A Slice of This, A Slice of That

Is it terrible to admit that Tim and I shared two slices of dessert, plus a whoopie pie today? My lucky penny thinks it’s okay. Besides, I had a coupon from Back to Eden Bakery – Buy Two Treats, Get One Free. Who would pass up that opportunity?  We jumped on our bikes, huffed and puffed up a few hills, arrived at Back to Eden Bakery, and gazed into their display case of beautiful treats (seriously, everything is intricately perfect). It took some time before we decided on a slice of raspberry cheesecake, a slice of chai coconut cream pie, and a pumpkin whoopie pie (our staple favorite). We ate the raspberry cheesecake there and rode home in a downpour with the other two desserts (intended for much later in the day, of course!). I didn’t get a shot of the chai coconut cream pie, but here is the raspberry cheesecake right before Tim prodded his fork through the center:

It was delicious.

Speaking of delicious desserts, my friend Kris wrote a new cookbook – Have Your Cake and Vegan Too! Did you know? It is full of 50 recipes (and lots of accompanying photos taken by Kris) sure to make your tummy smile. The first recipe I made was a chocolate peanut butter layer cake:

Amazing! I am already flipping through the pages deciding what to make next. I might have to limit my slice intake to one every few days though – too much cake cannot be good for my 2011 goal of eating less sugar! Ooooops!

Find a Penny, Pick it Up…

…And all the day you’ll have good luck. That is exactly what happened to me recently.

My weekend was equally balanced with good and bad times: Saturday was full of sunshine, a super successful vegan bake sale, bike rides, a picnic (and nap) in the park, and chats with friends. Sunday was full of gray skies, rain, a long drive to photograph cool waterfalls, a broken down car, me picking up a penny, an expensive tow, and tacos for dinner at 10:30 PM.

Let’s start with the good, shall we?

On Saturday Portland held an amazing vegan bake sale at Food Fight Grocery. The bake sale was part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sales happening in cities across the globe. I baked myself silly Friday night, dirtying every dish in the kitchen:

I made four different batches of brownies, pizza rolls, and blueberry ginger hand pies. It was exhausting!

Saturday ended up being the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far in Portland – perfect for luring lazy Portlanders to a bake sale! And lure it did, because we nearly sold out of everything and made a grand total of $3,537 for three local animal sanctuaries!!! Take a peek at some of the day’s highlights:

I volunteered at the bake sale in the morning and then Tim and I rode off on our bikes to enjoy sunshine and lunch in the park.

Sunday, on the other hand, was dreadful! Tim and I lazed around for most of the afternoon until we were so bored we had to escape the apartment. Tim had the idea that we drive into Washington state and take photographs of waterfalls along the east fork of the Lewis River. While we were only about 50 miles from Portland, much of the ride was on curvy, narrow backroads. We stopped often to take photos:

And then, we ended up on a bumpy, pot hole covered road. We drove for maybe a mile before I suggested it might be wise to turn around since the road was in bad shape. We drove back to a small parking lot near one of the area’s coolest waterfalls and the car made an awful crunching, snapping noise and simply stopped. When Tim tried to drive forward, the transmission wouldn’t cooperate. So we pushed the car into a parking space, swore a few times, and fretted over what to do next. Oh, and we noticed some random car parts on the ground under the car.

By this time is was nearly 7 PM on Easter Sunday and we were pretty much in the middle of a forest with no cell service. So, we walked up the road to an RV where the park hosts lived (we were in a state park). Luckily they were home and let us use their phone to call a tow truck. Even luckier, there was a tow company open to come save the night! We sat in our car, sheltered from pouring rain, for an hour while we waited for the tow truck. Finally, just as it was getting dark, it arrived!

While the tow driver hooked our car to the truck, we stood in the rain. I looked down at the ground, saw a penny, and picked it up. I tucked it away in my pocket hoping good luck would find me later. We finally arrived back in Portland after a long, chatty talk with our friendly tow driver (thanks, Ian!). Our bill was expensive, over $200. We had no idea what was wrong with the car or how much it would cost to repair the damage. We left our car at the auto shop with a note and walked home, cold, hungry, and tired. Dinner was chickpea tacos thrown together at 10:30 – so late for dinner!

Fast forward to today. I went to work and Tim stayed home to work. The auto shop called to let us know we had a broken CV joint and that the car would be ready later in the day. Phew! We thought our transmission was shot. That would have been expensive to fix! When I got home from work I discovered a piece of mail that indicated my previous employer had made one last deposit into my old IRA account. The amount nearly matched the cost of fixing our car. Amazing, right? I blame the penny I found!! We now have our car back and in fine working order. I even found a coupon that saved us $30! See, superstitions aren’t just silly nonsense! My day was full of good luck. Now go look for a penny, won’t you?

Huff-n-Puff

(dreary day outside my apartment window, taken with a make-shift pinhole camera)

Portland is being awfully stubborn by withholding warm weather and doling out plenty of cold, gray days instead. My immense love for cloudy skies and raindrops on the roof is fading into a deep abyss – I need some sunshine!

Tim and I thought we could capture some warmth by heading out of the city and onto our bikes. Well, we definitely worked up a sweat, but the cold weather followed us as we pedaled uphill and downhill. Where did we go? We went to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail: a beautiful, old, abandoned railroad path in Northwest Oregon’s coastal range. The trail maintains a relatively gentle grade with the exception of two mighty steep parts. It is 21 miles one way and we chose to ride the trail out and back, making for a long 42 mile ride. Needless to say, I was pooped when we finally crashed at home after the ride. Smartly, we started the ride in Banks, OR and rode to Vernonia Lake (our halfway point) for a lengthy lunch break. We were in company of red-winged blackbirds, osprey, and other sweet chirping creatures.I wanted to stop along the ride and photograph more beauty, but I wasn’t up for losing my momentum – which was keeping me warm!

(Banks-Vernonia State Trail)

(Vernonia Lake)

We snacked on some gluten-free vegan sambusas (a test recipe for Kittee’s almost-done cookzine!) before dinner to warm ourselves. These are amazing – pure, spicy, snacky, goodness that is portable, for folks on the move.

Speaking of Kittee, have you seen the new website she and two other amazing women launched yesterday? Well heck, you better go check it out! It is a 100% vegan and gluten-free website filled with everything you could ever wish for. Seriously. So proud of them.

Road Tripping

Earlier this week Tim and I decided to take a road trip to Oregon’s state capital, Salem. Considering we have lived in Portland for nearly eight years, we figured it was about time to do some exploring in a city we usually zoom past on the highway. Salem isn’t too far from Portland, maybe 40-50 miles. But, we took a more exciting route: backroads. Nice, quiet, scenic backroads. Sure the journey takes longer, but the views and adventure are worth the extra mileage.

We started by taking a peek at Willamette Falls in Oregon City. The falls are the second largest in the US, just behind the mighty Niagara Falls. Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed and spent more time photographing an electric plant and ancient paper mill located in close proximity.

We continued on toward Salem with an atlas in hand to gently guide us along the backroads. We didn’t have a set route, it was more of a “Hey, let’s take Crooked Finger Road!” approach (that’s a real road name, by the way).

We passed plenty of fruit orchards which increased my excitement for summertime fruit picking at local farms (cannot wait!!!).

We passed wide open spaces and greenhouses.

And then we finally made it into Salem, parked our car on a tree-lined street, and walked to the capitol building with homemade lunches and cameras in our backpacks. We settled on a bench underneath cherry blossom trees and soaked up some (rare) sunshine.

The capitol building was on our left and a canopy-covered sidewalk was on our right.

After lunch we ventured inside the capitol building. I didn’t take any photos. I guess I’m not all that interested in government buildings!

When we went back outside we decided to wander around for a few hours until dinnertime. I had done some research online and located a vegan-friendly restaurant with an impressive menu. We were excited to try a new place. In the meantime we probably walked about 8 miles as we took in the sights.

Finally it was time for dinner! The place we chose is called Marco Polo Global Restaurant. We were two of the three diners there and it was incredibly quiet, but it was also very early for most people to be enjoying dinner. Our table was really big and the chairs were massive, but comfy nonetheless. We started with spring rolls:

Tim opted for General Tso’s Tofu:

I opted for a pistachio-crusted veggie fillet drizzled with a raspberry glaze. It was delicious. I think the fillets may have been Gardein, but since I have never purchased or tried Gardein, I can’t be certain.

We were both pretty satisfied with our meals, the service, and the cost (just under $30 for two people). They didn’t have any vegan desserts, but our server brought each of us a little cookie in a ziplock bag simply labeled “Vegan Cookie”.  I think they were oatmeal with dried cranberries – not too bad!

And that was the final highlight of our road trip! Oh, except for the wild coyote we spotted on the drive home:

I think he wanted to bite Tim :)

Filling Up With Falafel

My final days in Omaha filled my belly with more than just pie (coconut creme pie, mixed berry cobbler, and apple crumb mini pies to name a few). On one afternoon, Isa, John, and I took advantage of sunny skies, 70 degree temperatures, and a local falafel joint not too far from their house, Amsterdam Falafel & Kebab:

My love for pita, tahini, chickpeas, and curry made this meal a favorite during my stay in Omaha:

Falafel Sandwich!

Side of Curry Fries!

Wow. This meal was insanely delicious. I wish Portland had a vegetarian falafel joint within walking distance of my apartment. I am going to miss Omaha’s vegan food offerings. Every meal was special, from the sushi, to the baguette sandwich, to the falafel and curry fries. Thank you, Isa and John, for being such wonderful hosts!