Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cabin Cooking: Streusel Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Pecan Crumb Topping

Wayne and I don’t go shopping before we return to our cabin after a long trip. It makes a travel day easier, and we have lots of food in our pantry to tide us over. Two things that make this method difficult are fresh foods and breakfasts. Our garden helps fill the gap for fresh food. For breakfast we make things from scratch.

Today I made coffee cake to go with our morning brew. I went through my recipe books but didn't find one I liked, so I went online (thanks to Xplornet) and picked one by Diana Rattray from the spruce Eats.

Streusel Coffee Cake with 
Cinnamon Pecan Crumb Topping


For the Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans

For the Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Heat oven to 325 F. Butter and flour an 8 or 9-inch pan.

Prepare the topping:

Combine brown sugar, flour, chopped pecans and cinnamon.

Cut in room temperature butter with a whisk until the streusel is crumbly. Set aside.

Prepare the cake:

In a bowl blend flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk.

In another bowl. Lightly beat the egg then blend in sugar and melted butter. Add the milk and vanilla and mix well.

Stir in flour mixture until well blended.

I did all of my mixing with a whisk because I don't have a mixer due to our off-the-grid electrical system. The original recipe called for an electric mixer to blend the batter.

Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter. Cut in with a knife.

Bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Partially cool in the pan. Cut into squares while still warm.

In addition to serving this rich coffee cake for breakfast you can serve it as a dessert with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. Don't you just love something that gives you double a duty?

What do you do about shopping when you came home from a trip away from home? -- Margy

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sunrise Over Goat Island

This month the weather has been a mix of sun, clouds, wind, rain, and even some hail. Is this really spring?

Recently I was up early enough to be rewarded with a beautiful sunrise over Goat Island. In winter, the sun moves far to the south across the bay from our float cabin home.

During spring, the sun starts to climb up the side of nearby Goat Island until it crests the top in summer.

There's nothing like a sunny start to a nice, warm spring day.

Now I can get out and continue planting my float garden and deck pots. Is spring late in coming to your area? -- Margy

Monday, March 19, 2018

Coastal BC Birds: Oregon Junco

Oregon Junco

One bird that arrives in spring at our float cabin on Powell Lake is the Oregon Junco, a regional variation of the Dark-eyed Junco.  They are a member of the sparrow family with a distinctive dark hooded head and brownish bodies. A sturdy beak is well suited for seed eating.

An Oregon Junco on our granite cliff.

Oregon Juncos are common in the western United States and British Columbia. They live in the understory of coniferous forests. In winter they move to open areas including fields and lawns in town.

An Oregon Junco fledgling on our bridge to shore.

Oregon Juncos typically have two broods a year. Juncos build ground-based nests in protected areas. Each brood has from three to five chicks that hatch in about twelve days and fledge about twelve days later.

Mother Junco feeds one of her fledglings a seed.

For the last two years, a pair of Juncos has raised their family on our granite cliff. The female brought her young chicks to the seed feeders on our bridge to shore. It was also fun to watch young birds playing in the water in the shallows nearby.

Two fledglings taking a bath in the shallows on shore.

One year a large flock of Oregon Juncos arrived at the same time. It was the same week that I planted seeds in my float garden.

Wayne with our protective garden netting.
Wayne and I raced to cover the beds with bird netting to protect my crops. Even so, some got through and we had to help them get out. After the fact we termed this the Junco Wars. You can read that story by clicking here. -- Margy

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Repotting a Red Currant

Painting the outside of the drum.
Last year I potted a red currant in a small container. It grew substantially over the summer so this spring I gave it a bigger home.

I used a 55-gallon plastic barrel given to me by my friend John. It was quite worn, so I spray painted the exterior with Rust-oleum flat black that adheres plastic.

The bottom filled with empty plastic bottles.
The top third of the barrel was cut off (I used it for a separate planter), leaving a large area for soil and root growth. After drilling the bottom with drain holes, I filled it with a layer of empty plastic bottles.

Cutting a drainage filter.
Then I cut a large circle of mill felt (course woven polyester) to go on top of the bottles to prevent soil from clogging the drainage holes. When I don't have mill felt, I use cut-to-fit air conditioner replacement pads.

Before filling the container with soil, I inserted a 64" high metal fan trellis and attached it to the back of the barrel by drilling holes and wiring it securely in place.

My repotted red currant now has ample space for root growth and a trellis to train and support its branches. This summer I'm hoping for a good crop of berries on the branches that grew last year.

The red currant repotted with a trellis to support vertical growth.

The cost for my new container was $24.00:

55-gallon barrel (free from a friend)
Rustoleum Spray Paint $4.00 (with lots left over)
Fan trellis from Canadian Tire ($20.00)
Plastic bottles (recycled)
Mill felt (free from a friend)

How do you get low cost large containers for growing plants? -- Margy

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Canning: Pressure Canning Carrots

I grow carrots in my float garden. I plant in spring and begin harvesting in August. I can carrots in the ground through winter. Our climate can get below freezing, but even with a bit of snow they survive better in the ground than indoors.

This week I pulled the last of my carrots to prepare my beds for spring planting. There were so many left I decided to can them to tide us over until the new crop comes in.

I'm new at canning, especially pressure canning. In fact, this is my second time doing it. The first was with potatoes. I found a Facebook group called Safe Canning Recipes and the admins and members help answer my newbie questions. I read their blog, used their advice and then followed the recipe that came with my Presto pressure canner.

Processing the carrots.
First I had to process all the carrots. Some were quite large. Scarlet Nantes get that way yet remain crisp and sweet. I washed, trimmed and peeled them before chopping into medium-sized chunks. Thanks to Ginger on Facebook for the tip to keep them in water until ready to can.

I used the raw pack method. I packed the carrot chunks into each jar leaving an inch of empty space. Then I filled the jar with boiling water, again leaving one inch of head space for expansion during canning.

Filling the pints one at a time.

I have a dial-gauge, so I have to watch the canner while it's working. I treated myself to a glass of wine and played solitaire on my iPad for the 25 minutes of processing time. For complete safe canning instructions refer to National Center for Home Food Preservation and your canner's manufacturer.

The finished product resting for 24-hours on a rare winter sunny day.

Tonight I’ll wash the jars and put them in my pantry. Canning carrots is much easier than jam or pickles. This year I’ll do more vegetables and fruits to have on hand for winter use. It’s been nice to go to my pantry and make meals without having to go to the store so often.

Can’t you image us opening a jar of these lovely bright orange carrots for dinner some night?  Do you can at your home? What are some of your favourite things to put up? -- Margy

Monday, March 05, 2018

Float Cabin Marina

When you live in a floating cabin, boats are a very important part of your life, but I think we may have taken it to the extreme. Our float cabin decks and docks have turned into a mini-marina. Each of our boats has a different purpose.

Our aluminum Hewscraft is for transportation on our 50 km long fjord-like Powell Lake. It's a sturdy craft to travel even in wind driven waves.

Other boats include a 2452 ocean-going Bayliner that visits in the winter for a freshwater bath, a barge to carry our quads to logging roads, a small tin boat for odd jobs and fishing, and Wayne's sailboat.

Come along on a video walking tour of our float cabin marina.

Do you have a boat? What kind do you have and how do you use it? -- Margy