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Showing posts from January, 2021

Getting Ready for Bees

We are brand new to beekeeping and are planning to get set up this spring.  As a first step in getting ready, we bought a book called Beekeeping for Beginners: How to Raise Your First Bee Colonies  by Amber Bradshaw.  This book is great for providing a big-picture view of what is involved.  To further educate ourselves and help us get into the nitty-gritty details of beekeeping, we also signed up for a Beginning Beekeepers' course through the SnoKing Beekeepers Association , which provided us with materials and membership in the Washington State Beekeepers Association .  Our spiral-bound notebook arrived today and our class starts tomorrow! It will be held four Saturdays in a row.  Once we've finished the course, we'll be ready to get everything set up in March and April. Why would we want to become beekeepers?  Well, there are multiple reasons, but the main reasons for us include: Local raw honey boosts the immune system.  Here is an article from Farmers Almanac that addr

Chocolate Chip Flax Banana Bread

Yesterday I decided to use up some bananas that I had put in the freezer. Homemade banana bread sounded good, but the recipe I've followed for years just wasn't exciting enough. So I added chocolate chips, ground flaxseed meal and chopped pecans. Yummy enough for dessert but also kind of healthy, right? Chocolate Chip Flax Banana Bread Ingredients: 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (we use organic unbleached flour) 2 tablespoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal 1/3 cup shortening 2/3 cup sugar 1 1/3 cups mashed banana (about 3 bananas) 2 eggs 3/4 cup chocolate chips (we used dark chocolate) For the Topping: 1 cup chocolate chips, melted with 1 tablespoon milk (we used soy milk) 3/4 cup chopped pecans (walnuts would also be good) Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a standard-sized loaf pan (8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches). Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt in medium bowl.  Stir in the ground flaxseed me

Flour, Water and Salt

Yesterday morning I made traditional sourdough bread without using a recipe. Feeling lazy and deciding to try winging it, I figured traditional sourdough only contains three ingredients and so how hard could it be to get it right without measuring? It's just flour, water and salt.  So I put a couple scoopfuls of flour into a big bowl, added a little bit of salt, dumped in some bottled spring water, and added the sourdough starter (which is actually made with only fermented flour and water).  Then I stirred it with a big spoon and continued to add more bottled water until the dough reached a really gooey consistency that I liked. I did not knead the dough. I literally spent less than 5 minutes making this dough. After the dough was well stirred, I put a lid on the bowl and placed it on my seedling heat mat ( here's the article that explains why I use this ), covered it with a pretty kitchen towel and tucked it into the corner on the kitchen counter.  Two hours later I came back

Chicken Pecking Order and Poor Bedraggled Hen

Little Red is the latest hen in our flock to molt this year. The poor hen looks bedraggled with her long tail missing and all those glorious red feathers dropping everywhere in the chicken run.  Her fluffy white under feathers are peeking through the red, like a tattered dress with the petticoats underneath now visible. The simple act of pecking the ground causes more feathers to fall from her body, drifting to the ground.  If she's hung out in one spot for a while, once she steps away from that spot it looks like a bird was murdered there with all the feathers laying in a circle.  Little Red has grown so skittish that even trying to capture a photo was challenging this morning.  She was a blur as she kept running away too quickly.  Sadly, poor Little Red has become shameful of her appearance after numerous days of being chased off by the other hens. We're always a bit sad to see another one of our hens going through a molt. Chicken behavior is interesting to observe. The conce

Wildly Rushing Creek Behind Our House

 After several weeks of heavy rain, last night we had a wind storm that battered our old house, eerie wind whistling through cracks and crevices and keeping us up most of the night. Toward morning, lightening strikes in the area lit up the sky as warm wind from the southwest collided with cold air that's been hovering around here. Rain pounded the roof.  The weather was clearly shifting last night as the house is so warm this morning I haven't started a fire in our woodstove yet.  Meanwhile, the creek behind our house has nearly reached its bank on our side. King tides out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca are contributing to the higher than normal water level rise, as is melting snow up on the nearby Olympic Mountains and the days and days of heavy rain. This is the hardest I've seen the creek run since we moved here three years ago.  It's a good thing we have flood insurance.   I walked to the creek's edge this morning and was alarmed by the sheer volume and momentum

Our 2021 Garden Seed Order Arrived!

  Look what was in the mailbox today - our garden seed order for 2021! It felt like Christmas all over again. I couldn't get that package open fast enough!  Ooooh, look how pretty, all those brand new packets containing the seeds of abundant harvests to come!  I love the thank you message with its cute little flower that someone at Deep Harvest Farm wrote on the packing slip.   This pile of seeds is the bulk of our seed order for the new year.  We decided to order these seeds from Deep Harvest Farm for three reasons: Located in Whidbey Island, Washington, they are a nearby farm that produces its own seeds from open-pollinated, organic plants they grow right there!  Their seeds come from plants that have adapted to growing in the Pacific Northwest. They are smaller than the other mainstream seed companies.  This is a great opportunity for us to support a more local small business. Bigger seed companies are swamped and behind right now.  Deep Harvest was ready to take our order!  An

Sourdough With Love

Who doesn't love the crunchy crust and soft interior of perfectly baked sourdough bread? Getting started with sourdough baking takes considerable gumption - it's no easy feat to get sourdough starter to come alive and begin working. But, when you bake your first loaf of sourdough and it rises beautifully, the sense of accomplishment is amazing! Today, I would like to share some sourdough love and give a shout-out to my sweet and brilliant sister, Cathy, for her recent accomplishments with sourdough.  Cathy started her sourdough from scratch and stuck with it until she achieved a beautiful, bubbly starter.  Then she began using her starter to bake the most lovely loaves of bread! Take a look at her sourdough creations: Above is a crunch loaf that she baked in a dutch oven.  She also recently made a loaf of sandwich bread, shown below. Below is her starter, which she keeps in a gallon-sized jar on the counter, where it's covered with a charming tea towel. If the tasty creatio

Gardening in the Snow

It's been a few weeks since we had snow, in fact it was on the day of the Winter Solstice (December 21) that it snowed.  The snow was very slow to melt on our property and temperatures lingered down in the low to mid 30s for a week. I took photos at that time of our garden and neglected to post them.  As I was looking through my camera roll this morning, I realized these photos are worth sharing.   I didn't really understand until just last year that certain cool season crops overwinter. This year's fall and winter garden is an experiment, as we are curious to learn how well all of these veggies will do outside on our property.  Our weather here tends to be in the 30s most of the winter, and we'll also get some temperatures in the 20s in late January and throughout February.  So far, the veggies are hanging in there! Lettuce is one of my favorite cool season crops! It's so quick to bolt in the hot summer sun and it also tends to get bitter as the leaves get larger a

Happy New Year!

To bring good fortune and prosperity in the new year, we made a lemon pig, and additionally we've got some spicy barbecue flavored black eyed peas and cabbage simmering in the slow cooker, following a southern tradition that was shared to us by friends.   The cute little lemon pig was made by my husband and daughter.  The portly yellow pig has toothpicks for legs, whole cloves for eyes, a penny for his mouth and cut out ears. He smells so good, too, with the juice of the lemon able to seep slightly thanks to the holes made in it from the penny, cloves and toothpicks.  Learn more about the good luck of lemon pigs from this article on CNN .   Following the horrendous year we just finished, anything we can do to bring good luck and prosperity into the world seems worth a try. Plus, with his crooked smile, the lemon pig is awfully cute sitting there on the living room fireplace mantle.