2017. New Year. Radical Change.

Where has the time gone? Do you ask yourself that question as often as I do? It has been seven months since my last blog post! That’s a long time! The break was needed, though I did not intend this length. I continue to be active in other areas on WordPress. I notice I still get activity and new followers to my blog. I do appreciate all of you with your continued support and interest.

It’s hard remembering back to summer as our city sits snow covered after a series of winter storms that paralyzed Portland. I did have an amazing summer though, and I was out exploring my lovely Oregon state as often as I could. My truck got it’s camper conversion and with each trip out I played a little more with the organization and set up. I really like it a lot.

Thanks to my son for gifting me a trip to North Carolina over my birthday so I could see him and spend time in Raleigh, a city I am interested in knowing. Two visits with my boy in one year puts a smile on my face! My plans for radical change continue to move steadily along. There is something both unsettling and comforting for me as I fiercely focus my energies on this change. This being my move across the country from Portland Oregon to Raleigh North Carolina. I am on the path. I’m making it happen. It’s scary exciting!

These past several months have brought change to my family. Our little triad increased three fold when my daughter married a man with two young girls. The joy of little girls to dote on makes this “grandma” very happy. I look forward to being on the east side of the country where I will be closer to my little family.

I haven’t spent much time in my kitchen these past months. I do what I need to sustain myself, however I’ve been lacking the inspiration to be creative with my food. While I am deeply grateful for the space I have including my tiny kitchen, I long for a “real” kitchen with counter space in a room of it’s own. My little studio is overall pretty awesome even with its “rv”style kitchen. I do not know where I would be without this place. It has been a blessing and my saving grace. What originally began as a two month temporary stay is now creeping up on two years of comfortable living.

One thing I do not find so awesome about my area is being housebound for days when Portland gets snow and ice storms, which has been the case recently. It used to be rare for this city, but both winters have dumped the white stuff in my hills. I have learned when it snows and freezes I will be stuck on my hill long after the rest of the city is back to its hustle. My elevation is high nestled among the trees of Forest Park, so weather is more extreme than the valley below me. I am less than two miles from work yet on snow filled days it feels like I’m in a mountainous winter wonderland. I may whine about the size of my kitchen space hindering my desire to be creative, but it came through for me and saved my sanity while I was stuck inside. Thankfully I’ve been well stocked with groceries each time I’ve been stuck!  I now own all the tools I will need to traverse my snowy and icy hills if my truck can’t get out. Ice cleats, hiking poles and an ice crunching shovel will be my winter companions. I find it a funny thought that I now own these things to move around my Portland city!  This is just one of the many things that has made living in the West Hills a unique experience!

I wanted to provide you all with some pictures of my food creations over the past several months but my laptop died before I could save all my pictures to my “cloud”.  For now I’ve replaced it with my tablet which puts me on a new learning curve, especially with blogging!

This post serves as my reintroduction sans the food pictures. I do have a few photos of the incredible beauty I have witnessed recently up here in the hills. I certainly cannot complain about that!

Stunning beauty

Portland like we rarely see it. Enjoy! More to come soon. I promise. Sabbatical over. Thanks again for sticking around.

Happy New year!

This Oregon Life

I have been eagerly awaiting decent Oregon weather so I can get out in the woods to enjoy some camping.  With my ready made camping vehicle, I can be on the go without much preparation other than food.  It is so awesome to get in and go!  I’ve been really excited to get out in nature and enjoy my beautiful Oregon.  Let me tell you, I desperately need out of Portland these days!  I enjoyed an extra long trip last weekend and this weekend I did an over-niter just because I can! Nature, beauty and primitive camping is not far from Portland.  Less than a two hour drive brings me to the peace I want.

 

My lovely state did not disappoint!  The weather was perfect both weekends.  Last weekend I stayed at a new campground for me and this weekend I went to an old time favorite spot where I have been camping for years.  Both spots brought me the calm solitude and connection with nature I love.

My sweet princess is not a fan of camping.  Her first weekend she spent terrified and preferred the comfort of my lap or on the bed safe inside my rig.  Even with friends she loved, being out and near the camp fire was much too scary for my little one.  Freshly returned from my second camping trip of the season my little girl is exhausted.  This time she was attacked by a dog much larger than her as we were taking a walk.  Irresponsible pet owners did not have their dog leashed at their campsite.  When we walked by, he ran out to us and attacked my baby. Thankfully, she has only minor physical injuries but she is now a skittish, terrified little thing.  I certainly hope she gets back to her usual spunky happy self soon.  My poor, sweet baby.  That was a terrifying experience for us both.

 

We’re taking a couple weeks break from camping to enjoy other weekend activities, but we’ll be back at it again with more adventures and good food in store!!  I’ve got some camping with dog experience behind me now so I think I’m more prepared for future trips. Every chance I get this coming season, I will be out in the great green of Oregon.  If my plans lay out as I hope, this will be my last summer in Oregon so I am taking advantage of what my great state offers so close to home. (I’ll share more about this later!)

As my usual style, food is the center of attention for my camping adventures.  Remember that raspberry sauce I wrote about not long ago?  Here’s the same version with blueberries added.  It made for a delicious pancake sauce this morning.  There’s nothing like freshly made food in the great outdoors.  It just tastes better!  I added a dollop of plain coconut Greek style yogurt, which is actually quite sweet and not tart like typical dairy yogurts. The combination was fantastic!  Add a steeping cup of fresh brewed java, a little fire to watch dance and this morning was divine!20160626_093914

 

 

 

Scrumptious Raspberry Pancake Sauce

Raspberries are in abundance and I have been harvesting so many pounds of these delicious jewels!  The raspberries are incredibly bountiful this year.  I already have some in the freezer, I’ve made some yummy recipes, I’ve popped them in my mouth as is for a fresh, refreshing and healthful snack.  I’m giving them away even!  I’m not kidding!  There are copious amounts of raspberries.  This makes me so very happy because I love raspberries!

I always enjoy working in the kitchen with food.  I find the task of preparing food calming and it brings me back to my happy place, especially in times of distress.  With the recent tragedy in Orlando, I have felt heartache and grief.  I have found the past few days difficult to tend to the essentials in each day.  As such, I have found myself standing in the kitchen more often than usual after spontaneously deciding to see what I can throw together just to take my mind off all the hate and pain in this country.

With so many raspberries in my kitchen I decided to focus my attention on making something with those.  I went with a sauce.  It just sounded good.  I am craving pancakes, so guess what’s next?  Pancakes!  I’m going to make a batch and have breakfast for dinner!

This was super easy and took no time at all.  Check out the recipe below and give it a try yourself!  You won’t be disappointed!

Raspberry Pancake Sauce

3 cups of fresh raspberries20160614_182747

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1/4 cup of water

a mix of arrowroot powder and water (for thickness)

pinch of salt

squeeze of lemon (about a 1/2 tsp)

Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan.  Place on stove top and bring to a boil.  In a separate small bowl, make a paste with arrowroot powder and water.  I tend to use about 2 tablespoons of the powder to 2 tablespoons of water.  Add to the sauce when it boils, stir until combined then continue to let it boil for 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken.  Reduce to simmer and let cook until it is your desired sauciness.  Serve warm. Yum!

 

 

 

Pep In My Step Kale Pesto

Traditional pesto is fantastic, but I don’t eat dairy and I don’t often have a bunch of basil in my fridg.  I do however, almost always have a bunch of kale in there.  I learned long ago how to make a good dairy free basil pesto.  It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve branched out to create different kinds of pesto using greens other than basil.  I love it so much and I always feel good when I’m getting in my greens.  It puts a little pep in my step!

I don’t know what it is about June.  When this month rolls around I get to feeling giddy and happy.  This is exactly where I’m at these days.  Of course, it might be because I’ve actually got several planned vacations through out the next few months.  I’ve officially gotten the time off and I can’t wait to get this party started!!  I am really looking forward to summer, to vacations and to play!!

This pesto will definitely be on my “make to go” list when I’m planning foods for out of town trips and camping.  I mixed it up a bit and tried something new-almonds!  Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, but they are cost prohibitive.  Walnuts are a more affordable substitute and my usual choice, however when I opened my mason jar of walnuts they smelled rancid to me.  That left me with almonds.  There ya go!  Pesto with almonds is quite delicious so remember, don’t ever limit yourself–in food or in life!

I tossed these simple ingredients into my trusty food processor and whizzed away until my pesto was creamy and mostly smooth.  I used this in a chicken and rice dish, as a pizza crust sauce base, as a salad dressing, in an omelet and even as a sandwich spread, more than once!  All from one simple bunch of kale.  Come on!!  You have to give this a try!!  So tasty and good for you; one bunch of kale can feed you for days when you get creative with it!  You’ll have a pep in your step, too.  Enjoy, my friends!  Happy June!

Kale Pesto20160602_174251

One bunch of kale (variety of your choice-I used curly)

1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

2 garlic cloves (I used home grown garlic from a friend and it packed some punch!)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh crushed pepper

a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about one teaspoon)

I free poured olive oil…guessing an amount? About 3 tablespoons then added water one tablespoon at a time until it reached the desired consistency.

Add all ingredients to a food processor and whiz until smooth.  Enjoy in a variety of creative ways!

 

 

 

The Sweet Life Of Raspberries

My friends, do you know what time of year we are coming into?  Raspberries, people!!  20160602_174445The precious short season of the raspberry is here and I am so happy! They are a bit early this year and growing abundantly.  I’m so fortunate to have family that share their bountiful harvest.  In fact, picking the berries is most exclusively done by me.  If I don’t they will dry up on the vine.  Age and health issues keeps my loved ones from tending to them as they have in the past.  These happen to be my favorite berry so for the next few weeks, I’ll be a raspberry picking fiend as I pluck as many as I can before they disappear.

Of course, these delicious raspberries must have a coming out party and what better way than with these fantastic scones?20160602_185952  One of my favorite recipes; I’ve made them so many times with different variations.  This time the only change I made was substituting the maple syrup for raw sugar.  Turns out that was not the best choice, but it was all I had and I’m using up my cupboard staples before I buy more.  They are good, but maple syrup is way better.  There’s a reason it’s in the recipe title.  That’s my opinion.  It certainly won’t stop me from munching on these for a mid-morning snack!

I’ve posted this recipe many times before here and if you haven’t given it a try, I highly recommend it.  Go ahead, you deserve this treat!  Happy Friday, y’all!!

http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2009/07/gluten-free-maple-raspberry-scone.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hold On. This Is Different.

This is quite a different kind of post for me.  I love writing about food and sharing my special diet recipes, but I’ve got something else I really want to share.  As I work toward the goals I have created I find myself seeking out more ways to be frugal, being conscious of my spending so I can save as much as I can while still getting my needs met.

Before I started working at my current job and when I first moved to my place where I now live, there were some essentials I needed.  Since my move was sudden,  I was underemployed and all my money had been taken by my ex “M”,  I was low on cash to get these things.  My landlady suggested I go to the Dollar Tree, which was just down the street from my house to see if I could find the items I needed.  I let go of the issues I had with quality, manufacturing practices and their environmental footprint.  I really needed some things to make life in my small space more livable.  They were simple things like over the door hooks, a bath mat, organizing baskets and such.  There was comfort in these things that let me put my life back together and made my traumatic transition more manageable.  That was such a horribly rough time.  I paid $17 in total, happy that I was able to meet all my needs at such a low cost.  This is fifteen months later and everything I purchased is still in use, except for the bathmat.  I think that’s a bargain!

I have never really been interested in the Dollar Tree as a place to shop.  I have occasionally stopped there to pick up a thing or two that I would have normally picked up elsewhere at a higher price.  I have two Dollar Tree stores convenient to me so it’s not out of my way.  However, it has not been the first place I would think to shop until recently.

When I began my job,  I learned very quickly how to utilize this store to meet the needs of my many onsite activities.  I have a decent professional budget, but to stretch my finances through the fiscal year, I now shop at the Dollar Tree regularly.  I spend a lot of time planning my art and socialization classes, workshops and events.  I regularly check out on line ideas and discovered Dollar Tree hacks.  Have you heard of this?   Oh my goodness,  I have found so many fabulous ideas!  You know how it goes getting sucked into cyber world…well, my clicks led me to YouTube videos about Dollar Tree hauls.  People actually record their shopping trips to this store and then share their purchases in a YouTube video for all to see.  I’m hooked.  Yes, I admit that I am.  These YouTube videos have become my “zone out” time when I need an evening to just veg out.  I’m so fascinated with the things people find.  My trips to the Dollar Tree are now my place for personal quests as well as the fun items I find for work activities.

Quality is on my mind when I inspect something I think I might purchase.  It is only one dollar, but I still want my product to perform.  I know, how much quality can one expect for a dollar, right?  Check out some of my favorite finds.   I’ve attached pictures below.  I don’t know how long that steering wheel cover will last, but the tissue box is pretty sturdy.  And, those dog toys?  Oh my goodness!  My furry little one absolutely loves these toys.  I spent some big bucks on quality name brand toys when she first came to me and she wanted nothing to do with them.  I bought one toy from the Dollar Tree just to see what she would do with it.  Anyone who has met my princess knows she cannot greet you without one of these toys in her mouth.  These are a must purchase item!  I don’t know how long dog toys last for others, but they tend to last about three months for her with regular use.  There are three around the house at all times so none get exclusive use.  .

In past posts I’ve made reference to some lofty goals I’m working on that require me to be mindful of my finances, prudent with my purchases and work within a strict budget.  I have become quite determined to meet them within the time frame I have set for myself.

When there are things on my list that I will purchase at a store anyway and I know that I can get the same things at the Dollar Tree,  you can guess where I would purchase, right?  So far, I have only returned two things that broke immediately upon use.  I have been quite happy with all of my Dollar Tree purchases.  I know I am saving money and I am getting my needs met.  I do like knowing that the Dollar Tree does provide usable, affordable products as this is many people’s only shopping option.

Coming up in a future post:  How I actually utilize Dollar Tree products.  It’ll be my very first DIY thing I post publicly!  FoodRadical is branching out!!

 

Roasted Veggie Dip

Let me tell you about this crazy meal I made for dinner.  I prepared a baking sheet with a variety of vegetables, gave them a stir in olive oil to coat them nicely, then sprinkled a bunch of spices on them.  I popped them in the oven until they were nicely roasted and lightly browned. This is when it gets crazy.  I decided to dump the roasted veggies into my mini food processor and whip those veggies into a dip.  I was in a dipping mood!

I made my own dipping chips, too!  I know, super crazy!!  A resident at one of the buildings where I work told me about a grocery liquidation store that sounded too good to be true.  It was quite a distance from my house, so I was hoping it would be worth my trip.  Oh my, I was not disappointed!  Organic, gluten free, dairy free and vegan items could be found in abundance! Not just some random off brands, but many of my personal favorite brands that are part of my regular shopping trips.  I was having my own internal happy dance as I filled my basket.  Among the amazing buys were Udi’s brand gluten free tortillas.  Let me tell you what I paid; two packages for one dollar.  Yep, you read that right-2/$1.00!!  For real!!  The expiration date is good.  Although I enjoy this brand often, I don’t usually buy these tortillas so I can’t tell you what might be “wrong” with them that would bring them to liquidation.  They are fabulous to me and I turned them into chips!!

Stick with me here while I tell you I took it even further.  Food Radical went wild in the kitchen tonight!  I had kale in the fridg that was calling to me, so while the oven was on I just transferred those tortilla chips to a plate and added kale pieces to the baking sheet.  I drizzled some apricot oil over with a sprinkling of sea salt then popped them in the hot oven.  A few minutes later I pulled out beautifully crisp kale chips!

There you have it.  This is one wacky dinner.  I’m here to tell you it’s dang good!  Mixing it up and doing it different is my thing.  Now, I’ll be getting on with my dipping!

Roasted Veggie Dip

2 medium yellow carrots, sliced into rounds

1 large zucchini, sliced into half moons

4 large radishes, quartered

1/2 small yellow onion, sliced

Add veggies to a bowl and drizzle olive oil on the veggies.  Mix to coat then add spices of your choice.  I used basil, granulated garlic, parsley, salt & pepper.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender.

Kale Chips

1/2 bunch of curly kale, torn into bite sized pieces

Add kale to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil (or apricot oil) to coat. Sprinkle with granulated garlic and sea salt.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 4-7 minutes.  Watch closely!  They bake quickly.

IMG_3653