Thursday, November 08, 2018

Cabin Baking: Banana Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Getting organized.
I wanted something sweet for dessert using two things from the freezer, grated zucchini and a mashed banana. I found a recipe online that looked perfect. A bonus was I had everything else I needed on hand. Running to the store isn’t easy to do from up at the cabin.

Banana Zucchini Cake

I used a recipe from Real Housemoms. It was called bread, but easily doubled as a cake. My modifications are in italics.


Beat wet ingredients together first.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup mashed banana (about 2)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup zucchini shredded
Mix dry ingredients and stir together.
1 cup walnuts chopped


Beat oil and sugar together. I don’t have mixer so I used a whisk.

Add the mashed banana, egg and vanilla. I only had one mashed banana in the freezer but the batter was plenty moist.
Blend in nuts and raisins (optional).

Mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt then add them to the wet ingredients. I’m lazy. I mix my dry ingredients together on top of the wet before combining wet and dry.

Using a spoon, fold in the zucchini and walnuts (I used pecans). 

I used a baking dish not a loaf pan.
I had 2 cups of frozen grated zucchini. By the time it thawed and I discarded the water it was one cup. I also added one cup of soaked raisins.

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour in the batter. I wanted to frost it as a cake so I used a baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

I chose a frosting recipe from All Recipes.


Cream the ingredients together.
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Cream together the butter and cream cheese. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. I didn’t have enough cream cheese so I made half a batch.

All dressed up and ready to enjoy. Yummy!

I let the cake cool and then spread the frosting on top. Because of the butter and cream cheese, I kept the leftovers in the fridge. But they weren't left over for long. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Guest Blogger at Terra do Milho in Portugal

The Terra do Milho website.
My digital world reaches far and wide. One stop is the Homestead Blogger's Network,  a community of bloggers writing about self-sufficiency. I found a post about the chop and drop method of dealing with garden waste in a positive way. I left a comment and was surprised to get a personal email from Monique, the author. If you are interested in chop and drop, you can read her post at her Terra do Milho website in Portugal.

A garden image from Monique's blog.
Monique is a farmer and homestead consultant. Her partner Tom is a comedian, farmer and homestead host at Terra do Milho in Portugal. They share their knowledge and experience with others in person with organic farm-stay holidays, consulting services, permaculture design courses, blog and social media publications.

Here are links for more information about Terra do Milho:

Terra do Milho Website
Terra do Milho Blog
Terra do Milho Facebook Page
Monique's Posts on Homestead Blogger's Network

Monique visited my blog and was intrigued with float cabin living and gardening. She invited me to write a guest and I was glad to share a bit of my world with her readers. Here's a sneak peak and a link to the whole article on her blog.

Go to the Terra do Milho blog to read the whole story.

One thing I love about the Internet is being able to travel the world at the click of a key. How about you? -- Margy

Friday, October 19, 2018

Cabin Cooking: Clam Chowder and Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits

Cool fall evenings beg for comfort foods. One evening using pantry and garden supplies I made clam chowder and sourdough biscuits.

Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits

First came the biscuits. I used my sourdough starter to make Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits from Rita Davenport's Sourdough Cookery.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 12 cup buttermilk 
  • butter for brushing the tops
Stir starter and buttermilk together (I used milk) and let rest. Mix flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Cut in margarine until crumbly. Combine liquid and dry ingredients. Turn out on a floured board and knead for 30 seconds. Pat the dough in to a 1/2-inch thick round. Cut biscuits and place on a lightly greased sheet (I used vegetable spray). Brush with melted butter. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes in a warm place.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees until golden brown.

 These are flaky biscuits with a distinctive sourdough flavour.

Easy Clam Chowder

While the biscuits were rising, I made the chowder. I didn't follow a recipe, but here's what I did.

Melt 1/4 cup butter. Saute diced vegetables until translucent. I used a stalk of celery, a carrot (from my garden), 1/2 onion, 1/2 pepper (from my garden), 3 cloves of garlic (from my harvest) and 2 teaspoons of dried thyme (from my harvest).

I moved the vegetable to the side of the pan then added 2 tablespoons of flour to the middle and cooked it on low until bubbly.

Next I added milk (about 2 cups) a little at a time, stirring constantly until the consistency was smooth and slightly thick.

I used a pint of my home canned potatoes to add to the chowder. I cut half of them into small cubes. I added the rest with the liquid to the soup and mashed them with a whisk. This really thickened the chowder. Next I added the diced potatoes.

Lastly, I added a can of clams from the pantry, juice and all. To season, I used Lawry's Lemon Pepper (a go-to favourite of mine). As the chowder simmered, I added more milk to keep the consistency from getting too thick.

While the chowder simmered, I baked the biscuits. It took about an hour to prepare, but well worth the wait.

Do you enjoy using staples on hand to made a quick, comfort food meal? What are some of your favourite things to make or recipes to share? -- Margy

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Overnight Trip to the Head of Powell Lake

We woke up Monday with a workboat neighbour.
Our ocean-going 24' Bayliner spends the winter in Powell Lake's fresh water to keep it clear of marine growth. It's good for the boat and us. We get to use it for mini lake cruises.

In late September we found two good weather days in a row, so we loaded up for an overnight trip to the Head of Powell Lake.

A typical Powell Lake waterfall.
We were amazed at the number of waterfalls and the huge amount of water cascading into the lake. Many of the falls had long drops down sheer rock faces.

We went on a weekend so we could tie up to the logging dock. When we arrived we were the only boat and relished the privacy.

This is a busy logging area, sometimes even on weekends.

On the bridge over the Powell River.
We tied up and walked to the bridge where the Powell River enters the head of the lake. It's the single largest water source. The swollen river crashed down its rock chute to the lake surface. The last time we were here it was summer dry with low lake levels.

On the way we passed an active logging area. I love looking at the big equipment. Several years ago I got to go on one of Western Forest Products' forest tours. Click here to see a harvester in action.

Logs processed and stacked ready for extraction.

At the log sort near the dock there was one logging truck waiting to bring the logs from the work site to the skid where they will be dumped into Powell Lake. Click here for a video of one in action.

A "fat truck" used only on logging roads for log hauling.

Here's a video of a log dump here at the Head.

We ate dinner on the boat's back deck and the night was calm and good for sleeping.

Leaving the Head of Powell Lake for our float cabin home.

Do you do fall or winter cruising? What are some of your stories? -- Margy

Monday, October 01, 2018

Harvesting and Storing Potatoes

Potatoes growing in a barrel.
Each year I grow potatoes in barrels. I get enough from three barrels for Wayne and I to enjoy through the winter. I've found that Yukon Golds make a nice sized spud that stays firm and fresh when stored for months. Any that do sprout by spring I use for seed potatoes. The barrel on the left is ready to dig because the plants have died back. The one on the right isn't ready yet.

Each barrel gave me a bucket of potatoes.
Last week I dug up four barrels worth to store for winter use. First I let the soil in the barrels dry. I find digging the potatoes out with my hand is easiest on me and the potatoes. Eliminating cuts from sharp objects helps the potatoes store better. To help keep my digging hand and nails cleaner, I wear a latex glove.

Saving soil from potato barrels.
As I dig, I remove the dirt to get to potatoes at the bottom. I save the soil for next year's gardening for anything except potatoes and tomatoes. This year I added the soil to my raised beds in the float garden. Using my own seed potatoes and saving soil reduces my overall gardening costs.

Dry potatoes before storage.
Here's my bounty from one barrel. I left them out to dry and to allow the skin to firm up. It's best not to wash potatoes before storage. Just brush off any excess dirt and then inspect them for damage. Damaged spuds should be eaten as soon as possible. They do not store well and may damage your good produce.

Wrapping potatoes in newspaper for storage.
Store potatoes away from light and in temperatures between 5 and 10°C. If it's too cold, starch will turn to sugar and make them sweet. Paper and burlap bags or cardboard boxes are good for storage. Do not use plastic bags. Trapped moisture will accelerate spoilage. Avoid storing potatoes with apples, onions or garlic. They produce a gas that causes potatoes to spoil quickly. If potatoes are exposed to the light they will turn green. Remove green portions before eating.

Store in a cool location.
I wrap my potatoes in newspaper and store them is open sided plastic baskets ($1.00 each at the Dollar Store). This keeps them away from the light and separates them from neighboring potatoes. The paper allows the potatoes to "breathe" but also prevents too much moisture from escaping.

Pouch potatoes ready to cook in the woodstove.
I keep the baskets under the downstairs bed, the coolest place in the cabin. Properly stored potatoes will remain dormant and will not sprout for about three months after harvesting. That makes for lots of comfort food meals throughout winter. -- Margy

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Float Cabin Living Summer Retrospective

L is for Float Cabin Living

Summer's wonderful on Powell Lake. Lots of sunshine and blue skies. The lake is warm for boating, kayaking and swimming. It's the season for guests and we had quite a few. Kurt came in his floatplane from California. Our friends Dave and Marg came with their grandkids. And friends stop by as they head to their cabins.

Summer is gardening season. My float garden provided lots of greens, kale, peas, onions, garlic, broccoli and herbs. Containers on the deck held tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, beans, peas, blueberries and red currants. Flowers were pretty and attracted bees.

We eat much of our produce fresh, but I can tomatoes, peppers, pickles and jam for winter meals. I also dry onions, garlic and potatoes.

We had to remove our shore structures as a part of our water lease. My rain barrels went to a farmer in Powell River. Our friend helped us remove our shed and stairs. The wood was reclaimed for firewood.

Other summer chores included installing our Xplornet satellite system and storing firewood in our floating woodshed.

Now that fall has begun, it's a quiet time up the lake. Lots of time for reading, writing and relaxing. It's hard to decide which is my favourite season. What's your? -- Margy

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Last Summer Cruise to Vancouver Island

Last week there was a window of sunny skies and calm winds. It's calm winds we like the best. We used it to for a last summer cruise in our Bayliner 2452. It was a spur of the moment trip so we decided to visit marinas near restaurants for easy dinners.

We left in the afternoon to arrive at Campbell River in the early evening. There were a few cloudy skies along the way, but we dodged the showers just by chance.

Dodging a few showers heading for blue skies.

We stay at Discovery Harbour Marina quite often. It takes less than two hours to get there and we can get there with protection from several island along the way. There's a large shopping centre next to the marina where we ate at the Riptide Pub. They had Dinosaur Bones (beef ribs) on the menu and they were excellent.

A mix of working and pleasure boats at Discovery Harbour Marina.

We timed our departure for slack tide in Discovery Passage and to fish for salmon at the southern tip of Quadra Island. No luck.

We rarely travel this part of the Strait of Georgia. The open area can get big waves, but this trip was calm. As we approached Comox, we saw boats fishing. It's salmon season so we decided to give it another try. Wayne caught an undersized fish, so we let it go.

On the way to Comox, BC.

We headed for the Comox Valley Marina. The visitor's dock was filled with large expensive yachts. Our 24' Bayliner looked like a toy between them. We love our boat. It's perfect for us. We found a great spot for dinner, Martine's Bistro a short walk up the road. We both had the Seafood Linguine filled with clams, mussels, prawns, salmon and halibut. The chef brought out our plates, a nice touch.

Playing with the big boys at the Comox Valley Marina.

The next morning we headed across the Strait of Georgia to Powell River. We stopped at Coho Point on Texada Island for one last try to catch a salmon. Again no keepers. We don't care. Fishing is fun.

Our three day and two night cruise was a great way to end the summer season. That afternoon we put our boat in Powell Lake for the winter.

Do you have a boat? What do you do during winter months? -- Margy