April 2010

Salmon of the Pacific Northwest

Alaska, the Puget Sound

and the Columbia River are all closely associated with salmon spawning and fishing, not only in the modern era, but in terms of the cultures, values and livelihood of the original and native inhabitants. All Pacific Northwest salmon have several things in common; they spawn in the fresh water where their parents spawned them, and they spend part of their life at sea, and part in fresh (or brackish) water. Unlike Atlantic salmon, Pacific salmon die once they have spawned. There are five basic types of Pacific Northwest Salmon in the coastal waters of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California. These five are:

Kitchen Herb Gardens

It's Spring in the Northwest. Nursery and garden supply centers, even grocery stores, are offering spring planting starts of herbs. For a few

dollars you can pick up basil, rosemary, thyme, and sage (never mind other herbs), a window sill planter and have your own kitchen herb garden. If you have space in your yard, you can expand your herbarium there, but it's quite pleasant to have a little live greenery in your kitchen—not to mention a constant and convenient source for fresh herbs for your cooking. There are a number of options to choose from; individual pots (get something with room for growth since with reasonable care you can keep the plants for years), or an actual window box with two or three plants, depending on the size of the window box.

Barley Wine

Barley wine is, despite

the name, an old style of making a very traditional strong "big" beer. It's traditionally an English beer, though the name has antecedents and relatives in the works of Classical era Greek poets who favored strongly brewed beers. It's called "barley wine" largely because the ABV can reach those usually associated with wine—8% ABV to 12% ABV is fairly standard for a barley wine style beer. Similarly brewed ales are sometimes called "old ales," but they're generally considered the same thing as barley wine. Micro breweries and craft brewers in the U.S. have begun to bring back barley wine beers.

Northwest Olives: They're Good for Us

When I moved to Southern California, I was intrigued by the many olive trees I saw growing, some of them fairly old, though not nearly as old as olive trees in the middle East and mediterranean. The trees tended to be fairly short, because they were pruned, but the trunks were gnarly and twisted, and the leaves were a lovely silver-green. I didn't realize that olives had to be cured before they were eaten (I thought they looked odd because they were wild), so I picked and tried one.