What I did on my summer vacation …

28 08 2008

Since it’ll soon be Labor Day and the end of the summer calendar, I thought I’d share some pictures of the past few months.

We started things off with a small ship cruise amongst the glaciers of Alaska. This was our first of many spectacular glaciers. See the rest of the photos here.

Blackstone Glacier

Blackstone Glacier

The berries of spring!

Eastern Washington cherries and Sakuma strawberries

Eastern Washington cherries and Sakuma strawberries

Some of the berries made it into jams.

Princess (raspberry/strawberry/blueberry) and raspberry jams

Princess (raspberry/strawberry/blueberry) and raspberry jams

Keith built us a spectacular chicken run! The permanent coop is still being designed and will be built later, but Dorie, Alton and Julia love it and we no longer have chicken curfew. We can stay out after dark like real grownups! 😉

Chicken run

Chicken run

We did a little tooling around despite the boggling price of gas. Luckily this has a very small tank since it wants to sip premium.

Maija wondering if there are cookies inside (of course)

Maija wondering if there are cookies inside (of course)

Another summer project also got completed, here’s the pumphouse before.

The dirty pumphouse

The dirty pumphouse

Now it’s clean and ready to be used as a root cellar! The floor will also be repainted when the pressure tank is replaced later.

The freshly-painted pumphouse

The freshly-painted pumphouse

We got involved with the Skagit Citizens for Electric Authority which is a PAC organized to promote the ballot measure to grant the Skagit County PUD the authority provide county residents with electric service. Read all about the issue and the PUD’s position.

Skagit Citizens for Electric Authority wallet card designed by Diane Freethy

Skagit Citizens for Electric Authority wallet card designed by Diane Freethy

Dorie? What are you hiding?

Dorie in the shrubbery

Dorie in the shrubbery

The sneaky hens hid a dozen off in the Oregon grape until we made a few changes to the nesting box.

Hidden clutch of eggs

Hidden clutch of eggs

We drove over the pass for a weekend in the Wild West with my mom. We stayed at our favorite place just blocks from town.

Old Winthrop postcard

Old Winthrop postcard

I put up some chard stem relish. Some friends had shared this wonderful treat with us last year so I decided to use up some of our chard bounty. I did add some spoonfuls of sambal though. Spicy!

Swiss chard stem relish

Swiss chard stem relish

Winkled out some new potatoes. These were all last year’s volunteers so it was all potluck! There were a couple of Ozettes even. I plan on growing them again next year.

New bonus potatoes

New bonus potatoes

We got away for a few days of sailing too! Ours is the blue boat rafted up with our friends’ boat at Matia Island in the San Juans. We had a special treat and saw our state’s tall ships, Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, on the morning of our departure.

The C-Spree and Tamara Lee rafted at Matia Island

The C-Spree and Tamara Lee rafted at Matia Island

Of course we went to the fair! We spent some of the time promoting the electric authority ballot measure and the rest of the time enjoying the animals and events.

I’ve been putting up produce from the garden too. I’ve frozen several pounds of berries, kale, chard and beans. I hope to get to the corn over this long weekend!

Vacuum-packed veggies

Vacuum-packed veggies

Then there was also a large fest! It was fun and we had a great turnout despite the 85F weather.

Party invite

Party invite

For the party (and the freezer), I smoked the 26 pound turkey we got for Thanksgiving last year. It didn’t fit into the oven so we saved it. I got this huge bird from Tall Tree Exotics. Thanks for facilitating, Laura!

Big bird in the smoker

Big bird in the smoker

We also picked up 32 pounds of pork butt at Silvana Meats. This was the best pulled pork that I’ve ever made! Fortunately we now have several packages of it in the freezer for winter.

Pork butts smoking

Pork butts smoking

We also took our annual birthday trip up to Vancouver, BC for Bard on the Beach. This year we saw [Artistic Director] Christopher Gaze starring in Tait’s version of King Lear. The weather didn’t favor us, but we had a great time and discovered a Kits gem for a reasonably-priced and delicious diner, Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe. Something for everyone and many vegetarian choices too.

Christopher Gaze as King Lear

Christopher Gaze as King Lear

Finally, I battled and beat the fearsome pressure cooker! After timidly boiling some water, I dove right in with a pot of dried hominy. Since it was still a bit toothy after a whole hour at pressure, I was glad that I used the pressure cooker. I can’t imagine how many days it would have taken in the crock pot. It went into a big batch of pozole which mostly went into the freezer for later meals.

Next I cooked up nearly a pound of garbanzos. It took only 30 minutes and they were perfectly done and not a mushy mess! Usually it takes a day of soaking and at least 12 hours in the crock pot. No, I didn’t even soak. I’m stoked and imagining the energy savings since we eat a lot of beans and they’re so much better cooked from dried beans rather than canned. Yay!

Vanquished my fear of the scary old pot!

Vanquished my fear of the scary old pot!

Now what of the crock pot? Well, it proved to be quite a worthy vessel for fermenting some sauerkraut! Since I only fairly recently started liking it having tasted some lovely fresh kraut from Pleasant Valley Farms in LaConner. Canned sauerkraut just doesn’t evoke or inspire so it’s just always been off my menu. Who knew it could be so good?

And who knew it could be so easy? I fermented it on the counter for a few days short of a week and then plunked it into jars and the refrigerator for safe-keeping.

Homemade sauerkraut

Homemade sauerkraut

I guess I won’t have to pay $8/lb. for it at the co-op’s deli case anymore which will leave that much more budget for Peppadews! Okay, not local, but oh so delicious.

Well, time to get ready for a Downriver trip and the Skagit Citizens for Electric Authority meeting tonight at the Burlington Public Library at 5pm. Hopefully I’ll have local corn to report on tomorrow!

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