Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garden Progress

Tomorrow I am taking a long road trip to our river house, so I am sharing my last direct and in person observations of our garden progress, with you, the best f/f/r/s/f's, (though I am certain I will be looking at this post while I am gone to get the touch and feel of my mountain space...).  Mountain Man will still be here, nurturing and maintaining things, and giving me daily reports, but it just won't be the same.

I am excited about this trip because I will be spending some of the time with my daughters and grandson Liam, whose birthday is coming up, and will be visiting with many friends whom I have not seen for at least 3 or 4 months.  Other than that, many chores await me, and I am not so excited about that (I will have to envision myself working in the garden with each task I take on, that should help me feel a little better).  I should look at this is like a vacation, and I know once I am there, I will be happy.  But right now I feel sad about leaving here...

Anyway, the garden:)

A Cherokee Purple flower
The start of Black Russian's,

and the start of Cherry's...I love all the delicate hairs!

This is the start of a wildflower I planted, not sure what it is because I threw a mixture of seeds when I planted them.  It's beginning to bloom:I sure hope it is still blooming when I return!
 I love how the petals are folded into themselves and are just beginning to open!

Our first snow pea!  Picked it today and ate it right off the vine!  Sweeeeeet:)

Sunflower bud beginning, I love the intricately detailed beginnings of what is going to be...

Our zucchini is doing beautifully...
...we have zucchini, picked this late today to bring along with me...

...and I sure love to see the bees pollinating:)

And our three sisters are doing quite well, the corn is almost as tall as I am,
 ...and the winter squash are bursting with flower buds...

We have been picking our bush beans, and had enough to eat this evening, they were sweet and crispy!

The peppers are starting to look like pepper plants and the purple, white and sweet potatoes all continue to do well.

I'll be happy when I get back to see the growth that occurred while I was gone, as Mountain Man will be in charge:)

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sitting In My Canvas Swing...

...which hangs from the porch roof on the north corner of the cabin, is a beautifully peaceful spot.  The swing is like a little cocoon; when I sit in it I am enveloped by the canvas.  I put my feet on the porch railing to guide my motion...back and forth, side to side, arcing now and then, and when I am feeling brave, spinning, slowly.  I feel like I am floating.   
I look out at the silent mountains, as the clouds float by, and listen...
...the creek below me is gurgling and splashing over the rocks in it's path...
....the hummingbirds are twittering loudly at each other as they fight over the feeder next to me...
...my chime rings deep notes of mostly A, D & F...
...the wind rustles the leaves ever so gently...
 ...a tree branch cracks and plunges to the ground below...
...a myriad of birds create a symphony with their distinctive songs...
...a buzzing bee whirls about...
...a light rain shower sprinkling on the leaves...
All these sounds create a quietness, and I feel unruffled and joy-filled.
I am so happy that I get to live in and love these mountains!

I hope you have been able to feel yourself sitting in my canvas swing, and enjoying the moment...

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My First Homemade Bread

I made my first homemade bread yesterday, and boy am I proud of myself!  I'd been waiting for the humidity to go down, because I have heard you want a sunny day with low humidity for the bread to rise properly.  Well, yesterday was the first day to satisfy those conditions, and I was ready.  I had already selected a relatively basic Hearth Bread recipe from Landoll's Country Baking cookbook (an excellent book) so when the time was right I was good to go:)  I modified the recipe slightly by using bread flour instead of all purpose flour.

Here is the end result...looks good, doesn't it?  It tasted good too!
Country Hearth Bread

6 cups bread flour
2 packages dry yeast
2 cups water
2 tbls sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg white
2 tbls water

Stir together 2 cups of flour and the yeast
In a saucepan, heat water, sugar and salt until warm, 120 - 130 degrees.

Add the liquid ingredients to your flour/yeast mixture and beat until smooth. 

Gradually add the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough.  I do not have a mixing bowl with a bread paddle, so I used my spatula and my hands, which worked just fine.

Turn onto a slightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 12 to 15 minutes.
I used the following technique, just because it was working for me, I didn't think to research 'how to knead'...first I made a long roll...
 ...folded it onto itself like this...
 ...and kneaded it into a roll again.  I did this for 12 minutes, when it looked quite smooth and felt stretchy.

This is the final dough. 

Cover dough and let rise 40 minutes...this was the start...
...this was at 40 minutes...while the lens is a little closer to the towel, you can still see how much it has risen...

...with the towel removed...compare this to the first loaf of dough, and you can again see how much it has risen...

Now you punch down the dough (this was fun!), punch all the air out of that lovely puff of dough...

Form into two loaves (I cut the dough in half, tri-folded each piece just as above, creating the seam).  Place them on a greased baking sheet, seam side down.  Make diagonal cuts along the top with a sharp knife. 

Beat together the egg and water and brush the tops of the loaves.  Then sprinkle cornmeal on top.

Let them rise to double in bulk, about 20 to 30 minutes.

I had originally put each loaf on its own baking sheet because I was afraid that when they doubled in size, they would not both fit on one pan.  But two pans would mean they would overlapped a little in the oven, making one tilt a bit, and I didn't like that idea either.  When they did rise, I transferred them onto the same baking sheet.  And they did fit.  I do believe however, this caused them to fall a bit; not enough to ruin the bread though!  Next time, I will start with them on the same baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven (I used 350) 45 - 50 minutes.  After 20 minutes of baking, brush the tops with hot water; brush with water every 10 minutes until done.  When I took the bread out for the first water brushing, I was surprised how brown they were, and how crispy the crust was already getting. 
When I took them out again 10 minutes later, they seemed done.  I did 2 "doneness" tests:
~ the thumb thump on the bottom (like you would a drum), if it sounds hollow, it is done, &
~ thermometer reading; at 190 degrees it is done (mine was reading over 200).
Definitely done!  Why they cooked so quickly, despite the lower temperature, is still a mystery to me, but I am really glad the recipe called for brushing with water, which forced me to keep a good eye on them!

And here they are, 2 lovely crispy crusted Hearth Bread loaves!

If you have never baked bread, I highly recommend it, at least once.  It was really not that difficult!  I can't wait for my next bread making adventure!  Do you have a favorite bread recipe you would like to share?

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Harvesting Hakurei Turnips & Actually Beginning to Live Off the Land!

I harvested our turnip crop today, the first full harvest of our garden.  I was a little caught off guard by how emotional I was...not surprising, after having planted the seeds, watching them sprout and grow, nurturing by weeding & watering, and watching some more...it was similar to the sense of pride I felt when accomplishing something of importance but knowing it meant things were changing...I was both happy for the accomplishment and sad that now this crop of turnips is "done".

Here is the small row of turnips...
These are the largest of the crop, pulled first just because:)
 My basket full...doesn't look like much, but I am proud as a peacock!
After washing and trimming, these are the turnips that remain.  Their aroma was exactly as I had anticipated, turnip-y, but their freshness made them milder smelling; and they were so fresh and young I didn't remove the skin!  I roasted them with a little olive oil and salt & pepper, and they were delicious!
I also used the turnip greens, which were crisp and also had that familiar turnip aroma, but a little milder.  I tasted one raw, (you can include them in salads), but did not care for the aftertaste, which was quite bitter.  I cooked them in a stir fry; sauted onions in butter and olive oil, added wild mushrooms (we do eat a lot of those), a little soy sauce and Worcestershire, then added the greens...another tasty dish! 
We ate the two turnip dishes as a meal this evening, along with some home made bread I will tell you about tomorrow.  We were thrilled with our turnip crop, so much so we are already planning on planting a fall crop again!

So here we are, beginning to live off the land!!!  A thrilling day indeed:)

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Visit with Mitch & Jerry

Mountain Man & I had such a great time with Mitch & Jerry, not tat we didn't think we would, but after at least 15 years, if not longer, of seeing each other, it was just like seeing your best friend after umpteen years yet no time had passed...and Johny and Jerry had never met before!  Really good times that we will not soon forget!

They arrived in their awesome new truck/camper, made me want to get one and go on a road trip...just might have to make a trip to RI for some of those quahogs Jerry promised!

Besides celebrating Mitch's birthday with yummy chocolate strawberry drizzle ganache cake, we had a ball...

We hunted mushrooms, Jerry was a quick study and really enjoyed himself; of course Mitch and I watched from the sidelines taking pictures and enjoying the woods...


While mushrooming we came across this clawed up tree trunk...we thought hmmm, bear?

We shot at targets with Mountain Man's Crossman rifle, both Mitch and Jerry were pretty good shots!
 This is Jerry lookin' very pleased with himself after he hit his first can:)
 This is Jerry teaching Mitch how to aim...

I took Mitch up the mountain on Bear, and even though her palms got sweaty, we had fun! I don't have a picture of this...I think Jerry took one with his phone...and Johny took Jerry for a tour as well.  They also got to meet Ron & Bertie, our mountain neighbors up the road, fun times!

For dinner I made a wild mushroom Alfredo sauce for our pasta with all the mushrooms that were gathered throughout the day (simple sauce with butter, onions, mushrooms, heavy cream and a mixture of Parmesan/Romano cheeses).  We also had home made garlic bread and, yes, oh yes, dandelion salad!  It was yummy!

Then we sat on the porch chatting and drinking wine and really enjoying each others company, having an awesome time.  It sure was sad to see them leave!  Come back any time, and no doubt we'll be seeing you in RI one of these days, sooner than later, we are already discussing planning the trip!

It sure is great to spend time with extended family!  These past couple days were perfect, absolutely, perfectly perfect:)

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,