Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus (Meatballs with Gravy) 23Sep2022

This is the second traditional dish from another country that my sweetheart and I decided to try. This dish is from Norway, which I chose because I have Norwegian ancestry. And come on… meatballs.

First of all, I have to say that it was harder than I thought to find a traditional Norwegian dish that I found appetizing. That is, as far as dinners go. Breakfasts would be a snap! When I started looking for traditional dinners, I found things like boiled sheepshead, or a stew that consisted of meat, cabbage, and water. When I came across the following recipe, I was more excited. It’s very similar to Swedish meatballs, which makes sense because the countries are right next to each other.

Using a recipe that I found at Food52, I mixed equal parts ground pork and beef and one egg. The recipe said to use a mixer, which I was kind of excited to do. I mean, I can just let it mix while I do some other things! I’m all for it.

Look at it go! This is now my preferred way to mix ground meats.

I added the panko crumbs and milk, along with the spices, and let them sit for a moment to soften the panko crumbs.

I will say that I had a very hard time with the two spices that I added here. Allspice and ginger. I was having a very difficult time imagining how they would go with meat. Would it taste like a fruitcake meatloaf? But I carried on, trusting in the traditional recipe. At least, I think it’s traditional. What do I know?

The meat came out a lot “fluffier” than it would have if I mixed it by hand, that’s for sure!

I started browning the meatballs, not cooking them all the way through. I was also careful not to crowd them in the Dutch oven.

MEATBALL DOWN! I REPEAT, MEATBALL DOWN!!

They were coming along nicely, and our house was starting to smell very, very good.

When they were all browned on the outside, I added all the meatballs to the dutch oven, a half of an onion, and the broth, and let it simmer. While this was going on, I was making boiled small potatoes and some steamed carrots. Those two things are traditional. My sweetheart wanted something green, so we added some broccoli.

It’s time to make the gravy! I started by making the roux.

Getting darker, but it still has a few shades to go. The camera doesn’t quite catch the color right.

After avoiding a gravy emergency (by adding the broth from the meatballs too quickly) everything was looking good and it was time to add the brunost (brown cheese), sour cream, red wine, and pepper.

I wish you could see the real color! It was a nice rich brown gravy. I added in some sliced onions, which is something I found on a different site and it looked wonderful.

Here it is! Kjøttkaker med brunsaus (quite literally, meat cakes with brown sauce)! We put the potatoes down as a base with the veggies and finally the meatballs on top. We drizzled gravy over the whole thing, and voilà! Instant comfort food!

This was a pretty labor-intensive meal. It took longer than I thought… but quite honestly, it was very good. It was absolutely the Norwegian equivalent of a Yankee pot roast. Meat, potatoes, vegetables, and gravy. How can you go wrong?? I would definitely eat this again.

Arroz de Marisco 10Sep2022

My sweetheart and I have decided to try something fun: we are going to make a dish once or twice a month that is traditional to another country. (And when I say “we decided,” I really mean I wanted to do this and he is willing to try some new foods.) For this month he chose Portugal. After doing some research, I found the arroz de Marisco is a very traditional Portuguese dish, and beautiful as well! Here’s something I learned about Portugal that I thought was cool: They have the oldest bookstore in the world, which opened in 1732. That’s quite a history!

My first stop was one of the local fish mongers. I was able to get most of the seafood in this one stop. They didn’t have shrimp with heads on, which I wanted especially for the visual appeal, so I got headless and moved on. I ended up trying the other local fish store in town and they didn’t have them either. They did, however, suggest soft shell crab, so I got two to put on the top.

Just as I started to heat up the stock and other things, I realized I didn’t have saffron! EEK! EMERGENCY! I had to run to the store. I don’t know where my other saffron went, but I know I have some now. Crisis averted!

I bought the arborio rice in the bulk section, and when I poured it out of the bag into the cup, I made a mess. I was grateful for my handheld vacuum and got it all off the kitchen floor in a jiffy.

I sauteed the onions and added the garlic and bay leaf…

And then added the rice. I cooked that for several minutes before adding the white wine and saffron.

I absolutely love saffron. It’s so distinctive and flavorful, and has such a beautiful color!

My dish is already taking on amazing smells!

While that’s cooking down, I cut the monk fish into four even(ish) portions.

The squid was next. I did cut some of the larger whole squid in half, and then I cut the tubes into rings.

By now my rice has soaked up the white wine. So pretty! It’s time to start adding the broth mixture.

After the broth mixture had been added in (slowly, cup-by-cup), the remaining broth that wasn’t yet soaked up by rice was a nice soupy bathy for the little clams. In you go!

After the first clam opened, I added all the other seafood. It was crowded in this pan! I need a paella pan, apparently!

Time to fix up the soft-shell crab. I threw some flour down and added Slap Ya Mama seasoning. I saw this seasoning on an episode of Queer Eye and had to try it out. Totally worth it. I also got the Punch Daddy seasoning. 🙂

Here they are! I’ve never eaten soft-shell crab, much less cooked it, so I Googled “how to eat soft-shell crab.” After I saw the first five seconds of a video, I then Googled, “how to clean soft-shell crab.” It looked pretty easy!

It turns out, my crabs were already cleaned out except for the faces. THE FACES, YOU GUYS. I had to cut them off. I tried not to shudder as I did it. I threw away the evidence quickly and went along with my business.

I dredged them in a flour bath, making sure to get both sides coated as well as possible.

Here

This little guy was ready!

Into the pan it went! I used butter instead of oil. I don’t know if that’s taboo, I just know I love butter.

Look at how pretty that is!

The arroz de marisco was ready! Now to put it in bowls and plant my soft-shell crab on the top…

I’m here to tell you, this was a VERY tasty meal. I will do without the parsley next time, but it adds a visual appeal… just not a tasty appeal. The soft-shell crab was delicious, and the rice was oh, so good! I think I’ll put the squid in at the last moment next time, to keep it super tender, but it was fine.

This was really good. I would make it again, but it turns out my sweetheart doesn’t like soft-shell crab, clams, or squid. Oops! I will run the recipes by him from now on, so we can BOTH enjoy the meal! That said, he really did like the rest of it. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with saffron and rice.

A big thank you to the country of Portugal!

La Pine, OR 13Aug2022

Some gal friends and I went to La Pine, Oregon for a nice little getaway. Christine and I came up with some hiking choices for all skill levels, and everyone brought a game or was willing to play.

On the first day, we arrived in the afternoon, and Christine’s dog was dying to get out into the water! We made our first stop at Paulina Lake and opened the door. That dog *loves* the water!!

We inflated the SUPs and hit the water. It was gorgeous!

Christine paddled solo sometimes and with the dog at other times. That sweet pup is the essence of pure energy!

The views were beautiful and varied. I just love Central OR!

Christina took a turn around the lake as well, enjoying the rays.

The cabin we stayed at was spacious, but I chose to stay in the small room over the kitchen. I am a very early riser, and I didn’t want to wake anyone else by making coffee under the loft.

I like small spaces, especially for sleeping, and this suited me fine! I, a short person, was unable to stand up, so I had to make adjustments. But it was so cozy!! Very clean and comfortable, with the exception of one giant rogue moth who thought we were best friends.

On day two, everybody decided to do the same hike, which was the 7.6 mile hike around the lake. The trail started out wide and clear.

As we progressed, the trail changed depending on they type of ground. There were multiple types of surfaces, and it made for fun surprises.

My friend Leelah wanted to go swimming (even more so toward the end of the hike when it warmed up), but we stayed on the trail. To be clear, I wanted to swim too! The water looked amazing!

Pan-o-rama! It’s a gorgeous day in La Pine!

Here is some of the different terrain. Being in a caldera, there is a lot of volcanic rock.

In this section, there was so much obsidian, our path glittered!

Look at that hunk of obsidian!

We started climbing a bit…

The view from higher up was also phenomenal!

More volcanic rock, this time lots of cinder. crunch crunch!

After the hike, we had delicious taco, margaritas, and more. Then it was time for games. This trip, all women and all nurses, was incredible. So much fun!

On the last morning, we had delicious crêpes with toppings to suit everyone: freshly squeezed lemon juice with powdered sugar, strawberry jam, and Nutella. I was in heaven with the lemon and powdered sugar!

Distance: 7.6 miles; Elevation gain: 308 feet

Story Time

I haven’t blogged a ton lately, for a few reasons. I’ve been working (of course), I’ve been re-doing the spare room into my office (that was well worth it!), and I’m writing a book.

I’m thinking about writing a little series on this blog, but I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this. Is anybody interested in reading short bits that add up? It would be fiction, possibly a mystery. I would probably write once a week. I might write the first bit up to see if I can get some feedback, but what do you think, friends??

In the meantime, here’s my little office!

The room can still accommodate guests, as well

I’m very happy with how it turned out. I still have some painting to do, but that’s about it. I love being in this space, and I’m getting a fair amount of writing done!

Pretty please, make a comment to let me know if a story series (along with my regular stuff) sounds like something you wouldn’t mind (or might even like).

I Made Sushi!

I decided to have a go at making sushi so I could take it for lunch. I worked Monday and Tuesday, so I made these on Sunday afternoon. I learned there are recipes for sushi rice, which was a surprise. Apparently, you take the cooked sushi rice and add a mixture of seasoned rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, salt, and sugar. I cooked the rice in my InstantPot (it has a setting for it, so it’s easy-peasy, lemon squeezy). I put all of my supplies together and got ready to roll.

I’ve tried this many years ago, but I don’t think I had the supplies or looked up directions. As you can imagine, I failed miserably. I still ate the fish, but I also made a mess. Now I have a sushi mat and I looked up a few videos. There are actually these tube things that you put the ingredients in and push it all out together, but I really like the idea of rolling it and having more control.

My favorite fish is salmon. I mean, I LOVE salmon. Baked, poached, planked, or raw, I really don’t care. It’s wonderful! So for my first sushi roll, I chose to make a Philidelphia roll. I put the rice on the nori sheet (using water to dip my hands in – that rice is STICKY!). I added the cucumber, salmon, and cream cheese, and I was ready to roll it up!

I’m glad I watched the directions. It seems pretty self-explanatory, but it’s still nice to know the little details. I had watched other people put the squeeze on the roll, making it tight, and I did that as well.

Look at this beauty! I was so pleasantly surprised! It looks like a real sushi roll!

I cut it up and tried one to make sure it was good… and it was. So yummy! I made two of these bad boys and had each one for lunch. Now, it was NOT the same the next day. The rice was hard, almost like it was stale. I wonder if it was because it had the vinegars and whatnot, or if it was because I sliced it and that sat in the refrigerator?

Either way, I’ve decided I’ll stick to making this one for home lunches. It was soooo easy for work lunch, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. So, back to the drawing board, always looking for more work lunches. Ach, what a chore! (snicker snicker)

Horse Rock Ridge 03Jul2022

Christine and I wanted to hike Horse Rock Ridge, for the incredible views. So, the day before Independence Day, we set off in the morning…

It has been a wet summer so far in Oregon, and today was a foggy one up in the mountains. We got to the trailhead to be greeted by fog and dew, and lots of it.

Christine’s dog didn’t mind. She was excited, running ahead of us and waiting impatiently!

Despite the poor visibility, there were TONS of wildflowers!

Coastal Plain Honeycombhead (Balduina angustifolia)

The dew was thick as well as the fog. The pup was drenched in no time, much to her joy!

Cat’s Ear (Calochortus elegans), I think
Shortspur Seablush (Plectritis congest)
Menzies’ Larkspur (Delphinium menziesii)

Even where the terrain was steep and rocky, wildflowers are growing in abundance!

Oregon Checker-mallow (Sidalcea oregona)

I couldn’t identify some of the flowers, but that’s okay. They’re still beautiful, and I’ll figure it out another time.

Oregon Checker-mallow
Coast Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis)

Christine’s dog almost seemed impatient at times, lying down to wait for us. That is one energetic dog! She runs without slowing down, for the entire hike. She’s amazing!

Christine and her dog wanted to show me something really neat… I’m almost there.

Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

I had to stop for a picture of this sweet columbine though. My sister and I used to bite off the little round nubs and suck out the nectar when we were young. Columbines are pretty common in the coastal range.

Look at this tree! It’s going to grow, and it doesn’t care if there’s a mountain in the way. Okay Christine, you’re right: this is pretty cool.

Pacific Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)
More poison oak!

I was very careful not to touch the poison oak. This stuff is a bane to so many people I know. It is sneaky and can be so awful. I’ve known people who got it on their clothes or in their sleeping bags, and then you can imagine how it spread all over their skin. UGH!

There was a tower up here, some sort of satellite. There’s also bunnies, according to Christine, but we didn’t see any on this day.

Iris chrysophylla

Here

We weren’t sure what the red stuff was on these leaves, but we hope to find out.

While the view was not what we were hoping for, we got to see so dang many wildflowers, that it was still a great hike! I do hope to go again sometime to see the incredible view.

Distance: 2.9 miles; Elevation gain: not quite sure. (My Apple watch said 847 feet, but I’m not sure that’s correct.)

Bunches of Lunches

Here I am again, making lunches. I have a few days off (I took the weekend off for the Joyride, and then I have my normal days off), but I still need to eat lunch. I’m doing intermittent fasting, so my lunch is my first meal. I want it to be a tasty one!

I figured I’d make some lunches and see if they were easy and suitable for work. I typically don’t like time consuming lunches (making them, that is), so I’m looking for quick, easy, and yummy. I wouldn’t mind healthy as well… The first one on the list was a hummus wrap.

I have a couple of almond flour tortillas instead of flour. I put a generous amount of hummus on them along with some fresh feta. I got the feta from my nearest Market of Choice, and it comes in a container with liquid (water? I have no idea) which keeps the feta fresh and moist. It’s so much better than some of the very dry feta cheeses I’ve had! Next came some kalamata olives and thinly sliced red onion. Lastly, I topped it off with some local microgreens. If you’re interested in microgreens, you can click right here. That’s a website for a local farm here in Oregon.

I’m telling you; this was really more like a hummus taco than a hummus wrap. But it was very good and quite satisfying. I have no problems making this one again for a work lunch. I’ll just have to keep a lot of the ingredients separated so things don’t get soggy. But I’m okay with that!

For my next wrap, I decided to use some smoked salmon my sweetheart got me a little while ago. I picked up some fresh dill and some chive & onion cream cheese (I have a crush on Tillamook, seriously). I still had some microgreens left, so I figured I would add those as well.

I put them in a layer and added some capers for a nice salty punch. This was good, but definitely smelled fishy… which people at work are very sensitive about. I probably won’t make it for work. Also, it was a bit on the dry side, so I think I need to add a juicy vegetable.

Next was more of a dinner thing than lunch, although it would reheat easily enough. I would not mind reheating this for lunch! This is cheesesteak on a portobello mushroom. I think I should throw in the caveat that I have never had an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich (in PA, that is), so I take liberties with this recipe that would probably leave a purist gaping in horror. You’ve been warned.

I grabbed some white onion, green bell pepper, and lean flank steak for the main filling.

I cleaned the gills and stem out of the mushroom and put some olive oil on it. I poured the oil without getting the brush out first, so I ended up smoothing it out evenly (ish) with my finger. Then I added some garlic salt stuff. Mmmm.

After baking for 10 minutes or so, the mushrooms were ready.

Did I mention how much I love Tillamook? Well, I do.

When the veggies were cooked, I threw in the flank steak at a high heat and cooked it quickly. The meat stayed nice and tender! Then I piled it all on and threw a slice of provolone on it. Back in the oven it went, to be broiled.

This was pretty darn good. Yes, you need a fork and knife to eat it. I could have put the other portobello on top to make a sandwich, but I think we all know how messy that would have been.

For my last lunch, this was an at-home lunch. I was feeling good and wanted to give myself a little treat. I’m making a bit of a fancy egg sandwich. I got my truffle mayonnaise out, sliced up a green onion, and decided to try out some radish sprouts.

If you’re like me, you’ve struggled with boiling eggs so that they come out with perfectly yellow yolks and the shell peels right off. Well, suffer no more! You can read how the Pioneer Woman boils eggs HERE! I followed her directions, and my eggs, as you can see, came out wonderfully. Thanks, Ree!

Smash up your eggs and put the mayo in to taste/texture. I like to keep the onions out to add as garnish.

Lastly, I toasted up some bread (using Tillamook butter, no joke). Since I didn’t want to eat a TON of bread, I have some of the small slices. Fewer calories, less flour. I consider it a splurge. Today, I bought my first “paleo bread,” so I’ll have to update here if I try it and it turns out tasty. But for this sandwich, I used regular whole grain bread.

Now, come on. Is that the cutest, most delicious egg salad sandwich you’ve ever seen, or what?? I can tell you with full honesty, between the buttered toast and the truffle mayonnaise, this was a decadent sandwich!

Here’s what I learned:

  1. I don’t make wraps; I just make different forms of tacos.
  2. Radish sprouts are very slippery and make my sandwich slippery (but still delicious).
  3. Tillamook is the best for cheeses, sour cream, etc. Okay, I didn’t learn that one – I already knew it.
  4. Sweet pea microgreens taste just like raw sweet peas! The microgreens are expensive, but I really enjoyed them.

Aaaand, that’s a wrap! (Or not.)

Cycle Oregon Joyride 25Jun2022

Summer has officially come to Oregon!

The Joyride, an all-women ride, is a ride I have done a couple of other times, and it’s one of my favorites. Cycle Oregon really knows how to put an event together! Between the venue, the route, the food, and the entertainment after, it’s such a wonderful thing to experience.

Christina and I posed at the beginning, getting a little bit of a late start. We hit the road at around 9am, while it opens at 8am. The latest you can start, I believe, is 10am. We chose to do the 40-mile route.

Photo by Christine B.

Toward the beginning, we got to see some growing hops. The Pacific Northwest really does love good coffee and good beer!

This is a great area for growing all kinds of things. From grass to grapes to hops, you never know what you’ll find. It sure is pretty, even when you don’t see green things.

Our first rest stop had foods such as dill pickles, little cups of pickle juice (I loved both!), small open-faced egg salad sandwiches, bread with peanut butter and jelly, pieces of bagel with cream cheese, fresh, local strawberries, banana halves, and more. It was a mini feast!

The shade was also VERY welcomed.

Since this is an all-women’s ride, you can see various men and women helping – serving food, making more, etc. The local robotics club was also a part of this! All of the helpers were incredibly gracious and wonderful.

We took a few breaks for water or lip balm, and it was really heating up!

Photo by Christina H.

The second rest stop was just as good as the first. This one had granola bars, Babybel cheese, candied ginger, more pickles, and some lemon cookies. There was more that I can’t remember, and each stop had plenty to drink.

The second rest stop was at this great farm.

I don’t know what kind of flowers those were, but there were soooo many!

This cemetery was named something-Crest (brain no worky well at this point in the ride). I hoped the word “crest” indicated more downhill from there… but there were a few more hills.

Mt Hood in the distance.

I’m pretty sure the elevation gain was promoted at a little over 900 feet, which is why I was thinking I could do it. Well. It was more. I was pretty beat at the end, and I felt like I was limping in. It was HOT. The food and festivities at the end were wonderful. I had so much fun talking to my friends, Christine and Christina! That was the frosting on the cake. That and sitting in the shade, sipping a very cold, locally made beer.

Distance and elevation gain listed in the picture above.