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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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That’s the wrong protein powder! {#Mamavation Monday}

Mamavation Anyone who knows me knows that I’m running a LOT these days. I’m determined not to get injured again – last year, I had some crazy sh*t going down with my piriformis, which caused my whole pelvis to get out of alignment. It was so bad, I was pronating on one foot, and supinating on the other!

I’ve been feeling some serious tightness around my hip again, so I’m stretching like crazy – pigeon pose, anyone? – and eating an anti-inflammation diet. Mostly.

The basics of the anti-inflammation diet are this:

Eat mostly foods that fight inflammation in your body (dark leafy greens, strawberries, blueberries, fish)

Eat only limited amounts of neutral foods (rice)

Avoid foods that cause inflammation (meat, dairy, corn, wheat, potatoes, alcohol, caffeine)

Not so hard, right? It really isn’t, actually. I have to be honest that I haven’t even attempted to give up alcohol and caffeine. But I’ve made some simple tweaks to rest of my usual diet, and lost 2 pounds in one week! Here’s a typical day:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, black beans and guacamole {super filling and tasty!}

Snack: Instead of Laughing Cow Light on a rice cake, I use almond butter. The almond butter is ground fresh at Winco – the kind that comes in a jar usually has extra ingredients, like palm oil and sugar. Not necessary! But check this out! The Laughing Cow container is perfect for carting around a rice cake without it crumbling into pieces!

I feel so smart for my clever transport!

Lunch: same as usual: salad & veggies, and since I’ve been eating more fish at dinner, I put some on my salad.

Snack: veggies with guacamole or hummus.

Dinner: fish, rice, salad and/or veggies.

BUT! I had a horrible realization. I’m avoiding dairy (except a little bit of cream in my morning coffee!), yet my protein powder is whey. It’s important to me to have a little protein shake before my 5:30 am runs. When I don’t get that burst of fuel before a run, I really slog through it. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that whey is dairy, but DUH.

I’ll keep eating the anti-inflammation foods the rest of the day, but as soon as I use up all that whey protein powder, I’m looking for an alternative that isn’t on my “avoid” list.  Someone suggested hemp protein, but all the reviews on Amazon say it tastes like dirt.

Does anyone have a favorite non-dairy protein powder I should try?


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Style my jeans: weekends

Style my jeans: weekends

CALYPSO ST BARTH cashmere wrap cardigan
$159 –

Ambrym Island Curvy Plus Top
$27 –

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I don’t want to be mean and strict. I really don’t.

Is it too much to ask that when I come home from work, my kids come running to the door with hugs and kisses, saying, “Mama! We’re so glad you’re home, we missed you so much! Thank you for going to work to support us! Did you have a good day?”

Yeah. Too much.

But it seems they could at least say, “Hi Mama!”

Know what I got today? Seriously, the first words out of Anna’s mouth:

“Can I watch a show on TV?”

“Not right now, let’s have dinner, then you can watch a show after dinner.”

They do not get to watch TV every day. It’s either a reward, or it’s because I need the 30 minutes to do whatever. To be honest, I was looking forward to them watching a few shows after dinner because I had a lot on my proverbial plate and I just wanted to sit and chat with Brian for a while.

But within seconds, Anna had turned on the TV.

“Anna! I just told you not until after dinner. If you disobey me again, you won’t get to watch ANY shows today at all. Do you understand?”


I turned my back and what does she do? Turns on the TV again. I turned it off and stared at her, astonished.

“But I just…”

“I don’t care what you thought you were doing. I told you no, and you disobeyed me. You knew the consequences!”

Oh, the crying. The wailing, the excuses.

Damnit! I really wanted that time to myself later! Such a selfish mommy I am. And I really wanted a peaceful evening with my family. But truly, it never occurred to me that – faced with losing TV for the whole night – she would disobey me like that. She has shown a remarkable ability to delay immediate gratification as a trade for something bigger and better later. So what gives? I might not have made that particular threat if I thought she would force my hand.

It totally sucked to have to be all hard-core about this. Just like it totally sucks to have to say “Take your plate into the kitchen if you’re done eating!” EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL.


I know I’m doing the right thing by being strict and following through on my threats. If I don’t, they won’t respect me. If they don’t respect me, they won’t respect their teachers. And their bosses. Or any authority. I get it. It’s important work. But sometimes a mama just needs an hour to herself while the kids are entertained by Phineas and Ferb. Is that too much to ask?



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