Gratitude

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We pushed through the prickly salmonberries and crouched on the mossy bank of a tiny, local stream. Skyla and Weston knelt  at waters edge, watching. In front of them, lying in a nearly still pool, a female chum salmon held in the clear water. It seemed miraculous, this big, ocean fish in a stream that seemed too small to hold even trout. And that she’d made it here, deep in the woods, having survived all the perils of the open sea. And now, she’d made her way back to spawn where she was born.

We crouched there for a long time, just watching, until finally, the salmon summoned her strength and pushed upstream leaving a trail of silt in her wake. We felt lucky to have seen her.

A small thing, really, but I’m thankful for it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Eagle Harbor Books This Saturday

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Just a quick reminder, I will be “working” as a bookseller at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island this Saturday from 3:00 to 5:00pm. My fellow guest booksellers during the day will include David Guterson, Lance Weller, Jonathan Evison, Jennie Shortridge, Garth Stein, Carol Cassela, Rebecca Wells, Kelli Russell Agodon and more. Pretty much a Who’s Who of local and regional big-time authors…and me.

If you’re looking for signed and/or inscribed books for holiday gifts, this a great opportunity to find something for everyone on your list. Come on down and support your local indie bookstore on Small Business Saturday.


Blaze Of Glory

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With last week’s hard frost, our dahlia season has come to an end. But what a season. After a slow start, they really started rolling in late August, and picked up steam as autumn progressed. As you can see in this picture taken just a couple of weeks ago, the flowers  kept getting bigger and brighter as the days grew colder and grayer.

I’m going to miss seeing the dahlias brightening the farm and our kitchen, not to mention sharing them with friends and customers. But I’m already looking forward to their return next summer.


Duck Charcuterie

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This was a new experiment of trying to create a kind of wild game charcuterie, but without the three-month waiting and drying period. I started with 38 duck breasts and four from large Canada geese (thanks, Smarty!) that I rinsed and trimmed of any skin or damaged meat. I wanted something dry, savory and flavorful rather than just cooked. I brined the ducks and geese in a mix of apple juice, kosher salt, brown sugar and water for about 30 hours then patted them dry and put ’em in the smoker at a relatively low temperature.

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Here’s the result: Dense, firm, slightly smoky, with a highly concentrated duck/goose flavor. Kind of a cross between smoked ham and prosciutto. I think it came out delicious–but I’m the only one in the family who likes it. And I’ve been eating it pretty much nonstop since it came out of the smoker. Next batch I’m going to smoke longer at an even lower temperature for more of a cured texture. In the mean time, I’m  headed into the house to eat a little more.


Winter Prep

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Ahead of what looks to be the first solid freeze of the year tonight, Weston and I spent a few hours winterizing the farm irrigation system. Mostly just a matter of draining all the lines and filters, opening the gate valves and looking for anywhere else water might be trapped. Easy work, made more fun by having my “assistant” on the job. And I think he liked it, too, since it’s a job where he can actually do a majority of the work himself.

In the picture above, he’s opening the ends of the drip lines in the dahlia field to drain that part of the system. Won’t be long before he and Skyla can handle the whole job on their own.

Chilly here today–just a light frost last night, but it never melted in our yard. Just finished stacking some bigger fir logs and even a few pieces of our coveted “cold weather” madrona by the back door. Looks like we’re going to need it tonight. Stay warm, everyone. Feels like winter.