~ For people who are passionate about respecting the earth, walking in nature, observing wildlife, local diet, making do, repurposing, organic gardening, foraging for wild plants and fungi, natural health, scrumptious healthy cooking, renovations, DIY, crafting, raising children simply and mindfully, taking time for stillness, and living in harmony with the seasons.
If you like basil you’ll love pesto! This is a highly concentrated sauce that can be added to many dishes for burst of flavor. I often add pesto to homemade pasta, salmon and on my poached eggs. Although traditionally, pesto is made from basil leaves, I’ve also seen pesto at the farmers markets, made from cilantro, arugula and dandelion leaves.
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons grated pecorino romano cheese
2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put basil and salt into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process briefly, then add garlic, pine nuts and both cheeses. With the machine still running, pour in the oil in a thin, steady stream and process until well incorporated.
Serve pesto over hot, cooked pasta or salmon and serve! Enjoy!
Yesterday was the last day of summer and I thought I’d honor the turning of the wheel and say good bye to the passing season with a few photos:
Goodbye to spontaneous wild flower arrangements in tin cans…
Goodbye to long, luxurious breakfasts on the patio…
Goodbye to butterfly visitors…
…encounters with little brown bats…
…and hard-working bees…
Goodbye to the dramatic storms, hail, tornado watches and booming thunder…
Goodbye to freshly picked herbs and medicinal teas…
…and goodbye to glasses of chilled white wine after a long day’s work in the blazing sun.
This has been another memorable and productive summer at cabinorganic! Thank you for sharing in my adventures and I look forward to many more projects, recipes, moments of wonder and adventures to come!
Need a great recipe for those yummy wild edible mushrooms? Here’s a standard recipe from my kitchen taken from the Rice and Risotto: Cooking with the World’s Best-Loved Grain by Christine Ingram.
1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms, preferably porcini
1-1/2 cups warm water
3-1/2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced (or any other fresh mushroom)
juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 cup risotto rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh herb, to garnish
Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl with the warm water. Soak them for at least 40 minutes, then lift them out and rinse them thoroughly. Filter the soaking water through a strainer lined with kitchen paper and pour into a saucepan. Add the stock to the pan and bring to a simmering point.
Toss the button mushrooms with the lemon juice in a bowl. Melt a third of the butter in another saucepan and fry the button mushrooms until they give up their juices and begin to brown. Stir in the parsley, cook for 30 minutes more, then transfer to a bowl.
Heat the olive oil and half the remaining butter in the saucepan and fry the onion until soft. Add the rice and stir constantly, so that the grains are evenly coated in the oil.
Stir in all of the mushrooms, add the wine and cook over medium heat until it has been absorbed. Add the hot stock, a ladle at a time, making sure each has been absorbed before adding more. When all of the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan and the seasoning. Cover the pan and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes before serving. Note: if rice still feels hard, add more liquid and allow to cook until done. Enjoy!
Ingram, C. (1999). Rice and Risotto: Cooking with the World’s Best-Loved Grain. London: Lorenz Books.
I first discovered this recipe in an old Martha Stewart Living magazine 16 years ago and have been making these regularly ever since. A favorite here at cabinorganic, these are easy and quick to make, and can be served with either breakfast, brunch or dinner. Latkes are a great way to enjoy those potatoes freshly dug from the garden!
Latkes (Potato Pancakes)
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes (or 4 small), peeled and coarsely grated
2 large eggs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green onions or a handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
canola oil for frying
Mix together the grated potato, eggs, onion, green onion (or chives) and salt and pepper to taste.
In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat about 4 tablespoons of oil until hot. Drop one heaping tablespoon of the mixture into the pan and flatten with spoon. Continue until the pan is full of latkes. Cook until golden brown and then flip over and cook other side until it is also golden brown. Continue with the rest of the potato mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Transfer latkes to a warm baking sheet and keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.
Enjoy with sour cream, apple sauce or ketchup. I always make a full batch because they are just as good warmed up later for a snack!
The final piece of the whole deck restoration puzzle is the reading deck. This space is located just outside of the dining room windows/door and it is a favorite spot to sit in the cool of the early mornings with a steaming mug of tea, facing east to watch the rising sun. In spring and fall, you can also see the glistening blue lake through the trees. As this part of the deck gets full sun from morning to mid-afternoon, it is the perfect spot to curl up with a good book (one of my favorite activities) during the cooler months. It is also a covered deck so Lucy and I sit out here during storms to enjoy the thunder and rain.
Here is a ‘before’ shot from inside of the cabin, taken last winter.
And here is the staining in progress. What a difference the darker stain makes, adding a crisp contrast to the rest of the cabin. I also scrubbed and sealed the deck floor and stained all of the window frames with the same dark stain.
The fun part was setting up the reading space. I did not buy anything new here but do plan on adding more pots of flowers for next year. This is a great time to buy pots as they are usually on sale this time of year.
Here is another ‘after’ shot of the reading deck taken from inside the cabin.
I also stained the entire front stairs. Here is a peek at the ‘before’ shot:
And ‘after’, looking so much cleaner and well-cared for.
Here is a ‘before’ shot of the entire front of the cabin: before staining the rails, stairs and window frames; before scrubbing and sealing the deck floor; before building the trellis on the patio (left) and covering up the open space with more trellis; before fixing the railing at the Zen deck and rearranging the stones near the patio. It doesn’t look too bad but the deck rails and stairs were very faded and didn’t stand out very much. Here are a few shots of how the cabin looks today. I am so pleased at how much better it looks!
My second summer has passed spent lovingly and patiently restoring the cabin. I thought this project would take a week at the most but with the spontaneous additions, repairs and rainy weather it ended up taking the entire summer! I am so grateful to B for his help and expertise!
Next year, I plan on sealing the concrete with a warm color, adding many more pots of flowers and planting a few more trees and shrubs in the front yard. I would also like to paint the green door and metal window frame a deep cranberry red.
Until then, this deck looks a whole lot better now. Not only does it adds some curb appeal and makes the cabin looked well-cared for, but the deck is now better protected from the weather. I look forward to many more projects and spending the days ahead here at cabinorganic!
There is a quiet spot on the deck, above the herb and tea garden and tucked away behind the front porch. Until now, this space was very neglected and never, ever used or visited. As B and I had been spending the summer staining, repairing and restoring the entire front deck, we finally came upon this little area and are very pleased with how the project turned out!
The ‘before’ photographs below were taken in June. The defining feature of this part of the deck is this sweet little bench built around a tree, but the tree was so over grown that it made the bench inaccessible and it also made the space feel very crowded. This is a shady spot and the tree continually drops leaves and berries, covering the deck floor which was stained almost black in color.
This is the master bedroom window. The window frame was stained the same color as the cabin and didn’t really stand out. The two bottom logs of the cabin were also black with mold (I had scrubbed off what I could before taking this picture).
There was a curious opening in the deck rails. I was told by the previous owner that they had planned on putting a hot tub out in the woods there. There is also this ‘look-out’ area at the far end where the deck rails had never been finished and many of the slats were missing.
Just beyond the look-out are some stairs leading down the to basement walkout door. It didn’t make sense to close this off so we decided to make some changes here in order to make this space inviting and connected to the rest of the cabin and woods.
While B got to work fixing the railing, I began staining the front deck rails just above the herb and tea garden (and planter) which lead to this part of the deck.
B closed up the opening with new railing and added the missing slats while I followed him with my can of stain…
Next, B removed the railing at the ‘look out’ and built three wooden stairs that connect with the stone stairs leading down to the back door.
Note: We will be moving the eavestrough so that it runs below the stairs but this will also involve digging a small trench so that we can extend the pipe about six feet to where the ground slopes away from the cabin.
I pruned the overgrown tree- which, by the way, turned out to be a chokecherry tree (and I have since made two batches of chokecherry jelly– recipes will be posted soon!). I stained the bench with the same black brown stain as the rails and now it really stands out as a focal point now.
I also scrubbed (and scrubbed and scrubbed) the entire deck floor by hand with the stiffest scouring brushes and pads I could find. The deck looked quite black, but when it was wet it was actually green… Moss? Algae? I scrubbed it until I could see the original wood again and then sealed it with a clear sealant. The deck floor is so much easier to sweep and keep clean, and it is quite satisfying to see the water bead up on the deck floor now whenever it rains instead of being soaked up by the wood.
I also stained the window frame and now the window looks sharp and crisp against the cedar cabin.
This is a very hidden, private and quiet part of the deck, surrounded by trees and in deep shade. I decided to make this a ‘Zen deck’- a place for peaceful retreat, for quiet work, or simply a place to reflect and contemplate. I found the perfect cast iron bistro set (at Canadian Tire) that has a bamboo pattern. I found the Buddha at Polly Maggo’s on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton. It is actually a water fountain and I will set it up once I find the right bowl for him to sit on. The blue ceramic garden stool that the Buddha is sitting on was purchased at Pier1 Imports.
Here is a what the Zen deck looks like now. I have added pots of shade-loving plants and just last week found a square red umbrella at Jysk. I love sitting out here, especially when it’s raining and I can sit under the umbrella and enjoy the peace of the woods.
Here is a view from the front of the cabin. As you can see, it is very dark and private.
And so another neglected, uninviting space has been turned into a new favorite place to spend quality time. I eat my breakfasts in the deep shade of this deck when it is too hot to eat on the patio, I blog and write here, and I also come here to simply sip tea and sit in solitude.
Next year, I plan on adding many more pots of ferns and other shade-loving plants in various sizes. I want to work on a painting on hang on the bare wall to the left of the window. I would like to add some hanging baskets to the tall rails and landscape the area along the stairs leading down to the back door. For now, I will enjoy watching the trees change to a golden yellow from the comfort of the Zen deck.
Last Saturday I spent a fun and informative day learning to identify edible wild mushrooms at the Devonian Botanical Garden, just half an hour from where I live. I am fascinated by mushrooms and have spent the past two summers observing and slowly learning about the different mushrooms growing in the woods and fields around the cabin.
So far, I have only tried eating a few wild varieties, mainly gem-studded puffballs (above) and shaggy parasols (below) as they are very easy to identify. The course on Saturday was really helpful as we got to foray with expert, Mike Schulz, and sample our findings with confidence.
The course took all day (with an hour lunch break) and included classroom lectures and an afternoon foray.
At the end of the day, we cooked and tasted our findings in the kitchen. It was interesting to sample the various tastes and textures of the different wild mushrooms found on the foray. Honey mushrooms were my personal favorite (crisp with a burst of intense flavor), followed by shaggy manes (firm with a milder flavor).
Many participants (including myself) brought a variety of wild mushrooms from home for Mike to identify and it was fun to see the variety of samples.
Once again, a fun and informative day spent both in the classroom and out in the gardens. This course runs three times per year and focuses on fall, spring and summer edible mushrooms. I do feel a lot more confident now in identifying the local edible mushrooms in my backyard and I look forward to more learning adventures at the Devonian Botanical Gardens!
Do you remember this restoration project from last spring? Below is the extreme ‘before’ shot of this little promising patch of garden in the front yard taken last May. I spent a week lovingly moving stones, enriching the soil and planting a variety of perennial herbs and teas.
Here is another view of the ‘before’ stage. Please note the old, weathered stain on the deck and pay particular attention to the open area where the top of the garden meets the deck…Here is an ‘after’ shot taken last May. I had the garden all finished and planted but notice the deck and the open space at the top of the garden still needed to be addressed. Also, notice how the color of the old stain seems to blend in and downplay the beautiful deck…
This past summer as I was making my way around the huge deck with my paintbrush and can of stain, B asked me what I was planning on doing with this big, empty, unproductive space? I told him that I’d eventually like to build a planter box there for mint. While I continued staining, he instantly began working on it… B leveled the soil and then built this beautiful planter box mainly out of scraps and repurposed wood from the shed.
Once the planter box was finished he decided to take it a step further and address the empty space under the deck with some of the left over trellis from the patio project…
I love how clean this area looks now and notice the that by this time I had caught up with staining the deck in this area.
Here is another angle. The dark stain on the deck rails is a really nice contrast to the wood grain of the cabin. Instead of blending in it pops right out and frames the view quite nicely. Next year, I’d like to add a few large bright red clay pots in a variety of sizes to the concrete area for a splash of color.
Once again, here is another ‘after’ shot. As I write this, the planter is now bursting with peppermint that is waiting to be harvested and dried for peppermint tea. What was once a neglected, uninspiring spot in the garden is now productive and beautiful and adds to the ‘curb appeal’ of the cabin. The best part is that the new additions look as though they have always been there!
Stay tuned to see a neglected corner of deck turned into what I like to call, my restful Zen deck…