orihime and dragon

Biscuits, Old Highways, and Birthday Shortcake

At the Outer Banks, Brenda taught me how to make her biscuits. She used Southern Biscuit flour, wheat germ, coconut oil, and buttermilk to make crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside biscuits. I only had the biscuit flour I'd brought back with me from OBX, and Costco and the local Safeway didn't have anything of the sort, so I just got all purpose flour instead, and did the best I could with baking powder and soda. And instead of buttermilk, I just added water to Greek Yogurt, which is acidic enough, but a little too solid to go in straight.

It worked.



Biscuit Breakfast
John and Anne cooked tray upon tray upon tray of bacon in the oven, starting one batch before I even got my biscuits started, and a couple after the biscuits were done. Cathie made scrambled eggs with scallions, and we had an array of amazing salsas to go with the eggs. There were four kinds of jam because the real estate agent who rented us the houses left each house with some jam, black and tan truffles, and bars of Moonstruck chocolate.

I still remember going to Portland specifically to get to go to Moonstruck and buy their cocoa and their chocolates, so it was a real treat to get to taste their chocolate again. The local Safeway carried their bars, too, so I got a few for us later in the day.

But the jam stood us in good stead, and we all had a great breakfast before we started preparing for dinner...

Preping for Dinner
Nearly as soon as breakfast was cleaned up they started on filleting the salmon. Costco, for some reason, had whole Copper River salmon for a measly 9.99 a pound! It was whole fish, so it had to be filleted, and they got that cleanly done before working over three bags full of limes, which were going into the ceviche, the margaritas, and all the drinking water.

While they got that started, people talked and figured out an excursion for after lunch. Those that wanted to had a light lunch and then went off to the Columbia River Highway Trail. Eventually one end would branch off to the Mosier Twin Tunnels trail, and the rest would just keep going along an old highway. The trail was paved, smooth, as it once served as a state highway, but now it was only for bikes and walkers.

Tree Covered Highway
It was beautiful.

There were so many things about that trail that epitomized all the things that I miss about the Northwest: the sheer variety of trees, the wind in the trees, the cool breeze, the constant sound of water from the river and streams, the undergrowth, the fragrant and plentiful wild flowers, and the tunnel made among the trees by the path we followed.

I think it was the simple sound of the wind through the leaves and branches that made me just close my eyes and listen. I missed that rush of sound so much.

The path was everything we hoped for, too. Smooth, steady, and easy for us, but with plenty of ups and downs to not be boring, and there were good views and lots of things native to the area, including an incredibly delicate lilac with white or pale purple flowers that smelled delicious.

Open Water View
We ended up going nearly three miles, stopping by a small waterfall for a bit before continuing on to this vista point by the River. Much of the path was deep enough into the woods to only get peeks at the river we could always hear. Here, however, it was a clear view of the huge river below us, and we all got a really good look.

I got to spend some time with Miriam and it was really fun to just talk with her and Sheila during the hike. Little Mackenzie, Sheila's adopted daughter, hiked ahead with Aeran, Paul, and Leah. Paul came running back to us, gave Jan the keys to their car, and then ran back up to where the girls were, and kept going. They ended up at the Twin Tunnels and got a ride back from there. The rest of us headed back to the main house to make dinner...

Really Crankin'
Okay, and dessert. *laughs* Mary's ceviche and smoked salmon and smoked salmon pate was the first course. I managed to make my shortcakes for strawberry shortcake before dinner was fully underway, and slipped in under the bell. By the time my shortcakes were done, they needed the oven for the asparagus. The salmon was being done on the grill outside, and there was an amazing salad that went with it all as well. I managed to get a shower in and a change of clothing before dinner got served.

There are no pictures of the dinner itself because it was so good. *laughs* From there we all headed out into the backyard, and took pictures of all the various groupings of people with Isabel: various families, all the grandchildren, all the brothers, all their wives, all the kids no matter the family, etc. Until we were all giggling and ended up with a group picture with EVERYONE in front of the cameras.

Happy Birthday To You!
And then it was time for singing!

We all sang Happy Birthday to Isabel. She proudly wore her crown for the evening, and she'd requested strawberry shortcake instead of cake for her birthday dessert, so we'd obliged. The strawberries were ripe and beautiful, and we had two kinds of whipped cream as well as two types of ice cream. There were first toasts with sparkling wine and good stories and a lot of laughter, and then we got to dig in.

Dessert!
Isabel got the first helping, but these two were not far behind, and very very generous with their portions. There was mild mayhem done with the cans of whipped cream, and everyone talked, ate, and enjoyed.

I was very happy that the shortcakes turned out well. It was basically the biscuit recipe with some sugar and, eventually, cinnamon to make them fragrant, and they stayed crisp under the macerated strawberries and whatever load of cream and ice cream people chose to put on them. *laughs* It was fun to do and much easier than a cake.

Sing Along
Eventually people gathered in the diningroom for a singalong with Emma Lee and her guitar, and with plenty of wine, conversation, and requests.

It was a very fine way to end a very amazing birthday part for a lovely and amazing lady. Isabel was very content, and the party went on until nearly one in the morning.
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