Marvelous meals

Seafood birthday feast

Welp, Sandy took me out for a huge seafood feast at Full Moon Oyster Bar last night. The oysters were some of the best I ever tasted.

This was taken before the meal, but I joked on Facebook that he just saw the bill.

Another reason we belong together – we are both goofs.

When I got home, I crashed and slept so well.

I don’t have time to write much tonight…headed out to the get-together and I need to put together a stitching project. Or I’ll crochet.

buying local, Focus on Book Arts, Forest Grove, Local food, Marvelous meals, Oregon

Forest Grove, Oregon, 2017

Susanne and I love Forest Grove, a beautiful small college town in the middle of rolling farmland with the backdrop of the Coast Range on its west and only a thirty minute drive from Portland to its east. We discovered it through our three trips to the Focus on Book Arts conference we went to in 2011, 2015, and 2017.

The first place we went when we got there was Maggie’s Buns, which I’ve written about before. They had an abundant and delicious lunch selection. I had their veggie lasagna, which rivaled my own in texture and taste, and I am very snooty about my lasagna. I’d go back just for it, but we all tried each other’s salads and they were wonderful too.


I took a photo of the ceiling at Maggie’s Buns this time because if I’m ever able to look up long enough to do it (neck issues) I’d like to paint the acoustic tiles in my bedroom like this.

The Wednesday evening farmers market downtown is one of the things we love about Forest Grove. When we go, in late June, there are abundant fresh cherries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and all kinds of vegetables. This time there was a baker, Slow Rise Craft Breads whose breads are made from local organic grains and wild yeast. Oh, the complex flavors from that bread. We bought some Face Rock Creamery smoked cheddar cheese from Urban Decanter to go with the Slow Rise rye levain and rolled our eyes in pleasure for the rest of our time there.

We didn’t make it to the King’s Head Pub this time, but we did buy Cornish pasties and almond shortbread from the Great British Bakery at the farmers’ market. The pasties were better than the ones I ate in Cornwall!


^^^Goofing around. We’re sitting on an old Cadillac seat at Waltz. Look closely and you’ll see that the photographer caught my beer just as it was spilling out of my glass.

Susanne talked to a street fiddler who invited us to a bluegrass jam that evening just a couple of blocks away at Waltz Brewing, a very small brewpub in a renovated garage. The garage door was up, there was seating on the sidewalk, and the weather was perfect. We munched on our goodies from the market, petted the local dogs, drank ginger ale and porter, and enjoyed the music. We enjoyed it so much that we skipped the conference lecture again the next night and went back to hear a blues guy play guitar and sing to a karoake machine. I bought a growler of Coffee Porter with To the Roots Espresso (from a local coffee roaster) to keep back in the dorm room fridge.

We were invited to a potluck on Sunday with a group of folks who are developing a co-housing community, which I was quite interested in, but we didn’t have time, it was roasting hot, and I can’t even think about doing anything like that for at least several years. I was curious, though.

Forest Grove has a community edible garden program. Plots with veggies and berries had signs that invited you to help yourself. One was in front of Forest Grove Community School, which also had lovely flowers and artwork.


On Friday evening, we went to a Hawaiian restaurant – a new experience for me but a trip down memory lane for Susanne, who spent a year of childhood living in Hawaii. At Kama’ Aina, Susanne had manapua (sweet bbq pork in dumplings), I had shoyu ahi poke. Poke hasn’t made it back to North Carolina yet, but my bet is that it is the next big foodie thing. Very much like sashimi, but with different seasonings. We also blew everyone away with our garlic breath the next day after sharing garlic furitake fries. Just when you think that you can’t make fries less healthy, somebody decides to fry them with butter and garlic and sprinkle them with sesame seeds and flaked seaweed. God, they were good.

We were sorry to leave Forest Grove, but not sorry to leave the dorm, which was not air conditioned and had no fans. The temps the last two days we were there got up to almost 100 degrees. Pacific University is a lovely campus, though.

^^^From the garden in front of the Forest Grove Community School.

Marvelous meals, Oregon, Portland, Wonderfulness

On a Particular … Day

When I arrived in Portland, Oregon on the evening of August 21, I was met by my ray of sunshine friend, Cat. We went to her beau’s place, where he grilled succulent wild king salmon for us in the courtyard of his Pearl District apartment building. We relaxed with wine outside while he serenaded us on his acoustic guitar. A sweet, easy-going, handsome guy who can sing and cook? Go, Cat!

She took me to a house where I rented a room via AirBnB – a first for me. It was comfortable and clean, and I amused myself early in the morning by returning their escaped chickens to their fenced back yard and walking around a cute neighborhood. The poem above was posted in front of a creative front yard across the street, and it was so spot on for my journey here and beyond that I’ve decided to use it. I don’t know the poet’s name. I googled the words and received no results. M, who lives on N. Arlington St. in Portland, I am grateful for your beautiful words. Here they are, since they are hard to read in the photo.

On a Particular … Day

The light awoke the morning, silently
So fresh was the air, like a breath taken from the stars
An eastern horizon was like a memory
What beholds a given day, an hour, a moment
With the turning…so goes everything
A winding path, to the Sea, A gift left unopened, A footprint like no other and a flower, always a touch of beauty

M…

Then Cat and Matt picked me up and we went to Alberta St. for breakfast. Our first choice, The Tin Shed, was too busy so we ate at Halser’s. I had potato pancakes, and we drank beverages (Cat has steamed soy milk – she is so good!) and Matt treated us.

As it went with my previous trip to Portland, I had very little time to explore it. Next time I’d like to shop at some of the eclectic shops on Alberta St. Pam, my retreat hostess, picked me up and we picked up Linda at the airport, and we were whisked away to Pam’s cabin just south of Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Marvelous meals, Wonderfulness

Foodie post

After two years, I finally managed to pick a ripe Cherokee Purple tomato from the Back Forty. This is what should always be done with the first sun-warmed tomato from your garden:


Sandy and I have gone out to eat a little more than usual lately. Here’s our supper on the upper patio at M’Coul’s. Their roast beef is really tender. And y’all know how I feel about Smithwick’s.

Finally, my friend Kathie Lapcevic and I had met through food blogging many years ago, but had never met in person. Her food writing career is on the rise – see her blogs Homespun Seasonal Living and Two Frog Home for more. She stopped to visit me in Greensboro on her way to Asheville for a food writers’ conference. Since Kathie is from Montana and Pittsburgh, I suggested that she try the twice baked grits at Lucky 32 for brunch. We both ordered them with collard greens. Oh so good, and so good to see her. I’ve been friends with her on Facebook and the blogs for so long that meeting her in person just felt like getting together with an old friend.

critters, Local food, Marvelous meals, Visual journal, Visual journal 2013

Visual journal, December 12, 2013


Flounder roulade with oyster stuffing and roasted brussels sprouts at Josephine’s Bistro. YUM.

I’m trying to find the owners of this beautiful friendly older kitten. S/he likes to follow people and play and it is very cold outside. I feel pretty sure that s/he belongs to a neighbor but when you live near a college campus at the end of a semester, you never know whether a pet has been abandoned. I’ve seen this cat twice, and I worry about her safety.

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, fiber art, Madeline Island, Marvelous meals, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Slow cloth, Slow Food

Madeline Island: Chapter 3, Tuesday


My bundles, freshly removed from a dyepot made with goldenrod plants (yes, you can use the leaves and stalks!)

I was a wee bit disappointed, especially in my wool samples overall, but I would soon learn that the secret of getting good plant prints included getting the tightest possible contact between the cloth and the plant material. The watercolor paper that we used to catch drips under these bundles ended up being some of the prettiest accidental artworks of the week.

One of our assignments was to stitch scraps of different natural fabrics and paper to a large piece of watercolor paper. The stitching was hard on the fingers, and toward the end I resorted to using a stapler to both tack down the pieces and to see what marks I could make when the metal reacted with the dye. We flipped it over and painted milk with handmade brushes onto the cotton rag paper for a mordant. It doesn’t look pretty, does it? That milk mordant would make my heart sing by the end of the week. I am totally into the milk mordant, since I work so much with cotton.

We would find out the next day what would be done to these sheets.

Now for the food porn. We went to a new restaurant on the island, Blue Green Organic. It was all about local and organic, and the chef who designed the menu was runner-up on one of those major cooking shows (which I confess not to watch since I don’t watch much TV and dislike reality shows in general, but especially those in which the contestants are abused or ridiculed). The service was very good and the food was luscious and artfully presented. Their signature item was a smoked trout chowder, in which the ingredients are piled into the individual bowls, then the hot cream stock poured over them at the table. As delicious as it was beautiful.

Asheville, dyeing, Local food, Marvelous meals, Western North Carolina

Asheville/Black Mountain weekend

Continuing the tale of the past weekend:

Of course, we spent too much money, even though we spent two nights in the Super 8 motel in Black Mountain. It isn’t bad for the price. Our first stop was at Nice Threads Fiber Gallery on Cherry St. in Black Mountain, where I showed Leslie several of my small tapestries. She is taking them and two scarves on consignment through the end of August. At that point, I hope to figure out somewhere else to foster them, if they don’t sell.

We had drinks and ate at Black Mountain Ale House. I had an appetizer of fried eggplant sticks, mmmmm, and Sandy had shrimp and grits. Someone at the bar steered us to Pisgah Brewing Company that night to hear Hyrider, a Grateful Dead/Phish tribute band. They were really good, the beer was organic, and a cute guy with dreadlocks flirted with me. The cooks in Lovin’ Tenders, the food truck, let me sample a grilled turnip slice. It was pretty good! So that was a pleasant evening.

Sandy wandered around on his own while I was workshopping with Dede Styles. He bought a dulcimer kit in Black Mountain. We went to the Wedge Brewery after the workshop and enjoyed their craft IPA outside in the best weather possible.

One reason we love Asheville is that it was a Slow Food place before most places started paying attention to local food, so there are lots of places to get wonderful local meals.

We ate a marvelous meal at Chestnut on Biltmore Ave. near Pack Place. Again, I forgot to take photos. I’m such a bad food blogger these days. Sandy had molasses glazed pork loin and I had cream of broccoli soup and a salad with roasted beets and goat cheese.

This morning we had brunch at Louise’s Kitchen in Black Mountain, in an old house with a big wrap around porch, perfect for sipping coffee and easing into Sunday. They had a couple of rooms for rent upstairs for office space, and I actually took a semi-serious look, even though I knew I’d never make the three hour drive on most weekends to make it worth the cheap rent. I said to Sandy when he gave me that look (you know the look), “When opportunity knocks, you need to at least open the door to see who’s there.” That made him smile. We can’t afford it when you add in the gas and time, but it is fun to daydream about renting a room in the area.

Then we went to a street art/craft fair in Black Mountain where the artists were starting to pack up in anticipation of a line of thunderstorms heading east. I bought a pair of earrings from a young woman making very attractive jewelry with recycled magazine paper beads. Another mixed media artist used tubes wrapped with different papers and fibers in woven-like structures and collage. Resolved: will take an old National Geographic, some straws, and a tube of white glue to work for slow days.

Back to Asheville, where I abused my credit card at Earth Guild by buying a variety of mordants, along with madder root, cochineal beetles, and indigo. I ordered thiox (a color remover) and a digital scale from Amazon today, since I missed that I needed the thiox for indigo dyeing, and the scales at Earth Guild were more than I can afford right now. I’m quite tempted to buy a used turkey fryer with a propane kit to dye hot baths in, but I am a little bit afraid of cooking with gas. My first apartment had a gas stove and I called the gas company every time the pilot light went out. I’ll make do with an electric burner for now.

art retreats, dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, Marvelous meals

Lake Waccamaw Art Retreat Days 4 & 5

I mostly relaxed with a novel yesterday. My hands needed a break. The lichen tea dyepot was the last art project, and it was a success, although it produced almost exactly the same color as the onion skin dye, which was a tad disappointing. However, I was thrilled to get any dye at all since I’ve never tried lichen and it is unpredictable, and I did it with just the lake water, so next time I’ll try some mordants and additives and see if I can manipulate the color.

The biggest difference was in the silk. Below, from left to right:
Onion skin silk
Lichen silk
Onion skin wool
Lichen wool

We went to Dale’s Seafood for lunch again, where I got a veggie plate with double fried yellow squash again. Man, I could eat that for every meal. They fry them just right – thinly sliced with a light batter, sweet and tender on the inside, crispy on the outside. It is one of the small pleasures of coming to Lake Waccamaw.

I sat for Sandy to draw a charcoal portrait of me. He complained about not being able to make it look just like me, but really, my features are not very distinguished in any way except for my very blue eyes, so considering that it is black and white and the small amount of time he spent on it I think that he did pretty well. He was too kind to my jowls, though.


This morning I was awake before 6 a.m., mainly due to itchiness. Forgot my Claritin. So I had no excuse not to photograph the sunrise once the fog lifted. The best one is at the top of the post and here are the others.

art retreats, critters, dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, Marvelous meals, Wilmington

Lake Waccamaw Private Art Retreat Day 3

Yesterday was a full day of mixed emotions. I mixed up three colors of Procion dyepots, then combined some to get a variety of colors on a variety of rags, fabric remnants, and silk and wool skeins. I didn’t get the purples that I wanted, so I’ll take that up at home. The dyepots were too red, but I was working with a turquoise dye and that color is difficult.

I like the colors that I got on Sandy’s old khaki trousers and my old pajamas. These will go into the rag rug project. I haven’t decided about the fabric remnants. I’m thinking shibori and overdyeing on those.

The wool skeins have very muted colors, which I expected (and wanted) because wool needs a hot dye bath. The silk skeins were fun and unpredictable. Lesson learned – do not use twist ties on skeins. What a mess to untangle.

The afternoon and evening became caught up in the small drama of trying to rescue an abandoned mallard duckling. Baby D was with a mama duck and three other ducklings at our house earlier in the day, but I noticed that Baby D kept her distance from the others. Mama Duck did check her out now and then but she swam away from the rest and Mama Duck abandoned her. We picked her up and she seemed exhausted and I really expected that she would die. We brought her/him onto the screened porch to protect her from predators and when the duck family did not appear again, we started researching wildlife rescue groups in the area. Skywatch Bird Rescue in Wilmington was willing to take her that night so we jumped in the car with Baby D (or Henry/Henrietta as Sandy named him/her) in a big box with a towel. As we were entering Wilmington she started freaking out and scrabbling around under the towel, pecking. She did that twice, and then she died just before we got there.

I had already gotten attached and Sandy was sort of considering taking her home, which we both knew wouldn’t work. So sad. Her feathers were so soft and she relaxed when we petted her – it was obvious that she enjoyed it.

So we drove back to the riverfront and had a pint of Smithwick’s at Slainte Irish Pub on Front St., then walked across the street to Circa 1922, where the food and service was amazing. Sandy had on shorts and flip flops and I know that I probably reeked from sweating over dyepots outside all day, and nobody seemed to notice or care. I had scallops over carrot spaetzle with pea sprouts and Sandy had chicken orechhiette with a cream sauce – both dishes were incredibly delicious, and the restaurant itself was full of huge reproductions of Hopper paintings on old brick walls. A fascinating ambience. I want to go back there because there was so much to choose from on the menu. They use local foods too. The carrots were obviously not from a store.

I didn’t bring my camera or there would definitely be some food porn here.

buying local, consumerism, Family, Marvelous meals

Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day


Pecan and pumpkin pies, by Lisa

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends like we did. We have four great Southern cooks in my family – Willye Kate, my mother, Lisa, my sister, me, and Brooke, my niece. Here are a few photos from our dinner. Note the cornbread dressing (only my mother’s is acceptable) and the many casseroles, butterbeans, and deviled eggs. This is how we roll in North Carolina.

Here are my two grand-nephews. Jake is the one modeling the gas mask. He has a great talent for antique and thrift store picking.


Zeke was lost for two years once. His human mama finally gave up and went to the shelter to adopt another cat. She saw a cat that looked just like him. The animal shelter worker told her that he was not adoptable because he was mean and he was about to be euthanized. The cat was Zeke. I’d love to know what his story was. Believe me, this is NOT a mean cat.

Today is Buy Nothing Day, a day that I used to celebrate here with much fanfare. Now I am more in favor of supporting small local businesses and supporting your local economy. But there is a lot to be said in favor of rejecting the travesty that the winter holiday season has become. Driven by sales, some people actually claim that they ARE spending family time by camping with the kids in front of Walmart or other big box stores on Thanksgiving in order to be first through the doors at midnight. This craziness is a family ritual that they want to pass on to their children.

People, let’s please not go further down this road.

The positive thing is that the Buy Local movement has spread and the Black Friday nonsense has gotten so nuts that I hear more and more that people are rejecting the pressure to buy buy buy for the holidays and returning Thanksgiving and Christmas to their original meanings. Of course you won’t hear this much in the news. There might be a token reference to the simplicity movement or the local movement. I hear this from friends and family and it makes me feel better.

Remember how the news media did their best to convince you that the presidential election was still too close to call when quite a few polls and trustworthy, impartial analysts indicated otherwise? It is in their best interest to keep the frenzy of consumerism whipped up in the same way.

The longer I live, the more I would like to get rid of most of my stuff and just spend my money on the essentials and experiences. Really, how much do we need? I live better than probably 95% of the world and I am probably considered to be lower middle class in the United States. If you’re thinking about giving me a present, please donate the value of my gift to a charity who will truly spend it to help the needy. I will be much happier if you do!