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!