Archives for July 2015

July 22, 2015

Road Tripping

I hadn’t been on a road trip since the summer when my husband and I met. Back then life was much different, he was twenty, I was nineteen and neither of us had a care in the world. Our plan was to drive to Disneyland and stay until we ran out of money. We took the back seats out of his Dad’s mini van and his gas card and hit the road.

We hung out with Mickey, went to Universal Studios, played in the waves at Newport Beach and I received the rose from the Green Knight at Medieval Times.

True to plan, when we ran out of money we headed back north. In those days, all gas stations weren’t open 24 hours a day, so with very little gas and no money, we spent our last night on the road at a rest area in Grants Pass next to a gas station. With hopes of making it home for dinner, Bill woke up early and headed straight for the gas station with me still sleeping in the back of the van. I’m not sure if it was the stop and start or him chatting with the gas attendant that woke me up, but I did, sat straight up wearing only a sleepy smile to see where we were and came face to face with the attendant. I was mortified back then, but now I hope that I am one of his stories that he slightly embellishes and tells at parties.

Before we left on our trip, Bill’s Nana gave us a change purse full of quarters, nickels and dimes that she had saved over the years. We thought it was funny at the time, but that little change purse bought us our last meal. Thanks Nana. We did end up making it home in time for dinner, and as we were pulling our gear out of the van we found a $20 bill, which made us kind of sad, because it meant that we still had $20 of adventure left.

This year’s final ball trip was Lake Tahoe. In the past we have always flown anywhere past Portland, but since it was the last one of the year and we would need to rent a vehicle anyway, we decided that we would drive. As the time drew closer, logistics started to get a bit hairy. My daughter’s ball team was playing in the Canadian Open International Fastpitch Tournament and doing really well. Not that we doubted them, but our original plan had us leaving late Saturday afternoon arriving into Lake Tahoe for her required Monday 5pm team check in. Her team did really well and didn’t get off the ball field until 1pm Sunday. So with only a shower and a drive-thru separating her third place finish, we climbed in the truck and settled in for our first family road trip.

With such a tight timeline, there was little time for us to explore, but we did see some beautiful countryside as we came down the east side of Oregon and California. Other than a bit of tired crankiness when looking for a place to stay late Sunday night (rest areas and full frontal nudity had no place on this trip) I was pleasantly surprised at how well 15 hours in tight quarters went for us and that it is possible to find gas station wine in a tetra pack that is not horrible (now I will be telling that story at parties).

Arriving in Lake Tahoe was bittersweet, as my daughter would be staying with her teammates in Kings Beach, and we had rented a house 20 minutes in Truckee with two other couples. We said our goodbyes and we were left to our own devices (our search for the perfect patio) for the remainder of the week.

It’s always interesting sharing accommodations with other families/friends, dynamics can change very quickly even with people that you thought you really knew, sometimes it is all good and sometimes there is nowhere to hide. As one of my roomies coined it “housemates are like garbage, they start to stink on about day three…”

If you haven’t been to Lake Tahoe, put it on your list. The lake itself is spectacular, the towns surrounding it haven’t been over commercialized, quaint shops, funky restaurants, majestic views and a beachy-relaxed vibe. Our noteworthy finds:

  • Pinaeta, Truckee – Italian restaurant
  • Uncorked, Truckee – wine bar
  • Kalifornia Jean Bar, Tahoe City – clothing store
  • Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co. Brew Pub, Tahoe City – restaurant
  • Lakeside Beach Bar and Grille, Incline Valley – restaurant
  • Pier 111, Incline Valley – bar at the end of pier
  • In and Out Burger, Carson City (my daughter’s pick)

Between ball games and our explorations, the week flew by. Even though I was planning my next trip to Lake Tahoe, I could not wait to get home, but not before we saw the Oregon Coast. We spent our last night on the road in Eugene. Looking at the map, Florence was only an inch and a half away. We thought that we would drive up to Newport Beach, maybe a little further and then back to the I-5 in Portland and then head home for dinner. While the scale on a map can help you determine the distance from one place to another, it cannot help you accurately predict how long it will take you to get there, not all highways have a speed limit of 55mph…

The Oregon Coast was spectacular, however the 101 with all of it’s twists, turns, climbs and RV’s is not conducive to any sort of time constraint and deserves to be a trip all of its own. We were committed and made it to Newport Beach by noon.   Whilst looking for somewhere to lunch we stopped in at Starbucks to regroup and a friendly toilet, it had been a long morning. In passing I asked one of the baristas how far away from Portland we were, she responded with “about 3 hours, maybe a little more with the summer traffic”. You know when you just want to go home? It took everything that I had not to cry. Instead of searching for one last perfect patio, it was Starbucks egg salad sandwiches on the road for lunch. The car ride for the next hour or so was silent.

Through good times and bad, Team Cawthorne rallies, it’s what we do. Two perfectly executed pit stops, ridiculous traffic and nine and a half hours later there was no better sight to see than the sun sinking over the Golden Ears to welcome us home.

Perfect patio winner -

Perfect patio winner: Lakeside Beach Bar and Grille

July 5, 2015

Crab Cakes

With the exception of grown up grilled cheeses, appie night may be a team Cawthorne all time fav. Everyone gets to pick a dish and we round out the menu with a plate of nachos.  Stuck in the middle of a heat wave (and not complaining in the least bit), you can only barbeque so much, I decided to pull this one out of my back pocket.  It’s been a while since our last appie night  so my selection was one that I had been thinking about for a while, crab cakes. I am going to admit it, I make a mean crab cake, they bring all the boys to the yard.

  • 250g fresh crabmeat (a combo of fresh/canned works too, the fresh stuff ain’t cheap)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup low fat mayo
  •  juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/4 cupfresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • dash of tobasco
  • 1/4 cup of Panko crumbs

Mix all of the  ingredients together.  Form into equal sized shapes.  Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Make a breading station for outside crust.

  • 1 cup of Panko crumbs
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

Dip the cakes one by one into the flour, then the eggwash, then the Panko crumbs and sear in vegetable oil in hot pan.  Finish in 400 degree oven for approx 7 mins until hot throughout.

Makes 10 large, or 20 one-big-mouth-bite size crab cakes.



Serve with a creamy garlic aioli or zesty lemon and dill sauce.  If by chance there happen to be a few left over, warm them up for brunch and top with a poached egg and hollandaise.  Delish!