March 28, 2006


No Knead - No Fault 100% Whole Wheat Bread

Here is an easy, tasty bread using no white flour and no white sugar. I found it on Bob's Red Mill. It's easy because there is no kneading. It has a moist texture and is not too heavy. It's very delicious and was a nice addition to Sunday's dinner of Cornish game hens stuffed with a rice pilaf and a side of roasted beets. Yields 2 loaves.

7-1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tb Yeast, Active Dry
3-1/2 to 4 cups Warm Water (110 degrees)
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil (we used olive)
2 Tb Honey
4 Tb Molasses
2 tsp Sea Salt

Place flour in a large mixing bowl in the oven at the lowest temperature for 20 minutes. Meantime, dissolve yeast in one cup warm water. Add honey to the mixture and set aside. Our yeast mixture grew straight up like a yeast silo. I thought it would bubble over but it just kept getting taller. Dissolve molasses in one cup warm water - set aside. When the flour has warmed, combine yeast and molasses mixtures and oil then add it to the flour along with the salt. Stir the mixture vigorously - do not knead. Slowly add enough of the remaining water to produce a very sticky dough. Oil 2 bread pans. Place the sticky mixture into the pans filling them between 1/3 and 1/2 full. Let dough rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375. Bake loaves 35-40 minutes. Crusts turn a dark golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool in pans for about 20 minutes. Loosen the loaves by running a knife around their edges. Turn pans upside down and remove the loaves. Allow to cool on a wire rack. We added rolled oats and flax seed. You could also top with any number of seeds using an eggwash.

Tower of yeast.

March 25, 2006


At Acme Bowl J and I met some of her co-workers for a fine afternoon of bowling. Mary and her children, Michael, Ashley, and Robert, and Lisa and Jen and J all bowled as I cheered words of encouragement. These days the computer keeps score for you and guardrails pop up for select players upon request. Below are a few choice shots of these pro bowlers in action.

This was Mary's first time bowling. But you probably knew that.

Michael was quickly downing the pins.

Robert has the cool confidence of a pro.

Ashley took no prisoners!

Jen's gecko tattoo gave her super-human bowling powers.

Jen and Michael in the dance competition.

Elvis in his pinball machine.

March 24, 2006


Friday night nail
Originally uploaded by sissalice.
Friday night hail. The skies to the east were blackening while the skies to the west were sunny. There were rainbows. And the desck was covered in hail. BUT, the British Wonder Peas and the Thomas Laxton Peas have sprouted. No beans yet. Not a one.

March 23, 2006


We usually don't see these things until the ends of summer. This is the earliest I've ever spotted a wolf spider. I was minding my own business, blogging the photo of the cat, when this specimen scampered out from under the couch where I am sitting. Yikes. We don't squash bugs here, we collect them and deposit them outside. In the case of big, hairy spiders, this is as much a practicality as it is an ethical move. Smashing a bug this big is simply a mess. You can't even tell how big this spider is because it's scrunched up in defense. And this is hardly the biggest one who has visited. But it's the first one of the year, the earliest one on record in our house, and marks the beginning of the season of shaking out the bedding, the shoes, looking twice in the corners, etc.


She looks a little snarly and I don't understand how it can be at all comfortable - but she likes it. Loves that cardboard box and doesn't mind her face being smashed on it.

March 20, 2006


What a beautiful day. Temps in the low 50's and nothing but sunny skies for miles. we hit the road early and headed to Vancouver, WA to check out the Vancouver Farmer's Market. vancouver sits on the northern side of the Columbia River. Portland sits on the sourthern side. We missed our exit for the market and were immediately ushered across the bridge into Portland where we turn right around and got back on the highway for less than five minutes so we could get to the market.

The 2006 season for the outdoor market just opened on Saturday. I'm not sure how big the market is during the season's peak but it was understandably tiny on Saturday. It sits just outside of the Indoor Market @ The Commons. It's a market with a small food court housed under a condo/apt complex. After the three hour drive we were hungry. Mel Brook's Fish and Chips rustles up a fabulous egg sandwich. Expensive but good. That was the day's splurge (aside from filling the gas tank).

After the grub we headed back north about 14 miles through some beautiful backroads. J is an excellent navigator. Our destination - Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. It's actually a complex of wildlife refuges. We explored the Ridgefield refuge first. There is a 2 mile trail that winds through several types of wetlands and vegetation. Waterfowl abounds. Great Blue Herons are sometimes the stars of the refuge but red-tailed hawks are major players too. Both species live in the refuge year-round.

The first thing you see when you begin the trail is a full-scale replica of a Cathalpotle (Cath-la-poo-tuhl or Cath-la-poe-tuhl) plankhouse. Lewis & Clark met the Cathalpotle tribe on their way to the Pacific Ocean on November 5, 1805. From the Cathalpotle Plankhouse Project website: "They counted 14 cedar plankhouses belonging to the people of the "Quathlapotle nation" and estimated some 900 inhabitants. From the shore, seven canoes of Indians from the village paddled out to inspect the strangers and trade with them. Returning in March 1806, Lewis and Clark stopped again at Cathlapotle for several hours." The cedar logs used to construct this house are gigantic and the smell is fantastic. Inside are replicas of tools used by the Cathlapotle, some carvings and some animal skins. Take a look.

The weather was great, if a little chilly. We surprised a few snakes who were trying to get warm in the sun. We heard more birds than we could distinguish. Crickets and frogs too. And along the way we spotted interesting plants. Even a nest that was no longer occupied.

One of the best scenes we spied was while taking the 4 mile driving tour of the refuge. You are not allowed outof your car in this part of the rfuge. it's like a waterfowl safari. You drive very slowly and spy all sorts of critters. While J was looking one way, I glanced up before accelerating again and there, in the middle of the road, about 25 yards ahead, was a giant great blue heron with a long garder snake in its bill. The heron would toss the snake, whip it around, drop it then pick it up again. Finally, it swallowed it up and it took a while for it to go down to the heron's liking. A small traffic jam had formed behind me so I inched the car forward at a snail's pace until the bird took off, it's huge wingspan lifting it slowly off the ground and over the water. I snapped what photos I could with my digital and without getting out of the car in order to let the bird enjoy its snack.

The ride home was long because of traffic but we're glad we spent a good portion of the day outside and seeinf things we just can't see in the city.

March 17, 2006


It seems that no one wants to be left behind. By the time I got home from work today (and I even left way early) at least one pot from each tomato variety had a sign of life. There was a bit of reaching going on so I quickly got the pots directly under the grow lights. Can't have them reaching for the light.

This weekend I will sow more chard, beets, carrots, and some herbs.


When I came home from work yesterday, I noticed the first signs of life in the tomato starts. The very beginnings of a Yellow Pear Tomato, a variety I received free with my Heirloom Seeds order.

Once I got home I turned on the grow light over the starts and clicked on the heat in the bathroom. By the time I went to bed the sprout had grown.

And when I woke this morning the plant had been joined by a couple of friends. Things are moving along.

March 13, 2006


Another one of our cooking extravaganzas this Sunday. Saturday night we opened the cupboards and emptied all of the grains, rices, pastas, and other dried goods. Man, what a stash! We are not allowed to buy any more of any of it until it has been used up. So we opened a bottled of wine and opened up the cookbooks and started scheming.

1. Red Lentil Loaf from Cooking The Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello is a dish we have made in the past and really enjoyed. We suped up the ingredients, especially the vinegars and threw in some wheat germ and a roasted ancho chili (seeded) for good measure. The recipe includes red lentils, a piece of wakame (we used kombu), olive oil, shallots, carrot, celery, soy sauce, dried basil, rolled oats, umeboshi vinegar (we used rice vinegar), and balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients for Red Lentil Loaf. Kombu (not pictured) is a sea vegetable packaged in wide, dark, dehydrated strips that will double in size upon soaking and cooking. A great source of glutamic acid, a natural flavor enhancer. It is also generally believed that kombu improves the digestibility of grains and beans when added to these foods in small amounts.

2. Tuna Noodle Caserole. Now, we did our best to make a healthy version of this comfort food dish. I think we fared pretty well, though we disagreed on whether or not to use a cream of something canned soup. I said no way. I can make a healthy version of something gloppy and "creamy" if that's what we need. I lost that debate. As a compromise we used a "98% Fat Free" version of a popular brand of canned soup. I think compromise is the key word here - like compromise health and nutrition but what do I know? I dislike canned soups, especially creamed versions. There is just not much nutrition going on in these products. But, like I said, this is a comfort food dish even though we were trying to make a healthier version. Tuna, egg noodles, cream of something soup, peas, carrots, and homemade, whole wheat bread crumbs and organic rolled oats as the crunchy topping. Some green tobasco for bite. I think it's pretty good, as far as taste is concerned. J, however, isn't impressed. I feel bad. She was looking forward to it. I think it can be doctored and she will come to dig it.

3. Turkey Lasagna from the American Heart Association Cookbook (5th Edition). This is a dish we have made before and really enjoyed. This was an opportunity to use Nana B's sauce that I schlepped home onthe airplane. We didn't have ground turkey so we used meatless meatballs. Lots and lots of delicious veggies went into this. Spinach, shrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, and eggplant. Plus low fat, low sodium cottage cheese. We tried the no-bake lasagna noodles. Not bad. Overall the dish is pretty good. Next time I'd prefer no meat at all. Again, a healthier version of a comfort food dish. All those noodles are hard to health-a-fy.

Saute all the veggies until they release their mositure and then dry out.

Construct your layers.

Finish it off.

Here is the result of our labor. It really wasn't that much work with two people working.

March 08, 2006

Roasted Parsnip-Carrot Soup

Well, the parsnips might have loved residing in their underground niche, but as soon as they were removed they began to lose their charm. Monday night as soon I as arrived home from work I quickly set to work cleaning, peeling and chopping. Not all of every parsnip was desirable but most of the lot was roasted along with three big carrots, garlic, ginger, and onion. I seasoned it as desired. Again, I like an Indian taste to my roasted veggie soups these days. But this might change at any moment. Cardamom, sambar, corriander, curry, etc. was added to the mix and a dash of sea salt. Once roasted, the whole mess was processed until smooth. I had to split the batch in order to add all the liquid. One liter of low fat, plain soy milk and the rest water. Re-salted to taste and wah-la, baby! It's pretty tasty. It served as part of dinner last night, lunch today for me and S, and lunch for me again tomorrow.

Use what you have. Home cooked is always better!

March 05, 2006


Yesterday we got into the yard, if only for a few hours. It was lookin' a little backwoods around here. A winter of rain makes everything look, well, washed out, drenched, even if the day is dry and sunny. You have to get your hands on things and spruce them up. There was a tremendous amount of weeding. J hit all the pots and I hit the garden beds. I discovered that I have very healthy lettuce and mizuna growing happily under row cover.

Much to my surprise, the parsnip were thriving. Nothing bothers these things. I wonder if there is an untapped parsnip market out there. No pests every bothered the greens and they kept growing even after I would cut them back because they were shading young carrots that needed sun. And they made it through the winter with no protection. I had to dig deep and pull hard. A couple of these things were like caveman clubs! Now, I don't know from parsnips so I'm not sure how they will taste. I do know that the greens were very fragrant. But I've got these slated for roasting and then for soup, probably mixed with either sweet potatoes or carrots. And some will go to Sally.

And there are a few head of cabbage that I planted last fall as small starts. They, too, survived the winter and the rain and the few days of frost. Now we are four heads ahead, so to speak.

I also turned the straw bale bed with a pitchfork. I was ecstatic to see lots of red wigglers haveing a feast. I feel much better about this bed now that I see stuff is happening inside. It will be easier to shell out the dough for some dirt/compost for the tomato plants that will reside in this bed. I buried some veggie garbage deep within it too. I pulled out old arugula and stuff and just dropped it in while I was turning the bed with the pitchfork.

The weather guessers say it will rain for the next 6 days but I'm hoping to get some beans and peas and carrots and beets going. Oh, beets, I do still have several starts still alive and well from end of last season. I hope that means I have a head start on those too. And I can also start all my other seeds indoors. Will try to get to that today. But man, that yard looks five times better. Did lots of pruning too. And the tarragon plant survived outside all winter. I had it under our glass table so it w ouldn't drown but I was sure the temperature would eat it. Nope. There is bright green new growth all over it. We could start harvesting it right now if we wanted. A dressing of fresh compost wouldn't hurt but there plant is thriving and I am pleased.

We have a very busy day ahead. We have both been up since before 6 and we have people coming for dinner. Much to do between now and then. Pay bills, clean house, grocery shop, maybe get to the Y?

March 04, 2006


So today we walked over to a workshop offered by the Squire Park Community. A spokesperson from City Repair, Jan Semenza, gave an enthusiastic presentation regarding taking back the streets for pedestrians. He really loves his job, that's evident. His neighborhood in southeast Portland, more specifically, his immediate intersection, was transformed from dangerous autostrada to the Sunnyside Piazza. Intersection repair is just one of many projects taken on by this grassroots organization. The workshop ran for four hours and breakfast goodies and lunch were provided. Alas, we could only stay for half the show. Our own garden really needed our help. So we missed the pizza.

Ironically, later this afternoon, J's company car, parked at our own intersection, was hit head on. Our neighbor, A, (in addition to me and J) heard the smash, looked up from her gardening and took the plate number. The police came to take some info from her and J. The officer was very distracted and only spoke to us for a minute before something urgent came over his radio and he took off like a shot, jumped into his cruiser and sped off, sirens wailing. We discover later that the call he received was regarding the same car involved in J's incident. It was stolen, full of 13 year olds and hit a police car! Smart enough to steal a car but still 13 - plenty dumb enough to hit a cop car.

Our intersection sucks. The traffic circle installed a couple of years ago is worthless. In fact, it is right now sporting nice deep tire grooves. Why drive around it when you can drive over it? Why slow down at all? People usually don't. They might slow down to navigate the circle but they immediately accelerate as they head north down the street. All day we hear engines rev and tired screech and motors roar. Dumb asses. Our street bottlenecks about 30 yards after the circle. Two cars can't pass each other. Not to mention the side streets coming down from the main drag and up from the next side street. Terrible visibility from each direction. There have been plenty of accidents at out circle. We've seen and heard them and even called some of them in to the police. How do you get people to care enough to drive safely? I refuse to believe that they don't know they should drive safely. I hate excuses. How do you get people to care? Traffic circles don't work, that's for damn sure. And now that we have the damn thing there, how can we create what was created at the Sunnyside Piazza? We'll have to get creative.

March 03, 2006


Having third thoughts about the garden. We will be in this house another summer (probably longer). The full garden will be planted. This means I have to move quickly. I'm far behind. Tomorrow after we return from errands and a community gathering, I will hit the yard hard. Sunday I will start plenty of seeds indoors. Exciting and frustrating at the same times. I wasn't terribly pleased with the garden last year. We just don't get enough sun for some of the plants. Obe of the main reason I want to leave this house. Lack of sun overall reduces the potential for rotating crops. In turn, I think this has resulted in some pest and disease problems. But, hell, I simply can't put the tomato plants in most areas of the yard. More than any other veggie I grow, the tomatoes need the sun.

So tomorrow it begins. With mostly heirlooms. A bit nervous about that too. Will keep you posted. And will be taking better notes on the garden this year. A new goal of mine.