Gathering Wood

So when we first moved into our current house, we found that it had a woodstove and a large pile of unused firewood out in the shed. The landlord said to help ourselves to it and that he would help us gather more wood for the next year the following spring. Well now it that following spring! So a couple weeks ago we went out to gather firewood. We had a really stormy winter and some trees had come down on the property, so we started with those.

The fallen tree stump

 

Here’s a pic of them running the hydraulic wood splitter. That thing was POWERFUL! There’s also a video of it right below the pic.

 

This didn’t keep my attention for very long so I wandered off to find some plants to look at. I took more pics than this, but between rough terrain and a dog, most of them came out blurry!

Such a dainty little flower. And hard to spot hanging down like that!

I made a mental mark of where this salmon berry bush was growing. Yum!

These leaves were HUGE and just begging me to take a close up of their veins.

Got a selfie next to the huge leaves.

 

By the time I got back they’d made some great progress!

Two or three more trees and we’ll be set for next winter!

 

That was about half of what we got from the first tree. At this point our landlord wanted to go to the next tree and get it set up. So he turned over control of the hydraulic press to me! That was a blast. Watching it just chomp through the wood. Things were going good and I was feeling pretty cool.

 

And then it got stuck! The guys tried to have it chomp through a really big (and apparently tough) piece of wood. We tried everything, hit it (with numerous different things), kick it, try and run the machine through it again and again. NOTHING WORKED! Finally our landlord got back and he had the idea to saw off some of the extra. Even the chain saw had trouble with this log! It was a beast! He finally got through it and the machine was able to split it at that point. Eventually they moved on to the second tree and I went back to the house to get dinner going.

We got a really good amount of wood out of those two trees. Way more than I realized we would. And I felt pretty dang cool that we got our own heat for the winter.

 

 

 

Onigiri

I LOVE onigiri. They are cute, portable, easy to make, and tasty! Don’t know what on earth I’m talking about? Keep reading below to learn more.

Onigiri are a traditional Japanese food. They are made by forming sticky white rice (the stuff you would use for sushi) into a triangle shape and often includes a filling. Onigiri date back to at least the 11th-century and writings from the 17th-century describe samurai carrying onigiri in bamboo sheaths as a quick lunch during war. Today they can be found in many supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan.

Those of us here in the States will probably have to resort to making our own though. You can use just about any filling so long as it isn’t too wet, otherwise the rice will fall apart. My favorite is this tuna soboro with ginger. Yum!

So I’ve been telling you a little about onigiri, but I haven’t shown you how to make it. So let’s get to it!

First start by cooking about a cup of “sushi” rice. The best way I’ve found to cook any and all rice is to cook it like pasta. Add WAY more water than you need, then once it is boiling, add in the rice. Cook until the rice is done, then strain off the extra water. Your rice will come out perfect every time.

Now gather your supplies. You will need:

Bowl of water (just big enough to dip your palms in)

cooked sushi rice

filling of choice

I also have a plate here to put the finished onigiri on.

 

Next, dip your hands in the water and shake of the excess. This is to keep the rice from sticking to your hands, but you don’t want them too wet or the rice will fall apart. Then, grab a small amount of rice and flatten it out in the palm of your hand. Don’t worry about grabbing too much or too little, you can easily break some off or add more if you need to.

 

See how my hands are just a bit wet? Only enough to have a shine to them.

 

Now plop about a teaspoon of filling in the center. You can adjust the amount so that is looks good to you.

I may or may not have eaten a spoonful of filling before getting to this step.

 

Now take some more rice and flatten it out a bit and put it on top of the filling. Use just enough to mostly cover things up.

It looks like a total mess at this point.

 

You are almost there! Now shape the filling until it looks all prettified. I wasn’t able to get a video of this part, but I will try and get one up soon.

Lovely!

 

Here’s what I had after about 10 minutes of work (honestly it probably wasn’t even that long).

A plate of cute tastiness!

 

At this point you can either warp them in nori or not. I choose to leave them unwrapped and just dive right in.

Yum!

 

So there you go. These are super easy to make, are very filling, and delicious! I like to serve them for lunch with a bowl of miso soup (video recipe soon!) and a side salad.

 

Leeks!

I love cooking fresh. Chopping the veggies and making something yummy out of them. Some of the freshest things to me are leeks. They look so bright and pretty, they smell fresh, they taste fresh! And as much as I like them whole I really love how they look all chopped up.

See!

Look at those pretty colors!

The little neat rows and in the darker parts you get a really pretty variegation.

 

I told my husband that if green had a smell it would be leeks. Is that odd? I think of smells for colors. I can’t be the only one.

Here’s where all those lovelies ended up.

Just look at the pretty in the center and ignore my dirty dishes.

 

It’s a vegan dashi broth. No I’m not vegan. But I can’t find fish flakes I’m happy with, so I make this broth. And it is SUPER tasty. Serve it hot with a few fresh chopped green onions, some cubed tofu, and a generous amount of miso paste. YUM!

Here’s the full recipe for the broth, it is so super easy. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

http://marymakesdinner.typepad.com/marymakesdinner/2013/02/how-to-make-vegan-dashi.html

La Maison Bakery and Cafe

There is this great little bakery and cafe in Newport, OR that I absolutely love. Their baked goods are to die for, and everything I’ve ever gotten off the menu has been wonderful. Simon and I had stopped in a few times just to grab some of their pastries before we finally stopped in for breakfast (we are also not morning people so it was a while before we were awake at the right time!). We both ordered the Salmon Benedict and chatted away in the cute little cafe. How could you not be happy in such a nice place.

Told you it was cute!

I wish I had thought to take some pictures of the food, but it all looked and smelled so good that it was gone before I knew what happened. First they brought out a little bowl of sliced banana, hazelnuts, a dash of cream, and some brown sugar sprinkled on top. It is amazing how good something so simple can be. Then the Salmon Benedict came out. Ooohhh it was good. Everything was cooked perfectly, and the sauce was just the right amount of spice and tang. It was gone so fast! I also had a wonderful black tea called Marco Polo. It was fruity and floral and so so good. 

The second time we went it was for lunch and I was just as happy about everything. I had the Mediterranean sandwich and I actually managed to take a picture before I devoured it!

I’m hungry just looking at it.

I could go on and on about how good their food is and how much I love their pastries, but I’ll spare you. But if you ever do make it to Newport, OR you will want to check this place out. And if you want to eat there, I highly recommend making reservations. If you want to check out their menu and see some more pics check out their website.

http://www.lamaisoncafe.com/