Superbowl Clam Dip

Seahawks

Richard:  “Those other dips are sorry! This is the best dip in the league!  Put it up against a mediocre dip and that’s what happens!”

Marshawn: “I’m just about that clam dip action, boss.”

In the spirit of the Superbowl frenzy that’s gripping this household (and every other one in the Pacific Northwest…not to mention that other city in the mountains), thought I would share a little recipe that my family has been making since I was a little kid. It’s our favorite game-time treat. Probably (okay, assuredly) not the best for you, but completely worth the little splurge.

Ingredients:  Fresh or frozen steamer clams, razor clams or geoduck body meat (alternately, two cans of chopped clams from the market work just as well); one block of cream cheese (“1/3 less fat” version works fine); yellow onion; Lawry’s seasoned salt; cracked black pepper.

Clam Prep: If using fresh/frozen clams, gently simmer 6-8 oz of clams in a cup of lightly salted water until just done. Drain and reserve cooking liquid. Chop clams coarsely and set aside. If using canned clams, buy the “chopped” version as opposed to “minced.” Open the cans and drain liquid into a separate container to reserve.

Onion:  It only takes a small amount, and the key is to mince the onion so finely that the individual pieces become translucent. About 1/2 teaspoon of the minced onion is all I use, although you can add more to taste.

Dip: Place block of cream cheese in a bowl (it helps if you take it out of the fridge to warm and soften ahead of time, but not necessary) and add the drained, chopped clams and finely minced onion. Hand mix with a fork until smooth. Then gradually add cooking/canning liquid to the cream cheese mixture, stirring as you go. Add liquid until you reach the desired “dip” consistency…it usually takes somewhere between a quarter and half cup of clam liquid per block of cream cheese. You can save leftover clam juice for bloody mary’s, but that’s a whole other story. Stir in a shake or two of Lawry’s seasoned salt to taste, and cracked black pepper if you want. It actually tastes best if you make the dip a day ahead of time and let the flavors mix in the fridge overnight.

Chips:  We’re partial to the “reduced fat” (Ha! Like it matters at this point…but the taste, texture and strength of these chips is perfect for this dip) Ruffles potato chips, although some of the more nutrition-minded people in our family occasionally employ carrot or celery sticks to dip.

That’s about it. I guarantee it’s deliciousness whether you’re into the game or not. In fact, a non-sports fan who wanted to take it to a Superbowl party called about the recipe this morning. Enjoy! And more importantly…GO HAWKS!


Road Repair Crew

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Funny how fast time goes by. I know it’s a cliche, but it seems like just yesterday that Weston was dragging his plastic beach shovel along to “help” fix the road, and now, all of a sudden, he’s graduated to a full-size metal shovel and actually makes the work go faster. Monday we took advantage of the holiday and gorgeous, dry weather (not to mention a healthy surge of adrenaline still lingering from the Seahawks victory) to get out there and fill the pot holes. Seemed especially pressing in light of a recent repair bill for broken front strut and axel on the Honda.

Also, Weston was assigned by his first-grade teacher to do something “helpful to others” on Martin Luther King Day. Fixing the road might fall something short of battling for equality, but I could tell he felt good about working on a project that would make life a little more pleasant for our neighbors.

What really amazed me, though, was how much he can do these days. He went and got the wheelbarrow, loaded at least half the rock and filled a third of the holes on his own. All while maintaining his trademark good cheer and joy in the smallest of things. Now, Weston not only makes the work more fun, but he also makes it twice as efficient. Good man to have on the job.


Stop Pebble Mine Seattle Event

Bristol Rally P…-04A 11x17

The Pebble Mine, a proposed project for the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska, would be a disaster of epic proportions to the last great salmon watersheds on the planet. This is open pit mining at it’s worst, with enormous levels of habitat destruction, cyanide- and heavy-metal laden holding ponds, earthen dams and toxic tailings, all in an extremely active seismic region. The EPA recently released a study of the project, showing that Pebble would put  fish, wildlife, indigenous peoples and their way of life at peril.

A victory for sure, but not a slam dunk. The project is still possible, and Washingtonians have a lot at risk. Beyond the stellar recreational opportunities (I worked as a fishing guide there for five summers), the Bristol Bay commercial fishing industry is valued at $1.5 billion, and of that, $500 million comes directly back to Washington (where a majority of the fishing fleet is based, along with numerous processors, distributors, etc). This money supports more than 5000 jobs in this state. The Pebble Mine puts all of that at serious risk.

So,  our United States Senator, Maria Cantwell, is organizing a rally to stop Pebble and support Washington fishing jobs. It’s this Thursday, appropriately enough, at Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle, at 12:30pm. If you can make it, your presence will make a difference in the statement we’re trying to make: Washingtonians don’t want Pebble to go forward, and we’re serious about it.


More Winter Chores

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Time to deal with the raspberries. Only two months late! I would like to have “winterized” our little home berry patch in November, but work, farm and kid activities (not to mention general laziness) kept getting in the way. So last weekend, I finally made the time to get it done.

Mostly just a matter of pruning back the top third of the Summits (they’ll fruit again on the lower parts of last year’s growth) and getting rid of the Tulameen canes, which only bear fruit once, on two-year old stalks. A little deer net repair (the good stuff is expensive, so I just zip-tied the torn spots), some quick weeding and then a nice, thick layer of composted manure.

It’s not really an ideal place for raspberries (too much shade), but most years our little patch provides enough for delicious pick-and-eat sessions, occasionally more. Is there anything more delightful than fresh-picked raspberries? The Tulameens produce unbelievably great fruit–thumb-sized, sweet, juicy–but the plants themselves struggle here. The Summits grow like crazy, but the fruit isn’t nearly as good. Not sure what to make of it, but I do know a little winter maintenance pays off, and we’re always thankful to have raspberries in the summer.


Still Smokin’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What a happy surprise! I went to turn the compost at the farm, expecting to find it done for the winter after that icy weather last month. Figured I should turn it anyway, but had resigned myself to not seeing any action until spring. While the tractor was warming up, I pulled the tarp off and dug around a bit with my hands. Nothing.

Then, after about ten good scoops with the bucket, I hit pay dirt. Heat. Steam. Actively cooking compost. I was blown away. Must have been the more careful layering we did this fall, with a nice mix of green weeds and leftover sawdust for carbon, along with chicken-coop waste from our neighbor, Chuck. Also, on the advice of another friend, Phil, I had piled it up extra high to give it more mass and downward pressure.

Whatever the cause, I’m stoked. If we can keep it cooking along all winter, even slowly, then ramp it up in early spring, I think we’ll have a huge pile of awesome compost for the veggie beds and to top dress the dahlias and blueberries. Funny, the things you get excited about on a farm.