Saturday, June 29, 2013

Grandma Frieze's Pineapple Cookies
My granddaughters are to coming to visit on Monday so I’m making paternal grandmother’s pineapple cookies.  Going to visit Grandma Frieze meant pineapple cookies in the cookie jar.  I have such lovely memories of visiting her that I want to create those same sorts of memories for my own grandchildren.  Frankly, the cookies are pretty popular with the grownups so I’m making a double batch for the 4th of July week as family and friends gather to celebrate.  Grandma got the recipe out of a women’s magazine in the 1950s or ‘60s and the original is taped inside the front cover of her old Joy of Cooking which I inherited since my mother had given it to her in the ‘40s.  I’ve posted about these cookies before, but they are so delicious and perfect for these hot days that I thought I’d do it again.

Temp. 375           Time: 12 min      Yield: About 3 doz.

2 C. sifted enriched all-purpose flour                      1 egg

1 tsp. baking powder                                                      ½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda                                                            ½ C. drained canned crushed pineapple

1 tsp. salt                                                                             1 C. granulated sugar

½ C. shortening                                                                    1 T. granulated sugar

Heat oven.  Sift together first 4 ingredients.  Mix shortening and next 3 ingredients until creamy.  Mix in the pineapple, then flour mixture.  Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookies sheet (I use no stick spray just the same).  Sprinkle cookies with sugar.  Bake until golden.
These cookies are moist and keep well in a tightly closed container, although if your family knows where they are they won’t last long!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Evoking the Past
When my aunt became unable to live in the house that had been my grandparents’ beach house in Seaview, Washington and moved to Vancouver I was promised her half of my grandmother’s china.  In 1968 my mother and her sister had divided Grandma’s rather large set of hand painted china.  It would be another two plus years before I actually got the boxes containing my aunt’s half, but in the meantime I searched for a china cabinet for our little Victorian cottage in Ilwaco.  About a year ago I found the china cabinet I wanted, but didn’t buy it right away.
“Buy it,” my mother told me. 
“And do what with it,” I asked.  “I haven’t got the china and I don’t know when I will.”  My cousins were left with a house full of stuff to dispose of giving me the china was not high priority.  Finding a place for my aunt to live, burying her daughter (actually, I’m not sure that has happened yet) and selling the house were understandably higher on the list.
When my cousin finally dropped off the boxes at our house, I tucked them in a bedroom closet.  With my husband living and working in Arizona, buying and transporting the china cabinet to our house seemed overwhelming.  Then life intervened in the way of family expenses and buying the cabinet when down on my list of things to do.  In the meantime my mother kept nagging me.
Life always follows an interesting path and it so happened that my lifelong best friend decided to sell her dining set and was looking for “new” pieces when I went to visit her in Mt. Angel, Oregon.  We spent a weekend scouting out antique stores, malls and barns looking for just what she wanted, only stopping for a wonderful tea in Lebanon.  At the end of the weekend we had seen pieces that came close, but weren’t making her heart sing and it’s no good to spend money on something you are “settling” for.
When I returned home from Oregon it was nearly the end of school and once it was out I packed up my daughter and headed to Ilwaco where I plan to spend the bulk of the summer.  I was busy with projects involving porch furniture painting and flower planting when my friend called me and asked if I would go to the store where we’d found “my” china cabinet a year and a half before.  There had been two likely candidates when we’d poked around the Bay Trader in Long Beach and would I take a picture of the one I didn’t want and send it to her?  What are best friends for?  Of course I would.  I finished my painting projects on the two best painting days and when the rain returned I scooted off to Bay Trader where I took the requested picture and sent it off.
Cell coverage is spotty on the Long Beach Peninsula, at least for us.  I had to stand out in the store parking lot toward the road to talk to my friend, but I understood when she told me that the cabinet I’d photographed was exactly what she wanted so I had her call Skip Wilson, the owner operator carpenter, of the Bay Trader and negotiate a deal.  I figured as long as I was there I’d pull the trigger on the cabinet I wanted.  Skip was fair to both of us.  He came down a little on both cabinets.  What really thrilled me was that he offered to deliver mine to Ilwaco and two days later the daughter of another friend showed up to help 79 year old Skip get the cabinet into our living room.  I was over the moon!
I picked this cabinet because it reminds me of the one my grandmother had in her home in Vancouver.  I haven’t seen that cabinet since 1968 and I believe that Grandma’s might have been bigger, but I am happy because it evokes memories of a much earlier time and even though this particular piece is not a family heirloom, perhaps it will be.  Since the set of china is enough for two sisters, I’ve decided that when I cannot use it any more it will go to my granddaughters.  They will have to work out the china cabinet thing.  Maybe there’s another one out there that will make them as happy as this one does me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tea with Mrs. B
Saturday I spent a divine two hours with my very best friend at Mrs. B’s Special Teas and Lavender Rose Tea Room in Lebanon, Oregon.  It had been over a year since Nikki and I had been to tea and it had been even longer since we’d been to a place this lovely.  For those as geographically challenged as I, Lebanon is near to Corvallis, home of OSU.

It had been a long time since we’d gone to tea and longer still since we’d been somewhere truly nice. The night before we’d done our homework by reading about Mrs. B’s in two different books Nikki has about tea rooms in the Pacific Northwest.  One book said to be sure to go early as the gift shop was lovely and we took their advice.  They were right.  I found a birthday card for my friend Ada and a box of raspberry tea for my daughter Amy. 

Mrs. B is Barbara Brown and is definitely what is “special” about her teas.  This sweet little lady is the owner, cook, and hostess of Mrs. B’s and a delight.  At 73 she does all of the cooking and most of the serving.  But she doesn’t do computers so don’t look for a website. For the Queen or Royal Teas you need to call ahead for reservations, but Mrs. B seems to do a decent trade in lunches which don’t require phoning ahead.  Mrs. B's is located at 55 West Grant Street in Lebanon, Oregon.  You can call for a reservation at 541-259-5100.

High tea requires time so don’t think you’re going to do that and go to a movie.  Our plans did not require a schedule so we were able to enjoy the tea, each other and Mrs. B over the course of two hours.
We had the Victorian Queen’s tea and each course was heavenly from the fruit with poppy seed dressing to the peach sorbet at the end.  Who knew that egg salad sandwiches garnished with nasturtiums could be so good?  Of course there were also cucumber, chicken-almond, and savories.  Warm lavender scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves went well with our pot of lavender-vanilla tea.  I liked the tea so well that I bought some to drink this summer if I get some guests in Ilwaco.  The dessert plate included lemon bars, chocolate cake, and strawberry tarts. 
There was something we’d seen in their pastry case when we came in that did not appear on the dessert plate—lavender almond cake.  That was easily remedied by getting two slices to take home so we could savor our relaxing day some more back at Nikki’s house in Mt. Angel.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Remembering Vietnam
Tuesday evening approximately fifty students gathered in the Gig Harbor High School library to hear Mary Ann Jacobs speak about her experience as an Army nurse in the Vietnam War.  he students were a mixture of Peninsula High School and GHHS students and the evening was the culmination of the juniors reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried in English. This was the 20th year that the forum had been organized by Dr. Doug Perry, English Teacher at GHHS. 
Jacobson was “in country” during 1970-71, fresh out of nursing school.  Nursing for an Evac. Hospital was different than nursing in the civilian world.  Because of the nature of their work, nurses were allowed to do more procedures, request tests and diagnose patients than their state-side counterparts.  Twelve hour days, six days a week, sometimes while being mortared, forever changed Jacobson.  “It was the best year of my life and the worst year of my life,” she told the students.  “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”  How had it changed her?  “I came from a military family, growing up on Air Force bases all over.  I had always thought I’d go into the military, but my experience has made me anti-war.  I suggest that Americans think long and hard before getting into a conflict like Vietnam.  I don’t know why we were there.  Syria scares me now.”
Jacobs told the audience that between 5 and 10,000 women served in Vietnam and that 92-98% were nurses, the others being support personnel.  The reason for the estimate as to numbers is that the military did not keep good track of those numbers as even though these women were in the line of fire, officially the United States did not have women in combat.  Therefore at that time nurses were not allowed to qualify with weapons.  “We had NVA patients sometimes and VC would attempt to come in to assassinate them to prevent their giving away secrets of the North Vietnamese.  We had no way to protect our patients except throw something at intruders.”
One statistic that surprised me was when Jacobs told that 99% of casualties survived if they made it to a hospital and the military set up medical facilities to be no more than 30 minutes away.  It was the highest survival rate of any war and stood until one hospital in the Iraq war matched it.  That hospital was run by a nurse commander who had been in Vietnam
In talking about the war related deaths, Jacob mentioned that the names on the Wall in Washington D.C. are artificially low because those that died stateside from war related injuries were not counted.  Ten nurses, eight of them women, were killed in Vietnam.  When talking about the statue that’s been erected in remembrance of those who served as nurses, Jacobs says that she hopes that eventually both it and the statue commissioned by Ross Perot will be taken down and let the Wall stand just as it was envisioned.
After discharge she worked at Tacoma General which she found boring because she wasn’t given the level of responsibility that she’d had in Vietnam.  Eventually she went to work at Madigan Hospital at Ft. Lewis where she felt valued. 
Jacobson went back to school and obtained a PhD in medical anthropology, doing her dissertation on PTSD in American Vietnam nurses.  “This is information you won’t read about in history books.  About what we went through.  Initially the VA didn’t recognize PTSD in nurses and still does not recognize the effects of Agent Orange in women.  Nurses handled patients who had come into contact with Agent Orange.  Sometimes hospital compounds were sprayed.  Because dioxin, the main poison in Agent Orange, is stored in body fat women are more likely to carry it for a longer time.  The five diseases and mutations that can be traced to Agent Orange have lasted twelve generation in lab mice.
Jacobs had nothing nice to say about the television show “China Beach.”  She said that gave a poor portrayal of what the lives of nurses and the war were like.  “If you want to get an idea of the atmosphere of the situation over there, watch ‘Mash’.”
Jacobs concluded by telling the students that serving the country is good and there are many ways to do that don’t involve going to war.  “Honor veterans and the rights they fought to protect.  Use your voice and exercise your right to vote.  Question the government.” 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What Do Lawn Mowing and Going to Church Have in Common?

While mowing our parking strip at our Gig Harbor house last night I thought about how similar mowing the lawn is to going to church. I never want to do either one. In both cases there’s the whole inertia factor of doing something perceived to be more pleasant—in other words, making the decision to do either activity. You may know intellectually that do it will be good for you, but the thought of reading can be the siren’s call.

For both going to church and mowing the lawn, you need appropriate clothes. I am not a fan of the move over the last 40 years toward “come-as-you-are” church. I admit to not being a regular church attendant, but back in the ‘50s and ‘60s when I was you dressed up like you were…well, going to church. I think showing up in jeans and a T-shirt is disrespectful. Lawn mowing is the other end of the spectrum. I normally wear dresses so for lawn mowing I need to look up a pair of pants that it won’t matter may get grass stained.

People leave you alone during church and mowing the lawn people leave you alone. One because they don’t want to interrupt your prayers and the other because they are afraid you’ll hand off the job. Actually, that is not entirely true. Smokin’ John, our Gig Harbor next door neighbor, will come out and bug me about cutting down the alder that sits on the edge of our property. In both instances you have plenty of time for contemplating the meaning of life. Times may vary depending on the yard. Our Gig Harbor yard is a kind of Unity Church service, but to get John to leave me alone I’m telling him we are Druids, therefore the tree is sacred. The yard in Ilwaco is two lots and more of a Greek Orthodox liturgy.

Whether it is church or lawn mowing, I always feel very righteous when I’m done. The thing with mowing is that you can see the fruits of your labor immediately AND you get to do it outside.