Saturday, February 06, 2016

Freezing Half and Half

Leftover cream frozen in the container on the right.
I love half and half (or 18% coffee cream) in my coffee each morning. Sometimes I end up with extra. I researched online and every site said the butterfat in half and half would separate during freezing, making it undesirable for use in coffee. I hate to waste, so I started to experiment.

I learned to mix the half and half with some milk (we use 1%) before freezing and it helped reduce the separation, but it wasn't perfect.

Separated butterfat shows on the sides of the container.
Then one evening I used thawed half and half in hot cocoa. I discovered that the lumps disappeared. So the next time I froze my half and half and milk mixture, I heated it after thawing.

Heating and whisking the thawed half and half did the trick.
I put the thawed half and half and milk mixture in a saucepan, brought it to a gentle boil, and held it there for two minutes. I whisked it vigorously during the heating process. I let the half and half cool and then put it in a container to return to the refrigerator. The results were better than expected, no more lumps of butterfat rising to the top of my coffee cup.

Do you freeze half and half to reuse in coffee? How do you do it? on over to The (mis)Adventures of a "Born Again" Farm Girl for more simple ideas for your home or homestead. - Margy

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Coastal BC Plants: Deer Fern

D is for Deer Fern

Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant) is a bright green medium sized evergreen fern that is common in Coastal British Columbia. It grows in wet forests, slide areas, stream banks, and in association with alders from low elevations to sub-alpine heights.

There are two types of leaves. Sterile leaves (lacking spore sacs) surround the base, mostly touching the ground. Fertile leaves, containing the spore sacs clustered in structures called sori, bright green and stand upright. It was the bright green colour of the Deer Fern that caught my eye in the shaded road cut next to a stream on Cypress Main near the Head of Powell Lake.

First Nations people along the coast chewed the young leaves to suppress hunger while hunting or travelling. They were also used medicinally for skin sores. For deer and elk, this fern is an important winter food source.

References: Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1994) and E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia (online).

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the sixteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Coastal BC Birds: Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

While I was sitting on my sofa in front of the woodstove, something caught my eye. Along the cliff at the water's edge a small bird was bobbing along and diving in and out of the water. A few minutes later, it came over onto the cabin deck.

A Song Sparrow visits the cabin front porch in mid-January.

I tossed a small handful of birdseed next to the picnic table to see what would happen. He stuck around to eat lots of seeds before taking off.

I wasn't sure what kind of bird it was so I Googled likely varieties, but none of the pictures looked exactly right. Then I discovered I used the bird identification tool and narrowed it down. Then I discovered their forum section and joined. Within a day, site experts identified my little guy as a northwestern subspecies of Song Sparrow. This subspecies tends to be darker than its southern relatives.

Song Sparrows are year-round residents of Coastal BC, but I don't see or hear them much at the cabin this time of year. I can't wait until spring comes and the birds sing in the new day as the sun rises behind Goat Island to the east.

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Coastal BC Plants: Floral Pixie Lichen

C is for Cladonia bellidiflora (Floral Pixie)

Look at just a square metre of the forest floor you will find a multitude of plants crowding together for nutrients, moisture, sunlight, and protection from the elements. Up on the cliff under the canopy of cedars and firs I found this clump of Cladonia bellidiflora also known as Floral Pixie and Cup Lichen.

Cladonia bellidiflora (Floral Pixie) in the middle.

I found these in mid-March before the bright red fruiting bodies appeared on top. In addition to British Columbia, they can also be found in Britain and many other parts of the world.

This type of lichen stands erect, is conical in shape, and tapers towards the top. To me they look like miniature pine trees in a green meadow. On close inspection you may see small cups at the tip, showing that it's a member of the cup lichen family. The colour ranges from blue-green to yellow-green.

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the sixteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Coastal BC Plants: Bunchberry


Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) is also known as Dwarf Dogwood. When you look at the flower you can see why. I’ve seen Bunchberry in Newfoundland and Coastal BC. It also ranges from Alaska to New Mexico. That’s a pretty wide distribution.

Bunchberry likes moist conditions such as forest floors, meadows, bogs, and rotting logs and stumps. I found my example on an overgrown logging road near a cut caused by winter rains and spring runoff.

It’s a perennial low growing plant that creates extensive and dense mats. Four to seven green leaves are arranged in a circular cluster and remain mainly evergreen. In the middle is a flower surrounded by four white bracts (modified leaves).

In late summer, the flowers mature into clusters of bright red berry-like fruits, hence the common name. They are edible, but tend to be mealy and bitter. But that doesn’t deter grouse. They eat them in great quantities. -- Margy

References: Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1994) and Wild Berries of the Pacific Northwest by J.E. Underhill (Hancock House Publishers, 1974).

Saturday, January 16, 2016

"All You Need Is Enough Rope" by Christine Mander

All You Need Is Enough Rope: A lighthearted look at cottage life by Christine Mander and illustrated (humorously in "doodles") by Michael Eddenden is all that her title promises. It was published by Potlatch Publications in 1981 and is only available as a used print book.

I found mine at a favourite used bookstore in Bellingham WA, Cozy Corner Books and Coffee. If you are in the local area, I'll be turning my copy back in for a credit for new things to read. Ask Chris, the owner, if it's still available. You can also check online. Amazon offers a few used copies.

The book is set in cottage country in Canada. What caught my eye was the title and cover image about transporting a refrigerator on a wobbly looking raft. At our float cabin on Powell Lake we always are trying to get things up and down the lake, including a large refrigerator of our own. I knew this author had experienced some of the same things we have learning to live off the grid.

The book began with finding their property, building a cabin, enjoying their cabin and cottage country life, and then finally having to let their beloved cabin Outspan go. Times and lives change. I dread the thought of that ever happening to us.

There are may funny things that happen along the way. Of course there's the delivery of large appliances like the refrigerator, getting caught skinny dipping when you think you're far from prying eyes, boating woes (been there, done that), and a hiking misadventure. And throughout, Michael Eddenden's "doodles" keop the humor building.

If you have a cottage, cabin, or just want one, All You Need Is Enough Rope is a fun, tongue in cheek adventure of what to do, expect, and never even try. -- Margy

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Cabin Cooking: Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

I've joined several homesteading memes. I get to share and receive lots of good ideas. Here's a recipe I found at Happiness is Homemade at A Peak into My ParadiseCinnamon Swirl Pancakes links back Christina's at it's a via Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.

Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

Make pancake batter using your favorite recipe or mix.

Cinnamon Sugar Swirl

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

The recipe says: In a microwave safe bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until smooth.  Microwave on high for 10 second increments until it is soft and can be squeezed through a pastry bag.

I don't have a microwave so I melted the butter in a pan, added the sugar and cinnamon, and cooked it on low until dissolved. I put the mixture in a Ziploc bag and snipped off the corner.

The recipe says: Pour the pancake batter onto a hot griddle. Squeeze the cinnamon mixture over the batter in a swirl shape.  When pancakes are lightly browned, flip and cook until done. Clean all of the sugar out of the pan before starting a second batch.

Cream Cheese Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
2 ounces cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp milk

The recipe says: Using a hand mixer blend until smooth. Pour the icing into another pastry or Ziploc bag. Squeeze it over the cooked pancakes.

I don't have a hand mixer either, so I used a sturdy whisk and it blended just fine. With bacon and coffee it made a hearty cabin breakfast for Wayne and me.

I cut the Cinnamon Sugar Swirl ingredients in half, but still ended up with too much. Later I made an apple crisp. I let the leftover sugar mixture warm to room temperature, added a small amount of flour, some quick cooking oats, and chopped pecans to make a crumble topping. It turned out perfect and I felt good about not wasting my ingredients. -- Margy