fruit box labels

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While in Hood River, Oregon this weekend, we stopped at the historical museum as I had read that there was going to be a swap meet for fruit box labels. I am not a collector, but still thought it would be interesting. As we entered the museum a volunteer asked us if we were in town for the Blossom Festival. While I knew that was a big event that weekend, it really wasn’t why we were visiting. We just wanted to see the Columbia River Gorge spring wildflower displays while out hiking. But sadly, we were told that the apple trees weren’t blossoming yet as it has been a very cold spring. Same as in the Yakima Valley. Too bad for those people coming to see the apple trees in bloom.

I liked looking at all the fruit box labels in this person’s collection.   And I was surprised by how much some of the labels are worth.  Before the widespread use of cardboard boxed in the 1950’s, apples and pears were shipped in wooden crates. All the crates had labels to identify the fruit, quality and grower.  I especially enjoy looking at labels from “my neighbors”.  Hard to believe that over 4,000 different labels were used just in the Yakima Valley.  I have no idea what the numbers total for the entire United States.

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I found it fascinating to actually see one of the lithography stones with the etching used for producing a printed label.  Still even more interesting was that the woman running the “swap meet” had a familiar name…. OK, her name was Sue, but I meant the last name seemed very familiar.  It ends up that her family is the largest grower of pears in the US and they are direct competitors of Tree Top in the concentrate business.  Small world.  I introduced myself and we talked for awhile about the current challenges to the fruit industry.  I didn’t leave a collector of fruit box labels but instead a collector of stories I’d never heard before about the NW fruit industry.

prayer flags?

Our sugar snap peas were planted weeks ago, both in the plot directly behind the house and in another area up the hill.  The ones right behind the house are now several inches high, but I continue to worry that the birds will decide to make a gourmet feast of the tender sprouts rather than letting them grow into full grown pea plants. At first we put up netting to keep away the birds.  I recently read a recommendation to put up strips of tin foil along the pea trellises to keep the birds away.  So yesterday we removed the netting and put up foil strips.

OK, they don’t quite look like what I expected.

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And we’ll see if they keep the birds away.  Last year we planted peas and managed to prevent them from blossoming because we fertilized them too heavily (or so I think).  This year we’ll be more careful, but still are worried about those birds.  Auduboner’s through and through, we still wish the birds would eat someone else’s garden.   

So, as I gazed out on our haphazard looking handwork, it ended up reminding me in some way of the prayer flags I have seen in movies from Tibet.
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From boom to bust?

I was shopping again this weekend at Costco, the place famous for not being able to get out the door without spending hundreds of bucks.  I left well under than benchmark, but was particularly surprised at one item.

Almonds.  I distinctly remember almonds getting priced out of my comfort zone last year.  So I was reaching for a bag of pecans yesterday and realized I should also check the price of almonds.   Wow.  Three pounds for about $10.  Now that’s affordable.  With sympathy to Carrie’s friend Liz whose family relies on almond harvests for their income, I personally was happy to find myself in a buying mood again.  I put the pecans back on the shelf and picked up the bag of almonds.  I see many batches of granola coming up!

The Luck of the Irish – a few weeks late

Like many others, we sometimes shop at Costco, and generally leave with far more than intended.  This last trip there was no exception.  One of the food items we purchased is a new favorite – Dubliner’s Irish Cheese.

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I think it’s a great tasting cheese that reminds me of a dry cheddar with a nutty type flavor like Swiss and also parmesan.   It also has small crystals on the outside.  At first I thought it was salt, but it didn’t quite taste like table salt.  It was salty, but also sweet.  So I looked it up and discovered it’s calcium lactate that has crystalized.  Why I don’t know, but I like what it adds to the taste.

I bought a hunk (@$5.79/ lb it’s a wonderful price at Costco) and made grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough yesterday for lunch.  Mmmmmm.  Served with ginger cashew carrot soup (made by Pacific Foods, also from Costco) it made a very memorable lunch.

Make room, Wisconsin. The Irish apparently can be pretty good cheeseheads also.

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