Posts Categorized: Partners

Chefs at Home Series: Taco Tuesday with Jason French & Viola

Chef, consultant (and all-around great dude) Jason French has been a bastion of the Portland restaurant world for nearly twenty years. He ran the kitchen at Paley’s Place and helped open Clark Lewis before heading out on his own to open Ned Ludd and then Elder Hall. Thirteen years later, he can still be found where he is most comfortable…in his kitchen.

When Jason cooks at home, he often employs the help of his daughter Viola. Nearly thirteen herself, she has definitely followed in her father’s footsteps, honing her own kitchen skills. We asked Jason if we could hang out and get a (literal) taste of what kind of cooking he and his daughter collaborate on. He immediately suggested Taco Tuesday, a great way to spice up an otherwise bland day.

Jason chose to make Roasted Chicken, Squash, and Tomatillo Tacos with Refried Beans and Viola’s signature Guacamole.

For the tacos:
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup whole tomatillos, husked
1 medium summer squash, trimmed and cubed (seasonally, acorn or butternut squash may be substituted)
1 C chicken stock
1 T cumin seed, ground
2 T chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Peel the husks from your tomatillos.

Cut your squash into large chunks.

Cut the chicken thighs in half, place all the ingredients into a large bowl, and season well.

Separate out in a single layer of a sheet pan and put into the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked and the squash is golden brown.

Cut up the chicken and half of the squash. Put into a heavy-bottomed pot.

Put the roasted tomatillos, remaining squash, and the chicken stock into a large blender. Pulse until chunky and add to the pot.

Keep warm on the stove while you prepare the rest of the food.

While her dad is taking care of all that, Viola is in charge of the guacamole.

For the Guacamole:
1 large ripe avocado
1 T fresh lime juice
2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop all the flesh into a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Adjust seasoning as needed.

And of course, get the chefs final approval…

Set the guacamole aside and make the refried beans. In a pinch, there is no shame in using canned refried beans, but if you have the time, and an extra set of hands to help, homemade is always best.

For the Refried Beans:
1 T olive oil or lard + 3 T more for frying
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 T fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 C cooked pinto, black or red kidney beans, drained
1 C chicken stock
Salt and pepper

To make the beans, heat 1 T of oil and slowly cook the onions and garlic until just starting to color. Add the beans, oregano, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the chicken stock. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.

In a heavy-bottomed pan, add the remaining oil until hot, add the beans and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the beans achieve the desired consistency, continually scraping all the “crusty goodness” off the bottom as it cooks. Adjust seasoning and set aside.

Once everything is ready, finish up your Fixins.

Fixins:
(Feel free to add/subtract whatever makes you happy)
corn tortillas, hard or soft, served warm with dinner
fresh limes, quartered
grated cheddar or Mexican style cheeses like Cotija
scallions, thinly sliced
French radishes, thinly sliced
pickled jalapenos, canned are supreme
fresh cilantro leaves

Finally, heat your tortillas over an open flame (or on an electric burner) and keep warm.

With perfect timing, Jason’s girlfriend Carrie happened to come home just as the last tortillas were being cooked. A bottle of Underwood Pinot Gris was opened and the French Family dinner was a complete success.

We want to thank Jason and his family for sharing their Taco Tuesday with us. If you are somehow unacquainted with Jason’s work, you can check out his restaurant, Ned Ludd, and his event space Elder Hall. In his spare time, Jason also works as a personal coach and consultant.

Finally, from everyone here in the Union Family, we hope you are staying safe. And please get out there and VOTE!

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Recipes by Jason French. (@jasonffrench)
Guacamole by Viola.

Plan B Birthday Celebration: Getting Creative with Plans in 2020

2020 has been a strange year for birthdays, weddings, and graduations. We’ve all had to adapt and get extra creative with how we celebrate. It’s been challenging just figuring out what a party can look like during a global pandemic. Can we throw one while still socially distancing? How many friends and family can safely gather?

40th birthdays feel like a pretty big deal. It’s a day I’ve gently held in the back of my mind for years. My original plan to throw a big party for myself and two of my best friends (whose birthdays coincide with mine) quickly went out the door when I realized how serious and long-lasting the pandemic was going to be. So I tucked away my disappointment and decided to take off in my van and drive from Oregon to Colorado instead. There, I met up with my dear friend, Abi, who’s 29th birthday happens to fall on the day after mine.

We determined that a backpacking trip into the mountains was the perfect solution to our birthday woes. Since we both love spending time outdoors, it seemed like the most fitting way to celebrate. In order to make our backcountry adventure even more special, we packed in 2 cans of Underwood Bubbles and a vegan chocolate cake. Always worth the extra weight.

Once we landed on doing the beautiful Missouri Lakes trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness, we loaded up and drove the three hours to the trailhead where we camped overnight in our vehicles.

To beat the crowds, we aimed for an alpine start the next morning. Our hiking entourage consisted of me and my dog, Huxley, and Abi and her two dogs, Kodi and Kuma; each of us carrying our own fully loaded backpack into the wilderness.

Abi and I chose a relatively easy trail for this particular overnighter because we both wanted the trip to feel fun and easy. So the 4 miles in with 1500 ft of elevation gain was mostly a breeze, and by the time we reached the lake and our destination for the night, we still had plenty of energy to explore the area.

So we set up our tents and dropped our Union Wine cans in the creek to chill for later. We grabbed our cameras, quickly tied on our raincoats, and headed up the trail to explore a wildflower-covered ridgeline. There were some dark clouds preemptively accumulating in the distance, and Colorado is known for its summer afternoon thunderstorms, so we knew our time to explore was limited.

We wound our way past some smaller lakes, the shores dotted with eager fishermen. We heard the recognizable whistle of marmots and the chirps of pika echoing from the fields of talus, teasing our dog companions into a frenzy. But patches of snow covered the steep hillside, creating small playgrounds for our rambunctious dogs, where they slid and chased each other, bearing their teeth and digging them deep into the snowbank.

Mountain peaks popped into view as we zig-zagged our way up the trail another 1000 ft., finally topping out over the ridge. The views on the other side made the extra effort well worth it and we paused to snack and take it all in. However, it wasn’t long before we heard thunderclap and immediately started the trek back down to camp, quickening our steps as we walked. Back lakeside, Abi and I eagerly pulled our wine out of the creek just as heavy drops started to fall, each of us retreating to our respective tents to hide away from the thunderstorm.

The hours passed inside our tents, dogs snuggling up close, trembling lightly from the sounds of the storm. We each made dinner while cheers-ing one other from afar. It wasn’t exactly the “party atmosphere” I had hoped it would be, but we made the absolute most of the moment, knowing it would pass.

When the rain finally subsided, night was already beginning to fall. As darkness descended upon us, we excitedly emerged from our tents ready to make up for lost time. I cracked open the bubbles and sliced deeply into the chocolate cake. We cheerfully sang the “happy birthday song” to each other, guzzled our crisp and refreshing beverages, indulged in giant bites of chewy cake, and danced and talked until we could no longer see one another through the black. Finally giving in, we tucked ourselves in for the night, tired and satisfied.

The next morning as the sun lit up the peaks, we brewed ourselves some coffee and finished off the rest of the chocolate cake, a perfect breakfast to fuel the hike out. We hung around just long enough to enjoy the morning views and soak in the mountain air before slowly packing up and retreating back to civilization.

Some of the best lessons I’ve learned from this wild and unpredictable year include the ability to embrace flexibility and a willingness to adjust. Even though I had to seriously alter my birthday expectations (along with so much more) many times over, it still magically came together. And guess what? It ended up being one of my most memorable birthdays ever. Remember to always strive for adaptability, because sometimes plan B, C or even D might be better than plan A could have ever been.

Words and Photography by Brooke Weeber.

A Van Build-Out with Brooke Weeber

Brooke Weeber Van Build

In January of 2020, I embarked on a project bigger than anything I could’ve imagined; a van build-out. And, as I started to design the layout of my new 2019 Ford Transit van and glanced at the ever-growing to-do list, I realized what a mammoth of a project this was. I might’ve bitten off more than I could chew.

You see, in my life up until that point, I’d largely avoided building projects. Table saws and drill bits just weren’t a part of my vocabulary. Even when I owned a house for 5 years in a SE Portland neighborhood, I delegated responsibilities and shied away from trying complicated things myself. My initial instinct was to hire experts who could get the job done correctly and efficiently, having little faith in myself to do so. However, once I realized how much experts charge for a van build-out, I had to change my tune. I discovered that my only logical option was to buckle down and attempt the job myself.

Brooke Weeber Van Build

Brooke Weeber Van Build

So, I downloaded ebooks, perused blogs, watched youtube tutorials, and talked to friends with experience. I jotted down notes, made lists, and started gathering supplies. After weeks of heavy research, I started in on the most logical first step, the flooring, aka the easiest part of a van build. But easy doesn’t mean free from mistakes. I learned very early on in this process that I would make one blunder after another, but that I couldn’t let them deter me from pressing forward. So when I realized I had unknowingly installed the cedar ceiling incorrectly, causing it to split and break, I tried my best to take it in stride, knowing full well that I would need to rip it out and replace the cedar planks with something more durable.

I’m not trying to insinuate that I breezed through the van build process with confidence and determination. I had many tearful moments curled up alone inside the echoey chamber of the unfinished van. I desperately sought out information online to solve, what seemed like, the countless issues I was running into. I made phone calls, sent emails, and met up with folks to solve problems that were blocking my progress. I got extremely frustrated and overwhelmed by wiring diagrams and electrical instructions laid out before me in a language my brain wasn’t built to understand. I lumbered through this process feeling like a toddler just learning to walk, gazing around for affirmations to build confidence and keep me motivated. But, at every turn there was a new skill to learn, whether it was hooking up a plumbing system, wiring light dimmers, cutting giant holes in the van for a fan and a window, or connecting my auxiliary batteries to the alternator so they would charge while I drive. It was a heap of new information and I was overloaded with decision fatigue.

Brooke Weeber Van Build

Brooke Weeber Van Build

Author and public speaker, Brené Brown, describes these kinds of experiences as FFTs (effing first times). She continues by saying “When we have no relevant experience or expertise, the vulnerability, uncertainty, and fear of these firsts can be overwhelming. Yet, showing up and pushing ourselves past the awkward, learner stage is how we get braver.” Not only does it make us braver, but each mountain successfully climbed undeniably builds up confidence and strength that we may not have previously possessed. Going into this van build was a real experiment in self-actualization. What I believed I wasn’t skilled enough to do at the beginning of the build was something that I miraculously achieved with grit, determination, and the help and guidance of others.

Brooke Weeber Van Build

Underwood Wine Van Build

Brooke Weeber Van Build

I truly couldn’t have completed this project without my father’s assistance building the bed and cabinetry. His years of woodworking experience were imperative in the completion of my van build and he was the perfect person to bounce all my build ideas off of. Without him, the countless van builders who had showered the internet with helpful tips, and the support and cheerleading of my community, I’m not sure I could have made it through this behemoth. I owe so much to every single person who believed in me. And even though they can’t all take a ride with me in my new home on wheels, they will always be there with me in spirit.

Brooke Weeber Van Build

Resources:

Far Our Ride
Gnomad Home
Explorist Life

Words and Photography by Brooke Weeber.

When It Comes To Valentine’s

Union Wine Co Galantines When it comes to Valentine’s Day, we could probably argue that most men don’t even think about the holiday until the month of February hits, and for a lot of men, not until the week of Feb. 14th! But, for some reason, in our society, it is an important holiday to a lot of us women. We don’t necessarily know why, but we know we don’t want it to slip by without something special happening to or for us. It could be because we have someone special in our lives and we want to celebrate that, or, it could just be that we see pink and red hearts everywhere this month and we just don’t want to miss out!

Union Wine Co Galentines Day

Union Wine Co Galentines Day

So, we decided to pull together some of our besties and celebrate each other for Galentines Day! Our girlfriends are so important to our everyday lives—they support us when we are feeling down or struggling with something, they are happy for us when things are going well, and they are always up for a fun get-together with a little wine, sweets and catching up.

Union Wine Co Galentine's Day

In our opinion, the holidays of any type are meant to be spent with loved ones. Any excuse to get together with the people in our lives who mean the most to us is what we feel is important. Gather around a table, sharing a meal and company.

Union Wine Co Salt and Straw

Cheers to great friendships! Happy Galentines Day!

Celebrating The One Moto Show and Female Riders

This weekend is the 11th annual One Motorcycle Show, put on by See See Motor Coffee Co. We thought, what better way to express our excitement than spending a day with one of Portland’s very own riders, Rebecca Dreyfus. Not only is Rebecca the owner & rider of one of the rarest bikes in town, but she is an incredibly talented jewelry maker as well.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Rebecca! Most people call me Becca, and sometimes my alter ego is BECKY. I’m 30 and a Cancer (lol), hailing from Lawrence, Kansas, aka a cute little artsy and liberal college town outside of Kansas City, and I have been living in Oregon for almost 3 years. I work full-time at Clive Coffee as an espresso machine technician and bench tester. In my spare time, I’m wrenching and riding all two-wheeled things, making jewelry under the guise BKY STUDIO, record shopping, plant tending, and looking for any excuse to get out in nature.  

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

Can you tell us about your motorcycle? 

My main squeeze is a 1989 Honda Transalp. This bike is kinda funny and special in a lot of ways. Honda’s whole marketing scheme with this bike was “take the best parts from all of our bikes and put it into one and then call it a Rally Touring bike.” V-twin engine for a smooth ride on the highway, liquid-cooled for temp control, high clearance for all-terrain, and comfortable stance to name a few. They started importing them to the US in 1989 and 1990 thinking they would be a total hit because they could do any terrain and distance anyone wanted. Turns out no one knew what these weird-looking bikes were and it was a total flop in the states, so they pulled them and they were sold and made for many years all over Europe. Eventually, the Transalp turned into a coveted collector’s item, and still, to this day, is recognized as one of the first touring dual-sport bikes made, as well as one of the best made in its category. After the Transalp, Honda-engineered the Africa Twin as its successor and those are still being manufactured today. I love all things old and 80s-tastic, so I’d been on the hunt for a Transalp for a few years before I snagged mine about two years ago. Since then I’ve done some extensive maintenance to make the bike feel like my own, and taken it on some memorable trips. 

How did you get into riding?  

My first “bike” was a 1977 Columbia Commuter, which is a little two-stroke, 49cc pedal start moped! I remember buying that moped in secrecy back in 2010 because my parents were not into the two-wheeled idea, but I wanted something to ride to a college campus on. Around the same time I bought my moped, I was emailing with another craigslist seller who informed me that there was this whole local—and national—moped scene of people that meet up, wrench, and ride on these silly little things. After my first meet up with the local moped group (they immediately put me to work on fixing my moped), I was HOOKED. Shortly after, I started traveling with my moped friends to different rallies all across the country and just storming the streets on our little bikes. I got obsessed with learning how to work on my bike as well as making epic custom builds to show off at rallies and race sometimes. I barely even knew what a wrench was before I met these people, and I loved that there was always something to learn and everything was like a puzzle to solve when it came to building and tuning little engines. What was initially a grocery-getter purchase has turned into a whole new lifestyle where I’ve become a lover of all things mechanical. And, I’ve traveled to so many places and met some incredible people along the way. I wouldn’t have met some of my closest friends if it wasn’t for mopeds, and eventually motorcycles. Through mopeds, I eventually started buying motorcycle projects. I was too broke to buy anything new, and I wanted to ride motorcycles, so I started working on those. I still have a deep love for two stroke mopeds and motorcycles and how they’ve gotten me to where I am today as a rider. I’m mostly riding four-stroke engines now and try and plan out at least one long trip a year to somewhere I haven’t explored yet. 

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

What is the women’s motorcycle culture like in Portland? 

From what I’ve gotten to experience, I think it’s pretty diverse in terms of the bikes and types of riders, and it’s inclusive. Most of the time when I meet women in the community, they are just stoked to ride with you and get to know you no matter what kind of bike you have. 

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

What is your best moto ride story? 

I got a few good ones! But for drama, I got stranded in the desert with a flat this past May. I took two weeks off to make an epic solo trip to Palm Springs to see some close friends of mine get married. After a week on the road, and after witnessing a beautiful wedding full of love and friends, it was time to get back on the road and start the trek back to Portland. I had decided to spend a night camping in Joshua Tree before traveling back north. 18 miles into the park, my front tire blew out and I was stuck with no cell service, no one really knowing where I was, and no one in sight for miles. Starting to feel a slight panic I remembered that I had come prepared in case something like this would happen. I grabbed my can of slime (weird flat tire filler stuff) and started to fill my tire in hopes it would last until I could at least get out of the park and back into cell service. Little did I know that this stuff wouldn’t work on tubed tires and all the gunk didn’t hold and immediately started seeping out of my tire. Starting to panic even more, I remembered I had packed spare tubes and all the tools needed to remove my tire, but then I realized I had no way to prop my bike up and no way to air up a new tube. The sun was beating down and I was really starting to feel fatigued, and my anxiety was shooting through the roof! I ditched my bike and gear and started walking. Eventually, I managed to flag down a tourist that agreed to give me a ride 6 miles up the road to an emergency phone. Several hours of back and forth picking up the emergency phone and talking with local rangers, I finally got a tow out of the park and got dropped off at a Best Western that was next to an Auto Zone. The next morning I called around to different motorcycle shops (all closed because it was Monday) and stopped into various auto shops that were within walking distance hoping that someone would have a car jack or something to just help me replace this damn tube! I had no luck. Feeling super defeated I walked back to the hotel to find these two older gentlemen looking at my bike. The first thing they say to me is, “Hey, you know you have a flat right?!” Unfortunately, I snapped back saying something kinda snarky and started to cry. They immediately asked what the problem was and I explained the whole debacle to them. Come to find out they were touring motorcyclists themselves from Milwaukee, OR riding around and offered to help! In a short period of time, we found some broken concrete chunks and a 2×4 piece of wood from a local construction site to prop my bike up, got the wheel off, the tube replaced, and one of the riders had a travel-sized air compressor to fill it up. After we exchanged stories and some laughs I was back on the road riding through the East Sierras with gorgeous views. I feel so indebted to those guys who helped me. The friendliness and community surrounding the motorcycle community are incredible.   

Any favorite rider/icon? 

I’ve never really thought about that to be honest! If I had to think of someone or some people though, I really admire and respect both Jimmy Hillsack and Anya Violet. I got to meet, and have become friends with Jimmy through working at See See Motor Coffee (I worked there for a few years before Clive!) and I really admire that he’s such a real, down-to-earth person, as well as an incredibly talented rider. Anya is the co-creator of Babes Ride Out, Babes in the Dirt, and ATWYLD. I’ve gotten to get to know Anya through the motorcycle community and also admire how much of a real and genuine person she is. She’s working hard at empowering women in the motorcycle community and her story has always been inspiring for me. Both people are solid friends, humans, and RIPPERS of motorcyclists. It’s all about building a positive community around motorcycles and these two people do that so well.  

How did you get into jewelry making? 

I never really had this definitive moment of wanting to make jewelry, but I’ve always liked making things with my hands and just started making necklaces for myself a few years back. Eventually, I had people asking to buy necklaces off my neck, and the rest kinda snowballed from there! I eventually took a beginner’s metalsmithing class at a local arts center and was just hooked after that. Also, I’ve always been into collecting rocks, so making jewelry that you can set rocks into sounded pretty cool! 

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

Favorite piece of jewelry you’ve made 

That’s a tough one! I’ve fallen in love with a good amount of pieces I’ve made and sold or given away. One of my more recent favorites was a huge statement cuff for a wedding outfit that had one of the most beautiful cuts of plume agate I’ve come across. I made an open-back setting so you could shine light through the stone and see all the details.  

What’s your favorite band? 

I have way too hard of a time picking favorite bands, but I go through music phases. Right now I’m deep in disco, funk, and old soul. 

And lastly, what’s your favorite Underwood wine? 🙂 

My favorite Underwood wine is the bubbly rose because who doesn’t like a tasty, bubbly drink?! 

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

Cheers and thank you Rebecca!

We hope to see you at The One Motorcycle Show this weekend!