Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pacific Northwest Plants:


Cottonwood Trees

Full grown Cottonwood Tree
For a week now in Bellingham there have been puffy white seeds floating everywhere from the Cottonwood Trees.

Cottonwoods are a type of poplar, with the same quivering leaves. They grow in moist areas, so the wetlands behind our Bellingham condo is a prime spot.

Male and female flowers are in separate catkins (long, slim clusters) that appear before the leaves each spring.

The female catkin produces the cottony seeds that are blown long distances. It's these fluffy white masses that give the tree its name.


Each spring the white fluff flies through the air creating the plant version of a snow storm.

video

The seeds are very small (1X4 mm) which is remarkable considering they can grow into one of the largest trees in North America, up to 100 feet (30+ metres) high.

Cottonwood Catkins
Not only are Cottonwoods large, but fast growing, reaching maturity in 10-30 years. Young trees can add an amazing six feet per year.

Historically, their trunks were used by Native Americans to make dugout canoes. As a commercial product, their course wood is best suited for making pulpwood in the paper industry, pallets and shipping crates.

As summer changes to fall, the leaves of turn bright yellow and orange, making a warm contrast to the cooling blue skies.


Here's one framed by a double rainbow near sunset.


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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Crock Pot Chicken Tamale Pie


You've heard of chain letters. This is a chain recipe. I googled and found it at Krista Kooks. She got it from Beantown Baker. And she got it from Stephanie O'Dea. Stephanie got it from Lorie's Stitch in Time. Each blog has some great recipes. Now it's my turn to add my own twists to Crock Pot Chicken Tamale Pie.

When we were recently in town, I bought a rotisserie chicken for dinner. Afterwards, there was lots left, so I boned it and here's how I used the meat.

Crock Pot Chicken Tamale Pie

What drew me to this recipe was its simplicity. Spray the crock pot with cooking spray. Put all of the filling ingredients in the pot and stir until completely mixed. That's it.

Filling Ingredients

2 cups diced chicken
1 can drained red beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can drained corn (reserve 1/4 cup)
1 small can sliced black olives
1 small can diced green chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cornbread Topping

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup drained canned corn

In a bowl, mix the cornbread topping. Start with the dry ingredients, then the wet and blend. When finished, pour evenly on top of the filling in the crock pot. If it is too thick to pour, add a little extra milk.

Cover and cook on low for 5-8 hours, or on high for 2-3 hours.

I always use the low setting. That way there's a hot supper ready for when we are ready to eat, a win, win for everyone.

p.s. Let me know if the chain continues.



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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Christmas Spirit on Lopez Island, WA


During a trip to Lopez Island, Wayne and I walked from the airport to the marina to get lunch. On the way, we passed a unique mailbox.

As you can see, every day is like Christmas on Lopez Island.

Lopez is one of the San Juan Islands off the northern Washington coast. It can be reached by air (your own plane, Kenmore Air or San Juan Airlines) or sea (boat or ferry). Lopez is one of the most rural of the San Juans. Walk or drive the quiet back roads and you'll see lots of interesting mailboxes. Come and see for yourself. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Powell River Sunset


We returned town in Powell River to see this awesome sunset from our balcony. The view is northwest towards Vancouver Island. I think you can guess why they call this the Sunshine Coast. If you haven't made your summer holiday plans, this is the place to come. It is uncrowded, lots of outdoor activities for all ages, and friendly people. Want more information?


Click here to link to the Powell River Visitor Centre. Come join us in paradise. -- Margy

Friday, April 7, 2017

Quick Shuttle Service from Bellingham to Powell River, BC via Vancouver Airport


Quick Shuttle connection at the Bellingham Airport.
Want to get to Powell River without taking a car on the ferries? Take the Quick Shuttle bus that connects Seattle and Vancouver airports. It has several stops, one of which is Bellingham Airport. Reservations are mandatory and passports are required.

The bus uses the Pacific Highway Crossing in Blaine. You get off at a special building and take your bags inside to clear Canadian immigration and customs. For up-to-date information about border crossing requirements check with with the Canadian Border Service Agency and US Customs and Border Protection before you go.


Boarding the Quick Shuttle
The amount of time necessary depends on the number of passengers and buses in line. Plan on at least 30 minutes, more on holidays. By the way, the Quick Shuttle has free WiFi so you can surf the web the whole trip (or work if you must). The cost is very reasonable, currently about $49 round trip, or $29 from Bellingham to YVR. They will also stop at the train station, cruise ship terminals, downtown Vancouver and most major hotels. Along the way you will see forests, farmlands, small towns, glimpses of the ocean, and finally the big city.


Vancouver Airport South Terminal
Whether you arrive at Vancouver Airport by bus or plane, Pacific Coastal Airlines has a free shuttle every half hour outside the lower level to take you to the South Terminal. Pacific Coastal has connections to many Vancouver Island and BC destinations. From Vancouver, it is only a 25 minute flight to Powell River.


Over Powell River, BC
One-way fares start at about $140. The Quik Pass program includes discount fares for frequent fliers.

Transportation is easy in Powell River. Your Pacific Coastal flight crew can call ahead for a Powell River Taxi to be waiting to whisk you away to your first adventure. If you are on the ground, you can call them at (604) 483-3666. You might be lucky enough to get one of our good friend John's brothers, Rick or Rob. They both have Prius cars to be environmentally friendly and economical.


Powell River Airport
If you want a car, Budget car rental is in the terminal. There is also a stop for the Powell River Regional Transit District bus outside. This bus can take you all around town or, with a connection, to the community of Lund at the end (or beginning depending on your point of view) of Highway 101.  No matter how you get here, Powell River is the place to visit and live. Join us here someday soon. -- Margy

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Homemade Coffee Liqueur


Coffee liqueur resting in my pantry next to my Orangecello.
This is my second recipe to try for making a Kahlua style coffee liqueur. The first was simple and used instant coffee. You can see that recipe by clicking here.

This new recipe used whole coffee beans and cocoa nibs. Each one has its own merits.

Here's a similar recipe I found online. When I made it, I cut the recipe in half.


HOMEMADE COFFEE LIQUEUR

Ingredients:

750 ml white rum
2 cups dark rum
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ pound whole coffee beans
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
½ orange zest
1 vanilla bean

Directions:

On very low heat, melt the sugar in a small amount of rum to dissolve it into a syrup.

I had a hard time getting the sugar to dissolve this way so I added a bit of water.

Fill a glass jar with the coffee beans, cocoa nibs, orange zest, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean.

I had to go to the bulk spice section of several stores before I could find the cocoa nibs.

Serious Eats describes them as "bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean." In essence, they're "chocolate that hasn't been ground and mixed with sugar yet."

Pour in the dark rum and top with the white rum.

Place a lid on the jar and label it with the date.

Keep the mixture in a cool, dark place for about one month.

Shake it gently about three times a week.

Taste test the mixture occasionally. When the flavour is to your liking it is ready.

Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a clean jar.

I like using a Mason jar with a plastic lid. You can purchase them or save the tops from Parmesan cheese containers for free. I always like free.

Your coffee liqueur is now ready to enjoy as an aperitif, on the rocks, or my favourite way, topped with cream. It also makes a great addition to hot or cold coffee.

What better place to sip a cool drink than my front porch with the wonderful view of Powell Lake and Goat Island to enjoy.


How to you like to enjoy coffee liqueur? -- Margy

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“I Married the Klondike” by Laura Beatrice Berton


Many young women in the early 1900s started their adult lives and careers as teachers in remote areas. They accepted short-term contracts for the opportunity to put their new credentials work, for the money, and for the adventure.

Many did not last beyond that first year, but Laura Beatrice Berton turned her initial one year commitment into a life well lived in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Laura came from a well-to-do family in Toronto. As a young teacher in Toronto, she earned the paltry sum of $480 a year. When her superintendent offered her the position of kindergarten directress in far off Dawson City for $2100 a year, she quickly accepted.



Gold mining tailings on the Klondike River in 1994.
I Married the Klondike (Lost Moose: The Yukon Publisher, 2005) by Laura Beatrice Berton is a memoir encompassing twenty-five years including her teaching experiences, life in the bustling then dying gold mining town of Dawson City, and subsequent years of married life with Frank Berton, a miner and engineer who crossed the formidable Chilcoot Pass during the gold rush of 1898.



Dawson City's Yukon Hotel from our flying vacation in 1994.
The stories of life in Dawson City, the position of teachers, local high society, gold mining, a summer-long honeymoon in a tent at Sourdough Gulch, dance halls and women of ill-repute, steamboats and riverboats, raising children in the North, and the ubiquitous Yukon River that was everyone’s focal point of life.

If you like history, stories of brave women, and a look at life at the turn of the Twentieth Century, I Married the Klondike is an excellent choice.


A touristy paddlewheel boat on the Yukon River.
This is the second book about the Berton family that I’ve read. The first was Drifting Home by Laura’s son Pierre Berton, author, journalist, historian and host of The Pierre Berton Show.  In 1971 he followed in his father’s footsteps over the Chilkoot Pass and floated down the Yukon River to Dawson City with his grown children, a family bonding and remembrance experience rolled into one. You can read that review by clicking here.

Do you have any books you’d like to recommend? I love to read, and our float cabin home is the perfect place. -- Margy

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Butternut Squash with Kale and Quinoa


I love growing Green Curly Kale. I plant it in spring and can begin harvesting leaves by June. But that's not the best part. I continues to grow through winter and produce until planting time the next spring.

Winter is the best time to pick curly kale. By then the frost has made the leaves firm and fleshy, perfect to hold up during cooking.

To use some of my home grown kale, I made a side dish with butternut squash and quinoa.

Butternut Squash with Kale and Quinoa 
in Browned Butter

1 butternut squash
1 small onion
5 cloves garlic
2 cups chopped kale
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup pre-cooked quinoa
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Go to Simply Recipes for directions on how to brown butter.

Go to theKitchn for directions with pictures on how to cook quinoa.

Remove the seeds, peel and dice the butternut squash into 1/2 inch pieces. Chop onions, garlic, kale, and hazelnuts.

Heat butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Whisk frequently as the milk solids in the butter turn to a light brown and get a nutty aroma. Do not burn! Add onion and then garlic and cook on medium low heat until lightly caramelized.

Stir in thyme and add the diced squash. Toss to coat with the remaining butter then spread out in a single layer. Continue to cook on medium low heat without stirring until lightly browned on one side.

Stir and spread out again to brown on the other side and cook on low for 10 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. You can do this much ahead and finish just before dinner.

Before serving, add kale, hazelnuts, pre-cooked quinoa, and season to taste with Worcester sauce, salt and pepper.

Cook just long enough to wilt the kale and warm the quinoa. Serve and enjoy.

Quinoa is fairly new to me.  I like its nutty flavour in dishes like this.  Do you cook with quinoa? I would love to hear about your recipes. -- Margy

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Available Online:


Paddling the Pacific Northwest
by Wayne J. Lutz
PowellRiverBooks.com

Come along on a paddling adventure.
Grab a paddle as the author leads you on day trips and overnight adventures on the rivers and lakes of northwestern Washington. 

http://www.amazon.com/Paddling-Pacific-Northwest-Wayne-Lutz-ebook/dp/B00GMWKC4O
Paddling the Pacific Northwest takes you to out-of-the-way destinations where kayaking allows us to pursue our innermost individual freedoms. Come along on freshwater exploits in a sea kayak as a Canadian paddler heads south to probe the rivers of Washington, searching for “slow pushers” to propel his kayak lazily downstream mile after mile. A travelogue memoir of enlightening adventures set in the magic of the Pacific Northwest. 

Check us out online:

Print for $12.95
Kindle for $5.99 
E-book for $5.99

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Homemade Orangecello Liqueur


Homemade Orangecello liqueur on the rocks.
Liqueurs are versatile. They make a good after dinner drink to sip instead of a big dessert. They can also be used with a mixer for a lighter daytime thirst quencher.

I found a recipe for Orangecello Liqueur online and it peaked my interest. We use a lot of oranges in our breakfast fruit bowls, so I have plenty of orange peels that can be used for other purposes.

Here's the complete recipe I found online. I cut mine in half.

Homemade Orangecello Liqueur

Remove bitter white pith from peels.
Ingredients:

1 bottle 80-proof vodka
peels from 6 oranges
half of a vanilla bean
Simple syrup (2 cups water and 2 cups sugar)

Directions:

Remove as much white pith as you can from the orange peels. The pith will make the Orangecello bitter.
Place ingredients in a jar.
Slice the prepared peels into strips.

Place the ingredients in a sealable container. I used a Mason jar with a plastic lid. Save the orange fruit for other uses.

Store the jar in a dark place.

Check daily to make sure the vanilla bean isn’t overpowering the mixture. Remove the vanilla bean after three days maximum.
My Orangecello resting in the pantry.

Let the mixture continue to infuse with the orange peels for five to seven additional days. Check daily to make sure the flavour and colour are to your liking.

More orange flavour will be imparted to the alcohol the longer it infuses. I left mine work for two weeks and it was perfect for my taste.

Strain the mixture.

Strain the mixture.
Make a simple syrup with two cups of water and two cups of sugar. Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Allow the simple syrup to cool completely. Add one cup to the infused alcohol and give it a taste test.

Add more if you like a sweeter liqueur. Because mine was a little bitter, I used the whole amount.

It reduces the amount of liquor in the final product, but for me it improved the taste.
Make a simple syrup.

Chill the Orangecello, or serve it on the rocks.

It also makes a nice, light spritzer by combining it with lemon-lime soda.

The completed Orangecello liqueur will keep for several months, if it lasts that long. It’s like drinking liquid orange candy.


Add cooled simple syrup to the infused alcohol and store in a sealed container.

I hate to throw useful things away, so I put the strained orange peels in a pan and let them dry in the oven with the pilot heat. I love it when nothing goes to waste. -- Margy