Sunday, June 30, 2013

To the Other Side (and Back)

This weekend Joe and I took a quick trip to the other side of the state.

We've been living in Washington for two years, but there's still so much we haven't seen. After two days in the car (and a few hours on a ferry), we managed to accomplish quite a bit of sight-seeing:

We experienced a climate we haven't seen while living in Eastern Washington, with humidity and slugs and snails and mossy trees.

We passed through the most adorable towns: Conway, where we visited a tiny town with a bar in a barn; La Conner, where we gawked at the adorable waterside buildings; and Edison, where we bought some nice bread and cheese from a couple of adorable shops.

We sat on a rocky cliff on Chuckanut Bay and ate our delicious bread and cheese and olives.

We took a ferry to Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands, where we paid too much money for a 15-minute cab ride.

We drove state route 20 through the North Cascades National Park and ran out of ways to say "wow."

We stopped for dinner in Winthrop, one of the neatest towns I've ever seen, where among a street of old west type buildings, we ate at a brewery in an old schoolhouse on the river.

When we took the long way home yesterday, meandering from one side of the state to the other, we couldn't get over how varied Washington's landscape is-- forests, lakes, rivers, dams, orchards, rolling hills, hay fields, rocky, snow-capped mountains, expanses of towering wind turbines, bridges, and bridges, and bridges!

Hopefully we'll see a bit more before we take off next month.

And here are the photos (click on them to enlarge):
Columbia RiverLeaving Eastern WashingtonTruckEastern WashingtonCedric
Columbia RiverColumbia Riversnail!
snail!The Conway MuseThe Conway MuseThe Conway Muse
Inside the Conway MuseCedric's first slugEdison, WABreadfarm's Patio
Washington Road Trip, a set on Flickr.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Move Continues

In five weeks we'll be packing it all up and trading rivers: the Spokane for the Mississippi. On Monday I was offered a full-time teaching job in Coon Rapids, Minnesota! Best name ever right?

We're excited, and relieved, and looking forward to our next adventure. While we may not have always cherished Spokane, there are some things I'll miss, the magpies, the marmots, the quail (which I still haven't gotten a decent picture of because they are so jumpy), the tall trees, the tumbleweeds, the surplus of trains:

I'll make a more extensive list as the summer continues and I get more sentimental. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Young Grasshopppers and Visitors

Friday morning we woke up and picked up these two lovely people from the airport. 

Joe's parents flew out from Michigan to see him graduate this weekend. This morning, we headed out to Cheney to see Eastern Washington University had covered their red football field for the event.


This guy sat next to me:

Here are the graduates:

Since yesterday, we've been eating. And eating. The sun and food have rendered me unable to write with much more detail than this.

Tomorrow: more eating.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Joe Gets Defensive (and I--of Course--Get Weepy)

This morning we woke up early, got some coffee, and drove to EWU's campus so Joe could spend one hour and fifteen minutes answering a panel of faculty's questions about creative nonfiction and his thesis of creative essays.

Here he is after passing his thesis defense with some friends that came to watch.

We went out to lunch to celebrate, and then we took a nap. We're exciting people.  

To no surprise, I got a little teary-eyed during his defense. Watching him expand on the possible limitations of present tense in nonfiction writing, I thought about how we met about six years ago in a writing class, how we've been through all these years of undergrad and graduate school together, how we've been new and then not-so-new teachers together, how we've moved away and then farther away together, and how none of this would have been as fun or bearable without him. And now, as we wait to hear back about job interviews, and wait to know where we'll be in the next couple of months, I can know for sure that even though we have no idea what's about to happen, life seems pretty good at making sure you end up where you should be, or if not that, at least who should be next to you.


Monday, June 3, 2013


I went to a regional potluck the other day, where each person brought a food popular in their state. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally learn how to make a pasty. (Pronounced pass-tee not pay-stee.) 


After reading pages and pages of recipes, I managed to combine a couple that seemed closest to what I remember eating in Marquette.

I thought the process would be pretty quick--just chop up some things and shove them in the dough. A couple hours later, I had actually broken a sweat cutting up those stubborn rutabaga into small enough pieces and rolling out enough dough for 30 small pasties.

But as they cooked in the oven, Joe and I realized our apartment was filling with that familiar smell.


And they tasted like pasties too, Michigan's upper peninsula on a plate. All we were missing was a pint of Widowmaker from Keweenaw Brewing Company. 

The Recipes


For the pastry I used what Mandie's Diner says is the original recipe used by Letho's, home of one of the best pasties I've ever had. I ended up having to add in about half a cup more flour because my dough seemed really wet at first. To read it, click here


For the filling, I reviewed several different recipes, tried to remember what I liked about my favorite pasties, and decided on this:

4 medium potatoes (julienned)
1 large onion (diced)
1 large rutabaga (juliened)
1-2 pounds stew steak (diced)
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine ingredients in large bowl. 
  3. Roll out your pastry dough into any size ovals you'd like. 
  4. In the center of each oval, place equal portions of meat filling (just enough so it's almost difficult to close). 
  5. Fold it over, and roll and crimp the edges (you can use your fingers or a fork). 
  6. Cut a couple holes in the top for steam. 
  7. Brush the top with milk.
  8. Place pasties on an ungreased pan and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 30 minutes. I cooked both large and small pasties for the same amount of time. I've read that you should avoid putting them on both the top and bottom racks, so be prepared to bake in shifts. 

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