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

 

 

 

Advertisements

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!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radical Raspberry Compote

This past week seemed to be calmer than the last, or maybe it was because this week felt more balanced between work and play so that made work seem more tolerable.  I have encountered a lot of firsts in my job recently.  I got to experience the not so pleasant side of my job when I had to break the news to a resident that he was being evicted. On the heals of that, I attended a local rally about the rental crisis that is happening in my city. (#RENTERSOS) Portland is a mess right now. People who are income challenged are being displaced at an alarming rate.  Immediate change needs to happen and it was impressive that our city commissioner proposed new protections for renters the day after the rally.  It’s a short-term solution to a deeper problem, but it is a step in the right direction.

I went to the rally to network with other housing advocates and to get a better pulse on the severity of this crisis.  I was there as a professional, yet this is a deeply personal issue for me.  I am incredibly fortunate that I am not one of the many uprooted Portlanders struggling to find adequate housing.  I very easily could have been.  I honestly do not think one day has gone by that I haven’t sent out a ‘thank you’ for the beautiful place I call home when I enjoy my amazing views from my deck.

I reconnected with my old next door neighbor, who I lived next to when I was with “M”.  We had lunch and caught up on life.  It was nice to share my story with someone else who knows “M” and it felt good to get validation for the inhumanity I experienced by “M”.  She also works with the same populations as I do and, I discovered her office is in the building directly across from my main building where I have my office! We will be working on creating a professional partnership between our organizations. This is super cool!  Her and her partner moved as well and I got an invite to their new house when they are more settled.  I am thrilled to be back in contact with the people I thought were pretty cool neighbors.  She also lives a gluten free lifestyle so it’s exciting to know I’ll have a gluten free lunch buddy when I want to break up my work day.

I hung out with co-workers one night after work.  It was nice to go out and get to know them a little more personally.  We are all so busy during the day and many of us are “out in the field”.  I was happy to have the opportunity to sit around them all and casually mingle.  I spent time with a couple people I haven’t seen in a while, I attended community events and overall had a really busy week, yet it ended with me feeling much less stress than the previous week.  I do believe the nice balance between hard stuff and fun stuff made my week pretty decent.

I’ll be out and about the city doing my usual weekend errands then later having fun with some extra special people.  I am most excited that I will finally be getting some more of my belongings from one of the places it’s been stored.  I am desperately missing a few things and I really hope they are boxed away.  I got rid of so much in my panic of needing to move because I had no idea where I would go.  Thinking I might be in my car, I gave up nearly three quarters of my things.  Now, months later, I have been learning I gave up some precious items I really wish I would not have.  I suppose I will find out if what I want and need got saved a little later on today.  Either way, it is what it is and I have another opportunity to let the past go a little more.

Another one of the firsts I am experiencing in my job is working with veteran’s. Thus far, I can only describe it as an intense experience. This raspberry compote developed after of one of these said veteran’s threatened to steal my food from the community room freezer.  I often keep excess freezer food at work because my home freezer is very tiny.  I am still trying to learn this man’s personality and I could not decide if he was making a threat or a joke, so I just removed the temptation and brought my food home.  I simply had no room for my gallon sized bag of raspberries that I had picked earlier in the summer so I made a compote, poured it into jelly jars and froze those!  They fit snuggly in my little freezer space and will make lovely gifts when the holidays arrive.

I am letting another week go to enjoy my weekend filled with all things good and nurturing!  Here is how I’m starting my morning and my weekend:  IMG_3472Using gluten free oats, I made oatmeal on the stovetop.  While the oats were cooking I added 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, a tiny drizzle of pure vanilla and a dash of sea salt.  I topped it with chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax meal, chopped candied ginger and the raspberry compote.

Raspberry Compote

4 cups of frozen raspberries

2 Tablespoons of cinnamon

1/4 cup of raw cane sugar

dash of sea salt

Put all ingredients into a 2 quart pot and simmer on the stovetop until bubbly.  Allow to simmer on a low heat until the raspberries break down and develop a syrup like texture.  Remove from heat.  Let cool completely then store in air tight glass jars.  Can be frozen for later use or use right away over oatmeal or maybe even over a delicious dairy free “ice cream”!!  Enjoy!

Good Morning, Portland! A glorious view. Thank you.

Good Morning, Portland!
A glorious view.
Thank you.

Stress Busting Raspberry Scones

I am stretched in many directions these days so I like to be prepared with ready to go foods that offer me the nutrients I need. My stress has been high and I have been busy. There was a bag of frozen raspberries from our garden harvest last season in the freezer at the other house and I took it with me to my new place. However, it was a gallon size bag and my freezer is a tiny ‘ice box’ size freezer so this was taking up too much room. Raspberries just happen to be filled with vitamin C, stress busting anti-oxidants, and are one of the world’s healthiest foods. Lucky me!  Not only would I empty my freezer, I would be giving my body the necessary nutrients for stress relief in the most delicious way!  I remembered the raspberry scones I made for my road trip last summer that I really enjoyed, but all my recipes are packed away in storage so I just decided I would make it up!  I was feeling motivated and I just bought a new baking sheet that I was eager to try out!

I think they turned out great.  The texture was dense but not doughy.  My scones turned out to be a delicious grab and go food.  I am happy to have an empty freezer (to fill with blueberries!), my body is happy to have nutritious food, I am happy to have convenience at my fingertips and the best part–so much less stress!!  These scones will make your world happy.  Give them a try!

IMG_3135 IMG_3136 IMG_3144

 

 

 

Stress Busting Raspberry Scones

1 cup of sorghum flour

1/2 cup almond meal

1 Tbslp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp pink himalayan sea salt

1/2 c coconut oil (not melted)

3 Tbsp agave (or maple syrup)

3 Tbsp raw cane sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup coconut milk (from a carton, not can)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Place all the dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk until incorporated.

Cut in the coconut oil with a pastry cutter until the ingredients resemble coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, combine all the wet ingredients using a whisk.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.  Fold in raspberries with wooden spoon.  Do not over mix as it will create a less than satisfactory end result.

Drop large spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.  I use my fingers to shape each spoonful into a scone-like shape. Bake for 15-18 mins.  Remove from oven and place scones on cooling rack.  Try to let them cool before devouring!  Enjoy!

Makes about 10 scones

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raspberries And Reflections

Our one raspberry bush has produced so much fruit this season I am finding it hard to keep the pace with their succession of ripening.  This is a raspberry bush that was cut back to practically one stalk last fall after the summer harvest.  The bush was not planted in the best location.  It was growing up onto the end of the deck and throwing sprouts in places that just were not good spots for berries to grow, like under our deck.  We had raspberry vines coming up through the planks in the deck!  All the sprouts were removed, one was replanted to a better location but didn’t survive and this one came back with a vengeance in the best kind of way.  It has grown wider around and even though it does still branch out onto the end of the deck, there have been no sprouts under it trying to make their way up through the deck and overall this bush is growing earnestly.

Raspberries are my favorite type of berry (Marionberries are a close second) and I am thrilled with the abundance of this fruit in our yard.  I find myself thinking up the next best recipe using raspberries before they hit their peak and turn to mush, which is really just a few days once picked.  They are such delicate berries.

Playing around in the kitchen always provides plenty of opportunity for reflection. Sometimes I completely immerse myself in my project, using every bit of focus to create a dish, which frees my mind of the clutter that often generates turmoil.  I like to call it my “brain break”. Sometimes my kitchen time becomes the place where I work through an issue I am having or to reflect on life, my surroundings, ideas…or whatever happens to be rolling around in my mind.

Most recently, I have been mulling over my recent travel troubles.  It has taken me quite a few days to work through what I experienced and come to terms with the loss of not only my car but a long term dream that did not get fulfilled.  There have been days when I felt like I just could not take any more challenges or obstacles.  It is still hard not to feel completely defeated by life.  How much can one person handle?  I often feel like I have reached my limit and beyond.  It has been hard for me to reach out, to get support and to find ways that will lift me.  Basically, I have been an incredibly depressed mope!

Thank goodness I have some amazing friends.  One particularly wonderful friend called the other morning and what she said spoke to the deepest part of me.   She listened, she related and she offered kind, wise words.  She encouraged me to keep my dream alive; that this trip was not a failure.  She reminded me of my strengths and my overall positive attitude in even the toughest situations.  Then she suggested we meet for coffee the next day.  I feel like that get together was the lift I needed to begin moving me forward and help pull me from the depths of despair.  Okay, that may sound a little dramatic, but it is certainly not a stretch in the way I have been feeling.   I should add that this friend is also a life coach and quite naturally offers practical, simple advice to guide people on their right path.  She is one of the most genuine and truly caring people I know.  She sincerely wants to help people and offers whatever she can from the kindness of her heart.  She is a gem.

When we met she did exactly what she does for anyone struggling with the torments of life; pulled out her notebook and began a list of weekly things for me to do that will keep me on my right path.  In addition, she gently offered plenty of sage wisdom, lots of love and strokes of  affection.  In the days since we’ve met I have looked at my list a few times, especially when I find myself going the direction of despair.  My list grounds me to the moment and keeps me focused on good things.  I tell myself to just do what’s on the list, even if it feels meaningless.  I find that at days end I feel accomplished.

Things are looking better.  I have purchased a new to me car.  This time I did some thorough research on the make and model, talked extensively with the former owner and asked a lot of questions.  I think I got a great car and one that will last me many years, I hope!   It is definitely the nicest looking and most mechanically sound vehicle I have owned.  I am still cautiously optimistic.

Other things are falling in to place as well.  I have a few aspirations I am following and feel pretty good about those potential outcomes.  I am trying a little harder to stay connected with friends.  I am taking advantage of my time off to do good things for myself like my list says, even if it is just painting my toe nails or checking out a cool library book.  The most exciting thing is my sweetie now has time off and in a couple of days we are going on our own mini road trip that will include camping.  I am looking forward to our together time in nature.  We have amazing travel adventures.

I’ll be back on the road soon, this time with my favorite companion.  I have an assurance that I will not only have a great time, I will not get lost because my sweetie is the best at navigating just about anywhere.  It seems my dismal mood may be nearing it’s end, just like our raspberries.  Those sweet things are just about done producing for the season.

As I reflect on my recent life conflicts, I realize this is just another notch in my growth. Someday I will more fully understand the lessons in these events.  For now, I’ll keep working on closing this chapter and moving forward with the things that make life good–Friends, love, and raspberries. Here’s what I have been doing with those lovely little berries.  Try some of these ideas at your house, or mix it up and use the next cycle of berries that will be ripe soon-blackberries!

Note: I did make some changes with the scone recipe I made.  I used coconut oil in place of palm shortening.  I used hemp milk and I also added a total of 1 1/2 cups of berries.  I used hemp milk in the chia seed pudding; a first that I wasn’t as excited about as when I use coconut milk.  The salad was absolutely amazing!  In addition to chopped kale, which I massaged gently with sea salt and olive oil to make it softer to chew, I added Fuji apple slices, raspberries and toasted slivered almonds.  The dressing was a mix of olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, grated ginger a bit of agave and a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

I highly recommend any or all of these delicious dishes!  Take advantage of this season of berries and try these recipes today!

 

IMG_2430

raspberry chia seed pudding using 2 Tblsp chia seeds, 8 ounces hemp milk, 1/2 tsp agave, 1/3 cup raspberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

IMG_2568