I love the taste of sweet, fresh off the vine, summer tomatoes, and since they are reaching their peak right now I am trying to enjoy them in a new way daily. So here is my favorite quick salsa recipe:
Pico de Gallo
6-8 tomatoes, chopped (I used Purple Prince, Green Zebras, Golden Jubilee, and Romas)
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 jalepenos, remove seeds and ribs, dice
the juice of one lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Mix all ingredients together in a glass bowl and serve with warm chips.
We spent part of last week at my family's annual camp out/reunion up in Eastern Washington (near Yakima). For any of you parents out there it was an 8 HOUR DRIVE- ONE WAY... and we all survived- no one got car sick (Ben and I were close a couple of times)- no one fought- people napped in the car- the snacks held out- we didn't get lost- we saw beautiful scenery through the Columbia River Gorge and through the fruit tree groves in Washington- read a lot of books- listened to, ok sang along at the top of our lungs to, a lot of 70's music (we love you Little River Band) -and thanks to one of Ben's friends, we had the emergency back up of a portable DVD player (it only worked for 30 minutes on the way up and we only used it for a movie and a half on the way home) but still it was nice to have. Emma was so sick of the car by the end of the trip that she went stiff as a board when we tried to put her in the car to go to the library this week- by today she's fine about getting into the car again, thank goodness.
My family rents out the whole camp ground for 4 days and nights, people come and go as they please, and the few die-hards that can go that long without a shower have the best time because they don't miss one minute of the action.
We all laugh that our family camp out is just an excuse to eat (and visiting comes second.) My mom's family live in the fertile farm lands of the Yakima Valley and grow some delicious produce. Here are the shirts they wear on the farm:Boxes of peaches and nectarines were around all weekend for a sweet treat- note the large knife sticking out of the box so you could cut yourself off a slice or two:
Every year our family makes homemade items (cookies, birdhouses, art, quilts, etc.) or puts together gift baskets that we auction off to pay for the campsite and food. Here is an oil painting by my great-aunt Mavis:
Ben spent 3 days throwing rocks in the creek, exploring, reading, playing in the dirt and throwing rocks in the creek (I know I already said this but seriously, every morning he would look at me and I would say "yes, go throw rocks") I have never seen him get so dirty- it's hard to see in this photo but he was covered in dust from head to toe, he wore the same shirt for 3 days, I loved it!!!
Our lovely bathrooms, love that this outhouse has a woman spray painted on it, because it was such a privilege to use a "girls only" outhouse, we all know they smell so much better than the boy's- ha, ha.
One of my cousin's 9 year old friends, Natalie, spent 2 days catching and releasing frogs- I think she was a little sad that her parents wouldn't let her take one home:
Emma spent her time coloring, running off down the road, playing with toys in the dirt, playing with dirt, avoiding naps, running off down the road, trying to go to the creek, trying to eat chips for every meal, throwing rocks, petting dogs, and running off down the road.
Here she is running off down the road with a metal cow watering can.
Here she is with Dave, at the end of the road, pumping water. And trying to figure out how she is going to play in the puddle.
WARNING, GRAPHIC PHOTO AHEAD!!!
So the past few years the food preparation has become very competitive.
Deep fat fried turkey, twinkies, tofu, chicken wings, onion rings, corn on the cob, pickles- if you can dip it in batter my family has fried it.
3 years ago my cousin Tom brought a 5 level smoker and smoked duck, chicken, and turkey.
People make their own jerky and sausage, canned jams and fruits fill the tables.
Here is a typical breakfast of sausage, steak, ham, fried SPAM, potatoes, and eggs, oh, and did I mention this was all cooked on a professional grade grill that was brought up in a flatbed truck?:
Someone always makes a run into "town" for Krispy Kreme donuts.
Lots of food cooked in cast iron skillets, this year there was Paella in a cast iron skillet. Meatloaf in a cast iron pan over a fire. Pot roast cooked over an open flame. Coffee brewed in pots all day, percolated by camp fire.
My mom and I brought fresh veggies and salads- they only "green" food there, needless to say they were not finished off.
This year my cousin Jamie and her boyfriend Ron bought a whole pig roaster- they put the pig in, covered it with hot coals, and it roasted for about 5 hours. I would have to say it was the best tasting pork I have ever had (even if it was a little graphic- as Ben put it "bad day for that pig").
We ended our trip by driving through the town of Toppenish ,Washington, where my Great-Aunt, Mavis Willson, has been part of a mural painting project. There are dozens of murals painted all over town, untouched by graffiti, and just amazing to look at. Aunt Mavis had even participated in a few of their mural in a day projects. I loved that we finally had a chance to drive through Toppenish and get a chance to see these murals.
I love that my family can all come together once a year to eat, drink, laugh, dream under the stars, hear stories of our past, take photos, sing around the campfire, and for the most part, survive technology free for four days. I can't wait to do it again. Just as soon as I get the smell of campfire smoke out of my hair and the dirt off the bottoms of my feet...
Remember this sad, barren mess from late May? And if you don't here's the post:
Well, just look what a few months of beautiful weather, some rearranged potted plants and sunflowers planted by the birds have made: this tiny oasis...
I think this little area may look the best it has in the 10 years that we have lived in our home.
Every year I have either thought about planting sunflowers and waited too late, or planted them only to have the squirrels eat the heads off the top of the plant right before they bloomed. So of course my natural sunflower garden is thriving... I will leave you with one of the black-oil birdseed sunflowers planted by the birds, check out the bee coming in for a landing!
I am excited to have my layout as the daily prompt over at Cocoa Daisy today. This month we are making a Book of Me (BOM), each day one of the amazing ladies is posting a page prompt with the idea that at the end of the month we will each have a 31 page book about ourselves. Because honestly, how often do you scrap a page about yourself? This has been a fun process, here is a look at what I have done so far: Book of Me
And here is my letter:
You do not have to be a member of Cocoa Daisy to play along but if you have never been to their site you should take a look, Tricia puts together amazing monthly kits, the forum is always buzzing, and did I mention all the fun daily prompts? I think I've doubled my page production since they started the daily prompts this past spring. Happy Scrapping!
Above are 3 of my very favorite, go-to summer salads. For the most part they use fresh ingredients, they travel well, they taste better the next day, and they are all refreshing on a hot summer day. I hope you try one of these and let me know if you liked them or how you varied them (one of my favorite things to do is try a recipe and add ingredients to make it my own.)
Cucumbers and Vinegar (aka Cukes and Vinegar)- old "family" recipe
For this salad you will need:
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 Walla-Walla Sweet onion, sliced thick
Cider vinegar (enough to cover the veggies)
Cracked black pepper (to taste)
Place veggies in a shallow dish or bowl, cover with vinegar, chill and serve.
Fresh Corn Salad- adapted from Susan Branch's Summertime cook book
For this salad you will need:
6 ears of corn, cooked (for about 5 minutes in boiling water) then cut off the cob
1 red or orange bell pepper,or a combination of both, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup of cilantro leaves
the juice and zest of 2 limes
Toss all ingredients in a bowl, chill, and serve.
Garbanzo Bean Salad: adapted from Everyday Food Magazine
For this salad you will need:
1 can of garbanzo beans (chick peas), rinsed and drained
I came across this charming, funny, and oh-so-appropriate poem today, so in light of last weeks devastating effects on my previously lovely Stargazer blooms I thought I'd share it with you.
Why Did My Plant Die? Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
You walked too close. You trod on it. You dropped a piece of sod on it. You hoed it down. You weeded it. You planted it the wrong way up. You grew it in a yogurt cup But you forgot to make a hole; The soggy compost took its toll. September storm. November drought. It heaved in March, the roots popped out. You watered it with herbicide. You scattered bonemeal far and wide. Attracting local omnivores, Who ate your plant and stayed for more. You left it baking in the sun While you departed at a run To find a spade, perhaps a trowel, Meanwhile the plant threw in the towel. You planted it with crown too high; The soil washed off, that explains why. Too high pH. It hated lime. Alas it needs a gentler clime. You left the root ball wrapped in plastic. You broke the roots. They’re not elastic. You walked too close. You trod on it. You dropped a piece of sod on it. You splashed the plant with mower oil. You should do something to your soil. Too rich. Too poor. Such wretched tilth. Your soil is clay. Your soil is filth. Your plant was eaten by a slug. The growing point contained a bug. These aphids are controlled by ants, Who milk the juice, it kills the plants. In early spring your garden’s mud. You walked around! That’s not much good. With heat and light you hurried it. You worried it. You buried it. The poor plant missed the mountain air: No heat, no summer muggs up there. You overfed it 10-10-10. Forgot to water it again. You hit it sharply with the hose. You used a can without a rose. Perhaps you sprinkled from above. You should have talked to it with love. The nursery mailed it without roots. You killed it with those gardening boots. You walked too close. You trod on it. You dropped a piece of sod on it.