Tag Archives: Portland Oregon.

Eat Greek And Be Merry!

Standard
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.

IMG_8250

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!

 

Advertisements

Seasonal Soup Recipe

Standard

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.

IMG_8227

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

Standard

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

Cooking in Sewville

Standard

SImple Goodness

I am a fan of white beans, no doubt about it.  I love bean soups and bean salads, and bean pates.  Beans are healthy and a great source of complete protein.  I’m always looking for new ways to prepare beans and landed on this interesting recipe that uses caramelized onions.  Being a huge onion fan, I thought it sounded rather good, so I gave it a try.

I like the recipe which I found on treehugger, because it is simple and requires only 4 main ingredients, onions, cheese, beans and spice.   The original recipe called for thyme, but I think Mexican spices, such as cumin, chile powder and possibly some jalapeno might be an interesting addition as well.4 main ingredients

I began by slices five onions in half-moon slices and sauteing them in olive oil for an eternity.  The recipe said it would take 25 minutes, but it took a lot longer than that to achieve the sugary golden flavor or caramelized onions.  Add thyme to the onions in the last stages of cooking.

carmelized onions

Once the onions were prepared, I washed and drained two cans of white beans.  I always wash my canned foods , because I think it washes salt and chemicals away.  Not sure if it really helps, but it makes me feel better.

rinse and drain beans

Divide the onions into thirds and spread the first third in the bottom of a casserole dish.  I sprayed no-stick spray on just to make sure they wouldn’t stick, although it probably wasn’t necessary due to the olive oil in the onions.

spread onions in casserole dishThen spread one can of rinsed beans over the onions,

layer beans over onions

and sprinkle with cheese.  Again, feel free to experiment with different cheeses.  The original recipe called for cheddar, but I think Asiago or parmesan and rosemary spice would be nice for an Italian flavor.  Continue to layer onions and beans ending with cheese on top.   Before placing in the oven, add one half cup white wine or veggie broth if you prefer.

completed casserole before cooking

Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.

baked casseroleI served this dish with fresh green beans lightly sauteed in olive oil and garlic and a nicely chilled glass of chardonnay.

It was flavorful, simple and delicious.

dinner at 8:00

And for those of you who are wondering what this has to do with my blog theme, I sewed the red table runner and napkins you see in the final photo.  She sews and she cooks!   🙂

Empress Irene of Byzantium

Standard
Empress Irene of Byzantium

Saint Irene Piroska of Hungary 

fabric mosaic

I put the finishing touches on Empress Irene (pronounced eye-ree’-nee) today.  Thank you to everyone who made a guess about who she might be.   I think she looks pretty good for a mother of eight children.  🙂

I still have to get it pinned to a foam core and scanned, but that will take a bit and I wanted to share before I go on my summer blog break.    Below is a cropped version and another image with the border that I use for a matting effect when I frame it.

Empress Irene

with border

Empress Irene - fabric mosaic

The source of inspiration for my fabric mosaic was the famous mosaic found on the south gallery wall of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia mosaic

close up view

Empress Irene

Byzantine Inspired Fabric Mosaic – Project Update

Standard

Art Meets Fashion

linnyjcreations and I were talking about the latest Dolce & Gabanna Byzantine inspired fashion collection today . Check out her blog entry Religious Mosaic Fabric – Dolce Gabbana.

As it happens, I am currently up to my neck in a Byzantine fabric mosaic project. One of the hallmarks of Byzantine style is the high degree of detail and ornamentation.  I’m sure that’s why I’m attracted to this historic period; it provides a perfect outlet for my tendency to move toward increasing complexity in just about everything I do.  I can get lost in the world of details for hours as though I were transported to another universe.  For example, today I decided that I wanted to highlight each pearl on the dress with required the cutting out an additional 43 circles approximately 1/4″ in diameter.  Very close work, indeed.:)

Any guesses on who the subject is?  Byzantine ornamentation

Simplicity Sewing

Standard
Simplicity Sewing

Purple or Periwinkle

I’ve been on the lookout for the right shade of purple to go with a skirt I’ve had for some time.  I found this interesting piece of embroidered linen that seemed like it would work.  I call it purple, but maybe it is periwinkle… I think periwinkle has more blue in it.

embroidered linen

Either way, it has turned out to be a good choice to go with my skirt.   I picked up a yard for the tunic pattern I’ve been using this summer.  I really like the simplicity of this pattern; I can complete it in an afternoon… no problem!

linen tunic and skirt

I found a piece of purple duppioni silk in my fabric stash to use as bias binding for the neck and armholes.  It’s a good feeling to use up a scrap of something I have on hand.

silk binding

It’s always fun to give a little update to something you’ve had and make it seem fresh and new again.The unstructured look with nothing-to-bind is perfect for staying cool on hot summer days.  I like wearing skirts, but often don’t want to feel “dressed-up.”  This look works for me, because it blends casual easy/no-care (what I jokingly refer to as rag-bag fashion) with the I-made-an-effort-today discipline that I try to adhere to.

summerwear

Creating braids in fabric mosaic medium

Standard

I think I’ve done it!

Wow, what a challenge creating a braid in fabric, but I think I’ve finally done it.

braid created in fabric mosaic medium

Hooray

One down, one to go.

Doing the happy dance!

I’m going to have to be very careful to make sure the second braid is cut so that it looks like it “belongs” with the first braid.  There is a lot of color variation in the fabric I’m using and it really shows way more than than I thought it would if it’s not done right… learned that the hard way.  I’m going to have to make careful visual comparisons to get it right.  Time to take a break before tackling that.

Maybe I’ll work on that luscious piece of purple linen I bought last week.   Hmm…

Sewing – Linen and Lace

Standard
Sewing – Linen and Lace

I love lace, but I haven’t used it on clothing in so many years I can’t remember when.  For me, lace is much like a sailor collar; there was a time in my twenties when I felt like I’d outgrown them.  My heart still melts for  little boys in sailors collars… and big boys, too, come to think of it, but I can’t imagine wearing one myself… unless possibly in my second childhood somewhere down the line.  🙂  But back to lace, it’s big in fashion this summer and I’ve been seeing it a lot of it in the fabric store.  I’m always amazed how what is put in front of me begins to look good if I see enough of it whether I think I like it or not.

I found it in the short bolt section of the store and asked the salesperson to measure it for me.  She was wearing a black apron and as she held it up to see how much was left on the bolt, I saw it against the black of her apron and was sold.  It popped, as they say!

lace on white underlay

lace with white underlining

compared to lace on blacklace with black underlining

I decided to use the  Mcalls pattern 9278 I’ve used several times this season for the lace tunic and would make another in black for underneath.  I like the idea that I can get use out of the black by itself, but also have it double as a lining for the lace.

Simple and versatile black tunic
simple black linen tunic

I rarely throw things that I’ve made away and I remembered that I had two black linen pieces that might go with this tunic; I searched for a bit, and found hem.  I paired up the shirt and vest with an old Chico’s necklace I’ve had forever and created an interesting layered ensemble that works; again I really like giving new life to old things and making them seem fresh again.linen layered look

And finally, the lace tunic over the black tunic.  I like the look and feel like it’s a good fashion forward look for summer!

Lace tunic