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Eat All the Vegetables: CSA Adventures


After taking two summers off from gardening, I’m back to discovering how green my thumbs can be. I had considered doing a CSA at the beginning of summer and then decided to DIY with gardening and farmers market. I started out this spring with some container gardening — think super small planters, not a container box on the ground. The arugula, strawberries, butter lettuce, and basil did really well until June or July. And after moving mid-summer, suddenly I had a 75% volunteer garden! We’re still overflowing with tomatoes – cherry, sun gold, heirloom, roma… There’s a little bit of basil still hanging on, tons of rhubarb, mint, rosemary, sage. The blueberries were amazing, but long gone. Pumpkins – surprise! And the only thing that didn’t turn out well from our super volunteer garden was the corn.

weekly CSA

As the summer ends, tons and tons of tomatoes are the only veggie we’re still juggling from our garden. So when a friend asked if I wanted to take over the last couple months of his CSA share as he moves to Seattle, I accepted the challenge.

I thought it would be fun to document here some of what we’re receiving each week and how I’m making myself actually use it!

This Week’s CSA bounty:

  • Dragon Tongue Beans
  • Jimmy Nardello and Padrone peppers
  • Criolla Sella peppers
  • 2 tiny onions
  • Eggplant
  • Mixed Tomatoes

 Eat All the Veggies Strategy:

1. Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Salad - I ended up combining a couple recipes and using what was available, for this salad. It was super tasty– eggplant, tomatoes, feta, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and basil.
Roasted eggplant salad

2. Dragon Tongue Beans with Butter and Garlic – While these purple and white beans are fun to look at — they ended up not being my favorite. I sautéed them with butter and garlic and added some basil. The purple color faded, which obviously doesn’t impact the taste — but I was more into the garlic, butter, and basil sauce than the actual beans.
Dragon Tongue Beans

3. Feta-stuffed Peppers – My sister had just sent me a quick recipe she created, so I knew exactly what I was going to use the mini peppers for when I saw them in the CSA this week. This is one quick and tasty starter. RECIPE: After halving, and de-seeding the peppers, boil or steam them for about 5 minutes. Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup of feta, 1+ TB of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Then fill the pepper halves with the mixture, place on a baking sheet and broil on a lower rack in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. So good!

Feta-stuffed Peppers

The only unused veggies this week were the few tiny spicy peppers – hot sauce maybe? And the small onions, which will go in almost anything next week.

CSA Verdict?
After the first week, I’m super excited about getting out of my current cooking rut! I love cooking and trying new recipes, but all too often I get in little routines of making the same dishes on my meal plan. Another thing I noticed was that if I have something to use up, I’ll go searching for a recipe to make, but in the grocery store I usually just quickly run through my typical things. I wouldn’t have gone out of my way this week to pick up eggplant, peppers, or dragon tongue beans.

What new thing have you cooked lately?

Photo by Schoolyard Farms

81 Things To Love About Fall


This week we welcome another autumn into our lives. As a thoroughly predictable human being, every September I fight the changing season, and then start warming up to the idea after reminding myself of all the things to love about fall. I finally give in (short of relocating, what’s a Portlander to do?). This years autumnal equinox is September 22, so as the rains arrive, I’ll be re-reading my annual fall list.

I started this proper list of things that I love about fall a few years ago, just to remind myself… So here’s the 2013 updated, with 81 things this year. Epic!

  1. leather boots
  2. crunchy leaves
  3. scarves (a serious weakness)
  4. cozy striped socks (and argyle!)
  5. English tea w/milk
  6. apple orchards
  7. Hulu
  8. rain boots (& wearing my Converse-style rainboots! & bees!)
  9. coffee
  10. Powell’s bookstore
  11. reading
  12. cooking over-elaborate meals (this 3 hour soup comes to mind)
  13. snuggling (kittehs or boys)
  14. hikes
  15. tights & skirts (cable knit!)
  16. live music/Doug Fir
  17. soup
  18. fall-ish tunes
  19. change/fresh starts
  20. duvets
  21. yellow
  22. baking
  23. chai lattes
  24. plaid
  25. wine
  26. shooting guns (Don’t judge. I’m from the country.)
  27. movies/beer/pizza/Cajun tots at McMenamins (tasty!)
  28. home goods stores
  29. pretending to love shopping
  30. argyle (see #4)
  31. learning
  32. pumpkin everything, (including pumpkin spice lattes)
  33. apple sauce (planning a canning party. I’m so in my 30s)
  34. hoodies (cozy)
  35. Thai food
  36. cities
  37. cinnamon
  38. whiskey
  39. planning winter trips (last year Iceland. This year Japan & South Korea)
  40. planning 1 winter escape (somewhere warm & cheap! February? March? Hawaii?)
  41. skinny jeans tucked into boots
  42. pretty maps (yet another serious weakness)
  43. layering
  44. that means more dark chocolate
  45. dreaming of Barcelona
  46. popcorn
  47. the air
  48. food carts with heated seating areas
  49. baths
  50. colors
  51. crying to Sigur Ros or Beck’s Sea Change (no explanation. It’s not 2 hrs and 14 min/week worth though, clearly I need to listen to more Sigur Ros)
  52. corduroy
  53. massive breakfasts
  54. geocaching
  55. making out in the cold
  56. trains
  57. watching people be excited about college football
  58. trying new cocktails
  59. spin class
  60. yurt camping
  61. finding new music
  62. yoga pants
  63. long dinners
  64. storms
  65. writing
  66. flannel sheets
  67. indoor workouts (Bar Method!)
  68. even more indoor time: a new cooking class
  69. board games
  70. more time for blogging with no sunshine distraction
  71. mashed potatoes
  72. lazy weekend mornings catching up on my Google Reader in bed
  73. carbs
  74. rocking sudoku
  75. sucking at crosswords
  76. seasonal ales
  77. dark nail polish (OPI Over the Taupe)
  78. museums
  79. the words ‘crisp’ & ‘cozy’
  80. sweaters…
  81. getting obsessed with a TV show that everyone has already been watching for ages, but I just finally got into and blowing through 3 seasons immediately (last year was Downton Abbey)

photo set on flickr

What do you love about fall?

Portland Spring: 31 Reasons To Make It Through Another Winter


Ah spring – the worst is over! Every year it’s the same feeling, like by the end of February you begin to believe that the grey and rain is just not going to end this time. But it does and it’s always worth it. Seeing blossoms all across the city makes me a little giddy.

Here are some things I love about spring in Portland…


  1. cherry blossoms at Waterfront Park
  2. blossoms in general, all around the city
  3. escaping the rain
  4. Japanese gardens
  5. last basketball games
  6. rum horchata at Por Que No
  7. rollerskating at Oaks Park
  8. Tulip Festival!
  9. fair weather biking
  10. cupcakes
  11. laughing yourself silly at Bridgetown Comedy Fest
  12. new bike accessory shopping or bike spring tuneup
  13. Mt Hood loop
  14. first PSU farmer’s market weekend (chard!)
  15. mud hiking at council crest
  16. Rose Festival
  17. spiced chai at Extracto
  18. first spring flowers
  19. cheese plates at The Observatory
  20. Omsi After Dark
  21. spring trips to the coast
  22. Cheers to Belgium beers festival
  23. antiquing in Sellwood
  24. spring sunsets
  25. outdoor brunch again!
  26. meandering the Eastbank Esplanade
  27. shows at Doug Fir or Miss Studios
  28. beers by the fire at Base Camp
  29. waterfall hikes in the Gorge
  30. the start of Pedalpalooza
  31. waving farewell to spring with summer equinox from the Hawthorne Bridge

What’s your favorite thing about spring?


Portland Sunsets + Lebanese + River Floats = Weekly Love


Summer, my friends, has finally arrived in Portland. I may have said summer is on its way a few times this year already, but it’s finally here!

This Week:

Oblique Coffee Roasters – you would think it would be easy to find a coffee shop open at 5am, right? Maybe that’s just wishful thinking. My quest led me to Oblique, which opens at 6am. That’ll do.
Tubing on the Clackamas River – First river float of the year. Check! A fairly last minute and short trip to the river, but always worth it. There’s nothing like floating down the river in the sun. It’s like being a kid again, where all you have to worry about is whether or not you get to stop for ice cream on the way home.
Kit’s Organic – I received a little box of treats in the mail, which I promptly devoured. Attention PR companies, you can always send me food. In all seriousness, I’m happy to see Clif Bar come out with something like this. My go-to bar if I pop into Whole Foods after yoga, is a Luna bar, so always good to have more brands and flavors to choose from. My favorite thing about these fruit and nut bars, is the ingredient list: Organic Dates, Organic Cashews, Organic Almonds, Sea Salt. Four ingredients? My mom would even approve. (granola – it’s genetic)
Portland sunsets – stunning sunsets this weekend. “It’s 9pm, hurry! Run for high ground to catch it!”
Pyro in the sun – spent a sunny lunch break at Pyro Pizza enjoying my favorite pizza and the weather.
Ya Hala – still my favorite Lebanese restaurant in Portland. 8 years later and the veggie mezza still doesn’t disappoint (although I would not turn down extra baba ganoush)!

What are you happy about this week?

Pok Pok Grilled Corn + Hawaiian Miles = Weekly Love


Happy Birthday, America!

This Week:

Pok Pok grilled corn – It’s back in season folks — Pok Pok is serving their grilled corn again. A summer favorite. I could eat a cornfield of these.

coffee shop work – Crema, sunshine, iced coffee. This:

Firestone Walker “Wookey Jack” Black Rye IPA – I won a 22oz bottle of this at beer trivia night a few weeks ago, and then ‘randomly’ ordered it at Green Dragon this week. Doh. A new favorite, for sure.

Canteen – after continually passing by the almost-finished, new shop from one of my favorite Portland juice carts (Sip), they’ve finally opened! I tried the tasty Portland bowl, and the standard ginger berry smoothie. I’ll definitely be back in here.

Portland Dining Month at Brix Tavern – Every June, Downtown Portland puts on Portland Dining Month, where you get a 3-course meal for $25 at tons of Portland restaurants. I snagged a freebie on KloutPerks, and got a nice little gift certificate in the mail for Brix Tavern. It was fun to try out a restaurant I hadn’t been to, and they have a great happy hour menu!

Moonrise Kingdom – It’s been a while since I went to a ‘real’ movie theater. I finally used my $5 Fandango movie coupon to go see the new Wes Anderson film. Loved. Perfect way to spend a rainy June night.

Hawaiian Airlines 35,000 miles offer – I’m always on the lookout for credit cards offering miles deals, and since my bff moved to Hawaii, I decided to get the Hawaiian Airlines card, which gives you 35,000 miles. You just have to spend $1,000 in 4 months — pretty easy if you use it for bills, dining out, groceries etc. This will be my card of choice for the next few months. Plus you get a coupon code for 25% off 2 roundtrip tickets. Prepare the guest room, friend!

Oregon Humane Society kitties – I stumbled across my Oregon Humane Society cat adoption papers recently. Adorable to re-read Emily Essa’s one-page sell sheet. :)

What are you happy about this week?

Olivia Raymer
Things I ♥: travel, food (I'm a pescatarian), the Pacific Northwest, bikes (I ride an orange mixte), beer (IPAs), summer, coffee, lists, and kitties. Travel enthusiast, former product manager, dabbler, and currently helping small businesses with digital strategy at Early Bird Strategy.

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