Friday, April 29, 2011

Cabin Cooking: Sourdough Sopapillas

When I got home one of the first things I did was feed my sourdough starter. It’s about three years old and I want to keep it thriving. In the morning, I had too much to put back in the jar so I looked in my Sourdough Cookery book and found a recipe for Sopapillas. They sounded like a good breakfast for one.

Sourdough Sopapillas

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons shortening
cooking oil for frying

Measure starter into a bowl. Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until it resembles cornmeal. Add starter to dry mixture and stir to moisten. Put on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, add flour if necessary. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll out to ¼ inch thick and cut into small squares. Drop a few at a time in hot oil (400 degrees) and fry until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar, or serve hot with honey.

Hope you didn’t count the sopapillas in my final picture. Several had to be “tasted” to make sure they were coming out OK! Then I sat down for my breakfast treats with a cup of woodstove-perked coffee.

I really liked this recipe because I didn’t have to wait for the dough to rise. Also, I cut it in half. After all, sopapillas are best warm right out of the frypan!

Do you have any favourite sourdough recipes? -- Margy

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tiny Treasure

One of the first things I do when I get home to Powell River is go to the Economy Shop, a thrift store where the proceeds go to the Powell River Hospital Auxiliary. The helpers are volunteers and all of the items are donated, making the prices very economical. Look at the treasure I got on Tuesday!

It's now up at the cabin organizing my hand painted jars for my home grown herbs. How could it be more perfect? Well, it cost only 25 cents. Now doesn't that top it all off nicely? Plus, I'm helping to reuse and donate to the hospital at the same time. Quite a package of tiny treasures if you ask me. -- Margy

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tulip Jam

Take 1 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of ...., no not that kind of jam! Easter weekend Wayne and I took Mom out for a day trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. It's an annual event that lasts the entire month of April. We picked it for Mom because she could enjoy the beautiful blooms from the comfort of the front seat of her Buick Park Avenue.

Where tulip fields met the two lane country roads, cars slowed down and pulled off on the shoulders, jamming everything up. Kids and adults alike scampered out to see the beautiful fields of colour. And we couldn't have picked a better day for it.

There are still a few days left. Head out to the Skagit Valley before the blooms are cut. You see, these are bulb not flower producing fields. -- Margy

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Atchison, Topeka and Chuckanut Bay

Now what do trains and boats have in common? If you anchor overnight in Chuckanut Bay you'll know. When we went there in the afternoon, it peaked our curiosity. So for our final night on our shakedown cruise, Wayne and I picked the trestle in Chuckanut to drop our anchor.

Before going, Wayne looked up the Amtrac passenger train schedule. You may like to know, both trains were right on time. In addition, there were several freight trains. It was so much fun to wave at the engineers and have they toot the horn as they passed by.

But the 1:30 a.m. freight train gave me quite a start. It woke me as it exited the tunnel to the north. It's bright light made me briefly think we'd dragged anchor and were on the tracks. A quick look proved we were in place, but in the dark, the rattling cars seemed so much closer.

Brightly covered with graffiti, the many cars were heading north to Canada to get another load of natural resources and products, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is action.

The shakedown cruise and good weather came to an end the following morning, waking up to pelting rain and increased winds. We pulled anchor at dawn and returned to nearby Squalicum Harbor. We had lots of fun and hope you did too.

Are you a Pacific Northwest boater? Where are some of your favourite destinations? -- Margy

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Friday Harbor Breakfast Run

The night at anchor was as calm as it gets. Traveling this time of year is perfect if you can find a good weather window. Summer in Fisherman's Bay would have been crowded with boats on buoys with little space to tuck in between. Dawn broke early so we got up to find a breakfast spot at Friday Harbor on nearby San Juan Island.

On the way out of Fisherman's Bay, we saw historic reef net fishing boats used by native peoples such as the Lummi Nation to catch salmon. Tall towers for lookouts make these boats quite unique.

Underwater nets camouflaged with artificial sea grass lead returning Sockeye to nets waiting to gather them together for harvesting. This method is still used today in a very eco-friendly way.

We were at Friday Harbor in about half an hour. We stopped for gas (you can never have too much gas) and to get directions for short term parking (free for up to four hours). Because it was very quiet we were allowed to dock right up front and walked up to a restaurant near the ferry lineup. After that we visited King's Market up the street to get something for a simple no-cook dinner.

Before we left, we went to look at a few boats for sale (you can never have too many boats). We walked about a mile to Shipyard Cove where we found a fellow Canadian in charge. He had lots of stories about boating and float planes in BC. Small world.

Tomorrow for Sky Watch Friday I'm sharing another picture from Anacortes. Come on back on Saturday for the end of our shakedown cruise. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lopez Island Overnighter

From Anacortes we set out to find a lunch spot. The sea was calmer, but the tides were at maximum flood. Our original plan was to enter Lopez Sound via Lopez Pass, but according to Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands, the current could reach 4 knots and the charts showed shallower depths and more rocks. We opted to follow the Washington State Ferry heading through deeper and wider Thatcher Pass.

Just after the pass we headed for Spencer Spit State Park. It was calm in protected Lopez Sound, but with a slight breeze from the north, we opted for the south side of the spit. This park has both land and marine access. We saw several people strolling the sandy shores on this lovely April day.

According to the diagram in the Dreamspeaker Cruising Guide for The San Juan Islands, there were lots of mooring buoys both north and south of the spit. We only found two left on the south side and picked one for a quick Subway sandwich lunch break.

Our destination for the night was Fisherman's Bay on the west side of Lopez Island. Wayne and I don't cook much while cruising. We prefer easy meals and eating out when possible. So for dinner, we docked at the Lopez Islander Resort and walked up to their Tiki Lounge. What a flash from the past. It's a full service resort with a nice marina with guest moorage available.

We had appies and brews then headed out into the bay to anchor for the night. We found a spot between the private mooring buoys and many crab trap floats to drop our anchor. After a glowing sunset we went inside to play a game of Monopoly on my iPad and then snuggled into our sleeping bag in the v-berth for a quiet night on the water.

Come back tomorrow as we head off for Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

San Juan Shakedown Cruise

If you've read recent posts (Chuckanut Day Cruise and Girl's Night Out) you know we're enjoying our new boat, but the weather has prevented us from really giving it a shakedown cruise. But last weekend brought partly sunny skies with minimal wind (we're power cruisers and love calm seas).

View Larger Map

We left our slip in Squalicum Harbor, stopped by nearby Hilton Harbor Marina for gas, then headed out to the San Juan Islands. Island hopping is a favourite boater pastime here in the Pacific Northwest. We started out heading west towards Lopez Island, but our circuitous route put is so close to Anacortes on Fidalgo Island that we decided to stop and check it out. Deep shipping channels gets everything from tiny boats to huge tankers through the shallow waters.

To guide your way into the Cap Sante Boat Haven marina there are lots of buoys and markers. One of the advantages of boating in the off season is uncrowded facilities. But this marina has lots of room for boats wanting gas and moorage. Today we didn't stop, but it's on our list for a future visit.

Have you been to Anacortes before? What are some things you enjoyed about your visit?

From here we headed northwest to Lopez Island. We've been there before in our airplane, but this will be our first visit by boat. Stop by tomorrow to hear more about it. -- Margy

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Coastal BC Plants: Western Skunk Cabbage

Western Skunk Cabbage

I'm usually in Powell River this time of year for one of the sure signs of spring, the bright yellow lantern shaped flowers of the Western Skunk Cabbage. Swampy and boggy areas are where you will find it growing. For such an ugly name, it is a beautiful plant - at least I think so.

It can be found from Kodiak, Alaska, to Northern California, and as far east as Wyoming. Oddly, it can also be found in England and Scotland. Right behind our condo in Bellingham is a riparian zone (protected wetland) with a creek right in the middle. It's a perfect spot for Skunk Cabbage.

Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) is also called Swamp Lantern, an apt name because of the shape and bright glow of its large hooded flower. The common name comes from the bad odour that the flower emits. It sounds strange, but the smell is what attracts its pollinators, flies and beetles. Bears and deer eat them despite their strong smell.

It's a little thing, but it makes me feel more connected to home. Maybe you can find some near your home. Happy flower hunting! -- Margy

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Cabin Deck Refurb

Decks on float cabins are extremely important. You need them to walk on, sit on, and of course, sunbathe on. It's your front, back and side yards rolled into one.

On cedar log floats, decks are raised above the water using an intricate maze of support posts and beams called pony walls that are usually hidden from view.

Our good friend John is putting a new deck on his cabin. When he originally refurbished this old cabin, he didn't completely rebuild the float. He is taking this opportunity make some structural improvements.

One important improvement is adding a brow log. This log runs perpendicular to the float logs. Long spikes driven through the logs tie them together for added strength. In this picture you can see the new brow log (split lengthwise) and the pony walls on top.

How do you get wood for the deck up the lake? John uses the time tested method of towing them bundled together, using their buoyancy in the water to do the work.

Maybe, by the time I return at the end of the month, the deck will be done and ready for outdoor enjoyment. - Margy