Greek lemon rice

“I want something else to get me through this, semi-charmed kind of life, baby, I want something else, not listening when you say goodbye”-Third eye blind

That song is totally about doing meth btw….but I think that the meth is really more of a way to deal with the symptoms of being human. That is what addiction is all about right? Trying to escape the mundane long enough to feel alive in an altered reality? I wrote this whole short story about riding trimet in the early A.M.’s and about how you see the same people waiting, and how there is an odd feeling of community even if you never even speak to each other. But I hand wrote most of it on a napkin and lost it, so this is what you get, and I am in a mood. Shall we begin?

I am currently equally fascinated and disgusted by others…I think human connection is the most intoxicating thing there is, but a double edged sword as it will easily stab you right in the heart 10 minutes after it changes your perception and gives you hope. People are an addiction, our bodies are hard wired for chemical and hormone flux just by being in the same room with someone.

You can actually feel electricity with some people, its equal parts ecstasy and fear. It only happens rarely, and I almost find it dangerous, to not be able to control yourself to the point that lizard brain takes over and gives you all kinds of delusions of grandeur regarding another human. I think maybe that is why we run from real connections, and it also depletes us as a species. We can control our image online, in real life you cannot, you are taken at face value, if the vibes aren’t there it’s apparent. Human connection is essential, but it is also becoming harder and harder to come by.

I think i’ve lived a sheltered life, due to the fact that at my age most folks already know the cruel and unusual side of humanity, whereas, I am still quite taken back and heart broken when another human discards my appreciation and efforts to connect. I felt jaded before, but since the beginning of the year I have had a few different exchanges that make me realize maybe I don’t even know myself and my preferences that well. I am really hoping it is one of those “transitional” moments that put you on a path towards enlightenment (I am an optimist at heart)…..but what if it is just a reminder that we all die alone, and that you can really trust nothing and no one?

I really wanna “seize the day” but reality can be so icky that I have just been binge watching “Mad Men” for two months while I do what seems like endless amounts of laundry (I think I hate the show really, America was never “Great” just real capital based,racist and sexiest). We have all had amazing short lived experiences that give you hope, but why must they quickly turn into months of self deprecation and insecurities based on the facts that there was some sort of failure in the connection. I used to think I was just like a hopeless romantic about things, but in reality, I’m just a backwards, old fashioned, naive weirdo, with limited life experience, who can cook(about the only thing I feel competent at). We focus so much on money and consuming stuff  that we lose what we as humans at the primitive level really need to be happy……connection to each other, to be in a tribe, to experience what we can in the physical realm, you can’t replace that with sex robots and virtual reality and the more we try the worse we will be as a species (still probably not as bad as “Don Draper” but at least he is handsome). Like always I am a walking contradiction and I must own that, but I am sure someone out there feels the same way I do. Without the bad, we don’t know what is good, but does it have to be this jarring to know the difference….is ignorance really bliss?

How often does fear stop us from living? Fear is really just anxiety, right? Anxiety in general is the worst thing, but it is also one my most defining character flaws…so who am I without the anxiety? What is so wrong with living fearlessly, not putting on a front and just being authentic about your feelings? If you figure it out let me know. So I continue to tell inappropriate jokes and not be taken seriously, as with most others, I am merely a cog in whatever reality you deal in, part of the background, and you get to define me as you wish……even if you are wrong…..and you probably are.

“I believe in the sand beneath my toes, the beach gives a feeling, an earthy feeling I believe in the faith that grows, and the four right chords can make me cry, when I’m with you I feel like I could die, and that would be all right.”

Let’s make some fucking rice shall we?

It’s pretty hard to screw up if you put in the love and effort….do everything with intention, just don’t expect the same in return….but hey this rice is real good!

Life is cathartic, your rice shouldn’t be.

2 cups rice, I am using regular long grain, white rice, but I have used basmati, jasmine, and sushi rice with varying degrees of success, just remember some rice is more starchy than others, just like some people are more likable than others, but you can have a good time with most anyone if the conditions are right.

3 cups of chicken stock, the better the stock the better the rice.

2 tablespoons butter

⅓  diced onion, small dice sucka.

¼ lemon juice

A drizzle of olive oil cuz it’s Greek food.

In a medium pan, add olive oil and butter on medium heat, when the butter melts, add the onion, cook until translucent, about five minutes you can add a pinch of salt (I love Maldon salt) as they cook.

Add the rice, stir around a bit, don’t brown it, this ain’t rice a roni.

Add the stock, turn the heat up, once its at a boil, turn it to low, add the lemon juice,and throw a lid on it. At ten minutes of the lid being on, remove the lid and fluff a bit. Turn off the heat, wait ten more minutes, remove lid, fluff once more and eat.

A weird week and lumiconi

Lumiconi (Italian shell pasta casserole)

“I can’t make you love if you don’t”- Bonnie Raitt

But if you don’t love me I question your taste in general! What a week, also it’s been a while, too long actually I must credit my work mate in inspiring me to get back writing. I told him I was struggling with some mental hang ups and he said “well write something!”, he then told me he reads my blog and I remembered why I started doing this, aside from self preservation, validation that I am leaving my mark on the world even in a small way. when someone tells you they enjoy your creative output it is incredibly flattering, and flattery makes for an improvement in self worth which I am struggling with worse than usual . Anyway, I think I’m better when I work and I equate that to the immense support system I have at my current job. It helps develop me above and beyond my role of mother, caretaker, and wife, which is really how others see me. Most folks see things pretty two dimensional, which really limits the human experience if you ask me.

It’s monsoon season in pdx, not everyone can stand it, but the longer I live here the more I notice that instead of getting wet from the rain I just start to absorb the moisture. Heavy in the lungs like a lifetime worth of bittersweet exchanges, broken dreams, a bong rip of nihilism straight to the brain …it does help if you are a semi aquatic lizard being wearing a human suit waiting for the mothership to take you back to your home planet. The big brain fuck of the place, if you visit in July you want to move here….visit in January and you will start wearing black, want to start a minstrel death metal trio with heavy kazoo, and load up on vitamin D gummies, or you run back to wherever you came from….which is probably for the best, trust me the tweaked out ginger riding trimet, licking peanut butter straight from the jar off his grimy fingers may be more than the average rogue can stomach. 

Bad weather however, makes for great cooking! I made lumiconi (stuffed shells) and they were a hit! Make some, plus they are good if you need to eat away your feelings…actually don’t do that…the only thing worse than seasonal affective disorder is gaining weight on top of it…lol…I apologize if that came off fat shaming it wasn’t meant that way, it’s just another color in my rainbow of hang ups.

Awe fuck me! As I wrote this I missed my stop now I’m halfway to Washington state!  Weird week. At least I feel creative in the words of “the Beatles” “oh blah dee oh blah da life goes on”

How to make stuffed shells: buy some large shell pasta, they usually come in a 10 oz package. Cook them about 5 minutes in heavily salted boiling water, drain and rinse.

Pick some cheeses you like, I would always use ricotta, about a pound of whole milk, part skim can be watery. If you are trying to cut calories….uh…don’t make these. Along with your pound of ricotta you will want to add two eggs and about 1 cup shredded cheese of choice, I used like six but I am weirdo who had six on hand. Might I suggest, Mozzarella, parmesan, Romano, provolone, pick and choose your own adventure on that, add a bit of of salt and pepper and mix er up real good. Shove a tablespoon or so into each par cooked noodle then you get that chore done, you will want to have a 13×9 inch pan waiting with a nice pool (2 cups or so) marinara sauce, place your lumiconi in the sauce (its a pool party!) Meanwhile, before you even started this adventure you turned on the ole’ oven to a pipping 350 degrees. Now the topping is where this can get interesting…..I used bread crumbs, crispy prosciutto, more mozzarella, and some grated Romano. You could consider adding spinach to your cheese mixture, use meat sauce if you want or do you boo. I ain’t gonna tell no one if you get a little crazy what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen! When you have covered your lil swimmers in what ever you are into, cook em in that hot oven GBD and bubbly, about 35 minutes. Eat them with others! Or not. LOL

My next post will be all about public transit! Stay tuned!

Surf ‘n Turf Gyros

“I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.” -Tony Bourdain.

Summer is dwindling to an end, a bittersweet few months of losses, gaining perspective, and awkward exchanges. Between the periods of existential dread (there were several), it has been great, hot (hottest on record for August in PDX), and humbling. To all my people, who lost people, my heart goes out to you, life is always full of change and loss, I will never again assume that just because someone is here today they will be here tomorrow. My focus is on being empathetic to others and to leave judgement to the bored, and unintelligent folks who feed off of the pain of others. I’m not self conscious anymore about letting those special to me know I love them, life’s too damn short, I know it’s fucking cliche, but it’s so true. You don’t know if you will get another chance to tell them you love them (death, earthquakes, scientology, asteroids!), Keeping expectations low in return is good for character development. Love is the most beautiful and intoxicating of human feelings…..its trumps any drug I’ve ever done! Feel good about being mature enough to be vulnerable.
The death of Chef Anthony Bourdain by suicide was pretty demotivational for me. Like many folks I was inspired by him and his writing and saw myself in him. I wrote something a while ago about him before his death, I remember not being able to sleep and having to type it out:
“By the time I had given up on college and gave in to cooking, while being a student at a 3rd rate cooking school, the best selling book Kitchen confidential was all the rage. I read it and of course loved it, which led to reading Anthony Bourdain’s following works. I didn’t love it for the shock factor most got out of it, I was raised in restaurants and bars therefore, I was raised by the types of characters that readers found so shocking in Bourdain’s expose about the industry. These are my peeps, the criminals, the crazies, the misfits, the lost boys (and girls) of the blue collar biz. I learned to pour a keg beer at age four, so really none of his wild tales seemed out of this world to me, but the pleasure of the read was being able to relate and read a tale that you have in essence experienced to some degree, New York, NY is a bit different than my hometown and my current town of Portland, but I instantly felt a camaraderie with him.”
I think he will always remain a reminder to me that we are all mere mortals and that even those with what we want have their own demons to contend with. There were other losses of those I grew up with and at this time I don’t think I should elaborate more than saying that I never felt so hyper aware of how fragile existence is and how heavy it is…..dark….I am so worried mine will pass and I won’t appreciate it enough.
School is going back into session on Monday, and with every year that passes (way to fast!) I realize I don’t have any more babies….my son said something funny the other day, I was making him some soup for lunch, as I served him a bowl he looked at it and said “what?! No garnish?” he just turned 7 on the 4th of July. I put a quenelle of pesto on it and he looks at me and says “now that’s more like it”, he is sooo spoiled, to his future spouse…I’m sorry(kinda), but you better be able to cook..or at least good with garnishing LOL!
I like cooking a lot, but I don’t know if I want to try and emulate/cook other chefs food forever. Besides the fact, I would like to try my hand at running my own thing….Portland’s food scene for all its splendor doesn’t have as much souvlaki as a beer drinking city needs to have. I already have a pretty killer playlist put together for service…LOL. I’ve learned so much at every restaurant I have worked, and that education is beyond valuable, I am so much better than I was when I was actually way more confident in my skills. The more you hone your craft the more you realize you don’t know Jack! I am not ready to put my money where my mouth is anyhow. It takes a lot of courage, and financiers to run a risky biz like a restaurant. Like my dad always said growing up “Money talks, jive ass walks”. Plus having a restaurant, and doing it right, takes your entire life and dedication, I want desperately to travel as many places as I can. There has been a void in me ever since the mid nineties when my parents closed the restaurant, I think part of me feels that my work isn’t done here until I continue to keep the recipes and traditions of my blended family alive…I guess I do it here a little, but I love to cook for others and show my love to them, just as my family before me had. #itscomplicated I guess we will see what evolves….on that note I made surf and turf gyros!
I made the pita myself using Bon Apetit’s Recipe recipe, I added some toasted sesame seeds to the dough.
I grilled 2 pounds flat iron steaks marinated in my souvlaki marinade
Grilled shrimp, sprinkled them with “lemon pepper” before grilling on skewers
Not so secret sauce:
Equal parts:

  • Tahini
  • Greek yogurt
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • Herbs, a few tablespoons of fresh, I think parsley, dill, oregano, basil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of red wine vinegar

Combine till smooth
Cucumber julienned
You really can choose your own adventure here… I meant to add red onion but forgot!
Place ingredients on bread and enjoy!

Pickled Onions & the Liberation of a Change in Perspective

OMFG! I have writer’s block like a mofo right now! Yikes….but honestly I think it is partially due to the fact that I don’t need the same level of outside vailiation from the internet I used to. Which I would say in a weird way is…progress. Furthermore I have been busy…for me…which is in no way busy for someone else…I am just speaking from personal perspective as I have no
other. I need to quit apologizing for things….someone told me apologizing too much makes you seem weak…which I am not. I was just in my hometown, as my mother has currently had some health/mobility issues. Watching your parents age is hard, and I think it may be because once you see them getting older you have to realize that you yourself are getting older as well, and that the clock ticks regardless of if you are ready for it. I also got an exceptional manicure, made it through all my shifts at work last week without a scratch! Impressive. Going back to where I come from is always emotional and strange, it was quite apparent to me this time that I have been gone a while, and how ill suited I am for the lifestyle there, which made me think that it is probably a good idea for people to move out of the 50 mile radius they were born in for a while, and if you leave and decide to go back than you know you are in the right place, but if you come back and it no longer seems like you are home, than you made the right choice to leave. It helps to gain perspective, and to figure out who you are without the huge burden of the expectations of others. I now thoroughly trust myself and my choices, whereas a decade ago I was constantly doubting myself in order to fit in a place that limited my unique qualities, how I look, progressive ideals, not to mention being judged by people who have already decided they dislike you based on the family you come from or the religion you follow or in my case don’t follow. I feel like the best gift I have ever given myself is that of reinvention, only possible by moving locations and I am now the happiest and most confident I have ever been! I’m not trying to sound judgemental at all, I just feel like moving out was the best thing I could’ve done for myself, and I would want this for anyone as it is incredibly liberating. It is hard to observe friends and family that are going through the same troubles I had but not knowing where to go next because they are “comfortable” in the only place they know. This time for the most part was good (I have lowered my expectations quite a bit which helps and I have figured out that your real friends make the effort to see you, screw the fakey haters, my fakedar is pretty good nowadays I can detect them a mile away and I pity the fools). I did have crazy insomnia this time, which is super sucktastic! The worst feeling I have had in while is being wide awake at 3am with a picture of yourself at 8 years old staring back at you. But for the most part I think I had great memories of the trip. Nuff said.
I need to talk about the March Degustabox, it was grand! Real good waffles, from Julian’s which I would totally use and pass off at my own! LOL. We loved the Oreo bar, the mint chocolate and cookies are the perfect mix of taste and texture.
The loacker crisp wafers were good but I probably would not buy espresso flavor since I have kids, but they were super good on mocha ice cream.
The 7days croissant was surprisingly fresh tasting! My kids loved it, it’s a little high in calories, fat, and sugar for more than a occasional indulgence. But if I was traveling and saw these I would buy one for some quick energy.
The Post great grains was really good, we will be buying this, it’s great as a granola alternative in yogurt. Will buy this again. Big pieces of almonds and coconut!
I liked the energy tea, it didn’t stand out from other similar products, I think I may be more of a coffee person.
The homebrew pickling packets were fun, the only critic I would have is that if you add all the dry ingredients, instead of having to add your own sugar, it would be more appealing to folks who don’t normally cook.
The brown rice milk from Elmhurst is a cool product, it is shelf stable, full of whole grain, and you can cook with it. I tried some and it is a bit watery to add to coffee, but I would consider using this in a tasty, vegan cream soup, or to make a vegan gravy with. It is a great product to have on hand when hosting vegans in your home or to make healthier choices easier.
On that note I will yap at ya later…..Happy cooking!

Pork and black bean tostada and February degustabox

Well it’s been a rough go getting all my blog content switched over to AWS, but I think we are at a place now where I can get back to more frequent posting. I have officially binge-watched the entire “Ugly Delicious” series on Netflix…and I loved it! I do think the term “ugly” to describe tacos, pizza, and soup dumplings is weird…it’s not fine dining plating but I think regional cuisines have a certain style and technique that is truly stunning. Simplicity is the height of fashionable right now, from my perspective, and I would like to tell Kanye to get on making a bulletproof hoodie….as I think it could fit his branding well and I also think I want them for my kids! So Ye if you are reading this….send the royalties to mama!
After watching “Ugly delicious”, I found a lot of connection for me to the taco episode, Dave Chang was kinda being a hater about them, until he went to L.A. where his tune quickly changed after a few regional tastings. Where I grew up in Ogden, UT we always had a vibrant Hispanic community and growing up in my parents restaurants, I had many early caregivers and mentors of Mexican heritage. Today I work with some amazingly, talented, hardworking, and dedicated Mexican immigrants and I feel that they have a beautiful cultural heritage and it shows in their native cuisine. I felt really inspired to make my interpretation of Mexican cooking (gringo Mex with a dash of Tex, suck on that Bobby Flay!), it was also perfect because February’s Degustabox contained Mrs. Renfro’s Texas red beer salsa, and goya refried beans I wanted to test out. I instapotted (yeah, I have one, and I kinda, not totally, love it!) some pork sirloin roasts, super easy:

    Get 2 pork sirloin roasts: cover with aleppo pepper, salt, pepper, granulated garlic.
    Set instapot to saute mode and add 1 T. Peanut oil, add roasts and sear on all sides.
    Add 1 Cup of stock or beer, and set to slow cook for 3 hours and 30 minutes

I fried corn tortillas to a nice and crispy place, topped them with the Goya refried black beans, topped with pork, cheese, lettuce, and the Refro’s Salsa! The dish was a hit and super easy to get on the table on a weeknight. I would buy both those products again….the one thing about the salsa is it is a little on the sweet side, which is common with Tex Mex style jarred salsa, but the heat level gave a nice balance.
I made heart shaped pepperoni pizza for Valentine’s day with the Boboli thin crust, and boboli sauce. I wasn’t crazy about the sauce (here again the added sugar dull the tomato flavor for me), but my family didn’t seem to mind at all and the whole thing was consumed happily. I have always been a fan of Boboli’s crusts, they are convenient and tasty, I think my favorite way to use them is to make BBQ chicken pizzas.
The Tiger Tail mustard was a winner at our house, and at the price point it’s at I would choose this over the run of the mill supermarket yellow mustards.
I used the Thai inspired Spice Hunter rub in cooking liquid to steam large shrimp to serve in cocktails, the spice rub gave the shrimp a nice aromatic quality, and citrus kick. The cocktail sauce was made using the Sir Kensigtons Spicy ketchup, this ketchup made it easy to just stir in a little horseradish and make perfectly seasoned cocktail sauce. I liked both these products, and I am excited to use the rub on pork or chicken to grill.
I put the Luna bars in my kids lunches for school, and they loved them and wanted more when they got home! So in the future when I need a quick snack that they love and actually has nutritional value I would get them these.
The Lundberg family farms aged Cheddar chips were tasty with a “dorito-like” quality that everyone wants in a cheese flavored tortilla chip, so if you want a “healthyish” version of dortitos these could be a good replacement.
Well that’s all for today folks! Happy cooking.


Well in reflection of the last year I have a lot to think about and little to say. I’m not exactly sure I should be preaching any gospel at this point. I find all the online, self-righteousness and broadcasting quite corny, and in reading some of my “expired” old posts, I cringe. In 2018 I think I will be trying to disconnect from the wifi more, and be present with the real people in my life who breath the same air I do, don’t tell me what I want to hear but what I need to hear. Self-awareness is something that has been a goal of mine, taking responsibility for being wrong, standing up to bullies, and communication. But I would be lying if I told you I got it all figured out, Don Henley said it best “the more I know, the less I understand, all these things I thought I figured out I have to learn again”. I got no answers, no highfalutin moral code to follow, I did start using chlorophyll supplements this year and I would recommend that to everyone….but I am not going to tell you how, and what you should do to live your life, because i’m still figuring myself out and working through my own stuff. I would say if you are the type that post about how other people should let go of the past, when you have caused them hurt, you should save it…i’m sure Harvey Weinstein would love all his bad behaviors and those affected by it to “get over it” but that isn’t how it works, that is why we should all budget our time wisely in dealing with the energy of others, but make sure and stand up for yourself, we all die alone, you are best asset you have. I started this blog to work through my loneliness and isolation associated with my move 6 years ago, a bad reality T.V. experience, and to keep track of what I cook…..I have been vulnerable publicly, been embarrassed, and comforted by how others take my rantings, but mostly it’s just me thinking out loud, it’s entirely self indulgent and is not meant to insult anyone but I appreciate any reaction I can get and I do take feedback seriously . For those struggling with hurt, I would say to trust that the universe will take care of those who treat others like doormats…..give it time….some folks gotta learn the hard way. Kindness, humor, and resilience are the coping strategies I am going to use this year. And I am really glad I am invested in cryptocurrency…..that is the icing on the cake that was 2017! “Life ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon.” -Ice Cube

All aboard the Bitcoin express!

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10 life lessons I learned working at restaurants

I made Tona’s garlic edamame recipe because I was craving them like crazy, and this is my favorite way to eat edamame, I got nostalgic and I was thinking about all the things I’ve learned working in restaurants, so I compiled a list, wanna hear it? If not click on the highlighted word “recipe” above to get Chef Tony’s method for edamame bliss or if you are up for it, read on…..
I was raised in the kitchen, if we weren’t at our family restaurant we were eating at the local Chinese restaurant my mother was a waitress at before I was born, or visiting my Greek relatives at their respective tavernas (my parents met working at my Uncle Speros supper/dance club). I sat dutifully on the cutting board and watched my mother grill cook, dad tend bar, and siblings doing prep. I could use a deep fryer to make my own french fries and pour a proper keg beer, with help from standing on a milk crate, by the time I was four. I made my first steak dinner at home (mom was working at the restaurant) when I was nine. I was taking to go orders and hostessing at 11, waitressed at 12, prep and dishes by 13 and was working in other restaurants besides the family’s by 15. I feel that although these statements are legit from a lifetime of experience they are alas….opinions….so take out of it what you like:
10. Making stock is a good analogy for life….fill it with good quality, simple things, take it low and slow, pay attention to the details, skim it of impurities and the fat, often, don’t rush it and you will have a great thing.
9. Cooks are rockstars….well because 50% of them are usually musicians(may differ in your area, but very true in Portland), and those who aren’t can school any music aficionado with their music expertise. A good playlist can make a bad day great. Never underestimate the power of music.
8. Chef/industry experience owners are the BEST owners. The worst places i’ve worked are places where the person running the joint never worked in the industry…the pay is lousy….the owners think you are low class for the career you’ve chosen. These types abuse the art, the morale is low, they are never in the establishment, they have the worst Christmas parties, they fire people by group email, and they usually skip on quality and blame the staff when customers are unhappy with the product. Don’t dedicate your life to the pursuit of cash over something you are actually passionate about everyone suffers in the process.
7. Cooks are tough, no bullshit accepted…. if you wear make-up it will run off your face while you sweat over a steaming pot, your hair extensions will be set ablaze when you light the pilot light, and don’t even get me started about fake nails and bacteria! Your expensive shoes will suffer the wrath of garbage juice leaking from the bag, or a dropped sauce bowl will stain your fancy pants if you wear em. Be prepared to look your worst in the climax of the rush, this job is not for the faint of heart, the precious, or the high maintenance this shit is real, and I realized I respect people the most in heat of the battle. Unkind words will be exchanged, blood, sweat, and tears……you must have a thick skin! Then you have to clean the whole mess up together and drink a beer. In short….don’t put on airs.
6. Clean kitchens are the best kitchens. The product is only as good as the effort you put in, a clean kitchen nets better food, and the best places I have worked have the best health inspection track records. Note: perceived fanciness and pricey are not necessarily indicators of quality or cleanliness. Expensive doesn’t equal quality, effort does.
5. You gotta have a sense of humor, and usually a macabre one. Appreciate folks while they are around and get their points of view even if you don’t agree. Some folks are huge mentors and teach you many things in a very short period of time, and sometimes you never see them again, people come and go, lessons stay with you….as do good dirty jokes. Not everyone will like you….and that’s ok. Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can, keep an open mind to be the best version of you.
4. The customer is not always right, they are in fact usually wrong, but they do pay the bills, so smile through the annoyance, do your best to make them happy. Make others feel welcome even if they are annoying or maybe just uninformed. But remember you can’t please everyone all the time. Take nothing personally.
3. Stay hydrated…yeah…and make sure you have coffee.
2. Respect whoever does the damn dishes! It’s an under appreciated gig and it may be one of the most important! No plates….no food.
1. At the moment you want to quit the most, is usually the time you are growing and becoming better. Don’t give up.

Throwback classics: Spaghetti Supreme Potluck salad


Nelly once rapped “Sweat, wet, gettin hot up in this joint”, welcome to Summer! With that comes the time to make recipes that won’t heat up my 100 year old Portland four square house basically no use of the oven…we still haven’t bit the bullet and got central air yet. Part of me feels like my PDX lifestyle would lose a bit of grit in the process if I start refrigerating the air, then again I think I need to soften my persona a bit anyhow….soooo…next home improvement is A/C!
I am going to start off by talking about the era in which this salad made an entrance into my life. I was in jr. high. I was a rather chunky, outgoing, social outcast, clad in ill fitting thrift store duds. Grunge was the buzzword du jour and I was stuck smack dab in the middle of my awkward formative years with GenX leading the path (I am oddly not quite a genxer but not quite a millennial…a “Genennial??)! I was active with a Masonic girls youth group and whenever we would have a potluck one of the moms would always present a version of this salad and it was always the first bowl empty. Not only is this salad delicious, it is simple to prepare with the help of our secret weapon: “salad supreme seasoning” , it and “lemon pepper” were (and are still in many homes) all the rage in spice blends. I used Johnny’s salad elegance it’s a local version whose company is based in the PNW, but you can use one of the other varieties, the original I remember being “McCormick’s”. This seasoning has poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salty Parmesan or Romano, paprika, and other stuff including a touch of MSG, which really isn’t as awful for you as it was made out to be, everything in moderation, it’s what gives food that umami that makes you want to dive in for more. You do actually get some vegetables with this one, and you can pick and choose to your liking. Mine had:
1 lb Angel hair pasta (sub in any kind of pasta)
4 cups diced veggies:
I used bell peppers, shallots instead of traditional onions, olives, carrots. Other options: cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, broccoli, zucchini, really whatever is fresh and in season would be good bets, I would include the onions of some sort as they add a certain zest. But for folks who hate onions, you can leave them out with good results.
1 cup of olive oil
½ cup of vinegar, choose your own adventure here, plain old white vinegar works great, or go for red wine if you fancy.
¼ cup of salad supreme seasoning mix, sounds like a lot but trust me on this.
2 tsp sugar
I topped ours with fried salami cut into strips, kinda like a bacon-y vibe, you sure don’t have to add this especially if this is going along side whatever you be grillen and chillen on that day.
Cook your pasta in salted boiling water till just past al dente but not mushy, doing the longer suggested cooking time is a good way to do it. While the water is coming up to boil, chop your veggies and put in a large bowl. Mix up oil, vinegar, sugar,
and salad seasoning, mix well. When your pasta is done, drain it and rinse with cold water. Combine the pasta, veggies, and dressing and mix well. Serve chilled, can be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight. Watch it magically disappear at your next potluck!

Northern Utah Road trip 2017

I travel back to my hometown about once or twice a year, every year to visit with my family and friends. This year I agreed to run the Ogden Marathon relay with my bro, his kids, and a friend of my niece. My husband, being the good sport that he is agreed to drive down with me this year as I am super paranoid about flying on airplanes right now. It’s a good eleven hours without stopping, and you always have to stop, but for the most part the drive is beautiful and there are lots of fun places to see on the way (that is a whole other post). I figured I would mention a few of the highlights of my trip in case someone out there needs some ideas of things to do or see, or stay when they find themselves in the midst of the Northern part of the Zion curtain.
Ogden (O-town)
I have waxed poetic about my hometown before, and I still think it is a great place with loads of potential and I always enjoy my time there.
I always try to get in touch with my roots! This is always the most important part for me to hang out with all the awesome friends and family that still like me even though they have seen me at my very worst, even better if they invite you to eat dinner and they know how to make some great grilled deliciousness or they have epic beards!fb_img_1496173380829

A huge thanks to those folks that went out of their way to spend time with us….seriously it means the world to me, I wish I had photos of everyone and everything but I don’t. Even if you aren’t from Ogden, I promise you will make some fast friends just by chatting up some locals!
Participate in some of the great outdoor activities:
Hiking, biking, skiing, running, pickleball, hunting, Ogden is a sportsman’s paradise. I am pretty much terrible at running and I did a beautiful 5 mile section of the marathon relay in the best time per mile I have ever done, it was mostly downhill in gorgeous Ogden canyon, a special shout out to bluetooth headphones, coaching from my niece Xena, and Rage against the machine for helping me stay motivated. I felt really accomplished that I conquered the fear of distance running I had and did something with my family that took teamwork, training, and a bit of “daughters of the Utah pioneers” grit. I also met some really nice people on the shuttle ride up, and the subsequent wait we had in the canyon, people are super nice and curious there. I would do it again but maybe the half so I wouldn’t have to get up at 4 am to wait till 11 am to actually run….better get training.
Support the locals who own businesses and attend their events. One of my favorite nights we had was going to the Lighthouse lounge for “Record Night” with the Digital Smoke crew. lighthouseDigital smoke sponsors a night where you can bring in your favorite vinyl, sign up on a list, and listen to it while you drink a local beer, and eat some good pub grub (drink the Ghostrider White IPA and eat a french dip). Dance with your friends to records!! Don’t have any vinyl? Lavendar Vinyl is across the street and can service your needs.vinyl
I’ve said it once and I will say it again, eat at Tona! nigiritonarollBasically you can’t go wrong, they are one of those rare places that just keep getting better and better, tell them I sent you and order the chef’s choice nigiri, the maki rolls, or basically any special they have. You won’t be disappointed.
I don’t get out much in my normal life, so whilst on vacay, my husband decided that we should try out Airbnbing a few spots one of which was in Salt Lake City, we met in SLC along time ago at the U of U so SLC holds a great deal of nostalgia for us. We left our kids with the family in Ogden for a few nights and he and I hit a few of our favorite spots, and found a few new ones. We got an Airbnb on Capitol hill, for $80 a night18620749_10212563155934396_7706742343535191453_o
it was a bargain with its 100 year old charm, 3 bedrooms, 2 bath, and kept in pristine condition by the owner, it was also close to where we had our first apartment before we backpacked through Europe and got hitched way back when.
Go for coffee at Caffe D’ Bolla! caffedbollaThis shop has been open nearly as long and Jarom and I have been together, and it’s a must for any coffee connoisseur. Caffe d’ bolla rivals anything we have here in Portland, start with whatever freshly roasted espresso he has (a real macchiato does not contain caramel and is served in espresso demitasse) and if you have the time and want to splurge, experience his exceptional and rare siphoned coffee. Let John be your guide and taste coffee like you never have in your life.
Eat at the Red Iguana, but don’t order the gringo stuff (I’m talking to you crisp shell beef taco, make those at home its easy!)get the mole any mole, I am partial to the verde, but Jarom ordered the rib special with a mango version that blew my mind!18699508_10212565083782591_4675346322359277907_o Expect a wait, they are always busy, and consider ordering the jalapeno appetizer that is stuffed with shrimp and queso fresco, goes great with a rocks margarita! Our waiter was great and loved sharing his love for the food they serve and their culture, he gave me some tips on getting better at pronouncing in Espanol, not to mention hooked us up with some tres leches cake!
Go to the Gilgal Sculpture Garden, it’s weird, it’s behind Chuck o’ rama, and it is a fine way to round out the whole Temple square, LDS history part of Salt Lake.18836948_10212613075942365_5315557460470264258_o One man’s passion for his religion with a twist of masonry, and love of sculpture is a total gem for the curious and open minded tourist, plus Joseph Smith sphinx nuff’ said.
Check out some sassy nightlife with a local, I was lucky enough to have a night out #salazarstyle with many drinks and fun.18700506_10212568345584134_7449614075780660030_o
Next we traveled on to Park City, home of the Sundance film festival, and more chefs per capita than anywhere else on the planet. We Airbnbed an entire house (zillow value 800K) for about $180 a night! It was incredible and located in the heart of the action, with a hot tub, trampoline, and home gym. If I ever moved back to Utah, I would live in Park City…..make sure you check out Mainstreet, walk down, shop, ride the free trolley back up, walk down the other side, shop.mainstreetpc Check out the Banksy on the side of a gallery.18673304_10213072909197688_8624729797930514568_o
Go to the High West distillery saloon distillery-signTake a tour, sample the wares, decide which variety is your favorite, have the best “old fashioned” of your life!highwest Buy some merch and bottles for the road.18768203_10213075008810177_6953547034312047360_o We tried hard to take everyone to eat at the saloon, but it was a three hour wait by the time we rounded up the troops. So we ended up at the Baja Cantina, which you should skip, it was expensive, the food was awful, and the wait was too long for the atrocious fare. It was however family friendly, but I can’t believe a world class resort would house such a terrible, out of date, disappointment of a restaurant. Canned refried beans, cremated hockey puck burgers, or cold fish tacos anyone? If you read this Baja Cantina….step your game up.
Do, do the fun activities at the resort, we did the Alpine slide which is a classic, but I wish we would’ve spent the day doing the other activities….Alpine coaster you are on my radar for next time. In all it was a great trip and there is really no right or wrong way to do it, but I hope I could give you some inspiration to get out there and do your own road trippin adventure! See more photos and some fun boomerang vids of the trip on my instagram!

Nando’s Peri-Peri Shrimp in lettuce cups, cricket protein in ranch flavor and why I am ready for self driving cars.

Okay I am going to get right down to it….first Degusta review and recipe, I was recently told by another blogger, that he hates having to read the backstory on food blogs to get to the recipe, so for those folks I am putting that info first, it is your choice if you want to take it deeper at that point.
April’s degusta had some really interesting products, my recipe will feature the Nando’s Garlic peri-peri sauce. This recipe is so fast that you could have it on the table before you can even order pizza. It’s healthy, and I do really love it when I make something that isn’t just delicious but also low in carb, fat, gluten and calories. It will counter act the bagel sandwich I ate for breakfast! LOL.
Peri-peri Shrimp:
1 pound of shrimp, deveined, tails removed. So you can eat the whole damn thing with reckless abandon!
¼ Nando’s, I used garlic but they have several other varieties
1 tsp old bay seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp mirin, or white wine
1 Tbsp peanut oil
4 lettuce leaves that can be good for cupping the shrimp.
Garnishes that you like: I used tiny diced red and green bell peppers.
Marinate the shrimp in the peri-peri, old bay, mirin/wine, pepper, for up to 20 minutes.
Heat a skillet on high, add peanut oil, when the oil shimmers at you like a glitter covered stripper, add your marinated shrimp, making sure they don’t crowd each other, you want them to brown up. After about 3 minutes flip em, and cook another minute or two, turn of the heat. Place your lettuce cups on two plates, fill them with the shrimp and top with garnishes. Ya done, son, eat.
The next product I wanted to review was the Wilton’s Candy Melts drizzle pouch, I had, shall we say less success with this. (pic)
I followed the directions and reheated twice on top of that but mine never really got “drizzle” like, mine was more of a “plop pouch” with the consistency of peanut butter. That being said, it was rather tasty, and my kids really enjoyed it…plop and all. I think it needs a little less stabilizer (palm oil).
The lovely Candy chewy caramels were a hit, they are even wrapped with wax paper like the homemade ones the neighbors would give out at christmas when I was a kid …10 outta 10. I love Mutti tomato products anyway, so I was stoked to get tomato concentrate in a tube, best way to buy and use tomato paste, you utilize more product with the tube as the can, can be precarious to get all the paste out…WINNER! I liked the Bush’s hummus made easy, but the only thing that bothered me is the added sugar, hummus doesn’t need added sugar in my opinion so I probably will stick to buying tahini and making my own. I like the Better oats, and I would buy this again, it’s a lot heartier and tasty than conventional instant oats, great if you add some fresh fruit and toasted walnuts. The PR bar had a chalky aftertaste to me, but my 10 year old daughter loved it, so if i needed a quick meal replacement or snack if I was in a rush, I would feed these to my kids. The “chorido’s” are a snack food made with cricket protein, they have mole, ranch, and salsa flavor, they kind of look like a frito, and my kids loved them. I find it rather inspiring that a company is making a snack food that contains a sustainable protein, yeah I felt a bit weird at first, but other cultures have been utilizing insects as snacks for centuries. I loved the cafe Bustelo instant espresso, it was super easy to make or carry with you to mix with hot water, haters gonna hate on instant coffee, but I think the Europeans do it quite well. I don’t have a K-cup machine for the skinny girl tea, so I will pass those along to a friend who has one!
After nearly getting hit by a speeding van that ran a red light today, I have decided that I am on board with self driving cars. I have been in more than my share of minor-mid range car wrecks in my life. Auto accidents are fucking horrible, and I think that driving is hands down the most dangerous thing we do in a day. Yet, with all the hazards, health consequence, and expense, humans are totally addicted to cars and they are still some archaic shrine to social status! You know those “life flashes before your eyes” moments? I have felt it only twice in my 36 years, the second time was this morning. I made it out unscathed except I spooked myself real good, my heart still pounds due to adrenaline release, some folks do “extreme” sports and things to feel this….I don’t like feeling this, some say it makes you “feel alive”, I totally agree but it’s that lingering sense of how fragile life is that remains. Fragile things are usually beautiful, but often aren’t intended to last forever, just like being a human. I think the lesson is to focus on being present. Anyway, get us some self driving vehicles Elon, I trust the robots more than the humans. And if that offends you…you probably haven’t been in any car accidents.