Monday, May 31, 2010

God bless my country and may He be merciful!

It sounds odd to say "Happy Memorial Day." I know that when there is less rain we do fun family activities. It is the unofficial kick-off to the summer garden season and seeds are going underground everywhere. But, lest we forget, it is also a day to remember our soldiers. Men and woman who often do not feel like heroes but who are. The survivors and the fallen alike gave up their youth, some gave up their sense of sanity, others gave their lives. My life is hopeful because of them.

My Grandpa Foster is a WWI Vet.
Ray's dad is a WWII Vet.
Both are gone but not forgotten.

My dad and my Brother in Law are Air Force Vets, My nephew Brett was a Marine. My niece Cristy married a Marine. Thank you to each of them and to the many I never met who gave something very personal of themselves for me. God Bless.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Even the Sky Weeps this Memorial Day

There is beauty to be found, it isn't even hard to find.

I do not think I will be BBQ'ing this holiday weekend. There is a mess of spinach, crisp and ready for quiche today. I'm going to the Everett Farmers Market after church. I'm sure I'll find something to add to spinach and eggs to create an impressive dinner. We would like to do a traditional BBQ, but it is so wet that the ground squishes under my feet. My parents should be either at or arriving at the Grand Canyon today. Maybe the sun is shinning on them today.

These are dangerous times for America. It isn't just the unpopular wars or the oil that is killing the Gulf (while everyone who is newsworthy wants only to blame one another instead of working together). It isn't just the Eastern floods that America ignored. It isn't just the way we devour our children and the citizens of our country that are beaten down. (Who was it that said you can tell the temper of a country by how she treats children....on a show about the sexually abused). These are dangerous times because of how America has come to despise Israel as official policy (while one of the policy makers has brought his son to Israel for his Bar Mitzvah) I expect to see Canada sore in the grace of God. Their Prime minister warmly and genuinely welcomed the Israeli Prim Minister to his country. A comment was made about how the Israeli Prim was grateful for the warm reception to build him up before he goes to see President Obama who is unbelievably and publicly rude to Israel. Oh, Canada!

"Let us go across to the other side of the lake." So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, "where is your faith?" Luke 8:22-25 RSV

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More Yum with Swiss Chard

Too cold to BBQ this cold holiday weekend. So here is something warm to do with Swiss Chard.

Memorial Weekend Garden Video

What about Violet Jelly?

It sounds so romantic. Violet Jelly. I just realized I have violas, not violets. Drat! Maybe next year..... unless you have a source for me?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Garden Harvest and the First Farmers Market 2010

Hidcote Lavender and Thyme in the herb garden.

We had fish tacos for dinner last night. Doesn't that sound boring? I have ordered fish tacos a few times and been disappointed almost without exception. The very first one I ever ordered was made with a thick slice of fresh mahi-mahi and was interesting. Ray actually loves good fish tacos but agrees that too many of them are made with less then fresh fish (what else is a chef to do with leftover fish except slather it in heat and hope we do not notice the after taste?). Dinner last night was from the Cookus Interuptus blog (link on sidebar of blog or you can link to my variation without the video at

I believe I will start making my own fish tacos from now on! The fish is marinated and broiled instead of fried. That alone is a huge improvement! With the exception of cabbage (why didn't I put that in my garden??) the vegetables came from my Toy Box (link on sidebar of blog) or from the Snohomish farmers market. It is almost empowering to run to the toy box instead of the grocery. I snipped cilantro and large lettuce leaves and snatched a couple of carrots. The carrots could have used a few more days in the ground but I didn't care, they were from my garden and still had better taste than bag carrots. At the farmers market I bought a bunch of Walla Walla Sweet Onion thinnings. A small purple cabbage completed the veggie mix for the tacos. We had a feast!

Ray and Jason hiked somewhere on Snoqualmie. Every time they invite me and Rudy to come I tend to pass because; A) I have an incredible amount of school work to do and B) when they say they are hiking a trail to some Geo-Cache I always think they mean they are hiking on the Granite Falls side of the Mountain Loop Hwy. Since I have done most of those hikes, I reason to myself that I should get my school work done. But they keep coming home from somewhere else. Drat! Why didn't I go? The kids were not doing much work yesterday anyway (not that I would have known that when the guys left). I have got to get into the habit of saying, "Where are you going?" And when they give me some red-neck answer like, "To the ape cache" I should find out where the trail is, not the name of the cache. Ape cache sounds like it will be found in red-neck central (a.k.a. Robe Valley).

Ray and Bomber at the Ape Cache. Bomber LOVES to hunt and has picked up that Ray and Jason are hunting when they Geo-Cache. He is good at finding them. I think he may just know the scent of some of Jason's Geo buddies. He still surprises me. Geo-caching with Chris on Whidbey Island he found what we were looking for. The hint was something about checking the rock. The trail was covered with stones. The guys were busy turning them over. Bomber was interested in one he found trail side. When he flipped it with his paw Chris saw that it was one of those fake rocks for hiding keys, or in this case, a micro cache. Clever boy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

After the Rain

Do tears add as much beauty to life as rain to flowers? Do I EVER remember in the midst of the storm how different things will look after the rain?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Four Days on a Wet Ocean Beach

Rudy loves the wide open spaces! Me too
Don't know what it is but we thought it looked kewl.

Lupin and Strawberries

Some purple Legum

We saw LOTS of blacktail deer. One of them was ready to have her fawn.

Always watching

Almost everyone else had poles with flags,
this was the trail marker for us to find our way back to the trailer.

I didn't check for sure but it looks like Dunlins and Yellow Legs

There were a few different types of Sand Pippers on the beach

JUST got home from Ocean City. Big wet ocean, big wet sky, big wet park.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Doing School Work on the Road

Have you been getting school notes from me about doing work at Ocean City on wi-fi? The room is cold, loud, and the Internet is oh, so slow. The people are nice, but chatty. Takes forever. But hey! I get to leave home and work someplace else....kewl!

Monday, May 17, 2010

What should I do with all that Swiss chard?

My mother did not serve many "greens" when I was growing up. She does make a wonderful wilted spinach salad but as a child it was loved for the bacon, not the spinach. She also puts fresh spinach into different salads (my mother is an amazing salad person). I don't remember ever having Swiss chard at home.

My first experience was when a neighbor gave me a bundle of chard from her garden. We were walking partners that summer. At the end of a walk one evening she invited me to come see her pretty vegetable garden. After the tour she sent me home with a big handful of crisp Swiss chard. Once chopped, I mixed it with ricotta and cottage cheese for lasagna. I have used the same cheese mixture to stuff pasta, which makes it very much like lasagna, just looks a little different.

My Lasagna Recipe

I like Swiss chard julienned and dropped into soup just before serving. It will keep its bright green color briefly so serve it quick. Try it roughly chopped and mixed into your next quiche

Deborah Madison has a recipe in "The Greens Cook Book" that combines buckwheat linguine and French lentils with carrots and chard…. I'll let you know how that turns out. She, by the way, saves the stems for soup stock.

Annie Summerville, author of "Fields of Greens" considers chard a winter vegetable. My favorite recipe from her book is "Fettuccini with Chard, Currants, Walnuts, and Brown Butter" Since some believe that the Pacific northwest is in perpetual winter, I suppose that it is safe to serve Annie's chard creation in May.

The authors of "The New Laurel's Kitchen" (new was in 1986) suggest that young chard is good served over brown rice when added to sautéed onion with raisins. Sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds. They also turned me on to adding chard to sautéed onion, garlic and a teaspoon of fresh ginger before tossing with a sprinkle of soy sauce and a chopped tomato. Serve it over potatoes (mashed, smashed or steamed and cubed) or rice. It is also good over pasta. Another New Laurel's Kitchen suggestion is to stuff it into Pita with cottage cheese or to stuff and bake the leaves. If requested I will give links to both of my adaptations.

Swiss chard is just too good to be covered in hot oil, wilted and dropped on a plate.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How did the pioneers survive?

When I look at spring in my garden or think about what I can eat from the land, I am in awe of those who came far ahead of diesel powered, refrigerated trucks. I am a good month and a half away from my first garden strawberry but the local grocery store has been selling strawberries from as far away as Mexico since early February. The same is true of asparagus, another seasonal treat. There was a moment in my history when we made a celebration of the very first pea pod, perfect and long anticipated as it fattened up. And once upon a time, we welcomed spring with a rhubarb desert or made it into a sauce for chicken. It didn't matter that most of us did not really like rhubarb, it was spring and fresh from the garden must be celebrated.

It is the middle of May and I have been eating fresh salad once or twice a week from my garden since early April. There are all kinds of greens to flavor the bowl but only radishes to add from the garden. It has been wonderful but I get to wondering if I could make it to summer if all I had to eat fresh was greens and radishes.

I know that the pioneers had stores of flour, beans and bacon or other salt meat their first year. But as I wait for pea blossoms to become pods and then for the pods to fatten up, I have the luxury of running to Trader Joe's to pick up something to go with the salad. There were probable trout, bunnies, clams from clean water, mushrooms, fiddle-heads and cat-tail roots to eat in spring. Maybe there were a few spring eggs if the hen did not go into the stew pot or a hungry raccoon didn't eat her. Still doesn't seem like much.

Because I am a believer in the God of Abraham, the Father of Y'shua I know that Elohim cares for his righteous ones. Their children do not go begging for bread. I have only fasted a few times in my life, yet still I know the value of eating spiritual food and how it sustains a girl for a span of time. When I have fasted it has always been my choice. What if it was because the pantry was empty?

My pantry is not empty. Elohim is still good though my only claim to righteousness is wholly and only because of the sacrifice of the Son of Elohim, Y'shua ha Mashiyach (Jesus who is the Christ). He sustains me in all of this abundance as surely as he sustained the early PNW's in need. I know that it seems silly, but Y'shua is the reason I sill celebrate that first fat pea pod, or the first radish to come from its hiding place in the soil. He is the reason I still look for my grandmothers Yellow Transparent apples for Fourth of July pie, as an offering of abundance to Him as I celebrate the country and the family he has gifted me with. Elohim is the reason I still look for that first ear of corn and make it a celebration in all of its simplistic perfection. He has given me so much yet I find it so easy to forget to practice the power of giving thanks if not for the power of garden firsts. Elohim is how the pioneers survived, he is the reason I thrive. My garden is a prop to remember to celebrate the everyday gifts with a thankful heart.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Is that really the sun?

Noticeably longer days are not translating into fewer layers of clothes. Maybe it is all the wet that has swooped in from Alaska for the last two weeks. It is very possible that watching the tomatoes grow in my kitchen window have me anxious for days that are too hot for lettuce but perfect for tomatoes. I wonder how tomatoes and lettuce ever came together as salad? Maybe my frustration comes from reading the blogs of cyber friends in Texas and California where it is already high-garden season. Perhaps their pictures and words have me off my balance when it comes to the seasonal rhythm of life. Just before the sky pinked up with first light I looked at the outside temperature. It had been steady at 41 degrees for most of the night. At first light it dropped to 38 degrees. It is still early in the PNW.

Honey colored light found its way into my room and has me itching to get outside. I want to drive out to the river and look for mushrooms to go with all those herbs in the garden. It's time. I didn't gather any fiddle heads this year. I don't want to let the mushrooms escape me. Ray is hungry for razor clams but the season and his time off are not coming together. It isn't our time that is important. The Creator gives gifts of time and I get greedy for the best of it. I think of the martyrs under the alter in the Revelation. Even they want to know, "how long?" No chastisement is given for their anxious question. They receive white robes and encouragement to rest a while longer. Soon enough the days of chores will come. It isn't just about tomatoes in warm summer soil. The gypsy life of kitchen window to patio table and back will have to do for now. That and the song of the sparrow bragging outside the window. What does a sparrow have to brag about? Maybe it is that he and she can trade time just sitting on eggs instead of feeding hungry babies. Rest is good.