Homesteading In The Pacific Northwest

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Irish Oats

1 ounce natural oatmeal BFL
1/2 ounce tussah silk
1/4 ounce fawn alpaca
1/4 ounce dark chocolate alpaca
a pinch of copper bling

Run the ingredients through a drum carder, packing well.  For "Country Oats" run it through once; for "City Oats" run it through twice...

...doff ...

... and form into batts ...

...apply to a spinning wheel to form a 20 wpi single ...

Spin two bobbins and set them into a tensioned Lazy Kate ...

...and ply with 12 counts per pull ...

 Repeat above steps 5 times to form 300 yards of yarn.

Using size 10 needles, cast on 18 ... 
Rows 1 - 4: k18
Row 5: k4, p10, k4
Row: 6 k18
Repeat rows 5 and 6 until scarf measures about 6' long
Repeat Rows 1 - 4
Bind off


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Return of the Blob ...

Some of my favorite time savers in the kitchen are my blobs.  At the end of the summer when  herbs are plentiful I make mixed herb blobs ...

Here I have a mix of basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme that I puree in a processor with a little olive oil ...

... spoon into an ice cube tray and freeze ...

... and then pop out of the tray, place in a labeled freezer bag and store in the freezer...

I make roasted garlic blobs by peeling a bunch of garlic cloves, drizzling them with a little olive oil and roasting them in a covered dish at 350 degrees for about an hour ...

Here are some roasted garlic blobs and some basil blobs getting ready to go into the freezer...

And after they've been frozen and are ready to store ...

I saute mushrooms (in this case chanterelles) in olive oil and make mushroom blobs ...

And  it seems that most recipes that call for chipotle peppers only use one or two, so I make blobs out of the rest of the can ...

Can you think of anything else that would make good blobs?


Friday, October 21, 2011

It's A Cold And Rainy Afternoon ... Chicken and Dumplings!

Recipe and directions to follow ... : )


The reason I posted the pic above yesterday was that I was feeling pretty darned pleased with myself.  I DID cook the chicken and dumpling in a cast iron skillet in my fireplace!

For those who have asked, here's the recipe.  You'll have to wait until I make it again for a photo of the finished dish.


For the Chicken Stew:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 cup diced red potatoes
1 mixed herb blob
2 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used Chanterelles this time)
2 cups cooked chicken meat, coarsely chopped

Saute the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil in a heavy pan until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute.  Add the broth, the potatoes and the herb blob and cook over medium high heat  until the potatoes are done, about 15 minutes.  Mix the butter and flour together to form a paste (a beurre manie) and stir it into the broth mixture to thicken the stew.  Add the chicken and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

For the Dumplings:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter or shortening
1/2 cup cold water
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Cut in butter (or shortening) with a fork or a pastry blender. Add the water and the parsley and stir until it just sticks together.

Drop large spoonfuls of the dumpling mix onto the top of the hot chicken stew.  Cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes over medium heat until the dumplings are cooked through.

For the fireplace version:  Get a good bed of coals going in the fireplace.  Set 2 fire bricks into the coals (carefully!  I wore welder's gloves while doing this) about 8 inches apart.  Use a heavy cast iron pot or covered skillet. I did the step of sauteing the vegetables on  my stove top, added the broth and potatoes and placed the covered skillet on the fire bricks for about 20 minutes. I removed the skillet from the hearth (again, wearing welder's gloves), stirred in the rest of the stew ingredients and replaced the skillet on in the fireplace for about 10 more minutes.  I removed the skillet (don't forget the welder's gloves) and then built the fire up again and let it die down until I had another good bed of coals and then added the dumpling mix and returned the skillet to the hearth for about 30 minutes.  The dumplings actually browned a little bit and were perfect!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cream of Chanterelle Mushroom Soup

Every year I look forward to fall; crisp, cool days, bright colored foliage ... and chanterelle mushrooms!

Cream of Chanterelle Mushroom Soup


¼ cup white wine
A pinch or two of saffron
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound fresh Chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and chopped coarsely (or 1 pint canned)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
2 cups Half and Half
chopped fresh parsley.


Warm the wine slightly in a microwave or on the stove top, add the saffron and let the mixture steep for about 10 minutes.

Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until they soften and wilt. Remove about 1/3 of the mushrooms and set aside.

Sprinkle the flour into the mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly to coat the onions and mushrooms. Add the broth and the wine with the saffron stirring constantly, and bring to a full boil. Continue to boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Add the Half and Half and the chopped mushrooms set aside earlier and continue to cook over low for 10 more minutes (the mixture should remain just below a simmer).

Serve garnished with the fresh parsley.

This makes a great first course soup or can be used in any recipe calling for Cream of Mushroom soup (I'm going to make Tuna Noodle Casserole with Cream of Chanterelles for dinner tonight :)

Since chanterelles are only available for such a brief period of time I decided to can some of them this year.

Chanterelles Canned in Chicken Stock:

Several pounds of chanterelle mushroom
olive oil
citric acid
hot chicken broth (preferably homemade)


Prepare pint or half pint jars, lids and bands for canning. Remove loose debris from the mushrooms with a dry brush ...

... trim, and chop coarsely several pounds of  chanterelles ...

... wash the mushrooms well ...

... and steam or saute them briefly in a little olive oil, just until softened.

Remove hot jars from the  canner and add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid to each jar.  Pack hot mushrooms into the jars and add hot chicken broth to the jars leaving 1 inch headspace.

 Wipe the rims with a clean cloth moistened in vinegar (to remove any grease from the broth that might have gotten onto the rim) and center lid on jar.  Screw band on to fingertip tight.  Process in a pressure canner for 45 minutes according to the directions in your pressure canner owner's manual.

Since this was a first time canning these for me I did use one of the first jars to make a batch of the soup just to see ... it came out great!

Important!  On the left is the glass of vinegar for wiping the rims of the jars.  On the right is the glass of wine I was enjoying while finishing up the last few jars .... do not inadvertently take a sip from the glass on the left ... !!!

I am linking to Robin's Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard.  Check it out!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

None of the Above: A Proposed Constitutional Amendment

I'm going to go a little bit off topic again.  I've been watching what is going on in Washington and I'm really disappointed...I was so hoping that "change" meant a real commitment to ethics and morality.  I hoped that The People's agenda might finally have some meaning (you know, as in WE THE PEOPLE...).  But it's business as usual in Washington...back room deals making in exchange for votes or backing with the portions of the health plan that The People were in favor of stripped away to satisfy one special interest after another and the other issues important to US put on a back burner...

This Supreme Court ruling that will only make the possibility of true change in Washington even more remote:  ... (update 1/20/2014 ... this link is no longer live ... I was referring to the "Citizen's United" decision)

With big business and big unions calling the shots, the will of The People hasn't got a chance...unless...

I'd like to propose a change in our election system. What if we add another “party” to the ballot..."None of the Above”... For the Presidency and Congress, “None of the Above” will be added to the ballot alongside “Republican” and “Democrat”. This would require an amendment to the Constitution, but I think WE THE PEOPLE might just be able to get the ball rolling...WE THE PEOPLE... with our Facebook posts, our Twitters and our Blogs...(post "None of the Above" as your Facebook status, Twitter "None of the Above", copy and post this entry or a link to it on your own Blog")...who knows, maybe we could find someone in Congress brave enough to sponsor the bill.

And what if “None of the Above” wins??...then there has to be a new election within 90 days with none of the candidates from the previous election allowed to run...except of course for “None of the Above”.

If the folks up in Washington actually thought that they might loose their monopolies on our political institutions,  The People might have a real say in our Democracy...

And just one more thought to add to the above ... we need to fix it so they don't get their big pension/benefits package unless they get elected to a second term ... that way if they make promises they don't keep and we vote them out they don't get the bennies ... might just make a few of them think twice about lying to us in order to get elected ...

Just my 2 cents, whatever that's worth these days...