Ok so we aren’t really stationed in Portland, but we’re close enough. As a Chicagoan I should know better. We absolutely dislike it when someone says they’re from Chicago but they’re really from the suburbs. But that isn’t what this blog is about. This blog is about my experiences in Oregon, and how desserts have been a significant part of it.
Since I have been here, I have had my fair share of sweets; the first month of our internship, Brenda and I ate at least a slice of pie every week. Free pie Wednesdays at a local restaurant were a good reason for a few staff members to get together for dinner. We joined in a few times but after a month of berry and cream filled pies we decided that we needed to kill this pie streak. It was for our own good.
After pies, we seemed to go through a donut phase. If you’re ever in the Portland area donuts are the thing to do. There is no such thing as just a donut here, these fried goods have extravagant names like valrhona chocolate crunch or blueberry bourbon basil glazed donut. The first time we took our new roommate, Kirthi, to downtown Portland, we of course enjoyed Voodoo Donuts. It was a great bonding experience! But besides the pies and donuts you can buy at any bakery, restaurant, or shop, the most memorable sweets are the ones our coworkers make and share with one another.
We have a very important rule at the refuge headquarters. If you leave something out on the kitchen table, it is up for grabs. So don’t leave your lunch there, but if you have goodies to share, that table is the perfect spot for them. Every other Monday we have scheduled staff meetings that usually last two hours. As of three months ago, these staff meetings have become something the workers at the TRNWR headquarters especially look forward to. Three months ago two new volunteers joined our staff. This amazing couple retired a few years ago and are going on awesome adventures across the United States. Hailing from Mississippi, Bridget and John Hatch have made their way to Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in their trusty RV. The Hatches say they’re only volunteers, but I have my suspicions that they are secret professional bakers! I don’t remember the very first thing the Hatches shared with us after our first staff meeting together but I do remember it being delicious! And ever since then the kitchen table every other Monday are something the we all keep our eyes on. The two big question we ask those days are: what delicious treat will the Hatches share with us this time and do we have to wait until after the staff meeting to find out?!! On these days we know where those treats come from but sometimes things appear without an owner to claim their masterpiece. I want to say thank you to those unsung heroes. Thank you for sharing and thinking of us!
Our staff is definitely food motivated which is pretty great. The way through our hearts is through food and desserts seem to be the top pick. I have been inspired by my generous co-workers to join in on this act of giving by baking them a few things as well. The first thing I made for them was a pastel de tres leches! It was the second time I have made this cake. My first time making it was for my little brother’s birthday right before I started my internship. I think that the main reason the act of baking is significant to me is because it is something I did a lot of back home with my younger brothers and with a very good friend of mine. This may sound a little cheesy, but I really do feel like I put a little of my heart and soul into the things I bake. I make me so joyful to be able to bake and share with the people who have felt like family for the past 4 months. This blog is for you all! But especially for Bridget and John who will be moving on from Oregon and onto a new adventure in a few days. We will all miss you very much!!
P.S. My co-worker made cookies for Brenda and I as a thank you for volunteering at the wildlife center this past weekend. This small sweet act of kindness is what inspired this post. Thanks Rachel!