Monday, August 16, 2010

there and back again, through the heat

It was a wonderful chance to have a few days off from my regularly scheduled life, to journey by train up to Olympia for a weekend party to celebrate the natal day of my friend J. Aside from a last minute kerfluffle about finding a substitute for chook-minding, resolved through the kindness of my next-street neighbors, my preparations, and the journey north, went off without a hitch. On the way to the Menagery, we stopped at the bakery to hopefully pick up some screens and a peel for the baking the next day, so there was music around the fire out back beyond and some tasty roasted lamb bits before arriving, then plenty of puppy excitement, and finally settling in for the evening in the corner of the Great Hall.

Fortunately it cools off a lot during the night there in the Delphi Valley, and with multiple fans running, the house there can be cooled off quite a bit before sunreturn. Awakened early and wandered a bit outside - their house-painting is proceeding gradually, with wonderfully colorful results, and in front of the south facing Great Hall windows, second-year hops are forming a sort of shady trellised canopy, an idea that I really hope to implement here at Acorn Cottage (B has promised me some hop starts later on)
garage door and hops trellis

A centerpiece of the weekend partying was the new brick oven, assembled in the driveway, for wood fired baking. Using the truckload of well-aged apple prunings that had come up from Portland earlier, many delectable pizza combinations were made over the weekend, including a dessert pizza with a creamy topping covered with fresh fruit.
< the new oven
fire in the oven>

pizza in the oven

Of course there were many additional potluck treats, and J made the most delicious homemade tamales, filled with homegrown chicken, and green olives and prunes... my humble contributions were a Thai coleslaw (modeled on my favorite mango coleslaw, but substituting local organic nectarines for mango), and a double batch of my sisters sweet corn cakes*, which mostly did not even make it onto a platter to be served, but were eaten as quickly as could be cooked, right off the griddle. The birthday cake, made by the amazing talented and gorgeous V, was astonishingly rich and delectable; the strawberry, raspberry and lemon fillings were a perfect complement to the fragrant rose cake.
cake in the firelight

Toshi, the young akita, is alarmingly smart. At not quite four months, he has a really good start on all the things that Smokey knew, including left paw/right paw. Being a puppy, he is still rather wiggly and not much of one to keep still most of the time...

But he falls asleep in the oddest of positions for a dog...

It was great to see friends long missed, E and T in particular, and to meet two of the newest children for the first time, young M from up in Seattle, and sweet C from Olympia. Even as babies, personality is so different from person to person. I've not spent a lot of time around really young ones, and you can really see their parents in how they look, but they are very much already their own people, even at only a few months old.

My plan had been to make J a dress as a birthday gift, while up in Olympia. For a big chunk of Sunday, instead, I copied two of her favorite jumper-dresses, one of which entailed making many sample bodices in order to get a better fit than the original. It was actually rather exhausting, since the weather was so very overly warm, but I am quite happy with the results as is she. New teacher clothing is now a possiblility.

With a lot of rest, and with enthusiastic application of ice and various other remedies, my shoulder seems to be on the mend. Another week or two of extra carefulness, and hopefully painting can still happen, but in shorter sessions of only a half hour or an hour at a time. Slow but steady would have been much more appropriate. Still, much gratitude for suggestions, remedies, and referrals - thank you all.

*Gigi's Sweet Corn Cakes
4 ears sweet corn
(or 2 c frozen)
½ c cornmeal or masa
½ c flour
1 t salt
1 t sugar
½ t baking powder
¼ t cayenne
1 large egg
¾ c buttermilk
3 T butter, melted and cooled
2 green onions, chopped small
If using fresh corn, cut the kernels from cobs,
(you should have about 2 c)

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl,
combine all wet ingredients in a bowl,
mix together and add the corn and the green onions.
Let rest in the refrigerator for at least a half hour or more
(cornmeal will hydrate, texture will be nicer)

Fry like pancakes 'till both sides are golden.

serve with green salsa and sour cream

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