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!

Advertisements

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

 

 

 

Love Is Here, Orlando

 

Like many across the country, my day began yesterday with news of the tragedy in Orlando.  A gay bar, The Pulse Nightclub, was the scene of a deadly massacre leaving many dead and injured.  In the aftermath, cities across the nation have come together in love and support for the victims and their families.  It’s a way to gather as family and stand in solidarity against hate.

I attended one of Portland’s vigils last night.  I needed to be with my people and my community.  I wanted to grieve surrounded by love.  Most of FoodRadical’s writings and stories rarely identify that I am a woman who loves women.  If you don’t know me, this would not be apparent in my writing, with rare exceptions when I’ve used a pronoun in stories referencing “M”.  Yesterdays assault left me with such heaviness in my heart.  Learning this slaughter has ISIS leanings doubles my sadness for I know Islamophobia exists as does homophobia.  It’s all hate in my opinion and this world has too much right now.

Nightclubs and gay bars were my safe space as I was coming out and coming to terms with who I was while I found my place in my new life.  It was the space I could openly express me, be with other people like me and feel a sense of complete acceptance even though I may not have known the majority of people I was surrounded by.  There was implicit love and safety. Remembering this for myself and coming to terms with what happened in Orlando aren’t syncing well in my psyche.  Knowing that we as a community of people are still vulnerable to attacks of hatred; that this massacre took place in the one space where we are supposed to feel safe and protected is particularly heart-wrenching.

I needed to be with my people last night.  I wanted to grieve beyond my couch watching live reports and reading endless on line accounts.  I needed to be surrounded by love.  This month, June…it is our month.  June is PRIDE.  Last night my community came together and showed that Pride.  We stood in solidarity and love.  We sent prayers and love to Orlando.  My people. My Portland.  It gave me what I needed and wanted last night.  It filled me with hope.  Love always wins.

 

Simple Pleasures

The alluring sunshine gleaming upon the city enticed me from the views on my deck,  down the hill and to Portland’s waterfront.  The north end is lined with cherry trees coming into their peak as fluffy cherry blossoms create tunnels of pink.  I wanted to be encased in their beauty.

IMG_3611

Go down now, I thought; go while the sun is out.  Feeling the call to find things I love about Portland,  I thought walking the cherry blossom lined waterfront would fill me with the joy of simple pleasures found in this city. Perhaps a walk among the trees and the sunshine warming my skin would lift my spirits on an overall dreary weekend thus far.

It has been a good long time since I have felt my love for this city. Returning from a wonderful trip to North and South Carolina did not bring a new appreciation for Portland.  I find it even more detestable.  I wanted some simple reminders like cherry blossoms,  the portrait of beauty for so many Portland neighborhoods.

I had an easy drive down the hills toward the waterfront.  Positive attitude, camera and creativity were primed to be impressed only to be confronted by the endless battles for street parking.   Where every minute matters on days with Portland’s precarious weather,  I tested out my North Carolina learned aggressive driving skills to score a spot close to my destination.   In the less than two block walk,  I was greeted with drizzle as I entered the north end waterfront.  Momentarily in awe at the impressive show of pink,  I reached for my camera to snap a few pictures then began my tree lined walk.   Keeping with my feigned optimism,  I told myself a little drizzle is okay;  classic spring time in Portland.   Keep focused on the beauty and wish for that sunshine to show its glow any moment.  I quickly snapped some more pictures being careful to protect my camera from the drizzle turned pouring rain.  I was able to catch just a couple more perfect shots when the wind did a fast dance among the trees creating cascades of pink pedals whisking across the park,  whipping the heavy rain sideways,  blowing off my hat and pelting my face as I hurried back to my truck.

Completely soaked,  upset wet dog in my arms,  I grumbled as I got back into the truck, trying to conjure up what little bit of positive thoughts still remained.  I encountered an inordinate amount of traffic and my short trip back up the hills took me triple the amount of time.  I was met with several irrational drivers whose unsafe driving frayed my weary nerves.

Arriving home,  as I walked my deck to the front door I found exactly what I wanted-a gorgeous sunshine upon the city,  creating a glimmer that made me pause in admiration and enjoy the beauty of Portland.  I guess I find appreciation in my city from a distance more accepting these days than being right in the mix of it all.  I took that message and gave it thought as I created a comforting chicken stock,  made from the bones of a whole roasted chicken.

Sometimes the simple pleasures are right in our line of vision yet we are too busy looking past them as we seek something better.  I discovered that investing time in my kitchen with an occasional glance out the window to appreciate my views was the simple pleasure I needed to bring me back to a place of gratitude.  Not necessarily for my city,  but for my current journey that for now,  still exists in Portland.

Gluten Free Camping Done Right

Gluten free camping food is such fun to make!  I love coming up with unique and delicious foods that are considerably more indulgent yet still stay in my personal dietary guidelines. I just returned from my first camping trip of the season.  I am getting a late start this year. I have had too many other weekend activities that have kept me from pitching my tent. Oh wait…. I don’t have a tent!  Ha!  I did learn my car is the perfect camping vehicle and even snuggles two people in quite nicely with a bit of elbow room.  I learned a lot in this first camping trip which created moments of deep reflection.  It is one of the reasons I have such a fondness for weekends in the woods; it brings me back to a balanced place where I feel grateful and peaceful.

I certainly felt “tipped” often enough on this trip.  It is not just my first of the season, but my first since I have moved and have had my stuff stored away.  My busy week prior to leaving did not give me time to pick up my camping gear until the day before I was to head out.  I just packed it in the car and that is where it stayed until we unpacked it at the campground.  Assuring my camping friend I had everything we needed, imagine my surprise when we started setting up camp and discovering I actually did not have some things we needed.  This fell on the heels of some other pretty crazy debacles that delayed us even getting to our spot until almost dark.  We laughed a lot about all of it along the way until it became clear we were missing some vital items.  It took me some time to remember that “M” and I had gone through all of our camping gear and downsized last fall when we were done traveling for the summer.  We got rid of a lot of equipment, deciding we would replace it later with more space efficient items for the next season.  That is now and considering what happened in my life between that time and today, there is no way I would have remembered this took place.  After laughing hysterically at the craziness of everything that took place just to get to our peaceful spot, we settled in and got creative with what was available, only running to the little market down the road for propane.  We made it work.

Digging through those camping buckets unearthed a plethora of painful memories as I reflected on the journey and experiences that led me to where I am today.  “Blessing upon blessing has reigned down on you”, just said to me last night by a friend; this is true. Where I am today is nothing short of miraculous in my opinion.  I have been lifted and gifted in the most beautiful ways.  I love right where I am in my life.  Dare I say I feel like I am truly living my dream.  I certainly feel like I am on that path.  But, I had to take some time to reflect again on what happened that lead me here today.  I had to process some thoughts, rehash a few things, reflect and let go a little more.  I had my own personal burning ceremony early one morning.  After quietly celebrating to myself for creating a successful fire, I spontaneously threw a word search book “M” had given me for Christmas into the flames.  It had gone into my “take with me belongings” when I moved, but I just stored it away on a shelf forgetting about it until I was packing for camping.  I love doing word search puzzles when camping.  Sitting at the fire, staring at that book next to me dredged up only anger and betrayal.  I said a few things out to the Universe, dropped it into the fire and let it burn.  I found a long purple knit thing in a bucket that “M” had made; an aborted attempt at a scarf I think, and we had used it to tie things.  I wrapped it around my fire poking stick and dropped it into the flames as well.  I love the powerful symbolism of this ritual and upon completion I felt lighter, more relaxed.  It feels great to close the book on that chapter of my life, however, six months later I am no more enlightened on why it ended.  It matters less and less.  It still astounds me the same.  I have come to my own closure and am comfortable in my truth.  It will likely never cease to make me shake my head in dismay because while I have definitely had my share of awful experiences, what I just went through is absolutely the most cruelty I’ve experienced by another human being; one that declared their love for me on a regular basis.  It simply makes no sense and it was so wrong.  I now see even more clearly the painful world “M” lives in that would move her to be so callous.

In the flames of the past, I recreate my current experiences and my future.  Just as stunning as the ending of my relationship and what I thought was my future, is the astonishing beginnings that have cultivated since this has happened.  The doors began to open before I even moved from “M”‘s house.  I have had continued remarkable experiences.  I cannot help but be grateful, often in a deep and moving way.  When I come full circle in my thoughts, I rest in grace.  My reverence for life is more profound.  I have found my balance again.  My trips into the forest always bring enlightenment.

With some heavy stuff getting processed, I am glad we came well stocked with the fixin’s for some great gluten and dairy free meals that were delicious and comforting.  Eating this way while camping can be easy with just a little preparation before heading out.  I like to pre-mix ingredients into plastic zip bags as much as possible, making it much easier to prepare at the camp site.  There was some good food eaten around the campfire, along with plenty of enjoyable conversation.  As well, there were many opportunities for silence and reflection.  Even with the harried experience of getting to the site and our lack of proper equipment, in many ways this was a successful first camping trip of the season.  I look forward to the next time and being much more prepared!!

I did learn that I can throw stuff together pretty darn quickly and am always successful at making things work with what I’ve got.  Camping, like life, is a learning experience.   The serenity and grace of my surroundings brought me back to center.  All is truly well in my world.

Check out some of the yummy food we ate and take in the beauty of our gorgeous Oregon forest.

IMG_3347 IMG_3350 IMG_3352 IMG_3361 IMG_3365 IMG_3369 IMG_3354

 

Coconut Curry Chicken

I had a lovely time at the coast this weekend.  It was nice to get out of Portland where the weather was near record heat temperatures.  The coast was a lovely mild temperature with bright sunshiny blue skies, but a bit too breezy for me.  As is typical for the Oregon coast, I certainly did not complain.  I spent time with my family there, watched my nephew graduate, shared food, conversation and laughter.  I walked on the beach, I stopped and stretched toward the roaring ocean.  Hot tubs, soaks, luxurious baths and good food all weekend.  I truly enjoyed my rejuvenating get-a-way.  Even though it was scorching hot upon my return to Portland this afternoon, I entered my home and was met with a cool, comfortable feeling temperature.  That made me very happy and is a good indication of what to expect as the heat continues into summertime.

I did my unpacking and began organizing my plan for food this coming week.  Needing to use some chicken, I decided on a dish I know I will enjoy for most of this week.  It’s easy, it can be portable, it is nutritious and filling.  When I can use up the items in my little fridg before my next trip to the store, that makes me happy!  I whipped up what I call coconut curry chicken.  I love that I can use just one pan, my cast iron skillet.  I also made some brown rice as a delicious accompaniment to this dish.

Looking ahead to my busy week I am excited for many things on my work agenda.  How cool is that?!!  I am really excited for my work week.  I am continuing to love my job.  It is so perfect for me.  I know I’ll love my week even more with my delicious meals on the go I will get to enjoy.  Have a great week!  Eat well.

Coconut Curry Chicken

Heat a tablespoon of sunflower seed oil (or whatever you have on hand that isn’t olive oil) in a 10-12 inch skillet.  Add 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, finely chopped and saute until translucent.  Next, add one pound of chicken breast cut into bite size pieces.  Saute until just browned.  Add 2 Tablespoons of powdered yellow curry and stir around to coat the chicken pieces. Add one 14 ounce can of light coconut milk and a half cup of chicken broth. Stir until combined and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until sauce begins to reduce and chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degree. Top with freshly chopped green onions and cilantro.  You could even add a crack or two of some fresh peppercorns! Enjoy over greens, rice, or both!

IMG_3257

Clean Eating Brunch

Last weekend the weather was absolutely glorious.  I was feeling energetic and motivated to get my Sunday “church” walk going.  Every Sunday I head out early and hit the trails near my house.  It has become my ritual of sorts.  I love that I can simply walk out my door, up the street a bit and walk right into our beautiful forest in the city.

Once I got my pace going it wasn’t long before my ankle decided not to cooperate. I broke my leg just above my ankle a few years back and my strength in that area has not been the same.  I also think I may be developing some arthritis in there.  Some days it gets quite painful.  I slowed my step, being mindful of how I moved my foot and continued along. Soon my back began its typical ache; it has been giving me some problems again.  I lug around a traveling office now and it is literally a pain!   My slow walking pace became meditative and methodical.  With each physical adjustment I made a mental adjustment.  I reminded myself to go with the flow, enjoy the peaceful scenery and take the opportunity to enjoy it more fully. Well, even with my slow, sure pace I still developed a pain in my hip that hurt enough to stop me.  I took a seat on a fallen tree and just let the presence of nature soothe me as I sat.

I am not sure why I took this whole experience in such stride.  I am usually not so patient with my body when it ails me and slows me down.  This experience gave me a different perspective; one that definitely caused me some concern.  I sat on that tree and wondered what I would have done had I been somewhere different.  My new job keeps me walking all around the downtown/old town area of my city.   I have places to be and I have timelines to meet.  I walk up and down steep hills on my way to and from work.  All of these activities are much more difficult with pain strong enough to disable my walking abilities.

I have only recently accepted that I live with chronic pain even though I have known this fact for quite some time.  I simply do not like limitations in my body.  I have really tried to ignore it to some degree and power on.  I try to stay away from all the triggering foods that will create more ache in my joints.  I do kind things to my muscles and joints in the form of supplements, ointments, soaks and stretches.  I have become much more physically active even when I hurt, I still walk daily because I know it is the best thing I can do for myself. Still, in doing all these great things, I sometimes slip.  Even when I don’t,  I usually experience pain.

I am considering the elimination diet again.  Not because I am concerned I have an allergy to a new food, but because it makes me feel clean on the inside.  It feels somewhat like a detox for me.  Regardless, I know this is an option and I also know now is not the time.  For now, I am being more mindful of my food choices, making sure I incorporate anti-inflammatory foods in abundance.  I came home from my walk and made an amazing brunch.  This egg scramble and green juice concoction was filled with inflammation fighting ingredients.  Try it for yourself and feel great!

This weekend the weather will be fantastic again.  In fact, a little too hot for me!  I will be heading to the beautiful Oregon coast for the weekend where it will be a perfect 70 degrees with blue skies!  My Sunday “church” walk will look a little different yet still just as beautiful.

Egg Scramble

Saute’ 2 garlic cloves in 1 1/2 tsp of olive oil until softened.  Add 1/2 cup shredded kale and cook until just wilted. Crack 2 eggs into pan and scramble with a fork, incorporating the kale and garlic.  Cook to your desired consistency then add 1/4 tsp of cracked pepper to your finished dish.

Green Juice

Chop the following produce into chunks to add to your juicer:

1 beet (I used an orange beet)

1 Bartlett pear

3 carrots (mine were unpeeled)

2 celery stalks

3 good sized kale leaves

I recommend adding the greens last.  That’s just my opinion.  However you juice, enjoy this drink.  Your body will be happy you did!20150531_104347 (1) 20150531_110213