I LOVE that I can get these for $10 at the Farmer's Market. Even the $5 bunch is beautiful but I splurged this week in celebration of Fiona's birthday. There are several vendors there, so the choices are plentiful...the Fall colors in this one made me happy :). Wednesdays and Saturdays in Salem we get to enjoy this market filled with local produce, honeys, jams, goodies, baked goods and other useless things to spend money on. So I try not to go hungry or in the mood to shop. Even cooler, I can get much of this produce sprinkled around town on any given day on the side of the road. And I don't mean ghetto style... you LA people know what I mean!

Berry season has come to an end, much to my dismay :( We haven't had blueberries in our yard for about a month but the local farms still had delicious berries until recently. I actually did not have any clue how unbelievable the Oregon berries were until I picked my first strawberry in early June, then continued to pick whatever delicious berry was ripe each week all summer long!

Some things to share about berries (especially OREGON berries):

- They are BETTER than the ones that grow in So Cal!
-There are a gazillion varieties, including some I have never even heard of (like a tayberry - mix between loganberry and black raspberry
-Marionberries were developed right here in Marion County (where I live)
-Strawberries are my favorite - they are red all the way through and taste like sugar...but they are back breaking to pick because the bush is low to the ground.  So I pick like it's my job when I go for strawberries to try and save my back!
-Most of the other berries you can pick leisurely since they are at picking level, but some have big thorns!  OUCH!
-Everyone eats as they pick, even though you pay by the pound.  Nobody seems to mind.  And all kids leave berry stained just like mine in this pic.  

So, there will be no more berry picking until next summer, but I'm sure I will be writing about apple orchards and pumpkin patches soon.  I love Fall, so I am excited!!  In the meantime, my freezer is packed with beautiful berries ready for jam making, cobbler baking, and whatever other comfort food I am inspired to try once we nestle in for the winter.  

Who knew getting a car registered in Oregon could be so complicated! Why didn't anyone warn me about this one? California is a "paperless" state so the CA DMV had to produce a hard copy of my title to get to the lien holder who somehow miraculously took my package (including the check to DMV I wrote months ago) and sent it all to Oregon DMV to eventually get me to the point where I have PLATES! Whew!!! Run on sentence but that's how it felt. So, I guess that makes me official...only 3 months later.


When we moved in May, my BFF gave me this gift. Sure, it's a stylish frame and looks great on my dresser, but more importantly it is my reminder not to fret when I want to be surrounded by those who love me most. How blessed was I to have that for so many years when some people have never had it for even one day? Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for the constant reminder. :)

This was the response from some of my SoCal friends when I posted about it on FB.  Well, I did know what it was and had even eaten it in pie, but I had never seen it growing or attempted to cook with it... until I discovered there was TONS of it growing in my yard!   It looks kind of like huge celery, but has a reddish color to it–actually mine isn't very red.  I discovered the color doesn't change the flavor at all.  In fact, some of the rhubarb you buy in the store is actually dyed red (gasp!!).  Rhubarb is extremely tart, so pairs well with lots of sugar and also other sweet fruits, like strawberries.  That's what's so interesting about it's flavor... it creates a sweet and sour combo that is delicious!  

My favorite use for rhubarb is to bake a crisp (recipe and pictures below).  It is simple and each time I make it, it is quickly devoured.  It can be made in advance, but is best hot so reheat it for about 10 minutes before serving.

Today I picked a lot of rhubarb.  I almost always harvest more than I need whether in my garden or when I head out to the local farms.  I chopped it all, and flash-froze what I didn't need for the crisp I was making today (thus the large trays pictured above).  Then, I dove into my freezer to "harvest" the fresh local strawberries I flash-froze earlier in the summer. 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup quick cook oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 butter, melted
  • 3 cups rhubarb, diced
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Stir together flour, oatmeal, cinnamon and brown sugar.  Add butter and mix until crumbly.  Place 2/3 of mixture into a 9x13 pan (greased).  Add rhubarb and strawberries to top of crumbs.  In a sauce pan, cook together sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla until clear and thick.  Poor over rhubarb and sprinkle remaining crumbs on top.

Bake at 325 for one hour.




1 Comment

I never thought I would be making jam, and I certainly didn't think I would be driving to farms to pick the fruit  in order to do so!  But, when in Rome...

Soon after we arrived in Salem, we were invited on a strawberry picking play date, then a few weeks later a jam making play date, and I have to say I have been hooked ever since.  Making jam is not hard, but there are many steps, tricks and tools which make it possible, so getting a hands on tutorial was SO helpful...in fact just reading about it probably would have been too overwhelming for this novice!  So far I have made basic flavors: peach, strawberry and raspberry using recipes from the Sure Jell website - www.surejell.com (that is the brand of pectin I buy, specifically the MCP variety). 
Next I will experiment with gourmet flavors and fun combinations so fingers are crossed that I have some success with that!  In the meantime, I have some lovely hostess gifts just waiting for the party!

One of the things which drew us to Oregon initially was its beauty. It's lush green landscape is enchanting and is still completely novel to me (coming from Los Angeles). Silver Falls State Park is about 45 minutes from our home and features 15 waterfalls. To say that it is breathtaking is an understatement. I wish my pictures did it more justice. You can hike right behind some of the waterfalls, and are completely surrounded by unspeakable beauty.   So good for the soul!
You make stuffed zucchini! When my mom was here she gave me this recipe (verbally, and it's more like a concept with lots of wiggle room depending on what you like and have on hand).

What you need for 4 servings:
  • Large zucchini: cut lengthwise then somewhat hollowed out to make room for stuffing. I used one huge one but with store bough it would probably take about 4. You may need to flatten out bottom a bit too.
  • About 1/2 lb Ground meat: any kind you like. I used ground chicken seasoned with a delicious season salt my mom gave me. You could season with salt and pepper, garlic or whatever you like. 
  • About 2 cups of rice, cooked
  • Vegetables (I used one large tomato, about 10 basil leaves and about 10 chives- all from my garden)
  • About 1/3 cup pecorino Romano cheese

Mix all ingredients, except cheese, in a bowl. Fill zucchini with mixture then sprinkle cheese on top. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 for about half an hour removing the foil for the last 10 minutes. Test zucchini with a fork and if its not soft, put it back in oven.


While moving to a new place is fun and exciting, leaving your family is tough to say the least. I count down the days until we will be going home or someone will visit is. There is great anticipation, lots of preparation and planning and butterflies in my stomach the days leading up to these events. My family (Mom, Dad, sister Sarah and niece Alyssa) left this morning after a wonderful 5 days of making memories together in our new home. Fiona had unlimited play time with her cousin (and BFF) Alyssa, and we all traveled in and around Salem just loving being together. After they drove away I sat at the breakfast table with Fiona, sobbing. She didn't quite know what to make of it and wanted to know if I was going to be ok. One thing I told her was that Grandma Barbi is my mommy... "Think about how much you miss me when I'm not with you," I said. Then she said, "You can cry as long as you need to, Mommy." I guess needing your mommy never changes...

Having afternoon tea is one of my favorite things to do with the girls. I found a lovely place here called Marco Polo which serves various teas between 3 and 5 courses, so Fiona and I went with our visiting family today. We loved the scones, and were reminded how very spoiled we (well now, they) are in Pasadena with so many great options for tea. Nonetheless, it was a perfect thing to do today... Just the girls!