Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sofia's visit

        I missed all but the tail end of the big  the big pokemon birthday party because I was teaching bee classes at the Country Living Expo in Stanwood on Saturday. That was an enjoyable experience, but it can't compare with the excitement of a grandchild invasion. However, I had committed to teach the classes several months ago, long before the big party was scheduled.  The Country Living Expo really is quite the event.  It had over one thousand attendees, all of which are interested in a lot of the same things I like. It is a fun time hanging out with people who are gathered together to learn about things like poultry, sheep, cattle, fruit trees, honeybees, green houses, etc. Our little display table was right next to the table for Gretchen's Woolen Mill and across the aisle from The Black Sheep Creamery and a place selling Border Leicester fleeces. I talked with a lot of familiar faces from past bee classes, the spinners guild, and the fruit club. I had a great time, but was still very happy to get home and hang out with the grand kids for a bit.

      As the Romero's were getting ready to leave, Sofia managed to wangle permission to stay for a few days.   As much as I enjoy having the whole bunch there, it is a special experience to get to spend some time with just one of the grandchildren. It was a lot of fun sitting behind Sofia during sharing time in primary. She is so very smart, just like all the other grand children. She actually conceded at the end of church that my primary class is rowdier that Anthony's primary class. Apparently, that was a pretty significant concession. After church, Sofie made a very nice venison-vegetable soup for lunch.

     This evening, I took advantage of  Sofie's interest in making things to do a little felting project with her.  We wet felted a beret of sorts using white alpaca fiber.  Sofia decided we should make it into a mushroom hat so we dyed it red and attached little white spots using felting needles.  At this point all the hat needs is a bit more drying and some bias tape attached to the rim to give it a more finished look. I think I'll let her mom help her with the rim.

      As I was working on this blog post, Sofia was busily needle felting a cat. (More specifically, she was making a toy cat using alpaca and wool. She was not using the felting needles on Rachel's cat.)  I am not totally comfortable with kids using the felting needles as they are wickedly sharp and can really hurt if not used carefully.  After an hour of relatively close supervision, Sofia seemed to have a good handle on it so I backed off a bit on the supervision. That is, I went from hover mode to frequent nervous glances over my shoulder.. The toy cat is coming along nicely.  You can see a little bit of the cat in the middle photo. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lemon Pie Followup

   I made blender lemon pie again with a small change to the recipe.  In order to soften the strong flavor of the lemon zest, I peeled one of the two lemons.  It worked fine so far as the flavor of the pie was concerned.  I ended up with a pie that you don't have to be a serious lemon fan to like (blender lemon pie light).  The bad news is that I had to increase the baking time by a half hour to get the pie to set up. I would never have guessed that the whizzed up lemon peel made such a contribution to the pie setting up so well.

   I had a lovely day off yesterday as we had a wonderful sunny day with the temperature reaching 60.  I pruned my plum tree and some of my grape vines, split and stacked some wood, and cleaned up some outdoor clutter. I took a nice walk with Rachel, Luna, and Lance to visit some of the neighborhood horses. There were lots of things I had planned to do, but they were all pre-empted by a lovely warm sunny day in January.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Pie Recipe

     On Tuesday Rachel and I received a lovely gift from a couple of our bee class alums. Walt and Leslie had just been to Sacramento, visiting Leslie's sister and attending a big beekeeper convention. They brought us back a nice bag of lemons, fresh picked off her Meyer lemon tree.  They also gave me a wonderful quick and easy lemon pie recipe which I tried out this morning (Thursday) with the enthusiastic assistance of Lance and Luna. It's called "Blender Lemon Pie" and comes to us from the pages of the "Sacramento Bee", my all time favorite name for a newspaper. So far everyone who has tasted it has liked it with the exception of Grandma Cozette. Her only comment was that my crust turned out real flaky. Since the recipe calls for running two entire lemons (with seeds removed first) through the blender, the pie turned out pretty tart and zesty. The recipe is as follows:

2 lemons (at least one of which is a Meyer lemon)
2 cups sugar (use superfine baker's sugar if available)
4 eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
one nine inch unbaked pie shell
whipped cream (optional)

  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  Wash the lemons and cut into quarters and remove seeds
  Place lemon quarters in a blender.
  Blend lemon, sugar, and eggs until lemon is pureed.
  Place a flat baking sheet on a rack in the middle of the oven to preheat.
  Pour melted butter into the lemon-egg mixture and continue blending at high speed 1 to 2 minutes.
  Pour mixture into a 9 inch unbaked pie shell.
  Place pie on the flat baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until the center is set and the surface is lightly browned.
  Allow to cool before slicing.
  Top with whipped cream if desired.

     This recipe is fairly forgiving as I forgot to add the butter, used regular granulated sugar, and it still set up nicely and tasted good.  I guess I did the low fat version on accident.  I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult to modify the recipe to make it a meringue pie if that is your preference.  I liked the strong flavor of the lemon zest, but if you find it too strong, there is always the option of peeling one of the lemons. The Meyer lemons are reputed to be less strongly flavored than other lemons.  The color of the filling is actually a fairly strong yellow, but this light colored crust formed on the surface of the filling. The first time I ever made a lemon meringue pie from scratch it didn't set up well, the color was a rather pale yellow, and the recipe was relatively complex.  This one turned out well the first time, the color was great, and the recipe was easy.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More quality time with Lance and Luna

    Rachel worked at the Beez Neez today and since it was her weekend to have the kids I got to spend a little time with them.  I took Lance with me this morning when I drove into Everett to get a haircut from my somewhat eccentric barber. Lance's only objection to the trip was the fact that he was forced to use his sister's booster seat as his seat was down at the bee store. I like my quirky barber for a number of reasons, but the main ones are that he gives a good haircut and he likes to swap honey or pollen for haircuts. Its a good old fashioned barber shop without a lot of frills.  Once my haircut was finished I tried to persuade Lance to get a haircut.  He didn't really need a haircut, but I thought he might enjoy getting a haircut from a real barber as opposed to his mom's stylist. Lance decided to go shy on me and wouldn't even get in the barber chair for a spin. My barber is a serious bowler.  Since he had no other customers waiting he brought out a real bowling ball and a few bowling pins and tried to get Lance to try his hand at barbershop bowling. Lance was just not having any of it.

     After my haircut and a stop by the bee store to pick up Lance's booster seat, I was driving home from the store by my usual route.  Halfway home Lance pipes up from the back seat and ask" Why are you going so slow?"   I looked down at the speedometer and saw that I was doing 30 mph in a 25 mph speed zone.  I told Lance that I was actually going faster than I should and slowed down to 25 mph. I explained briefly about speed limits and pointed out the next few speed limit signs.  So I asked Lance, "Does your momma drive faster than this?"   I think you all know the answer he gave.

    After we got home, Lance assisted me in taking care of our poultry.  Now that he lives at our house he talks about "our" chickens, "our" ducks, "our" goats, etc. He is real clear on that fact that now that he lives here he has accrued an ownership interest in the livestock. For my part, I am very happy to share my ducks, chickens, and goats with Lance.  After the poultry Lance and Luna and I spent some time picking out hazel nuts from among the shells.  We had bought a 25 pound bag of hazel nuts while we were visiting Chris and Sarah from one of their local nut farmers. He ran the nuts through a cracking machine so over 95 per cent of the nuts are already cracked. We did the sorting outside as it was a nice sunny day and I was trying to avoid getting shells on the floor inside. Luna and Lance were enthusiastic nut sorters for about a half an hour. After we finished the first big batch they both opted to go inside and see what Grandma was doing.  I did a few other chores and then sat down to do another batch of nuts. I have a big metal drip  pan that is the equivalent of about three or four large cookie sheets so it holds a pretty good sized pile of nuts.. When I was partway through Luna came back outside and helped me finish them up.

     Later, Linda told me that she had overheard Luna talking to Lance upstairs while they were watching me sort nuts from the upstairs window saying "Grandpa looks all sad and lonely. We should go help him."  Lance chose to stay inside and watch more Ruby and Max. I was very pleased that Luna chose to come back outside and help some more, but I would have preferred a different motivation than pity for her sad and lonely grandpa.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Clamming in Oregon

      Linda and I just returned from a week visiting the Kangs in Forest Grove, OR.  It was a great trip. I can't say I got to do everything I wanted to do with the kids, but we did a lot.  I love their ward and it makes me happy that they have such good friends there.

      Linda flew to Salt Lake during the middle of our trip to attend her brother Steve's funeral.  While she was gone I drove over to  Garibaldi on the Oregon coast to dig clams with Rachel and Chris. Rachel brought along a friend, Emily Woodward, and four of Emily's brothers came along in a separate car. The clam digging went relatively well.  We mainly dug butter clams, with a few gapers and cockles thrown in for good measure. We didn't all fill our limits, but we had enough clams for a large pot of chowder that lasted for a several days after we got home. The trip turned into a little adventure as it had just started to snow when we left Forest Grove on highway 8, heading for Tillamook.  By the time we were through digging clams there was about two feet of snow on the pass. Someone (either Sarah or sister Woodward) made a phone call and found us a place to spend the night and wait for the pass to clear up.  We ended up taking refuge with a nice Mormon family living in Netarts, OR. The Espelin family was very gracious and kind to us.  They were well stocked with cots, kept their wood stove well loaded all night and we all slept warm and dry.  I had lengthy discussions with the husband, John Espelin, about a variety of subjects, to include beekeeping, raising beef cattle, dairy cows, Siberian Huskies, and the health benefits of unpasteurized vinegar. They even fed us a hearty breakfast the next morning.  We drove back by heading north along the coast towards Seaside, then headed back over the mountains to forest Grove on highway 26.

      As much as I love the Oregon coast, I don't think I would like to actually live there.  The annual rain fall near Tillamook is about 92 inches per year.  That is about twice the rainfall that we get in Snohomish.  I don't mind our wet winters, but 92 inches sounds like a lot. The upper picture was taken as we drove north from Netarts towards Seaside.  The lower picture was taken driving over the mountains on highway 26.

     Other highlights of the visit included sushi with Chris, two days at a beach house in Lincoln City, OR, ice skating with the Kangs and friends, and scoring a big bag of hazel nuts from a local grower.  We also went clamming in Lincoln City, but that experience can best be described as a "fine and pleasant misery" to quote Patrick McManus. High winds, driving rain, and not many clams.  Linda and I drove back to Forest Grove via highway 18 through McMinnville, OR.  We both really love that part of Oregon and the proximity to the coast.