Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cabin Baking: Refreshing Sourdough Starter

Another thing I found when I got to my float cabin after a four month absence was my sourdough starter. I was afraid it might be dead. But rather than add some commercial yeast, I took some advice that Sue G gave on my January 2 post. She uses natural yeast from the environment, flour and water. So while I was working in the garden, my starter was "working" on the front deck hopefully gathering spores.

I knew my starter also needed feeding. I usually use skim milk, flour and a bit of sugar. But there was no fresh milk at the cabin. I remembered reading another recipe that used potato water. So I got some of my potatoes out of storage, diced them up and put them on the woodstove. I strained the liquid and let it cool to lukewarm. I then mixed in approximately 3/4 cup potato water, 3/4 cup white flour and 1 tablespoon sugar.

When the sun went down, I put the starter next to the woodstove and left it there overnight to stay warm. I was careful to use non-reactive plastic utensils (glass and wood are also good choices). When I went to bed, there were only a few bubbles so I was doubtful it was going to work. My only recourse would be commercial yeast in the morning.

But when I got up, the starter was working like crazy. Way beyond what I had hoped for. The result was more starter than I could put back in my refrigerator container. So I had enough to take home to Jeanne as a thank you for her help while we were gone. -- Margy

Friday, January 21, 2011

Surprising Snow

This winter has been surprisingly mild. We had a cold blast with lingering snow in November, but it has been pretty docile since.

This morning I woke at the cabin to an unexpected snow storm. Not the bitter kind, but a warm, wet one.

It lasted until noon, then turned to rain, washing the lovely white mantle away. -- Margy

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What I Found

Wayne and I left Bellingham at 10:00 a.m. so I could catch the Pacific Coastal flight from the South Terminal at Vancouver Airport to Powell River. Twenty minutes later I was on final approach for a pretty emotional homecoming. I drove straight to the Shinglemill Marina and was up the lake and in my cabin by 2:00 p.m. Sometimes I forget how easy it is to get from one place to another.

I immediately did a walk around the decks and out to the garden. It was almost like I had only been gone overnight rather than four months. And thanks to Wayne, everything was ready for me to enjoy three days of relaxation.

Yes, my garden needed work, but Wayne had helped by cutting down my asparagus last fall. My strawberries were still okay. Their dead leaves were acting like a natural mulch. My carrots, chard and a bit of spinach were doing so well I decided to leave them in at least for now. Only the woody beets had to go.

I didn't see any birds or squirrels, but I put out some seeds and peanuts just in case. Then this morning I woke to a surprising snow storm. A beautiful way to end the short stay in my little home up the lake. Thank you to Dave and Marg for a lovely dinner back in town. And thank you Jeanne and Wayne for making my whole trip possible. -- Margy

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home Again Jiggity Jig

YEA! Today I get to go home. Homecoming is always sweet, no matter how long the absence. Don't you feel that way? Wayne and I discovered our float cabin by chance in 2001 and haven't wanted to be anywhere else ever since.

Since we've been retired, we've been there almost year-round. Well, that is until this year for me. Mom's back surgery and recovery have kept me away from home for over four months. She is doing much better, so this homecoming will be especially sweet!

Wayne is going to drive me to the South Terminal at Vancouver Airport to catch the Pacific Coastal flight to Powell River. From there it's only a 25 minute flight up the Sunshine Coast, a fifteen minute drive to the Shinglemill Marina, and a 25 minute boat ride up Powell Lake to my cabin in Hole in the Wall.

What will I find? I know my floating vegetable garden needs some attention. I never got it put to bed for the winter like last year, so I will need to pull all of my old root crops and chop everything up for the compost pile. I hope my strawberries have survived the cold without being mulched. Maybe I'll use some of my carrot top clippings to cover the roots for the rest of the cold season. Will our resident squirrel still be hanging around looking for peanuts? Will any of the birds returned yet? What will I find?

Actually, it doesn’t matter. I'll find the best place in the whole world. Our cabin on Powell Lake inspired my husband Wayne to write the Coastal BC Stories series. You too can head Up the Lake and Farther Up the Lake through his books.

Do you have a place that inspires you? Maybe it is where you live, or a vacation home or destination. Maybe it is that special place to sneak away to when you want to be alone. Let us know about it and why you like it so much. -- Margy