Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Manly Man

I had a disturbing experience tonight when my sister Penelope called to chit chat. We talked about horses and timing for her to move out our way (its inevitable, you might as well do it sooner than later), etc. And then the conversation turned to how I make beans and how to make whole wheat tortillas.

How in the world did I end up at the point where I’m sharing recipes with women? If you would have told me 20 years ago I would one day be sharing my secrets on the finer points of bean preparation and tortilla rolling I would have punched you. Yet here I am blogging and sharing recipes.

I was so disgruntled by the happening I immediately put the kids to bed and headed out to see if I could get the truck working that Elvis gave me. That’s a manly thing to do I hear.

Went out in the truck grave yard behind the old granary and put the key in the ignition hoping deep down it wouldn’t work so I could hit something with a hammer. Well that silly little 1970 Toyota started right up. It had been about 6 months since anyone had pressed the peddles so I was expecting some groaning and complaining.

I ending up muttering (just like I remember my dad doing) and rocking the truck back and forth to get it out of the divots from 6 months of winter snow and weather. I only drove a bit back when I realized I was sinking up to the axle. I forgot about the new garden plot we ripped open last fall which just so happened to be muddy and wet from the +11 C we had today. I’m hoping Dancing queen thinks it’s a crop circle type event.

It didn’t take much for me to start feeling manly again. I’m guessing its a gender thing as pressing the gas and watching black smoke bellowing out of a truck made me feel full of testosterone and energy. And getting stuck in the muck is a great way to spend an evening.

Glad I could get that off my chest. I’m off to make cookies now and soak some beans for tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beans, beans, the musical fruit…

I had a nice big blog written about the above title but Milly came by as I was writing this post and just knew something was wrong. I guess I shouldn’t grin and chuckle while writing these posts. I suppose its good that I get censored in some instances.

I’ve had limited approval on the mostly appropriate information below.

Texas strawberries, legumes, pulses, whatever you call them, I love beans. The beans we like best are pinto, black, and kidney.  Pinto, black and kidney beans are sweet, tender, fairly non-gaseous and delicious when done properly. They are also a great filler for my whole wheat tortillas along with any sprouts we have handy.

Here is how we normally prepare our dried beans.

  1. Purchase dry beans from the store (Costco usually has 25 lbs. bags of pinto beans), local bean plant (we have one about an hour from us), or an LDS cannery (there’s usually a home storage center around most areas)
  2. Clean beans in a large strainer picking out mud and rocks. I’m not usually that careful in this step as the mud and dirt usually dissolve in the soaking process. Whatever is left is just added protein right? Some places say to pick out the broken beans. Yea, right. The broken ones work just as good as the non-broken.
  3. Soak beans for about 24 hours. I usually do around 8 to 10 cups in a large pot. Here’s the key – drain water a couple of times while beans are soaking. This process helps to remove the fume-causing elements.
  4. You can cheat the soaking time by boiling the beans for 1 or 2 minutes and then letting them sit for an hour before cooking. But, like I said above, letting them sit and draining them a couple of times is better.
  5. Bring beans to a slow boil and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Add water if needed to keep beans covered.
  6. Add whatever you like to make the beans taste nice. Some people add pork. The Von Trap’s add garlic, peppers, onion, etc. and then freeze the beans with the cooking water. I don’t usually add anything. I like getting unadulterated, plain beans at the end of the cooking process.
  7. The beans are done when they are soft. If you take them out and blow on them the skin usually peels back if they are done. Sometimes the beans in a batch don’t cook at the same rate. I usually continue cooking until they are all soft.
  8. Drain the beans and spray hot water over them. I usually let them sit in a strainer until they are cool. craigslist2 035

This is about 8 or 9 cups of pinto beans.

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Here’s my big paw with some beans I’ve blown on.

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  1. Last step. Bag and freeze. I usually put them in a gallon freezer size Ziploc bag and lay them flat in the freezer. Usually 2 or 3 bags will hold the batch. When you want to use them pull them out of the freezer and drop the bag flat onto a hard surface to break them up.

I feel sorry that I had to cut out all the humor on this post. If you want the unrated, unabridged version ping me and I can pass it to you on the sly.

 

Good bean sites and links

Central Bean

Tigers and strawberries

Harvest wizard

Pulse Canada Pamphlet

Bean Bible

 

If you know of others send them my way so I can reference them.

Thanks for the Bean Bible edition DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Road construction

Our building site is about a couple of hundred yards from the county road and it looks like another wrench has been thrown in the works. In past times our local county has rented out their grader and operator to build roads for private drive ways. In fact the local grader operator was still under the impression that he could build us a road. This was a really good option as it would probably cost under a thousand dollars to have the road ready for pit run and gravel application.

Well, the county has decided that they no longer do that. They have given me a few people to contact to get quotes from commercial outfits. I haven't received an official bid yet but am dreading the 5k to 10k quote.

I've talked to a few people about putting pit run over top of the organic material (grass, black dirt, etc.) and everyone says it's a short sighted way to do it but if it costs 5k less I'm having a hard time letting go of the money.

Maybe we should move our building site closer to the county road?

But then we'd need to witch another well so we probably won't do that.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I’m a believer

I’m sure many of you are anticipating an update on our divining exploits.

I expected to share a laughable expedition of us tromping around the land chanting and swaying our arms while the dowser was led by the magnetic draw of a crow bar to the promised oasis of sun and 50 gallon/minute water prospects.

Well, I regret to inform all skeptics and rock throwers that I have joined the fine journeymen of the professional water diviners and am a believer and possible gifted member myself. I’m not sure if we will find water. I’m even more unsure on whether our water prospects would have come divining or not. But none the less I was shown and participated in our own water exploration.

I have a few pictures and a video but I’m debating whether or not to publish the event. Not that I’m embarrassed by my trepid belief but I think I may need to duck for cover as Barnabas and Doc throw their pointy spears and thistles our way.

OK, maybe I’ll succumb.

Here I am with the beloved crow bar approach. This was by far my most successful attempt. As you walk along you balance the crow bar on a finger two. The theory is when the crowbar becomes unbalanced and moves toward the ground their must be magnetic force pulling the end down. At least that’s what I surmised.

All 03252011 408

Quack. No way.

My friend and colleague, Mr. Dowser spent a good hour out with us divining all around where we roughly want our house. We found several spots the crow bar was unbalanced and pulling toward the ground and I marked them with some sticks. After this time we looked at our markers and found a distinct path running north and south through our housing area.

After we (yes Milly was along for the ride) watched for a while Mr. Dowser asked if I wanted to try it. For sure. I wanted in on the quackery. I held up my trusty crow bar and started walking. And I hate to admit it but that dang crow bar kept getting unbalance. And what was even more coincidental/ironic was every time I looked down there was one of my silly sticks from Mr. Dowser’s findings.

Mr. Dowser also decided to double check his finding by using the old fashioned willow method. Here’s a video of this event.

Professional water diviner at his best

 

I showed Barnabas a sneak peak of this video and he pointed out we were doing our serious work around an irrigation ditch and that it was cheating. He also asked if I noticed we used a pitched fork. I accused him of being a non believer and engineer. I think he admitted to both after he described his thoughts for an hour.

Now, if I had a bunch of money and nothing else to do I would test our theories by drilling 10 different holes around our land to see if my divine spot is better than any others. I have neither so will defer to simple belief and hope.

Looking back at this event I guess we did tromp around the land. I didn’t do any chanting but Milly did sway a bit every time I exclaimed with vigor “This is the spot, I feel it in my bones.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Willow sticks, crow bars and witches

Getting back on track with digging a well. We have it lined up for the first part of April to start digging.

In preparation I’ve contacted a local witcher. I asked him for his credentials and he said he was shown the secret art by another local guy that has passed on. He feels it in his bones and is going to show me how to do it tomorrow morning. I’m hoping to get the below designation. Wouldn’t that be great to have on your LinkedIn profile?

Think of the great conversation starter, “Yes, I can witch wells. Give me a crow bar and I literally fly through the air and land where there’s water.”

Mr. Witcher said he’s going to bring his crow bar and we’ll hopefully find a willow stick or two down on the place.

I’m saying all of this in a fairly joking manner. But, in all reality I don’t  know what to think. I’m guessing some people can do it. I have my doubts about my abilities. I bet I could probably use a crow  bar to find pizza or chocolate.

We’ll find out tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oldest and bestest friend finds my blog

My oldest and bestest friend “Gus” has found my blog. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Here is what I mean. This is part of an email I received from him.

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Well, I’ve read your blog.  Let me say, as you could expect, I have a ton to say. 

First of all.  As I mentioned before, where is the Doug I knew? Ha.  Is say that tongue in cheek because as you know the Gus you knew and the Doug I knew were barely a step up from Beavis and Butthead.  Goes to show maybe how people can mature or change.  I find it a bit funny a few things you say in your blog, you are a girly.  I would disagree.  You aren’t, but…Having said that you, as so am I, are comfortable in your own skin.  Back in the day, if things were getting a little to girly, or non-macho, you would be the first to poke fun saying “oh that’s so cute”  Remember?  We couldn’t say things were cute, that wasn’t manly.  And if we heard a guy say that, we mocked him….Edited for family friendly reading. 

I am a sucker for movies.  All sorts of movies even “chick flicks”  And girlie books.  Last August I was in Mazatlan with a lawyer friend up here.  We both had our two kids, he his 2 boys and me my 2 girls.  There is a water park north of the condo called Mazagua, and my friend has a great photo of me.  I’m in line, with a straw hat, that at the time I didn’t realize was a ladies hat.  It just need to shade the sun and the place we stay at has communal items, so I wore it.  I also, being the responsible practical father pack lunch, so I bummed a beach bag that was very girly.  That morning we swam in the ocean, so I just had my bathing suit on for bottoms, and for the short bus ride to the park, I wore a huge beach towel around my waist, which looked like a skirt.  To top it all off, I was just finishing the only book that was at the house that looked interesting “Eat, Pray, Love”  He took a picture when I wasn’t noticing, posted it in an email to all our mutual friends and title it “Sister Gus”.  Many of my friends wives were shocked to see that side of me. All they usually see is me as a macho, seemingly man’s man.

My wife noticed this early on, as she would often send me to the video store, way back in the olden days when people used to rent movies, in fact VHS so long ago, and I would come back with “Moll Flanders” and other various non-dude shows. 

So I guess time has passed, but that which bonded us long ago, maybe was also there when we were young, we were just too macho to admit it.  I remember the day when you thought that Nelly (Name has been changed to protect the innocent) girl in grade 5 was cute.  I thought you were crazy and mocked you for liking a girl.  We were definitely weird and played off each other’s like and dislikes.

Back to the blog.  So I will continue with my obligatory mocking.   A dude blogger?  What’s next, a movie “Doug and Douglia” ?  Have you checked your testosterone levels?  Do you even have hair on your chest anymore?  (I won’t put pictures in to prove it)

Ok enough mocking. As I mentioned in our phone conversation I think it’s cool what you guys are doing.  A couple thoughts I had while I was reading your blog

1.  Where’s the shout out to your parents attempt at raising young calves? 

2. Are you going to reveal the culprit of the demise of Duke? (Someone shot my dog when I was in high school. I cried like a baby. I found his body in front of my future wife. She knew I was girly from the beginning.)

3. I was going to speak for the name of Gus (if your oldest, bestest pal is worthy of a role in the blog)

4. Man, I am highly skeptical of that small house.  Kudos to you guys if you could pull it off.  I am thinking that there have been people that have crossed the ocean in sea containers with more square footage than what you are proposing. 

5. As I said on the phone.  Don’t make it, find it.  Kijiji.ca is super awesome.  If you want to come even close to your budget of 10,000 dollars you should find old kitchen cabinets, sinks, toilets, electrical wire, lights, lumber.  There is all sorts of used materials being sold on Kijiji.  I have lots of stuff at my place if interested.  I would be willing to part for a deal or future considerations.  Ha.

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Gus was mostly positive about all our crazy ideas. If I can win him over things may not be so bad.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Do It

It is amazing how many hurdles you have to jump through to build on your own land. Here is what we have been working on in the past week:

  • Road construction is being setup
  • Development permit to build anything has to be acquired from the county. We had the county authorities out on the land today to look at our building site. We think they will let us build without too much trouble
  • Trenching from well and electrical system will cost $2.60 and a $1.50 a foot. Looking at renting a trencher or small backhoe instead of hiring out
  • A few trees have been ordered from a shelterbelt program they have in our area
  • Secured a Farm Fuel benefit that gives us cheaper gasoline on our farming activities. This also qualifies us for the well rebate program listed below
  • Applying for a well rebate for farmers that give back 1/3 of the cost of the well. Great water site for those interested in all sorts of water explanations
  • Milly and Grey Beard have been working furiously on house plans. It’s great to have a researching companion for Milly

All through this process we’ve fought the urge to just do it. Why not just go and build and ask for permission later. It seems like that has been the primary way to approach this process in the past. Our area has not really enforced bylaws in the past. At least there was no one around to enforce zoning and building laws.

After going out to work with our local authorities today made me feel very glad we didn’t do this. We went out to our land today and sitting in our approach was a very scary, official “Peace Officer” truck. I at first thought it said “Police Officer” and reached for my seat belt. ha.

The Peace Officer assured we are going about this the right way. In the past several months they have closed down several shenanigans regarding people just going and doing things.

I hope this is the right approach. I find myself asking people “Do I have to get a permit for this” about everything we are planning on doing. Today I asked do I need to get a permit to plant some trees. Mr. Peace Officer said “No but you can’t plant them within 131 feet of the road allowance. COME ON. We are in the middle of no where.

Milly only kicked me twice as I was asking questions. (That’s pretty good for my usual kick to conversation ratio). She’s still of the partial opinion that we should stop asking so many questions and Just Do It.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Whole Wheat Tortillas

One of my favorite recipes to make is whole wheat tortillas. One reason is as I make them I usually watch a movie or some type of sporting event. Any one guess what I was watching when I did this batch?



The recipe I use only has whole wheat flour, water, oil and salt in the mix.



Here's what I do. I usually start out grinding up around a 10# can of wheat.

The Nutrimill whines and complains but does a pretty good job as a whole.

I've looked at a bunch of recipes and a lot use some kind of whole wheat/white flower combination. I just use whole wheat and it works great.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

5 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cup lard or olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cup boiling water

Directions

1. In a large bowl stir together salt and flour.

2. Mix in oil or lard with hands till it has the texture of oatmeal.IMG_5594

3. Make a well in center of flour mix and pour in boiling water.

4. Stir with a butter knife until the mixture won’t burn your hands. Then knead the dough until all the flour is incorporated and the dough becomes smooth and evenly oily.IMG_5595

5. Shape into balls the size of golf balls or there abouts. I like to set out about 8 rows of six on a cookie sheet. (I use a some type of melon baller or ice cream scooper thing I found in our utensil drawer.)  IMG_5596

6. Cover with damp cloth for about eight hours, or longer if you need. I’ve done it for 24 hours and it still works out.

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7. Roll out balls till thin and about 8 inches in diameter. I use a cutting board I got from Grey Beard. He saves the sink cutouts from bathroom sinks etc. Works great as you can spin it around to roll out dough.

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8. Cook in hot frying pan or griddle. Place on griddle for about 10 seconds. Flip over and let it cook for about 30 seconds, then flip again and let cook for another 30 seconds or so. I usually have the stove top on between 2 and 4. The first tortillas are usually sacrificial but it’s probably because I use steel pans instead of non stick ones. My pans are seasoned now and they never stick if done at reasonable heat.IMG_5600

9. Spread out cooked tortillas on counter top, flipping once while cooling to prevent wetness. Once cooled they should be pliable. If crispy, cook less time. IMG_5605

10. Then stack and bag. They freeze nicely and thaw quickly.

The batch you see here is a triple batch. I can usually get around 78 to 80 Tortillas which only lasts us about a week.

And it just so happens that I can watch a whole college football national championship game in the time it takes to fry them all. (Roughly 2 to 3 hours depending whether there’s overtime or not.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The life of an idea

I can't tell you how many different thoughts we've had over the past couple of years about what we'd like to do with our land. And in the past 3 months we've gone from full fledged farmers - buying cows, pigs, donkeys, horses, sheep and chickens - to selling the whole dang place, back to maybe getting some chickens and a dog.

I find the life cycle of and idea is something like this:
  1. We hear, read, or discuss thoughts and ideas
  2. After thinking things over we start to research. Granted Milly researches much more thoroughly than I do
  3. A lot of our ideas often end up to radical, expensive, time consuming or flat out impossible. However, research and fact finding often leads to different options
  4. Which leads to more research
  5. In researching we often get busy and forget the original idea
  6. If the idea is good we usually end up going full circle and coming back to something we've thought of along the way
  7. When we finally run out of time or want to execute this often leads me to run full throttle to get things done
The life of an idea can last anywhere from a day or so to a month. Often during this time I am quite positive we are going to act upon it. The really fun and cool ideas seem to take hold very easily such as riding our bikes across the USA or living in a Yurt for a couple of years. (Believe it or not our Yurt idea lasted about a month and is still not quite gone from my system.) I mean who wouldn't want to live in something like this for a while.

Yurt in Summers, MT right on Flathead Lake

View from Yurt door

Inside of 18 ft. Yurt
Milly has convinced me if we want to live in a Yurt we can rent out the above rent for $75 a day during the summer in Summers.

Some ideas are actually acted upon and its not till later that we decide to let the idea go. Our friends the Green's often act upon ideas but rarely do they invest a lot of money in the idea. This allows them to stay quite flexible and back out of an idea when needed. I think this is key when trying to have a simple farm.

Let me highlight that thought.

Invest as little money as possible when trying to run a simple farm.

Here's some thoughts on how to do the above:
  • Rent equipment such as a post hole pounder, swather, combine, roller, planter, cultivator, etc.
  • Find used equipment and items whenever possible
  • Help others and ask others to help you
  • Don't go into debt. Debt increases risk and limits flexibilities and options
  • Don't buy anything new unless budgeted for. For us this means we are trying to plan a month ahead before outlaying any cash. If we still need the item after a month we probably need the item but we are finding the decision to buy often changes
  • Make it yourself. Don't buy pre-built chicken coops. Build the coop yourself
  • Use custom farmers for things such as cutting and baling
  • Don't go overboard. Buy or build things just good enough for the need. Why buy a swather when a lawn mower will do
  • Start small and grow if you like it. Starting small is less investment in time and money and will allow for time to develop ideas and abilities.
  • Do things for your own personal use instead of with the intention to sell to others. Focus on the things you like to do. If you end up selling to others it will be products that are enjoyable to produce
Any other thoughts on the above? I'd be really interested to hear any of your ideas.

In conclusion, I think there is great value in the life cycle of an idea. I love to think of and learn new things but I'm often quite glad when the idea dies.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekly Report

The weeks seem to go by really quick. I took the below video this morning. The wind was actually really mild today. How sad is that. If you notice the flag is missing most of the left half due to constantly being whipped to shreds.
We spent the week looking for potential house plans. Didn't really get anywhere on it but we are getting closer to deciding.

We are almost set up with our power. When I said before that we had power in it was mostly true. I found out that there was no meter in the panel box. After several calls I figured out I needed to get a meter permit that costs $120 so the electrical distributor can put in the meter. I think I have that worked out so will get a meter in shortly. Also found out the distribution charges are a terribly high amount ($115 plus per month) compared to living in the city. Guess it's not too cheap to live out in the middle of no where.

No Meter
Sprouted the week away as well. Got wheat, rye, pinto beans and almonds going.
I just did the sprouts on some glass plates. They worked well. The glass bottle method worked good for wheat.
I always thought sprouts were really big like grass. Really they are best eaten when they are smaller. If they get too big they turn bitter and lose some of their nutritional value.

Went out on the land and took this picture. I should have bought your fancy camera Chocolate Thunder. Instead you get a very blurry view of about 20 deer feasting away on our stubble field.

Those aren't dogs Barnabas
One last video. We spend lots of time thinking about where we are going to put our house. It's changed about 20 times in the past month but here's a choppy video of the view.
Next week I hope to order some trees for planting and work through development application stuff. We are also looking for a Jersey cow. Let me know if you have any leads I can follow up on.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What to do at 82?

Greybeard was getting itchy and needed to get out of the house. Just so happened that the immense wood pile he collected last year was just about finished. So we headed down to the land to get enough to last the rest of the season. The ground is still hard but the weather was beautiful.
Pretty spry for an 82 year old
Some willows on our land are in great disrepair. We spent the day loading up wood and cutting down dead willows.

Posing in my very trendy brown pants
Milly hates those pants. She makes me wear them when working in the hopes they will get a hole in them so she can throw them out.

Got done about 1/4 of the trees that need clearing
You missed a good time Fred
Fred is a professional lumber jack and he promised to come and visit. I'll keep some big willows for you to chop down.

Sprouting all sorts of things

So my sprouts were a success. Check out the wheat sprouts.
We've used these in salads and tonight we used them in spagetti.

I've now started rye, pinto beans, and almonds. Not so sure if the almonds are going to work but the rye has worked beautifully.
Thanks Captain.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Really small house again on the mind

We are about a month and a half away from getting out on the land and we are struggling with what type of shelter we are going to erect. We've gone full circle from a small house to motor home for the summer to a tent for the summer to a yurt for most of the year to a garage package that can last through the winter back to a small house. That was a very long sentence but it feels about right.

Interestingly enough I have not even been down to the land yet as it's been -25 C the past week or so and it just seems like there is nothing you can do in that cold of weather but ice fish (like Rico) or go to work.

Sprouting is maybe working. The wheat berries are soft but I don't see any acutal sprouts yet. I'll take pictures if it works. I won't mention sprouting again if it doesn't.

Played one on one with Noodle yesterday at the church while about 50 women ran around in circles cheering us on. One friend down, eight more to find.

Sprouting for all Seasons

While Milly and Greybeard sat around discussing the fine art of composting various and sundry things I decided to give sprouting a go.

Our good friend Captain Von Trap (See Who’s Who page) is a master sprouter. He even had a small business selling sprouts to restaurants as a kid.

Captain gave us this fancy little book.

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It’s about a hundred years old but covers the topic really well.

So here is what I did.

  1. Found something to sprout. I had Polly get me a cup of wheat. Most of the wheat stayed in the bucket that should have.

sprouting 007

  1. Rinsed the wheat with warm water. I put too much in the bottle so took some out. I left these on a plate covered with water. I don’t see why that won’t work. I’m naturally curious to see how things will work out.

****Side Story*************************************

In high school Penelope and I were goofing around at night. I had a golf ball and thought to my self “Gee, I wonder what a golf ball would do if I put it in our microwave.”

I was thinking it would probably explode or at least get really soft or something. Well there was an explosion but it wasn’t the golf ball. The sparks and banging from the microwave woke up Elvis and Shorty as the microwave exploded and they flew out of their room thinking we had blown up the south side of our house.

Thankfully Elvis only chuckled at my stupidity. Shorty just shook her head and said “Well, we aren’t raising the sharpest tool in the shed.”

****************************************************

sprouting 017

  1. Milly bought me a screen that fits on a wide mouth canning jar. I put the wheat in the jar and the screen on top. I rinsed the wheat in the jar.

sprouting 023

sprouting 026 Wheat Berries up close.

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You can see how much wheat I put in. I’m hoping I didn’t put too much in. I’m guessing the wheat will grow as it soaks.

sprouting 018

For wheat, the instructions say to soak the wheat berries 8 – 12 hours in temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. One part wheat to four parts water. I’m doing it overnight. I’ve covered the jar with a box to keep out the light.

Then after the initial soaking I will drain the water and leave the bottle leaning toward the screen so the water drains out. Every 4 hours it says to rinse with cold water.

I will document as/if the wheat sprouts.

If you want to know what the main items Milly and Grey beard are talking about composting, zoom in to the picture of Milly with her feet up on the couch in the whole wheat chocolate chip cookie post.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Weekly report

We were deep in the packing mode last week at this time. Amazing what the difference one week can have.

In the past week we have:
  • Packed up our house
  • Moved to Canada
  • Insured and registered our car. We almost had to pay an antique tax as it's so old. We did have to get it inspected as they don't allow vehicles as old as ours unless it passes a 1000 point inspection. Had to buy new tires, fix a fan regulator (the heat is either all on or all off), and several burned out lights in various locations
  • Got new drivers license. Milly just so happened to have the hugest cold sore imaginable fester the morning of pictures. She wasn't too happy to be stuck with a cold sore picture for the next 10 years
  • Unloaded too many boxes into Grey beard and Dancing queens place. I think they are fretting about how long we may be over taking their place
  • Got a new library card. Surprisingly good library for a two cow town
  • I setup an office and started work from our new location. (IP phones are great. Plug and go.)
  • Built a great snow cave behind the house. Polly thinks a bear might hibernate in it.
  • Started looking at housing options and tree purchasing
A nice surprise is our ability to excercise. We have started going to a gym every morning where we make our kids run 30 laps around the gym. I almost busted Ringo's leg when we were playing soccer. I stepped on his leg/shin and he crumbled. I was sure I maimed him for life. Awful feeling for a dad. He hobbled around for a day or so but seems to be fine.

Next week on my agenda is to find some friends to get either a basketball or floor hockey group going.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

There seems to be one cookie missing
I don't know how to follow a recipe. Especially when it entails halving or doubling. I always end up adding double the salt or halving the baking powder. Milly thinks I'm being obstinate but I honestly just can't do it. I'm sure it's genetic or due to my gender.

But I do know how to make cookies. It's out of necessity really. Milly says I don't need treats and if I want them I need to make them myself. That was the wrong thing to say. After hundreds of tries I have perfected the art of Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies. And since I make them I don't have to halve the butter and chocolate chips. I in fact double the chocolate chips much to the pleasure to Ringo, Polly, and Molly.

Here's the recipe I use. If you are smart enough to halve the recipe all by yourself (Milly did it for me on a recipe card) there is usually enough cookie dough to make four dozen cookies. The full recipe makes amazingly enough...eight dozen cookies.

Ingredients


Mixed in Bosch mixer
 2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
2 cups butter
4 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
5 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups oatmeal
3 cups chocolate chips

Directions
1. Cream the sugar, butter and eggs. Mix in vanilla and milk.
2. Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well. Mix in oatmeal and chocolate chips.
3. Drop 12 large spoonfuls (each about the size of a ping pong ball) onto cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 or 13 minutes. Do not overcook. Cookies should spread out and puff up slightly. Remove from oven before they begin to brown (they will look slightly underdone).


Almost done baking
I've talked to a lot of people that say Whole Wheat Cookies don't ever turn out for them. These will. Don't half the butter. Well you can halve the butter but then they are not as good. 
 
Look what I found. It's the missing cookie.


Milly at her leisure eating those fattening chocolate chip cookies

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Dub Thee...

You may have noticed that My Husband has not assigned himself a ridiculous handle. Thanks to the previous post, an idea has presented itself. So I hereby take the liberty of appointing him..........have you guessed it? That's right: MOSES.

Moses and Milly - it kind of has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Meant To Be

The big day finally arrived and we got out of bed at 5:30 am, full of excitement and anticipation. Then we checked the weather conditions and this is what we saw:
severe weather
For those of you familiar with Montana geography, the shortest way to go is through Marias pass, then on to Browning and Duck Lake. On this one weekend we had hoped for no snow and clear roads. But the road was closed pretty much from our front door to our destination.

Milly was freaking out. I think she thought we should delay till spring (June). Good thing Greybeard was there to calm the troubled waters. My opinion was to go around through Eureka and then on through the Crowsnest Pass. But it wasn't until I slyly asked Greybeard's opinion in front of Milly that I gained any traction on leaving, as he agreed with my plan.

We loaded up the truck with a huge amount of help from our floor hockey crew and other close friends. I'd better give them all names:
  • Wayne Gretzky - I was on his team for my last game in Kalispell and we won 5-1.
  • Gordie Howe - He never misses from his corner shot.
  • Ovie - If you know the Capitals' star player you should figure out who this is.
  • Fred and Wilma - Fred moved my stinking piano 3 times over the last 2 months.
  • Captain Von Trap, Maria, Fredrick, Louisa - Von Trap was an asset even with the alleged sore back from hockey 4 years ago.
  • Ed and Chocolate Thunder - These gentlemen were already mentioned on Who’s who.
Thanks to Wayne’s Tetras skills we somehow fit all the stuff we own in a 26 ft U-Haul (except for a basketball hoop I have stored at Fred and Wilma’s). Absolutely amazing really. I swear we threw out a third of our stuff but somehow we still have an enormous amount of junk remaining.

We headed out around 1:30 pm after finishing the packing and cleaning. It was snowing like crazy and I knew we were in for a long haul. Looking back I think there is no way to deny we are supposed to be in Canada. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
  • We had our fourteen hundred pounds of wheat certified for export in the two days before we departed and usually it takes weeks of red tape.
  • The route we were supposed to drive was completely closed down. The way we ended up going had fabulous roads, contrary to weather reports. We heard the Crowsnest Pass was closed the day after we came through. I felt like Moses heading through the Red Sea on dry ground.
  • When exporting our car we gave the U.S. border officer a title from California, but he said we needed a Montana title. We couldn't recall having such a document. When Milly opened our file box, the Montana title was in the first folder she opened.
  • At the Canadian border they didn’t ask about our wheat but we were stopped for the house plants we were bringing back. Somehow Milly sweet-talked the border guy to let us go. They didn’t even look through any of our stuff. After an hour in the border office I now know all the exporting rules for alcohol and cigarettes.
  • I left Milly at the Canadian border to get a head start with the moving truck and I accidently took the car keys with me. The spare set just so happened to be in the console.
Anyway, after six hours in a U-Haul we arrived at our destination in a sobering –33 degree Celsius winter's night with blowing snow. It wasn't quite like we had imagined our triumphal entry would be. But as we turned the corner on the home stretch I saw my good friend Noodle jumping up and down, waving and shouting, welcoming us home. Before we even got out of the truck he was up with his daughter to help unpack. We headed into town to unload the U-Haul and Elvis had a whole crew there to help.

Amazing really. Here we are, and I suppose it was meant to be. Now if only we can convince Penelope and her family to join us. We are accepting all recruits.