♦ Looking from Oregon

Dear Shaina,

If I didn’t know you, I’d be worried about the depth of your angst and be calling in the white coats…or at least making a parental comfort visit so I could actually touch, taste and experience the texture of this particular life crisis in order to “fix” it … Or more accurately, comfort myself.

Jump To Recipe

But I do know you, as much as a mother can know her 24 year old daughter, and I know you come by your angst honestly (it’s in the genes) and studiously.  Although, I hate to see you struggle in any kind of way, I know that you are living your life consciously.  Questioning your path doesn’t always make for an easy road, but you are much more likely to find and pursue your personal “hits” if you go through life  looking.

As Dad and I enjoy the Oregon sunsets on this beautiful coast and explore our own next steps, it is with no small amount of empathy that I feel your pain …and possibilities.  Birmingham has been my home for the past 30 years, the longest I have ever lived anywhere.  The life I sought in my 20’s became my reality in Birmingham… rich with family, friends, career and community. But there are still those moments when I wonder, is there yet a new dream for me to pursue?

Dad and I try on new places and examine the “fit”.  There are so many different styles out there and I’ll admit that a more urban, diverse, liberal and walking-friendly environment is calling.

It is hard to let go of the comfort, beauty and familiarity of Birmingham and I don’t know if I have the guts to just walk away from my life to start a new one.  I do know that all any of us have is the present moment and Dad and I are living that cliche to the hilt.

In the meantime, the owners of the beach cottage we are renting in Oregon live next door in the “big house.” In addition to getting some great design ideas from them, we have shared some extended evenings enjoying wine and food. It’s refreshing to know that we are still capable of making new friends (we hope they’ll visit B’ham and maybe even make it down to our beaches) …and I learned a couple new cooking tips.

David, the owner, happened to be marinating a piece of flat iron steak in our refrigerator (so he had to invite us to share dinner with him and Doug). After poking holes in it with a fork and rubbing it with a variety of herbs, spices and marinades, he left it uncovered in the refrigerator for two days and only had me turn it once.

I’m used to soaking my meat in lots of liquid marinade in a tightly covered container and having it slosh around for a few hours or overnight.  This meat was amazing…tender, tasty and moist!  I don’t know what the trick is, but I am never soaking my meat again.  He said it works great with chicken, too.

Don’t despair, Shaina. I wont go on and on about the meat.  Most of the meal was veggie anyway and just the best!

I went to Sunday Market in Astoria and couldn’t control myself… Every color of heirloom tomato, green zucchini, right from-the-dirt bright orange baby carrots, purple peppers, red beets, yellow beets, fresh cut basil, all different colored fingerling potatoes, long thin purple Asian eggplants, sweet walla walla onions, biting fresh arugula, yellow lemon cucumbers and fresh green pickling ones, too…

We managed to do it all…grilling the zucchini, eggplant, pepper and onions and roasting the potatoes, beets and carrots. All were tossed lightly in some olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and a little fresh garlic and basil. By the way, my roasting expertise has to do with having a really good oven that has a convection bake setting and gets really hot (you need at least a true 400 degrees in a regular bake setting).  You probably don’t have either in your not-quite-yet-gourmet kitchen.

On to Portland today for the urban leg of our trip.  Ten more days of city life!  I can’t wait to try your green potato salad when we get home.  I never thought of making all that fresh mint we have growing everywhere into a pesto.  It sounds delicious.  In the meantime, we sure are enjoying the wine in Oregon!


Mom xoxoxoxooxoxoxox

David wanted to try a new recipe (I think he made it up) and I know that not only will you love it… It will bring back some fond childhood food memories!

David’s Burnt Butter Tomatoes:

  • 5 tomatoes
  • 4 tbs butter
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper

Slice fresh tomatoes (any varieties) about a 1/4 inch thick and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Meanwhile, put 4 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan over medium heat (adjust amount of butter based on how many tomatoes you have and how much you love browned butter).Heat until butter just turns brown and starts to smoke a little. Take off the heat immediately before it turns black. Pour hot browned butter over fresh salted tomatoes and enjoy immediately.

They were GOOD!

David’s Spicy Salad Dressing:

  • Olive Oil
  • Orange Champagne Vinegar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Diced jalapeno
  • Lemon grass paste
  • Finely diced fresh basil
  • Fresh Lemon juice
  • Garlic

Combine equal parts of oil and vinegar. Blend in remaining ingredients to taste.

Dressing is great over arugula salad:

  • Fresh arugula
  • Lemon cucumbers sliced
  • Pickling cucumbers sliced
  • Fresh basil chopped
  • Parmesan Cheese grated

David’s Flat Iron Beef Rub:

  • Fresh garlic paste
  • Sweet chili paste
  • Hot paprika
  • Smoked chili flakes
  • Kosher Salt
  • Tomato paste
  • Ginger finely diced
  • Cracked pepper
  • Diced thyme, rosemary, and sage

Rub all ingredients on both sides, fork to tenderize, and dry uncovered in fridge for 24 hours with a flip mid way. Grill til desired doneness.

Leftovers folded into an omelet were great the morning after

5 thoughts on “♦ Looking from Oregon

  1. The scientific definition of “cross-counter exchange is “Counter-current flow between two fluids gives off greater exchange than fluids flowing in a parallel direction”. I have witnessed the countercurrent flow between you two for 24 years and the productiveness of that flow, while not always pleasant to witness, is a great metaphor for the title of this blog.

  2. Esther, you and Allen have single handedly elevated my view of Alabama and I believe we have both challenged/pushed each other toward areas of growth and possibilities in our lives. Doug and I are truly grateful for the time we shared on the coast and in Portland. We will very likely take you up on your offer to visit your home and the gulf coast.

    As you continue to enjoy your adventure in Portland, I would like to encourage you in the process of stepping out and living life “in the moment”. You have made new friends in Doug and I and I can assure you that many more will come wherever you decide to land. Hearing about your life, your family, and your love of food was inspiring for me and it was such a pleasure to have such a compatible cooking partner in the kitchen. When we poured the scorched butter over fresh tomatoes and heard that sizzle, I knew it was going to be a hit! Frankly I think the tomatoes were even more exquisite in their reincarnated omelet form the next day.

    We look forward to seeing you again and I am excited to see what new culinary/life adventures you and Shaina share.

  3. Pingback: Passover Ideas From Both of Us | cross counter exchange

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