Saturday, August 27, 2016

Visiting Mt. Hood

A highlight of any day here is catching a glimpse of Mt. Hood in the distance. It is easy to see from various locations, including on my way to work. The thing is you can't always see it because of clouds or hazy days. But when you can, wow! It is especially beautiful with the evening sun illuminating it.

The drive to see it up close is about 90 minutes away. A few days ago, I finally visited it with Rebecca, McKenzie and Rebecca's father, who is visiting from Alabama. It was a hot day but as we approached the mountain, the temperature started falling rapidly. We could see the indicator changing inside our car as we drove up the mountain.

Much of the snow had melted. Rebecca said that it was way down on the slope the last time she saw it, which was earlier in the year. I have to confess that it does not look as imposing up close as it does from home.

The opposite view captures a glimpse of another volcano. I do not know the name of this one.

The trees were spectacular!

Timberline Lodge is located at the base of the Mt. Hood. It was built during the Depression. You can see aerial shots of it in the opening credits in "The Shining".

The interior lobby. I would love to stay a night here. I hear they have fireplaces in the rooms!
A staircase and walls with elaborate carvings.
McKenzie standing next to one of the front doors.

I am looking forward to seeing it again in the winter. Also on my list is Mt. St. Helens, which is also easily seen from Vancouver.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Baked Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip

Our one zucchini plant has been quite productive! Even if wasn't giving us anything food-wise, the plant itself is quite attractive, don't you think?

We have been gathering around 3-4 zucchinis per day. This adds up quickly so I have been in search of recipes. I got a lot of good suggestions from my Facebook friends and I am gathering those for the future.

I found the following recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. They were delicious. The dip itself is soooooooo good - it could be used as a salad dressing. It was a tad sweet so the next time I make these, I will cut the honey down a bit. DO caramelize your onions at very low heat - it will take 15 minutes or more. Your kitchen will smell like a restaurant!

Baked Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, about 1/2 pound, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

Zucchini sticks

  • 3 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 3"-long stick
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse, dry bread crumbs (e.g., panko)*
  • scant 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Pizza Seasoning or mixed Italian herbs
  • olive oil spray
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute; or 2 large eggs; or 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • *For a gluten-free version of this recipe, use gluten-free bread crumbs.


  1. To make the dip: Melt the butter in a medium frying pan over moderate heat, and add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, then caramelize. This should take between 10 and 15 minutes. The lower the heat, the longer it takes, but the less likely you are to burn the onions.
  2. Once the onions are a medium brown, remove from the heat and add the vinegar.
  3. Place the onions and vinegar into a small food processor. Add the honey and mustard, and process or blend until smooth.
  4. Add the mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
  5. To make the zucchini sticks: Place the zucchini sticks in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the tablespoon of salt. Let the zucchini drain for 1 hour or longer; rinse and pat dry.
  6. Combine the Panko, Parmesan, and pizza seasoning; set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and spray the parchment with olive oil.
  8. Dredge sticks a few at a time in the egg, then roll in the crumb mixture. Place the sticks on the prepared baking sheet.
  9. Bake sticks for 12 minutes, turn over, and bake for an additional 8 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
  10. Serve immediately, with sweet onion dip.
  11. Yield: about 3 dozen zucchini sticks, and 1 1/2 cups dip.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Friday, August 5, 2016


I cannot believe it is already August. It has been quiet around here. It is also very dry - we have only had a brief sprinkle in mid-July and I cannot remember when the last rain was before that. That is normal as the dry season begins in July and goes through September. Therefore watering is an ongoing chore. 

I have been faithfully keeping the new plants, the pots and the vegetable garden watered but, like of a lot of other residents, I left the lawn to fend for itself.

That is - until yesterday. I got so tired of looking at the parched grass that I have decided to give it a sprinkle now and then. I could not stand looking at the desolate brown stuff any longer.

I was concerned about the trees that I have planted. They seem to be doing well. This is one of the two Japanese Maples planted next to the deck. They are not big enough yet to give us any significant shade but they have grown quite a bit since they were planted back in March.

The vegetable garden is wonderful - I still cannot believe sweet peas and nasturtiums are still growing in August! That amazes me. Still no red tomatoes but even Michael, as much as he loves them, says it is a small price to pay to have this cool weather. I do believe we will have some ripe ones soon. It got up near 90 last week for a few days but the nights are still rather cool and that affects them. The zucchini and cucumbers are producing nicely.
Abutilon (Flowering Maple) 'Variegated Salmon' in a pot on the deck.

Polyantha Rose 'Marie Pavie'

Huechera (Coral Bells) 'Plum Pudding'

We are having so much fun watching the birds. The hummingbirds are back in full force. The other birds love our shallow little birdbath in the border off the deck. We have to refill it several times a day. The birds actually wait in line to use it!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy