WEEKEND: 4.4.14

When the springtime sun comes out, we look for these kinds of places. We drove out on the backroads of the Palouse with the ultimate destination of Steptoe Butte. It's a geological wonder, this towering quartzite viewpoint from which you can see over 200 miles away. It's just shy of full-on spring on the Palouse - most everything is still brownish. Still, it's a gorgeous sight to see the rolling, soon-to-be wheat fields from a terrifyingly high place.


Saturday Sentimentalist: the 6 Songs of Your Life

I came across a fun feature on NPR that solicited of its listeners and readers a list of the "6 Songs of Your Life." It asks you to consider the songs that "remind you of sometime or someplace or someone," calling on that place in our brains that fuse songs and memories. Narrowing it down to just six seemed torturous, when I could hear hundreds of songs and tell you what I was doing when I first heard them, or who I associate with them.

The first challenge was to figure out how to divide my life's chapters. I thought that because I'm just shy of 32, I would have the ease of smaller life increments to deal with. But now I'm thinking that a greater lifetime of perspective would actually make it easier to choose.

My list is not necessarily my most important songs, but they induce some of the strongest memories. There's a lot of music I've continued to listened to across the decades, so these are songs that have faded away enough that hearing them now take me back to that time and that place.

The 6 Songs of My Life:

1. "Walk of Life" by Dire Straits. I am maybe 4 years old. Sitting in my bedroom, somehow having gotten hold of a radio, I'm learning how to tune it to a radio station. I hear fuzz and suddenly this song soars through the speakers. To this day, that synthesized organ brings me a ridiculous amount of joy.
Here comes Lizzy singing oldies goldies...
2. "Creed" by Rich Mullins. This cassette ("A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band") was frequently played in full, but this particular song, based on the Apostle's Creed, accompanies my first memories of pondering religion and types of Christianity without the aid of adult leaders, during a time when I attended a Christian school where many of my friends thought Catholics were not Christians. Many deep thoughts for a sixth-grader that have stuck with me today. 

3. "Got My Own Thing Now" by Squirrel Nut Zippers. After having spent a lot of time in junior high pining for an earlier era, particularly the 1940s and 50s, the Squirrel Nut Zippers got me all excited to be alive in the 90s - "Hey adults, we're not all about grunge!" I first heard this album over headphones at Barnes & Noble and bought it as soon as I had money for it, even played it for my parents, and listened to it often throughout high school.

4. "Once Around the Block" by Badly Drawn Boy. There are so many songs that make me think of college, but this one is associated with memories of different groups of people I spent time with over those four years - my friends back home in Boise who were up for adventure and exploring our hometown, my roommates in Ballard with whom I downloaded hours of music from Napster and created playlists for our room, college radio friends who expanded my indie music tastes, and the friends I made on my Jan Term trip abroad and the inside jokes that bonded us. Badly Drawn Boy was a common denominator. If we agreed on this song, we understood each other.

5. "Bubbles" by the Free Design. This song transports me back to the time when I lived in a house with a bunch of fellow grads who put on unforgettable house parties (for better or for worse); when my friend Crystal and I went to all of our friends' shows around town; when I drank the sweet drinks; and when my friends James and Kat played a bunch of records for me, including this one.

6. "Change of Time" by Josh Ritter. This last one was difficult. I've listened to so much stuff in recent years and have listened to some of it hard. But this song has floated through my brain so often that it seems like it must be significant. The secondary anthem is the part that most often gets played in my mind. "Rough seas, they carry me wherever I go." I feel like life needs lyrics that repeat like that, reminding us of coming out the other side of hardship. If I don't need this now, I know I'll need it later.


Blue-huck Bread

This is how I spring-clean the freezer. So long, summer huckleberries and blueberries. You survived the winter without freezer burn!

Behold the berry-studded loaf

I used a recipe from my go-to Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham, taking her blueberry cranberry bread and altering it for the berries I had. The original recipe calls for cooking the cranberries with 3/4 c. of sugar, but since I was using huckleberries I opted not to take that step and thus this bread is a little less sweet. Which is how I prefer it, anyway.

It's crumbly and crisp on the outside, but tender on the inside. Buttermilk does the trick for getting that nice bite of richness with the tangy berries. I bet it would be good topped with some maple-sweetened cream cheese or something decadent, but I'm more of a salted butter-er myself.

Also, a warning: get up early to make this because it takes about an hour in the oven. Or, just plan a second breakfast (like we did).

Blueberry Huckleberry Bread
adapted from Marion Cunningham's Blueberry Cranberry Bread
The Breakfast Book

1 c. brown sugar
8 T. butter (1 stick), room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 c. buttermilk, not too cold
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 c. huckleberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.

Beat the brown sugar and butter until well blended - a minute or so at medium speed. Add the eggs and beat well, followed by the buttermilk.

In a separate bowl, stir the flour, soda, powder and salt together and add to the butter mixture. Beat until just blended. Carefully fold in the berries. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, with maybe just a crumb or two. Turn loaf out on to a rack to cool.


Anzac cookies

Okay, well, you could make granola. But I guarantee that when you're basking in the glow of evening, thinking about being a day or two away from Friday, and you absolutely need something on a little plate next to your cup of "sleepy time" tea, you'll be glad you repurposed those granola ingredients and turned them into Anzac cookies.

These are quick little biscuits. Recipes that call for melted butter are much better suited to my emergency baking whims - no waiting for butter to soften, no electric mixer needed for light and fluffy consistencies. These were ready for my tea plate in under an hour.

I was happy to use up the last of my shredded coconut (left over from the last time I made granola, of course) and tablespoon of local honey for these. Somebody in this house thinks it would be good with "chocolate zebra stripes," but I'll leave the flourish option up to you.

Anzac Cookies
from Biscotti

1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 c. rolled oats
pinch salt
1/2 c. + 1 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 T. honey
4 T. boiling water
1 tsp. baking soda

Stir the flour, sugar, coconut, oats and salt in a medium bowl. Melt the butter and add the honey and boiling water, then the baking soda. Quickly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. On a lightly flour-dusted surface, roll out the dough into two 1.5-inch logs (mine were pretty pliable and barely roll-able. You could also just roll them into small balls.). Slice into 1/2-inch cookies and place them on parchment-lined baking sheets at least an inch apart. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on the sheet for a few minutes.


WEEKEND: 3.21.14

One of the best weekends in recent memory, exploring new places, none of them far away. So much fresh air, so much exercise, so much good food, so much wine. So much what I needed. Springy springy.

Happy colonies in the backyard.

Creepy critters in the living room.

Burly rugby players in Airway Heights.

Unexpected waterfall at Hog Lake.

Photogenic thistles along the pathway.

 Fishermen on Hog Lake.

Water, water everywhere (though all around is brown).
Anzac cookies!


WEEKEND: 3.14.14

I'm baaa-aaack!

Friday started with the rains. I rode the bus for the first time in months and enjoyed that moment when I was the only one left on the bus (mine is the next-to-last stop on the route).

This post needs some color. I made these along with giant shamrock cookies for my sister-in-law's birthday.

A beautiful drive to Colville for dinner. We stopped so Joel could take a photo. I waited in the car and took this one with my phone.

We made money at the casino on the way home. Our best machine was called "Milk Money." When you're doing well, it moos at you, and you get to watch a whole animated scene of some poor cow's utters getting squeezed of its chocolate and strawberry milk - and eggnog. Only furthering my utter confusion (pun intended) on how you actually play these machines.

Irish soda bread.

I spent all week preparing this corned beef for an authentic-as-it's-gonna-get boiled dinner for St. Patrick's Day. I was kind of proud of myself - you can tell by the blurry picture.


Sneaking in: a quick knitting project

I'm not quite sure how, but right after Christmas I managed to knit a few things. I posted the bough hat (here), but I was waiting to post this project until after I knew my mom had gotten it for her birthday and I know she reads my blog. (Hi, Mom!)

I was taken with this pattern called "Final Frost" from Cozy Knits, a great book I got for Christmas. I love that it can be a chunky cowl or a capelet. The name of the pattern seems appropriate as it's something you'd wear toward the end of winter when it's getting warmer but there's still a bit of a chill in the air. I might have to make another one for myself.

Joel took a couple photos for me before I sent it off to Mom.

As a cowl
As a capelet