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Cooking Co-op

July 15, 2010

There are many ways to organize a cooking co-op, from a freezer meal exchange, to a soup exchange, to cooking together with friends. What we do is this:

Who: 4 families

When: Once a week

What: Exchange meals. Each person/family cooks a large meal each week, enough for themselves and all 3 other families. Then we meet up and exchange the meals 1 day a week. Each family goes home with not only their own home-cooked meal, but 3 other ones for the week! Needles to say, it saves a lot of time, work and dishes, and shopping for ingredients for multiple meals. Not to mention we get to try new things without eating out!

That’s it, really. Pretty simple. The book suggested various options for organizing the co-op, including delivering dinners to other people’s doors on rotating nights. With our setup we have to cook meals that will keep for a few days, but it works well for us, as we all see each other once a week anyway.

We got the idea from the book, Dinner At your Door: Tips and Recipes for Starting a Neighborhood Cooking Co-op.

We had been doing a dinner club at the time, where a group of 4 or so families took turns hosting the group for dinner on Thursday nights. Then Benecia gave up naps and started going to bed early. Dinner club started at 630, often way across town. Bedtime also started at 630. This presented a little problem for us. Now, problem solved, we have a Sunday potluck club that meets at 4pm in rotating parks, but now we also have the Cooking Co-op, where we exchange meals. The potluck club is definitely social time, whereas the Cooking Co-op is about getting a heap of home cooked meals each week.

The Soup above is what we made this week. One of our favorites, adapted from the recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Fresh Food Fast, for Spicy Coconut Sweet Potato Soup with collard greens and jasmine rice, topped with mint, cilantro and lime! I love the recipes in this book, and that they are organized by season of the year. Tonight we had some delicious homemade chicken soup from another family.

Loving this!


jaunt to the coast

July 10, 2010

It got over 75 degrees in Portland (like, 25 degrees over), so we abandoned ship and headed to the beach. We are back now, sweltering once again. So reminisce with me for a moment about how nice it can be to wear long underwear around the camp fire and STILL be cold. I love our chilly coast.

We camped at Cape Lookout State Park. The camping is right off the beach, which is super nice, and the Cape Lookout trail offers amazing views from up on the cliffs.

I like beaches with coves, tide pools, cliffs, climbing rocks, dunes, seashells, driftwood, and nice sand. This was just a nice sandy beach with a temporary and bizarre giant winged ant infestation. Every inch of beach was crawling with them. We eventually bailed and headed up to Oceanside for the day use beach. Love the beach here. Besides most of the features I mentioned earlier, it also has a slightly freaky man made tunnel through a massive cliff, leading you into an otherwise hidden beach.

Hit up the Tillamook Cheese Factory on the way back. Our tired little lady sat up in the observation area watching the cheese roll by for a good 45 minutes. Of course, we tooth-picked all the samples we possibly could, and otherwise gorged ourselves on dairy products until it was time to go.

Waved to a whole heap of cows, and watched our car thermometer rise in temperature as we headed back into the valley that night.

Hope you are keeping cool, wherever you are –

unless you are one of those strange people who crave this sort of weather…

Unusual bits of our week…

July 4, 2010

The double rainbow ring around the sun was definitely out of the ordinary. The other things are less unusual and more just samples of the daily cuteness around here. There is a lot of it lately.

After a surprise gift of paper dolls in the mail, Benecia set about creating a set of accessories. I have to be extremely careful what bits of cut up paper with writing I pick up off the floor and send to the recycling bin.  It might be a story, recipe, receipt, or lost person/kitty ad. The other day she created a lost ad for herself, which read “Benecia has lost herself” next to a self portrait. She came in to the kitchen holding it and hooting like an owl. She informed me that she, the owl, was looking for Benecia. And oh, how she really really wanted to go door to door “for reals!” and ask the neighbors if they had seen Benecia.

After a Daddy/Daughter date to our lovely local Powells Books, the two returned with a very sweet new book called The Dollhouse Fairy. The main character Rosy loves mornings with her dad, eating french toast and crafting things for her dollhouse. (cool dad, huh?) One day her dad gets sick and goes to the hospital. Nothing serious, but he’s gone for awhile. Meanwhile, Rosy is visited by a teeny garden fairy, Thistle, who is quirky and messy, and needs to convalesce in her dollhouse for awhile due to a hurt wing. Rosy tends to her and loves her, despite and because of her oddities. Daddy returns, but when Rosy goes to show him her fairy, they find that the fairy has healed and returned to her garden home. (Benecia delights in the picture of the fairy right outside the window peeking in, implying she isn’t truly gone.)

We have since been retrofitting dolls and stuffed animals with wings and fluttering them about the house. As you can see, her dollhouse received a makeover as well. (painter after my own heart.) The little dolls who lived in the house oooed and awed as the rather primary color scheme emerged. Surprisingly, no pink. Its thick and impressionistic, and the dolls just love it.

And lastly, the bird happenings. There are so many reasons I enjoy living next to Mt Tabor. The birdwatching is definitely up there. We can’t keep the bird feeders filled up fast enough. This little Northwest Flicker lives with its mate nearby, and is often bug digging in our yard and on our telephone poles. We also have a scrub jay couple with 4 adolescent young. The adults are teaching their fledglings how to catch worms and the importance of harassing and dive bombing our cat at all times. We’ve also seen some hummers sharing the flowers of our gargantuan overgrown borage plants with the bees. More garden pictures to come –

We are staying home this weekend. Maybe watching some fireworks from up on the hill. (can you really call Tabor a Mountain? I think not.) Eating, playing, enjoying being a family. (and, spoiler alert for tomorrow’s post, one of us has a new pedal bike with only two wheels and is already cruising our street unassisted! Hint, it isn’t Vince.)

Wish you all a Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Cacao Pudding, glorious pudding!

July 3, 2010

Dang, this was some good pudding. This pudding was  roughly adapted from the recipe at Ecosalon. I only used one avocado, and added a very ripe banana and some vanilla powder to the recipe. It all rather bogged down my blender, so I just whisked it together. I imagine a food processor would do the trick well. We like our “chocolate” products on the dark and bitter side around here, so I added very little sweetener; a bit of honey and maple syrup.



1 ripe avocado

1 ripe banana

cinnamon and vanilla

dash of sea salt and squirt of lemon or lime juice

honey/maple syrup/agave to taste

raw cacao powder

Mix all the ingredients together until smooth, and eat! We added cacao nibs and fresh cherries on top. We don’t often do real desserts around here. Usually just fruit. Benecia was beside herself with joy. (yeah. we all were.)


June 30, 2010

This is the first time B has had bangs! Well, not counting when she was younger, before they grew long with the rest of her hair. But its the first time I’ve cut bangs for her.

Even with barrettes, her hair seemed to always be in her eyes. So one day, over oatmeal, with Daddy gone traveling for work and Mama, admittedly, a little bored, I said “Bunny, do you want bangs?”

Immediately, “Yes. I do.”

Me “right now?”

B “yes! Can I cut them?”

“How about I cut your bangs and you cut Tossys?”

*much screaming, jumping up and down and clapping*

she made it through two very large snips and that was as long as patience lasted. Luckily she is cute enough to sport mama’s uneven do very stylishly. Some days I think I could give her a mohawk and she would be adorable. Don’t worry, grandparents. Cutting her bangs was thrilling enough for everyone. Oh and yes, Tossy got some seriously short bangs as well.

And here she is, back at her porridge, business as usual.

A beautiful weekend

June 30, 2010

Visiting some friends out on their land – more than a little bit of daydreaming about country life, and quite a bit of gorging ourselves on salmon berries. It was a sweet little place with a handful of chickens, kiddy pools full of baby chicks and turkeys, hives and hives of bees, one big guard llama watching over her goats, one orange cat and undoubtedly tons of mice.

Note that the building pictured is not where they live. It reminded us of one of our favorite kid’s books, Come by Chance, in which Bertha comes upon a “tumble down old house” and basically squats there. She fixes it up and settles in, only to be visited by all sorts of animals come winter time. They become one big happy family, then part ways in spring.

I’m sure this one is more than a little fixer upper, but the fantasy potential was still there.

Hope you all had a great weekend too!

a new Kuspuk

June 18, 2010

B had long outgrown her old Kuspuk, and piles of calico’s and other small prints have been burning holes on my sewing shelves. So a new size 4T Kuspuk was my big stay-up late during the long Alaska summer nights (drinking wine and hopefully not making too many mistakes because of said wine) sewing project. We have had a bit of chilly weather since being back in Oregon for a few days now, so she had a chance to wear it. The last one had a short zipper, which made it super difficult to get on over her head. I did a full length zipper on this one, which gave me all sorts of trouble along the way, but in the end, is much better, as she can put it on like a zip-up jacket.

So here we have the results of the glorious Kuspuk photo op. Otherwise known as crazy mom chasing wiggly 3 year old down the sidewalk with a camera.