Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Different Thanksgiving Weekend

I can't remember the last time it was just me and Lloyd for Thanksgiving.
No kids. No family. No friends. Everyone had places to be this year.
I love him madly, but there's only so much two people can eat of a 20 pound free turkey. We made the best of it, though. Here I am toasting the rather damp and gray day with the first of several glasses of Chateau Ste Michelle Brut, an affordable and delicious Washington State wine.

And here is the bird, rubbed with Maple Herb butter under the skin, bursting with New England Sausage, Apple, Cranberry and Leek stuffing. Those recipes from the 1994 Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue have become my standards.

The usual suspects for side dishes: garlic mashed potatotes, brown sugar and spiced sweet potatoes with marshmallow and almonds, freshly made cranberry sauce, green beans with walnuts, brussels sprouts, and, much to Lloyd's dismay, roasted beets with horseradish cream topped with parsley and garlic. I had beets. They were calling to me...

Needless to say, the leftovers were many, so we invited our ski buddies to a pot luck leftovers dinner after Sunday's excursion to Tea Cup. Skip and Jan, Lloyd and I, Jan and Jo were joined by Elliot (who had to make an early run to PDX) after our first loop around. The trails were well worn after obvious heavy use over the weekend. It was a beautiful day. At one point we went by some frosted trees. The sparkling snow and ice on the trees were so pretty, I had to take off my sunglasses to get the full rush. And take out my camera, so you can see something other than the post card of us with blue sky and Mt. Hood behind us.

Apres ski, Elliot picked up Yolanda, Jan got Fred (who hurt his back sweeping out his gutters), Jo got Jim (who is having a long recovery from H1N1), and Lisa and Randy came over. Everyone brought wine, appetizers and pies, and there was a green bean casserole and a sweet potato casserole to fill out my small sides. I had several beets fans present, so that dish was demolished. The event was such a hit, we just might make it a new tradition.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Veterans Day Cactus

One thing about living at a higher latitude- what are Christmas Cacti in Texas and Louisiana are Veterans Day Cacti in Washington. With a second bloom around Easter. Here are the first blooms of the season. Sorry, one's a little fuzzy, like my brain, but the color is nice.

The second one is a first time bloom from a sprig that that was replanted last spring. It likes its spot.

I need a new plant for the holidays. Perhaps an amaryllis.

The days are getting shorter and shorter, which makes it hard on people like me who hate night driving. But I sure like sleeping under lots of covers again!

The apples are all in, and I've managed to use up most of them. A couple of pies, cakes, and two big batches of apple butter did the trick. The real wormy ones got thrown over the rail for the deer. And I found a great way to do all that apple butter without a lot of standing over a hot stove. Crock Pot!!!!

Too easy. Cut up apples, fill the crock pot so the lid barely covers. Add a little bit of water. Cook overnight. Wake up. House smells great. Run apples though a food mill or in my case, the handy dandy attachment for the Kitchen Aid. Return to crock pot. Add 4 cups of sugar, spices to taste (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger, a little vanilla). Cook all day. If it needs thickening, take of the lid for a couple hours. Prepare your jars, fill, seal, process. Done.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tawk this Way on Yawkey Way

Number one daughter sent me this today. For all those of you Far from the Pahk, it's too wicked good not to share. Enjoy. And read the ah-ticle, too!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Busy Week in the Gorge

Grand Opening: Studio Apartments for Winged Neighbors

Lloyd built several new birdhouses this week. Our resident flicker has decided to beat up his bill trying to peck though the heavy duty screens he put up to block the old holes. He's taken pity on the bird, and built him his own home. He'd better move in fast, though, the red headed woodpecker was checking it out the other day.

Weather: Rain Continues with Snow above 3,000 ft.
We've had some very rainy weather, with lulls for dog walks.
This morning the clouds disappeared briefly to show off the new blanket of snow on Mt. Hood. Rumor has it Timberline will be open today...

Burn Ban is OVER
Even in Fire District 3, ours, the last one to come off burn ban. We mostly compost our leaves, etc. But there's a lot of 'fuel' on the slope that needs to disappear so it doesn't become a serious hazard, so Lloyd had himself an evening bonfire in between rain storms, followed by a daytime burnathon. I couldn't quite catch him dancing around the flames, the hill is too steep for ritualistic dances...

We're had some beautiful evening skies, with clouds over the western gorge.
I love it now that the leaves are gone, I can see the lights of Hood River.

Apples Harvested
The two trees are bare. After some serious baking, I've finally got a batch of apple butter in progress. Trying a new tactic: Crock Pot Apple Butter. No need to stand over a hot stove all day. Cook a crock pot full of apples overnight. Run them through the food mill, add spices and sugar, and cook all day (while the football games are on) making the house smell terrific. Hope it works.

Arts and Music Abound
Last night's entertainment was a book signing, slide show and talk by the authors of Cataclysms on the Columbia at the Columbia Gorge Center for the Arts. Lloyd now pretty much has the complete collection of Ice Age Floods books. Tonight, Lori Sobrero has her photo exhibit opening at the Inn of the White Salmon, followed by the first Warm up with Wine of the season. Tomorrow night, back to the CGCA for a free concert by Vinca Quartet.

Unless we go fishing...look at what Terry dropped off yesterday: This coho now rests with the one Elliot gave us a few days earlier. If it's nice out, we're gone.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Falling Behind

Oh my. October is almost gone and I haven't written a thing. Shame on me. It's not that I haven't been spending time on my computer, it's just keeping up with a website, three blogs, three facebook pages and one newsletter just can't be done. And then there's stuff like fishing on the Klickitat (shown next), hiking, marimba playing, and, and, and, I tell you, something has to give. I promise to give the Pahk higher priority.

Since the last post, my beloved Red Sox have gone on their end of season holiday, the Angels have been banished, and now the Phillies are taking it to the Yankees. It was particulary thrilling to have two former Cleveland star pitchers facing off in game one. Remember Cleveland? They were pretty darn good a few years back...maybe it wasn't such a good thing to let your free agent pitchers go...And can you believe Pedro Martinez gets to pitch in another World Series? I'm still watching, good baseball fan that I am.

What's been happening in the hood? Well, we celebrated our 28th anniversary on the 3rd at an Arts Council pot luck and gallery opening at the Inn of White Salmon. They've got some good photos on their Facebook page of all the donated art (including our big Yinka batik with the hand carved frame hauled back from Nigeria, but too big for this house).

We had harvest up at Wind River Cellars on a beautiful Saturday October 10th. The grapes were ready a week early, but the pickers were ready and we got the whole crop in by 6 pm. Jane and Bob Rossetter joined us from Bend, and we had a wonderful reunion weekend.

I had a great Sunday the 18th in the tasting room while Joel took Intern Brian (aka Ibey) back to the airport for his return to Fort Collins. Poor Ibey couldn't change his ticket, so he missed harvest. Not to worry, Joel put him to work crushing grapes. And battling fruit flies. Here's Joel showing pressing form, and Ibey ready to dive into some Tempranillo.

Want to see some crushed tempranillo up close and personal? No, this is not a jam pic.

Once the pears were done, I had apples to deal with. I've baked cake, pie, tarts, and dried six racks of apple slices. I still have apples. Thank God we only have two trees, only one of which gets loaded. I also picked 10 lbs of concord grapes up at Wind River Cellars, so had more jam to make. I think we have more than enough. Even if I give half of it away, I'll have more than enough!

We had our first snow in October. Didn't last long, but hey, it was snow! It's been rainy now for a few days, so the leaves are dropping fast. So is a bumper crop of acorns. You need a hard hat on the deck these days.

After a quick trip to McMinnville to see Mary and Matt's remodeled house, and celebrate the boys' birthdays at Red Hills, we got back in time for the arts council fundraiser for the artists who lost works in the gallery fire. Lloyd did an excellent job auctioneering those items without bids, and we raised over $3500.

I got the Halloween decorations out, and we're ready for trick or treat.

The last two years we've had NO trick or treaters. If you have been to my house, you can imagine why not. But this year we have some new families on the loop, and they promise they will come to the door. So the lights are up, the day-glo skeleton is hung from an oak, and there are bats in the bell(frey), the fine bell Alina brought back from Ireland. I'm ready.

So now I'm up to date. We'll be heading to Hooba's for Halloween Night, after the little goblins visit. I'll bring the camera and report back. Meanwhile, enjoy Rainbow Season. This one was the other morning, right off our back deck. Who needs a pot of gold????

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We're Jammin'

It's been a little busy here in the 'hood. I'm 'pearly' hanging in here...

It all started when Regina sent out a call on FB for anyone wanting pears. The gang at Energeia Vineyards still has some pear trees left, enough to have bountiful fruit. So I went up to Underwood and got me a load of Bartletts and Anjous. Of course, this meant I had to DO something with them all. SO...

May I introduce you to Pear Butter, cooking away merrily on the stove.

Also, Poached Pears in Red Wine and Roasted Pear Chutney.

And, Ginger Pear Preserves. I love the color of this! It tastes pretty zippy, lots of ginger.

I had to go out and buy more jars and more sugar to finish the project.

I dried three racks of pear slices in my wonderful oven, which has a dehydrate setting. And I made a double batch of pear bread. I recommend toasting it, with a slice of melted cheddar on top. The rest of the green anjous are in my garage fridge, staying cool until I need them. I'm peared out right now. This box was FULL. And I had a cloth grocery bag full of greenies...

Thank you Regina and Lynette, for the mimosa to get started, and to James and John for their entertainment in the orchard. And for all the pears. Sorry I didn't stay longer and pick more (not really), but when the yellow jackets got stirred up, it was time for me to leave. I have some jars set aside for you all.

I'd say it was a productive week. Now to deal with all my apples. Thank God I only have two trees, and only one of them is loaded...

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Happens When I Leave

So I had a little vacation. I was gone three weeks. Here's what I came back to:

The new fire pit is put together down on the patio. The sunflower that didn't get eaten by bunnies or tromped by Lloyd's boots (I planted them all along the wall) is almost ready to bloom.

And the front deck was dismantled. Silly me, I thought he'd take the dog and go camping and fishing up on the Klickitat...

I'll spare you the story about Lloyd walking across one of his plank pathways like this one and having it break, sending his leg down the hole and a free end of board into his forehead. Just like in Looneytunes. He ended up at the doctor's with a very swollen leg and knee.

Or how Brindle went off the edge where there USED to be stairs, falling and hurting her leg, necessitating a trip to the vet, an x-ray (negative) and drugs. What a pair. I can't leave them alone for a minute, let alone three weeks.

Fortunately, there has been vast improvement in the week I've been home.

And here are today's shots, which include supervision by a drugged dog who cannot walk because she messed up her leg again, needed sedation and a full hip x-ray (negative) and MORE super duper (read expensive) anti-inflammatories thus increasing the cost of the deck another $400 total. But we still have a dog.

Here Brindle gratefully watches the installation of the new stairs. Lloyd told her she has surpassed the cost of a new purebred Aussie this month. No more soft tissue damage!

Everyone is 'upright and ambulatory' as my dad likes to say, and I'm glad I have such a handy husband. A deck to get from the front door to the pathway is sure nice to have. I don't do well walking the plank...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eating My Way Through S. New England

I had a great 3 weeks in Boston. I spent lots of time with my parents and brother back at the homestead in Waltham. Watched lots of baseball because it's on every night. We celebrated nephew Kevin's graduation from Wentworth, and the start of his new civil engineering job almost immediately! Here's Kevin with brothers Ryan and Patrick, his mom Linda and the grandfolk. If Linda looks ecstatic, it's because now she's down to one kid in college...

And I ate my way around town (and southern New England). You must need a restaurant suggestion list for your next trip East. Here you go.

I had two dinner dates with Karen and our college era friends, the first at Naked Fish, where my blackened scallop salad was to die for. The next week, a larger group met in the Grille at Hobbs Brook at Doubletree Restaurant where Amy and Stash were staying. They were very hospitable to our large semi noisy gang. Which reminds me, I need to send Karen a check...and thank her for my new green bumpah stickah!

On to lunches: An excellent lunch was had at Sweet Chili Thai in Arlington with Arthur, one of my oldest friends still in the area. He reminded me that we met in 10th grade when we were lab partners in Dr. Rosa Kubin's Chemistry class. We walked around the town square and checked out the rails to trails bikeway and the Uncle Sam memorial.

A day trip to RI included lunch at the infamous Twin Willows with some NMFS buddies...while I considered a traditional Bill Burger, I was craving chowder and clamcakes that day. My brother Mark drove me and the folks to the Cape one day, where we had lunch at Seafood Sam's with cousins Nancy and Tiba, and long lost buddy Janet. If you haven't had a whole belly clam plate, you haven't lived...clam strips are for HoJo's.

The four of us did another day trip to Ipswich MA, and had lunch at the Choate Bridge Pub with sister Carol and her husband Paul. The lobster rolls were enormous! The waterfront park area behind the restaurant was a good place to walk it off. The murals on the old printing company building are incredible. Even the old cellar windows had historical murals on them. The one shown here is the first of a long series, from native days to present.

In keeping with the foodie theme, we did a girls' night, with Keara, mom, Linda and myself heading over to the Embassy Theater to see Julie and Julia. Meryl Streep NEVER disappoints!

I also picked up Alina in a tropical downpour when she came back from Ireland, then moved her into her new apartment for the year. It was an exhausting day of hauling stuff out of Keara's moldy basement and up this charming stairway to the third floor of Alina's place. I am grateful to the swim team boys downstairs who helped with the bed and futon.

We celebrated with a Pini's Mediterranean pizza and a bottle of nice NZ Sauvingon Blanc on her third floor balcony.

After getting the grocery shopping done the next day, she and I drove over to Cambridge to meet John, Sue and Matt Hohenberger, our old neighbors from Lagos. They were moving Matt into MIT. We had a fantastic dinner at The Asgard Irish Pub. A late afternoon slice of leftover pizza kind of dampened our appetites so we just had salmon salads. The menu looked great, with lots of hearty and authentic Irish comfort food.

Keara, Adam and I met up at Alina's Saturday of Labor Day weekend and tailgated before the BC-NU debacle. It was a sea of gold Super Fan shirts. Except for the young man with the white "You Run, I'll Drink" shirt from Marathon Monday. My poor alma mater, though...the score was 38-0 at half time.

Thanks to Conor's dad Larry for sharing his extra tickets for the great seats...ours were nosebleed end zoners.

We left, and the three of us had a great dinner at The Sunset Grill and Tap. They have a fantastic spinach and artichoke appetizer that is like mediterranean nachos. Keara and I split a salad, too. Adam had a burrito that looked delicious...and HUGE. Unfortunately, we were all 'tapped' out by the time we got there, so we stuck to water, but the beer selection was incredible.

Sunday was my mom's 82nd birthday. She wanted a luau. We did the best we could. We had leis, we had Don Ho on the record player, I played Happy Birthday on the uke, and cooked up a storm with grilled chicken and shrimp with coconut sauce and lots of curry style condiments.

Kudos to Alina for her prep work on the shrimp skewers and to Mark for his grilling expertise.

Linda brought a pitcher of delicious white sangria, and an incredible cake. Here's mom with the cake, and her brother Billy. And yes, sure, she's 28...

Annie and Don brought Don's famous potato salad. I finally got to taste it. It lived up to the raves.

Winding down, Labor Day Monday we had tea with Auntie Marilyn and cousins Beth, Sarah and Maryanne in W. Concord. Tuesday I had a final lunch with Alina before she dropped me at the airport: our traditional Fins sushi date.

By the way, I checked when I got home: I did NOT gain any weight! Must have made good choices...that and schlepping up three floors moving the kid...