Investigating Weird Portland 2014

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2This is the last blog post about my American travels, and for me it’s the most spectacular one. I had always wanted to use my copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon as an actual tourist guide. And while it was impossible to follow it step-by-step – I have no idea where the self-cleaning house is, am not particularly interested in strip clubs, and the Portland Memorial is closed to the public these days unless you have relatives interred there – I did get to see most of the landmarks and shops and curiosities. I had a Big Wave Hawaiian lager at the Tiki bar mentioned in the book, I found the tour through the Shanghai tunnels (including sinister stories of waking up in total darkness with a hangover and no shoes and the floor strewn with broken glass: they’ve got trunks of men’s boots down there) – and I even had a chance to go to Mount Angel Abbey and have a look at their museum of curiosities. There I found: taxidermied deformed animals (two versions of eight-legged calf!), giant pig bezoars, an “authentic” replica of the Crown of Thorns using thorns from a shrub researched by a quite enthusiastic Franciscan Brother, strange international versions of “imported” Virgin Marys, and the most well-preserved and well-made collection of taxidermied wildlife I’ve ever seen, all arranged in “life-like” poses of interaction and often in combat.

You can find my pictures here. (I’ve deliberately kept my attempted “ghost photography” from inside the Shanghai tunnels; skip the pictures if you get bored by them.)

 

The Vitamix Experiments #5: Coconut Butter

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When I read this post on Oh She Glows, I knew I had to give this a try. And it’s true: making your own coconut butter in a Vitamix is super easy. It only took the S 30 about 8 minutes, and while the result isn’t exactly making me squee, I guess this too can be modified with various flavours, and I think it’s another great feature of a high speed blender I wouldn’t have thought of by myself. Besides, I haven’t used coconut butter in baking yet, and I love baking with coconut milk, so I’ll have to give this a try soon.

All in all, the little S 30 seems to be a keeper so far. I’ll experiment some more with hummus and pasta sauces and salad dressings and smoothies, and if I come across something surprising and marvellous, I’ll let you know. And if the S 30 doesn’t suddenly and unexpectedly act up, it can stay (and will probably be named after something from a Jack Vance novel, since it comes from the future and makes nice food).

 

The Vitamix Experiments #4: Strawberry Sorbet

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Of course I had to try it! Unfortunately, I can’t freeze bananas right now, since the unpredictable Fridge from Hell might find random ways of destroying them if I tried. But I can get frozen berries from the supermarket. So I threw a packet of frozen strawberries in the S 30 and turned them into sorbet. Just like that!

The motor got a little hot (I could smell it – but nothing alarming), but it didn’t switch itself off or do anything weird, and then I had strawberry sorbet.

It’s nice, and/but having tried it, I can easily see how you could modify it by adding yogurt, coconut milk etc. to make it into even better ice cream. And the Vitamix might prefer that too.

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The Vitamix Experiments #3: Ice and Greens

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Ha! I made two big ice cubes! Not slush, not containers frozen into a big block of ice that fills what doesn’t even resemble a regular freezer compartment in the silly Fridge from Hell. And yes, I used American pill boxes, which a kind internet person once sent me because I mentioned I like how they look. (Probably just a case of TV-and-cinema-induced exoticism.) Anyway. The S 30 eats ice cubes for breakfast.

Also spinach leaves, pre-soaked chia seeds and a whole cardamom pod (which may be a little too much cardamom for one big smoothie, but I’m not complaining). Blended with a banana and soymilk, plus some cinnamon.

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