Thinking about Bumbleberry Pie while on Snowshoes

March 21st!! The first day of Spring. My brother Reed’s birthday. A great day to head up to the Cascade mountains. We went out snowshoeing with friends a few weeks ago. I borrowed gear and loved it so much that I bought my own snow shoes last week at a wonderful 50% off end of the season sale price. They are great. They also are very pretty, in what used to be my favorite color (until the inauguration day “purple tunnel of doom” fiasco), purple.

my purple snow shoes

my purple snow shoes

We headed west of Yakima to one of my favorite areas, the Bumping River.  Former Chief Justice William O. Douglas of the Supreme Court used to spend time here at his summer home at Goose Prairie.   What an enviable place to spend your spare time!   We decided to drive to the end of the paved road and snow shoe back to Bumping Lake.  The weather held out, with mostly sun and clouds and just a little rain.  Here are the snowshoes I bought: Tubb’s Venture snowshoes .

After exploring through the snow, we thought it would be fun to stop at the little restaurant nearby. Some year’s ago I remember stopping here with my parents for some bumbleberry pie,. It was good with apples and a nice mixture of strawberries and other berries. Alas, the restaurant is not open in the winter.  Today, it was totally covered in snow, which doesn’t show up very well in this photo.

Goose Prairie Inn - somewhere beneath the snow

Goose Prairie Inn - somewhere beneath the snow

Keep in touch

I got the most recent copy of my alumni magazine, On Wisconsin, today. I like getting the magazine, even if I am not contributing my vast wealth to the college as they’d like. (lol….. “laugh out loud”….learned that phrase from my sister kristin). Still, it makes me feel like I remain connected to my college. There was one article in the Spring 2009 issue that really caught my interest even though it was a very short article. It was called “Keep in touch” and was about the research of a professor in the business school. She has developed a “need to touch” scale which measures the difference between people who can’t walk through a store without handling everything in reach and those who only grab what they are actually going to buy. She has found that about 25% of people have an extremely high need for touch. Oh my gosh! That’s me! Without any doubt, I’m part of the “extremely high need for touch” group. Dave has noticed this and finds it very odd. If I’m looking for a new wallet, I absolutely have to touch and handle all the wallets in the store that are at all close to what I’m looking for. If I’m buying produce at the grocery store, I will pick up handle more cucumbers or peaches or onions than I will buy. I just have this need to touch things before I buy them. Dave doesn’t. This professor at UW claims that touching an object increases a person’s sense of ownership.

Well, I’m not sure about that. But I do know that if you were to spy on me in the grocery store, i’m the person running my hands over the pears, and picking up all the boxes of laundry detergent and just generally physically mauling all the merchandise.

So, I never would have thought that there were professors studying these kinds of idiosyncracies. Still, until there is a law prohibiting me from doing all this touching of merchandise, I’ll continue. What about you?

Just one??? A Norwegian perspective on hot peppers.

For those of you who remember the old Lay’s potato chip commercial, with the line “bet you can’t eat just one”, this is not going to be a blog about potato chips. Much as I love them, I avoid them for just that reason (I really can’t eat just one. Well, not one chip. I can stop at one bag.). No, this is about me and jalapeno peppers. The Norwegian perspective, I guess you could say. I decided yesterday that I wanted to try making an Indian dish – Dal (lentil puree). It doesn’t sound exciting, but we had some while up in British Columbia a few weeks ago at a Nepalese restaurant, and I kept thinking about how much I liked it. I also liked the naan, the soft Indian flatbread that we devoured. While we both enjoyed the lamb curry and butter chicken that also came with our dinners, for some reason it was the dal and naan that I wanted to make at home.

So, I got out my Joy of Cooking, which is my Bible in the kitchen. I am always amazed at what recipes I can find in this book. I know some people who just don’t connect with this cookbook, but I am always impressed that when find something new to me, I generally can find a recipe for it here. And they are recipes that work for me. So I looked up Dal, and sure enough, there was a recipe. It seemed basic enough. I had everything except for the fresh ginger, turmeric and jalapeno peppers. We were headed off to the grocery store for our weekly shopping trip, so I added those items to the list. I was glad to find turmeric in the bulk spice section so I could buy several tablespoons for a cheap price (less than 50 cents). I also picked up a jalapeno pepper, knowing that neither Dave nor I like food very hot. At the check out counter, the fellow running the register picked up the small bag and with a smile on his face said “just one?!?!”. Yes, he really did have the question marks and exclamation points with his query. I said “yes, just one. I don’t like much heat”. He laughed and told me that he would usually add 4 or so jalapenos to his dishes as he liked the heat. I noticed that my single pepper rang up for all of eight cents. So, I made the recipe for dal, but even so only used a small part of the jalapeno (I told you I’m Norwegian!). Both Dave and I liked the dish, but I do warn others that it might not be to everyone’s taste. A very basic, vegetarian (really vegan) dish. I also prepared the bread, also using a recipe from the Joy of Cooking. I found another website that had tried this recipe and said, tongue in cheek, “What should you expect when you turn to that classic of Indian cooking, The Joy of Cooking?” Probably very true that this isn’t the ultimate best source, but it works for me. We gobbled down the naan and dal (and paid for it in the middle of the night).

Indian Lentil Puree (Dal)

Pick over, rinse, and place in large saucepan:
1 cup yellow split peas or red lentils

Add:
2 cups water
1 small onion, slices
3/4 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Simmer, covered, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Puree and return to saucepan. Stir in:

1 cup water
3/4 tsp salt

Simmer, partially covered, until the dal is thickened to the consistency of split pea soup, about 20 minutes. Stir in:

2 fresh serrano or jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut into thirds
1 plum tomato, diced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Naan

2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon water, if needed

Mix the dry ingredients then make a well and add the wet ingredients. Mix it all together so that it forms a ball and then knead it for approximately 10 minutes. Place the dough back into a greased bowl, cover with plastic, and let rise for approximately 90 minutes.

An hour into the first rise, begin preheating the oven to 475. If you have a baking stone, use it. Otherwise, place a cookie sheet or two in the oven upside down before turning the oven on.

Split the dough into 4 even pieces. Shape each into a ball, cover with a towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out into 8 to 10 inch long ovals. The dough should be no more than 1/4 inch thick.

If you’d like you can brush the top of the dough with a little melted butter. Chopped green onions, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or garlic can also be sprinkled on top before placing it into the oven.

Place the naan directly onto the hot surface and bake for 6 or 7 minutes until they begin to turn golden. Remove from the oven and eat!

Fiesta Ware

Carrie and Robb visited us in Washington state in January. Their visit very nicely coincided with my birthday. What a wonderful present that was! But they were so sweet and didn’t leave it at that, but also cooked a delicious dinner with a pork tenderloin with chutney. It was great. I can still conjure up memories of how good it tasted. They also gave me a new card game called Set. I’m addicted. It’s pathetic, but I’ll play it like Solataire if no one is available to play with me. They also gave me a beautiful pitcher.

my fiesta ware pitcher in cobalt blue

my fiesta ware pitcher in cobalt blue

The photo doesn’t do it justice. I had heard about Fiesta Ware but never thought it was my taste. Oh, I was really wrong. I love the design of this pitcher and finally understand why some people are such big fans. Finally! Something to quench my thirst in the desert.

which came first?

I’ve noticed a resurgence lately in interest in raising chickens for eggs.  I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:  A Year of Food Life last year and found myself charmed by her young daughter’s foray into raising chickens and selling the eggs. Then several of my sisters sent along articles from their local newspapers about citizens asking local governments to allow residents to keep limited numbers of chickens in their yards.

When I was little, one of the things I liked about visiting my grandparents in Northern Minnesota was their chicken yard. The chickens were kind of scary, but it was fun to see them because it was time spent with Grandpa Skerik, who also was kind of scary but fascinating to kids.  I can remember sitting on the back steps shelling peas, and then heading off to feed the pea pods to the chickens.  They seemed to like to eat them; I certainly liked feeding them.  I also remember that my older brother had quite a scare one day in the chicken house (or so I remember the story that has been told) as he did something to cause a short in the electric wires and ran into the house exclaiming that a nuclear bomb had exploded.

spending time with Grandpa and the chickens

spending time with Grandpa and the chickens

Is it the economic downturn, or something else, that has more people seeking enjoyment in raising chickens for eggs? I hear people at work discussing the idea. And then yesterday I stopped in at our local library to pick up a held book and got into a conversation with the librarian. He knows that Dave and I like bird watching, so he told me about a hawk that was frequenting his country house. The conversation veered then to the hawk eating one of his chickens, and the eggs they lay, and I asked whether these free range eggs really do taste better than “store bought” ones. He disappeared to the back room and returned with a carton of a dozen eggs – all pretty brown colored except for one very lovely light green one. “here, these are for you”. I guess it turns out that having 15 chickens (well, now 14 after the hawk incident) means almost a dozen eggs a day, so he’s awash with eggs. I tried some in scrambled eggs this morning. Yum. Still, I’m not really sure they really tasted different or just brought back such good childhood memories.

The librarian also e-mailed me the parts of the city of Selah ordinances dealing with livestock. So, I guess I could keep two chickens in the city yard…. if I wanted to. I don’t think I will but it’s kind of nice to know I could.

So, which came first? The childhood memory of time at my grandparents house or my love of chickens and eggs?