photograph of mt hood I took from a plane

I have a collection of pictures taken on my travels that I've always wanted to print.  I finally started on this project yesterday at the Newspace Center for Photography in thier digital printing lab.  Photoshop is some pretty daunting software and the prints are tricky because they look much different on the screen than they do printed out.  I printed this one that I took from the window of an airplane coming back into Portland last June.  I love this picture!  I have prints of this for sale here: hoodwool.etsy.com


Pendleton melton wool blanket & the mill store

I made this blanket from Pendleton melton wool.  I hand pressed and machine sewed felt trim to the fabric.  The color is called Columbia Blue.  I bought it and the trim from the Mill Store on SE McLoughlin.  The mill store is an amazing resource for felt trim, wool fabric, selvages, and craft materials and books.   I love Pendleton fabrics.  The quality is amazing.  They've been around for 140 years here in the Northwest.  I think this fabric was made at the Washougal mill 30 miles from Portland.   I'm selling custom order twin and lap blankets on my etsy store here:  hoodwool 

Here are the colors available for the custom blankets:

from top to bottom: lipstick red, melton red, berry, maroon, dark cardinal (the reds are hard to photograph accurately.  you can see what these look like without flash on the side in the picture below)

from top to bottom: heather gray, royal blue, columbia blue, sky blue, navy, dark green

black, camel, chocolate, (bottom color not for sale)

cherry, wine, red, orange, yellow, green, dk green, lt blue, blue, navy, purple, taupe, drab, lt brown, brown, grey, steel blue, black, white


DIY lotion and laundry detergent

I made my own lotion and laundry detergent, as inspired by articles in Readymade and Bust magazines.  Both turned out awesome and were very easy and cheap to make.  I made the lotion with coconut and avocado oils.  All you need is a blender, any edible oil, beeswax, and essential oil for fragrance if you'd like.  It makes a great gift for the holidays packaged in a simple mason jar.  Click the readymade link for more detailed directions.

1 C water or cooled brewed green tea
3/4 C any edible oil (olive, safflower, coconut, avocado, etc.)
2 T grated beeswax
several drops essential oil

Heat the oil and beeswax in a double boiler (or a pyrex mixing bowl placed over a pot of boiling water) until the wax melts.  Remove from heat and let cool for 2 min.  Blend the water on high in the blender, remove the stopper on top and slowly pour in the oil.  Blend until it's emulsified completely. 


The laundry detergent cost about $1 per gallon to make.  It acutally works better than a lot of the expensive eco-detergents.  And even better does not have migraine-inducing fragrances like most conventional detergents.  I scented it with eucalyptus and lavender essential oils, and it smells wonderful.  I used a coconut based soap that did separate when the detergent cooled, but it still worked great all the same.  I couldn't find the recipe on Bust's website so here are the instructions: 

Laundry Detergent:

Grate 2 C of unscented bar soap
bring 4.5 C water to a boil and stir in soap till dissolved
add fresh herbs (4 sprigs lavender would do)
2 C each of borax and washing soda (some grocery stores have them in the laundry section or hardware stores)
pour mixture into pail with 2 gallons water
add 10 drops of essential oil such as ylang ylang, lavender, or eucalyptus
let stand overnight and strain into a large container, discarding herbs
use 1/2 C per load, shake before using

You can find these in the laundry detergent section. 

orca beans from cherry sprout market

I bought these beans from Cherry Sprout on Albina.  They're so pretty I had to share a picture.  These even keep thier spots after being cooked.


some tomatillos I grew

some tomatillos I harvested last week.  I love the purple veined husks.  These plants get big!   Mine was heavily rootbound in a size 10 nursery pot.  Tomatillos are awesome raw in salsa with lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and chiles.


stock from vegetable trimmings

I first read about this idea in the The Locavore's Handbook.  Instead of going into the compost pile, you can save your vegetable trimmings in a bag in the freezer.  When you fill it, simmer the contents on the stove for a half hour.  You then have stock for soups or risotto.  Its a great way to utilize all of those small center pieces or garlic (no peeling needed), celery greens, or parmesean rinds.

Here is a great article about this on the Portland Farmer's Market blog.

squash risotto in a slow cooker

I made squash risotto in a slow cooker with my homegrown squashes.  I've never really used Crockpots, but I was inspired to try one out after seeing in the awesome recipes in the The Slow Cook Book.  This is the easiest method for making risotto I've tried.  You add all the ingredients and let it sit 3 hours, eliminating the time spent over the stove stirring and adding water.  The recipie I used was based on the one on pg 318, I just omitted the meat.

Squash Risotto in a slow cooker
serves 4

2T butter
2T olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 springs thyme (I used a T or so of fresh parsley, rosemary, oregano, and sage.)
1 C white wine ( I used a dash of port.)
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1/2" cubes ( I used a small butternut and acorn.)
1C arborio rice or carnaroli rice
2C hot vegetable stock (I ended up needing 3 or 4.)
1.5C grated pecorino cheese (I used parmesan).

Preheat slow cooker.  Saute onion in olive oil and butter until soft.  add salt, pepper, garlic, squash, and herbs and saute another 5 min.  stir in arborio rice to mixture and combine until everything is coated. transfer to slow cooker and add stock.  cook on low heat for 1.5-2 hours.  you might need to stir halfway through cooking time or add stock.  (I left mine cooking for 3.5-4)  Add the cheese, stir in, and serve.  This recipe would have been better doubled. (I like to have lots of leftovers).

roasting new mexico green chilies

I lived in New Mexico for 6 years, and the Hatch green chilies have a special place in my heart.  In September, you can smell roasting chilies all over Santa Fe and the grocery stores are piled ceiling-high with 20lb burlap bags.  This summer I grew three plants in black plastic nursery pots on my  driveway.  The concentrated heat was the only way the Oregon summer was hot enough for them.  (I first had them in the bed, and they barely grew until I transplanted them to the pots).  One of the three mysteriously did not produce anything. 

overripe, underripe tomatoes

I'm always sad to see the summer go in Oregon.  It never lasts long enough for my tomatoes either.  I pulled up all the vines last week when the weather got chilly, and I have around 20 lbs of green ones!  It's a bummer. . .  probably more than half my harvest.  They are now in paper bags with bananas in my kitchen, and I hope they will ripen.


On the other end of the spectrum, I had several pounds of overripe tomatoes, and I made the best pasta sauce I've ever had with them with onion, olive oil, garlic, red wine, parsley, sage, and rosemary.  They were pretty skunky when I put them in the sauce pan, and I was happily surprised with the transformation.  Homegrown tomatoes have so much flavor you barely have to boil them at all.  Maybe overripe tomatoes are the best for marinara sauce.

These are the seeds mentioned in my previous post.  I left them in the water a bit too long, and they started to germinate.  If you try this don't let them sit longer than 3 or 4 days before you strain and dry them.


white lavender and tricolor sage

I bought these two at Blue Heron Herbary on Sauvie Island.  They must have had 50 different varieties of lavender.  I'd never seen a white lavender before.  The smell is incredible- like lavender but with sweeter with hints of honeysuckle or melon.

Blue Heron Herbary


gluten free cornbread recipe

My grandmother makes really awesome cornbread.   I was inspired to make it more often after visiting her in Memphis last Christmas.   There were several issues with the recipes I tried that kept that from happening until I came up with this one.  I wanted a recipe for an 8" skillet.  I like the smaller size because cornbread is best hot from the oven, and you don't end up with lots of leftovers.  A lot of the appeal for me in cornbread is in instant gratification.   You don't have to knead or rise dough, and it takes about 5 minutes to mix up the batter and put it in the oven, so baking a fresh one every night is easy.  The other consideration I had is that my boyfriend has wheat allergy.  Surprisingly most cornbread is not gluten free- usually recipes are half wheat and half cornmeal.  Since you’re already halfway there with the cornmeal, cornbread lends itself well to gluten free baking.  In general, I find that a 50/50 substitution of rice and tapioca flour for wheat works well for gluten free baking, and it did here too. 

It turned out to be perfect the first time!  (How often does that happen with improvised baking?!) 
I've made this a bunch of times since last week, and it’s been wonderful to have hot bread so often with dinner.   The texture is really fluffy and light, unlike how gluten free breads can often be, and it has a beautiful brown crunchy crust with cracks all over the top.   We eat it with butter during dinner and with jam or honey for dessert.

Gluten Free Cornbread

1 C cornmeal
1/2 C rice flour
1/2 C tapoica flour
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1 C milk
2  T butter or oil  (enough to coat the bottom of your skillet well)
8" skillet

Preheat oven to 425.  Mix dry ingredients. My Grandmother's trick is heating the oil in the pan really hot (till almost smoking) before adding the batter.   Mix egg and milk with dry ingredients and immediately pour into hot skillet (careful not to burn yourself with oil splatters).  Bake for 23 min.  

Also for everyone in Portland or the NW, the bulk section at Winco is a great and affordable place to get the rice and tapioca flour and the other dry ingredients.

If anyone else tries it, I'd like to hear how yours comes out.


saving heirloom tomato seeds

all stuff from my garden!!  awesome!

I grew heirloom tomatoes this summer- Purple Cherokee, Orange Blossom, Yellow Pear, Green Zebra, Pineapple. To save seeds for next year, I'm trying out this method-  1. Cut the tomato in half, squeeze out the seeds into a cup, and add water.  2. Cover the cup and allow the liquid to ferment for 2 to 4 days.  The fermentation breaks down the seeds' jelly coats and also helps them become viable by mimicking natural processes.  In a few days strain and rinse the seeds and dry them on paper towels for storage.  

For Oregon gardeners, I'd recommened the Orange Blossom and Yellow Pear varities.  I had the most success with them as they matured the earliest.  The Orange Blossoms especially were super tasty.  The Green Zebras must have cross pollinated with another variety last summer.  They don't taste very good or look like a normal Green Zebra.  I've been making them into salsa with lots of garlic, chile, cilantro, and parsley, and they're ok then. 

I also grew zucchini, cucumbers, Cherry Bomb peppers, tomatillos, New Mexico chilies, cauliflower (which I had to throw out because it was full of bugs), lettuce, swiss chard, arugula, strawberries, raspberries, butternut squash, basil, oregano, and parsley.  It's been a good summer for my garden.