I’ve gotten in this new habit of taking an afternoon off from the 9-5 to go adventure off in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. With so many destinations within a few hours’ drive, it seems wasteful not to. It transforms a day from a morning of meetings to an afternoon of outdoor bliss. This time, I took to the mountain with my favorite adventure and photography friend Mary Jo. We decided on a simple hike to the Fremont Fire Lookout. What was supposed to be a casual 5 mile hike, proved to be more difficult for us than expected. Lots of breaks for “photos” and conversation made the trip much easier. Once we reached our destination, we celebrated with a libation and a lot of photo taking. Back down was much easier, with many stops to take in the gorgeous Mountain Sunset and wildlife. It may have been dark when we got back to the car, but we both agreed it was worth the adventure.
I obtained a large basket of perfectly ripened Italian Plums this week from a colleague. To avoid the inevitable fruit flies that have run havoc around my kitchen this summer, I opted to make plum sauce.
Plum jam was really on my mind, but then I realized I was plum (ha!) out of my main canning staples. Enter Plum Sauce. It just sounds decadent over vanilla ice cream, cheesecake, scones, goat cheese toast, or even as a glaze on a slow roasted turkey breast- doesn’t it?
Here is what is needed:
- 4 cups of washed & halved Italian Plums
- 1 1/2 cup Sugar
- 3 tablespoons of lemon/lime juice
- 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice
In a large non reactive sauce pan, pour plums, sugar, spices and lemon juice. Simmer on low-medium for about an hour and a half while stopping to stir and to make sure the mixture doesn’t over boil. 220 (f) degrees should probably do the trick. Your house will smell amazing. Meanwhile, prepare your jars for canning. While the jars are still hot, spoon the sauce into each jar, and process using a water bath. Lick the delicious leftovers off the spoon and swoon at the late summer taste of beautiful Italian Plums.
It is my favorite time of year; September. Where summer and fall collide in a crisp morning, warm afternoon kind of way. The cool evenings allow for more adventuring, and there is just enough light to enjoy an adventure before it gets dark. I spent some time up in Okanogan County this week. I’ve fallen in love with this gorgeous place and have been plotting how to uproot my current life and plop it on down somewhere up there. Here are a few beautiful things found.
We have this saying around our house that has us always in project mode- “why not?”.
We’ve had this corner of our suburban yard that has long housed a large purple rhododendron that was adored by me and despised by the Handsome. An agreement was made that it could be removed upon the addition of something really cool that doesn’t require pulling weeds. Enter the chicken coop. (Why not? Remember?)
Crafted with our own four hands and a bunch of amazing reclaimed fence materials, in three (maybe 4) weeks after work and on weekends, we made this little gem. It houses nesting boxes for three chickens, a roosting ladder, a window, garden space, and a small, self-contained chicken run. A friend had more than her share of mature hens and was happy to re-home three lovely ladies. I will be introducing them in the future, one by one, as they allow me to hold and take their photo.
After getting them settled last night, we woke up to a beautiful brown egg this morning, only to be followed by two more by noon. We can’t wait to see how we do on the daily with this backyard flock, but if the eggs keep looking this beautiful, I think we will all get along just fine. Why not?
I spent sometime in Yakima, Washington for my 8-5 gig this week. Outside of the 8-5 grind, I make sure to take advantage of my statewide travel by enjoying what the local area has to offer. I had more freedom this time around since I had my own car with me- so I packed up with my favorite colleague and drove up the Yakima River Canyon. It had been 104+ degrees all week, so we chose to go near sundown for a quick trip up to Umtanum Creek Canyon. The parking is easy, $5 for the day, and has picnic spots right on the river. You can take in the views of the canyon and the fly fisherman trying their hand at a naturalist art. We didn’t go far since we were midweek with zero preparations for a deep hike into the sage brush. The few hours we spent were clear, warm, and colorful.
I have this little piece of paradise. It happens to be in my very own backyard. It is so peaceful and calm- in the middle of the Suburban west. Slug destruction aside, this is a quiet little delicious sanctuary that I take pride in every time I clip a leaf of kale for salad or pull a carrot fresh from the soil.
Oh, sweet Pacific Northwest Summer. I love you.
The Olympia Farmer’s Market is currently packed with the most amazing produce- local farmers are really delivering the goods this year. I picked up a few ingredients from three of my favorite vendors (Smoked Chicken from Johnson’s Smokehouse, Beets/Carrots from Kirsop Farm, Walla Walla Sweet Onions from The Fresh Approach, rosemary garlic bread from the San Francisco Street Bakery this week to throw together some smoked chicken stew.