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It’s a Salsa Party!

It is possible that there are better things in life than fresh, homemade salsa.  Possible, but unlikely.

You might think that Southern California is the land of beaches and movie stars, but really, it is the land of burritos and salsa bars.  It is all about the salsa around here.  I’ve had some amazing salsa at some amazing places, but none compare to my dad’s grilled salsa…  None.  I think he got the recipe from a friend way back, and ever since he has perfected the wonderful tomato-ey, spicy, warm, tangy, cilantro-ey flavor that makes the perfect, perfect salsa.

I am a gardener, and I have a friend, Bruce, who is a KILLER gardener who grows a bazillion pounds of tomatoes every summer (I grow a moderate amount).  So when the tomatoes are ripe, we all get together with my parents and have an annual salsa making party.  Well, this was the second annual, but who’s counting?

It is a super fun time, with lots of margaritas and mariachi music (essential, but unlisted ingredients in any serious salsa recipe).

Here are a few pics, and of course, the recipe.

Most of our tomatoes were home grown.  The tomatoes were Early Girl, and Magnum tomatoes.  We used jalapeño, habañero, serrano, poblaño, and anaheim chiles.

This is my dad- Gary of Gary’s Grilled Salsa- I think he’s squeezing a lime here.

Here I am, hard at work.

Our assembly for the salsa- small batch by small batch my dad added ingredients in the blender, and combined it all- in the (well scrubbed) outdoor sink!

We had I think 80-90 pounds of tomatoes! The gas grill was joined by the old Weber.

The finished product. Now that’s spicy.

Gary’s Grilled Salsa

30 lbs of tomatoes for 8 to 10 quarts of salsa.

12 habañero peppers
12 jalapeños
16 mild relleno peppers (about 2 per quart)
10 – 12 tomatillos
2-4 bunches of cilantro
3 yellow or white onions (raw)
20 good size garlic cloves – raw (about 2 to 3 per quart)
10 limes
Lots of kosher salt
Roast or grill the tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers until they’re really cooked and the skin is black… but don’t let the peppers burn up.
Make it as you go, filling each blender full like a  batch of salsa.  Add grilled tomatoes, peppers, raw cilantro, onions, garlic and squeeze 2 lime halves in each blender full.  Salt each batch to taste while it’s blending.  Pour all the batches together into one large bowl, and stir it all together and taste for seasoning.
Depending upon how spicy you want it you can use more or less havañero peppers and jalapeño peppers.
This recipe is a guideline- and is a flexible, but great start to making grilled salsa.


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by | May 21, 2012 · 8:32 am

Tadpoles and Wine.

Hood River gets all of the attention and rightly so.  However,  the Washington side of the Gorge is perfect for a day in the sun with your kiddos.   My son and I love hiking at Catherine Creek.  It is twenty minutes east of Hood River and very kid friendly.   The terrain is open and not very steep.  There are many trails to choose from and plenty of opportunities to throw rocks into a creek or build rock art.  But the best keep secret is the frog ponds.  Slimy, mucky wonderful frog ponds.  This time of year you can see frog eggs, tadpoles and listen for frog songs.  There is slime to pick up with sticks and waterskippers observe.  It’s the perfect spot for a junior biologist.  If that’s not enough, every time I go there I have seen eagles and osprey in abundance.  Best of all, it can be cloudy and raining in Portland and sunny, sunny at Catherine Creek.  Worth the hour and 20 minute drive, wouldn’t you say?   If you think that sounds fun, it gets better.  Just down the road is several fabulous wineries.  Now Mama get her treat.  Syncline (YUMMMM),  Cor and Domian Pouillion are just short jaunt from Catherine Creek.  I like to start with Domian Pouillion and end at Syncline Winery.  Syncline has wine by the glass  and has a lovely area to have a picnic.    The wine makers at Syncline have children of their own and the tasting room is kid friendly.  Plus they have chickens, tractors and a friendly dog.

If you are still hungry and thirsty, Solstice Pizza in Bingen and Everybody’s Brewing in White Salmon are both terrific.  The food and beer at Everybody’s is outstanding.  The deck at Everybody’s has a view of Mt.  Hood.  Solstice has a small kids area and a good menu as well.

So the next time you need an adventure,  head east of Hood River and enjoy sun, wine and fun for the whole family.

Go Play Outside,



From Portland, drive east on I-84 to Hood River. Cross the Hood River Bridge and turn right on Washington Highway 14. Drive through Bingen and continue about 4 1/2 miles to Old Highway 8. Turn left on Old Highway 8, which is also County Road 1230. Drive east on this road  for about 1 1/2 mile to the trailhead.  To find the frog ponds, take the trail to the left on the north side of the Hwy.  To play in the creek, head up the trail on the right.   Have a kid in a stroller, no problem.  There is a paved trail on the south side of the road. 

The wineries are off the Old Hwy 8.  To get better directions, refer to

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Icebreaker Friends and Family Sale Today!

You know I love Icebreaker products, right? I do! They’re awesome, and here’s why.

There’s another friends and family sale today, and I’m hoping to make it there to pick up some more essential fitness attire.

Here are the details:

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Project Earth Day Ivy Pull in Washington Park

I’m a tree hugger!

Seriously, since my childhood camping in the woods on a regular basis with  my family, I’ve developed a deep and abiding love of trees and nature. So naturally when I saw that Kalso Earth Shoes was awarding community service project scholarships for Earth Day, I wanted to apply and do something great for trees.

Several of my coworkers at Oregon Zoo are raising awareness and funds for Acres for the Atmosphere, which has the goal of planting more trees to combat climate change. Climate change, of course, being the biggest threat to polar bears.

Photo courtesy City of Portland, No Ivy League. The No Ivy League hosts ivy removal projects on the first and third Saturdays of every month. Take the kids!

But instead of planting more trees, I’ve decided to rally around the removal of ivy. I love planting trees – it provides instant gratification! In fact, I’ve been a crew leader, volunteer and board member for Friends of Trees.

But so many of our existing, big giant trees in Portland are being suffocated by invasive English ivy. Ivy in Oregon is devastating and inexorable. Pulling ivy is hard work. Which is why we need to draw more attention to it, and rally people to fight for our urban forests!

So here’s my plan:

WHAT • Ivy removal in Washington Park: “girdle” as many trees as possible!

WHEN • Wednesday, April 18, 3 – 5 p.m.  (I chose this time because most zoo keepers get off work at 3:30, plus kids are out of school. Also, who doesn’t want a good excuse to get out of work early – for those that work until 5?)

WHO • Specific target will be all the staff of the attractions around Washington Park (Oregon Zoo, Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum, Japanese Garden, International Rose Test Gardens, City of Portland). Anyone else who can take an hour to come help, plus my kids, your kids, their kids!

HOW • Gather equipment in a central location. Keep a trainer to orient people as they drop in to give instruction and send them to work sites.

COMMUNICATION • insert into employee newsletters of above institutions, targeted online advertising, and earned media via press release to local papers, television and radio stations. Email to neighborhood associations surrounding Washington Park to invite neighbors to join.

AFTER PARTY, 5 – 7 p.m. • Approach local restaurant (Sylvan Steakhouse!) to co-host an after party to celebrate our success – which should help encourage more volunteers!


I really believe that most people want to do good for our community, but often we don’t know where to start, or our good intentions just turn into delayed action until nothing happens. By providing this Earth Day opportunity, Kalso Earth Shoes and I will give people a fun and direct way to help wildlife habitats, and the planet itself! I know I am looking forward to pulling some ivy with my family!


Thanks to Leah Segedie and Mamavation for making me aware of this opportunity!


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Rebirth of the Fairy Garden {Wordless Wednesday}

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