Friday, October 18, 2019

Pup Camp

Travel is exhilarating, exhausting, amazing, fun, scary and I love it all. Except the actual getting out the door to go. If I didn't have all these 4 legged family members, that bring me more joy than any amount of stress could negate, it would be easy. I worry. Ask any of my house sitters. The list they get can be 3 pages long. Ridiculous things are intentionally left off, and it ain't easy, things like "Bean likes the first bite of his dinner off of a spoon". 
Welcome to my particular kind of pet crazy. Even I can't ask them to do this. Ronnie Chandler's Critter Keepers doesn't need a note from me yet they don't laugh when they get one. When we lost one of our dogs to cancer and had to board Beanie alone Ronnie noticed he wasn't eating enough, she fed him at the counter... by hand. Okay. It wasn't even just once. Then sent me a video of him barking at her to take him upstairs to bed with her. Bossy little thing. He's special. Ronnie treats him like his momma (me) would. Now my precious shy lil Bean, that ONLY loves me, pushes his way in past Kami (Ronnie's daughter) like "get outta my way Kami I'm going in!' We have a new special boy too. CJ is 8 and just came to live with us. He was a little nervous the first couple times then sure enough he shoved his way in on our last visit. Makes going away infinitely easier to know they are cared for in a safe, protected, home atmosphere. Spoiled rotten to boot.

And not just him, Ronnie treats me special too. Everyone there does. Rick and I came home weary from travel to pick up the boys. Exhausted, no food in the house, you know the drill. The whole Chandler family was on the porch having a dinner, Ronnie came around the corner and invited us to eat with them. Who does that? How kind. She saw how tired we were and just sent us on our way with some of  her husband, 'Pop's', fried halibut and daughter Kami's homemade tartar sauce. They had (just the week before) caught this halibut in Alaska. I have never had halibut this good. The crust was perfect, crunchy outside, tender inside, not greasy at all, seasoned to perfection. The tartar sauce was so fresh, crunchy onion and almost like a thousand island tang. I ate all of my share on the way home and Rick was watching to make sure I didn't down his. It was like really coming home. Just treating us like family. Great moments like this make a community. 

Of course they shared both recipes. I would expect nothing less from the Chandlers. 
From Ronnie~
"We were taught to do both by my Mother, Granny Morlan. Pops fish batter is: Mix together.
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp.baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup water
Stir till smooth. Enough batter for 1 pound halibut
Cut fish into small chunks. Dip in batter & fry in hot vegetable oil till golden brown. Drain on paper towels."

From Kami~
"I don't have an exact recipe but here are the's all according to the individuals taste. The base is a jar of miracle whip. Must be miracle whip. Not mayonnaise.  1 diced onion. The rest is to the individuals taste. I start with a little and add more if needed....
Sweet relish
Lemon juice
Garlic powder
Hope you have a great day! Kiss my boys for me."

Thank you Critter Keepers for treating your customers like family. There is no finer business model. 

Meal in a Pumpkin

One October it was clear our kids and grands weren't going to make it up for our annual family outing to the Wemple's Pumpkin Patch. Rick and I found a patch near their home to visit. This place was MASSIVE. Amber alert signs directed traffic, there were zip lines, a train, a corn maze sponsored by some medical center and I'm sure there were pumpkins but I never saw them. We never did this again. Like the Cheers song "sometimes you wanna go where everyone knows your name" -ish. Or at least I know their names. The Wemple's are like Lassen County royalty. Their pumpkin patch is exactly what I NEED to get me in that Fall state of mind. AND Dena, Fred, friends and family have been doing this for 25 years now!

Pumpkins! Gourds! Gift Shop! A corn maze where you really get to know everyone inside cuz you're lost together for so long! FOOOOOODDDDD! Rick and I go out for lunch at least once, gotta get one of Fred's burgers. Now somewhere along the line I remember a dish called Dinner in a Pumpkin. Hearty, savory, perfect for this time of year. I requested the recipe from Dena to share with you. I kinda remembered it being like a stuffed pepper filling. Not at all! Ground beef, ground pork, onion.. WAIT. What's this? Raisins? Stuffed green olives? Vinegar? Are you sure? Didn't sound right but Dena is a fantastic cook so I followed it to the letter. Well that's not exactly true. I baked the filling in assorted hard squash our Produce department cuts and scoops so we don't have to. Amazing dish. Simple, filling and the flavors knock your socks off. 

Meal in a Pumpkin (or single serve hard squash we've already cleaned for you :)

1 small Pumpkin (cleaned like you would for a Jack O Lantern)
Combine the following:
2 tbs oil
2 lbs Ground Beef 
1/2 lb Ground Pork 
2 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs Chopped Onion
2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Vinegar

Brown and drain off fat then add:
3 beaten eggs
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped stuffed green olives
1 8oz can tomato sauce
3/4 cup raisins
1 tsp pepper

Fill pumpkin. Bake 60-70 minutes with lid on pumpkin. Serve. Be delighted! All these crazy, seemingly unrelated ingredients come together in a delectable, comforting dish. 

A couple of notes if your using our prepped squash; butternut takes a long time to get tender, I suggest precooking it a bit. I covered my squash with foil since I didn't have the 'lid'.

Huge Hometown thanks to the Wemple family giving our community the Best Pumpkin Patch on the Planet for 25 years now!

Maud Tombs

Our local historian, Tim Purdy, recently did a story on Maud Tombs. Born 1875, the eldest of 10 children she would become Lassen County's first woman elected to a county wide office. Maud won the race for County Clerk in 1918 and served 7 terms. She was succeeded in 1951 by her daughter Nadene Wemple. Nadene served 4 terms and for over a century now we have always elected a woman to this office. I’d like to point out here that Theresa Nagel, much more recently, represented 20 of those County Clerk years! She even officiated at my daughter’s wedding. Thank you for all those years of service Theresa. You can read lots more about all our local history including Maud's family on Tim's blog, Exploring Lassen County's Past. The blog even has a cool search feature if you're doing some research. Personally I subscribe. It's $5 a month and I learn a TON about this place we all call home.
This story really caught my attention. When Tim was preparing for one of his historical cemetery tours he chose Maud's grave and it was in pretty bad shape. He returned with a pumice stone and with "plenty of elbow grease" it was restored. Tim tries to clean about a dozen a year and even gives a quick tutorial if you need.

Here is what Tim put in his blog back in 2016~ "One project that I am slowly working on is the polishing of headstones. It is slow and tedious but the final result is worth the effort. During the St. Patrick’s Cemetery Tour I did a brief demo on the grave of Minnie Ramsey. The technique is simple, a pumice stone and lots of elbow grease. One can spray the surface with water, but that is a messy procedure, and dissolves the pumice stone quickly. If you want to go the extra mile, once the grime is removed, spray with WD 40. Let it sit for awhile ten minutes or so, and then use a damp cloth to do the final cleaning. This removes any residue of the WD 40, which is necessary otherwise dust, etc would cling to the stone."

What a wonderful showing of volunteerism! Thanks Tim for restoring these vital monuments in our Hometown History!

New Crop Apples

Maybe you know, maybe you don't, apples are harvested in the Fall. Yet we all eat FrEsH, crispy, sweet Washington State apples all year. If the fruit was kept in only cold storage those apples might get us through, maaaaybe, February. But in the 1930s Dr Robert Smock a researcher at Cornell University's Pomology department (yep a whole department) experimented in a barn near campus. Under the barn was a damp basement where he tried different levels of reduced oxygen, evidently apples 'breathe' and this slows their breath. This 'controlled atmosphere' method is still in use today. Fall apples beyond our current needs are loaded into containers and all the oxygen is sucked out. The containers are opened as needed and you can actually have that recommended apple a day straight outta Washington State. In the Fall (like this very minute!) we carry what are known as NEW crop apples. 

I eat apples year round but this time of year is the best with new crop in! Confession~I'm a bit of a food hoarder. Consequently my fruit bowl is loaded with apples in Fall. The extras usually end up baked or saut├ęd with cinnamon sugar or thrown into a simple fast coffee cake recipe I've been using for 30-ish years. If you've seen this recipe posted here in the past let this serve as a reminder :) Otherwise here is the recipe~

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 or 3 apples, the sweeter the better
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Place apple in a bowl, break eggs over top, right on top of that add oil, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts. Stir until well blended. Place all dry ingredients in a sifter together, sift onto apple mixture. Stir just until flour is moist. Mix will seem dry, don’t worry, you have done it right. Spread into pan, bake at 350* for about 45 minutes, test with a toothpick. The top should look dry but the cracks will not. Then top with sifted powdered sugar. Chewy, sweet, deeeeliciousness.

Do you have a recipe for new crop apple you'd like to share? LMK!

Happy Hometown Fall y'all!


Annual Goat Head Bumper Crop

I am writing this in mid-September so for all I know it may be snowing like crazy by mid-October. But. That being said Lassen County TYPICALLY has the best Fall of anywhere on earth. Not that I’ve been everywhere during Fall, or ever, yet let’s look at the record. First of all we have the Wemple Pumpkin Patch, the perfect October kick off. All  those delicious snacks, families picking pumpkins and the Wemples themselves, the embodiment of hospitality. I give that five Maple leaves right there. THEN. If you haven’t been out in the woods to see the quaking Aspen when they turn golden you are missing out. It’s a must see. I cannot imagine anything more Fall-ish.

Here is the only fly in the ointment. Goat heads. Those evil little things that flatten your bike tire or get stuck in your rug only to later cause you great pain. Of course the ones in the carpet can only be found with your bare feet, try as you might to find them with your hands. Even the beloved Pumpkin Patch isn't immune. While on the hayride I witnessed their cow dog running on 3 legs due to goat heads stuck in the 4th paw. Pretty cool dog though, he/she just ran like 'I got this, 3's enough'! AND the only injury bike crash Rick and I ever had was from a goat head. It caused just enough air to leak out of a rear tire that the tandem went out from under us when we turned a corner. Rick broke his collarbone, I suffered some nasty road rash on my leg (that left me with a pretty cool scar :) and it didn't do much for my already nasty attitude toward goat heads.

This is why I believe Lassen National Forest's Don Lepley is a Hometown Hero. Don is a botanist that has for the last several years made it his duty to eradicate this noxious weed along Susanville's Riverwalk neighborhood. He's made great progress too, even widening his one man slaughter on these vile little beasts. Don doesn't do this as part of his job but as a member of our community. He spends his weekends digging, bagging and removing Tribulus terrestris which Don says translates to 'spiky hazard on the ground'. Sounds right. I got a bit of a lesson in botany. Goat heads are an annual, meaning it doesn't return from the root but from a seed. That means you don't have to worry so much about getting the whole root but cleaning up the seeds (actual goat heads) is a must! The seed can lay dormant for like 5 years just waiting to germinate and inflict pain. Don recommends using gloves or stabbing will occur. Of course getting them out of all the fields is too much to hope for but  if we all jump in and care for our own little walking/riding areas we'll help Don make this nicer place for people, pets and wildlife.

Let’s all give this Hometown Hero a helping hand! Thanks for all you do Don Lepley!

Bonus, I've included a few of Don's fabulous flora and fauna photos~

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Breast Cancer Awareness

I'm gonna brag. Last year my daughter, Cyndi, did a 3 day-60 MILE walk for breast cancer. 20 miles a day for 3 days, camping at night. This took a whole lot of training.  Cyndi and her family live in Vacaville where she says "the sun is trying to kill them" so a lot of her training was done here. With me! Yay! Janesville's Wingfield road, Lassen Park, Lake Almanor, fantastic places to walk. Spending time with her is one of the greatest joys of my life. I don't remember how much she and her team raised but I couldn't be prouder of the commitment they all made toward finding a cure. 

We have women in Lassen County that have survived breast cancer and are always willing to share their stories.  So many women, here are two~
Sierra Jewelry owner and survivor, Sherry McBroome. You'd never guess what she's been through to look at her. While traveling back and forth to Reno for Chemo Sherry made blankets. Beautiful blankets. All to be donated to Lassen County Child Advocacy Center. These blankets "will bring comfort to children in Lassen County and that makes her (Sherry) happy". This makes me happy too. 
Then there is the irrepressible Joanne Sturgeon. A two time survivor. She and her family have started a new business, Jefferson Coffee. The coffee is roasted in Janesville, Joanne also makes chocolate covered coffee beans in her home kitchen. Very successful! So now the Sturgeons have added logo mugs. During October they will have PINK mugs to raise awareness for Breast Cancer! 

Banner Lassen has all the latest, greatest 3D mammography equipment and awesome, experienced techs. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month it's perfect time to schedule (or remind your loved one) a mammogram. Plus, all month they offer extended hours AND you get a goody bag with your appointment!  Early detection is everything.

Just a reminder to help us stay Hometown Healthy. Thank you to these Hometown Heroes, I know there are so many more...

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