Monday, June 30, 2014

Deschutes Brewery & Public House

More Portland! This time, Deschutes Brewery & Public House. We spent the morning and afternoon touring Pittock Mansion & Washington Park and the International Rose Test Garden and skipped lunch, so by 4:30 we were very hungry. We decided to try one of the brew pubs. Deschutes is in The Pearl District and, as it turns out, is walkable from our hotel, but we didn't quite have a grasp of things yet, so we drove from the park, parked in a parking garage, and walked a block.
We were seated right away. It's huge! Tons of natural light from the huge windows.
Their logo on their mustard, water bottle, iced tea glass, beer glass:
Fresh brewed iced tea - it was really good, not watered down like at some places. SP tried a sample size of Black Butte Porter.
We started with an appetizer: Brewery Pretzel (creamy white cheese and Black Butte Porter and stone ground mustard). On my gosh. Best soft pretzel ever. This was not some pre-made, frozen, tossed in an oven pretzel. Soft, moist, flavorful, delicious soft pretzel goodness. Not too much salt. Creamy beer cheese with a ring of mustard around it. We ate it all. Quickly. And fought over the final bites.
SP ordered the Elk Burger with gruyere, roasted shallot & thyme mayo, field greens, and brioche alongside a bowl of Garden Tomato Soup with carrots, bell peppers, cilantro, and a dollop of roasted tomato cream. He really liked the chunky veggie soup and said his elk burger was good, too. He ate it all, so it must have been tasty!
I opted for Obsidian Stout Mac & Cheese with spinach. I don't recall the menu saying anything about grilled red onions like it does online, and I asked about garlic. I was told no garlic, but yes for shallot, which is usually fine. Well, this is the vacation where I discovered that shallot in large quantities of nearly raw huge chunks is bad for my stomach. The mac & cheese was delicious. Huge. One of those dishes where even when you eat a lot of what's there. it doesn't look like you ate anything. But, sadly, in spite of picking out all the huge shallot chunks, when we got back to the hotel, I had a shallot reaction just like my garlic reaction, and it was not pleasant. SP was again surprised at my sensitive stomach.

We had planned to head back out again after a quick hotel stop, back out to Powell's Books, but after being sick for a while, I opted to stay in the hotel room, close to a bathroom. SP was afraid to leave me alone, so we ended up hanging out, watching TV, and going to bed early, which was actually kind of nice since we were still messed up from the time zone change.

As for me, I will now be inquiring about shallot as well as garlic. I know when we use shallot at home, it's in small quantities and usually sauteed, and I'm fine. But apparently huge, uncooked chunks are bad.

As for Deschutes, I'd definitely go back, especially for that soft pretzel and beer cheese mustard dip. I'd just avoid anything with shallot (or garlic). The employees were all very nice and our server was fantastic and friendly, chatting with us about OR's lack of sales tax/higher state income tax (we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of sales tax on drinking/dining out). Plus I really liked the bright, open space and the fact that even though it's a huge space we didn't feel overwhelmed by space/the possibility of not being able to spot our server and even though it was busy and getting busier, it didn't feel crowded and we were not rushed out.

Deschutes Brewery & Public House on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 27, 2014

Voodoo Doughnut

You cannot go to Portland and not go to Voodoo Doughnut. When I started thinking about food in Portland, my first thought was: Voodoo Doughnut.
There are several locations. Our hotel was conveniently located a block away from the original location, which is on SW 3rd Avenue. There is almost always a line. It became our 'returning to the hotel' routine - to glance down the street and see if/how long the doughnut line was.
Bright pink fence. Bright pink boxes - we saw lots of people carrying these pink boxes around the city.
SP left me in bed, sleeping, early Friday morning and went over to Voodoo Doughnut. I never heard him leave, never heard him return, but when he jumped on the bed shouting 'doughnuts!' I eagerly woke up, excited to try the famous Voodoo Doughnut. Here's what he got:
The Voodoo Doll (filled with raspberry jelly, topped with chocolate and a pretzel stake), Apple Fritter, Lemon Chiffon Crueller (vanilla frosting, lemon dust, 3 tiny marshmallows), and Portland Cream (like Boston Cream but with eyeballs representing the vision of Portland).
After eating some real breakfast (breakfast was included in our room rate so every morning SP went down and brought me back a ham & cheese omelet, bacon, sausage, a muffin, orange juice, and tea), we split the apple fritter. Really good! Lots of little apple bits.

We ate the other doughnuts for dessert and breakfast the next day. All were tasty. Our last day, we bought 2 'normal-ish' doughnuts, just to see how they tasted: blueberry cake and cinnamon sugar.
They were tasty, too.

Overall, I really liked Voodoo Doughnut. They're tasty. They're fun. They're famous from all the food/travel TV shows talking about them. If you're in Portland, you should try them.

Voodoo Doughnut on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

1. Most of my thoughts are still about vacation! The next week or so will be lots of Portland posts, mostly because I posted all my saved up 'draft' posts while we were away and because we are not doing much cooking and what we have made, I've blogged about before.

2. This week we're dining on the fattoush that we really like and on our version of quesadillas. This time the cut of beef was a Denver cut and we used lemon juice, not lime juice, in the marinade.

Sadly, SP bought 100 calorie tortillas. These are the worst tortillas ever - they taste like cardboard. Disgusting. He tried to defend them by saying they were healthier, fewer calories, more fiber, etc. But I'm not having it. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's these cardboard, fiber enhanced tortillas that have my stomach in distress this week. Sensitive tummies need to be careful how quickly and how much and what kind of extra fiber they add into their diets.

3. We started watching Fargo this week. We've watched 3 episodes so far. I like it, but gosh is it dark! We have a few more shows we need to 'binge watch' this summer because we recorded the new episodes but didn't yet watch (Orphan Black, Continuum, Walking Dead) plus I'd like to watch Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.

4. I wish we were still on vacation. It's great being away from (avoiding?) crap we need to deal with. Like the 2 dead trees. The rotted wood fence. Re-sealing the wood deck. The ceiling fan that doesn't work. So bummed that none of these issues magically resolved themselves while we were gone.

5. Next week Texas SIL and her family arrive for a visit! So excited to see them. We don't yet know when exactly we'll be seeing them because they don't yet know their schedule because SIL's husband isn't sure when/how much/what kind of assistance his parents will need in this post-surgery time for one of his parents. But still - always great to see them.

6. My delicious Weller bourbon is on the way... I can taste it already. Good thing I just allowed myself a wee splurge on large ice cube trays, new rocks glasses, and a couple books about bourbon and old fashioneds.

7. Time to go put the soccer game on. Go USA!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Veritable Quandary

As usual, we did a lot of research on restaurants in Portland, OR before we actually arrived. One place we both really wanted to try was Veritable Quandary. I just love the name! We made a reservation a week in advance for dinner our first evening in the city. I don't think you need reservations, you can walk in, but if you walk in, you risk a long wait. Veritable Quandary seems like a very popular place.
I didn't really get a sense of the interior. I know it was pretty chilly that evening, so diners were not dining outside on the patio. We were seated just behind the hostess station in a huge wood booth. They explained that it seemed to be the best place for wheelchair diners. I, however, was not too thrilled, because it was a booth, not table, and I was seated on the open end, so I was basically sticking out into the path of traffic for both diners and the servers since we were between the rest of the restaurant and the kitchen. I quickly realized my wheelchair was the same height as the wood bench booth, so I scooted into the booth and we pushed the wheelchair under the table. I was much happier being out of the traffic flow, but gosh that wood pew-like bench seating was hard on my derriere and back. The other tables are not that kind of seating, I saw more comfy looking tables & chairs, I think it's just the two tables/booths right behind the hostess area, so don't let that hard wood bench keep you away.
After the car accident earlier in the day, the chillier than expected weather, and then the hard wood bench, I decided I needed a cocktail. I ordered a Bulleit Rye with ginger cocktail. SP ordered a gin, mint, cucumber, and lemongrass cocktail. He loved his drink, declaring it possibly the best gin cocktail he's ever had. I did not like mine at all. I did not expect it to arrive in a martini glass. It tasted like sipping straight bourbon/whiskey. I didn't taste any ginger, none of the other flavors listed on the menu. I was so darn disappointed. It was undrinkable. I shuddered every time I took a sip. It was way too strong for me. SP tried it and felt the same as I did about it. It was left more than half unfinished - what a disappointment.
The bread, however, was delicious. Crusty, soft, tasty. We demolished the bread plate.
I started with a salad of warm chevre crostini, fresh raspberries, Oregon strawberries, greens, roasted hazelnuts, and honey pepper vinaigrette. This salad was excellent. Small but super ripe, juicy, and flavorful raspberries and strawberries. A very generous slice of pepper crusted chevre on a toasty crostini. Crisp greens. I nearly finished the entire salad, which is unusual for me. Usually I give SP about half my salad. This time, he lost out. He was kinda pouty about only getting 1 of my raspberries!!!
For his starter, he chose Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with chevre & marcona almonds. He said these were delicious. I tried a bite and barely tasted but merely sensed the sweet date.
The bacon gave an excellent smoky flavor, the chevre was cooling and creamy. I normally don't like this kind of appetizer, but I'd order these again for sure.
For my entree, I ordered Osso Bucco with parmesan and basil risotto. To be fair, I was exhausted from the cross country flight and the stress of the car accident, plus my back and derriere were killing me at this point in the meal, and we hadn't had a proper lunch so I was a bit afraid of over-eating and upsetting my sensitive stomach (which happens a lot, if I skip a meal or eat a meal too late/too early, I'm doomed to tummy distress). So it's possible those are reasons why I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to/wanted to. The meat was moist and juicy. The risotto was very flavorful and creamy, lots of basil flavor. I remember I couldn't stop eating the risotto. Lots of rich, tomato flavor and chunks of carrot plus the bone and a small fork to get out the marrow. It was huge - I managed to eat most of it and sadly, since we were at a hotel and not at home, I didn't try to take the leftovers with me. It was quite tasty, but not quite as swoon-worthy as similar dishes I've had elsewhere.
SP ordered fish, big surprise. Copper River Salmon served with fried lemon slices, asparagus, peas, and green beans. Lots of peas.
He said it was delicious. He ate all of the green veggies (and salmon), and he really liked that there were so many since he prefers veggies to a starch.
I was way too full for dessert, so instead of our usual sharing of two desserts or sharing the tiramisu (which I really wanted to try but gosh I was just too full) we shared SP's dessert choice: Lemon Crepe Cake. Many, many crepe layers with lemon cream in between. The top was bruleed, some raspberries and a mint sprig on the side. I can't decide how I feel about this dessert. I think, overall, we were a bit disappointed, the idea being better than the execution. The lemon cream was deliciously lemony tart, but the crepes were a bit overwhelming. We ended up ripping the layers apart, scooping out the lemon cream, and leaving the crepe parts behind. They seemed kind of... mushy.

I would go back to Veritable Quandary, but ask for a different seat or hope for a day warm enough to be outside. I cannot complain enough about our seat area and those wood benches! The employees were very friendly and accommodating, checking on us frequently. Our server was very friendly, although a small quibble is that I asked her to check on garlic in the osso bucco and when she returned to take our order, after a wee bit longer than we would have expected, she had forgotten to check. My cocktail was awful, but perhaps I just don't like rye bourbon/whiskey (I usually drink wheated bourbon).

I think our slight disappointment is from the extremely high reviews on both Yelp & Urbanspoon - they gave us extremely high expectations. Given what the entire meal cost us, we know we have had meals that cost the same/a bit less but we enjoyed every single component whereas here, my cocktail and dessert were, to us, not especially enjoyable.

But there was enough good/tasty that we would return.

Veritable Quandary Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day Trippers

I cannot believe it has been almost 2 weeks since we flew from Pittsburgh to Portland, OR! We stayed in the city and saw lots in the city but on four days, we went on day trips to explore the northwest part of OR. I love doing driving day trips when we're on vacation. If you're traveling to Portland, definitely try to get out of the city and explore these places:

Day Trip #1: Columbia River Gorge & Mt. Hood

This area is east of the city and we followed Historic Highway 30 to our first stopping point: Vista House, which was built in 1918. There is a gorgeous view of the Columbia River. Sadly, it was kind of misty/rainy the day we went and this is what we saw:
I was so sad to not get the fantastic view you see in all the tour books so on our last day in OR, which was sunny-ish, I insisted that we take another drive over. It's not really that far from Portland. We had a much, much better day and this is what we saw (same view, just from a different height):
What a difference!

On the rainy/misty day, we continued driving along Highway 30, past a bunch of waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls, stopping in a lot of places to get our and explore, and drove all the way to the town of Hood River. From there, we turned south, did a bit of the Fruit Loop drive and then drove on 35S and 26W to Timberline Lodge to see Mt. Hood and then back to Portland.

Did I mention it was a misty/rainy day? And the lodge is up a mountain? As we drove up and around and along the twisty roads, the rain became heavier, and then it changed to snow. By the time we got to the lodge, it was 36 degrees, windy, and snowing. There was no visibility.

Here is our view of Mt. Hood. I think. Who knows if we were even looking in the correct direction?!
Even though the entire drive we did is a loop, it takes a lot longer to drive from Mt. Hood to Portland than from the gorge/waterfalls areas to Portland. Since it's such a long drive, we didn't try to get back to Timberline Lodge on the sunny day.

I finally got my one and only glimpse of Mt. Hood on our last day as we were again driving to Vista House:

Day Trip #2: West to Tillamook, down the coast, then back east through wine country

We drove through the Tillamook Forest (6W) to Tillamook, home of Tillamook Cheese Factory. There's a free, self-guided tour of the factory, cheese samples (yes, please!), an ice cream counter, and lots of cheese goodies to purchase. And fudge - we got salted caramel fudge and triple chocolate fudge. But back to the cheese! Giant vats of cheese! Giant blocks of cheese! Lots of sample cheese: squeaky curds (I love squeaky curds!), cheddar, extra sharp cheddar, jack, pepper jack, and a very spicy jack. Yum!
After the cheese, we did the Three Capes Scenic Drive from Tillamook to Pacific City. Honestly, it wasn't too scenic. We missed the first cape - I think I read the north part of the drive is closed so maybe that's why we didn't see any signs for it. Cape Lookout had a nice paved path to a viewpoint of the ocean, but it was pouring rain, so we just kept driving.

I'm not clear on what happened next except that the road the GPS was telling us to take from Pacific City towards Dundee was closed, so we had to backtrack and re-route and thank goodness for GPS. We drove through wine country, admiring the scenery and vineyards, and ended up in Dundee where we browsed through some shops, ate a delicious meal, and found an Ace Hardware to fix my wheelchair leg, which had somehow come apart in the trunk of the car and we lost the nut that holds the bolt connecting the footrest and leg.

Day Trip #3: Astoria, OR and Seaside, OR

I was really looking forward to the OR coast part of our trip, but of course the weather was not cooperating. The day that we drove to Astoria, it was cold and gray and drizzly. Astoria is very cute. We got there in time to grab some lunch on Pier 39 then drove up to see Astoria Column and got some great views of the town and water. I didn't last long wandering around because the cold and wind made me way too cold. I was wearing a scarf & earmuffs!
Next we headed south on 101 to Seaside. Seaside is a cute town. Lots of shops, lots of food (elephant ears, taffy, ice cream, fudge), a boardwalk - I would have loved to have more time there to explore, and more time in Astoria. We got to walk along the ocean in Seaside and we sat for a while, just gazing at the vast expanse of water and the waves, until the cold breeze made me start to freeze!
Around 4 pm, we again headed south on 101, down to Tillamook, and then drove back to Portland through the Tillamook Forest - so 2 drives through the forest with no cell reception! We stopped at a few scenic viewpoints along the way and finally got back to Portland around 7 pm.

Day Trip #4: Mt. St. Helens

This was perhaps the day trip that interested me the least, but in the end, I think I enjoyed it the most, perhaps because we finally had some sunshine! I was 9 years old when Mt. St. Helens erupted, and I remember watching the news about it. It is impressive to visit and to go through the visitor centers and read/see the exhibits about the eruption. It is impressive to see photos of the eruption aftermath and then drive through the park and see how the landscape has changed in the 34 years since the eruption. Definitely worth a trip. Since we lost a vacation day due to being rear-ended, we had been considering dropping this trip because we figured we could always drive down from Seattle when we take our vacation there (not yet planned, just on the vacation list) but it's actually closer to Portland than Seattle even though it's in WA.
Yes, it was a sunny day, but even so, it was tough to get a clear photo. We spent a lot of time at the viewpoints, waiting for clouds to clear, and so did many other people. Someone told us that the locals say that the clouds burn off between 2-5 pm. We were there between those hours, but the clouds never completely went away for us. We still got some great views and talked with a lot of fellow visitors. We were lucky enough to be at Johnston Ridge Observatory, in the heart of the blast zone, when one of the rangers gave a talk. I thought it was really interesting. Also, it's a little scary when you are driving along and see this:
All that green growth and the tall trees and the forests you drive through? All since the blast.

I definitely could have used more time in Seaside & Astoria as well as a little more time in wine country. It would have been nice to visit a winery and sample some wines, but we ran out of time (most seem to close by 5 pm) plus neither of us can drink much right now (medications) so we pushed the wine part of the trip to a lower priority. Also, I'd like to see Mt Hood from Timberline or Copper Spur on a sunny day. On a future trip, I'd like to go a bit more south along the coast, down to Newport and then down to Florence and the sand dunes - there just wasn't time on this trip.

But these day trips - in spite of the wind, the cold, the clouds, the rain, they were all fantastic!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Back From Vacation

After posting last week's Thursday Thoughts, I realized that the guide book for where we went on vacation wasn't in the guide book photo. Oops! That's because it was already packed! So where did we go for 10 days?
We went to Portland, OR. We spent 4 days in the city and 4 days making day trips and 2 days on planes.

My thoughts:

1. I liked but didn't fall in love with Portland. That could be because of the weather. It was cold 6 out of 8 days and rained/misted/fogged 6 out of 8 days. We did not get to see some beautiful sights to which we traveled because of the crappy weather (too many clouds/fog). Also, I spent 6 out of 8 days huddled in a long sleeve t-shirt, sweater jacket, scarf, and ear muffs (my ears do not liked cold breezes!) and wished I had taken my gloves. Native Portlanders seemed unfazed - they seemed to think breezy 50-60 degree days meant t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops.

2. My like-not-love could also be because on our very first day, just 15 minutes after leaving the hotel to find the Walmart to buy bottled water and snacks for our day trips, we were rear-ended while sitting at a traffic light. We were hit hard enough that the trunk was seriously damaged - it wouldn't close, so we could no longer drive the rental car, so we had to sit for 2-3 hours in a strip mall parking lot waiting for a tow truck to deliver a replacement rental car and tow away ours.
Of course Oregon is a no fault state.

Of course just 12 hours earlier we had declined the rental car company insurance.

Of course the replacement car was not as nice as the original car, and the seats were much higher which meant every time I got in the car, it was a serious uphill battle to slide up the slide transfer board. So. Annoying.
Also, there was something greasy-sticky in the trunk of the replacement car, so the wheelchair was constantly sticky & greasy, so we constantly had to wipe it with a Clorox wipe or else I couldn't touch the rims to push myself around because I'd end up with sticky and greasy hands. So. Annoying.

3. On this trip, the wheelchair had a problem. There is a nut & bolt that holds the foot rest onto the leg attachment and the nut came off. So the bolt came out. Parts disconnected. The nut got lost somewhere in the trunk. So. Annoying. Thank goodness for smartphones - we located a nearby Ace Hardware and went there to find a new nut. The nice guy at the store found the correct one, found the Allen wrench, and put it back together for us. Cost: 55 cents.

4. So many annoying things. It was starting to feel like not much of a vacation, dealing with nuisances that you are supposed to be escaping for a while. But, people in Portland are nice. Really nice. Really friendly. Really helpful. Except for the old guy who kicked us out of the Visitor's Center when we walked in at 5:27 pm, unaware that they closed at 5:30 pm. He put on his jacket and told us to come back at 8 am. This was just a few hours after we got rear-ended, so vacation was really not getting off to a good start!

5. There are a lot of homeless people in Portland. I had read about it, but I was still shocked at how many we saw. Also, I was shocked that at times, I couldn't tell the difference between young hipsters sitting on sidewalks hanging out and groups of young homeless hanging out on the sidewalks. It seemed like some of the young supposedly homeless were awfully happy, clean, etc., for sitting on a sidewalk begging for money.

6. I can kind of see the comparisons between Pittsburgh & Portland, but then again, I can't. Mostly, I hear about the similarity because of the rivers and bridges. I liked Portland. It's pretty. It's clean. It's easy to get around. There are beautiful parks, art/statues around the city, great restaurants, nice people, historic and new buildings. But I honestly feel Pittsburgh has the same. If I had to choose, I'd choose Pittsburgh - probably because it is my hometown.

I am envious of Portland's public transportation system. Puts our Port Authority to shame.
They have green bicycle lanes which are great, but also annoying when you are in a car and want to make a right turn and the green bicycle lane is to your right - which we had to do every time we returned to the hotel parking lot..

7. We met a lot of Portlanders who were from the Pittsburgh area, or married to a Pittsburgher. Maybe that's why they are so nice? Everyone is from Western PA?

8. We were a little worried about our hotel. Last year, when we planned a 2 week trip to Seattle & Portland that we had to cancel because I broke my hip, we had reservations at Hotel Monaco. This year, the cost of that hotel was around $100 more per night. So we switched to the Embassy Suites on SW Pine - very near the original Voodoo Doughnuts. It wasn't cheap, but it was more reasonable than a lot of the other hotels we looked at. We were worried because we had read about all the homeless nearby.

Yes, there were a lot of homeless nearby, including one who sat on the sidewalk with a guitar and sang (horribly). But they are friendly. Or ignore you. We self-parked in the hotel lot across from the hotel and never felt unsafe walking over. We were able to walk to almost everything we wanted to see in the city (it's a very walkable city). And it was not in the midst of a lot of traffic or night life.

Our room was great, clean, and quiet. They gave us have a 2 pm check out time on our last full day when we asked about extra time because of a 12:45 am flight on Friday. The later check out time was helpful. Plus, they stored our luggage for the day, extended our parking in the garage, and let us freshen up that night in a key-access bathroom.

9. Delta Airlines personnel put United personnel to shame. Every single Delta employee we dealt with was friendly. Happy. Pleasant. Helpful. Actually present at the gate desk. Prepared for me and the wheelchair. Knew the rules about storing and tagging the wheelchair for gate check. Completely the opposite of United when we last flew to/from Las Vegas. Which is good seeing as the Delta airfare was 60% more than the Delta multi-city airfare we booked last year for PIT-SEA and PDX-PIT. But, major points to Delta for allowing us to change last year's tickets with no change fee, just the difference in air fare.

10. I am realizing just how old I am. Aside from being so darn cold on breezy 60 degree days, I cannot handle a red-eye flight! We left PDX at 12:45 am. I was unable to sleep despite being exhausted. Neither could SP. Too many people loudly snoring. Being jostled by turbulence and people walking in the aisle. We landed in MSP 3 hours later and had 2 hours to kill before departing for PIT. I did fall asleep, soundly, on that leg, so much so that I was bummed out when we landed because I wanted more sleep!

We were barely functioning yesterday! It felt like we were hungover! We both are shocked at how much the time zone changes / red-eye flight affected us. I think we're at that age where we might pay more for a flight with 'nicer' travel times!

11. Despite the challenges of vacation, we enjoyed Portland and the surrounding area a lot. Definitely a good vacation. There are a few things we'd like to go back and see/do again - in some ways, we didn't have enough time, but part of the problem was the cloudy, misty weather. Mt. Hood supposedly looms over the city, it's Oregon's highest point, but I didn't catch a glimpse of it until our very last day, when it was finally sunny and cloud-free.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

 Vacation is in my thoughts...
Getting away... somewhere neither of us has been... It took a while to figure it out, but tickets are booked, reservations made, restaurants researched...
Stay tuned to find out where we finally decided to go for vacation.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

After 5 years of blogging, neither SP nor I can cook/eat anything without grabbing the camera off the 'safe haven for electronics' counter and photographing whatever we are eating/cooking. It's second nature.

We often make dishes we've made before, many times before, and yet we still grab the camera and take even more photos. That's right. Even though I've blogged about a dish before, we still take photos, as if it's something new and exciting. As if it's ever going to see the blog again.

I know I've made these Mustard Roasted Potatoes before, but I can't find the exact post. I think the blog search box is broken - and I just don't feel like trying to fix it because I've 'fixed' it numerous times and it just quits working again.
So I'm posting about these potatoes again - to remind everyone about these delicious and easy potatoes and to add the blog post link to my recipe page. I know some people dislike mustard, but we love it. Especially whole grain mustard. In addition to mustard flavor, these are full of lemon zest and juice and oregano flavor.
These roast for about 45 minutes at 425 degrees. The potatoes are so soft and tangy and delicious and now I am wondering why we don't make them more often! Much more flavorful (in our opinion) than simply roasting potatoes with olive oil and herbs.

Recipe here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sauteed Pork Chops with Onions, Vermouth, Mushrooms, & Thyme

This is another one of those dishes that we often make but I can't find the exact blog post on the blog to read my notes about what we liked/didn't like and what we did the same/different. So here's another, hopefully slightly updated, post about Pork Chops with Mushrooms & Thyme.
Usually SP buys a pork loin at Costco and we cut it into chops. This way, we can control how thick the chops are. We don't pound our pork to 1/4 inch thick for this dish - we leave it nice and thick.
Sauteed onions. When I was a kid, one of my dad's favorite dinners was sauteed pork chops with sauteed onions and a little soy sauce-dried ginger sauce my mom made. There is something about pork and sauteed onions - they just go together so well. I know the recipe says shallots, not onions, but we usually have onions on hand in the pantry, not shallots, and the onions work just fine.
Add some mushrooms, vermouth, mustard, and dried thyme to the onions, simmer for a while, add the pork chops, and enjoy.

Quick. Easy. Delicious. We always use more mushrooms than the recipe says (probably twice as many) because we love sauteed mushrooms. Sometimes we double the sauce, either because we are making more chops or because we want extra sauce for reheating because it keeps the chops a bit more moist - we reheat these in the oven, covered with foil, for only 10-15 minutes, not until piping hot, because we don't want to dry out the pork.

Recipe here.