Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finally, A Bit Of Preserving

Since we are still getting situated here in North Idaho, I have had a tough time doing my usual harvesting and preserving activities. I guess we did pick some blueberries earlier this month that we froze. However, I didn't get around to making the blueberry jam that I was hoping can for holiday gifts. I also still want to make a bunch of dill pickles-which reminds me, I need to call someone about cukes tomorrow (jotting down note on paper).

Well, the other day at the Wednesday Sandpoint Farmers market we came across a pleasant surprise. There was a vendor selling local no spray peaches. A 25lb box only cost $15. That's pretty good up in these parts. We bought one box with the intention of canning some for winter. Tonight we finally got around to it. Still, it was no picnic. The hardest part was finding the pressure cooker in storage (the water bath pot was no where to be seen-as were our extra jars), figuring out the extra cooking time for higher elevation, and battling the limits of our tiny one room apartment. But with a little work, we came out successful. Below are some highlights.

The peaches cooking. I used a water-slight sugar solution. Next time I want to use some local apple juice (or my own) for the syrup solution.

KIA getting in on the fun, She actually got a hold of one and mashed it up right well.

The Pits. I don't know what to do with these things. I've tried composting them, but the take forever to biodegrade. I may change my name to Peter Peachpit and go around planting them.

I did have one casualty. When I removed the lid of the pressure canner, the peach floating around reminded me of an orange carp in A Japanese pond-well maybe with all of the metal more like a goldfish that was surviving in the sewer after being flushed.

And finally, the finished products-with a few fresh peaches to spare.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quick Update

Thank you all for your well-wishings with KIA. She seemed to come through fine. I'm sure with the rest and the "super" nutrients she received in the breast milk pulled her through. However, Monday night I came down with perhaps the same nasty virus. 6 hours of throwing-up is not fun. I'm fairly weak right now (I haven't eaten anything but a couple crackers) so my mental ability is bad. Be back soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Baby Vibrations?

Friday night one of those things happened. You know an act of coincidence, that perhaps was not as adventitious as it seemed.

It all started when we decided to go see Michael Moore's Sicko at the Panida, a wonderful community theatre here in town. We have a friend that works in the projection room that said we could be his guest for the evening. The offer was too good to decline. We figured, or at least hoped, that KIA would be okay with the darkness. Our attempt to take her to a children's play of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a couple months ago went horribly wrong. The minute all of the lights went out she freaked out. She just sucked in her lips and looked terrified, her big blue eyes like saucers. The breast wouldn't even calm her. I wasn't able to see Charlie inherit the factory nor stay for the refreshments afterwards, which I'm sure included chocolate. Babies spoil a lot of endings.

Anyhow, as for Sicko, the darkness didn't bother her. She looked at the screen for a bit and then fell asleep nursing. I thought all was well, but Moh claimed KIA wasn't feeling well. Her illness seemed to peak when a segment came on about a mother being told she needed to take her child, that was running a 104 fever, to another hospital where her insurance would be accepted. The mother became angry when the hospital did not treat her daughter and was removed. By the time she arrived at the other hospital her child was having seizures, and well, didn't make it. This was the time that Moh took KIA into the lobby. I quickly followed. That was when KIA started vomiting. Not the spit-up kind, but projectile. Her temperature seemed high as well.

Shit. We were in the middle of watching a movie about medical horror stories and here our child is throwing-up. I wasn't going to take her to the hospital, that was for certain. None of us currently have any insurance, the last couple of trips to the doctor have been out of pocket. We ended up driving to Safeway to buy a thermometer to take KIA's temp. The result was 101, which is high but not dangerous. I went back in and picked up a bottle of infant acetaminophen. I'm not extremely hip on the product, but I do use it when a fever gets above 101. Removing her shirt didn't seem to be doing the trick.

We ended up heading home with a very unhappy baby. She remained fussy the entire night, waking frequently to be held or nursed. Saturday night was even worse. She barely could keep anything down and then the diarrhea kicked in. Today has been a little better, but she still won't eat solids and the diarrhea is continuing. Hopefully tomorrow she will be on the upswing.

Still the whole experience was a bit surreal. It was almost as though KIA was picking up on the movie. Perhaps she's more sensitive than she seems.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Food For The Soul

The whole reason for this post occurred about a week ago. Moh, KIA, and I all took a walk down to the ski village the other evening. I had eaten a few hours before so I thought that perhaps a cup of coffee and a piece of pie would be a wonderful way to top off the evening. To our surprise, we found that the workers were setting up an outdoor, blow-up movie screen. Wow, a free movie in the village. There aren't a whole lot of free things up here. The movie they were showing was Cars. I hadn't seen the movie, nor had much interest to, but it seemed like fun. One of the restaurants had some tables off to the side where one could sit and order dinner. Great, I could get my coffee and pie after all. We sat down and several minutes later our waitress arrived and I ordered my coffee. However they had no pie, but a triple berry (raspberries, blueberries, and huckleberries) shortcake sounded excellent. However after a couple more minutes the cold wind coming over the mountain gave us the chills. KIA was especially cold. We decided to duck into the building and enjoy the food inside. When the food arrived I must say I was impressed. The shortcake was amazing-complete with a hearty serving of real whip cream. The bill, on the other hand, was a bit much (almost $7.00 for the shortcake). We didn't stay for the movie either. Maybe next time. I think it's Monty Python's Holy Grail this week.

A couple days later, after feeling a bit depressed for a variety of reasons, I decided an attempt to recreate the shortcake. After all, for me sweet treats made with butter, cream, and fresh fruit really helps ones soul. We had just been blueberry picking so we had over 8 liters to spare. I also had a few huckleberries that I picked just above our apartment. The result? Perhaps not as gourmet as Chimney Rock's shortcake, but still pretty damn good. They all got eaten at any rate. Here's the lowdown:

For the Shortcake
3 C flour (I used WW pastry)
3 T sugar
1.5 T Baking Powder
.75 t salt
12 T butter
1.5 C cream-milk mixture depending on the richness desired
1.5 t vanilla

*Mix dry ingredients together. Mix in butter with a fork or pastry cutter.
*Mix together wet ingredients. Add to dry and stir with a fork until just combined.
*Spoon the batter onto a baking stone and place in a preheated 425F oven. It should make 9-10 shortcakes.
*Bake for about 20 minutes

For the Berries
5 C mixed berries
4 T sugar

*Add berries to a pan with perhaps a bit of water and the sugar. Cook until the berries are a desired softness (You be the judge).
* Chill

For the Whipped Cream
1.5 cream
2 T sugar
.75 t vanilla

*You know, whip the cream.

Yum. I really like these. I add a little bit of goat milk when I eat these because I like my shortcakes a bit moist. I'm ready for strawberry shortcake now. There is someone at farmers market that still has strawberries. What a wacky growing season.

Me in the blueberry patch

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Should I be Paranoid?

Well the past couple weeks I have been searching Craigslist for a new crib (and hopefully one that will convert to a toddler bed). KIA finally outgrew her Amby Baby because she was too limited on movement in it. The last few nights she has been co-sleeping with us, but I am not very hip on the idea. I feel that I constantly waking up to make sure that I am not rolling over on her. She also moves around a lot. She does this thing where she will be half-awake crying or sobbing and crawl around in circles until she gets comfortable or whatever and then goes back to sleep.

So anyhow, a crib is on the shopping list. We want one that doesn't have paint or large amounts of stain and coatings, nor do I want to spend like $300 on a crib like some people feel they deserve for their used crib. There is also the used mattress theory. Of course a new mattress contains a barrage of chemicals like flame retardants and roach killers.

So what is a parent to do? There are all natural organic mattresses that cost close to $300, but that seems excessive. We sleep on an all natural (not organic) futon mattress. I thought if I could get one made that is crib size that would be an answer. And if I don't end up finding a crib on Craigslist or the Nickel Nik classified papers, we'll just buy this crib from IKEA. I think I was on the Canadian IKEA site this time, I believe it costs $159 here in the states. Anyhow, I had no idea I would be this concerned over KIA's sleeping area. I guess becoming a parent makes one more concerned or paranoid-however you look at it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Busy, Busy

And I vowed to not let another absence occur. Honestly things have been a bit chaotic up here. The good news is I finally found the VW TDI that I wanted. I purchased a Golf a couple weeks ago and am very eager to run it on biodiesel. Because it was in an accident several years ago I got it under blue book value, which is hard with these TDI's. Also the sellers were moving back to Poland so they were motivated sellers. Since it is a newer VW I don't need to do any converting, just change the fuel filter frequently at first. It may need some new fuel lines because I guess over time biodiesel degrades rubber hoses and tubing. The guys at Grease works in Corvallis have a wealth of info. I only wish that I had a diesel when I lived in Corvallis so I could have had them do the kit installations (I don't know crap about cars).
The New Set of Wheels

I did run the Golf on B20 from Missoula, but starting next week I'll be running it on B99. The best things about these new TDI's is the low emissions and high gas mileage. It's an automatic, but I'll still get well over 40mpg.
I guess KIA digs the new wheels as well

Another thing that kept me from posting was a virus I caught. At first I thought that it was food poisoning because it came on so fast, but then all of my muscles started hurting and I came down with a high fever. I ended up sweating so much that I became dehydrated. I fainted once coming back from the bathroom and when I went to the doctor (somewhat reluctantly because I have no insurance), my blood pressure was so low they wanted to hospitalize me and hook me up to an IV. Yikes. I opted for drinking a ton of water and electrolytes and staying in bed two days reading the new Harry Potter. I guess it worked because I seem better.

Some more of my time has been spent job hunting. I've applied for a few jobs (a couple even with benefits), but we'll have to see. I'm also debating on whether to apply for a job in Coeur D'Alene which is a little drive (45 minutes), but decent work is definitely limited.

The rest of my time has been spent running after KIA. She has started dragging herself around the house. She also seems to take a keen interest in the things she shouldn't have. Funny how they do that.

I guess I'll keep this post as brief as possible. And yes I really am going to try and keep up with this Blog. I really miss it.