Category Archives: Food

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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Rosarito Beach in Baja: a food excursion

Have you ever had a vacation where you just eat the whole time?

I didn’t know that’s what our trip to Rosarito would be when I planned it as a surprise for Brian’s birthday one year. At first, I didn’t want to tell him my plans in case I couldn’t make it work. I had heard about amazingly affordable resort deals in northern Baja, and it just seemed to good to be true. But once I nailed down the details (it really is value-priced!), it had become this big secret, and I decided to keep it going.

A few days before the trip, he said, “I just need to know when we are leaving.” I told him we had to be at the airport at 9 a.m., and he looked shocked. “The AIRPORT?” That’s when I knew my surprise was going to work. I packed for both of us, hid his passport with mine, and off we went!

I had a driver meeting us at the airport in San Diego, and once we got in the car, I showed him a brochure for Rosarito Beach Hotel and he was so excited!

courtesy of Rosarito Beach Hotel

We spent a wonderful four days eating, relaxing, eating, exploring, eating, and enjoying each other. We would have huevos chilequiles for breakfast, then walk around, go swimming, then around lunchtime we’d see a taco stand.

“We should have some tacos, those smell amazing!”
“Yes, but I’m still full from breakfast…. but TACOS!” So we’d eat the tacos. Then walk, swim, relax, explore.

Courtesy of Rosarito Beach HotelThen at dinner… “That lobster looks so good!”
“Ugh, I’m still full from lunch.”
“But it’s LOBSTER!”

Puerto Nuevo Lobster has it's own website, it's that good & famous! You can see the lobster is split and grilled – that is what makes it "Puerto Nuevo Style"

A highlight was a cab ride down to Puerto Nuevo, a hotspot for the “Puerto Nuevo style lobster.” We had the best dinner perhaps of our lives.  $11 a person bought us each a margarita, tortilla soup, salad, rice & beans, tortillas, chips & salsa, and a lobster. EACH! Everything was amazing, but the tortilla soup haunted me. I spent several months trying different recipes and perfecting my version until it took us back to Puerto Nuevo and that fun long weekend we spent at Rosarito Beach.

I hope to surprise Brian with a trip again sometime (or better yet – be surprised by Brian with a trip!), but we’ll always have fond memories of our mini vacation. And every time I make tortilla soup, we get to relive it!

It’s easy to get to Rosarito Beach from San Diego. We hired a car to drive us down, but  once we were there we saw how easy and economical it was to use the buses, so we did that on our way back to San Diego.

Bus from San Diego Airport to American Plaza (transfer to Trolley Blue Line). There is only one bus, so don’t sweat it too much. ($5)

Trolley Blue Line south to San Ysidro Transit Center. (same fare)

Mexicoach from San Ysidro Transit Center to Rosarito Beach Hotel. ($4)

Next up: My tortilla soup recipe!

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Mamavation Monday: heart healthy food

I come from a family of “apples.” You know: back fat, midsection weight gain.

Diabetes and heart disease runs in the family on my mom’s side, and of her 4 siblings, one died of a heart attack, another had a heart attack, one has a pace-maker, and the other had quadruple bipass surgery. Fortunately, my mama has managed to avoid all those problems. I can only hope that keeping myself healthy will help me avoid heart problems as well.

So… what I believe is that eating low-fat, high fiber, lots of dark leafy greens is the secret to keeping my heart healthy. It could be that I think that type of diet is good for anything, but it seems especially true for the heart.

Also, red wine. I’ve embraced the recommendation to drink red wine! It’s good for me, right?

I’ve been adding spinach to my smoothies, and eat salad every day. I haven’t cut red meat out entirely, and I probably drink a little too much red wine… but I’m getting there!

My downfall is fried food, chips & salsa, you know. All the really bad stuff. I can pass over a cupcake any old day of the week, but it’s much harder for me to turn down some good chips and salsa!

I look forward to learning more about heart healthy foods, and checking out David Grotto’s articles on Real Life Nutrition on WebMD.

More to come as I learn more!




This post is sponsored by Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women.

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Oh, How I Love Penzeys Spices

Ah Penzeys, you had me at the Maharajah Curry.  It came to me in a little brown gift box, surrounded by fragrant bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg, nestled between the Tandoori Seasoning, Rogan Josh, and Garam Masala.  All it took was opening that first jar, taking in the lovely golden color and the spicy sweet aroma and I KNEW- this was something special.

“Wait until you try the cinnamon,” my sister-in-law told me.  “There will be no turning back.”  She was right.

Penzeys Spices is this lovely little catalog business that has transformed my cooking world.  After that first box set of curry, I have been addicted.

The catalog alone is pure culinary wonder.  Before I placed my first order I spent days poring over the descriptions of the herbs, salts, spices, mixes- their origins, the ways in which they can be used- it was fascinating.  How to choose?  Seriously, they are all so good, I don’t have room in my spice cupboard.

Here is a list of my favorite Penzeys Spices and mixes in no particular order.  I encourage everyone to try them-  they are fantastic.

1.  Yes, the Cinnamon is amazing.  Penzeys has about 4 different varieties (they devote an entire page in their catalog to them), and they all seem perfectly wonderful.  I stick with the Penzeys Cinnamon variety, which is, as they describe it, “Hand-mixed from:  China cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon, Korintje cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon.”  How cool is that?

2.  Another essential is their Cumin.  As I learned from the catalog, cumin is the world’s second most popular spice, after black pepper.  Who knew?  Penzeys cumin is fresh and much better than you can get in those little bags in the Mexican section at the grocery store.

3.  Family favorite:  Fox Point Seasoning.  It is a little pricey, but oh my goodness.  It is so yummy- it has this lovely mix of shallots, garlic, onion, salt and parsley that will transform your garlic bread into something unbelievable.  They describe it as being “good on all the foods we are supposed to be eating more of, from fish to vegetables.”  It kind of makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

4.  New favorite salt free mix:  Mural of Flavor.  Penzey’s has a lot of great salt free mixes, and they all have great flavor.  We love this mix on popcorn.  It is tangy and peppery and delicious.

5.  Favorite salad dressing mix:  Buttermilk Ranch.  Alright, I don’t know if I am alone here, but I have issues with store bought ranch dressings.  Most of them have super scary ingredient lists, and I don’t like the creepy creamy texture.  I am not really a vinaigrette person- so this is a perfect option. This is a flexible seasoning works well with Greek yogurt or regular mayonnaise, so it is easy to control your ingredients.  All of their salad dressing mixes are great- but I love this one.  It makes a great dip for veggies too.

6.  Chicken soup base.  I am too cheap to always go buy the boxes of chicken soup base, but I don’t like the msg stuff you find in bouillon bases.  This is a great tasting base, and it lasts a me a long time.

7.  Toasted Onions- minced and powdered.  My kids don’t love onions- so this gives me the flavor without the yucky texture (I’m not a big squishy onion lover either).  The toasted flavor is, well, super deliciously toasty.

8.  Greek Seasoning.  We love to use this on grilled everything.  Veggies, chicken, lamb.  It makes dinner a special occasion.

9.  Kosher Flake Salt.  I love this simple, flaky salt.  It has a lot of flavor, so you don’t need to use as much as regular table salt, and has a clean, pure, tangy flavor.

10.  Last but not least- their curries.  All of them are fantastic.  Especially the Maharajah Curry.  Mmm….

  Click on the photo and TRY Penzeys (or visit a storefront near you)!

As they say at Penzeys.  Love people.  Cook them tasty food.


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Not cool, Ristretto Roasters. Not cool!

My dog looks scary.

He’s a rottweiler, and though he looks full grown, is still a puppy. I am actively training him to behave well around other dogs (people are not a problem, but when he’s on a leash, other dogs drive him batty), but he’s got some growing up to do. I’ve seen great advances in his behavior over the last few months, and I know he’ll continue to get better.

So when my running girlfriends told me that the barista at Ristretto Roasters told them (I was in the bathroom) that someone had complained about the rottweiler and the dog wasn’t allowed to come there anymore, my immediate reaction was, “Oh, shit – this is my fault, I’ll have to hold him down the street while someone gets my coffee from now on.” I understand that Jack looks scary, and I’m super annoyed/frustrated/embarrassed when he acts like he wants to tear the throat out of any dog who happens to walk by. Part of my frustration is that when he actually meets another dog face to face, or off-leash at the dog park, he’s totally wimpy and submissive – about as passive as you could get.

I thought it was odd that the barista hadn’t spoken to me, though. I had gone in to the bathroom, and while I was in there, he asked the gals if Jack was theirs. They explained that he was mine, and I was in the bathroom. Instead of waiting for me to come out, he scolded them, saying there had been a complaint about Jack, and he said in a rude and condescending tone (according to the gals), “Not cool!”

I find this especially odd because when I came out of the bathroom, I deliberately tried to make eye contact, smile and say “Good morning!” to the guy, but he turned his back when I came out, and wouldn’t look at me – so I went straight outside to see how Jack was doing.

Now as I said, my first response when I heard that Jack was now banned from Ristretto Roasters was to accept responsibility for my dog, wait on the corner, send in money with my friends, maybe even write a letter to the owners apologizing for the inconvenience. But after hearing how awful and scolding this guy was to my friends, after refusing to even look at me (knowing I was the actual dog owner), I just started getting mad.

Two of my girlfriends and I have been running a few miles two times a week for two years, always ending at Ristretto Roasters for lattes. In November, I started a meetup group for the other three days of the week, and between 2-5 of us having been going three days a week. So that’s 2-5 women going to Ristretto Roasters, 5 days a week.

Several times (twice in December), we have arrived there well after opening to find nobody there. The barista just didn’t come in to work!

A few of those times, she showed up as we were standing there. She insists on putting out all the tables and chairs on the sidewalk before letting us in the store. Because it’s more important to get those tables and chairs out in the pouring rain than let the customers standing in said rain come INside. Right?

As the girls and I walked home with our coffees today, we couldn’t stop talking about the accumulation of snark and bitterness and now open hostility we felt from the people working at this coffee shop that we loved. We felt like his, “Not cool!” remark was really how they all felt about us. They don’t like us showing up within 10-15 minutes of opening, because then they actually have to work. They don’t like that we’re all 30-40 year old moms, and not hipsters like them. They don’t like that we’re sweaty and exuberant, proud of our daily accomplishment of 3+ miles, just wanting that delicious coffee as a reward for our fitness and determination.

I was willing to continue to overlook the bad attitudes because I love the coffee and the ritual with my girlfriends. But this Jack thing threw me over the edge. Why couldn’t he approach me as a human being, and say, “I know you come here all the time, but we’ve had a complaint about your dog. Can you wait outside with him, or find another place for him to wait for you while you order your coffee? We don’t want to lose you as a customer, but we have to honor our other customers’ needs, too.”

But no, that would mean they actually cared about us as customers.

I’m just fed up with this attitude. I get that you all think you’re too cool to actually serve people. I get that you’re probably all artists or film-makers or grad students or whatever and you don’t really want to be baristas. But right now, you are in fact a barista, working at a coffee shop which is intended to serve customers. Can’t you just be a little bit nice about it? It really doesn’t seem like that awful of a job to me. The people at Starbucks all seem happy and friendly.

So you know what, Ristretto Roasters? I won’t bother you any more. I’ll save my $80 a month and won’t sweat up your precious coffee shop with my early morning running mommyness anymore.

Not cool!


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My Guac Rocks!

OK, it’s not weird to say that I love my guacamole because I make it exactly the way I like it. Right? I’m not saying it’s the best guac in the world, I’m just saying I make it exactly the way I like it, and I’ve never met a better pile of avocados ifIdosaysomyself.

My dear friend Kim invited us over for a Sunday get together on New Year’s Day, and she specifically asked me to bring my “famous guacamole.” I was so delighted and honored that she asked for something in particular, because we were next door neighbors 3.5 years ago!

It was so nice to see our old friends, but also so nice to be reminded of my guac, because to be honest I don’t often think of guacamole in the winter. But I’ve made it several times since and I’m loving it every time. It’s so healthy, too! Seriously, what a great way to eat celery, people! I also dip Wasa light rye crackers in it, which is lovely. Jicama is another good dip for guacamole. Anything but corn chips, am I right? I am weak in the knees if corn chips are presented to me. It’s my downfall. I can resist most desserts without much trouble, but salty snacks are my kryptonite. So it’s best to avoid the tortilla chips if I don’t want to eat the whole bag.

I know avocado is high in fat, but it’s the good fat! And it’s tasty! And I found them it at Safeway last week for 10 for $10!

So here’s my recipe:

5-7 avocados, depending on the size

4 cloves of garlic. Yeah, you heard me.

1/2 medium onion

1 jalapeno, seeds & membranes removed (use a spoon to scoop it out – so easy, and you don’t have to worry about touching your eyes!)

1-2 limes

handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Salt & pepper

small add’l handful of fresh cilantro for garnish

I mush up the avocado while it’s still in the skin because I like efficiencies I’m lazy. Cut the avocado in half, and use a fork to smush it all up before scooping it out with a spoon:

how to properly remove an avodado from it's peel

I put the garlic, jalapeno and onion in my favorite little Cuisinart mini prep. Also for efficiency because it’s easier. I use this little baby approximately once a day, it’s so awesome:

Add those chopped ingredients to the lightly-smushed avocado, along with the chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. Squeeze in the fresh lime juice, taste after each half-lime to get it just perfect. Add salt and fresh pepper to taste. I’ve been using celery salt that I got at Whole Foods, and it’s delicious. I really dig experimenting with salts, and this one is making me happy for the guac. And for Bloody Marys, but that’s another story.

They can't get enough of my guacamole!


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