Recent Adventures

Can you believe it’s March already? Time is passing too fast! Although I must admit, it never felt like winter in Portland, so the onset of spring isn’t too exciting – except for all the beautiful flowers blooming, of course!

Lately Tim and I have been making time for at least one adventure per week, sometimes more if our schedules allow. Here are a few highlights from our most recent outdoor pursuits.

Hoodie! 02

Snowshoeing along the White River with Mt. Hood looming before us the entire way. We found a lovely ridge to sit on and eat lunch. It was our first snowshoe this season with fluffy, powdery, new snow. Winter has been so mild that our other snowshoe trips were on hard, packed snow – much less fun. But the fluffy stuff? That’s what snowshoes are made for!

View 02

Wahclella Falls 01

Last week we went on a very short (and easy!) hike to massive Wahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. We enjoyed our lunch in solitude unless you count waterfall mist as company. :)

Cape Horn Overlook 01

Yesterday we took advantage of sunshine and warm temperatures and headed into Washington state for new exploration. This was taken near Cape Horn. We found a nice hike just a few miles up the road that offers several viewpoints across the gorge. It was a LOT of climbing, but so worth it!

Cape Horn Trail 01

We are already planning backpacking trips for late spring and summer. It’s going to be awesome! I think I will make a nifty spreadsheet with trails and distances and whatnot. I hope to be back soon with some foodie-inspired posts, promise. Hope you are all well and looking forward to warmer weather. :)

 

Amy & Tim Visit Veggie Grill

This evening Tim and I strolled along the Westbank Esplanade and ventured into downtown Portland to enjoy dinner at the brand new Veggie Grill. It was their official first day of business so our food was free! If you aren’t familiar with Veggie Grill, they serve 100% plant-based American comfort food including soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and desserts.

Portland now has two Veggie Grill locations (the other one is in the suburbs). According to the manager, they hope to add a third location… On my side of town! What I love most about the downtown location is that it used to be a disgusting, greasy, stinky Carl’s Jr. (a nasty meat-centric fast food chain). When I worked downtown, I had to walk past it every day and it smelled terrible. Now it’s a snazzy, sparkling clean, vegan establishment! Talk about an awesome transition!!

Tim and I were greeted with countless smiles and a positive atmosphere as soon as we stepped through the front door. If you don’t know me well, I should make it clear that I tend to have a hefty dose of negativity controlling me more often than not. I’m working on fixing that, but it’s a tough challenge. This is what a happy Veggie Grill environment does for a moody Amy:

That’s a genuine smile! Tim was looped out on lemonade all night. I am pretty certain he had at least six glasses. At the end of the evening, he was mixing his own concoctions of iced teas and lemonades.

Veggie Grill has a nice flow. You walk in, grab a menu, order at the counter, take a number, and find a seat. When your food is ready, they bring it to your table. It’s effortless. While Tim and I were waiting for our food, we were treated to samples of menu items. I think we tried Spicy Buffalo Wings and Crab Cakes. I have never tasted the animal-based versions of either (thankfully!) so I don’t have much to compare them to, but they were very tasty. It’s fun to sample items I know I wouldn’t order on my own. I tend to find a favorite and stick to it – something else I am trying to fix! After tasting samples, our food arrived (the wait was less than 15 minutes)!!

I opted for the Bayou Chickin’ ($8.95) and a side of Sweetheart Fries with Chipotle Ranch Sauce ($2.25). My sandwich contained blackened chickin’, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, and spicy vegan mayo. Being the raw onion and tomato hater that I am, they kindly left those off my sandwich. I really, really enjoyed my meal. It was messy, spicy, nicely portioned, and didn’t leave me feeling like I ate a brick. Tim had to help me finish the sweet potato fries, but hey, that’s why I brought him along!! Kidding…

Tim was a bit more adventurous in his choice:

What you see above is the All-American Stack ($8.95), also with a side of Sweetheart Fries. This towering burger has a grilled veggie-steak, pickles, lettuce, tomato, crispy onion rings, and thousand island dressing. On our walk downtown, Tim kept singing about onion rings so I am pretty sure he liked his meal too!!

The best part about our dinner was our table. We picked a spot that abutted a huge wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that line the sidewalk. It was so entertaining to watch folks walk by and stare in with curiosity and perhaps vegan envy! My favorite passer-by was an elderly man who paused right in front of us and gave us a thumbs-up, essentially asking us if our meal was top-notch. Of course, we gave him a double thumbs-up in return! I truly hope this location thrives because the big windows have the potential to lure in omnivores and turn them into herbivores! One can always hope…

As we were closing in on finishing our meals, an employee brought us a plate of desserts to sample! Take a plate away, replace it with a new one!

This isn’t the best photo to represent our sweet ending, but we definitely devoured the Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Pudding (which is usually served parfait-style). I even considered licking the bowl, but Tim said that would be inappropriate. Hmpf.

Even though our entire meal was free (THANK YOU, Veggie Grill!!), I would happily return as a paying and loyal customer. I just need to find a job first! Maybe if/when Veggie Grill opens in my neighborhood I can work there?

On our 3-mile walk home, Tim and I enjoyed a view of Mt. Hood across the Willamette River. We even saw a fluffy lil’ gosling, but he was too far away for a proper photograph. Here is my beloved Mt. Hood (way in the distance):

I will sleep well tonight!

Omaha Adventures & Hearty Vegan Giveaway Winner

Hello everybody! I am sure you are all extremely eager to find out who won the Hearty Vegan giveaway, right? Well I am posting the winner at the end of this post, after I fill you in on some fun adventures.

I spent the last week brunching with friends, testing recipes in Omaha, NE for Isa Moskowitz (did you know that she is writing the dessert section of the (forthcoming) new Forks Over Knives cookbook?), modeling a new PPK/Teal Cat Project t-shirt, and celebrating Tim’s 35th birthday. I love spending time eating with friends, working with Isa, and lounging around in my jammies eating cake with Tim. So far this year is off to a good start. Here are some photographic highlights:

Cinnamon Pear Pancakes from Blossoming Lotus in Portland, OR

Seitan Rancheros from Blossoming Lotus in Portland, OR

Apricot Fig Bars (Isa tester recipe)

Peach Muffins (Isa tester recipe)

Raspberry Jam Dots (Isa tester recipe)

Sweet Potato Enchiladas from Pepe’s Veggie-Mex Bistro in Lincoln, NE

Crystallized Ginger Muffin from Maggie’s Vegetarian Wraps in Lincoln, NE (ugly photo, delicious muffin!)

Above is an outtake from the t-shirt photo shoot, you can see the chosen photo here. Please consider purchasing one of these amazing t-shirts. Proceeds go to The Teal Cat Project so that they can continue helping kitties in need of some extra love. And we all love kitties, right?

Unfortunately, I returned home from Omaha in the late evening on Tim’s birthday. We had a quick dinner and caught up on our eight days apart. I made him a cake today, but there are no photos. It’s just nice to be back in his company once again!

And now… The winner of the Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites giveaway! I had so much fun reading about all of your favorite hearty meals. I myself love thick, filling soups. OK, here we go… Commenter #38, Sarah! Congratulations!! I will contact you via e-mail so we can arrange shipment of your book! To everybody else, stay tuned for more giveaways next month.

 

 

Hiking in December

Hello everybody! It is hard to believe that December is coming to a close already. Sunshine has been making an appearance nearly every single day this month in Portland. Bright blue skies and some much needed warmth make hiking in December the perfect activity for escaping the holiday chaos.

Recently, Tim and I took advantage of a particularly gorgeous day and ventured off into the Opal Creek Wilderness in Oregon. We were the only people on the trail. It was chilly and icy patches dotted our path, but we still had a wonderful day admiring the beauty surrounding us.

I love when the sun’s rays cut through a dark forest!

By the end of our 7 mile hike I was losing energy. We usually pack a lunch to eat midway through the day, but it was too cold to stop for more than a few minutes at a time. Tim did make the mistake of asking me to carry a ziplock filled with tortilla chips. I greedily devoured them while he climbed down some wet rocks to take a photograph. Lesson learned? Never leave me alone with a bag of tortilla chips.

Can’t wait for snowshoeing!

Golden Adventures

First off, I’d like to express my thanks for all of your kind and uplifting comments regarding my previous post. This month has not been the best for me and I am truly  grateful for the support! I am slowly moving forward from the job loss and seeking new ways to keep myself productive, happy, and fulfilled.

Earlier this week Tim suggested we take a little adventure. I’m always up for a change of scenery, especially during the fall months when the leaves are changing color and the air is crisp. This is, after all, my favorite time of year!

We decided to go on a photography journey so that we could capture all the golden colors before they disappear in a week. We went to two different places, the Clackamas River region in Oregon, and the Columbia River Gorge in Washington. Here are some photographs from our explorations:

Needless to say, I felt much better after escaping Portland for a few days. And, speaking of golden colors, I am currently testing recipes for Terry Romero’s forthcoming cookbook and made some Golden Tandoori Baked Tofu last night for dinner. It was top notch! On the side, Tim and I made Lemongrass Lime Jasmine Rice and Coconut Chili Collard Greens, also test recipes.

I have plenty more test recipes lined up for this week and next week. Hopefully I can post about them soon!