Wednesday, May 25, 2016


 Walla Walla Sweet Onions--Second to None

It's that time of year when the scent of sweet onions permeate the air in parts of the Walla Walla Valley. 

Walla Walla Sweet Onions have been grown as a specialty vegetable crop since 1900.

To be labeled a "Genuine Walla Walla Sweet Onion" the onion must be grown in the legal production area 
which encompasses Walla Walla county in southeastern Washington and a small part of northeastern Oregon.

The appealing mildness of Walla Walla Sweet Onions is due to their low sulfur content--less sulphur means less bite and no tears--
and is half that of ordinary yellow storage onions. And despite the Sweet Onion label, they contain negligible amounts of sugar.

 Look for the round shape, elongated neck, dry, paper-thin skin, and the "Genuine" seal.

The Sweets are larger than most onions; they can weigh up to 2lbs. each and measure 5 inches.

The Sweets are planted in early fall and overwinter before restarting growth in early spring.
They are available mid-June through September, although this year's crop seems to be a bit early.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Blue Mountain Land Trust--Learning on the Land

Yes, it's time again for the summer series of BMLT's Learning on the Land. In todays' session participants learned from local bee-keeper/hobbyist Paul Tomkins about how to start and maintain your own backyard colony of bees.

Bee-ing up close and personal, Paul is a hands-on kinda guy when it comes to bees and rarely uses gloves or a bee suit when handling his bees of the strain apis mellifera.

In this hive configuration known as a Langstroth hive, the larger bottom box is the deep super or brooder box. This is where the bees live.

A medium super sits on top and is where the extra honey not used by the bees themselves will be made and stored in frames 8-10 to a box. Medium or shallow supers can be stacked one atop the other depending upon the anticipated volume of nectar flow.

According to Paul, two hives is best for a beginning backyard beekeeper. The stones on top act as weights to keep the lids from flying off in a wind storm. Ideally, hives should be located away from the wind, but sometimes conditions cannot be perfect.

 In preparation of opening a hive, Paul gets his smoker going using dried grass or leaves.

Today's Learning on the Land session included two families with children. Here Oscar donned in the beekeeper veil helps Paul smoke the bees. The smoke sends a "fire alert" to the bees which brings them back to the hive to gorge on honey while also subduing them. As noted, Paul is sans gloves, veil, or suit and instead works slowly and quietly among his hives so as not to rile the bees.

Showing no fear, another youngster enjoys serving as a bee landing strip.

Friday, May 20, 2016


Morning Glory Muffin @ the new WW Bread Co.

Halleluia! Yippee! and Oh My Goodness! 
I FINALLY found a viable workflow to upload photos to my Walla Walla Daily Photo blog on my new-to-me Mac. It was not, however, without much frustration, angst, and tears. Yes real, wet tears on my part. But VOILA! Here I am to continue posting photos of my beautiful home town in southeast Washington state.

The Walla Walla Bread Co. opened its doors seven years ago in the middle of the 200 block of East Main Street in a cubby-hole of a space just big enough for the bakery itself and a counter for customer take-out. As its popularity grew, it added espresso drinks along with its growing menu of muffins, croissants and other breakfast noshes along with its original artisan breads, all still for take-out only. 

Popularity persisted so the owners, Michael and Rachel Kline, eventually carved out space in the front of the house for four tables and chairs to seat 16, along with seasonal outdoor seating for a handful more. Along with this came the addition of house-made soups, sandwiches, quiches, and other lunch items to eat in situ or to go. On a typically busy day, it was a bustling place with little room to navigate. Hence their recent relocation.

Only a few doors down from their original location, the Klines went to work opening up another former hole-in-the-wall, albeit a much larger space, to accommodate their expanded vision of a full-service restaurant in addition to the original take-out bakery. Weeks and months later, the business is now open, literally and figuratively, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Main Street and also looking in to a spacious, contemporary space of polished slate, masonry and concrete. 

Judging from my seat at the counter, the house is filled with a large staff busily preparing or serving the expanded menu of made-to-order breakfast, lunch and soon-to-be added dinner items. And from everything I've heard, they all work together as a well-oiled machine, even as the roll-out of dinner service is still in the works. 

The reason may be the Kline's commitment to provide living wages for all of their employees by instituting a 15% hospitality fee for all menu items. This is a bold move and is the first restaurant in Walla Walla to pro-actively address the impending rise in the statewide minimum wage along with the traditional disparity in wages between the front and back of the house. 

From what I observed, their teamwork approach is working and as a consumer, my tab for a muffin and a mocha was less than comparable places down the street. Suffice it to say, I'll be back!