EUREKA!!!! I discovered how to make Franz GF buns palatable!!!!!

I have purchased Franz gluten free hamburger buns on several occasions. Unfortunately, they usually mold before I get a chance to actually eat them! I’ve stopped buying them unless I know we will use them the day of, or the day after purchase. They aren’t the most delicious buns in the world, but they are a gluten free convenience. However, they’re a bit on the dry side and I always feel like they need a keg of ketchup and a pint of water behind each bite to help them down.
Tonight, by luck, I discovered how to make them soft and completely palatable! When the burgers were almost done, I put them on the grill for about 5 minutes. When I took them off, they were surprisingly soft and moist! Who knew??!!

M

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Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom Soup…..Make it at home and can it!

For years I grew up watching my mom throw together casseroles out of whatever was on hand. The base was often cream of mushroom soup. Since Rodd is allergic to wheat, I have stopped using canned cream of mushroom soup. I found a gf version, but who can afford it???? I often make a little pot so that I can use it in recipes, but it’s so handy just to pop open a can. I decided to make my own and can it. After all……how hard can it be?????

Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 large onion (chopped….I used a food processor because I’m lazy)
1 or 2 stalks of celery (optional)
1 industrial can of evaporated milk (or whatever kind you have or like….)
2 t parsley flakes
salt & pepper (to taste)
8 cups of fresh chopped mushrooms (again, I used the food processor to chop 1/2, but didn’t like how small they were coming out so I chopped the rest the old fashioned way)
GF flour (whatever kind you like to use…..I used tapioca and brown rice)
cornstarch if desired (you can blend it with your flours for thickening)

Chop the onion and the mushrooms. I used a food processor for most of the chopping, but I did chop some of the mushrooms by hand to retain larger pieces.
mush2

mush3

Melt the butter in a large pot and add the onion. Saute the onion and when it’s translucent, add the mushrooms. Cook until soft, but not slimy. Sprinkle and stir in the flour. I started with a cup total, but ended up having to add more to gain the desired consistency. Pour in the milk and whisk it all together. Bring it to a gentle boil and thicken it up with more flour if needed. I’m going for the consistency of condensed, canned soup.
mush4

Fill sterilized jars and process in a pressure canner for prescribed time. I processed my pints for 65 minutes. Enjoy!
M

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If it died in the forest……..I’m not eating it!!!!

This has been my motto for years. I have tried different variations of wild game and had some pretty grotesque experiences. I decided years ago that I just don’t like it, and I’m not eating it. In 2007 my younger sister married an avid hunter. My brother-in-law has hunted nearly all of his life and he has a ton of experience killing, handling and cooking wild game. Over the last year I’ve been brave enough to try a few things that they’ve cooked with elk, venison, duck etc. Honestly, I’ve not gagged a single time on any of their game. So, I’ve decided to retract my opinion on wild game and give it another shot. So far, so good. Today was the first time I’ve tried preparing it completely on my own. Usually, we eat it with my sister and brother-in-law and they prepare it. My sister gave me an elk roast and decided it was time I fly solo………

Tonight, we’re having crock pot elk roast with veggies and mushroom gravy over rice. I looked around for an appropriate recipe and didn’t really find anything that grabbed me. I took several of the ideas and made up my own version. We’ll see how it turns out.

Crock Pot Elk Roast with Mushroom Gravy
1 small elk roast
1/2 onion
carrots
celery
cream of mushroom soup (I made my own)
4 tsp. onion flakes
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
beef bullion granules (That’s what I wanted to use, but I didn’t have any so I used Better Than Bullion – Chicken…..1 tsp with a 1/2 cup of boiling water)
potatoes – I used canned because it’s what I had.

To make the soup, chop fresh mushrooms into bits and saute them in a tablespoon of butter with a little chopped fresh onion. You’ll also need milk of some kind. I used evaporated canned because that’s all I had.
1

Once the onion and mushroom is sauted, sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of flour. I used 1 T of tapioca and 2 T of brown rice because my husband is allergic to wheat. Add about a teaspoon of parsley, a little salt and pepper and a crushed garlic clove. Stir to mix and add in your milk. Cook and stir until thickened to your preference. Pour in dissolved bullion and mix.

4

Chop the celery and carrots to desired size and slice the onion. I boil my carrots and celery a bit before putting it in the crock pot because sometimes it seems like they’re a little crisp yet by the time the meat it done.
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I tossed the sliced onion in the bottom, rinsed the roast and put it in, then drained and dumped the rest of the veggies in.  5

Toss the minced onion and onion powder in and then pour the mushroom concoction in on top. 6Turn the crock pot on high for about 8 hours and hope it doesn’t taste like crap!

MO

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Purging the Closet…

Well, the time has rolled around yet again when I get completely disgusted with myself for having a closet FULL of clothes that I NEVER wear. I pick them up there and there when I see a “great deal”. I buy a lot of them on eBay. I have this awful habit of buying something because it’s a great deal and I convince myself that I’ll wear it even though it’s not my style. I don’t know why I do this. Eventually, my closet is bulging with clothes that I either don’t like or don’t fit and wouldn’t wear even if they did fit! Oh dear……..

So, I had a couple of days off this week and I purged my closet. Generally, when I do this, I put all of the clothes that I don’t want into totes and tell myself I’m “saving them for my spring yard sale”. Unfortunately, the yard sale rarely comes to fruition and I end up storing totes of clothes that I don’t want or need. This round, I actually took the time to list most of them on eBay. If they all sell, even at their minimum prices, I should make around $150. Yay!!! It feels good to get that done and actually close the loop!

Selling on eBay is easy and can be a great way to turn your unwanted “stuff” into extra cash!
M

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Kayaking the Yaak River – Yaak to Whitetail Campground

We’re always looking for new places to take the kayaks out. This week, someone recommended the Yaak River. We’ve been up the Yaak before but never on the river. I’m always a little nervous to jump onto a river that I’m not familiar with, but I actually found a segment in our Northwest guide-book that covers that area. There’s only one real rapid of any size and the stretch is considered class II.

From the 3 mile junction north of Bonners Ferry, you drive east on Hwy 2. A few miles after cross the Montana line, take a left on Hwy 508. Drive roughly 24 miles to the Whitetail campground…..it’s on the right. Drop a vehicle and continue another 6ish miles to Yaak.

We asked permission to launch behind the Yaak mercantile. The people were super nice and told us to have at it.

Launching behind the Yaak mercantile…..

The river starts out deep and calm. If the water weren’t so cold there would be a ton of great places to swim along the way. The only drawback would be that the banks are steep and the property along this stretch is mostly, if not all, private.

You move along slowly for the first half of the trip. Around the halfway point, the river gets shallower and picks up speed. You’ll encounter riffles for some decent stretches in the second half. Don’t wait too late into the season or the water will become too shallow in spots.

There is a small rapid behind the Pete Creek campground. It’s a fun little place to play….nothing too serious but enough to add a little extra interest to the trip.

After passing the rapid, you float through some more gentle riffles and the river continues to move along pretty well. About 45 minutes prior to the take out you’ll hit some really slow-moving water. The river opens up into more of a little “pond” back there. Once on the other side of that it picks up again and it moves pretty well again as you approach Whitetail.

Watch that log!!!!

The entire run takes between 2 1/2 and 4 hours depending on how much you dawdle. It’s relaxing and beautiful. I recommend it! We liked it so much we did it 2 days in a row.

Happy paddling!!
M

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Yaak Convergence to Moyie Convergence – Kootenai River…..Lessons Learned

Over the last several years we have spent a fair amount of time on specific stretches of the Kootenai River. Since we bought our canoe about 5 years ago, we’ve put in at the base of the bridge at Bonners Ferry and taken out at the convergence of Deep Creek many, many times. This stretch is slow, wide, deep and gentle. It’s a few hours of leisurely floating with easy access. When we purchased our kayaks a couple of years ago we started taking them down that same stretch. Last year, we decided to try  new stretch and we put in at the convergence of the Moyie and pulled out at Deep Creek. There are a few spots on this stretch that require some pretty significant effort to maneuver through eddies but there is really no whitewater to speak of. A few riffles here and there, but they can mostly be avoided if you choose to. On the Kootenai, I have found it’s not the obvious whitewater, but the eddies that you need to be mindful of.

We had heard mixed reviews on the run from Yaak to Moyie. We have friends who did it in kayaks who said that it has some stretches that were more than they had anticipated. Someone in their party ran into a bit of trouble at the head of one of the islands. We also know people who have done it in rafts who said it was awesome. We decided that we’d give it a try.

We arrived at the launch at the Yaak convergence at around 2:15pm and began gathering the gear and getting ready to launch. We don’t normally wear our life jackets (more often than not they’re tucked back in the stern behind the seat) or use our paddle leashes because we’re comfortable with the waterways we generally traverse. Because we were not familiar with this stretch, we donned our life jackets and hooked up our leashes. We threw the camera and my cell phone in the Pelican box and tossed it on the floor of my boat. We stood on the shore together and prayed for safety and a fun day and we hit the water.

We launched around at 2:3opm and I was immediately uncomfortable. The river is moving rapidly through the launch area and it’s a little rough and there are scattered rapids. Rodd could sense my hesitation and offered that it wasn’t too late to haul to shore and drag back up to the launch. I was stubborn (stupid) and declined his offer.

We traveled on through riffles and rapidly moving water for the first half hour……then things started to slow a bit and the water flattened out.

Approaching the Leonia bridge….

At the MT/ID state line, you cross under the old Leonia bridge. The water here was pretty calm.
As you can see…..no worries…..we were enjoying the trip at this point.

After crossing under the bridge, probably less than a mile downriver, you hit what I think is the Boulder Creek convergence on the left.  This convergence is followed directly by a large island. We had discussed the run with a couple of people and I had also read up on it. The general consensus seemed to be that staying to the right of the island was the smoother way to go. If you go to Bing maps and put in these coordinates, you can see the convergence and the island. (48.624018, -116.052125) Zoom in all the way, change it from road to automatic and you can see the area well.

The area at these coordinates marks where the trouble began. There is a very strong eddy here on the right at the head of the island. We wanted to stay right of the island. The problem was that we ended up crossways in the current. We were paddling hard to get across it when Rodd got pulled into the eddy. He flipped immediately and, like a moron, I tried to turn and paddle toward him. In doing so, I immediately got sucked in and flipped as well. The water was so swift there wasn’t a thing you could do. Swimming to shore was totally out of the question. After I surfaced, the eddy actually spit me out on the left and I started getting sucked toward the whitewater on the left side of the island. Meanwhile, Rodd is still swirling in the eddy. I WAS PETRIFIED!!! I have loved the water all of my life and I have never been in a situation on the water where I felt like my life was at risk…..until yesterday.

There must be a slight drop on that left side because when I went over it, we lost sight of each other. I had my paddle leash strapped to my right wrist. My kayak was upside down and obviously full of water and it was getting sucked downstream.  One end of my paddle was jammed into the hull of my boat which was on the upstream side so I couldn’t get my paddle free of the boat……and I couldn’t get my arm free of the paddle. The leash just attaches with Velcro, but it may as well have shackled there with chains. I clawed at it but couldn’t get the Velcro loose. While horrifying, because it was pulling me downstream quickly and I couldn’t get loose of the kayak to even try to swim to shore, it was a blessing in disguise. Had I been able to loose myself from the leash my boat would have traveled on downriver without me and it was too swift to swim to shore anyway so I wouldn’t have gained anything. It’s funny the things you think about in situations like this. In the last several months I have lost about 20 lbs. I was wearing a pair of shorts from last season that are now too big. The current was literally pulling them from my body and I kept fighting to keep them from coming all the way off because I had visions of losing my boat, paddle etc and being stranded on the island and having to be rescued in my underwear!!!! Really? I’m on the verge of drowning and I’m worried about losing my shorts? Weird…….

From the time that we flipped I just kept praying that the Lord would protect us. Once we got separated I was begging God that Rodd would be safe. I was absolutely terrified because I couldn’t see him and didn’t know if he was still stuck in the eddy. The island is probably about a 1/3+ mile long and it’s quite wide. While I was being swept downstream I kept yelling for him to see if I could get a response but could hear nothing but the water around me.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, Rodd had gotten out of the eddy finally and was able to make it to shore. He was able to get enough water out of his boat to float it again. He was blowing his whistle and yelling for me but like I said, I couldn’t hear a thing but the water. He finally decided the best thing to do was to get back in his kayak and get to the tail of the island to see if he could find me.

At the tail of the island I finally was able to grab a snag that was sticking out from the bank and haul myself and my kayak to the shore. I drug my boat up to the shore and immediately sunk in what felt like quicksand. My left foot sunk about 8 inches and it started sucking my shoe off. I was able to pull my shoe out and get up onto the bank and then I ran, one shoe in hand, toward the right side of the island. I had just gotten to the other side when I saw Rodd come around the bend in his kayak. I literally dropped to my knees and thanked God for His mercy and protection. I have never been so scared of losing him. We still weren’t done yet because now I was on one side of the river and he was on the other and my boat was full of water. He had the bilge pump. By nothing short of a miracle, it was caught in his boat and he didn’t lose it. It wasn’t strapped in…..just loose on the floor of his boat. Another piece of equipment we never carry IN the boats. We usually leave it at the take-out to pump them out before we load them. On this day, we had thrown it in the bottom of Rodd’s kayak as a bit of an afterthought.

My totally swamped kayak……..It’s hard to see, but it was completely full of water. I was able to roll my kayak over and empty a bunch of the water. I then proceeded to see-saw it to try to remove most of it. Our kayaks don’t have drain plugs so it’s difficult to empty them without a bilge pump. I got enough water out to float it. Now I had to cross the current to get back over to the other side of the river. Any place you have the convergence of 2 waterways, you have an opportunity for trouble. Needless to say I was really nervous about having to cross the current.
Tail of the island………Rodd’s on the other side.

You can’t see it well in the image above,  but at the tail of the island where the river rejoins itself, it sweeps hard to the left. There was a large snag directly to my right and I couldn’t move upstream in order to merge into the current and cross gently. I hit it hard and just focused on keeping my nose pointed downstream and made it across to Rodd on the other side. We hugged and cried and thanked God that the other was alive and that neither of us had lost our boat or paddle. This area is only about halfway through the trip. I have to say, I was really nervous to get back in the kayak and finish the run. BUT, there’s no other way off the river at this point, so we checked the damage, finished pumping out my boat, collected ourselves and climbed back in.

The rest of the run was uneventful. We had a few strong eddies to work through but nothing like what we’d come through already. We pulled up on the beach at Twin Rivers at around 7pm completely exhausted.

We walked away virtually unscathed from what could have been completely disastrous. We lost half of my kayak carrier, a Dajo water bottle and Rodd’s sunglasses. Funny thing is…..all of those items are designed to float and we didn’t see any of them. I’m sure they’re long gone. I also have a couple of puncture wounds on the bottom of my left foot where I stepped on something while I was running across the tail of the island with no shoe. Rodd dug some more pieces of stick or sand or something out of them for me tonight. They’re sore, but I feel pretty thankful that a few punctures and a lost kayak carrier are the worst of it.

I did learned some valuable lessons this weekend………

  1. Life jackets save lives. Wear them……that’s what they’re designed for.
  2. Pelican boxes really do protect your gear. They’re worth every penny you pay for them. Mine saved my camera and my cell phone.
  3. Swamped kayaks are VERY HEAVY.
  4. The Kootenai River ain’t just messin’ around! It’s a powerful river not to be underestimated. It’s not so much the whitewater……it’s the undercurrents and eddies. You’ll be paddling toward what seems like calm, flat water and they boil up out of nowhere. Some of them create actual whirlpools. It’s just like a giant bathtub drain.
  5. Taking this run in a kayak is VERY different than taking this run in a raft. One of the recommendations came from someone who had rafted it. You are MUCH more vulnerable in a kayak.
  6. When your gut tells you that something isn’t the best idea you’ve ever had……take heed. It’s probably not your gut but God trying to tell you something. Listen up dummy!
  7. If you get on a waterway and are uncomfortable, get off. It’s not worth it.
  8. You can fit a 10 foot kayak in an Expedition if you need to.
  9. Helplessness is NOT a good feeling.
  10. When in a situation where you think that death is a possibility……your life doesn’t flash before your eyes. You’re thinking about things like someone finding your fat, white, bloated carcass on a beach with no shorts on. 🙂
  11. God protects us even when we do stupid things.
  12. God is in control.

There are so many details about this entire day that confirm #12………some may seem insignificant, but to me they’re not.

  1. We left the Expedition at the take-out and the Vibe at the launch. If the Vibe had been at the other end, we couldn’t have just shoved my kayak inside since we were short half a carrier.
  2. We wore our life jackets. We never do that.
  3. We used our paddle leashes. We never do that.
  4. My paddle got wedged in my kayak and kept me, my paddle and my kayak together. Had I been able to unstrap that paddle leash I’d have literally been up the creek without a paddle…..not to mention, without a boat.
  5. Had either of us gotten to shore at a different time / place we could have missed each other at the tail of the island.
  6. My Pelican box was loose on the floor of my kayak and yet didn’t get lost when I flipped.
  7. The bilge pump was loose on the floor of Rodd’s kayak and yet it didn’t get lost when he flipped.
  8. We don’t have floatation bags in our kayaks. We only have the factory inserts. We’ve talked about adding them, but have never done it. Even still, they didn’t sink.
  9. I got spit out of the eddy while Rodd got trapped in it. Had both of us been stuck in it we could have gotten tangled up together and had worse trouble.
  10. We didn’t drown. People die every year on the Kootenai. God protected us even in our stupidity.

So, if you ever think you might want to make the run from Yaak to Moyie in a kayak, be very sure that you’re aware of the nature of the Kootenai and that you are aware it’s not a leisurely float. Watch the eddies. Wear your life jacket. Use a paddle leash. I would say this is an intermediate run. Like I said, it looks like it’s mostly a calm stretch of river. In a raft, it’s very relaxing. In a kayak it’s a different story.

Safe paddling!
M

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Building the Fence……a WHOLE lot of work!!!

For a couple of years now we’ve been talking about fencing the perimeter of our property. We only have about 3/4 of an acre so we didn’t figure it was THAT big of a deal. Right? WRONG!!!! Building a fence is a REALLY BIG DEAL!!!! However, I’m tired of my plants being devastated by the deer. Where we live, unless you protect your greenery, you can kiss it good-bye. As much as I love to watch the deer at our place…….I don’t love to watch them devouring my beauty and bounty!!! So we decided this was the year.

We set a budget and headed for the lumber yard. We needed something tall enough to keep the deer out and something solid enough to keep the poultry in. As much as I would have loved to do a solid cedar fence, it was just WAY too pricey. We decided on 10′ 4×4 treated posts and 6ft field fence. In retrospect, I would not have selected the 6ft wire. I’d have gone with something taller. Oh well…….. When it’s completely finished it will have a 2×6 cedar rail at the top of the wire to prevent sagging. It will also have an additional single strand of wire at the top…..just a little extra deterrent.

At this point, we still have the cedar 2×6’s to purchase, but that may not happen until next year. We’ll see how the budget holds up. We’re in it now for around $1500. Ouch. It seems like a lot, but it should be a one time investment.

Ready for wire…..


Needed a way to attach the “stretcher” to the wire…….. You use what you’ve got.

Measure out the wire and attach our “cheezy” stretcher…..

Lay the fence out……

Now you just pray that your rope/winch don’t break and come back and shatter all of your teeth……

Progress!!!!!
We still have gates to either build or buy. We’re leaning toward build, but are yet undecided. It feels like it’s finally coming together!!!!
M

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