Friday, June 26, 2009

In which I have a small culinary triumph and use up cherries

I'm not much of a cook, honestly. My only real claim to cooking fame is a variety of soups entitled "Once in a Lifetime Soups" because the ingredients are entirely dependent on what looks good at the fresh market.

I have discovered in years of soup making that it's hard to mess up soup if you start with nice fresh ingredients* and have a friend or two cheerfully helping with the chopping parts
* however, too much cayenne pepper added to a batch of soup can make it more interesting than you planned. Sigh.

When Jim suggested that I use some of our cherries to make a cherry salsa, I told him to find me a recipe. He knows me, bless his little heart, and found a bunch of recipes. I looked at all that he send me, hmmmmmed over their measurements and stuff, and then left them all behind when I went to the fresh market and found some nice ingredients to put with the cherries.

Tah-dah! "Once in a Lifetime Cherry Salsa"!

I did take pictures of the process, so I can approximate what was in it. If you make some for yourself, I'd love to hear what you put in yours.

In a big mixing-bowl:

about 2 cups coursely chopped freshly-picked cherries
2 or 3 tomatoes, coursely chopped
1/4 cup or so of finely chopped red onion
chunk of yellow pepper, coursely chopped
chunk of green pepper, coursely chopped
leetle-bitty chunk of serano pepper, finely chopped
cilantro to taste, finely chopped

generously doused with
fresh lime juice

Let it chill for an hour or two to allow flavors to mingle.

serve with
favorite tortilla chips


Thursday, June 25, 2009

In which I seek Blogospheric advice: what shall I do with CHERRIES?!?!

The two Royal Ann cherry trees are really producing heavily right now, and even with the neighborhood families helping, we can't eat them all fresh.

As a librarian, I know how to look for stuff. And yet, I was deeply dismayed at the lack of variety in "cherry recipes" available in books at my library and online. Almost everything--even on the diabetic websites--calls for yaller cake mix and Kool Whip.


I want these cherries to be food, not candy. I can't eat processed white sugar, (and you wouldn't want to be anywhere near me if I did.) Splenda doesn't work either--it makes me crazy AND upsets my digestion, not a popular combination.

Suggestions, please, oh Ether-esque Wize Wonz?

How can I preserve some of these cherries for later without using Karo syrup?

I've got a bunch of (pitted) cherries in the freezer right now, as an experiment, and will report on that. But I'm open to other thoughts if you've got them!

In which we see RED (for good reason!) and start packing to go to Camp

Hurray, the cherries are ripe! Everybody warned me that I'd have to keep the birds away if I wanted cherries for my family,

but apparently the two Royal Ann trees in our orchard are accustomed to supporting bird and people

--there are plenty of cherries for everybody!

We leave soon for a week at Ridecamp, building and repairing trails and getting ready for the Renegade Rendezvous ride on July 4th.

Hana got new shoes so she'll be able to work comfortably on the rocky trails and roads.

Fiddle was scheduled to get her shoes reset as well, but she was in a horrible high-heat and we couldn't get near her back feet without her trying to pee on us, drat drat drat. The farrier very kindly rescheduled her for this Saturday so she can have new shoes before we leave.

This is the first year that we've been required to take Certified Weed-Free Hay. Not cheap, dangit, but land managers are apparently getting quite rabid about this issue, so I bought a bunch.

Willy had to help me load it into the trailer, though--I had a mild asthma attack while loading it into the back of my truck, and didn't want to have a repeat attack on the same day.

With a little direction from me, Willy crammed the trailer dressing room full of hay! I put all the other stuff in first--hay always gets loaded last.

We may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, but we now have the sharpest tools in the shed. Jim put a nice new edge on all the Implements of Destruction, and they are waiting to be strapped onto the truck.

We're almost ready to go!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In which I figure out how to be trail boss for a Virtual Ride

Here are my thoughts about the "virtual trail ride" idea:

Since my internet access will be limited/non-existant for the next two weeks (I'll be posting from work for a few days, and then completely away from electricity and all other modern conveniences for the week prior to July 4th) I propose that the starting day for the Virtual Trail Ride is Wednesday, July 8th.

Between now and then, invite your friends to join us, and send me information about the following:

The people and horses you will bring on the ride.
No limits! If you want to bring Mahatma Gandhi, fine but he MUST wear boots with a heel--safety is always important. >g<

Bring real friends too--invite them to post here also!

If you want to ride Man O'War or Misty of Chincoteague, do it. Or ride your favorite horse, present, past, or future.

The trails that you will share with the group.
Describe your region as generally or specifically as you wish. Where will we go? What will we see? Is there any interesting history you'd like to share about the area, or a good story about events that happened nearby?

The foods we will "eat" when we "visit".
Hey, it's all virtual, so go crazy. Have your gramma make those fudge cookies you loved as a kid, even if she's long-since gone to the Great Pasture. Have your favorite local restaurant "cater" it, or feature your own special eats.

When I return to electricity in July, I'll compile a route, and post the route on this blog.

Then, I'll describe where we're going and then point MY blog to YOUR blog so you can "guide" us and "show" us your trails. Start assembling your photos and videos, and get ready to virtually ride!

This is your invitation to join us: pass it along!

Monday, June 22, 2009

In which a Virtual Trail Ride is proposed, and the "rules" explained

The Virtual Potluck was lovely, thanks to everyone who participated. I'm sure I gained less weight from your contributions than I did from the Actual Party at the farm this weekend.

Which leads me to a proposal:

Who would like to take a Virtual Trail Ride with me?

We can start at my place. Send me the names of the people you want to bring with you, and the names of the horses you will "bring." Descriptions are good: "you'll recognize my bright bay horse because I will braid daisies into her mane" or "I dress my old grey pony in pink-and-orange tack so the hunters won't shoot us accidently."

I live in the upper-left-hand corner of the United States--send me some information about your location, and we'll route the ride right past your house. I'm thinking that, since it's Virtual, we can easily visit dp and Jean in Canada, allhorsestuff in Oregon, Kate in Illinois, Funder in Ohio, Leah Fry and Mindy in Texas, and Lytha in Germany--all in the same week, and no Coggins certificate required!

As we pass through YOUR region, you'll want to share descriptions of your local trails, and the regional food we will be able to taste while "visiting." Calories are no problem, and you won't even need to provide Certified Weed-Free Hay for this event!

I'll start with my info:

I'll be riding Fiddle, my 7-year-old dark brown standardbred mare, who will be wearing her trademark purple biothane gear. She will need to be in the back of the line because her manners are sometimes very bad!

My sweetheart Jim will ride Hana, a bright red chestnut Arab (she wears green--perfect for a redhead),

and we'll put Jim's son Willy on my old standardbred mare Story

--who died in 2006, but who will never be forgotten-- she is PERFECT for a beginner on a virtual trail ride!

When the trail ride passes through my part of the Swampland, I'll take you up into the foothills trails east of our house.

The prevalent color here is GREEN--the trees, the plants, and even the water (that's algae, don't drink it).

Many of our trails are built over old logging roads, and you'll sometimes see logging equipment from the 1960's or earlier abandoned beside the trail. Our "stumps" are famous here--early settlers would have photos taken of a bunch of loggers inside the cut of an old-growth Douglass Fir tree.

Most of the trees are gone now, but the stumps remain (surrounded by large, younger trees), and the stumps still carry the "springboard marks" where loggers carved out a place to stand in order to cut down these gigantic trees.

We'll travel up high enough so we can admire the mountains around us and the lovely Puget Sound below us. On a Virtual Trail Ride, all the horses are fit and sound, and the riders never get tired, sore, cranky or sunburned!

Returning to Haiku Farm at the end of the day,

we will feast on pit-barbequed salmon and corn on the cob,

green beans fresh from the garden,

Jim's home-brewed brown ale,

and blackberry pie for desert.

Bring your raingear for this leg of the journey, because we can have unexpected precipitation even in the summer, calling forth the sounds of frogs to sing you and your horses to sleep at night.

Who else wants to play?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In which there is a party at the farm, and we celebrate SUMMER!

Before the party began, we moved the Minerva Louises into their brand-new CHICKEN TRACTOR!

Some were happy to be carried to the new place.

Others were less cooperative.

Eventually, all twelve hens were happily scratching, flapping and practicing their "roosting" skills in the new tractor.

With that task out of the way, time to set up for the party!

The women set out food, the menfolk tend the fire....a traditional division of labour, if somewhat untraditionally enacted....

Guests arrive, bearing food, ready to share the bonfire and the beauty of the day!

At this point, please refer to YESTERDAY'S POST, where several blogfriends described in yummy terms the "virtual feast" they would share with us at the party, and add those mental images to the party table!

Jim also opened the first batch of home-brewed beer, which he (very kindly) named after my horse: "Fiddle Brown Ale." Fee didn't get any, though. She prefers beetpulp anyhow.

Cassie loves burnt hotdogs.

Jack likes marshmallows, any way you fix 'em!

Bella likes the chickens....oooh, no chicken-chasing, B!

Old friends were happy to catch up. My horse-girls have grown so much (and they're prettier than ever, too!)

Jim's classmate from high school. They're planning a fishing trip in July. Yay! (bring me lotsa trouts, you guys!)

food, food, food.

sunshine, sunshine.


Horses: not thrilled about hot dogs, thanks.

We finally woke them up so people could admire them.

I thought my horse looks tall standing next to ME. Egad.

Hana is such a cute little shrimp.

Puzzle, a.k.a. "Sir-Not-Appearing-At-This-Party" provided a talkative escort service to friends using the bathrooms. His motto: "nobody should pee alone."
Thanks, dude. He also snacked on the tulips that a friend brought for the table. What a guy.

So: now it's official: LET THE SUMMER BEGIN.

Life, it's good.