Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon

Paul, Cindy and I drove to the coast today. It was a rainy start but cleared up soon and turned out to be a sunny but cold and windy day. Our first stop was Astoria where we stopped at the Maritime Museum then had lunch at Baked Alaska. We regretted that we did not have time to do and see everything. They loved Astoria and hope to return on a future trip and spend a night and an entire day here.

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon  

Astoria, Oregon
The maritime museum was fascinating and I feel like I learned quite a bit about the shipping trade as well as the geographical features of the Columbia River. I especially enjoyed reading about the trade routes and the items that we ship (and receive) to and from other countries. There was so much to see and read about here that we simply did not have time to view it all. Oh, and the gift shop was pretty fabulous too!

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon

We had lunch here at the Baked Alaska restaurant.
The view from our table.

I had fish and chips and actual Baked Alaska for dessert!

We then drove on to Cannon Beach (I will post those in a separate post).

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Revisiting Mt. Hood


I visited Mt. Hood back in late August - what a difference it is now! There was barely any snow and now it is piled thick along the sides of the winding road leading up the mountain to Timberland Lodge and dripping from the forests of massive conifers. It is so beautiful.

Our friends Paul and Cindy are visiting from Alabama and we drove up there today before another storm hits tonight. We enjoyed some delicious corn chowder inside the cozy Timberland Lodge and had a magnificent view of Mt. Hood outside the window.



There were many skiers out enjoying the day.

It was cozy and warm inside the lodge with blazing fires going and Christmas lights twinkling.

The view outside our dining room window


A view outside the window of a stairwell.


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Slow cooker cornbread dressing

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is rainy, dark and a bit dreary which I think is perfect weather for a holiday. I love the coziness it gives when you are all warm and cozy inside the house.

I am re-posting my Slow Cooker Cornbread Dressing recipe which I just got in the crock pot.

Slow Cooker Cornbread Dressing

6 cups prepared cornbread (Michael made me some cornbread the previous night. You can also use Jiffy mix cornbread but I suspect it would not be as tasty).
8 slices of day-old bread (I just used regular loaf bread)
4 eggs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp of poultry seasoning or Sage (I used a combination of both)
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 10 1/2-oz. cans of cream of chicken soup
2 10 1/2-oz cans of chicken broth
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Lay your bread out on the counter the night before you prepare the dressing so that it will dry. Crumble the breads in a large bowl.
Add all other ingredients except butter.
Stir the mixture with a large spoon and transfer to the crock pot that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Dot with butter. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours OR low for 4 hours.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Danish Apple Cake

The baking group I participate in (The Cake Slice Bakers) starts baking from a new book this month. "World Class Cakes" by Roger Pizey features recipes from around the world. The group's previous book was by Maida Heatter and I have been baking from her books for years (see my blog Mad About Maida). I learned quite a lot from Ms. Heatter but it is good to try my hand at some other recipes.

This month's selection of four recipes included
Chocolate and Rum Canneles (I didn't have the pans to make that), Maple Syrup and Pecan layer Cake (tempting) and Bee Sting Cake (I almost selected it). I opted instead for the Danish Apple Cake. This is a popular cake in Denmark.

The cake was fairly simple with just a few ingredients. It is made in a spring form pan. The batter was very thick and you press apple slices in the top (I used Granny Smith apples).

A sprinkling of brown sugar goes on top before baking.

The cake turned out nicely but was slightly underdone in the middle. The instructions say 35 minutes. I used my 8" inch spring form pan and am wondering if I should have tried the larger pan and it would have been thinner. I would add 5 or 10 minutes to the baking next time. I am still trying to get used to our gas oven! 

The cake is delicious and very pretty. I would definitely make it again. I am looking forward to trying more recipes from this book.

Danish Apple Cake
(from World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey, Race Point Publishing, 2013)

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar (I used regular sugar and ground it in a chopper)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour, sifted
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 apples, peeled and cored and cut into 1/2 in. wedges
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line bottom of an 8-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well combined.

Add the sifted flour a little at a time on low speed. Fold in the raisins and then spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan. Press the apple wedges around the top of the cake, pushing them gently into the batter.

Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack in the pan, then remove the sides and parchment (or the parchment can be left if too difficult to move safely).

See what other Cake Slice bloggers have baked this month.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Winter approaching...


The last of the leaves are falling and the days are getting noticeably colder. It is rainy again (hooray!) and I am so happy to see the grass green again. It saddens me to hear about the drought in Alabama. I know I would be a basket case if I were there. I do hope they can get some rain soon. The excessive moisture here is bringing back the moss on our driveway and mushrooms are popping up all over the lawn.

I have been working my butt off at Target (literally - I have lost over 5 pounds!) but I am loving the job. It is hellacous on my poor feet but a lot of fun and my co-workers are some of the nicest people I have ever met. In the meantime, when I do have time off, I have been trying to get all of my new plants in the ground.

I am finally getting the front border filled in. I know it doesn't look like there are many plants here but I am actually already running out of space. I have been concentrating on the area outside of the fence. I intend to use drought-tolerant and low-growing plants along the street. I attended a lecture at Joy Creek Nursery a few weeks ago on this very topic and it was very informative.


Juniper 'Daube's Frosted' is one of the plants I am using to anchor the sides of the fence.

A view of the side garden, next to the driveway.

The plantings along the front foundation are coming along nicely. I wanted a tall, narrow camellia to help cover a broad expanse of brick on the wall. I have been researching camellias for the past several months and of course, I finally ended up choosing one that was not even on my list. 'Nuccio's Bella Rossa' is a beautiful red-flowered variety. I had my heart set on red but how it will look against this brick remains to be seen. But exactly what colors look good next to this brick? I haven't a clue!

If color clashes become inevitable, my reasoning is I will do what I have already done with about half of the things I planted back in the spring - move them to another location.

I have long lusted after this spruce (Picea 'Skylands') for a long time. I planted it on the inside corner of the fence.

There is a Home Depot across from Target and I sometimes stop by there to check out their bargains. I got this Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' and finally got it in the ground. I think it so pretty covered in raindrops.

This is one of my favorite plants in the garden. I can see this outside our front window and it brings me immense pleasure. It also pains me that I do not have the name - all I know is that it is a dwarf pine. I got it from a nursery that did not have their plants labeled. :(

We have so enjoyed watching the hummingbirds on the back deck flitting around the cupheas. This is the only one I have in the ground and I am wondering if I need to dig it up and bring it inside during the winter. Any suggestions?

I am excited about all of my plants but particularly the California Lilac (Ceonothus). This is the one of the first plants that I saw when first visiting Portland a few years ago. They are so beautiful. This variety is 'Julia Phelps'.

Arbutus (Strawberry Tree)

And finally, the last of the roses. This is 'Tahitian Sunset'. It has several blooms right now and I cut a few and brought them in today. I actually transplanted this rose a few weeks ago (I know this is not the best time) and it seems to have not minded at all.
The first rose I planted this year in the new garden 'Lady of Shallot'.
And a note: I am highly po'd at Blogger which managed to loose my list of favorite blogs. I kept thinking the silly thing would reappear but it appears that it is gone forever. So, I will have to update it from memory. This might take a while because my memory is not the best. And no, this wasn't my fault. It happened to a lot of other bloggers and some of them had theirs to reappear. No luck here!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy