Monday, June 25, 2007

Larry Grant Keeps The Turkeys Away

For those of you who have read some of my previous blogs, you know full well how I feel about the wild turkeys that reek havoc in my yard and garden. Recently, two GIANT toms have been attempting to fight their own reflections in my sun room window. Well, the strategic positioning of my "Larry Grant for Congress" yard sign proves that Larry Grant does know how to keep the turkeys away! No more toms. Thank you, Larry!

Speaking of Larry Grant, I got my Walt Minnick poll call today. How convenient to be both a blogger and an anthropologist: not only am I familiar with why the person is asking what, but I get to write about it! However, I'm still not certain why Minnick would support Larry Grant and then take off on his own for a run at the same position. But what do I know? I live in north Idaho, and obviously a long history of disconnect is about the only connection between Boise and north Idaho. At least Betsy Russell over at the Spokesman makes some connections, but maybe that's because she's in an even odder position: reporting on north Idaho, based on politics and news in Boise, while residing in, and working for a major newspaper in eastern Washington. I certainly have a lot of respect for that gal!

So, back to Minnick. Is it the "old guard," seeing how exciting the new guard is, wanting to get back into politics? Is it denial that Larry Grant could have lost his initial race because Idaho is, in fact, a RED state? Is it greed? Is it bold, objective reasoning? I never knew who Walt was until I was down in Boise in the spring. So, I defer to my friend, Tim Tucker's observation, and assume that this is a really nice, savy guy. But I still don't understand his motive. And if the motive is something out of Popkey's diatribe, then I'll have to completely disagree.

Also, what is all this running for the big ticket slates when our counties are filled with Republicans? If we cannot fill our local offices, county commissioner seats, city councils, local health organizations, local civic organizations, and so forth, then how does anyone think that we'll be able to elect a big ticket Democrat into office?

Finally, a request to Howard Dean, the DNC, and the IDP. I don't think we're going to be successful in turning north Idaho blue if we cannot attract a major candidate to north Idaho, say, to Coeur d'Alene. I say this not because we need the popularity, but because we're so much the bastard step-child. And we are not alone. Democrats from western Montana and eastern Washington feel the same way. So who comes to town? why Dick Cheney! And the Republicans win north Idaho again. And what Democratic candidate comes here? What representative of the Democratic National Committee comes here? Hillary raises money for herself by visiting the big stars in Sun Valley. We have big stars in District 1 too, but do they ever do anything to help the state in which they own a home? And people wonder why Idaho is red.....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Whose Odds?

I've been waiting and waiting for Popkey's grand exposure of Larry Craig, but so far it seems that instead, the best he can do, is to find another Larry to disparage, and that is Democrat Larry Grant. This seems to me to be a bit like beating a man when he's down. I guess like many others in gentrified southern Idaho, Popkey believes people expected Larry Grant to sell his soul to some hotshot political advisor, call in the big bucks from the big government that Idahoans love to hate, and shelve his intelligence for some quick sound bytes.

Well, when Larry first arrived in north Idaho, a number of us showed up to ask some serious questions. We already believed the war in Iraq should end immediately. We had daily upset stomachs over the Bush administration's progression towards stamping out civil liberties. And we took our role of Democratic candidate support very seriously. In spite of all these serious hesitations, Larry Grant won us over.

He did so because if he didn't have all the facts, he refused to give trite answers to our questions. Instead he went back to southern Idaho, thought about the issue, did some research, and then returned with a well-thought out and thorough answer.

His steadiness, his thoughtfulness, and his friendliness caused people to remember him, remember what he said, and really think about how well he would represent Idahoans and Idaho interests in the US Congress. I mean, how could any Idahoan not like this guy? He's from Fruitland, married to his high school sweetheart (which she is), has achieved great success, lived away from Idaho but maintains his roots here, and he's always persuasive while never being manic. Plus, he really wants to help the Idaho little guy, or everyman, or whatever you want to call him/her.

Perhaps his supporters may be faulted for liking him too much, thus blinding themselves to the possibility of a Sali win. Perhaps more money would have done the trick. But perhaps Larry Grant really did the best with all that he chose to do, and that the Republican right was still just a bit too afraid of change to vote for Larry.

As for some of Popkey's arguments, well, I, for one, am not so enamoured of the Democratic Congressional Caucus and I don't know that I would want to be indebted to them for services rendered. Secondly, I am also not enamoured of Dean Haagenson who has made his money off of real estate and growth, two areas that have left many a local complaining about property taxes, traffic, and unregulated growth. He may talk about the struggling economy of the 1980's in his defense of current growth, while conveniently forgetting about the Republican breakup of the unions thanks to an emphasis on privatization.

Popkey also criticizes Larry's campaign manager, who, based on my personal experience, was always on top of everything and available for any questions. Popkey conveniently never mentions Larry's blogger, Julie from Red State Rebels, who almost single-handedly catapulted Larry into national attention and brought interest to this race on the DailyKos. Also, I don't know which country fair, house party, or Rotary Club meeting Popkey attended while Larry Grant was present that caused him to quip about Grant's "discomfort with retail politics," but it obviously wasn't in Idaho's far north, where Larry always seemed at ease as well as having the ability to put others at ease as well.

Finally, I think that any Democrat who is "grieving and resentful" is more a figment of Popkey's imagination than any reality I know of. I may be in Idaho's far north, but I'm not stupid enough to fall for "the arrogance and political deafness" of some newspaper writer who decides to dump on a very viable, popular, and well-liked Democratic candidate.

Perhaps Popkey went after Larry Grant because his several month stint looking for the dirt on Larry Craig left him so bereft of the kind of political information he sought.... I just bet that Popkey's trying to distract attention from his failed mission....and in doing so he's not doing the Democrats any service.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Ah Ha! The Perfect Bread!

Well, I finally found the recipe for a perfect loaf of bread. It seems it's all over the web: it's the No-Knead Bread adapted by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York, published in the New York Times thanks to Mark Bittman. And even better, you can even watch the YouTube video on how to do it, thanks to Bittman and Lahey.

I have to admit that I cheated, however. Instead of the yeast I use my sourdough starter. Works great! My friend, Rosemary, used the actual recipe but didn't have time to bake it for 48 hrs. It still came out great! I've added more flour and less flour and doubled the recipe as well (now I really appreciate all the cast-iron cookware that I have). I do prefer bran over semolina for keeping the dough from sticking to my kitchen towel, although I like the flavor of the semolina better.

I love the flavor, the hard crust, and the tender inside. I especially love the crumb! That crumb is exactly what I have been looking for! I've also discovered that even though the bread occasionally sticks to the towel, creating a pre-baking gash, this only prevents the bread from rising as high as usual, as well as cracking, but the flavor is still great and the texture is just a bit chewier, which is something I like as well.

Yummy! All those holes! Thank you Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman and all you other wonderful chefs on the web! Now I make this every 2-3 nights! Let it rise until early morning when my cats meow for breakfast, then 2 1/2 hrs. later, into the oven. By lunchtime I have my favorite bread.

This does not mean, however, that I have quit making my other breads. Every bread has it's place and sometimes I do like the tighter crumb. But just making this bread, the sourdough, and even my old fashioned rolls has taught me much about bread making. I've learned how the long rise can really help with the crumb I want. I've learned how to get those rolls to rise a bit more once they hit the oven. And I've learned how hot an oven really needs to be by cooking in cast-iron.

My husband loves this bread. I brought a "sunken" (stuck to the towel) double loaf to my girlfriends' birthday party and not a crumb remained. My Monday lunch customers love the bread. And since my dentist reads my blog, I even brought him a loaf.

So, if you haven't made this bread yet, now is the day to get started!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Nothing Says Summer Like A Farmer's Market

I've been away, both to Seattle and into my garden. Actually the garden has taken the most time because weeds and dandelions were strangling its beauty. Fortunately, with a stiff back, sore hands, and several pairs of gloves later, most of the weeds have been plucked away. I also had a major setback when I put my seedlings outside too soon. Oh yes, horror of horrors, I lost all my celeriac, several tomatoes, all but two physalis, and most of my leeks. However, since I'm a true believer in global warming, I'm also convinced that we will have another long summer, so I'm starting again. Hopefully the sun, long days, and tons of fish fertilizer will do the trick. It doesn't matter if that's a pipe dream, it makes me happy.

In case it is a pipe dream, however, and wanting all that food, I'm off to the Farmer's Market this morning. Of course, I always arrive early, because I want the greatest choice before it's all gone. And the goods will disappear ever more quickly as the summer wears on. So at 7:30am (the market opens at 8am), I grab my basket and my money and drive into downtown Bonners Ferry, to the visitor center and city parking lot, and head determinedly into the midst of the market.

My first stop is always Marsha's Cottage Garden. Marsha has the BEST vegetables! Every fall I order pounds of onions, leeks and carrots to carry me through the winter. And her garlic braids are awesome! In springtime, she always has lettuce, mixed bags of spring greens, spinach, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and many, many starts of veggies, herbs, and flowers.

Usually next door to Marsha is Judy, with a wonderful and huge variety of plants and flowers, all of which grow in our wonderful northern climate. Being quite creative, Judy also makes jellies, mustards, vinegars, and the most divine soaps and lotions. My favorite soap is "Northern Lights." I think this is an emotional sell for me because occasionally we can actually see the northern lights from Boundary County. How amazing is that!

And that's just the beginning of all the wonderful stalls to visit. I also like to stop by Sora's for a lemon cream scone, spanikopita (spinach filled Greek pastry), perhaps some organic bread (although I usually make my own bread), and occasionally, on a Farmer's Market special occasion day (with live entertainment, food contests, and other delights), some of the special lunches she brings like homemade soup. Gail always has flowers and other plants to buy, as well as mixed bags of lettuce and other vegetables. But it's her flower arrangements that really cause everyone's eyes to grow big!

That's not the end of our wonderful Farmer's Market. From Peggy's canned jams, jellies, and pickles to homemade cake donuts to the absolutely over-the-top, locally raised Yak meat, the Boundary County Farmer's Market has it all!

You would think that after all these stops, for purchases and for socializing, I would be on the road home. But there's one more important stop on Saturday mornings (on other mornings as well) and that's at Under the Sun in downtown Bonners Ferry. So I stroll from the Farmer's Market to the next block over, and stop by Under the Sun for my morning organic double latte. Yummy! But the coffee and the food are just the beginning of this wonderful, unique store, which just opened about a year ago by Shelly Yount, her very supportive husband, Jack, and their three gracious and delightful daughters.

Shelly and Kaylon order much of the unique gifts, cookware, baby, seasonal, and other items in the store. Kendall is primarily responsible for food, and most of it is DELICIOUS! From Greek salad to your choice of sandwich on homemade bread to a variety of soups, all organic!!! this place is a very popular stop for lunch. Kynsie is always on top of clothing, shoes and just everything that's fashionable, and that includes her own choice of clothes every day! The shelves are filled with old and new, all very tastefully coordinated, and although they have their areas of expertise, everyone in the family contributes to this store's delightful and attractive atmosphere. So check out the outside tables and wares, Kendall's and Kynsie's friendly greetings, and Shelly and Jack taking a brief respite in the dining area. And don't miss Under the Sun the next time you're in downtown Bonners Ferry!