Friday, August 30, 2013

Late August in Washington

Black lilies,
Star Gazer Lily, and
 Sweet William - all finishing up their blooming.
This Hydrangea has been blooming for about six weeks, and continues to put out new flowers.
Gerber daisies on about their third set of blooms.
Dahlias have been blooming for a while, and should continue until frost.
Key West
Yellow star
Otto's Pride - the only plate dahlia that has survived the past 7 years of being left in the ground.  I used to dig and store the tubers, but now I just mulch them in the fall.
Pretty in Pink
Black beauty (and friend - Black Widow?)
 Pumpkin getting big and orange
 Trumpet Vine
Oh oh, Fall Crocus - time to think about fall coming soon!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Gathering of the Clan

In the mid-1850's, a family of eight brothers began their journey from their roots in Missouri to the western states.  There were eight brothers, ranging in age from 6 years to 28 years in age.  When the gold rush began, the older brothers set out to find their fortunes in the hills of California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington State.  

When the father, Thomas Rains, died in Missouri, the rest of the family set out on the Oregon Train to join the older brothers.  My great grandfather, James Polk Rains, was the youngest brother.  When he grew to adulthood, he settled on a farm in the remote area of Idaho now known as Warren.  As he worked in the field pressing hay, a local rogue band of the Sheepeater Indians came upon his homestead.  He was killed in the skirmish with the Indians, and is the last known settler who fell victim to the Indian wars of the late 1800's.  When he died, my grandfather was 6 years old.  He went on to become a doctor, serving the residents of the area around Grangeville, Idaho, before coming to Seattle to finish his years as a physician there.

Meanwhile, John Bunyan Rains, my great grandfather's older brother, returned to Missouri, and all contact between the brothers was lost over the years.

My third cousin, David George Rains, has been researching family history, and in his research, found our family.  On August 21, we gathered the cousins to meet David and learn some more about our family history from him.  He brought many really interesting documents he has found at libraries, courthouses, old newspaper clippings, family bibles, etc.  He truly is a wealth of information and probably knows more about our current families than we do ourselves.
We all fell in love with his delightful wife, Donna, who has helped him over the years in his historical search.
We had a great time with a congenial group of cousins, spouses, children and grand children. I love the family potlucks where the best cooks I know bring something special.
I got to see my cousin, David, for the first time since we were 14, and meet his wife, Phyllis.
More people, in no particular order:
Cousin Eddie
Niece, Teri
Daughter in Law, Tina
Grandson, Jesse, granddaughter, Sara, Daughter, Amy, and son, Tony. 
Tony, Sandy, Uncle Marvin, Eddie
Teresa, David, Phyllis, Marvin, Donna
Phyllis, Eddie, Lora, Teresa
Eddie,Donna, David, Lora, Jessie May
Donna, David, Lora, Jessie May, Susie
Sara, Amy, Lora, David
All the descendants of Thomas Rains that gathered today.
Eddie, David, Teri, Amy, Jesse, Sara
Jessie May, Rosemary, Susie, Tony
Teresa, David
Lots of fun, great conversation, good weather, and a history lesson.  Life is good!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Harvest Time

Suddenly, lots of vegetables and fruit are ready for harvest in our garden.  Every time I move the sprinkler I do a bit of grazing on the abundance that surrounds me.  However, my grazing alone isn't adequate harvesting.  
Today I picked three nice big cabbages - one for use fresh, and two for one of my favorite home cured products:  sauerkraut.
Actually, making sauerkraut is quite simple.  Cut the cabbage in half and wash thoroughly.  Then place one half of the cabbage on a cutting board and using a large chop knife
slice the cabbage into about 1/8 to 1/4" strips.
Layer the cut cabbage into the bottom of the container - I used a 4 gallon crock which has a diameter of about 10" - until you have about 2" of cabbage.  Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of canning salt and mix well by tossing the cabbage until salt is thoroughly mixed into all of the cabbage.
Pound the cabbage after each layer.  I couldn't find my pounder, so I used this heavy empty Vodka bottle.  I did all the mixing and pounding in a 4 quart crock, then transferred it into a one gallon crock for fermenting.  
The pounded cabbage filled the one gallon crock to within about 2" of the top.  I used two heads of cabbage and approximately 2 tablespoons of salt.  By the time I had it transferred, liquid had risen to just cover the cabbage.
Last step:  fill a gallon zip lock about half full of water and seal tightly.  Place it on top of the cabbage to form a tight seal and weight.  Now all you have to do is wait about 5 or 6 weeks for the fermenting to bring it to your preferred amount of sourness.  I don't like it real sour, so I usually wait about 4 weeks.  When it tastes right, I pack it into pint jars and process in a hot water bath to seal.  

NOTE:  When fermenting is complete, the very top may look spoiled.  Don't be discouraged.  Carefully remove about the top inch and you will find great sauerkraut in the rest of the crock.  The tighter the seal formed by the zip lock, the less it will spoil.  Air is what makes it go bad.  When I do a greater quantity in the larger crock, I put a plate on top of the cabbage and I have a round rock that I place on that to weight down the plate to seal the cabbage.  The moisture that comes from the cabbage should cover the actual cabbage while fermentation is taking place.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Visit to An Artisan Cheese Company

With this wonderful summer we are having, we find ourselves on the motorcycle nearly every day.  A couple of days ago, we headed up to Bow/Edison once again as we love the ride through the Skagit Valley and along Puget Sound.
My blogger friend, Linda had commented on my post about our trip to Chuckanut drive that there was a cheese company up that way.  On this trip, we spotted their sign at the bottom of Bow Hill Road.
A young lady brought out a tray of cheese for us to sample.
They were making cheese, so they allowed me to peek into their kitchen to check out the process.
We purchased a "Mama Bell" (2 pound) block of the Ladysmith with Dill, then stopped at the Bread Company for a loaf of fresh bakery bread.
We stopped at the Old Edison Inn on our way through Edison

Where we had a late lunch on their outdoor beer garden.
Their oyster burger is very good!

In the evening we had a romantic loaf of bread, jug of wine, and slices of cheese on the porch when we got home.