Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cabin Baking: Flaxseed Bread

Stovetop toast with homemade flaxseed bread.
We ran out of bread and wouldn’t be going to town for a few more days, so I decided to make some for our breakfast toast. I didn’t want to wait for my sourdough starter to work, so I tried a recipe for flaxseed bread I'd saved from an old Pacific Yachting magazine.

Flaxseed Bread


1 ½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 ½ to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pkg (1/4-oz) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ teaspoons butter for topping
½ cup ground flaxseed
½ cup whole flaxseed


Add warm milk mixture to dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, ground flaxseed, whole flaxseed, yeast and salt.

In a saucepan, heat the milk, brown sugar, honey and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add to dry ingredients when it has cooled to just warm.

Stir in enough of the remaining all-purpose flour to form a firm dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. I had to add about ½ cup extra all-purpose flour during kneading to keep the dough from sticking to the breadboard.

Knead, let rise and test.
Place in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat all side of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. I used the wonderful King Arthur dough rising bucket that my friend Jeanne gave me.

To test the dough, use your fingers to indent the surface. If it doesn’t spring back, it’s ready to punch down.

Form into a loaf.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a loaf. I’d already cleaned my breadboard so I used a piece of plastic wrap taped to the counter for easy cleanup.

Place it in a 9X5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Let the loaf rise again.
Bake at 375°F for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the pan to a wire rack. Melt remaining butter and brush over the bread (optional). Then let cool before slicing.

I like the slightly sweet nutty flavour for our morning toast. Topped with some of my homemade grape and plum jam, it was perfect with our morning fruit.

And for an added benefit, we could stay home instead of running to the grocery store in town.

Hop on over to the Not So Modern Housewife and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living. more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop. -- Margy

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Talk to Me Goose

After a long quiet winter, it's nice to have birds returning to Hole in the Wall on Powell Lake.

The first to arrive on the scene were the Canada Geese. A flight of five came honking their way into Hole in the Wall early in April.

Since then, the group has split up. Three have been congregating at the back of the Hole, and two have taken up residency in John's back bay across from us.

We can hear them honking back and forth early in the morning. Usually they stay out in the lake, but recently a pair has been coming up to stand on our log booms and swim in our inner pool area.

I've been keeping a eye on them because I don't want troubles out at my floating garden. In the past, geese have climbed aboard to partake of my tender crops. But so far, so good.

I had to play a little joke on the male goose. Top Gun is one of our favourite movies (after all, we're pilots). One memorable line was, "Talk to me Goose." Goose was the call sign of pilot Maverick's EWO (electronics warfare officer).

We enjoy watching all of the birds and animals that visit our float cabin home. What critters have returned to your area already?

Camera Critters 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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Off-the-Grid Living

Wayne and I have chosen to live where we are surrounded by nature.

We've always been outdoors kind of people. We met each other on a flying camping trip to Canada and have gone on many adventures since.

In 2000, we stopped at the Powell River airport for fuel and an overnight stay. We fell in love with the area, so we returned the following summer and discovered floating cabin. We knew immediately it was where we wanted to live.

One of the main draws was the opportunity to live a simple, off-the-grid lifestyle. Off-the-grid is typically defined as living away from public utilities, especially electricity.

Our float cabin isn't connected to electric, water or sewer grids, so we had to find other ways to handle our utilities.

The cabin came with propane as a power source for lights, refrigeration and cooking, and a woodstove for heat.

The cabin floats on the surface of a freshwater lake so our water source was located four feet below our floor.

A hand pump at the kitchen sink brings water into the cabin with just a few pumps of the handle.

Because we wanted to have some electricity for cell phones, computers, lights and a few small appliances (think shaver, spice grinder, radio), we installed a solar panel and two batteries. Over time, that has grown to three panels and two sets of 8 batteries.

To augment our solar power we added a wind generator, but we only create power during stormy weather.

During winter we periodically recharge our batteries with a 1000 watt fuel efficient generator that's fairly quiet.

When we purchased our cabin we started with an outhouse that was three flights of stairs up the cliff.

When started living here full time we upgraded to a compost toilet and added a bathroom onto the cabin.

Off the grid living isn't for everyone, but for us it's the perfect choice.

Want to know more about float cabin living? Wayne's written a book: Off the Grid the Grid: British Columbia Stories. It includes stories about how we do off-the-grid living on Powell Lake in Coastal BC. It's available in print and e-book formats at and other online booksellers. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dividing Rhubarb Plants

I've grown rhubarb in a medium sized container since 2010.

It started from bare-root stock and has provided me with enough stalks each year to make several pies and crisps.

I knew my plant was becoming pot bound due to visible splits in the plastic container, and the reduced production in larger stalks.

I researched online and watched YouTube videos about how to divide and replant rhubarb.

The root mass removed from the pot.
I waited for fall when the plant became dormant.

It was so pot bound it took me a long time and lots of digging to loosen it from the container.

You can see what a tight mass the roots had formed.

Using a serrated knife to cut the roots.
There was no evident division point in the plant, so I decided to cut it right down the middle.

Large roots sliced through.
The slice exposed very large roots cut right through the middle.

I worried that the "wounded" roots might die or become diseased, but that didn't happen.

I used a larger pot and placed both sections in with plenty of spreading room in between.
The two halves get a larger pot.
I made sure the plant crowns were even with the top level of the soil.

I used fresh potting mix to fill in the empty spaces between and around the the roots.

To protect my plants from the coming winter's freezing temperatures, I covered the top of the pot with crumpled newspaper, cardboard and an inch of soil.

Removing the winter covering.
Here's a post of a similar process I used with my dahlia tubers.

When spring arrived, I removed the covering to expose the budding shoots.

I'm happy to report that both sides have not only survived, but are thriving.

I can hardly wait for my first crop to make a strawberry, apple, and rhubarb crisp. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Coastal BC Fungi: Mitrula elegans (Match-stick Fungus)

 Match-stick Fungus

I live in a float cabin on Powell Lake in Coastal BC. Each year, a tiny plant appears right at the waterline on one of our cabin's cedar float logs. This year there are better specimens on a boom log.

On the cabin, it grows in the shade. On the boom log, it is in full sunlight. It has a white stalk and is topped with a yellow-orange fruiting body. It's only about 6 mm (1/4 inch) tall. It appears in April and is gone when the weather gets warm.

After a bit of searching I found the UBC (University of British Columbia) Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research website. If you like plants in nature or the garden, this is the place for YOU! There's also a forum with a wealth of information.

I discovered my mystery plant is Mitrula elegans, match-stick fungus. Here is a link I found for a picture and detailed description. I just love learning new things about this wonderful place I live in. -- Margy

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Living on Powell Lake

We live on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia.

The lake has many moods.

In the winter it is often cloudy and rainy.

In the spring, we get more sun and take advantage of it for outdoor activities like sailing on the lake.

You can read more about Powell Lake by clicking here.

You can read more about float cabin living by clicking here. -- Margy

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Transplanting Blueberry Bushes

New blueberry bushes planted last year.
Last spring I bought two blueberry bushes, a Northsky and a Chandler. I planted them in medium sized pots so they could grow right on my cabin deck. That way I could provide them with consistent watering during the summer months.

Cutting mill felt for better drainage.
My experiment was a huge success. By the end of the summer, the plants had more than doubled in size. They would probably last in their pots for one more year, but I decided to transplant them while they were small enough to handle easily.

Rocks to support the mill felt.
Fall is a good time for transplanting blueberries. The plants and their root systems are dormant. They will have the winter to rest and in spring the new growth with start enjoying it’s new larger surroundings.

To make inexpensive larger pots, I asked Wayne to cut two 45-gallon plastic barrels in half. I used the top halves with the fluted edge because that part was more decorative. I then painted the pots dark green on the outside to match our cabin’s trim. Click here to see how I did it.

Mill felt is porous to allow for better drainage.
Wayne drilled holes in the bottom of the barrel for drainage. Blueberries like moist, but well drained soil.

They also like acidic soil with a pH of 5.0, a topping of organic matter, and lots of sunshine.

Soil and peat came next.
To ensure that drainage worked well, I placed several rocks in the bottom to support a round of mill felt (a stiff fiberglass cloth) above the bottom of the barrel. Water will drain through the soil, through the mill felt, through the air space at the bottom, and then out through the holes.

The blueberry bushes went into their new pots.
I filled the bottom with soil and peat moss so to raise the root ball level with the surface. I then carefully removed the blueberry plants from their old pots and placed them on the soil of their new pots. That sounds easy, but even after one year the root balls were quite large and impacted.

A lot of the smaller root hairs fell away with some of the soil. They will get replaced in the spring when the new growth begins.

The blueberry bushes in their new larger pots.

Finally I filled in the edges of the pots with more soil and peat moss.

Spring buds on the Northsky plant.
I pruned my blueberry bushes before spring arrived to remove old dead branches.

Check back later to see how this season progresses. Hopefully with all this attention, I’ll get a good crop of berries this coming summer.

Do you grow blueberries? What has been your experience? -- Margy