Today in Confusing Graffiti: Portland’s Cathedral Park

Because the sun set at approximately

4:16 p.m. yesterday, I thought we could all use a little break to remember what fall looks like. Trees, apparently from time to time they get these “leaves” that “fall” every year after “turning” to a red/golden shade. I know, right? Crazy!

So last month, before the really cold snap, Yean and I took a little jaunt to Cathedral Park in St. Johns, which is in the waaaaaay North part of Portland in the little armpit of land where the Willamette starts curving West. I used to commute there from my rented room in Beaverton at like five in the morning when I first moved to Portland, and by the time I got off work I had no energy to enjoy the splendors of Lombard St., let alone to drive home without running five red lights. So it was a bit of a revelation to go back there and experience the neighborhood as a consumer rather than an employee.

The St. Johns Bridge is probably my favorite Portland bridge, and I still lament not getting this one apartment in an old Victorian with absolutely stunning views of the bridge and the hills, flaky shiny-shirt-wearing landlord notwithstanding.

Now, its important to point out that the St. Johns was not, in fact, designed by the same guy who did the Golden Gate. They’re both suspension bridges, they were both depression-era projects, and they’re both, um, fanciful colors, but the dudes who built them were actually rivals, or at least that’s what Wikipedia and the Portland Neighborhood Association tell me. I think they both rock. Asking me to pick one is like asking me to pick a favorite child, or possibly a favorite stressful traffic situation. Ol’ St. Johns may not have the Gate’s steep toll, but I did have to drive across it once in a snowstorm and the memory gives me stress cramps to this day.

Obviously the park gets its name for the Gothic-ish towers that support the bridge, which make a picturesque place to picnic, canoodle with your teenage lover or, as we found out(MOTHER DO NOT READ THIS IT IS GROSS), write confusing graffiti:

To this day we still debate whether this was two people, one who wrote “pussy” and another who added “fart,” or one person who simply meant “pussy fart.” I also could have sworn there was an “e” on the end of “fart” but looking at the pictures maybe I imagined that exciting tidbit.

Right after I took this I asked Yean if there was poo on the ground next to her:

We think it was just dirt though.

I mean, we’re pretty sure.

Oh, Portland.



Filed under travel

Treat Yourself

So, as a follow up to my SAD post

I feel it’s appropriate to clarify that the best thing to do when you want to eat a lot of carbs is to just eat a lot of carbs. The past few weeks have seen me whipping up heavy comfort food like there’s no tomorrow. The result of all this is that last night I had a spinach salad and it was possibly the best thing I have ever put in my mouth, ever. I guess my body finally reached a critical mass of buttered foods.

Since it’s been a while since I did a recipe, here’s one that’s a good balance of carbs, protein and fat, but only in the sense that it has a lot of all those things. Especially the last one. You’ve got your eggs (protein), your dairy (fat) and of course, toast (carbs). Also some parsley. That’s good, right? Right?

I got these ramekins ages ago from Cost Plus, which is my mother’s favorite store. I think I originally intended to use them to bake creme caramel and other custardy things, but so far I’ve only used them as prep bowls and to make these baked eggs. I learned this technique from an old coworker, who made breakfast for everyone a couple years ago during a three-day bakery potluck event that I may still be recovering from. Heavy as it is I should point out that I’ve only ever made this dish on work days, never on the weekend. Why I put myself and my loved ones through such gastrointestinal hurdles is beyond me, but it does make for an enjoyable start to the day.

Also notable is the use of garlic in a breakfast dish. IMO it’s the only thing keeping this from being overly rich, but if you’re not up to garlic mouth at 9 am you can leave it out. Other fresh herbs that would be nice are chives, maybe dill, but parsley is what I usually have, so hey. The bake time depends on how done you want your eggs. If you leave it so there’s a little jiggle in the center you get a nice sort of egg/fat soup that you can dip your toast in, but more often than not I forget to check the oven until the whole dang thing’s baked through. Which is still nice! It’s like a really well seasoned soft boiled egg. Basically there’s no way you can fuck it up because even if you overbake it it comes out tasty.

Baked Eggs

(serves 2)
4 whole eggs
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 T. fresh parsley, minced
4 T. sour cream or creme fraiche
salt and pepper
Equipment: 2 buttered ramekins, a shallow pan to bake in

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Butter the ramekins and put about half the garlic in the bottom of each, along with a tablespoon of sour cream and half the parsley. Crack 2 eggs into each ramekin, season with salt and pepper. Top with remaining garlic, sour cream and parsley, and place in the baking pan. Fill the pan with warm water until it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekin and place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Serve with toast.


Filed under food, Recipes

Yeah, The Pearl Is Great. For Me To Poop On.

Continuing this blog’s focus on only the most mature and tasteful news stories, I’m proud to report that the Portland Water Bureau found E. coli in a Washington Park resevoir this weekend.

That’s right. Shit in the water.

Thankfully, the areas being advised to boil their tap water before drinking are strictly west of the Willamette, so yours truly didn’t have to deal with feces in her Nalgene. The most (well, only) awesome thing about Poopocalypse ’09 is perhaps that the affected areas include the relatively pricey, hipster-and-yuppie-infected West Hills, Pearl District, and Northwest 23rd neighborhoods. Flip on the news and its all “GHOST TOWN in Uptown!” and “I bought this SoBe cuz’ they’re out of Aquafina but oh wait what about brushing my teeth” and “how much bottled water can you really carry on a bike anyway?”

In fact, I’m starting to think that someone shit in the water for THIS VERY REASON. Like, why THIS resevoir? Because it’s hilarious. And what better way to dissuade would-be PDX immigrants than a demonstration that the Rose City does not, in fact, actually shit roses?

(related video: Outkast!!! We love them. They’re freaky, though. Not just because they talk about girls pooping, which NEVER HAPPENS.)


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Eat Me.

Goddamn I love Thanksgiving. Happy turkey day, everyone.

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Top Chef Does Dessert: Please, No Chocolate Lava Cake

So the other day,

a coworker tells me he’s going downtown to be a gay republican alcoholic, and probably he will be a famous TV person. This is not unusual in Portland! But it turns out my friend did not have a sudden change in sexual/political orientation, and is actually intending to audition for Top Chef: Just Desserts, a show that is really happening and really casting in Portland.

Let’s face it, for years pastry-inclined viewers of Top Chef have squirmed in their seats and shouted at their TVs while macho chefs attempt and fail at making dessert. If I never see another “Cheftestant” whine while inelegantly frosting a cake that they DON’T DO PASTRY, it will be too soon. It’s like there’s a mental block that prevents even the most basic execution of baked goods. And I mean, it’s not like I could go on that show and perfectly sear a pork loin or whatever, but one wonders: if they’re so shit at it, why do they even try?

So I’m both excited and nervous for this new show, though I think Portland’s a bit of an odd choice for an audition locale. LA, Vegas, New York, these places all make sense. But for a second West Coast city I’d go with San Francisco or Seattle any day. Portland’s dessert scene, while thriving, is pretty limited.

I also wonder whether the contestants will be mostly bakers or pastry chefs. I’d expect the easiest thing to do would be to have pastry chefs compete, mainly in plated desserts, because it follows a similar structure to the OG Top Chef. You’ve got a dish with a theme, an inspiration, and it’s visually appealing as well as flavorful. But will they try to incorporate baking? Or special occasion cakes? Or showpieces a la Food Network Challenges? All these things require a LOT more time than savory dishes. And a well composed dessert menu is a product of dozens of smaller sub-recipes, all requiring time not just in preparation but in baking, setting up, drying out, etc.

And I’d love to say that the pastry version of the show will have less posturing and ego, but OH FUCK IT LET’S BE HONEST. First of all, it’s reality TV. Second, Pastry Chefs are insane. INSANE. ABSOLUTELY NUTBALLS. And the higher up/more experienced a person is, the more shit crazy they are. We’re talking bitchy, anal retentive control freaks the likes of which you would not expect from a group that serves up apple crisp. So basically, the same as the OG Top Chef only with more women, gay men and stoic Frenchmen.

Which, by the way, is kind of exciting. Top Chef, despite starting each season with equal numbers of women and men, has always seemed rather slanted toward the dude side. And sadly, that’s just a reflection of the actual industry. Women chefs, despite being on the rise, are expected to Man Up and Bring It in the kitchen, needing to show that they’re just as capable as the boys despite the fact that everyone who ever learned to cook learned it from their mom first. And pastry’s a lot different in that, in my experience, most of the people entering the workforce right now are women. The day-to-day life of a baker or cake decorator is filled with women, with women-run businesses and women-dominated workplaces. There’s less of a feeling among female pastry chefs that they have something to prove. So I’m pretty happy that the ladies will, undoubtedly, represent.

So basically, I’m looking forward to watching it but harbor no illusions that I or anyone I know would ever/could ever excel on it. Which is okay! I’m excited to see a non-retarded approach to dessert on TV, as well as a portrayal of pastry chefs as something other than the Collette Peters cutesy lady or the Duff Goldman/Elizabeth Faulkner cake rebel. Though I will refer all Cheftestants to my own personal mantra, when the day gets too long or too tough:

It’s just cake. Just. Cake.

*deep breath*

Right, continue.

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A SAD Story

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Related video: Denis Leary, he’s an asshole. Probably not a SAD one, though.

It is November, and the days have

shifted solidly into the favor of Our Watery Overlords, who will reign for the next six to seven months. There’s been a lot of forlorn sighs here in the land that is Port, a lot of dreary gazing out of windows and amazed observations of the ever-earlier sunset. Myself, I welcome the invasion of gray. All the more excuse to hole up on my couch with five cups of coffee and Netflixed cop shows.

But Emmy, you say! What about that fierce plague of the Pacific Northwest, Seasonal Affective Disorder? Yes, it’s true, at least DOZENS of Portlanders every year are reduced to sleepy, carb-stuffing lumps as a result of our rainy climate. It’s one of the MAJOR RISKS of living in Oregon.*

Now, I am not one to call bull pucky on mental health issues, but this girl grew up in a town notorious for its fog and she’s never attributed her sleepiness and love of starchy foods to anything other than being a bit of a flake. Though I do often wish I could hibernate like a bear (“It’s like, you eat a bunch of food, hunker down for a long-ass nap, and when you wake up the sun is shining and you’re thin again!”) I’ve come to accept the fact that the earth is still spinning during winter, even if my little section of it is more often tilted away from its glorious sun. As Mr. Leary says, “Sweetheart, that’s just Winter.” (WARNING: Taking life advice from Denis Leary may lead to assholishness and advanced Catholicism, and is generally not recommended)

SO REJOICE! I am here to offer you my tried and true solutions to the SAD monkey that may or may not be on your back. Because even though the sky is dreary and the wind is sharp, your ass has got to get to your goddamn job or you gonna get fired.

Solution #1: Denial

Man up. Don’t even think about it. Just get out of bed and put your damn pants on. Don’t think about the fact that it was dark when you got up, it’s dark all day at work, and it’ll be dark when you leave to go home. Don’t think about the wet piles of arboreal detritus lining the streets and slicking the sidewalks every time you step outside. And ESPECIALLY don’t think about your mounting utility bills and the precious minutes of your life wasted in waiting for your car to warm up.

Solution #2: Give in to commercialism

You guys, how can you not get excited over SWEATER WEATHER?! And fuzzy slippers, and flannel PJ pants, and even, lord help me, Ugg boots. Now’s the time to kick up your shearling-lined heels and give in to all the cheesy, Old Navy Commercial-like cliches of fall and winter. Drink spiced apple cider. Buy reindeer-printed sleep sets for your loved ones. Wear one of the 5,274 scarves you knitted but keep in the back corner of your closet because you actually suck at knitting. And always, always have a bottle of red wine handy. Which leads us to…

Solution #3: Pencil in your vices

Fuck the gym. I say start your day with coffee, end it with a drink, and fill in the hours between with delicious food. November may be the month of rain, but it is also the month of Thanksgiving, an ENTIRE HOLIDAY dedicated to eating (and also the mass fucking over of native people, to be fair). Give in to tryptophan, people! It’s awesome!

What I’m saying is, approach these things not with the sucking dread of a life ruled by weather patterns, but with seasonal joy and merriment. This morning, for example, I decided to sleep as long as humanly possible. That was on my mental to-do list for the day. When I go into work tomorrow and my coworkers ask what I did on my weekend, I will tell them “absolutely nothing,” and you bet your sweet bippy they’ll all be jealous. The point is to choose to do the things that you want to do, whatever they may be. If you want to go hang out with friends, fine. If you want to lie in bed reading romance novels, that’s fine too. We all have our obligations, the things we have to do to keep our life running. But in my free time I’m not gonna angst over the fact that it’s so coooold and saaaaad to go outside and do the things I don’t actually want to do because it’s so cold and fucking sad. Which, by the way, is not a bad philosophy to adhere to at any time of year. So there.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a butternut squash and a glass of chardonnay.

*The other one being death by sparkly vampires. Also known as twoooo wuvvvv.


Filed under life, videos

Things Emmy Has Said/Done This Week

WHILE WATCHING AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN: “Not the tasting noises! Oh, this is so gross. I can’t listen. It’s like a porn. What if they made a porn? It would be called ‘America’s Fuck Kitchen.’ I can’t believe no one’s done that yet. Wait, maybe they have. Should I google it? No. Ew, no. I can’t google that. It’s too horrible.”

IN REGARDS TO THE UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS: “Did the kid just fall down? Or are they boning?”

SENT VIA TEXT MESSAGE: “Where are yoooouuuuuu? I am getting drunk.”

SHOPPING AT OLD NAVY: “Should I get this argyle sweater? I mean, I’m not really an argyle sweater person. I mean…well, I guess I am. Shut up. Also it’s pink and purple and goes with my hiking boots.”


LISTENING TO THE RADIO: “Sometimes when I hear this Death Cab for Cutie intro, I think of Keyboard Cat. Like, playing the keyboard. It’s very pretty. They should team up. They could be ‘Death Cab for Keyboard Cat.’ Omigod, tell that to the internet.”

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