No rest

I love Sundays. The end and the beginning of the week. I’ve had a chance to mull over our farm share and start cooking: bagels; chicken pot pie; and brussel sprouts to freeze. There’s a rhythm to working with a weekly bounty.




Next I hit the books. You will be happy to know I had to answer this question to remain Board Certified:

I answered it correctly and only have four more articles to read. Most of the articles are relevant and interesting but the questions? Not so much.

So I took a break and wound the Malabrigo worsted yarn on my nostespinne. Luscious.


Adirondack fall

Adirondack fall is a brief lovely season. With six weeks until winter, we had our first light snowfall this weekend and the temperature dropped to 17 degrees f.

My Irish Moss sweater is well underway. There’s a tiny chance I may memorize the pattern, but not yet. I love the alpaca-merino, soft, light and warm. So does Shirley.

I got around to pickling the venison heart today. I boiled it for several hours with a carrot, onion and celery, then poured a brine over it and let it sit under a weighted plate all day. Next it’s to the fridge. Tasted yummy.

We’ve received a bounty of winter squash from our farm share and I baked my first pumpkin pie of the season. My Oxo good mill did the hard work. Funny how the pie came out though.

We’ve had a few picnic dinners in the cabin but haven’t screwed up the courage to sleep in it yet. Lots of excuses- have to get up for work, too cold, forgot my sleeping bag, etc. one day. Tim writes about it here.


Another gorgeous day in paradise

Beautiful from sunrise to sunset. Well I imagine sunrise was beautiful because the sky was lavender a short time later.

My food forays continue. I harvested wild rose hips to make tea and jelly when I get home.
The garden

offers more than I thought at first glance. All the chive plants were moved into it and are thriving. There is dill, nasturtiums, a few green beans and a couple of tiny heads of lettuce. I chopped up some nasturtium flowers and leaves and mixed them into a kohlrabi, apple, carrot slaw. We only have a little mayo so I made the dressing with the raspberry honey, sweetened condensed milk and yogurt. It was delicious.

I made a syrup from brown sugar this morning, which was tasty on our pancakes. I found a plumber’s torch in the workshop and we were able to crisp up the topping for creme brulee with it. I definitely have to get one for home, not for plumbing, for dessert.

We dragged a piece of timber into the boat house with an electric winch. I got to use one of my favorite knots, a Prusik knot, which held fast.

For kicks today, we spent about fifteen minutes watching a huge log in the cove at high tide. We waited for the waves to roll it over the rocks which kept it on shore. We may be going off the deep edge. Then tonight, Tim thought he heard a high pitched whine outside. Hmmmm.

This photo shows some of my favorite things: beautiful sunset light on the lighthouse and keeper’s quarters; clothes hanging on the line; the plumber’s torch on the picnic table, waiting to finish off dessert and the sea! I love the mountains miss the ocean.

We enjoyed another gorgeous sunset, lots of red and yellow, to end the day.



Island crafts

It’s another beautiful fall day, 50’s and breezy. A great day to be stuck on an island.

No visitors or crickets yesterday but a couple of float planes passed overhead.

I wandered through the museum and thought about how keepers and their families spent their time. Just like me, there was food preparation, although they had a barn, animals and a garden. And down time to pursue hobbies, fiber and otherwise.

This linen is displayed in the museum. The center panel was taken from a linen cover, which protected the lens and oil during the day. Mrs. DeShon crocheted the lace around it in the 1940’s.

This quilted panel was donated by local ladies. It’s hard to see but there’s a lighthouse in the stitching.

Dorothy Hart made this trolly in the 1950’s from scrap material and used it as a planter.

I frequently scrounge around looking for things to improvise since we never have exactly what you need. Here’s my weed snipper strap.

And a mat from old rope.

And my swift and nostespinne.
My food requires some improvising too. For the first time ever, the cupboards were bare when we arrived. In years past, there was always lots of spices, oils and vinegars. This year, not even a shaker of salt was left behind. I totally support this but it caught me unaware. I had to bum salt and pepper.

So the first night, cashews provided the salt for braised pork. I’ve put aside some wine to use in salad dressing. Gingersnap cookies provided the spice in an apple pie. And it’s all delicious.<br

Back to the recipe

Sometimes you have to follow the rules.

The first batch of pignolli cookies I made, from this recipe turned out perfectly. I followed the instructions to the tee.

As I cook more and more, almost 3/7 (that’s three meals, seven days a week) I take liberties, improvise, create. Not with these babies. When I didn’t make the correct size they sunk in the middle. I tried beating the egg whites first – no good; tried lowering the oven temperature, nope. They have sunk in the middle for 5 years.

Not today though. I followed the recipe closely and it worked.


Became these.


The trick is to make them the right size! With pignolli cookies, and so many things in life, big isn’t better.

Sympathy Labor

I am lucky to be heading out for Thanksgiving. As much as I love having the holiday at home, I live too far away for most of my family to travel here. So I will spend most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday knitting while I ride the trains for at least five hours every day. May as well look at the bright side; there could be delays, which would allow me even more knitting time. Plus there will be family and food at the end of those tunnels.

Here’s what I will be working on.

I am modifying Alice Starmore’s St. Brigid. It may be sacreligous but it was too big and boxy as written. I’m using Cascade Heather on 5’s, eliminated the first chart and using a set in saddle shoulder. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m cooking in sympathy with all Thanksgiving hosts. I’m putting up more farm goodies. I have brussel sprouts to feed an army until the cows come home. And the brussel sprouts are making more brussel sprouts right before my eyes!

Next I’m blanching three types of winter squash – acorn, delicato and butternut. The delicato is amazingly sweet. So sweet I put them in my pancakes. (Don’t tell Tim)!

The finished product.


Chips and beer

Beet and potato chips

It all began with a review I read in Cook’s Illustrated for a way to make potato chips. It doesn’t require any oil, because they are microwaved. I’ve tried roasting chips and even fried them once but I hate deep frying – too many calories and too much mess. The trick is in the slicing. The Mastrad set includes a mandolin, which cuts the slices 1/32 of an inch. Once sliced, they are placed on a perforated silicone tray and zapped in the microwave for 3 minutes. It works. Especially for potato chips. I also tried beet, celeriac and plan to try carrots. Add salt, or cumin or coriander and you’re ready for a beer.

Nice grain

So now I had chips and I needed beer to go with them. I finally broke out the brew kit I brought home from Australia. It’s different from the ones in the states because the beer isn’t decanted into a second container but we’ll see how it goes. The most involved process in homebrew is sterilizing all the equipment and then all the bottles. The cooking process isn’t too complicated.

It’s clean up time

I bought a Munton Nut Brown Ale brew kit from my favorite store on Long Island, Karps. I bought all the ingredients and bottles last year and somehow never got around to making a batch of beer.

The ingredients

This beer is made with barley, chocolate and 3 types of malt and hops. I added a little extra malt extract to potentially boost the alcohol content a tad.

Wort bubbling away

After everything is mixed and yeast is added, it’s tucked away for about a week to ferment and convert the sugars to alcohol. I think that process ended, you confirm by measuring a stable specific gravity for a couple of days, and yesterday set myself to bottling. Always a bit of a mess and it was nice enough to do it outdoors. To my horror, when I went to open the bottles, I thought I had the wrong tops. I used the flip top grolsch style caps and at first only found long neck bottles. I called the store to explain my dilemma and the beer master remembered me and while we spoke I realized I bought two styles of bottles, the right ones for the caps and long necks. Phew. But I didn’t have enough. The long necks have a capper and I think I had planned to borrow my son’s but never got around to it. Luckily friends had given me some grolsch bottles when they heard I was into brewing. In the end I had 4 long necks I was unable to cap. I tried a hammer, clamps and vise grip but couldn’t get the right seal. I saved two and dumped two. We’ll see how they go. I think the last stage (the next 3 weeks) is mostly for carbonation and maybe aging. For now it’s chips.


Hopping along

For those of you who have never needed crutches, I hope you stay that way. Whenever I meet someone who has already used them we are instantly bound by a common ground of resourcefulness. Everyone remembers how hard it is to carry a drink from one place to another. People have devised various bags and even carts to help them along. Ice is treacherous. I grow tired of being dependent so I am trying to do more and more on my own. I even went back to work yesterday for a day.

There’s an advantage to a small kitchen. I can cook by keeping a chair in the middle of the work area to rest ingredients or myself on, while I hop around using the counters on the perimeter as support. Oddly enough, I can’t clean up! So far I have tried two batches of mozzarella cheese, much easier than expected. The night nurse in the hospital shared his fascination with it and I found an easy recipe on the internet. Ingredients are simple: a gallon of milk; two teaspoons of citric acid; and a rennet tablet. You also need a thermometer and the whole process only takes about 90 minutes. Somehow both batches were eaten or used before I took a final picture, but the last step is magical. You heat and knead the lumpy mess a few times and it becomes silky, stretchy delicious mozzarella cheese. One gallon of milk makes about a softball size ball of cheese.

Mozzarella 1

Mozzarella 2

Mozzarella 2

My view from the house has improved because Tim’s project to remove the overhead wires was completed this week. The wires are down, we still have phone service and electricity and all went well. I have a video of a very cool piece of machinery yanking the pole out of the ground and may include it at some point.

Getting ready to take down the pole

Our unobstructed view of Jay Mountain today. I hope the birds don’t mind in the spring.

We continue to eat well and colorfully. A couple of days ago, I made a batch of mashed potatoes from blue potatoes from the farm. They were very an interesting shade of blue but not as creamy as the white ones.

Blue potatoes

Tonight I made a chicken pot pie entirely with farm ingredients. This is the way to eat.

Chicken pot pie

Pot pie minus one

I’m knitting and weaving and plan a big adventure tonight – I’m going to go downstairs for the first time in almost a month to be near the wood stove, my weaving and quilting. The temperature is going to go below 0 degrees F tonight and it should be cozy there. If it wasn’t for the kitchen, I might never come back upstairs.

A trip to the other side and lots of knitting and cooking

Which means I don’t have a lot to say about quilting or weaving. I traveled to the other side of Lake Champlain along the eastern shore and saw a different view of the High Peaks.

High Peaks from the other side

My needles are busily clacking away. Well quietly tapping, in this case, on wooden double pointed needles working on a pair of double knit mittens. This is an old standby pattern, Reversible Twice as Warm mittens. You basically knit two layers at once, inner and outer, which traps a layer of air between them and creates great insulation for cold weather. My son found an old pair of his, which he initially thought were oven mitts when he unwrapped them. Sometimes I have a problem with gauge. Or maybe I never used to check it.

Double knit mittens

In between knitting, I’ve been stretching my cooking skills as I learn new recipes to work with the fresh ingredients we get from the local farm each week. We’re eating lots of cold weather crops: potatoes, kohlrabi, kale, beets, celeriac, cabbage and brussel sprouts to name a few. Time to shake them up a bit. A friend suggested colcannon, which is a dish comprised of mashed potatoes with other cooked veggies stirred in. I mixed it with kale and served it with venison sausage. Tasty!

Colcannon revised

Pignoli cookies are an enigma. This recipe has worked for me in the past but something changed and the cookies always fell flat. This time I added cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites and they seemed to hold up to the test.

Pignoli cookies

I have wanted to knit these mittens for a couple of years and now my daughter and her friends (well actually my daughter, on behalf of her friends) has requested knitwear. Here’s one of two Fiddlehead mittens, knit but not blocked or lined. Great pattern. I’ve tried to design my own colorwork pieces before but didn’t pay enough attention to the details of what happened when the thumb grew or the mitten decreased. Plus I have a better idea of the right yarn for projects, DK or light worsted, my heavier handspun is homey but not as pretty. And now, I always check gauge.

Fiddlehead mittens

I cut up a whole bunch of veggies, sauteed them and made empanadas with them. It reminded me of the meat pies we ate in New Zealand and has given me lots of ideas for the long winter months ahead.

Celeriac, squash, kohlrabi medley

We had a dusting of snow the other day and carved our own celtic cross pattern on the driveway.

Driveway celtic cross