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Living and Eating in Walla Walla

July 29, 2009

Sweet Onion Sausage

I had all these grand expectations that I was going to be cooking up a storm and blogging like a mad lady once I moved to Walla Walla. But I forgot one thing: I am also working a full-time job for the first time in two years (not that being a student and working 20 hours a week wasn’t time consuming, but it’s different). I am also settling into a new town and a new life, one in which, frankly, I don’t know anyone and have been going through the gamut of emotional reactions to starting anew. All of this to say, oops. Sorry! I promised, and I didn’t deliver.

This unexpected busy-ness is compounded by the fact that I’ve been having a bit of a disastrous time in the kitchen. Adjusting to the electric stove is proving trickier than I expected. And things have been turning out, if not bad tasting, decidedly un-photogenic. And uninteresting. And certainly not worth sharing. I have even (gasp!) wondered if I wanted to keep doing this blog, instead of just cooking for myself (and, yeah, for myself, because I don’t even have a dog to feed these days). No need for alarm, though. As Miss Crystal reminded me last weekend, when I visited her in Portland, I just have to ease up and give myself time to settle in and get used to this new life o’ mine. Then I’m sure I’ll be back in fine form, and concocting all kinds of things I can’t wait to share.

In the meantime, well, I certainly have been eating, and enjoying some food stuffs that were unavailable to me on the East coast, like the above-pictured Sweet Onion Sausage. Mr. X first alerted me to this delicacy when I was researching Walla Walla, trying to decide if I wanted to accept a job in a town I’d never really visited. Let me just say they were an integral part of my decision to do so (kind of). So two weekends ago, during the Sweet Onion Festival, I had myself a Sweet Onion Sausage. Yes. It was pretty spectacular: slightly peppery, mild, and very lightly onion-y, served in a locally-made wheat roll. I opted for the thing sans toppings and was told that was the way to go, so as to enjoy the full flavor of the sausage. I really wish I could buy these sausages in packages of fewer than 25.

I have, of course, checked out the Farmers’ Market. The first weekend I went with my parents on a Sunday and it was, well, dead. But we were told that Saturday is really the Farmers’ Market day around here. So I went back the following Saturday, and it was busier, but it was during the Sweet Onion Festival, so I’m not sure that’s an accurate gauge of what is usually available. I made off with a pretty decent haul, though:

Farmers Market Bounty

Local honey! An eight-ball zucchini, perfect for stuffing! Rainier cherries! A tiny eggplant, just enough for a meal for one! I was pretty excited. Then my kitchen disasters began.

The stuffed zucchini was alright. The stuffing itself was spectacular, and I ate the rest on its own the next day. It was almost like risotto. But my oven in Boston must have run high, temperature-wise, because I cooked this thing even longer than I thought I should but the zucchini was still almost raw. I’m sure cooking it a bit beforehand would have helped, but I was hungry. And lazy. Silly girl.

Stuffed Eight Ball Zucchini

The eggplant started getting soft the very day I bought it! In fact, I’ve noticed that nearly all my produce has been going bad in an extremely short period of time. I’m attributing it to the 100 degree weather and almost total lack of humidity. But I never experienced this in Boston. A light green anaheim chile I bought this Monday was almost entirely red after only one day. A perfect lime was yellow in 24 hours. It’s bananas! (I can’t even imagine what would happen to bananas if I brought them into this house.)

Rainier Cherries

These cherries were really the highlight of the whole bunch, to me. And you know what? I haven’t even done anything with them yet. Yes, they’re starting to wilt and go bad. I intended to eat them. Then I intended to turn them into a cherry galette. But the thought of turning the oven on was appalling, so I decided to just make cherry pie filling to eat with yogurt, or, you know, with a spoon. But then I think about pitting them, and…sigh. Maybe tonight? Hmmm.

Fruit with yogurt, mixed nuts, and honey has become my new favorite dessert. The raspberries I picked up at the market were perfect for this as they were so incredibly juicy I didn’t even have to macerate them. In fact, this is sounding so good to me right now, I might have to eat some of those cherries with yogurt right this minute.

New Favorite Dessert

I’ll leave you with two final thoughts. This is what I intend to do with the rest of my summer, if I ever manage to come home with some energy:

Summer Projects

Yes, I’m going to preserve summer’s bounty, even if that bounty isn’t coming out of my own backyard.

And this? This was the highlight of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival:

Line Dancing Troupe at the Sweet Onion Festival

7 Comments leave one →
  1. mom permalink
    July 29, 2009 11:16 pm

    Festival looks like it was a hootin’ good time! Sorry we missed it. Maybe next year!

  2. July 30, 2009 2:15 pm

    Mmm, yum. I don’t know, I’d say you’re doing pretty well for yourself with the bounty of west coast produce. Isn’t it nice to have a lush growing season? Good luck with the electric stove, I’m pulling for a victory…either that, or an investment in copper core cookware. =)

  3. Emily permalink
    July 30, 2009 6:23 pm

    The Rainier cherries are my favorite. So tasty.

  4. roobc permalink
    July 31, 2009 12:38 am

    Hey girl, from another Pacific Northwesterer (??lol), welcome! And I love the yogurt/nuts/honey idea for dessert. I always do it for breakfast, but for some reason never for dessert, but now I really want to try it!

  5. joy permalink
    August 1, 2009 4:55 am

    You’ve got my sympathy for the electric stove. I will be moving soon, also to a brand new city where I don’t have any friends, also leaving behind a trusty old gas stove for an electric one. Here’s wishing us both short adjustment periods!

  6. August 5, 2009 9:02 am

    Did you read this Pollan article in last weekend’s NYTimes Magazine? I thought of you…

    • August 6, 2009 9:46 pm

      Wow–very good article! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Pollan’s long pieces in the Times are always terrific. Yes, he’s kind of my hero. I just finished reading The Botany of Desire, which was fascinating. Highly recommended.

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