Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Finding Nemo...or Not

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the waste water treatment plant in Vancouver, WA. For most of my life, I have lived in houses with sewer systems. Since moving to WA, we are now proud owners of a septic system; we try to respect our bacteria, and not overwhelm them. Seeing as it's just the two of us, our flushes, washing machine discharge, etc are much less than ever. Now that we don't have swim towels and multiple changes of clothing to deal with, we keep our impact low. But in a 'big city' like Vancouver, what happens between your toilet/sink/tub and the Columbia River????

Enter the Water Resources Education Center. There is a display area where you can learn all about the environment, and how important the water is. We joined our guide who took us through all the buildings that process the various stages of making the water clean enough to go back into the river. Some areas were more pungent that others, but none were any worse than running the HASH in Lagos, Nigeria along open sewers, or Bourbon Street after a wild Saturday night, never mind Mardi Gras. As for poor little Nemo, he never would have survived the straining process that takes insolubles out of the waste water.

My favorite was the area where the water is treated with UV light. The eerie green light was very cool. You can see my feet at the bottom of the picture.

I also liked the patterns of the water where the microbes worked their magic. The still water has microbes getting their mojo on. The aerated section is where they work their magic.

After the water is cleaned up, it goes back to the Columbia via wetlands that surround the center. 

Our outside guide Bev is a veteran of education programs with the school kids of Vancouver. Well, the ones whose schools still have money for field trips...This used to be a school education trip for all grade school kids. The Water Resources Education Center built their program to mesh with the school district's science curriculum. Now, cash strapped schools can't take advantage of this fabulous resource. This really needs to change.This area in the picture to the right is where they take kids to do water quality sampling. I hear they love stepping into the mucky water and overflowing their boots...Thanks to the Agriculture and Rural Caucus of the WA State Dems for organizing this. I learn so much from their events. Which reminds me, I must write up the Wolf Sanctuary tour from Sept!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Life, Football Playoffs, and Clam Dip

For Christmas in 1980 I bought my sweetie a cookbook full of clam recipes. It is one of the few cookbooks of the MANY I have owned that I still keep and use, a well worn copy of The Clam Lover's Cookbook by William Flagg. My chowder guide is in here, as is my favorite clam dip recipe. Which was devoured yesterday in a futile effort to help Tom Brady rescue the Patriots. Alas, the mile high broncs prevailed, but for fellow New Englander Julie Blenn, who did her darnedest to catch up to us in dip consumption, here is the recipe for Clam Dip 1 (yes, there is Clam Dip 2 as well as two more):

2 packages cream cheese (3 oz each)   note: I use one neufchatel 8 oz package
1 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp Horseradish (shameless plug for our local Pacific Crest Pub horseradish, which may or may not still exist since the Pacific Crest Pub is now under new name and new ownership...research due)
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 Tbsp minced onion
3 drops Tabasco sauce (or more)
2 Tbsp clam juice (reserved from canned clams)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can minced clams, liquid reserved
1 tsp chopped chives

Place all through Tabasco into mixing bowl. Use electric mixer at low speed until blended. Add clam juice and mix. Add sour cream, mix until consistency of whipped cream. Add clams, blend at low speed. Add chives, blend only until mixed. Pour into serving dish and mound up. Chill half hour. Sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with chives, parsley, pimento, sliced onion or small whole clams. I sprinkle paprika and call it good.

Serve with potato chips. Recipe says saltines or potato chips, but who are we kidding? Hell, I can eat this with a spoon. Forget the chips!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Happy New Year!

Mom celebrating her new hip on Xmas Eve
Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I just needed a break. Life got busy, my attention span got stuck in short mode, and I ignored the blog and my 3 followers. It happens every couple of years or so. Hey, I didn't even get my Christmas cards out yet!

But I got a nudge, and I will start off 2014 with good intentions. I've had an infusion of Boston energy after a month's visit to help Mom recover from hip replacement surgery. She's 86, and has had trouble walking since Dad entered his end zone 3 years ago. She finally had enough. She missed her mobility, driving her car, visiting friends, and the walls were closing in. I am happy to say she sailed through the surgery, and is working on walking with a cane with her visiting PT. When the weather becomes more cooperative in Boston, I am sure she'll be out and about in no time.

So the next few posts will catch you up on a just few significant events of the last 6 months.