The Cider Press Rules

Apples, apples everywhere

Did you catch a hint of John Irving in that title? If you did, we must be kindred spirits. The Cider House Rules is one of my favorite books, and every time I started typing anything about cider, it kept popping into my head. I couldn’t shake it.

Anyways, if it were required of me to make rules for a cider press party, it would be a simple task.

  1. Buy apples (basically so many apples that it’s overwhelming)
  2. Invite friends (think like Tom Sawyer, more people=less work for you!)
  3. Make good food (this way your friends can’t blame you when they feel used)
  4. Spend the afternoon drinking beer and making delicious fresh-pressed cider

It’s that easy! And, when you see all of the glorious fresh cider come pouring out, it’s also pretty damn exciting.

Here’s some scenes from my first cider press party, which took place the weekend before Halloween.

Continue reading

Things that make me happy: Adventures with Friends

My friend DB and I are big on adventures. So when he emailed me a link to Syun Izakaya, a sushi place in Hillsboro, I made us a reservation immediately. It was a journey — an hour each way using public transportation. What awaited us though was well worth the effort. The sushi, sashimi and grilled mackerel were delicious and the menu was extensive, ensuring that we sat there for several hours eating and drinking (hence our use of the MAX).

Here’s one of my favorite pictures from the night:

A Pretty Plate of Pickles: So far we haven’t come across a pickle plate that we haven’t ordered. No matter how full we are, there seems to always be room for a pickle.

One of the best things about our meal was our discovery of Teba Gyoza, a Frankensteinian dish of gyoza-stuffed chicken wings. The wings are partially deboned (just the wing tip is left) and the midjoint is stuffed with porky garlicky goodness. Then the whole thing is fried. Yes, it was borderline crazy and yes, it was amazing.

Teba Gyoza (stuffed chicken wings) — with dippy sauce and fried tarro chips

* As a side note, I did some internet digging about these crazy little guys. If you ever decide to make them (DB??), here’s a good site to look at. *

Things that make me happy: A cat who plays the cowbell

Meet Tuna. Tuna is part of the AcroCats — which you totally need to read up on. I’m serious — click this link. Tuna plays the cowbell for baby food (chicken flavor).

Tuna’s friend Dakota plays percussion for their band, the Rock Cats. I saw them play live. Let me assure you the music sucked, but it was one of the best afternoons of my life.

A quick moment to appreciate the quirkiness of cats

Image

A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of changing my sheets and digging out all of the throw pillows from underneath the bed, when I was distracted by the siren call of Law & Order SVU. A few hours later, I returned to complete the task and found this waiting for me…

Hey, as long as he’s comfortable right?

Oh Lucifer, you used to be such a street-smart alley cat. Now look at you — you’re like a feline version of the Princess and the Pea.

Continue reading

Things That Make Me Happy: Boozy Goodness

Image

Eau de vie de Poire Williams, fragrant and potent, with a pear still perfectly encased in the empty bottle. We got the last two pours   — Joe Beef 2012

And there were riots in the streets of…Montreal?

While on holiday in Montreal, we were unknowingly caught in the midst of the thousands of students and citizens protesting the government.

The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) is a public French-language university. The campus is the main stage for a majority of the recent riots and protests.

Even with all of the great food we ate while in Montreal, our best vacation stories came from some totally unexpected events. Actually, let me clarify — unexpected to us. Like the worst of Americans, we didn’t do much research about Montreal except for menu stalking, map reading and guide book skimming. I could tell my husband, as we walked through the Parc du Mont-Royal, all about the Croix that stands proudly on the side of the mountain. But I couldn’t tell him why, on our first night in town, we had to fight through a stream of police cars just to get to our hotel…

These are a couple of cop cars in a line of nearly thirty. All of the police inside the cars were dressed in helmets, ready to jump out if necessary.

After a fabulous dinner at the Liverpool House we caught a taxi back to our hotel. However, every street for at least a mile was blocked off by cops and the sound of sirens filled the air. We were befuddled, thinking maybe there had been a terrible accident or a drug bust.

Our cab driver was not too much help, as he was one of the few people we encountered who spoke only French. He just kept driving, trying to get us closer to our destination, throwing up his hands in frustration every time we were stymied by yet another group of police.

The next day, in true vacation style, we forgot all about it. The streets were calm and the sun was shining, so we headed out from our hotel, the wonderful Auberge le Pomerol, to walk around the nearby Plateau area. After hours of meandering, eating and drinking, it was dark when we decided it was time to make it back. As we got closer to our hotel, the streets became more and more packed with people. Some were walking while others were almost running, but one thing was consistent — they were all headed in the opposite direction that we were going. At first we thought, hey, the guide book was right — the people of Montreal like to party. Here we were, heading home to sleep, and literally thousands of people were just leaving their houses!

Canadian riot police in all their gear

That’s when we heard a rhythmic thumping coming from in front of us and saw a row of riot police slamming their batons on their shields. A cloud hung over them from slowly dissipating smoke bombs and pepper spray. The people who had passed us must have been right in the center of the madness. We bolted into an alley to watch for a while before deciding to try to make it the last two blocks to our hotel.

Continue reading