Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth! Walla Walla Sweet Onions and Cast Iron cooking

Happy Fourth of July everybody!! The Fresh Pioneer is back in the cafe and we're still frolicking somewhere on the west side of the state.
 See? This is frolicking. Best done in a meadow of buttercups. But it's week two. maybe we're ready to come home! We love the Fourth of July fireworks on the beach. We light a big driftwood fire, watch the fireworks, walk home with sand in our pants and marshmallows stuck to our sandals.
 We'll also be eating the best ice cream in the state at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. (Yes, I know it says Cheese factory. And we eat about a 2lb loaf of it a week, but I'm telling you... the ice cream is really where it's at.)
Last year we decided to collect sea glass instead of agates and shells, in order to preserve the natural beauty of the coast. 
Our marimos love the sea glass! (Click the link to learn about marimos. Maybe I've mentioned them before. My 11 year old asked for some for his birthday last year. They are endlessly entertaining! Well, entertaining because people are always asking what they are. )
 We'll be sad to be leaving all this dry desert land behind...
 Well, maybe not really. I love the barns, but I'm looking forward to the lower temps. Eighty sounds perfect to me!
 We find so many sea creatures. It's one of our favorite educational trips!
My poor son is hoping to be reunited with Seaweeda, his first true love. She was sort of a drifter, went with the flow, ya know? (Her favorite dance was The Wave, of course.) She always said she was so healthy but she seemed a bit green to me.
I'm excited to be back in my converse. At 110F, it's sandal weather and I miss my fun shoes. My friend Christalee sent me a teal pair, too. Sometimes I wear one of each. My two favorite colors!
 But last weekend we went into Walla Walla to look at the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival. This building just caught my eye. Lovely bones. There's also a giant graffitti sign that reads "Where is Your God?"  Love these college towns. So philosophical.
Here are my kids, conned into some hard labor again. My oldest daughter has definitely inherited her father's hands. Yikes!
 We bought a ten lb bag of sweet onions for $6. Mmmm. I made chicken and onion enchiladas tonight... with Tillamook cheese, of course! Locally made tortillas, local chicken, and home made sauce. Doesn't get any better... unless it's ice cream, of course.
 So, this doesn't look like much but this here is the best sausage in town.
 Their little truck. Again, doesn't look like much but YUMMY. And they have ten kinds of mustard from which to choose.
 File this under "Americans playing with their food". It's one of our little games, trying to spot people playing with their food. Not eating it, just playing. And here we have a sweet onion basketball game! There were onions all over the sidewalk.
Not sure what these were but my boys found them endlessly entertaining.
 The thinking frog. I think he's actually wondering why he's out in the sun instead of in a pond where it's cool.
 This little town has some beautiful old signs
We still have a candy company here that makes home made chocolates and sweets, but it's down the other direction.
 And the columnar basalt that's all over the hills here makes some nice decoration. And yes, that is a Burger King crown. My husband took the kids to BK and my six year old wore his crown for three days straight. We all know how delicious BK is, right? Hmmm... And he also got orange soda. That's why my kids love my husband MORE.
 I think this is an old coal chute. Or maybe a hatch where the monsters emerge. Either one.
Hey, an actual hole in the wall. 
Now, we're to the cast iron part of the post. I have a bunch of cast iron. And I had no idea how to take care of it. Honestly... it was a mystery. And somehow it ended up in the cabinet, pushed way to the back. THEN I was introduced to the best thing ever. The Cast Iron Cooking facebook page! 170,000 people who love cast iron and cooking! It's fascinating. I think we've been over this but I STILL love them. They're so helpful and kind. And never snark at me for letting a pan get to this point.
Or like this. UGH. 
 Well, I started to season and clean them like the facebook page directed and sadly, I discovered this old griddle had a crack.
 Both sides, all the way down. So, I'm don't think it's safe to use, but I'll use it as a lid on the skillet,just to keep the grease or whatever from getting all over.
But this pan is really looking wonderful! This is dry. I know it looks wet, but it's completely dry and as slick as glass. I dripped some water on it and the drop rolled around like mercury. It was amazing! There are all sorts of methods but I used the 500F for an hour, scrub with steel wool, grease with lard, 500F for an hour, scrub, grease with lard, 500F for an hour, etc. method. My house smelled awful. Small drawback. I had to put a lot of vanilla scentsy bars in the warmers. But this pan is like obsidian. I'm in love. 

That's it for now, but the next post will be all about cast iron cooking and recipes! We'll still be traveling so I'm just guessing about how the recipes will turn out. I hope I don't have to eat my words and let you all know the food turned out charred and horrible!


  1. Well, the cast iron cooking over a fire had mixed results. The berry buckle was a hit, but I burned a lot of food! LOL. I'm happy to say we're settled into our beach hour for the next few weeks... but their wifi is down. Crisis! I'm sitting here in Starbucks...
    So, have a happy Fourth of July!!

    1. Still nothing! We have another week and some here so we're hoping they van get it fixed!

  2. You're such a dedicated blogger, Virginia -- even when you're on holidays. Looks like you're having an incredible time. I get out of breath just reading all your antics. Can't believe your energy level. Yawn...I think I need a nap. And you gave me a geography lesson. This Canuck didn't know where Walla Walla was. Happy July4th!

    1. Thank you, Kav! I hope posting on holidays balances out all my kitchen fails, lolol!

  3. Lools like you and the family are enjoying the holiday. Happy Fourth of July. Stay cool.

    1. You, too, Sandra! And it's perfect weather. Bright and sunny and breezy.... Ahhh!

  4. Happy 4th, Virginia.

    I'm loving on the beach house photos. I have to wait til August for that. Sitting by a campfire on the beach sounds heavenly.

    1. We've been running to different towns and parks up and down the coast so no campfire on the beach yet but tomorrow is the night! Tonight we met friends and went crabbing, then enjoyed ice cream while watching a perfect sunset. Couldn't be more perfect... except maybe if I could get my hair to stop trying to escape my head! It doesn't love this humidity.

    2. P.S. I'll post some of our lighthouse pics in a few weeks. I have a child who is IN LOVE with lighthouses.

    3. Can't wait to see the, I've always had a love for lighthouses.

  5. What a fun trip!! I loved the photos. Thanks for sharing. Now I'm wanting sea glass! But I've never seen it at the beaches we've gone to.

    1. We haven't seen much at all this trip, but last year they'd just had a major storm and it was everywhere. So beautiful! There are coffee table books about sea glass that I always want to buy, but then I wonder if I'd really look at them.

  6. Walla Walla onions are the best. I didn't know it was time for them. I could just make a meal of them.