Thursday, June 9, 2011

La peninsula bonita

Yo! Sorry that things have been a little quiet around here recently--I just have a lot going on this month finishing up a paper, searching for a new apartment, figuring out a lot of stuff with respect to grad school, getting ready for a trip to Montreal, and maybe a kajillion other things at any given moment. Also, because I'm going to have to pack up all my kitchen stuff sometime in the next three weeks, I don't have any particularly ambitious cookery planned. Mostly I'm just trying to use up all of my frozen goods, because as you know, I am seriously a stock hoarder. Three quarts down, seven more to go. Beef risotto tonight?

I did promise that I would finish telling you about my Seattle trip. I'm not sure there's much to say outside of hazelnuts. No, really, a lot did end up happening. Saturday, after picking up our rental car at the airport (which resulted in my name being written into the Seattle Metropolitan Transit Authority Noncompliance Watchlist--seriously, who knew you needed a different ticket? not Shana), Shana and I took a little trip to Joule and then a big trip to the Seattle Rock Orchestra to watch her roommate play in an concert of "early Queen music". I am a huge Queen fan and hearing all of these songs backed up by a full orchestra was just astounding. I kind of forgot just how strange early Queen was... just really bizarre, really theatrical, over-orchestrated, over-harmonized metal/music-hall fusion that is about magical kingdoms half the time. Seriously, nobody else has ever sounded like that, before or since. The highlight was definitely The Prophet's Song, which was already one of my favorite songs from A Night At The Opera, and was handled very capably by the night's best vocalist, who even brought his own voice delay doohickey.

The next morning we set off on a ferry--not a fairy--for the Olympic Peninsula, where we spent three days hiking and two nights camping out among the sea stacks of Rialto Beach, the thick hanging mosses of the Hoh Rainforest, and the pristine spruce forests along the Sol Duc River. I commented to Shana that I remember being really enchanted by the Pacific Northwest when I was in third grade or something. The trees went all the way up to the sea! They grew so tall that you couldn't even see the tops! There were these weird stacks in the middle of the ocean! And, indeed, that's exactly what it all looked like--exactly like the picture I remember from my third grade social studies textbook, made even more romantic after spending two decades in the back of my mind.

All that and a wild morel growing in the middle of a rainforest. Shana appears something of an amateur mycologist now, so she took note of the temperature, the humidity, the elevation, the associated flora. We didn't end up finding anymore but it was definitely cool watching her identify all kinds of plant matter on the forest floor and hearing about her clamdigging on the Oregon coast.

The good news is that we did not run out of food and have to resort to wild morels or foraged clams for our last day on the peninsula. In fact, we had bought exactly the right amount. Exactly. Every last curd of cheddar cheese, every seed of cucumber, every cluster of granola, every sour cherry, every drop of hazelnut butter, every slice of vollkornbrot, every leaf of arugula. Okay, I think there was some couscous leftover and maybe a couple oats, but that's it. The last chive blossom went on top of the mix of braising greens, couscous, and various seasonings that you see above. All in all I was pretty proud, as it was six or seven tasty meals cooked on a backpacking stove, all for the low price of about $20 in ingredients. Okay, plus $21 in hazelnuts.

And even better, one month out from the week-long trip to Glacier that I'm taking with Jeff, I honed a lot of my rules and techniques for simple, tasty, easy-to-pack, bear-resistant, healthy eating in the woods. Here are some off the top of my head: braising greens are great; bring a nut butter that is solid at room temperature; pack plastic wrap under the lid of any jar that might spill; tortillas and dense seedy breads are best for sandwiches. The only thing we were perhaps lacking was a little salami. Jeff and I are going to take a day in Glacier to go eat gigantic bison steaks or whatever tourists eat in Montana, so this shouldn't be a big problem for us.

All in all, my trip to Seattle was fantastic and delicious; everything I took in with my eyes and my ears as well as with my mouth just left me feeling becalmed and took me away from everything else in my life that I was worrying about (and that I'm still worrying about now). But then again how can you worry about endoglucanases and apartment hunting when you're sitting in a green valley listening to a waterfall munching on hazelnuts? Shana is moving to Los Angeles next year to start law school, so--catch you later, Northwest; hello, Joshua Tree!

No comments:

Post a Comment