Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thirty-five And Counting

It's hard to believe that I have been married for 35 years.  Most days it's hard to believe that I am more than 35 years old. However, the mirror and my intermittently creaky knees betray me. Anyway...we went out to dinner to celebrate. Our two favorite local "nicer" restaurants (Moses Point and Pillar Rock) are closed on Mondays so we decided to go for atmosphere and went to Don's in Soap Lake.  Don's is, shall I say, eclectic. It is down home country cookin' with Greek food on Fridays.  It has been in Soap Lake for 30 years and the owner was Greek. He passed away so his wife, or at least his family, still runs the restaurant. We have been there for the Greek food from time to time and we really like it. I hear that the steak is really good but since neither Dave nor I are big steak eaters, we went with the down home cookin this time. (They also have good local trout, which I have had and will opt for the next time we are there not on Greek night)  Before I get to the meal, I'll share the atmosphere.

The Western theme gives no hint of Greek Friday. The front door is hand carved. After going through a short hallway there is an inner door with a deer antler for a door pull. Dave usually opens doors for me, but in this case I insist. 

Once inside, our hostess/server, a very cheerful woman of approximately 70 years old, asked if we would like to sit by the fireplace. Of course we said yes, but this was a bit of a marketing tool because the fireplace is also next to the kitchen. Still, being by the fireplace was great because the portrait over the fireplace made it feel like we had a celebrity dining companion. 

The special of the night was chicken and dumplings, salad and dessert for $9.99. The price was certainly attractive so we also splurged on an appetizer.  We ordered deep fried pickle chips.  It's kind of funny that neither of us had ever had chicken and dumplings. What was even more funny to me was that Dave HAD eaten deep fried pickle chips before. 

The pickle chips were surprisingly not horrible. The cake was yummy. It was homemade and the cream was real cream, freshly whipped.   The salad was a cucumber and tomato salad with a house dressing. It was fine, just typical. The chicken and dumplings were not so good. The dumplings were heavy, kind of glue like and tasted strongly of baking soda. The gravy was ok, probably based on Campbell's soup, and the chicken was fine..tasted like chicken. I have heard people rave about chicken and dumplings so I will have to have one of those people cook it for me sometime.  Still we had a great time.
 Here is a parting photo. It is a photo of the original (deceased) owner lassoing a sword fish.         
 If that isn't Greek-Western fusion, I don't know what is. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rhubarb Cobbler Delish

I love rhubarb. To be more exact, I love it once or maybe twice a year. The exciting thing about rhubarb is that it is the first edible thing from our garden each year. How the first person to eat it ever decided it was edible is beyond me. Eaten in its natural state, it's like a joke that the "we make gross sour candy" people would play on celery. Yet, someone figured out that if you cook it with lots of sugar it's pretty good stuff.

This morning when Dave came in from walking the dog, he brought in about 10 stalks of rhubarb. This afternoon I looked for a rhubarb recipe in a cookbook that was compiled a few years ago by my sister-in-law, Venice, for the ladies at Church.  Many of the women who contributed to the book were/are survivors of the depression era. They knew how to cook from scratch, and feed large families with small resources. One of these women, Lucille Bushman, contributed the rhubarb recipe that I used today. She is in her late eighties now. If I went to a Church pot luck dinner tomorrow and someone told me that Lucille  brought a chicken casserole cooked with chicken that she raised herself and that earlier in the day she had chopped off the chicken's head, pulled the feathers, butchered it and cooked it up, I would not question the truth of it. However, I don't mean to over generalize that generation of women.  Lucille was a friend of my Mother-in-Law, Vivian, who was also a great cook, but she took to modern methods with gusto. When the TV commercials admonished women to be the first on their block to own a microwave oven, Vivian took the challenge seriously.

I made Lucille's cobbler and just like her title promised, it was pretty delish. It is actually a peach cobbler recipe with a rhubarb variation. I had lots of rhubarb so I doubled the recipe. The only thing I did differently from the original recipe was that I added about 2 tablespoons of  red sugar sprinkles to add color. People often add red food coloring to rhubarb, because depending on the stalks, it can be more green than red or pink. I add red cake sprinkles for color since for some reason I can always taste a chemical taste from red dye. The red  sugar sprinkles probably have the exact same dye in them but the mental trickery works for me.

                                                       PEACH COBBLER DELISH
1 1/2 cups fresh sliced peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Rhubarb variation
3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups sugar combined with 1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon butter
Mix in large pot on stove, stir, bring to a boil, remove from heat and set aside.
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon shortening
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients for batter and mix well. Pour into greased 9X9 inch square pan. Pour or spoon hot peach or rhubarb mixture over batter (do not stir). Back at 375 for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Batter will rise to top while backing. Recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9X13 inch pan.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Come On Spring!

Spring is always too slow to arrive in our neck of the woods...or semi arid steppe land, to be more precise. It warms up and the sun shines just enough to tease us and the flowers into thinking that spring has sprung and then we have freezing night temperatures, cold winds and gloomy days. After more than 30 years here, I know this is typical but I still feel betrayed every spring. We have a magnolia tree that quite frankly we (and by we I mean Dave) have no business trying to grow this far north let alone on this side of the Cascades. The day time temperatures have been just warm enough to encourage it to bloom.
Last night the weather warning came out for freezing temperatures. For the apple and other fruit tree growers, freezing temperatures during April and May can be disastrous. For us, it is more frivolous, but Dave likes his little magnolia tree and used a few Christmas light to keep it just warm enough to thwart the cold.
Merry Christmas Magnolia!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March Photo A Day-Feet
I bought new shoes. I don't buy shoes all that often, but since the soles of the shoes I usually wear partially melted in the fire the other day, I didn't have much choice. I have a hard time meshing comfort and fashion. I like fashionable shoes so long as they are on someone else's feet. I wear tennis shoes almost everyday. I suppose I should call them athletic shoes, since tennis shoes sounds a bit out of date...unless I was buying them to use for playing tennis, which I am not. I just need comfortable shoes. I prefer to wear black shoes since they blend in with jeans. I wear jeans almost everyday now that I am not working, or rather semi-retired, as I like to say in order to get more respect.
 In addition to looking for black shoes, I was looking for shoes on sale. I couldn't fulfill both requirements in little Ephrata where there are only two stores that sell shoes. I had to settle for spending less money and buying white shoes. They stand out like light house beacons announcing to the world that I have on bright shiny new shoes. I feel like I am in kindergarten at show and tell . As far as I am concerned, they can't get dirty soon enough. Still, they are comfortable so I shouldn't complain. Few things are worse than sore feet, not even ugly shoes.

March Photo A Day-Trash (Yesterday)

When I think of trash, I think of recycling. One of my first posts on this blog was about recycling. You can find it  here.
 I have been amazingly consistent in recycling the things that I can in my area. I envy Michael and Ivy in Seattle where they have curb side recycling. I drive my recyclable trash into town about once every two weeks. I usually have a large black bag or cardboard boxes, a smaller bag or aluminum cans and a bag or newspapers. I don't have to take glass in as often. It seems that most of the garbage is packaging. Yesterday I did a trash run while I was doing some other errands. Below are some pictures of our high tech (not) recycling center. I wish we had a system here for plastics and non aluminum metals, but I am glad that we at least have something that is somewhat convenient for me to use.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March Photo A Day-Key

Quick Note- I am behind by a couple of days. Quick Analysis-What else is new?
I am not going to do the "your name" day. It's not that interesting to me so it's an easy one to skip in order to get back on track. Yesterday's photo directive was-key. I've had many keys. They come and go along with the things that they lock and unlock.  I have one very special key.
 I have had it for over 30 years. It is the key to a hotel in Paris. We went to Paris for our honeymoon. I thought the hotel was run down and a bit scary. Dave thought it was authentic.  The skeleton key was to our room and the newer looking key was to the bathroom down the hall that we shared with the other four or five guest rooms on the floor. These keys made me feel less than secure. When I was inside the bathroom, I made Dave stand guard outside the door.
I honestly did not intentionally keep this key as a souvenir. It was not one of those accidentally on purpose kind of things. By the time I discovered it, we were too far from Paris to return.
Now, more than 30 years later, I am glad that I have it. It reminds me of the best decision I ever made. Dave and I still differ on things like the definition of scary and authentic, and being lost or on  the scenic route but 30 years of shared experience is nothing to take lightly. Now one knows either of us the way we know each other. He still thinks I am pretty regardless of the clothes or hairstyle I choose, the weight I gain or lose, or the wrinkles that I threaten to have face lifted away. He still likes the food I put on the table, not because it is particularly good but because I made it for him. I am glad he is still the one standing outside the door and making sure things are okay, when life feels less than secure. I don't know the answers to life's questions. I often don't even know the question, but I am pretty sure that love is the key.