Hello, Again.

I have been completely out of it this entire month. We have had such high hopes for the year of 2008 and at this point I cannot help but feel like I have entered the new year in zombie mode. For the past few weeks I have woken up feeling like I have just put my head on the pillow. Exhausted, I have picked up the habit of rolling out of bed and immediately putting on my slippers...and not wanting to take them off...ever. In fact, the picture above is in reference to this daily occurrence. In this instance I was so reluctant to get out of my slippers and put on my shoes that I ended up packing my shoes along to the cafe with the intention of changing in to them later. Never happened. I spent the entire day in my Uggs while my tennis shoes spent the entire day here, beneath the oven. At first I sort of liked this image. It kind of made me realize, "Hey, wait. This is our kitchen. I can do whatever I want in it." Never before have I have the authority to just leave something unattended to for so long in a kitchen. Never before had a kitchen actually been my kitchen. So I allowed myself to have a sort of it's my party and I'll cry if I want to moment.

And so the shoes sat unattended to and beneath the oven for over a week or so. Until Evan finally had enough and moved them to the basement. After awhile I started to realize that opting for slippers over tennis shoes really had little to do with authority and more to do with the state of things in my life. These shoes taking up real-estate in an already cramped and (at times) disorganized kitchen was just shy of pathetic. And let's face it, sheepskin and suede aren't really conducive to commercial cooking. And then it hit me: Man, I'm exhausted. I am physically here nor there and mentally brain-dead. Didn't we just get off from vacation? Sheesh, how did it get to this point?

Well, it didn't take me too long to figure out how I got myself into this situation. Where have I been? Why am I so tired? Well, I can answer those question very easily. I have been planning a wedding. More specifically, I have been planning our wedding. We have spent 7 years together in complete and seemingly effortless bliss. Why ruin that peacefulness with a wedding? At first it felt like something we were more interested in doing for our families; to give them a sense of closure on the matter. To do as they did and what their parents had done before them, to come together and commemorate the relationship in front of others. And so the planning or un-planning began. Before we were engaged I always felt that Evan and I would have a very simple wedding. Very few frills. No bells. No whistles. Just me, him and our families. Once engaged we pictured an intimate June destination wedding in Telluride. Not only did we see this as an opportunity to spend time with our loved ones in a location that was very special to us but could there be a better excuse to go on vacation?

When this first started other brides told me that in the end I would want exactly the opposite of what I wanted now. That the nonconformist will end up with the most traditional wedding, and the super traditionalist will either end up eloping or wishing they had. Us? We were somewhere in the middle. Super tight-knit, close family, not super-religious but certainly spiritual, questioning the necessity of a "lawful marriage." Neither of us have ever felt the need for a piece of paper to determine or official-ize our love and commitment to one another. But as time went on and scheduling conflicts arose, and we realized just how many people are dear to us and us to them, a nine person celebration all of the sudden started to feel wrong. And so our plans changed yet again and the process of planning a larger and somewhat "more traditional" wedding began. This process (keyword here is process versus the word "task") I have found completely rewarding as well as emotionally draining. As my dad continues to say, "hopefully you only do this once."

And with that in mind I have set out to create a day that truly speaks to who Evan and I are and what are relationship is about. In the end my dream is for our day to be a grand celebration reflecting the love of two people who met each other when they were children and instantly became friends; who always chose friendship first over a relationship; who endured 4 years separated by distance; whose love surpassed state lines and international boarders; who adore food as much as they adore each other; and who are fortunate enough to have the love and support of some amazing people around them.

Thus far, I have basically realized that no matter how intimate and small you envision your celebration, there are still hundreds details to consider and tackle. And So...this month, in addition to redesigning and rewriting the cafe's entire menu, making new soups daily, and mastering the ultimate Banana Pudding Ice Cream recipe, I have been:

  • Making guest lists
  • Designing invitations
  • Interviewing and booking venues, florists, photographers, and bands
  • Finding my dress, aka "The One"
  • Working with caterers to create our ultimate dinner menu
  • Etc., etc., etc. This list really could be and is quite a bit longer but I will spare you from the details as even I am getting to the point of saying, "Whatever. I just don't care."
Before this point our life was purely the cafe. This left plenty of time to read, and write, and blog to my heart's content. Most recently I have been devoting all of my free time to the wedding. So just a note to those of you who have asked and/or wondered, please do not worry. I am alive and well. I have not lost my passion for writing or my devotion to the cafe. However, I have taken a step back in order to really process what lies ahead in the future for both Evan and me and our place. I'd like to think that the time I have spent away from the cafe both mentally and physically has allowed me to nurture my relationship with Evan and our impending culmination of what has been the greatest gift of my life; as Raymond Carver put it, "To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth." I cannot help but think this work naturally overlaps into the cafe realizing that it is in fact our love and our relationship that brought us the cafe in the first place. I'd like to think of it as killing two birds with one stone.

In the meantime I have officially made a promise to myself, no more slippers in the kitchen. Maybe I'll save them for walking down the aisle.

A Side-note...
Last but not least I cannot continue thinking or writing about this event or end this post without a huge shout-out to my sister, dear sister, Tara. For whom without I think I might be dis-engaged and/or in a mental treatment facility. Your love, guidance, care packages, and ever-faithful opinions have been my lifesaver over this past month. You are amazing, I love you to infinity and beyond, and I will never stop being to grateful that I was granted a sister like you in this life.


What kind of pancakes do you serve?

Fresh off the griddle

Cottage cheese pancakes.

No, its not a typo. For the past four Sundays we have been serving up a pancake recipe that I can trace back to my early childhood. In fact, it wasn't until I was much older that I discovered that the recipe I had enjoyed so much growing up was unknown to most people I encountered.

About a month a go we had my sister come in and cook the inaugural batch, and since that day we have had more than a few people claim them to be "the best pancakes ever." Now I'm not trying to boast these against the Original Pancake House or the many other fantastic cakes that are served in our fair city (I'm definitely a buttermilk purist myself), but these cakes are different, in a very good way.

Perhaps more similar to blintz than the buttermilk recipe we all know and love, these cakes are really simple (cottage cheese, eggs, flour), but make for a very decadent Sunday brunch treat. So far we have tried them with lemon curd and blueberry syrup, we have tried them plain with maple syrup, and last week, simply by chance Ali added some caramelized bananas (leftover from the steel cut oats the Moo had prepared) to the batter. Let me be the first to say that we all may now benefit from Ali's experiment, as we both feel the caramelized bananas should be an optional add-on any time these cakes are prepared.

So for now folks, Sunday is the day. Come and get 'em. We'll make a lot of batter, but we'll still likely run out sometime in the early afternoon. Come early, and come hungry, and we will see you on Sunday.

W/ roasted banana


A Prayer for Two Cell Phones

Evan dropped Ali's cell phone two weeks ago(action).
These are the opposite reaction.

Dearest Blog,

Please bless these phones.

Keep them safe from water, concrete, and clumsy hands (namely my own).

Allow them to keep us in frequent and clear communication with our many wonderful vendors.

May they provide us the opportunity to communicate last minute shopping list epiphanies from the cafe to the grocery store.

Let their battery life remain forever lasting, or at least for the first year and most of the second year of our contract.

And may they never tempt us to answer a call while behind the wheel.




Onions for 3-Bean Chili
Dearest Blog,
I know you feel I've been distant. I'm sorry I've been neglecting you; that our meetings have been so brief and formal. You have accused me of being cold and repetitive. You are no longer excited to see me logged on. I can sense this.
Look Blog, I could try and explain my offenses, I could make up a million and one excuses in my defense. But I won't. There is no need to dig up the past. We both know our potential. We both know we are capable of having a wonderful, giving, and successful relationship.

So I say let sleeping dogs lie. Instead let's embrace what lies ahead in our future. This is what I want to focus on with you. Oh Blog! What great things lie ahead of us!!! Our journey together is just beginning. It would be a shame to let our past overshadow our future. So once again we shall join forces and together look forward to sharing and writing about:
  • Our new menus including: breakfast, lunch, and Weekend Brunch
  • This week's ice cream flavors: Key Lime, Grapefruit Mimosa Sorbet, Vietnamese Coffee, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Cardamom Honey
  • Hosting the upcoming Echolocations record release party
  • The welcomed addition of Homemade Apple Slaw, Red Onion Relish, and Tomato Jam
  • Fancy shmancy new aprons
  • The creation of a 3-Bean Chili recipe to die for, written on a freezing cold Portland night
  • Sunday's Lemon Curd-Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Oregon Blueberry Syrup
So there you go, Blog. That's about it. Your Dad and I, and all of your Aunties and Uncles have been very busy doing right by you and the cafe. We have been working on big things...good things that will literally change our life as we know it. Well, maybe that's a bit dramatic but believe me, we haven't been this stoked on cafe happenings in a loooooonnng while. Thanks for hearing me out. If you have any questions or you need to talk, you know where you can find me.



Via Red Hook, Brooklyn

"Steve's Authentic" Key Lime Pie

Two weeks ago we met Jason. Jason just moved here from Brooklyn where he made world-class key lime pies using only real key limes. We are happy Jason moved to Portland because now he is making the very same pie that he made back east, right in our own neighborhood. I guess I hadn't ever tasted a real key lime pie before I tried Jason's. After the first bite I realized just how amazing this simple pie can be. But you don't have to take my word for it, come in and try a slice for yourself.


As of Now...

My favorite Little Red Bike Ice Cream Flavor to date is:

Peanut Butter & Jelly
Creamy peanut butter ice cream swirled with homemade raspberry jam


Let's Get Baked

Ali's Baked Eggs w/ Cream and Spinach

Baked egg recipes, such as the one pictured above, can make for a very decadent way start to your day. The only thing which was kept Ali and I from adding them to the cafe's weekend menu is that they take a good amount of time to cook. About 15-20 minutes to be specific.

Would you be willing to wait that long for your breakfast?


Inspiration in a Jar

Sliced Pimentos

Among my favorite things we did during our recent 'vacation' from the cafe were the many hours spent cooking for ourselves. Yes, it is a little sad but very true; the thing we love doing most has become our job, and by the time the end of the day rolls around we rarely have the energy or patience to make a nice meal for ourselves. Don't get me wrong, Ali and I still enjoy cooking food at the cafe, if we didn't we would be in the wrong business. However, I think that as a result of not doing as much cooking at home, we have lost touch with the inspiration which can result from trying a new recipe.

For example, of all the food we ate over the holidays, my favorites were two new recipes that were really very simple, but packed in so much flavor that I found myself longing for another bite just as soon as I cleaned my plate. The first was a simple grilled cheese recipe which drew on the often underutilized pimento (not just for filling olives anymore) in order to create a smooth and creamy, yet slightly spicy sandwich. With a little extra cayenne pepper thrown in, this grilled cheese had both our stomachs in ecstasy, and was tasty enough to be deemed cafe worthy.

The Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Perhaps even more amazing was a new pot pie recipe that we put together on a whim. What we thought was to be our final day in Central Oregon actually turned out to be our second-to-last when a big snow storm rolled over us, dropping over a foot of snow in matter of hours and making the mountain pass virtually impassable. Given that we didn't anticipate staying away this extra day, we didn't quite have dinner figured out (when we travel we like to plan almost every meal ahead of time...to us, planning the meals can be almost as fun as making them). After looking over the food that we hadn't cooked it was pretty clear that our options were limited. We had chili makings, and we had cornbread makings. Why not combine the two and make a potpie? It seemed simple enough, and it was...

Spicy Chili and Cornbread Potpie

How did it taste? Pretty fantastic to be honest. Throw in a little avocado and honey drizzle and you have yourself quite a dangerous combo.

But don't just sit there and try to imagine what all of it tasted like. Both the grilled cheese and the potpie are on the Sunday brunch menu at the cafe this weekend. So stop in for a plate of our winter vacation. We can't promise that you'll get snowed-in, but we'll take care of the cooking and do our best to make the experience as relaxing as vacation should be.


It's a New Year

That tiny green dot is Evan amidst a winter wonderland

Happy New Year to all!

Yes, the new year is upon us folks. I don't know about you but Ali and I are feeling very excited about all that lies ahead for 2008. We had a fantastic winter vacation, and are feeling refreshed and excited about getting back to work. Our stay in Central Oregon was extended an extra day due to a beautiful snow storm that began Saturday evening and continued through most of Sunday. Since returning to Portland we have been preparing to reopen the cafe.

The holidays were all that we had hoped for. Very relaxing for certain. We also were able to spend some time trying out new recipes, some of which we hope to debut at the cafe during the coming weeks.

So stay tuned. There are many new and exciting things in store for LRBC in '08.