We’re on vacation! Last Thursday, we flew up to Portland to spend time with my family up there. We had a lot of plans, some of which were realized, and some of which were not. Maya’s a big fan of the TV show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender“, so we intended to see the movie version after our arrival. Ted and Maya passed out, though, and by the time they finished their nap, we still needed to have dinner, so it didn’t happen. And to tell the truth, the reviews have been SO horrible (like, wondering if this is perhaps the worst movie ever made, that kind of thing), that she lost interest, so we’ll see if we bother at all. So we had dinner on Thursday with my Dad and step-mom (whos name is Julie…and one of my sisters is Maya, so yeah, it’s a little confusing), then relaxed at the hotel. Oh, we also walked to a house in Dad’s neighborhood where the Cullens lived in Twilight. The people who live there were really cool about having us tourists looking, waved at us and made vampire faces. 🙂 Ted made a video and posted it on his blog. Check it out, here.
Friday we wanted to go on an ‘Underground Tour‘ of Portland, which claimed to talk about the shanghaiing that went on back in the early days, and to take you through some underground tunnels where all sorts of nefarious deeds occurred, including conscripting the poor un-knowing sailors. We assumed that it would be easy to get tickets, so we took our time, didn’t buy tickets ahead of time, and showed up about 15 minutes before the tour. Sold out. OK, now what? Not difficult, in a city like Portland, because being readers all, we enjoyed wiling away some time at Powell’s Books. I grabbed a couple of books, and then we went to check out this fancy shop that I read about in O magazine at the dr’s office, The Meadow. It’s an interesting shop, they specialize in gorgeous flower arrangements, a couple of hundred kinds of salt, some bitters, and wines. I got some Sel Gris, which is supposed to have 30% less sodium than regular salt. Also a bottle of French wine. Nice. Then we went to my sister Maya’s house for a nice bbq dinner in the rain. Not hard rain, just the occasional drizzle.
On Saturday, we tried again and this time bought tickets, and went on the Underground Portland tour. Turns out it’s partly about shanghaiing, but also more about the seedier side of Portland’s history, and how it was a pretty rough and tumble place until probably the early 40s or so. Our tour guide looked like David Bowie’s younger brother, which was strange. It was interesting, though, and we got to try Voodoo Donuts, and we discovered that Portland has some of the most relaxed nudity laws in the nation…perfectly legal to walk around nude, as long as you’re not performing, all thanks to the strong free-speech movement of the communist ilk back in the day. Interesting. After that, and after getting cleaned up, Maya spent the night at Dad and Julie’s house, and Ted and I went out to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. Nice!
We went to The Heathman Restaurant, which was GREAT. When Ted made the reservation online, he mentioned that it was our anniversary. They custom printed a menu for us that said “Happy Anniversary” at the top, and the waitress mentioned to us that she was happy that we chose to spend our celebration there. Really nice. They had a lot of things on the menu that I would normally order…heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil…beet salad…dayboat scallops. But I decided to stir things up a bit, and get something different, something perhaps more local. So I started with an appetizer of roasted figs wrapped in bacon, grilled nectarines, and a local brie-type goat cheese. Really good. Ted had some local oysters on the half-shell, which were creamy and delicious. For dinner, I had quail, polenta, and scallops. Oh dear, SO good. Highly recommended. Ted had the rabbit, which he really enjoyed as well. For dessert, he had a warm flourless chocolate cake with some kind of yummy sauce, and I had my favorite, sorbets. Mango, lemon, and raspberry. SO GOOD. Every bite was wonderful. If you find yourself looking for an upscale dinner in Portland, we highly recommend it. It also turns out that the Heathman is where my dad took Julie on their first date, lo those many (22) years ago. After dinner, we went to Ted’s favorite Portland music store, Music Millennium. I’m sure he’ll be doing a ‘Mix Six’ with some of the songs he got over on Popdose. He went for several CDs of local Portland artists, and they’re a mixed bag, quality wise. Some good, some meh. That’s kind of the fun of buying CDs, right? The risk of it all?
Sunday was the 4th of July, which we celebrated by going on a hike in the Columbia Gorge, where we started out by the Wahkeena Falls, and then hiked up about 900 feet or so to Fairy Falls. We had Maya’s children Chloe and Justin with us, which made it more fun and more slow at the same time. Chloe is almost 6, and Justin is almost 3, and they’re both as sweet as can be, so it was a lot of fun. Also a bit tiring, so we went and crashed out at the hotel for a bit after, then went to Dad and Julie’s for a 4th of July bbq. The part of Portland where they live is on a pretty high hill, and if it weren’t for the trees in the way, we could have seen a lot of fireworks from their window. We saw quite a bit as it was.
Monday we went to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry with my sister Melissa and her kids, Jack and Sophie. We had a lot of fun checking out the exhibits and trying to solve their brain-puzzlers (my brain was still puzzled when we left). I think I needed an engineer to help. My BIL John was there, but he was in the sandbox with Sophie (almost 4), so he wasn’t able to solve anything for me. After that we had pizza at Dad and Julie’s house, the whole family together, which happens very rarely, and was really nice. Interesting to see Maya, an only child of 14, amongst a group of 2-6 year olds who are pretty good at winding each other up. Nice.
Tuesday we came home, which was mostly uneventful. Maya got my Dad set up on Facebook before we left. Nice to have a 14 year old around for times like that, right? Wednesday, Ted and I went to see Cyrus, which was an interesting independent film starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, and Marisa Tomei. Basically took the issue of dating after divorce, with children, and explored the issue if the child involved is an adult, and one who has not yet managed to leave the nest, as it were. There were a few times when I thought the filmmaker might take it in a disturbing direction (horror movie, or perhaps incest), but it never went there, and was actually a really good, interesting film. If you get a chance to see it, I suggest you might enjoy it.
Thursday was spa day, with Ted and I both cashing in gift certificates for massages at two different spas. Really nice and relaxing. Today we’re going to Capitola, where I haven’t been since I was maybe 5 or 6. I’m not sure what there is to do there, but it’s a beach-side community, and it should be a relaxing way to wind down our vacation.
In case you’re interested, here are two delicious recipes. One, my step-mom’s delicious homemade salad dressing. Really easy, really good. I’ll admit that most recipes for homemade dressing just taste like oil to me, so this one is a wonderful change. I went out and bought a good seasons carafe so I can make it at home, though certainly that’s not required.
Julie’s Salad Dressing
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup golden balsamic vinegar (I couldn’t find this, but I did find white balsamic vinegar)
1/8 cup orange juice
a drizzle of honey
a small clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
Shake ingredients together, use immediately. Yum.
Second is the recipe for roast chicken that I made for dinner on Wednesday, which is from my Julia and Jacques cookbook. I didn’t have savory, but thyme worked just as well. Juicy and delicious. I didn’t take a picture. I wish I had, because it was lovely. Looked around online, and couldn’t find the right one. It’s good, though. Really good. Really good with the salad and dressing, and some yummy steamed carrots.
Jacques’s Savory-Stuffed Roast Chicken
For the stuffing
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp virgin olive oil
l/2 cup minced shallots (4 or more large
4 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh savory
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 chicken, 31/2 to 4 pounds
¼ tsp salt for sprinkling on the chicken
Butter or vegetable oil for the roasting pan
For the deglazing sauce
1 Tbs minced shallot
1/3 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
2/3 cup chicken stock
A small frying pan; a shallow-sided heavy aluminum or copper roasting pan or heavy cast-iron skillet, just large enough to hold the trussed chicken; a 1 -quart glass measuring cup or deep bowl; cotton kitchen twine; a basting brush; a board or platter for resting and carving
Preparing the herb stuffing
Preheat oven to 425 °F
Heat the butter and olive oil in the frying pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the shallots, parsley, savory, salt, and pepper, stirring well and tossing in the pan. Cook for about a minute, just until the shallots begin to soften. Let cool.
Preparing the chicken
Remove any lumps of fat from inside the cavity near the tail.
Loosen the breast skin by lifting the neck flap and work your fingers between the skin and the flesh, especially the thighs, taking care not to puncture the skin.
Stuff the cooled herb mixture down between the skin and the flesh. Lay the chicken on its back, tuck the neck skin underneath, and smooth the surface, to distribute the stuffing evenly.
Roasting the chicken:
Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt all over the chicken. Grease the center of the roasting pan. Set the chicken on its side in the greased pan and place in the oven.
Roast for 25 minutes for a 3 1/2-pound chicken (3 or 4 minutes longer for a 4-pound bird), then turn the chicken onto its other side, grasping it with kitchen tongs or towels. The first side on which it rested will be deeply colored; be careful not to tear the skin when turning. Lower the heat to 400°F and roast for another 25 to 28 minutes, depending on size, then turn the chicken breast side up; baste with the pan juices. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes and baste once again during this final cooking.
Test the chicken for doneness; return to the oven for a few minutes if necessary.
Remove the chicken to a cutting board, place it on one side or breast down, so the juices flow into the breast meat, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Make the deglazing sauce in the roasting pan. Tip the pan to one side and skim as much fat as possible off the top of the juice. Stir in the minced shallot and then the vermouth and chicken stock. Add the juices accumulated on the carving board and bring to a boil.
After carving the chicken, drizzle about half of the pan sauce over the pieces and serve, passing the rest of the sauce.
Overall, it’s been a great vacation, some in Portland, some at home. The weather, by the way, has been awesome. Family kept apologizing to us because it was cloudy and cool in Portland. And gosh, everything there is so GREEN. They don’t seem to understand that to us, any day under 90 degrees in July is a gift. And just when it heated up there, we came home to find the fog in, and it’s nice and cool here. Sorry to those of you back East in the heat AND humidity. Ugh. Come on out here. You can sleep by our pool if you want, since we don’t have a guest room.