Hi. Remember me? I’m that gal with all the shoes who decided to pack em up and move em out. Way out. Like all the way to Oregon way out. Yeah her. Anyway, it’s two weeks since arriving in my new world and I figured I’d better catch you all up on what’s been going on since I became a left coaster.
Phase One – The Unpacking: When I was told my stuff would arrive the day after I did I was very happy. Then it hit me…I have to unpack. That my things and I arrived in the same place at the same time is swell. Taking all those things out of the receptacles I just put them in two weeks prior, not so swell. So while I was thrilled all the shoes and other life-ly trappings would be at my door the next day, it meant a return of the cardboard menace….the boxes.(Cue the ominous three chord “dum dum dum”). Sure boxes are awfully handy when you get them, tape them together, fill with all your crap, and seal them up while uttering incantations and prayers that the contents come out in the same condition they went in. But what exactly do you DO with all that cardboard on the other end? I’m a bit too big to break out the crayons and build a fort or playhouse. Perhaps start my own shipping company? I paid good money for that pulp, I’m not going to just toss it. Suffice to say I now have a tiny basement filled with erstwhile filled and now flattened boxes. Hoarding? No. I’m a cardboard investor.
Phase Two – Playing house: Everybody loves decorating, even those who say they don’t, do. You get to play house, putting things here and there, testing them out, changing your mind, then trying something new. Of course, when you are 5 that involves things that weigh an ounce or two. At 50 it involves couches.
Phase Three – Getting to know your new world: New town, new markets, new neighbors, and hopefully, new friends. Know what I noticed first? New radio. Oh sure, I expected fewer commercial radio stations, and a cruise around the dial familiarized me with the selections quickly. One classical, one oldies (which I have learned is much of the music I grew up with, since I am now an “oldie” too), one Top 40, one Country, one Spanish. And my usual daytime listen, the public station. I pushed the preset button for that one, and commenced unboxing. Then I noticed it. As the end of the hour came, the announcer acknowledged the station call letters. The sixteen different station call letters in the listening area. I’m not kidding; I actually counted (unpacking all those boxes requires diversions to prevent insanity.) The announcer must be exhausted.
Phase Four – Hi! Will you be my friend? Remember when you were in kindergarten and would walk over to anyone, kid, teacher, lunch lady, janitor, classroom rabbit, and look up at them with big grin saying, “Hi, will you be my friend?” I’ve been doing that a lot.
Phase Five – The Regrets: Nope, haven’t gotten there yet. I have this feeling I may never, too.
So, that’s it for now. Stay tuned, gentle readers. The heels are unpacked, the kitchen is open and many tales of adventures, culinary and other, lie ahead. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
So what to make for my first Oregon post? I could have gone for something elaborate, but to be honest, I’m exhausted. So I figured something that was simple, quick and relied upon the local fresh ingredients from my new Hood.
And at this time of year, that means fresh cherries and berries. I’ve always loved the combination of strawberries and balsamic vinegar, and now that I lived in the land of cherries, I thought it might be fun to add those into the mix. What resulted were two treatments of the same basic ingredients, strawberries, cherries and balsamic vinegar. In the first, I chose to roast the fruit with the vinegar and some sugar, resulting in a wonderful sweeter compote perfect over ice cream, topping fresh ricotta, or as a filling in a crostata. In the second, I marinated the fruit in balsamic and basil, a great savory topping over goat cheese on bruschetta, or as a sweeter salsa on roast chicken or steak.
Balsamic Strawberries & Cherries
Each recipe makes about 1 ½ – 2 cups
Method One – Roasting
½ lb each of strawberries and cherries. You’ll want a yield of about a cup of each once pitted and chopped.
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 TBSP sugar
- 1 TBSP good balsamic (this is a place to pull out the aged stuff)
- 1/4/ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat over to 375°F. Pit the cherries and slice in half. Quarter the strawberries. Toss with the olive oil, sugar, vinegar and pepper. Put in an oven-proof dish (the fruit should be in one layer), and roast for 15 minutes. Stir and roast an additional 10 minutes or until the juices are thickened to about the consistency of maple syrup. When the fruit comes out of the oven, stir in the lemon juice. Let cool before serving. This is terrific over ricotta, mascarpone or cream cheese on toast, makes a great topping for vanilla ice cream, and is terrific on yogurt for breakfast too.
Calories: about 200 per recipe
Method Two – Marinating
- 1 cup each of chopped strawberries and cherries (about ¼” sized pieces, but you don’t have to be precise.)
- 1 TBSP chopped basil
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 TBSP good balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp olive oil (a peppery one works great here)
- A pinch of sugar
Toss all of the ingredients together. Let sit for at least an hour at room temperature. Use as a topping over goat cheese on bruchetta, or as a salsa over roast chicken or sliced steak. Calories: about 225 per recipe
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