It goes without saying, that the Produce and Wildlife Treasure here is Sauvie Island, about 15 miles west of the City...a huge flat piece of land created by millions of years of flooding soils, volcanic ash deposits from the Columbia River Gorge and East. People who've owned this deep rich farmland don't have to do much fertilizing to produce mammoth crops every year. Then, as you go north on the island, conservationists and the Audubon Group have succeeded in setting aside huge clumps of land for Bird Refuges since this rich island has been a major Birding Migration Route Spring and Fall. Wetlands abound then...... That being said, it seems the highlight time to visit that island IS spring and fall with your binoculars and enjoy the huge numbers of migrating birds, and those that winter over visiting from the Arctic thinking this is the tropics. NOT always...sometimes in High Summer, you may not see certain kinds of birds but you'll surely see more than you expect of Eagles, Hawks, Vultures and Osprey all munching on the prolific small mammals and fish everywhere......THEN, you will ALWAYS return home with SOME kind of produce just picked or YOU picked that'll keep you busy in your kitchen the rest of the day. It can be a "joy" to those who like working in and around food goodies....... Saturday, August 10. Was one of those days that was ALL about High Summer and the joy that WE sometimes feel in it. We began the day early at John St Cafe partly to see Marie again, who we WILL be canning Tuna again..... this tuesday the 13th.... Yes, and it'll be a 'test' to see if THIS tuna purchased from her supplier will be equal to, better, or..... whatever from the fresh tuna neighbor Aaron brought back from his charter trip 40 miles out in the Pacific Ocean from Astoria. What a fabulous start....Marie's House-Made Corn Beef Hash, and Rodger's Usual DeJavo Omelette with Italian Sausage. . We dined on the patio, and I suppose have lived here too long....we ran into 2-3 different people we said hi to. NICE START.....while MAC awaited in the back of the truck, KNOWING, if he's in that spot, he will likely be swimming in a while. . Now, happy after that breakfast, we drive to the Island.....over the new beautiful bridge and right to Douglas Farms......to PICK the really ripe RED HAVEN peaches for some cooking experiments later at home....heh, heh......... . . . .... ... . . . We had some fun pinching, squeezing, picking about 18 pounds.....drove out, and off to the North Island for DOG TIME.....We passed the two mammoth eagle nests NEVER visible this time of year, cloaked with all the tree foliage....we sure know exactly where they are though, hah! MAC had a fine swim for about 40 minutes, actually, and a tired dog this was the rest of the day. GOOD. As we brought Mac back to the car, there across that long field, we spotted vultures, about 12 flying around one spot, then I broadened the view to notice there were MORE....in several spots......I counted 32 total vultures flying around within a 1/2 mile radius.....WOW......sure wondered what was happening over near those parts of the field. Returning via "The Pumpkin Patch" . . . . .of COURSE, we added Watermelons, Canteloupe, Corn, and some Blackberries to the load.......that would be the evening's work. So, yes, finally Home. First, you remove all the rinds and seeds from melons, get 'em in Tupperware, and you're ready to enjoy those for the next 3-4 days. Then you make the 2 batches of Blackberry Jam, with the keen interest in a first: Making Peach Jam with, a recipe that intrigued us: Peach w/ginger & Bourbon. 3 Batches of Peach, each with less and less ginger.......can't wait to try this. Finally, must inspect the garden, pick the RIPE tomatoes and tomatillos, go in and make a FRESH BLT .....yum. Yep, a quiet evening today..................tired all round.That's the way high summer should be.
Whoa! Like every August, it's HARD to believe that just about 70 days ago, one starts with some damp ground that you weed, feed, rototill, and begin to "work" with plants, water jackets, and "time".......THEN......one day, you wake up and the 'garden' seems to explode. No different this year, this garden is thick and almost overgrown. An exceptionally DRY year has exaggerated that fact....the garden's solid green, the yard's pretty brown.....and the house has had flower arrangements several times. Breaking up Dahlia bulbs last winter paid off......there's already been 3 times Dahlia Flower Arrangements have brightened the family room, and there will be more! This was the 2013 NEW bulb addition: * Seems every August, a day comes when ..... as today was, I "re-discover" the motivation that makes a person work all summer to grow a garden. Today, I just finished a big lunch of Potato Salad (everything but eggs from the garden including potatoes (finnish fingerlings), the first just picked vine ripened tomatoes....sliced and slightly salted. I finished that lunch with some tree picked peaches surrounded by some vanilla bean ice cream. That brings back every GOOD memory of MY childhood summers....when things came OUT of Mom's and Grandma's garden that we immediately enjoyed for lunch. In 2-3 weeks, it appears there will be quite a sweet corn harvest to enjoy too. AH! The August Garden. Remember the MAY Garden Pic? Remember the End-of-June Garden Pic? And finally....TODAY. Here are some from this morning's prep to water, and tie-up, or, "support" unusually huge garden vegetables: I asked Mac to pose to give some perspective on just how high this Golden Jubilee Corn has become: And turning a few degrees, another picture: From the south side (yes, the deer fence shows): And the Tomatillos! For the yield we're going to get, I've planted FAR too many....we'll be giving some away: We messed with mother Nature this morning too......IF it appears the corn TASSELS are truly giving off dust/pollen, and there are Corn Silks still untouched, I cut 2-3 tassels and introduce artificial fertilization to the plant...yep, it wasn't natural selection, hah: So NOW, I can begin to plan just when this lettuce can be picked to match the annual week we'll be eating some beautiful BLT's: garden lettuce, home-made bread, bacon, and tomatoes outta this garden: AND that doesn't mention what else is ready to harvest THIS week: 1) MORE Rhubard (4th cutting this summer, wow), 2) BASIL - harvest and get some pesto made n frozen, 3) 2nd cutting oregano to dry, 4) 2nd cutting Thyme, AND SOON TO COME: 1) Tomatillos......and Peppers from the garden into SALSA, 2) CORN! to Eat and Freeze for winter. AND..........what really made us tired after all's said and done, was a full day of making the family Pickles last Saturday THEN........Fisherman, neighbor, friend, Aaron returned from a chartered Tuna Fishing Expedition with friends, family.. It is TUNA season! They came back with so much, his surplus was 47 lbs of Albacore Tuna (filleted weight)....WE have been planning this day with friend Marie & Jamie who own John St Cafe, our favorite breakfast place, for a month....so the fish came in Sunday. It was placed in Marie's restaurant cooler sunday, and we began canning Tuna Monday morning....... 2 hours of the entire time, the fish simply sat in pressure canners to cook/cure. Marie bravely cleaned every filet herself on Sunday after work. . . . yes, R & I lucked out.....so when we came to her restaurant kitchen, we simply had to pack jars.....in four hours this was out outcome: Was that enough? No. We're doing Tuna Part 2 next Tuesday with some fish from Marie's source in Gearhart who, are going to expertly clean/filet the fish before we see it......So it appears WE have to come up with a few recipes for using CANNED Tuna this winter! SO. YES, it's HIGH SUMMER in the Pacific Northwest, a summer running full of energy with all the dry weather...... The rainy months get long, yes, but there's nothing more intense than these 6 months of full-on NW summer.......... Whew! No WONDER we don't make plans in August........."spare" time doesn't show up until Mid-September.