|Gloriously Sunny Richland, Washington|
Like many of you, I spent the 4th gadding about--in this case, east over the mountains to the Tri-Cities. Sadly, I missed our Bellevue Farmers Market but was thrilled to see plenty of fresh produce that will make its way to our Thursday market this week. Cherries abounded, both Rainier and Bing. More strawberries (my mother-in-law bought a flat for Independence Day strawberry shortcake). Blueberries. Green beans and snow peas from Yakima.
On the Day of Days, we grilled up hamburger patties of grass-fed beef hailing from the Dudley ancestral hometown of Dayton, Washington. As tasty as you might imagine, and leaps and bounds more flavorful than the Costco patties I've been downing at the weekly swim meets. If you haven't tried the pastured beef and hamburger patties available to us through Skagit or Samish or Sea Breeze, this is the week! Fire up the grill and give it a go.
My in-laws treated me to dinner at the Apollo Greek Restaurant in Richland, where I was pleased to see our own Tefft Cellars Winery on the wine list. With such agricultural and viticultural bounty, "eating local" has experienced a resurgence east of the Cascades as well. We had two lunches at Frost Me Sweet, a bistro that began as a cupcake business and now encompasses lunch and dinner. Local food where possible, soups and salads to die for, and--of course--cupcakes! I tried the "Elvis"--chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and an injection of carmelized banana. Wow.
Even the chats at the church potluck yielded interesting nuggets. I happened to meet Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's head of environmental research. He mentioned having been over in Sequim to check on a project measuring the impact of electromagnetic forces underwater on marine life. (People think of everything!) They wanted to see if all the human activity, and the possibility of using the ocean to generate power, bugged the clams and oysters and fish and crabs. Well, it turns out the crabs were bothered. You might ask, as I did, how they knew? The answer: they moved funny. Crabs move oddly to begin with, but I didn't have a chance to follow up on this point. The second nugget I learned was that they're studying three local dams to see the pass-through rate of salmon. They surgically implanted transmitters in tens of thousands of salmon and then monitored them as they negotiated the ladders. I was thrilled to learn that the pass-through rate is in the mid-90s, percentage-wise, and that the study will soon be expanded to include seven dams. Next time you want to complain about your job, just think--you could be performing tens of thousands of surgeries on salmon.
And one final vacation thought: Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm is a great read. Not only does it recount the rough lives and riveting deaths of several Gloucester, Massachusetts, fisherman, Junger also covers the area's commercial-fishing history and how technological advances and governmental oversights led to industry collapse. Fascinating. Read it and you'll know why getting your fish from Two If By Seafoods and Loki Fish is the way to go.