Monday, October 24, 2011

Quick Burn

With the kids handling the apple press, we were free to tackle the garden and burn pile.

The pile has been sitting a while, with new limbs on top.

In less time it took to run back and grab a hose, the pile was lit and full blast.

We were hoping to enjoy it all day, but in less than a few hours it was gone!

So, we re-lit some firewood when it got dark..

... and played hide-n-seek in the old corn.

We'd been drinking apple cider all day, but the kids were quick to point out a fire without smore's is only a fire.

So, we got out the mallows.

A great ending to a great fall day.

Apple Squeezin's

We've waited patiently for the weather and schedule to line up just right for making apple cider.

It all lined up so we quickly got setup.

Conveniently located near the freshest source of apples, we got to it.

The grinder was seriously underpowered, but worked ok.

Grinding the pulp started the juices flowing.

Funny thing is that all the kids were eager to help, and stuck with it.

It was a beautiful fall day, with the grape leaves starting to fade into yellow.

We found about 10# of grapes that hadn't been eaten by the birds.

All the rest of the berries were stripped clean.

We added the grapes to one gallon of cider - it turned out great!

We've been saving containers for a while

The leaves and blue spots in the sky were another highlight.

The younger kids got into the festive celebration with their own party.

Every meal this weekend was accompanied with fresh cider.

We even had some dry ice left over from a church party during the week that gave a nice fizz to the drink.

Getting ready for Halloween - even the Salmon Fillets look spooky!

Lots of sugar in the day makes the meals more lively.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Corn Cobbin'

The sweet corn we picked last has been drying by the fireplace for a week or so, and was dry enough to start rubbing it off the cob.

Most of them were quickly cleared.

The kids had a suprisingly good time with it - doing much more than we expected with little proding.

After removal from the cob, we dry it on the woodstove.

It also gives it a nice roasted taste.
With all of the HAM radio projects we want to try, we figured we better get a less expensive radio to mess with.

For $40 we picked up a decent 2 Watt dual-band HT. It is small!

It fits in a tin we found along the road, to keep it from damage in our pockets.

It is pretty easy to work, and not nearly as fun or powerful as the Yaesu HT, but it will do the trick.

And it is a good learning HT for the younger HAM in the family.

While on eBay we also picked up some bluetooth headsets for $3.

This one we tore down to splice into the MIC and Speaker lines, to attach to the HT for remote radio operations.

Stay tuned.

Project Cars

The younger boys have been having fun with some remote control cars they got.

As with every toy, after a while they started wondering things like "how do we make it go faster?"

One idea we tried was to mix-n-match oversized wheels.

Their other idea was to add a bigger power supply. "If four "AA" batteries at 6 Volts were normal power, why don't we add a single
9 Volt battery and get more power!"

It was a good chance to start teaching them basic electrical principles. Soon, their eyes glazed over and they went back to making oversize tires work.

We brought back another project car over the weekend, too.

This one had to be towed.

We stuck a new 12 Volt battery in it, and started cranking on it. It has been sitting under a tree for 5 years, so we figured we'd have lots of work to do...

But, after alittle work on the throttle cable and carburetor, it fired up! Alittle more coaxing and we kept it running, too!

Happy Day!

The throttle cable needs more work, and alot of work or rebuild of the carb, too.

But, it runs quite well and the boys like just sitting in it.

We drove it around a bit, but didn't stray far from home - that would have jinxed it.

The oversize tires on the RC car worked, but the little motor in it was not powerful enough to see the big performance boost.

Maybe if we put bigger tires on the Camaro...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Getting Back on the Water

Yeah, its fun to be in the woods, in the garden, and all the other places we roam... but after a while we need to get back on the river.

The crew was all for Sturgeon fishing.

Even the weather broke and agreed to cooperate.

Unfortunately the fish didn't want to cooperate at all.

We only got one bite, but it was a fun one!

It tangled us really good, and for a while we thought we'd have one to take home and show Mom.

Nope - a little too little.

Big smiles, though.

Sturgeon are really weird and cool. The girls had fun checking him out before we released him.

The rough skin is ticklish to bare fishing toes...

The breezy weather looked ideal for sailing, and there were a few out trying it.

A great day, even if the fishing was disappointing.

Canning Chantrelles

With so many prime mushrooms, we were eager to try new things preserving them.

Several suggestions for canning them (and warnings too!) convinced us we have to try.

We loaded about 8 lbs into the steamer for 20 minutes.

In no time the mushrooms dramatically reduced in size.

We filled the jars, added salt and vinegar, then topped them off with the liquid steamed off them.

We canned them at 12 psi for 40 minutes.

We also took one pint and froze it in the liquid to see how that does for the texture.

Stick around and next month we'll crack them open to see how they turned out. Maybe some cream of mushroom soup?

Grape Overload

The last grapes on the vine are extremely sweet now.

And LOADED with hornets and fruit flies.

This guy was a late riser - it is still cold out and he is nestled in tight.

Picking the berries is only safe in the cool mornings - and watch out for the hornets sleeping in the clumps.

Here is fresh grapes with the seeds removed and tapioca added.

Some lemon juice and sugar are all that is added.

The skins were removed and blended.

The most important part of a pie is the crust.

The most important part of a crust is that everything is COLD when mixed together!

Here the filling has the blended skins added.

Lots of great tricks in building a pie.

The tinfoil around the edges keeps the edge from burning while baking.

A little cream cheese and its ready to eat.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Ready with the Rifle

Out hunting for mushrooms, we found alot of Salal berries still ready and waiting.

These are quite good, but the texture is a bit mealy for us.

Jam is our favorite way to eat them, but we want to try using them in Pemmican like the originals did.

It was also a good time in the woods making sure the rifles still hit where we think they will, and getting the boy ready to fill his first tag.

Stay tuned on that one...

Now, if he misses we will know it wasn't the rifle ;-)

Fruit of the Forest

The fall rains aren't all bad - they bring out all kinds of good stuff in the woods!

After the first rain in Oct, the Shaggy Mane mushrooms have begun showing themselves.

Here is an old one after just a couple days, and a new one. They turn inky fast!

The small ones are the best - and snap right off.

This time of year we all start keeping small paper lunchbags in our pockets for gathering.

A great treat easy to find around suburbs and bark dust.

The shaggy manes only wetted our appetite - lets get out and find the GOOD stuff!

Chantrelles are da' bomb!

Its fun to be out picking, too.

The crew hit the open woods and had a blast.

We found the area had been picked over recently, but there were still plenty for all.

Here is a great couple examples of chantrelles - the white ones are less common and ever better than the yellows.

The best ones hiding out under logs and ferns.

A pretty good load for a fun few hours in the day.

The kids were good sports to try them, but they'd rather just pick them.

All the better!

We have lots of plans for the 50lbs we brought home, so stay tuned.

Of course the first go right into the butter and garlic.


Besides mushrooms, we had pumpkin bread and pumkin cinnamon roles.

Wow - even though its getting colder and darker out, it is still important to keep in shape with all this good food underfoot.

Chantrelles are full of good stuff for you, and taste fantastic. They are an easy one to find and are quite easily to recognize and ID safely.

A real sweet-spot for us here in the wetter part of the Pacific NorthWest!