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Needing an antidote to days of focused computer work, I took a partial inspiration day starting with a visit to the new Keen Garage store in Portland’s Pearl district, followed by a trip to the Portland Japanese Garden to see maples dusted with snow. The new, more visible store location allows passersby to visit this sustainable gem of a store that puts to clever use reclaimed materials and objects. The result is a playful, industrial-meets-vintage-meets-upcycled-meets-woodsy environment.
Repurposed oil drum furniture with cushions made from a patchwork of old car seat fabrics.
No beer sampling since it was only 10 a.m.
One of many charming woodsy installations filled with the popular air plant tsillandia.
Windows and door frames become shelving systems for plants, socks and other merchandise.
Fortunately, I left the store without a dent in my credit card.
My mother likes to tell people what I said about chemistry class, “I don’t know why anyone would care about the rate of a reaction. I don’t even care about the reaction itself.”
This, coming from the daughter of two biochemists.
I’ve always loved science, but failing at one type forever brands you a flunkie.
And yet, I’ve spent more hours than I can count creating science on the stove, in the oven and, unfortunately, in the fridge of the bluish-green variety.
Chemistry was never so fun than at a recent cheesemaking class with cheese whiz Mary Rosenblum (and science-fiction author). Thanks to SlowFood Portland (organizers) and to Chef Robert Reynolds Chef Studio (use of space). Read the rest of this entry »
This month marks the final installment of a “Year of Produce” in which I charted my fresh produce purchases in illustrated form for a year starting in April 2010. I was curious to see if I put my money where my mouth is about eating locally and, by definition, seasonally. Yes, 2010 was so last year. But April is so now! Which means you can start all over again if you missed the whole thing. Scroll down for March as well as a mini image of each month that links to that month’s post. Each one has some combination of recipes or recipe links, preparation ideas, thoughts on eating locally and other good stuff. So please explore!
With this final post I offer:
• A tally for the year
• Thoughts on what is local
• My observations on the project
• March recipe links
• How to eat seasonally, affordably (prompted by a question someone asked me) Read the rest of this entry »
I stare at the fresh space left — along with a bit of dust — after removing my old laser printer from the office floor. As I approach the 15-year anniversary of Allegro Design on April 1, I feel both sad and spacious. Myself and two colleagues on the east coast make up a small club — those who cling to laser printers long after most equipment has died. Our motto is “Use it till it dies!” or “Keep it out of the landfill!” or “Long live black and white!”
Actually, we have no such motto. Read the rest of this entry »
At left is my new Meyer lemon tree that I purchased from Graceful Blades (no website) who lovingly grows fruit trees and will be at the next Hillsdale Farmers Market Sunday, March 20, weather permitting. A cheery gift to myself in these dark months.
I wonder if there’s an equivalent phrase like drunk dialing, as it relates to writing blog posts in a weird frame of mind. No, I’m not drunk. Just fried. And why am I posting then? Well, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, “Sometimes you have to go into a blog post, not with the content you want, but the content you have.”
And to quote a former boss, “Done is beautiful.”
This being my my second-to-last produce log for this yearlong project, I had visions of waxing culinarily about the secret joys of eating in winter and the anticipation of freshly cut asparagus around the corner. All lovely stuff. All stuff I have no energy for. This is instructive. I can write a rather long post about what’s top of mind—rush projects, little breathing room to collect oneself or allow for margins of error, the dissatisfaction of churning out work too quickly.
Writing about the nourishing and writing about the sapping both require effort. But each requires a different kind of effort. And to honor the former requires a shifting of gears, a collecting of oneself, allowing oneself to go deeper into a place that isn’t easily accessed when you’re working like a flurry of restless gnats. At a recent coastal writing retreat, one attendee said that she was telling her father how hard it was for her to relax when the opportunity to relax was there. He would always remind her that you can’t go from 60 to zero at the snap of your fingers. Read the rest of this entry »
One benefit of neglecting your garden, especially in winter, is that you might find a surprise if you bother to visit it—such as this lovely rose-like head of chicory (radicchio). I left it alone rather than harvest leaves for salads so I could grow a whole head. Torrential downpours followed by an extended cold snap all but destroyed the plants.
Then, a warm dry(ish) day lured me into the garden, which I had been avoiding because I have yet to remove the last of the tomato plants! The chicory bounced back with splashes of fuschia painted on the leaves. I also discovered so many scallions, I had to force some onto a friend.
This variety—Castelfranco variegata—hails from the Veneto region in northern Italy. There’s a ghostly white variety, too. Its flavor is enhanced by cold weather, like many hearty winter greens. You can buy seeds from Nichol’s, a local Oregon nursery but they’re currently sold out. Who knew it was so popular? Read the rest of this entry »
It’s easy for some of us to pass by each minor, or even major, accomplishment and, instead, revisit the list of what still hasn’t been done. Or started. Worse is doing what’s not on the list. That is, if you want to be able to check something off.
The year 2010 was one of self-generated projects. It was a year of deliberately stepping back a bit from work, for better or worse, to reassess who I was doing business with, what kind of work I was doing, and where I wanted to go. It seemed natural, if not exactly planned, to follow where my desire led. Which meant allowing ideas to flourish just a little before tromping all over them. We creatives are masters at self mutilation.
At Seth Godin’s urging, I put together a partial list of what I accomplished this year. According to Godin:
Doesn’t matter whether it was a hit or not, it just matters that you shipped it. Shipping something that scares you (and a lot of what follows did) is the entire point.
In no particular order, a baker’s dozen:
1. Worked with 3 new clients.
2. Became a partner in a new business venture, responsible for branding and marketing strategy.
3. Took the World Changing Writing Workshop and got exposed to some daring, authentic, interesting writers. It left me inspired and supported, if virtually.
4. Had a story published in Smithsonian magazine’s Food & Think blog.
6. Contributed to the collaborative book “The Portland Bottom Line“—sustainability stories from small businesses. Profits support MercyCorps NW.
7. Started a yearlong personal project of illustrated logs of my fresh produce purchases, comparing how I spend my money on local versus non-local produce.
8. Wrote 8 blog posts for the Portland Farmers Market.
Hearty Greens 8 Ways to Sunday
Hazelnuts: A Complete Nut
Solace of Soup
Sponsor Profile: Food Front Cooperative Grocery
The Frenzy of Late Summer Eats
Love Ripens at the Market
Kids Cook…If You Let Them
9. Wrote 31 blog posts on design, food and the meaning of life.
10. Finally retired my old G5 Mac that has served me well, and committed to a laptop so I can work everywhere, all the time!
11. Created 15 paintings, mostly abstracted nature, something I haven’t done in years.
12. Gave myself an end-of-year gift to attend Compostmodern conference in San Francisco in January 2011, covering sustainable design practices.
13. Attended WordCamp Portland, which got me excited about redesigning Allegro Design using WordPress. I only got as far as a face lift that puts News and Featured Projects on the home page—a major accomplishment for the self-employed!
What did you accomplish? Give it a shot, publicly or privately. Make a list of 13 things you shipped in 2010. If you don’t know what they are, ask a good friend or colleague to point them out.
May 2011 bring even more. Cheers!
One thing about a regular, and more importantly, self-directed, non-client-based project, is that life sometimes gets in the way of getting it done. Life, in this case, was cross-country travel, getting walloped by a flu while on travel and attempting to steal moments to get this month’s produce log designed and posted. A laptop with a mouse pad next to it (I have trouble with a track pad for detailed work) does not fit on cramped airplane tray table.
Download September Fresh Eat log in high-resolution. Below are links to previous month’s logs.
Why Eating Healthily Can Be a Challenge
Life gets in the way of a lot of things while we’re living it. Eating is one of them. Or eating well, as in healthily, not fancily. In a recent New York Times article “Even Benefits Don’t Tempt Us to Vegetables,” the author reminds us what a serving is: half a cup of cut-up or cooked vegetables, one cup of fresh greens, half a cup of cooked dried beans, or, if you must, six ounces of vegetable juice.
July’s produce log has proved a little challenging to get finished. I could blame it on the fact that I’m too busy eating but that wouldn’t be entirely true. Though I confess to stuffing my face with berries as you can see by my bucket ‘o blues. When people think of Oregon’s adventure sports, they think of kiteboarding in Hood River. But it’s not until you’ve been elbow deep in marionberry vines that you’ve truly experienced extreme sport. This is not an activity for wimps. This is full-metal jacket sport. But boy, is it worth it. The floral, bubble-gummy marionberry, a type of blackberry, is indeed one of the great wonders of the northwest.
If this is your first visit, you’re seeing a month-by-month log of fresh produce, with a tally to see how my local versus non-local dollars compare. See April Produce Log for an introduction to the project. Here are May and June. You can download each one as a PDF. Here is July. Each month includes recipe ideas, links and PDFs to download.
This week ends National Farmers Market Week. Even with access to one of the consistently rated-top farmers markets in the country—Portland Farmers Market— I’m still surprised there is such a week. In spite of the gloomy picture of the health of the average American and the crushing power of the industrial food complex, we have something to celebrate. There are now about 6100 markets across the country, a 16 percent increase over last year. Go here to find a farmers market near you.
Following is a tribute to the impact of farmer’s markets, with a focus on the Portland Farmer’s Market and highlighting one of their sustainability efforts. Their clearly defined mission and success at executing goals is an inspiration for any business or nonprofit.