Thursday, October 02, 2014

Chips, A-hem!!!

Nothin' beats or eats Lovestead Tater Treats

Somebody posted a recipe yesterday for home-cooked microwave potato chips.  With three boxes of garden potatoes just outside the kitchen door in the garage, I thought I'd give it a try.

I've always wanted to know how to make my own chips because I'm guessing that if there's a food that gets eaten more than any other around our house, it's chips----all kinds of chips---standard potato chips, Mesquite barbecue chips, sour cream and onion chips, cheddar chips and those wonderful Juanitas Brand gluten-free tortilla chips. 

Oh, Juanitas, I love you so, and I don't even care if I have gluten or trans fats or any of that bad stuff we're not supposed to eat.

Juanitas have actually entered into the realm of my shopping-cart habits where if it's good, grab two.  

I'm sure the checkers wonder about me as I put my stuff on the counter----two chunks of Tillamook medium cheddar, two packages of mint Oreo cookies, two packages of Lays Mesquite barbecue chips, two boxes of Meadow Gold French vanilla ice cream, two bottles of moderately cheap chardonnay and, always, two sacks of Juanitas.

I love my Juanitas lots of ways:  straight out of the bag while driving home from the grocery store or preparing dinner, in a bowl with a hefty slice of Tillamook medium cheddar on the side, i.e. three chips, on bite-sized chunk of Tillamook into the mouth at the same time. 

I also like to melt that cheese all over the Juanitas.  Often two helpings of that combination suffices as dinner for me. 

Not healthy, I know, but as long as the food Nazis stay away from my kitchen, I'll eat what I damn well please.  And, if I die because too many chips went down my throat, sobeit!

I'll die happy. 

I've rarely met a chip I didn't like clear back from the day when only one flavor of Nalleys potato chips existed and many of those went down our throats before Mother found the half-empty sack to put out on the table for hamburger night.

About the only chips that would go stale around our house would be those with vinegar and salt or jalapeno-flavored. 

Even though we still have a few bags in the storage room that have remained unopened for almost a week,  I went about  my day yesterday, thinking about how fun it would be if my attempt at cooking up some real chips would meet with success, ya know the kind that snap, crackle and pop when you bite into them---not the kind that feel like rubber bands or hard taffy, keeping you chewing for minutes on end and discouraging you from grabbing any more and eventually leading you to dump them in the dogfood dish.

Most of my past attempts have turned out like the latter.  No big thrill in chewing away forever at rubbery chips, and I've done that a few times in my life.

Once yesterday's activities of transporting dogs to and from the Pooch Parlor and riding Lefty down the road with a neighbor and weeding a flower bed and finishing an editing job, I was ready to try that recipe.

So, I pulled out the mesquite barbecue chips for munching while following the recipe.  

Cut the slices really thin, it said. That's the key to avoiding chewy chips.

Soak in cold water to get the starch out, and even soak a little longer if you like.  Well, I was in too much of a hurry to soak much longer than a minute or so.

Lay them out on paper towels and let 'em dry.  The recipe even suggested a salad spinner for drying.  I don't have a salad spinner, but it occurred to me overnight that maybe my hairdryer would do. 

I don't think my chips had too much time to dry before I started seasoning them and laying them on some more paper towel on a plate.

Then, I put them in the microwave, and when the first batch came out, I realized a sharper knife might be in order as a few of them had that leathery consistency, but some actually did SNAP and CRACK when I bit into them. 

Yesterday's attempt at homemade chips turned out moderately successful, but I think some fine tuning is in order.

First clue:  that original bag of 16 chips still had about 10 left for the photo shoot this morning.

In addition, I did not see Bill reach into the bag for a second one last night after he returned home from his Presbyterian church meeting where they were learning about Buddhism.

Maybe he learned something in the Buddhist discipline code that suggests moderation in unhealthy chip consumption. 

Who knows, but I don't think Juanitas or Lays or Tim's is gonna have to worry about Lovestead Tater Treats taking over the market.

In my case, when someone sez, "Bet ya can't eat just one," they lose! 

Still, it was fun, and my chip-making learning curve has taken a slight dive.

Happy Thursday.    

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Hello October

Almost all calendars here in the house have been turned to the new month.  A heavy blanket of cloud blocks the sun. 

Four layers kept me warm during this morning's walk.  

Pumpkins are turning.  Leaves are falling.

I guess this all adds up to a perfect day for this year's edition of Oct. 1 to roll around. 

The earth here in the Selle area has received a good scrub down during yesterday's afternoon thunder storms, and the next several days promise what we all live for in October: fall days loaded with brilliance, crisp nights and the last beautiful hurrah before that dead season arrives. 

We can't waste too much time these daily gifts, as they suddenly seem dramatically shorter.  

I took advantage of yesterday's unsettled rainy weather to go full speed ahead on an editing project and, with bleary eyes, finished the first go-round by late afternoon.

That opens up today for more enjoyment outside.   

Before that, however, two of the three members of the Lovestead canine clan will go to the beauty parlor for baths, clips, nips and general primping.

That would be Kiwi and Foster.  

"What about Kea?" you may be wondering.  

Well, Miss Kea doesn't do well at beauty parlors.  Last time she went, I received a friendly but mildly frantic call, asking me if I could please come to the parlor.

"Kea wants her mommy," they told me. 

Since it can't be predicted just when Kea would be in the wash-up line-up, I'll just keep her home.  

Her coat is looking pretty good anyway.  Besides, we would be without "Perimeter Dog," and wild creatures may take advantage of her absence.

Kiwi and Foster have gone to the beauty parlor together on past occasions, and that togetherness seems to be a calming influence for both of them.

Anyway, I'm excited to see them both sometime this afternoon, looking and smelling oh so beautiful.

This Oct. 1 marks the long awaited day for my brother Mike and his wife Mary to start off on the first leg of their two-week Greek Isles cruise.  

They're hoping that Chicago's O'Hare has worked out its problems and that flights for their eventual destination of Venice will go without incident.

Wonder if George and his new bride will be hanging out there. 

We're wishing them safe travels and a phenomenal experience seeing all that beauty and history. 

Guess that's enough babble for this first day of October, so I'll be on my way with dogs to the parlor and maybe later a horseback ride here at the Lovestead. 

Happy Wednesday.   

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Twitterdeedum

Back at my upstairs perch for blogging hour.  It's always a good feeling to sit down in this setting after being away for a while.  

My laptop goes with me on our travels, and blogging during traveling time varies.  Plus, it's usually rushed because we're almost always on the move and headed somewhere.

Yesterday at the Silver Cloud Inn near Lake Union, heading somewhere meant leaving Seattle and trying to get home at a decent time for the doggies to be let out of their run.

We had a pleasant trip home, listening to Irish music and doing some silent reminiscing of our Ireland trip from Ellensburg to Ritzville.  That was a nice way to cross the Washington vast open spaces. 

When we pulled into Love's, Bill noted the highway to Washtucna, which brought up a fond memory of a busy and fun weekend. 

If those pups hadn't been on our minds, we probably would have taken another side trip down that way and enjoyed lunch there.  

Does Washtucna have a restaurant?

We settled for DICK's in Spokane where Bill bought his usual fish and chips and handed me a delicious chocolate milkshake.  Love those milkshakes, and this one did not disappoint.

Anywho . . . .life returns to normal. Bill has headed off to Elk, Wash., to work for the day, and I'll be spending time inside doing some editing and outside, puttering with general garden and yard cleanup.

Annie will be coming home for a visit this weekend.  AND, this Saturday, there's a reception at my sisters' home for Lauri and Mani and all their winnings from last week's Arabian Sport Horse Nationals.  

I think Mani will definitely go into the family history books as one of the more successful horses among many (no pun intended), with three National Championships, one reserve and close to half a dozen Top Tens.  

Toby I and our dad started this generational trend more than 60 years ago at the first-ever National Appaloosa Show in Lewiston, Idaho.  

I have a feeling that striving for excellence and reaching for the stars while riding and showing horses will continue, knowing my sisters and their horsemanship skills and passions.

In other news, Bill remarked last night that it felt odd not watching the Mariners games.  

I remarked yesterday that it's time to start thinking about ZAGS.  

Don't worry . . . I won't mention them too often, but they definitely ARE our home's next athletic addiction.  Of course, Annie will remind us that the Seattle Sounders are having a pretty good year . . . best ever, in fact. 

We love our sports teams, and it always seems like there's a void when their seasons suddenly end.

Last night I took time usually devoted to watching Mariners games and climbed on my bike for a nice ride down Woodside Road. 

While approaching one big open field, I saw lots of movement----at least 25 deer feeding off the stubble and suddenly scattering all different directions as soon as they were aware of my presence.

One stood like a statue in its tracks near the fenceline as I pedaled past and assured it that there were no worries.  

This morning we're getting little interludes of rain, but it looks as if the lovely weather will return and continue for several days.  

Nice way to welcome October.  

Happy Tuesday from the usual Slight Detour perch!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Game Faces

Felix's game face and his arm netted him a win.  

Long about the sixth inning, yesterday's Seattle Mariners-Los Angeles Angels sold-out game turned into a bit of a "moot point," even with Seattle winning.

Seattle needed to win, and Oakland needed to lose for the Mariners to move on to the post-season Wild Card competition.

When the scoreboard across from where we sat showed a final score with Oakland defeating the Texas Ranger 4-0, I expected a mass migration from Safeco Field.

Didn't happen.

Fans were there hoping for a victory, which they got with Seattle completing their season with a 4-1 win over Los Angeles, but most folks stayed.

After all, it was a beautiful September Sunday (kinda cold where we were sitting near First Base), and the overall scene created a wonderful setting for fans enjoying their sport and young and old munching away at the baseball staples of Cracker Jacks, peanuts and hotdogs.

When the game ended, Seattle players came along with their bags of goodies, flinging them into crowds of folks, now hungry for any memento of this final game of the season. Everyone there had their yellow "king" towels, but lucky catchers could also take home baseballs, bats, bags, etc. 

Young Micah (second photo) and I vied for a bag with the name "Cano."  I caught it while Micah had a hand on it.  I gave it to Micah, then his dad said I could have it.  

I thought about keeping it but knew that an 8-year-old from Bonney Lake, Wash., was gonna enjoy it a whole lot more than an old retired school teacher.

So, I handed it over and did my work as a teacher---encouraging Micah to do his best in school.  His dad told me that he already does pretty well.  

Keep up the good work, Micah!  

Anyway, it was a great day when we went out to the ball game.  Later, Annie, Bill and I enjoyed a Mexican dinner on Lake Union and DELICIOUS Molly Moon's ice cream in Wallingford. 

I learned last night that when someone says it's a "one-scoop" place, believe them.  My salted caramel, chocolate sundae was so huge, I had to throw half of it away.

I have a feeling our GPS will direct us to that ice cream shop a time or two in the future. Good stuff.

Great day.  Now, it's time to head back over the Cascades toward the Lovestead and the menagerie. 

Happy Monday. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

On the Road and Lovin' It

 To say that yesterday was memory-filled and wonderful would be an understatement.  We hit the road, headed for a cousins' reunion in the Tri-Cities, and that all turned out just great.

The scenes along the way and during our gathering included a tapestry of good hugs, laughs, good food, steps back in time, and some drop-dead, brilliant beauty on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River where the Skelton strand of the family grew up and where Ed and his family have taken their fruit farm to amazing heights. 

A special thanks to Ed and his wife Mary and to cousin Rita for setting up this wonderful gathering of cousins from the Brown clan. 

During our trip yesterday, I kept a close eye on my cell phone waiting for news from Nampa where Laurie ultimately completed her week of great successes, finishing in the Top Five and adding more notches on Mani's record of phenomenal achievements in dressage, Congratulations to Laurie and her gang of family and friends who provided her support during her days at the Nationals.

I can't write too much this morning because we need to get on the road for another exciting event, which turned out to be very significant after the Seattle Mariners pulled off a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels last night to remain in contention for a wild-card extension to their regular season. 

Today's game at Safeco is BIG, and what adds to that is that Felix is pitching.  We'll be there with Annie, and we're looking forward to loving the entire scene and hoping that Seattle pulls it off.  If nothing else, though, we will have witnessed some fabulous Mariner history and enjoyed a firsthand look at a team that's likely to be in the World Series.

What a weekend.  What fun! What memories!  It doesn't get any better, and we're having a great time, thanks to the folks at home watching our place and our beloved critters.  Thanks, Debbie, Laura and Willie.  

On the road again . . . Happy Sunday.

We met these birders who were on a field trip that took them to the birding oasis of  Washtucna, a little town off the beaten path where our neighbors, the Wood family, graze their cows during the winter months.  Both Bill and I are thrilled to have marked Washtucna off our bucket list of places we've always wanted to explore while passing through on I-90.

The side trip was SO worth it with our stroll around the part at Ralston and later, Washtucna.  And when we'd moved on down the road a ways, we truly met pay dirt when we spied the cowboys and their dogs finishing up a job of moving cattle.

While visiting with the very nice young men from Omak, I learned they were good friends with Rowdy Buechner, a former Sandpoint  man, who enjoyed the big lights and some great successes during his rodeo career.  

Yes, dear cousin Lauri, we'll write that novel about Washtucna!