September 06, 2010

Back in Seattle again | Bathroom dog | Beeen eating | Blueberries in the rain

Here you can see our 17-year-old dog, Buffy, checking out the most enormous motel bathroom I've ever seen. It was so big it had a telephone, sauna and hot tub. (Just kidding about the sauna and hot tub.) But it was big and it did have a telephone. It was in Fargo, North Dakota on our first night of the four-day drive from Madison to Seattle, and Buffy gave it the once over before settling onto one of the beds.

We're back in Seattle, now, but I was reminded of the photo this morning, when we failed to take Buffy outside in time for her morning pee, and she went into the bathroom and peed on the floor. "Bad dog," you're probably thinking, but think again. She COULD have peed in the bed or on the wall-to-wall carpet in the bedroom. But no, she jumped off the bed, went into the bathroom and peed on the floor. Granted, she didn't use the toilet and she did pee on the bath mat, but still. Pretty weird, right?

This post will finish up our summer trip photos before moving on to life and food in Seattle. We took a more northerly route for our return trip, and after Wisconsin and Minnesota, we hit North Dakota, and headed for Fargo. I can't remember what we ate in Fargo — no photos — which is probably not a good sign for what the food was like, but the scenery was cool.

The above photos were taken as we passed through the North Dakota Badlands.

In Montana, somewhere near Billings, we took a detour to view Pompey's Pillar. We couldn't actually enter the fee-required area of the park and walk to the pillar, because dogs weren't allowed, and I wasn't about to leave Buffy alone in a kennel area that the guide said was available someplace in the park. So we gazed upon it from a distance, and walked around in the free parts of the park. Had we been able to view the butte up close, we would have been able to see Native American petroglyphs, as well as the carved signature of William Clark.

William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, climbed the butte, and etched his name and date of visit into the sandstone rock face on July 25, 1806. This is the only piece of tangible, still existing evidence, of Lewis and Clark's journey along this route, now known as The Lewis and Clark Historic Trail, which passes through 11 states. The purpose of the expedition, called the Corps of Discovery, was to search for a water route from the plains of the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean.

The 150 foot high butte was named by Clark after Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, whom Clark had nicknamed Pompy. Pompy was the infant son of Sacagewea, the Shoshoni woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark on the expedition, providing invaluable help to the explorers. Pompey translates to "little chief," in Shoshoni. In 1814, the rock was renamed Pompey's Pillar by Nicolas Biddle, who published an account of the expedition.

Above are two photos I took from the car window as we traveled through Montana; it's so beautiful there. Our second night was spent in Miles City, where we had greasy Chinese food, requiring the use of paper towels before we could eat.

On our third night we stayed in Missoula, and were looking forward to eating at a vegan Indian restaurant we'd read about on Happy Cow. Although still listed in the 2010 phone directory, unfortunately, when we got to the restaurant, it was gone, and in its place was a Mexican eatery. We ended up getting make-your-own salads from the The Good Food Store, and they were pretty tasty — probably a healthier option, too, but I was disappointed. Actually, I was in a really bad mood.

On our last day we entered Eastern Washington and stopped at one of my favorite places to stretch and take photos — the Columbia River Basin.

I still feel squeamish when I think about the boy of about 12 whom I observed scrambling on the high, jagged cliffs, with a straight drop to the river. He was accompanied by his two teen-aged sisters, one of whom finally said, "do you realize you're on the edge of a cliff?" before leaving him and returning to the trail. The boy was wearing flip flops. And where was his mother? She was fiddling with her camera from a nice safe place.


Home again
Once back in Seattle, it was pretty hard to get back into a routine of cooking after so much eating out. It was not just too hard to do the cooking, it was nearly impossible to even think of anything to cook.

In situations like this, I often opt for a brothy bowl of noodles, mushrooms, tofu, kale, potatoes, and carrots.

My husband whipped up a big bowl of my favorite chickpea salad, that I ate for lunch several days in a row.

My son cooked a delicious lunch of broccoli and gyoza. He used a bag of frozen vegan gyoza from Trader Joe's.

We bought a gorgeous bunch of Chinese spinach at the farmers market yesterday, and made lentil soup with rice and spinach.

It was even better today for lunch when I added leftover corn cut from the cob, and avocado slices.


Picking blueberries in the rain

If someone had invited me to go blueberry picking on a rainy day last year, I probably would have declined. I associate picking fruit with sunshine and warm days. But after a year in rain city, I must have adapted slightly, because yes, I did go blueberry picking in the rain. I didn't have an umbrella, but I did wear a rain jacket. Blueberry picking is tedious because the berries are so darn small. It takes forever to accumulate a reasonable amount in the bucket. My hands were wet and cold by the time we left, and my bucket was a sad, empty thing. I managed to freeze two quarts, but that was far less than I'd hoped. Maybe if the sun shines again, I'll go back to Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm in Bellevue. It seems to be in a public park, which I can't quite figure out.

You can see there were lots of ripe berries on the bushes, but picking them is slow going because of their small size. It seemed that no matter how much I picked, the bucket remained nearly empty. I had visions of picking a supply for the winter, but that would have required more hours and patience than I could manage. We used to easily pick 30 pounds or more of strawberries, and I didn't realize how different it was to pick blueberries.
Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all fruits and are recognized for their positive effects on heart health, lowering cholesterol and strengthening the immune system. They have also been studied for their ability to reduce stomach fat. Besides their health benefits, they're delicious additions to smoothies, breakfast cereal, muffins, cobblers and other desserts, as well as a low-calorie (80 calories per cup) snack eaten out-of-hand.

The farm uses "organic practices" whatever that is, and from the looks of things, they don't use slug pesticides. There was a slug convention taking place in the fields, and Pacific NW slugs are impressive.


You can win a case of four new Larabar flavors by visiting Katy's blog. And who wouldn't want a case of those? I do!


  1. The scenery really is gorgeous! And was that an actual rattlesnake I saw behind the rattlesnake sign? Gaawww!

    Nice to see that you could find motels that allow dogs, too. I always miss our Girls when we go to Montreal (there is one hotel that allows pets, but the restrictions are so many that it's not any fun to bring them).

    And I could go for a bowl of that noodle soup, too!

  2. Welcome back! It looks like quite the adventure you had. It's always good to be back in your own kitchen, the bowl of noodles looks great! I would have thought blueberry season to be over by now. Definitely would be much nicer picking if it was sunny. :-)

  3. Clearly Buffy chose to make your life easier by going on the one thing that would be the easiest to clean! Smart girl.

  4. Buffy seems like a very clever dog! :) I just lost my dear, old dog at the age of nearly 16 years (he was a Labrador, much bigger breed than Buffy, so it was a very high age for him). As he got older, I felt he grew so wise that the only thing he finally lacked was the ability to speak. It seemed that he had gained so much life experience that he "laughed" at the mistakes his younger doggy friends made. He might observe them trying to solve a trick, lying half-asleep at a distance and looking lazy and uninterested himself; and then, when the young ones got tired and gave up, he'd casually walk over, solve the trick without hesitation, and enjoy the treat. :-D

  5. Welcome home! I traveled a lot this summer and it through my cooking routine off, as well. Hope to find a groove in the next few weeks.

    The chickpea salad looks great!

  6. Gorgeous pictures! Your summer trip sounds like it was a lovely one. I bet it was nice getting back into the kitchen to make your own meals. Whenever I go away I miss being able to cook for myself.

  7. Ricki,
    That's just a shadow, not a rattlesnake. Ken thought he heard a rattlesnake while walking Buffy so he came right back.

    We found dog-friendly motels everywhere, but traveling with Buffy is very different from traveling without her. We can't leave her alone in a motel room so we can't go anywhere she can't go, including out to dinner. But, this wasn't a sightseeing trip, and it was nice to have her along.

    Chow Vegan,
    Unfortunately, my "own" kitchen, and the one I feel comfortable cooking in, is the one in Wis. I thought blueberries were a June fruit, but the bushes were full with plenty more ripening soon.

    Yay, Buffy. She's my girl!

    So sorry to hear about your loss. He sounds like he was a wonderful companion and friend. Losing a dog is so sad.

    I think my kitchen storage needs a major reorganization before I'll be comfortable cooking again. I can't seem to find anything!

    I wish I could move my Madison kitchen here! It seems so much easier to cook there than here. And easier to find things!

  8. Your pictures are gorgeous! We hope to go to the badlands some day! Looks like a fun trip! It's always nice to get back home, but always so hard to get back into the groove of cooking again. Glad you had a safe trip! :o)

  9. I am shocked you found a place with a bathroom that large in Fargo, ND. Who would have thought...Fargo!?! And I think Buffy is brilliant to go into the bathroom to pee--it makes perfect sense :-) It looks like there was tile floor in the bathroom? She was doing you a favor by not going on the carpet, lol.

    You should have honked as you drove through MN...we could have gone to lunch at French Meadow or Ecopolitan or something!

    I am glad you had a safe trip :-)

  10. Welcome back. Okay, for someone who can't think of what to cook, you (and your family) did pretty well;-)

    Those PNW slugs are amazing. In Victoria, British Columbia, where I went to school, you'd regularly see slugs a foot long. You could literally hear them moving through the grass. For a prairie girl, used to the one-inch garden variety, this was something! And yes, there's a soft spot in my heart for slugs. I just like them.

    Your pictures are beautiful...

  11. Thanks, Michelle. The Badlands that people usually refer to are in South Dakota. I didn't even realize they were in North Dakota, too. My geography knowledge is sadly lacking.

    I was pretty shocked by the bathroom, too. I think the movie by the same name gave people a certain "feeling" about Fargo. :)

    I wish we would have had time for a meetup in MN. Maybe next time.

    I was shocked by the slugs I saw in Vancouver, when we once spent six weeks there. I didn't even recognize them as slugs until, looking closer, I turned one over to see what it was. Surprise, surprise!

  12. buffy is too cute. i know what you mean about blueberry picking being tedious...huckleberry picking is even worse, they're smaller and not as well clumped-together on the branches. it took me two hours to pick a pound of huckleberries. two quarts sounds like a bounty to me.

  13. Aww, poor Buffy! I'm glad she didn't go on the carpet!

    Your pictures are beautiful and they remind me of the one area of the country where I actually don't mind all the traveling. Did you happen to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Miles City? Did you see my horse? :D

    I always wonder what it must have been like for the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition when they first saw a massive herd of buffalo. Have you seen their journals online? Interesting stuff, especially what's legible! :)

  14. Emily,
    Obviously, I'll never be able to go huckleberry picking. The one good thing I can say about blueberries (as opposed to raspberries and blackberries) is they don't have thorns.

    We stayed at the Best Western. We had to stay where pets were welcome, and they are not allowed at the Holiday Inn. I couldn't remember where your horse was, but I kept looking for him when we poked around town.

    I keep thinking about your p-nut butter and p-nut butter cups, and will probably have to make some. I just wish I'd brought my mini muffin pans back from Wis. Darn.

    Will check out the L & C journals.

  15. What a gorgeous landscape! It looks pretty dry compared to what I am used to here in germany, but it's still beautiful.
    Oh and I'd love some of those gyozas!

  16. Hi Andrea, nice pictures from the trip! I wish I can do such a trip in the future. :-)

    How's the gyoza (I think it's the Korean pronunciation), 饺子(jiaozi) in Chinese?A couple of weeks ago, a few friends from China got together and we made 饺子together. They were really good. We made the fillings and wrapped and boiled. Of course, we bought the dough to wrap. I know some friends can even make the dough themselves. Next time, when you come to visit, I'll try to make 饺子 for you.

  17. Mihl,
    I just love the landscape at the Columbia River Basin as well as Montana and Wyoming. I've never been to Germany but it looks so beautiful in photos.

    The gyoza were good, but not as good as homemade!

  18. Hey, those photos are beautiful, and educational, too! I thought of Badlands in South Dakota only, but I guess I just haven't traveled enough!

  19. Hi Iam Prabhu from chennai,joined today in this forum... :)

  20. Mihl,
    I just love the landscape at the Columbia River Basin as well as Montana and Wyoming. I've never been to Germany but it looks so beautiful in photos.

    The gyoza were good, but not as good as homemade!

    Thanks! I thought the Badlands were only in South Dakota, too, but I guess not.

    Welcome, and thanks for reading.

  21. Hi Andrea,

    I'm a new reader to your blog and all of the food looks FANTASTIC. I can't wait to start experimenting with some of the dishes. In the photo you posted of the soup consisting of mushrooms, tofu, kale, potatoes, and carrots, do you have a recipe for that? I've just started cooking with kale and this soup looks like a great, easy meal to make.

    Thanks so much!!


  22. Casey,
    Thanks for reading and commenting! I don't have a recipe for this specific soup, but there are other similar recipes, just substitute kale for the other greens. Kale might take a few extra minutes to become tender so keep that in mind. Go to the recipe tab and under "soups," and try the hot and sour soup. Or make dashi with dried shiitake mushrooms — that's what I often do. Also, look at Zoa's blog, The Airy Way ( She has lots of recipes for hot pots that you might like. I'll have to put together a recipe for a kale soup, soon.


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