I decided it was time to get the cat her own kitty perch rather than have her continue to hog the desk chairs. But I was reluctant to shell out good money for something the cat would reject. My friends all recommended Kitty Hooch, a local company that makes cat climbers, cat pagodas, and cat toys. Their secret is their primo grade of catnip. All of the cat furniture has a secret catnip compartment, so the cat is guaranteed to be attracted to its new hooch. Kitty Hooch had a store at the Jantzen Beach mall, but the just closed it. Instead, they now sell live at Portland Saturday Market and at craft fairs, plus on the internet. Kitty Hooch web site.
Their catnip is organically grown locally. It is far more potent than the usual catnip found in pet stores because it is fresh and local. They sell loose catnip as well as premium catnip toys, catnip beds and furniture. I inspected the basic Kitty Hooch Mini Hammock at the Portland Saturday Market. The carpeting was very soft, but the construction seemed solid. At 19 inches high, it looked about the right height as a desk chair, so my aging cat wouldn’t have trouble getting to the top. The proprietress loaded it up with catnip and I carried it back to my car. All of their furniture is modular and can easily come apart to replace sections or for moving.
Now for the real test – would the cat like it? Our cat enjoys catnip, so I suspected she wouldn’t ignore the new Mini-Hammock. Sure enough, I put it next to me desk and within seconds she was loving up to it, rolling around the base and getting high. When she had settled into a torpor, I picked her up and put her in the top hammock. She settled in contentedly. The shape is perfect for snuggling the cats. Cats like to feel semi-enclosed. Success so far!
Our house is a gigantic blank canvas for art and decor. We decided to live with things in a simple state until we had been here for over six months before doing any major decorating. We brought with us one large Thomas Kincaid print that hung over the mantle at the old house, and was immediately ensconced in the same position in the new house. I wanted to do a fun medieval thing with the bedroom, and found an inexpensive rendition of one of the Unicorn tapestries. That was it until May.
In May, I saw a painting I liked at Anne Amie winery and took down the artist’s name, Terry Peasley. I checked his web site and discovered a couple of paintings that suited our style and evoked for me the feeling of the Oregon wine country (his prints of Erath and of Mt. Hood Festival of Wine). I emailed, we talked, and in just a couple of weeks I had two framed prints on the wall – one in the dining room and one in the Great Room. Terry works part-time as a medical technologist, which is coincindentally my profession and that of my husband. He has created wine labels in addition to his watercolors. It suited my newfound locavore philosophy that my art should be local as well. I love the prints and I love having met and supported the artist.
My husband was browsing through the Street of Dreams when a print caught his eye. It was also a watercolor of a forest. He noted the artist’s name, Jan Barba Horn of Myrtle Creek, Oregon and soon was in contact. When the unframed print arrived, I agreed with his selection. It is now at the framers. It gives me great satisfaction to gaze on lovely art and at the same time know that I am supporting a local person to do what they love to do.
On Sunday, I discovered myself heading back from the Livestrong Challenge with lots of morning to spare. I had made up a list of all of the local farmers markets and color coded them by day of the week to keep in the car for just this chance. I was interested in the Hillsdale Farmers Market, held at Wilson High School, as there is a pasture-fed chicken outfit, Kookoolan Farms, that sells at that market. I arrived just before their 10 am opening time, which would appear to be none too early. The market soon filled up with eager shoppers.
I was impressed with the number of produce booths and a couple of cheese booths. I would have bought a lot more but I only had a limited amount of cash. I started at the Kookoolan Farms booth and selected a small broiler hen from the ice chest. They also had medium sized hens and some breast-only portions and neck-only portions good for making chicken stock. I have rarely roasted a whole bird. Mom was raised on a chicken farm and did not enjoy cooking or eating chicken. But she usually would buy a whole fryer chicken and cut it into pieces herself. I was happy enough that the bird was fully prepared and basically ready to roast. I also bought a dozen eggs. Kookoolan Farms raises and hand-processes its own poultry, one of only four farms in Oregon licensed and inspected to do their own processing. In the summer, the poultry feed outside. This was exactly the sort of humanely raised poultry I was interested in. The farm is located in Yamhill, Oregon, just a hop skip and jump from my family’s stomping grounds. I finished my trip with a tamale from Salvador Molly’s booth and headed home to cook the bird.
I started by brining the bird in 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar for four hours. My roasting didn’t go as well as I hoped. The grill thermometer doesn’t work well, so I think I was cooking it on an even lower temperature than I wanted to. It took about two hours to cook but finally the meat thermometer said it was at the safe temperature. I also roasted the beets I bought on Saturday and we had a nice salad. Altogether, it was the most completely local meal I’ve ever made. My husband thought the chicken tasted as good as European rotisserie chicken. I thought it was good, but I don’t think my roasting job was as good as it could have been. Mostly, my husband prefers cut-up chicken pieces, preferably boneless. Next time I’ll pay extra for the breast portions and then also get the bag of necks to use for making chicken stock.
The leftovers went into the crockpot to make chicken stock. This will be perfect as I plan to make spaetzle this weekend, which I boil in chicken broth.
Laura Dolson explains the difference between cage-free, free-range, and pasture-fed chicken. My grandfather’s chicken barn was cage-free. The chickens had roosts for egg laying, but they mostly milled around in a large barn. We grandkids didn’t go into the main part of the barn as the flying and pecking chickens were pretty intimidating.
I haven’t let go of my hairdresser in Tualatin since moving to Vancouver, Washington. So, I combined a trip to get my roots disguised with a stop at Whole Foods to look for Willamette Valley Cheese. We enjoyed the gouda while wine tasting in the Yamhill Valley. I saw the Smoked Farmstead Gouda paired in a display with local wine, J. Christopher, from only about 10 miles away. You can’t get much more local than that.
I did not locally source the crackers. But the smoked gouda was fantastic: creamy, smoky, impossible to stop eating until the wedge was gone. I was happy I didn’t buy the $101 half wheel! The Willamette Valley Cheese Company’s web site shows its happy jersey cows grazing freely in organic green fields near Salem, Oregon. The cows are given no hormones or antibiotics. They pasteurize their own raw milk to make the cheese. The cows look as contented as my favorite Swiss cows.
J. Christopher’s Cristo Misto Oregon Table Wine 2007 matched the description on its website, “aromatic quaffing wine.” It was fine for the purpose, fruity and crisp.
Eating local doesn’t mean giving up the fine life of wine and cheese on the patio.
Photo © 2008 Wendy Bumgardner