I Wrote a Book!

I realize I haven’t posted a lot lately, but I have been working on a rather large project: my first book! And it’s done! So far, it’s available on Amazon as an ebook, but I will make it available in print soon as well. I admit I got a bit overwhelmed when the book was published (literally yesterday) and I needed to take a moment before I continued on with print.

Shockingly, I didn’t write a book about food, hiking, or biking. This is a fiction book, historical fantasy. It follows Mila, a young woman who lives on a secluded sanctuary. A horrific event pushes her out of her safe home and into a quest looking for a knight that may be able to help her (and others). She finds magic, new friends, danger, and learns that the world is much different than what she expected.

I hope you will check the book out (it’s pretty cheap right now!) on Amazon. You can find it at this link: The Knight of Vintyria . If you do read it, please leave a review!

Meatball Flowers

One of my coworkers introduced me to the Delicata squash. I love it! So, I decided to make a fun little dish with it.

Slicing it into thick rings, I scooped the seeds out. It makes little flower shapes, which are adorable. I put them into the oven to bake for about 20 minutes on a cookie sheet.

Meanwhile, I cooked up some Norwegian meatballs that I had in the freezer for just such an occasion!

I may have burned them juuuust a little. That’s okay, it’s not bad! I added some good marinara to the pan and let them simmer.

When the squash was done and the meatballs thoroughly cooked, I put a meatball in each squash hole, spooned on a little more sauce, and give myself a nice portion of freshly grated parmesan.

Delicious and fun! These things are so pretty! I imagine kids might like these, although I really have no idea. All I know is that I like them. 🙂

Sweet Creek Falls

It’s the first warm day of the year, and everyone is outside! I went to Sweet Creek Falls with a couple of friends, Jess and Ariane. It was surprisingly busy there, with probably 10 cars parked when we arrived (and a small bus), and even more by the time we left.

It. Felt. So. Good. YOU get some dopamine, and YOU get some dopamine! It was truly wonderful to be outside again. Sweet Creek Falls is one of those places that I should have hiked many years ago, but just never have. With our recent spring rains, it definitely didn’t disappoint!

I’m trying out a new camera (a stand-alone camera that is not part of my phone), and I put the time and date stamp on the pictures. Then I couldn’t figure out how to take them off. So, I’ll have to deal with it until I can figure it out.

This is a really fantastic trail with quite a bit of metal grates to walk on in areas. Most of the trail is dirt, though, with a couple of rocky areas. It’s well maintained and a pretty easy hike.

Friends, Jessica and Ariane were sooo fun to hike with! They’re hilarious!

It’s hard to see the mist in the background – much more prominent in person. I’m using a selfie stick/tripod for the first time… more on that later.

The water level was pretty high and it seemed like it was just water feature after water feature!

I want to take an inner tube down this… with knee and elbow pads on.

The path was dirt with stretches of this bridge-like path. It was sturdy and fun to walk on!

It was the first real warm day of the year, and the water looked tempting!

Jess: Strong woman!

This picture cracks me up because Ariane was trying very hard to be out of the way. I had to get her in the picture though!

Ach, the lighting! The beauty! The warmth!

Methuselah’s Beard lichen is absolutely thriving.

We got off trail for a moment, but came back. Too many weird bugs and spider webs.

Speaking of bugs, look at this cool metallic guy!

It’s a good thing I love moss, because… I mean, Oregon!

In the space on the right, I told Jess that’s clearly an entrance to the fairie world…

So she went in!..

AND DISAPPEARED!!!! AAAAAHH!! Just kidding. There were a lot of spider webs, so she backed out quickly. lol

Jess in tree jail.

At the bottom of the falls.

Let’s go!

There was one little steep spot, but the rest of the entire trail was super easy.

Gasp! I want to sit in that! Talk about a jet tub!

Aaand this was where I lost my new selfie stick/tripod. Dang! It dropped deep down between rocks and I could no longer see it. I felt bad for losing it AND for littering!

This was such a fun hike! I can’t remember how long it was. It was just super laid-back and easy, with amazing views. I would highly recommend this to just about anyone!

It feels good to be outside again!

Mini Scotch Eggs & Hiking

I’m planning hikes again! I know there are a lot of die-hards who never stop hiking, but this year I’m just not one of them. Today we had rain showers mixed with snow, a bit of hail, etc. But, by Saturday, I’m hoping we will have a drier day so I can get out there!

Meanwhile, I’ve had a wonderful idea: I could make delicious foods for the hikes. It doesn’t have to be trail mix and Slim Jims! No, I’m going to go nuts with this. My first tester (these were actually made for Easter) are tiny scotch eggs. If you’ve never had them, they’re a British food that takes a boiled egg and covers it with sausage and breadcrumbs, and then you deep fry or bake them. What’s not to love!?

A local Irish pub serves them as an appetizer, but because it’s really too much with a normal egg plus sausage, they use quail eggs. I love them! So, I went to the local butcher and got some quail eggs and breakfast sausage.

The quail eggs are not cheap, but they are so beautiful and really, just the perfect size for scotch eggs.

Look at the colors and spots! So cute!

As I put them in to boil, a couple floated up to the surface. I took those out immediately, as eggs should never float. That indicates a bad egg.

I mean, COME ON. Look at these things! They’re so cute! And the inside of the shell is a pretty light blue.

I covered them in sausage…

and rolled them into a ball. I couldn’t do it properly while holding the phone, so with this one I rolled it on the butcher paper.

I didn’t bread them, except for four at the end. As soon as they were coated in sausage, I put them in a large pan.

As they cook, the sausage shrinks a bit and sometimes some of the egg is exposed. It’s okay. It’s still delicious!

Terrible, blurry picture, wonderful tasting scotch egg. Serve this with a nice, spicy mustard for ultimate enjoyment! By the way, these were a couple of the ones I did actually bread. I don’t mind it either way, so I probably just won’t bread them in the future. This will be an easy, fun, and delicious snack for hiking!

Zucchini Lasagna Rollies

(While typing this up, I had a thought: Maybe I should post the finished product first, so you can see the beautiful food. I think that’s what most people do. Thought?)

I had a day off today, so I decided to cook something that took a little more time and effort. I looked up a bunch of recipes and decided to make zucchini lasagna roll ups. You can find the site I got the recipe from HERE.

I was kind of excited, because I’ve used a mandolin slicer to cut zucchini, but this would be my first time using my ribbon slicer. I tried them both so you don’t have to!

The mandolin slicer made nice, even slices, and I had quite a few when I was done. Just a tip: Please, for the love of all that’s good in this world, PLEASE use the finger guard! Several years ago, I didn’t… and there was blood.

Beautiful zucchini slices!

The ribbon cutter took some getting used to… but when I did, I loved it!

Look at these beautiful ribbons of zucchini! I ended up doing two of the zucchini with this, and one with the mandolin slicer.

After letting them sit out for an hour or two, I put them in the oven to help dry the ribbons and slices. Zucchini is notoriously watery, and I didn’t want a bunch of water in my lasagna.

The recipe called for sausage only, but I chose to get half hot Italian sausage and half extra lean beef. I broke up the sausage first and started cooking it. Then I added the beef and even some chopped onion.

When the meat and onion was done, I let it cool a little and then added it to the ricotta, egg, freshly grated parmesan, and fresh basil. I put in probably twice the amount of basil… because it’s good. I may have put in more parmesan than called for as well. And ricotta.

I used the same skilled that I cooked the meat in and put Rao’s vodka sauce in the bottom. I love Rao’s! They don’t add sugar to their sauce, and it’s soooo good!

Starting with the slices, I put a bit of the meat/cheese mixture on and then added mozzarella…. and rolled it up! It was easy, but messy. I don’t mind messy.

My first one in the sauce, I kept rolling more. Then I got to the ribbons.

It took a minute to figure out how long I should cut the ribbon, but it was easy after that.

It didn’t take long before I would cut them into the right-ish sizes and have a few stacked up to roll.

I filled the skillet! It’s like a meaty, cheesy bouquet!

I added more mozzarella on the top, and then put the last of the vodka sauce on top to finish it.

Wow. This is heaven.

Here it is, plated. Or bowled? Anyway, I did put a little more sauce on it, but I wanted you to be able to see the individual rolls. I cooked it for 25 minutes or so, and the zucchini was still kind of chewy/crunchy. I’ll have plenty of leftovers, and I’m sure as I heat them up, the zucchini will cook more thoroughly.

Overall, I loved it. My husband liked it too and had seconds. To be fair, he took a small portion to start with, but went for seconds after it was deemed good. Ha! I would definitely make this again!

Mayonnaise Soup

There are a couple of reasons why I like to make my own mayonnaise. It’s delicious, of course, but also, store-bought mayo has sugar in it. I’m not a fan. I use mayonnaise for savory things, and I don’t want sweet mayo (sorry, Miracle Whip). Let’s not even talk about all the chemicals and preservatives.

Then there’s the whole issue of flavors. I can add a touch of garlic, as much or as little salt, a little lemon, whatever I want. So yeah, I like to make my own mayo. I found a good recipe recently, and a solid technique, so I was very surprised when I went to make mayonnaise and ended up with mayo soup.

This stuff would NOT emulsify or whatever needed to be done! I tried the fixes that I found on the internet: I added another egg yolk. Nope. I added more oil. Nope. I added a couple of teaspoons of boiling water. Nope, nope, nope! Soup is what I had.

I made it twice. I ended up using four eggs, two and a half cups of oil, and marginal vinegar, mustard, and salt. I was… well, not furious, but pretty frustrated. I couldn’t understand what when wrong! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you.

Our sweet boy kitty wanted to help, but he knows he’s not allowed on the countertops. He got creative when I opened the drawer.

That wasn’t enough, so he soon jumped up on my shoulder for a better view.

Here’s what I did wrong:
1. I used the jar I wanted to keep it in, and I really needed something smaller. The yolk would get whipped into the oil, but it wasn’t contained enough for it to emulsify with it. So, I needed a smaller container to make it in. Luckily, Cuisinart makes just such a container, and it’s even marked with measurements, making it easy to add the correct amount of oil without using a measuring cup.

2. I didn’t let the egg get to room temperature. Now, I don’t know why that’s such a big deal, but I made mayonnaise today, and I let that egg sit out for a couple of hours. I’ll be damned if I’m making more soup!

Look at that thick, creamy mayonnaise! I put in a little garlic, and “Mwha!” (*kissing fingers*) THIS is what mayo is supposed to look like!

Now that I know how I erred, I’m hoping this will reach somebody else who doesn’t understand why they are making mayo soup. May my answers be your answers.

McMenamins: The Edgefield

Some of my gal pals and I decided to go on a girl’s trip to The Edgefield. The Edgefield is a fantastic place to go, especially for adults (in my opinion). There are multiple places to eat and drink, along with a spa and a soaking pool. So, we planned a trip here in the winter, along with a hike.

Here’s the view from my twin room. The Edgefield is a McMenamins facility. They are well known for taking things like old schools and repurposing them into hotels and such. There’s also a hostel in this one, so if you want to stay on the cheap, you totally can! I chose to get a twin room, which is also pretty inexpensive.

Another view from my window.

All the rooms are quirky, but you can see why this is a twin room. It’s small, but sweet and cozy. I love it!

There are lots of hidden gems to be on the watch for, such as this pipe. See the face on the elbow?

Here’s another face… I don’t know who painted them all, but it’s so cool!


There are cocktails as well as their own brand of wine, made somewhere nearby, I believe.

This is their version of a French 75, which was quite tasty!

We stopped at Lucky’s pool hall and played some shuffleboard. None of us were good at it, and all four of us had a blast!

Random art is all over the place. On the walls, the pipes, everywhere!

There’s still a very distinct “school” feel to it. It feels like I went to elementary school here, although I certainly did not. I love it.

Even the water fountains gave me flashbacks.

On some floors, the bathrooms were segregated into women’s and men’s. On this floor, you could just go into the bathroom area…

…and you’d find several separate bathrooms, all with showers. One of them had a clawfoot bathtub.

This is one of my favorites, which continues below.

This was the area where my room was in. All the different lights were amazing, and the art was psychedelic.

I wonder who these people are…

They also put the names of artists and bands on the wall who have performed there. They have concerts, mostly during the summer months. I was amazed to see Lizzo had been there! And then I saw this:

Wow! That’s awesome!

These two were part of one big corner. You can see they’re all puppets. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that. But in my defense, when you’re looking at it in person, it’s hard to take in all of the details at once.

From what it looks like, the bank took people’s homes away, and they came to this place for shelter and to work.

I love this one. It is in one of the lady’s lounges (women’s bathrooms).

It was actually pretty dark when I took this picture, and I was amazed at how it turned out! I think it’s an old silo? It isn’t in use, obviously, but it’s still beautiful.

This is their red water tower. You saw this in one of the pieces of wall art above, with the two old ladies.

Here’s their wonderful soaking pool! It’s one of the best reasons to go to the Edgefield!

It’s very common to see people walking around in their terrycloth hooded robes that are provided by The Edgefield. You’ll see them going to or coming from the soaking pool. There’s a little stand where you can buy drinks at the poolside, and it’s also where Ruby’s Spa is.

We went to the Powell Butte Nature Park for our hike. It was overcast and windy, with occasional rain. It’s too bad, because we couldn’t see Mt. Hood!

I don’t know what kind of tree this is, but it’s impressive in person.

When the wind wasn’t blowing, it was quite nice!

My friend Leelah and I stayed on the top, traveling on gravel and dirt. The paths are extremely well traveled and maintained.

I believe you can have dogs, but they must be on a leash.

I do wish it had been a clear day – this would have been a fun view of part of the city and Mt. Hood. Maybe next time!

We may go to a different McMenamins next time, we’re still working out the details. I highly recommend The Edgefield, though. The Black Rabbit restaurant has outstanding food that is priced decently. The cocktails are yummy, but not strong. The wine is wonderful. The whole place is quirky and so much fun! I’ve stayed a couple of nights here before, and never left the premises. There’s plenty to do, eat, and drink.

Low Carb Shrimp Scampi & Salad

I am trying very hard to stick to my diet, and decided to have a low-carb, mostly low-calorie dinner of shrimp scampi and a salad. I saw a wonderful creamy Cajun shrimp recipe, but I know I would eat too much of the sauce, so I opted for this choice.

Starting with a vinaigrette for the salad, I gathered some lemon zest before juicing it. Luckily, I put the zest in a different container before getting the juice…

Because I had a wee mishap with the juice! It’s okay, I had more than one lemon.

After putting the lemon juice, zest, and olive oil in a container, I got some honey and fresh thyme.

Come on. Those layers are just gorgeous!

I had some thinly sliced shallots, and added some of those to the mix as well. I saved the sliced radishes for the salad later.

I have to say, this tool is possibly my favorite kitchen tool. I can emulsify, mix, and blend with this thing! THIS is basically what I have, and I can’t imagine not having it now!

Oh my goodness, look at that creamy vinaigrette! The recipe called for two tablespoons of honey, and it was a bit sweet for me. Next time I’ll just use one tablespoon. Other than that, it was wonderful!

I put this goodness in a jar and into the refrigerator.

Spiralizing the zucchini is easy with the right tool. I wasn’t paying attention and started making the wrong kind, but then switched to the right attachment. I’m not as fond of this spiralizer but have ordered another kind. If it’s good, I’m sure I’ll let you know.

A bit of butter, olive oil, and garlic… and then when that was hot and fragrant, some red pepper flakes and sauvignon blanc. I let that simmer and cook down a little before adding the shrimp and parsley.

The shrimp and zoodles was quite good! I was very happy with how it all turned out. I could have cooked the zoodles less (or not at all), but I don’t mind overcooking my zucchini.

As for the salad, I used tender butter lettuce with the thinly sliced radishes and shallots. I even had croutons as a splurge! The lemon thyme dressing was amazing. I can’t wait to make the less-sweet version!