Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 29, 2016. Revisiting a favorite bistro

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon 

WEATHER:  Mostly sunny. Highs in 50s.


We had lunch at a cute bistro owned and managed by neighbors of the homewowners here.  Last year when we were here, they kindly invited us to a Halloween party at their restaurant.  We won second place which was a gift card to the restaurant  The food was outstanding so we wanted to return. George had a Dungeness crab and shrimp omelette.  Unusual and delicious.  
We thought it was a neat coincidence.....The hot sauce George requested was the Cholula brand.  Our homeowners are visiting the town of Cholula, Mexico right now.     I had a quinoa salad on kale.  It was also delicious.  
It was a nice day to stroll around other parts of Portland.  

DINNER:  Chicken, vegetable and rice soup.  




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 27, 2016. Our new home?

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon

WEATHER:  Partly cloudy.  High about 50

  Note  - this is really November 28

We played with Lola, fed the fish, tidied up the house,  then were off to explore another part of Portland.  We bought our trusty Day Pass, grabbed the bus near our house, then transferred to another one that took us to Division Street.


We had read about an Hawaiian rice ball shop in that area and that was our destination for a pre-lunch.  

When we lived in Japan, onigiri (honorable rice ball) was one of my favorite foods.  They are commonly used in lunch boxes.  The Hawaiians have adopted, then adapted onigiri, adding their twist....SPAM!  They call them Musubi in Hawaii.  Some guys who lived there have now set up Musubi shop. They serve these triangles of rice with different stuffing ingredients.  

We stuck with the more traditional kind.  I had umeboshi which is a rice ball with a pickled, salted Japanese plum inside.  George had his stuffed with smoked salmon.  Both were wrapped with nori seaweed

We strolled down Division Street which is really funky.  Interesting shops, modular apartment complexes, old houses, restaurants.  It has a cool neighborhood vibe.  We found a food truck area, each with a unique offering.....ramen, sushi, wood-fired pizza, organic vegan deli food,    

We continued our walk until we found this cute little restaurant, obviously an old house that has been renovated.

They feature beers from this brewery.

We sat on the front porch and watched people go by.  We were also interested in this condo being built in front of the restaurant.

  As we sat there, we realized that we could really see ourselves living here.  It has great public transportation....would be easy to get to the airport from this area.  Wonderful neighborhood vibe.  No need for a car with all shops either nearby or within an easy bus ride.  We moved inside to have a cup of chili, and talked with another couple  who had moved here from San Francisco.  They love the area.  We are going to look into the prices of some of the small apartments.   Who knows? 


We walked some more on a side street and ran across this brewery.  The sun came out and everyone sat in the open garage door area soaking it up. 

Two bus rides later, we were back home.  Another great day!


DINNER:  The leftovers from Thanksgiving are almost gone.  I bought a rotisserie chicken to go with the leftover stuffing and leftover cranberry relish.  The only thing still in the refrigerator are some mashed potatoes.  

After dinner, we watched the show "Grace and Frankie" on Netflix.  We had watched season one last year when we were here, and are now finishing up season two.  



Monday, November 28, 2016

November 27, 2016. Checking out Pearl District of Portland

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon

WEATHER:  Cooler. Highs in 40s.  Cloudy


After morning cat and fish care, we headed out again to explore another section of Portland.  With our "honored citizen" (aka old people) day pass, we were good to go on the max light rail, bus, and/or street car.


We discovered a short cut through a park near our house to a closer bus stop.  It gets better and better!  We caught the bus, then transferred to the street car.  It took us to the NW 23rd avenue area which is famous for its shops and restaurants.  The street is lined with old Victorian houses converted to cute shops.  


From there, we walked to the Pearl District, another popular section of town.  Our destination was a Peruvian restaurant that George found on line.  


A good sign.....there were a few tables of Peruvian families enjoying Sunday lunch.  We split the ceviche, raw fish , marinated in lime juice.  It was really good.


We ordered some unusual fried vegetable chips (like yucca) for dipping.  They were a work of art....

From there, the light rail, then bus back home.


We watched part of a PBS marathon of "Downton Abbey". The wedding scene took place in an old church we visited in England.  It makes it fun to recognize sites we visited.  


DINNER:  Thanksgiving leftovers revisited.... I made pasta with some pesto sauce and added slices of the Thankgiving turkey medallions.  Not too many leftovers to go!  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

November 26, 2016. Pub crawl in Portland

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon

WEATHER:  Partly cloudy. Highs about 50


Referring to a webpage called "Portland's Best Brewpubs", we planned our day's journey.   We bought our day transportation pass and headed downtown on the bus.    

George is fascinated by these water fountains, called bubblers by some.

After a transfer to a second bus which took us to the other side of the river, we found this well-respected brewery.

They specialize in unusual ingredients, like sea urchin water or preserved cherry blossoms or cotton candy.  We stuck to more traditional IPA and a stout.   We walked about a half mile to our next destination, passing by this shop specializing in professional cuddling.
Our next stop was a very popular beer and buffalo wings joint, Fire on the Mountain.  It supposedly was the first wings restaurant on the west coast, after hot wings were invented in Buffalo, New York.  We ordered ours medium hot, which was just right.
We caught a bus going back downtown, where we admired the huge Christmas tree in Pioneer Sqaure.
Then, Max light rail, then bus back home.   I raked leaves, but the front yard really doesn't look any different.     DINNER:  Leftover sausage, kale, lentil stew.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

November 25, 2016. Let the leftovers begin!

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon

WEATHER:  Overcast.  Some rain. Highs in 40s


We have not had a telephone since January, when we left our low-tech flip phone in the camper.  We have been fine without it, but lately George has said he wants one again.  So, he bought an inexpensive Trac Phone.  He says it is for business, but he has been on the phone talking with friends and family a lot.  I think he gets bored  talking with just me; I have heard most of his stories....several times.   For breakfast, George had leftover pumpkin pie.  He warmed it up and said it was better than on Thanksgiving day.   For lunch, I made tacos using sausage leftover from the Thanksgiving stuffing, and bits of the turkey medallions.  Very good!   In the afternoon, we decided we needed to get out of the house, so we visited a McMinniman's pub that we had checked out last year.  It is quite cozy, a reconstructed barn out in the country.  The parking lot was packed, at about 4:30.  Almost every car was carrying a Christmas tree.
Many of the cars had one or two trees strapped on top.
The pub was filled with families.  It dawned on us that there are several u-cut Christmas tree farms nearby.  Perhaps families make it a tradition to pick up their trees, then stop at this pub for dinner.    
The roof is mossy, like many buildings around here.
Inside, it was warm, cozy and very busy.
There was a roaring fire in the fireplace.  We just had a beer, then returned home.     DINNER:  More leftovers......I warmed up the mushroom carbonara from the other night, added more bits of the Thanksgiving turkey medallions to it, then the Brussels sprouts.  Very good!  

Friday, November 25, 2016

November 24, 2016. Happy Thanksgiving!

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon WEATHER:  A downpour most of the day. Highs in 40s   The day was focused on food.  I started prepping in the morning.  We planned for a mid-afternoon dinner.  While cooking in the morning I listened to "Turkey Confidential" on Minnesota Public Radio, a throwback from Thanksgivings when we lived there.  It is a radio talk show where people call in with their questions or problems about the Thanksgiving dinner.  Some are quite funny, like the turkey that caught on fire on the BBQ grill, or the still-frozen turkey with guests arriving, or the pumpkin pie that deflated.     I wanted traditional foods, but with a modern twist.  I ended up with this menu....  
  • Steamed asparagus with chipotle mayo
  • Turkey breast cutlets wrapped in pancetta, grilled
  • Charred Brussels sprouts with oyster mushrooms
  • Goat-cheese mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Home-made cranberry relish with Grand Marnier
  • Pumpkin pie
We didn't want a lot of leftovers, so we bought the turkey cutlets, rather than a whole turkey.   I used some goat cheese from a shop on Salt Spring Island, BC.  We have been carrying it around for several weeks.  The chipotle mayo was left over from the hamburger restaurant we went to the other day. Wish I knew how they make it.  I jazzed up the Stove-top dressing mix with spicy sausage, fennel, onions and garlic.    The musthooms for the Brussels sprouts were a substitution, as the store didn't have chanterelles.     I cheated, and just bought a pumpkin pie for George.     Everything came together nicely about 2:30.  George popped the dry Proseco....
One thing I do not like about Thanksgiving dinner is when food runs together on one's plate.  I like everything in its separate compartment and refuse to mix sweet and savory.  I was careful not to pile the plates high, and served the cranberry relish separately.
We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in the late afternoon.  Since we are on the West Coast, it was delayed until after the football game.  Every time I popped into the TV room to watch, it was a commercial or an interview with some pop star I'd never heard of.  A bit disappointing.   This house has a skylight in the kitchen.  We listened to the rain pour down on it all day long.  No one was out taking an afternoon walk.     After cleaning up and storing all the leftovers (yes there are many even though I tried to conserve), we watched PBS.  They were showing a new BBC series, the "Durrells in Corfu" then a remake on "Anne of Green Gables" which really did me in.    

Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 23, 2016. A nice walk to town

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon WEATHER:  Some rain.  Highs in 40s   We took a nice 2-mile walk through the neighborhood toward a hamburger place for lunch.  On our way, we passed this porta-potty with a cute name....(Willy he make it?)
We went to this hamburger place last year when we were here.  We were amazed at the quality in this very unassuming shack-like place.
We split their specialty burger.  
I've commented before on how astounded I am about the quantity of food some people eat.  We watched a table of 2 young women each having her own order of this burger and fries (not sharing like we did).  Then, they ordered a huge milkshake!  Unlike the Asians, these girls showed the effect of burgers, fries and shakes.  Not a pretty sight.    The decor is retro.  Only in Portland.....a dive-type place but with quality beers and wines.  
All over Portland, we see these cannabis shops.  This one was near the hamburger place.  George checked it out.  Said there was lots of security, and it was kind of creepy.
I spend a lot of time petting and brushing Lola, our cat here.  She likes to jump on George's lap, too, making it hard to balance a beer!
DINNER:  Another recipe from a magazine that I wanted to try.  Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup.  Delicious!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November 22, 2016. Book day

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon WEATHER:  Rain most of the day.  Highs in 40s   I started preparations for Thanksgiving dinner by making a cranberry relish.  It needs to marinate a few days, to let the Grand Marnier soak in.  I think it will be good! I had checked out some books from the library here, so spent the afternoon contentedly reading an entire book!  
This is a new author for me.  Pretty light but full of characters.  It is about a woman who likes to cook, and features the stories of the students who come to her restaurant for cooking classes.     Lola is a great lap warmer!  She likes this corner of the couch, too.  
We have not had a telephone for 11 months, having left an inexpensive one behind in the trailer when we started this leg of the trip.  We disagree on this expenditure, but George thinks we need a phone.  So, he ordered a Trac Phone on line.  It arrived today and he spent the day playiang with it.   DINNER:  As I travel and find interesting-looking recipes in magazines, I take a picture on the ipad so that I don't have to carry paper around.  This was from one of the Real Simple magazines.  I made it tonight, and it turned out really well.    

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 21, 2016. Thanksgiving prep

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon WEATHER:  The weatherman was happily wrong today.  Sunny and highs of 50   We went to a very unassuming Japanese restaurant here in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland.  It is a tiny place, hard to find in a plain strip mall.  BUT - it was very authentic.  It was so refreshing to see a real Japanese sushi master making the sushi.  He was very serious.   We sat at the sushi bar and watched the master at work. 
We split the sashimi/sushi combo.  The yellowtail just melted in our mouths.  It was totally delicious. 
Well-fortified, we went to the Beaverton library, then tackled the grocery store.  Even though we still have 5 days until Thanksgiving, the grocery store parking lot and store were packed.  I bought ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  The challenge is not to make too much, so we won't have many leftovers.   We made a bonfire in the fire pit in the evening.  Perfect conditions for it.....made us miss camping.     DINNER:  Using leftovers from the Mexican food truck the other day, I made some vegetable quesadillas.  Muy buena!  

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 20, 2016. A note about packing

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon WEATHER:  Rain on and off all day. Cool. High about 50   We enjoyed a lazy Sunday, starting with the TV show "CBS Sunday Morning" and ending with "60 Minutes".  Reading and computer work in between.   We have now traversed the world from the west coast USA, departing in January 2016, to New Zealand, Australia, England, Ireland, Nova Scotia, Michigan, Minnesota, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, and now back on the West Coast, in Oregon.  In these 11 months of travel, I have packed to be prepared for 4 seasons.  We've been through extremely hot (100+ F in Darwin, Australia) and pretty cold (5 below in northern British Columbia).  
As most travelers know, it is a big pain to lug a suitcase around.  I am proud to say that I can fit all of my clothes into my backpack and small duffle carry on.  The backpack was free from a conference I attended while I was still working.  I keep thinking that it will break, but it continues to serve me well.  
When I was last in Rochester, Minnesota, I did some major shopping at a charity shop.  For $25, I now have a new wardrobe.  I happily mix and match it......  
This jacket rolls up and is good for a dressy occasion...  
In colder weather, we layer up.  This jacket served me well in Canada....
The scarf adds some pizzazz and warmth. 
The same scarf and sweater coordinate with a different pair of pants.
And, these pants zip off to become shorts in cooler weather....
In addition to these clothes, I have mittens, swimsuit, undies and toiletries. When flying,  I wear one pair of tennis shoes, and pack a pair of sandals.  In my purse, I carry my ipad and a paperback.  OThat's all!  When we go to the Virgin Islands, I will probably give the warmer clothes away, back to a charity shop, and buy some more shorts and t-shirts.    

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 19, 2016. Buzzing around Beaverton

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon WEATHER:  Sporadic rain with some sun. High about 50   Our housesitting assignment is near Beaverton, a very nice Portland suburb.  We did a title grocery shopping in town then went to the Saturday farmers' market.  I bought a few ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner, and some garlic artichoke dip from "the hummus guy".     Afterwards we stopped at this food truck that has a great following here.
  We bought  "sopes" ---like open-faced tacos.    
Just like in Mexico, they have a garnish bar where we loaded up with hot sauce, pickled vegetables, radishes and guacamole.  Yummy stuff!  They turned out like this.....  
We brought them home and had them for lunch.   I always fear that Lola, our cat, will not return after going outside.  Every time we let her out, I stand watch and worry.  She has learned that she receives a reward for coming back in..  Her reward is not food, but is a good brushing.  She can't get enough brushing.  She is so smart that now sometimes she just goes out the back patio door, waits 5 seconds, and then jumps on her brushing perch when she comes back in, ready for her brushing reward.  In the afternoon, we read and I drafted a newspaper article that I hope will get published in our Rochester, MN newspaper.     DINNER:  Using last night's leftover Tuscan bean soup, I added some pasta and spinach to make a hearty stew.      

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November 18, 2016. Odd sightings in Portland

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Portland, Oregon WEATHER:  No rain.  Cooler and windy. Highs about 50   We struck out again for a day's outing before the predicted rain comes.  On the bus was Portland's "Blue Man".  Our homeowners had told us that we might see him.   He apparently rides the buses and trains around, and harmlessly stands around downtown.  He was totally face paint, blue beard, blue jeans, blue bandana, blue headphones, blue jacket, etc.    
We had 3 bus stop changes before we arrived at our first brewery destination. One of the stops was in a less savory part of town.  I watched a body-pierced pink-haired young person clean out her navel.  Another one calmly vomited while texting.  And a 300+ pound gal who should not have been wearing leggings.     Our first stop was Ecliptic Brewing.  They had 5 IPAs on tap.  Really good beer.  We had a platter of their Brussels sprouts cooked with chanterelles in a balsamic reduction.  Really delicious!  I used to hate Brussels sprouts, but now I'm a fan.
Portland has great little neighborhoods.  Our next brew pub took us to a neat area where we could really see ourselves living (except for the high cost of living here).  Cute neigbhorhood shops and pubs.  Near a park.  This place is known for its Belgian beers.  They were having a sour cherry Belgian festival later tonight at this place.  George got a sampler and tasted some really good cherry sour ales.  Very subtle.    
While waiting for the next bus, we were fascinated by a photographer taking hundreds of photos of an almost-naked beautiful girl, modeling Jockey underwear.  It was quite erotic.  The construction guys across the street were enjoying the photo session, too!   We took the bus and MAX rail home.  It is so convenient getting an all-day pass, and especially nice to get the senior rate!   DINNER:  Soup time again.  Tonight's was a Tuscan bean soup.  Except for the oil to cook the vegetables, and a few beans, it should have been pretty low calorie.  Nice and comforting on a cool evening, too.