Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scenes from Washington County; Wine Tasting Weekend

14 years ago, when I first moved into Washington County, 3 miles west of our home was considered "the country". Today, the urban growth boundary has expanded onto the lush farmlands and idyllic country setting. Now when I drive 3 miles west, I see strip malls, track homes and wider roads.

I still enjoy heading out into Washington County from time to time. This time of year, the local farms have finished up harvest season, but it's Wine Harvest Weekend.

Once again, this year I wanted to enjoy the wonderful wineries that are located in Washington/Yamhill County.

First Stop: Raptor Ridge, which is located in the heart of the Chehalem Mountains in Scholls. Tasting Fee: $15, refundable with a $35 purchase. 6 distinct locally grown Pinot Noirs; lots of nice hors'douvres in a modern and stylish tasting room.

Stop # 2: Anderson Family Vineyards, which is located in the heart of the Dundee Hills. $10 tasting fee. Beautiful views with tasting room high on hillside. 6 wonderful wines, two Pinot Gris (07 & 08), two Chardonnays (07 & 08) and two Pinot Noirs, although the whites were the stars. Wonderful hors'douvres including pate and sliced crusty bread.

Stop #3: Brick House Vineyards, which is surrounded by the fruit and hazelnut orchards above the Chehalem Valley. $10 tasting fee. Funky farmhouse setting and very, very crowded and not much parking. One Chardonnay, one Gamay and several Pinot Noirs. Absolutely NO cheese, crackers or bread!

Awesome day and best of all....SUNSHINE after three consecutive high wind, heavy rain storms.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We had an extra special treat this Uncle Steve took Amtrak up from Eugene and spent Thanksgiving weekend with us.

Steve and Sandra

This year I cooked a 15.80 pound turkey and all the trimmings!

Stacy and Sandra - Champagne Toast!

This year, our house was full of love and gratitude.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Last week of November

Welcome to another Monday! Don't look now, but there are only a few Mondays left in 2011 so let's make the most of them.

Is everyone tired of turkey? Not in our house, at least one more meal this week will be turkey related and then we can freeze the rest.

We dig out the Christmas stuff on Sunday and begin the Christmas season! Woo Hoo!


Sunday: Cheesy and Creamy Turkey Enchiladas; Rebecca Lane Christmas Tree Decoration Party
Monday: Green Curry Tilapia and Salmon Stew with Rice Noodles
Tuesday: Garden Burgers and Fries
Wednesday: Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs with Brown Rice and Sugar Snap Peas
Thursday: Grilled Sirloin Steaks with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Salad

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, 2011!

Blessings and gratitude to everyone! I graciously welcome you all into my home and my heart and I am so very honored to have you pay us a visit today, and everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Today...Chick, Brian, Uncle Steve and I will celebrate Thanksgiving at Rebecca Lane. I hope everyone out there finds time today to express appreciation for the friends and family in their lives and for the blessings we all experience everyday.

From our home to yours,


Q: Why do turkeys always go, "gobble, gobble"?
A: Because they never learned good table manners!
* * *
Q: What sound does a space turkey make?
A: Hubble, Hubble, Hubble.
* * *
Q: Who is not hungry at Thanksgiving?
A: The turkey because he's already stuffed!
* * *
Q: What sound does a turkey's phone make?
A: Wing! Wing!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wild @ Wild Wings

Last week my Pop came up from Springfield and we all went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner.

Finger lickin' good! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Week, Everyone! How can such a wonderful "foodie" holiday be just one day???

Aside from Thursday's big event which will be traditional this year as it is every year, not much else is being cooked from scratch this week.

Monday, I'll pick up our pre-ordered organic and free range tom turkey and Tuesday night I'll grocery shop. On Wednesday, our office closes at noon so that I can get home to bake pies and prep-cook.

Here is our Thursday Menu....


Marcona Almonds

Aged Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Crackers

Onion Dip with Veggies

Champagne Mimosas


Roast Turkey & Gravy

Mashed Potatoes

Traditional Herbed Stuffing

Brussels Sprouts with Marjoram and Pine Nuts

Buttery Peas

Relish Tray with Deviled Eggs and Black Olives

Cranberry Sauce

Parkerhouse Rolls


Pumpkin Pie


Friday, November 18, 2011

Old Photo Friday: A Belated Veteran's Day Salute

WHO: Allen K. Lee (Brian's dad)
WHAT: Army photo
WHERE: Perhaps Korea
WHEN: Early 1950's

This is a very late post to honor Veteran's Day.

To all those who are currently serving and those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today...we honor and remember you.


I apologize for the photo quality as we are having issues with our scanner at home (I tried to scan at work and this is what I get). Hopefully the problem will be resolved quickly and I can get back to quality Old Photo Friday (and rescan and repost this photo).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts

This is a classic and I guarantee you that if you think you don't like brussels sprouts, you will after you eat this dish.

I've been making this for about a dozen years and I must say, it's one of my favorites at the Thanksgiving table.


Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 shallots, minced
1 1/2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts, halved (please do not use frozen, they suck)
1 can vegetable stock (could also use half stock and half white know, give it a little kick)
1 tablespoon marjoram (if fresh, chop fine)
1/3 - 1/2 heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper

Melt one tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and shallots and cook until they brown slightly. Transfer to a bowl.

Add two tablespoon butter in same pan and increase temperature to medium high. Add sprouts and cook, stirring frequently until sprouts begin to brown; about 5-7 minutes, then add broth and cover (start with 1/2 cup of liquid and increase, if needed). Cook for 5 minutes, then remove lid and let broth begin to evaporate. Cook until sprouts are tender about 7-10 minutes.

Once sprouts are tender, add marjoram and mix; reduce heat to low and add cream. Simmer until sprouts are coated in cream, then add pine nuts and shallot and stir once again. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: This dish can be made up to 5 hours ahead; cover and chill then re-heat

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Bits and Bobs

My favorite photo from Chicago; taken on 11/5/11 @ John Hancock Observation Deck

November is one of our wettest months, so after our Chicago trip the rains started and the adventures have settled a bit. Lots of home time, pre-holiday planning, spring bulbs planted, crockpots full of stew, naps with Sammy the snuggler and tons of football.

How is November treating you?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Mid November!

Welcome Monday! A busy week at Rebecca Lane. Brian is teaching in Portland this week and my Pop is coming up from Springfield for a visit....a full house for dinner Monday through Wednesday. Pop is cooking one night and the rest is on me!


Monday: Pop's Classic Finger Steaks with Baked Potatoes and Salad
Tuesday: Heading to Buffalo Wild Wings!
Wednesday: Taco Night!
Thursday: Grilled Mahi Mahi with Asian Style Stir Fry Veggies and Brown Rice

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Images from Chicago!

I wish that we'd had more time to check out Chicago. I'll have to come back again.

Brian and I arrived on Saturday afternoon (after 48+ hours on the Empire Builder) took a cab to our hotel and hit the ground running.First stop...observation deck at the John Hancock Tower (one block east of our hotel). Beautiful view of the Chicago area and it was a sunny day and near 60.

We then walked two blocks west of our hotel and found Jake Melnick's Corner Tap.

This is a great neighborhood joint with a great atmosphere.

The highlight of our Saturday night was the famous deep dish pizza at Giordano's Famous Pizza.

We waited nearly 2 hours for a huge slice of heaven. The pizza weighed about 5+ pounds and that was just a small!! People line up down the street for a true Chicago experience.

Since I was in meetings all day Sunday and half day Monday before flying back to Portland on Monday afternoon, I took as many random city shots as possible.

Sunday evening after Brian flew home, we had our group dinner at Mike Ditka's Steakhouse. Amazing and wonderful food.

I love you Chicago!Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash Gratin

With just two weeks to go until Thanksgiving, I thought I might break out a non-traditional/traditional side dish alternative.

I made a variation of this side dish a few years ago, but it sounds so good that I am tempted to make it again this Thanksgiving.


Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash Gratin


5 cups butternut squash; cubed (about 2 pounds)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Cooking spray
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 400F.

Peel and cube butternut squash then place on cookie sheet and drizzle 1-2 tablespoons olive on top. With your hands, mix squash with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender, but not mushy.

Heat remaining oil in a pan and add onions. Saute onions for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned. Transfer the onions to a bowl and sprinkle with fresh sage. Add cooked squash to the onions and stir gently; let cool for 15 minutes; then add 1/2 blue cheese and stir.

Spoon the squash mixture into a prepared (spray with cooking spray) 11 x 7 casserole dish. Top with the remaining blue cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is crusty and browned.

The Great Train Adventure: Day Two - St. Paul, MN to Chicago, Iland Forks, ND

At daybreak we arrive in ST. PAUL – MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Midway Station, serving the Twin Cities, is a servicing point for fuel and water for the Empire Builder. Brian was up early so he stretched his legs, snapped a few pictures and bought a paper. This spot is not only midway between the two cities but also midway between the Equator and the North Pole.
Originally St. Paul was known by the nickname of its first settler, trader Pierre Parrant, or "Pig's Eye." St. Paul, Minnesota's state capital, was also the boyhood home of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and the home of the Empire Builder's builder -- James J. Hill.

I had a wonderful french toast breakfast as I caught my first glimpse of the mighty Mississippi River

Mississippi River: For 140 miles, you'll see fertile farmland, riverbank towns, barges and restored paddlewheel boats -- scenes that have inspired visitors for decades. You'll also see the river's impressive system of federally-funded dams and locks that tame the waterway for modern-day needs. Farther down the river on the right are the Hastings Lock & Dam and the Koch Oil Refinery.

RED WING, MN: At the Saint James Hotel on the right, each room is named for a riverboat. The Minnesota State Training School, on the right, was modeled after a German castle. The town of Red Wing was named after a Dakota Chief who had adopted the custom of wearing a swan's wing dyed scarlet. Red Wing Shoes are manufactured here and sold throughout the United States.
LACROSSE, WI: At this point, the river is wide, quiet and immensely scenic. Soft tree-covered mountains, to the east, will sharpen to rugged limestone bluffs a few miles south. The Empire Builder enters Wisconsin as it crosses the great river for the last time. French trappers used to watch Indians playing a game on the fields here, and dubbed the game "la crosse." The town is located at the confluence of the Black, LaCrosse and Mississippi Rivers. We follow the LaCrosse River for 25 miles.
COLUMBUS, WI: Mounted in the steeple of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, on the right, is a bell cast from pieces of French cannon acquired in the Franco-Prussian War. The bell was a gift from the Emperor of Germany. We cross the Crawfish River.
I got out a stretched my legs in Wilwaukee. My first time ever on Wisconsin soil!

MILWAUKEE, WI: It was beer that made Milwaukee famous and German immigrants who brought the beer. In addition, they also transplanted German beer gardens, theater and opera. We cross Menomonee River after stopping at the station. The Allen Bradley Clock on the right is a Milwaukee landmark. Polish Immigrants built Milwaukee's St. Josaphat's Basilica, the first Polish basilica in North America, with its distinctive dome modeled after St. Peter's in Rome.

CHICAGO: The railroad route between Chicago and St. Paul -- known in the past as the Milwaukee Road -- began as a plank road for horses and wagons. Now, this energetic city on the shores of Lake Michigan is the business and industrial center of the Midwest. It is also a major air and rail transportation center, an important in land port, and due to its location in the heart of the Corn Belt, Chicago is a leading market for grain, livestock and other farm products.

The tapering Hancock Building comes into view, and the Sears Tower – both dominate the skyline to the south. You can see Marina City's north cylindrical towers and the Merchandise Mart rise above the river on the left as we pull into Union Station.

Stacy and Charles (our sleeper attendant); just outside of Chicago; We traveled 2,257 miles by train over just short of 48 hours.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Great Train Adventure: Day One; Whitefish, MT - Grand Forks, ND

At daybreak, we arrive in WHITEFISH, MT: The Alpine-style station serves as a reminder that nearby is the popular Big Mountain ski resort. Located in the valley of Flathead National Forest, with its great recreational activities, the town is bordered by Whitefish Lakes.
We actually woke before daylight and Brian got off the train in Whitefish while I showered. I then waited for him to shower and sipped on some hot coffee in the observation/lounge car as the sun came up over the Montana mountains.
At about 8:30 we arrived at West Glacier, MT

BELTON -- WEST GLACIER: is the western entrance to Glacier Park. Snowfall here averages 100 - 200 inches per year.

We ate breakfast in the dining car and saw a herd of elk and two deer. It took us about 3 hours to make it through the entire park and I was disappointed that there was only a dusting of snow on the ground. We spent the entire day in the observation/lounge car. I couldn't take my eyes off of the passing of America.
Marias Pass: The train route through Glacier Park follows the "Mystery Pass" through the Rockies sought by Lewis and Clark, and finally established by John Stevens in -40 degree weather. Stevens found the route on a mission for the Great Northern Railway in 1889, and is remembered in a statue on the left. As you cross the Continental Divide here, you are traveling 5,216 feet above sea level, the lowest pass between New Mexico and Canada. On the right at the summit is a monument to President Theodore Roosevelt.

GLACIER PARK STATION: Glacier Park Station, built in 1913, is near 50 "living" glaciers and 9,000 - 10,466 foot mountains. The impressive timbered Glacier Park Lodge on the left, partially constructed from trees estimated to be 600 years old, was built by the Great Northern Railway to promote rail travel and to attract tourists to this beautiful area. We cross the Two Medicine River atop a high trestle.

A few minutes after exiting the park, the landscape of Montana changed quickly. Towns of Cut Bank and Shelby were cold, gray and desolate looking. At Shelby we enjoyed a bloody Mary in the observation car.

CUT BANK, MT: 25 minutes west of Cut Bank, a monument to early explorer Meriwether Lewis memorializes his search for a pass through the Rockies. This area is most often noted for the coldest mid-winter temperatures in the country. Just west of Cut Bank, you'll get your first or last view of the Rockies. Sweetgrass Hills and the Canadian border, 25 miles to the north, can be seen from the train on the left.

HAVRE, MT: An impressive, well-preserved Great Northern S-2 steam locomotive is on display at the station. This was a service stop, so we had time to walk around a bit before lunch. Indians once drove buffalo off the town's steep cliffs. Today, the cliffs provide a peaceful overlook. We follow the Milk River from Havre to Glasgow.

Just after our stop in Havre, we enjoyed a wonderful wine and cheese pairing in the dining car. Brian won a bottle of wine by answering a trivia question.

Bear Paw Mountains: in 1877, after a 1,700 mile retreat, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians, recognizing the hopelessness of his position, surrendered to the U.S. Army in the Bear Paw Mountains. Said Chief Joseph, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
GLASGOW, MT: The large "G" on the hillside on the left stands for "Glasgow", the center of an area rich in dinosaur bones. The Ft. Peck Museum displays various fossils found in the region.

I think I enjoyed this stretch the most. We returned to our room and Brian napped while I looked out the window and listened to my MP3 player. As far as the eye could see were amber waves.....the nations heartland.

Culbertson, MT: Five minutes west of Culbertson across Big Muddy Creek, is the eastern border of the Ft. Peck Indian Reservation. Chief Sitting Bull lived here after surrendering.

Ft. Union, MT: The train crosses Montana for 675 miles. There are four times as many cattle here as people and twice as many sheep. Follow the Missouri Breaks along the Missouri River.
Brian's 44th state, North Dakota; As darkness decends, we cross into North Dakota.

Wiliston, ND: At the hub of the Wiliston Oil Basin, Williston, on Lake Sakakawea's west end, is in North Dakota's rich oil country. Oil was discovered in this area in the 1950s, and there are many wells along the Empire Builder's route.
We ate our only dinner in the dining car on Friday evening; although the NY steak dinner was not all that great (Brian's was blood raw in the middle and our baked potatoes were ice cold).
Just outside of Minot, ND....I finally fell asleep (probably from exhaustion as the ride was as rough as a pickup truck on a gravel road).

MINOT, ND: West of Minot, the train crosses the Gassman Coulee on a high-level steel trestle. A servicing stop for the Empire Builder, Minot is still known as "Magic City," because it grew overnight - like magic - the moment the Great Northern announced its route. The rail station was heavily damaged by floods this past winter/spring. They hope to re-open the station before Thanksgiving.

Our first full day on the Empire Builder was wonderful. Tomorrow (Saturday) we began our journey south through Wisconsin and into Illinois. We'll reach Chicago in the afternoon.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Great Train Adventure: Our First Evening; Portland, OR - Whitefish, MT

Welcome Aboard! Train left Union Station in Portland at 4:40PM on Thursday afternoon

Just a few generations ago, the route of the Empire Builder was wilderness, roamed by Indians and buffalo. Later, it was visited by fur traders and gold miners. And still later, it was developed by merchants, timber men, farmers and -- most dramatically -- by railroads.

Cozy Sleeper with plenty of room to relax; bunk beds made up with fresh linen in the evening

The greatest railroader of all was James J. Hill, a freewheeling, big-dealing tycoon who linked St. Paul and Seattle with his Great Northern Railway. He acquired the land, built the tracks and even encouraged home-steading along the route. In the process, "Empire Builder" Hill came to govern the fate and fortunes of a good part of this powerfully beautiful area.

Today, Amtrak's Empire Builder follows the Soo Line between Chicago and St. Paul. Then it travels the Burlington Northern route to Spokane, where the train splits, with one section going westward to Seattle and the other section going south-westward along the old Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad to Portland for direct connections to California.

This isn't a luxurious way to travel, but our first evening was quite an adventure to say the least. We had about 90 minutes of daylight on Thursday evening....enough time to get settled in our room then have a cocktail in the lounge car.

Sink and medicine cabinet by compartment door with shower and
toilet separate

Since we didn't pick up our dining car until Spokane, Thursday's meal (the best of the entire trip) was a gourmet boxed dinner.

PORTLAND: The Chinook Indians were the first to use the site of Portland as a port. It is said that homesick New England settlers flipped a coin to choose between Portland (as in Maine) and Boston (as in Massachusettes) for the name of their new city. Today, Portland, Oregon, calls itself the "City of Roses". In the heart of the Columbia River basin, Portland was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest when it incorporated in 1851.
Columbia River Draw Bridge: Leaving Portland, the train crosses the Willamette River, then a 1,516 ft. bridge over the Oregon Slough (a second channel of the Columbia River) to reach Hayden Island. From the island, the train crosses over this 2,806 ft. structure to enter Washington.

Best meal of the trip; boxed dinner upon leaving Portland (we don't pick up dining car until Spokane)

VANCOUVER: Named for Captain George Vancouver, shipmate of Captain Cook and commander of the British expedition to chart the Northwest. Prune orchards and prune dryers are on both sides of the tracks. To the north is Mt. St. Helens, nearly 10,000 ft. high, a volcano that was inactive until 1980.
Bridge of the Gods: This bridge replaced a natural rock bridge, which the Indians say was destroyed by their deity in anger when his two sons argued over a young maiden. The two sons became Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. The maiden became Mt. St. Helens.
Cooks: In minutes, you've traveled between rain forest and desert. And here, as the railroad skirts the base of 2,500 ft. high, cone-shaped Wind Mountain, you can see on the cliffs to the north, one of the last lumber flumes (or chutes) in operation in North America. This flume carried rough-cut lumber from above the rim of the Columbia Gorge to a finishing mill located along the river bank.

Darkens desends @ BINGEN-WHITE SALMON, the two adjacent towns were named by immigrants after Bingen, a beautiful town along the Rhine in Germany and the White Salmon River. This is the center of extensive fruit orchards. Across the water is the city of Hood River, Oregon.
Dalles Dam: Dalles is the French word for "tough," and this area was so named because of the narrow and dangerous channel. The 8,700 ft dam, which the Empire Builder follows for the next few minutes. created Horsethief Lake used for fishing and recreation. The dam provides the area with irrigation water, hydroelectric power and a reservoir for water sports.

Just before Pasco, we bed down for the night. Brian in top bunk and me on the bottom bunk. I thought the train would "rock" us both gently to sleep, but neither one of us got more than a few hours of broken sleep between Pasco and dawn (Whitefish, MT)

, WA: Here in Pasco, Englishman David Thompson claimed the western lands for Great Britain with a simple message tied to a pole. England's claim didn't hold, and the United States finally took over the disputed territory in 1846. The town's name is said to be an abbreviated version of "Pacific Steamship Company." It is the farthest point up the Columbia River that can be reached by seagoing ships.
We reached SPOKANE, WA after midnight: Spokane calls itself "Monarch of the Inland Empire" and lies in the midst of country rich in productive farmlands, lumber and mining. Railroading was responsible for much of the city's early growth. Here the Empire Builder route (the Great Northern route from Seattle) is joined by the Portland route at Spokane. During the night, the train stops at SANDPOINT and LIBBY.
Flathead Tunnel The 7-mile long Flathead Tunnel, 42 miles west of Whitefish, is the second longest in the Western Hemisphere.
As we sleep, the train lumbers through Western Montana. At first light, we enter Glacier National Park