Sunday, July 31, 2011

Capturing Summer One Image at a TIme


 What do I want to take home from my summer vacation?  Time.
The wonderful luxury of being at rest.  The days
when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life
on track and let life simply wander.  The days when you
stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are.
Summer is my period of grace.
Ellen Goodman




Saturday, July 30, 2011

Christy's Simply Delicious Cherry Chutney: A Keeper From the Recipe Box

 We got the last ten pounds of pie cherries yesterday from Sherman Creek Orchard. Today I made a batch of cherry chutney. The original recipe was found in a book my sister gave me as a gift called Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I changed it up to call my own today.There is nothing like the kitchen filled with the aromas of simmering cherries, Walla Walla sweet onions, spices, and raisins. If you missed out on fresh cherries you can also use frozen tart of sweet black cherries with this recipe.

 Christy's Simply Delicious Cherry Chutney
Makes about 6-7 pints of chutney

41/2 tsp. whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick, broken
10 cups fresh pie cherries or frozen tart or sweet cherries, partially thawed and coarsely chopped.
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 cups finely chopped red or other sweet onion like our own Walla Wallas!
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups raisins
3/4 cup cherry liqueur ( optional)


Tie spices in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.
In a large stainless steel saucepan combine cherries, apples, onions, vinegar, salt and spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil hard, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.
 Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until thick enough to mound on a spoon, about 20 minutes. Add raisins and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add liqueur.  Discard spice bag.


Meanwhile prepare canner, jars, and lids.
Ladle hot chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace. Wipe rim. Add lid and screw on band. Place jars in canner and process 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes then remove jars. Let jars sit at least three weeks for best flavor.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Honoring a Fallen Soldier

 When I reached Colville on my way home yesterday I was emotionally moved by the reader boards outside each business that honored Army Sgt. 1st Class Wyatt A. Goldsmith.
 The town lost one of their own when he died  at Camp Bastion Hospital, Afghanistan, on July 15, 2011 while serving his country as a Special Force combat medic in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. He was 26 years old.
 Community members from Deer Park to Colville lined Highway 395 last Saturday as law enforcement, firemen, and military personnel escorted his body to the funeral home. Many waved flags, held their hands over their hearts, or just stood in silence.
 I love how communities pull together in northeastern Washington to support each other in happy and tragic times. Thank you Wyatt A. Goldsmith for your sacrifice.

More Than Walla Walla Sweets: Plate to Pixel

 I have been experimenting  with food photography as I work through the book Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling by Helene Dujarndin. As we enjoyed the wide array of delicious food offerings on our trip I discovered there is much more to eat in Walla Walla than the famous Walla Walla Sweets.


The chef at the Inn at Green Gables provided delicious breakfasts that included a breakfast pizza and blueberry pancakes.


 Cheese, mushrooms, and eggplant were the dominate ingredients in these savory dishes. Some famous onions were added also!


 I always love to try new pasta dishes!

 My sister and I were introduced to a whole new world of refreshing wines in the Walla Walla Valley.

Sister Tour 2011: Day 2 Walla Walla

Day Two in Walla Walla was a day filled with beautiful sites. We loved the Lowden School that was turned into a winery, the gardens and cute birdhouse surrounding Woodward Canyon Winery, the wheat ready to harvest, and a favorite bird at the park.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gardening: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

 I had my niece say recently that she really wanted a beautiful flower garden, but she wanted somebody else to do all the work. She  just wanted to enjoy it. Wise woman to realize that gardens don't just appear.

Often people see a vegetable garden right as plants are coming up or right after the weeds have been pulled or right after it has been watered and smelling of fresh dill and basil and think, "I can do this. I want a vegetable garden."  That is the good part of  vegetable gardening.They may not realize that vegetables require a lot of work. Today JEJ fluffed up the soil and planted more seeds. The cats decided to turn it into a litter box. That is the ugly part of gardening! When for whatever reason the strawberries decided to only produce cute, tiny berries illustrates is the bad part of gardening. Vegetable gardens are unpredictable. Vegetable gardens are also rewarding. As we bit into our first zucchini and tomato today, it was pure bliss. We have small grapes now as you can see above. Yay!
People are very kind to me on Facebook and here on my blog with compliments about my flower photos. That is one of the good parts of flower gardening. There is usually something in one of the gardens blooming beautifully when I take out the camera. At the same time there is tall grass between dying leaves on spring perennials that are spent. I don't do sweeping photos that show dead spots, mint gone wild, or yellowing leaves. That is the bad part of flower gardening. In a few weeks comes the time I dread in the growing season. In mid-August the air gets dry, the temperatures rise, and it takes all the energy we can muster to keep flowers alive. That is the ugly part of flower gardening.

To me it is worth it. Now that I don't fuss about every single weed or obsess over geraniums that need deadheading, I enjoy the process of gardening so much more. Every day there will be a good surprise in some part of the yard. Every day there will also be a perfect blooming lily that a dog knocked over while running out to greet JEJ. That happens too. I don't want to remind my husband of the numerous times I have gotten carried away with the snippers and snipped something that he had babied along. That happens also. That is bad and ugly!

If you decide to garden, start small. Try some container flowers or tomatoes. That is a fun way to start working with colors and textures. This is a new garden we started in tubs this spring in the island in the driveway. We built the gardens around our place one part at a time. Some has worked, some has certainly not. The white garden was a disaster. The red garden is working. It is all in the process!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harvest Day at the Orchard and the Garden

Our first harvest today came from the Sherman Creek Orchard up the road. For someone that loves cherries and loves to bake I can't believe I had never made a fresh cherry pie.

Well... I did today.
 We enjoyed it so much I believe I will go pick up some more pie cherries tomorrow to freeze.

When I got out the Betty Crocker cookbook I remembered so well this picture of the cherry pie from my childhood. I always wanted to make this pie to celebrate George Washington's birthday, but today I didn't add any hatchets! My pie wasn't so red either.
Of course you can't come home from the orchard without fresh Bing cherries. I just wish the delectable fruit could last all summer, but then I suppose we would all be sick of them.
I also harvested food for dinner this evening. Our peas have grown very slowly, but I found  enough for the two of us. When you have Bright Lights Swiss chard you almost hate to harvest the leaves because the colors are so striking. They even look striking on the plate.
The students at school raised a new kind of spinach in the greenhouse. I purchased some plants at school and we had our first taste of it tonight. It is a delicious type of spinach and is doing well in warmer weather. I will have to find out the name. I look forward to many more harvests as the growing season moves into full swing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Where I'm From

 



I’m from
A logging truck hauling along the rutted road,
sun peaking over the eastern mountain,
baby starlings squawking for their first feeding.

I’m from
fires in the gazebo, summer in a glass , BBQ, bluebirds,
dark soil, daffodils, dogs barking,rainbows over Lake Roosevelt.
Fresh garden peas, fresh farm eggs, fading fuchsias, fur,
water gurgling, clouds dividing, lilacs lingering, green beans sprouting.

I’m from
springtime iris, winter snow, fiery autumn leaves, gorgeous summer lilies.

I’m from
four dog memorials, cats that never came back, rabbits that grew old,
funerals for neighbors too soon and weddings in the yard,
reminders in the handwritten recipe, orange trumpet vine, a blooming dogwood,
empty pet food dishes, a collar on a nail, and a photo of two black cats.

I’m from Martin Creek, the place I call home.
by Christy Woolum

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pure Joy

When was the last time you experienced pure joy? When was the last time you slowed down enough to experience pure joy. I think joy hides in our lives and often we miss it because we are too busy, too tired, too absorbed in something else, or too unaware.
 When I spent time with my great niece and nephew last week-end I watched pure joy. Jack feels pure joy as he is held by my niece and his mother Adrienne ( in the photo at the top).  I think both my sister and Jack felt joy in the photo above. I am not around small children very often. I need to be. They reminded me that pure joy can be found in

 Dora the Explorer on a real TV,

a new swimsuit from grandma,
 having fun with a new red ball,

Olivia helping out her cousin Jack,

learning to open the gate,

and discovering what a clothesline is for. It is all joy.... pure joy!
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