicole! It was time for an adventure. And time to relax. But mostly? It was time to explore!

 

I was going to compile a big list of things we did in Portland, but then I realized, we mostly just ate. So instead of a big What We Did In Portland post, here’s a combo, What We Did Ate in Portland post. Because honestly, no one’s going to care what we did when you see pictures of what we ate!

 

We left Saturday morning very early. I set my alarm for 5:15am. I planned to call Nicole at 5:30am to make sure she was awake. The Girl-Who-Never-Sleeps deserves another 15 mins, I figured. But, before I could call, Nicole was texting me. Yay! Both awake. I grabbed some toast with jam, threw on some clothes and called an uber. We we’re going to meet at the 19th Street BART station, but I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to walk to BART. I arrived 20 minutes early instead. Oops! But, really, that’s not atypical for me when I travel. I love punctuality! Nicole arrived with 2 minutes to spare and we took the BART train to SFO and hopped on our flight. We were exactly on time (like Nicole likes it) and I didn’t break out in hives stressing about not being an hour early! So any day that doesn’t begin in hives is a good one. ūüôā

 

At The Airport | Land of Laurel

 

When we arrived in Portland Nicole’s awesome, interior designer friend, Nikki, picked us up at the airport. I knew I liked Nikki within minutes because she introduced me to the term “Pet-ophile” when talking about how she and her boyfriend Scott like to stare at dogs at the park and daydream about having one of their own. Which¬†is exactly how I feel about every dog/cat/chicken I’ve ever met. I could tell we were going to be on the same page. From now on I shall refer to myself as a “pet-ophile” whenever possible. Because it’s hilarious!

 

Nikki drove us back to her house where we were staying and I met her boyfriend Scott who quickly became the funniest person I have ever met. Every other sentence out of his mouth was a joke and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life! Nicole and I put on contacts and then we piled back into Nikki’s car (sans Scott) and headed to Hawthorne Street. We started out in a relaxed fashion, walking down Hawthorne and popping into any shop that caught our fancy like Lounge Lizard¬†(oh my god, thrifting in Portland is so much better priced!), sipping at a mead tasting at Mead Market (oh, yes, now I’m daydreaming of beekeeping!), and wandering further. We considered stopping at Jam on Hawthorne¬†for brunch, but a 45 minute wait had us walking further (though now I’m looking at their menu and my stomach is growling). I wanted to stop at some food trucks, but Nicole convinced me to venture further. We ended up at the perfect place! The Hazel Room was not only adorable, but so delicious! I found this picture just googling it, and now I’m wishing we’d been there in the snow. Look how adorable!

 

 

Nikki got the Vegetarian Bee Gees biscuit and gravy (I know, right, she’s also a vegetarian. Like she wasn’t already awesome!), and Nicole and I began the first of many shared meals, splitting the Rose Tea Crepes and Bubble &¬†Squeak with a sunny side up egg.. We almost skipped the former, but we were so glad we didn’t as it was AMAZING. So good, you could really taste the rose-i-ness. Plus it was smothered in whipped cream and anything with whipped cream is my favorite. The Bubble & Squeak was maybe a bit healthier (okay, a lot healthier) with potatoes and veggies, but not nearly as exciting. Once we devoured our meal (literally took Nicole and I less than ten minutes to finish everything), we began meandering further down the street significantly more satisfied.

 

We stopped at nearly every shop, never buying a thing, but touching everything. It was fun to explore. Portland has some really cute vintage shops, thrift stores, and paper goods stores. We had a blast! We then ventured over to Division Street walking down 37th through a gorgeous residential neighborhood. There we stopped at Artifact¬†which had lots of cool vintage clothes and furnishings. Nicole almost bought shoes. Since we were in the neighborhood, we couldn’t help but hit up the famous Salt & Straw. The Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons was flat out the best ice cream I’ve ever tried in my life you guys!

 

Sea Salt

via

 

Then we walked back to Nikki’s car and drove along the Willamette River to the St. John’s Bridge. It was a gorgeous day, but at this point, clouds had started to roll in. We wandered through the shops in St. John’s (while I relived every St. John’s moment from my newest favorite kid’s book¬†Wildwood), before walking out onto the bridge a bit. I snapped this pic of Nicole and Nikki and then we¬†headed down¬†to the park under the bridge.

 

St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

When we got to the park below, a wedding had just taken place! Naturally, I stalked the happy couple a bit.

 

Wedding Under the St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

But the gorgeous bridge took up plenty of my attention. The architecture was amazing. Modern gothic and bee-ay-yoo-tee-full!

 

Beneath St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

We decided to try and take a few pictures of the three of us while we were there so I propped my camera up on a wooden post and set the time. Fifteen pictures later we got one that was pretty cute.

 

St. John's Bridge Friends | Land of Laurel

 

…as well as some fairly amusing outtakes!

 

Laughing Under the St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

Posing Beneath the St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

Regardless, we had fun! And we were exhausted. We headed back to Nikki’s to relax after a long day. We stopped by Green Zebra Grocery for cheese, soup, and a baguette before crashing on Nikki’s couch and watching a dolphin documentary on Netflix, Dolphins: a Spy in the Pod. The documentary was hilarious and involved spy-creatures. Everything was “the first time this has ever been recorded” and we learned all about urogenital slits. Yup, you read that right. We headed to bed early.

 

We woke up the next morning, Sunday, and headed to Milk Glass Market¬†for breakfast. There was a bit of a line, but as soon as we ordered a table opened up. Nicole and I got excited and over ordered: Fig & Anise Panini with goat cheese, Bread pudding with marscapone and jam, a snack hard boiled egg, and a Biscuit with tomato marmalade, and cheese. Scott got a cinnamon roll that he graciously shared. We basically rolled out of there! The decoration of the space was super cute! I wish I’d snapped more than a¬†quick and dirty iPhone shot. Check out their website for awesome brunch space ideas. I just love those bread boards.

 

After breakfast we jumped into Nikki’s car and drove up to the Pittock Mansion. This was another Wildwood spot and I was excited. I love big houses and I cannot lie, (those other brothers can’t deny). We pulled up and parked. It was gorgeous! The weather was misty, but no rain yet. The views from the Mansion were incredible. You could see the entire city of Portland as well as the surrounding forests and hills.

 

View from Pittock Mansion 1 | Land of Laurel

 

I loved seeing the ship yards through the trees.

 

View from Pittock Mansion 2 | Land of Laurel

 

We tried to take a picture of ourselves in front of the view, but it started raining and the water droplets on my lens made Scott a little fuzzy. We managed to squeeze in a semi-normal shot.

 

At Pittock Mansion | Land of Laurel

 

The Mansion itself was beautiful too, but honestly, nothing man-made holds a candle to nature.

 

Pittock Mansion | Land of Laurel

 

Inside were gorgeous rooms and furniture. The museum collected furnishings to showcase different styles of the period rather than preserving a moment in time. My favorite room? The pantry!

 

Pittock Pantry | Land of Laurel

 

Outside again, Scott tried to scare us…

 

Scott Scary | Land of Laurel

 

…it did not succeed. Then Nikki hopped on his back and they raced Nicole up the hill towards a trail head.

 

Scott and Nikki | Land of Laurel

 

Surprisingly, Nicole lost.

 

The Race | Land of Laurel

 

The trail was ridiculously muddy, so we didn’t hike it, but Scott ran down the trail a little ways. Hi, tiny Scott!

 

Tiny Scott | Land of Laurel

 

The forest was lush, green, and gorgeous here. It looked like a fairy tale forest. I kept expecting Hansel & Gretel or Snow White to show up! As long as we avoided the Big Bad Wolf, I was happy.

 

Lush Forest | Land of Laurel

 

After a bit, we once again climbed into Nikki’s little Honda Fit and drove down the hill. We parked on NW 23rd Street and shopped a bit. We only popped into a few stores, compared with the previous day’s visit-all-the-stores! attitude, this was more chill. Which I’m sure Scott appreciated. We soon got hungry, jumped back into the car and headed to Dove Vivi. We got there right when it opened at 4pm. Actually, we arrived at 3:50pm and took pictures of the building across the street to kill time, before heading in. Look how colorful the building was though! I loved that Portland was full of treasures like this.

 

Dove Vivi Neighbor | Land of Laurel

 

At the restaurant, we ordered halfs of the daily special Mushroom pizza, the Corn pizza, and the¬†Blue Thyme¬†pizzas.Yum. These had cornmeal crusts, which I don’t recall ever eating before, they were crunchy and mouthwateringly good. We chatted up the waitress, enjoyed our meal, and laughed like banshees at everything. Even when Scott paused in cracking jokes, we found something to giggle over. Like the fact¬†that Dove Vivi classified all their beverages and threw in this at the end:

 

Also Milk | Land of Laurel

 

“Also… Milk” became a bit of an inside joke for the rest of the trip. We would say it randomly, frequently. We did a bit of research following this and discovered that Milk is the Oregon State Beverage. If you think that’s weird, you’re correct, but, as it turns out, more than ten states have milk as their state beverage! So strange!

 

We ended the night with fruity drinks at The Alibi¬†¬†a tiki bar. A delicious way to¬†finish off a busy weekend! Nikki and Scott had work the next day. Nicole and I were on our own! Time for adventures! I’ll talk more about what we did ate in my next post.

 

How was your weekend? Take any trips? Have ¬†you been to Portland before? Did you eat everything?? I’m still so full you guys…

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Perfect Porridge

Who out there eats the exact same thing for breakfast nearly every morning? Show of hands? I don’t know about you, but both of my hands are high in the sky. What do I eat? Only the yummiest, healthiest, delicious-ist porridge there was! Steel cut oatmeal.

 

Steel Cut Oats | Land of Laurel

 

Each morning, I wake up, put on the tea kettle, and bring a pot of milk to boil. Then I add my oats and let them cook while I get ready. When I’m completely ready to go, the oats are done! It’s fantastic timing really.

 

Why steel-cut oats as opposed to rolled oats? Well, I read somewhere that they were dramatically better for you and less processed. While this article confirms the latter, I’ve yet to see anything else supporting the former. In fact, this one states that they’re pretty much identical in nutritional and environmental impacts. Though steel-cut may have more fiber according to these guys. So really, who knows? What pretty much everyone¬†can¬†confirm though is that oatmeal is pretty dang good for you. So eat it. There.

 

I used to buy these steel-cut oats at Trader Joes before I started shopping in¬†Berkeley Bowl’s bulk foods section where they are so much less expensive. Sometimes I will pick up the McCann’s tin at Trader Joes though, simply because I adore the can they come in. I’ve used several to house plants over the years. I’m a sucker for a pretty tin.

 

I stick to steel cut oats though because of their longer cook time. I know, sounds crazy, right? But really, it’s less time for me in the kitchen. How is that possible? Well when something needs to come to a boil, have grain added, and cook for a while longer and all of that happens in fifteen¬†minutes? You have to be in the kitchen over the stove for that entire fifteen minutes. Right now, I wait for my milk to boil and then add my oats an leave. It’s a five minute process. Making my thirty-five oatmeal takes me less time than fifteen-minute oatmeal. Less time than frying a couple eggs. It sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. So before you judge steel cut oats on their long cook time, give it a try. It might just save you time.

 

I add chia seeds on top of mine for a little extra crunch and a banana for sweetness. That way I don’t add any sugar to my breakfast and get a little fruit too. If you do feel like you need a little honey in your life, a teaspoon will make this oatmeal completely delish.

 

Chia Seeds and Banana on Steel Cut Oats | Land of Laurel

 

Steel Cut Oats for One

 

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Almond Milk

3 Tablespoons Steel Cut Oats

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon Cloves

Dash of salt

1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds

1/2 Banana

 

First put your milk in a small pot over medium-high heat on the stove. Add your dash of salt. When the milk first begins to steam and forms tiny bubbles along the edges of the pan, add the steel cut oats, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir together and turn heat down to a simmer. Stir occasionally. Let cook for approximately twenty-five minutes. Oatmeal and milk should combine into a porridge. Remove from heat and add chia seeds and banana. Eat!

 

Do you have oatmeal every morning for breakfast? Love it? Hate it?

Perfect Pie Crust

I absolutely adore pie. Every aspect of it. From the making of the pie crust to the americana, homey feel to the fall atmosphere to the smell of baking pies to the beauty of pies lined up in a row ready to be served. I love pie. I¬†love¬†pie! Pie is glorious. I love making it, I love eating it. There is basically nothing I do not like about pie. Pie always beats cake (unless it’s a birthday, then you obviously¬†have to have birthday cake, it’s in the name, people!). Pie is easier that cake to make look great, fantastic for all occasions (except birthdays, then you have cake, are we getting this?), and generally makes you seem like an awesome baker for something that isn’t difficult to make.

Pumpkin Pie in Staub Pan | Land of Laurel

 

I learned how to make pie from my father when I was very little. He learned how to make pie from cookbooks when my mother was pregnant with me. Why? My mother’s number one craving: homemade pie. Smart woman. My dad learned a great skill and my mother got to feed her cravings. A pregnant woman’s gotta eat what she wants! Growing up, my family focused mainly on pumpkin and apple pies. When I was old enough to have an opinion we branched out to decadent fudge pies. Yum. Pecan pies? Sure thing. Ice cream pies? Absolutely. Anything pie. Anytime. Anywhere. All occasions (except for birthdays, have I been clear about this?).

 

Apple Pie | Land of Laurel

 

Now if you want to learn how to make all sorts of pies I highly recommend getting yourself a good cookbook. This one by James McNair is my dad’s favorite. You can only buy it used now though… Tragic. It’s a great book! Once you find a good pie cookbook, whether it’s James McNair or one you pick up from your local bookshop, find some guinea¬†pigs. Anyone will do as long as they will eat pie and give you feedback. Heck, they don’t even need to give you feedback, you can judge for yourself. You basically just need some people to eat a few slices of pie so you don’t eat the entire thing by yourself. Which I’m working on right now with my latest pumpkin pie…. Ooops!

 

Last year I asked for red pie pans for the holidays and was gifted with three beautiful pans. I love them all, they’re amazing! Each one is just a little different, which I adore. Plus, when I make pie, I rarely make fewer than than three. Heck, I’d take another pie pan too if someone was offering! I have a few glass pyrex ones as well, but I just love the red ones. They’re deeper and wider and gorgeous. A good pie pan is a fantastic thing to have, but you can bake a pie in almost anything, so don’t worry if you don’t have a special pie pan. A cake pan will work, a loaf pan will work, a casserole dish ¬†will work. If it holds water, it will work!

 

Today I’m going to give you my recipe for pie crust. The essential part of the pie.¬†A good starting point don’t you think? You have your recipe, you have your guinea pigs, now it’s time to start baking! Here is how I make my absolute favorite¬†pie crust. It’s the perfect amount of healthy and sweet, flakey and floury. It’s fantastic. Tomorrow, I’ll share the pie filling itself.

 

Fudge Pie | Land of Laurel

 

Start with the crust. I always make crust for two or four pies and freeze the extra dough. You almost always make crust for two bottom crust pies (or one pie with top and bottom crust). It’s just how it’s done. And don’t cop out and buy¬†store bought crust, it’s just not as good. Plus you miss all the fun part. Making crust is fun!

 

The ingredients: 

2-3/4 cups finely milled organic whole wheat flour ( try 1/4 cup less if your flour is not so finely milled)

1 tsp salt

2 sticks organic butter

1 cup ice water

1 egg

 

Add when appropriate:

Sweet pies-

2.5 Tbsp organic brown sugar

1 Tbsp organic cinnamon

1 tsp organic cloves

1 tsp nutmeg

 

Savory pies –

1 cup  grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp nutmeg

2 Tbsp rosemary or thyme

 

Since I am planning on pumpkin pie for my dough, I made mine with the sweet pie recipe. First get a big bowl with lots of extra room. This can get messy. Then combine the flour, salt, and spices in the¬†bowl, mix well. Then add the sugar. Once these are well stirred together, cut the sticks of butter into slices 1/4″ thick. Add them to the mix a few add a time. Then get one of two things, a pair of forks or a handy pastry cutter like this one:

 

Pastry Cutter | Land of Laurel

 

A pastry cutter is ideal for the next part, a pair of forks will work. If want to do this entire process in a mixer, that will also work, but when you cut in the butter by hand (with the forks or pastry cutter) you get a better tasting, flakier crust. A machine just can’t duplicate this.

 

So! You cut in the butter. This is basically mashing the butter into the flour mix. You want there to be some pieces of butter in the mix, you don’t want to blend them to smooth. Make a rotating movement with your wrist to mash in the butter if you’re using a pastry cutter and it you’re using forks, give it everything you got, ’cause it’s probably going to hurt!

 

Once all the butter has been cut into the mixture, start sprinkling the ice water over it teaspoon by teaspoon. Be very careful you do not add too much water. You will most likely not need the entire cup of ice water, so go slowly. You really just need the dough to start clumping. Once the dough clumps a bit, hold off on the water and dig in with your hands. If you can shape the dough into the ball, you’re done! That’s all the water you need. Sometimes the dough at the bottom of the bowl doesn’t get quite as much moisture as the rest, but you can usually roll this into the middle of the dough ball.

 

Guess what? You just made pie dough! Yay! The not so great part? It’s not ready for rolling into a crust yet. Put it into the fridge for a few hours or into the freezer for twenty minutes or so. You need the dough to be cold and slightly hard to the touch before you can roll it out. Hard like the resistance of your thumb pushing into a muscle, there is some give, but it’s pretty firm¬†to the touch.

 

Once your dough is cold and firm, you’re ready to roll! You will need a rolling pin, but if you don’t have a rolling pin, a wine bottle will work too. Can you tell I’ve made a pie in a dorm room before? I know all the tricks. Yes, fancy cooking tools help, but you can totally do this with or without them, it just takes a little more effort.

 

Sprinkle flour over a large flat surface, the bigger the better! ūüėČ Place your cold, firm dough in the middle of your flour. Sprinkle a bit more flour over the top. Then, using the part of your palm that meets your wrist, carefully push the ball of dough outward from the center in a gentle motion until the dough is not longer a bowl, but rather more flat and about 3/4″ to 1″ thick. Now it’s time for your rolling pin. Put about a tablespoon of flour in the middle of palm and run the rolling pin through it until it’s covered. Then place it in the center of the dough and, applying pressure, push outward. Move the pin back into the center and pull the rolling pin toward you. Continue starting from the center and rolling the dough outward, alternating the direction you are rolling. You may want to occasionally flip the dough over and sprinkle with more flour to prevent it from sticking. You will want the dough to be thin, about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick.

 

When your dough is thin enough, get your pie pan and place it close to the dough. Then carefully roll the dough over the pin and use it to move the dough, centering over the pie pan. Then cut off the excess and bunch the dough edges to form your crust. Take your egg and scramble it with a fork and use a pastry brush (or your hands!) to brush over the crust edges and sides (not the bottom).

You’re done! Now time for the filling. Your pie is going to be delicious. Your crust is going to be flakey, golden brown, and wonderful, just like this guy below.

Pie Crust | Land of Laurel

 

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I share my recipe for the absolute best pumpkin pie ever! Do you have any pie secrets? Great recipes? Or are you the kind of person who would rather just buy a pie?