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March 2006

March 27, 2006

Happy spring!

Yeah, I know I am a few days late, but after all the gorgeous daffodils, I was waiting for something else to bloom. That and the writing project that's got me somewhat snowed under at the moment. I think that means the blog is on largely Occasional Fog Valley Photo rations for a week or two...maybe even three. Luckily for me, it's spring; makes it much easier to find things to photogenic things around the garden.

StarmagnoliaToday, I offer you my spring garden's first magnolia blossoms, on a remarkably healthy and robust little tree considering that it wsa found languishing bare and forgotten in the corner of a Fred Meyer late last fall. We snagged it for ten bucks with the knowledge that it was a gamble. It really was a spindly little thing and we weren't at all sure that it was going to make it, but it certainly seems to have done well.

Much as daffodils denote a certain aspect of spring — often the equinox —  my star magnolias herald the emergence of soft perennial herbs like lovage. I checked and, sure enough, the tightly furled asparagus-like stalks are poking through the moss patch in the shadow of the big rosemary bush. But that's another picture and I've got three weeks of writing to go...must save some for later.

March 20, 2006

Bread porn: improvisational division


There are two schools of thought about schools of thought: one says you can divide the world into two kinds of people...the other doesn't. I belong to the latter group and have never understood the reductionistic thinking that goes into black-and-white, us-or-them, 'with us or with the tourists' kind of thinking.

It only gets worse, however, when the talk turns to all things kitchen. Seems the common wisdom is that cooks can work freeform, pitching all caution and planning to the wind Iron Chef-like and creating dishes ad hoc, while bakers must follow a recipe, doing exactly what they are instructed lest their creation — perhaps sensing fear — fails to rise, gel, puff, cream, melt-at-body-temperature or otherwise perform as desired.


I stand (okay, sit) here as a proud believer in the other kind of people: bakers without recipes. I do this absolutely all the time and one of the places I do it most often is in baking bread. (oh, stop cringing, it only hurts the first time!)

Continue reading "Bread porn: improvisational division" »

March 18, 2006

WCB: What is it about cats and kitchens?

I've been neglecting this poor blog lately, something about deadlines. (and I know I am not the only one...) But I managed to snap a picture of River tonight, in one of those spots you have to think about to appreciate.


First, check out the locations of appliances and sink. Those tall cabinets on the right are where a lot of the food is stored. Nice placement of the sleeping cat, huh? There's barely enough space to walk around her to the refrigerator, and there's a door beyond it to the right. The cabinets open without hitting her, just. Take one too many steps backward while working at the oven and she's squished like a bug.

One might wonder: how did she come to such a sleeping spot? It's not soft. It's not dark.  It's not quiet. It is, in fact, in the middle of stuff. Stuff being, in this case, two kinds, dinner, and cleaning. Well, we named her Underfoot for a reason.

Weekend Cat Blogging is Clare and Kiri's weekly collection of fantastic felines. This week, Kiri's got a new condo with space for visitors.

March 12, 2006

weekend furling blogging

Found this wonderful old picture recently. Thor and Trubble, a pair that once lived with me. Thor arrived as a six-week old ball of fluff and was promptly whipped into shape by Trubble. Somewhere is a photo of them curled up sleeping together later the same evening as this shot. Needless to say, they were a hoot to live with.
(sorry for the's sooo pre-digital! back when moisture damaged prints...)

Weekend Cat Blogging is brought to you by Eat Stuff, where the world's most tolerant cat lives. Check out this week's furlings.

Weekend Dog Blogging
comes from Sweetnicks, where Cate hangs out with puppies and a truly adorable pair of kids. This week's roundup is here.

March 09, 2006

Shop 'til the rain stops.

Rain sheets dance the length of the valley, sending all but the elk scurrying for cover. 'Tis a good day to be inside and dry, pulled close to the techno-fire of a glowing computer screen, still warm cookie in hand, melty chocolate chips and all. It's enough to make one grateful for online shopping.

Does 50% off Godiva sound good? How about 50% off gift certificates at Or, because I know there's a candy freak lurking out there, 40 Pounds of Lemonheads for about 50 bucks?

All that and more at, a site I stumbled across recently. They scan a number of online shopping sites for the best prices on a range of somewhat random, yet interesting, items. It's not comprehensive (as if anything could be) but there are probably a few things there that could part you from your credit card. Kitchen deals here, food and drink deals here.

Did I mention that their slogan is how to go broke saving money? Well, at least they warn you.

March 08, 2006

occasional fog valley photo: sunset

'tis a night not fit for human or beast out there, with great gouts of hail punctuating the unceasing rain and finally driving a mouse-hunting River inside to indignantly shake icy paws at me as if I personally conjured the weather to spoil her game. Clearer skies spring eternal, however, in the ever-growing mess (and I do mean that literally) of photos on my hard drive. Enjoy.


March 07, 2006

The ultimate carrot recipe for kids: copper pennies (my way)

Someone I know was looking for carrot recipes that "even the most finicky kid would eat" today, which brought to mind one of my "not quite a recipe" dishes: Copper Pennies

My first memory of Copper Pennies comes from The Dunes restaurant in Grayland, WA. The Dunes, marked on highway 101 by only an eight-foot tall statue of an...ahem, erect...Geoduck, was unpretentious, serving whatever had been caught that day, and only that, prepared in one of several ways (fried, baked, sauteed in butter), with the same couple of not terribly inspired sides for every meal. (have you looked at the Geoduck yet? if not, I'll wait. tick tick tick Did you look? Worth the click, huh? Now imagine it eight feet tall. And going there at sixteen on a date.)

I am sure that by today's sometimes haughty standards, it would be considered quaint...or worse, but it was fresh, honest food that traveled only a few miles to my plate. I like my fish that way: live this morning, and dinner tonight.

And the pies. Oh. My. Goodness. The pies! It was like having Sunday dinner with company coming at Grandma's house, if your Grandma happened to have fishing boats delivering daily and a staff of prep cooks. (and if yours did, I am totally jealous!)

Although the place is now, sadly, gone in a fire, I can still recall, however, sitting at one of those window tables nibbling on the chilled, sweet and sour carrots while waiting for the freshest seafood and the good-enough-to-be-mandatory blackberry pie, made with the tiny wild blackberries that I'd seldom bother to pick myself but coveted when others did the work for me.

I haven't looked but I wouldn't be surprised if there were a thousand recipes for Copper Pennies. They are sweet and just the right size for little people's hands, yet they don't really have a lot of added sweetener. It's more like the vermouth in a good dry martini, where (according to one of my favorite descriptions) "the word 'vermouth' should merely be mentioned loudly enough to make the gin cringe." I think that holding the brown sugar open near the pan of cooking carrots is almost enough.

Okay, I take it back, I just looked and apparently the "classic Copper Pennies" are made with canned tomato soup and marinated for days in the refrigerator. Now I am sorry I looked, I am sorry I even wondered. No, I am not going to link to any of them, it's all too disillusioning.

I've found that these are readily adaptable to whatever seasonings are on hand and sounding tempting. They are also great for encouraging kids to experiment with flavors. Carrots are pretty forgiving and cheap enough that if you create something really disgusting you can toss it without feeling wasteful.

(recipe after the jump)

Continue reading "The ultimate carrot recipe for kids: copper pennies (my way)" »

March 03, 2006

Wahkiakum farmer's market meeting

This is for my local readers — all three of you. grin

There's a Farmer's Market meeting this Saturday March 11th at 10:30 am in the office of the Wahkiakum County Fairgrounds in Skamokawa. Please come down and help get the market going again this year. If you are interested but unable to attend, contact Carrie Kennedy at 360-795-3278 to share your thoughts about the proposed market.

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