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mother of josh, richard, and mutt. lover of books, yarn, and the quiet places. spinner, knitter, kayaker, survivor, vandweller, warrior.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

weird signs 8/22/09

i love weird signs. this one seen at a state park in york county, on a kayak trip last year..... my thanks to michael for permission to use his photo :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

fry-bake pan pizza

okay, i tried the pizza in the fry-bake pans today. i started out by heating the last four charcoal briquets i had in the van in my grilliput collapsible firebowl (that is a whole 'nother blog post, my firebowl!) i used a dry pizza crust mix that i mixed with 1/2 cup warm water from the tea kettle, and let it sit for 10 minutes in a warm place (the dashboard of the van). i smooshed it out into the bottom of the expedition size pan (10 1/2") and added sauce (ragu pizza sauce from a jar)....
and shredded mozarella with "jamaica me crazy", a pepper blend i got at Granzella's this spring, liberally sprinkled on top.
i put the four hot charcoal briquets on top of the pan, which was on my butane one-burner stove using the scorch-buster riser bar. the flame was set on about medium (i never said this was scientific) and i set the timer for the 10 minutes recommended on the crust package. after 10 minutes, it was nowhere near done. it took an additional 10 minutes to finish the baking to get this....
which was a really good tasting pizza that was just slightly undercooked, meaning that the cheese wasn't as bubbly as i would have liked, and the crust, though done, was not browned much.
i think there may be a couple reasons for this.....one, i only had the 4 briquets on top. if you remember my post a few days ago about the cinnamon rolls, i had a real twig bonfire going on that one. i think with more briquets or additional twigs, i would have gotten a better temp for baking. and second, there was a breeze tonight, and the flame did alot of sputtering. i imagine that would effect the temperature. i think i will turn the flame up higher next time.
still the pizza was really good, and certainly a nice break from the usual for dinner. i'm gonna try again next week, and see if i get better results. i'll keep ya posted!

farm pics

i hadn't been planning on spending the summer here, but i am glad i did. the weather has been mild and wonderful, only getting warm and muggy a little this last week or so. i have been getting alot done and experienced alot of spiritual growth, for which i am deeply grateful. i keep saying that it doesn't get much better than this, but then it does :-)looking out the rear window of the rondyvan at mutt surveying his 100 acre kingdom.

my brothers have been working hard at returning the farm to it's native habitat, planting wild grasses and reintroducing wildlife to the area.
i grumbled alot about that at first, as i am not one to handle change well. i should say that as past tense, because part of my spiritual growth has been finding serenity even when change frightens me. when they did select timbering along the swamp, i was upset at the loss of trees. but the understory took off, and the berry bushes flourished, providing food for us and the wildlife. so i will be a little slower to judge, now, without hearing and seeing first. a good lesson.
i look out over the fields now, and see diversity and growth and
beautiful flowers :-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

more babies

a few weeks ago, everytime i opened the door to go outside, i was being startled by a wren who flew shreiking past my face and up into the pine tree. i generally did a little shreiking myself, because i'm usually not quite in the moment, or thinking too much, if you will. i couldn't figure out why he was always at my door, until i went to water the flowers one day.....
and discovered this. they were just barely getting their voice, so i would have discovered them sooner than later, as they went on to do a little shreiking for themselves. loudly. there was nothing to be done for it, as i was afraid to relocate the watering can for fear of the babies being abandoned. so instead, to spare my nerves..... i posted this inside the kitchen door......
the babies have since moved on, and there is peace on the porch once again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

thermos cozy

i recently picked up a double-walled stainless steel thermos to try out for thermos cooking. initial attempts with brown rice and steel cut oats and wheatberries brought mixed results, which i will chronicle in a later post. one thing i decided was to try to make a cozy that would increase heat retention and inprove cooking.

so i have this friend. really. and when he's not out slummin', sometimes he talks to me on the phone and we solve the worlds problems. or even my thermos cooking ones. so the other night ron starts, in the way he is so talented for doing, to throw out all these ideas on how to improve on the cozy i am dreaming up, and then to top it off, he leads me to believe that i am even thinking them up on my own! how sweet is that?

so anyhow, my Stanley Thermos Food Jar is 7" high, and 4" in diameter. i am telling you this because i don't have the can of coconut milk handy that is my universal item for size reference. eh. the jar holds 20 oz., which is a perfect size to cook a meal for me, and not have to worry about refrigerating leftovers. this jar is also unique in that it's mouth is wider than any others i've seen, making clean-up easier. i started out by cutting a sheet of reflectix 16" by 8 1/2 ". this was easy using a 16" wide roll of reflectix that tara left here last year.
i taped it around the jar securely, but not too snugly, using that silver foil tape backed with paper that laren told me was perfect for joining reflectix together. it did this very well, and quite sturdily, considering it is the flimsiest feeling stuff...like sticky tinfoil.
ask michael about the time i sent him out in the dark along a highway with just inches of shoulder to park on, to try to to tape my headlight back on with this stuff, after smacking a deer and bringing a new level of excitement to his vacation. he may have repressed the memory :-)
i cut two discs of reflectix to make a double layer base for the first cylinder
and taped them in place.
i made a second cylinder of reflectix just slightly larger than the first, and put a double thickness base on it.
the larger cylinder slides over the top of the smaller cylinder, efeectively and quickly giving you a double walled cozy surrounding the whole jar. it is light and compact and will work for keeping heat in, for cooking.....or out, for an iced drink.
the project, once ron had inspired it, was simple, and took about 15 minutes to complete. now i can begin, in earnest, my thermos cooking experiments.......

Saturday, August 15, 2009

foldable pocket cooker

here is another piece of cooking gear that i have. it is called the foldable pocket cooker, and is available from Sportsman's Guide or at amazon. it retails for about 12.95. it comes in a nylon carry case, as shown below.
i really like this little cooker. it uses twigs, pinecones or even a couple of charcoal briquets for fuel. i have even used those sticks of compressed wood that they sell in camping stores as firestarters. there is a door that opens to adjust draft or to feed the fire.
here you see me using it with 4 lumps of charcoal. the can of coconut milk is for size reference. i am cooking some boneless chicken with garlic and peppers in a foil pouch. it came out really good, and didn't take long to cook. not very scientific, cause i didn't time it when these pics were taken. nor did i take pics of the finished meal. i was hungry :-)
this stove is kinda heavy for backpacking, but i love the idea of using natural fuels. it is a great little back-up stove for the van. i find cooking in a pot on top of this a little unnerving, because i am clumsy and always fear knocking my meal hither and yon, but i love it for foil packet cooking.
i have another piece of gear for cooking. that's the next post. please share any experiences you have had with this stove, and i highly recommend you readers subscribe to comments, cause we get some really informative ones!

No poo three

i just have to come back on this topic. i just love my hair.! i am so glad i went down this path. i am now using 1 tablespoon baking soda in 2 cups of water, mixed in my zyliss shaker, every 2-3 days. i will never use shampoo again, even if it was free....my hair is that good.

after a question from nicole about the necessity of wetting my hair first, i tried applying the 2 cups of baking soda solution to dry hair. it was more than enough to saturate my short, but growing in, hair. it doesn't take much to rinse it, so this is a good low-water solution to hair washing, for those times when i'm doing it over a bucket in the van, or behind a bush on hwy. 1 in california.

nicole is going to try it out this weekend. hopefully she'll weigh in here.... but remember the adjustment period...it took my hair over a week to adjust......

janene has also commented on alternatives to other body products. we're gonna do some experimenting, so if anybody has any ideas to throw in, it would be appreciated!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fry-Bake pans

i had long been looking for an alternative to my heavy cast-iron cookware that would allow me to bake, just as i did in my dutch ovens, yet was lightweight, versatile, and could withstand the rigors of camping and life on the road. last year i took the plunge, and bought a set of the Fry-Bake pans i had read so much about in backpacker magazine and at the NOLS site. i got the set....the alpine model (8" in diameter) and the expedition model (10 1/2") with the heavier lids. they have been my main cookpans at the farm and on the road. they are hard-anodized aluminum...no non-stick finish to wear off, and you can use metal utensils and scrub them with sand, if necessary, without harming the cook surface. i love them. up til now, i hadn't used them as an oven. i decided to try them out before i hit the road again. so as not to confuse the results with possible recipe errors, i decided to bake some pillsbury cinnamon rolls out of the can. above you see my coleman butane one-burner stove, a bottle of walnut oil, the rolls, the expedition pan, a can of butane, the alpine pan, and the scortch buster "riser bar" that i purchased separately.
the riser bar provides a space between the bottom of the pan and the flame to help prevent scorching.
you need to take extra care that the pan doesn't slip off, but my closest call came when i actually bumped the table.
i used the larger expedition pan (10 1/2 "). the recipe called for a 9" pan, so i could have used the smaller alpine, too.
the raw cinnamon rolls in the pan. this is the part where mutt got interested:-)

i built a little twig fire in the indentation on the top. you can use charcoal briquets or coals from your fire, also.
conflagration not necessary! the recipe called for 17 minutes of baking time. never one to take direction, i decided to make it 20 minutes, assuming that the fry-bake pan would be less efficient than an oven. wrong.
the rolls came out beautiful! the only thing wrong was the bottoms were a little too browned. if i had stayed with the 17 minutes baking time, they would have been perfect.
they were delicious anyway! i had them with spearmint tea.

this is the lid after baking. not a pan you would find in (mumble)artha's kitchen!
so i am pleased as all get-out with these pans. i have already made everything from eggs and bacon to porkchops to spaghetti and stews to oatmeal in them. although these nest compactly, i think i will take the larger expedition model on the road, and leave the alpine as the farmhouse pan.
i think they are worth every cent i spent. this cookware will outlive me, i'm sure.
my next experiment will be to do my homemade whole wheat pitas in them. i'll let you know how it goes.
here's a link to the website:

Moose Goo

i wanted to share with you a favorite food that is good rations for camping or hiking. it is made with corn flour (masa harina, not corn meal), honey, and peanut buter. i will post the recipe as it was created. i noodled with mine to make it a little less sweet, when i do it again, i will write down my version and post it here.
if you click on the blog post title, it will take you to joe's site, where there are other variations and recipes.....
okay, blogger will not let me cut and paste the recipe, so you'll have to follow the link. if you try it, you'll have to let me know how you liked it. or share your version!

Monday, August 10, 2009

new friends in the funniest places


i sold my spinning wheel yesterday. i have toyed with the idea off and on for maybe 2 years now. i decided to finally do it, to get myself that much closer to my goal of being on the road again.
i haven't spun anything on the wheel since last year. what spinning i have been doing has all been on spindles, and even on my thigh. i am pulled inexorably to the more primitive and simple flow of draft, twirl, wind on, and repeat. i love that i can spin anywhere, at most anytime, with the simplest tools.
but i LOVED my wheel. it came to me during a desperately lonely and hopeless time in my life. it was more than a beautiful tool, it was a symbol of hope, and continuation.
i struggled with that, in my quest to downsize; to let go of things and thoughts and beliefs that held me back. so onto craig's list it went. things started off with a little drama, with my first inquiry from someone who wanted to buy my wheel that involved, among other things, nigeria and a very large cashiers check (if i would be so kind as to make change) which left me ready to pull the ad and forget about it altogether......
two minutes after deleting the last email from the scammer, i recieved another email asking if the wheel was still available. certain that it was my spammer coming back under a different email addy, i almost deletted it. but i saw a local area code in the message, and called it.......
..... which led me to the parking lot of Gander Mountain in the rain yakking it up with 3 super women who love dogs and fiber and life and adventure as much as i do. my wheel has a good home, and the look in denise's eyes as she looked at her first spinning wheel was worth more to me than the actual money transaction. i knew then that it was right and fitting that the wheel....an Ashford Joy....would now bring just that to denise, instead of languishing alone in a farmhouse while i was on the road. thank-you, denise! and judy and mary, also. it was wonderful to meet all of you! i look forward to seeing you again, and sharing some time spinning together.
new friends, in the unlikeliest places :-)

no poo two

just a quick update on my no 'poo adventure.....

in the previous blog post i said that i wasn't interested in trying out the baking soda/vinegar route, because what i had read indicated it would involve alot of mixing and measuring and timing and rinsing. then vickie left some comments about her experience, and how after a little time, she was so pleased with the baking soda routine. apparently it just took some time for the oil production to level out. anyhow...i decided to give the baking soda a try before i ruled it out. all i can say is wow. just wow.

it is so simple. i use a 2 cup shaker bottle, put in a cup of water and a tablespoon of baking soda, pour it over my hair, massage my scalp for a minute, and rinse. contrary to other people's experiences, my hair rinses with alot less water than i needed with shampoo or dr. bronners. right now it seems that washing with baking soda every 2-3 days is more than adequate, i rinse my hair with plain water other mornings if i want to get rid of bed head. or wear a hat :-)

check back later today for a post on baking in my Banks FryBake pans.....