Salt and Pepper Mountain

b.story 11.02.25 Grandma and Grandpa

My grandmother used to always say that she had “salt and pepper hair.” She had the cutest smile and a wry sense of humor. She also had the biggest heart and gave out the best hugs. Oh, and she was a fabulous cook! Another of her sayings went “Your mother can sew and your other grandmother can knit. All I can do is cook.” But cooking was everything.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of spending summer vacations with her and my grandfather at their vacation house on Hood Canal, Washington.  My grandfather built his home by hand in 1950.  At 24 feet by 24 feet the home is little, but the space is big.  We have been known to pack seven teen-agers and their sleeping bags into the living room for a night.  The door was always open to me, my family and my friends… usually with the smell of split-pea soup wafting through.

The inside of the house is small, in part, because the outdoors are so big.  A spacious patio, which serves as a summer-time living room, kitchen and dining room, looks out across ‘the Canal’ to the majestic Olympic Mountains.  The tidal body of salt water provides hours of swimming and boating pleasure.  The rocky, muddy beach is our playground and science lab.  Little rock crabs, strings of seaweed, smooth rocks with bumpy barnacles, spiral shells, clam shells, oyster shells… these were our playthings.

Underneath a layer of dried salt my skin would turn red as I drifted lazily in my raft upon the water.  (Yes, of course my mother warned me about the dangers of sunburn, but as a teenager I couldn’t be troubled and believed I was invincible!)  The water, being tidal, is only ‘swimmable’ for a portion of every day.  This meant that our days were organized around the pull of the sun and the moon and its effect on our waters.

And when we tired of the beach and her wealth of offerings, my grandfather would take us across the road to the forest where we would look for berries, talk about the trees and wander along the rocky stream.

This was my child-hood and it was good.

It is amazing how truly pervasive these memories can be.  They fill our hearts and minds and make a showing when we least expect it.

My husband and I took our children up to Mt. Hood last weekend. I was awed by the sheer splendor of the mountain and its towering trees. The white mass against the blue sky. The boughs of the trees bending under the weight of the snow. The texture of tree against the backdrop of snow. Looking out across the forested wilderness, I thought of, and missed terribly, my Grandma with her ‘salt and pepper hair.’

Week 7 – Tangelo, Walnut Green Salad

b.salad 11.02.18 tangelo
I have been searching and searching for a salad using citrus. But I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, until I stumbled across this recipe. Citrus season is about over, but I had to give this salad a try and I was so glad I did. This salad, using common winter ingredients, speaks…

Small Spaces

b.vegfruit 11.02.18 radish
I think I have said it before, but I will say it again. We have a really small yard. It is a typical city lot, but in Portland that means SMALL. Compared to the open, spacious property where my husband grew up in his small, mid-west hometown or the family-friendly yard where I grew up…

Week 6 – Salad Lyonnnaise

b.salad 11.02.14 lyonnaise
I realize the cliché in telling the story of a French salad on Valentine’s Day. But the fact remains that some of my favorite memories shared with my husband have taken place in France. This salad reminds us of those long leisurely dinners that are more about the delightful setting and wonderful conversation then a…

Heart Rocks

b.story 11.02.11 heart rocks
I have a friend who says that if you are going to classify people, you could put them in one of two groups… mountain people and ocean people. Now, some might argue that there could be dessert people and forest people and plains people and perhaps even swamp people. The intention is not to tumble…


b.story 11.02.09 crocus
The first sign of spring from my little garden…

Week 5 – Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad

b.salad 11.02.07 black bean corn
I love watching football. Graduating from the University of Oregon, I am an avid Duck football fan. My husband is a native Cheesehead and a true Packer fan. 2010 was a good year for the green and gold! For some reason, whenever we arrange a football watching party I get a craving for Mexican food.…

So Many Choices

b.vegfruit 11.02.04 carrot
So, I remember now why I resist planning out my vegetable garden. I forgot, again, how many choices there are!! Let’s take carrots as a for instance. At my supermarket, I can choose organic carrots that have been grown locally or shipped from someplace far away. At my farmer’s market, the choices expand exponentially. I…