The Stewarts take us to The Macleay Country Inn

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life,Pacific Northwest by mark Sunday July 30, 2006

Okay. If you’re ever down near Salem, and you can take the time, you MUST go out to the Macleay Country Inn. Yes, click on that link when you hear what we ate.

WHY we even found out about this place was because we’d gone to visit Mike and Janice Stewart who live on an acreage near Aumsville, in beautiful hilly country, and yes, in a beautiful home that they’re proudly, and justifiably so, landscaping magnificently with their own hands. We had a great time, and Dr. Mike did kindly look at Mac’s injured carpal pad and now we know where Mac will be on Monday morning at 0800. In Silverton at Dr. Mike’s office awaiting surgery to remove said pad. (Carpal Pad).

Anyways, Mike and Janice took us to the aforementioned Country Inn where we found a true country classic. ALL the foods including sides of Potato and Macaroni Salads are scratch made with lots of flavor. Portions are too large, but it’s hard to complain when food’s this good. I had a French Dip (that also came with swiss cheese) made from a genuine home made Roast cooked till it melted in your mouth. It came with a delicious mixed salad with home-made dressing, and great french fries. Mike and Janice split a grilled Roast Turkey w/
cheese & a salad that actually was enough for three. Rodger had a Patty Melt and was given the choice of home-made: Potato Salad (delicious), Macaroni Salad (delicious), or fries.

THANKS Mike and Janice, and we hope to go there again with you two.

It’s a classic gathering place. On Monday nights, Bingo, Billiard rounds for $.25, etc. Adjoining the Inn is a true country general store with the date stamped on the front of the building: 1906. Not much has changed inside ………………..

From there, Mike and Janice took us to another country classic a few miles away EZ Orchards.

The Farm Store, besides selling all sorts of high end, and we DO mean beautiful local produce, during the summer also makes cobblers from fresh berries and peaches. They also were making home-made fresh Milkshakes from Strawberries and Peaches. Yep, without regard to the starving world, and already being so stuffed we’d gotten a take-out box at the Macleay Inn, we still all ordered and consumed a fresh Peach Milkshake today. Again, Thanks to our fabulous hosts.. . . . . . well, I think. We WERE in a sort of stupor the rest of the evening.

Methinks another trip to Macleay Inn may be required before summer’s over.

And How Your Garden Grows

Bloged in garden by mark Sunday July 30, 2006

Now who knows what the rest of that line was? Hm. . . . .

Here was the garden pic of July 1:

Here is the garden, at least tomatoes as of today:

gard0729toms
From Rodger’s angle:

And at the other end of the garden, the corn, in just four weeks is not two feet high anymore:

And for those who’se asked, here is what an ear of corn looks like in its first stages:

Yep, just green lookin’ leaves shooting out of the stalk. It always seems wrong here, the timing of corn maturation. The Tassles are coming out on top already forming the kernels of pollen that will, in all appearance be very soon ready to burst….and these ears of corn above just never seem like that they will get that silk poking out of the ear soon enough to catch the pollen. But somehow, it all comes together at the last moment.

Other than those, we’re eating from all the other items not shown: lettuces, squash, rhubarb. Still waiting for cucumbers. The daylily in the garden is just in its last blooming stages, and inviting bees as sensuously as it can:

Now if YOU were a little honeybee, wouldn’t you take that invitation seriously?

So that’s a peek at the garden at the end of July. Ahhh.

Carpal Pad, Pad, Going, going, ?

Bloged in General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Saturday July 29, 2006

Mac. He’s OVER two now. Why isn’t he grown up, matured, laying around just looking for photo contest picture trophys by now?

No, he ripped open the not so well known carpal pad a month ago. We spent a couple late night hours at the emergency vet to the tune of $300. to simply have that pad sewn up again and come home to bandage that wound up for the last 30-40 days. After two weeks, the stitches Rodger pulled seemed to be healing okay. Rodger continued to sterilize, patch, bandage, that wound carefully until the dog simply got used to it. The last few days it seems he’d finally relax and almost go to sleep. Well, at least his eyes remained closed through the procedure.

Tonight? The night AFTER his bandage was removed the last time? Mark walked him over to the Smiths to feed “Ellie”, Mac’s girlfriend, well ok, best friend. They always go through a massive humping, grinding, jumping, chasing, affectionate greeting………………. Yep, so Ellie got fed, we came home for Mark to find out he’d been completely neglectful. That jumping resulted in a ripped open pad worse than it had ever been.

So Mark sits tonight, with conscience as open as it has been since realizing Mormonomism was untrue. Mac sits awaiting a trip to a Vet for one of two choices: 1) Pad removal & cauterization, 2) Another attempt at stitches and weeks of recovery.
**Saturday night update: A drive to Aumsville (near Salem) today meant we were allowed a visit with friends, Dr. Mike and Janice Stewart. I say “Dr.” Mike: He owns the Silver Creek Veterinary Clinic in Silverton where Mac has already had two surgeries: 1) Hernia Repair, 2) Neutering. We had long wanted to see how their new home was coming along with landscaping of several acres (and it WAS beautiful)……and have lunch with them somewhere locally. Mike took a good look at the injury and it appears Mac will be having the entire dew paw removed Monday morning in silverton. We’re lucky Mac even got to ride along let alone have a visit with the greatest Vet in the northwest. Lunch was even more fabulous, that’s in a later post.

Oh Mac, oh Mac! Where did we go wrong? If only you’d just quietly do as all dogs/pups do under the age of 2 and await the hand of your master saying, “Good Boy!”……….. What’s with all this BIG energy ??

Squirrel’s down but not out.

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature by mark Saturday July 29, 2006

Once again, we note a mix breed of Eastern Fox & Eastern Gray Squirrel pair hopping the back yard in full mirth and joy. For some reason, mixing the two families brings about a kind of gay, excuse the term, brotherhood not known when only singular species continue to breed.

So we’ve watched into early summer some kind of strange eastern/fox squirrel pair chasing each other in frolicking fun being what a kid would imagine a squirrel’s life to be like.

Unfortunately, nature stepped in this year, and we seem to have lost a large portion of the squirrel population. Every few years it seems, a common virus wipes out a large portion of this cute/invasive/mesmerizing (whatever view of squirrels you like) animal by about 90%.

What we had left, was one of that pair of mixed squirrels still alive but now handicapped with completely crippled hindquarters. He was still coming to eat sunflower seed. He had a hard time getting up the tree high enough to get those seeds. It was to his delight to find we’d left a couple of ears of corn (sat in the fridge too long) ………out on the log off the deck.

No matter what sympathy I’d had for this poor little guy who has scrambled about in the back yard, sometimes falling, sometimes seeming drunk, sometimes walking only 3-4 steps without stumbling…………………….. HE was excited to find this cob of corn that it seems, in his mind, was his salvation. IF ONLY he could drag this off away from all the other animals that feed off the deck, maybe he could be alright. So I watched him with all his misteps drag the cob about 30 feet away to sit under a tree stump and feed with, was it, a smile on his face?

We hope he survives. We did have that eastern Fox Squirrel about 3-4 years ago with the same problem who finally recovered over the long summer…… although…… they all look so much alike, we really can’t know that the “same” squirrel lived through the winter.

Does this mean we have to start walking out there, roping these little guys down, punching a hole in their ear so we can staple a tag number on them? Then, when they’re found “gone to the other side” later by someone, we can get a lab analysis, and confirm whether it was “nature or human intervention” that caused the death of Squirrel #4003, or more intimately, “Rocky” ??

Oh, the squirrelamity!

But then, of course, I digress.

In reality, I had only wanted to report how thrilled I was that as the hummingbird population left our little hilltop community for the Gorge, the Rockies, then finally, the Mexican Vacation Resorts, that I had confirmed sightings of one or two little Anna’s Hummingbird since we usually only confirm Rufous as our summer BB&S (Bird Bed & Seedstop) population. The juveniles in question have been feeding daily at the same office window feeder that Mark watched an Anna Male guard daily from May thru to early July. Hurray! Apparantly, his effort at territoy grab was successful through to love-making, birth, fledgling, and a new generation.

Ah, Life goes on.

The Canning Pickle

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,garden by mark Tuesday July 25, 2006

Sadly enough, produce became perfectly ripe when the heat wave was here. There was no avoiding having to make some favorites when the heat was inside the house.

We began with Dilled Beans. That starts with a 25 pound box of Fandango Variety Beans from Pumpkin Patch Farms:

Soon they’re washed, cut off at both ends, and ready for the jars:

The hot sterile jars are first loaded with 2-3 cloves of garlic, 1 sprig or two of dill, some hot peppers, and then packed with beans:

Then they’re ready for boiling mixture of vinegar, water and salt. Once sealed up, they’re ready for the water bath to finish them off and seal ‘em up:

Then they cool. Repeat the task about 4-5 times and you’ve packed the 25 pounds of beans.

APRICOT JAM

Yep, Apricots come at 25 pounds for $14. And once cut up, they look ready to eat without any more work:

Admittedly, though once you get them up to a boil with some sugar for a glistening look, they’re even looking better:

It’s a cool process. Mixing a little sugar with the pectin, dissolved into the apricots, comes up to the boil, and we mean a FULL rolling boil. Once they’re at this point, the rest of the sugar goes in, gets dissolved, comes back to the boil where they stay for one full minute. Then it’s the tricky pouring off of this burning hot mixture into the little jars that is made easier with two people.

On to PICKLES. HOW can we make the same mistake this year as in our first batches last year………and yes, in a batch the year before that? We got my Maternal Grandmother’s recipe for her Dill Pickles from my last surviving aunt. The first year, we were told that one ingredient, grape leaves, were only put in for looks. ALL those jars were thrown out because they were mushy. Yes, we did a little more research and found that grape leaves actually help make pickles crispy and that was one thing Aunt Merle was justly proud of in her product that all her kids would beg to get every year.

But sure enough, this year, once again, we got the cucumbers and made the entire 10 pound bag into pickles without the leaves (although we’d gone out of our way to steal some from a farm). The first six jars didn’t even get the other “crispy” ingredient, ALUM. We were discouraged after all the work. Then, while at the farm store for something else, there was some perfect small cukes ……..yep, we’ll try it again.

So once again, we begin with the second batch of cukes. Soaked overnight in cold water, they’re first nipped off on the bud end next day while bottles are being prepared, garlic cloves cut, pepper ends cut off, and dill heads made ready. A water bath is warming, and the standard pickle mix of vinegar, water and canning salt is brought to a boil while the jars are packed. Besides the standard hot peppers, garlic cloves and dill, cucumber pickles will be given some celery seed and alum as well plus, yes, the magic: Grape Leaves.

Finally, we’re about done with canning this week:

But, it’s that season and it’s hot. More rosemary and thyme were picked today and are drying as I type. Four yellow crook neck squash babies are going to be breaded and fried tomorrow. Pepper plants are taking off, corn tassels are just barely beginning to appear (the corn’s taller than me now), and salad cucumbers are about two inches long now. Once or twice a week we’re mixing up a batch of fresh green salad mix: Lettuces, cilantro, parsley, sorrel, loveage, and basil all out of the garden. Now THAT is a little richer salad than we used to grow a few years ago, i.e., lettuce alone. The tomato blossoms number in the thousands and I seriously wonder just HOW those spindly cages are going to hold all the fruit up if it all comes to full term yield.

Whew! Guess what? It’s going to cool down ten degrees tomorrow……I just hope the night temps get low enough to cool this house below the 76 degrees its stayed at the last three nights. If THAT happens, we’re happy. We’re like many locals…..NO air conditioning. So say all you want about your 110 degrees….you just flip a switch and turn on American Idol, have a little wine and laugh at us don’t you?

Hah! So that’s how things are cookin’ up here. How’s July in your neck of this global warming heat? / mark & Rodger

PS: I posted this a date late…..and guess what? Portland surprised us once again. The winds shifted, a marine layer came up the Columbia River from the Pacific, and we began this morning at about 60 outside! Our high is going to drop 15 degrees from yesterday! NOW I am feeling terrible for the Heat Waves all over this country. But no-nothing Politicians enslaved by corporations can still look you in the eye and say, “Global Warming? What’s that?”

Gorged after Mississippi Outing

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature,Oregon by mark Sunday July 23, 2006

We got Gorged after our Mississippi Art Fair Outing

We came back from the Mississippi Street Fair ready to relax, or water a yard, or………….

At 1300, Kristen called from Scappoose (west of here) wondering if we wanted to go out to the Gorge with the dogs (Her Mason and our Mac are buds.). Well we weren’t ambitious, but Hell, it WAS only 1:00, it was about 80, it should be fabulous up the gorge. We said come on down! We’ll be ready. Mark immediately thought about Mac’s Leash Aggression, his unrelability if strangers are in our driveway, etc, and said…….I don’t know I don’t know.

Kristen and Mason showed up and we took off completely FORGETTING just what Oregon’s Biggest Tourism Draw is in July any year: Yes, the Columbia Gorge. We passed Multnomah Falls (about 30 miles away) to see about 1 trillion cars parked in every imaginable position and Mark again said, “This won’t work.” Mac will be attacking everything. In Mac’s defense, when at Dog Park’s, or on the trail, he’s usually friendly to everything. At home in the driveway, it’s another matter.

Well. We park, and suddenly Mason’s loose running up the hill on the trail. What could I do? I unleashed Mac knowing he was least likely to growl if he’s running loose, and maybe, he’d think this was a Dog Park.

What do you know. The entire climb up to Horsetail Falls went beautifully. The Mac-n-Mason show was a hit with tourists hiking up and down the trail:

I know, not a good shot of Mason, but he’s just a year old. YOU try to get him to sit still for .001 second.

This proved to be a fabulous experience. In this environment, for some reason, Mac considered it neutral territory just like he does a dog park or the river and every person who came by he treated as a “pal”. (Oddly, the only growl came at the end of the hike when Mason, the most friendly little dog ever sensed “fear” in a couple coming up toward us and growled….. the guy cowered behind his wife, we leashed the dogs and went on our way without Mac even paying attention).

Anyways. We hiked up switchbacks I think about 300 ft above the gorge floor and finally hiked down into Horsetail Falls where Mac and Mason immediately jumped into the pool around the falls. It is, as dozens of other Gorge Falls are, a gorgeous spot:

Here Kristen ponders the meaning of life? No, she’s wondering HOW are those dogs going to get out of that current.
There’s several viewpoints from this little trail that wander behind the falls and on:

Here you are 300 ft up the steep hillsides, and not 100 feet from some cliffs that drop straight down. Whew! Didn’t affect the dogs:

Here was where we began to wonder if he was having trouble fighting the current.

Mac would swim away and toward me (sometimes) when called or yelled for, and then suddenly seem to be drawn in like the falls was creating an undertow. We got worried. We ALL began to yell. Finally, minutes later, Mac obeyed and swam outward toward Rodger and got out of the water……… then……..in a flash, looked back at that pond of cold snow melt water and the falls, AND…….JUMPED right back in heading toward the falls itself. Then we all relaxed, laughed and laughed as he swam back and forth. It was so odd that he looked like he was swimming in panic sometimes near the falls with that current, but would always swim away when he needed to. He was in ecstasy!
It took about 15-20 minutes for him to wear himself down enough just to get out and follow us away.

So we continued. The total hike was about 3 miles, and beautiful. We passed some trees under cliffs that showed exactly how tortured nature can be in the right conditions. The branches in this pic of an old Maple Tree were about 2 feet across (yes, hold your hands out here and measure that), the picture can’t show the real perspective of seeing it live:

And then the Fir Tree that also was huge at the base, but at some point in it’s early life had been split by a falling rock and so grew up with a short trunk, then a secondary branch took over the climb toward the canopy:

Hopefully you can see the short THICK trunk at the bottom…….and just to the left? That tall straight fir tree that actually was probably 18 inches thick grew straight out of a branch that had grown sideways from the old original trunk. It was an awesome feeling to be so close to this exhibition of nature’s power. Had we seen this when it happened, it would probably appear insignificant. We have in our own yard a small hemlock that deer have broken down more than once. At 5 years old now, it’s still only about 3 feet high, but with 3-4 main branches trying to take over being the one guy that gets to do the big climb up to the sky. So now to understand that 30-40-50 years later, a branch that climbed upward and now must weigh TONS and tons, is still being supported by much less primary branches than originally designed to fill that purpose.

We passed the classic old maple tree still alive, but very ill, and full of bugs.

You can easily see that although this mighty tree is still holding up tons of weight, it’s plainly hollow near the base as it comes to the end of life. At some point, it will simply collapse under its own weight, but for years before that happens, the interiors become buffets for all kinds of bugs who eat on the bacteria rotting the wood. Once that happens, the wood begins to get chipped at by Birds (woodpeckers, etc), to get at the “new” buffet, i.e., the bugs who are eating the bacteria. Then, in the final BIG collapse, the tree falls, rots, and becomes beautiful mulch for the future forest. Oh well. This ain’t something you’ll read on the new Bush EPA webs pages.

Back to the hike. Yep, we finished. Back down on the road, you can see that we had done some climbing. Here’s looking up at the cliff we were above……you can see the Fir Trees are mature trees, not little as the pic may appear:

So. Finally, one year old Mason was ready to get back into the car:

We headed back toward Portland, met Paul at “The Lucky Labrador” a dog friendly brew pub in NW Portland, and had dinner. We ended up back home for more chat. A terrific day and fun evening. We miss having Kristen and Paul living across the street.

A classic summer day in Portland, and one without worrying whether slugs, moles, raccoons or squirrels were devouring our food supplies. Yeah.

Mississippi Street Hugs

Bloged in Portland by mark Saturday July 22, 2006

A Fabulous Day

Last Saturday, We decided to move on over to the Boise Neighborhood to check out the Mississippi Street Art Fair with no other plans in mind. It WAS fun and we can plainly see that this little ex-slum neighborhood is into the late throes of gentrification as always happens, eh? First, a neighborhood decays, NO one will live there, costs go to nothing. Artists move in, and sometime along that path, Artsy Culture Vultures begin telling everyone about the most cool run-down beautiful place they’ve seen, and “You must go with me on my next adventure down Mississippi Avenue.” In the meantime, the “Rebuilder’s Center” has continued all along in a humble run down spot selling old house parts (windows, hardware, lumber, tile, baths, cabinets, etc etc) for unbelievably cheap prices. You had to step over crumbling old house parts many times if you wandered the lot of this curious old place.

Then the “Art” crowd began to move in. We didn’t think much about it at first.

Next thing we notice? We are taking Emily and Nico here from Paris to “Lovely Hula Hands”, IN that neighborhood. It was the hottest little Portland restaurant at that moment (about a year ago). Then? Other eating spots begin to open up. Then? The Rebuilder’s center begins to build an entirely new building, installing computers, etc. An Italian restaurant opens that requires “reservations”. What?

And so we venture to the art fair…………and curious mixed art abounds everywhere however, we could see this wonderful little neighborhood was going to be something completely different very very soon. ONE item remained in the street fair from times past and was the “Donation” booth for the neighborhood elementary school. Yes, the “Hugging Booth” made it well worth the trip. Which hug do you think we had?

Which HUG do you think YOU would have had?

Southern Fried Chicken – Courtesy of Paula Deen

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Saturday July 22, 2006

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Recipe Summary

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 14 minutes . Yield: 4 servings

3 eggs
1/3 cup water
About 1 cup hot red pepper sauce (suggested: Mark’s always used the “TAPATIO” Hot Sauce you can buy in large sizes very cheaply at Winco or any Mexican Market)

2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon pepper

House seasoning, recipe follows **

1 (1 to 2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into pieces

Oil, for frying, preferably peanut oil (I agree….the Peanut Oil has the higher burn temp).

In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange.

In another bowl, combine the flour and pepper.

Season the chicken with the house seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg mixture, and then coat well in the flour mixture. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. IMPORTANT: Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.

Fry the chicken in the shortening until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer then white meat. It should take dark meat about 13 to 14 minutes, white meat around 8 to 10 minutes.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
=====================

Cooking vs. Tomfoolery

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,Mormons by mark Saturday July 22, 2006

I have finally learned to cook Southern Fried Chicken after all these years. If I say that, then why is about every other batch a kind of failure. I think there’s a story here somewhere.

How many things do you cook at home because they are things you discovered you loved while eating out or when an honored guest at a friend’s house? Even the simplest things. How about Southern Fried Chicken?

We are not talking about KFC that is now rotting in corporation ruination with pullet sized chicken pieces loaded with grease. Colonel Harlan Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken began as a high end product (but that’s a story for another time). True Southern Fried Chicken I enjoyed the first time at Grandma Ray’s house who no doubt learned how to cook this from her own Mother in Cedar Glades Arkanasa circa 1910. We didn’t get this treat very often, so I kind of relished the idea even then of how to make it.

The next memorable experience with S.F.C. was in Tennessee while serving on the obligatory Mormon Mission all Mo Kids had to fulfill. Although I enjoyed this stuff several times in those two years living in the south, I’ll never forget the first time. There, somewhere near the little town of Columbia, TN, in “Sister Hendricks” humble house we sat at her chrome/formica table and watched her perform what was to me was more than giving a kid a lunch. This was a complete theatrical production of what a true southern cook could do. Yes, prepare her Missionary guests a lunch of true Southern Fried Chicken. Sister Hendricks had a classic look as well.. . . high hair, colored red (it was 1969 remember), big apron, a home-made print dress, etc. Of course, the true magic was that while she was prepping, spicing, coating, dusting, frying, turning, removing, cooling the chicken she never missed a beat telling some wild “true” story with the most colorful language as it seems only southerners can do. When she placed that Golden Warm Chicken in front of us, finishing up her story, at the same moment (as in all great theater), I was hypnotized at the process. Eating this delicious American Food was like dessert after watching the show involving some great local Church gossip going on all around us (that we, of course, were completely unaware of).

Since that time, I had occasionally tried to re-create that same chicken dish and was never able to duplicate it. I tried many many different ways of preparing it, and occasionally made something actually edible but could never equal that fabulous meal. On more than one occasion, I bought a cookbook just because it had a “fried chicken recipe” in it. I tried the legendary soaking in buttermilk for 24 hours method, and yes, that gave it a nice flavor, but somehow couldn’t figure out why my chicken was second rate.

Just a couple of years ago, we watched good old Georgia Girl Paula Deen fix her “Famous Fried Chicken” on FoodTV and I thought, “OK, I’ll give it another shot.” I obeyed her hints, used the countertop frying pan so the temperature would be regulated more steadily, and guess what? It was delicious. So now, after 25 years, I had learned to cook southern fried chicken.

The point? Since that time, I have just now come to terms with this fact: DO NOT MONKEY WITH A GREAT RECIPE OR PROCESS. I somehow have a hard time sticking to the rules with cooking. Ain’t that half the fun sometimes? But every time I fail now in preparing this Chicken Recipe it’s because I get this “creative genius inspiration (?)” and change the flour mixture, the temp settings, the soaking procedure, use too much oil, or…… then it fails again.

So I am now almost 60, and have learned this hard life lesson: Once you know how to make yourself happy (at least foodwise), stick to the rules…………… got it?

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