Farming in the West….

For the record, I’m not a good farmer. As kids we would sell our farm grown corn door to door to our neighbors in Southern Utah and they were always super excited because our corn was so delicious. I believe my mother said that the cool desert mountain nights made the corn taste really great. Anyway, my father in law is a “famous” farmer though and the Los Angeles magazine just discovered him. My daughter will soon go to her 2nd summer camp with cousins at the family farm. My other 2 children are not old enough yet to qualify as labor so they have to wait. The summer camp consists of early rising to farm and take advantage of cooler temperatures followed by possible cliff diving in the Snake river in the afternoon led by the older experienced cousins. Money earned is earmarked for the college savings fund and a bit for some new school clothes.

Dutch Oven Time

Camping food is a part of summer time fun. Mormons like to cook food in a Dutch oven. In fact, it is not at all uncommon to have a request for a Dutch oven as a wedding gift by a Mormon. We were too mobile (They are heavy!) for a long time so we didn’t get our 1st Dutch oven for several years, but of course our families both have them. Since we roasted hot dogs when we were camping the other day, we had to soon make up for it by cooking over fire in our suburban yard. A true authentic flavor requires cooking multiple meals in the same pot and you DON’T clean it. (The way you would think, anyway.) We have invited our friend from Lebanon over to enjoy our feasts and she was such a fan that she went and bought her own Dutch oven.  She came again this time too and we had fun together welcoming in summer 2015. We made friends with her when she made a feast of multiple dishes a few years ago of her favorite Lebanese food and invited our family over. It was a spread of so many dishes that it puts my Thanksgiving day slaving to shame, let alone my general culinary skills. Dutch oven cooking is fun to do if you like cooking over hot coals. My husband thinks it is his job, but whenever he turns his back I get involved.

Dutchoven1 Dutchoven2

This is what wikipedia says about the Dutch oven among other things: Westward bound settlers took Dutch ovens with them. A Dutch oven was among the gear Lewis and Clark carried when they explored the great American Northwest in 1804–1806. Mormon pioneers who settled theAmerican West also took along their Dutch ovens. In fact, a statue raised to honor the Mormon handcart companies who entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in the 1850s proudly displays a Dutch oven hanging from the front of the handcart. The Dutch oven is also the official state cooking pot of Texas,[4] Utah and Arkansas.[5][6]

What to take camping??

My youngest daughter has been begging to do a “camp out” for a few weekends. She really wanted to do it in the yard, but I knew it would be a lot of work and she wouldn’t actually sleep out there so since we had confirmed good weather conditions for last weekend, I booked a camping trip. We went to Cape Lookout State Park about 1 1/2 hours away on the Oregon coast. We have some of the greatest amenities in the Oregon State Parks for really affordable prices. We have taken advantage and enjoyed of a few of them. Oregon beaches were established and preserved for the people instead of mansion owners so we have the greatest most accessible and ruggedly beautiful coastline here. Our campground was about a block off of the sand in a super secluded campsite with hedges and trees surrounding us in a place that was full of other campers.

What do we take camping? Well, we take our North Face tent we got for $50 from the University of Utah outdoor recreation used gear sale 15 years ago and our $40 Costco family tent. Other than that, we had an insufficient camping mattress pad, sleeping bags, and pillows. The second most important stuff is what to eat? We usually do a Dutch oven dinner, but my husband decided we would roast hot dogs this time. I was not excited by that proposition since I like my gourmet camping food, but the hot dogs turned out great; also, a lot less effort than something which requires a few hours of cooking and multiple ingredients. Then, of course dessert is a big deal. It has to be s’mores.  Cause who doesn’t like playing in a fire pit? Growing up we always had to take a bunch of junk food whenever we went to the mountains too. It was like food from the 1970’s was required eating. Think: Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Twizzlers……….. Good stuff that was always reserved for treks. So what do we take for camping? A LOT of stuff for just an overnighter. It is quite a bit easier and frankly possibly cheaper to go to the Marriott, but you don’t wake up cold in the most beautiful place in the whole world.

Starlight Parade

Last Saturday, my brother came to town. We planned on meeting in downtown Portland to watch the Starlight Parade as they were in a hotel on the other side of town near the airport. If you ever get the chance to come to Portland, I highly recommend the Starlight Parade in May. We decided to go to the ‘park and ride’ to take the train downtown since once we got trapped in the parking garage afterward until midnight. When we got to the parking garage and noticed many people going in and many people going out, we were slow to realize there were NO spots. Should we backtrack to another garage or just drive?? We decided to drive and found a really convenient, but run down parking structure in Portland with a friendly attendant. We then had to hike to find my brother and his family. The parade is preceded by a 5k with people in costumes of all kinds. It is so totally awesome that I almost consider putting on my running shoes to actually run in this event. I may do it sometime, but I am averse to the popularity of running these days and paying for the chance to run. We met them at a restaurant, but they had already ordered so we decided not to join them since we were near some food trucks so we could get served quicker and get on with the festivities. We have had limited success with the food trucks because it is often a bit chilly and nowhere to sit for 5 people. This time we had Greek food and they had seating. We ordered the best chicken Shwarma. I will definitely go there again. It was so healthy and tasty! We finished dinner at the same time and met up again and then since we were very near Voodoo donuts, we had to stop by. I was so full when we got there that I didn’t want ANYTHING. Then, as we all stood in line (cause my brother would not pass up the chance) the sugary sweetness filling the air enticed me to change my mind and not actually care that my stomach was full. The donuts were good, but I’d never been there at night so it was especially fun with the festive atmosphere. We then went to watch the fun fun Starlight Parade for awhile and everyone soon got tired so we called it quits and got out of town before the hoards evacuated. They went on their way to the Oregon coast for the week and we went back to school since it was not yet “summer” for Oregonians.

one of many elaborate costumes worn by runners.... We saw more than a few "Olafs"

One of many elaborate costumes worn by runners…. We saw more than a few “Olafs” I’m not sure what that is, but my kids told me.

Chicken Shwarma was soo good.

Chicken Shwarma was soo good.

Voodoo donuts. I'm standing underneath with some lighted goggles.

Voodoo donuts. I’m standing underneath with some lighted goggles.