When Dogs Climb Trees


Fiery clouds at dawn portend an auspicious day ahead. Something remarkable is sure to occur.


The dogs have discovered that a Douglas squirrel lives in an old stump. It’s dug tunnels through the rotting stump, and the dogs are adamant to find it.


Sadly for the dogs, even climbing up the stump and digging into it, fail to lead to success. The Douglas squirrel eludes them, escaping unharmed. Watching dogs climb a tree makes for a remarkable day.


Ginger Bombs


This is a spicy treat to make with firm tofu. All you need is some firm tofu, fresh ginger, and salt.


The first thing to do is to grate the ginger. The more ginger you use, the bigger the bomb that goes off in your mouth when you eat these. Ginger is a good spice to use in the winter. It helps keep you warm. When you grate it, you don’t need to peel it. The best part of the ginger is in the skin.


Using your fingers, gently mix the tofu, ginger, and salt together. Don’t use a mixer or food processor as you don’t want to break down the tofu too much. You want the result to be a moist, crumbly dough. If you use a machine, you’re liable to turn the tofu into a dip, and then it will be too runny to handle.


Form the mixture into small cakes.


Dust the cakes with flour or with panko or bread crumbs.


Fry the cakes in butter or oil until golden brown. Four to five minutes on each side works for me.


Eat them while they are still hot. Other ingredients you could add are tomato paste, miso, coconut oil, honey, paprika, anise, allspice, or anything else you think could make them even better.

A Sliver of a Root


A garden can be as small as a tuft of moss on a rock. Moss are remarkable plants. They have no roots, but have a thin, root-like structure only one cell thick. This is how they stick to rocks and grow.


In the vegetable garden lies a zucchini from last summer. I let it lie to see what happens to it. At some point it should disintegrate and the seeds in it sprout, or so I am assuming that will happen. This is the wonder of having a garden. You can do all the scientific experiments you want.


In the woods lie many fallen trees and branches, knocked over by this winter’s storms. It’s amazing how much wood a small forest produces.

The Many Moods of Mount Blanchard


A benefit of living here is enjoying the many moods of Mount Blanchard. This is the only place where the Cascade Mountains touch the sea. Every time I bike to the post office or deliver eggs to tweets, Mount Blanchard gazes down on me.


Chickens have many moods too, from the curiosity of chicks, wanting to know what everything around them is.


To the piercing glare of a young rooster, and careful watch of hens, wondering if I have anything in my pockets they can eat.


Peanut Butter-Miso Soup for Winter


Happiness is a basket of eggs. Hens laying eggs again is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.


While we wait for spring to arrive, a good way to warm your heart on a cold day is with a steaming bowl of peanut butter-miso soup. I saw this made on a Japanese program last week, and it’s a satisfying combination that is simple to make.


For soup for two or three, take a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter and one of miso and stir them together. Put two cups of water in a bowl and bring it to a simmer. Add the peanut butter-miso mix and stir it into the simmering water. Then add cubed tofu and fresh vegetables such as napa cabbage, bok choy, spinach, and green onions. Add meat too, if you like.


The peanut butter and miso combination makes a surprisingly rich, complex, satisfying flavor. Use a peanut butter that has no sweeteners or fillers. Look for the ingredients on the jar of peanut butter. The only ingredient should be roasted peanuts. Or roast your own peanuts and make your own peanut butter.

Spring in January


Ha! Hardly. It’s still cold, but spring is just around the corner, the daffodils pushing out of the frozen soil are counting on it. The deep freeze that started on New Year’s Eve still has the ground as hard as cement, but that isn’t holding back the daffodil shoots. A sunny day with above freezing temperatures in the afternoon draws Hazel and the other hens all the way around the pond to look for good things to eat in the sunny brush. After tonight, freezing temperatures will be a thing of the past for a spell. That should thaw the frozen soil and bring things to life.


The Joys of Having a Personal Roaster


A pleasant five mile bicycle ride north live Bill and Gilda Gorr, coffee roasters who roast coffee one pound at a time. When it became no longer practical to keep ordering our favorite coffee from Seattle, I took them some of the coffee beans we like, and asked, “Can you roast something similar?” They came up with a Sidamo bean roasted to our liking. Now, whenever we get low on coffee beans, all I have to do is call Gilda and say, “We’d like more beans.”

Do you have a coffee roaster you could take beans to and ask them to roast something similar? This is what is so nice about this special community. Instead of having the same Starbucks on every corner, I think people would be much happier having a local coffee roaster or two in their neighborhood who would roast coffee beans a pound or two at at time, and with whom they could have a nice chat when they went to pick up their beans.


While gathering eggs this morning, I heard a sing-songy cackle, and found Hazel sitting on a nest. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Hazel sitting on a nest. Not too far away, I spotted Niji-hime 虹姫 and Betty in deep conversation. Hmm, they shut up when I approached. They aren’t discussing how to join the Women’s March on Washington next week, are they? Whatever it was, it seemed serious.


Ice Art


The warmer weather and sunny skies have melted all the snow and ice out in the open. Yet, deep in the forest, where the sun rays barely tickle, the ice still rules. Buttercups are encased in solid glass, frozen bubbles float like jelly fish over the frozen forest floor. It’s an otherworldly spectacle to be enjoyed today. By next week, the ice art will be gone.


Sojourn to the Arctic is Over


Our eight day sojourn to the arctic is over. Yesterday morning we woke up and all the snow and ice were gone. Just a few dying wisps of snow remained in the shadows, and a few remaining shards of grand icebergs wept themselves away in the bright sun.


Day lily shoots stayed green, waiting for enough warm sunshine to send their shoots high into the spring air … next month perhaps? Onion shoots and kale greens, the week plus long freeze didn’t damage them at all.


Hazel and her sisters are back out in the garden, greeting me when I come outside from making tofu, bearing gifts of okara for them. Okara are the mashed soybean solids that are left over when you make tofu. Chickens will mob you if they see you carrying okara, just warning you if have chickens and decide to make tofu one day. Though, think hard about it, because if you do it once, they will expect it often, and will look funny at you when you visit them empty handed.


When I think about it, okara resembles the manna from heaven I heard about as a child. Maybe Yahweh was making tofu up there and tossed his okara down for the sojourners in the desert who were complaining about not having enough to eat. I think a lot of believers are in for a big surprise when they walk through the pearly white gates and find out that all Yahweh makes is tofu. If you want to be happy in heaven, eat tofu every day.

Close to Perfect


I had a feeling this loaf was going to be good. Relaxation is the main ingredient for making bread. After mixing flour from Skagit grown wheat with water and salt, I let the dough relax for twelve hours, folding it a few times as the wheat flour relaxed. After adding my levain, I let it relax another twelve hours, again folding it a few times to see how the dough was rising.

There’s not a lot to making good bread. Most of the time the dough is just relaxing, and I am off doing my own thing. After relaxing for so long, the dough pretty much shapes itself. There is no need to knead, no need to fuss. When it feels like a soft, baby’s butt, the dough is ready to bake. A light coating of olive oil once it comes out of the oven keeps the crust soft enough to cut easily, and yet still crisp and flaky.

I baked a close to perfect loaf of bread today. Our cat, Rusty, had a close to perfect nap.