Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dancing on the Dock

They called it honkytonkcajunhippiebillyblues, and what a great turn out it was for the annual Taylor Dock dance. The final outdoor concert of the summer season sponsored by the Bellingham Parks and Recreation in appreciation of our community, Jon Parry and Joe Paquin (and Friends) entertained us with some great favorites in their lineup of songs.

Maria Dalagan Cole!

Jennifer and Doug! Guess who? Taylor dock, filled with dancers.Sunset on the bay as we danced. Beautiful!

I can hardly believe that summer is so close to being over, and fall, just around the corner.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Crab Apple Jelly

Homemade crab apple jelly! From the tree to the kitchen to the jar, it just doesn't get much tastier than this! Wow, it turned out so pretty and tastes so good, it is almost hard for me to believe that making it was so easy and that all it took was some crab apples, water and sugar.I washed the crab apples, carefully trimmed the little flower ends off, removed any stems that remained, placed them into a pan and covered them with water.For an hour or so, the pan full of crab apples gently simmered on top of my stove until all the fruit was soft and mushy and the water was a juicy pink.
Straining the mixture in small batches through cheese cloth, the juice and pulp were carefully separated.
I discarded the pulp and put the juice into the cleaned pan, cooking and stirring until it had boiled for about five minutes.
Next I added sugar to the boiling crab apple juice and gently stirred it in until it had dissolved, making the juice look bright and glossy.Stirring continually, the sweetened juice began to boil once again.
It continued to boil until a rolling boil was reached. I stirred and kept the mixture boiling for about ten more minutes.
Toward the end of the boiling time, I drizzled a small amount of the mixture onto a cool saucer as a test to see if the jelly had cooked long enough so that it would be thick like jelly once it was cool.
Meanwhile, I had sterilized the jelly jars and kept them warm so that they would be ready to fill with the hot jelly once I felt it had cooked long enough.
Carefully ladling the hot jelly into the jars, I wiped the tops of each jar to make sure they were completely clean, then added the lids and rings. When finished, I sat back and enjoyed hearing the gentle sounds of pop - pop - pop as the jelly cooled and the jar lids sealed, safely preserving our crab apple jelly for the months ahead.
Next I had to call Kriss and confess to her that there may be a possibility that we will NOT be able to give any of this jelly away to our friends like we had first planned.

Why not? Because it tastes so very, very GOOD!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Crab Apple Harvest

Perhaps when Dan, our tree man friend, pruned that tree instead of taking it out like she thought he might, he may have known that we would be able to put its yield to good use. Likewise, today was the first annual crab apple harvest at Kriss's!Climbing up her ladder to reach the branches, she picked and shook the tree in order to get enough crab apples for us to make a winter's worth of jelly to share with all of our friends.
Jesse and Torrie played with the ball in the yard under the trees."For old time's sake", Jesse allowed me pull him around the yard in the wagon.Later, at home in my kitchen, I washed today's harvest and tomorrow shall cook up our fruit and fill the jars with our jelly.
Next we shall try to identify the pear tree in her yard and some ways that they, too, may be enjoyed. And what about those chestnuts? What can be done with them?
The apples on this little tree are great picked right off the tree and enjoyed as a healthy snack while she works out in her yard.
Grown naturally, none of the trees have been treated with pesticides, chemicals or poisons in hopes of keeping our world safe and healthy.


My recipe for Crab Apple Jelly

15 lbs Sour Crab Apples

Cold Water

1-1/2 Pounds Sugar

Options - Fresh Mint, Red Food Coloring or Cloves

Wash the crab apples and quarter without peeling. Place in a large pan and add just enough water to cover the fruit. Simmer on the stove gently until the fruit is soft and tender. Drain through a jelly bag, gently shifting the pulp from time to time to keep the juice flowing yet being careful not to force the juice through the jelly bag as that can cause the jelly to become cloudy. Measure out 32 ounces of the juice into a 12-quart pan and bring to boil for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and boil for 5 to 8 minutes longer, or until a small amount of the boiled mixture jells when dropped onto a cold plate. Pour into hot clean jars and seal with rings and lids. Continue cooking 32 fluid ounces at a time until all the juice has been used.


Mint Apple Jelly - Cook a few sprigs of fresh mint with the apples when preparing to extract the juice.

Red Crab Apple Jelly - Stir in a few drops of red food coloring just before pouring into the jars. Avoid adding too much coloring.

Spiced Apple Jelly - Tie a few whole cloves in a piece of muslin and drop into the juice at the beginning of cooking, removing just before pouring the jelly into the jars.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Orcas Island Vacation

What a fun trip it was to visit Orcas Island. Waiting in the Washington State Ferry cue at Anacortes there was plenty of time to enjoy the sunny afternoon exploring the beach. The ferry ride through the islands was gloriously beautiful as we wound our way past island after island. We even made a stop at Shaw Island!Once docked at the Orcas Island landing and the ferry had unloaded, I made the scenic drive from one end of the island to the other to the little village of Olga. I located Winterbrook Farm where I stayed and enjoyed a quick walking tour of the grounds and beach.
Hopping into the little boat and motoring out to check the crab pots, a wonderful fresh crab salad was later enjoyed for dinner just as the sun was setting.
More ferry ride and arrival photos.

Saturday was spent exploring the island. First the Orcas Island Farmers Market, then on to visit some boutiques and galleries in Eastsound.
Driving around the perimeter of the island, the beautiful panoramic view of the other San Juan Islands can be seen. A tour through Moran State Park and a climb to the top of Mount Constitution came next. From the lookout point, I could see Lummi Island, Bellingham Bay and Mount Baker. An absolutely beautiful backdrop!
No trip to Orcas Island is complete without a visit to see the Applegate boat building project - the Approximada - and Rifka's art. Said to have taken over twenty years to build and entirely manually with hand tools and lumber hewn from fallen trees from that very forest, what a surprise it was to me to see this huge boat looming above me, overgrown by giant trees at the very top of a steep and winding mountain dirt road. Wow! Will that schooner ever be hauled down from that mountain top to be launched and sail away?
Deer Harbor was next on my list and then a stop at the Resort at Deer Harbor and the Deer Harbor Marina. There were so many other areas of interest on Orcas Island that I visited - the Orcas Island Artworks, Obstruction Pass Park, the famous Rosario Resort, Crow Valley Pottery, Westsound Cafe, West Sound, East Sound, and more.
More photos from my Orcas Island tour.

A guest at Winterbrook Farm during my visit to Orcas Island, I was able to spend another entire day just touring the grounds and enjoyed a private viewing of the beautifully decorated main and guest houses.
Winterbrook Farm tour photos.

Even the return ferry ride to Anacortes on beautiful Fidalgo Island was great. I was in awe of the beauty of the islands and the beautiful clouds as the ferry wound its way through the San Juans Islands.
Photos from the ferry ride back to Anacortes.

What a lovely vacation destination Orcas Island! Absolutely beautiful in the summer sun, but how lovely it would be any time of the year too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Country Gospel at the Big Barn

With professional cowboys, ropers and wranglers filling our county for the annual Lynden Rodeo this weekend, comes Pastor Coy and Donna Huffman, also traveling the rodeo circuit, spreading the gospel. Tonight's Cowboy Church worship service was held in the Big Barn at Roger and Rosemary Gustafson's Sonshine Ranch located at 1713 Trigg Road in Ferndale, Washington and included special cowboy gospel music by Dwayne Williams, the Texas Teddy Bear. A preview of his music and several albums are available through his website, so do check it out.
After the service, we enjoyed an old-fashioned church social of root beer floats. That spin-cycle just beginning to subside in my tummy forced me to pass, but the floats that Kriss and Sally had sure looked yummy. Here, the reverend Coy Huffman helps dish up.
And all seem to enjoy.
The message for me tonight seemed most appropriate - it is okay to go there - after all, tomorrow I go . . .