Saturday, September 23, 2017

Making Cowboy Candy

Jalapeño peppers on my plant.
I follow a Safe Canning Recipes Facebook page and have been inspired to try new things. On their blog there are many safe tested recipes, including one for something called Cowboy Candy.

It’s a recipe for sweet pickled jalapeño peppers. Everyone raves about them and I’m a hot pepper fan. So, I decided to give them a try with peppers from my own plant. Click here and scroll down to read the recipe online.

Cowboy Candy

Ingredients:

Organize your ingredients.
3 pounds jalapeño peppers
2 cups 5% cider vinegar
6 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
3 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Use gloves, it really helps.
Using gloves to protect your hands, slice off and discard the stem ends. Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8 – 1/4 rounds.

Bring syrup to a boil.
Bring vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add sliced peppers and simmer for exactly 4 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer peppers to clean, hot, sterile jars. Fill to 1/4 inch from the rim or the jars.

Add sliced peppers and simmer.
Bring the syrup back to a full boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.

Ladle the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeño slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to remove any air pockets. Add more syrup if needed to maintain a 1/4 inch headspace.

Spoon peppers into jars and boil syrup.
Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel and cover with two-piece lids to finger tightness. Process half-pints and pints for 10 minutes in a water bath canner. Begin timing after the water reaches a full boil. After the time has expired, turn off the heat and let the jars rest in the canner for 10 minutes.

Remove jars with canning tongs and let them rest undisturbed for 24 hours on a cooling rack. When cooling has completed, check seals, clean the jars with a damp cloth, remove the rings, and label.

If you like hot condiments, this is the one for you. If you have extra syrup, you can process that as well. It’s good brushed on BBQ meats.

Jar on the left for preserving and the one on the right for immediate use.

My little plant only gave me enough peppers for one half-pint (with mostly syrup) and a few extras for a jar for the fridge (with the white screw top). I could have packed more peppers into the canned jar I canned, but the extra syrup will also come in handy.

Have you ever made Cowboy Candy? What do you think?

Head over to Blogghetti for Happiness is Homemade to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects.

http://bornagainfarmgirl.blogspot.com/search/label/Simple%20Saturdays%20Blog%20HopHop on over to The (mis)Adventures of a "Born Again" Farm Girl for more simple ideas for your home or homestead. -- Margy

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Thunderstorm at Hole in the Wall

We experienced a passing thunderstorm at our float cabin home in Hole in the Wall last Sunday.


It came from the west, over the Bunster Range so the cabin protected our front porch. But the middle of the Hole really got churned up. It passed quickly, but not before giving us strong winds, huge raindrops, a bit of hail and thunder and lightening.

Living in Hole in the Wall lets us have lots of experiences we wouldn't have if we still lived in the city. What do you like most about where you live?


Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad. -- Margy

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Coastal BC Animals: Banana Slug

Banana Slug

Banana slug on Stella Lake Road.
During summer, Wayne and I took our quads over to Vancouver Island to ride on logging roads and trails. We camped at Stella Lake northwest of Campbell River.

One evening while taking a walk along Stella Lake Road near the campsite we stumbled upon a large Banana Slug (Ariolimax columbianus) making it's way slowly along the shoulder of the logging road.

While some are yellow, they also come in brown, black and mottled colours. In fact, they get their common name from their shape rather than their colouring.

Banana slugs are large, up to 25 cm (10 inches) long. Wayne used his foot to give a reference point. This one looks about 8 inches in length.

The forward part is called the mantle. On the right side there's a large circular opening. This is the pneumostome.  The slug breathes through this opening.


The head has two upper optical tentacles for vision and two lower sensory tentacles for feeling and tasting. The mouth on the underside has 27,000 teeth called radula. Banana slugs eat plants, decaying matter and animal feces. They digest all of these things and return the nutrients to the soil.


The back portion is called the foot.  Undulating motion and mucus (slime) allow the slug to move across the forest floor and over vegetation.

While I don't appreciate slugs in my garden, this particular variety provides a needed service in the ecology of the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

References: "Banana Slug" on Sierra Club BC (online), "Banana Slug" on Tryon Naturalist Notes (online), and "Banana Slug Diet" on animals.mom.me (online),

Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Salal Berry Jam

Salal leaves are used by florists and the berries can be eaten.
The granite cliff next to our float cabin gives way to forest. In the shade of firs, hemlocks and cedars a green-leafed shrub called Salal thrives.

I've tasted the berries before. They are somewhat dry and bland, but I've heard they can be made into jam. This year I decided to try.

The berries ripen in early August and look somewhat like a blueberries. I picked enough to make one jar of jam just in case it wasn't to my liking.

Here's the recipe I used to make my jam without pectin.

Salal Berry Jam

Ingredients:

Separating and cleaning berries.
1 cup salal berries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Mashing half of the firm berries.
Picking salal berries is sticky work. I found it easiest to pick the whole bunch at the branch tips and separate and clean them at home in water.

Combine all ingredients and heat.
Mash half of the berries to release the juice.

Combine all of the ingredients in a pot that is wide at the bottom and large enough for the sugary mixture to bubble up without running over.

Fill leaving 1/4" headspace.
Cook until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometre.  To ensure the jam has reached the jell point you can test it in several ways. I used the plate method. Drop a teaspoon of jam onto a cold plate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. If it moves slowly, it's ready.

If you want to make your jam shelf stable for storage, use the water canning method. Here's a link to full instructions at the Ball/Kerr website. 

Fill the jar leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the rim and cover with a two-piece lid and ring.

Process the jar in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Start timing after the water reaches a full boil. Adjust the time for your altitude if needed. I have a one jar canner that's perfect for small batches.

Small canner for up to one pint.

Turn the heat off and remove the canner lid. Let the jar rest for 5-10 minutes. Use tongs to remove and let the jar cool naturally. Listen for the pinging sound to let you know the jar has sealed.


After 24 hours, check the lid to make sure it doesn't flex up and down when pressed in the center. If it does the jar didn't seal and the jam needs to be refrigerated for immediate use. If the seal is tight, remove the ring and wash the jar before storing in a cool, dark place.

The consistency is perfect for jam. The flavour is strong but not unpleasant. It was plenty sweet, but next time I would use more lemon juice to counteract the bland berries.

Do you preserve foraged foods? What are some of your favourite recipes?

Hop on over to the Not So Modern Housewife and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

http://nancyonthehomefront.com/Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop. -- Margy

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Xplornet Satellite Internet

I is for Xplornet Satellite Internet

Our cabin as it looks today.
When we purchased our cabin in 2001 it was a vacation destination while were both working as educators in Los Angeles. Back then, we made the decision not to have either television or Internet service.

After we retired, we could only be at our cabin six months a year as Canadian visitors. We decided to continue without television and Internet and spend out time enjoying the outdoors.

Meeting the installer at the Shinglemill marina.
When we became Canadian permanent residents in 2008 we could finally live in our float cabin full time. That meant we had to make frequent trips to town for Internet access. Wayne needed it to publish his books and I'm a grant writing consultant. After a while, all the trips up and down the lake by boat got old. By 2016 Internet access was becoming a priority.

Working under the porch on a rainy day.
Living off the grid and far from town there were two options. First we tried cellular data. We're on the ragged edge of reception so we installed a booster. There are two drawbacks to cellular Internet: 1) it's very expensive in Canada, and 2) our connection isn't reliable and strong.

The dish had to be mounted on shore.
This year we saw an ad in the paper for Xplornet satellite Internet.  We researched it online (in town) and contacted the company. Yes, they offered service in our area if we could align the dish to the satellite. Fortunately we have a good view to the southeast.

Wayne feeding the cable under the deck.
Wayne helped install the coaxial cable from the dish to the cabin. It went under the deck to the kitchen wall near our "technology center." Here we have a power outlet our cellular booster, cell phones and printer. Now it includes our satellite equipment.


Making the connections indoors.
A small hole got the cable inside to hook up the the gateway. A wireless router gives us Internet access anywhere in the cabin and even outdoors. What luxury.

It's not a cheap alternative, but we get 50 GB of high speed data for $85. 

Even though we didn't get television, we splurged on Netflix.  We download movies and programs while we're in town to watch later up at the cabin. That doesn't take any data at all.

Aligning the dish.

A typical day starts with streaming the morning news and downloading the newspaper to read offline. We check email and see what's happening on Facebook and Instagram. Then we turn the system off until evening when we watch the nightly news and check email and social media one more time.

All finished and snugly attached to the shed on shore.

We've moved into the Internet age but have to be careful we don't become wireheads like the old days. We want to save our days for gardening, cabin chores, sailing, boating, quadding, reading, writing, and other active pursuits. So far, so good.


Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the twenty-first round of the meme originally established by Denise Nesbitt. It has now being maintained by Melody and her team.  -- Margy

Saturday, September 02, 2017

“Listening to Whales” by Alexandra Morton

Echo Bay on Gilford Island and Billy Proctor seem to attract strong women who love the outdoors and nature to its fullest. Three of these women have written about their lives to share their experiences and inspire us.

I’ve reviewed books by Yvonne Maximchuk and Billy Proctor. Another author is Nikki Van Schyndel who wrote Becoming Wild, a memoir of her year living off the land on islands in the Broughton Archipelago. The most recent book I’ve read is Alexandra Morton’s memoir Listening to Whales.

Alexandra grew up in Lakeville, Connecticut. Her parents were artists and writers who were well connected to all levels of society. Alexandra didn’t fit in well with her peers, preferring nature to social interaction and left school at seventeen to strike out on her own. In parting, her mother gave her this sage advice, “You can leave school, but you have to do something with your life.” And that she did.

Alexandra began working with John Lilly with research into dolphin intelligence. She followed that by working with Corky and Orky, two performing orcas at Marineland of the Pacific in California. It was here that she started experiencing discomfort with the confinement of dolphins and whales. She also became familiar with SeaWorld in San Diego through her relationship with researcher Jeff Norris.

The memoir includes details about captured whales living in oceanariums, and their difficulties related to confined living spaces. This led Alexandra to British Columbia to begin her study of orca whales in the wild.

Alexandra pulls you into her world, and takes you along on her adventures in Coastal British Columbia. You’ll meet resident, transient and mysterious orca pods from the Pacific Ocean.

Following the death of her researcher/underwater photographer husband Robin Morton, Alexandra turned to fishing with Billy Proctor as a means to continue living in Echo Bay with her son Jarret. This led Alexandra to become a champion for wild salmon and a critic of fish farming practices along the coast.

Alexandra continues to live in Echo Bay, listen to her beloved whales, and fight for the rights of wild salmon. Her memoir will open your eyes to some of the evils we perpetrate on our fellow living creature, and some ways you can get involved to solve the problems man has created.

Find out more about Alexandra Morton online at:
You can also read my review of her book Heart of the Raincoast about the life of Billy Proctor.

http://www.semicolonblog.com/For more exciting book reviews, head on over to Semicolon's Blog each weekend.

There's also the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog. -- Margy

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

At Home Up the Lake

H is for At Home Up the Lake

Arrow 997 over Powell River Airport.
If you've been following my blog, you know that our home is a float cabin on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia.

We discovered Powell Lake and float cabins during our 2001 summer flying and camping vacation in our Piper Arrow 997.

First night at the float cabin.
Powell River had an immediate attraction for us including the opportunity for a wide variety of outdoor adventures, beautiful forest and seaside locales, a small town atmosphere, and expansive Powell Lake with its unique float cabins.

The tin boat.
We rented a 14' aluminum boat (a tin boat to us) and explored Powell Lake. After discovering float cabins we contacted a local realtor, Harry Zroback. A long time cabin owner himself, he gave us directions to the two cabins currently available.


First day inside the cabin's great room.
The first was old and cluttered. Float cabins traditionally come with everything included. The second was newer, built in 1998. It came with just the basics. That was perfect for us because the cabin would be a vacation home until we could retire from our jobs in Los Angeles.

In the summer of 2005 (we were both educators), the float cabin became our primary residence. A small condo in town provided a place for mail, washing clothes, an occasional shower and a place to stay overnight when we have late evening town activities.

Our float cabin home in 2017.

Since 2001 we've upgraded our float cabin home to better match our lifestyle. Some of the major changes included (follow the links for more information):

    You can read more about float cabin living by selecting Float Cabin Living and Float Cabin Construction in the topic list on the right side of this page.

    You can also read about our off-the-grid lifestyle in Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series books including Up the Lake, Farther Up the Lake, Off the Grid and Off the Grid: Getting Started. All books are available in print and e-book formats from most online book sellers.

    Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

    And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

    For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the twenty-first round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt. It's now maintained by Melody and her team. -- Margy