Showing posts with label Hal Brown New York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hal Brown New York. Show all posts

December 30, 2021

Hal Brown, the blog, Dec. 2021

 "About Me" is here.  

November edition 

My Daily Kos political stories are here. In November I decided to make this a blog with personal  stories illustrated with my photos from my various trips discovering scenic and interesting areas around the Portland, Oregon suburb where I live. I am always on the lookout for unique restaurants frequented mostly by local residents like the Scream'n Chicken (in Gaston) and Carlton Corners in Carlton. Recently I found The Hitch'n Post in Molalla. (Go to November to see these restaurants and the towns where they are located). 

Click to enlarge map of my trips to the places documented in this mostly pictorial blog:

Dec. 28, 2021

Today I went to the The Tollgate Inn, in Sandy which is a town I've never visited.  You can see Sandy on the map between Clackamas and Mt. Hood Village on the right.

I ordered the large size Yankee pot roast, with mashed potatoes and broccoli. It couldn't have been better but I could only finish half the roast.

 This is a large family restaurant with two big dining areas, a smaller one with booths, and a separate saloon. The interior is decorated with interesting period items which you can see in some of the photos below.

Below: I didn't see the crow on the sign until I got home.


Above: On the way home from the moving car I took this without seeing what appears to be the shadow of two men, the hands of one on the left and the entire shadow of another, working on an electrical connection.

This is what it looked like yesterday at 11:00 AM after an overnight snow of between 1-3 inches melted around where I live.

Dec. 27, 2021

Bob's Red Mill, Milwaukie, Oregon

Bob's Red Mill (website) is a local institution. I'd never been there but it was on my list for a lunch when I don't venture far afield into the countryside. It is nearby, about a 10 minute drive. 

I went there to buy their amazing popping corn since the big box grocery store I shop at was out of it. When I eat the big lunches featured in this blog I often just have air popped popcorn for dinner. Popcorn, you say, is this good for you? Well, I can tell you that "popcorn is one of the world’s healthiest and most popular snack foods. It is loaded with important nutrients and offers a variety of health benefits." This isn't my opinion. It comes from a registered dietician. She called it a low calorie snack but considering that I add a half a bar of melted butter I suppose we can ignore that, but I mean who eats dry popcorn?

As you can see from the photos (click to enlarge) Bob's has a large balcony dining area and other dining area on the main flour. There is also an outside area. 

Bob's sells items like flour, granola, bread, cookies, and grains for consumers in numerous area grocery stores. Some items are sold in commercial quantities. For the full selection, which is enormous as you can see in the photos, you have to go to the store.

Today's blog is dedicated to Dennis and Marie

Dec. 26, 2021

Part One

I miss the snow from when I lived in Massachusetts. In fact before moving here my entire life was spent is states, New York, Michigan, and Massachusetts, where nobody even considered a snow storm to be significant unless there was a foot on the ground and 10 foot high drifts across the roads in the countryside.

This morning at 4:00 AM even though I was hoping for deeper snow, I was happy to see at least a dusting of snow outside my window and some light wet snow falling. (Click images to enlarge):

Two hours later:

We could have almost 3" through Monday:

I'm hoping to drive into the countryside for lunch today because even with just a little snow on the trees it will be something I've never seen since moving here. 

In this part of Oregon where it is rare to have more than a dusting of snow the majority of drivers are ill-prepared to venture out. I have an all-wheel drive car and hopefully I'm not kidding myself when I say I am very good at driving in the snow. Of course, being wary of drivers who aren't is the most important. They represent the biggest danger of venturing onto the snow covered roads. I am well aware that even with an all wheel or 4-wheel drive vehicle the fact that you can go in the snow doesn't mean that you can safely stop in the snow. Stopping safely in the snow requires chains.

When we lived in Michigan at least once a winter we drove to visit my wife's parents in Massachusetts.

This is their driveway after a big snowstorm.

A few times we drove the 12-14 hour trip during blizzards where we had to drive behind snow plows and navigate through the night by following their tail lights because otherwise we could barely see the highway in front of us.

Here are some photos from 2006 in at home in Massachusetts:

One of our cranberry bogs is in the background.

In Massachusetts we had a cranberry farm so I had two front end loaders and a truck with a snow plow so always plowed our long driveway and our neighbor's driveway (and also end of our street if the city hadn't done it yet). When we sold the bogs and our equipment I got tired of doing it myself with a snowblower and had it plowed out by the man in the photo above.

Part Two

The snow stopped and the roads seemed dry and the sun was breaking through the clouds so I decided to drive to Aurora and eat lunch at an old standby, The Old Colony Pub. Here are the photos.

First, driving there on Oregon's (see Wiki article) Route 99:

There were hardly any cars on Route 99 along the Willamette River both going and returning. I've posted photos of The Old Colony Pub and Aurora before. Here are today's with wet snow on the ground.

Below: Swiss mushroom burger.
Another bathroom photo.

This is the kid friendly dinning room:

Below: The Oregon Ducks were playing Pepperdine. Our team won 68-59.
By the time I left the sky had mostly cleared and the snow had stopped.


Dec. 25, 2021

Merry Christmas from Mac, Duff, and I.

Click images to enlarge

Dec. 23, 2021 (Click images to enlarge)

The Ovation Bistro and Bar in Milwaukie, Oregon

How did I end up eating in a small wonderful French restaurant a few minutes from home? After all, regular readers of this blog know how far afield I travel to find unusual restaurants. Today I was on the road at 6:30 AM on unfamiliar winding roads in a light rain in the pitch dark taking my car for service at a Lexus dealership some distance away. They gave me a loaner so I drove home in a brand new car. (I can see why they are so happy to offer to loan cars as all the new features may tempt some people to trade in their old car, a 2013 in my case.) My car wasn't finished until 1:30 so on the way home I was pretty hungry and decided to go to Ovation in the town of Milwaukie. I'd eaten there before and found the food and service was excellent. I ordered a portobello burger and my friend ordered their Ovation burger on lettuce. Both were excellent. 

In my travels unto rural areas I've found myself in very conservative Trump country. There's no mistaking that this restaurant is welcoming and inclusive for anybody considering the Pride flag next to the French flag being flown outside:


What all the different LGBTQ+ flags actually mean

I generally keep politics out of my blog, leaving my opinions on this subject for my Daily Kos articles (here), but the proud flying of this Pride flag led me to look up Milwaukie:

Politics & Voting in Milwaukie, Oregon

The Political Climate in Milwaukie, OR is Leaning liberal.

Clackamas County, OR (where I live) is Somewhat liberal. In Clackamas County, OR 54.0% of the people voted Democrat in the last presidential election, 42.9% voted for the Republican Party, and the remaining 3.2% voted Independent.

In the last Presidential election, Clackamas county remained strongly Democratic, 54.0% to 42.9%. 

Clackamas county voted Democratic in the four most recent Presidential elections, after 2000 and 2004 went Republican

I've been to one or two restaurants in my travels into rural Oregon where the vibe led me to feel that my liberal views wouldn't exactly be appreciated. In one restaurant, The Hitch'n Post, in Molalla for example, I could overhear a group of men whose conversation was all about the features of firearms they liked. 

In Ovation I had a conversation with a couple at the next table about truffles which led to my asking if they saw the Nicolas Cage movie "Pig" (a 97% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes) which was set in Oregon and about a man who had his truffle hunting pig stolen. They said they had seen it and in fact were just talking about it. They told me that it was one of President Obama's favorite movies of the year (read story).

The restaurant only has about eight table and a few chairs at the small bar, plus outside tables used when the weather permits. It is on the corner of a street that runs parallel to the city's Main Street where there are several other restaurants. 

The view from our table wasn't exactly scenic:

Our personable waiter, Romano, was dressed for the season:

Our waiter was wearing a face mask with the Pride stripes on it.

Portobello Burger
 Marinated portobello cap with provolone cheese, heirloom tomato, and our pesto famous spread



 Painted Hills grass fed organic beef, thick slices of brie cheese, caramelized onions, Ovation’s signature burger sauce. 

Art in hallway to bathrooms

Driving my 2013 Lexus for service in the dark with the road wet and a light drizzle wasn't really fun.

Dec. 21, 2021

You should be able to click most of the photos to enlarge them.

What an amazing find this was! It is in the town of Hubbard (pop about 3000) south of Aurora on Route 99 (aka Pacific Highway). 

The Burger Hut Cafe had excellent Yelp reviews so I decided to check it out. It did not disappoint.

Unassuming from the outside the inside was decorated with numerous Betty Boop memorabilia, photos of 1957 Chevy's, other items provoking nostalgia in those like me who remember the fifties very well. There was a working vintage juke box with 50's hits which the waitresses kept playing.

The 8 oz. New York strip steak at $13.25 came with soup or salad and a choice of several kinds of potatoes or onion rings. I had the vegetable soup which came in a large bowl and was delicious. But it was the steak that surprised. It was far better than the same steak meals costing $29 at other restaurants. It was juicy, tender, and flavorful without any grizzle. You didn't even need a sharp steak knife to cut it.


The restaurant staff was very friendly. I was told that before the pandemic the restaurant had become so popular with out-of-towners that there was often a line waiting to be seated. Today only a few tables were occupied. 

As I was leaving I met an interesting couple who had also just finished eating. They were from the nearby hamlet of  Mulino. We got to talking about 1950's cars and the man said he grew up in L.A. and he and his friends didn't have cars. Instead he told me they stole them and took them for joy rides leaving them a few blocks from where they took them. He said he'd estimate that they stolen between 60-70 cars. I asked what the fastest he ever drove was and he said 180 mph. I told him I'd never driven more than 140 mph and even then the scenery was going by so quickly it was just a blur. The woman said that she had a 1964 GTO that was so fast she once got stopped by a cop for speeding who didn't give her a ticket saying he just wanted to see what was under the hood of her car.

After eating I checked out the "downtown" section of Hubbard and then drove back to Aurora and Rt.99 a new way, as it happens mostly on Boones Ferry Rd. which I come across all the time and which seems to go everywhere as it is a Main Street in Lake Oswego. The drive on this particular route goes though lovely orchard country with vast fields of fruit trees.

The old VW and the isolated bare tree somehow seem to go together.

Dec. 20, 2021

Don't bury your burger

Pogo book by Walt Kelly
When I first read this when I was a kid I never knew the tag line above would stick with me for the next 65 or so years.

If you follow this blog you know I am always on a quest to find the best burgers around. I have found some delicious burgers in out of the way independent restaurants (reported on in pictorial stories for your culinary edification particularly if you live in the Portland area). I usually order burgers topped with embellishments like chili, mushrooms, and onions. I've even had burgers made with a mixture of beef, venison, elk, and wild boar. Sometimes they are so loaded one can't even see the burger itself (see photo of completely buried burger from Dean's). Last night instead of broiling a Fred Myers pub burger from their meat counter and making a cheeseburger (like I did the other night)  I made a simple burger with  Montreal steak seasoning  rubbed in on the outsides. 

Call it a naked or unadulterated hamburger. There's a good case to be made that the only fair way to rate a burger is to have it unembellished, even eschewing adding condiments.  This simple burger was delectable.

I had prepackaged potatoes and made a stir fry.
I made the burger with pre-packaged ground beef.

Coming for Christmas, a Filet Mignon from, of all places, Fred Meyer.

Fortunately the strike is over at the store I usually food-shop at, Fred Meyers, so I am able to shop there again. The big meat news is that they have upped their game. In the prepackaged meat section they now have a variety of prime cut (not merely choice) streaks with the top end being a 7 oz. Filet Mignon (sometimes dubbed tenderloin) at $21.00. I'd made a Filet Mignon a few weeks ago which I bought at the expensive Zupan's Market. I cooked it in the recommended way by searing it in a cast iron skillet on the stove top and then baked it while still in the skillet. Here's one recipe. 
Considering that a meal at a restaurant that even has Filet Mignon on the menu which I go to don't, will cost about $38 (at The Verdict in Oregon City for example) $21 is a good deal. At most places I go to eat the best steak available is a 12 oz. New York cut for $29 like they have at Ranee's on Main also in Oregon City. They are usually tasty but chewy and not cut it with a fork melt in your mouth like a Filet. 

Dec. 17, 2021

Watch Willamette Falls video here:

Read about the Willamette Falls Legacy Project here

Dec. 14, 2021 Click to enlarge photos.

I was going to Clackamas Town Center which is located in Happy Valley (a real nearby city) to look at hiking shoes at REI and decided to see what the best independent restaurants there were. I found Dean's Home Style Cafe on Yelp. It is in a converted old farmhouse. Once upon a time it was on a farm but now the area is built up and it is surrounded by warehouses and stores. Add this to my list of recommended unique restaurants which are frequented mostly by local residents.

The interior is modified to make it into a restaurant of course but the three small dining areas are mostly unchanged.

The serving staff is very welcoming.  I talked to a man and woman who come there all the time and they had nothing but compliments for the place.

Here are a couple of patrons:

Here's my chili burger with a side of tasty onion rings. It was excellent but I could only manage to eat half.

There's a half pound burger and a bun under the mound of chili, onions, and cheese.


Dec. 11, 2021

My quest for the perfect Portland burger ends at Fred Meyer and my kitchen. You can spend more than $15 if you eat in a restaurant but my burger costs $3.00.

Related article: 

What Oregon’s $15 pub burger teaches us about inflation

Fred Meyer burger cooked under my broiler adding a thick slice of cheddar just before it is finished.

I've managed to find some really tasty burgers in my journeys around the Portland, Oregon suburb where I live. From Gaston and both Scream'n Chick and One Horse Tavern out in wine country to the Westwood part of Portland and Dick's Primal Burger to The Hitch'n Post in Molalla there are lots of delicious burgers you can enjoy.

Above: The Hitch'n Post

One Horse Tavern

Above: The Hitch'n Post

Scream'n Chicken

Dick's Primal Burger

None of them are better than the pub burger I can make at home. It costs a mere $3.00. Because they plump up in the broiler it is best to put an indentation in the middle.

Dec. 10, 2021

Nothing planned for the weekend, unless you count folding the laundry.

Dec. 9, 2020

Yesterday I posted a photo essay with pictures of clouds on Daily Kos and hardly anybody looked at it. All of the photos were from this blog. Later in the day I was driving to Clackamas Mall (formally called Clackamas Town Center) to see if XFinity would replace my falling off iPhone screen protector for free (they wouldn't). It had been raining all day. The sky was bleak with dark grey to black clouds and not a hint of blue breaking through. Then the rain stopped and the dark clouds broke up and the sky looked like this:

Dec. 8, 2021

Lunch at Coasters Crossing in Oregon City

This restaurant, unlike the others I've eaten at there, isn't on Main Street. It is across the street from The Oregon Trail Museum. The restaurant is in the old train station. This is an alternative where passengers can get on Amtrak instead of in Downtown Portland.

It is a fairly small restaurant. The service was excellent. I've had cod and halibut fish and chips in other Oregon restaurants but the fish have never come close to the succulent batter fried fish we used to get at next to the water The Narrows Crossing in Wareham, Massachusetts. Photo from their website:

I'd never seen mahi-mahi fish and chips on a menu so I ordered it was amazed at how good it was. The fish was moist, succulent, and melt in your mouth. The fries were also excellent. I didn't touch the tartar sauce or even put lemon on the fish.

There is outside seating both in the front facing the street and back of the restaurant where you can watch the trains. It was too cold to sit outside. The inside has a bar and two small dining sections.

While I was there the Cascade Amtrak train came through (their website). It runs from Vancouver, British Columbia (not the Vancouver in Washington where I go to eat) to Eugene, Oregon.

These are the pictures from outside the restaurant.

Dec. 6, 2021

The journey for supper wasn't exactly a scenic trip where my quest is to find great food in unsual restaurants. I had a craving for Popeye's chicken. The restaurant is a mere five minute drive. I always accepted that their tasty fried chicken was probably loaded with hormones and antibiotics and cooked in the worst oil possible.  If you can believe their website it turns out that I'd been jumping to a hasty conclusion.

Our chicken is free of added hormones and steroids*

We’re working to improve broiler chicken health by supporting the use of integrated animal welfare programs to promote practices that support and address the globally-recognized five freedoms of animal welfare.

It’s also our goal that by 2021, our chicken in the US will be raised with no antibiotics important to human medicine, as defined by the World Health Organization. Learn more about our approach to animal welfare here

*Federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones or steroids in poultry

The trip to the restaurant and back in the rain was uneventful:

Before getting to the takeout window there's
an overflowing trash container. I wonder who
uses it since presumably those driving haven't
eaten yet. Perhaps they are just emptying out their cars.

The trip when I got home was a different story. It led to this:

Once I threw a couple of towels on the mess to sop up the soda (I used my carpet cleaner later) I enjoyed the still hot meal (I'd brought it home in an insulated bag). 

I ate while watching an episode (Season 1, Number 15) of Picket Fences (Series reviews in Rotten Tomatos). This is the one where Kimberly's 16 year old best friend gets pregnant by her father and gets off in court on the grounds of religious freedom since the family was Mormon. I had the four piece chicken meal but couldn't finish it so will have a leftover piece to eat some other time.

Dec. 5, 2021

Just lunch at the tried and true always friendly and tasty Ranee's in Oregon City where Tim, a server there, remembers all the regulars. It was very busy.

I am impressed by the bathroom artwork:


Dec. 1, 2021

There are more than 72 pictures today! (I took most of them but some are from a variety of websites.) 

Unless otherwise indicated photos and text by Hal Brown

from Website, here

To Vancouver, then to the Bridge of the Gods and back home.

Vancouver is only about a half hour drive from where I live (map above)
Upriver on 14 on the Washington side, across the bridge, and downriver home on 84

I ate lunch in Vancouver, a growing and thriving Washington city just across the Columbia River from Oregon. I followed this with a scenic drive on Washington Route 14, across the Bridge of the Gods, and then drove back on I-84 which runs next to the Columbia River to Portland.

Vancouver is about a half hour drive from where I live.
In Vancouver I had lunch at Twigs. Twigs (below are three photos from their website, here) 

The above photos are from the Twigs website.
I took the photos below.

My lemon caper halibut. Delicious.

The Vancouver Columbia River waterfront is being developed with new construction of condos. The already impressive walkway along the river is being extended as well. Click each of the images below for websites about the waterfront project.

Vancouver’s historic waterfront is welcoming jobs, restaurants, shops, housing, a hotel and a park as new development reconnects 35 acres along the Columbia River to the city’s historic core.

By creating a vibrant new community, the City and its economic development partners are building the foundation to grow jobs, businesses, tourism, recreation and transportation. 

The focal point of this new urban community is the waterfront park, designed with a cable-stayed pier and magnificent water feature. A talented team of designers have created a truly one-of-a-kind interactive, educational park. To understand the Columbia River is to understand its parts, names, places and pathways. Experiencing the Headwaters Water Feature – the centerpiece for the half-mile long park – happens on many levels. Some are drawn to the feature for playtime, families with young children, or a playful adult choosing to kick off their shoes for a dip in the fountain.

On the waterfront I'd eaten at WildFin, another excellent seafood restaurant (see their website), and a burger and whiskey bar called Stack 51 (website) before. 

There is ample fee parking a block from the waterfront. 

From the waterfront you can see planes low in the sky over the river headed towards Portland International Airport (PDX) which is a few miles upriver on the Oregon side. I couldn't get a good photo from Rt. 14 so this is one someone else posted:

Watch a video about the bridge from Portland to Vancouver (above). Replacing the bridge is a high priority for both states as it is in disrepair and wouldn't survive a major earthquake. This is the I-5 Bridge replacement website:
Below: From the website

Instead of driving back directly via expressway I took the long meandering scenic route which is along highway 14 on the southern Washington border. Here are the photos I took on the entire trip.

This is a photo I took of myself in the mirror at home. I removed
the background and superimposed myself on the photo I took of Beacon Rock.

Beacon Rock State Park (Wikipedia) is a geologic preserve and public recreation area on Route 14 in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Skamania CountyWashingtonUnited States. The park takes its name from Beacon Rock, an 848-foot (258 m) basalt volcanic plug on the north shore of the Columbia River 32 miles (51 km) east of Vancouver. On October 31, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived here and first measured tides on the river, indicating that they were nearing the ocean. Read more on link below.
The stair trail to the top is on the river side and isn't visible from Rt. 14. Below is another photo from a website:
You need a $30 Washington park pass to be able to try the climb.

Bonneville Dam

To return to Oregon you take The Bridge of the Gods ($2.00 toll).

The fast way home is on Rt. 84. It runs a mere 50-100 feet from the river which is on your right. Just on the left is the windy scenic road where the waterfalls are, including the well known Multnomah Falls (website).

Below are photos I took on drive home, including some of a striking cloud formation the likes of which I have never seen.

Traffic moved quickly for most of the drive with numerous cars and trucks passing me driving well over the speed limit. About six miles from downtown Portland traffic slowed to a crawl for a few miles but then opened up again. 

Photos here for my Dec. 16 Daily Kos story

For use in Daily Kos

Nixon and Kennedy were evenly matched intellectually in their first debate. Nixon lost because of how he looked on TV. Trump may lose because he "loses it" on TV. By Hal Brown, MSW

  Read: Team Biden bets an unfiltered Trump at the debate can shake up the race GOP pollster Frank Luntz said the June 27 faceoff will be &q...