The Last Frontier

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wild Greens for Supper

Wild Edibles  for Fritters
Wild Greens for Fritters

One of the things we love about this time of year is that we have so many wild edible plants right outside our door. I have discovered (and invented) some delicious recipes. Fritters are one of our favorites, whether they're made with Fiddleheads, Dandelions, Wild Chives, Alaska Ginseng (Devil’s Club) or just about anything else we find in the woods or in our garden. We are especially thankful for all these wild greens because we can’t even plant our garden until the end of May.

While my husband has been away guiding for the last 7 weeks, our boys and I have been working extra hard all day. Well, the boys do get a lot of well-deserved play time at the creek. They have been such a help to me while their daddy has been away. The last couple of weeks have provided special treats of new wild plants. Lately, we’ve been stopping work an hour or so before suppertime to go for a walk and gather part of our next meal. It is incredibly satisfying to be able to do that (not to mention FUN), and I am so thankful that we live in such a place. I was brought up in a very large city, and I certainly do not take this lifestyle for granted. I know we have been blessed.

I grew up in the Deep South, where a meal was not a proper meal if it didn’t include something deep fried. Tomorrow night, I’m going to add some wild greens and Dandelions to our pizza (not fried, but I’m not complaining!) Tonight we had one of our favorite meals --- Fritters!

You can make fritters from just about anything. If you don’t have the wild plants I used this time (recipe below), use whatever edibles you have, even if they’re from the grocery store or a patio garden. Cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and many more vegetables all work just fine. Use just one, or a mixture. Add meat, if you like, or leave it out. Add other herbs and seasonings for even more variety. Careful on that. It's easy to overpower the wild greens with too many spices.

When I want a sweet fritter for breakfast, rather than a savory fritter for supper, I’ll usually stick with flowers. Dandelion or Elder flowers work great for this. Just remember to use no more than half the salt in the recipe below, and omit the pepper. You can make the batter sweet by adding a few tablespoons of honey, brown sugar, or other sweetener. You can leave out the sweetener in the batter, and serve the fritters with maple syrup, jam, powdered sugar, or whatever else you like. Or, just toss some flowers into your favorite pancake batter.

You really can’t go wrong with fritters. If you want them a little lighter, add a tablespoon of baking powder per cup of flour. If you want eggs, use them. If not, leave them out. I use powdered milk and eggs because we live in the bush and I don’t have fresh at the moment. But if you have the fresh milk and eggs to spare, use them if you like. Your fritters will turn out delicious.

Wild Fritters
(This recipe makes a LOT, so you might want to cut it in half the first time. We like to reheat the leftovers. The texture changes --- they become a little soft, more bread-like instead of crunchy, but we still enjoy them.)

4 cups of edible wild greens and flowers
1 pound of meat - optional (ground moose or beef, chopped chicken or whatever you like)
3 cups rice flour (wheat flour works well, but the flavor and texture are a little different)
2/3 cup powdered milk (or 2 to 3 cups of fresh milk)
3 Tbsp. powdered eggs (or 2 eggs)
1 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
2 to 3 cups water (omit if using real, liquid milk)
Oil for Frying (I like coconut oil)

Prepare wild edibles for cooking, and set aside. Preparation will depend on what you use. Today, the boys and I picked some Alaska Ginseng (Devil’s Club) buds, Lamb’s Quarter, Chickweed, Dandelion flowers, Watermelon Berry leaves and Wild Chives. I chopped the Lamb’s Quarter, Chickweed, Watermelon Berry Leaves and Chives. I removed the stems and most of the calyx (green part) from the Dandelion flowers (scissors help with this). The Alaska Ginseng buds required no preparation, but you can chop them if you prefer. A few Fiddleheads and young Fireweed shoots would have also been nice, but it was getting late and I needed to start supper. If your plants have dirt, wash before chopping. Try to avoid places where the plants are near car exhausts, and don’t use plants that have been sprayed with chemicals.

If using meat, cook it and set aside. If it is really greasy, drain and discard the fat.

Combine flour, milk powder, egg powder, salt and pepper. Stir in 2 cups of water. If it seems dry and thick, add a little more water. If your batter ends up too thin, stir in a little more flour. Stir in the meat and prepared wild plants. The batter should not be like dough, but it should not be watery, either.

In a heavy skillet, heat oil for frying. You should have about ¼ to ½ inch of oil. More won’t hurt. Drop tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil. When the bottom is brown, turn and brown the other side. Watch to make sure they don’t burn. If you fry too slowly, they become greasy. When done, remove fritters from oil with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Serve with mustard, barbecue sauce, or just eat ‘em as they are.  We had them with a green salad of new Watermelon Berry leaves, Chickweed, Lamb’s Quarter, Wild Chives, French Sorrel from my garden, and Wild Geranium Flowers. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the salad next time.
Wild Edibles - Fritters 1
Wild Edibles cooked up into Fritters

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Simplicity Primer

Hooray! The Simplicity Primer is here at last! Some friends who have a cabin across the lake flew out and brought our mail. What a treat! And in that big box was my review copy of the new book by Patrice Lewis, The Simplicity Primer, published by World Net Daily (WND Books).

THANK YOU, Patrice, for sending The Simplicity Primer to me for review. I got a kick out of your note to me inside the front cover. I probably should have asked before copying your note here, but since it's really more about us, I didn't think you'd mind:

To Jenny & Chuck:
Most folks would say you're living the ultimate "simple life". These are the people who never met a grizzly bear face to face -- right?
I think Patrice is right about that. As I initially browsed through the book, I kept shaking my head up and down. "Simplicity" doesn't necessarily mean without complications such as a bear walking up on you. I believe that simplifying life has more to do with attitude (along with a healthy dose of determination) than anything else.

The description of the book on its back cover states, ". . . readers learn how a simple attitude adjustment can vastly affect their lives; how a few concrete changes can streamline daily life; how to stop financial leaks; how to simplify and strengthen relationships with partners and children; and how to avoid 'The Gospel According to Madison Avenue."

This book looks wonderful! I only wish I'd received it sooner so I could have been more help with her "Book Bomb" tomorrow, June 7th, which is the day of the book's official release at The idea is to have everyone who wants the book wait and order on the release date. That gets her ranking up (It's already pretty high. Congratulations Patrice!). So, head on over to and order your copy of The Simplicity Primer by Patrice Lewis.

Now, for a little about the book. I have only had a chance to skim through it, since I wanted to post something before her Book Bomb Day at Amazon. But, so far, I love it. As Patrice said in her note to me, many folks probably think my family and I live the ultimate "simple life" out here in the Alaskan bush . . . The Last Frontier . . . the Wilderness. But this book is filled with ideas that will help folks like us, as well as people in the city.  Often, we overlook the obvious or forget the basics. Patrice is a wonderful writer, and through The Simplicity Primer, she provides ideas that have me saying, "Glad that wasn't a snake, or it would have bit my nose", or "So true", or, "I never thought of that, but she's absolutely right", "I couldn't agree more". This is a very useful book.

The subtitle is "365 ideas for making life more livable". Each of the ideas gets one page. Simple, which makes it easy to read and ponder. It's not a book you have to carve out a lot of time for. Just a minute or so each day (but you'll want to read much more).  The 365 ideas are divided into twelve sections: Getting Personal, Getting Along, Teach Your Children Well, Amazing Grace, Home Is Where The Heart Is, To Your Health, Your Daily Bread, Nine-To-Five Simplicity, It's Easy Being Green (not what you may be thinking, or at least not in the "greeny, politically correct way), Time Off For Good Behavior, Nothing New Under The Sun, and Radical Simplicity.

For a more thorough description of The Simplicity Primer, go to either, or to Patrice's website about the book.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Project Appleseed

Project Appleseed - April 19, 1775 When marksmanship met history, and the heritage began . . .
Recently, I learned about Project Appleseed, an activity put on by The Revolutionary War Veterans Association (RWVA). My sons and I are thrilled that they are planning a weekend event here in Alaska! They hold these Appleseed weekends throughout the country. I'll post more about it after we've actually attended in late July. I'm sure we'll have a great time and learn more than we imagined. Check their website for an Appleseed weekend near you. Here is an excerpt from the Appleseed website that explains more about it.
"Project Appleseed is an activity of The Revolutionary War Veterans Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to teaching every American our shared heritage and history as well as traditional rifle marksmanship skills.  Our volunteer instructors travel across the country teaching those who attend about the difficult choices, the heroic actions, and the sacrifices that the Founders made on behalf of modern Americans, all of whom are their “progeny.”

Our heritage program vividly portrays the Battles of Lexington and Concord with the kind of care and immediacy that is absent from most formal schooling. Modern listeners are confronted with the danger, the fear, and the heartbreaking separations that arose out of the choices made on April 19th, 1775. They are also reminded of the marksmanship skills and masterful organization that ultimately helped set the colonists on the path to success. Those who attend gain a better understanding of the fundamental choices faced by our ancestors as they began to set the stage for the nation we now enjoy."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Puppy Needs a Name

The boys and I are SO EXCITED ! ! ! As soon as Chuck returns, we will have an adorable new puppy. She is half Karelian Bear Dog, and half Siberian Husky. She looks mostly like the full Karelian, from the description I have of her, except that she has blue eyes that are so common with Huskies. We need a name for her, and I'd like your help in either deciding between the two names we've come up with, or with a new suggestion.

Siberian Husky Puppy
(I found the picture of this adorable Siberian Husky puppy here)

Right now, our friends are keeping her until Chuck finishes guiding and can bring her home. I wish I had a picture of her to share. Until then, our friends would like to know what to call her. First I'll tell you the names we've come up with, and why we like them, and then tell you a little more about the breeds. We wanted a puppy to grow up with our boys, be a loyal companion to them, warn us about danger, such as bears, and protect our boys from bears. We also wanted a dog that can be trained to pull a sled to help us haul water and firewood. The mix of Karelian and Husky is perfect for us! I won't go into the details, but the way we ended up with her is an amazing story. We are thankful beyond words. OK, on with the names:

"Tala" or "Tally" after the Talachulitna River, which is a beautiful river here in Alaska. We love going fishing there.

"Nugget" - (as in Gold Nugget). Huskies were used during the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska and Canada. Karelian Bear Dogs and Siberian Huskies are wonderful, and extremely useful dogs. I'm sure this puppy will become a very valuable and much-loved member of our family. 

So, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Feel free to suggest something else. Here's some info from this site that I found about the Karelian Bear Dogs. There's lots more info out there, but this one sums it up somewhat briefly.
The Karelian Bear Dog has a good sense of humor. It is sensitive, independent, intelligent, skillful, tough on itself, and energetic. A robust, persistent, and powerful dog, it is willing to take on virtually any game animal. This dog is very loyal to its owner's family and makes a good household companion when it has owners who know how to display leadership and the dog is extensively trained. This is not a breed for the casual pet owner, the Karelian Bear Dog is a hunter of unyielding bravery and determination. It will put a bear to flight or attack it with great pugnacity. The true outdoors enthusiast and dedicated hunter can look to this hard-working breed with delight and utter satisfaction. The training should be very consistent with both a firm hand and affection. This is not a breed for inexperienced dog owners. They are affectionate towards people and will announce both welcome and unwelcome visitors. Visitors the dogs knows well will get an enthusiastic welcome while strangers may be treated coldly. This breed is very protective. They will protect you with their life. The Karelian Bear Dog can live with other household animals if they know where their place is in their pack (blow all others) and if the training and socialization is properly handled. This breed has a small appetite for its size.
The area once known as Karelia in northern Europe has always been populated by tough, big-game hunting canines. For a long time, similar dogs had been bred in Karelia for hunting large game. These dogs were known to have followed the first settlers to Finland thousand of years ago. These early tribes of people survived on what they could hunt, which is why dogs that were hardy, brave and tough enough to tackle bear, wolf and lynx were so important. The Karelian Bear Dog closely resembles the Russo-European Laika. It evolved in the part of Finland claimed by the Soviet Union earlier this century. The Karelian Bear Dog, which is more numerous outside its own country than any of the Russian Laikas, is used by elk hunters throughout Finland, Sweden, and Norway. It was first exhibited at a dog show in Helsinki in 1936, but after World War II the breed almost became extinct. All modern Karelians are traced back to forty dogs found and saved after the war. The Karelian Bear Dog was very popular towards the turn of the century when it could be found in vast numbers. Its numbers declined in the 1960's, but its popularity has been on the rise and it is now being breed in North America and many European countries. Among this avid hunter's game are the buck, wild boar, hare, and moose. He is also fearless enough to fight the wolf and bear and therefore functioned as a protector by hunting these large wild animals. In his homeland of Finland, the dog is used mostly on elk and is the favored dog of native big-game hunters.
Here's some info from the same site that I found about Siberian Huskies. Again, there's plenty more info out there, but this site just sums it up nicely.
Siberian Huskies are loving, gentle, playful, happy-go-lucky dogs who are fond of their families. Keen, docile, social, relaxed and rather casual. This is a high energy dog, especially when young. Good with children and friendly with strangers, they are not watchdogs, for they bark little and love everyone.  Huskies are very intelligent and trainable, but they will only obey a command if they see the human is stronger minded than themselves. If the handler does not display leadership, they will not see the point in obeying. Training takes patience, consistency and an understanding of the Arctic dog character. If you are not this dogs 100% firm, confident, consistent pack leader, he will take advantage, becoming willful and mischievous. Huskies make an excellent jogging companion, as long as it is not too hot. Huskies may be difficult to housebreak. This breed likes to howl and gets bored easily. Does not do well if left alone for a long period of time without a great deal of exercise before hand. A lonely Husky, or a Husky who does not get enough mental and physical exercise can be very destructive. Remember that the Husky is a  sled dog in heart and soul. They are good with other pets if they are raised with them from puppyhood. Huskies are thrifty eaters and need less food than you might expect. This breed likes to roam. Siberian Huskies can make wonderful companions for people who are aware of what to expect from these beautiful and intelligent animals and are willing to put the time and energy into them.
Siberian Huskies were used for centuries by the Chukchi Tribe, off the eastern Siberian peninsula to pull sleds, herd reindeer and as a watch dog. They were perfect working dogs for the harsh Siberian conditions: hardy, able to integrate into small packs, and quite happy to work for hours on end. The dogs have great stamina and are light weight. Native to Siberia, the Husky was brought to Alaska by fur traders in Malamute for arctic races because of their great speed. In 1908 Siberian Huskies were used for the first All-Alaskan Sweepstakes, an event where mushers take their dogs on a 408 mile long dogsled race. The dogs gained popularity in 1925 when there was a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska. Siberian Huskies were used to bring in the much needed medicine to the people. In the late early to mid 1900s Admiral Byrd used the dogs in his Antarctic Expeditions. During World War II the dogs served on the Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit. The Siberian Huskies talents are sledding, carting and racing. The Siberian Husky was recognized by the AKC in 1930.


This spring has kept my family busier than usual, which is why I haven't posted much lately. My husband is a big game hunting guide, and is away for nearly two months guiding black bear hunts. That has left me with all of the chores he usually takes care of, like splitting wood, hauling water, tilling the garden (with a shovel), and all the other "little" things he does all day, in addition to my usual things. Our boys have been a great help, but we'll all be glad when he returns.

The hunter is on the right; Chuck is holding the paw on the left.

Chuck writes a blog for an outdoor network, and has just posted an article, along with some great pictures, about their Icy Bay hunts. Some of these bears are HUGE! Take a look. This one makes the one I shot last year look like a cub.

Oh, and you might notice something familiar about his blog ---- the name. I was setting up my blog about the same time he began writing for the Outdoor Blog Network, and neither of us communicated with each other on the name. So, take a look at the other Last Frontier.

Here are a couple more pictures from his articles.

This one really shows what a bear can do.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Boys With Slingshots vs. Squirrels

Squirrel on the run
Boys trying to shoot a squirrel with their slingshot while the dog waits for a snack. 

My sons have been busy with their slingshots keeping squirrels out of our cache. I don’t think they’ve hit one yet, but at least they've kept the squirrels on the go. I think we might spend a little time over at The Slingshot Channel blog to see if we can pick up some pointers on good homemade slingshots. He has some neat videos on YouTube that have inspired my sons.

Boys with sling shots
Most years, the squirrels just run around doing their thing and leave our food alone. However, about every three or four years, we seem to get a particularly pushy bunch. They get into our cache and eat their way into 5-gallon buckets of grains, peanut butter, powdered milk and eggs. They eat through plastic totes and make nests with our clothes we’ve stored for the off season. Food (and clothing) is expensive enough in Alaska, but the cost of flying it out here in a chartered bush plane sometimes doubles the cost. When a squirrel, marten or other wild animal gets into our food supply or makes a nest with our winter coats, well . . . . things have gone too far.

Yes, I’ve heard the lame argument that “the poor little animals were there first, and they’re just doing what comes natural to them.” I’m not buying that one. We were here long before any of those animals that are getting into our cache (with properly stored food and clothing) were born. There are thousands of acres of natural food for the wild animals, and only one little cache that’s off limits. Needless to say, the squirrels have kept me busy lately, too, and have provided tasty snacks for the dogs!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Matzo Recipes: Regular and Gluten-Free

Making Matzo

Here are a few recipes for delicious Matzo, including two recipes for gluten free Matzo. I know it’s a little late, but there are still several days remaining for Passover. I intended to post this earlier, but I have been plagued by a sinus infection. More on the wonders of Activated Charcoal and Spruce Pitch in a future post.

The first recipe is for wheat matzo that I found on a Jewish website several years ago. I did not write down the web address, so I cannot give proper credit. This Matzo is so delicious that I serve it to family and company throughout the year. Friends often ask for the recipe, and tell me that it’s so delicious that they even serve it to their guests. Rather than viewing matzo as a “bread of affliction”, we have always looked forward to a week of this wonderful unleavened bread.

Wheat Matzo
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. olive oil
6 Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour and salt. Add oil and water; stir to mix. Check the time to make sure that no more than 18 minutes lapses between the time you add liquid to the flour and the time it goes into the oven. After the ingredients are combined, knead it a little. For a light, crisp cracker, the dough should be fairly stiff and a bit dry, although not at all crumbly. If necessary, add a little water, 1 Tbsp. at a time. If you want the matzo to be harder, add a little more oil and water.

Divide dough in half. Keep one half covered with plastic wrap or wax paper while working with the other half. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each half very thin and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. It is easier to use pans without sides, and then roll the dough directly on the pans. Even when I roll the dough on the table, I rarely have to use any extra flour. When the dough has been rolled and is on the pans, prick with a fork. Using a knife, score dough into squares, rectangles or other shapes. Try not to cut all the way through dough. If you prefer to break your matzo after it bakes, omit this step. Sprinkle with salt or other seasonings if desired. Bake at about 350 degrees until lightly browned, turning pans if necessary. Remove from oven and cool on rack. When cool enough to handle, break apart at score lines.

NOTE: During Passover, I only make one batch (2 pans) at a time to keep the process under 18 minutes. At other times of the year, I often triple the recipe. I have found that covering the dough with plastic wrap for about 20 minutes prior to dividing and rolling helps it roll out easier. In addition, I usually keep Passover matzo simple; however, when I make this at other times of the year, I often add minced, dehydrated onions, minced garlic, or other seasonings to the dough or sprinkle on top.

Gluten-Free Matzo

One of our sons has Celiac Disease, and the other has a gluten intolerance. In the past, I’ve always made gluten-free matzo for them whenever I made regular matzo for everyone else. I have recently learned that I can’t handle gluten either. My husband isn’t a picky eater, so now we’re all gluten-free, which has made a world of difference! I miss the delicious, light, crisp wheat matzo, above, but here are two pretty good gluten-free substitutes.

I adapted the following two recipes from one I found on this site. Ellen’s matzo recipe uses a Breads from Anna gluten, soy, and rice free bread mix. Depending on the traditions you follow, these recipes may not be acceptable to you for Passover. If you go to Ellen’s site, be sure to read her comments. I don’t buy bread mixes, so after reading the list of ingredients in the bread mix and looking up a few other gluten-free matzo recipes, I experimented with ingredients I had on hand. Since I live in the bush, it is often difficult for me to get all of the gluten free flours I want, so I did the best I could with what I had. I’m still learning about gluten-free baking. For these recipes, I made up my own recipes, based on the mix that was used in the original recipe and what I had in the pantry, and then I followed the instructions Ellen gave in her video (I've posted the video below. Just scroll down a bit). This is a great video, and making matzo is very quick!

Gluten-Free Matzo #1

This is the favorite of my sons and my husband. It’s quite hard and crunchy. Since both of these recipes go from not cooked to burned in the blink of an eye, I only make one pan at a time. The recipes are for only one pan, but I usually mix up enough of the dry ingredients all at once to make about 10 batches, and then store it in a covered bowl until needed. To use, scoop out ¾ cup plus 1 tsp. of the mixture, add the liquid and go from there.

3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. tapioca flour
2 ½ Tbsp. powdered milk
1 ½ Tbsp. white bean flour
2 Tbsp. sorghum flour
½ tsp. xanthan gum
½ tsp. salt
Scant 4 Tbsp. cold water

For dusting the board, dough, rolling pin and hands, have on hand a bowl with a half and half mixture of white rice flour and tapioca starch. Use this generously!

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients. Mix water into the flour mixture. Add a little more of the flour mixture if it’s too wet; add a little extra water if it is too dry and won’t come together.

Generously dust your work surface with the rice flour/tapioca starch mixture. Spoon dough onto floured surface. Knead a few times, flatten with hands, adding more of the dusting flours as needed. Roll out as thin as possible with a floured rolling pin. Roll the dough around the rolling pin as shown in the video, and transfer to a cookie sheet. If using a cookie sheet without sides, you can roll the dough directly on the pan.

Once the dough is on the pan, prick with a fork. If desired, score into shapes as described in the previous recipe. Bake in preheated oven about 5 minutes. Watch it very closely because it burns quickly. It is helpful to turn the matzo over with a spatula about halfway through the baking. Remove from oven and transfer immediately to cooling rack.

Gluten-Free Matzo #2

This one is similar to Gluten-Free Matzo #1 above, except that it has a slightly lighter, crisp texture, and is not so hard and crunchy. Like the previous recipe, I mix multiple batches of the dry ingredients, store in a covered bowl, and then measure just over ¾ cup of the flour mixture, add the liquid and go from there.

6 ½ Tbsp. white bean flour
3 Tbsp. sorghum flour
2 ½ Tbsp. milk powder
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
3 Tbsp. cold water
Scant 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, if desired, or omit and use all water instead.

For dusting the board, dough, rolling pin and hands, have on hand a bowl with a half and half mixture of white rice flour and tapioca starch. Use this generously!

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the water and vinegar. Add a little more of the flour mixture if it’s too wet; add a little extra water if it is too dry and won’t come together.

Generously dust your work surface with the rice flour/tapioca starch mixture. Spoon dough onto floured surface. Knead a few times, flatten with hands, adding more of the dusting flours as needed. Roll out as thin as possible with a floured rolling pin. Roll the dough around the rolling pin as shown in the video, and transfer to a cookie sheet. If using a cookie sheet without sides, you can roll the dough directly on the pan. The thinner you get this, the lighter it will turn out.

Once the dough is on the pan, prick with a fork. If desired, score into shapes as described in the first recipe. Bake in preheated oven about 5 minutes. Turn over with a spatula about halfway through the baking. Watch it very closely because it burns quickly. Remove from oven and transfer immediately to cooling rack.

I would like to find or come up with a recipe that makes even lighter matzo. A friend suggested using a combination of almond meal, potato starch and ground flax seeds. When I find some potato starch, I will try that.

Here is Ellen’s video on how to make gluten-free matzo.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April Blizzards Bring May . . . ?

April Snow

When I woke up this morning, my husband said to put on my knee boots before going outside. Huh? This is April. We never get more than a dusting of snow this time of year. But I looked out the window and could barely see the cache.  Now it's about 3:00 PM, and so far today we have had 18". I know that "April showers bring May flowers", but blizzards ! ? ! Where's global warming when you need it?

In mid-March I stopped keeping track of our snowfall. At the time, we'd hit a record-breaking LOW snowfall for the year of 13ft. 3in. I know that sounds like a bunch of snow, but for us, it's skimpy. By the time it all packed, we ended up with only about 5' - 6' on the ground, which was barely enough to cover the alders and get around good on the snow machine to haul firewood. If this snowstorm keeps up for the next couple of days like it's supposed to, we might hit our average of about 16 ft. after all. Ug! I'm ready for spring! Real spring, with rain and flowers. But, in about a week or so we'll be snowshoeing through the woods tapping birch trees. Mmmmmm. I can just taste that sweet sap now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Medicinal Plants: Usnea

Usnea (OOS-nay-uh or US-nay-uh) is a lichen, which is a symbiotic combination of an algae and a fungus. Usnea has numerous medicinal, as well as food uses, which I will get to in a moment. Some of its common names include Old Man’s Beard, Beard Lichen, Beard Moss, Moose Moss and Tree Moss (although it is not a moss). The common names pretty well describe the appearance of Usnea. It resembles Spanish Moss, however, the two are not related.

Usnea grows on every continent. In our area, Usnea primarily grows on the branches of spruce trees, but I’ve also seen it on birch and cottonwood. In the southeastern United States, it is commonly found on oak trees, as well as other types of trees. There are many varieties of Usnea, so search online or ask a local herbalist about which ones grow in your area. Some are a pale yellowish-greenish color; others are reddish brown. Still others are black. The stem of Usnea has a white core that can be seen when it is pulled apart. The “hairs” are a bit stretchy.

Some years, Usnea is abundant and the yellow-green variety that is found here often grows well over 12 inches long. Not this year. When our family went out to gather some a few days ago, we had to really hunt for it. I think I’m going to have to start selling my Usnea soap as a “limited edition” this year. I just made a couple of batches and will post pictures soon.

Medicinal Uses of Usnea

Usnea is an extremely useful antimicrobial, both internally and externally, effective primarily on the lungs and skin. It is often used to treat bacterial, viral and fungal infections. All of my resources really stress its antibacterial properties! It is reported to be an effective treatment for pneumonia, bronchitis, staph, strep, tuberculosis and urinary tract infections. I have successfully used it to prevent and treat colds and flu. It boosts the immune system and can be used like echinacea. Another great thing about Usnea is that it has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

I have found Usnea to be most effective as a tincture when I feel like I’m coming down with a cold. It is not effective as a tea. I have since read that water does not extract the usnic acid, which is the primary medicinal component of Usnea; alcohol is necessary for that.

To prevent or treat infections, I usually take about 8 drops of the tincture, made with vodka or similar alcohol, two to three times daily. I also like to add usnea to my herbal mix when I make cough drops. It doesn’t actually help suppress a cough, but it has helped cure whatever has caused the cough and helps loosen it.

Usnea Tincture
Usnea being made into a tincture.

Usnea tincture can be used externally as a liniment to treat infections on the skin. It can also be used straight from the tree as an emergency wound dressing to prevent infections and gangrene.

To make Usnea Tincture, place crushed usnea in a jar, cover with at least 60 proof alcohol such as Vodka (not rubbing alcohol). Place the lid on the jar and keep the jar in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar daily. After at least 2 weeks, (but preferably 8 weeks or more) strain and pour into a dropper bottle. In his book, “The Way of Herbs”, Michael Tierra states that the usual dose is 5 to 10 drops.

Usnea on a drying rack
Usnea on drying rack.

Usnea as Food

Usnea is very high in Vitamin C, and is a carbohydrate. Before eating, Usnea should be soaked in several changes of water. The usnic acid can be very irritating to the digestive system. In the book, “Tanaina Plantlore”, Priscilla R. Kari states that the Inland Dena’ina Natives of Alaska sometimes eat Usnea as an emergency food or camp food after first boiling it in water.


Usnea, like all lichens, readily absorbs pollutants, such as heavy metals and radiation. Be careful where you collect lichens. Also, do not eat animals that have eaten contaminated lichens. The poisons have been known to pass to humans in this way.

Use caution and common sense when trying Usnea, or anything else, especially the first time. You never know how your body will react. Some time ago, usnic acid was found (or at least thought) to help with weight loss. A company produced a weight loss pill containing usnic acid, and from what I’ve read, it sounds like a few people over did it and had severe liver problems. I have read that once the ingestion of usnic acid is stopped, the problems will resolve. One thing to consider in this is that one constituent of Usnea was removed and used in a pharmaceutical preparation. However, plants, in their whole, natural form have many balancing constituents, and are therefore usually much safer, in my opinion, than a processed drug containing only an extract of a plant, possibly in concentrated amounts. Do your own research, talk with a knowledgeable healthcare provider, and then make your own decision about what to ingest.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

City Folks: Observations of a Three Year Old

The comments on my recent post about the resourcefulness of my sons and their homemade skis and snowboard reminded me of one of our trips into Anchorage about four years ago. My husband’s brother, Chris used to live there, and we always stayed with him during our visits.

Zeke was only three years old at the time. As soon as we walked in, he began roaming around, checking out the construction of the house like a building inspector. Then, with a look of approval on his face, he said, “Uncle Chris did a very good job building this house”. I told him that someone else built the house, and then Uncle Chris bought it. He looked confused at that, but accept it. He understood that people make or produce things, sell them, and that people use money to buy things they want or need. But I think he was confused about why his uncle didn’t just build his own house like we did.

When Zeke sat down at the table that evening for supper and saw steaks, he yelled, “Oh Boy! Uncle Chris shot a moose!” When I told him it was beef, he asked what “beef” was (because he’d only had wild meat such as moose, caribou, fish, grouse, etc. up to that point in his life). When I told him that beef was the name for meat from a cow, he said, “Oh Boy! Mama shot a cow ! ! !”  I explained in simple terms, “No, someone else killed the cow, sold the meat to the grocery store, and then I went to the store and bought the meat. That’s the way things are done in the city”. He looked very disappointed as he just said, “oh” and began to eat.

The next night when he saw fish on the table, he said, “Oh Boy! Mama caught a fish!” So, I went through it again. “No, someone else caught the fish, sold it to the grocery store, and I went to the store and bought it.” Another disappointment as he quietly ate his supper.

During our last night in Anchorage, we had chicken. Same story, only this time he’d figured it out. “Oh Boy! Chicken!” But with a little question in his voice and a look of suspicion on his face, he asked, “Mama killed the chicken?” I shook my head. Then he said, sounding very sad, “I know. Someone else killed the chicken, sold it to the store, and mama went to the store and bought it.” I said, “Right”. He just looked at me, shaking his head and said, “Things sure are different in the city, aren’t they, Mama?”

When we landed at home in the bush the next day, he told Chuck all about his shocking observations. It went something like this: “Daddy, people in town aren’t like us! When they want something, they pay somebody else to make it. Why don’t they do it themselves? Did you know that Uncle Chris didn’t even build his own house?!!! He paid somebody to do that for him. People there don’t even catch and shoot their own food. They pay someone else to go fishing and hunting for them, and then they just drive to a store and buy whatever they want for supper. They don’t do anything for themselves, Daddy.”

Now that the boys are a little older, they understand things a little better, (although, to be honest, I don't think he was that far off in his assessment). It's kind of interesting to listen to young children verbalize the way they see the world.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Resourceful Little Bushrats

My sons always amaze me with their resourcefulness. Earlier in the winter, long before they'd ever even seen or heard of snowboards, they began trying to stand up in their sleds to zoom down hills. After our trip to town, during which we took a drive through one of the passes and saw some snowboarders and skiers, Zeke and Jed got a few ideas.

This morning after we finished homeschool, they went outside. Within minutes they were back inside announcing that they had some snowboards. I had just started another batch of homemade soap and wasn't really giving them my full attention, but that made me stop and wonder what they were up to this time. They're always inventing toys and games, and I was really curious about this. They found an old stump from a blowdown, pulled off a few long chunks of wood, and then used another piece of wood to scrape them down to suit their desire for snowboards.

Actually, only Jed had a snowboard. Zeke said that he did have one, until Jed broke it. Now he has a set of skis, which pleases him greatly! They kept slipping off their new "inventions", so they found their daddy and asked him to drill a few holes and give them some rope. In no time they had foot straps and some pretty neat homemade equipment.

While Zeke tied on his skis,  Jed gave his "new" snowboard a whirl. Here he is trying to stand up again --- seconds before wiping out!
Jed on his homemade snowboard

Zeke broke off a couple of half-dead tree limbs to use as ski poles before trying out his new skis. He did better than I did my first time on skis!
Zeke on his homemade skis

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bush Plane Fuel Delivery

Fuel Delivery - March 2011
Bush Fuel Delivery - March 2011

A few weeks ago we got our annual plane load of gas flown out to us. A load is 180 gallons. We used to go through just over 2 loads each year, but because the price of the gas and flying combined has doubled over the last six years, we have had to cut way back. We paid $1,040 for this last load! That sure wrecked the budget! When we called to schedule the flight the week before, it was $998, but they couldn’t work us into their schedule and we had to end up paying more because they’d just received their fuel at the inflated prices. They charge us the pump price, plus whatever their hourly rate is at the moment (depending on what he has to pay for plane fuel) for flying it out to us. Now the pump price is over $4 per gallon, and going up daily. I can just imagine what it will cost next year. I fully expect to have to get rid of internet, or only use it only for occasional emails.

In case anyone wonders how we get gas, we have four 55-gallon fuel drums. Chuck hauls them to the lake, one at a time on a sled hooked to the snow machine. The pilot had a fuel container custom made for his plane. He puts it into his plane, pumps fuel into it, flies the fuel to his customers, and used a pump to get it from his plane into fuel drums. We then siphon it from the drums into smaller gas jugs that are more manageable and haul the drums off the lake. It is much easier to handle the drums during the winter. Summer gas deliveries, when the fuel plane must land on floats, are difficult.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cookout In The Snow

Dutch Oven

During our last shopping trip into town, I was able to find some Hebrew National Beef Hotdogs. I rarely buy hotdogs or deli-type meats, but I thought it would be a nice change for a quick dinner some night. A few evenings ago as I was opening the packages to heat them in the oven, my youngest son asked if we could build a campfire and cook them on sticks! He was so excited about the idea that I couldn’t resist. It did sound fun. The look my husband gave me when I said yes showed his lack of enthusiasm, to say the least. Nevertheless, once he got the fire going out in the garden, and his appetite grew, he was a little more into it.

One of my sons roasting hotdogs on a stick.

The boys gathered willow shoots they found popping out of the snow, Chuck sharpened them and tended the fire, and I found our last jar of sauerkraut that I’d made and canned a few years back. (Glad I ordered plenty of cabbage seeds this year!) The boys wanted to eat the dogs right off the sticks, but Chuck and I (being co-dictators in the family ;) overruled that one and decided to heat them back up in the Dutch Oven with the sauerkraut. Mmmmmmmm. Delicious!
Roasting Hotdogs

A good time was had by all. But that was the smokiest fire! If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought we were trying to burn alder. With all of our red, watery eyes, you’d never know we were having fun. We still have about 4 to 5 feet of packed snow on the ground, and when the fire burned down through the snow, it was in sort of a pit and hard to keep our faces out of the smoke.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Soap Box

Soaps by JudyThis post may not be what you're thinking. It's actually about a soap box (box of soap). Back in January when I wrote How to Make and Use Spruce Pitch Salve for The Survivalist Blog, I mentioned that spruce pitch also makes homemade soap smell great. Judy at Consent of the Governed Blog asked for my spruce soap recipe, which I gladly shared with her. I knew that Judy made beautiful soaps, but I was sure surprised when our mail arrived and I found a fragrant box of soaps she’d sent to me as a Thank-You gift. My thanks to you, Judy!

I haven’t tried all of them yet, but the ones I have used make me feel so pampered. So far, the dark one with the green tie in the center front is my favorite. I can't remember what it's called, but it has a very woodsy scent. My youngest son loves it so much that he's always going over to the soap dish to give it a sniff. 

Judy is not only outspoken about political issues, but she is also a skilled homesteader type, at least when it comes to gardening and soapmaking. I'm sure she does all sorts of things, but I've only known her for a short time. If you want to gain fresh insight on political issues that you may not hear about through the mainstream news outlets, visit Judy’s blog, Consent of the Governed. Then visit her soap website, Soap By Judy. (Judy just let me know that she will extend a 10% discount on your order if you mention "Frontier Freedom" on the order form. Mail orders, only. Thank you, Judy, for that great offer to my readers!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

We Have an Inverter!

Hooray ! ! ! !  We now have our new-to-us inverter hooked up. It's so nice to be online without all that noise of the generator, and without constantly thinking of all those $ $ $ $ $ in gas burning up every minute.  Only problem is that the remote switch we use to turn it on in the living room beside the computer is not compatible with the inverter, which is installed upstairs in the loft. We'll have to order one, which will cost about $100 or so. For now, we have to leave the inverter on all the time. The switch is kind of goosy, and acts like it could fall off any minute, so we really couldn't turn it off and on very much even if it were right here. It uses more electricity to leave it running all the time, but for now it's our only real option. It's still much cheaper than running the generator, though. Plus, the days are getting much longer now here in the Far North, so those solar panels are really helping so that we won't have to run the generator as much to charge the battery bank.

Chuck called a friend when our old inverter died to ask his advice on getting it repaired or getting a new one. He said he'd just upgraded his system and that his old inverter was in the way so he wanted to get rid of it. He said he'd gladly just GIVE it to us, and deliver it to the air taxi in Anchorage next time he made a trip there. WOW! What a a blessing ! ! ! !  It works great and is exactly the size we needed. There will be a few birch bark baskets filled with goodies heading their way as a Thank-You as soon as the sap starts running and I can peel some trees! I can hardly wait!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Earthquake, Radiation and Iodine

Praying for the people of Japan. What a horrible thing, especially with the nuclear disasters. Seems like the country is almost in meltdown itself. I’ve read that the winds are pushing radioactive fallout to the Pacific North West and could hit the area, including Alaska within six to ten days of the first explosion. Other reports say there's nothing to worry about. Either way, good to have iodine/iodide on hand. If you are interested (and I think everyone should be), do a search for something like “iodine for radiation” and you’ll come up with plenty of good information explaining why iodine and iodide (both forms) are necessary to take daily just prior to and during exposure to high levels of radiation, as well as how to take it. Here's a good article on How to Prepare for Radiation Emergencies from

Because of our very limited gas supply and electricity, we have not been online enough to know the latest on what’s going on in Japan, and have had a hard time finding accurate fallout information. For several years I’ve been taking a few drops daily of Lugol’s solution mixed in water for hypothyroidism, but will keep a watch on things to see if more is needed, and if my family should begin taking it. I suspect we will. I hope that the news will report the danger in time for people to obtain the necessary iodine/iodide pills or solution, but I don’t have much faith that they will report anything until it’s too late and the radiation is upon us. Thankfully, there are other reliable sources for information. Even in Japan, we saw news reports that tried to convince people there was no danger of nuclear leaks. Hours later there was an explosion at a nuclear plant, making it impossible to gloss over any longer. (see the image link in my sidebar) has some good links. Some of the other sites such as The American Preppers Network have good information as well.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bushrats' Trip to the Big City (and a few rabbit trails)

Now that we’re back from our semi-annual shopping trip, I should be able to post more often. But, with things heating up by the moment in the Middle East, and gas prices (and prices on everything else, for that matter) soaring, I think we’ll still have to limit our computer use even after we get our new inverter in a few weeks.

If you’d rather skip all this gab, scroll down for lots of pictures. The Rabbit Trails are labeled in bold, and some of you may prefer those. But for those inquiring minds who want to know how bushrats spend their time in the “big city”, here’s a play-by-play. I don’t know why I get asked so often about what we do in town. I supposed we do about what everybody else does, only we do it all in a few days instead of each week throughout the year. We shop, visit friends and sometimes play. Well, we play a lot in the bush, and visit bush friends out here, but we do more of the visiting in town, and of course, that’s the only time we have to bother with shopping.

Looking for the airstrip
Looking for the airstrip

The weather here at home was beautiful the day we flew out, but when we arrived over town, the clouds were nearly on the deck. The first picture shows us flying sideways over the airport (mostly a bush plane airport) looking for the airstrip where small planes on skis are supposed to land. Our pilot had never landed there before, and my boys were a little green around the gills by the time we found it. All went well, despite the dubious “up to the minute” weather reports of a 1000 foot ceiling and visibility of 2 miles. I wish those weather guys would look out the window from time to time.

Our friends were waiting for us and pulled up to help unload the plane.

Unloading in town
Unloading the plane in town at the airport

Overall, this trip into town was fun because we were able to stay with friends who live in a rural area, rather than in Anchorage. Don’t misunderstand me. We’re always very thankful for our friends in Anchorage who welcome us into their homes and let us borrow a car to go shopping and run errands, and it’s always fun to visit with them. But it was a relaxing change this time to be able to let the boys play outside with the dogs, meet and go sledding with neighbor kids, and feed the horses and chickens.

View from the deck - Kodiak
View from the deck

The first day, our friend took us to Anchorage to get our Costco shopping out of the way. We stopped at the chainsaw place for a bar and couple of chains for my new-to-me little chainsaw that I’m learning to use, and then went to the craft store for some knitting needles. I’m really not schizophrenic, although that last sentence might have you wondering. I enjoy knitting beside the woodstove in the evenings, but I also love the feeling of self-reliance that I get from being able to bring in the wood we need for cooking and heating (without dependence upon my husband, should something ever happen to him).

Rabbit Trail #1:  I know what you’re thinking. One of the first things I mentioned today was the chaos in the Middle East and the gas price increases, and now I’m talking about gas-powered chainsaws? How incongruous! We’re planning to get a load of gas flown out very soon, and I suspect that it will be our last for a very long time to come. As long as we can get somewhat affordable gas, it makes our lives much easier. However, the next skill on my list is learning to fell trees with only manual tools. I’m sure I could do it now if I had to, but I really need to learn how to be safe with the tools and get in better shape for that. I feel certain that the time is coming when that will be a necessary skill, among many others.

Rabbit Trail #2:  We all do a lot in the bush, but there’s always much more to learn. It is my goal to learn to do everything necessary to live independently out here, if at all possible. I’m not sure that my goal is even attainable, but I am sure that I have a very long way to go. It’s a bit discouraging sometimes to think about that, but when I look back on how far I’ve come over the years since moving to Alaska, I’m encouraged to keep plugging away, one step at a time. It is satisfying.

Here are some pictures of our trip. Our friend has a mini-horse, Rosie. We sometimes took her and the dogs for a walk down the road to visit with neighbors.
Jed and Rosie
Jed and Zeke loved playing with our friend's mini-horse

Visiting friends
Taking the horse and dogs down the road

We enjoyed the fresh eggs for breakfast, and feeding the chickens. I’d love to get chickens out here again, but feed is too expensive, especially to fly out.
feeding the chickens
Feeding the Chickens

Zeke feeding chickens
Feeding Chickens

My boys had never been around horses before, so this was quite a treat for them.
Playing with Kodiak
The boys got to play with horses for the first time.

Jed and Kodiak
This was a big treat for the boys

Horses at Sunset
The horses at sunset

Patsy and Copper
Two of our friends horses

A moose cow and her calf browsed by each morning. This is a picture of my son in the snow watching the moose and horses from the deck, and then another shot of the moose.

Jed watching moose and horses
Jed watched the moose and horses in the snow from the deck.

moose and horses
Moose in the woods behind the horses

We’re very thankful to another of our friends and her son for taxiing us all over town one day to finish running errands. She was sick and had a fever, but didn’t let a little thing like that spoil her fun. She even took us back to her house so that we could see her menagerie. My boys’ favorites were the geese. She has beautiful sled dogs, some with impressive backgrounds. I am hoping for one of her pups soon.

Rabbit Trail #3:  We always begin taking a mix of vitamins and herbs a few days before heading to town to avoid getting sick when we see people. I suppose we’re kind of like the Indians when the Europeans arrived. Their immune systems were not able to fight off diseases they’d never been exposed to, and they didn’t know what to do when they came down with those horrible, strange illnesses. When I lived in the city years ago, I rarely got sick. Now, if I don’t take the vitamins and herbs while in town, I get to feeling rotten within a few days.

It seems that we have to do more and more these days to stay well. It used to be that I’d take a capsule with a mixture of Echinacea, Goldenseal and Elder twice a day while in town, and that would be plenty to keep the bugs at bay. Now it’s more complicated with many more herbs like garlic, wild chives, wormwood, rosemary, sage, oregano, comfrey, as well as vitamins C and D. Even with all those, the boys and I still ended up with a mild sore throat and the sniffles. Not nearly as bad as most folks in town. None of us even got a fever. I suspect it is (in part) because of the overuse of antibiotics causing these strong, resistant infections. I won’t go any further with that thought right now. End of Rabbit Trail #3.

One of our stops was the sporting goods store. Last summer, my boys made several bows and arrows from sticks, and then shot rubber ducks off stumps. This trip we looked at more “high tech” bows. The guy at the store was very helpful, and the boys had fun shooting a real bow for the first time in the back of the store. I took an archery class last spring, and now I’m hooked!
Jed testing a new bow
The boys were excited about shooting a real bow.

Once we got our required stops out of the way, we had more time to play. Here’s a picture of my boys sledding with a new friend.
Sledding with Friends
Sledding with a new friend

The dogs and boys kept each other entertained for hours.

Jed playing ball with Dakota
Keeping entertained

Another moose in the yard.

Moose in yard
Another moose browsing in the yard

We hope to get a few more goats very soon. They are the only animal we’ve found that can totally feed themselves out here. Without grain, the does don’t produce as much milk, so we’ll need to have more, but as long as they can survive well on browse, that’s great. They are stronger and healthier than animals raised on hay and grain. While in town, we stopped by one farm. Now I’m trying to coordinate everything to get some Toggs.
Checking on Goats
We'd like to get a few of these goats

Cute Goats
Mama and her kid

Jed loves goats and they love him
The boys are looking forward to getting goats again.

After checking on goats, we decided to take a drive through the pass on the way back to our friend’s home. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather! My boys have begun standing in their sleds as they zoom down hills, so it was a surprise for them to see real snowboards.  
Jenny and the boys at the Pass
The boys and I at the pass

Road into the Pass
After seeing the goats, we went for a drive through the pass

Snowboarders at th Pass
The boys had fun watching snowboarders at the pass
Time for the trip home. The wind was screaming in town and at our lake, so I was a little uneasy about the flight. But the winds were coming straight down the airstrips in both places, and the pilot said it would be “not too bad” once we got out of town. He was right. We bounced around a little, but not too much. Here are a few pictures from the plane as we neared our lake and came in to land.
Almost Home 1
Almost home

Almost Home 2
The mountains beyond our cabin

About to Land 1
Approaching the lake

About to Land 2
About to land

About to Land 3
Almost there
The welcoming committee! They were so happy to see us they almost jumped in the plane as soon as the door opened.
The Welcoming Committee
The welcoming committee
Once we landed, we unloaded the plane, put the boys and as much stuff on the sled as we could, and then Chuck and I road on the snow machine pulling the sled. This machine is very tippy anyway, and really too small for both of us to ride, so it took a lot of time and determination to get to our cabin. We didn’t have any trouble on the lake, but the high winds caused snowdrifts on the trails --- or what used to be trails. The boys howled with laughter every time the snow machine tipped over on us (they remained upright).

We’ve had over 13 feet of snow this year, so we didn’t get bruised up too bad. The snow had a bit of a crust, and every time I tried to pull myself out, I’d break through and sink again up to my neck. Chuck was holding onto the handlebars, so he could get out pretty easy. Lots of alder under the snow, so we were able to find branches with our feet and push off enough to grab onto the snow machine. After about the third time of getting dumped off the machine, I swam through the snow to the sled and retrieved my snowshoes. I don’t usually find this kind of ride very amusing, but I was so happy to be home that I was laughing right along with the boys.

Once we finally arrived at the cabin, I started supper while Chuck hauled the rest of our things back from the lake.

Rabbit Trail #4:  Bush life is so much simpler than town life. I love cooking on my antique woodburning cookstove. In town, I’m always forgetting to turn on the stove, and then, once I finally remember an hour later and the food is done, I forget to turn it off. At home, if the house is warm, that means there’s a fire in the stove and all I have to do is put a pot of food where I want it, either on top of the stove or in the oven. When the food is done, I take it off the stove. That’s it. I add wood to the fire as a matter of course, but I never have to concern myself with preheating an oven or remembering to turn it off. I just close it down good before leaving the cabin for the day or going to bed.

In town, I stare at all the buttons on the dishwasher until someone notices my bewildered look and shows me what to do. In the bush, washing dishes is pretty straightforward. Pour water in the metal dish pans, place them on the stove until the water is hot (no need to turn on the woodstove as long as the house is warm and there is a supply of wood). One pan is for washing; the other for rinsing. Then the dishes drip-dry on towels. Much more intuitive than a computerized dishwasher!

Thankfully, there was already some coffee in the pot our first morning in town. Trying to figure out that coffee maker would have thrown me over the edge. I’m so glad to be home. End of Rabbit Trail #4.
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