Category Archives: Other Interests/Misc

Oh No, I’ve Turned Into One Of “Those” People…

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the kind who visit cemeteries and take photographs of headstones.

Crawfordville, Oregon

Crawfordsville, Oregon

So, what sparked this trip to the cemetery?

 Well… I have a photograph of my father with his grandfather and uncle that was taken c. 1930 in Brownsville, Oregon.  I love the photograph as much for its family history, as for its composition.  The imposing figure of my great-grandfather who, as a church pastor, loomed large in family lore, my great uncle with his boyish nonchalance, graceful fingers gently poised over the Collie dog, and the mysteriously resolute curly haired moppet, my father, holding a “golden apple” are as endearing as they are enigmatic to me.

Geil Men

And so it was, after a lifetime of knowing I had family in the area, I decided to make the pilgrimage to Crawfordsville, the location of the Union Cemetery where the earliest members of my family to come to Oregon from Rockingham County, Virginia are buried.

 Union Cemetery, Crawfordsville, Oregon

I cannot count the number of times I’ve driven up and down Interstate 5 past the exits to Brownsville and never once stopped to explore the area.  I had not heard of Crawfordsville until my research into my family history.  It’s a quiet, quaint and beautiful place tucked away along the Calapooia River.

Union Cemetery, Crawfordsville, Oregon

It was in Crawfordsville that I found the headstone of my forebear, Henry Ralph Geil. The headstone read, “A Man who walked with God.”

Henry Ralph Geil

To my surprise I found another headstone for my great great grandparents.  I had no idea they were buried here.

John S. Geil

John S. Geil, 1859, and Alice (Shank) Geil, 1864, who came to Oregon from Rockingham County, Virginia.  Alice (Shank) Geil was the daughter of Gabriel Shank, a Lt. in the 10th Virginia Regiment who carried his regimental flag in every major battle of the Civil War.

John S. Geil, Alice Shank Geil

After visiting the cemetery we drove into Brownsville.  It is a beautifully preserved little town that I will surely go back and visit again.

Brownsville, Oregon

Brownsville, Oregon

Brownsville, Orego

Vintage Illustrations.

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Taking Inspiration from Historic Costume

 

I’ve always had an interest in historic costume; I imagine most of us who sew share this interest, as studying past fashions can provide endless inspiration for contemporary designs.  I recently came across a collection of charming illustrations of British children’s costumes from the 18th and 19th century that I wanted to share with my friends in Sewville.  I adore these and plan to frame a set to hang in my sewing room… they are so sweet.   I’ve put a couple up in my RemnantWorks Etsy shop and will be adding more as I have the time.

 

 

British Children's Costumes Illustrations

 

British Children's Costume Illustrations

 

 

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Eat Greek And Be Merry!

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Eat Greek And Be Merry!

BASKING IN THE WARMTH OF A PDX AFTERNOON THE OPA WAY

I look forward to the Holy Trinity Greek Festival all year long.  It is held every October and by July I start anticipating the smoky fragrances of roasting lamb on the spit, and the hot oil fryers of the pastry tent.  We’ve been going for so many years I’ve lost count.  We’ve watched it grow and expand over time to accommodate the ever-burgeoning crowds in what appears to be a hugely successful fund-raising event for Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Our annual pilgrimage takes us to the lovely tree-lined streets and vintage homes of Laurelhurst, one of old-Portland’s premiere neighborhoods.  Finding parking on the residential streets can take a bit of tenacity, but we always manage to find a spot without too much trouble and walking through the neighborhood is a part of the pleasant experience.

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tree lined streets of Laurelhurst

Laurelhurst

A beautiful Sunday in Portland, Oregon

As we make our approach to the church, we are first greeted by the delicious aroma of lamb roasting and the sounds of  bouzouki music.  I always have to exercise a certain level of self-restraint when I hear Greek music as it tends to make me want to extend my arms, start snapping my fingers and exclaiming opa!

the aroma of roasting lamb

roasting lamb

A large tent is set up where the ladies of the parish sell their homemade pastries… all Greek traditional  tasty treats like baklava and other things I can’t quite spell or pronounce the names of, but all delicious, every one, I’m sure.

Greek pastries

Greek pastries

Loukoumades, which I suspect means little-fat-pills in Greek, top my list of Greek savories.  They are basically doughnuts, fried and dipped in honey or a sugary syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon.  They are definitely a must have every year and very popular.

At the loukoumades booth

Living proof that loukoumades make you smile!

Help yourself!

Soooo good!

But, before dessert, we head for the the dining hall where we feast on a traditional Greek chicken dinner.  Tables are set up in the gymnasium and people are seated family style.  I really like this part of the festival, because invariably we meet nice people.  It is not an everyday thing to dine with people you don’t know, but it works in this situation and seems like a very Greek thing to do.

Dining family style

Dining family style

Dinner begins with a Greek salad with feta cheese, olives and tomatoes.

Greek salad

The main course consists of roasted chicken, orzo, green beans Greek-style of course, and a kourabiedes cookie for dessert.

Greek chicken dinner

Greek chicken dinner

After dinner, we take a trip through the market area where various Greek imports are sold.

Greek marketplace

Greek marketplace

I always try to stop in at the Ethos bookstore to pick up an icon for my refrigerator icon collection.  This year I found a rather stern image of Christ; I like it, it’s different from any others than I have and will be a nice addition to my growing number of magnets.

Ethos  bookstore

Ethos bookstore

my refrigerator icon collection

my refrigerator icon collection

Next we go to bask in the afternoon sun for awhile and watch the children dance in their traditional costumes.  It is nice to see them learning and carrying on their traditions.

traditional dancing

traditional dancing

We always like to visit the church; it is very beautiful and peaceful and while typical of orthodox churches, quite different from western churches I am familiar with.   I always begin by buying a candle.

Buying a prayer candle

Buying a prayer candle

And what is one to do with a prayer candle, but to light it and say a prayer, of course.

Sending up a prayer

Sending up a prayer

We go into the church for a few moments of reflection in the quiet under the gaze of the icons which line the walls.  It definitely feels like a holy place and quite a contrast to the party atmosphere just beyond the front door.

In the narthex

In the narthex

the Nave, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral

in the Nave looking toward the Iconostasis

And for the finale, we make our obligatory visit to pasty tent for a dessert and  Greek coffee

Greek Festival, 2013

Greek Festival, 2013
Until next year!

 

Seasonal Soup Recipe

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In Autumn

Great Minds Turn To Thoughts Of Pea Soup

There is nothing quite like the brisk bite of fall air to make me start thinking about steaming bowls of soup and hunks of crusty bread or delectable portions of pomme frites.  I love hearty soups.  There is something primal about the making and eating of nourishing soups that warm the body and soul.

I discovered this recipe last year and it has become a favorite.  Although I adore pea soups made with ham or bacon, this lighter version is equally delicious and a lot easier on the waistline.

I began by assembling all the ingredients.

Curried Pea Soup Ingredients

Then I chopped the onion into small pieces and sautéed them in olive oil for around 5 minutes.

sauteed onions in olive oil

While the onions were cooking, I peeled 3 to 5 cloves of garlic and a portion of fresh ginger.

chopping garlic and fresh ginger

I have found that my mini-processor makes quick work of chopping herbs, so into the chopper they went.

finely chopped herbs

Once finely chopped, I added the mixture to the onions and continued cooking for a few more minutes.

chopped garlic, ginger and onions

Then came the spice, hot curry (to taste) cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and salt.  At this point my kitchen began to waft with the fragrant aromas of the spice market in the  Grand Bazaar.

Add spices

I mixed the spices in and let them simmer for a  few more minutes.

onion, garlic, ginger and spices

Next I added chopped carrot, celery and a bit of fresh Italian parley for good measure.

add chopped carrots, celery, Italian parsley

Not being a vegetarian myself, I opted for a carnivorous blast of chicken broth.

add liquid to soup

Then I washed the peas and sorted through them for things that might not belong.

washing dried peas

After washing, I stirred the dried peas into the broth, put a lid on the pot and let it simmer until finished.

add dried peas

Once the soup was done, I let it cool.  Once thoroughly cooled, I took approximately half of the soup and placed it into a blender.  I don’t like pea soup that it completely smooth; I do like a little bit of texture so I leave a bit unblended.  Pureeing helps to give the soup body by thickening it up a bit.

pureeing soup

Then I added the pureed mixture (yum) back into the soup pot,

pureed pea soup

and stirred to blend the two together.

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Pomme Frites Soup Toppers

Dice a yukon gold potato and pre-cook. Drain well and set aside.

precooked potato cubes

Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a small pan and add the potato cubes, cooking until crispy and golden.

cooking pomme frittes

Remove from oil and drain well on a paper towel.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and dust lightly with curry powder.

curried pomme frittes

These make a tasty garnish to an already delicious bowl of curried pea soup.

Buon appetito

Curried Pea Soup with Pomme Frittes

Garlic-Basil-Chicken

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OH, MY!

I noticed a restaurant sign board advertising Garlic Basil Chicken a couple of days ago.  It sounded really good to me, but the place advertising the dish looked like the kind that might accidentally mistake the rodents in the back alley for farm fresh chicken and oops into the garlic basil sauce they go.   I drove on, but the thought of garlic basil chicken lingered in my mind.

This morning I bought the ingredients making a special stop to buy my chicken from an organic supplier, Draper Valley Farms.  Then it was off to the produce market for other ingredients.  This dish is very simple to make, delicious and healthy.

Ingredients 

1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast sliced in thin slices

1 small onion halved and sliced in 1/4″ slices

2 red bell peppers sliced in 1/4″ sticks

5 large garlic cloves sliced or minced

1 1/2 cup of fresh basil

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup of water

                                                                         ingredients for garlic basil chicken recipe

Dredge chicken in cornstarch or flour and saute in light olive oil until browned on both sides, approximately two minutes each side.

saute chickenRemove chicken from skillet  and add onions and peppers with more oil if needed.  Saute for a couple of minutes being careful not to over-cook.

saute onions and peppers

Add garlic slices and brown

IMG_7876Once garlic is browned, pour in the rice vinegar, soy sauce and water.

add liquids

Add cooked chicken back into pan.  The flour from the chicken will help to thicken the sauce.  Again, add more water if the sauce needs it.

IMG_7878Stir in chicken and cook a little until liquids begin to thicken into a sauce.

Add basil.

fresh basil

Cook until basil is limp stirring as needed.

IMG_7881Serve mixture over rice and pair with a cold beverage which in this case happens to be an Imperial Pale Ale, my personal favorite, Hop Czar from Bridgeport Brewery in Portland, Oregon.

Enjoy!Garlic Basil Chicken

Morning Coffee

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Magically Delicious

I’m back from my hiatus and hope to begin blogging again soon… or at least trying to stay current with the blogs I follow.  For my first entry I would like to share the cup of strawberries I picked from my garden this morning after having my first coffee.  These are so much sweeter than the varieties one can get at the grocery.  They are magically delicious!
Morning coffee