Posts Tagged With: food

SONORA ELKS CLUB OPEN HOUSE

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I missed most of the Christmas events I usually attend so I was determined to get to my Elks Club Open House. The food was excellent.

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The bar was suitably busy. The bartender is a member volunteer, and he had his hands full.

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Everyone seemed happy and full of Christmas spirit. The guy with the smile is just recently engaged to be married. His fiance is not in the picture.

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Our club is lucky to have Lynn, a piano player who always provides music for every event, every dinner. Any club would be lucky to have a guy like him.  A fairly new member revealed her exceptional voice and sang beautifully.

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Because I travel so much, I forget peoples names. I recognize faces and people who have been welcoming and nice to me.

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Our club is very active and you look around and figure, someone put a lot of time and effort into decorating our hall.

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And, while I forget names, I never forget my sponsor, he goes by the honiker “Skip Ahoy”. Also an officer of the club. He and his wife contribute a great amount of time and effort to Elks, and I admire them both.

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My table mate is also a newer member and an officer. He used to be a computer tech. He said “I got tired of fixing people’s computer problems, so now I teach at Columbia College and show people how to fix their own.”  His wife and daughter left early. He stayed for the clean-up.

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It had been awhile since I drove over the river to Tuolumne County.  The reservoir is shockingly low, down below the foundation attachment to the bridge.

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Visible is the straight line of the old road that took the driver to a small bridge over the river then the road climbed back up to the other side. The canyon was flooded by Melones Dam under protest from the locals who liked their wild and scenic river. I enjoyed the twisty road and the canyon, and most of all river rafting. Those things are gone, but the reservoir certainly provided valuable water to communities below us with water they wouldn’t have had.

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The tops of once live trees stick up above the surface of the water and the whole canyon is now unsafe for boating. We do complain about the rain because it is wet and cold, but we don’t complain too hard. We need that rain for the snow pack and hope we have a normal year.

Today, I’m planning to hunker down and get some Christmas cards out. I know-it is last minute but this has been one of the busiest times at home, with friends in need, and more on my plate than normal. We are promised a non-rain day, with some clouds and a bit of sun. Nice.

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BOUDIN SAUSAGE

My son and daughter-in-law are hosting Christmas this year and Laurie decided she wanted to do a Cajun Christmas for a change. I decided to make boudin sausage (pronounced bow-dan) and gumbo. I asked her to come  over to help me make boudin,  a sausage I fell in love with when Jim and I spent time in Cajun country in southern Louisiana. Our first encounter was at Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, a tavern that is only open on Sundays. We got there early, at 7:30 because there are very few seats. The band starts about 9:00 and plays non-stop until five. The band doesn’t take breaks, they are on radio while playing and one member at a time gets up to have bite to eat or use the bathroom. A couple came in with a paper bag of boudin and another of chitlins to share.  So, at 7:30 in the morning, we ate boudin for breakfast. Man, that stuff is good.

In Calvin Trillin’s words:

“I figure that about 80 percent of the boudin purchased in Louisiana is consumed before the purchaser has left the parking lot, and most of the rest is polished off in the car. In other words, Cajun boudin not only doesn’t get outside the state; it usually doesn’t even get home.”

– Calvin Trillin, from his essay, “The Missing Links: In Praise of the Cajun Foodstuff That Doesn’t Get Around.”

I was given a cookbook, MaBee, What Ya Cooking?  by Janet Theriot in 2010. She had a recipe for boudin.  Her cookbook is homestyle cooking with not exactly precise measurements as in:  “One Boston butt pork roast or hogs head, salt , red and black pepper, 1 cup chopped parsley, 1 cup of chopped green onions and about 5 cups of rice. Cut roast in big chuncks and cover with water and boil until really tender.

I decided to look on-line and get more precise directions and we came up with a recipe for 6 lbs of meat to 21 cups of rice, basically three batches, with the onions and parsley and a number of spices and went to work.

The first batch, we kept tasting and tasting. To heck with the casings, Laurie, Ken,  the boys and I, ate the first batch for dinner with a salad. We put the steaks Ken was going to barbeque back in the fridge. The stuff is scrumptious.

It is a job that dirties every dish in the cupboard, but worth the work. We didn’t have a sausage stuffer and used a pastry tube to load the casings by hand.

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They are variable sizes and uneven looking, and we didn’t actually taste one of sausages since we at the first batch.

I was a bit daunted by cooking 21 cups of rice, but it is easy in a roasting pan in the oven and turned out just perfect. Now, the rest of the story. Laurie ground both batches of meat and I put in one batch of seven cups of rice. One of those easy miss-steps with two cooks in the kitchen. I have no doubt it will taste good with half the rice. It may be a bit spicier. I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I wanted to find the origin of boudin so I looked it up on-line. Historian Bob Carriker puts it like this:

The French eat a sausage called “boudin blanc” (white boudin) which is similar to Cajun boudin almost solely through its nomenclature; for French boudin blanc is a highly perishable sausage made with pork, chicken, and/or veal mixed with milk, cognac, and spices. …its flavor bears no resemblance to the link you will sink your teeth into in Louisiana. When the French Acadians (today’s Cajuns) made their way out of Nova Scotia, after having been expelled by the British in 1755, they adapted their traditions and culture to their new surroundings. So, when they set out to make use of a freshly butchered hog, it wouldn’t have been such a stretch for them to mix the pork scraps with the seasonings at hand, push it into the hog’s intestines and call it what they had always called such a sausage: boudin. . Later, once large-scale rice production began in Louisiana at the end of the nineteenth century, cooks added rice to boudin for filler and flavor. Today in places like St. Martinville, at La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns (a communal hog butchering) held the Sunday before Mardi Gras, the age old practice of making boudin is embraced and the custom and community spirit continues to be passed from one generation to the next.

I am so glad to have discovered this special treat and thankful to have MaBee’s cookbook. I’ll be using her ettouffee recipe and a real original called shrimp puppies. I can hardly wait.  You can read more about boudin and find out where to order boudin on this web page.

http://www.southernfoodways.org/oral-history/southern-boudin-trail/

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GRAPE STOMP AND BIRTHDAY DINNER.

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I thought it was very nice that Grape Stomp was put on for my birthday. It is always a fun time. I approached from the East end of Murphys, the first stop at Hovey’s tasting room. The old Victorian sits on a huge quarter acre lawn, and people, me too, were attracted by the music. This group was dressed for Halloween.

Gail Warren

The musician, Gail Warren. I’ve heard her play before and she has amazing licks and phrases that make her music distinctive and complex. I asked if she had a CD. No!

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I love listening to her and her repertoire is varied from hard rock, soul, gospel, jazz, pop, you name it, she does it.

Eddie Castro

Because she is all over the map when she pauses and lifts, her drummer, Eddie Castro, interprets her every nuance and intuitively hesitates when she does.

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Some listen and some like to get up and dance, grass didn’t stop them.

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I’ve gone on and on about Gail, but I expect to see her name in national recognition some day.

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From there, I hit the street to look into the booths to see if someone was selling something I couldn’t live without. This, from a person trying to down size. This guy was called the money man. He was selling rusting metal sculptures. I resisted.

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I’m always impressed with someone’s ability to creatively change an unwanted object into something people will pay for, like these former golf clubs.The street fair has over 100 booths, so there is a lot to choose from.

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This little girl was delighted with her newly acquired purple gecko. Her brother had a fuzzy dog bouncing on a leash. Her dad said it was okay to take her picture.

Jim Heryford

And here was Jimmy Heryford selling beer in front of the Native Sons Hall for the benefit of the hall. And, every so often, someone would bank this huge gong. Never did figure out why? I was sorry I’d eaten lunch before I went. I usually find great street food and a beer.

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People seemed to be avoiding this booth because the dog was taller than the table. Kind of intimidating to some.

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This woman had her own wine on ice on the back of her bike. I asked her if she was selling. “No”, she said, “If you have a glass I’ll pour you some.”  Neat lady. People are such a trip. Town was loaded, heavier crowds than I’ve ever seen before.

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I walked to the park and it was mobbed. Everyone was standing in line or eating and drinking what they stood in line for.

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But the main event is the grape stomp.The teams come from all over to compete. The initial competition has 10 barrels, and each team stomps 25 lbs. of grapes. The winner of each heat, one every half hour, goes to the finals.

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The crowds cheer on their teams.

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It is a messy and juicy affair. I stood quite a distance and still got a small splatter on my shoes.

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The stomper stays relatively clean compared to the juicer. I don’t know if this couple won the heat, but they worked hard, laughed a lot and if they get to the finals, they have to stomp 50 pounds of grapes. Fun.

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I went home and got ready for dinner. Ken and Laurie took us to Alchemy. They were busy, busy, busy with so many people in town.

half boneless chicken

Everything you eat here is good. Jim ordered a half boneless chicken…

pad thai

Laurie and I had the seafood pad thai. Delicious.

ribs

Ken likes ribs. They have good beers, too, though I can’t recall the name of the beer we drank. And, they brought us a decadent dessert to share because it was my birthday.

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I’ve wanted to blog the beautiful coffee table Laurie painted for me. She is soooo talented. Everyone helped me move the furniture around so the table is really a display piece. I’m going to get a glass top for it. It matches all my other Egyptian stuff and I’m just thrilled with it. I picked up the table at a yard sale years ago with the idea to paint it with an Egyptian theme but she has a talent that I don’t have. I love it!

 

 

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SURVIVAL KIT,CONTINUED.

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I began this blog yesterday, opening up two of my survival carriers. A foldable stool, and my backpack. My thought when I began putting this survival “kit” together about 40 years ago,  was based on thoughts of getting lost in the woods, or going over a cliff and having to rescue myself, or being stranded on a lonely road. No GPS, no cell phones, many lonely roads. The thought being, if I’m stuck in the woods for a night I can remain warm and dry. If I need to leave the scene, I can carry my back pack with any essentials, and attempt to get out of my predicament. However, over the years, what I’ve used mostly, is blankets that I’ve given to stranded motorists with kids, an elderly woman shivering in a park, a man laying on the road waiting for an ambulance, rescuers asking for a blanket to prevent shock. I’ve gotten overwhelmingly sleepy while driving several times, and pulled over, took a nap and used a blanket. I’ve used the toilet four times. Mary Jane said, “I’d just go out in the woods?” I won’t go into detail of why I was in a place without woods and needed that toilet, once for a passenger in my car. I’ve repeatedly used jackets, towels, dry socks, gloves, scarves, for myself and others. It is very handy to have an extra jacket in your car at all times.

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The last packet I opened, a sturdy carry bag contained, a stout cloth band that you could tie around something to portage it up hill, or drag wood pieces to a fire, or drag something with you that you may need.  Another jacket? Holy cow! A heavy scarf, two easy carry water bottles, a package with a space blanket, more bungee cords…

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A closer look, two foldable hand saws, something to read to pass time, including an article on survival, a fishing hook pressed into a cork, a small film can with two very mini sinkers and fishing line, plastic lines to hold fish, a sturdy carry bag (blue) that can actually hold water like a foldable bucket. A quarter for a phone booth. Now I can laugh at that. A metal can to drink from or cook in for a cup of soup or tea, or just to heat water. Mary Jane asked me if I carry energy bars. At one time I carried lotions, chapstick and food items. They melted and made a mess. I also carried canned tuna and soups at one time, and in this bag you will see my can opener. But food aromas attract animals. I read the book by Euell Gibbons, Stalking The Wild Asparagus, years ago and I know what I can eat in the woods to survive. You can even survive on pine needle tea. I also tried carrying those items inside my car and a few hours in a hot sunny parking lot, melts lotions and lipstick, candy bars etc. into an unusable mess. DSC05421 (Copy)

So in this sack, I had more socks, a scissors, a push button screemer to scare off anything, animal or human. Can opener, clothes pins, a single clip, another sweatshirt, a tool kit of screwdrivers, and my two easy carry water bottles.

I’ve learned a lot about this little exercise. Number one, how I’ve over done some things and lack others. My small hand pole with reel, I no longer have. No extra pants, or clothing for warm weather. No road flares, no meds, can’t figure out what happened to my snake bite kit and first aid kit? I found one single package of band aids. Where is my ace bandage? No soap? I do have a comb in the car. And, I had no identification or medical information about myself in my pack, like the ones Jim and I carry in the refrigerator of the motor home. Yup, my survival kit is going to get a revamp. Food is a good idea now that  there are so many dried backpacking foods available.

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I expect this exercise may have bored you silly. People usually laugh at my survival kit. It is something built into my psyche from my childhood. My dad always preached survival to my sister and brothers when we were kids. We lived in a log cabin in the woods where it was a necessity to think about such things. Someday, I’ll tell you about the time my husband and I  left Murphys for Reno on a beautiful warm fall day, dressed lightly in leisure suits,  hit a bear, wrecked one half of our car, leaving us without one head light, and a door that wouldn’t open on the driver’s side. We continued on to see Sammy Davis. Left after the show, got caught in the mountains on the way home that night, in a freak snowstorm, that morphed into rain, hail, mudslides, and put us shivering, in a ditch. If you run the heater, you can run out of gas.  My husband no longer laughed at my survival kit.

 

 

 

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WESTPORT, THE CHALLENGE.

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On our visit to Westport, we ambled along the harbor, talking to fishermen and taking a lot of pictures.

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This place has a huge number of fishing boats and the overcast provided irresistible reflections in the water. I was impressed at how clean the water was, very little floating crap and only two greasy oil stains near the commercial floats, both by older boats. I compare that to my old diving days when to dive inside the breakwater was a dirty affair.

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We walked around the commercial docks where crab traps were stored for crab season, I expect.

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The traps get pretty grungy and studded with crustaceans.

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Suddenly, we heard a ruckus at the end of the pier. Gulls were squawking and flying and diving and calling, making a noisy complaint.

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As we got closer, the problem seemed to be centered around this boat. For minutes of watching the gulls, we finally determined the cause.

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Sea lions in the water were grabbing the offal. Competition. The docent at the museum told us the sea lions are something new to the area. They’ve moved north for better food. According to her, there is no food for them in San Francisco and they’ve left the areas in the south. Most likely climate change and depleted ocean areas are to blame. The locals have put up an electric net to keep them out, but apparently they can thwart the net.

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We heard them barking and found a colony of about ten lions inside the breakwater.

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On one end was this huge lion, set a bit away from the others. I’m thinking maybe he is the bull for this harem.

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But, he/she just preened and batted his/her eyelashes. I think maybe this lion is a female. I’m guilty as a lot of others who assign human characteristics to animals.

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Then the young lion tried to enter a space next to these two obvious bulls on the other end of the float. No dice. I’m sure the one is a bull because of the mustache.

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The lion tried to get these two to move over. They had no intention of sharing their sunny spot.

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It got a bit rancorous.

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And finally, he’d met the requirements of the challenge in some way and the old bulls on the end turned their backs to him or her and let him up on the float.

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One of the old bulls has a tattoo and we wondered what kind of trouble he got into, or what kind of tracking was going on? Since I don’t know squat about sea lions, I may have it all wrong. But, it was a fascinating half hour watching them play their games, whatever they meant.

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We left the marina headed for a cool one at Westport Brewing Company. The license on this rusted old Dodge says Evergreen State. But, coastal vehicles run to rust unless they get expensive paint jobs along the way.

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This is kind of a warning, …please don’t park in front of my house… which is right next door to the brewery.

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It’s a friendly little place. He has a 3 barrel system and produces 14 different beers. They had a good dark ale, but I didn’t care for their stout. They have pot luck on Friday night, but we didn’t go back.

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There we met a beautiful woman who shaves her head and wears 35 bracelets.

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She invited me to count them. They are all different. She says, ” it is my signature. I never go without them.” It was a grand, fun day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WESTPORT HARBOR, PART ONE.

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Westport Harbor has a marine Museum located in the former Coast Guard Station, an appropriate transition.

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It is on a board, how can you get a notion of the size of a 126.5 lb salmon. Having just carved up a 5.25 lb salmon that has thus far provided Jim and I with three meals and three left to go in the freezer, I had to think seriously about this big fellow. It was 53 inches long and had a waist line of 42 inches. Now that puts it as tall as a 10 year old boy with the stomach of a pregnant woman. Yup! On a board. There is pictures of other giants on the wall at 57 pounds and down. I now look at them as food. No wonder the Indians of the Northwest were so healthy and prolific.

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I try to find something that I’ve never seen before in a museum. Certainly the salmon qualifies and so does this dairy. Instead of a milk delivery from door to door, the milk was delivered to a tree. Now that is novel.

Destruction Island Lens

One building on the Coast Guard complex was devoted to the fresnel lens from Destruction Island Light House. Ive seen many lenses but never so beautifully displayed. The docent imparted a bit of trivia, telling me that the state with the most lighthouses is Michigan. Since I lived there for 13 years, why did I not know this?

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This building held skeletons of whales, the Minke, and other whales are endangered because Japanese hunters refuse to obey the hunting ban.  The length of the building, the long part of the L shape, is 100 feet. A blue whale, the largest living mammal on earth,  would take up the entire building. What interested me about this exhibit is signs on the building, Clam Chowder, $5 a bowl. A hotdog and a soda, $4. It went on to compare fish foods to junk foods and gave me another perspective on the relatively cheap food we have in America, healthy as opposed to unhealthy.

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It was about lunch time and we zapped over to Bennett’s Fish Shack, which came highly recommended and we weren’t disappointed.

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Clam chowder and crab cakes. The docent at the museum told us Dungeness crab tastes better than king crab. I have to agree.

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On the street we met little dog, Mikey. Who could resist a pose like that. I know he was just begging me to take him home. If I ever get another dog, I’ll chose a little one.

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After lunch, we walked in one of Washington State’s “heavy mists” along the harbor. It turns out that Westport is the most western point in the U.S. mainland coast. It also has the highest lighthouse on the West Coast, now open to tourists. We didn’t get there. But we had a great time photographing the largest Marina on the outer coast of the Pacific Northwest.  I stopped and gabbed with this fisherman and a couple of others. No luck. They all complained they’d seen few salmon in the water but this guy said, in a couple of weeks, there will be thousands of them in the harbor. People here love to fish.

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Suddenly, on float #8 (I think it was 8) we saw some excited activity, a plastic bag full of red meat salmon on the float. (Click to enlarge this photo, then back arrow to the blog.)

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A fishing boat had come in and this dude on the right was filleting them for the guys to take home.

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I asked him how many fish he’s cleaned and whether the people on the boat had any fun, like a little wine, some music, maybe a dance or…? He looked at me and said, …”fishing is fun, that’s what we do.” He said he’d probably cleaned a million fish.

both silvers, despite diff in color

These two silvers were on the boat walk and the fisherman was waiting in line to have them fileted.

I caught the big one for the day on his hat 14 pound silvers

He was only too glad to hoist them up for us to take a picture. He got the pin for the  day’s catch, “I caught the big ‘un on the Tequila. ” He hadn’t had them weighed yet. All hands estimated the big one to be 14 pounds. The captains know where the fish are and everyone got their limit which is two salmon, plus whatever else they are allowed.

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This guy was tagging heads. He knows how many boats go out each day. They are all licensed. They told him they had to throw back a silver which he records on his chart. He tells what boat these fish came from, the total catch, and a number of other statistics. He knows where they were raised, from what hatchery and the statistics give him an idea how many are still out there and when to close the season to allow for spawning. Fishing is tightly controlled to make sure enough survive and keep the fish numbers sustainable.

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We walked the floats and took pictures around the harbor. This is Jim’s favorite nickname for me.

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The marina is a fascinating place with small, individual boats like this one.

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To huge net trawlers like this one.

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We see very little color in this gray atmosphere.

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As we drew nearer the commercial floats, pens of fingerlings have been planted here. This gull somehow got under the net and then could not get out. We watched her try and try to get out. I know some birds mate for life, maybe gulls do to because the brownish gull kept returning to her and watching helplessly by while she struggled. It was sad to watch.

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A heron stayed hopefully by the fingerling beds for a long time.

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In two weeks, maybe the whole fishing fleet will be after the salmon. A poor fish doesn’t have a chance. I think there were 15 floats with boats tied to each side.

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We found fresh air, wonderful people, fish and beauty. But, I’m not finished. More tomorrow. We move 100 miles south today to Seaside.

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