Tag Archives: food

Unleash Our Cameras For Spring

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This pic I took from the far right side of the falls, jostling around visitors. Trying to avoid the sun and get an angle. I hadn’t cleaned the water spray off the lens. Did not notice the cross in the water bottom left until I looked at this on the computer.  Water and sun? I don’t change my photos except to crop on occasion; it’s the photojournalist in me. And a surprise appears!

by Kimberly A. Cook

Monday I took a road trip with a friend up the Columbia River Gorge. Haven’t been through since the devastating wildfires last Fall. Wanted to check in with Mother Nature. Glorious weather this week, so the fruit blooms and the mountains were out.

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With zoom from the side of the road, fruit blooms in front and Mt. Hood up close.

Kathy volunteered to drive, which is such a treat for me. I gave her photo lessons in return. And lunch too. Excuse to eat at my favorite restaurant in Hood River, the Sixth Street Bistro. So I wanted to share with you some pics from our adventure.

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Exact same location as above photo, pulling back on zoom. Too much sun, but I’ll take it!

Stopped at Multnomah Falls which only allowed visitors recently. While the lodge gift shop is open, the parking lot is fenced off and the old highway too. So driving into the parking lot on I-84 is the only entrance. It was nice to not dodge crossing cars on the way to the Falls, but there were people everywhere anyway.

After doing some combat photography fighting the people, dogs, strollers, water spray and flying pollen in the wind, I got a few good pics. Shooting into the sun not the best, but I managed to worm my way on each side of the Falls to take photos.

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Mt. Adams in Washington had to get into the act too.  From the parking lot of Packers Orchards and Bakery – almost open for the season.

Then it was off to Hood River for lunch, then exploring the road up the mountain for some of my favorite picture-taking sites. The fruit blooms were opening up and the mountains were basking in the sun.

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These fruit blooms mean apples and pears and all sorts of goodies come this summer. Go bees!

 

We are having record temperatures right now, might be 86 today, and we broke a record yesterday. Rain back on Friday, but who cares, enjoy the sun!

Ready to unleash your cameras? Pics away!

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Comfort Food Here I Come!

by Kimberly A. Cook                  (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Between the time change, sick cat, election day, my job and Veterans Day last week, by the time Saturday arrived I could have used a cattle prod and a six-pack of energy drinks to get out of bed. Luckily a new purchase arrived and I was feeling dangerous.

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Little Red bravely doing the water test. Such a trooper.

 

My mini pressure cooker. Two quart size. Nickname – Little Red. Since I’m trying to increase my cooking skills, I never would’ve attempted this piece of equipment but it’s small. Figured I might be able to handle it. Maybe.

First I had to go through the precautions and initiate a water safety test. Felt like I was back on drown-proofing duty in the Army. Thirty minutes later I hadn’t blown anything up or had leaking machine parts. Fabo!

Next on to real food. One of the many things that hooked me while watching this little gem on Home Shopping Network, HSN to us loyal fans, was being able to cook things quickly and keep the nutrients in without firing up the big oven.

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Even I can cut up potatoes. Love the skins for fiber and taste. How festive. 

 

Decided to go for mashed potatoes on my maiden voyage. Cut up my favorite red potatoes, skins and all. Put in water. Locked down the lid. Pushed the potato button. How easy is that? Waited. About ten minutes later it beeped at me. Perfect potatoes!

I smashed them with the egg salad maker since I didn’t have a potato masher; then added milk and butter. Next was pepper and done. Wonderful. Ate the leftovers most of the rainy week. Emboldened by my success, I promptly purchased a potato masher. Every girl should have one.

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After the mash and before the ingredients. Can you smell the starch?

 

Think next I’m going big time, moving up to frozen pork chops. Little Red will cook frozen foods, just have to add time from the list in the book. Think I can handle the math.

Figure the worst that happens is I have to wipe pork chops off the kitchen ceiling; but since I haven’t fixed the ceiling yet from the peeing furnace that got torn out, who cares?

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Mix up the pepper and done! Actually, I could carry the entire mini pan and eat out of it, but I chose to go with a plate. Bring on winter!  

 

Supposedly one can bake cakes, pasta and chicken wings in Little Red too. Seems I’ve hired a cook in the kitchen while I watch Football. Perfect.

Viva la Pressure Cooker! Viva la Comfort Food!

Got steam?

 

 

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Can You Master Lazy Entertaining?

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Easter is one of my favorite holidays since it’s an all bunnies all the time zone. This past Sunday I hosted the family holiday again but I entertained in full mosey mode. Its been a busy couple months with a surgery, an accident recovery and general chaos in the family.

So my plan was to air lift the vittles from one of our favorite restaurants. I ordered the ham and cheese quiche and the four different pieces of pie online from Shari’s Restaurant on Thursday. Picked them up at 10 a.m. on Saturday and put all in the frig. Since I also picked up lettuce, tomatoes, Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and two bouquets of flowers on Thursday night after work, fini!

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Bunny booty bag, name tag holder and chocolate eggs. Step 1.

 

Since the cooking was done except for heating up the quiche on Sunday morning, I decided to do some bunny table decorating. I always have to make bunny booty bags to go for all my guests; it’s the perfect excuse to buy more Easter candy. Found the name tag holders for the table, the pink tablecloth and the bunny candy dish.

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Add more bunny candy and flowers. Step 2.

 

My collection of rabbits from around the world sits right next to the dining room table, so adding the candy dish with Hershey’s Kisses and the chocolate candy covered eggs in the blue measuring bowl, almost perfect. I added two bouquets of flowers and all was set.

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Years of bunny collecting, hares everywhere!

 

Some folks might call this slacking, but after years of cooking and baking, sometimes a person just needs a break. In the past we’ve tried this for Mother’s Day and it worked out quite well. There’s nothing like zooming past the waiting  line of 10,000 people at The Olive Garden to get lasagna, bread sticks and salad to go. The whimpers from those in the line is always followed by someone saying “Why didn’t we do that?”

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Then right before guests arrive some gate crasher always shows up looking for his name tag on the table. Step 3. There are fewer chocolate eggs in the bowl in this picture. No idea how that happened. That’s my story ……..  

 

So after we had our meal, a nice chat and some folks took a little power nap, it was time to unbox the pie. We had one piece of everyone’s favorite, because you can’t buy a chocolate cream, peach, Marion berry, chocolate silk pie. Plus I sent home a piece of quiche for all to go with their bunny bags of chocolates.

Totally unexpected was a bunny booty haul I made with gifts from my sister and family. A mini bunny baking cake pan, chocolate bunny, chocolate carrots, bunny napkins, bunny marshmallow decorating kit and a bunny centerpiece. Bunnypalooza! Does life get much better than that? I think not.

Sometimes lazy really pays off. Viva la online food ordering! Plan ahead, Mother’s Day is coming….

 

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Rolling Into The Holidays

by Kimberly A. Cook         (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Today is Christmas to many people around the world and maybe other bloggers are being very profound and insightful; not me. Because today I am eating every holiday goodie in sight; including lasagna, garlic bread, fruit salad, coleslaw, and tons of cookies. Plus chocolate. And eggnog. And hot chocolate. With whip cream. (No calories on Christmas! Santa says so!) Accompanied by family all around to help me snack away the day.

So when I finish all my happy noshing, I’m going to move like this little(?) pet raccoon to get around the house. So here’s hoping everyone enjoys the holiday of their choice, with friends and family who bring you joy today and all year. Plus all our feathered, furred, finned and four-legged critters who are our best pals all year long.

Merry Christmas to all, Happy Holidays to all, have a great weekend and Happy Quirky Christmas Friday!

 

 

 

 

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Ready For A Holiday Time Out?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Between fighting the creeping crud the last three weeks, dark nights, wind, rain, holiday craziness, news nightmares, and a neighborhood zoning fiasco that would break Ghandi’s patience, it’s Holiday Time Out Time.

What do I do when the Grinch grumpies hit this time of year? I have a plan of attack. First I bake. Food therapy. Sunday’s treat of choice was a box mix of poppy seed muffins. Perfect. I used up some leftover milk and all I had to do was stir.

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After tons of time watching the Barefoot Contessa on HGTV, I use the big scoop to transfer the batter from the bowl to the muffin tins. Works like a charm. Much faster too. I do the same for cookie batter except I use the smaller scoop. Tip: you have to push the round dough balls down for cookies. Took me awhile to figure that out, had cookie globes for a bit.

Next on the agenda is to move. While I may need to have the LaZBoy surgically removed from my butt after this siege and replenish my tissue stockpile, moving is the key to getting energy and endorphins.

I always like to start with what’s bugging me the most in the house. Sunday it turned out to be the toilet bowls. Yucky. After a quick cleaning I felt much better and happier. Sometimes it’s the  dishes, or vacuuming or piles of mail, but this time it was the toilet bowls.

Then I get on the treadmill for at least ten minutes. When you’re trying to get energy back you have to expend energy. It’s some stupid physics law, but it’s true. Always add my workout tunes – disco to movie themes – and that helps too. Grinchy moods don’t like music.

Then I work up to walking twenty to thirty minutes a day. It really helps having a treadmill in the Oregon monsoon season, since we have flood warnings this week I prefer to walk inside instead of using a scuba suit and rubber raft.

Third action on the Grinch grumpies be gone list is to create.  Anything. It can range from my holiday shopping list to printing out photos or gluing on the top bead to the mini Christmas tree that fell off. Wrapping a present works too.

Any hands on activity helps the left brain relax and the right brain engage. Another reason I’m taking my knitting back to the day job. Knitting also keeps me from eating since it’s hard to snack and eat at the same time as it mucks up the yarn. A good way to prevent too much holiday grazing.

Last but not least I review my gratitude list. Since I write down five things every night I’m grateful for, it’s always a good time to sit and ponder any time of day and reflect on my blessings. Some days it’s clean toilet bowls, kitty hugs, friends, family and sleeping in on a day off.

And today it’s knowing there are some fine folks out there willing to read my little blog and make comments or likes and communicate with me. Those are Big Magic Moments Thank you. And before I know it the Grinch grumpies are gone!

So my Grinch grumpies be gone action plan is bake, move, create, and gratitude. What’s yours? Got clean toilet bowls? Poppy seed muffins? 

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Squirrel Shakes? Shake Squirrel? Who Knew?

by Kimberly A. Cook             (Twitter@   WarriorTales)

So it’s not just me. Even the animal kingdom knows it’s Fall and they’re stocking up on food. This little squirrel went nuts over a milkshake. I can’t blame him I have the same problem with chocolate shakes, including trying to get the lid off the dang cup.

Of course, I don’t think we need squirrels high on sugar too. Chaos! So people, finish your milkshakes. Save a squirrel from sugar.

Have a great weekend and Happy Quirky Friday!

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Ugly Fruit Tarts For Everyone?

by Kimberly A. Cook                  (Twitter@   WarriorTales)

Why do the desserts featured on the covers of magazines not turn out the same way when I bake them? I passed up this magazine several times in the store until I finally succumbed and bought it. Last weekend I decided to take the big plunge and bake it for company. In the magazine it’s called a “Rustic Fruit Tart.”

Before baking it's fabulous! Notice my pig whisk. Love it!

Before baking it’s fabulous! Notice my pig whisk. Love it!

First I used frozen berries instead of fresh, since they are out of season. Plus I have enough frozen berries in my freezer to feed Texas. Then I decided to use the fabulous Pillsbury pie crusts to save time. I use them for the pumpkin pies, so this should be fine with thinner crust than homemade dough.

Thawed the frozen blueberries and raspberries overnight in the refrigerator. Then in the morning I got up and took out the fruit, egg and one pie crust to warm to room temperature while I had breakfast. Put the ingredients together, followed the directions and it looked fabulous before baking.

Forty-five minutes later the buzzer dinged on the oven and out it came. Wait a minute. It doesn’t look like the picture! I’ve heard rumors that food stylists use all kinds of tricks to make food look good for photos, from spraying with cooking oil to using automotive products. Mine was virgin pristine and ugly.

Imagine the main culprit was the soggy thawed fruit, even though the berries held up well. And if I’d made the crust from scratch I could have made it thicker to hold the juices. The recipe did warn me there would be spillage.

Beyond spillage. Color kind of burple too.

Beyond spillage. Color kind of burple too.

They also recommended using parchment paper, which I did. Complete disaster. I couldn’t get it off the paper to move it on to the serving plate. So I airlifted the tart, paper and all, then cut the paper into a circle to fit the plate. Next time I’m using the round, flat pizza pan I thought of using in the first place. No parchment paper.

In the end it all didn’t matter. It tasted great and everyone liked it. My ugly tart.

All’s well that tastes well, to paraphrase the Bard.

It just so happens I have some fresh pears to use up now. Ugly tarts ahoy!

This looks too good. Darn professional bakers!

This looks too good. Darn professional bakers!

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