Farmers Market, Oroville, Great Food

by James Gutschmidt

Some things are just great, unsurpassed. Like: homemade apple pie, a freshly mowed dandelion patch, (see pic), a man and his dog, and a great burger. I’m not talking about something run of the mill, here. I’m talking a great masterpiece.

I’m talking about Tina’s Burgers at the Farmers Market, Saturdays, in Oroville. There is no fanfare involved with these burgers. Place your order. Wait for Tina to custom barbeque it. A little mayo, a little ketchup, barbeque sauce, that’s out of this world, on a glazed bun, and, Voila, the best burger I’ve had in 50 years.

Oh, and did I tell you, the meat is from her own Irish Dexter, grass fed beef raised here in the great Okanogan? Butchered ground and certified, it’s the quality ingredients that make it right; worth traveling for.

“Masterpiece” That’s the term used by Greg Palmer to describe the “Cheese Deluxe” hamburgers that were fashioned at the Samoa Drive-In on Mercer Island 50 years ago.

Being spoiled in my youth, I remember well those burgers on Mercer Island. Quality goods made it good. And, I have waited 50 years till now, for the like.

If you were wondering, and like to read, I would recommend Greg Palmer’s Memoir “Cheese Deluxe.” It’s an interesting anecdote of the Samoa Drive-In, from 50 years ago, and a sometimes humorous account of upscale, 1960’s youthful characters, and their escapades. It’s remembered from the perspective of a pubescent, but mildly intellectual, short order cook. He’s changed the names, but I know them all well, because I was there. The chapter on the Golden Horseshoe is especially entertaining. And, the Samoa Burgers were a complete “masterpiece,” as described in chapter one. It’s reminiscent of small town life, before condos and tower cranes, kinda like Oroville.

By the way, don’t forget to take in the other exhibits at the Oroville Farmer’s Market. If you were wondering, Tina is the assistant cook at Oroville Senior Center, lunches served Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Noteworthy farmers at the Oroville Farmers’ Market, Saturdays.

The German Sausages melt in your mouth. Jim Weaver and Ken Zimmerlee

The German Sausages melt in your mouth. Jim Weaver and Ken Zimmerlee

Is that Dennis Peterson on the ukulele? Randy Battle Bluz Band

Is that Dennis Peterson on the ukulele? Randy Battle Bluz Band

Highland Beauty
Fresh Mow

Nothing is more beautiful than a freshly mowed dandelion patch in the Okanogan Highlands, 12 miles east of Oroville. The picture is taken from our dining room window, looking west. Great place to be.

Article by James Gutschmidt on special loan to North Okanogan – an Online Magazine. All rights reserved by international copyright laws.

P.S. For the editor. I thoroughly enjoyed the music, and your harmonica, at the Farmers Market. Great sound.

Becky Desjardins of Oroville’s Hometown Pizza writes:

When we cut out the seating at night at the restaurant, what I did not realize was how much I would miss the customers. Without working days I missed seeing a lot of people. So Hometown will start having dine in again at night. We will still close at 8 so no dine in customers after 7:30. The cooks go home at 8 so unless you want me to cook your dinner (this is scary) you need to be seated by 7:30. It will be just like lunch, order at the counter. No reservations please and no parties over 14. Please be sure to check out our new web page at hometownpizzaoroville.com. It has the menu on it. Thank you so much to all of our great customers!!!!!

The awesome menu and hospitality we all loved is back and we couldn’t be happier. The best little town in the Okanogan just got better.

Hometown Pizza ~ Oroville

Hometown Pizza ~ Oroville

Run for the Border 2016

by Dennis Peterson

It’s come and gone and the memories linger – so much fun! Here’s a photo that defines the moment – wife Nancy Peterson and Colette Biele enjoying the music and atmosphere at the Pastime Bar and Grill:

Nancy and Collette ~ Photo by Leah Palmer

Nancy and Collette ~ Photo by Leah Palmer

Saturday morning began early for myself and Joseph Enzensperger racing against the weather to complete the outdoor stage to be used by the Road Dawgs band coming up from Riverside. Was not to be. With showtime slated for 11:00 am and a steady downpour, Tim Naillon from the Pastime Bar and Grill said to set up indoors and so we did. A power outage that morning put food prep behind a bit, but by noon the band, Lota Duarte, son Mike Duarte, Brock Hires, and “Hillbilly” Mike Blakley were pounding sound into the streets of Oroville. Didn’t take long for the dampened throngs to find warm hospitality, hot food, and good music. And Lordy was the music good.

Lota Duarte and son Mike ~ photo by Leah Palmer

Lota Duarte and son Mike ~ photo by Leah Palmer

This is a band that inspires movement and smiles. That means happy dancers and that’s what we got. Anyone’s guess if it was the rain pouring down or the music pouring out the open doors and windows, but the place was soon packed. No spirits were damped!

The Road Dawgs ~ photo by Leah Palmer

The Road Dawgs ~ photo by Leah Palmer

Speaking of happy, Tim was in the kitchen trying his best to stay ahead of food orders and was seen to be head banging and dancing at the grill and the wait staff were dancing back and forth picking up and delivering orders. The Road Dawgs were having so much fun they blew past the end of show time and kept going and going. Lota said “I don’t know about alla y’all, but we’re having a blast!” Nothing feeds energy into a band like an appreciative and enthusiastic audience and Oroville has the best.

Mike Duarte on bass guitar ~ photo by Leah Palmer

Mike Duarte on bass guitar ~ photo by Leah Palmer

Mike Duarte was all over the bass lines and delivered hard rocking vocals, and Brock Hires, who plays every instrument known to mankind filled in the middle with vocals, keyboard and guitar leads, and Mike Blakley dished up tight rhythms on the drums. It was a solid performance by everyone but there’s something compelling about Lota’s saucy vocals and acoustic guitar that makes the whole show work. The band is appearing regularly around our beautiful Okanogan so watch the calendar here to stay up on where they appear next, and don’t miss them!

It didn’t end there – the Rally at the Border team brought in musicians from all over the PNW and the music continued well into Friday evening with the Jones Street Boys at Veranda Beach, Tuck Foster and the Mossrites at the Pastime followed by an all-star jam, and then started over again the next day at the wineries, and Alpine Brewery with the Deep Water Blues Band, and Polly O’Keary, then Voodoo Church and Lisa Mann back at the Pastime. Esther Bricques hosted our friends the Slippery Slope Band, and Taber’s Copper Mountain barn hosted Clay Warnstaff and Mike Chappel aka the Harley Hunks. And on Sunday Esther Bricques hosted the Mood Swings trio – an engaging and fun trio of women who sing tight harmonies and music that spans several generations – a little something for everyone. If you missed the music at the wineries then you also missed the barrel tasting and there are some awesome offerings coming out of our Okanogan Wineries this year.

Big thanks to Leah Palmer for the awesome photos. More to see in the usual places at Facebook and also to Joseph Enzensperger for volunteering his stage and valuable time to help set it up.

What a fun time to be Okanogan!

07. March 2016 · Comments Off on The Texas Family Diner opens in Tonasket · Categories: Businesses, Dining, Music, Tonasket

After a lot of planning, hard work and a burst of energy in February The Texas Family Diner in Tonasket has opened their doors to rave reviews.

Texas Family Diner ~ Tonasket

Texas Family Diner ~ Tonasket

Here’s what people are saying:

The food and service were excellent, and the atmosphere great… I will be back.
~ Annie Wilkison

Best Pattie melt I’ve had. Fantastic good and service, I’ll be here often.
~ Melisa Waite

Great food at a great price! Friendly people and local! Thank you for coming to our little town!
~ Laurie Craig Baker

There is a stage and dance floor for live entertainment, and they are currently booking bands for live shows and weekly music jams. Contact Steven Cole for more information.

The Menu – Yum!

Texas Diner Breakfast Menu

Texas Diner Breakfast Menu

Texas Diner Lunch

Texas Diner Lunch

Texas Diner Dinner

Texas Diner Dinner

In the short term be aware they’re not accepting credit cards at this time, but that will be corrected very soon. Meantime, bring cash and have a great meal. I did!

The Texas Family Diner
220 Whitcomb Avenue (Hwy. 97)
Tonasket, Washington
509 486-4791
Hours: 7:00 am ~ 10:00 pm
Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesdays)

Morning Ambrosia

by Dennis Peterson

Coffee – just seeing the word elicits symptoms of Pavlov’s dog. The aroma teases. Releasing the beans or grounds from their air-tight container assaults the senses, grinding the beans if that is on your preparation path fills the room with aerosol dust that lingers in the air. You move with practiced quickness wasting no time nor effort to start the brew. An eternity later the steady drip in the pot falls to a trickle and you can wait no longer. Pulling the pot from the brewer releases a few hissing drops onto the warmer but you give it little heed. Steam rises from your cup and you quickly add what you take with your coffee and you draw in a noisy slurping swallow as you return to your breakfast table. Now you are ready for the day. Oh what you miss, K-Cup users!

But most of us miss even more. Ever wonder where coffee comes from, or how it’s grown and processed before you fill your bag at the market? Let’s find out. Coffee, according to some experts, originated in Ethiopia and quickly spread around the world. Coffee is a seed found in a pulpy fruit that grows on rather drab looking trees. The farmed trees have long slender branches that burgeon all along their length with white blossoms sometimes multiple times per year. The trees like shade and a warm climate. Well drained soil and adequate water, and long sunny days complete the need. In Hawaii coffee is grown on the slopes of the mountains at an elevation between 800′ and 1200′ above sea level. It is hardy enough to survive and produce elsewhere but that seems to be the sweet spot.

When I lived in Puget Sound I found I could raise coffee trees in my yard provided I brought them inside in the fall, returning them outdoors in late spring. I had eight trees, all brought home from Kona, Hawaii. They don’t produce until age 6 years or so, and when they do they produce two crops per year. The fruit grows in sets called cherries, green at first and later they become red and ready to pick.

Green Coffee Cherries

Green Coffee Cherries

It will be 8 weeks before they’re ready to pick. They don’t all ripen at the same time as seen in the next two images.

Cherries ripening at the end of summer

Cherries ripening at the end of summer

The very reddest are ready to harvest while green cherries are still weeks away.

Cherry clusters ready to harvest

Cherry clusters ready to harvest

Fresh picked coffee cherries

Fresh picked coffee cherries

This is what the cherries look like right after picking. The pulp is moist and sticky and they need to be sorted for quality. Sorting amounts to washing them in clean water and throwing out those that float. If they don’t sink toss them out.

Removing the pulp can be a messy process. You can let them soak until the pulp comes away easily, or use any method you think of to remove the pulp and mucus that surrounds the bean pair. I often use paper towels to remove the mucus because they’re very slippery and will pop out of your hands without something to grip them. After the pulp and mucus is removed the bean pairs split.

Commercially they are dried in the pulp and machine processed to remove the beans from the dried outer layers.

Coffee beans with pulp and mucus removed.

Coffee beans with pulp and mucus removed.

You’d think they were ready but the beans are still encased in the parchment layer. This needs to be removed, too. I let them dry overnight before pealing off the parchment. What is left is the raw green bean. In most cherries there are two beans, but sometimes there will be only one. These are called peaberries and they are expensive and worth it. There is a peaberry in this image on the right side – it has no flat side and is shaped like an American football.

Beans in parchment

Beans in parchment

As the parchment dries it splits, making it easier to remove. Much of this is very automated in commercial farms, but this hands-on method is enjoyable probably in the same way many craft hobbies are.

The raw beans after parchment removal

The raw beans after parchment removal

Once the parchment is removed the raw beans are further air dried and then sealed in jars. At this point they’re ready for roasting. It took 6 years to raise enough beans for a single cup of coffee, but it was delicious! Many more followed over the years. When we moved to Oroville we had no place indoors to keep the trees and had to leave them on our unheated south-facing porch. Sadly, the 4º F temperature of last winter froze them and they all burst from root to top, but not before a final flourish of cherries were harvested in late fall.

Roasting raw coffee beans can be done in several ways. I use a hot air popcorn popper because it is fast, efficient, and reliable. It is also a smokey process best done outside away from smoke alarms. It is also a bit messy as the beans expand and shed a final thin skin called chaff that floats out of the popper. I direct these to a steel colander and toss them into the sink where they are wetted for collecting and disposing. They are feather light and will waft in the slightest breeze. The immediate area becomes saturated with the delicious aroma of roasted beans so if you do this in your kitchen be advised the fragrance will linger for hours. Win win!

You can also roast the beans in an iron skillet, but it is important to keep the beans moving so they roast evenly. Managing the chaff is also problematic. Some people are so taken with home roasting they buy commercial roasters that can range in price from $99 to over $500. All methods raise the air temperature to nearly 500ºF so be very careful when handling the beans after a roast. Beans crack at 380º and the second crack happens above 400º. Be aware too that as the beans roast they crack which means they expand and split causing a cracking sound. A couple minutes later a second crack happens which causes small hot pieces of beans to fly off and these can escape the popper or frying pan causing an annoying stinging as they burn a tiny bit. Do not look into the popper or other roaster without eye protection.

I mention all this because while shopping on Amazon last week I found a source of Tanzania peaberry raw coffee beans for a very good price and I’ve just roasted up a batch for use in the morning. First batch in over a year and we’re really looking forward to brewing them.

Here is a Youtube video from Sweet Maria – a raw bean coffee seller.