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Archive for August, 2009

SkinAt its most basic, fishing is the belief that the next cast is going to be entirely different from all previous casts. Casting off a beach on the western side of Whidbey Island in the effort to bring home dinner requires this kind of consistent, almost delusional optimism.  It also requires a back up plan concerning dinner.  The first three times we went beach fishing, we spent an average of 3.5 hours casting and reeling.  In that time we caught a lot of “salad” and one, very small ling cod.  We only saw two salmon landed by anyone fishing around us.  But then the Humpies came, and all hell broke loose.  The bite was on. (more…)

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The Yellow Transparent variety of apple, which originated in Russia, was introduced to the United States around 1870.  This is a common, old time variety here on Whidbey Island, and right now they are ripe and fallnig on the ground everywhere you look.

The Yellow Transparent variety of apple, which originated in Russia, was introduced to the United States around 1870. This is a common, old time variety here on Whidbey Island, and right now they are ripe and fallnig on the ground everywhere you look.

A friend of mine told me that when he was a kid in the 1940’s he knew the location of every fruit tree within a three mile radius of his house.  For him summer was all about which yard had the best plum tree, with limbs that had grown over the fence, draping into the alley so that he could get at the fruit.  Of course he admits that as a youth he was not at all averse to jumping a fence if he thought he could get at those plums and not get caught.  I appreciate that story because I too grew up with fruit trees, both here on Whidbey Island as well as in Northern California.  I can attest that a ripe apricot, picked right off the tree on a warm early summer day has the potential to change a child’s life forever. (more…)

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Fresh Chick Peas or Garbanzo Beans from Willowood Farms in Coupeville make a tasty summer vegetable stew.

Fresh Chick Peas or Garbanzo Beans from Willowood Farms in Coupeville make a tasty summer vegetable stew.

I have been a sucker for fresh shelling beans ever since I first worked with fresh Cranberry Beans in France back in 1992.  I truly long for late summer when the first beans arrive.  Invariably the first beans to show up at the market were picked too early, before the beans inside are fully developed.  I completely understand the impetus on the part of exuberant farmers to pick those bright purple and tan Dragon Tongue beans when they are so visually appealing, but Chefs must show restraint in this regard.  The pods need to be papery and not bright and fleshy.  That is how you know the beans inside are ready. (more…)

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Beachcomb header

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of a field trip our class took when I was in the fourth grade.  We went to the beach near Fort Casey on the west side of Whidbey Island during a very low tide to explore the tide pools the low water revealed.  I have the images from those pools deeply and indelibly etched in my mind: the octopus that one of the teachers discovered, the sea cucumbers, the crabs.  It is as clear to me today as it was 30 years ago. (more…)

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