Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Make This!!

Guinness Beer Bread!

I heard about this recipe yesterday via A Communal Table's Twitter page. I stopped at the store on my way home from work to purchase some Guinness beer and baked two loaves. WOW! One bite and I threw away my other recipe for beer bread. This one takes the cake!
Slightly sweet, a whole-lotta delicious!

I like Grandma's molasses best!

This bread was so delicious, the minute I woke up this morning, I baked another batch to give away to friends.
Little loaves for friends.
Great with soup, salad, sandwiches or plain.  Bake this bread! It will make you happy.☺

Guiness Beer Bread from A Communal Table
3 3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/4 c white flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 cups whole milk
7 Tbs + 2 tsp unsulfered molasses
1 cup Guinness

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 81/2 x 41/2 loaf pans. In the bowl of a food processor combine the flours, baking soda and brown sugar with the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of the oats. Add the milk, molasses and the Guinness. Stir to combine (the dough will be very wet). Evenly divide the dough between the two loaf pans. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 2 Tbsp. oats. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until the bread is nicely browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
**Note: I only used white flour as I forgot to pick up whole wheat flour. I also used 2 cups of buttermilk that needed to be used up. The bread still turned out fantastic!!


Omid has been researching the care & feeding of chickens. I'm a little nervous! While I loved the fresh eggs my former neighbor Jodie (miss you Jodie!) used to give us, I know how much work they are. My biggest fear: chicken poop. I don't like it!
 I doubt you will see me like this:

*Update: After checking out several books from the library & talking with a chicken expert at LJC Feed, I feel much better about the decision to keep chickens. Up next: attending a 'chicken clinic' to glean even more information.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lamb-Tastic Party!

Two good friends have an idea....roast a whole lamb on a rotisserie, invite lots of people, add some sidedishes + alcohol = instant party. Omid and Ward have been talking about this party for a long time. Ward found a local farmer selling fresh lamb, put a deposit on it and bam! One week to plan our party.
Special thanks to Sarah & her husband Chris for the 'lamb-tastic' theme.
Our chefs!

Our invite: haiku fun!

The key ingredient to any party: the proper equipment. Go Cougs!

Lamb roasting station

The guest of honor: lamb-i-poo.

Ward, Lin & Omid prepping the lamb.

I exaggerated when I told  Sarah we used a pound of rosemary. It was more like a gallon (according to my Ziplock freezer bag). Several oranges, lemons & limes were also stuffed inside the lamb cavity.

Omid's new rotisserie.
Go time! Charcoal lit & the lamb placed on the spit. 4 hours later = dinner.
Chewing the fat & monitoring the lamb.

My mom & sisters

About three hours in....looking good!

Papa helping Ward & Omid.

The real star of the party: baby Moses!

Moses' pround parents: Chris & Sarah

My besties! Lin & Ward
Beatiful times 2 = Annette & Jovanna

Omid, Vince & Mia

Gina, Lianna & Lia

New friends: Cayden & Tyler

Friends Wendie & Jay
Fun fact: Wendie is a newly published author. Yay Wendie!!

Finally! Dinner time. Our menu included Persian rice with cranberries, cardamom & pistachios, yogurt with almonds, herbs & cucumbers, various Middle Eastern appetizers, mango chutney & a big bowl of tabbouleh salad.

Witty Tom & B (and Remy too).

Remy & B. Oh Remy. He was such a naughty beggar boy. He squeaked & cried his way through the evening, forgetting all his manners. >:(

Facts from the night:
*lamb = 41 lbs.
*beverages consumed = 1 gallon of Vodka, 1/2 gallon of wine, 1/5 whiskey, one case of beer, one case sparkling water & one case soda. We had plenty of designated drivers, so no one drove intoxicated!
*Lamb carcass does not smell as delcious as lamb w/meat on it. After my dad carved & served the lamb, the carcass sat on the island for 20 minutes. It took on a 'wild' smell & we had to remove it from the kitchen.
*40 guests invited, 29 attended.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Our daughter Naseem is away attending WAZZU in Pullman (Go Cougs!!). She is constantly complaining about the food in the dining hall & especially the insipid cinnamon rolls served at breakfast. Nas has been heard to cry more than once "Why isn't there a Cinnabon on campus?!"

Omid felt so sorry for Naseem this past weekend that he drove out to the nearest Cinnabon & purchased a package of Minibons for her. We told her to expect a package from home this week, but there was a caveat to receiving it. She had to either Skype us when opening her package or record it & send us the video.

 We knew she would be super excited & the video she sent doesn't disappoint.  Enjoy!

Disclaimer: The shitake mushroom word makes an appearance. Sorry!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Neat: adjective. In a pleasingly orderly and clean condition; also unmixed, pure.

Do you know where this post is going?!

If said 'scotch whiskey', you would be correct!

A few weeks ago, I saw this advertisement in The Oregonian. I happened to notice the whiskey being served at this particular dinner were Omid's favorites. I showed Omid & we decided to go & check it out.
I am so glad we did! It was a lot of fun and also a learning experience for me. I am not a scotch drinker, preferring red wine instead. I was a little nervous to have to down 5 tastings; but it wasn't as bad as I anticipated.☻
The event was held at McMenamin's Kennedy School. Neither Omid nor I had been before. Such a neat place! There were about 100 people in attendance. We checked in and were seated at a table with 6 others, so we got to meet some new & interesting people. I should note here: men outnumbered women at this event by A WHOLE LOT! I would say there were only about 15 women at the dinner. What does that tell you?
The menu
Everyone was handed a McMenamin's IPA when they walked in the room. What a tasty beer!

Stuart Ramsay our host & instructor for the evening. He hails directly from Scotland and said 'wee' & 'ach' a lot. He also quoted Robert Burns several times last night (which I loved!).
We started off the evening with a Glenfiddich 12 year scotch. Before we could taste it, Stuart told us this anecdote: A Scotsman pours himself a dram of scotch & happens to see a fruit fly swimming around inside the glass. He picks up the fruit fly with his thumb & fore finger, looks him straight in the eye and says, "Spit it out you little bugger!" Then we raised our glasses & sipped the scotch.  We were encouraged to chase it with the IPA we were given. I've never chased scotch down with beer before. It was surprisingly good.

First course: meat & cheese plate.
Second course: butternut squash soup.
Fun fact: Omid & I both liked my butternut squash soup recipe better!☻
Third course: risotto! It was at this point that Omid got me giggling.
Have you ever seen Hell's Kitchen with Gordan Ramsay? Omid kept
saying, "RISOTTO!!" just like Gordan. Hilarious!
Omid's favorite: a dram of Balvenie 15 year
While were were eating & conversing with our table mates, Stuart would give us random facts or recite fun poems. Here is one that received a lot of laughter.


'Twas an evening in November, as I very well remember,
I was walking down the street in drunken pride.
But my knees went all a-flutter, so I rested in a gutter,
And a pig came 'round and laid down by my side.

Yes I laid there in the gutter thinking thoughts I could not utter
when a colleen passing by did softly say:
"You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses"
And then the pig got up and walked away!
Final course: chocolate espresso creme brulee.
Would we do it again? YES! Apparently, these scotch dinners are held several times a year. Eagerly awaiting the one we can attend! Next time I will remember to take a pencil & paper so I can take notes.

Happy Birthday Matty!

Look who's 16 today!!

Happy birthday Matty! We love you!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back to the Roots

Guest post by Omid today. Enjoy!

Steelhead fishing started for me when I was in college and I learned to enjoy this kind of fishing in the bone chilling cold of winter and in eastern Washington. This type of fishing makes you pay attention to the river, the current, the flow and the color of the water and more. It makes you pay attention to the best drift methods, where the fish are hanging and how to get your presentation, whether it is pure hardware lures or rubber worms to eggs and bobber or sand shrimp casted to the fish. The challenges are compounding especially if you’re bank fishing since you have to cast over trees, bushes and shrubs and in a very specific manner. It is not easy, but once you get the hang of it and land your first fish, you are the one that is hooked from then on!!!

They say you never forget your roots. To tell you the truth, over the years, I became lazy and decided there are other species of fish that are easier to catch and closer to home so I gave it up completely… UNTIL NOW…

I received an invitation from a good friend who also happens to guide, to go drift fishing for steelhead fishing in Wilson River near the Oregon coast. The Wilson River in Oregon is a coastal stream in the Tillamook Bay area and is very popular destination for Salmon fishing. Fall Chinook is the most sought after fish here and drifting the Wilson River brings anglers from all over the country to test their fishing skills. It drains a mountains timber-producing area of the Coastal Range west of Portland. A fun fact on this river is that it provided an early wagon road from the Tualatin Valley to Tillamook. Oregon State Highway 6 now follows the valley of the river, providing many convenient stops along the edge for bank fishing as well.

It is 4:30 AM and I am awake before the alarm clock. I had packed all the gear the night before so all I had to do was get a pot of coffee going and head on the road for the 2 hour trip. The weather is foggy and 32 degrees. Perfect. I arrive at the boat ramp right on time and boarded the boat with the captain and 4 other fishermen. This is a very nice 25 feet guide boat with loads of room for all of us to fish. It is still dark. Looking at the river, it is not more than a “creek” by my definition and all the fishing I have done in the mighty Columbia river. The rules of this river are that there are no motor boats allowed above the ramp (only drift boats) and max speed is 5 mph, so we concentrated on fishing below the bridge. We set the fishing gear to be corky, yarn and eggs or pink worms with 3 ball slinky weights. The sun is coming up slowly and I am getting a first good look at the river. All those feelings and why I love this so much and my early days and steelhead fishing are rushing back to me.

We get the casting and river fishing etiquette instructions from the captain and get the go ahead from him to cast to the specific location he instructed. We all fired our rods. The captain (the guy at motor) is SO SIKLLED that I was admiring his maneuvering more than paying attention to my own fishing. I know how hard it is to maneuver the boat in a tight spot, and in our case with all these overhanging trees and shrubs. I soon recognized that I am here to fish and not to fish and drive the boat (which I usually do). The water looked fantastic, emerald green with 2 feet of viz, decent flows. Ok now I’m paying attention to my fishing… weight for the slinky to hit bottom and glide over the rocks…check… weight for the bumps every now and then… check… make sure the rod is not crossing anyone else’s rod… check… feel the tap tap tap…. Wait… what was that? Tap tap tap… OH I need to lift the rod more than set the hook like for salmon…. Ok… check … lift the rod and #$%#*# SHABALAM…. Fish ON…..

We are using 10 lb main line and 8 lb leaders and this fish is fight like he is 40# Chinook. He is NOT coming in. I fight the fish for about 5 minutes and the whole time he never surfaced or did any surface dance for us. In the net and WHOHOOO… it is a hatchery fish…. The morning sun is beautiful and is very pleasant giving the chill in the air. We just got one fish in the box and nothing could beat that moment.

OK time to make a second pass at the hole… We get our rods ready, get the command from the captain and fire. 30 seconds into the drift and the guy next to me hooks up. Same deal… Fighting real hard and not coming up! What’s up with these fish? Cool. Now we have 2 in the box.

Next few drifts on the same hole resulted in no fish so we continued with the drift though lower fishing ground on the river. All of the guys on the boat were working great together. No major screw ups. A few lines tangled with the trees is all which we quickly broke off and replaced our rods with ones that were ready baited to fish. No time wasted. The next 5 or 6 fish were all wild and we could not keep or bring them on the boat. Great fighting fish and quick release on all of them.

The bite had sort of died off by mid day, so we pulled over to the side of the river, re-rigged all the gear and instead of 3 ball slinky weights, changed them to 2 ball weights. This make the rig flow a bit faster. We also rested a bit, had a bite to eat and warmed up with a nice cup of coffee before making the long slow hike back up the river at 5 mph.

We get the command from the captain to get ready and fire into this nice area by the bank with a nice looking tailout. We all fire and are making a nice drift...tip is bouncing, feel the weight gliding along the rocks...then wait? What is this? Tap tap tap and WHAM.... FISH ON … my lines starts to PEEL! The whole boat is thinking I am snagged! I turn to the captain and YELL THIS IS A FISH, FISH ON FISH ON FISH ON. Everyone reels in and we fight this fish for what felt like an eternity. Everyone thought this was a Chinook the way it was fighting. A lot of strong head shakes, rolls, and runs....the gig was finally up and it was a nice 15# plus wild steelhead. It really was a beautiful fish. There is nothing in the world like seeing chrome shadow coming towards you and just below the reach of a net. It's almost like a image that you never get tired of seeing.

The day ended with another wild fish from the same hole on my rod which I passed to the guy next to me since he hadn’t caught anything all day. He was very appreciative of this gesture and was all choked up teary eyes when the fish was in the net!!! I guess it takes all kinds. I shut my mouth from saying any smart ass comments ‘cause I thought to myself, it this is a nicest thing someone has done for him, he really needs to examine either himself or the folks he is around with. Strange!

Anyway, the day ended around 3 pm for us just as a cold front was rolling in from the coast bring with it the legendary cold northwest rains.

I truly enjoyed this trip. It made me realize my roots and how it all started for me. I will definitely be doing more and more winter steelhead fishing in the weeks to come and only wish I could share this experience with each and every one of you. (pic below from 1990 – Grand Ronde River Eastern Oregon)