Monday, June 8, 2009

Star sightings, a thunderstorm, and a greek salad, oh my!

It was certainly an exciting week in Portland. It started with talking to Kerri Russel and Brendan Fraser Monday morning and ended with a pretty powerful thunderstorm that resembled only those seen in the Midwest.

My co-worker and I were walking through one of the main hospital buildings Monday morning, on our way to drop off some paperwork to our supervisor and then head to the health food store to pick up some food. Outside the elevator, we saw signs indicating a motion picture was being filmed in the area, instructing us to not walk through unless we agreed to be unpaid extras.

This isn’t the first time I have seen signs like this around Portland; the day I defended my masters thesis, “The music within” was being filmed in the park blocks near school and I had to wait while they shot a scene (I was clearly not dressed to match the time period they were attempting to create!). Portland has become a pretty popular spot for filming the past few years, but every time I see filming happening, I don’t see anyone particularly famous. Until Monday.

As we made our way down the hall, we were pretty impressed with the numerous props, equipment, and people lining the narrow hallway. Then, we turned the corner and everything seemed to move in slow motion. Brendan Fraser was walking towards us, followed by Kerri Russel. My co-worker turned to look at me and we stopped on the side of the hallway, almost arms-length away from Brendan Fraser, and she said she couldn’t let this opportunity pass her by. I followed her down the hallway to where Kerri Russel had taken a seat on a folding chair and my co-worker asked for her autograph, telling her she was watching “The Waitress” all weekend. I looked at my co-worker and thought, “ALL weekend?”

She was relaxed, easy-going, and didn’t seem phased at all that we had interrupted whatever she had been doing on her iphone. She wore denim pants, rolled up at the bottom and a light-weight grey sweater. She was beautiful and not as overly done-up with makeup as I would imagine actresses to be. Neither one of us had a pen, nor did Kerri Russel, but one of the guys directing people and props handed my co-worker a pen and Keri signed the back of some of the paperwork meant to go to our supervisor. Needless to say, he never got that paper back! As she signed, addressing her message to my co-worker by name, I asked her what they were filming. “The new untitled Crowley project with Harrison Ford,” she replied, as if she and Brendan Fraser were not also stars in the film, “It’s a medical drama,” she explained. The guy who had lent us the pen began talking to my co-worker more about it, as another guy came up behind us, ushering us along, saying, “Thank you folks, thank you.”

We thanked Kerri and moved along and my co-worker stopped at Brendan, who was using a portable air-conditioning unit to cool himself off, directing the output tube right at his face, his hair blowing up and back. He was dressed in dark charcoal dress slacks and a light, almost white, button-down dress shirt with thin, widely-spaced, grey vertical stripes. My co-worker asked for his autograph and he asked for a pen. She didn’t hear him right and asked again for his autograph. It was pretty comical. As he signed next to Kerri’s signature, the woman standing next to him (we actually interrupted their conversation) asked what we do at the hospital. She explained our research and they were pretty impressed. She said it was really exciting work, but not as exciting as this!

Me? I couldn’t really talk. I clammed up and shut down, wondering what he would do if I reached out and touched his arm.

The “Thank you folks” guy came by again, ushering us to leave, and we obeyed this time. It wasn’t until we were back at our office that my co-worker realized she still had the pen! We told our supervisor what happened and even he was super excited. My co-worker scanned in the page with the signatures and emailed it to him.

We, of course, had to make another trip through the hospital about an hour later because we didn’t actually get food the first time – we were too distracted. During our second trip through, they had actually begun filming and we had to wait until they finished the scene. We saw our friends Kerri and Brendan again and a little girl being wheeled down the hall on a gurney. No sign of Harrison Ford, though.

On Thursday the winds picked up and a big thunderstorm blew in as I was walking home from work. Now that I’m thinking about it, it doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as our brush with the stars… But, for this Midwestern girl, it was pretty neat to see big winds, rain, and lightening in a city that so rarely gets wicked weather. I came home to our fig tree laying flat against its dirt and I had to use twist ties from the kitchen to re-attach it to its support post and I had to re-cover its roots with dirt.

The rain was also a welcome relief from the hot sunny weather we’ve been having. I seriously thought I would never say anything like that, but I guess I just did.

It’s been so warm, I haven’t wanted to cook or bake much. It’s becoming the season of quinoa salads, egg salads, pasta salads, and whatever-else-you-can-think-of salads.

I came up with this Greek quinoa salad on the fly one day to bring over to a barbecue with friends and it has become a favorite around here. It’s easy to put together and feeds a crowd if needed.

Greek quinoa salad:

I like to use English cucumbers because their seeds are smaller and they are not as watery, but if you can’t find an English cucumber, use a regular one. Just cut it in half length-wise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds before slicing. Dairy free? Just leave out the feta cheese. Sometimes I throw in some coarsely chopped spinach and/or cooked chicken.

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 English cucumber

1 pint cherry tomatoes

½ small red onion, diced finely

20 or so kalamata olives, sliced

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 tsp oregano

2 cloves garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Rinse your quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Combine rinsed quinoa and water in a large saucepan and heat over medium-high heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover, simmering for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Set aside and allow to cool (placing it in the fridge helps this along).

Meanwhile, slice your cucumber in half length-wise, then slice each half length-wise again. Slice each piece along the bias, making thin triangular pieces, about and 1/8 of an inch thick. Toss into a large bowl.

Cut each cherry tomato in half and add to the cucumbers. Add the diced onion, olives, oregano, garlic, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice and mix well.

Once the quinoa is cool, add it to the other ingredients, along with the feta cheese (if using), and mix well. Taste and adjust olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, etc to taste.



P. said...

OMG, Brendan Frasier!! And you remained upright & conscious? I think I would have fainted (and/or peed my pants) on the spot! Johnny Depp filmed some of his upcoming Public Enemy movie here in podunk-ville last winter. I didn't see him personally 'cause I had to work. Wah! The sets were really cool though.

The quinoa salad looks great. Is it just me, or has the price of quinoa gone a little crazy lately?

Lauren Denneson said...

P. - I would like to say I was totally composed, but admit, I was feeling a bit wobbly ;) And, yes quinoa is pretty pricey, but you can get it a bit cheaper in the bins than in the box. Just go to a store you trust to not cross-contaminate you.