I took a few days off from blogging. Saturday, Shawn and I drove across the mountains. We were on a mission to buy some apples (for drying) and some pears. Well, Shawn was on a mission for apples as snacks while she is in school. I was on a mission for pears for no apparent reason other than I wanted to buy a case or two and put myself to the task of making something with them. This despite the fact that I had plenty to contend with in our own garden. Friday saw me harvest 3 or 4 pounds of green beans (last of the season), 3 or 4 pounds of cucumbers (also last of the season), and a fair amount of fennel seeds (with lots remaining). Also last week, I grabbed a bunch of winter squash from the garden (we have a LOT of spaghetti squash) and some tomatillos (which I had never prepared before and still had on the counter when we set out for Index for breakfast on Saturday).
Breakfast in Index took an unusually long time. We had decided to skip our place in Sultan because the wait was long and the portions were way too large. Our wait was hardly shortened in Index. Apparently, we had arrived a little bit after a party of 20 hunters/fishers who were seated in the back room (who knew there was a back room?!?). Still, by the time breakfast arrived we were definitely hungry and it was pretty good.
When we continued our drive, we decided to make an impromtu stop at the Anjou Bakery in Cashmere. We had seen it during our drive to Lake Chelan in August and it had peaked our curiosity. What a delicious place. They sell pies, fresh baked breads, pastries, cookies, coffee, tea, and sandwiches there. A small number of tables inside is complimented by a small number outside. It was a warm enough day that we could have sat outside, but after our breakfast we were too full to bother with a meal. Still, we bought a loaf of multigrain bread (excellent!) for dinner and breakfast plus a Russian teacake and a coconut macaroon. We got out of there for around $5.
Next stop was Trader John's in Entiat. We had stopped at this spot on the way back from Lake Chelan and bought peaches, plums, apricots, and nectarines there. We liked that the stand was so large and offered a wider array of fruits. Also, one of the owners is very knowledgable on the different products as to flavor and how to use them. On top of it, you can taste the fruit that they have in bulk before you buy (at the front of the stand, they have it chopped). After much discussion, we bought a bag of Flemish pears, a bag of Asian pears, a bag of Italian prunes, and a bag of Pluots. Shawn didn't like the apple selection. She was looking for Fuji apples. Since we had already discussed stopping at a couple of other places and since there were a lot of signs offering pears, I didn't buy my case from Trader John's.
On the way to our next destination, we decided to stop at a place down the road (Highway 97a, on the way back towards Leavenworth). A quick run through of the stand, complete with greeting from a friendly, but bored youth who attempted to keep one eye on us and another on the football game in the back, but failed as the game won over and we were assessed as not being a threat, told us this stand did not offer what we were looking for. They did have a greater selection of apples, but alas no Fujis.
The Hauf Family stand is a favorite of ours. We like Helen Hauf, not only for the alliteration her name presents, but also because she's a lovely, friendly, down to earth woman. She moves easily through the world, or at least that's how we perceive her. When we arrived at their stand, east of Peshastin, Mrs. Hauf was discussing prices for her pears with a customer. The customer asked Mrs. Hauf for the price of some Asian pears and was informed that they were "A dollar twenty five per pound or a dollar per pound if you buy ten pounds." The customer replied, "You give me better price." To which Mrs. Hauf replied, "Honey, if you can grow them cheaper, then you can get a better price." The customer turned her down, but decided to take her other goods. Mrs. Hauf walked to the back of the store to get the other items. While she was away, the customer walked out front, picked up a pear, and nibbled on it. She brazenly continued to eat it while her husband paid for the goods inside. Mrs. Hauf asked the husband, "You know, dear, you've been here a few times. Normally, I don't say anything, but is she always like this?" Yes, the man replied, and he was clearly embarrassed by his wife's actions. We later learned that she grabbed another free pear for the road on the way to the car, that she always tries to barter for a better price, and that she always grabs free produce without asking to munch on. Mrs. Hauf was a bit out of sorts.
By the time Mrs. Hauf had turned her attention to Shawn and I and her other customers, Helen looked as if it had all rolled off of her. I suggested that Helen wait on the other customers while Shawn and I surveyed the goods. The Haufs grow their own pears as well as bring some in. They had a better selection of pears than Trader John's and about the same selection of apples. The apple selection disappointed Shawn, but we were pleased to see the pears as well as some winter squash. At 39 cents per pound, Shawn was all over the squash. She grabbed some acorn and butternut squashes. Helen, having finished with her other customers, turned her attention to us. "What can I get for you, dear?" she asked Shawn. Shawn then asked her about the different types of pears, noting that we'd like to can some and dry others. Helen took us back to the Flemish pears and told us that they were her favorites. She took us back to her counter, pulled out a knife, and proceeded to demonstrate how she slices her pears for drying. She also gave us a slice to sample. It was very good and we decided to take a case.
On the way with the case to load with pears, Helen pointed to a case of apples. They were small apples in a mixed case of two kinds. Helen told us that because they were small, she was selling the whole case for $5. She washed 2 apples and gave them to us to try. They were VERY good, so we took the case. Helen filled our case of pears and continued to tell us about the pears and the season. The case kept getting fuller and fuller. She ended up over packing it. When we got back to the counter with the produce, we added a case of Asian pears onto the bill. When she rang us up, Helen gave us a discount on the Asian pears (79 cents per pound, as opposed to the dollar she had offered the customer who bartered). She also gave us a discount on the Flemish pears and didn't charge us for the overpacking. Satisfied with our purchases, we began to head out, when Helen offered us 2 Asian pears (different varieties) to munch on while on the road. Gotta love, Helen.
Our last stand stop was, as usual, Smallwood's Harvest. This spot is a possible tourist trap. They sell a lot of packaged items under their own label, including jams, salsas, honey, canned produce, wine, and more. They also have a corn maze and an artist's show (weekends). Our reason for going was their large produce section. There, we picked up some sugar pumpkins, onions, and gourds. We also found out that the apples Shawn wanted to pick up wouldn't be in for another 7 to 10 days. Ah, well, another trip!
Heading into Leavenworth, we decided to stop for a beer and perhaps a bite to eat. With all of the travelling, my legs needed strectching, so we walked around the town. It was the first time that I've ever walked around the city. We stopped in several shops. It was a nice day to be there. The sun was out, yet the temperatures were mild. The tourists had thinned considerably, making the sidewalks easy to navigate. Eventually, we settled down for a beer, but decided to pass on food. After leaving, Shawn said she needed something in her stomach to counter the beer, so I suggested the cookies from the Anjou bakery. Quite tasty.
Once home, we found ourselves with a lot of produce. However, the hour was late enough that we focused on dinner instead of stored goods. On Sunday, we turned our attention to stored goods. After breakfast and a run to the grocery, I helped Shawn with getting the guestroom/her study area back together. Then I made some roasted tomatillo salsa and froze a batch of that. We cut Italian prunes and pears and set them up on the dehydrator. Shawn made an apple crisp. We worked together on Vietnamese spring rolls. The "excitement" for the day was discovering that one of us (probably me) had left the garage freezer door ajar. The freezer had run and mostly defrosted. We scrambled together some coolers and saved what we could (most of it, actually). We then left the freezer off and the door open and let it defrost the rest of the way - might as well take advantage of it).
Monday and Tuesday have been spent working on the produce. I've settled on a pear preserves recipe that I hope to make today. I've also made some herbed vinegars (French tarragon, pineapple sage, and basil - separately; not together), pesto, dealt with some of the green beans and cucumbers, and picked eggplants (in order to save them from the temperatures and to make moussaka for dinner). In addition, I squeezed in lawn work, laundry, restocking the freezer, hanging extra shelving in the pantry, and helping out more with the guest room. Drying pears continues and I plan on making a pear dessert tonight for dinner.
Oh, also have a couple of nibbles on jobs. As if I need another! *smirk* So, if I'm not blogging regularly, it's because I'm buried under apples and pears - and loving every minute of the challenge, as well as the promise of good eating this winter.