05 September 2009

Dala World (Scandinavian Festival)

Happy September 5th; it's time for a trip again!
Living in the PNW you'll likely go to one of its many festivals at least once in your life there; festivals that celebrate the region's agriculture, pioneer or Native American history, cultural heritage and more. I've been to some of them myself-a Pow Wow, Mai-Fest, Oktoberfest and various Scandinavian Festivals.
In the latter category, there are Scandinavian festivals that take place in both Washington and Oregon: the Midsummer Fest that used to be held at Scandia Gaard in Gig Harbor (loved that place. Sigh, it closed down permanently a long time ago), Viking Fest in Poulsbo (great little town with a beautiful harbor), Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Astoria (in a beautiful hillside location in the hometown of the 'Goonies')...and the list goes on and on.
This summer the weather cooperated and we went the Scandinavian Festival in the central Willamette Valley of Oregon-it was great fun!
Here (and at other Nordic festivals) you'll find folk dancing by costumed performers from children to adults. I think folk dancing is great; since I seem to be very uncoordinated when it comes folk dancing, I just enjoy watching it.
You may also find music being performed by talented musicians and
folk tales being read out loud to children...
and adults that like listening to them too!
And at festivals, sometimes, these 'folk tales' may come alive and you may find a troll
(or maybe even a group of trolls)!
'Scary' but also very, very cute:)
At Scandinavian festivals you'll find, and likely devour, some Nordic food like lefse---a Norwegian flatbread. I like mine with butter, cinnamon and sugar please:) Even though I get more then one to go as we're leaving, mine never makes it far down the road!
And the yummy, round, Danish donut-like treat known as Aebleskivers. People wait in long lines here to get some; you can take my word on that! I like mine with raspberry or lingonberry jam and can make them at home-from a mix or scratch using a special aebleskiver pan (you can make lefse too but I haven't tried it yet. Maybe this year; I'll try Goro or krumkake too)
Frikadeller---a yummy Danish meatball. Always a stop for me but easy to make at home. They remind me of Swedish meatballs. Speaking of Swedish meatballs, I also like Ikea's frozen ones when I am lucky enough to be in their big yellow and blue store (or can beg someone who's going to get some for me)

Some 'pretend' play areas for children and adults too.
This one here and another with a little Viking ship.
And you can find craft demonstrations, mini-language classes and lots of booths with folk arts, imports and more----my favorites being ones for rosemaling and wheat weaving. These are the decorated food jars I bought from the rosemaler at the festival, to add to my ever-growing collection of rosemaling at home.
This folk artist had many beautiful works of art there at the festival (you can check out the link below for more examples of rosemaling). A big TY to her for permission to post this photo of her beautiful art here :)
An old Finnish locomotive and some historical museums.
Love this locomotive--love trains!
A lot of flowers everywhere you look, even in people's hair.
At most festivals I purchase a dried flower headband and then bring it home where I hang it up; it reminds me all year of the colors and flowers of summer, the festival and the fun I had while serving as a simple decoration for my house.
Top photo:
Dala Horse at Festival -- I LOVE this horse!
Other photos described above,
Links of Interest:
Dala Horses (info about. links)
Lefse (info about, links)
Aebleskivers (info about)
Krumkake (info about)
Goro (photo of this beautiful cardamom cookie/cracker, recipe)
Photos taken at the Junction City, Oregon Scandinavian Festival.
Click on any photo if you would like a better view of them :)
Had a bit of a problem uploading earlier.
In Loving Memory:
This post dedicated in loving memory of my noble Norwegian friend and my Swedish extended family member and his wife who gave shelter to my ancestor during his storm of life.

03 September 2009

Of Sissel, Pita Bread & Blackberries

Happy September 3rd!
So what does Sissel, pita bread and blackberries have in common?
Well for most people absolutely nothing, but for me they (and more) were all part of this third day in September!
We began our day shopping for Nordic goodies like Cardamom bread (double yummy!) and I was happy to find the CD I had been wanting to buy--Sissel’s 'My Heart'. If you've never heard this Norwegian singer--you should! She has an incredible soprano voice and this CD has some songs I've liked for a long. long time!
After our nice sojourn in the land of the Vikings (or at least a little taste of it) we moved on to the Middle East--land of pita bread and other delicacies. I didn’t (moan, moan) find my favorite -- long time, no taste--baklava though; considering I'm still losing weight and I LOVE this calorie-laden goodies, this is probably a good thing...maybe even a blessing in disguise:)
And how did we end such a perfect PNW day? Well we ended up at a farm where the owners were kind enough to let us come after hours and pick up some bounty to take home! Bounty being something much better then gold---NW Elberta peaches (yea, there is not going to be any left to freeze if I have my way. Munch, munch!), fresh off the vine Early Girl tomatoes, cucumbers (literally picked by the farmer just for us), green peppers, sweet corn…..oh can hardly wait to begin tomorrow’s munch-festJ

Sweet corn. Yum! Love this stuff!

Assorted red and green farm goodies proving that good things that come in red and green aren't just limited to Christmas!
- -
Thinking of a warm peach-blackberry cobbler and the Dala Horse cookies I'll make this autumn; and the Caprese salad and sweet buttered corn on the cob I’ll be munching on tomorrow (along with some more Nordic and Middle Eastern goodies).
And now I'm off (before it is midnight) to freeze the blackberries I brought home...
I'm glad that they are so easy to preserve:) Oh sorry about the pictures--it's late evening here and the lighting in my Dining Room leaves much to be desired!
Links for freezing blackberries:
And some recipes for blackberry desserts and vinegar:

02 September 2009

On the Freezing of a Peach

Happy September 2!

The other day I was on a mission to get some peaches before the harvest season ended for them. Although I really prefer the more 'tart' taste of apricots, who can resist the idea of peach cobblers and peach pies? So I had to get at least some, right?
Once I had made up my mind to get some peaches and preserve them, the hunt was on to find just how others have approached the whole peach freezing thing besides the normal, traditional way. After all some changes are good and I do like to think 'outside the box' when it comes to streamlining processes.
Could there be another method that was easier and more efficient? Was there a method that was cooler???After a bit of cyber searching, I found my answer--there were at least two other ways to preserve my 'catch'--a 10 pound box of the golden, juicy beauties-besides the traditional one. Yea Internet!!
First let's recap the traditional way because we know it works...or at least 'they' say it does:)
Method 1-Traditional:
In this method one sorts, rinses and peels the peaches (the latter accomplished by using a boiling water dip followed by an ice water plunge to loosen the skin, or just peeling with a knife). Once the peach is peeled it needs to be pitted, have the bruised areas removed and then sliced or halved. Finally you GENTLY toss the peaches with ascorbic acid and sugar; place all into freezer containers, leaving headspace, and freeze.
Links for this method: For more complete directions
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/peach.html and http://www.pickyourown.org/peachesfreezing.htm
My Comments: As the temperature and humidity level were already maxing out my ‘delicate’ PNW constitution, I decided to skip the boiling water/ice water dips and opted for the knife method finding it no big deal to pull and peel the skin of the peaches off. Now since this is my FIRST experience with peaches (yea I am a peach newbie), it might just be that the type of peaches I used are easier to peel -- but it worked OK for me (OK being defined as no cuts on me or great frustration in dealing with peeling the skin off) .

I did play around a bit with the directions I found on the Net, following the manufacturer’s recommendations for the amount of ascorbic acid to use and adding it first-dry, not mixed with water-finding that the peaches produced more then enough liquidy goodness to mix this powder in well. Also, I opted for the dry sugar option rather then the syrup one as I was intending on using the peaches in recipes that would not need a lot of extra liquid.

Method 2-A Little Bit of the Novel:
Sort and place whole fruit in the freezer. Yep that’s it. OK not really…there’s a more to this method. First you place the peaches in the freezer for about 1 ½ hours to 2 hours, then remove and thaw them slightly and voila--the semi-frozen fruit should peel off fairly easy. After that you just follow the instructions in method 1--you know: pit the fruit, etc!

Link for this method: For more complete directions
Comments: I really liked this method! It seemed to make peeling the skin off easier---more came off in bigger pieces. I just held the semi frozen peaches under cold running water for a few seconds and then started peeling. I did have to use my knife still in a few places, but I might not have thawed it enough. I did try--when I ran into a little trouble, to microwave them for about 12 seconds and then it went easier. Also, the fruit, being a little firmer and delightfully chilly, was much more fun to slice and looked --- cool!! I would definitely use this method again, especially on a warm September day.

Method 3-Novel & Yet Somehow Familiar:
Sort and place in freezer; some say rinse before doing this and others don’t. OK now stick in a freezer container. Yep, that’s it. Well not quite---at eating time remove fruit, thaw slightly (to make the peel come off easier), slice and enjoy! According to those who have tried it, this method results in close to fresh taste…. Now the question of the day is: do you know why this sounds somewhat familiar?
Links for this method: For more complete directions
Comments: I decided to try ONE peach this way…because I am OK with change and with a novel one at that, but my freezer is just too full for a lot of these baseball sized, peachy looking frozen objects. I rinsed the one before freezing; have a thing about pesticides and such, and apparently didn’t dry it off enough before freezing! If you don’t want to become adept at using a crowbar (JK) to remove frozen fruit from your pan, DRY thoroughly please! I am awaiting the final results on how well this method works: I am thinking on a chilly autumn morning with just hint of fog on the mountain…when hot cereal and fruit of the summer sounds really good! So I will let you know!
Summary: I might try and add some spice to the peaches but want to research that first. Also, if you must preserve peaches on a warm, summer day be prepared for the ‘siren call’ of this wonderful, juicy fruit….all those bruised areas (and some of the perfect ones) did NOT make it to the garbage!! YUM!
Disclaimer: as I have said, I am the newbie here. Hence the links for information. If you do try any of the methods or have one of your own feel free to leave a comment. Most of all--be safe, work smartly and HAVE fun! Think of how glad you'll be come winter to enjoy the taste of summer's peaches then!

Yum! Juicy, sweet, summery peaches...

freezer fresh and ready for those autumn and winter desserts (and more)!!
And now -- time to draw up plans for tomorrow's catch (or catches) and maybe just get the sleep I really, really need....yawn.
Some of the peaches ready to be processed in the traditional manner
A peach after being placed in the freezer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours
A totally frozen whole peach---experiment in process. More to be revealed later:)
Peaches in ascorbic acid and raw sugar mixture (yes, I do have a THING about raw sugar)-and honey too! Orange blossom honey:)
Rinsed, peeled, pitted, sliced, tossed in ascorbic acid and sugar peaches relaxing in a freezer bag before making the trip to a cooler place,

01 September 2009

Welcome September:)

For the last several weeks I've been looking forward, with great eagerness, for this day to come. And why, you ask?
Well the answer is easy, for today marks the beginning of my favorite month of the year and the start of 'autumn' in the PNW!! (yea I know it isn't officially autumn yet, but believe me it IS the beginning of early autumn here with cooler nights, mostly nice days and even--possibly--an occasional day or so with showers! Maybe.
So how to best spend the first day of my most favorite month? Again an easy answer! Take a trip to farms & farm stores what else? And so my best friend, "Little Friend" and Little Friend's sibling and I took off...
At the first farm, I ate my first apple of September 2009, picked just seconds before ....SO good (really good obviously since there's no photo! Munch, munch!) But here is a photo of the apples my best friend picked while we were there.

Have I said how GREAT that apple was? How perfect it was? Oh yea, I guess I did:) And looking at these right now makes me think of how good they would be in a cobbler, pie or just baked with some spice and a bit of caramel maybe.


-Besides the wonderful apples, I also saw some great green plums, a couple of BIG beautiful sunflowers, purple cabbage, BIG tomatoes and more! Plus I (and my friends) had a great time visiting with the family who lives there! I LOVE farm families!


Then we were off to our next mission--peaches. Because pretty soon peaches will be gone for another year and I had to get some. We actually went to a couple places to look at peaches and yes, I got a box to bring home (and some other goodies too). I intend to conduct a couple experiments with them:) Really!


-Apples, plums, peaches, berries, corn on the cob, sunflowers, cooler nights, farm stores and farms. Some of my most favorite things about early autumn and September in the Pacific Northwest!


How did you spend your first day of September?

Hope it was a good one for you!

Blessings, Aimee


-"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV


-"Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: and He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him. I thank Thee, and praise Thee, O thou God of my fathers" Daniel 2:20b-23a KJV

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