Friday, May 21, 2010

First CSA Box Of The Season

This is our third season of getting produce from The Natural Trading Company in Newcastle, CA. Isn't it a beautiful sight? Lots of greens this time of year; tomatoes are behind schedule due to our wet, cold spring. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture; it's one of the cornerstones of a being locavore. The other is our meat club. I pick up our meat order this afternoon.

The round yellow vegetable is a zucchini, the first of the year but many more will follow. To the right in front of the zucchini are spring onions; spring garlic is on the other side. The other greens are arugula, mizuna, collard, lettuce and pea shoots.

I just saw a recipe for radish crostini in the NY Times, so I'll try it out this week with some of our homemade bread. I've never oven roasted radishes, but the photo with the recipe looked delicious. Otherwise, we are not big radish fans.

The spring garlic is great because you can use the stems too. I oven-roasted the last of the asparagus and slivers of the spring garlic stems last night. The stems got really nice and crunchy. You can do the same with the spring onions.

Our friend Jean came for dinner last night. She was having a tough day so we thought a nice dinner fixed by someone else would help. Jean had never had water buffalo sirloin steak. Kerry BBQed it; delicious. I made a new batch of BBQ sauce to put on the steak. Jean liked it.

My tomato plants have flowers but just barely; they look like they are shivering. The sign at the organic blueberry farm down the road said "opening soon." I want to make a Dutch Baby with fresh blueberries and powdered sugar.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Driving For Doughnuts

The real reason we drove to Washington State can now be told; I wanted to go to Frost Doughnuts outside Seattle. Yes, I will travel far and wide for a good doughnut. I've been reading about Frost on Facebook since early this year. Last Friday we pulled into a parking place right in front of the store. I took that as a good omen. On Fridays they self 15 doughnuts for the price of 12. I had polled family members in Burlington as to their likes and dislikes. Here's what we bought: banana split fritter with sour cherries, custard-filled Bismarks, lemon-filled Bismarks, peanut butter-filled Bismarks, maple bars, maple bars with bits of real bacon on top, red velvet cake donuts and wedding cake donuts. The last two had tall swirls of white frosting on them. Web site:

We stayed with Kerry's sister Joanne this time because his other sister Susan is remodeling here kitchen and having all the popcorn ceiling stuff removed. In other words, nobody was living at Susan and Gary's place. We are not used to sleeping in a full-sized bed; that's what Joanne had. Kerry fell out the first night and ended up with a huge black and blue mark on his back. I heard a thump, looked over on his side, and noticed the vacancy. He crawled up off the floor a bit shaken.

He didn't fall again, but I did. Yup, a nose plant on Joanne's hardwood floors. I caught my flip flop on an area rug and went down like a tree in the forest. Nothing broken but I have lots of black and blue marks plus I'm very sore. Luckily that didn't happen until after the wedding.

Wedding was beautiful. Kristen and Evan were married in Kristen's mom's backyard with snow-covered Mt. Baker looming in the distance. The reception was in a huge white tent that just needed a few trapezes and a couple of elephants to complete the feeling of a circus tent. Kristen is a recent vet school graduate; three of her bridesmaids were vets. The flower girl was Gracie, a golden retriever, and the ring bearer was Bennett, a border collie mix. Kristen's horses looked on from the pasture next to the ceremony. We also met Gracie's 10-week old puppy, Scooter. Gracie only had one puppy; go figure.

I did manage to get out on Monday to buy cheese from my favorite dairy in Bow, WA. Golden Glen Creamery produces lots of different kinds. We came home with a freezer chest full. One my favorite bloggers, Urbanhennery, was giving a presentation at the Mt. Vernon library (right next to Burlington) on Monday evening. She talked about raising chickens in her backyard. I was just too sore to make it. Sorry Laura.

We had so much wonderful seafood during our visit. They are so lucky to live close to the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound. I had pickled herring, Dungeness crab, oysters and King Salmon (twice). The night we got there we took Joanne out for dinner. The rest of the folks were at the rehearsal dinner. I had macaroni and cheese with Dungeness crab meat. It was so good. All the seafood was fresh.

We packed a lunch for the trip home that began on Tuesday morning: more fish, salmon mixed with mayo on whole wheat bread. Delicious. We got to Medford, Oregon the first night. The next morning we woke to rain, which followed us all the way home. It was really windy too, which is not great when you are driving a boxy car (Honda Element). Stopped at our favorite roadside taco stand in Williams, had lunch and brought more food home for dinner.

Very special dinner tomorrow night. Kerry and I are meeting a favorite blogger (Creamysilver AKA Jennifer) from Indiana and her husband, Bob. Bob is in Sacramento on business so Jennifer came along. We picked our favorite restaurant in Roseville, Paul Martin's American bistro. The restaurant serves locally grown foods and grass fed meats.

Tomorrow our CSA starts and I have to pick up meat from our meat club. Making bread dough today. Barbecued water buffalo top sirloin steak for dinner tonight.

I guess I still do write a lot about food.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

My Oil Rig Experience

The explosion on the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico brought back memories of my own visit to an oil rig in that body of water. The one I was on did not blow up, but it still scared me silly.

I was working for Natomas Company at the time. It no longer exists having been bought and sold many times. My job at that time was to go out on the rig with my photographer to get shots for the annual report. This was in the late 1970s.

We flew to Houston and got a ride to Galveston with an oil worker. We were supposed to helicopter to the rig but it was too foggy so we went in the crew boat. Crews changed on this rig every seven days. You can see the helicopter pad on the left in the photo. Also note the cranes.

We stayed up with the skipper because a lot of the crew down below were hung over; the odor was not pleasant. I even got to drive the crew boat.

As we got closer to the rig, I asked the captain where the stairs were that we would climb to the deck of the rig. No stairs he replied and mentioned how dangerous it would be for the boat to bump up against the rig. Didn't want to rig to fall on our little boat.

That's when I noticed the cranes. With a growing sense of dread, I asked how were we going to get up there. The crane operator lowered a flotation collar, like the kind you would throw overboard if someone fell in the water, to the deck of the gently rocking boat. Ropes went from the collar up to the hook that was attached to the crane. I wore a life jacket and stood on the collar along with my photographer. He thought it was hilarious that I was so scared. In fact he took close-up photos of me as we ascended. I had my eyes closed the whole time. My heart felt like it was going to come out of my chest. And no, I'm not sharing those photos.

The crane operator gently lowered the flotation collar to the rig deck. As we stepped off I looked down at the grating that served as the deck. You could see all the way to the water. My panic continued as I discovered that there was grating everywhere except in the crew cabins, offices and mess. I labored up some stairs to the superintendent's office and did not leave there until I was lowered to the rocking crew boat below.

My photographer did a great job of getting pictures. I prayed the fog would lift so the helicopter could come for us. No such luck. Several hours later I approached the crane operator and told him I was sure he was a nice guy; he would get me back to the boat without any bodily harm. I also mentioned that I had a three-year-old son at home. He had that telltale lump on his face to the right of his lower teeth. Sure sign of a tobacco chewer. He smiled, then I knew for sure.

We climbed onto the flotation collar, were swung out over the water and then lowered to the crew boat ,which was rocking more than in the morning. I hope you get the picture. Little target rocking around in the ocean and crane operator many stories up aiming for the boat deck. I closed my eyes and a few minutes later we were on the deck taking off our life jackets. My adrenaline was flowing like crazy. I had done it; granted it wasn't my best work performance but I had survived.

We got a ride back to Houston with an oil rig worker driving a huge Cadillac convertible. He took the top down, bought two six packs of beer, which we all shared, and delivered us to the Guest Quarters Hotel in Houston. The adrenaline plus two bottles of beer made me a very happy drunk. The doorman was a bit surprised by our demeanor but a big tip turned that attitude around; he got us safely out of the car with all of our gear and up to our rooms. He even smiled.

So that's another one of my life adventures. More to come now that I'm not writing about food so much.
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