Thursday, November 19, 2015

Life at 20 below

It seems too early in the winter for these temperatures, feels more like December or January. Life at minus 20*F moves slowly, everything takes at least twice as long. Luckily we don't have to be anywhere in any kind of a hurry so we can enjoy indoor projects and catch up with books by the fire, and time for blogging...

This thermometer is on the outhouse, so it's a pretty accurate reading. It came with the place when Tom bought it and we love the caption at the bottom "If you don't think hell freezes over, you've never been to Alaska". Looks like it's 25 below today.

If you want to go anywhere in the truck you better plug it in  for at least 45 minutes to heat up the oil pan (if the cord bends enough to uncoil), then start the engine, then wait another 15 minutes before you go - oh yes, we're late already, again. And the seats are hard as rock and don't imagine it's warm inside the cab yet.

Icicles are opaque in this temp

My eyelashes freeze, my eyes water and lets not even talk about runny noses!

We become good wood-stackers. It's important to pile as much wood as possible close to the fire, the last thing you want is to run out to the woodshed first thing in the morning while you're still in your jammies.

There's plenty of time to observe the subtleties of life below zero. It's very still, the birds are quiet, neighborhood dogs are curled up indoors, nobody is out whooping it up on a snow machine, the strings of prayer flags droop low, ice on the lake makes an occasional boom as it thickens, the snow is dry and squeaky making it hard to sneak up on anyone. The kettle is always on the stove and we drink gallons of peppermint tea and Bengal Spice tea, the constant steam helps to keep our skin from cracking, there's a chapstick in every pocket too. It doesn't matter if there's ice on the bedroom windows, we have great big fluffy down comforters and soft flannel sheets to snuggle up in and my favorite teddybear hot water bottle to warm up my feet. In fact, that's a good idea, let's just go to bed!

                                          The good news is that you can use the kitchen floor as a fridge!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sunshine in every jar

Brrr, it's too cold to go outside so it's time to catch up!

At 20 below we need some remembrance of summers gone by and a reminder that warm seasons may come again.
A treasure hunting trip to the root cellar rewards us with an abundance of home grown goodness to choose from.

Chances are good that we'll grab a jar of some kind of rhubarb concoction, it's not just for pies you know! Rhubarb salsa is my favorite, then we've got jams and marmalades, drunken rhubarb in vodka and a beer jam that wasn't a great experiment (better to just drink the beer!). My Grandma's recipe for Piccalilli is down there too, bringing traditions across the seas to unsuspecting palates.

Rhubarb Salsa
I love putting food in jars, especially if I can incorporate something from the garden or the woods. It's been fun thinking up new recipes for our guests, we often put out my jams on the breakfast table at Fireweed Station. The requests for another piece of toast to try a different flavor are a good sign that I'm doing something right! The Friday Fairview farmers market has also been a good outlet for my creativity, high-bush cranberry & strawberry jam is a top seller. I'm looking forward to the first edibles next spring, any volunteers for spruce tip jelly?

As the song says, when you pop a lid in the deep dark winter, it's like a little bit of sunshine in every jar.