Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Cinnamon Roll Lady

The North Cascades Highway or State Route 20 is the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington. It affords travelers a wide array of beautiful vistas and is part of the Cascade Loop, a 400-mile driving tour through the Cascades. This highway is only open from April through November, because of the intense avalanche danger the rest of the year.

Tootsie Clark, who is well into her 90’s now, has for many years performed the same ritual every year on opening day of the North Cascades Highway. She gets up at 2 a.m. and sets to making her famous cinnamon rolls. When she has enough ready she packs them into her car and travels to the beginning of the highway where she passes them out to all the drivers waiting for the road to open.  

Tootsie's cinnamon rolls with whiskey sauce and frosting

These cinnamon rolls can be ordered by the rest of us at The Eatery restaurant in Rockport, where Tootsie still helps out in the kitchen. But don’t go for breakfast thinking you can order a roll off the menu and have it delivered to your table. No, you must reserve these sweet treats the night before for breakfast the next day, due to their extreme popularity.

Besides serving good, tasty food, The Eatery houses many items indicative of the history of the area. That was Tootsie’s idea – to make it a museum and a restaurant.

Delightful Diablo Dam Boat Tour

Last weekend, my husband and I took the Skagit Tour on Diablo Lake, located just off the North Cascades Highway near Newhalem. I remembered taking the same trip in my tweens and it stuck with me. Then it combined a ride up a pulley contraption, a boat tour and a farm-style chicken lunch where you passed around platters of chicken and bowls of mashed potatoes (even then that was my favorite part).

Diablo Dam

 

I’ve been wanting to go again to see if it was how I remembered it. Because Diablo Dam and two other dams in the area create the majority of the power for Seattle City Light, they had always handled the tours before. Then last year, the economy forced them to cancel for the year. This year Seattle City Light partnered with the North Cascades Institute and the North Cascades National Park to bring the tours back.

The day begins with a healthy buffet lunch, organic salad makings, soups, macaroni and cheese, plus a variety of desserts. After a short orientation by one of the park rangers, you’re free to wander the grounds, check out the gift shop or hike down to the boat launch. I visited the gift shop and found out a mama black bear and her two cubs had been sited on the property just four days before. I sincerely hoped I didn’t meet up with her.

We boarded the Alice Ross III (she’s had two predecessors) at 1 p.m. for the narrated boat tour of Diablo Dam, which was built in 1920 and Diablo Lake. We passed by two islands – one named Deer Island, because deer actually swim out to it to sample the grass and another named Monkey Island.

Ranger Lauren telling us about Monkey Island and other stories

J.D. Ross was the supervisor of Seattle City Light when Diablo, Ross and Gorge Dam were built. The story has it that he was quite a showman. So he populated one of the islands with monkeys and when the boat tour went by passengers saw monkeys swinging through the trees. In no way is this a climate monkeys like so every night a zookeeper had to take them to a warm place to sleep. Now the monkeys are gone.

When you go on this tour, you’ll hear lots more stories like the one about Monkey Island. I highly recommend it as informative, educational and above all, very pleasurable. It’s not the same tour of my childhood, but it’s still a very good one.

Partner Up for a Street Dance

Something is always happening on Whidbey Island, a great place for a day or even a weekend trip. On July 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m, the Community Street Dance at the Bayview Cash Store features local band, Ruzivo and Mbira dzeMuninga from Zimbabwe.

Groups will perform a mixture of original compositions and arrangements of both traditional and contemporary music reminiscent of Southern Africa.

Ruzivo, led by Seattle-based Zimbabwean musician Paul Mataruse, plays high-energy Afropop music inspired by Zimbabwean and South African traditional and contemporary tunes. The group combines four handcrafted marimbas with bass guitar, trap set and mbira, the traditional instrument from Mataruse’s native Zimbabwe.
 
Joining Ruzivo onstage will be the visiting group Mbira dzeMuninga sharing their deep and vibrant understanding of Zimbabwean rhythms through mbira, dance, drumming and singing.
 
The Basil Café will feature a selection of a la carte sushi that night, in addition to other Asian influenced dining options. Award-winning wines from Blooms Winery and Spoiled Dog Winery will be available by the taste, glass, or bottle. (Please note that children and dogs are welcome in the tasting room!).
 
The street dance is presented by Goosefoot, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help build a thriving South Whidbey through projects that support the local economy and promote learning and community.

Bayview Corner’s community street dances are sponsored by Puget Sound Energy and Whidbey Island Bank. It is because of their generous support that admission to the street dances remain free!
  
Please call (360) 321-4145 for further information.  The Bayview Cash Store is located at 5603 Bayview Road, just 7 miles from the Clinton Ferry dock on Whidbey Island.  Take Highway 525 to Bayview Road.  Make a right onto Bayview Road and the Cash Store is located at the next intersection of Marshview Avenue and Bayview Road.

Getting Cherry-ed

Everyone knows we grow apples here and then there’s the espresso stands – with one on every corner, you’d think they were mating. But did you know we’re one of the nation’s largest producers of cherries?

Actually we are the number one producer of cherries with California running second.

This past weekend I was privileged to go on a tour of a packing plant, an orchard and to savor some very delicious foods made with cherries. My favorite, of course – biting into a dark, red sweet cherry and savoring that first squirt of juice on my tongue. The cherry pies tasted mighty good, too.

Kate McDermott teaching cherry pie making.

Kate McDermott gave us a most informative and clever pie making lesson to launch our tour.

“Chill all your ingredients prior to creating the dough and putting the pie together, and you chill out, too,” says McDermott.

She also places a personal intention into every crust she makes and then lets the dough know she’s in charge. That may be why my pie dough never turned out before.

“Making a pie is like a meditation for me,” says McDermott, whose pie making tools all have a story behind them.

After a delectable and delightful dessert of cherry pie and ripe cherries, our group dined at Blueacre Seafood in Seattle.

I have never seen a Dungeness Crab as large as the one they served. Someone else ordered it and made our entire table jealous.

Dugeness Crab to die for