King Estate Winery

The summer is upon me.

I cannot cook.  I can only travel to places and have others cook for me.

Behold!  The King Estate Winery.

Nestled in the Oregon hills, overlooking miles of quiet farmland.  The only thing we could hear looking out was the swish of the wind.

Lavender to attract bees.  Bees to make grapes.  Grapes to make...well, you get it.

Bzz bzz.  Lean in for the lovely smell but don't snuff up a bee!

The sky was perfectly cloudless.  The sun was bright, fine and hot.

Bushy grapevines growing little bebe fruits.

Smell of hay and green things and lavender.

You can only play soccer at wineries.  Other sports are BANNED.

There's something romantic here...

The bloom is off the rose and on my baby's head.

Oak casks from France.  I guess French oak makes the best casks.

Rooms for chilling, swirling, and fermenting.

A large cooling tank - did you know wine heats up as it ferments?  I didn't.

Now the best part - lunch!  Truffle fries.

The menu changes frequently, we ordered a house-cured charcuterie plate.

Gorgonzola, dry salami, with crudites, crackers and mustard.

This was my favorite combination - gorgonzola and candied apricot on a seeded cracker.

Goodbye, beautiful sun-kissed winery!  I'll see you in my dreams!

Strawberry Maple Floats

OMG strawberries!

I love eating seasonally because I love how nature is like nope, nope, nope, YEP!  And then floods you with something delicious.  And you gorge and gorge and gorge on it because once it's gone you won't see it again for a whole year.

Like everything does, it starts on the farm.

Little baby berries peeking through green leaves.

Fields and flowers and a cloudless sky.

That barn was full of bunnies.  Baby likes bunnies.

My kid are enthusiastic strawberry pickers, but inevitably derailed by the 'eat all you want in the fields' rule.  They contributed about 2 cups of berries.

So I bought a flat to supplement.

Now...what to make with 24 cups of strawberries?

Like I even had to wonder!  Jam, shortcake and hand pies for starters.

But first, something to take the heat off after a day in the fields.

Strawberry maple floats!

It's easy.  It's foamy.  And it tastes like the sweetest part of the most fragrant strawberry you've ever had.

It's even healthy!  Sweetened with maple, the ice cream is homemade with coconut cream in place of whipped (of course you could 100% use normal).

To strawberry season!

Strawberry Maple Floats
Makes 2 cups

2 cups water
2 cups fresh strawberries (frozen will also do in a pinch)
Juice of half a lemon
Handful fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup maple syrup
Soda water
Vanilla ice cream

First, make the syrup.  Bring the water, strawberries, mint, maple and lemon to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain out mint leaves, lemon (I squeezed it out then just threw the whole thing in there), and strawberry pulp.  Mush the strawberry pulp through the strainer to get as much berry goodness as possible.

Return syrup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and leave for 20 minutes or until reduced by half.  You should have about 2 cups of syrup.

To assemble floats:
Put desired amount of ice cream in glass.  Pour about a thumb's depth of syrup on top.  Add soda water until foamy and luscious.  Glug glug glug.

Silver Falls State Park and a Big Fat Hamburger

The goal this summer is to camp.  A lot.  Every other week (if we can pull it off)!

Last week we went to Silver Falls State Park.  I'm finding that State Parks are often hidden little gems.  Far less traffic than a national park, and every bit as beautiful.  

If somewhat less grand.  Which can be a good thing, you know?

Notice the artfully graffiti'd 'uh oh' at the top

Silver Falls is a beautiful park with ten plus waterfalls all accessible via short hikes.

There was a paved swimming spot for kids, a well-equipped campground (flushers, is what I'm talking about here) and a playground here and there.

Very family friendly.  Which means a lot these days.

Not badly equipped for food either!  Well, ok this didn't come from the park itself but from the small but scrappy town of Strayton, Oregon.

Just outside the town.

We visited Kelly at her cafe twice - once going into the park, and once leaving it.

A lot of beef was eaten.

Worth it.

Within the park it was salmonberry season.

Sometimes I think if I had to choose a place to go wild (like Thoreau/Cheryl Strayed/My Side of the Mountain Wild), it would have to be the northwest.

Berries berries everywhere and all of them to eat!

The flowers (unfortunately not pictured here) are this bizarre fuschia color.  

I wish I'd brought a container, get me some salmonberries for salmonberry jam.

The taste starts sweet and then goes tart.  The color is orange as can be.

Meanwhile, on the forest floor...

Silver Falls = enthusiastically recommended!  Something for everyone, and salmonberries* all over the place.

*Presence of salmonberries not guaranteed after next week

Joy Tea

I like herbs.  I dabble in herbs.

Have you ever dabbled?

I made a cough syrup once.  I THINK it helped, or was it a coincidence?

It smelled great.

I've been making my own hand salves too, maybe I'll get around to posting about that here some time.

It's not so hard.

Pretty little plants, pretty little flowers.  They make me feel happy.

This tea is called Joy Tea by its creator, herbalist Rosemary Gladstar.

Such colors!  Such scents and flavors!

But the true test of an herbal experiment: did it live up to its name?  Did I feel joyful afterwards?

I submit that I did.

My kids drank it too, and for tea without milk and honey that is a big win.

Joy Tea
taken from Rosemary Gladstar

2 parts* chamomile
3 parts lemon balm
1 part hawthorne berries and/or blossoms
2 parts hibiscus flowers
2 parts rose petals (unsprayed)
1/8 part lavender flowers
1/8 part cardamom pods, chopped

This is a sun tea, ie one better made by submersing herbs in cold water and leaving in the sun to steep for a few hours than boiling on the stove.  To prepare place 4 - 6 tablespooons per quart of water in sealable container (mason jars!).  Place in direct sunshine.  Let sit for several hours or overnight. Strain and enjoy cold.

*I used 1/4 cup as my 'part' definition, which made just over 2 cups of tea mix.  Lots of tea!  J'approve.