Summatime in the PNW and the Hunt for Chinese Food

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Dear Readers,
Summer is finally behind us! Sure, it was nice to have sunshine, and be outside, and not carry an umbrella ALL THE TIME, but I've missed my umbrella. And soups, and darkness at 4:30 pm. That's just who I am, and I've got to embrace it. But first, the husband wrote a post about Chinese Food. And below are some photos to recap our summer. Also, we moved at the beginning of summer, so there are lots of photos of the new garden.

As the adjustments to life in a new state continue, some truths are emerging as our roots grow into the ground each season. Portland is undoubtedly weird, and will keep that way for some time, even if the definition of weird is always changing. Oregon itself is different, very, very, very different than Southern California. Different is the reason we decided to move here--cleaner air, more than 1.5 seasons, easier access to mountains, rivers, and a homier feel with events like blueberry picking, Christmas tree cutting, and a sauerkraut festival with cabbage bowling.

But, not all different is good in our adopted land. Case in point: Chinese food. Chinese options in Oregon are sad, especially outside the metro area. But, we thought, there has to be someplace to get dim sim, dan dan noodles, and dumplings. With some optimism, we attempted XLB, a hip portland establishment that upon entering felt nothing like a Chinese restaurant (IPAs on draft is not cred-inducing criteria in my book). Their takeout food was expensive, the seasoning was off, and depressingly, the xao long bao is only available for dine-ins (sorry XLB, but the kid fell asleep on the drive over). The cold months of winter came, and we made due with Trader Joe's chicken dumplings, pho, Korean bbq, and trips to decent ramen places to satisfy our broader Asian food cravings.

Spring came, replete with flowering trees and a splashy parade of bulbs. First daffodils emerged, then tulips, and hyacinths (and allergies!!!). It wasn’t Chinese food, but when the entire land, even highway on-ramps, look like a floral shop, it fills a certain void. Gradually, we started hearing about a place called Taste of Szechuan. It made the Portland lists, it was recommended by friends and strangers, and at this point we had nothing to lose. We walked into the converted Marie Calendars, and we knew this place was special. It felt Chinese. It WAS Chinese. The menu had Szechuan noodles we had been craving, dumplings, and a whole host of new foods we’d never experienced. We ordered way too much in our delight, and went home with leftover boxes and smiles on our faces.

Spring turned into summer, and we spent it enjoying the outdoors -- picking berries, visiting splash pads, rivers, and wineries. Our search for Chinese food continued, with fruitful results (more to come later). But, first, an overview of our PNW summer in photos.
We have a garden again! And despite planting late in the summer, it really took off, and we've got herbs and greens, and fall surprises coming.

We also managed to get away for a camping trip, and despite all the wildfires around us, we had fun!
Other than that, we spent a good portion of the summer settling into the new house, cooking, and eating outside (so I guess I'll miss that about summer).
 Lot's of trips to parks and splash pads. And Viggo learned to ride a scooter, like a pro.
End of summer tomatoes, accessorized and roasted for five hours at 275 degrees. These headed to the freezer for the upcoming winter. Let's see if they make it past November.

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