Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I can't believe I didn't know this

So I found this on Pinterest Growing Luffas blog post and I still can't believe it. How did I not know that Luffas are grown on vines, and that I could grow them?! For some reason I thought they came from the ocean, like some type of sponge. Well, now I will have to find some seeds to start and try to grow them this year. Because who WOULDNT want to grow a luffa? Amazing.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Heating with wood...oops.

So, one of the biggest adjustments to heating with wood is a lack of a thermostat.  While for the most part it means you need to do some work to have heat (the stove doesn't have a gas or oil line feeding it like a furnace, YOU have to feed it), it also means that you have to control the temperature by controlling the amount of wood and air.  It's been pretty cold here lately.  Single digits, negative digits.  Like -10.  Air temp.  We got pretty used to that.  However, recently we had a little break (it's over.  It's -3 right now) and hit 20's.  Great, right?  Except we got a little too used to 2 instead of 22.  And it was 83 in here.  Oops. 


Well, it's better than being cold, right?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy late Valentines!

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day! We ate at our favorite place…the Cottage. We do go out on occasion but the more we cook the more we find we are less impressed with the food we get when doing so. Dessert was fantastic, so I’ll share a photo and the super easy recipe:



Fried dough with strawberries and ice cream Yes, you can make fried dough at home and it’s easy. You might be wishing I hadn’t told you that. It’s pizza dough that you fry. Simple as that.

Here’s the recipe we use for the dough:

http://www.pizzacrustyeast.com/Detail.aspx?id=8abc6c42-6877-4d25-9254-99ada3ddf285 (buy the pizza yeast if you can find it.  Much less yeasty)

Crust:
1-3/4 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Fleischmann's® Pizza Crust Yeast
OR Fleischmann's® RapidRise Yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup very warm water (120 to 130°F)*                     


Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add very warm water and oil; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky. Knead** on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.  (If using RapidRise Yeast, let dough rest at this point for 10 minutes.)

*If you don't have a thermometer, water should feel very warm to the touch.

**To knead the dough, add just enough flour to the dough and your hands to keep the dough from sticking.  Flatten dough and fold it toward you.Using the heels of your hands, push the dough away with a rolling motion.  Rotate dough a quarter turn and repeat the "fold, push and turn" steps.  Keep kneading dough until it is smooth and elastic.  Use a little more flour if dough becomes too sticky, always working the flour into the ball of dough.

The strawberry topping is equally easy:
Cut strawberries into small pieces. We used frozen organic since our garden didn’t give us enough to keep this past summer. We’re moving them this coming spring, it seems like they get too much shade.
Sprinkle with sugar to taste. You don’t need a lot. I used about a ½ teaspoon for 5-6 berries. Microwave for 1-2 minutes (I was close to 2 minutes because ours were frozen)
You can add a little corn starch to thicken the juice, but you don’t need to. I didn’t.

We bought the ice cream. We’ll be venturing into the realm of homemade ice cream soon. Too many “natural flavors” in everything anymore. I imagine whatever they are, they aren’t good or they would listed as what they actually are.

Once your dough has proofed and risen, roll it out. You can leave it in a single big piece (size to fit your fryer so that it is all in the oil at once) or cut into smaller pieces. Heat your fryer oil to frying temperature. We don’t have a thermometer so I can’t say how hot it is. If you don’t have a fryer, you can use a pan-we use a deep cast iron pan as a fryer. Drop the dough into the oil carefully-don’t splash yourself with the oil, it’s hot! Let it cook to medium brown on each side-it doesn’t take long to cook so watch carefully. We use a pair of tongs to flip it. It only takes about a minute total to cook so you aren’t going to want to walk away from it!

Remove the fried dough from the heat and put on a plate. We sprinkled a little powdered sugar on ours, then poured on the strawberries and added a couple scoops of ice cream. YUM!

We only used half of the dough for fried dough. You can store it for a few days in the fridge, but we made a pizza with the other half of the dough. We made it in a standard size cast iron frying pan.

 Here’s the pizza:



As you might have noticed, we’ve been cooking a lot lately. Well, it’s cold. Still. Sunday AM it was -4 air temp. Right now as I type this at about 9:30 pm on Monday it's -7. AIR temp.  I don't want to look at wind chill.  -7 is cold enough.  That pretty much puts a damper on anything outdoors. About all that’s been happening outside is plowing snow and bringing in wood. I should post some pics of that. We have a little Ford 120 tractor to plow the snow. I’ve also been using a flying saucer (sled) to bring the wood to the house. There’s enough snow that it’s easier than tramping through it carrying it. Plus I can bring more per trip!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Goings on about the Cottage

It's been rather cold out around here for the past week. As of right this moment, it's 18 and I just actually said out loud "hey, it got warm out-it's 18". Yeah, it's been cold. That means it's a perfect time to cook and bake! Right now there is fresh bread in the oven and we're softening up some kidney and great northern beans for chili. We just pulled some hamburger soup off of the stove and we're soaking some dried lima beans for vegetable soup. The hamburger soup was pretty easy to make, and it was pretty good. We might add a little more spices or garlic and onion powder next time.

Here's the recipe:
a dash of olive oil
a pad of butter
(those two are to taste)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 1/2 pound ground beef
32 oz tomato soup
32 oz beef broth
1 1/2 cup of ditalini pasta
1 1/2 cups of corn (we'll probably add a little more next time)

In a skillet (we use cast iron), warm the oil and butter, the add the chopped onion and garlic, cook down until soft. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. In a soup pot, add the tomato soup and broth, bring to a simmer. Add the onion, garlic and beef. In another pot, cook the pasta. Add the cooked (and drained) pasta and corn (we used frozen) to the soup pot and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Done. Easy peasy and yummy!!

Here's the soup. Sorry, I didn't do a whole photo shoot set up but you get the idea!

 
The bread (I'll have to get the recipe from Mr Eclectic, he is the baker here) This is an enameled cast iron pan. We also have a regular cast iron bread pan that's from Lodge. The enameled one came from a yard sale for $10, and also has a lid. It's Klafrestrom. We have a smaller version as well, that we picked up at an antique shop for $5. What a deal! It has risen:

 
And it's in the oven:

 
So here's an illustration of just how cold it is. This is the storm window in the kitchen. Nice view, huh?

 
Despite the cold temps we don't have much snow-the grass is visible pretty much anywhere the wind could blow the snow away. I'd like to see a few more inches so that the gardens have a "blanket" to help insulate against the freezing temps. The ice has grown on the lake from pretty much a tiny bit on the shoreline to quite a bit floating about. I've got to recharge the batteries on my little camera, then I'll take a photo of that to add.

And now...the finally food tally of the day!  Bread is out and done, chili is cooking in the slow cooker.  We made roast beef and roast a whole chicken.  That is one of our favorite meals.  So easy.  One whole chicken in a cast iron dutch oven for an hour and a half at 350. Tomorrow the rest of the chicken will become chicken pot pies and or chicken soup (after I boil the bones for stock).  We'll also make the vegetable soup and maybe some chicken nuggets to freeze (also easy-bread some cut breast or thigh meat and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, then cool and freeze for quick meals later).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cottage Christmas Eve

A new tradition we started when we moved here was to walk on our beach on Christmas.  We're forecast to have some high winds beginning tonight so we went for our walk this morning!  Along the way we picked beach glass (and beach pottery) to add to our collection, including one really nice green piece:


What a difference from last year-it's in the 40s and going into the 50s.  I don't know how people live where it doesn't snow.  Heat Miser can go home now.  I was hoping for a white Christmas.  At least I got white beach glass!


Just a short post for now, we've got to get the ribs in the oven then into the slow cooker so they're ready for dinner tonight.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Ornaments

Again, long time no post!  Still cooking up ideas for the not the New Old House, but the holidays have pushed that aside for now.  After all, we didn’t buy it so I have time.
 
What we did do, was buy a small vinyl cutter.  Several years ago, we had a large professional one, along with a heat press that we used to make and sell t-shirts and the like.  We’ve sold that since there just isn’t room at the Cottage for a 4’ long cutter.  We picked up a little “hobby” cutter that allows us to cut our own designs.  So of course we had to use it right away!
 
We made homemade raisin bread for friends that we dropped off on Saturday, but I wanted something different for my co-workers.  So many of them are crafty and I have a small collection of adorable decorations from over the years.  I wanted to return the favor with something we made.  So…we made some neat wood slice ornaments.
 
The wood slices were easy.  We walked out to the wood racks and selected what we refer to as a “little log” that had been seasoning for several years (little logs are 3-5” rounds, the limbs from trees that are a bit too small to split but too big to leave behind as junk).  Mr Eclectic promptly cut it down with a chop saw into slices about ½-3/4” thick and drilled holes for stringing them.  I found some snowflakes in our clipart collection (commercial use) and he cut them out on white vinyl. 
 
He weeded the “junk” vinyl (the part that’s left after the design is cut out) and I placed them on the slices (using tweezers to peel them off of the backer).  Then he cut out “Let It Snow” and weeded that while I strung them with twine.  I placed the letters on the backs of about 3-4 slices before letting him finish, I loved the snowflakes but the letters frustrated me.
 
Here’s the result:
 
 

 
Cute huh?  Now…what to do next year…hmm…

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Still no new old house, but...

So we recently looked at another property.  We didn't make an offer but I thought I'd share some of my thoughts anyway.  You'll have to use your imagination since there won't be an after.

It had an odd layout.  It's a late 1800's home with an addition.  Master bedroom downstairs off of the kitchen, with one bedroom upstairs that's accessed with a walkthrough room.  The kitchen is an eat in with a vaulted ceiling.  The outside is perfect and really reads as an older home.  The inside, not so much.

Here's my first "project", the master.

This is the "bathroom" (obviously unfinished).


This little shower is in the back right corner.



I would remove the shower and closet area. 

There would be bead board on the walls and a claw foot tub lengthwise along the back wall.

Along these lines for colors


Maybe even the basket weave marble floors.

Now, this is the master, the bathroom is in the back left corner-you can see the open door.

 
Nice view, huh?  Between the bath and bedroom, I'd add a two sided fireplace.  This is why the closet space was getting lost.  Imagine soaking in the tub with a nice fire on a winters night! 
 
 

The door swing would have to change, but that's no biggie.  Probably have to go with a pedestal sink because there wasn't much room for a vanity.


Hope your imagination is working! 

The access to the laundry/basement is off of the master.  AWKWARD.  We'd steal a couple feet and make a closet, then move the access to the kitchen.  Otherwise the master only needs the popcorn ceiling scraped, new floors and paint.  The master is an addition.  The original house has wide plank floors under carpet and vinyl.  If those are in good shape, we'd need a different floor in the master.  If they aren't, we'd match them throughout the downstairs.

I'm thinking like this


They are new wide plank pine.  Good feel and we could match throughout the house since we can buy as much as we need.

Oh, and that fan's gotta go, not sure on a light fixture to replace it with yet though.

Can't pick colors exactly without chips to see how the light in the room effects them.  Something in the sagey/blue/gray family.

Next is the kitchen.

Heres what it looks like.

Main kitchen area
 


Eat in area, to the right of the bedroom entrance

 
Stairs to the second bedroom/floor and main bath.

 
Entrance to the master from the kitchen.  Ok, kinda weird.
 

I'll post my thoughts on a redo here next time.  The yellow won't be staying.