Sunday, October 21, 2012

Smoked Salmon, Green Beans and Cabbage Salad

The Blog's back, with a few changes. A new title and a new focus. But before I start in with the long harangues about organic food and my hippie-ass lifestyle I thought I'd share a new recipe of mine.

I tend to try and pack as many ingredients as possible into my dishes and for that reason salads are something I make a lot (sometimes even when I'm not trying to). On the fly salads don't always turn out that great, whether or not Stew will help me with the leftovers is usually a good indicator of my level of success, but every once in a while a delicious new combination is born.  I threw one together yesterday to take to a family dinner and it turned out to be one such gem. It is pretty simple and stars one of our household favorites, smoked salmon.
Smoked salmon is great for a lot of reasons, it is high in protein and omega fatty acids and you only need a little to lend that smoky, fishy deliciousness to a dish. Chop it up and toss in it with some veggies, pasta, any grain and maybe throw in a little creaminess and you've got a meal to die for.

Smoked Salmon, Green Beans and Red Cabbage Salad

Red Cabbage, half head
Green Beans, 1/2 lb.
Smoked Salmon, 3/4 lb. or so
Walnuts, handfull whole or chopped

8 oz. Sour Cream (dairy or none, I use Tofuti)
3 Tbl. Olive oil
1 tsp. Lemon juice
1tsp. White or rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cheyenne powder
To taste: Start at a Tbl. each and work your way from there.
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Basil, dried
Dill, dried
Taragon, dried

Chop cabbage into bite size strips, beans into bite size pieces, and same with salmon (no skin). The beans will need to be blanched which is done by boiling them in water for about 5 minutes (or until tender, not soft) then transferring them to ice water for an equal amount of time. The rest, including walnuts can go straight in the bowl.

Sauce is easy enough, mix all ingredients together and adjust amounts to taste. Keep in mind that when using dried seasonings that their flavor will be stronger after ten minutes or so of sitting in the wet ingredients. If you're unsure of your sauce flavor, let it sit a bit and then proceed.
*On a side note, this is basically ranch type dip. Make it thinner (more oil, juice, water or milk) and it's dressing. Want it more tangy? Use plain yogurt in place of sour cream. If you already own these seasonings, save yourself a little money and never buy ranch dressing or those little packets of ranch dip seasoning again. Anyway...

Mix it all together! This salad is best at room temp or a little colder.

Well, this is embarrassing! I had intended to post a picture of the leftovers of this salad but....I seem to have eaten it while typing this. Sorry, I'll just have to describe it 's appearance. It looks delicious!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cape Alava to Sand point- Olympic Peninsula

 The Olympic Peninsula is an enchanting area. Beaches, to old growth forest, to small bits of prairie, it is just a beautiful place. Earlier this spring Stew and I made a trip around the Peninsula stopping off in various different places. We have been wanting to go  back for a beach hike and finally made it a couple weekends ago.
 Not far into our hike Stew began smelling beer, which seemed a little curious given our surroundings until he remembered the six pack of Dale's Pale in his back pack. Sure enough, one had gotten a little hole in it (the down side of packable beer). No gear had gotten wet and we did enjoy the quick drink.

We hiked 3 miles of beautiful board walk before we reached this point where we finally got a glimpse of the water. We would continue a little further before crossing Ozette river and camping for the night.

Our first night we camped at north Ozette river. We picked what is arguably the most lovely camp site I have ever stayed at. The little bare spot, equipped with a fire ring and logs for sitting, was perfectly positioned where the river meets the ocean so we had a view on both sides. That evening, while cooking dinner, we watched a pair of river otters fish while bald eagles flew overhead. It was one of those moments where you remember why you choose to make the effort of hiking out so far.

Saturday we hiked along the beach during low tide while the rocks were covered in sea stars, barnacles and crabs. There were large tide pools filled with life, it was hard to keep moving.

This little crab did the trick after having a grumbling moment. Stew and I both hiked in our Chacos, which were great aside from a couple rubs and the spots of beach that were filled with tiny pebbles.

Tiny wild strawberries covered this rock (above photo) bathing in the sunshine and sea air.

Our campsite for that night was at Sand Point which boasts white, soft sandy beach. We chose a spot right in the sand which had it's draw backs (sand!) but with a view from your tent like this who can complain.

Stew chose to skip the sunscreen and ended up with a pretty sweet burn line due to having to wear socks with his sandals for a portion of the hike.

The hike from the beach was much like the hike in, a lovely boardwalk which ended where we had started, forming the loop into a little triangle.
I can't express how much I treasure these trips out, they rejuvenate and energize me. It is in these places that I feel the capability to be still, to not think of anything but the moment I am in. What a beautiful vacation.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Welcome to random blog!

I have to except the fact that I am not the persone who keeps up with their blog. I am the person who tells you half the story of my weekend out in one blog and then shares my latest food obsessions in the next.

I have recently converted to a (mostly) gluten free diet. I know, this is the craze right now and due to no money I will not be visiting a doctor any time soon to confirm my need to stop eating wheat. What spurred this change (in short, because the long detailed story is not pleasant) was some digestion problems I was having. I am already dairy free (boo) and I decided that I would cut out wheat and sugar for the month of April to see if I could help out my belly and curb my sugar addiction at the same time. The sugar part went well, it was the gluten that was hard.  In the end it paid off and I realized that this one month diet was what my diet should look like. Aside from beer, of course. Can't stop drinking beer!

It has been a hard ride since then but I am slowely getting it together, finding wheat replacer's and trying new recipes. The thing that is great about this diet change is that it is forcing me to diversify my eating in a way I never have. Take a second and think of what you ate today. How many things had wheat in them? How many had refined sugar? Both? Our bodies need diversity no matter who we are and due to the fact that we have so many foods available to us at all times, it is really easy to only eat what you like the most. The crazy thing is that there are so many delicious grains and sweeteners out there that are just as good for you or better.

My two projects this week have been rhubarb quick bread (GF) and kim chi, which is great for digestion and super easy to make. I got the bread recipe from and swopped the brown sugar for coconut sugar, and zucchini for rhubarb. The kim chi recipe came from my wonderful friend Cally.

                                      Gluten Free Goddess Zuchini Bread 

1 Cup Sorghum flour
1/2 Cup Tapioca flour
2  tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp Sea salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Brown Sugar (or Coconut Sugar)
1/3 Cup Oil
1 tsp Lemon juice
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Coconut milk (I used So Delicious in the carton)
1 Cup Shredded Zuchini (or sliced Rhubarb)
1/3 chopped Nuts of choice

Mix Sorghum, Tapioca, BP, BS, Xanthan, salt, Cinnamon, and Sugar together. Beat in oil, juice, egg and milk. Beat until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add Zuchini or Rhubarb and any nuts you would like.
Put in greased bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

This bread turned out delicious! I just pulled it out of the oven and have had two slices already. The recipe can be made with wheat as well, just substitute the Sorghum, Tapioca and Xanthan for 1 Cup All Purpose flour and 1/2 Cup Wheat flour.

                                                      Cally's Kim Chi
1 head Napa Cabbage, cored and shredded
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
1 cup Carrots grated
1/2 cut Daikon Radish, grated (optional)
1 T freshly grated Ginger
3 cloves Garlic peeled and minced
1/2 t dried Chile Flakes
2 T sea salt

Place vegetables, ginger, garlic, red chile flakes and sea salt in a bowl and Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart sized wide mouth mason jar and press down with a pounder until juiced comes to the top of the cabbage. The top of the veggies should be at lease an inch from the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temp for about 3 days then transfer to cold storage
This makes 2 quarts
Ready, set, eat!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Olympic Penninsula

This last weekend Stew and I embarked on a well needed epic adventure. The last few weeks I have felt a real need for inspiration and motivation, life has been feeling a bit stale. I always forget the power of being away and outdoors. There is a piece of my soul that is always longing for the forest, the longer I stay away, the louder it's voice. This little weekend vacation was just what the doctor ordered.

                                                           Grey's Harbor board walk

We began the journey with a night in Olympia where my best friend lives. Arriving in the evening we went straight for what was my favorite bar when I lived there, the Eastside Tavern. This is the bar that Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, took inspiration for Moe's Tavern from. They have a ton of great beer on tap and I was excited to visit because I have gained a lot of beer knowledge since the last time I was there. The beer was delicious and I got a surprise visit from Ariel, my bestie.  After a little snack and another beer at Le Voyeur (also a wonderful Olympia staple) we headed back to Ariel's for some sleep. At this point the remainder of the trip was still a surprise, all I knew was that we were heading towards the peninsula.

                                                                 Stew at the lookout

Stew and I woke up early, got some coffee and groceries and were off. As we were nearing  Aberdeen I mentioned that I used to do work with WCC (The Washington Conservation Corps.) at a wildlife refuge near by and Stew suggested we stop. It had been nearly six years since I had been there and it was just as lovely as I had remembered. The refuge, on Grey's Harbor, shares land with a small airport. It boasts a near mile ling board walk that was built by the same conservation corps that I was apart of and it is mostly there for shore birds and the people who love them. We walked along the mossy boardwalk with the Alders and Cascaras hanging overheard and I was struck by the impact that places like this one had had on my life. When I had worked there, it was my first year learning about conservation, native plants and what hard work really was. The lessons and experiences I took from that period of my life have shaped my path into what it is today. The smile this thought gave me lasted the rest of the day.

                                                 Signs decribing invasive removal work being done.

Our next destination was the Quinalt rain forest, if you have never visited the rain forests in Washington you must. Saturated is the best word to describe how they look and feel. When I say that I mean it in a couple senses of the word, it is wet and the colors are positively saturated. We stopped at the ranger station and settled on a camp site on the north fork right by the Quinalt river. It rained, of course, but we were prepared with boots and full rain gear.

                                                                       Quinalt river

After setting up camp, Stew and I tramped off to explore the river. After a thorough exploration we decided that a fire was going to be possible despite the weather. There is almost always dry wood if you know where to look. The Alder stand that ran along the river was full of leg width trees that had blown over but not to the ground, they were both dead and dry, perfect. Beers in hand we began collecting which soon looked like a scene from our restoration days. Climbing, jumping, wedging trees between other trees to break them, sometimes even just bashing them against one another we gathered our wood. I remembered thinking once while working for Restoration Logistics that we were being paid to do almost exactly what I used to do as a child, run around the wood and break things. And here we were doing it again. It felt great.

                                                                    Our Ranger beer ad

We had our fire, after much labor and frustration. Building a fire in the rain in an exercise in patience and a particularly good one because if you succeed your reward is great and if you don't you are even more determined to do so the next time around. We woke up early the next morning and tired of the rain, opted to pack up and head out to have our breakfast in a more dry setting. I love the rain forest.

                                                   Alder stand where we gathered fire wood.

 I think I will save the rest of this story for the next post considering that this has turned out to be a fairly lengthy one. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hello Sunshine

Hello sunshine, hello blog! It is March and the solstice is upon us bringing all the warm feelings and expectations that it does every year. This morning I decided to take some pictures and start this thing up again after many months away from writing. Looking at old posts this morning was so encouraging. The chickens are not the young thin birds they were this time last year and we go into this growing season with all the knowledge of our space that we gained last year.

I have been feeling anxious about getting the garden started, realizing that we already had starts going in the basement this time last year. But the truth of the matter is that we have plenty of time. There are other projects taking precedent right now, including our new brew space and the amping up of beer production. This weekend, however, I took a brake from all of that to get the garden ready for planting.

March is always a surprise. As I ascended on the back yard, all Carhartted and gloved, I was surprised to find our strawberries coming back. The reason for the surprise is that I had thought the chickens demolished these poor little plants when we opened them up to the whole yard this winter. Plants, just like people, are hardy. We can service the winter and the peaking that come along with it!

 A couple weeks ago I had a visit to Olympia and was given a sourdough starter from a friend, ya! I have tried my hand at starting one which ended in mold and disappointment. I was encouraged greatly by this friend and am happy to say that the starter is still alive and kicking a couple weeks later. In celebration, and need to purge some starter, I made some sourdough pancakes this morning. They were delicious!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Big Heart Lake

This weekend Stew and I made it out for a quick over-nighter. Hiking is something that both of us love a lot and, for a few various reasons, have not done very much of the past couple of seasons.  This year we've made promises to each other that we would both push for as many backpacking excursions as we could do, even if we are only able to spend one night in the woods. Our only regret for this trip was that we forgot to bring a camera. All I can offer is a good description.

Big heart lake is located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, out past Skykomish. There are five lakes along the trail varying in size, each one higher in elevation and all beautiful. The plan was to leave Friday afternoon but a busy week had left us ill prepared so we decided it was best to leave in the morning. We made it out to the ranger station at 10:30, used the bathroom and forgot to pay the back country fee required for camping in that area, woops.

The beginning of the trail was all roughed up, like a new trail would look and we guessed that we might run into a trail crew doing some work. When Stew was working with Earthcorps some years ago, he had done some work on the upper portion of the trail. It was one of his first backpacking trips and the crew had carried all their tools up with their regular gear making their packs around 75lbs each. To put this in prospective, I generally hike with somewhere between 30 and 50lbs. We ran into the trail crew within the first mile, they were volunteers varying in age and looked like they were having a good time.

The first lake along the trail is called Trout Lake, the trail wound along the edge sheltered by lush cedars and firs. The sun coming through the canopy heats up the trees and gives off an earthy sweet aroma. Our late start that morning had put us at this point at about noon so we stopped at Trout lake to eat and try to take a dip. Unfortunately the water was extremely cold and I only made it up to my thighs. I suspect that the late summer has caused a late melt off the mountains making these lakes about 45-50 degrees despite it being July.

From this point on the trail began to gain elevation, it had been well built though and the switchbacks were calm making the gain much more bearable. This being my first steep climb of the season I was feeling a little slow, we intended to do about five miles to Little Heart Lake which would gain us 3000 ft total. We wound up through the forest past Malichite Lake, which was off along a short detour, and headed towards Copper. Stews memories of this trail were in keeping with the weight he had been carrying. He recalled a long portion of exposed meadow, which turned out to be maybe 200ft. Most of the trail had decent cover, giving us shade from the 80 degree sun. We hiked along an amazing waterfall, gushing down an almost shear cliff channel. We would pass over it's head waters shortly. Just before Copper lake, the tail leveled out and then braided through and stream. Large rocks had been laid to pass over the wider portions. We ran into a couple of hikers taking a rest and then another set that had passed us up a couple miles back. I was glad that we had chosen a steady, slower pace. The views along the way had been too beautiful to rush pass with your eyes on your feet.

Copper Lake is where most of the overnight campers were staying and I don't blame them. The lake is small enough to see across but big enough to fill your visual frame. In the sunshine it was glistening, it looked so crisp you just wanted to plunge into it. At 4500ft, however, this lake was not as plungable as it appeared. The snow level is still somewhere between 5000 and 6000ft, so you can imagine how cold it may have been. We only lingered a bit, looking to reach Little Heart Lake before we ran out of steam. Just a mile and a half to go.

On approaching each of these lakes there is a point that you see the split in the canopy above before you see the lake itself. Your excitement grows and you begin scanning in front of you, waiting for the first peek of water. As we were approaching Little Heart, I thought of the first people to explore this area. To come upon a lake you are expecting is a wonderful thing, I can't imagine the feeling of coming upon something so beautiful without knowing that it is there. Stew caught the first glimpse and turned around to smile at me. Little Heart is surrounded by rocky slopes on one side and boggy meadows on the other. There are camp spots in between on little bluffs. Part of the beauty of this scene for us was the realization that we had left all our fellow hikers behind, there was no one up there.
We chose a spot for setting up camp. Made some dinner and lounged about. The bugs were bad, but not horrible. We ended the evening with some chai tea and whiskey. The next day (and a few to follow) my muscles told the tale of how out of shape I am. But that feeling is also one of accomplishment. My body loves to hurt for hikes, painful up, painful down and everything is just lovely in between.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Although the rain is persisting, there is a warmer feeling to the air these days that I am very thankful for. Summer is a funny thing in Washington. It seems that we wait for it with heavy anticipation for nine months out of the year and when it comes, it comes on slow and without much notice. When it is warm here it feels, to me, as if it has always been this way. Summer is like that old friend who it always feels the same with, even after months of separation. While it is here, the warmth has a perpetual feel to it.

 We have been enjoying an abundance of greens for the past few weeks. The kale, spinach, parsley and broccoli (to name a few) have beat our expectations by far. We are cutting large, full bodied heads from enormous broccoli plants, and we are past due for having all our friends over to taste the landscape.

                           Giant red mustard babies

Our chickens continue to grow larger and larger. They spent their first time in their second run today which goes along the side of the house. They were a bit hesitant to explore the new territory at first but enjoyed it in the end and even warranted a visit from the neighbor warning us that they were flying around. We have had a bit of trouble getting the girls to sleep on their roost, they prefer their nesting boxes which is exactly where we don't want them to sleep. We tried giving them a more rounded bar and putting pots in the nesting boxes so that they couldn't get in them. This did not detour them, they simply crammed in with the pots.

                           Chips, Rosie, Penny and TinTin squeeze in with the pots

Next we decided that the bar we provided must be too thin, so we gave them a larger one and put milk crates in front of the nesting boxes to keep them out. That night we found them happily sleeping on top of the milk crate. Our neighbor informed us that the chickens are very amiable after dark and we might be able to move them onto the bar then to train them. So the past couple nights we wait till after dark, open up their back door and carefully move them from the milk crate onto their roost where they stay the rest of the night. These chickens are as suborn as they are sweet.

                            B cat rolling on the hot pavement

It is raining while I write this, but just two days ago the cats and I were able to soak up some sunshine in the front yard. They get pretty dirty out there rolling on the pavement but it is worth it to see them enjoy themselves so much. It is funny to think of Monster when we first were given him, he was paralized by the outside, now it is his favorite thing.

                     Monster nestled in with the raspberries

After some hours in the sun Monster came in and plopped himself on the couch. When I saw him next he had managed to turn himself over (which he usually has to have help with) on his back and stayed this way for at about 5 hours.

Two weeks ago Stew and I made a trip out to Vasion island for a visit to Pacific Crest farm and our friends Bob and Jen. We were able to lend a hand in the potato field weeding and hilling the potatoes.  To get maximum growth from your potato crop you want to mound dirt up around the stock and leaves of the plant to allow for more growing space. It felt great to do some hard work and although it rained on us a bit, the weather was just right.

                    Stew weeding the potatoes

It was really cool to see the chickens siblings. They are mostly larger then ours and their colors are so varied. It turns out that our Rosie is the only Araucana from the bunch that is colored the way she is, the others either have more white or black. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of them. Maybe next time.

                            Indie waiting patiently

                                  Bob hilling

I am glad we have a couple more trips out to Vasion planned for the summer, the farm is so calm and beautiful. It is a real joy to spend time there especially with such enjoyable hosts.