Tag Archives: Idaho

Minidoka Plus Flexibility, Part 1

Forgive me, it has been 57 days since my last post.  I see by the notes in my day planner that on that day, April 14, Tom and I visited Minidoka National Historical Site (http://www.nps.gov/miin/index.htm) in south central Idaho.  I don’t need notes to remember that the winds hit heavy there through the ruins and the winter grasses.  Tom and I were alone there on the edge of some road, where the same single pickup truck drove past us two or three times, but there was no other traffic.  Even with our REI/L.L. Bean/whatever fancy brand jackets, hats, and gloves, the cold and sadness blew right through us. It makes me wonder how that Idaho wind must have felt to the Japanese and Japanese Americans who were relocated to Minidoka in 1942. Afterwards we were going to camp at Lake Walcott State Park, but, as my notes have it, “no dice.” The state park website had claimed a campground was open, but, it turned out that the bathrooms were not unlocked yet, so we headed back to civilization. Tom and I ended up at the Best Western Plus Inn and Convention Center in Burley.

We hadn’t passed through Burley since December 1974. We’d always remembered Burley as the (not historical) site of one of the worst dining experiences of our lives. Tom, our friend Sally, and I were heading back from the Northwest (Colville, Washington and Moscow, Idaho). It felt like we were in some, I don’t know, early Altman film. No one in the restaurant would acknowledge our presence—even though the dump was mostly empty.  I guess we finally got some food. One thing was for sure—we were going to get out of town before sundown. This time around, our server was friendly, and only mildly patronizing. Plus, our meals were merely bad, not extraordinarily so. The food wasn’t poisonous—American cheese grilled cheese and salad that could have come from any school lunch (before Michelle Obama got to it).

Note: It looks like I favor writing about inconsequential personal memories instead an abiding national shame relevant to our current times.  I hope the photographs below can explain a little bit about how I felt.

Minidoka #1

Minidoka #1

Mindoka #2

Minidoka #2

Minidoka #3

Minidoka #3

Minidoka #4

Minidoka #4

Minidoka #5

Minidoka #5

Minidoka #6

Minidoka #6

Enough of that detour:  In April, I told you I was going to write about flexibility, so, please see below.

Flexibility, Part 1: About an hour ago on my way out of my yard to the coffee shop to write, I almost tripped on my own Birkenstocks. I grabbed onto a handy tomato cage and all was well.  Still, perhaps that little non-incident sums up the current state of my physical flexibility.

I’m thinking back to March in Canyonlands. I’m afraid I was a sight (not historical). I was inching up (I originally wrote the word “clambering” but that makes the rate of movement sound more energetic than it was) a small, but steep, patch of snowy, icy slickrock. Generally, I am pretty good on slickrock—I really do clamber on it.  However, I notice that when more variables are added to a task (e.g., steep plus ice, melting snow, mud), I seem to be less flexible now than in the old days. Anyhow, we put on our Yaktrax*, Tom clambered up and then tossed down kindly words of encouragement and the offer of a hand, which I refused with what bit of dignity I had left. Really, I’m not talking about a cliff here, just four or five vertical feet. It’s like if items are not organized—first slickrock, then snow, then a scramble on a narrow trail, etc.—I’m not as comfortable multi-tasking as I used to be.  I don’t know if this is true. I’m just trying the idea on to see if it fits.

I tell you, with my soggy fingers gripping the wet ice, Yaktrax digging for purchase on the rocks below and my not insubstantial butt in the air—and I was wearing my bright blue hiking pants—I was living very close to the ground.

* A couple of weeks ago, I was regaling our daughter Sarah with tales of our hiking and camping adventure, but instead of saying Yaktrax, I think I was calling them Moose Tracks (as in the flavor of ice cream).  Makes me wonder about the flexibility (and reliability) of my cognitive functioning.  See Flexibility, Part 2, coming to this space sometime before another 57 days.

Yaktrax

Yaktrax

Grandma in Idaho’s Raisin Cookies (I think)

I’m pretty sure the recipe below is my husband’s grandma’s recipe for filled raisin cookies. It certainly sounds like the hearty recipe (7 cups of flour!) that I remember. I am just a little bit concerned because this recipe mentions a food processor and Tom’s grandma was definitely from the pre-food processor era.  Still, I found this recipe in my document, recipes1v2, so I am going with it.

Tom’s grandmother, Alta May Walters, was born in 1896.  She grew up on a ranch in Southeastern Idaho near Blackfoot. Blackfoot is not far from the western border of Yellowstone National Park.  I loved the breezy way Grandma in Idaho (as we named her for our children) called Yellowstone, “the park” and I love the photo of her and her horse, Scout, up in the ponderosas at Island Park, Idaho when she was a little girl. Idaho is not for the faint-hearted.  In Blackfoot, summer would usually finally show up in June and—I swear and I have seen and felt it myself—winter could start closing back in at the end of August or early September.  In any case, Idaho seemed to be a place for two-fisted cookies— I remember no little meringues, no madeleines.   These cookies, like everything Grandma made, were delicious and seemed to just appear out of nowhere with no apparent effort on her part.  I’ve known my share of good cooks, but Grandma was the most efficient cook I’ve ever seen.

In the short time I knew Grandma she and I got along very well.  We both had four brothers and no sisters and liked it that way.  We sealed our relationship early on when Grandma asked me if I liked washing dishes.  I said yes, and, to keep myself honest, I‘ve liked washing dishes ever since.

It’s all I can do to keep from going into the kitchen and making a batch of raisin cookies right now.  What would I do with them, though?  Tom and I have (mostly) sworn off sweets except for weekends.  Even if today were Saturday, what would we do with all the cookies this recipe would make?  It sounds like a recipe that would make enough for the cowboys down in the bunkhouse. Here, it’s just Tom and I, our young friend Jenny who is staying with us, and the parrot, who isn’t allowed to eat sweets even on the weekend. 

Bakery of Desire One of Tom and my favorite fantasies is the one about opening a little bakery in our retirement.  Not likely unless we win the lottery and we never play.  In our bakery you could walk in and get a raisin cookie, a meringue or a madeleine, or perhaps a doughnut or a gluten-free peanut butter cookie.  In the meantime, maybe you can make this recipe yourself and get a taste of the old days.

Filled Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:
1 C sugar
1 C vegetable shortening
2 eggs, beaten
1 C milk
7 C flour
4 t. cream of tartar
1T baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t vanilla

Filling:
2 C chopped or ground raisins
1C sugar
2 t flour
1C water
½ C chopped walnuts

Preparation: Cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.  Stir in eggs, milk, flour, cream of tartar, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla. Roil dough thin. Cut round 2 ½ inch cookies and place on lightly greased baking sheets.

Put 1 teaspoon filling (directions below) on each cookie round and cover with another cookie round. Seal edges with a fork.  Make a small slit in top of each. Bake raisin cookies at 325º for 10 minutes. Store raisin cookies in tightly covered container.

To make filling:
Chop raisins in food processor or put through a grinder. Combine 2 cups chopped or ground raisins, 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons floor and 1 cup water in saucepan.  Cook until raisin mixture is thick. Let mixture cools then add ½ cup chopped nuts.