Sunday, May 12, 2013

Then and Now

My own version.

Last January when Katie visited, I got the kids together on the front deck to recreate one of my favorite photos.

The original was taken around 1998, when Alyssa was five and Katie was fifteen. My vision for the black and white photo was to have my kids press their faces closely together and look serious- no smiling- and I would fill the frame with their faces. (I was using a single lens reflex Pentax and experimenting with my first roll of black and white film.) I kept telling the kids "Closer! Closer!" The actual, physical spacial restrictions wouldn't allow me to exactly pull off my vision. Of course I had to wait for the developing to see the results. It wasn't like the one in my head but I still liked it.

The recreation of that photo was a hilarious exercise in digital photography and my kids were devoted to my cause. We could check each shot and make changes with the angles and expressions. It was a cold, January day and we were rushed because we had to leave...for something. I forgot. But we got it. Kris did the editing to make it more perfect. I love it!




Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lilac Time

We have been having the most glorious of springs. Bright, warm, sunny weather is such a welcome change from the damp and dreary springs of the last few years. It has been a blessing in so many ways.

I got some seeds planted before we left for Missouri so already we are near to a lettuce harvest.


My cilantro is about to reach for the sky! It's really a shame that I can't have an abundance of cilantro at the same time that I have an abundance of tomatoes. I've taken to freezing the herb in little cubes to throw into my September pots of salsa.


After several poor strawberry harvests, this year is looking like it will be a good one. The plants are tall and robust and loaded with flowers already! It's the first week of May and my red peonies are ready to burst open too. Red peonies are my favorite. I may sneak some into my luggage when I fly to the Midwest in a few days. I really don't want to miss their beautiful blooms.



Yes, I am leaving soon and will be gone for long enough that I am worrying about how to get the garden started in the meantime. When May is rainy and cold (last year I was lighting fires in the woodstove even in June!) we hesitate to plant seed that will only rot in the ground. We don't like to replant. But with all the reassuring sunshine, this year we are planting the earliest ever.




The sunshine has also brought the lilac flowers a full week or more ahead of previous years. I always count on lilacs for Mother's Day. Lilacs are my favorite. I would have been very sad to miss them. This red purple variety is the tallest and most profusely adorned that it has ever been since I planted a wee sprout there about fifteen years ago.



The color is so vibrant!


I also have this sweet double blossom with dainty white centers.


This variety, acquired from a friend, is a pale blue color.


Nothing is cheerier than a bouquet of lilacs.
Happy Spring!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Can't Call It a "Christmas" Cactus

My cactus is blooming again. It had flowers in October for Reformation Day and again in February just in time for Valentine's Day. Now it is blooming for May Day.


A. I think this is a very happy plant.

B. It is also somewhat confused.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Delicious Discovery

Last weekend my husband and I went out for a bite before attending a local concert. I wanted to check out a new little place that I had read about in the newspaper. The article described it as a restaurant run by a family of three (husband, wife and adult son), with a strong emphasis on homemade, authentic English-style pub fare. It sounded very intriguing.
I've driven by it many times but after reading more about it I wanted to taste and see for myself. I always want to support small family-run businesses, especially restaurants, cafes or bakeries. Homemade food will draw me in every time.

I was sorry to see that on a Friday night at 6:00 we were the only ones in the place. Though small (only three booths inside with a few stools at the bar) it was very quaintly British in decor. Outside there was a beautifully built stone patio which is where we chose to sit after we ordered our food at the bar. The lone employee that night was a friendly, tattooed bloke that chatted with us about the place. I was glad to hear that despite the emptiness of the seats that night, he had had a very busy lunch crowd.

The menu was indeed English pub style with an emphasis on fish and chips, Scottish lagers and...something I was really excited to try...pasties! The article I read described them as rivaling any pastie made in the United Kingdom.



I've blogged a lot about hand pies and pasties. Aside from the fact that I make them myself and teach others to make them, I also lived in a state (Michigan) where pasties have a long history as a traditional food, especially in the mining towns of the Upper Peninsula. Pasties were one of the favorite lunch foods of my husband in his bachelor days when he bought them at a food cart ("King Arthur's") in the city where we lived as newlyweds. I have also learned that I have an ancestor who was famous for his delicious meat pies but steadfastly refused to share his recipe so it died with him an hundred years ago.



Our barkeep/waiter/cook brought both "red" sauce (the way the Australians eat pasties) and "brown" sauce (what the British use) with our chicken pastie. I was really pleased to try the brown sauce- I have never been to England so had not eaten it before (not even on trips to Canada). It was kind of a cross between a ketchup and a barbeque sauce and quite good.



However, I didn't really need any sauce because the pastie was so flavorful it stood well on its own. The crust was flaky and buttery, perfectly baked. The filling- full of chicken and vegetables- was delicious. Because of my ridiculously snobby standards, I have never found a hand pie outside of my own kitchen that I would recommend....until now. I am so happy to know that there is someone else in my community making hand pies the way they should be made- with skill and love for tradition. I will definitely be going back there.

Friday, April 19, 2013

More Moments

These are candid shots taken by my talented photographer son, Kris. I love them all.

Precious time with my grandson.




Serving up the elk at our dinner.



(Some of ) our handsome men.



Sisters.



Brothers/Groomsmen



Parents



We surprised the wedding guests by ending the evening with wish lanterns.





Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wedding Week Summary

We're back! It was a busy, joyful week with no internet service. I wanted to share some of the moments from our grand family adventure as they happened, but sitting in the McDonald's parking lot at eleven at night for a bit of email checking was all I could manage. So here is a photo summary of our week in Missouri, reuniting with far flung family and friends who came in for the big event, cooking enough food to feed several regiments of soldiers, eating one amazing meal after another, and dancing the night away at my son's nuptial celebration.


The girls, little boys and I arrived early to set up housekeeping and bake cakes. When all the men arrived a couple days later, as well as daughter Katie and her family from Michigan, we descended on the new in-laws for a meet and greet and to indulge in our first wonderful meal. The bride's family makes the best smoked pork in Missouri!



The week was chock full of special family times with everyone together and added fun from friends and distant family members. It couldn't have been more joyful.


We were constantly feeding a crowd, the best way to show family love is food. These are my little boys with April Phillip's little boys.





On Thursday the preparations for the rehearsal dinner began in earnest. I prepared all of the food for an estimate of fifty to sixty guests. My son, Kris, helped me grill twelve pounds of Alaskan sockeye salmon.


Friday night the girls set up a beautiful table of food in the Dog Trot (breezeway between the kitchen and parlor in our historic home) right under the slave's quarters. We had an Oregon themed menu of elk served in a garlic mushroom cream sauce over rice (served from the kitchen), grilled salmon, roasted spring asparagus, delicious wood-oven-baked bread from Kansas City, and a mixed green salad with red anjou pears, dried bing cherries, roasted hazelnuts, blue cheese (all brought from Oregon) and a maple vinegrette. We served a cabernet wine from the Columbia Valley in Oregon as well as a Pinos Gris from the Willamette Valley. (I distributed twenty bottles among the ten pieces of luggage to get it to Missouri.) For the beer drinkers we had a variety of Deschutes brews that I picked up at a bottle shop in Kansas City. Dessert was strawberry rhubarb slab pie. I brought the frozen pie dough and pie filling in two coolers on the airplane. Yes. I did. I wish I had taken a photo of our wagon train of luggage but I was too busy and distracted.



April came out to be my kitchen slave and to eat pie. She always appears when I need her.



Saturday morning, the day of the wedding, was also Peter's eleventh birthday. We had a celebratory breakfast. Chocolate chip cheesecake is a breakfast food, right?


He chose strawberry french toast for his breakfast menu.

Didn't I say that we were eating one fabulous meal after another?





Finally, the biggest event of all- the taking of a wife by my middle son, Neal, growing our family once again.



The day was sunny but cool.
That is beautiful bridesmaid Alyssa, in front. Her escort and she made a marvelous dancing couple, twirling and swinging like pros. I wish I had a video of them. I couldn't take my eyes off them. They had the moves.


The reception was held in a charmingly decorated, western style barn. More amazing smoked pork was served, this time in classic Missouri style on homemade buns with a heap of coleslaw and barbeque sauce on top. The signature cocktail was called the Regentini.



My new daughter-in-law wanted a classic, old school wedding cake with lots of piped buttercream.



There are more photos yet to surface. This is all I have to show you my mother of the groom dress, a shimmery, floor length, taupe colored number that is the second most formal dress I have ever worn.

We made lots of special memories that will be cherished for a long time to come.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Southern Charm

This Yankee has crossed the Mason Dixon Line. I'm sure of it because this charming little town has the largest magnolia trees I have ever seen, and every one is in full, glorious spring bloom.


It also has enough brick to rival a European city. Brick houses, brick churches, brick streets and brick sidewalks.


And so many stately, nineteenth century homes. This one is across the street from where we are staying. The beautiful porch takes my breath away. I wonder how many fireplaces it has because there are at least five chimneys.


Our sprawling brick rental house was built in the 1830's and is mysteriously guarding its stories of history. (Notice the purple Victorian in the background.)


There is a fireplace in every room of the newest part. Heating a home with these would be a lot of firewood and fire tending!


The bedroom opens out to the patio and garden views. Just what I need!


The house also has a former slaves quarters. Didn't I say mysterious?


Most importantly it has a fully equipped kitchen where I am working away at baking wedding cake. After a few glitches today I am back on track and looking forward to the rest of the week.