Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Land Of 10,000 Zucchini

Thus far, we have had zucchini with Andy's wonderful roasted peanut mole sauce, zucchini salads, zucchini with roasted tomato sauce, zucchini with cilantro pesto, I've made "zany zucchini" pickles..........and the zucchini are only getting warmed up.  I've lined up some new  recipes, so I'll probably be making zucchini relish tomorrow, or maybe hot and spicy zucchini pickles.  It's a bit hot for zucchini bread.  Maybe zucchini cole slaw?   Anyone ever tried zucchini parmesan?  How about zucchini moussaka?  Zucchini football.....?????

Saturday, July 30, 2011


"The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on." 

--Warren Buffett 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Garden..........That Never-ending Saga of Nature vs. Toni

So, the good news:  The basil is finally healthy enough for large-quantity projects, so today I made and froze basil-walnut pesto:
The good/bad news:  Another canning  rack rusted into uselessness, but I think it might finally stop Theo from destroying the new cucumber plants
as he has done to almost all the OTHER cucumber seedlings.

The "what initially seemed to be bad news" news:  The zucchini plant that I didn't plant is a very, VERY exuberant plant, and we've how harvested six zucchini and counting:
The "what is she thinking?" news:  copious amounts of zucchini just calls for experimentation, so we now have "Zany Zucchini" pickles.  Probably the first thing I've ever canned just because it has a fun name.
And the "why-isn't-the-zucchini-bad-news?" news:  The patty pan squash I actually planted back in April?
Not so much looking like a patty pan squash.  I'm thinking maybe acorn?  I wish I could remember what I planted when I actually GOT patty pan squash--was it butternut?  And why do I continue to buy seeds when they're never what they are supposed to be????????

Great Article from the NY Times Today.

Some Traditions I Can Live Without

As a kid, I seemed to get ear infections in the summer pretty regularly.  The memory of the actual infection is non-existent, but the memory of not being able to swim when we went on the one-week family vacation right after the 4th of July is quite clear.  I actually don't even remember if they hurt or what we actually did about them, or what actually caused them.

BUT, feeling all proud of ourselves for our determination, Andy and I got up at 5:00 AM on Monday to go to the gym where Andy lifted weights an I swam laps..........and got water in my ear.  And it's still with me. So, it's July, I have an ear ache, I don't hear very well, and I can't go swimming.  Okay, THIS summer tradition stinks.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vacation, Day One

My cousin, Dustin, and Andy have birthdays about 2 weeks apart, so we decided to celebrate both with a little trip into Oregon.  We left early on Friday so we could dawdle and take in the sights along the way, which turned out to be a great idea because when we pulled into Baker City for lunch we discovered they were having a Mining Jubilee celebration in the park, so we stopped to tour the booths, then headed to the Baker Heritage Museum.

For such a little town, this is an amazing museum.  There were lots of "rock hounds" in the area, so there are some wonderful rock and mineral exhibits, including:
a room of phosphorescent rocks.  Very cool exhibit for kids--even those in their mid-thirties and forties.......

Andy discovered a pedal-powered scroll saw...
...which I'm guessing meant there were no overweight woodworkers in the 1800s.  Probably lots with missing finger bits as well.

One of my favorite parts was in an exhibit about long-gone mining towns in the area, including Copperfield
where the residents seemed to have a sense of humor:
Can't beat that!

These always amaze me:
This is a side saddle, used because it was "undignified" for women to wear pants or split skirts in order to ride astride.  I've never tried one, but I have to think astride would be a lot more dignified than "sprawled on one's backside in the dirt," but maybe it's not as hard as it looks.  Personally, I grew up on a cattle ranch with saddles more like this one:
For many cowboys (the ones who actually worked cattle, not the Dallas football or "urban" versions), they owned their saddle and the employer owned the horse, so some guy spent 6 days a week sitting on this thing, and probably used it his entire life on dozens of horses.   It makes my backside hurt just looking at it.  Personally, I am a bit of a softy and own a saddle with some padding on it.  It's funny how there's an inverse relationship to the amount of time spent riding to the luxuries of saddles--I have friends who have horses who ride far less than I did when growing up, but spend amazing amounts of money on saddles and specialized tack to ride a few hours a few times a month.  I'm not sure if one just really got used to riding a saddle when in it 8-10 hours a day, or if we are just far less tough than our ancestors, or does everything just get "boutiqued" and slightly ridiculous when it becomes a hobby instead of a job?

I thought this was an interesting display:
Cattle ranchers often (and still do) use barbed wire fence to keep cattle in pastures, but there were lots of variations at one time.  A matter of trial and error do you suppose?

This is an old printing press:
 complete with type
and details on specifications.
 The old version of Spell-Check, I suppose.  We were highly amused by its name:
I love the thought of it being the early ancestor of the Inter-net.  If there were "Inter-type" trolls sitting around making snarky comments about everything, they probably lived in a one room shack by themselves and no one had to listen to them, and perhaps people thought a great deal more about what they said before saying it if it had to by typed out letter by letter.  The Inter-type probably saved people from gaffs like "Weiner-gate," as well.

is a bread-mixing bowl.  I'm both amazed by--and slightly covetous of--the size of this thing.  I do have my doubts on whether I could even lift it, as I strongly suspect I am a complete wimp compared to whoever used this thing.  Andy and I have trouble going through a regular batch of bread before it goes bad, but I could REALLY get some use out of that sucker during salsa-making.....

On the flip side of the size issue:
these are pancake molds, and they are tiny--probably about 4 inches in diameter.  Quite a change from the 7 to 12-inch pancakes we eat now.  Everything for individual servings seems smaller,
including the stove.   Hm, having to work 10 times harder than we do currently AND eating smaller servings versus mostly desk jobs and humongous servings.  Easy to see how that is working out for us.

I took a picture of some early canning equipment
to remind myself not to whine when I can this year (except about recipes that have huge mathematical errors--that will continue to be fair game).  And I have air-conditioning, and I'm not wearing a ridiculous amount of clothing.

I was delighted to find this:
but if you look at the ingredient list
in this era it really was probably "food" and not "bizarre cheese-like chemical substance."

There was a lot of money in Baker because of mining, but more because they sold stuff to miners than actual mining, so there were very nice things in Baker at the time, and the museum has great displays of them.  One of my favorites,
 a lovely blue jacket,
 right beside the picture of the original owner.  Very cool.

I love all the unique old furniture,
not to mention the history that goes with it:
A madame marrying a sheriff.   Want to place bets on how many times here "house of ill repute" was actually raided?

They do some nice displays so you can see what a typical room would have looked like, so we have a parlor
 and a general store
where the guys tried to do a little shopping:
 They also had a laundry,
a school room,
and for the really brave,
a medical office.  And I get nervous going to modern doctors!

was a bit baffling at first.  Torture device?  Electroshock therapy?  Nope, an early "permanent wave" machine.  No wonder those smelly home permanent things became so popular--this was their predecessor!  Granted, I hate that my hair is so naturally straight, but if the other option was to be hooked up to this thing, I might have learned to live with it.

After the museum, we were off to our first night's location, the Working Girl's Hotel in Pendleton, Oregon.  It's owned by the folks who operate the wonderful Pendleton Underground Tour, and is just delightful.  I had booked the "suite" at the end of the all
 which features 3 attached rooms,
with one bathroom.  Obviously not designed for longer stays.....But completely delightful, and I think the guys were delighted at the idea of staying in a brothel.
I had done my homework when planning this trip, but we just had the best luck stumbling across things that I had no idea were happening.  Right around the corner of the hotel,
 was the Pendleton Farmer's Market, which operates on Friday evenings, live music included.  Score!

Being Pendleton and home of the world famous Pendleton Roundup rodeo, we visited Hamley's, a western store AND restaurant.  The boys decided they should perhaps blend,
until we discovered that some of the hats go for $500.  Not that to hat connoisseurs they probably aren't worth every penny, but for us we found it better to set these prize hats down and back away slowly.

Since we don't often find restaurants that sell saddles, we decided to dine on their patio
 and enjoy some live music
Couldn't have timed it better.

After dinner, we all thought it best to find the facilities here since we were all sharing one bathroom, and I found this
on the door going into the women's restroom.  Well alrighty!  Now I was definitely going in!

the paintings were all pretty tasteful.  I snapped this picture right as someone else came in, thinking I could dart back out without having to explain why I was taking pictures in the women's restroom, but the woman who came in just laughed.  I think she probably took pictures as well.

 Right next to the hallway with the restrooms, the restaurant/saddle store sports a dungeon,
which actually turned out to be a bar
which may or may not be in use, but was really fun to play with.  When we went back upstairs, I was stopped by a woman who asked me what was downstairs.  I explained about the bar, and she said that this building had originally been a JCPenney store, which either does NOT explain the bar in the dungeon OR makes it the most fun-loving JCPenney store I've ever heard of.

Finally, we wandered back to the hotel, and had a little birthday celebration in the lounge:
Fantastic ending to a great first day!

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...