Backyard to Table: A Cooking Reminder

Finding good food in Portland does not seem like a difficult task. Everywhere you turn offers a craft cocktail, a beer brewed up the street, fish fresh from the coast and mushrooms handpicked in the misty wildwood of the Oregon back country.

But after a while, the delicious food scene either numbs your palate to deliciously prepared, well-sourced delicacies or you start to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of restaurants to try.

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Don’t get me wrong– I adore the food scene in PDX. I’ll even give you a list of my handpicked favorites to try should you ever visit.



And believe me when I say the food scene out here is the best in the US. If you think you’ve had good wings, you absolutely haven’t until you’ve tried Whiskey Soda Lounge‘s fish sauce wings. Those would probably be my last meal should I ever leave this place.

Despite all of this goodness, you know what resonates the most with me these days?

The tiny garden in the backyard.

Portland can tell me all day long (and it does) that they ‘source locally’ and ‘pick from the garden’ and establish ‘farm to table’ connections. But despite their best efforts and their tremendous successes, there is nothing that can compare from a fresh red tomato plucked off the vine, still warm from the sun.

Their farm to table and my farm to table are tremendously different. Those were seeds we dug into the wet ground a few months back. (By ‘we,’ I will admit, my green-thumbed roommates did the heavy lifting since they don’t kill plants like I do.) Now they’re vegetables, big and ripe and bursting with wonder.

So, for the past week, I have made all meals at home. Despite one late-night run to the greasy spoon diner in Southeast after a ceiling-splitting worship jam from the talented Matthew Zigenis at Bridgetown Church, there has been no money spent at all on food this week.

I am lucky enough to know — and take advantage of– the wonderful folks at a local bakery who give me their day-old breads in exchange for coffee. I never have a shortage of thick, fresh, crusty loaves within reach. This is the springboard for every wonderful sandwich and toast imaginable.

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Pie, made with the fresh apples from the tree in the backyard. Also, arts and crafts day with the roommate. We are working on floral wreaths.

I am remembering with startling familiarity how wonderful it is to cook, elbow-deep in something crafty, tasty and new.

Plus, it’s cheaper. My wonderful fella and I are trying to hit up some overseas countries for some crazy Jesus-loving missions work in the next few months and are saving every penny possible to get there. Eating deliciously seems an easy way to do so– its hardly a sacrifice at all.

We’ve even gone so far as to build campfires and construct gourmet ramen noodles with one kettle and some random ingredients.

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Gourmet fire ramen. 

Here’s to the friendly reminder that food doesn’t come from grocery stores. Food doesn’t come from restaurants. Food doesn’t come from well-meaning companies that send gift boxes.

Food comes from the earth, and it’s delicious that way.

 

Roadtripping PDX: Part Four (AKA, the Best Sandwich I Ever Ate)

I promised sandwich stories, and I shall deliver.

Behold the gem of our national roadtrip: the Bleubird Turkey and Brie Sandwich. We stumbled across the cutest, brightest, most incredibly delicious sandwich stop in Boise, Idaho. And I want to tell the world.

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It had been a long stretch of grey morning as we drove from Salt Lake City, Utah into Boise, Idaho. The view was dotted only by the occasional majestic mountain range and plenty of windmills.

We stumbled into Boise ready for coffee. The District Coffee House was our aim, a hip spot with a disappointing cappuccino. Fairly dejected (is good coffee too much to ask? Are we just snobs?) we went in search of lunch. Directly across the street we found lunch salvation.

Bleubird.

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It was a light, airy little sandwich shop boasting handcrafted sodas and a blackboard full of sandwich options. Our eager cashier, who introduced himself as David, recommended the reuben for Isaac while I took a turkey and brie.

And that is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

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Is there anything better than a sandwich no one skimped on? Dissect these layers of goodness: Dijon, fig jam, fresh apple, turkey, a massive, floral slice of brie and some arugula.

Almost as heavenly was the reuben with a bacon potato salad.

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Not to be overshadowed, the side salad that came with my sandwich was sprinkled with a snowy avalanche of cheese and toasted peanuts, which proved to be literally the best salad I’ve ever had. Period.

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So, if you’re ever in America’s heartland looking for a bite to eat, drop everything you’re doing and snag a sandwich here.

If only I had more excuses to be in Boise.

(I did take the second half of my sandwich to go and ate it as we crossed the Oregon border into the most glorious sunset. It felt like heaven.)

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If you get the chance, check it out:

home

224 N. 10th St.

Boise, Idaho

83702

Roadtripping PDX: Part Two

The goal was to leave early and be in Boise by now. But, as plans often seem to do, this one went awry and I find myself typing from the living room of my brother’s apartment in Laramie, Wyoming.

The culprit was the car battery. It faltered and died twice before breakfast, and a running vehicle is pretty important when it comes to cross-country roadtripping. So after a stop at the auto store for a new battery and some tools we were ready to roll. Of course, I personally had no hand in changing the battery… instead I figured out how to use the autotimer on the camera and photographed some birds. (I am duly ashamed.)

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The good news was that this delay in departure led to a real and proper Steamboat Springs goodbye. It was a huge blessing, actually.

We were able to stop and talk and pray with some of our closest Steamboat friends and mentors, which meant we left on a sweet and content note.

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As we finally wound our way up Rabbit Ears Pass towards Laramie it began to snow.

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“Remember when I said I wanted to move before the snow hit?” I asked as we slowed down to accommodate. “I think this is perfect timing.”

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hOur updated route will now take us into Salt Lake City, through Boise and up to Portland. The goal is to enjoy the entire trip, despite the driving distance, and usher in this new season as best is possible.

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Here we go!

Roadtripping PDX: Part One

This morning, right on the cusp of leaving for our 16 hour roadtrip to Portland, the car sputtered, groaned and died.

This giant grey Hummer is loaded to the gills with trunks and suitcases. We could not have been more prepared to roll out of Steamboat Springs for the last time.

And yet…

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We needed a jump to get going. In the meanwhile, we ate leftovers from our last meal in Steamboat. I suppose there’s no better roadtrip breakfast than cold pizza.

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So, as this trip begins, please gather all of your thoughts and prayers for us! It’s apparent already… this is going to be one crazy drive.

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