Monthly Archives: September 2009

Grocery Specials Around Town This Week


Pork Shoulder Country Style Ribs  99 cents/lb.

New Seasons:

2lb. Tillamook Medium Cheddar  $5.99

Woodstock Organic Peanut Butter $2.99

Franz Bread    2/$5

Lucini Olive Oil   $11.99

Country Natural Beef Ribeye  $10.99/lb

Whole Foods:

Rosie Organic Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts $6.99

Organic Red Slicing Tomatoes  $1.49/lb

Organic Pluots  $1.99/ lb


Draper Valley Bone-In Split Chicken Breast $1.99/lb thighs $1.89/lb

Carlton Farms all-natural Pork Tenderloin and Dry Cured Bacon $5.99/lb


Widmer or Deschutes 12pks. $12.97

Market of Choice

Haas Avocados 2/$1

Red ripe-on-the-vine Tomatoes 79 cents/lb

Rogue River Original Blue $19.99/lb

Nest Best eggs  99 cents/doz.

Painted Hills Top Sirloin Steak $5.99/lb

Wild Oregon Shrimpmeat $3.99/lb

Fred Meyer

Wild Alaskan Snow Crab or Wild True Cod (prev. frozen) $3.99/lb

Tillamook Butter  $1.50/lb

Deschutes, Widmer, Blue Moon, Pyramid 6pk  $5.99

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer $299 + $40 Mail-in Rebate

Brita Filters  2 for the price of one

That’s the round-up.  🙂

Ashland’s Caldera Tap House is a Slice of Heaven in Southern Oregon


As we finished loading the car for our week long road trip to L.A., I thought to myself: Crap. I still haven’t had the air conditioner fixed in this beast. I don’t need it that often in Portland, and since I didn’t have the $1500 quoted to fix it, I’ve gone without. California’s Central Valley can get pretty hot, though.

We managed to avoid the worst of the heat until our final day on our trip home.  Leaving Chico it was 95* and climbing, but none of us was prepared for the thermometer to top out at 109* driving through Redding. It was unbearable. The windows were down, we were all drinking cold water and trying not to move or speak. I was solely focused on getting up and over the Siskiyou Pass, back into Oregon and out of this 10th Circle of Hell.

When we finally cruised down the pass and into the bucolic town of Ashland, the temperature had dropped 25 degrees. We all breathed a sigh of relief, and when Joe said, “I need a beer”, I think even the baby said. “Hear. Hear!”

We headed straight for the newly-opened Caldera Tap House in downtown Ashland.IMG_3318

Although there are no minors allowed inside, we were more than welcomed to take a seat on their beautiful deck above Lithia creek. It was a great choice. Misters were coating us with a layer of moisture which, combined with the breeze, quickly cooled us (and our attitudes) down.

Jim Mills, the Tap House founder was so nice. He commiserated with us about the heat in Redding (he was stuck there once for a couple of days after his car had broken down). He IMG_3322quickly brought Joe and me a couple of frosty pints. I had the Amber and Joe, the IPA.  He even offered books and games for the kids.

Joining us on the patio were a small group of musicians in t-shirts and shorts tuning instruments and sipping beer. We figured that they were that evening’s live act warming up, but the group grew quickly to fill half the deck. Picking on banjos, strumming guitars and mandolins and pulling the bows of their fiddles, the group treated us all to an amazing Bluegrass concert. Jim told us later that they are a group of faculty from the music department of Southern Oregon University that meet-up to play, drink and eat on Saturdays.

Our bellies were full from a hearty and satisfying chicken club (grilled chicken breast, blue cheese and bacon on focaccia) accompanied by crispy, perfectly-salted french fries and award-winning beers. The girls shared nachos and a cheeseburger. They were giving thumbs up.

We were in Heaven.IMG_3316

We certainly didn’t want to leave. My practical side took over after seriously considering staying in Ashland for the night. I think if the kids had begged, I would’ve caved. However, it had been a long trip, and it was time to head home to Portland.

We will be back, however. That’s for sure.

Caldera Tap House 31 Water Street, Ashland   (541) 482-HOPS

Happy (Family) Hour. Three Great Family-friendly Happy Hours in Portland.

You take your KIDS to the pub?

Was written on my Facebook wall after I posted a picture of us at the Lucky Lab, a few months ago. I felt like a bad mom for a millisecond, and then replied:

Yes. It’s Portland.

And it is. There are plenty of places in this town filled with kids sitting next to parents happy to be able to enjoy a cold pint. It’s one of the things I love about Portland: Family-friendly, Dog-friendly, Gay-friendly and Drink-friendly.  It’s also Happy Hour-friendly.

In these very tight economic times one of the few ways our family can afford to eat out is to enjoy Happy Hour’s discounted drinks and menu. We’ve been scouting out our favorites with the kids, and as soon as we can afford a babysitter we’ll scout out some choices for just us.

Here are three favorites:

the taproomMacTarnahan’s Taproom
2730 NW 31st
Portland Oregon, 97210

Telephone: (503) 228-5269

A bit out of the way tucked into the industrial section of NW, but we have yet to get there and find a crowd. From 3-6pm and from 9 – close,  $3.30 will buy you an Imperial Pint of any of their 12 beers on tap. Their Happy Hour food menu ranges in price from around $2 to $5 and choices include: garlic fries, Tap Room burger, fish tacos, pulled pork sliders and a hummus plate.  They also have a similarly-priced children’s menu, but my kids tend to go for the burger or the pulled pork (without the slaw). As an added bonus, on cold rainy days you can ask to sit by the large stone fireplace, and parking is NEVER a problem.

Laurelwood sets the standard for family-friendly eateries.

Laurelwood sets the standard for family-friendly eateries.

Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
5115 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97213

The most kid-friendly restaurant in Portland since PB and Ellie’s closed, Laurelwood’s two kid’s play areas, stacks of board games and coloring children’s menu make it a favorite  of my kids. Their Happy Hour menu offers $3 pints and $4 meals. They also have a hummus plate, burger and fish tacos which are good. My favorite on the menu is the chicken fingers (something I rarely eat out because they can be a disaster). These are delicious– crispy, juicy and flavorful. It’s obvious that they are made in-house by someone who likes fried chicken.  My kids like the Chicken Ceasar from the hh menu and the pizza from the children’s menu.

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro P.F. Chang's Home Page

Bridgeport Village 7463 SW Bridgeport Road Tigard, OR (503) 430-3020 Portland 1139 NW Couch St. I know. I know. It’s so corporate!  I have found it to be some of the best Chinese food in town which is a shame. We need a great  Chinese place here, but that’s a whole other post. In the meantime, from 3 – 6 pm PF Chang’s offers all of their starters for half-off. That means the lettuce wraps are only $4 and the potstickers are $3. Two orders of each with $3 green beans, and I’ve got a table full of happy campers. They do not offer drink specials, which is a bummer because their drinks can be pricey ($8 for a mediocre glass of wine), but they just introduced a children’s menu this summer. It’s somewhat limited, but also a great value and has pages for coloring.

I’ll post more soon– like the cheapest, strongest and tastiest lemon drop I’ve ever had. In the meantime, send me some of your favorites! I’d love to try them and post them.

Labor Day Picnic? Try a Slow Food USA Eat-In in Your Neighborhood.


Looking for something to do on Labor Day? Do something yummy and important. Attend a local Eat-In supporting The Time for Lunch Campaign.  Slow Food USA’s campaign to get healthy, nutritious local foods on the trays of our schoolkids  is asking you to join (or organize!) a local Eat-In to spread the word.

A SAn Francisco Eat-In 2008

A San Francisco Eat-In 2008

Several are taking place in the Portland Metro Area. Click on the map here to find one closest to you. Make your favorite healthy and delicious potluck dish, and join other slowfoodies in your neighborhood to support this important cause.

It’s time to provide our children with real food at school

This year, we have an opportunity we cannot pass up. In the fall, Congress will decide whether to update the Child Nutrition Act, which is the law that determines what 30 million children eat at school every day.

By giving schools the resources to serve real food, we can build a strong foundation for our children’s health. We can teach them healthy habits that will last them through life. We can make a down payment on health care reform. We can do all of this, but only if we help our legislators connect the dots.

If you can’t make it to one, still help out by signing  the online petition here.

You KNOW our school lunches can improve if even MY kids balk at them. They’d eat something out of the gutter, if it was shrink-wrapped and had a Kraft label on it. Let’s give kids the fresh delicious meals they need and deserve. And thanks Slow Food USA for continuing to fight the good fight.

Retro Cookbook of the Week: “Carefree Cooking with Aluminum Foil” by Reynolds Wrap

Carefree Cooking with Aluminum Foil

Carefree Cooking with Aluminum Foil

Here’s a favorite from my cookbook library: Carefree Cooking with Aluminum Foil. Published in 1975, it’s a treasure trove of handy information about, and creative uses for, (you guessed it) aluminum foil. It has a series of recipes with the classic 70s culinary monikers that we’ve grown to love: Tuna Tempties, Peanut and Deviled Ham Twisters and Swiss Bliss.

Check out the hot dog festival sticking out of the raw cauliflower.

Check out the hot dog festival sticking out of the raw cauliflower.

It also has all the fun things that were mandatory for any cookbook published between 1960 and 1980 including lots of recipes involving gelatin, condensed soup or maraschino cherries, as well as some of the goofiest food photography ever.

The best chapter though is titled Aluminum Foil Creations : Inspired ways to fold, mold and make top use of this household helper. It offers pages of instructions on how to origami your foil into a variety of shapes to use as pans, liners, tents, lids and even party decorations. Amazing!

The recipe I chose to make from the book employs one of these inspired ways of folding foil into a pie pan.

Hamburger Pizza.

  1. Mix your ingredients together for the hamburger “crust”. Place a square of Reynolds Wrap on a cookie sheet. Pat out the hamburger mixture into a 10” circle ½ “ thick.
  2. Fold the foil up creating an impromptu aluminum pie pan filled with hamburger crust.
  3. Spread the remaining Condensed Cream of Tomato Soup (which we couldn’t find and substituted Condensed Tomato Bisque).
  4. Top with Mozzarella (and although the recipe doesn’t call for it, there were mushrooms in the picture) and sliced mushrooms.
  5. Bake for 15 min at 450*.


Our hamburger pizza.

Our hamburger pizza.

Actually, it was pretty darn good! The kids, Joe and I wolfed that thing down. I think it helped that I used high-quality whole milk mozzarella that was thinly sliced at the deli, and we were hungry. However, the dish was good and held its shape. Basically it was a meat pizza without the pizza crust—an Atkins lover’s dream.

Thanks Reynolds Wrap!

Next recipe I would like to try: Flemish Beer-and-Beef Casserole

Recipe I will not be trying: Frozen Jellied Turkey-Vegetable Salad

Hamburger Pizza  Servings 6: 439 cal, 30 g Fat, 978 mg. Sodium


Portland’s Best Tacos: Por Que No vs. Chilango’s for Tinga

Best Tacos Tinga in Portland? The Food Bloggers Weigh In.

One of the great things about eating in Portland is there are so many blogs and forums that opine on every morsel on every menu at every eatery in town. And although it can be a bit overkill at times, it is comforting to know that those dedicated bloggers have pretty much sussed out what’s good and what’s not.

Portland Food Dude’s motto: Throwing ourselves on the grenade of bad food to save you.


One of my favorite strolls is through the Historic Mississippi District. There is much wonderful shopping, sipping and good food. ¿Por qué No? is no exception. On Food Dude’s recommendation, I ordered two tacos tinga and one carnitas for good measure. Delish! The tinga was really a stand out.

Tinga is a dish from Puebla, Mexico. Often with pork, it can be made with chicken or beef (as is PQN’s). Shredded meat is soaked in a sauce of tomatoes, onions and chipotles en adobado, served in tacos, gorditas, and tostadasand generally topped simply with crema and cheese or fresh chopped onion.

A few weeks ago after wiping tinga sauce from my face, hands and shirt, I Twittered my appreciation for these tasty tacos. Not long after, I received a reply from another local food blogger, writer and restaurateur Extramsg who suggested I try Chilango’s –the sauce has a more complex and smoky flavor.

Off to Chilango’s for Tacos Tinga

Sounded like a perfect Mother’s Day plan to me: after my obligatory (and lovely) breakfast in bed and opening of the gifts, I load my crew into the car and  off to Chilango’s. I wanted to start there with my fresh palate, then head over to Mississippi (with the hidden agenda of finishing off the taco comparo with a dutch taco for dessert at Flavour Spot).


Extramsg had mentioned about it being a little “divey” — Chilango’s that is.  I was prepared for the worst but was pleasantly surprised.  It was very clean. It wasn’t a restaurant or a dive per se. It’s a sparsely-stocked Mexican grocery store with a taco counter and indoor tables, but definitely lacking ambience.

Dining area.

Dining area.

Joe and I ordered one tinga and one carnitas taco. They were each amazing.

Tinga taco (left) and Carnitas Taco

Tinga taco (left) and Carnitas Taco

Extramsg was right– the tinga was smokier and more complex. It was definitely more on the chipotle end of the spectrum as opposed to the tomato end and with that came a lot of heat. I’m embarrassingly a spice wimp, so I immediately began to turn red, sweat and cry.

Spice wimp,

Spice wimp,

Those endorphins were flying and my mouth was burning, but the taco was so good. It was simply garnished with cilantro and fresh white onion, and I couldn’t put it down. It was at about this time that I was wishing I had something a little stronger to wash it down with than my Mexican Coke, but alas, no alcohol. ¡Que lastima!

The carnitas did not disappoint either. The perfectly-spiced pork was crispy from braising in its own fat, just the way I like it. Lightly adorned with salsa roja, onion, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime, it was fantastic. Cradled in freshly made corn tortillas, these were the best soft tacos that I’ve had north of East L.A. I was happy.

Next stop: ¿Por qué No?

Por Que No

Por Que No

At first, I was feeling annoyed – long line, hungry people, small space, fussy seating situation, impatient children (mine). I was even contemplating leaving. But the line moved quickly and once I sat down and took that first cold, strong sip of my margarita the annoyance magically dissipated. I surrendered to the kitschy decor and reggae music, leaned back in my chair and enjoyed the moment.

Or two.

Or two.

Not long after, the tacos arrived. The first thing I noticed was the abundance of queso fresco. Chilango’s did not add cheese, and suddenly the cheese seemed out of place here.

Tinga and Carnitas

Tinga and Carnitas

It’s funny how it had not even noticed it before.  I ate every bite, and the creamy saltiness of the cheese was a delicious counterpart to the hot filling. The meats were considerably saucier than Chilango’s,  but delicious. Although my tear ducts did not miss the spiciness of Chilango’s tinga, I found myself pining for the drier crispiness of their carnitas.

In the end we decided that they are both delicious. Chilango’s edged out PQN in authenticity, but we agreed that dining experience was much better as a whole where we were. We lingered there for awhile, enjoying our drinks and taco comas.

Girls enjoying taquitos in the window.

Girls enjoying taquitos in the window.

Maybe too long, though.



By the time we strolled down the street, Flavour Spot had closed. We stood there disappointed, with our faces pushed up against the locked chain link gate. The kids were mad. I was bummed.

There would be no Dutch Taco for us on this almost perfect Mother’s Day.

We’ll have to save it for another blog.

Chilangos Taqueria Y Tienda Mexicana, 1473 NE Prescott St  (866) 224-8815

Por Que No, 3524 N Mississippi Av (503) 467-4149‎  –and–  4635 SE Hawthorne (503) 954-3138