On Saturday I told Uncle Gary that I had plans to plant Jerusalem Artichokes in my garden next year. He said that Jerusalem Artichokes are just weeds (related to sunflowers) in Iowa and that they grow on the side of the road. I didn't quite believe him, so we got into the car with shovel in hand and went down the road and dug some up. Well, I should say that Uncle Gary dug them up, I just watched. I've never seen this plant so big! It dwarfed Uncle Gary. Yup, they're Jerusalem Artichokes alright! How exciting! This tasty root has the crunch and taste of a water chestnut. I think it will be wonderful in stirfry. An excellent find!Thanks for a great weekend Bill, Aunt Jean, and Uncle Gary!
This weekend Brian and I headed south to visit Aunt Jean, Uncle Gary, and their son Bill. We had, of course, a great time! I hadn't met Bill before (he just moved back from a 3-year adventure in Hawaii) and Brian hadn't seen him years, so it was nice to get acquainted and re-acquainted. We're excited to have a cousin in the same state!
Our drive there was uneventful until the last turn, when Nuvi (our Garmin) took us down a backroad that turned out to be entirely mud. I've never been backroading with Brian in anything but his Jeep or 4Wheeler, so I had a great time watching Brian work his 3/4-ton heavy duty Chevy through the mud. He showed off some Alaskan skills and I was impressed. His truck is a mess (as was the road). This truck has had a rough few weeks. Last week Brian T-boned a Lexus sedan (not Brian's fault), so the truck is heading to the shop to have the bumper re-done. (The truck faired better than the Lexas.) We're hoping they'll give Brian's truck a bath while they're replacing the bumper. Figures...we just made the last payment this week! Brian wishes his truck wasn't such a mess.One of the highlights of the weekend was a trip to the Kalona Fall Festival. There was a flea market, where I almost got talked into buying a miniature Australian Shepard pup, but Brian said no. I bought a necklace instead. We ate corn dogs and onion rings...Aunt Jean found a giant ear of corn...and we saw lots of Amish and their horse-drawn wagons. Here's Uncle Gary and Aunt Jean posing. Brian liked the tractors and old motors on display best (see a few shots below). There were several very interesting museums too that showed the Mennonite and Amish history in the area.After leaving the Fall Festival, we couldn't drive by the local cheese shop without stopping to get some cheese curds, aka "squeaky cheese." At this particular factory you can watch the curds being made.Brian was very excited (and drooling slightly). He polished off the curds on the way home. There was lots of squeaking going on.Generally our pups head off to Critter Camp when we go out of town, but we were able to bring Mattie and Dawson on this trip because Uncle Gary has a nice big barn that they can stay in. Carl and Andre, Uncle Gary's two labs had a good time playing with our dogs. Here's a good picture of Carl. He has a beautiful blocky head, thick body, and nice temperament. Bill did a great job of wearing out Mattie and Dawson with a Frisbee on Saturday afternoon. As you can see they found a mudpuddle in the driveway. Its near impossible to keep labs out of water, so we gave up pretty early on. What a mess! Mattie and Dawson immediately had baths when we got home, much to their dismay.