July 31, 2013

Russian Cake

After the kids came to our house for the Indian dinner, everyone headed over to another home for Russian desserts. I managed to snap this picture moments before it disappeared.  See the biggest piece? I ate it.  =)

Holy cow, this woman can bake.  And she's my friend.  This is a good thing.


July 30, 2013

Skillet Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies

We were introduced to "Chocolate Chip Cookies Served in a Skillet" while dining at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood.

The cookies were baked in 5" Lodge cast iron skillets, served piping hot, with a mountain of vanilla ice cream.  And everything was so hot that the melting ice cream sizzled and popped when it hit the edge of the pan.

I can't say the recipe was anything unusual...but the presentation was so fabulous!  Of course, it's hard to beat any kind of chocolate chip cookie fresh served in any fashion out of the oven. These, however, made a big impression on us, so on the way home we had to make a short stop at the outlet stores in search of more cast iron.  =)  

Now to figure out how to make them work while camping!

P.S.  1 regular batch makes 4 skillets.  They're meant to be shared!

July 29, 2013

Dragonfly Days

These little creatures are so fascinating.  I'm not sure what their role in life is but I sure fancy the sound of their whirring.


July 26, 2013

More Blueberries!

I can't get enough of these beauties!  19 pounds last week just wasn't enough. Now there are plans for a blueberry pancake breakfast and more picking in the morning.  Woohoo!

Happy Friday to everyone!  


July 25, 2013

Man Quilt

Sir Bradley has been working on a number of projects this summer.
This one involves planning, buying, cutting, fitting, and a lot of coffee.
I say it's a Man Quilt.

July 24, 2013

Mary's Peak

We enjoyed a drive up to Mary's peak with some great friends, with a short hike to the top.  Just south of Philomath, it's the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range.

The view of the Willamette Valley was impressive, though the haze from the heat kept us from seeing all of the mountains in the distance.  Look carefully on the horizon and you can just barely see Mt. Hood.

Then we walked around to the west side, and what we saw took our breath away.

We settled into the meadow on the hillside and waited for the sunset.  Truly, it was good for the soul.


July 23, 2013

Farm Kids

Sometimes I have to be thankful that I don't have a real farm of my own.  I'd probably frolic my days away playing with the kids.  =)  They are just so cute.

July 22, 2013

Indian Evening

It was an Around the World Progressive Dinner for the youth group, and we hosted the Indian part of the evening.  With the help of the college kids, we had a blast!  All it took were a few turbans and some fake accents and we couldn't stop laughing.  Thanks to Emily, we were ready for the crowd, complete with outfits and plenty of stories.

We ate curried chicken (which ended up waaaaaayyyy too hot for the kids), mint cucumber salad, flat bread and hummus...we drank Indian chai tea...and of course, we danced.  Because if you don't dance, it's just a meeting.

The bangles were quite fun.  There are always 12 on each arm, following a pattern similar to what is shown here, and matching on each arm.



July 19, 2013

Right Side Up Upside Down Cake

It started out as a wonderful afternoon, preparing a salad and baking an upside down cake for a barbecue with good friends.

The salad wasn't great, but it was fine.  It matched my effort.

But dessert, now that's always different story!  The freezer was defrosting and I discovered some forgotten fruit, so I tossed it all into the pan with the few handfuls of blueberries leftover from the weekend. It was an unusual combination with the addition of pie cherries and rhubarb... but everything blended together beautifully with the brown sugar and butter.  Hmmm!  A delicious start.

And look at that cast iron pan.  Magnificent!

The cake topping couldn't be beat.  I swirled and poured it over the simmering fruit, delighted with the smoothness of the buttery batter.  (And yes, I licked the bowl clean, making sure there was just a little extra leftover in the bowl for tasting. Maybe just a teaspoon or so.  Or maybe just a little more.)

ONCE AGAIN, HOWEVER, THERE ARE NO "AFTER" PICTURES. You'll have to trust me that what came out of the oven was marvelous.

Marvelous, ahem, prior to the disaster.  Heavy sigh.

As I have done a kazillion times before, I took out a lovely glass platter, placed it carefully on top of the pan, and flipped the whole thing over while it was still steaming hot.  Ku-plunk, it popped out beautifully! No sticking, no crumbling, and no burned fingers.  And may I mention that it was perfectly centered on the platter.  Pure skill.

I am quite the baker! The thoughts came rolling through my mind.  I truly have mastered this and I will surely be receiving plenty of compliments tonight!

Now what is that proverb, the one that talks about pride coming before the fall?

Fifteen minutes later we heard a loud crack in the kitchen, the sound of a dish breaking. But we didn't see any damage anywhere.  Must have been a cup in the drainer settling in.  (I do have a bad habit of piling the dishes in the drainer as high as humanly possible.  It's kind of a personal challenge.)

Another fifteen minutes passed and it was time to head out the door.  I grabbed the salad and Sir Bradley turned to reach for the cake platter.  And that was it, when the world stopped. There was a moment of silence, just a half-second pause that compelled me turn around and scan the room. My eyes fell on the 40+ year old cake platter which had completely cracked with the stress of the heat; a huge chunk of glass had broken off and my beautiful cake was hanging on for dear life!

The One Who Fears Broken Glass assured me that this was a clean break, with no small bits to kill us. Realizing we were doomed to be late but thinking maybe possibly we might squeak by with an intact cake, with lightening speed I grabbed another platter, put it over the top of the cake and flipped it back upright.  But there was no ku-plunk this time.

That cake stuck.  As in, the entire upside of the cake was glued to the broken platter.  It required many tools to pry the thing loose, and it came at an ugly cost.

It was a sad, sad scene.

I will spare you the rest of the details, but the end of the story is that we ate our Right Side Up Upside Down With No Top Cake.  Very humbly.

July 17, 2013

Helen

Meet Helen.  Just like her namesake, she was born blind.  She's now living at the goat farm and loving life!  Her owners shared that when she was a pup she couldn't go near the barn - her sense of smell was so acute it would overwhelm her.

Helen is such a sweet girl, and I felt so badly when I took her picture.  The clicking sound of the shutter scared her off, and she would not return to me.  Poor girl.  Next time I'll woo her with treats!

July 16, 2013

Canning Therapy

Canning: massive job, overwhelming, exhausting.  Every year I put it off as long as possible, dreading the actual event.

But once the kettle starts bubbling, the jars have been prepared, and the colors in the pot start coming together in magnificent ways, it's hard to stop.  It's addictive.  It's like exercise...I always hate the anticipation, but once I'm in the groove it's good therapy!  I love the sound of the boiling water, the smell of the cooking fruit, the pops of the sealed lids, and impatiently waiting for things to cool down just enough so the marker doesn't burn when labeling the lids.  I love marking the lids.

Delicious and gorgeous, not available in stores.

Blackberry Blueberry Gooseberry Jam
Blackberry Rhubarb Jam
Raspberry Rhubarb Jam
Blueberry Jam
Rhubarb Raisin Chutney



July 15, 2013

Blueberry Picking

Yes, sir, it was time to pick the blueberries up at the farm.  Organic, huge, sweet, gorgeous berries that fell off into our hands in clusters.

19 pounds.  Yes, sir, that's a lot of berries. =)




July 12, 2013

Hold On To the Good

H came to clinic again.  This time in a wheelchair.  Requiring the help of another.  A musician with no strength left to blow his horn.  But still smiling.

J came to clinic, barely walking.  Once a skilled physician, now no longer able to speak or swallow or control his arms, hands, legs or head.  Frustrated and anxious. Yet his wife was as sweet and gentle as could be, never chiding, always encouraging.

And so many deaths lately.

And so I need a Friday to recover.  A Friday to sit quietly, ask some tough questions, and run my fingers deep into Miss Elsie's fur.  Time to take a deep breath and remember all of the blessings in my life that far outshadow the difficulties, to take the cues from these wonderful patients and families.  To "hold on to the good."



July 10, 2013

Undoing the Work

Sir Bradley worked most of the day placing new 3-way mix on the beds and borders.  A perfectly beautiful job.

It was just an open invitation to come bathing.  And what a mess they made.


Henrietta-who-is-not-to-be-named felt there were better things to do with her time.

July 8, 2013

Walla Walla Sweets

I adore cooked onions, and Walla Wallas are simply the best.

They also work around here. Deer proof. Rabbit proof. Bird proof.  Able to withstand long periods of rain, followed by hot sunshine.  Able to be ignored.

This afternoon I picked our first beautiful onion and enjoyed the sensation of cutting it warm, fresh from the sunny garden!  Now that doesn't happen every day!


Apron Thanks

Two dear friends worked so hard for the July 4th celebration that I felt they needed a little thank you, more than the substantial hugs and smiles!

Off to the sewing machine!  I used my favorite (and terribly plain) apron for a pattern, and then had a little fun.  Years ago I never would have dreamed of using anything but perfectly matched colors and patterns...but now I figure life is too short to miss out on a little merriment.  =)



July 6, 2013

A Grand 4th!

Oh, it was a grand celebration of our country's Independence Day!  We joined friends at their block party and had a wonderful time!

The preparations began early that morning.  The chocolate-cake-marshmallow-frosting-red-and-blue-flag cake was a must.

Thanks to the neighborhood gals, the prizes were there waiting.  Their preparations started much earlier!

The sun shone on the older folks.

And the younger folks.

There were hula hoop competitions and watermelon-eating contests.

The potluck food was fabulous, and the dessert table couldn't be beat!

And of course, the event wouldn't be the same without the annual Revolutionary War reenactment. Every year those Brits have such a difficult time!

The Americans were victorious and a peace agreement was made.  Afterwards, those flour canons shot out candy for all the kids!

God bless America!

July 3, 2013

Fancy Pants

Well, it seems that clothing designers have been so busy that they've mistakenly forgotten that not everyone is 19 years old, 5'7", and 110 lbs with no hips!  And sure enough, there are some of us that want to be classy dressers but prefer to stay away from the skin tight, low-cut options.

Hmmm.

Seriously, I recently spent several hours in a large mall going from store to store, unable to find anything between the too young and the too old lady stuff.  I left in tears.

A week later I braved the world and tried again at a different mall.  Down to two summer tops, I was a desperate woman.  Not one to spend money easily, I made the decision that if I found something I liked, I would buy it.  Period.  (No worries about overspending here! When I was a teenager, I distinctly remember my mother sending me out to go buy clothes, forbidding me to come home without buying something.  I can home with a pair of socks.)  It's not that I don't like to get dressed. It's just a combination of not finding clothes that fit well, are acceptably fashionable, and are reasonably priced.  And then there's the terrible conundrum of availability.  Just browsing?  Plenty of cute options.  Really looking?  Suddenly there are no options.

But by some miracle, this weekend I hit the jackpot!  Banana Republic came through, and they had a couple of sales to boot.  AND they gave me an extra 25% off just for trying everything on.

So take a sneak peak at my new black pants!  Woohoo!  Not too high, not too low, not too tight, comfy, and matching about everything.  And just wild enough for Conservative Me to turn a few heads!  Ha!


July 2, 2013

Timberline Lodge

We enjoyed an overnight stay at Timberline Lodge to celebrate our anniversary, and it was just lovely!

We see Mt. Hood every day from our home town.  It is a bit hazy now with the heat, but on clear mornings it is a glorious sight.

We headed up the Columbia River Gorge, stopped in Hood River for lunch, and then drove up the back side of the mountain to Timberline Lodge.  All of the sudden, she was up close and beautiful.  Simply breathtaking!

We ate dinner in the dining room, complete with white linen, the finest Northwest food, impeccable service, and a beautiful view of Mt. Jefferson in the distance.

It was a beautiful way to celebrate 27 years!