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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dimples and Dot

Meet Dimples and Dot.  We tried to build big snow people out in the yard, but the snow was still too soft and fluffy and it wouldn't stick together.  But the snow on the deck table was beginning to melt a little, so that's where our creations would live.  The names come from the dot on Dot's chin, and Dimples seemed appropriate for the cute little guy.
It looks like Dimples is asking Dot something...what do you think it might be?  Let me know your thoughts and I'll share them with everyone.

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Play

It's thrilling to have enough snow to play in it...keeps a person young!  So we bundled up in lots of layers and headed out.  This is my snow angel...have to make that first before jumping on the sled, this way I have a guardian angel looking out for me while I speed along on my sled...I forgot to roll my head side to side so her head is tiny, my shoes scraped the ground, and once I was down there I couldn't figure out how to get back up without putting my hands down (no doubt the lack of this ability has something to do with my body acting my age), but I think she looks pretty darn good.  I tried to make a snowman, but the snow wouldn't stick together...I'll try again tomorrow.

This is me and my toboggan...a gift from my brother Roger, who would love to be here with his daughter Jeanni playing with us...so I'm taking everyone on a toboggan ride...
...this is our path...
...I hung my camera around my neck so you could feel like you are right there...if you receive my posts via email you may need to click on title of this post to get to my web site to view this...ready???
video
Did you enjoy that?  I did!  I did it so many times I busted the bottom of the toboggan...this is what they make duct tape for, right?

Johny used our sled because it was easier to steer.  I preferred the speed of the toboggan.  It worked out well for us because we could each keep making runs rather than having to take turns!  

Despite all our layers, our hands and feet were getting cold, so we decided play time was over (for now).  As we headed back to the cabin, I spotted this handsome Robin filling up on berries...he kept hopping from one branch to another, almost as if to be sure I could get a good picture.  A perfect ending to fun in the sun and snow!

I hope you enjoyed your toboggan ride!

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Predictably Unpredictable

The weather that is.  I know it has to do with the way the Appalachian mountains ebb and flow for miles.  I know it has to do with the rolling peaks dotted with valleys that create updrafts and down drafts and wind shear and such.  I know it has to do with Mother Nature.  I know it has to do with human limitations and error.

I'm standing here at my computer looking out my window...this is what I see.  It's been gently snowing since the sun rose.  There was no indication of our getting any snow until after it was already snowing here...it was all supposed to be south of us.      
It's still snowing.
Everything is getting covered.
My happy obsession with it keeps taking me outside to watch it fall.  The really nice thing about this particular snow event is it isn't windy, so the snow is resting where it lands, giving new definition to the twisted limbs that fill the woods.  It's stunning.
It's falling a little faster now.
I'm a happy snow lover!

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Visitors

I was sitting in the living room last night when I saw something moving on the porch railing...
...I realized it was a small raccoon, watching my every move.  I waved my arms to shoo it away and turned on the porch lights hoping to keep it from returning.
But return it did, treading like a stalker until it found nothing of interest and left. I know that are raccoons all over these woods and mountains, but I've never seen a raccoon right up at the cabin.  Makes me wonder what attracted it in the first place...there isn't any food out there and all the bird seeds are eaten by nightfall.  Overall I thought it was kind of cool...he didn't appear sick or rabid...but we'll have to keep an eye out in case it returns.

Speaking of visitors, I noticed today that I've had over 100,000 pageviews of my blog since it's inception almost two years ago.  While this doesn't indicate individual people, it's still exciting to have people looking at (and hopefully reading) what I'm writing.  Thank you to all of you, my friends/family/readers/subscribers/followers, for stopping by, I thoroughly enjoy writing about and sharing my log cabin life.
 
Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,
Lise (sounds like lease)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chicken, Asparagus & Mushrooms En Papillote

En papillote...that would be cooked in parchment paper...a great cooking method that brings out the natural flavors of whatever you put into the packet, mingling them together while keeping everything moist and succulent. 
A unique culinary experience with every combination you create...and easy to do.

I must admit, this is the first time I've cooked en papillote, and I learned a few things during the process..
  • the flavors are intensified in that little package, a little goes a long way i.e. lemon
  • if using chicken, rather than pounding the breast to equalize the thickness, it would be better to cut the breast horizontally in half, creating 2 thinner cutlets; this will decrease the cooking time and allow the veggies to remain al dente... 
  • you don't need to create a lot of air space in the package, just enough to allow room for the steam
  • I saw suggestions for a heart shaped papillote, but decided not to go through the effort...I believe that heart shape would allow the package to surround the food more effectively...next time, I'll cut my parchment into a heart shape, then fill
The recipe I'm sharing what I did, not what I think I should have done...you know what they say, hindsight is 20/20.

Chicken, Asparagus & Mushrooms En Papillote

Ingredients:
3 pounded boneless, skinless seasoned chicken breast (instructions to follow)
1 lb asparagus spears with ends snapped off
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
6 thinly sliced cipollini onions drizzled with olive oil (mild and sweet)
Palmful of Herbs de Provence
Olive oil
Salt & fresh ground pepper
1 thinly sliced Meyers lemon (mild and sweet)
3 pieces of parchment paper folded in half
In case you aren't familiar with them, these are the cipollini onions, before slicing...

This recipe can be increased on decreased based on the number of packages you want to prepare.


Directions:

Prepare the parchment paper squares, making sure to start with a large enough piece to wrap the vegetables and chicken while leaving space for the steam (about 15"x15").  Heart shaped papillote next time.

Trim excess fat from the chicken and pound it with a mallet between two pieces of saran wrap, making the breast the same thickness all the way around.
Drizzle olive oil over the breasts and sprinkle them with Herbs de Provence. 

Wrap the packages and put it into the fridge to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.


Build your packets by opening the folded parchment paper and placing your ingredients on one side of the fold.  I started with 2 slices of lemon, then layer 1/3 of the asparagus spears (alternate the tips), then the onions drizzled with olive oil. 
Then layer 1 chicken breast, covered with the mushrooms and top with more onions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt & pepper to taste.

Now close the packets...not hard to do but it takes practice to make them look pretty...I'm sure the heart shaped paper would help with the aesthetics of the package. Starting at one corner of the parchment, seal the packets by double folding the edge, pressing the seams well, and overlapping the folds as you work around the packet.  Be sure to create a tight seal. I was afraid the packets were too loose, but these worked perfectly with no leaks.

Place the packets on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 35 - 45 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken.  If you make 2 cutlets out of 1 breast, your cooking time would decrease to 20 minutes or so; you could even increase the temperature to 425 and cook for 15 minutes, which is what I would do if cooking a piece of fish.

Once baked, you can serve by cutting one end of the package and sliding the food onto the dish, or you can cut an "X" in the top of the packet and serve in the paper.  I chose to remove the parchment.
The chicken was moist and infused with the flavors of the asparagus, mushrooms and onions, and there were wonderful juices filling the bottom of the papillote.  The lemon did create a very bold addition to it all, I would either use just one slice or eliminate it all together.

I will definitely be using this en papillote method for cooking in the future.  Not only is everything juicy, tender and busting with flavor, but clean up is easy too!  Have you ever cooked en papillote?  Do you have a favorite recipe?  Do you cut your parchment into a heart?

For more interesting recipes, visit The Prairie Homestead, A Bright and Beautiful Life, and Flour Me With Love.  

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

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Obsessed With The Snow

I can't explain what it is about the cold and snow of winter, but I love it.  I adore it.  I'm finding myself obsessed with it...when the weather's like this it's hard to spend extended periods outside so one must find indoor things to occupy themselves, so what if I fill my time with everything snow and cold...the bad part about it for you is that's what I write about...I hope you bear with me through these winter months!

Last nights sunset was crisp, clean and clear...
...while today's view teased me with speckles of snow flurries every now and then (look closely, you can see a few dots of snow in front of the trees)...
...with distinctly unique flakes settling on the ramp...
...and wrapping with what looks like a dusting of snow on the mountains that are just a stones throw away.  Better to be able to see fresh snow in the distance than not at all...and we do still have snow on the ground, it's been too cold for it to melt.

So I've spent my afternoon creating in the kitchen, experimenting with cooking en papillote (in parchment paper)...more about that tomorrow, let's just hope it was a success.  You'll hear about it regardless!

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

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's Cold In These Hills

It's been so cold the wood stove has been workin' hard to keep us warm...and I'm happy to say it's been burning off some of yesterday's melted mess...that gets a big woo hoo from me!  Thanks for all your suggestions, I've still got some cleaning to do.

We woke this morning to -4F. Snow still on the ground. Faucets dripping water to keep the lines from freezing (catching it in buckets for later use).  Icicles along the roof line.  The big flakes in our Admiral FitzRoy's storm glass indicating we might get more snow.


They say it hasn't been this cold in these hills for a very long while.  Most people aren't liking it.  I have to admit, we do...I know, kind of crazy...taking turns waking up throughout the night to stoke the wood stove, bundling up to go to the basement and check the pipes, sleeping with the covers over my head to stay warm...relishing these moments that we may never experience again. 

The past two days have been so cold I haven't walked to the mailbox and Johny's taken Bear...
 ...that's pretty bundled up for him...if it were me I'd have a scarf around my neck!


On my walk to see my friend Bertie today, I saw these cool ice spikes on our tiny frog pond in the woods...
...and was greeted by this handsome Cardinal upon my return...

Life is good, sub freezing cold included!

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wood Stove Woes

You know I love our wood stove, and it's been working overtime recently...we're back into single digit temps and never rising above freezing during the day...
...but alas today I foiled it up good...no worries, it still works, but it doesn't look pretty and there's a nasty smell.
You see, I was doing laundry.  My washer doesn't spin very well (I end up running the spin cycle a second time) and my dryer takes it's sweet time getting things dry (I have 6 tennis balls in the barrel just to try to keep things bobbling about the dryer rather than in a clump)I know, I know, it would probably be a wise investment to get a new set, but we are discussing the details of creating a guest room/bath/laundry area in part of the basement so I am being patient to make the change until those plans are confirmed and we start to build.  But I digress...since things take forever to dry, I usually place socks over the handle of my kettle of water (humidifies the cabin) to let them finish drying with the heat of the stove.

I put my thickest, warmest, cuddliest, favorite pair of cold weather socks over the handle to finish drying.  I was working on my computer when I smelled something funny and said out loud "what is that smell".  Suddenly, it dawned on me...MY SOCKS!  I ran to the stove, saw my disaster and yelled "noooooooooo!".  I grabbed the sock, ran outside and put it in the snow...leaving an icky, sticky, plastic mess on my stove...and ran back inside.
By now Johny is saying "what" and wondering what I'm running around desperate about...he wasn't too thrilled with the reason either.  At this point I decided to take some thick paper and scrape the plastic off the stove top...it worked on the thick, globby, sticky, ugly stuff...but left the smear you see in the picture above.  By the way, this is the other sock, which never fell onto the stove top but did get melted from the heat...who would have thought these amazing socks were made of something so flammable...not sure I want another pair, as cozy as they were.

After much thought about what to do next, I decided to fill the stove to the brim and pump up the heat to see if I could get what remained to melt enough to be removed.  It isn't gone yet, but I do believe it's looking better...more heat, more rubbing with a towel...if I'm lucky it will just burn off (I just hope the fumes don't get to us, we'll have to be sure to step outside and get lots of good breaths of fresh air!).  

In the meantime, my dear friend Patti @ Osage Bluff Quilter, do you think your fabulous blacksmith of a husband might have an idea I can try?  Or Margy @ Powell River Books Blog, do you have any solutions based on all your wood stove experiences (I know we share burning our clothing, but we've never discussed anything this extreme).  Anyone else out there have any suggestions?

Well, you know what they say, live and learn...no more drying synthetic socks on the wood stove! 

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Morning Snow

I love waking up to freshly fallen snow...



...everything looks pristine.

We tried to play, but the snow was too soft (I wasn't exaggerating yesterday when I told you the flakes were big, fluffy and puffy)...we need to wait until it melts a little and freezes, maybe tomorrow will be more promising...
 ...but desperate times call for desperate measures...this didn't work either!

This is a picture I took first thing this morning, no flash.  You can actually see the shapes of some of the individual flakes...there is one that looks like a flower in the upper left side of the photo...

Our blue birds of happiness look content with their snow caps on!

The snow helps define the logged area (top right side of photo) and the stone outcrop (just to the left of the center tree) where I stood looking down at the cabin (bottom left corner)...

I enjoyed watching the icicles develop throughout the day...drip, drip, drip and then instantly freezing, the sun shone brightly but the temperature never got above 24 degrees F...lets hope all that melting and freezing lends to good sledding tomorrow!

And yes, I'll attempt a snow angel...forgot all about them until writing this post.

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