I live in Portland, Oregon with my wife, son and daughter. I left corp America two years ago and now cook, write about and photograph food for a [meager] living. I still have a great deal to learn about food and am having an absolute blast doing it!

  • Location: Portland, Oregon
  • Favorite foods: If I could eat any food in any quantity without ill effects it would be cheese! I love all kinds, especially with a glass of wine. Next favorite is almost any kind of roasted pepper. Cheese and roasted peppers together are heaven.
  • Last bite on earth: Mexican food! Enchiladas with a good, rich red sauce. Add a chile relleno and a really good grilled steak taco in soft, corn tortillas loaded with cilantro and pico de gallo.

Latest Comments

Thanksgiving dinner conversation starters

Wow...good stuff. Thanks to all. Maybe I'm more concerned than I need to be about the whole thing! Probably a few well-placed conversation starters and lots of free-flowing wine is the best solution :) Now, time to start cookin'!

Tipping on Alcohol

I think a part of the issue is that few, if any of us, can fathom spending $1,000 or even $500 on a bottle of wine. As a result, a 15-20% gratuity on a bottle that expensive seems even more outrageous.

But that doesn't make buying an expensive bottle and tipping the customary percentage wrong. Nor does it make tipping below the customary percentage right.

Tipping on Alcohol

It's been more than 15 years since I waited tables so maybe things have changed. But I always expected a gratuity based on the total bill, including alcohol. Here's why:

Opening a very expensive bottle of wine requires more care than opening an inexpensive bottle. Expensive, older wines have corks that are often more difficult to handle. Imagine breaking the cork on a $1000 bottle of wine!

In my day servers were required to tip out to assistant waiters, the bar, and sometimes the kitchen based on a percentage of their sales (including alcohol). So if a server receives no gratuity on an expensive wine, they actually end up losing money on the deal.

Also, waiters (again in my day) were required to claim 8% of all food and alcohol sales for tax purposes. So a server would be taxed as if they received a gratuity on an expensive bottle of wine whether they received the gratuity or not.

I agree what others have said...If you can't afford a full gratuity for good service, then you can't afford the meal (or wine).

Home Remedies for Sore Throats?

A second vote for gargling with salt water...Do it every hour or more. With this tactic I haven't had a sore throat get out of hand in years. Good luck...hope you feel better soon.

raising your own chickens: pros & cons

If your neighbors are close keep them in mind...The smell and the noise will impact them too.

jazzing up white rice

I love plain white rice alone or with sweet chili sauce.

Another way is to saute a bit of onion in butter and olive oil. Add rice, chicken broth and lemon juice. Stir lemon zest into finished rice. Tasty and refreshing but won't overpower the main course.

Dinner Tonight: Baked Ziti

Here's Cook's Illustrated's position:

"In the test kitchen, we've often avoided using crushed tomatoes because the differences among leading brands are so dramatic. The textures vary from watery and thin to so thick you could stand a spoon in it. You might get peels or no peels; plentiful seeds or none; big, rough-cut chunks of tomato or a smooth, sauce-like consistency with no chunks at all."

They go on to test a number of brands..Muir Glen and Hunts Organic among other less known brands were recommended. I say keep the food processor on the shelf if you can.

Surprising Comfort Foods

Cheese enchiladas
Whole wheat toast with butter and orange marmalade

My wife likes condensed cream of chicken soup (just barely diluted) mixed with curry powder and served over white rice...add spinach and all is well with the world.

How do you plan your meals for the week?

I've been told it's a bit over the top, but this is how I do it:

I shop once a week to avoid unecessary and impulse purchases. This saves me big bucks...I'm sure of it.

Every monday morning I go to epicurious and similar sites to find interesting recipes that are quick to prepare. I copy and paste the recipes into a Word document. From the recipe's ingredients list, I create a shopping list at the top of the same document.

At the same time I consider items I already have in the fridge, freezer, pantry that need to get used.

Then I add the usual weekly stuff: milk, eggs, etc.

I print the document and use it as a shopping list. Because the recipes are also in the document, they are printed and handy when it comes time to prepare dinner.

I spend about $150 a week for a family of four and like to think we eat pretty well...Lot's of interesting and varied dinners through the week.

One of the best parts is that I'm able to create my menu and shopping list in 30 minutes at most. Because I love to cook, I actually enjoy the process. Over the top? Maybe. But I enjoy it and it works for me.

What's for Dinner? 09/02

Goin' out for sushi...It's been too long!

What's for Dinner? 09/01

Spanish tortilla with Yukon Golds, onions and Spanish chorizo...I've never made this before so should be interesting. Not sure how the "flip" will work out.

What's for Dinner? 08/31

Grilled squash from my mother-in-law's garden, lentils and brown rice with hot sauce...Really good and healthy. I'm making up for it later in the week by doing some experimentation with store-bought puff pastry...I've lined up a few recipes, some savory and some sweet.

What's for Dinner? 08/29

@missvenuz...That sounds fantastic. It's UofA 'cats BBQ time at our house too, but in Portland, Or. We'll have grilled mahi mahi tacos...but have to use store-bought corn tortillas...

Favorite Grilling Recipes

I agree that the "Mexican Street Hawker" corn is REALLY good...I had some in Mexico City years ago and still dream about it. Try crumbled cotija cheese instead of parmesan for a variation.

Favorite Grilling Recipes

Try cedar-planked salmon. Pick up a food-grade cedar plank (most grocery stores have them) and follow the soaking directions. Place a nice cut of fresh wild salmon on the plank, rub in some olive oil and coarse-ground salt. Place it right on a medium-hot, covered grill for about 15 minutes...Careful not to overcook. Very simple, easy healthy and delicious.

Side note: I've never tried beer-can chicken...based on so many recommendations I guess I better try it!

Weeknight Staples

One of my favorites that is really fast and healthier too...

Saute 3 cups of prepackaged stir-fry veggies until almost tender. Add 4 cups chicken broth and a 16oz package of frozen chicken pot stickers (gyoza). Bring just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer a few minutes until gyozas are done.

Veggies usually last for a week in the fridge so it's a good buy-ahead recipe too.

Food and sites between SF & Portland-

You're going to love the Oregon coast...Whether stormy or sunny it's a great experience.

The Bay House near Lincoln City, Oregon is a great restaurant although a little expensive. Also in Lincoln City is the Blackfish Cafe which is nice.

Don't miss Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach.

Sounds like a great trip!

Costco and Big Box stores for food: way or no way?

Rotisserie chickens are delicious and a great value...Bigger and cheaper than those from a regular grocery store. I bone them and freeze the meat. I then thaw over medium heat in chicken broth. Great for dinners on the fly.

Costco meats are very high quality. We buy salmon and NY steaks most often, but only when cooking for a crowd.

French in a Flash: Asparagus Parmesan Pain Perdu with Homemade Tomato Jam

Just made this for lunch...Very delicious and satisfying. The tomato jam puts it over the top and is so easy to prepare. I'm trying to think of other foods the jam would go well with: The base in shirred eggs, country bread drizzled with olive oil and grilled, grilled or poached fish. Other suggestions? Mmm, will definitely make again.

what is the first thing you grab?

What I should eat: Raw almonds and raisins or cottage cheese with generous dashes of spicy thai seasoning.

What I want to eat: Cheese sandwich or PBJ and diet soda

Sometimes I do what I should, other times I don't :)

How to cook a pork loin

Cut the tenderloin into 1/2-inch thick medallions against the grain. Season with salt and pepper then lightly flour. Brown both sides in olive oil and remove from pan. Deglaze pan with beef broth, scraping up brown bits. Add some dijon mustard and capers. Cook sauce down just a bit; adjust thickness with more broth if needed. Add back pork and cook until heated through.

I love this because it's not only delicious but really quick and easy. Great with rice pilaf. Mmm...maybe I'll make this for dinner tonight:)

In need of Feta cheese recipe ideas

I love feta and black beans on a warmed corn tortilla with a dash of hot sauce. Top it with a mixture of shredded cabbage, fresh lime juice, spring onion and cilantro. Add diced fresh jalapeno for some zip. Really fast, easy dinner that’s healthy and delicious.

What's for dinner tonight?

A beautiful, sunny day in Portland so we grilled up chicken breasts drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt, black pepper and fresh thyme. On the side were fresh corn, squash and green beans tossed in jalapeno butter. Chocolate brownies for dessert.

Great dinner but company was even better...Brother and sister-in-law came over.


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