A Dish to Die For

Perhaps it is time for me to wax poetic.  No funny stuff…just heartfelt feeling expressed in dramatic and artistic form for my dear readers.

As the Rayman is engaged (actively) with the dishes, I find my hands free so I’m attempting to ward off death by staying busy, busy, busy.  

One of the grand pleasures in life in knowing how to plate a great meal in minutes.  All muss and fuss set aside.  A meal that can be orchestrated with minimum ingredients and, yet, sublime.  So, let me introduce do you to…Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…no, no, no.  That isn’t right.  But it might have been the genesis of dinner tonight when pepper took the bold stand of being a major ingredient.

https://music.apple.com/us/album/sgt-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-band/1441164604?i=1441164721

So, at this point, are you with me?

Pepper aka pepe is part of the dinner.  It usually is but plays a secondary role, supporting actress if you will.  Not so with tonight’s dinner.  No siree.  

Let’s first explore how it came to be that I decided on this particular dish.  I was lazy.  Walking 18 holes yesterday took its toll and so did the fact that I was stuck on said computer trying to correct a previous mistake I had made when I fell for a scam, gave out my credit card (luckily with the Portland address which is not my billing address) and had to call the Chase to ask for a new card.  Of course, this was the card that all our bills are paid by and with.  We leave this card at home so we don’t have to replace because we lose it.  No.  I managed, still, with all that care, to screw up anyway.  

Oops.  I forgot.  I’m am to wax poetic.

Dearest reader, the printing on the card was exquisite.  The colors sublime.  The shape suggested a city block with wonderful 90 degree angles laid out with loving precision.

Okay.  

I digress.

Back to my dinner which we all know can either be fabulous or, what’s the opposite of fabulous?  A debacle?  Unforced error?  

Drum roll please.  Cacio and Pepe.  OMG…the king of the pasta world in simplicity and calories perhaps, though I doubt it.  Alfredo is bound to have more calories.  Essentially, you lovingly draw the water which in my case took about 3 minutes because we have a faulty thingie on our long necked goose, I mean long necked kitchen faucet that has hardly been used and the water is somehow constricted.  But time is a beautiful thing and this allowed me to saunter around the kitchen with gin and tonic in hard and grind the pepper…the fresh ground scent perfuming the air with every twist.  (As a practical matter, this also allowed me to exercise my right hand wrist.) as I waited for the pot to fill.

Then the water was salted with a flourish I first observed at an Italian opera and the lid placed on the pot to hasten the boiling of the water.  

Another pan was enlisted in the effort and into it I gently but lovingly placed two tablespoons of butter which melted so slowly, you could visually imagine the molecules dancing in the pan.  The pepper was placed with great care into the warm butter and the two did a waltz of such beauty that it brought tears to my eyes.  That resulted in a luxurious butter/pepper sauce.  

At last the bubbles did their dance and the pot was filled with dancing bubbles…a miracle never once mentioned in the Bible. But the writers of the Bible did elude to the Red Sea parting.  Not mentioning the bubbles, I’m sure a slight oversight.

 

Digress occurs again.

Once the pasta was tingling with excitement, I timed it for seven minutes and when the melodic tune of the timer went off, it was time to drain the sphagetti leaving in reserve 1/2 c of pasta water to gently place into the butter/pepper pan.  In this, I accidentally spilled some water but this we will not dwell upon.  

Another bit of beautiful butter was added to the glistening pan, then the cheeses.  Both Reggiano and Romano were slowly added to the pasta and the pasta was tossed with tongs in such a way so that the cheese didn’t, well, glob up (not a poetic word).   

OMG.  With a robust glass of red, dinner was  plated and presented.  

Amen.

Here is the link to the recipe.

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/cacio-e-pepe

 

 

 

Meeting Buck 

As you may know, my cousin, Susie, has the need for a new wood burning stove for their new cabin in Rhododendron, OR, AKA as Green Gables.  That is because the current stove is an antique nickel affair that was originally a coal burning stove.  Here is a pic.

 

In her search, she discovered Buck and his antique shop in Portland.  As he was described to me, he was a character that marched to his own tune.  She said I ought to meet Buck and I thought it would fun.  So, she invited me along to meet him today because she had made an appointment with him for last week which he cancelled.  The plan cancelled was that he would travel to Green Gables (the cabin’s name) to assess the situation so she could buy a new wood burning stove that would work more efficiently after the removal of the antique affair.  I accepted and off we went to Buck’s.  

When we arrived, two men were seated outside the front door shooting the breeze.  “I’m here to see Buck.’, my cousin announced.  The first man who sported a long pony tail which he had gathered together and cinched up at the nape of his neck announced that Buck had gone to the bank.  He invited us into the store.

When he spoke, I was mesmerized by his teeth.  There were quite a few missing.  He must be English, I secretly thought as we stepped inside after verifying the two men had been vaccinated.  His name was Erik and he was very knowledgable and gabbed with us as we waited for Buck.  Sue had arranged to meet Buck at 1 p.m.  Erik said Buck would return in 15 minutes.  Sigh.  Was Buck avoiding her, I wondered?  

The phone rang.  It was Buck.  He was in line at the bank and he would get back in about 15 minutes and that was at 1:10 p.m.  Considering that …this was not a boring place, my cousin was extremely motivated to get this business taken care of so, therefore, there was no way we were going to leave without achieving her goals.

Buck’s shop was full of stoves.  It was full of antiques including this marvelous mantel he later informed us was from some old home somewhere…I forget where.  His store also had a sofa and two chairs.  The chair next to the sofa was serving as a table on which had been placed a bottle of water, a pad for ordering stoves, and a half eaten salad in the top of a plastic container.  

Buck and me

Buck arrived.  And he was everything you would ever want in an iconoclastic antique stove store owner.  After being introduced I asked him if he was avoiding Sue…that was my icebreaker.   He assured us he was not and then launched into the stories about the line at the bank, the time he got locked in the bank parking lot, how he was the last person in line to get service today which left two people behind him in the lurch, how he once got left in the lurch but he had sold a stove to a higher up at said bank and thought to call him and report the situation which lead to yada yada yada.

When he arrived Sue was standing, I was sitting on the couch and Buck asked if it was okay to sit on the couch with me.  And he flopped down.  And the discussion of the stoves began.  I would be remiss if I did not also mention that this was the kind of couch that was easy to sink into and very hard to get out of….sort of like Buck’s store.

At this point, I need to inform you that Sue has a bad foot and is getting it operated on next month.  She has a hard time walking as it is painful.  As she was standing, Buck asked her to fetch this and that.  At one point, she was with tape measure measuring a steel frame that was 4 x 5 feet which his helper Erik had brought in from outside and place down on the floor.  He had a hard time finding a place to put it on the floor so Sue moved the chair so the frame could be laid down.  Then he took one measurement and announced it was 51” across.  Buck didn’t buy that and that is why Sue found herself leaning over to do measurements as Erik had left the room.  

Sue stepped on the tape with her foot and it buckled and wouldn’t pop back to its original straight self.  By this time, I was highly amused at the entire situation.  While she measured, I fooled around and found a hat I couldn’t resist modeling.  Notice the nordic hat on the mantle?  Notice the hat on my head?  ha ha.

 

       

After the measurement was done, he needed to look at her pictures of Old Ironsides, the old stove.  That brought up more questions.  Sue called her daughter who was at Green Gables to do some measurements of the stove and its surroundings including the 10 foot pipe that rose to the ceiling from Old Ironsides.  They were Face Timing.  Well, Buck wanted to talk to Kristen, Sue’s daughter, and when Sue handed him her phone, he put it to his ear.  It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.  And that is where the phone stayed while Kristen crawled around measuring stuff.  Finally, I took the phone to show Buck that he could see Kristen if he moved the phone away from his ear.  That seemed to nonplus Buck.  It was a hoot.Sue decided she needed to sit down so she asked if she could move the stuff sitting on the chair.  Buck said sure so I handed Buck the sales pad, the bottle of the water, and half eaten breakfast of wilted salad greens.  And then he proceeded to finish the salad as discussion continued.

 

It turns out replacing Old Ironsides with a new stove was very complicated.  And that is why Sue kept begging Buck to go to the cabin with her to assess the situation.  She bribed him with  egg salad sandwiches and a good review on Yelp.  They dickered back and forth…would he go, would he not.  She offered to drive him up and back.  He hesitated.  She begged him some more.  

Finally (read about 2 hours), a new stove was selected, a trade-in price was reached, the removal of Old Ironsides price was approved and it seemed like a done deal.  So if hell doesn’t freeze over, Buck will go to Green Gables tomorrow with or without the new stove and presto magic, Old Ironsides may be removed and the new stove may be installed.  The appointment is between noon and 2 p.m.  

Sue informed Buck that she needed to go to the store to buy eggs and oh, by the way, would rye bread be okay with him?  

Running Around

On the cabin deck…Larry, Ali, Bernat, Rayman and Beau.

Fuzzy picture.  Sorry.

The week started off on the 4th.  July 4th…the night of fireworks and the day at the cabin at the base of Mt. Hood.  It was so fun with family and doggies.  And music and impromptu dancing and we didn’t get lost and we walked along the Sandy River.  Good, good.

The rest of the week involved golf, meeting new kiddos and hiking to the Columbia River on the WA side.  

The devils are in the details.  

The weather was cool as we teed off at Camas Meadows country club…they let the plebs play and so we did.  It was a golf course set amongst huge trees, wide meadows, lots of sand traps, plenty of water and we had a great time. 

Met Ryan in Vancouver après golf and had lunch and a beer.  The beers are of great variety and extremely interesting.  Everything went according to Hoyle.  

 Thursday we drove to Vancouver again to meet Tam’s foster kids.  Here is a picture. 

Rayman, moi, Alonzo, Tamara, and Eyo.

It was Alonzo’s 13th birthday and we bought him some artist supplies.  He loves to draw!!  We were thrilled when he opened them up and started using them immediately and in front of us.  It doesn’t get much better than that!!   The kids live with their mother but Tam took them in 6 years ago when trouble was the name of the game.  Her steady guidance and help continue to this day when she coordinates with their mother for visits.  

Today, we agreed to meet Tamara and her kiddos in Vancouver at the Marine Park.  We met at the parking lot and that’s when things turned interesting.  We had towels, food, chairs, blow up water toys.  Water, soda, snacks.  Tamara texted us and told us the parking lot was about 1/4 mile to the river.  Okay, fine.  

The kids sprinted ahead and disappeared into the bushes.  Tamara followed.  We followed Tamara like cattle to the slaughter.  A path about the width of, say, an ironing board was before us.  It was framed with berry bushes that jutted into the path.  It was treed and with those trees came tree roots that popped up everywhere which made the downhill path treacherous.  There were also big rocks about the size of footballs placed strategically by nature so that the danger level rose like the red line on a candy thermometer.  And it was here on that path that Eyo slipped as he walked down a particularly steep portion of the trail,  Alonzo made it down.  I slipped but managed to stay upright because I had appropriate footwear on.  Rayman.  He stumbled down tripping as he came toward me.  So, at that point, we decided this trail was too hard for our skill level.  So we headed back up the trail from whence we came.  Well, Rayman on his way up lost his footing and slid down the face of the trail like he was on skis doing a downhill run and in doing so, found himself headed for berry bushes and a huge tree.  Luckily, he stuck his arms out in front of himself and he crashed into the tree and then fell like a stone somehow avoiding the berry bushes.  Stunned, bruised, bleeding, he popped up and tried to put on a happy face.  I was a bit mortified because he hit me on his way down like a skier of slaloms.  

Click on this to get an idea of the flat area…Rocks and trees

Where is the path for older people, I wondered?  Were all the paths like this?  Good grief, what have we gotten ourselves into?  Tamara assured us that there were easier trails.  So we soldiered on and found one.  We took it and arrived on the bank of the Columbia River.  The view was grand.  

Tamara, in the meantime, was mortified.  The kids barely noticed as kids are wont to do.  I got off with only a bruise or two.  Rayman on the other hand was a mess.  He was still bleeding here and there and had bruises galore caused by taking aspirin, 82 mg every day.  Oh, I almost forgot, I picked up a big stick and gave it to him in hopes it would make walking easier.  It did and it used it the rest of the afternoon.  It really came in handy when we decided to depart earlier than the kids reassuring Tamara we knew the way out.  Of course, we got lost in the thicket.  And after 10 minutes of walking thru head high bushes on a trail, we arrived back were we started.  This, of course, was not the least bit surprising because over the years we have developed a wonderful skill of getting lost.   

So, what did I do?  I took at my phone and screamed, “Siri, find my car!”  That did not work.  Siri told me to sign into Google first.  Screw that.  So we traced ourself back where we had come from but turned left at some point because it was going uphill.  Eventually, we emerged from the jungle like Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, I think it was, in Romancing the Stone.  And we were about as far away as we could possibly from our car.  

And that has been our week….so far.

P.S.  On the way home we delighted ourselves by discussing the possibility of hiring a chauffeur that could take us everywhere while we sat in the back seat of the big comfortable car sipping champagne.  Really, I think that is what we need now.

To Astoria and Back

For several days this week, we have been living in convection oven…hot, hot, hot with a breeze.  Are we done yet?  Are we baked all the way through?  Where is that cake tester?

Happily, we made it by staying inside utilizing our covid skills of total social distance from the outside world.  Only a fast trip to the grocery before it got really hot and a short walk twice a day broke the monotony of home confinement.  Self administered staying safe is the new normal so it didn’t feel as abnormal as it would have two years ago, say.

Therefore, today just had to be different.  We needed to break from the casa as the heat was dialed back a bit for this Tuesday.

So…we jumped in the car with the dog and headed for the beach.  Specifically we headed to Astoria, Oregon via an obscure route via the state of Washington.  So what went wrong was that the GPS doesn’t work very good when you want to find backroads.  The GPS wants you on the freeway for the most most part.  And maps are now too tiny to read.  The print is absurdly small…like the guys at McNally are either near-sighted or about 18 years old.  And so we guessed at what the map said.  And that is how we eded up a road that ran along a park that abruptly ended.  Kaput.  It just stopped going anywhere and without warning…there was no “Dead end” sign anywhere to found.  We also found ourselves wandering around the city of Vancouver, WA trying to find the secret passage to the west.  We successfully managed to squander about an hour lost in space.  However, we did get to see where Ryan works up close and personal.  So all was not lost…just us.

Rayman drove and I was navigating.  Perhaps on not the best use of rnesources.  But somehow, we overcame that deficiency and we found our way driving west in the state of WA along the mighty Columbia River.  It was a beautiful ride with very little traffic.  We did manage to see quite a few logger trucks which I flipped off was we passed them…they were headed east and they were hauling newly felled trees.  Glimpses of clear cut mountains were observed much to my chagrin.  Denuding a mountain of its trees is both heartbreaking and horrifyingly ugly.  Just saying.

At the point that we were about to turn south and take the bridge into Astoria, I saw a sign pointing to a road that had an historical marker announcing that two miles down this particular road would lead to the oldest covered bridge still remaining…or something to that effect.  So, we went to see the covered bridge.  

 

Here is some info re: the bridge.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grays_River_Covered_Bridge

We crossed the bridge which was sort of out of the way except that there were two ATT trucks down the road with men/women up poles.  So, we parked at a small clearing that sported a “honey bucket” and a sign explaining how the bridge came to be.  When we bailed from the car, we realized, we needed to relieve ourselves so Rayman went to the honey bucket and returned with warnings about things overflowing and disgusting other images.  So, I decided to relieve myself standing up behind the car door using my paper funnel thing.  That worked like a charm only there was no place to throw it away so Rayman suggested we rinse it out with the water in Beau’s bowl that he did not drink.  Good idea until Rayman did the pouring, I held the tinkle aid and the water went throughthe tinkle aid and landed on the shoe of my right foot.  

This got me to laughing and I could not quit.  My funny bone had been tickled and there was no use.  I laughed as traversed the bridge.  I laughed as we drove back the two miles to the main road.  It was like a culmination of all the funny things that have ever happened to us…crystallized in that one moment.  Who are we?   The Marx brothers?  Lucy and Desi?  The two stooges?  Do these things happen to you?  I am deeply curious or is it just us?

As my shoe was drying we rode into town over one of the bridges that looks like a giant erector set.  We were hungry.  We found a brewery but they only did pizza.  I wanted fish.  Three establishments later, we gave up on food.  Either the restaurant was closed on Tuesday or the wait list was ridiculously long.  My cousin was right…everyone escaped the heat and headed for the beach.  

So we headed back to Portland with hunger pains keeping us alert.  When we hit the first big town, we found a Baskins Robbins and had ice cream for lunch on a sugar cone.

And here we are, too hot again, too tired from driving, but exhilarated by all the pretty scenery we saw on the unguided tour of the Pacific North West and the Columbia River.  It is big, it is mighty, and it is beautiful.  


Of Driving in Cities and Mountains

If you ever fly to Portland, OR, you baggage will include a luggage tag with the initials PDX.  So much easier to write using PDX so…PDX is it from here on out.  Or Portlandia if necessary based on the story told.

Since our arrival, things have been quite ducky if you exclude the truck that came within 2 1/2 inches from side swiping us today.  There is a story that accompanies this event.  As most of you know, the GPS apps aren’t perfect…far from it.  They often trail you just enough to cause you to either 1.  Miss the turn  2.  Decide on the fly to do a death defying maneuver and make a turn on a dime  3.  Ignore the instruction and wait for the GPS to recalculate and get to there via another route  4.  Or start to turn and realize that was not the street name, swerve back to the lane you were leaving while yelling “Jesus Christ, what the hell!!!”

Our experience today was an illustration of number 4.  

Next, since we have been here the weather has gone from cool to hot in a very short time.  And the longest day of year had over 18 hours of sunlight.  At 4:30 this a.m. when I staggered into the bathroom, the sky was pink like a carnation.  

We have been very busy having fun.  Played golf on Saturday with number one son.  The picture below was taken at Elk Ridge in Carson, WA.  

Followed up with lunch in Stevenson where we drank a cherry porter.  They do beer up here in the Northwest.  So creative and delicious.  I liked it.  Rayman was okay with it.  Ryan ordered the RBG IPA complete with the Judges pic on the label.  See what ai mean?  Very creative.  Below is Ryan and beer.

 

 

Went up to cousin’s cabin that lies to the west of Mt. Hood off ZigZag Road.  It was a find of the best kind.  The previous owners left most of their stuff there so it has skis hanging on the wall, forest themed decor, and it is cozy as can be.  We loved it.  Stayed two nights.  Then Sue invited me up for the day as the shingle people were scheduled to “treat” the roof which took the day.  This is a three year requirement to keep the roof in good order.

That was the day that her youngest daughter, Kristen, and her three grandchildren were also at the cabin with Kristen’s friend, Sandy, and her daughter.  Because they were going to treat the roof with chemicals, we decided to go to Lost Lake in Kristen’s Toyota mini-van.  Earlier we had taken the kids to Sandy River which is just a small walk from Green Gables doorstep…Green Gable is the cabin’s name now.  

Here are some pictures.    First the movie I took of Sandy River.  Just click on the IMG 1773 below.

IMG_1773

Mt Hood from the van.

On to Lost Lake.  I agreed to go if I could sit up front as winding roads make my stomach unhappy.  So, having secured a front row seat, we loaded up and headed out.  Here are some pictures.

Moi with mask on the shore of Lost Lake.

Beautiful wildflowers on the way back. Note the road. This was the good part of the road.

So, if you were doing any calculating, the van had 4 children in it.  Oh, and Mango the doggie.  Oldest 9, youngest 5, twins being the youngest.  And they were noisy and boisterous so it became incumbent up on the adults to start playing games.  Mine was, “I’ll buy a root beer float for the first child to spot a live bear” game.  There was an alphabet game.  And then there was the ride itself…a pot hole rich two lane narrow road up and down the mountains to Lost Lake.  

When we arrived at the lake, it was decided that we take a boat out on the lake.  Yes, we jumped into a row boat with oars.  With 4 small kids.  And Mango.  Ezgi, the sweet girl, was afraid.  The others were okay.  As we launched, the arguing immediately started on who’s turn it was to row the boat.  This resulted in us drifting, rowing in circles, and generally being very noisy.  “It’s my turn to row.”, “No, it’s my turn to row.”, “You already rowed.”, “I want another turn rowing.”.

At 25 dB, loud enough for just about everyone on the shore looking and laughing at us.  As well as all the other people in water vehicles such as kayaks, paddle boats, canoes.  At one point, while changing of the guard, we actually ran into another vessel but since we were barely moving, it was not a disaster.  

Okay, so the whining was getting old.  The only one in the boat that knew how to row, was Kristen.  She had been on the rowing team at U of WA for awhile.  Everyone else exhibited their inexperience while acting like they knew something.  It was a hoot.

This lead me to threaten to throw the kids overboard.  The only one that took me seriously was the kid who was a friend of the family.  She did not take kindly to my idea.  She looked up at me and announced, “You’re mean.”  I laughed.  She didn’t.  

So I juxtaposed that if they didn’t want to be thrown in, perhaps I would swim to shore…the whining was that annoying.  The girl said, “Okay.  Swim.”

In the meantime, we were still drifting, going forward, going back and going in circles.  

Then the kids started whining, “I want to go home.”, “Take us home.”, “Im tired, I want to go home.”.  “I’m cold.”   we decided to have Kristen to get us back to the dock while still fending off wannabe rowers.  

We made it.  No one went overboard, no one really even got wet except for their feet.  The kids’ whining which started to resemble  a Salvation Army ringing bell ceased and all was well with the world.  

On the way home, we chose to go back the way we had come though there was another route which was good paved road but an hour longer.  The thought of two hours back in that van just scared the bejesus out of us.  We preferred the pot holes to an extra hour.  So the new game was “I’ll give a prize to the first kid that spots a Bald Eagle.”  And with that Mango rode shotgun on my lap, I played Dee Jay with my playlist for accompaniment for the whining.  Although to be fair, the kids did along to one of my tunes!!

We made it back and I was exhausted.  And I didn’t even drive.  It was a helluva day.  

Here is the info about Lost Lake in case you ever want to go there.  I’m going to drag anyone adult that wants to go up there because the lake is great because it does not allow any motors at all on the lake.  And it is beautiful.

Lost Lake Resort and Campground

Missing The View

No, I’m not referencing that program on TV with Whippy Goldberg.  The ride from Healdsburg to Eureka is my reference here.  

As those of you following our shenanigans, you know we drove to Healdsburg and held my birthday party there at the Chalkboard.  What you do not yet know is that we were nearly, completely hacked in the comfort of our hotel room.

Buzz, buzz.  Buzz, buzz.  Buzz, buzz.  “Hello?”  Silence ensued as the other party was doing the talking.  

“Yes.  Okay.  Our phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.  Our emails is xxxxxx@xxx.”  (The real deal was given to the caller.)  

“Dianna, what credit card did you use?”

“WHAT!”, I inquired.  “Just hang up, this doesn’t sound right.”

Rayman, still rubbing sleepy dirt out of his eyes, replies to the called, “Tell you what.  I’ll come down to the desk.  I don’t share my credit card over the phone.”  

Click.  

The story was that the hotel had lost power during the night and they wanted to offer us a 25% discount for our inconvenience but needed the data to “reconstitute” their records as they lost all their data.  

This struck fear in my heart because we came very close to being seriously hacked.  And as the IT in the family, I needed to change the password for my password software.  So, I perused our emails and already, the password program alerted me to the fact that someone one was trying to log into the program, was it me?  

Because we had to leave for Eureka, we decided I would work on the problem in the car while Rayman did the driving first.  That was not the best idea in hindsight.  Trying to change passwords was not easy for a variety of reasons which I won’t bore you with.  On an iPad, the job was much more difficult.  I really don’t like my iPad.  My MacBook is much easier to use but not on the road.  

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, I was beside myself with worry.  And I missed the view every time I had a strong signal.  The day was beautiful, perfect really.  The sky was blue, the wind was almost nonexistent.  No time for computer problems.  

 

The ride through the redwoods was, as always, awe inspiring so we stopped to snap a picture.  It as so quiet in the grove.  Magical.

Oh, and the hotel informed us that “they thought the hacker problem was fixed”.  And yet they didn’t warn their travelers that this had been a problem.  I wrote corporate to share our outrage.