15 July 2009

Country Fair, camping, and more!

Three-day weekends always bring out the best in me. That extra day just seems to push me into full-relaxation mode. Two days is not enough. We also went on our first camping trip of the summer (sad, I know) and to the Oregon Country Fair. If you've never been to the fair, it's hard to explain, but trust me, there's more than just hippies there. It's fun for the average person. And I digress...

More importantly, it was also a weekend full of delicious food. Saturday we picked up our friend's tent and headed down past Eugene to a campground called Black Canyon in the Willamette National Forest. We took a chance and booked it online a couple months back without any knowledge of what it would be like, and very few pictures to base our decision on. Luckily, it worked out. After last year's 2-week mostly camping trip, we set up quickly and were able to enjoy most of the day relaxing. That evening's dinner was specially requested by Shawn--ham, potato, and cheese foil packets.

I made them 3 years ago on our first camping trip to Olallie Lake and he was in love. I learned a valuable lesson from that trip--don't overfill them! Otherwise the cheese and potato burn on the outside and you end up with spots of raw potato, no matter how long you cook it. They turned out perfectly! And with cooking our portions in shifts, kept us from devouring the contents and over stuffing ourselves. After a few beers and some nice conversation around the campfire, it was time for the piece de resistance...s'mores.

Shawn hadn't had a s'more in 20 years as of 3 years ago. He won't make that mistake again. I make the best s'mores--dark chocolate with perfectly toasted marshmallows. We bought a caramel filled chocolate bar, but never got to it. We were both too stuffed after our regular ones.

Sunday was the Country Fair. I knew we were supposed to have thunderstorms, but was hoping they would hold off until the evening. No such luck. We managed to get to the Fair only an hour after they started and it took a long time for them to stop! Nonetheless, we enjoyed stir fry noodles at our friend's booth, Stir Fried, and after tromping through the mud for a couple of hours, got our coconut ice cream, then left. Let me explain something about this ice cream, though. It's homemade and probably one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted. I have literally been talking about this ice cream for a year. It comes from a place called Ring of Fire in Eugene. If you're near there, I recommend seeking it out. Un-freaking-believable.
Shawn enjoys his ice cream in the rain

Wet and muddy, we decided that we would head home rather than risk sleeping in a tent-lake. On our way home, after much traffic, we stopped in Salem at the first restaurant that we could stand that served beer (it was THAT kind of drive). We stopped at Applebee's. I normally can't stand most chain restaurants, and Applebee's is no exception. It was awful. Food was bad, drinks were expensive (my beer was flat), and we both felt bloated and sick all evening. I would say never again, but you never know...

Monday, we had the day off already, so we spent the day as if we were on vacation still (which I guess we were). We spent most of the day in the St. John's neighborhood of North Portland, ending our little excursion with a trip to Pattie's Diner and Soda Fountain. It really was a step back in time. Most everyone there knew each other, we sat at the counter, and I had a root beer float, Shawn a hand-dipped chocolate shake. Service was a little slow, but pleasant. We decided we had to take his folks there for a meal--I'll do a follow up.

After our decadent afternoon treat, I thought we should have something a little healthier for dinner. I sauteed some zucchini (fresh from the farm), mushrooms, fresh tomato, red onion and garlic in olive oil, then removed all the vegetables, added a little more olive oil and threw in some fresh oregano (from my coworker's garden) and red pepper flakes to taste.

I tossed all that together with whole wheat spaghetti and about 1/8 cup grated parmaggiano-reggiano cheese, little pasta water, and magically a delicious and healthy dinner appeared!

The next best thing, besides the flavor, was that we had 4 more servings leftover. Not a bad way to stretch the food dollar.

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