Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekend at the Cabin

Hello everyone,

As soon as Halloween is over and the kids are all home working on making their dentist rich... Me and the hounds will be heading to the cabin. Hope to get some hunting in. I'll update on the weekend next week.

Happy Halloween to everyone.


Log Cabin Woman Cooks: Halloween Chili Contest

UPDATE: I WON 3RD PLACE! I honestly didn't expect to even place. I won a gas card. There were far too many entries to even taste. Everything that I tasted was absolutely fantastic.

I'm entering a chili contest today, and of course, I made it for dinner on Wednesday evening as a test run with lots of leftovers to take to the cabin. I'm not expecting to win the contest, but I'll let you know how I did. This is a recipe that is easy to modify for your tastes and is kid friendly. You can halve this recipe to fit into a 3qt. Crock-pot. The original recipe was from Taste of Home, but I've changed it so much, the original recipe is unrecognizeable. This is a fantastic recipe for the cabin, it can be put together in the morning and be ready for a hot dinner after a day of fishing. This is great to eat while putting together a puzzle.

Deluxe Pizza Chili with extra Pepperoni

1 lb. of ground beef
1 lb. of italian sausage (sweet or hot)
2-16oz. cans of kidney beans, drained
2-15oz. cans of pizza sauce
2-14 1/2 oz. cans of Italian stewed tomatoes
2-8oz. cans of tomato sauce
3 cups of water
1-16oz. stick of pepperoni, sliced thickly
1 t. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper

Brown ground beef and Italian sausage in a large pan, drain. Put drained beef/Italian sausage into 6qt. Crock-pot with remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 3 hours. Serve with shredded mozzarella, parmesan cheese and garlic bread. Here are a few other things that can be added to your taste, fresh mushrooms, garlic, black or green olives.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Peninsula Life

Life on the peninsula is as great as it gets. Our log cabin was the first cabin on the lake. It is almost 3/4 acre with 566ft. of frontage. Our front door faces West. The sun rises in the back of the peninsula, where the bedrooms are, and sets in the front. Our lake is in a valley, there is no cell service here, and barely any TV. The OnStar in my car does work, but we do have a land line in the cabin. It is generally much cooler on the peninsula, sometimes as much as 10F from our neighbors. The wind runs right across our place, making it feel cooler on hot days. We are one of the lowest cabins on our lake, meaning closer to the water. Many of our neighbors are up on the hill that makes the valley. They have steps going down to the water. We are on a hill, but not near as steep as some of our neighbors. Where the road ends, our property begins, there is no turn-around.

The peninsula

Our front yard

Side yard

Back yard

Entrance to our peninsula

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Bill!

a.k.a. 'Mr. Wonderful'. Are y'all gonna puke yet? Here is Bill with Cleo and his fishing boat. If he could wax his boat, he would. Bill is all fishing, all the time, especially ice fishing, it's his favorite. We have our own fishing village in front of the cabin when the ice comes in. He also likes to birdhunt. He has a bow, but isn't going to bow hunt this year. Actually, I think that he just likes to be out in the woods, with me and without me. Oh, he has this fishing shirt that says, "I fish because I can't hear my wife from the boat." Hmmmm, should I buy some walkie-talkies? Luckily, I have a good sense of humor. If you know of any good fishing websites or blogs, let me know.

I'd also like to give a shout out to Shelley and her husband over at they are celebrating a wedding anniversary today. Happy Anniversary! If it wasn't for Shelley not minding me shadowing her for about a week, I'd have never figured this blog stuff out. Thanks Shelley!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Preparing Food for Hunting or Fishing Camp

When my husband takes his buddies up to our place for hunting or fishing camp, I like to pre-prepare some items so that they can be more focused on being buddies than on cooking duties. Some of his buddies and their wives are FANTASTIC cooks and like to make things also. Here is a meal that I prepared yesterday, here 'downstate', but I prepared it as if I were prepping ahead of time for hunting or fishing camp. First, here is a recipe for beef stew from Better Homes and Gardens 1989 New Cook Book. This happens to be my second favorite beef stew recipe. My first is for a recipe that can be made in the crockpot. This one is just as easy to throw together, but is cooked on the stove. Here is some recipe shorthand, capitol T's are Tablespoons. Small t's are teaspoons. C's are cups.

Beef Stew (stovetop) - I double this recipe in an 8qt. stock pot.
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 lb. beef stew meat
2 T. cooking oil
3 1/2 C. vegetable juice cocktail
2 t. beef bouillon granules (I use 2 t. beef soup base)
1/2 C. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. dried basil, crushed
1/2 t. dried thyme, crushed
2 1/4 C. potatoes, cut-up (I leave the skins on)
2 C. sliced carrots
1 C. sliced celery

Here is where I have to change the directions to be transported 'up north' for cooking.

Put the beef stew meat in a container that can be sealed, put flour into a small plastic bag/seal and put on top of the stew meat. Seal these 2 items together.

In another container, combine onion, garlic, bouillon granules, basil and thyme. Seal this container.

In another container, combine the sliced carrots and celery, add water to cover. Seal this container.

In another container, put in the cut-up raw potato, add water to cover. Seal this container.
Put these containers in a large paper bag with a large jug of vegetable juice concentrate and drop the instructions in the paper bag. Fold this bag up and put into the fridge. The pictures above make a lot more sense.

Here are the cooking instructions that I give to Bill for this recipe.

- Add the flour to the stew meat, seal container and shake.
- Heat 2T. of cooking oil in the 8 qt. stock pot. Add a few pieces of flour coated meat to the stock pot, brown on all sides, remove the meat to a bowl.
- After all meat is browned, return all of the meat to the stock pot.
- Add 3 1/2 C. of the vegetable juice cocktail.
- Add the container with the onion, garlic, bouillon granules, basil and thyme
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Drain the water from the carrot, celery and potato containers and add the drained vegetables to the stock pot.
- Cover and simmer for 30 more minutes.
- Serve in bowls with bread and butter.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Dogs

Denise told you all that I would post about our dogs. Our first dog was a German Shorthaired Pointer. We got him from our friends Shawn and Tracy, who had bred their GSPs. We got him in the summer of '94. He was this little liver and white colored pup. We named him Caesar, keeping with a biblical theme. His mom and dad were Samson and Delilah. Caesar was very busy pup as most GSPs are. He ate our couch once, luckly it was a forty year old couch from my mother in laws basement. Having no money at the time, we fixed the couch as best we could and used it for many more years.

If you have ever read the book Marley and Me, there are many simularities that it was scary.

As he got older, Caesar turned into a very realiable watch dog, hunting partner and friend. Where ever I was he had to be. In the field I did not have to give him verbal commands. He would stop and look at me and I would simply point the direction I wanted him to go and he would go that direction. The last bird he kicked up was a ring necked pheasant which my friend shot.

Our beloved hunting dog, Caesar. May you Rest in Peace big dog!

We had been wanting to get a female GSP. Denise had been looking on when she found this white with liver ticking female GSP. She called the Hillsdale County dog pound and inquired about Stella. This was the name they gave her. They told Denise that she had kennel cough but was being treated. Denise kept tract of Stella over the next few weeks. The weekend of Denise's birthday I called the pound and asked about Stella and was told that she was ready to be adopted. I told them I was on my way.

When I arrived at the pound they took me back to the kennel they let me take her out to the play yard. She was not interested in playing, than she started coughing. I advised the worker that I was told she was not sick anymore and wanted to know why she was still coughing. She told me that a volunteer had taken her for a walk and she was not supposed to. Well I could not leave this dog there. She was sick and emaciated, she only weighed maybe 40lbs. I signed the paperwork, loaded her up in the truck and brought her home. She coughed all the way home. We decided to change her name to Cleopatera, after all you cannot have Caesar without Cleopatera.

We did our best to keep Caesar away so he did not get sick. On the following Monday Denise took Cleo to our Vet. Who got upset with us for bringing a sick dog home. He put her on stronger antibiotics and she did very well. I knew she was feeling better when one morning when I had taken her out to go potty at 5:30 a.m. she spotted a rabbit and the chase was on. Cleo chasing the rabbit and me chasing Cleo down the street, around the corner and back through the alley ending back in our yard. I got her inside and as I honestly thought my lungs where coming out of my chest as I informed Denise that she was all better. Cleo since then has been healthy. She is definitely a pack animal and always has to be near you. When we are at the cabin it is squirrels and chipmunks all day and all night. She never wanders off the property and she loves going in the field with me. She is the princess of the cabin.

Cleopatra lounging around at the cabin.

And last but not least, Brittany the PITA (pain in the A**) poodle. Denise got Brit before we started dating. As our realationship grew and I spent more time with Denise, Brit would not leave me alone. I would sit down and she would pester me endlessly. She would not come when you called her and when you tried to corral her it became a game of tag and we always seemed to be it. One time when we were dog sitting Brit the neighbor kids were playing with her and Caesar in the backyard. Than there was knock on the door. It was one of the kids telling me that there was "something coming out of your dogs butt". I went out to investigate and ended up pulling a intact wash cloth out of her backside. I felt like a magician who was doing a very bad trick (look theres nothing up my sleeve). Brit did like eating everything and anything. it was always interesting cleaning up the doggie landmines because you never knew what you were going to find. She loved eating aluminum foil.

When Denise and I bought our house in Wyandotte. I told Denise that Brit should stay with her Mom so her Mom would not be lonely. This strategy worked for several years. When Mom moved to Florida to take care of her parents we got Brit back. She had calmed down but was still crazy. I know it sounds like I didn't like Brit but I did she was good and loving dog just crazy. Mom and me agreed that the breeder saw Denise coming and gave her the brain damaged pup.

Brittany the CRAZY Standard Poodle. She's waiting at the Rainbow Bridge. Rest in Peace, Brittany Blaze!

We now have Cleo and having been keeping my brothers dog Louie. He is a Weimaraner, also know as the gray ghost. My brother had a house fire in March and they are still in an apartment so we have been watching Louie since. He loves going up north and loves to swim out in the lake and chase the geese. He comes when you call him and he, like Cleom stays on the property, most of the time.

This last July 4th weekend we were at the cabin and we decided to take the dogs for a walk. We had them on leases. There is a ravine about half way around the lake. We let the dogs off the leases and Louie took off down the ravine. I heard a splash and he was gone. We called and called and could not find him. We started searching with no luck. We asked neighbors if they had seen him, they had not. As it was getting dark we called off the search. I tossed and turned that night worrying about Louie and how I was going to tell my brother and his family that his dog was missing. The next morning I went and asked our neighbor across the lake if I could walk his property. He and another neighbor own a lot of land on the north side of the lake he said yes and gave me a ride around the property. I than took cleo and we went Louie hunting to no avail. I went back to the cabin and we made up fliers. We posted them at the corner store, the gas station and the Elbow Lake bar. After we left the bar I decided we should drive north on Athey Road to look. We asked a couple of people if they had seen him and they had. They said they tried to get him but he would not come to them. We drove up the road a little more and I looked to left and saw these eyes staring at me from the front porch of a house. It was Louie. He was scared of me at first but then realized who I was. The lady of the house came around and said that he laid down and he seemed freindly enough and she figured someone would coming looking for him. We loaded him up and took him back to the cabin. Thankfully he has not done that since.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker's

No red heads, you say? That is because these youngster's were my first brood of the season this year. I've had 2 broods of Red-headed woodpecker's on my property, twice in the last 4 years. The other years, I've only had one brood. The years that I have had 2 broods, juvenile RHWO's have shown up at our place during the winter and got started right away with their broods earlier in the spring. They have a favorite Maple snag on our property. Red-headed woodpecker's are on a severe decline, but they are going strong on our property and around our lake. They happen to be my FAVORITE bird, and woodpecker's, in general, are my favorite birds. My husband also bought me a red-headed woodpecker painting from a local wildlife artist, Nancy Byrum, that I LOVE and happily have displayed. In fact, I like all things red-headed woodpecker. I'll eventually show some of my other RHWO stuff. I belong to a birding group that affectionately knows me as the lady with the red-headed woodpecker's. :)

You can see a smidge of red around the eye on the RHWO on the left. I've got to tell you. When they are juvie's like's like giving keys to a fast sportscar to a 16 year old on their birthday. They are reckless and don't pay attention to what they are doing. Silly birds! :)

This is a terrible photograph of this beautiful painting by Nancy Byrum. When you see it in person, the colors are extraordinary! Do not copy this photograph or any photographs on this blog, thank you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Dry Well" aka "Kitchen Basin"

Soon after we bought our cabin, in fact the first day, we discovered that our kitchen sink drained excrutiatingly slowly. We had no idea where the kitchen sink actually drained to and we actually feared that it may run directly into the lake...but, we were lucky, it did not. We knew that it couldn't possibly run to the septic, because it is on the opposite end of the house, physically impossible. My husband is very handy, so we elected to not having a home inspection prior to buying our cabin. We knew what to expect and Bill can do the majority of the work, so this was his first major project at the cabin.

Here is a series of photographs when my husband and his brother replaced our old 'Dry Well' with a new one. The septic guy calls them 'Kitchen Basins' or 'Kitchen Septic'. It does the same thing that our regular septic tank does. Due to the location of our kitchen sink, it does not drain to our regular septic tank for several reasons. 1. It never has. 2. There isn't any way to get the proper pitch or angles that would allow it to drain into our septic tank. We are on a slab, not over a crawl space. 3. The only way that our kitchen sink could feasibly go to our septic, is with a pump under the sink that would pump the 'gray' water up into the attic, pitch down at a steep angle and drain into our septic. Not only is the cost prohibitive, it would require unsightly plumbing and it totally grosses me out to think that if there were ever a leak in the attic, it would drip or worse yet, pour greasy icky water onto my ceilings. If anyone has a better solution without revamping the entire septic system, let me know. This was the only solution that we thought was available. In this first photo, this is the original cast iron angle that comes out past the house and makes a sharp turn toward the dry well. This is 4" cast iron and in excellent shape. My husbands plan was to follow this pipe to whereever it ended.

That hot guy on the right, you know, the pale one??? LOL He is my dear digger husband, Bill. The guy on the left is my brother-in-law. This is where they had dug up the yard to the old 50 gallon drum in the front yard. Just after this pic was taken, they lifted the lid off of the 50 gallon drum which shredded in their hands.

Here is the PVC pipe that was attached to the 4" cast iron. This pipe had drain holes all over it and tree roots and grease had taken up the majority of the pipe. They had to cut the tree roots away from the pipe with an axe. This was the only way to get the pipe out of the ground. Really gross, eh? In the mean time, I had called the septic pumper out and they pumped the old 'dry well' out and also the septic tank.

This was after they removed the old 55 gallon drum and started digging to put in the new 'dry well'. The PVC pipe there is new and does not have drainage holes. My husband did put in a clean out so that it can be pumped and cleaned without digging again. In fact, he said that he would NEVER do this his lifetime. This was really hard work for the 2 of them.

Here is Bill fitting the new 55 gallon drum. The hole would eventually become approx. 6-7ft. deep. There are 1" holes for drainage and is seated on and backfilled with river rock. My husband also put copper rods in the drum to discourage tree roots from entering the drum and PVC drainage pipe. The septic guy also recommended putting a cinder block in the bottom to help prevent frost heave or collapse. The entire thing was covered with hay, a thick layer of topsoil and another layer of hay. Unless someone told you, you would never know what the small hump is in the yard. Having a 'natural' front yard, we have lots of humps and slopes anyway. We were thrilled that we were able to fix the sink problem and also know that we weren't destroying the environment by dumping gray water into the lake.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Well, I can't believe the first recipe that I am putting up is from Martha Stewart. This is probably the only Martha recipe that I have in my collection. Just in time for pumpkin carving with the kids, here goes!

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds.
Pumpkin seeds must be completely dried out in the oven before combining with spices. Whether for cooking or carving, choose an unblemished pumpkin that feels heavy for its size; it will store well, uncarved, at room temperature, for up to a month.
Makes 1 cup
1 medium pumpkin
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut pumpkin open from the bottom, removing seeds with a long-handled spoon. Separate flesh from seeds. Pumpkin should yield 1 cup seeds. Spread seeds on an ungreased cookie sheet in an even layer. Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let cool.

In a medium bowl combine 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne. Heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook until sugar melts and pumpkin seeds begin to caramelize, about 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer to bowl with spices, and stir well to coat. Let cool. These may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Since all recipes need some sort of adjustment for my limited cabin kitchen, I omit the cumin, I don't have any. And, I use a full 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. These are a great Fall treat at the cabin.

Let me introduce you to Cleopatra, Queen of the Cabin. She is our German Shorthaired Pointer. Technically, she is a 'bird dog'. But, she is not very 'birdy', good thing or my bird feeders would never get a rest! She prefers 'prey' that is on the ground including Chipmunks, Squirrels, Rabbits. But, she is a FREAK over Chipmunks. Sometimes I call her Chippy Girl. I give her a lot of pet names. She loves to kiss and snuggle up. Bill and I rescued her, and we believe her to be about 8 years old. I'll let Bill tell you more about Cleo and our beloved Caesar, Bill's best friend and hunting companion, who passed on to the Rainbow Bridge last year.

Log Cabin Woman Cooks!

...gardens, cans, takes hikes and other various activities. But, I do love to cook and I have a quick and easy recipe that I'm going to put up later this afternoon that is just perfect for Fall and Halloween and sitting around a campfire or snuggling up under a down blanket on the couch. So, go grab your favorite recipes and join me for a Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seed snack. I'll post the recipe and some pics later this afternoon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A quick peek inside

I'm heading up north early tomorrow morning, but I thought I'd share a quick photo of our stone fireplace just after we bought the cabin. The fireplace is SOLID rock, which were split to give you the illusion of identical sides. Most of the stone is granite, some marble and other various fieldstone. The part that you cannot see is the actual arch in the fireplace that I'll show at a later date with pic's that we have after temporarily pulling the insert out to clean and maintain it. The opening in the fireplace itself, is approximately 3-4 ft. deep and about 3 ft. high at the middle of the arch. It has the original custom cast iron floor. This is one HUGE fireplace. The insert is an 'Earth Stove' Heat-O-Lator (sp?). This is our main source of heat in the winter. The 'mantle' portion, if you'd like to call it that, is solid concrete - painted black. It is approximately 3ft. deep. The deer head came with the cabin :) We call him 'Bob'. You can tell by his mount that he was custom sized to fit in this space. I'm not sure how old the curtains were, but they shredded when I tried to wash them, very dry-rotted. My Mom made us new curtains that you will see in future photographs. Every window in the cabin are original 1948, except for the 2 front windows. The windows that you see on either side of the fireplace are original. They are single pane 8 lights made of cedar...yes, I said cedar window's, probably why they have lasted 60 years. They are in need of replacement, but that will happen over time. Anyway, anyone know how to clean the grout between the stones on the fireplace? I'd really like to know!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Peak: A walk around the lake

Last weekend was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and in the 70's on this peak fall weekend! Bill and I took a walk around the lake. While taking the trail between our road and the road on the other side of the lake, we spotted a young doe that had not caught our scent. She got within 20ft. of us before she caught a glimpse of us and headed into the tall brush. As we left the trail and onto the road, here she came with her Mom and another young doe in toe. Mom gave the signal and they ran across the road, but not before I got a couple of pictures. Here are some pictures from our walk around our small lake, which is only about 1 1/2 miles.

A trail into the woods.

Below is a photo of the backside of our pensinsula.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How we found our cabin

July of 2004, Denise and I took a weekend trip up north to look for a weekend get away. We stayed in Harrison and picked up the local real estate books and went looking for a place. We looked at a couple places around Lake George and Shingle Lake. Denise saw a listing for a cabin on small lake about 17 miles north of Harrison. We went and drove past the cabin. It looked like a nice enough place but we decided not to stop. As we drove out to the main road to head back to Harrison we saw a couple more for sale signs on the next road over, so we drove down the road. There was blue cabin for sale. We got out and looked around and we really liked the cabin and the property. We then drove down to the end of the road and there sat this red log cabin. It was on a penisula. We got out and looked around, it was love at first sight. There was a Common Loon fishing right in front of the cabin. I told Denise that I did not care what we had to do but I wanted this little red cabin on the penisula.

We contacted the realtor and got a walk through of both cabins. Once again, the blue cabin was very nice but we absolutely had fallen in love with the log cabin. We figured out the finances and put a bid on the red log cabin. The bid was accepted and the cabin was ours.

Over the last four years we have enjoyed our piece of heaven on earth. And we look forward to many more years. We hope that you enjoy reading about our endeavors around the area.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

WELCOME! This site is under construction as of 10/14/2008. Come back soon to see our 1940's vintage log cabin and our getaway on a small lake in central-northern Michigan! If you like getting away from it all - even for a moment, grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy in our musings of lake cabin life.