Tuesday, April 26, 2011


A few days before Easter I took the kids for a walk around the park near us. The wildflowers are starting to emerge into the pale light of the Spring sun. Everywhere there are buttercups, grass widows, and lilies.  Noisy northern flickers, red-breasted nuthatches, red-winged blackbirds, California quail, mallards, crows, robins, and I think my favorite song bird- the mountain chickadee, are out defending territories, finding mates, building nests and announcing Spring.
Wild and delicate glacier lilies

Fuzzy catkins

Red-winged Blackbird
This fellow was such a tease. He flew between us and the sun. As the light shone through his wings, it was like looking at stained glass.  Every time I would try to get a picture after he landed, he would weave his way into the branches of a thicket and it was nearly impossible for my "point and shoot" camera to find him.

Easter Smiles
Getting three young children to look at the camera simultaneously is no small triumph these days, so I am content with this photo in their Easter clothes. I would really like to put all the other pictures we took into a flip book so you can watch how one child, then two get distracted.  How the oldest tries to smoosh cheeks of younger ones to face the camera, how somebody gets something in their eye, and how another little person is asked where's mama and points to the sky instead. And this picture is for Nana and Papa- we took it while you weren't home because we thought that's where you'd want to take it if you were.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A little pie crust experiment...

Peach-strawberry pie, strawberry galette, and blackberry peach pie

My mom has always made good pies. She used a proven crust recipe and it made making pies enjoyable. When I was in college, I picked some blackberries at a park and made my boyfriend a pie. (I know now that blackberries are almost a weed in Seattle, so I hope they weren't sprayed, oh well, live and learn. Sorry Hon!) I tried the crust recipe I grew up with, and viola, my boyfriend became my fiance! If only our love story was that simple; however, he does remember the pie so it must have had some effect.

Then later in my twenties, I discovered that shortening wasn't even real food and I got really grossed out and despaired.  I mean, how was I gonna woo my man if I couldn't use the recipe?  A bit later, I discovered non hydrogenated palm oil.  It works just like shortening, but is a real food. I am still a bit unexcited about it though. Then a bit later again, I discovered cooking with coconut oil. So I started mixing ratios of real butter with unrefined or lightly refined coconut oil into the pie crust recipe and it was working.  Even my mom who hates coconut hasn't noticed the coconut taste in my pies.

At the same time I was experimenting with the lipids in the recipe, I was experimenting with the flours.  Whole wheat pastry flour works well in the crust in a ratio of about 3 parts to 1 part unbleached flour.  For my latest experiment, I was making a crust for chicken pot pie and knew I was going in a savory direction so I mixed in some cornmeal and used cornmeal to roll out the dough too. Super yummy I think. 

How can I care about pie crust this much?  Um, how can you not??
Chicken pot pie to go...

Experimental crust crackers (thyme, rosemary, garlic salt and S& P)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rinse and Repeat: Spring Flurries

"I'll never be able to transplant my seedlings"

"Today looks like a great day to transplant!"

"There goes all signs of Spring!"
"Oh what a glorious Spring day!"
It was probably days like this that prompted the observation, "Don't like the weather?! Just wait five minutes!!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The New Flock

This weekend we went to the store to buy pine shavings for the chicken coop.  I had just hosed it all out and removed the build up that happened over winter. We got to the store just after closing.  So we tried again the next day and went to Aslin Finch.  We completely forgot our mission when we saw baby chicks.  I had my eyes on some Golden Sebright bantams online at my petchicken.com and I recognized one in the assortment.  I also recognized another Easter Egger.  We left without either (and mind you, any pine shavings) to go explore Big R.  The next store had quite a selection of chicks in many different breeds including another Golden Sebright.  So we nabbed it with the intent of purchasing the other two at Aslin Finch.  But... we also came away with three ducklings!  How's that for a simple trip just for pine shavings?  Two stores, six birds and finally the shavings!

Can you see how delightfully fuzzy their down is?
Everybody gets along, phew!

The ducks weren't the kind I had in mind, but that was a familiar story- such as how we ended up with the first three chickens last year.  I wanted Khaki Campbells, but we came away with 2 Swedish Blues and 1 black Cayuga. They have won us over already. The chicks remain unnamed, but the ducklings are Cheese and Quackers, Cecil, and Hershey.  Here's what Baby Dragon has to say about his duck Quackers, "I like ducks because they cuddle you, nibble you, and follow you around.  They're fluffy, cute, adorable, and fuzzy."  Yes, he said all that!  And it's all true.

Cecil receiving the near death grip.
The nice way to hold a duckling!
You know that saying, "like a duck to water?"  Well that's because they really do love it. We are astonished at how much they drink and play in it.  They can't swim because they don't have their feather oil yet. They have huge webbed feet that have a hard time on slippery hardwood floors.  Their bills are so much bigger than the chick beaks.  And their duck bum fuzz is so darn cuuuuuute!

Duck Bum

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saying Goodbye Again

We've been talking about getting another dog soon so we could overlap life spans, but we didn't get around to it in time. Our dog Beowulf passed away on March 25th, 2011 after acting a bit sick for less than a day. It was so sudden and unexpected. He was still going strong at 11 years old. Just the day before he had traipsed through the neighborhood when I forgot and left the front door open to welcome the spring breeze into the house. Like a good dog, he came back when I called. That same week he had chased a cat out of the yard that I thought was casing the chickens. The night before he passed away, he was loved up by our friends who have four children. They don't have their own dog and Beo always got some good rubs and scratches in hard to reach places from them. I was so glad that it didn't happened while we were out of town. We had been in and out of the house all day, running errands and visiting cousins down the street at Nana's and Papa's house. I came home for some lettuce to add to a salad and found him in the backyard sleeping. He was warm and soft as if he had just lain down. It was too surreal as the chickens gathered near him and sunlight bathed the yard.

Yesterday we buried his ashes deep in the roots on the other side of the tree where we buried Grendel. It reminded us of the way she used to hide behind the rocks at our last house and hop out sideways with her tail straight up and ambush Beo or another unsuspecting dog on the sidewalk. Sometimes she would deliver a quick clawless rat-ta-tat-tat on their nose and then run away. It is fitting now that they both rest near each other.

 We still think we've forgotten to let him in when we hear another dog bark outside. We still try not to trip on him in the dark when we go to bed. I still worry about leaving food on the table because he might climb up there while we're gone. And the crumbs under Boo's high chair are definitely adding up without his help in that arena. There’s no one to give meat scraps to and no dog leaning in on you for a scratch when you sit down and cross your legs. No wet nose in your hand when you weren’t expecting it and no dog hair on the floor. Perhaps I shouldn’t be sad about that last one, but I am. That mutt gave our home a furry soul.

Beowulf- Adopted Jan. 8th, 2000 - Mar. 25th 2011