This & That

Tim and I are currently cat-sitting for some friends. In our care are three, identical-looking black cats. It has been very entertaining trying to keep track of who is who. I think we are noticing distinctive features on each cat, but it’s quite possible that we are calling them the wrong name when we talk to them. Luckily they don’t seem to mind or notice.

I am a few days behind on my December Photo Project. To catch up, here is yesterday’s photograph:

Blurry Bowl Meal 01

December Photo Project 2012: Day #21

A terribly out of focus representation of a meal in a bowl: brown rice, kale, tofu, red peppers, and spicy almond-miso sauce (eaten while watching Cheers)

And, here is today’s photograph:

Giveaway Treats 01

December Photo Project 2012: Day #22

I received a box of homemade holiday treats in the mail yesterday! The lovely Sarah from This is What I Eat hosted a giveaway not too long ago and I was the lucky winner! She baked up a storm of delicious treats. She posted about them here, here, and here. Included in my package: Baklava Nut Medley in a super cute tin, Caramel Pecan Bars, Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars, Chocolate Chip Surprise Cookies, Gingerbread Biscotti, Peppermint Cookies-n-Cream Bark, and Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf. The last two are not pictured because greedy tummies monopolized the ride from our apartment to cat-sitting. Oooops! Sarah was sweet and packed the perfect amount of goodies for two people to share. Everything is absolutely amazing. My favorite is the biscotti because I love ginger. Tim loved (LOVED) the cookies-n-cream bark. Thank you a million times over, Sarah! You are so sweet and a super talented baker!!

 

A Special Night

Tonight my co-workers and I had our holiday dinner at Blossoming Lotus, an all vegan restaurant located in NE Portland. Gifts were exchanged, food was enjoyed, and desserts were demolished. The food at Blossoming Lotus is always amazing, beautifully presented, and nourishing. Despite the list of specials, I went with my all time favorite, the Crispy Thai BBQ Salad:

Mt. Hood Salad 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #20

This picture was taken in very dim light, but what you see is a Mt. Hood sized plate filled with mixed greens, romaine, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, raisins, crispy rice sticks, fresh herbs, curry peanuts, coconut, Thai spiced barbecue soy curls, sweet ginger dressing and sesame seeds. Crazy delicious. I cleaned my plate with the exception of a few random scallion rings and a leaf of cilantro (I am a hater).

Dessert was a share-all affair. We ordered multiple items from the menu, put them in the middle of the table, and dug in. No rules!

I only got a photograph of the chocolate coconut cake, which was too bad because the best dessert was a mixed berry pie.

Cake 02

My belly is happy and full.

My evening was complete because I got to take home this lovely gift (click to see what was inside the package!!):

Gift 02

Many appreciative thanks to my incredible work family.

Goodnight :)

Double Ginger Shortbread: A Recipe

I had every intention of posting this recipe yesterday, but decided to spend time in the kitchen preparing homemade gifts for friends instead.

Ginger Shortbread 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #19

I ended up making double ginger shortbread, hazelnut brittle, and crunchy peanut butter cups. My kitchen was a mess, but the results were worth the clean-up that had to happen later.

My favorite of the three was definitely the shortbread. The recipe is so simple and you don’t need many ingredients. It makes the perfect amount for gifting to a couple of friends. The key is to handle the dough as little as possible to obtain a light texture.

Double Ginger Shortbread 

Makes however many cookie you prefer

Scant 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup non-dairy butter, softened
1-2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon coarse sugar
2 tablespoons roughly chopped crystallized ginger

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, first measure of sugar, ginger powder, and salt.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute. Add in the flour mixture and beat at low speed until crumbly. Add in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms. You may not need both tablespoons of water. The dough shouldn’t be sticky or wet, but more like a cut-out cookie dough.

3. Gently shape the dough into a small round and place in a large ziplock bag. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

5. Remove dough from fridge and roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper. I rolled mine out into a circle about a 1/2″ thick. Sprinkle the dough with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and press lightly so it adheres to the dough. Score the dough into 8+ wedges, but don’t cut all the way through. Put a few pieces of crystallized ginger onto each wedge and press down lightly.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until just turning light brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes before cutting through the score lines. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will firm up nicely as they cool.

Enjoy!!!

Tonight I am going to a holiday dinner with co-workers so hopefully I’ll be back with a photograph of something fun and/or interesting!

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The Snow Fell in Portland

It almost never snows in Portland. We get plenty of snow on the nearby mountains, but in the city itself, it’s rare. And when it does snow, it lasts all of a few hours if we are lucky. I woke up this morning, opened the blinds, and saw this:

Snow 01December Photo Project 2012: Day #18

It doesn’t look like much – because it wasn’t. A few hours later the sun was shining and the only indication that it had snowed was the frigid temperature. Now? It’s raining.

Fun and yummy recipe post coming up tomorrow!!! Get excited!

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And Then There Were Doughnuts

Lately my days feel like they have been thoroughly blended in a VitaMix. Keeping track of time is impossible and I savor every last second of cozy sleep. I know I’m not alone – we are all busy, especially during the chaotic holiday season! I was delighted when Tim came home this evening with a bag of these:

VD Doughnuts!December Photo Project 2012: Day #17

Portland is home to several fine doughnut shops and two of them (VooDoo and Acme) offer an impressive medley of vegan options. We are very lucky to live within a mile of VooDoo Doughnut’s east side location. In fact, I have to ride my bike dangerously close to it every time I scoot off to work. The aroma of fresh-baked doughnuts monopolizes the air. Not a bad thing!

The photograph above is a bag filled with yummy doughnuts. Two are missing because I ate them. If you ever visit Portland, stop by VooDoo Doughnuts because they have some pretty unique choices.

Goodnight!

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