Saturday, August 28, 2010


This past week has been very busy for my household.  It is fair week, and with a daughter in 4H, that means that we are at the fair every day for some reason or another.  But I do love going to the fair, so am happy for an excuse to visit so often.

Yesterday while wandering through the swine barn, I came across this contented pair.  They obviously enjoy each other's company, and seem to have no concerns whatsoever about being on display while thousands of visitors wander by.  They make me laugh.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Huckleberry Adventure

Out here in our "neck of the woods" we have huckleberries.  And it is my understanding that they only grow in the northwest regions of the United States, as well as across the border in Canada.  I have heard some people liken them to a blueberry .... well, they taste absolutely nothing like a blueberry.  They have their very own distinct flavor that just can't be beat.  Being small in size, it takes a lot more huckleberries to fill a gallon bag than it would if we were filling it with blueberries.

On a recent camping trip, the camp host of our campground, told us that she had heard there were huckleberries up a certain road.  As soon as my husband heard that, he knew that I would want to be up on that mountain picking huckleberries.  I have grown up with huckleberries being a part of my life, and whenever I have the opportunity to pick some, that is where I will be.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with huckleberries, here is what these little beauties look like on the bush:

They grow on bushes, and not tall bushes that you can easily stand in front of picking from.  But the bushes are just the right height that you have to bend over to get the berries, causing your back to complain from time to time.  But then there is also the option of getting them on the steep mountain side where one has to precariously balance with one foot on the uphill side, and the other on the downhill side being very careful not to tumble down the hill.

The other thing about huckleberries is that they aren't typically conveniently located on the main highway where you can just pull your car off to the side of the road, and leisurely go picking.  You have to usually drive up a steep mountain one lane dirt road.  And because you are climbing up the mountain, off to one side of the car will always be a steep drop off with no guard rail.  At times like this, you always hope you don't meet anyone coming down the hill because turn-outs are few, and there is hardly enough room for one car, let alone two cars.  You pretty much have to drive until you feel like you are on top of the world:

When you have reached this point, you know that there must be huckleberries nearby.  Once a good patch is found, everyone bails out of the car, and the picking begins.  In year's past I have passed out buckets to members of my family in hopes of coming home with gallons and gallons.  This year I gave everyone a plastic cup.  That helped them to pick at ease not thinking that I really expected them to each somehow fill a gallon bucket in one afternoon.  Realistically, you just can't come home from one afternoon of picking with gallons and gallons.  It is hard work, the berries are small, and then there is the eating factor.  One can simply not keep themselves from picking a handful of berries, and just eating them on the spot.


The other thing about huckleberries to keep in mind while picking them is that where there are huckleberries there are bears.  Huckleberries are a favorite snack for bears, and so we try to keep up the conversation and laughing to just politely let the bears know that we are in their neck of the woods.  One of the patches we were picking from actually had a game trail right through the middle of it.  So I knew it was a favorite spot for our furry friends.  We saw traces of bears, and even saw bear fur stuck to some of the bushes.

All of the adventure was well worth it, as we came home with nearly one gallon of berries.  I washed them, and popped them in the freezer, and we will now ration them throughout the upcoming year.  And ration them I do as they sell for $50.00 a gallon for someone that wants to avoid all of the adventure and just buy them from someone locally.

Monday, August 16, 2010

At Long Last

Last night when I was cooking dinner, I asked one of my daughters to run out to the garden to see if I had any yellow squash ready to be picked.  I have been keeping my eye on a couple just waiting until they were big enough.  She returned in a few minutes, with not only two beautiful yellow squash, but this little beauty -- my very first tomato of the season :-) 

Because of our rainy spring this year, I had to plant my garden so late.  I have been watching all of my green tomatoes wondering if there was any chance I would have much of a harvest this year.  This little gem has apparently been hiding from me.  You can imagine the rejoicing in our house over this one special treat.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Sandwich Fit for a Picnic

I make a sandwich that lends itself extremely well for an on-the-go activity.  It can be made ahead of time and wrapped up tightly to prevent drying out; and since it can be put together very quickly, I took all of the ingredients with us on a recent camping trip.  In no time at all, we were sitting around the picnic table feasting on this delicious sandwich.

Picnic Sandwich

1 loaf French bread
Mustard (or really anything that you prefer on a sandwich)
1/2 lb. hard salami, sliced
4 oz. sliced Swiss cheese
2 tomatoes, sliced
Salt and pepper
1/2 lb. thinly sliced ham
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large onion, sliced
4 or 5 crisp lettuce leaves

Cut bread in half horizontally.  Spread the bottom and top layer with mustard (or whatever you like the most).  Layer the salami, cheese, and tomatoes on the bread, seasoning tomatoes with salt and pepper.  Layer ham, cucumber, onion slices, and lettuce on top of the tomatoes.  Place top on sandwich.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap for storage.  When ready to eat, cut into 6 sections.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An Every Day Teapot

When my grandmother was first married, the only teapot that she had was a beautiful china one with gold trim.  My very practical great grandmother (her mother-in-law) did not think it was a good idea for her to use such a beautiful teapot every day.  So she bought her a more practical one, and told her to put the other away for special occasions.  My grandmother decided that she really didn't think anyone else should be able to tell her which teapot she could use on a daily basis (a bit of a stubborn streak I'm thinking), and put the new one away, and continued using her beautiful teapot.  After my mom was married, my grandma gave her the unused, more practical teapot since she didn't have one.  I grew up with that being my mom's only teapot, and she used it all of the time.  My sister, Kass, is now in possession of it, and it is so nice to visit her, and be poured a cup of tea from such a beautiful (but practical) teapot.

Recently, I was attending a sale just kind of looking around at all of the fun items.  My eyes were just wandering when all of a sudden they came to a complete stop.  There was a teapot identical to my mom's teapot .... except without the lid.  I just had to buy it, especially since the price was only $6.00.  Now I have my very own "practical" teapot, except without the lid I have come up with another use for it:

And just in case you were wondering, my grandma's "fancy" teapot sits in a place of honor in my mom's china cabinet, and you never would have known it had been used on a daily basis for so many years.