May 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Another Non-dairy Milk-Oat Milk

In my continuing quest to make non-dairy milk, I hit upon a good one.  I blogged about making Almond milk.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2016/01/make-your-own-almond-milk.html

Almond milk is really good, but the downside is straining out the almond meal and it's not good for those who can't have nuts.   I have also made Cashew milk with the same process.  I soaked the organic cashews in water just as I did the almonds.  The difference is that cashews don't leave behind a pulp.  Cashews are actually a seed and not a nut.  The milk is much thicker but works great for smoothies.  It is much too thick for cereal.  I didn't try drinking it straight or diluting it, because I started making oat milk.  Oat milk is very nutritious.  It is recommended for digestive issues because it has both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber is the answer to anyone who has IBS or any other kind of stomach problems.  It is a very low residue food, it lowers LDL (known at the bad cholesterol), it slows down the digestion of carbohydrates and the release of glucose which is helpful to diabetics and it stabilizes contractions of the intestines for more comfortable digestion.  Foods with soluble fiber are safe foods and should be the first thing you eat on an empty stomach.  Insoluble fiber is necessary but never on an empty stomach and only with soluble fiber foods.  People with digestion problems can tolerate insoluble fiber better if it is cooked or chopped into small pieces.  Everyone thinks using soluble fiber products like Citrucel or Heather's Tummy Fiber is just for constipation.  That isn't the case, it is important for everyone.  A link focusing on IBS has interesting information about the misconceptions surrounding fiber.  http://www.helpforibs.com/diet/fiber1.asp

This blog wasn't meant to be a tutorial on IBS or digestive disorders, but only about another recipe for a non-dairy milk.  Oat milk is high in protein, and it has more calcium than cow's milk.  If you are gluten intolerant, then making it yourself with gluten free oats is perfect.  It is very low in fat and has no cholesterol.

Oat Milk

1 cup oats (I use steel cut oats, but any dry oatmeal will work)
4 cups filtered water

Soak the oats in the water for a few hours or overnight.   I pour off the soaking water and put fresh water in a blender with the soaked oats.  Then I blend at a high speed for a couple minutes.  If you want to strain the milk, now is the time.  If it is blended well enough, there is no need to strain.  Now you can use it as is, add more water to get the consistency you prefer or add a little sweetener.  Some people add a couple dates when they blend it for additional sweetener.  Take a date or two, pour some boiling water over it and let it sit for a while.  This will soften up the date so it blends completely.  Dates have a lot of iron and minerals.  You can also use maple syrup.  I usually make mine plain, but it does have a different taste without sweetener.  It does not in any way taste like "real" milk, but it makes smoothies creamy and is good on cooked cereal or rice pudding. 

If you want a very inexpensive alternative to the usual non-dairy milk and can't tolerate nut milks, soy or cow's milk, this is perfect.  I have not flavored it or used it in coffee because I drink my coffee black.  It is quite thick and sticky but would be a way to get the oat benefits in different way.  I may try the coffee route, but I will probably stick to smoothies. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

To Camp or Not To Camp, That Is the Question

The jury is still out about me and camping.  I talked about it a little near the end of a previous blog.   http://www.thecabincountess.com/2016/04/spring-and-summer-will-come-eventually.html

Beautiful view from the campground

Basically we bought an old camper in hopes of getting my dad out of the house without having him sit or sleep in motel rooms, ride in the car for hours or just stay home.  He liked sitting outside around campfires with the family and was somewhat excited about the prospects of traveling to some new locations.

As I mentioned, we had a few challenges getting the thing road worthy.  The sad part is dad passed away before we could use it.  In his honor, we decided to give camping a try.  We rented a permanent campsite for a couple months in a county park.  I love the daytime camping.  The campfires, the nature walks, the fresh air and relaxing outside is awesome.  The nights, not so much.  It is really really dark in the woods.  The first night we got all tucked in.  It isn't exactly roughing it.  We have a bed with a real mattress and an inside bathroom.  All was going well even though I was slightly claustrophobic and a bit warm from a ninety degree day.  Then just as I was falling asleep a big thunder and lightning storm rolled in beating rain on the roof of the camper.  It lasted for a long time.  The morning was fresh and nice, so it wasn't a deal breaker.  One week later we tried again.  This time the temps fell into the 30 degree range and in spite of having a heater, I froze.  I slept in my clothes covered with two blankets and my coat.  About 6:30 am the next morning, we locked up and traveled thirty minutes to our daughters cabin.  We spent the remaining weekend there. 

The reason why I wasn't going to camp another night..SNOW in May

My husband has convinced me to try one more time.  I said I will try, but if I have one more horrible night then the For Sale sign goes up.  Three strikes and I'm out.  I live in a log cabin with wildlife and a beautiful view.  I have a great bed and can be warm or cool by adjusting the thermostat.  I can build a campfire outside if I feel the need to sit by the fire.  Why would I camp?  I will give it a chance though.  Camping people are very friendly, there are no bed bugs to worry about as in some motels these days and it does provide a change in scenery.

I do like to cook over an open fire.  Here is one of our foil recipes.  I posted another in a post from a few years ago.  It seems that the sleeping part of camping is an issue for all of us.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2014/08/the-hobo-steak-and-camping-experience.html

Campfire Breakfast Burritos

½ T. olive oil
1 cup frozen hash browns
8 oz. cooked ham, diced
12 eggs
1 T. taco seasoning
1 (4.5 oz.) can green chiles (optional)
2 cups cheddar cheese
8 flour tortillas (I used low-carb tortillas, and they were a little wetter than I like.)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the hash browns and ham.  Cook until browned, stirring continuously.
Meanwhile in a large bowl whisk the eggs and add the taco seasoning. If you like cilantro, you can add some to taste.
Pour the egg mixture over the browned ham and hash browns in the skillet.
Stir until the eggs have set.  Stir in the cheese and green chiles if you use them.
Warm the tortillas to make them pliable.  Put ⅛ of the mixture on the tortilla and roll up like a burrito.  Wrap it tightly
in foil.  Store in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator or in your cooler.

When you’re ready to cook, place the wrapped burrito on the hot coals or on a rack close to the fire.  Turn them over
once until they are heated through.  It takes about 10-15 minutes. 

Place scrambled egg mixture on tortilla

Roll the burrito and place on foil

Fold the foil around the burrito to make a packet

Just put the foil packets on the campfire until they are warmed.  I know there is a lot of controversy about using aluminum foil, but it works so well for this purpose.  If you don't over use aluminum foil, I think we will all be fine.

Eventually I will report the final decision concerning the camping situation.  Right now I'm on the fence, and it could go either way.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Too Many K-cups in the Landfill

Keurig coffee makers are really popular right now.  They have evolved from a basic single serve machine to many fancy styles and colors.  Other companies have followed all in search of a perfect cup of coffee.  It was supposed to make it easy to get coffeehouse coffee at home.  I don't think it's working because I was told the line at Starbucks was 15 deep yesterday morning.

Long before Keurig's became popular I saw one at the Goodwill store.  I bought it.  During that time, you could find K-cups at the bent and dent stores for $2.00 a box.  I liked it for convenience but never really liked the coffee.  It was too strong for me.  As Keurig became more popular, the selection of drinks to be made in them increased.  Now you can buy coffee, tea, soup, hot chocolate in several varieties and flavors.

My recent purchases from Country Values Bent and Dent store. Love that place.

It always bothered me that billions of plastic K-cups were going into the landfill.  I read that Keurig sold nine billion K-cups in 2015,  Apparently Keurig is finally addressing the problem and after ten years are coming up with a recyclable cup.  The problem is that all components of the cup have to be separated.  That means the foil, filter, coffee grounds and plastic cup have to be taken apart. I can't believe people will actually take the time to do this.  I have found organic bio-degradable cups put out by another company.  That made me feel somewhat better that others are worried about the problem too.  In order to cut down on my contribution to the problem, I also bought several of the little pods which hold your own coffee.  They were fine, but a pain to remove the grounds and clean.  I had to cut the foil off the used cup and wash out the cup to use again with a small disk purchased for this purpose.  The coffee tasted funny.  I think the old oils couldn't be removed completely from the little paper filter inside the plastic cup, but it was better than throwing them away after every use.

Recently I discovered a product by Melitta.  It consists of a plastic sleeve, a collar, a paper filter and a disk to cover it.  You use your own coffee and can make it to the strength you like.

You can see I got this product for $2 on a clearance rack.  It comes with two reusable cups, which are called JavaJig cups, and a starter pack of 30 filters.

Instructions for assembling the cup.

I kind of like it.  I can compost the paper filter without guilt and don't have to wash grounds out of the permanent filters.  Hopefully this product hasn't been discontinued and that is the reason I found it in the clearance section.

I still use my Bunn coffee maker most of the time, but when I want a quick cup of coffee I use the Keurig.  It is convenient, but I'm just trying to be smart with how many plastic cups I throw away.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Moving Mattresses Isn't Easy

You all know the riddle about why the chicken crosses the road.  Yup, to get to the other side.  So what do old people in the 70 year old range do because they think they are still 25?  No, no, no, it's not what you think.  It's taking on a project that should have been done by the younger generation.

It all started when our daughter and her family bought a cottage.  At least that is what they call it.  It looks more like a nice second home.  It is in an area of Wisconsin that has a lot of fun things for families to do and will be used often.  It has four bedrooms so they needed to get some beds set up.  Between everyone in the family, it won't be hard to furnish.  We had a bedroom set up with two twin beds pushed together to look like a king size bed.  We decided to give them those twin beds, get ourselves a new king size bed and put our old king size mattress and box springs in the lower level where the twin beds were.  Sounds easy enough, right?  WRONG!

The first part was pretty easy getting our bed set up and getting the twin beds out of the way.  Then the trouble began.  We thought we could just carry the mattress downstairs.  It was so heavy, floppy and just awkward but it had to go down only 14 steps with a landing, so we thought it could be slid down.  We got to the landing where the stair turns, and we couldn't get it any further.  It was stuck and wouldn't fit.  This is so contrary to how my husband operates.  He usually figures and measures and measures again.  This time we just went for it, and it bit us in the butt.  So much for being spontaneous. The next part of the adventure took over an hour.  We had to get it back up the steps to where we started.  We pushed and pulled until we were both exhausted, but we finally managed to get it back upstairs.  Sorry, there aren't any photos of this phase.  There was a lot of grunting and groaning but no time for pictures.

I had enough and thought we should call in the young people, but my husband thought he had a good plan this time.  He got out his green garden wagon.

We were going to take the mattress out the front door and take it around the house to a set of exterior steps we have on the marsh side of the house.  Then take it down the steps to a patio door, into the house, down the hall and into the bedroom.  I guess it sounded easy enough.  

We managed to wrestle the mattress outside and got it on the wagon which was reinforced with some boards.  My husband strapped the mattress down so it wouldn't slip off.

He started pulling the wagon and it really pulled quite nicely.  The strapping stayed put so nothing slipped along the way.  Maybe this would work after all.

 Next came a little maneuvering between the birdfeeders and some bushes, but here we were at the top of the steps. 

Now it was time to back the wagon down the steps without it falling off the edge and without ripping the mattress on the cement wall.  I stood at the bottom slowly guiding it down.  It went well until we got to a post that was holding up the deck.  The mattress wouldn't fit through.  The straps had to come off, and we had to maneuver it around the post and then carry it to the patio door.  

Fortunately we had our handy dandy little orange straps.

These little gems are supposed to make lifting heavy items a breeze.  Notice the couple on the box lifting a mattress.  They either had straps that were twice as long as ours or they had eight foot arms.  We did manage to finally maneuver it in place.

The next time this mattress gets moved it won't be by us.  Our days of moving king size mattresses are over.  It did prove we are in better shape than we thought we were. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Thundering Hoof Ranch

About two weeks ago I wrote about making Bone Broth.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2016/04/the-benefits-of-bone-broth.html

I have been drinking a cup a day for about a month and look forward to it.  I really believe in the healing powers it has.  I feel great, although I felt fine before I started it.  My only problem was finding the organic bones needed to make it.  I had a friend get me some from her source, but I haven't been able to get them from her yet.  Then on a recent trip to my daughter's house, I noticed this sign.

My other daughter also makes bone broth.  Her neighbor gave her some soup bones to cook.  Guess where they came from?  Yup, Thundering Hoof Ranch.  I took this as a sign to research this place near Berlin, Wisconsin.  I went on their website  http://www.thunderinghoofranch.com and found a lot of good information.  I found the principles of the ranch are that they use no antibiotics or hormones.  They use forage based farming which means they use permanent ground covers to protect the soil from erosion and ground water contamination.  They do not use any chemical fertilizer.  The animals are allowed to roam without any unnecessary confinement.

Being impressed with this information, I called to see if they sold bones.  A very nice man told me they do, and they have a farm store which is open on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  I was very happy to make this discovery, and today we took a little drive.  The ranch is less than a half hour from our house.

As we were driving in, I had a little pang of guilt and sadness.  Along the fence line I saw the cutest cows I have ever seen.

Calves on this ranch nurse and stay with their mothers for up to ten months giving them a very strong immune system.

I proceeded into the store and purchased two large bags of bones.  The store not only had beef, chicken, lamb and pork but also spun wool from the sheep and homemade soaps made from the beef tallow.

Two bags of frozen bones.

I never thought in a million years I would spend money on bones, but here they are.  I came home and started a batch of broth, but couldn't think about how I got them and where they came from.  I am not a vegetarian but after seeing these animals I am getting close. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Little Oil Diffuser

Essential oils have been around for many centuries.  There is evidence that oils were used in Ancient Egypt, China, Greece and many other countries around the world.  Cave drawings from thousands and thousands of years ago indicate the use of oils.  Now days, everywhere you look there are companies selling essential oils.  Some products aren't actually oils at all but just an essence mostly used for the smell while others are grown and extracted from high quality organic plants.  I am part of a Young Living team, but I am not involved in building a business or being an active member.  I am too old and lazy to do that.  I just love having the access to order high quality products.  I have heard the spiel from other companies, but I feel Young Living is one of the best.  People use oils for physical healing, cosmetics, mental clarity, their pets, safe cleaning products and just about anything else you can think of.  If you have a concern or problem there are millions of combinations and oil blends to try.  I have my favorites, and that is an individual choice.  The internet can help with the best choice for you, or I can put you in contact with someone more knowledgeable than me. 

The reason for this blog is not to convince anyone to use essential oils, but I would suggest looking into them before beginning a prescription drug regiment.   The FDA is very strict about saying a specific oil cures a certain disease, but it doesn't hurt to try them for yourself.  What I do want to mention is a product I have found.  Because I have used essential oils for a while, I have also used the oils in diffusers.  Diffusers are devices where distilled water is mixed with some essential oil.  When you plug it in or provide batteries, a fine mist disperses into the air.  People use it to kill germs in the air, to breath in calming vapors and for air fresheners.  The gadget I found is a small simple diffuser, and it doesn't use water.  It has a small pad on which a few drops of oil are placed.  It runs with two batteries or plugs into a USB port.  We have a USB port in our car, but if you don't have one there are USB plug in's which plug into the cigarette lighter.

The little diffuser looks like a computer mouse.
It has a USB connector or uses batteries.
An adapter for the connection.
Microfiber pad to put the oil on.

We plug it in the car when we travel.  It makes the car smell so good and helps with drowsiness.  A little peppermint smell often helps with car sickness. Some lemongrass is invigorating.   It works better than any car deodorizer especially the little trees that hang from the rear view mirror.  It is also nice to plug into your computer.  It adds relaxing scents to the air if your working a a project.

Diffusers come at many price points.  This little one is less than $10.  It doesn't appear to be of a very high quality but seems to work great in a small area like a car.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Osprey Nesting 2016

Over the years I have blogged about the Osprey we see in our area of Wisconsin.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2014/04/osprey-in-green-lake-wisconsin.html

It's always a thrill, but I could never get great photos because the birds were either out hunting, too far away or being blocked by branches in our trees.  Fortunately for us, the Green Team working with Alliant Energy has built four Osprey nesting platforms in different locations not too far from our house.  The Green Team is a partnership of several organizations which introduce all the special things Green Lake Wisconsin has to offer.   It is a group of volunteers who dedicate their time and effort for everyone to enjoy events and nature around Green Lake. http://www.glakesd.com/events/list/

The first breeding nest I ever saw was several years ago on the lights of the baseball diamond in downtown Green Lake.   This year a lot of people will have that opportunity.  It seems that three of the four platform sites have attracted a breeding pair of Osprey.  Perhaps there is time for the fourth platform to welcome another pair as well.

Today we saw the Osprey pair who have taken over the Silver Creek Inlet platform along Hwy. A.  I expected a more elaborate nest.  This one looks like a few sticks were brought in and that was good enough.  Maybe they aren't finished with the nest, but she is sitting there looking like she is incubating eggs.  I will report further when they are hatched.  We have the perfect setting for such a platform on our property.  I wonder how we could make that happen.  Wouldn't it be amazing to sit on our deck and see these beautiful raptors nesting?