Happy Easter

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Today was Easter!  We did some things the same as usual, but many things differently this year.  The first thing we did today, was to go to church.  The service was amazing, the music inspiring, and the worship marvelous.  Easter is one of the most special days of the year to be at church, and we also had the pleasure of 4 of our children with us this year.

After service was over, things got very different.  On a normal year, we have between 20-40 people over for Easter dinner.  This year, many of the relatives were out of town, or going to other relatives’ houses.  Also, because we are selling our home, it is in “perfect” condition, and we didn’t want a big mess to clean up.  Although we did not expect anyone to want to view it on Easter, we hope that some more people will this week.  We decided to drive over to the beach, instead.  The 3 girls who still live at home went with us.

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Our first stop was at Mo’s.  If you live here in Oregon, you know all about Mo’s.  If not, it is a restaurant (they actually have 4 of them along the coast) that we have enjoyed for many, many years.  They serve clam chowder, shrimp in all forms, and other seafood, along with hamburgers and other items.  We teased our daughter, Lovana, that she would have chicken strips because that is all she would ever order for her entire childhood.  She chose a salad and fries today:)  I guess since she is turning 20 this week, her tastes have changed.

During our lunch, we were able to enjoy the view of the water, a man flying 2 kites at the same time, another man throwing sticks for his very eager dog, and children and families digging in the sand.  They must have been very determined to be down on the beach, because it was COLD!  This is Oregon, but today, it felt like Alaska to us.

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We decided to drive down the coast a ways.  This is the Boiler Bay Oregon State Park wayside.  We got out of the van and enjoyed the view for a few minutes, at least some of us did.  The rest huddled in the van after a few short moments, shivering.

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A few miles south, we arrived at Depot Bay.  A couple of the girls huddled in the van some more while we got out and looked around.  There is a spouting horn in Depoe Bay, but the tide wasn’t in far enough to make it spout very much while we were there.

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The waves were very rough, though, and they were fun to watch.  The weather cooperated with us for a while, and although the wind cut right through our coats, it did not rain at that time.

At the magic words “candy store” the 2 frozen princesses suddenly came to life and eagerly joined us on our trek to find some sea foam candy.  We bought what they had left at the first candy store, 3 pieces, and got some from the next store as well, along with some cheesy popcorn.  At that point, the girls got into the van again, and Rob, Patsy and I went into the whale watching center.

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We have been at the center many, many times, but Patsy wanted to go in.  The center is free, and has stations where you can learn about the various kinds of whales that migrate along the Oregon Coast.  Some take up residence for part of the year off the coast of Oregon, but some are going from Alaska to Baja California and back again.  Today, they had seen 3 whales earlier in the day, but there were none sighted during the time we were there.  We have seen whales before, there and in other places, but the wonder of seeing them has never left us, and we are always eager to get another chance to spot one.

After that, we headed back north, stopping a few times to enjoy looking at the ocean, and eventually headed home.  It turned out to be a very happy Easter, indeed.

Wildflowers

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We recently took Patsy to the zoo.  While we were walking around, several wildflowers caught our eye.  Of course, this one is Oregon Grape, the state flower of Oregon.  There were many bushes blooming all around the zoo.

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This one is Bleeding Heart.

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White Trillium in full bloom is a lovely, peaceful sight.

We really enjoyed our time at the zoo.  Although it did rain on us periodically, we were able to use umbrellas and stay for several hours.  There were many more flowers blooming as well.  Spring has certainly sprung!

Macaroni Pizza in the Camper

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When I cook in the camper, I rely on my stockpile of basic food items that I keep in there.  I also try to buy a few vegetables and salad ingredients before we take off to enjoy.  Still, it isn’t as large as a selection as I have at home.  On this last camping trip, I had to make some creative changes in my menu.

I had made some nice little pizza crust mixes and stored them in the camper a few weeks ago.  I planned to make pizza with one of them, and brought everything I needed.  I THOUGHT!  Much to my dismay, I forgot the yeast.  So, I had to change plans mid-stream.  Patsy was already grating cheese when I discovered this mistake, and that’s a girl who likes her pizza.  I remembered that I had made macaroni pizza long ago and tried to remember what I had done so long ago.

I pulled some quinoa corkscrew pasta from the cupboard and boiled 1/2 box, according to the package directions.   I left it al dente.Any pasta will do, I am just limited to gluten-free kinds.  I did not want leftovers as we were returning home soon after making this meal.  I sprayed a bread pan with non-stick spray and put the cooked pasta in it.

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I covered the pasta with 1/2 can of tomato sauce and sprinkled it with parmesan cheese.

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I put the remaining sauce in a baggie, can and all.  This is how I store runny things in the camper fridge, for the most part—-really sealed up tight.  I’ve had things jump out at me when we reached our destination, and it’s not pleasant to have a 1/2 jar of dill pickles all over the camper floor, or anything else for that matter.  To help with the shifting, especially on the trip home when we’ve eaten a lot of food, I pack the spaces with the dirty dish towels, as long as they are just damp.

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I keep 2 small baskets stacked in the cupboard with things like spices and baking soda.  I use small containers I bought years ago at yard sales.  So, I sprinkled the sauce with Italian seasoning to impart a “pizza” flavor.

Then, I added the toppings we had on hand.  Any toppings could be used.  I start with whatever kind of cheese I have.  A leftover crumbled hamburger, the last of a can of pineapple, some olives, leftover peppers or mushrooms, some ham from breakfast, etc.–it all works.

I baked the casserole for 20 minutes in the camper oven, and we enjoyed it very much.  This could be doubled and cooked in the kitchen oven at home, as well.  You could spread the toppings out more, too, if you were trying to be economical–I was trying to use things up!  It sure was yummy, though.IMG_2296

We had it with home-canned green beans and cantaloupe.

Rob’s Way of Campfire Cooking

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When Rob cooks over a fire, he builds it carefully, in a certain way.  First, he starts a fire, using kindling, as normal, and then adds larger wood chunks.  He lets that burn for a while, until coals start forming on the larger pieces of wood.  Then, he carefully moves the coals under the grate, and pushes the larger (still burning) pieces to the end of the fire pit. He then feeds the coals with small pieces of wood he has cut down, a few at a time.  He wants to keep the fire going, but he needs to keep the heat down where he is going to be cooking.  As he also feeds fuel to the larger pieces of wood as well, they generate more coals, which can then be pushed under the grate as needed.  This takes both time and patience.  Starting your fire an hour before you want to cook would not be too early.  You really want a good bed of coals to cook on so the food is cooked evenly and not burnt on the outside or raw in the middle.

He has an old rack from a discarded barbecue that he takes with us whenever he wants to do fire cooking.  It has a smaller distance between the grates, and doesn’t let food fall through as easily as the larger, provided rack does.  He also can raise and lower the rack to keep the heat even, using rocks and sticks.

We have even taken old cookie-cooling racks to use in the past, when we were backpacking.  Rob propped them up on rocks out in the forest.

Rob puts the grill rack onto the fire and heats it up.  Then, he cleans it off with newspaper.

Once everything is set up, and the coals are hot, you add the food.  If you are using skewers, you do need to soak them in water first.  Otherwise, they catch on fire.  He also keeps some water nearby to pour onto the coals to keep the temperature down, if needed, and to put out any burning skewers, etc.  If you have long-handled tongs to move the food around with, that is great.  If not, 2 sticks will work.  A pot holder is a handy thing to have on hand, as well.  If you were far out in the wilderness, a shirt or other piece of  clothing could be used.  BUT, you do need to use something to protect hands and fingers, especially if you are showing kids how to do this.  Clearly, fire cooking is done on a fire…….

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There are several methods Rob likes to use in fire cooking.  Kabobs can be cooked on skewers.  He makes chicken and other meat straight on the grill.  This chicken was marinated in a purchased marinade, then cooked over the fire.  Tin foil is another favorite method.  The potato that is shown was cooked in foil down in the coals the day before, and is just being warmed up for dinner.  They can be put directly in the coals, but the skins are more edible when wrapped in foil. The foil packet is a good way to do foil dinners and  vegetables.  It holds cauliflower in this picture.  He also uses foil to make a little “pan” when he wants to cook something delicate, like fish, that might fall apart into the fire.  Last, but not least, is the time-honored method of simply poking the food with a stick and roasting it over the fire.  That is the fastest, and most used method at our campfire!

Campfire cooking is a skill that takes patience and practice.  But, for us, it is worth the time and energy to gather around a campfire and take a step back in time as we enjoy our dinner outside, while also enjoying the sights and sounds of nature around us, and each other’s company.  You also can’t beat the clean-up!

What have you been cooking on a fire lately?

 

 

Detroit Lake Campground Trail

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The trail around the Detroit Lake Oregon State Park campground was easy and fun.  About 2 years ago, we had camped there, and they were just building it.  We hiked around, but there were some interesting parts where we were on the edge of a steep bank, walking in little creeks, etc.  Now, it is all finished and was a good hike.   There are stairs like these to get around some of the worst spots, now, and cute little bridges to cross the creeks.

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On our recent camping trip, we hiked different parts of the trail on different days.   One side runs along HWY 22, inside a fence, and curves between the campsites and the road.  The other side of the trail goes along Detroit Lake itself.  It makes a loop.

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On the west end, you can see Mt. Jefferson peeking out between the hills.  Right now, the lake is pretty low, because it is a reservoir, and they let the water in and out as needed.

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On one of our hikes, we witnessed a male Canada goose chasing away others from “his” territory and mate.  On other trips, we saw many, many baby geese.  It’s just too early for that, yet.

It would be a good hike to take if, even if you were just passing through the area on the way to Central Oregon.  I think you would have to pay the day-use fee, though, if you parked in the campground itself.  Of course, when you are camping, it’s included.IMG_0790

This picture is from a couple of years ago, but I’m sure the sight will be repeated this spring, as usual.  I cannot tell you how cute the babies were to see in person–we enjoyed them.  Detroit Lake Campground will always hold a special place in our hearts, since it is the first place we ever took Patsy camping.  It has been heartwarming to see how she has learned to enjoy it so much when we all go together.

Camping at Detroit Lake Campground

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Detroit Lake is nippy at this time of year!  The snow is quite low on the surrounding hills. None-the-less, we enjoyed last evening and this morning camping there.  It was a great time to have a camper with a heater.  We went up for the night, before returning home for a 4H event today, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

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When we got to the campsite, and set up, it was still light, due to daylight savings time.  Lovana really wanted to roast dinner, but the hot dog buns were frozen in the camper.  I had other things planned for dinner, but was glad to change plans, since she was able to come with us.  Rob thawed the buns over the campfire.  It worked well.

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We cut up veggies, roasted hot dogs, and of course, s’mores.  It was very pleasant around the fire.

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Easy, quick and fun!  I’ll try to get some good pictures of the lake posted soon.

March 4H Day–Emergency Preparedness Presentation by the Red Cross

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This month, there were so many children or parents sick that we had less than half of our 4H group that was able to come to the meeting.  Things looked a little different as a result. After all, less children means less parents to teach classes, so we grouped the members together into 2 groups instead of 3 or 4, and did lots of united learning.  We cancelled some classes altogether.

One class that everyone attended was a class with a speaker from the Red Cross.  This gentleman had slides to show to the children and parents and spoke about preparing for disasters.  He let the kids know that they could expect things like floods, earthquakes and tsunamis in Oregon, as well as fires and accidents of other sorts.  Then he explained how to prepare for those times of disaster.  He had an entire 72 hour kit that he laid out for everyone to study and some handouts.  The kids and parents seemed to enjoy the presentation and learn from it.

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One thing I did not know before was that the Red Cross will bring free fire alarms to your house and install them for you.  We already have some, but I will certainly keep that little tidbit of information in mind.

We did cook in the kitchen this month, a few girls did work on their sewing a bit, we had one presentation, this presentation by the Red Cross, lunch, and then everyone went home.  It was a very low-key day, but it turned out fine.  Hopefully, everyone will get better quickly.