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Top Five from 2016 and Five Goals for 2017

Top Five from 2016 and Five Goals for 2017

Like many, I’m glad to see the end of 2016.  I was doing pretty well avoiding whole scale resentment for the year, and then George Michael died.  And my reaction was, really 2016?  Bowie, Prince and George Michael, all in the same year?  And in case you are wondering if my musical tastes are primarily stuck in the 80’s, I’m incredibly sad about Ralph Stanley, Merle Haggard, Leonard Cohen, and Sharon Jones, too.

On the other hand, I’ve cooked a lot of good food this year, including the five most popular recipes here on Fix Me a Little Lunch.

Eggnog Ricotta Pancakes were hands down the most popular recipe this year.  I can see why – who doesn’t love eggnog?  These pancakes were so fluffy and so very, very rich – I’m thinking I’ll be making them again for New Year’s Day brunch.

My Crockpot Posole was also quite popular this year.  It’s such a great slow-cooker recipe, I wasn’t surprised.  We made up a batch of this for Christmas Eve this year and froze several more nights worth.  One of my favorite things about this recipe was that it was the first time I participated in Cook the Books.  I’m really excited about all the inspiration that will come from next year’s book picks.

Greek Spaghetti Squash was a big hit this year, as well.  This was my last office lunch for the year, as we ended up with four snow days and then vacation right around the same time I made this.

Greek Spaghetti Squash

I had a great time this fall going out to Sauvie Island to get winter squash.  As always, I bought a few too many squash, but it wasn’t a problem, since my over indulgence inspired me to make Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Pesto.  If I had to pick a favorite of my own from this year, it might be this one – mostly because I love cheese, squash and pasta.

And last, but certainly not least, is my Mandarin Orange Mule.  I’m glad I finally got with the times and bought a copper mug for Moscow Mules, as they are now high on my list of favorite cocktails.

Mandarin Orange Mule

So there we are – the top five from 2016.

I’m looking forward to 2017.  I know there are likely to be some major changes on the way (more on that in future blog posts, I’m sure), but I’m hopeful they won’t impact my time working on my blog.  I like to spend a little time reflecting on the year before, as well as looking forward and setting goals moving forward.  So – in no particular order – here are my five goals for Fix Me a Little Lunch for 2017.

  1. Keep improving my photography.  I had one photo accepted by foodgawker this year for my Red Kuri Risotto recipe and would like to keep working on lighting, composition and so on in 2017.
  2. Create and mostly stick to an editorial calendar.  I started working on this in December and realized it wasn’t that hard to plan out December 2017’s blog posts.  Now let’s see if I can fill in all the other months of the year. Some of this is product dependent, of course, as I’m committed to keeping Fix Me a Little Lunch all about seasonal foods and recipes.
  3. Continue to be inspired by blog challenges – Cook the Books and Food n’ Flix were my favorite inspirations this year.  The books and movies kept me inspired, as did the community of other food bloggers who created some really fantastic recipes.
  4. Explore the whole affiliate/sponsored post thing.  I’m a little wary of ads – I’m not a huge fan of navigating them on others sites, so not sure I want to do this on my own blog.  On the other hand, I’d love to share some of the products that I love with my readers.
  5. Grow my email list to at least a 1,000 subscribers.  Right now, I have seven.  I love those seven people who are interested in reading my posts regularly – and would like to find some more.  To this end, I’ll be starting a monthly newsletter in January that will include a round up of my favorite recipes from the month before, a bonus recipe featuring a seasonal veggie or fruit, and a profile of a seasonal veggie or fruit.  Sign up to be on my email list and be on the lookout for my first newsletter.

Happy Near Year everyone!  Let’s hope that 2017 is prosperous and happy, and let’s keep eating good food!

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

I have been traveling around the State of Oregon – a lot.  Still, there has been time for good food, good books, pretty flowers, and even a bit of exercise.  Enjoy!

blta hotel meal bend

ground cover raspberries berries for lunch

black sheep and bota pinot gris truffles

twilight half half marathon view

oregon forest pink lilly

orange flowerstender at the bone cover

Travel Thursday: NOLA and a Stay-Cation

Travel Thursday: NOLA and a Stay-Cation

I’m adding a new feature to the blog – Travel Thursday.  I doubt this will be every week, but occasionally, I’ll recap some of my recent travels, both local and afar, along with any tips I gain along the way about making travel more comfortable.  You’ll likely see many photos here as well.

For this first one, I’m doing a re-cap of the last week.  In the last week, I traveled to New Orleans for a conference, to Salem for meetings, and then did a stay-cation in the Portland/Vancouver area.

I’ll start with New Orleans, sort of.  I’ll really start with the top reason why Portland International Airport is my favorite airport in the entire United States: the Oregon local store sells Oregon wine.  The Oregon local store is past security, which means it’s possible to buy a bottle of wine, take it on the plane (the clerks there are great about carefully bubble wrapping the wine), and have a great bottle of wine at your end destination.  Given that I lived in the Umpqua Valley region for six years, I have a soft-spot for Umpqua Valley wines.  I was thrilled to spy a bottle of Abacela’s Abariῆo.  Here’s the bottle posed with my traveling black sheep in my hotel in NOLA:

abacela and black sheep

This was a light and fruity white wine, which paired great with my two room service meals while I was in NOLA.  The problem for me of traveling for work is that I’m often fully ensconced in a conference all day long while, which was the case this last go around.  I’m a sufficient enough introvert that after I’ve been around people all day long, I kind of just want to hide.  So while it was so very tempting to go seek out good food (and New Orleans really does have good food), it was also tempting to land in front of the t.v. and have food brought to me (and enjoy a great view of the city from my hotel room).

NOLA sunset NOLA French Quarter1

Fortunately, the Marriot where I stayed had decent food that represented the region, so on night one I had a shrimp and oyster Po Boy and some fried green tomatoes:

shrimp and oyster po boy fried green tomato

And on night two, I had a seafood omelet with soft shell crab, shrimp and crawfish tails:

seafood omelette

The Marriot also had really good snacks during the conference:

macaron and praline

On the way to New Orleans, I had all my snack food (see a recap here).  On the way back, I bought a really awful chicken sandwich at a restaurant in the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and ate just the bread, cheese and tomato off of it.  No pictures – it was ghastly.  Fortunately, there is a Burgerville near PDX (this is a regional chain of happily farmed food with seasonal favorites, like fried asparagus, Walla Walla onion rings, and so on).

The next day, I was off to Salem, Oregon, for more meetings.  Fortunately, I have a favorite government building deli in Salem, so had this Cobb Salad for lunch:

salem favorite cafeteria cobb salad

The rest of the week and weekend was stay-cation time.  The primary highlight that I want to showcase here was a wine tasting adventure in Clark County, Washington. Clark County includes Vancouver, but also includes some smaller towns, including Battle Ground, Camas, Ridgefield, Yacolt, and Washougal.   It’s also an up and coming region for vineyards and wineries.  Two of the three we went to are small endeavors – one has a temporary tasting room in a tent while they build their permanent tasting room.  The third, the Rusty Grape, is a bit more established and has a great snack/tapas style menu to enjoy with the wine.

tasting room three white wines

red and white vineyard 3

vineyard and umbrella three wines

From left to right, the wine bottles are Northwest Gold and a 2009 Pinot Noir (both from Rezabek Vineyards).  The third is Reformation Red from The Rusty Grape.  We also tasted at Heisen House Vineyard.  Their wines were a little sharp for me – though I really enjoyed their ciders.

Last, but not least, for the stay-cation was a trip into Portland.  This was a nostalgia trip for me.  For many, many, many years, I’ve traveled to Portland on business, vacation, and to visit family.  These trips have always been quick turnaround affairs – a few days at the most and are usually coupled with something else: the Portland Marathon, a conference, a holiday.  Now that we live in the Portland Metro area, we can spend a day in Portland without breaking the bank and enjoy some of the things we’ve not had a chance to do before (or have done, but always felt rushed doing so).  In this case, we had a busy day of brunch at the Tin Shed, where there is always a long wait, but it is always worth it for their biscuits and gravy:

tin shed biscuits and gravy

And then wandering the stacks at Powell’s (which is my favorite, favorite bookstore – no photos here – was too busy browsing), and going to the Oregon Zoo (which for some reason, I only snapped pictures of the condor exhibit and some fish).

oregon zoo condor oregon zoo fish

On Wednesday, it was business as usual and back to work.  Fortunately, I had good food prepared for a little lunch so all was right with the world.

New Look, New Week

New Look, New Week

I realize I’ve been a bit neglectful of the blog in the last week.  It was mostly because there wasn’t much happening around my lunch that was particularly interesting.  I was out of office for meetings for the majority of the week and on the weekend, we were having some food adventures in Portland that I didn’t get around to blogging about until today.  So here’s the re-cap.

First off – last weekend and this weekend, we did a combination of farmer’s market and food cart.  This resulted in lots of flowers and lots of good food:

peony and iris farmers market strawberries ingrids food pod pdx strawberry crepe farmers market

From left to right: peonies and strawberries from the Vancouver Farmer’s Market; the menu at Ingrid’s (at a food pod on Division Street in Portland; and a strawberry crepe at Vancouver Farmer’s Market.

Next, I spent several days for a meeting at the Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton, Oregon for a meeting.  I know, it’s a rough life.  I didn’t have much time to go wander the garden, but when I did, I was sure to visit the chickens in the garden.  The Oregon Gardens has a lovely kitchen garden, complete with hens and a chicken tractor.  I particularly love the one hen’s expression as we both look at the Chicken Crossing sign.

chicken crossing artichoke_in_the_garden peony and bee

From left to right: resident hens at the Oregon Gardens; artichokes outside my hotel room; a resident bee in the peonies.

And last, but not least, this weekend, I’ve been doing some cooking, so good things are coming this week on the blog.  I’ll share here photos and two links to two of my favorite recipes and a preview of one of my all time favorite spring vegetables.

harukai turnips strawberry almond milk

From left to right: hakurei turnips – these will become Pickled Hakurei Turnips – my go-to in the spring for an easy refrigerator pickle; homemade strawberry almond milk – which I made in response to the current seasonal glut of strawberries.  The homemade strawberry almond milk comes from one of my favorite blogs: 101 Cookbooks.

Finally, you may have noticed a new look to the blog – I’ve been doing this for about seven months now, and am starting to figure out my way around wordpress.  Keep checking back – I plan to continue to add new features as I go.  As always, thoughts and comments are appreciated.