Portland, a GrassRoutes Guide and a Guest Post

October 5, 2010(updated on December 6, 2021)

a Portland vista

Scott and I are headed to Portland for a week of vacation next week. It will be Scott’s first visit to my hometown and I can’t wait to introduce him the wonder that is Powell’s Books, take him to eat at Pok Pok and drag him up to the top of Multnomah Falls.

An Urban Eco Guide

Though I haven’t lived in Portland in nearly nine years, I work hard to get back there at least once a year to eat, shop the thrift stores and hang out with my parents. Because I still know the city fairly well, when my cousin Serena asked if I’d be willing to contribute a few write-ups to the second edition the GrassRoutes Guide to Portland, I was happy to say yes (my sister also wrote a number of the blurbs).

So, in honor of my impending trip to Portland, I offer you a guest post from Serena. We’re also giving away one copy of the Portland Guide. Leave a comment sharing a memory of your hometown by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, October 7, 2010 to enter.

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Portland. Pickles. Don’t the two words sound extra enticing spoken one after another? And rightly so given the number of coveted pickle jars I discovered in my many trips north to the so-called City of Stumps. Researching and writing the GrassRoutes Guide to Portland took me to tables in every corner of the city, and one of the most memorable of those was also the kitchen whose pickles I favored.

Paley’s Place is not for routine meals. The white-walled rooms, located in what was once a family residence, are neatly crosshatched with linen-clothed tables, some of them two tops for couples toasting an anniversary. The ever-changing menu always features a pile of organic and sustainable ingredients, so it was a natural fit for a guide that focuses on conscientious businesses and activities that make a positive impact on the local economy, community, and environment.

I remember that night I had had an especially casual state of mind and ordered a burger at a place where I could have supped on suckling pig three ways with ricotta gnocchi. It wasn’t a regrettable decision, and it came with these pickled vegetables, recipe below, which really complimented the savory richness of the beef. This treasured food memory from my travels has become one of those invisible souvenirs that can be recreated in any geography, provided there’s a jar in the vicinity.

When we talked about me doing a guest post I thought, “What would be better than to share this recipe with the Food in Jars community of canners?” So here it is. And next time you get the chance to visit the rosy city of Portland try Paley’s Place for yourself, and other eco-savvy spots featured in GrassRoutes Portland, including several entries by Marisa, a contributor to the guide!

The recipe from Paley’s Place is after the jump…

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Pickled Vegetables


  • 2 large carrots peeled, sliced on the diagonal into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 large English cucumber sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 8 asparagus stalks woody ends removed, halved
  • 5 cups rice vinegar
  • 3 cups mirin Japanese rice wine
  • 3 tablespoons whole black pepper corns
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt


  • In a small saucepan, place the carrot slices and set aside. Place the cucumber and asparagus in a 1-gallon heatproof glass jar and set aside.
  • To make the pickling brine, in a large soup pot, combine the vinegar, mirin, peppercorns, star anise, cardamom, fennel, coriander, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Pour 4 cups of hot brine into the glass jar, or enough to cover the cucumber and asparagus, and set aside to cool. Pour 2 cups of brine into the pan with the carrots and cook over medium heat until the carrots are just tender, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. When all the vegetables are at room temperature, add the carrots and their brine to the glass jar, cover tightly, and refrigerate. Pickles will hold well, tightly covered, for up to 2 weeks. Save any extra brine for future pickling. It holds well, refrigerated, for up to 1 month.


“Virtually any vegetable can be pickled, so get creative. Use this recipe, essentially for pickling brine, as a guide for amounts and cooking times for the more commonly used vegetables. It generally takes 1 cup of brine to pickle 1 cup of vegetables. Some vegetables (like carrots) require cooking, and others (like cucumber) will not. Best of all, it is a very fast and easy process that will let you enjoy the pickles within 24 hours of making them.
Book info: GrassRoutes Guide to Portland, 2010 Sasquatch Books
Paley’s Place info: Paley’s Place Cook Book, 2008 Ten Speed Press, www.PaleysPlace.net

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39 thoughts on "Portland, a GrassRoutes Guide and a Guest Post"

  • My hometown is actually Portland, and I’d love to win the book! One of my favorite memories of the city is spending time with family at the International Rose Test Gardens. Enjoy your visit!

  • I grew up in LA – the last time we stayed at my sister’s, we had couldn’t leave too early (rush hour traffic) and were pretty much stuck at her house until after 10. Didn’t make a difference, there still was a lot of traffic…and apparently even worse now.

  • I grew up in a small town in Denmark called Birkerød. My parents still live there so I visit fairly often. One of the things I really like to do is take my parents dog out for a walk in the woods.

  • My family and I moved to Portland in the summer of 1968. Perfect warm weather and life was great. Then winter hit with a vengeance – it was the worst storm in many years. Weeks of snow and ice made driving treacherous for my parents, but as a kid it was a wonderland! I loved every moment of it and still smile every time I think of that cold winter!

  • I grew up in Ada, Oklahoma. This time of year was the best. I remember walking home from school through the crackling leaves, searching for windfall pecans. The air was crisp and the persimmons might (if you were lucky) get ripe and sweet enough to eat.

  • I grew up near Portland, in Canby. It was always a big deal to go into Portland as Canby had very little there. One of my favorite things was going to Oaks Amusement Park and their rollerskating rink. Lots of fun.

  • My most fond memory of Mayaguez, PR ,my hometown (also a college town), is walking through the university campus. Because my parents are both professors and most of my family has been part of the faculty at some point, I feel it’s the backdrop for most of my life and its history is so closely intertwined with my own that I can hardly separate the two.

  • I grew up in Bridgewater, NJ. My fondest memories are the changes in the seasons, I used to love the springtime when everything was in bloom, especially dogwood blossoms.

  • I grew up in Northern NJ, in a town called Rockaway Township. I have many fond memories from there, many of them relating to outside play. I most remember the great blizzard of 1996, when my whole family was snowed in, playing in the front yard, or drinking hot cocoa. We dug a huge tunnel through the snow for my extremely fluffy dog. I’m sure the snow seemed huge since I was only 8 years old.

    Also I have a friend who recently moved to Portland & I bet she would love this book!

  • I grew up in Reno Nv, and I will always remember feeling safe as I looked around at our 360 degrees of mountains…like a great big security blanket!
    We are moving to Portland in the near future and I would love to win this book. Thanks!

  • I grew up in a small town called Scotia, NY. The kind of place where your teachers had all taught your mom, aunts, uncles and cousins. There were 4 elementary schools in town, and I had gone to two of them. By the time I got to Junior High I knew half the kids in town. The best part about growing up where I did was the freedom I enjoyed. I’d just hop on my bike and spend hours riding and playing with my friends in the woods and on the riverbanks and in the park. Oh, and our library was a Colonial-era farmhouse that had been a stop on the Underground Railroad!

  • I grew up in Dover Pennsylvania. My favorite memories are anticipating the different seasons on my grandmother’s little farm. Spring was for garden and baby animals…summer was gardening full force…fall was shearing the fiber animals and Canning (tons of canning) with family. All the Aunts would come and we would spend a whole day on one item. Winter was for resting, Baking, and preparing for Spring.

  • We just finished a two week vacation in Northern California and came home on Friday to our hometown of Portland. I loved SF and all it had to offer, but I will say that I am ALWAYS so pleased to come home to my green, inviting, foodie, bookish, outdoor loving, Portland!

  • I will be in Portland next month and would love to have this guide. I live five miles away from where I was born in Northern California, so I have new memories of my hometown almost every day. Last night we were walking on a windy ridge with the golden grasses bending low under a pink sunset sky and I said, “This is why I’ll never be able to live anywhere else.” Except summers in Alaska, of course. 🙂

  • I remember as a kid reading our daily paper (Seattle PI) and way back with the weather stats would be a little item called the shipping news. This told which ships were in port or in the harbor and where they were destined and their cargo. Now it seems the water is only a view, or a ferry route. The residents are disconnected to any whisper of a working port. As a kid, that little news item connected my place to other places.

  • I grew up in a small town outside of Ithaca, NY. Ithaca’s a lot like Portland. I remember hiking in the Finger Lakes National Forest with my dad, and finding wild strawberries there with my grandparents.

  • I grew up in Houston, TX. I remember trips to the Astrodome with much fondness. We went there for rodeos and baseball games. What an impressive structure! I’m so sad that they tore it down rather than repurposing it somehow. But tearing down a fairly new building is very Houston. Too bad…

  • I grew up in Salem, Oregon. But I spent my weekends in high school traveling the 45 minutes up to Portland to shop the record stores and vintage boutiques. A group of us would drive up to see bands play at any number of cramped all ages venues. I remember walking around downtown with the smell of the breweries wafting through the air, indulging in great food at the Saturday Market, and eating at late night diners before reluctantly hauling ourselves back to Salem. I knew Portland was special back then, but without really understanding why. Now that I live here permanently, I can understand it more clearly. I don’t know if I’ll ever move away from this fair city. I can’t imagine another place being as perfect.

  • I don’t really have a hometown, but I have fond memories of living in a small town in Germany as a child and visiting the Christmas market at night–drinking cider.

    My sister just moved across the river from Portland. I would love to be able to share this gift with her.

  • I grew up in El Cajon Valley, California — an eastern suburb of San Diego. My mother was raised on a farm in Nebraska and I’ll always remember how she loved to see the mountains all around us. It was quite a safe little town — it was the 50’s and 60’s and we never locked our doors. I now work in San Diego with a view of the harbor and live in those mountains under 30 old oak trees!

  • I grew up in San Diego. Believe it or not, I was married before I found out that a Thanksgiving Turkey isn’t always cooked outside on the grill! Nothing like that fantastic weather!

  • I hail from – and still reside in – Tacoma, WA. The downtown core was in its final death throes when I was a child in the 1980s, a result of a mall having been built some 20 years earlier. Despite the convenience of a shopping mall, my grandmother liked to head downtown, where steep hills, rainy days, and grand old buildings prevailed. We would ride the bus and she let me pull the cord to signal our stop. I remember the moving sidewalks that were installed to help people battle the hills. Of course, by the time I was a child they were no longer functioning. Within 10 years of those childhood visits the downtown core was crumbling with neglect.

    Now, some 30 years later, I work within walking distance of the once-decrepit downtown. No longer a place of whinos and drug addicts, downtown Tacoma has reinvented itself to include an urban university campus, shops, restaurants, and a farmers market that just feted 20 years.

    My grandmother is 92 and I don’t know how much longer we’ll have her. But I’m proud to say that my childhood memories of downtown visits with her are still sweet, and that the downtown has survived to welcome more generations of families.

  • I grew up in PDX. I haven’t been back in 10 years. My fondest memories as a child were taking the MAX out to the Japanese garden. I believe there is a train or small trolley that runs near there. My memory could be false about the trolley, but I remember the garden so vividly. I would love to go back.

  • I grew up all over, but my favorite memories from childhood revolve around waking early in the morning to drive to Gram’s house for Thanksgiving in Navesink, NJ. Proof that there is more to NJ than the Jersey Shore and the turnpike!

  • I remember the ultimate breakfast spot in the Pearl before it was inundated with consumerism and Whole Foods, though the name escapes me at the moment. There were salt and pepper shakers everywhere and the food was delish! I can’t believe Scott has never been to Pdx! I always love the view from Council Crest…. Enjoy your trip!

  • I grew up in Milwaukee, WI. It is one of the best big “little” cities. It has everything a large city like Chicago, NYC, etc. has to offer…food, culture, entertainment, lovely parks in every neighborhood, the neighborhood bar corner after corner, and neighborly kindness. You can disapear and be alone if you want, or you can recognize everyone when you go into the grocery store. I miss it dearly! If you ever go, make sure you check out http://www.outpostnaturalfoods.coop MKE’s natural food’s co-op!

  • I grew up in Robbinsdale, Minnesota – which is very close to being consumed by Minneapolis. But it is a small town in the big city. My favorite memory is going to the local meat shop with my grandpa to get there super tasty beef jerky to share.

  • A memory of my child hood in small town Alabama…knees covered in grass and dirt as the setting sun slowly disappeared and the easy roar of the cicadas intermingled in the air with the smell of honeysuckle spilling over the backyard fence. I am a southerner who will be Portland-bound in just a few weeks for an adventure of my own! Would love to win the book-

  • My hometown is a small, cow-town in Ohio, which just passed over the 2,000 marker for our population. My favorite memory was walking down the “main road” to get ice cream at the local shop – it was open from Memorial Day to Labor Day growing up and there wasn’t a single year growing up where Memorial Day wasn’t tied to a visit for ice cream!

  • It’s been 22 years since I went to college in portland from the other side of the world (melbourne Australia)..wow a lifetime ago but it still seems not so far away. So enjoyed this post and also from @jackhonky. I must make that trip back and discover it from a new perspective.. Great city…great surrounds. cheers kari

  • I have so much nostalgia for my home town, which is in Brazil, but I try not to think about it because it’s so impossible for me to visit there right now.
    But, I am going to be in Portland later this month and the guidebook would come in very handy.

  • Been in Portland 32 years. IT is my kind of town. Such an abundance of food,, farm dinners,community gardens, urban farms with chickens, farmers’ markets(spent 4 years on the board of one), food carts galore, restaurants a plenty, a coffee shop every corner, and lots of people who believe in buying local. I challenge anyone to find a more food oriented city in America!
    One can always learn more about their town since it evolves as I do- new place to explore. Funny expression here in Portland, “Keep Portland Weird”. Well I love my town, and I don’t think of it as weird, but wonderful. I’d love the Portland guide. I will pass it forward after I read it from cover to cover.

  • My home town is in the flint hills of Kansas. I loved looking out over the hills growing up. I try to make it out onto the Konza prairie whenever I go home. It is a humble and glorious corner of the earth.

  • I live in Portland and love it here! You should try the pickles at Foster Burger. They are pickling some interesting things over there and I can’t get enough.

    Have fun!

  • Please make sure you go to BECKS restaurant at Whale Cove on highway 101 in Depoe Bay. Justin does a fantastic job and the view is absolutely gorgeous.
    Of course it is a little fancier than most places on the coast so something other than flip flops would be good.