Dahlia’s, books, and donuts…what more could you ask for?

When a friend asks you to come for a visit, you can’t always make it a working trip, and do what you want. At least that’s how I see it. She was the guide and I was the invited guest. Blame it on my upbringing, but I was delighted and jumped at the chance, especially that I had never been to the Northwest. It was all laid out by my friend and tour guide, and it was nice not to have my own agenda.

First, we made a stop at the Dahlia Farms in Canby, Oregon.

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They have 360 varieties of Dahlias and people come from all over the country, if not the world, to see this 40-acre farm. It was September, just after their Annual Dahlia Festival and the crowds were gone, so you can imagine the view of gorgeous flowers everywhere.

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I didn’t know that Dahlias originated in Mexico and it’s their national flower. Wiki says, “The dahlia is still considered one of the native ingredients in Oaxaca cuisine.” The Aztecs use them for food and medicine. We certainly love our root vegetables and I can see them as yam-like tubers.

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How wonderful to be free to walk all over this farm and view all these beautiful flowers. It took my breath away and I didn’t expect all these varieties. A true nature walk with an array of colors for the eyes to feast.

Next Stop Powell’s City of Books, as they call it and not the usual tourist attraction — it covers a city block. They have other stores and I really enjoy going to the flagship of any commercial store. How wonderful to see Portland residents supporting and buying books the old fashion way. As I glanced at the “new arrivals” table, I checked my calendar to see if I could stay two more days for this featured book signing. My solution was to buy the book instead.

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I never got to the coffee shop, in fact, I got enjoyably lost. I was entranced by their books and could have stayed for hours. It’s difficult to imagine a bookstore with over a million books. They sell used books and I thought about selling a couple that I have collected over the years. Cash or store credit sounds great. Better to sell it to them, than end up in one of my estate sales.

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Walking around on several floors of the building reminded me of the Oxford Books in Atlanta, Georgia. It could have been the Powell’s of the east for sure. It was a sad day when they closed its doors…no doubt from the deluge of discount chain booksellers, and the Wall Street sharks. Powell’s is must for everyone.

Our obligatory stop was at Voodoo Doughnuts. I think my friend somehow knew how addicted I once was to doughnuts. Back in high school I worked part time in a bakery and gained 15 pounds.

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We came when the lines were average and if I remember we only waited about 20 minutes. Although most people would call this a tourist trap, I simply call it a doughnut shop. Every city in every state has a doughnut shop. Raised yeast, flour, sugar and some filled with jam or custard. No real trick or magic is necessary. There is no best, and maybe the best one is the one that comes fresh out of the oven. Nowadays, anything goes as the topping…like bacon. Sorry, I refuse to have bacon on my doughnut, and I love bacon.

We only wanted one doughnut each, we were not going to pig out and buy a dozen. Once inside it was a little too crazy with the music and lots of noise going on made ordering difficult. I could not break away and taste a strange combo, so I had my usual one, Boston Cream — custard and chocolate frosting, Oh, and it had two dots for eyes, which was delish. My friend had the maple frosting with a mustache. Simple pleasure and uncomplicated.

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Honestly, they didn’t taste any different than any other doughnut. And after the visit, I wondered if people came here to people watch. There sure was an assortment of people, just like the doughnuts!

When I think back of my days working in my hometown bakery, I will never forget when the owner of the bakery told us that the leftover doughnuts were going to charity. At the end of each night, we carefully stacked them in the typical bakery cart. Not long after we were given those instructions we found out they threw everything away. That’s when us girls took it upon ourselves to take a few goodies home, and the dougnuts showed up on our expanding waistlines. Wonder what Voodoo does with theirs?

NYC is on my schedule this fall and I have wanted to visit Doughnut Plant and try the “tres leches” doughnut. Flour, yeast and sugar…my usual fix. I read the owner of DP is the originator of this weird phenomenon. Word has it ─ they are worth every penny!