March

#61 Black Bread

01 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

More catching up on my cooking project! This was indeed a good week for catching up, as the rye bread was second among a few items I had the time to prepare. Rye bread, especially this recipe ends up being way heavier and richer-tasting in comparison to something like the baguette I made for week one. It’s still fairly dreary and wintery out in the Pacific Northwest, so this made for a perfect dinner companion.

This attempt didn’t quite turn out like I hoped. It was an ambitious bread, but I underestimated a flour ration, which led to this bread not rising quite like I would’ve liked. I thought it kind of looked like a giant molasses cookie.

But, despite the visual flaw, it was still a very rich and hearty loaf, and I’m quite pleased with the taste that resulted. I guess that’s the more important part, huh? Among the many things that went into this dough were sea salt, cocoa powder, home roasted espresso grounds, caraway seeds, and molasses.

#62 Long Trail Runs

02 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today was the day I was supposed to tie the longest distance I’ve ever ran– five miles. And I did it… sort of. The trail by the Bonneville power lines I found unexpectedly led me up a mountain during mile two, which I thought would level out, but it never really did. Getting back down went even slower, since there were a number of tree fells in my way. The plan was to run without stopping, but that was hard to do when I needed to climb trees at some points. Mile two took over seventeen minutes and tired me out for the rest of the run more than I would’ve hoped, but I did make it to five at the end.

Thankfully, I’ve discovered a lot of new podcasts lately to go through while running.

NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour – This is the podcast that’s led to me developing an interest some of my favorite pop culture interests in the past few months. After all, they’ve had wonderful things to say about Jane the Virgin and the Hamilton Musical.

The Splendid Table – Along with Gastropod, this has become my new favorite food related podcast. They do a little Q&A and some interviews with a few of my favorite chefs and food writers, recently including Yotam Ottolenghi and J. Lopez Kenji-Alt.

Sounds Good with Branden Harvey – This is a new one. Apparently Branden is a social media star, but he’s also really good at finding pretty interesting people to interview.

#63 Three Whiskey Recipes

03 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Hope you’ve had a pleasant weekend… relaxing or otherwise.

The year-long cooking project I’ve been taking on also calls for learning a little mixology, and that’s a good skill to have. My first mixed-drink challenge was to come up with three using whiskey, a tricky cocktail base to use since you don’t want to overpower the subtleties found in good whiskey.

I highly recommend the cocktail episode of Good Eats… that was what I used as my base of information with this project, and I followed the directions to a tee to make a mint julep. Alton Brown puts together the coolest little tutorial using music chords and triads as an analogy to the anatomy of a cocktail.

I also made a South African inspired beverage and a whiskey sour on recent evenings. The julep remains my personal favorite, though.

#64 Workspace: Cozmic

04 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Cozmic… an eccentric little hangout in Downtown Eugene that brands itself at 50/50 coffee shop and pizza joint.

It’s also a pretty happenin’ music venue. Sir Mix-a-lot played here a few months ago, and I’ve seen a couple of solid live shows here.

This visit was a bit different, though. Work related. I finished the first draft of my thesis.

#65 Flat White

05 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Spent another couple of days doing work with the espresso maker… Decided I wanted to try out some of my usual orders when I go to a coffee shop.

Flat whites are Australian in origin but I first discovered the flat white when I was in South Africa the first time around, as it’s a favorite drink in the country’s burgeoning coffee culture, especially around Cape Town. It seemed like one of the most frequently ordered beverages. They’ve gotten way more popular in the US in the past couple years thanks to Starbucks.

What’s the big deal with the milk foam and does this stuff really matter? In the grand scheme of life, it doesn’t, but if you want to have coffee snob discussions, sure! The idea that steaming milk to a lower temperature compared to lattes or cappuccinos retains more fats and proteins that give milk a slightly sweet flavor. This sweetness is intended to blend well with the flavor of the cappuccino.

#66 Ducks vs. Gauchos

06 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Had a blast yesterday pulling for my alma mater in Oregon territory… and going to our first ballgame of the year, hopefully the first of many.

I’ve been wanting to see my undergrad and graduate schools go head to head. Unfortunately one doesn’t have a football team and the other doesn’t have a futbol team… And their basketball teams always seem to go at it on Christmas Eve.

My school lost, but at least they lost to my second school. Olé!

#67 A Salem Day

07 March 2016 // Salem, Oregon

Despite passing by it all the time I never really spend a whole lot of time in Salem. Granted, there isn’t much there, but it’s still the state Capitol, and it’s weird I haven’t visited considering I’ve been to at least half of the state capitol buildings without trying.

Well, like it or not, I ended up having to spend some of yesterday in Salem to do traffic school for a speeding ticket from September.

Central Salem was quaint and the park by the Capitol was pretty. And I got some good writing done while I was there but that is about all I have to report.

This is a big week in the Lazaro house and hopefully I have good news to report at the end of it regarding puppy adoption. In the meantime it’s hard to contain excitement.

#68 Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs

08 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Avocado toast was recently named the Most Annoying Food on Instagram. I had no idea such a distinction existed, but I guess avocado toast takes home the trophy. So you’re welcome for this post.

Made some on my black bread recipe on toast form… turned out to be one of my favorite dinners from this week. Few foods scream “California!” quite like something cheesy or avoacado-ey, something that’s both tasty with somewhat redemptive nutritional value. Also, I’m currently training for a half-marathon, so this is a marginally decent way to up my caloric intake in a mostly healthy way.

Help yourself to my blog for the recipe! The year-long cooking project continues, and I’m catching up… only four weeks behind pace.

#69 Run River North

09 March 2016 // Portland, Oregon

Oh man… Thanks to @runrivernorth last night for putting on one of the best shows I’ve seen in ages. Despite all the random one-degree-separations I have from the band, somehow seeing them perform live has eluded me until now. I love their music and it translates really well to the stage.

Yesterday was a good day for so many reasons.

Run River North — again, an amazing show! Getting to watch from over the drummer’s shoulders made it even better.

The doggy — we won the stakeout. I’m picking her up today.

Poaching eggs — I treated myself to homemade open face sandwiches for lunch… I’m getting better at this tricky skill.

#70 Puppy Adoption Day

10 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s a wrap! After a week and a half of waiting, and a rainy night of camping out in front of the animal shelter, she is ours.

Also, we’re very progressive parents so she’s already signed up for school tomorrow.

We’re gonna try out all the names we brainstormed and see how responsive she is… So far she seems to realize Beignet means something. The shelter had been calling her Zucchini. That’s a little too healthy for us though.

#71 Beignet

11 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

The newest addition to our household.

This girl is a crazy one! 60 pounds of puppy energy… And she’s a strong one too.

She’s really sweet, but she’s got a lot to learn… Like not being afraid of stairs when those are the only way in and out of the apartment.

#72 Beignet’s First Playdate

12 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We’re helping our girl learn how to be more social and less sociopathic.

This weekend we took her out on her first play date, and it went really, really well.

Beignet finally met her match in terms of energy level in our friend Alyssa’s six month old husky pup, Koda.

#73 Beignet Loves Visits

13 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Real life is more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker

–Zootopia

I just got to see Zootopia so much and I loved it so much I need to say something. What a great movie, that somehow managed to present some really heavy and complicated issues in a lighthearted and kid friendly way. Life is more complicated than a bumper sticker… but that doesn’t mean that big and complex ideas can’t be explained accessibly. Or with animals.

Speaking of which, Beignet loves it when Uncle Jesse and Aunt Raquel come to visit… and so do we. Although, we don’t call them that, only she does. Cause that would be weird.

#74 Biscuits and Pomegranate Jam

14 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

A little while ago, Deanna was inspired by the Great British Baking Show to try and make some biscuits. Apparently those biscuits didn’t turn out the way she intended. She was hoping for the American, big, fluffy biscuits-n-gravy sort of biscuits. Instead they came out more cookie like, but with a savory taste. Even if they weren’t what she intended, I thought they were a big success. Because the cookies were so plain, they paired up nicely with a jar of marmalade. I asked her for the recipe which she did not store in her memory.

I was inspired to make shortbread cookies because they’re great. Especially the Scottish style bars, with a bit of espresso ground. It pairs super well with a cup of coffee or cappuccino. If you buy them at a grocery store they can be a bit pricey which is odd, because they didn’t strike me as that tough to make. If you know how to do a pie crust, you’re a sugar ratio away from being there. So I decided to try and go for shortbread, and inspired by that marmalade pairing, make a pomegranate syrup.

So I had a good amount of fresh ricotta cheese left over after the avocado toast. Ricotta cheese notoriously doesn’t last long, so I tried to find as many ways as I could of using it up, and this was a really good one. A little smear of ricotta on top of one of these biscuits was perfect. Then a splash of syrup.

#75 Bracket Set

15 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s taken me almost 26 years but I’ve finally given in to the Madness of March for the first time ever. I guess that’s a pretty short wait relative to CSU Bakersfield, but for both of us, the drought is over.

Deanna’s job is doing an office pool, so she handed me her bracket and I took the liberty to include a Steel Bridge Porter.

Who’ve ya got? I have Kansas topping Michigan State in the championship with Oklahoma and Kentucky rounding out the Final Four. I felt like a big homer picking Oregon to get all the way to the Sweet 16, but they have like, seven guys who could start and I legit think they have the best shot out of the Pac12.

Go Ducks.

#76 Authentic Happiness

16 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“The best we can do as individuals is to choose to be a small part of furthering this progress. This is the door through which meaning that transcends us can enter our lives. A meaningful life is one that joins with something larger than we are– and the larger something is, the more meaning our lives have.”

— Martin E.P. Seligman

This was a very different book than my usual sort of read. Actually, it’s primarily a psychology oriented read and it was one from Deanna’s bookshelf. But while she was reading it I thought some of the chapters about optimism seemed pretty interesting so I gave it a shot.

The last chapter had some really interesting ideas about the whole faith and science implications. Although Seligman’s been a lifelong secularist, he noted how studying positive psychology led him towards a concept of God that exists at the end of all things. It doesn’t exactly overlap with how I see things, but I always love it when people’s passions and expertise ultimately take them to a place of wonder and being blown away by everything.

#77 Pre’s Rock

17 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today’s run started off at the site of the auto accident that claimed track and field legend Steve Prefontaine’s life at an early age some 40 years ago.

Seemed like a fitting day to start my run today. Six miles. That’s the most I’ve ever ran and from now until May I get to keep saying that sentence once a week. I’m still not sure if I can say that I enjoy running but I am pleasantly amazed each time at the distance I ran. I’m surprised I still feel pretty good after six when I used to loathe running two. Craziest is feeling like I could do another when I’m done. If enjoying running means being pleasantly surprised at what you can actually do, then I guess I’m enjoying it.

I’ve been learning so much about being challenged lately. I’m glad I have something as literal and tactile as a half marathon to harvest lessons from.

#78 Ducks Madness

18 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Well, thanks to Michigan State, I have very limited interest in cheering for games for the sake of my bracket.

Just in time for the Oregon game… so I can be a homer all the way.

Go Ducks!

#79 Puppy Egg Hunt

19 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Easter is on its way! We took our girl out to Greenhill Humane Society for a bit of a puppy adventure… an Easter egg hunt for dogs.

She had a good time, eventually discovering that the eggs were worth finding because there are actually treats inside. She made friends with a massive Great Dane and it was fun for mommy and daddy too.

Love that we’re getting some sporadic sunlight. It made it so much easier to give her a bath… necessary after she took her own plunge into a mud pool.

#80 Dye-ing Over Here

20 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Maybe happiness is this
Not feeling like you
Should be somewhere else
Doing something else
Being something else”

— Unknown origin, but I found it here on Instagram

Either way, I love this quote.

It feels almost like an incongruous day to share it though, because honestly, today did feel like one where I wanted to be elsewhere. Along with all the perks of living in Eugene, it can also be isolating, being kinda far from so many of my favorite people. Today I thought about the time we’ve been living here and the nine months I have until the end of grad school and it feels pretty long.

At the same time, I also felt pretty thankful for a lot in my life, including the time we have left for so many of the things we love about living in Western Oregon. Today we hung out with the dog and dyed Easter eggs.

Today and this whole year have been so full of both rain and sun, heaviness and light, highs and lows. One day it’ll be a good story to tell. In the meantime, we get to see where this is all going to go.

#81 Falling Sky Friends

21 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My weeknight out crew… Deanna, Zhen, and a baby. All to celebrate another year in Oregon for Zhen.

I love Falling Sky for many reasons, particularly pastrami. Also their beer selection. Dr. Optic’s Standard Bitter is my pick for the month.

Even though I’ve been off for a couple months thanks to my leave of absence, it is technically my spring break. Cheers.

#82 Rexius Trail

22 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

As of this week, I’m up to seven miles! Miles three and four were the hardest but after that it sort of felt like cruise control. Five more weeks to the half.

Some other good things from this week:

Radiolab — the episode they aired yesterday, technically a replay of a 2013 recording might have been the first thing I could label as a tearjerker podcast.

The way home roasting coffee beans make your house smell — did a batch of medium to dark roast Brazilian beans last night and it was lovely.

Ducks basketball — looks like we’re in for a good match tonight.

#83 Puppy School

23 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Beignet really is a fast learner. She’s signed up for puppy school which has been really fun to do with her.

She’s totally the stereotypical learner that’s too smart to stay focused all the time. When there’s no structured activity she tries to go over and mess with the other dogs, starts making some noise, or getting really restless.

The minute they switch activities to something with more structure, she gets it instantly and nails it. The smartest one in the class. If anything, the activities are too easy for her.

That’s our girl.

#84 Steak & Latkes

24 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I love that Deanna and I both love to cook. The kitchen is an egalitarian space. We share it and experiment and try and teach ourselves new tricks and recipes.

It’s a win-win situation for both of us. We get to play around and surprise each other with some really amazing meals sometimes that we’ve made for the first time ever.

That’s what happened this week with Deanna’s steak and latkes. The steak was phenomenal, and she nailed the art of medium-rare cooking. I can still taste it and feel that texture on my tongue. And the latkes were crisp and lovely and everything they should have been.

#85 Mirror Pond

25 March 2016 // Bend, Oregon

Mirror Pond Pale Ale is named after this little body of water… Or is the water named after the ale? I can’t seem to figure out why else they would name this thing mirror. Perhaps it was discovered by an explorer named Mirror, or inhabited by the Mirror Tribe. It was probably the beer, though. Nothing else makes sense.

This little city is amazing. So much good stuff for such a small size. And it’s not all that far away from us too.

Wholly enjoyed my first night in Bend and looking forward to some more excitement and adventuring today. Coffee and hikes and Beignet, hurrah.

#86 Smith Rock

26 March 2016 // Smith Rock, Oregon

People need to be validated. Like, desperately. Behind every interaction between one person and another, there are a billion unspoken questions like “Do you really see me? Does this moment matter? Do I matter to you?” Behind a lot of stories told, simple exchanges, or small talk, there’s this dynamic going on.

A lot of times the answer is no. Humans are social beings, meaning this desire is strong, but we’re so well adapted to social skills that we can put these interactions on autopilot, meaning we’re not really seeing people. We’re listening to their stories but thinking about our own experiences that are somewhat related. They’re making their point, but we’re already composing our counterargument in our head.

The desire to be validated fuels so much in the world right now. Who people are voting for is mostly determined by who makes them feel validated. The companies who sell the most product are the ones who can attach it to validation.

The good news about the ability to affirm another person’s humanity is that it’s an unlimited resource. We lose nothing by giving it away, and it’s something I really, really want to focus on these days. I speak for myself when I say it’s way too easy to go on autopilot. But the smallest time-out to break that habit can go a real long way.

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