Friday, April 24, 2015

Bagby Hot Springs {#travel #Oregon #PDX}

We have finally made it out to Bagby Hot Springs out in the Mt. Hood National Forest  This has been on my wish list in forever.  By the time I think about it is usually is already quite late in day, and then there is also the little piece of distance.  Now this beauty - depending on your threshold of time spent in the car - is a drive but oh, so totally absolutely worth it and I am not a hot tub fan.  Well, of course this is no hot tub but a hot spring brining absolute mind clearing serenity.  It is in the middle of the woods,  it is a tiny hike about 1-1/2 miles which non-surpisingly still brought on the "When are we finally question - but oh, my.  The trail to the Hot Springs is already magical; green in any variety dark, light, the sound of a river as the trail leads up along a river. It is easy to imagine it as fairy land.

and then just when we thought we missed a turn….

Just a couple steps past the sign  hot water bubbles up and is directed to by wooden lines to the different soaking areas.

The water runs to the soaking area to five private rooms, about three  round tubs for smaller groups, and a couple of larger tub for a bigger group.  We chose the private soaking room…what to expect?  First off, the tub is a carved out of a cedar log log…Please tell me you are as excited as I am about this.
Once in the room, let the hot water flow in and be sure to get a few buckets of cold water; because the water is hot. Next..soak.  Sit back, relax, look out through the holes in the roof…

What do you think?  It is absolute bliss….then walk back to the car through the magical forest

Good to know if you go:
In addition to towels pack water, snacks, and all other stuff you usually bring with you on a hike.  Yes, this is short but it is in the middle of Mt. Hood National Forest, the weather can change, people slip and did I mention that it is in the middle of the woods?  So yes, no matter how close and easy it seems wear sturdy shoes.

There is a $5 {cash only} soaking fee for each adult - so be sure to bring cash, or get your wristband the Ripplebrook Store.  Bagby Hot Springs are about 40 miles SouthEast of Estacada so yes,  it takes some time to get out there but it is so worth is.

Lastly,  it does get very busy so be prepared to wait and most of all have fun!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Picnic Pearl Couscous Salad {#vegan #dairyfree #recipe}

Happy Wednesday! How are you? - Everything here at The Not So Cheesy Kitchen is great, I just needed a little hiatus but now I am back and {in my mind} many posts are lined up.  Now,  I just need to get them all out of my head onto paper  the screen.  Will tell you all about our adventures these past few weeks, just stick with me.  Pretty please?!
Portland weather has been absolutely spectacular these past few days with summer like temperatures.  Yes, it feels more like summer than early spring and we are ready for picnics as well as cooking out. This easy Picnic Pearl Couscous Salad is the perfect side for any picnic.  It comes together quickly, is fun to eat and all it needs is enough time to absorb all the flavors.  

Picnic Pearl CousCous Salad

  • 3 c water 
  • 1 tsp sald 
  • 2 C Pearl CousCous
  • 1 C cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1 C tomato, seeded, and diced
  • 1 C red pepper, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 C Kalamata Olives, pitted, and diced  
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt &  pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bunch of chives minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  1. Add salt to water and bring to a boil
  2. Add couscous, cover, and turn heat down to low.  Simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Couscous is ready once all the water has been absorbed.
  3. Remove cooked couscous immediately from pan to a larger bowl to cool down
  4. Add vegetables once couscous has cooled off
  5. Combine lemon juice with olive oil, dried oregano, and minced chives
  6. .  Add salt and pepper to taste
  7. Pour dressing over couscous and carefully toss into salad until well combined
  8. Cover and let rest for at least an hour before serving.  
  9. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fort Stevens State Park, Astoria & Beer or the first #camping trip of 2015 {#travel #gocamping #yurt #oregon}

No, this is not an April first joke it is actually me posting…can you believe my super long break?!  I am really waiting for that tool to transpose my posts from my brain to my blog.  Yes, I have been saying that for a long time it's lame but yes, so many, many posts lined up in my head and oh so little time.  Well, truth be said that lately I have also been feeling a little worn out ~ not to worry the family is all right just me being a little under the weather.

I am happy to announce that our 2015 camping season has opened.  Okay, truth be said we did not yet break the tent out and instead camped in a yurt at Forth Stevens Oregon State Park {Northern coast} which is perfect especially in chilly weather as there is heat, electricity, as well as beds.  Take a look

It's super fun and dry…We arrived on a Monday - it being March and the Oregon coast - there was a chill in the air and a slight drizzle in the air.  After setting up camp, we took a quick drive to the beach to explore the wreck of the Peter Iredale a ship that ran ashore in 1906.

 This was the first time we have seen it, really the first time that I have seen a real-life shipwreck and I do think that there is a certain mystique about it. You, know I was thinking about the hands that built the ship, the people that sailed on it the merchandise…okay, okay I am getting a little carried away...

The next stop was dinner and when in Astoria or close to it Fort George Brewery  is our place to go.  Let me just say that the beer is delicious and the food is not shabby either.  They certainly always have options for the girls.  In addition to the regular pub fare on the lower level,  the restaurant has expanded the upstairs into a pizzeria including a wood burning oven.  Feeling more like pub food - fish tacos for me friers - we stayed downstairs, gobbled down our food, enjoyed the beer, and took in the atmosphere of the steady downpour….

After dinner back to the yurt - yay for the yurt in the pouring rain - a nice game of Eckolo with Alena, comfortable beds and sleeping to the sound of the rain without worry.

We woke up to an almost dry day - you know the kind with lots of dry patches, sun, and intermittent rain.  Ron - always the camp chef - made us bacon and coffee/tea for breakfast…before we took a nice long walk to Coffenbury Lake (you can swim in the summer) to the beach and back.

I do have one complaint about Ft. Stevens and that is that cars are allowed on the beach. Year-round the beach is open for cars to drove tp the shipwreck but the area north is closed off for the months May thru September.  Let's just say,  cars on the beach are not my thing…

Check-out is at 1pm leaving plenty of time to explore Astoria.  Alena loves to visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum  which really is an awesome place to visit, now you know there is a but coming, right so here it is blue skies - sun and yes, neither MiaRose nor I were into a visit this time.  Instead we watched a beautiful 3D movie about Galapagos Islands and then headed outside to the pier to tour the Columbia Lightship

Feeling hungry our last stop was at Buoy Beer Company right on the river; the brewery is a little over one years old and neither the beer nor food disappointed.  The most amazing thing however are the views…I am talking right on the river,  pilot boats go by as do huge freighters coming off the Pacific Ocean and let's not forget the great viewing area of sea lions from the restaurant.  What do I mean?  Well, there is huge viewing area in the floor of the restaurant and below the floor are sea lions lounging.  Quite amazing and it's an awesome addition to the places to visit in Astoria.
Good to know:

Yurts - as many campsites in Oregon - must be reserved ahead of time and they go quickly; we just got lucky but only got to stay one night.  Reserve your spot at ReserveAmerica

Bring sheets to put underneath your sleeping back it's more comfortable than lying directly on the thick plastic

Be aware that cars are allowed on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park.

Have fun!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Manzanita, Beach, Pizza & a Bald Eagle #family #Sunday #fun {#oregon #travel #NehalemStatePark}

Is it really already the second week of March? All is great here I just have been feeling under the weather a bit…but you know there is nothing like spending time outdoors to lift my spirit.   On Sunday we ventured out to the Oregon coast which is one of our favorite places it always rejuvenates with its majestic beauty.  There are so many great places to go from Portland for a quick day trip - often times we go to Cannon Beach closest to Portland but there are so many, many other fantastic spots…

This time it was Manzanita - the town is south of Cannon Beach and this is the view of the town and beach from 101…

Amazing, right?!  It is a cute little beach town this is the view down main street….

What do you think?

Since we did not pack a picnic {yes, shame on me} besides a couple of snacks we decided to order a couple of pizza's from Marzano's Pizza - easy enough, right?!  Yes, especially when the dough is "safe" for the girls (i.e. no milk sugar) and that makes this mothership very happy…Anyway it was a pepperoni pizza without dairy for the girls, and a number eight for the parental units.  While the pizza was in the making we walked down to the beach and relaxed for the twenty minutes until the pizza was ready.

The beach in Manzanita is by far not as crowded as in Cannon Beach, but looking for an even more quiet spot plus some dunes we packed the pizza's and drove down the five minutes to Nehalem State Park.  It is the perfect spot…dunes, beach, quiet…

We ate our pizzas on the beach - the girls ran down the dunes and the absolute cherry on top {as MiaRose says} was this sight…

Yes,  a Bald Eagle devouring his catch right on the beach;  good thing we brought the binoculars and Ron took the pictures.
Walking back to the car after a fun day on the beach

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It's #giveRARE #day - please support #newbornscreening {@screenbabies} today

NOTE: March 3rd, 2015 was the first "Give Rare" fundraiser event - I support newborn screening and the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation; the link in this post has been updated to the SBTS donation page.  Thank you!

Today is the first ever Rare disease giving day and this is an event near to my heart; both of our children have a rare disorder called Classic Galactosemia.  Statistically it effects about 1:60,000 newborns in the United States.  Galactosemia is detected through newborn screening and without early detection it can be fatal to the infant or lead to severe complications.  Alena most likely would not have survived E.Coli Mengengitis if her newborn screen would not have come back in time.

Our happy and healthy girls

Newborn screening saved her life and MiaRosie's life -> read our story here;  Jake and Owen's story tells about what happens without early detection.

As a newborn screening advocate I support the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation; an organization whose mission is to save babies by working to prevent disabilities and death resulting from disorders detectable through newbornscreening.  Would you please join me in supporting this great organization?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tasting The Seasons by Kerry Dunnington {#cookbook #review}

Disclaimer: I have received a copy of this book for review all opinions are my own; this post contains affiliate links.

Tasting The Seasons Inspired, In-Season Cuisine That's Easy, Healthy, Fresh and Fun by Kerry Dunnington is a 288 page cookbook that includes recipes from breakfast items to appetizers - main dishes and desserts.  The first brief section of the book is dedicated to tips on entertaining and hosting the perfect dinner party; tips include hiring party staff, menu cards, serving sizes etc.  This section is followed by Ms. Dunnington's invitation for the reader to join in The 365 Challenge; challenging one to make more environmentally friendly choices by eliminating plastic ware, eat in, eat local foods, etc.

Each recipe section starts out with a nice, easy to read introduction followed by a recipe overview.  The appetizer section includes favorites such as Guacamole with an interesting twist. Enhancers include salad dressings, sauces, as well as beverages including a recipe for seasonal Sangria.  The breakfast and brunch section includes everything from a Cherry Almond Coffeecake to Oven-Roasted Tomato Quiche to Chestnut Pancakes.  Ms. Dunnington includes a great soup section with recipes ranging from Hearty Soups {21 recipes} to sixteen Lighter Than Hearty Soups recipes which include Shrimp and Cucumber Bisque, Sunburst Squash Soup as well as Home-Harvest Gazpacho.  The soup section is followed by a Pesecatrian, and next a meat section with recipes using chicken as well as pork.  A large recipe collection for side dishes is next.  This section is divided into Cold Garden Greenery and Warm Garden Greenery.  The Cold Garden Greenery part includes thirteen recipes including dishes such as Kohlrabi Coleslaw and Marinated Yellow Beets with Horseradish.  The Warm Garden Greenery includes twenty recipes for sides such as Caramelized Parsnips with Roasted Pecans and a Berry Nutty Couscous. Next up is the Bread, Biscuit, Roll section and is - like all other parts of the book - started with introduction.  The introduction includes a useful guide for successful bread making, and the twelve recipes include Popovers as well as Radish Bread with Caraway Seeds. The final piece of the collection are Sweet Endings and include twenty-two recipes.  Sweets Endings everything from Baked Alaska to Pudding and Shortbread.

The back of the book includes an A-Z Product Resource List with information on what, where, and when to buy. This informational part is followed with an explanation on Eco-Terms, Tips, and Techniques.

This cookbook encourages the reader to understand the importance of knowing where food comes from and to make sustainable food choices. I very much like that the book includes plenty of space for taking notes but would have liked to see a little bit more pictures besides the few black and white sketches. My favorite parts include the 365 challenge, the fantastic guide to bread baking as well as all of the explanation on the environmental terms and tips.

Recipes that are certain to make an appearance at our table include Kohlrabi Coleslaw,  Cream of Kohlrabi Soup,  Popovers, Apple Celery Salad with Peanut Vinaigrette, and Peach Cake

Tasting The Seasons
Inspired, In-Season Cuisine That's Easy, Healthy, Fresh and Fun
Author Kerry Dunnington

Paperback: 288 pages

Difficulty of Recipes:       Easy - Medium
Cuisine:                            American cuisine
Galactosemia friendly:     Yes, many of the the recipes can be easily adapted to suit a dairy free
(dairyfree)                        diet
Pro:                                  Contains good information and tips throughout
                                         250 recipes
Good to know:                 Black and white with very few illustrations

Suggested Retail Price: 19.95    

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Family #hike at Lacamas Lake Park - Camas, #Washington {#pdx #kids}

Time flies, flies, flies and we have been like busy bees.  So needles to say that I we {as in the parental units} have really been looking forward to a nice family hike.  This winter has been crazy here in the Pacific Northwest ~ it has been so warm that all the snow at Teacup Nordic is gone.  Yes, the year we were going to ski every weekend = no snow.   Daffodils are already in full bloom, friends - so I thought that maybe the lilies are already getting ready to bloom at Lacams Lake Park and thus its the perfect excursion.

We first went on this hike a couple of years ago and I have to say it is a great hike.  It is close to Portland - only about 25 minutes from our house in Southeast - even so it is on the other side of the river aka Columbia.  This hike packs a lot of everything;  you hike over a dam and then you can decide whether to take the lake loop which is about 1-1/2 miles or take a longer loop down to the waterfalls.  Now you may know that I really like love waterfalls; they are so amazing, powerful and beautiful; so there is no question that we took the longer loop.  The trail leads down into the canyon over some rocks, curving along the creek onto a couple of different wooden bridges until you reach the Lower Falls. This is the perfect spot for a break - it does get a little busy…

From the Lower Falls

we worked our way back out of the canyon; now our biggest complaint about this hike is that everything is very poorly marked.  We chose to take a trail leading up through the woods and confirmed with other hikers that it indeed is the right trail.  The trail is very serene and it got a lot less crowded - let me also say that both girls were great as we kept listening for birds.  Out of the woods the trail leads to a gravely road - no cars - where we saw a few hikers and this the way to the Lilly field.  I remembered just how beautiful and amazing it was; an unexpected treasure…

Luckily we found the trail leading us up to the lilly field; oh my…no, lilies are not yet in bloom but this place is magical.  There is a sense of being out in the middle of nature - very far away from civilization. The colors - patches of bright green moss, flower stamps, dark green fir trees, light green lichen, rocks covered with lichen and patches of moss.  Just us and nature. Oh, how can one not believe in fairies…true magic…

At this point the girls were ready to get back to the trailhead and spend some time on the playground.

Good to know before you go -
The trails are poorly marked it is good idea to print out a trail map, or carry your hiking book.
This is a easy-moderate hike but - the loop we took with addition of the lily field - it is about 3.6 miles.
Be sure to take water, snacks, and wear sturdy shoes.

Have fun!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Blood Orange Margarita for National Margarita Day

Happy National Margarita Day!!!  Yes,  friends I have stepped out of my comfort zone yet again and super excited that my good friend Heather aka girlichef invited me to celebrate National Margarita Day.   Now making cocktails is really not my strength - let's just say there have been a couple of failures albeit tasty failures in the process of making my Blood Orange Margarita… Yes, leave it up to the German girl to make a Margarita.  Rest assured that it only took a couple of tries and it has now been perfected.  

Please let me present you with my version of Blood Orange Margarita

Blood Orange Margarita
  • 1-1/2 oz lime juice
  •    1/2 oz triple sec
  •    1/2 oz Blood Orange Simple Syrup
  • 1-1/2 oz Tequilla
  •    1/2 C freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  •    ice cubes
  1. Combine lime juice, triple sec, simple syrup, and tequila in a cocktail shaker {or use a mason jar with a lid} place some ice cubes with the liquid.  Throughly shake it up.
  2. Pour liquid - strain the ice - into a tall glass
  3. Top with blood orange juice
  4. Add ice and serve

Are you ready for more Margarita fun…check all of it out…


Margarita-inspired food:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Latourell Falls #hike {#Oregon #travel #kids} in the Columbia River Gorge

Is it really already the end of the week? Yikes, this post was - at least in my head - planned for much earlier in the week.  I swear it was all drafted, written, pictures selected…that is in my head.  Yup, it never made it out to the keyboard.

There is still no snow up at Teacup Nordic so it was yet another weekend without cross-country skiing for this family and you may know by now just how much we need to get out at least once on the weekend.  It is our way to rejuvenate and recharge the batteries…looking for places to go, we asked Alena to look through our hiking book and she chose Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.  This waterfall is very close to Portland, and while we had stopped at the Lower Latourell Fall plenty of times we had never hiked the loop to the upper falls returning on the other side.   I have to say this was magical - it is not a very long hike with about 2.4 miles but it packs a lot into it.

Great trails, a hike up along the impressive lower Latourell Fall with beautiful lichen on the basalt rock face

yes, water drops 249' straight down into the basin. The hike continues along the stream on nice trail including four wooden bridges
until you can hear the thunder of the upper Latourell Fall.  The upper fall is amazing as it twists down the basalt rock into the basin…

crossing the bridge at the basin the return took us through lush green forest where Ron and MiaRose were looking for salamanders.

The trail takes a left turn leading to a magnificent view point - albeit super windy - of the Columbia River Gorge

The entire family including our often unenthusiastic hiker had lot's of fun.

Good to know before you go: The hike is about 2.4 miles and is considered a moderate hike with an elevation gain of about 520 ft. This is a hike where you should be sure to wear sturdy shoes, and carry water along with some snacks.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fettucini Alfredo {#recipe #pasta #lactosefree} #galactosemia friendly

Does the world really need another Fettucini Alfredo recipe one may ask. I certainly think so because it is such a quick dinner that is super delicious.  Now you may not be surprised to hear previously may have had Alfredo once before at home and of course never out.  You know there are not "safe" versions eating out and for some reason or another I remembered it - from the one time I tried it before - as not being that great.    So now I have had the urge to give this another try and tadahhhhh I declare success.  It was not even good it was great; everyone loved it so yes,  Fettucini Alfredo will be make an appearance again in the near future…

Now I don't know if there is a way to make Fettucini Alfred look pretty…you be the judge

Our kids are allowed - among some other aged cheeses - Parmigiano Reggiano which is free of milk sugar due to the aging process, if you want a vegan version I suggest using vegan Mozzarella style shreds. One last note to those new to galactosemia please always check with your clinic and beware that lactose free does often not equal galactosemia safe.

Fettucini Alfredo
  • 1 package fettucini
  • 2 TB Vegan "butter" {I use Earth Balance}
  • 2 TB  Flour
  • 1-1/2 C plain soy creamer
  • 1-1/2 C grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 C minced fresh Italian parsley {about 1/2 bunch}
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste
  1. Cook fettucini according to package instructions; and make Alfredo sauce in the meantime
  2. Over medium heat melt "butter" stir in flour when completely melted. Combine both
  3. Add soy creamer stirring the entire time to be sure that all lumps are worked out
  4. Add Parmigiano and bring to a low simmer, carefully stirring the sauce.  It should not boil.
  5. When sauce has thickened - do not let it get too thick - add parsley together with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.


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