♦ Out of Our Minds

Dear Shaina,

My life is a blur! A month in Portland setting up a teeny condo in a 100 year old building, that we arrived at sight unseen, with a key, two suitcases full of dishes and an air mattress, a few towels, sheets and some forks (I forgot to pack the knives and spoons).


Late night arrival

Are we out of our minds? As dad says, “Taking risks and acting foolish are for the young…and the old!” We have arrived! Dad’s new guiding principle is “time competence”. Using your time competently translates into “do the things you want to do now”! There just isn’t enough time left to be wasteful of this precious commodity.


The air mattress from hell!

So, we did it! After a couple of rough nights on the air mattress, multiple visits to the thrift store, furniture stores and hours and days spent navigating the IKEA maze, we began to settle in. A comfy mattress arrived, a chair and table were picked up at the thrift store, a Murphy bed was ordered, the IKEA team delivered a truckload and in a blink of an eye we had a bed, night tables, quilts, pillows, a coffee table and lots of other goodies.


Our first chair…from the thrift store.

We worked tirelessly cleaning, putting together, hanging, organizing and walking back and forth to the hardware store enough times to become familiar faces. Our neighborhood offered us access to everything we needed on foot…a coffee shop across the street with wifi, numerous restaurants, bars and grocery stores, nail places, a barber shop, beauty salons, an independent movie theater, yoga studios, spas, a library, even a shoe repair place, and three synagogues all within blocks of our condo. We set out to explore all the neighborhood offerings and barely touched the surface. It was exciting and energizing and pleasantly exhausting.

Rainbows and raindrops

Portland’s charm…raindrops and rainbows

Then we took a break…Dad off to Park City with the boys and me off to Berkeley with my girl. It was a first for us in some ways; the first time I stayed in your home, the first time I slept in your bed with you, the first time you orchestrated a mini-vacation for me. We went to a yoga class, saw a movie, sat in on one of your classes and “played” mahjong with your friends. I walked your neighborhood and shopped your grocery stores. I stepped into the routine of your life for a few days in the midst of my own chaotic escapade. I slept really well in your bed! Thank you!

There is something to be said about embarking on a new adventure…at any age. I got unstuck. I see new possibilities and options and opportunities. Living in a small space wasn’t confining. Using my feet to run errands, buy groceries, get my haircut, pick up a prescription or go to a yoga class made me feel more connected to my life and the people that I encountered along the way. I love the way Portland lives!

Feeling like home.

Feeling like home.

We are back in Bham and comfortably slipping into our usual routines. I love the spaciousness of our home and the closeness of family and good friends. Getting into the car to go wherever you want has its advantages. Shabbat dinners, Monday mahjong, Tuesday and Thursday minyan/walking group, Book Club, yoga and all the rest live fully in my Bham life. I am grateful to have so many options and to know that there is a lot of life to be enjoyed wherever I am.

Riced Cauliflower with Mushrooms and Herbs

Although I did entertain a few times in Portland (mostly wine and Trader Joes hors d’oeuvres), I never really cooked a full meal. That changed once we got back to Bham and Shabbat offered the opportunity to reunite with family and friends. I wanted to do something simple, but tasty and healthy. I had heard about substituting cauliflower for rice, but wasn’t sure exactly how that would work. I tried it and loved it! It is healthy and will work in any recipe that calls for rice. I happened to have some portobello mushrooms, so this recipe evolved from there.

IMG_7534 (1)

The “rice” can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you need it.

Riced Cauliflower with Mushrooms and Herbs

  • 1 whole cauliflower
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 12 ounces portobello mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 green onions, cut uo in 1/4” pieces
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews (optional)

Wash and core cauliflower and break up into large chunks no bigger than 2-3”. Fill food processor no more than 3/4 full with cauliflower chunks. Pulse processing blade to chop cauliflower into rice sized pieces. Set aside or store in the refrigerator in a covered bowl until ready to use.

Chop the onion into small pieces and drop into a large preheated sauté pan. Sear the onions over medium heat until the moisture from the onions cooks off. Add one tablespoon of oil and the garlic to the onions and continuing sautéing until they are cooked, but not overdone. Remove form the pan and set aside.

Cut up or chop the portobello mushrooms into small pieces and drop into the heated sauté pan and cook until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and mix together with onions and garlic.


Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the “riced” cauliflower. Cook over medium flame, stirring frequently until tender, but a little chewy, about 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in mushroom and onion mixture and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes. Add chopped green onions, fresh herbs to taste and mix together. Garnish with roasted cashews if desired.

Serve heated or at room temperature.

This dish tastes even better the next day after all the flavors have come together.IMG_7515

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