Friday, July 11, 2014

Why do I knit?

I knit for several reasons, more than when I stop to think about it. It is a great pleasure to make something useful with two sticks and some string, it can be a very peaceful practice, once having learned the basics and we will have warm things to wear and sleep under in the coming years.

This week I have started a new project that will take about twelve weeks. This is a Cabled Afghan. I am using all cotton yarn as that washes nicely and is readily available in our area at a good price. The free instructions are at      

The idea of a free "knit along" project with on going instruction is great. My knitting is very elementary and I have been a bit afraid of cables. The opportunity to learn so many different stitches and make a useful blanket was one I could not resist.So far the instructions are easy to understand and everything is looking right. The only problem I am having is accessing the knit along video. I can not get it to work for square number two and that is a little frustrating but I found the directions at the site listed above.

Happy knitting! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Time Flies...

when you are having fun and when you are busy. I am not sure where the days have gone.

Portland Homestead Supply co.
Our home based business, TwoRivers Food has been at the Portland Homestead Supply Co,,  8012 SE 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97202, teaching  jam making classes. Husband Eric Tworivers is a Ball brand Master Canner and a WSU Master Food Preserver. It has been fun to go along as his "magicians assistant" and videographer. Yes, videographer. I have a little used degree in Television Production ( that is whole other story). I am working on educational videos of our classes. I hope to have the first done after July 4th. Anyway, back to the classes. There will be two classes in pressure canning this month and more to follow. Check the Homestead Supply Co, at for more information and to register. 

Yoda Tworivers
July 4th is almost upon us. For the past week we have lived in a barrage of fireworks. Our dog is not fond of the noise but not terrified either. He looks to see how we react and goes from there.

Covey Ridge Vineyard
The morning of the 4th we are taking our show on the road to Covey Ridge Vineyard, 41940 NW Covey Ln, Banks, OR 97106.  Known for their lush Pinots, Covey Ridge is set in Oregon's lovely wine country. We will be teaching another jam class at a private event and debuting our Pinot Noir Jelly for tasting. 

At home we had a happy surprise. The ancient cherry tree in our backyard, perhaps 60 or more years old and almost that tall, is a sweet cherry! I was watching our dog wandering about in the yard and noticed him eating something with great pleasure. It was a cherry. Using my deductive reasoning I came to the conclusion that he would not eat something sour and tasted one myself. Delicious! Now our plans for the big tree are changing. Rather than remove it we will try to rehabilitate it. This will take at least three years but should be worth the effort. We picked the low hanging fruit and canned a couple of jars of juice for kombucha this winter.

More fruit picking: enough black currants to make and freeze syrup for festive fizzy drinks, blueberries which go direct to the freezer for pancakes, frozen yogurt and other treats, green chili peppers roasted, peeled and frozen, and lots of lettuce.

Most of the tomatoes are setting on fruit. Tomatoes,,, we have lots of tomatoes.
Tomato,basil, nasturtium, onions
We have saved seeds from a few years. This fall when we moved the seeds got scrambled and we have a "mixed assortment" of heirloom tomatoes. Over 40, actually. Many of these will be headed for the Battleground Outdoor Market Saturday, July 5th for a free Plant and Seed Swap we are holding. The market is located at 802 SE 14th Ave #109, Battle Ground, WA 98604 and is open from 10am to 3pm, rain or shine. Husband Eric is the Market Manager. If you see a tall fellow with a pony tail and tie dyed shirt stop and say "Hi!".

Eric Tworivers
What else? We acquired a wood chipper. We need it as there is a lot of pruning done and to do in the next few years. I am knitting socks for winter and am starting a knit along cable afghan class today. I am a little afraid of cables but the class is 12 weeks and will proceed slowly, I hope. You can find this free class at

Plus we keep doing our regular jobs: teaching music, running open mics, performing, photo shoots and trying to whip the house and garden into shape.

Hope your summer is beautiful and productive.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Redesigning the garden Part 3

Warmer weather keeps drawing me outdoors. Hven't knitted in a month because everytime I have a moment I have a gardening book/catalog in my hands or my hands are in the dirt.

We, husband mostly, have been hauling recycled concrete tiles for walk ways, garbage recycling station, bed edging and 3 loads of rabbit poo which we have spread around the beds.

Rabbit manure is a great fertilizer. It is not “hot” like chicken, cow or horse manure and can go directly into the garden area. Over the years we have noticed more earthworms and much higher production in the beds where we have applied rabbit manure. This is only one of the reasons that we plan to have a couple of fiber bunnies in a year or two. I knit a bit and hope to learn to spin in 2014. (actually have 2 bags of wool fleece in the garage that I hope to learn on)

Last week we planted the hazelnut bushes and a mini sweet cherry bush. They seem to have adapted well and are leafed out and looking well. Three apple trees – 2 out of three are blooming - and one autumn olive to go.

A section of our backyard is partial or very shady. One area next to the patio that we did not realize was there - hidden under years or moss and debris is very shady so it is becoming a woodland garden. Friends have given us hostas, bleeding heart, violets, rose campion, ladies mantle, and asian poppies. We carefully planted them far apart to take speading into account. Soon we will mulch around them. Still working on getting the moss off the patio but hope to borrow a pressure washer in a week and get the area clean. I am looking forward to morning coffee and afternoon games of cribbage with my hard working husband.

Bleeding Heart

In the front yard we are again fortunate to have plant sharing friends. Hollyhocks, peony, snapdragons and parsley have come to their new home.

Yesterday I discovered 3 organic sweet potatoes have sprouted with great enthusiasum. More starts for the garden. It seems likely that they will grow under the blueberries. Hopefully they will make a living mulch and produce a few to eat.

Sweet potato starts

In the greenhouse we have cucumbers, calendula, basil, and chives. A flat of just seeded giant sunflowers, dill, turks turban squash and bunching onions have joined them. The nights are still often in the low to mid 40 degree range though next week is promising to be warmer.

Greenhouse sprouts

Two potato grow bags have plants growing. New potatoes with fresh chives and butter for dinner very soon I hope!

Traditionaly, in this area, we do not plant out until Mother's Day, May 11th this year. Some old timers wait until the snow is gone off Silver Star – a low rounded peak to our North east. We have only two weeks to complete bed preparation and get ready. We may wait another week in case of late frost. It seems our climate, like all others, is changing. First and last frost dates are no longer “the usual” and we must be flexible with our timing.

What and when are you planting this year?

Dairy Kefir

Two weeks ago we responded to an ad on Craigslist (I am sure you see a pattern here) for dairy kefir grains. We have been adding *fermented foods to our diet and found them tasty, affordable, easy to use once we figure them out and seem to help with our general health. The offer for free Kefir grains was too good to resist.

We journied across the Columbia river to the south to the suburbs and after a bit of wandering had our Kefir to begin the experiment.

There is a lot of information on line as to how to grow, consume and keep your dairy kefir.  Kitchen Stewardship at is a very good place to start.

Dairy Kefir
We chose pasteurized, whole milk, put the kefir in a quart canning jar, poured in the milk and waited. The next day we made banana kefir smoothies with a drop of vanilla. Very tasty and no ill digestive results. Other flavors have not been so successful though peach is very nice. The grains multiply rapidly. We have shared with one person and have been adding the excess to our compost.

I am looking forward to making kefir ranch salad dressing for our salad greens which are just about ready to harvest.

I have Kefir grains to share locally!

* Commonly made fermented foods at the Tworivers house: Kombucha, soft cheese, sourdough bread, cookies, cake, etc, dill pickles, yogurt

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Community Seed and Plant Swap

We are happy to announce that we will host a Community Seed and Plant Swap, Saturday July 5th.
Please feel free to comment on send a private message via email or private message on facebook

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Redesigning the garden. Part 2

Following a week of rain and showers today has been warm and partly sunny.

After a several days of hacking away at the giant sticker bush (unidentified rose bush with HUGE thorns), my husband popped it out of the soil and we got the last blueberry bushes in the ground. They are blooming and looking well and we are hoping for berries this year.

Rose Roots
Blue Berries
Tulips are blooming in the area where we will plant our peppers. When the time is right we will move them to a new spot, possibly by the currant plants.

Tulip Surprise

Speaking of currants, they have produced many, tiny flower buds. That is pretty exciting as we do not know what kind of currant they are. They were another free find on Craigslist

Currant buds
We are still debating the placement of our Filbert bushes. From what I have read, they prefer dappled sun and a slightly acidic soil. Dappled sun we have plenty of. I was concerned that they have not bloomed yet but now I know that it will take another year or two before they are ready to do that. After 4 years in pots they should be happy to meet the soil.

Oregon State University has a good publication available at the following link.

Fruit Trees and Nuts in the Home Orchard

We still have to build flower beds in the front which will be a mix of perennials and annuals to attract pollinators and finish building the tomato bed. Then we can start the big project. The back yard and patio that have gone unloved for at least a decade before our arrival.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Redesigning the garden. Part 1.

On Halloween we moved to our “new to us” home. The house was built in 1950 of concrete blocks and sits on a 10th acre in a peaceful neighborhood.

We were smitten with the house on the first viewing, totally sucked in by the coved ceiling, fireplace and built in bookcase, not to mention a large eat in kitchen with ceramic tile counter tops and plenty of storage. The attached garage and fenced yard were added blessings and we immediately said “yes!”.

In the passing days we observed the neighborhood and saw raised beds, espaliered fruit trees, and patios in front yards so we felt we would fit in.

Spring has finally come to the northwest with rain, wind, sun, landslides and flowers. Now the time has come to get all the plants that have lived in pots for four years into the ground.

We have watched the pattern of sun and shadow to try to access the best location for sun hungry plants and have begun the planting out process.

When we left our former home, a 1950's duplex we brought with us: four blueberry plants, five currant plants, two hazelnut trees, one dwarf cherry tree, three dwarf apple trees, one bay tree, thirteen lavender plants, one comfrey plant, one grape vine, three culinary sage plants,one hydrangea, two rosemary plants,one oregano plant and two thyme plants – all in pots of various sizes. Happily, most of them made it through the winter and we are now hurrying to get them into the ground.

During an unusually dry and chilly winter there was some time for inspirational reading. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Quarter Acre Farm” by Spring Warren, “Gaia's Garden A guide to home-scale permaculture” by Toby Hemenway, and “How to Pick a Peach” By Russ Parsons and many others; keeping the public library and Amazon busy. Then, of course there are the seed catalogs. Page upon page of lovely veggies and fruits. My favorites are: Territorial Seed at, Botanical Interests at, and Raintree Nursery at, all of which offer free catalogs, newsletters, blogs and advice and are at least some what local to us.

One challenge is that our home was previously a rental for many years. Different people put things in the ground and left them. Some of this ground is needed for the previously mentioned “sun hungry”plants so we are removing and re-homing them as much as possible.

For some unknown reason we have begun with the front yard and will then move around to the back. Rhododendrons, and unidentified roses have moved to make way for blooming blueberries in a sunny area, with another “Rhody” moved from a shady bed that is home to a green, fuzzy carpet of baby lettuces. The western fence line houses the currant bushes, while on the east the bay tree, thyme and lavender cozy up to the front gate, with an unknown “table grape” in the corner and the hydrangea to the south. We are prepping a tomato bed by the front walk and in the attached, giant flower box tulips are blooming where we intend to plant peppers in the full sun.

Tomato bed


Front gate, Bay tree, lavender and thyme


Thanks to craigslist, and our Facebook friends we have acquired quite a bit of hardscaping – concrete edgers, and stepping stones, which we are placing as we go along. Luckily we have a small pickup truck and I have a patient and willing husband to help with all this.

Today we are expecting “showers” and we have two more large plants to remove, two more blueberries and nine or ten lavender plants to get into the ground. We now have enough edgers to finish lining the tomato bed and our usual workdays to contend with: teaching music, hosting open mics, managing a farmers market, completing a photo assignment, and final preparations for a concert at the “Historic Old Church” this Saturday. Busy week? Yes and it is all good.

The Historic Old Church Portland, Oregon

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Story of a Turkey.

Several years ago we bought a small,chest freezer from a craigslist ad. It has been very useful in our food storage plan.

After Christmas 2013, when frozen turkeys were on sale we ventured to our local grocery store. After choosing a 12 pound turkey we took it to the meat department where we were assured the turkey would be cut in half (while frozen) and we could pick it up the next day (still frozen).

The next day my husband, Eric, went to the store after work. The turkey was not cut in half, the next day the same. Day three the turkey was cut in half but completely thawed which defeated the purpose of getting a frozen turkey. We choose another turkey from the freezer and day four still no turkey. After speaking with management my husband was leaving the store in disgust when he heard over the store speaker system “Eric, with the turkey, please return to the meat department.” Victory at last!

Safely tucked in the freezer the turkey waited for several weeks. Eventually we thawed one half in the refrigerator and roasted it in our stainless steel roaster (thank you Value Village). It was tender and delicious. The leftovers became turkey salad and the bones went into the crockpot with ham bones and scraps from the Christmas ham yielding 10 pints of luscious broth. Labeled “meat juice” by my wonderful Master Food Preserver, Wacko husband, this will go into pots of wild rice soup and other good things.
How to Roast ½ a Turkey

6 lb half turkey
sea salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.
Lightly rub salt into the bird on both sides.
Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Place the bird skin side up on a rack in a roasting pan.
Cover and roast at 350F for 1 hour.
Remove the cover and reduce heat to 325F.
Baste bird with its own juices every 15 minutes
Roast for 1-1/2 hours longer. Remove from oven when thermometer in breast registers 170F. Remove turkey from the roasting pan and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Serve with roasted root vegetables and enjoy!
He also made his fab Turkey Salad spread.

Turkey Salad Sammich Spread

Keep all chopped ingredients a consistent size

4 cups chopped left over turkey meat – both light and dark

3 regular size kosher dill pickles chopped

3 celery ribs chopped

4 green onion chopped

4 ounces black olives chopped

Stir chopped ingredients before adding the following spices

½ tsp ground pepper

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp ground cloves

Stir in enough olive oil based mayonnaise to make the mixture moist put not sloppy.

This is a great sandwich spread on home made sourdough bread and is good on crackers. Fine tune the spices to your personal taste.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Growing a garden, farmers markets, preserving seasonal food for later use. All these lead to a more sustainable, creative way of thinking about food. My husband, Master Photographer Eric Tworivers, is on a journey to help build a transition to local, fresh food.

Why did you become a Master Food Preserver?

I became a Master Food Preserver mostly to make sure that I could save our food in the safest way possible. My wife encouraged me to look into the Master Food Preserver Certification after I realized the fun I have preserving foods. She (Deanna, my wife), is a Certified Master Composter, and directed me to the right place to begin the process, in this case it is Washington State University Extension Services.

What was the process?

The process is really pretty simple; I contacted the Extension office and signed-up, my application was approved and I took a very intensive, hands-on course over two months and received my Certification.

In exchange I give volunteer time during the growing season to others via the Extension Hotline and our own website.

How does this relate to your interest in farmers markets?

My interest in Farmer's Markets comes more from my early life, in that I loved going to 'Flea' markets and such, and when Farmer's Markets began to flourish I just kinda went right along with them. I grew to check-out any markets I could back in my younger days, when I was doing a lot of touring playing music.

Today, my interest in Farmer's Markets is driven very much by the concept of 'Farm to Table to Pantry' with our food. The food thats presented today in our stores is most often harvested WAY before it should be, to allow for travel of long distances, and many, many things are created and sold to us that are Genetically Modified, and that's NOT good news for anybody except the corporations controlling the bottom-line. As long as the stockholders make a profit, to hell with the people, seems to be the common thread.

Farmer's Markets fight this trend by bringing the LOCAL farmer's products to the LOCAL consumer, and in so doing the quality of the food is MUCH better, allergens are reduced (we are eating foods from our own area, not across the world, we are used to the local allergens), nutrients are higher in quantity and quality, and you can learn from the Farmer/Rancher EXACTLY what went in to creating the food you are about to enjoy.

What experience do you have, professionally, with farmers markets?

I have worked in booths at Farmer's Markets, selling on the Craft side (stained glass, many years ago), and on the Farmer's side, most recently I spent last summer working Farmer's Markets selling Organic Pork products and Organic Eggs.

I also have many year's of experience performing music at Farmer's Markets, giving me yet another take on how they work.

Today, I am Market Manager of Battle Ground Village Outdoor Market in Battle Ground, Washington, and this Market (which has been largely a Craft Market),will transition to a Farmer's Market beginning this season (2014).!outdoor_market/cjd6
Do you see farmers markets as part of a sustainable food movement?

ABSOLUTELY! As a matter of fact, now that you have me thinking about it, I see Farmer's Markets as one of the main tools we have to get people weaned away from the over-processed, GMO foods we are offered in the stores. Through the Markets we can not only bring fresh, healthy foods to the consumer, but we can also teach the consumer (remind them, really), what to do with the foods they have just gotten at the Markets. We (Markets) bring demonstrations, answers to questions, help in many ways, and it's ALL about creating and maintaining a healthy, sustainable food supply.

Tell us a little about the Food Ambassador program and how it relates to farmers markets.

The Food Ambassador Program (of which I am a Member), created by Chef Jamie Oliver, is primarily designed to help improve the quality of food served in our nation's schools. Within the framework of helping the schools, we refer to the Market's and the associated Farmers and Ranchers, to educate parents, students and school administration that LOCAL and HEALTHY are the best way to go when it comes to feeding our kids.

When we can succeed in getting fresh local foods into the schools, everyone benefits; the kids (eating better), the school (providing better nutrition), the community (local dollars spent seeding, growing, harvesting, distributing are all kept local), it becomes a win-win for all involved.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

In search of the perfect loaf.

About eleven years ago I became aware that my mother was sensitive to products made with wheat flour. She had several symptoms including bruising and digestive difficulties. At that time I began making baked goods with locally grown Spelt flour. As long as we kept away from modern wheat things went well.

As time and my mother passed I began to learn about sourdough bread and began the adventure of Spelt sourdough baking. We had great results with cookies, pancakes, cake and crackers but bread remained...a problem. I churned out doorstop. Handsome weighty loaves that often became bread crumbs for meat loaf and meat balls. Useful but not what I was hoping for.

Last month I came across a wonderful recipe at This recipe became the jumping off place for our Spelt sourdough bread.

During the last baking session I was unexpectedly called away to work during the last rise. So popped the loaves in the refrigerator and hoped for the best. When I got home I set them on the counter. Three hours later they were ready for the oven and turned out very well.

Following the recipe reflecting the changes we have made. As husband is allergic to honey we went to sugar, olive oil instead of coconut and only Spelt flour. I have used the both the milk or water options and melted butter instead of or half and half with olive oil. All of which have worked.

Thank you Tracy Vierra and Wardee!

Photograph by Eric Donaldson Tworivers

Sourdough Bread, Vierra-Style

Sponge ingredients:
  • 1 cup (active state and fed 2 to 3 times before use — this will lessen the sour taste)
  • 1 cup milk or water
  • 2-1/4 cups spelt
Soaked dough ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups water or milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
  • ½ cup sugar brown or white
  • 5 1/2 cups spelt flour

Additional ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • butter or olive oil
Makes 2 loaves.
The night before, mix the sponge ingredients together in a bowl. Loosely cover with a cloth to sit overnight. In a separate bowl, mix the soaked dough ingredients together, and also loosely cover to sit overnight.
The next morning, add 2 eggs to the soaked dough mixture and incorporate well. Put both the soaked dough and sponge in a stand mixer of your choice (I use a Kitchen Aid) and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until well incorporated. Let the dough sit in the mixer for around 30 minutes. Add the sea salt to the dough and mix for 3 to 4 minutes. Depending on the temperature, let dough rise for about an hour. Turn on mixer for 20 seconds. Let dough rise again for an hour, and then mix again for 20 seconds.
After dough has risen for the second time, remove from mixer, knead on a floured surface, and separate the dough into two separate halves. Knead each half just enough to remove excess air, and form each half into a loaf to fit your bread pan. With a knife, slash the loaves of bread with a few marks down the center. Brush each loaf with butter or coconut oil. Cover both of the loaves and let rise in a warm spot. In the winter in our kitchen, this last rise takes a couple of hours. It may be only an hour in the summertime.

I have found that if I put the loaves in the refrigerator over night the loaves continue to rise very slowly. Then I set them out and bring to room temperature (this takes a couple of hours) before baking. This creates a much better crumb.

Once the loaves have risen satisfactorily, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake loaves for 40 to 45 minutes until they sound hollow if you tap them. Remove bread from oven and cool out of pans. Do not slice the bread until it is cooled!!