August

#214 Cold Brew

01 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I don’t know why, but the tweet that’s made me laugh the most out of all the tweets I’ve ever read was this one:

“When drinking cold brew, it is proper etiquette to stand up, look the barista in the eyes, and say ‘damn, that brew is COLD!’”

#215 Mango Salsa

02 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I am giving myself a pretty big pat on the back for being able to anticipate what sort of meals I’d like to be preparing mid-summer… the meat-and-starch-heavy, labor intensive projects have been on break for a while, giving way to more light and refreshing summer fare.

Chips and salsa were due up next, and not only was this a pretty easy task, but salsa is one item that you can really get creative with and transform with endless combinations.

Although, if you’re me, you’re such a big fan of mango salsa that submitting anything else as an entry for my cooking project was simply unthinkable.

#216 Sonny

03 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Not everybody gets to have lunch with Sonny Van in their town in the middle of the week. #blessed am I.

Ninkasi, sushiritos, and good chats about what life’s been serving us lately, which isn’t always easy but at least it doesn’t have to be a solo act.

#217 Chocolate Coconut Coffee Seltzer

04 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I listened to an episode of The Splendid Table that got me all into the idea of afternoon seltzers, spritzers, and aperitifs.

Here’s one that I managed to whip up, a chocolate coffee coconut seltzer. Sort of a West Coast upgrade to the traditional egg cream.

Bonus points: just a little splash of amarula.

#218 Cuisines of the Axis of Evil

05 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“This plan of attack presumes you are feeding a crowd of eight esurient diners.” .

–Chris Fair

Oh man… I really wanted to like this book! In theory, it seemed to have all the markings of a book I’d enjoy. Food as a tool of understanding some of the most difficult nations to get our heads around! Cooking as diplomacy! Maybe those raised my expectations way too high, because I was severely disappointed.

Unfortunately, this book suffers from a pretty big identity crisis. Instead of coming across like an experience or firsthand account, each chapter reads like an overambitious textbook that tries to cram an entire nation’s history into five or six pages before abruptly turning into a cookbook. The book jacket talks about the author sharing meals with Delhi prostitutes and Talibs in Peshawar. The book itself shares none of those stories, instead going for information that could be easily found online and flat attempts at humor.

There were also so many points where Chris Fair’s writing got so distracting as I would read over sentences and think of how each one could have been better written. I don’t know if it’s her academic background, or what, but she never chooses the clearest way to say something when there are million dollar vocabulary words available. If only big words made for good writing. Her excessive vocabulary and lack of filters for what details to include resulted in sentences like the above quote.

I will point say that I did learn something new– that in India you can hire a coach to help you cheat on exams. And I have yet to actually try out her recipes, so perhaps there’s room for redemption there.

#219 Miike Snow

06 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This weekend was niice. With two i’s.

Of all the concerts I’ve seen in the past several years, I was probably the least familiar with Miike Snow’s music before going to their show. But hey, I like Animal and Genghis Khan and a handful of others, and I had an inkling that they’d be a fun bunch to see live.

They were! And it isn’t very often that bands like them drop by Eugene.

#220 State Street Evening

07 August 2016 // Santa Barbara, California

This summer couldn’t end without another mostly unplanned, rather unexpected trip. Thankfully it wasn’t to the other side of the world this time, just Southern California.

This trip enabled me to see my aunts, and to go to my cousin’s birthday party. That also meant pounds and pounds of Filipino food for lunch.

And then the evening came and I got to see Matt and treat him out to fro yo for his birthday. And I got to wander State Street for a bit. If only I had a bit more time to see people while in SB. But I’ll take this.

#221 Short SB Stint

08 August 2016 // Santa Barbara, California

Took a very quick, almost unplanned, and way unannounced visit to Santa Barbara today. I really wish I had the ability to stay much longer, because there would’ve been so many people I’d have loved to see. Unfortunately I was in town for mere hours, so I ended up making it just a quiet solo visit.

This was my first time back here since I got married over a year ago. That’s also officially the longest amount of time I’ve spent away from Santa Barbara since I started living there almost a decade ago.

I still like the way the streets feel. And I know that there’s a sense of home here that I’ll never fully erase no matter what happens.

#222 New Year’s Resolution

09 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This is my view from the couch. I never intended the couch to be my primary workspace, but that started when I adopted the dog and continues on to this summer.

I stare at this corner wall, kind of an awkwardly designed corner the more you look at it. This location has managed to sell a decent portion of my book’s copies.

Also, my new resolution was to finally put some photos in that window-style frame. New year’s resolution accomplished!

#223 Cherry Pie

10 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It is summer, therefore, I will make pie.

I am making a pie, therefore I will make it out of as many cherries as I can get my hands on while they’re in season.

Well, I feel accomplished today.

#224 Cornbread with Cheri

11 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s been a pretty busy week- I had a presentation of some sort nearly every day, but that’s over and now it’s time to go explore some Oregon small towns in the middle of nowhere.

Current musical fixation: Oh Wonder. Phantogram-esque production with more restraint and way better harmonies.

Also, I watched The Little Prince last night. Wayyyy different from what I was expecting but that movie was romanticism and whimsy.

#225 Bryndzové Halusky

12 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Six years ago, I was wandering around Slovakia. A friend I met on the airplane decided to hunt for a meal with me. We went into a nameless restaurant in a rustic old alleyway. I was served a tall pitcher of beer and a meal I’ll always remember, even if I never got its name. The best way I could describe it was something like a goat cheese gnocchi with large chunks of seared bacon or pancetta on top. It was Central European comfort food at its finest. 

Flash forward to several months ago and I find an article in Anthony Bourdain’s Roads & Kingdoms online magazine about the mysterious Slovakian masterpiece, bryndzové halusky.

While I couldn’t find all the right ingredients (the cheese is a special Slovak cheese that makes for an impossible scavenger hunt in the US) I learned enough about how to take on making this recipe myself using chèvre, a couple potatoes, and uncured block bacon. I’m pleased with these results.

#226 Eastern Oregon

13 August 2016 // Joseph, Oregon

This has been one of the strangest summers for me on record. A lot of new things, a lot of challenging and difficult things, and a lot of unexpected things. Most of all, a lot of not really knowing what comes next.

I recently realized that there was so much ambiguity in my life that I can’t really make any plans beyond September. Then it also occurred to me how much I liked that… just having to take things weeks at a time, and soon enough, days.

The summer’s winding down, and I’m not even sure if it felt fast or long. That probably means it was both in some ways. There were times where I was so busy that it felt more like a really warm March.

At the same time this summer has also been full of some really beautiful moments, like getting out of a car I had spent seven hours driving just in time to witness the sun finally go down in a part of Oregon I’d never seen before– the mysterious, sparsely populated east. Deanna and I needed to cook dinner and ended up being shifty and “borrowing” a fold out table from a laundromat to get by. It was an unexpected challenge, but one all the more memorable because of that.

#227 The Wallowas

14 August 2016 // Wallowa Lake, Oregon

I’ve heard the Wallowas refered to as the Oregonian Alps, so naturally, I wanted to head over there last weekend.

Great mountains and backpacking trails that stretch for days. Literally. It was hard for us to find a hike that could be done within a couple hours.

We weren’t able to stay for very long, but this place was gorgeous- and I’m glad the Seven Wonders of Oregon campaign included something from the less visited Eastern Oregon.

#228 Market of Choice

15 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I love buying groceries in bulk. Seriously one of the best ways to save a lot of money and to reduce food waste.

This is one of the reasons I like Market of Choice. Most of the time I think of it as an expensive grocery store, which is true if you buy the seven dollar cookies on display right by the door.

But, if you know how to hunt around for basics, find some of their special deals, or spend some time discovering their massive bulk section, it’s a great spot.

#229 Poké Stroll

16 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This is the part of town that is always flooded with Pokémon Go players. There’s been a crowd over here for two months now. People sit on the corner by the creek on lawn chairs with their phones out.

There are three Pokéstops at the intersection, and all of them always have lures. The Bier Stein is right here and I wonder if they love the foot traffic or find it a nuisance. My guess is that they like it, and my sneaking suspicion is that they’ve been planting the lures. And why not? If I owned a business near three Pokéstops, I’d spend a good ten bucks a day to keep foot traffic pretty heavy in front.

I joined the crowd for the first time last week with my friend Andrew. We mostly went to try and take over as many gyms as we could. A successful outing.

#230 Coach Pro

17 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Sometimes new endeavors and opportunities spring up out of nowhere and take off way faster than you’d expect. Doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does, and it’s one of those things I like a lot about life.

This summer, an unexpected side hustle showed up. I’ve been doing work on copywriting and content consulting with different organizations to help make their messages more clear, more energized, and more empathetic. This sort of stems from a realization I had earlier this year about how people are designed to thrive off of helping each other.

So far, I’ve really enjoyed doing this! One of the companies I’ve had a really fun time working with has been Coach Pro, that does customizations and repairs on big coach buses. I’ve got to go inside some of their vehicles and Xzibit would be totally jealous. These guys have a lot of fun making a bus just right for whoever they’re working with– whether that’s been converting a coach into a camoflauge-patterned man cave or making a big RV disability-friendly. Their old website was informative, but it didn’t quite showcase what a great service they did for their clients. Their new one does.

So far these projects have been a really good fit for me, and I look forward to taking on more in the upcoming months. If you know someone who could use a storyteller, give me a holler.

#231 Guest Room

18 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Our guest room has a futon bed, fully loaded bookshelves, and lots and lots of maps on the wall.

Spent a little bit of time in the afternoon getting the guest room ready for Justin and Caytlin over the weekend.

When we were looking for our first apartment together we knew that one thing we really wanted was a guest room. We love it when friends come to visit.

#232 Waffles in Town

19 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This is gonna be a good weekend– we’ve got a visit from CC and Justin and of course, Charlie Waffles the corgi.

Good times on the Ninkasi porch with two puppies in tow.

#233 Wildwood Falls

20 August 2016 // Culp Creek, Oregon

We loved having visitors, as we always do. Caytlin and Justin came to town to pay us a visit, and Charlie Waffles came with them.

It was a great couple days of eating great food, going out into the woods and finding a waterfall to go splash in.

One of the hardest parts when we first moved to Oregon was being far away from some of our closest friends. One of the best parts was having endless nature to go be mesmerized by. Last weekend was a combo of that first problem being solved and that second gift being enjoyed. Perfect.

#234 Picnic After Church

21 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

One of the earliest moments when I decided our church would be a good fit was when everybody went out to grab burgers together after the service on Sunday. Churches that eat together are my favorite.

Today after church, a friend’s parents were in town and the weather was nice and warm. A bunch of us ended up gathered at the park to enjoy a simple picnic.

We had some amazing grilled barbecue chicken, some tasty burgers, and seemingly bottomless chips. Sunday afternoons like this are great.

#235 Southeast Asian Food Night

22 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My small group at church is responsible for me getting to enjoy one fantastic meal every week.

This week we had an Asian food night, which turned out to be noodles galore.

I got to try my hand at making pad see ew, which is my favorite Thai dish, for the first time. Came out a bit salty but people seemed to like it.

#236 Emeralds Puppy Night

23 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Beignet got to go to her first baseball game this week. The Emeralds hosted puppy night at the ballpark as a fundraiser for the shelter we adopted her from.

There were dogs everywhere at this game. If you love baseball and dogs, you would’ve thought you were in the best place on earth.

I think Beignet liked the game. She at least liked the sasquatch mascot. She was less thrilled by all the stairs we had to climb on the bleachers and the scary foul ball that came our way.

#237 Prosciutto, Arugula, Mozzarella Pizza

24 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We made it a pizza night, and I got to try out a new recipe.

Made the crust from a recipe that mostly resembled my baguette dough. I added a little rosemary because that’s fun. And for toppings, prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella. I love the way a deep cheese blends with he saltiness of prosciutto and the bitter spike from the arugula leaves.

Pizzas are some of the best meals to make at home. High reward for a pretty simple process.

#238 Hop Valley Trivia Night

25 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Went to Hop Valley’s trivia night for the first time. Showed up. Signed up. Dominated.

First time I’ve ever placed as high as second, and we could’ve had a good run at first if only we remembered Ellen Degeneres’ short stint as an American Idol judge.

We did good enough for me to win a $10 gift certificate for burgers in Albany, though.

#239 Deanna Rocks!

26 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I don’t get to brag about Deanna nearly enough, but she does really meaningful work and really difficult work. And she’s really, really good at it.

It’s impossible to know how many crises she’s averted or how many lives she’s saved through hard work, but I know she’s helped a ton of people. At the very least, there’s one kid out there this week who is in a much safer situation thanks to Deanna.

I get to be married to an actual hero. How cool is that?

#240 Camp Agape

27 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My friend Andrew invited us to come check out a camp he’s been involved with for a couple years, and we’re so glad we took his invitation yesterday to come hang out at the campgrounds yesterday.

The site was awesome- it was everything I remembered from my childhood summer camps, but with even more. Mini golf, a zip line, bumper boats, even this pulley system so kids could be yanked 60 feet in the air.

The best thing of all though was that the camp sends these kids home with messages of being Loved and not being alone. All of them have parents in prison, and that’s not a population I think of a whole lot, but man, they have it rough in so many ways. I’m glad this camp exists for them.

#241 Vietnamese Spring Roll

28 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Vietnamese fresh spring rolls are probably my favorite dinner during the summer.

For the most part, ingredients are pretty cheap and basic. I can fill my belly at a low cost, and that doesn’t always happen. There is also very little cooking with heat needed- just to boil the rice noodles and somewhat cook the shrimp. And most of the ingredients are the crisp, cool type perfect for summer.

#242 Powell’s Rummage

29 August 2016 // Portland, Oregon

A quick trip to Portland for errands would not be complete without setting aside an hour for exploring, preferably bookstore exploring.

I decided to skip out on the usual Powell’s spot for the smaller but easier Powell’s on Hawthorne. It’s still a Powell’s so I did not walk out empty handed.

Books, I look forward to the time we’ll be spending together soon!

#243 Bijou Art Cinema

30 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Thanks to this little indie theatre that runs out of an office suite, I’ve gotten to see a pretty good pair of movies this week that you can’t find in most theaters.

Deanna and I went to see Captain Fantastic, which truly was fantastic, and not at all a superhero movie. (Otherwise I never would’ve gotten Deanna to go). Viggo Mortensen plays a “fight-the-power” hippie dad who has to figure out if he wants to continue raising his kids in the woods after their mom dies. It’s a little bit Moonrise Kingdom meets Into The Wild, but also it’s entirely own thing. I don’t think I’ve seen such an honest portrayal of an alternative way of living in a movie.

Then I got to see Don’t Think Twice which I liked. It was a bit insidery to the whole world of stand up comedy and theatre, but way, way back in the day I did my share of improv, so I liked it.

#244 Tortillas

31 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I took a stab at handmade tortillas tonight, these were perfect for helping us finish off a batch of leftover carnitas.

Conclusion: these were great and kind of fun to make, but I don’t know if I’ll be doing it again anytime soon. Getting the flour thin enough was so time consuming, and a pack of tortillas at the store is pretty cheap. At least I made enough for a stack of leftovers.

This gives me new appreciation for the lady I met in San Antonio who cranks out stacks of these every hour by hand. I think she held a record or something. The shop where she worked sold shirts with her picture on it that said Rage Against the Tortilla Machine.