Tag Archives: olympia

recipe testing

There has been some serious recipe testing and tweaking happening this week, and then THE OVEN BROKE. We’re talking complete short circuit. Somehow I am going to get a gas range out of this, but in the meantime we are seriously inconvenienced what with the FOOD BLOG, Levi needing to BAKE CUPCAKES for a school event this week, and the upcoming BAKE SALE. Luckily, I have friends who have ovens.

Oh yeah, the bake sale. Attention Olympians and other PNWesterners! There is a bake sale happening. Come eat our food! Click here to learn more about Bake Olympia: food bloggers bake to fight hunger.

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the ice storm

As I stepped outside Thursday the 19th I remember thinking it was like I had walked through a teleportation device and landed in Alaska or Antarctica. I had already been waking at 3:15am for a couple days to get up in time to walk to work in the snow. If it weren’t for the inhumane hour, I would always walk to work. So long as I have my trusty snow boots, I quite enjoy walking in the snow. There is something serene about the undisturbed snowscape before the rest of the world has gotten up and trampled all over it. This particular morning the giant mounds of snow looked different than I’d ever seen before, almost glacier-like. There had been a bit of rain that created a slick layer of ice atop everything.


our bird bath

As I reached about 1/4 the way to work, I started hearing loud cracks from the tree tops. The trees were weighed down with snow that had turned to ice. Branches were falling around me. I remember thinking, “This is not good.” And then as I got just over half-way to work, I realized my face was bare. I had forgotten my glasses on the worst possible day. Within an hour of arriving at the 911 center, things were chaotic. Power lines and trees were falling all over our little county, and we had to switch to full-on emergency mode, with fire departments staffing emergency centers and all of us at dispatch working in overdrive to keep up with the calls for help.


This tree fell in our parking lot while I was at work.

I survived the rough day at work without my glasses, though the walk home was tough. At 4am I can walk in the street, but by 3pm I had some rough terrain over plow snow on the main road with traffic next to me. I’m happy to report I only fell once in thigh-deep snow. Levi and Jess were getting a little cabin fever and decided to meet up with me and we would all go get an early dinner. We had $3 in cash, so we planned to walk downtown and bus back up the hill. Throughout our fun trip downtown, I told them stories of my day and warned Levi that our power would very likely go out. Being hooked on his new Skyrim game, he was not hearing it despite all the downed power lines and dark traffic lights he had seen downtown. It turned to night as we were walking home from the bus stop, and much of the east side was in the dark. Miraculously, our power was still on when we turned the corner to our street. Levi fired up his X-Box and Jess and I turned on the TV and thanked our lucky stars for about 45 minutes before our power finally went out and stayed out for five very long days.


Jess snapped this with her phone as they quickly adapted their route to meet me


A damp Levi as we order dinner

We always talk about preparing for such emergencies, but we have accomplished very little in putting together that emergency kit. Some ways we were prepared:

  • lots of clean, warm clothes to layer on
  • plenty of blankets to keep us all warm at night (the house dropped to the 40’s, so we’re talking a lot of blankets)
  • boots, water proof hooded jackets, scarves, gloves, umbrellas, and hats
  • a functional flashlight for each of us that we were able to get to in the dark
  • lots and lots of card and board games

Ways we failed:

  • not having propane for our camp stove (though I didn’t want to create dishes anyway since we are on septic with an electric pump)
  • not being able to locate our shoe box full of candles
  • never buying those fancy hand-crank lanterns or LED lights we talked about
  • not having a stash of cash, although thankfully we didn’t need it
  • not realizing we could use the snow to refrigerate our dairy in time, although thinking of it in time to save the beer

Memories:

  • standing in a line out the door at the coffee shop when the power went out and everyone moaned, followed by it turning right back on and everyone cheering
  • getting sick of take-out and packaged food by day two
  • lounging in the furniture section at Fred Meyer, enjoying the free WI-FI and keeping an eye on our cell phones as they charged in the lamp aisle
  • writing thank you letters in our heads to the inventor of baby wipes
  • stocking up on those LED lights and clicking them on and off as we went from room to room
  • walking to Big Tom’s for veggie burgers and tater tots and celebrating with the owner as he told us they had already broken their all time sales record since 1969
  • craving a warm breakfast and toasting Pop-Tarts with the creme brulee torch
  • working as a family to dig my car out of the snow as well as a car width path in our long driveway (followed by two days of Jello arms)
  • a slumber party with some of our favorite friends when the first of our three houses had power restored
  • warming up and killing time at the movies (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)
  • lots and lots of cuddling


the famous Artesian well continues to flow


Levi entertains a little girl while we all wait for the bus


the most fun card game award goes to Back to the Future


An almost 6 foot 2 inch Levi is tiny next to that monkey puzzle tree


everything is covered in icicles


seriously, everything


Capitol City

We are truly lucky that all we had were big inconveniences. I’m so glad we took care of all our pressing tree work last year. We still managed to have trees from both of our neighbor’s yards fall into ours. Thankfully they narrowly missed our house and cars. One tree landed less than an inch from my car, no exaggeration. None of our electronics were fried, and some people were without power twice as long as us. Now we just need to take this as motivation to prepare for a true disaster and actually put together that emergency kit.

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Chickens Disapprove of Snow.


The first snowfall of the season

We can happily say that winter has arrived in Olympia. The weather people are predicting a ridiculous amount of snow in the next twelve hours, which will get annoying quickly. Snowy weather around here is quite funny. Everyone forgets how to drive. The grocery store shelves are stripped bare. I think our county owns two snow plows? It’s a special time.

We took this opportunity to introduce the chickens to snow.

Chickens are like cats. They don’t really like new things. Most of the time, they hate new things. Lenora had a strong reaction to the snow, while Ramona was just stoically offended. Pepper was too busy hunting worms to be photographed.


Cold weather is a good excuse for some snuggling.


And also snowball fights.



Don’t worry, I have really bad aim so I didn’t hit any chickens. I hope you’re enjoying some winter weather, too. Send hot chocolate.

xoxo,
Jess

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food swap scores

When we posted about the stuff we brought to the Oly Food Swap, a lot of you wanted to know what we brought home. I finally got around to photographing a lot of the goods.

This lemon curd was at the top of our swap wish list. We recognized those gorgeous tags immediately! You can get them online here. And if you’re looking for a recipe for canning lemon curd, there happens to be one in Put ’em Up.

Two ounces of dried porcini mushrooms. What a score!

If you haven’t ever tried porcinis, allow me to recommend this recipe for potato gnocchi with tomato porcini sauce.

We have nearly polished off the big hunk of Irish cream fudge we got.

Mmm, salsa verde.

And two jars of this green tomato salsa. I am drawn to all things gingham, but I sampled this stuff and it is amazing.

Almond roca, made by hand.

This nectarine honey is some sort of syrup. Not sure how we’re going to use it, but I’m pretty sure it will be delicious. How can those ingredients go wrong?

I believe the information on this table said this strawberry jam was cooked with bay leaf.

Assorted canned goods. I can’t wait to try that canary melon vanilla syrup!

I know a certain teenager who is going to be eating a lot of applesauce – in smooth and chunky varieties. These giant quart jars are just some of the applesauce we brought home. I know we’ll be swapping again! Go here to find a food swap near you.

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forage

Tonight we will dine on chanterelle pizza thanks to my little family of foragers. Our friend Anna has been sharing her mushrooming spots around town. Don’t worry moms, they take a field guide.

Even Levi, the notorious mushroom hater, has been getting in on the hunt. This child has disliked mushrooms since he was tiny. Back in the day, he would actually vomit if he tried them. I think our adventurous eater is now slowly starting to try a mushroom here and there.

I hope to join in on the fun next time. While you do have to be very careful with fungi, I am inspired lately to become more of a forager. Why pay $5 for a tiny container of blackberries or $15 a pound for chanterelles when these grow wild right around us? Conversations about foraging lately have caused me to take notice of the fear of food that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic in neat little rows at the grocery store. Thankfully this only inspires me to get more in touch with where my food comes from.

Now I just have to learn how to clean and cook these behemoths. I am ashamed to admit that the last time Jess brought home a lobster mushroom we let it go bad. And boy was that ever gross (not to mention baffling) to have our vegetarian fridge smell like rotting fish. Lobster mushroom recipe suggestions welcome, people!

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hurray for the first tomato!

Growing tomatoes in the northwest is always cause for celebration. This year, with a record-breaking wet spring and a chilly start to summer, we decided to really celebrate our first ripe tomato.

And we literally only have one ripe tomato at this point. I hope to have a lot more, but this good-sized, bright yellow Limmony was the first to cross the finish line.

To really do it justice, I made a balsamic reduction, bought some smoked mozzarella, and harvested some basil to go on top. Now I really hope we get a lot more tomatoes. We found a little blossom end rot in the community garden that we’re trying to nip in the bud. It’s important to celebrate the small successes!

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20 x 20

Things are happening in our community garden plot!

Probably the biggest surprise: the artichoke starts that nearly died when we first planted them out are looking like they might actually produce! Last year our artichoke plants at home in containers never produced any food, probably because we didn’t choose a sunny enough spot for them. Our new plan is to dig these up before winter and store them in the garage in pots. We’ll see.

We’ve got a ton of green tomatoes over there. FINGERS AND TOES CROSSED!

Corn. Probably not going to happen this year but the sight of it still makes us happy.

Soy, corn, and volunteer borage gone wild behind. Our borage makes our plot very popular with the bees.

amaranth

nasturtiums and zucchini (and maybe some weeds)

Jess has some interesting plans for this calendula

Jess’ favorite gloves

the view from our neighbor’s plot

the food bank squash plot

So glad I finally hauled my camera over there on a day I wasn’t going to get covered in dirt.

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