Thursday, May 29, 2008

herding without a crook and spring dinner

In an effort to eat more locally we have been trying to plan meals around what is in season. This was our first "post vegan" attempt at making pizza. The cooks illustrated crust did not work out. I'm sure this was our fault because they test their recipes at least 100 times. The toppings were balsamic, caramelized onions, roasted asparagus, diced tomatoes and goat cheese (garlic & chive chevre) from port madison farms. You can't go wrong with these ingredients together.

Good Reasons to Buy Local Food -
Buying local produce not only gives you fresh, nutritious food, but also enhances your community in these ways:
- Keeps small farmers in business and supports the local economy.
-Preserves farmland and open space in your area.
- Conserves natural resources—less fuel used in transportation and packaging.
-Preserves the environment with responsible use of water, fewer farm chemicals, and less air pollution. (WSU extension)

To make our salad more exciting I tossed in chive flowers from our garden...pungent but good.

The best part of our dinner was sauteed pea vines with chives and butter. We needed to thin out our pea plants and I have heard that you can eat the vines, so I gave it a try. They pretty much taste like any other leafy green vegetable with a little sweet pea-like flavor...very good. And of course its always fun when you can grow your own food!

I found some information about Pea Shoot/Vines from WSU extension....
Pea shoots are the choice leaves and tendrils of pea plants. Shoots are typically harvested from snow pea vines, although they can be from any type of garden pea. Pea shoots can be eaten raw or lightly cooked.

To cook, place damp pea shoots in an empty saucepan over medium heat. The water clinging to the damp shoots is enough to steam them. Cover and heat just until wilted.

Look for pea shoots at your local farmers’ market in spring, early summer and fall. Their season is rather short, as peas do not grow well when daytime temperatures are above 65° F.

Pea shoots are considered a “green.” Green leafy vegetables are typically nutrient-dense. This means that for very few calories you get large amounts of vitamins and minerals. For just 10 calories and no fat, take a look at the nutrients in 2 cups of raw pea shoots.

Pea shoots are harvested from the growing point of the plants and should be young and tender. Choose shoots that include the top pair of small leaves (the tip), delicate tendrils attached to the young stem, and maybe a few larger leaves or even blossoms.

Pea shoots are packed full of carotenes—strong antioxidants that protect cells from damage and help prevent certain diseases.

Pea shoots may also contain valuable phytochemicals. Certain pea plants have these natural disease fighters, but it is not known whether garden peas contain them. The phytochemicals found in other types of pea plants include lignins, a flavonoid called quercetin, and caffeic acid. Researchers believe these substances help prevent cancer in different ways and have other beneficial health effects.

Try this flavorful way to wilt pea shoots:
Flash-Cooked Greens with Garlic

1-1/4 lb. pea shoots or other greens, rinsed
1 teaspoon canola or olive oil
8 to 10 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2-1/2 tablespoons rice wine, sake or water
¼ teaspoon salt, if desired

Heat oil in a wok or skillet. Add pea shoots and garlic; toss lightly about 20 seconds, then add rice wine and salt. Toss over high heat 1 minute or less, just until wilted. Lift out of pan, leaving the liquid. Serve. (From A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, Health-Giving Recipes from Asian Kitchens by Nina Simonds, Knopf, 1999.)

Light and flavorful, this pea-vine salad is heaven-sent.
Pea Vine Salad
1 pound pea vines, rinsed
¼ pound snow peas, trimmed
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon hot-chili oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds*
Wilt the pea vines; drain on paper towels. Fluff and separate the leaves as much as possible.
Cut the snow peas on the diagonal into thirds. Place in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water and pat dry.
Whisk together liquids and sugar. Toss the pea vines with half of the dressing and half of the sesame seeds. Arrange on a serving dish. Toss the snow peas with the remaining dressing and sesame seeds. Arrange on top of pea vines. Serves 4. (Adapted from a Seattle Times recipe, June 24, 1998.)
*To toast sesame seeds, heat a dry skillet. Add sesame seeds, shaking gently until they begin to turn golden brown and fragrant. Remove from heat and cool.

source :

I love this field covered in yellow flowers near Diane's farm

Last night I learned how to direct Indigo with my arms. I felt goofy waving my arms all over the place, but I couldn't believe how well it worked. She responded really well and slowed down when I waved my arms above my head (I guess it makes me look intimidating). She was feeling really confident though and going in to nip the sheep and have fun chasing them around.

Indigo has a square turn instead of cutting in, which according to Diane is something that many dogs need to learn how to do. This is good news because it makes my life a lot easier for training

We are going to do our first day of self-herding in the round pen on Tuesday morning. I'm going to have Tess (Diane's very well trained dog) get some sheep in the round pen and work with Indigo for a awhile. We'll see how I do by myself.

without crook

with crook

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shryock visit continued......

After Cafe Flora we went to the Arboretum. I have never seen so many colors of rhododendrons!I love lily of the valley and despite its invasiveness I tried to plant some in our shady backyard, but it never came up. It was flourishing at the Arboretum.

Check out the colors in this bouquet that Frances picked out at the Farmers Market.

On Saturday night we went to the 35th St Bistro. It was a lot of fun talking and enjoying amazing food. They specialize in pasture raised meat and local ingredients. We were there until they closed! I stole this photo from

And of course its not a blog post without some photos of the garden. The lavender, california poppy, daisies, and lupin are in full bloom!

Ari makes a really good pillow. cute!

Here is a video that Kenneth took of Indigo at flyball practice. Look how speedy she is getting that tennis ball out of the box!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Shryock's visit: Family meals, Farmers Market & Flowers

The Shryocks came to visit for a few days. We had a great time and got lucky with sunshine all weekend. On Saturday we went to Cafe Flora for brunch, to the arboretum to see the blooming azaleas and rhododendrons, and to the 35th st Bistro for dinner with Kate and Jacob. On Sunday we went to Cirquedusoleil at Marymoor Park in Redmond.

One of the main reasons I plant flowers is so I can cut them and bring them inside. I love seeing them in a vase when I come home. Here is my first cut flowers of the season. They looked great on our dinner table for our home-made dinner on Friday night with the Shryocks. Kenneth and Frances made the all-American dinner of roasted chicken, buttermilk mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus.

Family Meals
Family meals are a great time to catch up with everyone and take time to enjoy delicious food. As a future dietitian I recommend that parents make it a priority to sit down and eat with their kids! Kids don't need special meals and parents should not be short order cooks.
Reasons why eating together is important:

1. Kids are more likely to pick up good eating habits by watching parents good habits (more fruits and vegetables)
2. One study showed that teen girls that eat with their families have significantly higher daily intakes as adults of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6 and fiber. Boys that eat with family more during adolescence predicted higher intakes of calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber as adults.
3. Improved school performance.
4. Better family communication.
5. Kids are more likely to be adventurous eaters.

I try to go to a farmers market every week. Last week I went to West Seattle and on Saturday we went to the University District Farmers Market. It is the only place to get good eggs, meat and cheese and to meet the farmers that grow our food. There is something very disturbing to me about buying these products from an average grocery store. There is no way to know anything about what it took to get that skinless, boneless chicken breast into that Styrofoam container in the case at Albertsons....we do know that the process probably was not good and won't be good for the person that eats it. Anyway, back to the market...We got there at 9 am when they opened to make sure we could get cheese and eggs. It was already packed with people.

I bought eggs from Rickman Gulch Farm. The farmer told me that his hens eat whatever nature has to offer that day in addition to kelp, flax seeds and grain that he grows on his land (that is sustainable!). They have a website:

Pies by Jenny: She makes her pies from ingredients that she finds at the market. I wanted one of these strawberry rhubarb pies!

Ben buying some cauliflower and leeks

I love this sign right outside of the market. Its true that by buying from local farmers we can prevent the loss of farmland to development.

We saw the Corteo version of Cirquedusoleil, it was amazing. I have been known to fall asleep during long performances, but this held my attention the entire time. Here is what the Seattle Times had to say, about it


Cirque du Soleil started out in 1984 as a ragtag Quebec street circus. It's now a far-flung, heavily capitalized cirque empire — still quartered in Canada, but with 15 resident and touring companies in play around the U.S., Asia, Europe and beyond.

In past visits to this area, the company has wowed fans with its gilded and acrobatic whimsy. And now Cirque du Soleil returns to pitch its Grand Chapiteau (big-top tent) at sylvan Marymoor Park, where (following its run in Portland), the troupe will stage the first Seattle-area stand of "Corteo." The carnivallike show was devised in 2005.

Though most Cirque du Soleil spectacles feature acrobats, dancers and clowns cavorting in colorful makeup to a world-beat musical score, "Corteo" is something of a departure, noted Alison Crawford, the production's senior artistic director.

"What's quite different about this is that it's much more theatrical than some of our work," Crawford explained by phone from Montreal. Corteo is the Italian word for cortege, and the show "is the story of a man, a clown, who imagines his funeral, and there is some dialogue in French and English. But it's not a sad story at all. It's a celebration of a life."

Unlike in such previous Cirque du Soleil attractions as "Dralion" (performed in Renton, in 2002) and "Varekai" (presented at Marymoor two years ago), the actors wear "no masks or heavy makeup," said Crawford, whose job is to ensure the ongoing quality of the production.

"And when the artists speak each other's names, those are their real names. We're also using two-sided seating with a proscenium arch, dividing the stage, and big curtains. The show has the feeling of history, of old-time circuses. Some of the costumes are actually painted to look older."

Essential to all Cirque du Soleil efforts, however, are the top-notch skill acts — and "Corteo" is no exception. Crawford promises some unusual ones.

"We've got four beautiful women aerialists working on huge chandeliers, the kind you'd see in a château in France," she said. "And we have a number using two ginormous beds with trampolines under them. It reminds people of jumping up and down on the bed as a child."

The best Cirque du Soleil shows can indeed induce childlike wonder in adults. And there are more being cooked up, including a production that will be installed at a theater in Macau, and a new Las Vegas one featuring illusionist Criss Angel.

This photo was taken from

more about the Shryock's visit tomorrow......

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Yes...I'm obsessed with dogs: dog sitting, herding and walking

A few months ago we watched Joy and Chris's border collies, Jadzia and Curzon. It was great to have them here because they are so well behaved and Curzon keeps Indy entertained.

More border collies....We are watching Diane's (my herding instructor) puppy Kuro while she recovers from a serious injury. He is very sweet and loves people. Him and Indigo have started to play and wrestle. I think she will be very happy if we get another border collie because she loves to play and Ari doesn't want anything to do with that.

I took advantage of the amazing weather and went herding with Indy on Sunday. The drive to Carnation is so beautiful. Next time I go I'll take some photos of the drive. There are views of the mountains, rivers and of lush farmland.

Indy is really doing great with herding. She catches on really quickly and only needs a few corrections before she learns something. We are working on teaching her to keep her distance between me and the sheep. She also is learning the commands, Come-bye (clockwise around the sheep) and Away (counter clockwise). She doesn't know that she can control the sheep from further away, so when she is too close the sheep get to close to me and almost knock me over! She has a fairly reliable lie down, which is important for slowing her down. We are in the process of finding a herding instructor in Mass, so that she can keep improving over the next year. I am hoping to trial with her soon after I get back.

Since my knee is getting stronger after working out at the gym for the past few months. I have been able to start jogging. I tried jogging with the dogs the other day on their crazy handlebar elastic leash that can hold 3 dogs. It actually worked well and exercised them sufficiently. I think they will get better at running with me and not sniffing the ground as they get used to it.

I took some pictures of our walk through the neighborhood. I love this house with the cherry blossoms and rhododendrons blooming

This is our little "dog park". Many of the people here have been coming to this field for the past 13 years with their dogs at 7 pm every night. It is great for us to be able to walk here and get the dogs really tired.

I love the way these pink flower petals are spread over the otherwise ugly corner of this yard.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Garden Update

One of the many reasons I am sad about leaving Seattle is that I won't have my garden. Ben build some new raised beds in the driveway (we ran out of space in the yard) and they will just be empty waiting for me to get home. We decided that is doesn't make sense to plant a vegetable garden at all this year since we will be in Europe for three weeks and then Ben will be driving with me to Mass and staying for a few weeks. Despite this, there is still a lot going on in the garden and thanks for Amy for house sitting and watering while we are gone.

the herbs are getting huge! the rosemary is turning into a bush

I love the flower buds on the chives

Our rock garden plants are finally spreading out and will hopefully start to prevent erosion

I cannot wait to harvest these fava beans, we planted a whole bed of them this year

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Freestone Inn, Mazama, WA

Ben and I have been going to the Freestone Inn for weekend getaways and special occasions since we moved to Seattle. We absolutely love it. We don't really know exactly why. It's probably because it allows us stay in a little cabin surrounded by mountains, yet its as nice as a hotel and really cozy. And of course they allow dogs! So, we thought it would be the perfect place to make our engagement official! We are very excited to be getting married! I am not usually big on traditions and most things about our process of getting married will be outside of the norm, however I did want a real engagement ring. We had a ring custom designed by Amber Hill from Green Lake Jewelers. The diamond is from Canada (so hopefully no blood) and ring itself has a relief engraving of gingko leaves and flowers. I think its beautiful (I'll post photos later).

More about our trip to The Freestone Inn:
The wooded area around our cabin was still mostly brown and dormant from the winter, but there were two types of flowers blooming on the forest floor

yellow glacier lily (erthyronium gradiflorum)

I'm pretty sure this is Western Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata)

I love this area of the Cascades because the little towns are not like other mountain towns. Mazama, Winthrop and Twisp are all super cute. We went into this little old fashioned all-purpose store in Mazama for gas (after we almost ran out and were planning what we would do if we got stuck). It definitely wasn't the typical gas station store, they had locally baked breads and pastries, locally made dairy products, eggs & meat. I could have spent a long time checking out all of the artisanal foods.

After getting settled into the cabin we ventured out to Winthrop, which is cute but a little too artificial old-fashioned. The store fronts have fake "Old West" motifs, but it is always fun to walk around and check out the galleries and candy shops. I was tempted by the outdoor ice cream store with homemade ice cream.

Ari and Indigo enjoying some water from a gift shop, cute!
I bought a loaf of fluffy white bread from this bakery with no sign of any whole grains. I never buy white bread, but thats all they had and it was perfect for French toast. Now that I eat dairy and eggs, I am on a mission to find the best scones. This place had some with chocolate chips that looked really good, but I didn't buy any because I already had a scone and two in one day is a bit excessive. Next time!
The grocery store that looks like a general store, but has nothing too special inside.
The outdoor ice cream shop!

Later we went to the Twisp River Pub for dinner. They advertise as serving "Real Food". The place was packed and the food was quite good. I had a home-made veggie burger with french fries and Ben had his favorite fish and chips. I wanted to check out the downtown area of Twisp, it seemed like there were some fun stores including a Natural Foods Store...everything was closed when we got there though

The inside of our cabin
Outside the cabin at dusk

After deciding to make French toast for breakfast we found some raw milk and local eggs. The milk is from the Methow Creamery. They welcome visitors and I plan to take them up on that the next time we are in town. Our breakfast was perfect despite not having a recipe especially since we had mimosas!

The drive home....

On the way there and back we passed through Marblemount, Wa where they were doing a civil war reenactment. It was really weird. I couldn't get any good photos, but there were cannons and horses and people in crazy costumes.