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