allagash

watching the allagash transform

Seasonal changes are one of the most rewarding aspects of my job as a forester. There is always change of some sort, even in the dead of winter when ice is cracking and forming on the lakes and ponds nearby. I spent a lot of time on the ice this winter, pulling in way too many smelt to be beneficial (to my fiancé who had the pleasure of cleaning them all), various other cuties, and even a few slobby lake trout.

But much more than fishing on water, I like to watch it. At least twice per week, I get to enjoy the spectacular view of Umsaskis Lake, part of the chain of lakes in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, which runs through the property I manage, wending its way north to the border of Maine and Canada. There is so much history along the Allagash, most of which has all but become erased with the passage of time.

allagashallagashallagashFebruary 16, February 19, February 26

I’ve been capturing this same image with regularity for over a year and a half. It’s on my weekly drive to and from work. It seems funny to be taking the same picture over and over in order to document change; where’s the change in that? But I see the change every time I take a new photo. The first hint of green in the hardwoods along the banks. The fog obstructing the view of Priestly Mountain in the distance. The first snow, the first ice on the river, the rare times when the thoroughfare is nearly iced over. The ice flowing downstream in the spring. And repeat.

Currently, I’m reading a book written by a woman who lived along Umsaskis in the 1930s, My Life in the Maine Woods by Annette Jackson. She was the wife of a game warden, and together with their growing family they spent several years living along the Allagash. Back then, the inhabitants along the shore had telephone lines, and could call their neighbors easily. Nowadays, most of those structures are long gone, and the shoreline has been designated a wilderness area, working hand in hand with Time to obliterate the traces of history that linger on every bank and shore. More ironic, my office just a few miles down the road now uses satellite phones that I have come to believe are much less reliable, and much more of a hassle, than the wired lines of the past.

allagashallagashallagashMarch 11, March 16, March 17

Managers of the AWW – State of Maine employees – emphasize the supposed wildness of the Allagash:

There are no permanent human residents in this area, and visitors show respect and care by leaving the fewest possible signs of their presence.

I think it’s crucial to remember who came before us. People made their lives along this river. Their time has passed, and their traces are all but gone. But memories of them live on.

There used to be a schoolhouse on this lake. A ferry. A bunkhouse “large enough to accommodate a couple of hundred men.” Mail delivery. Annette Jackson’s cabin on Umsaskis was originally built in 1913 as a 15′ x 17′ children’s playhouse, though they renovated and added on, and had a snug home filled with the same comforts I enjoy in my cabin today, albeit minus any internet (a mixed blessing, let’s be honest). They had a radio, and salt pork, and all the fish they could catch for dinner steps outside their door. They had warmth and love, friendship, and when they wanted it (this is my favorite part), “such up-to-the-minute tunes as ‘Oh! Them Golden Slippers.'”

How bout dem slippers?

And three more recent shots, with the most recent (April 6th) being the image at the top of the page.

allagashallagashallagashMarch 23, March 30, April 2

no-knead swedish tea ring, and arizona

swedish tea ring

So it’s funny. The last recipe that I intended to write about was a cinnamon bun recipe, featuring a coffee glaze. I forgot about it, and it long ago rotted in the hallowed back halls of this blog. I just discovered it today, when I felt a drive to bring you this significant cinnamon bun tea ring featuring a coffee glaze.

What can I say, I’m good with repetitive patterns.

swedish tea ring

Food is great, but let’s quick get to the recipe so that I can tell you about all the things of actual factual importance that I’ve had going on as of late. This dough is kickass because you let it sit around in your fridge while you pet your cat, and dance to pop music with 5-pound weights flailing about, and peer out your window at the frigid temps whilst deciding that today is a good day to stay in your jammies.

No kneading! There’s cardamom in the dough, and a filling of cinnamon, a bit more cardamom, and chopped up almonds. Topping this majesty is a coffee glaze to which I added a bit of espresso powder. The more the merrier says this usually anti-coffee consumer.

Swedish Tea Ring — Vetekrans

Adapted from Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. Great it is, it is great.

2 packages active dry yeast
1 c. warm water, 105F to 115F
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. sugar
3 slightly beaten eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
4 to 4 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 c. almonds, chopped

For the glaze:

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp hot coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp espresso powder

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar, let stand 5 minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, salt, cardamom, and 4 cups of flour until combined. Cover and stick in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours. Proceed to party.

Turn dough onto floured surface and roll to a 20- to 24-inch square. Spread softened butter across dough. Top with a mix of the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Sprinkle almonds over sugar. Roll up jelly roll-style.

Grease a baking sheet and place roll on it, shaping into a ring or an oval depending on the size of your pan. Pinch ends together to close circle. With scissors, cut almost through the ring at 1″ intervals. Turn each piece so the cut side is exposed. Let rise until almost doubled.

Heat oven to 375F. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Mix glaze ingredients, top tea right while hot. Serve with coffee because that is what the Goddess Beatrice recommends.

swedish tea ring

So let’s get to the real magic, my life.

After much hesitation and embarrassment surrounding an in-person purchase, I bought One Direction’s first three albums online and have been devouring them nonstop all week. I mean nonstop, too, cause when they’re not on the CD player they’re on in my head. I think it’s a sickness. Like Eli said, it’s too bad I never get sick of the music I listen to – though I normally try to think of this as a gift, I fully understand his position.

one direction
Love the clever pre-teen who pretended to sign the booklet, then added humorous commentary.

Speaking of Eli – we’re engaged! Yeah!!

[oops, hold on, I have to restart my One Direction CD.]

treasure huntringy ring

Eli made a treasure hunt for me in our garage, which ended in a ring hidden in some dirty old sneakers. What a babein’ dude. Treasure hunts and mind games have long been drilled into me as the most enjoyable way to give gifts, so it’s bitchin that he’s not only risen to the occasion, but has also taken it next level. This second picture is more for me than for you, because my ring has been at the jeweler’s in Portland getting LAAASER WELDED for omg two weeks at this point, and I’ve pretty much forgotten what it looks like (pretty!) and feels like (nice!) and sounds like (…silence) and tastes like (love).

Moving on. We spent the holidays in Arizona with my parents, but I made a mess of everything by nearly blinding myself, and spent the remainder of the vacation with my eyes closed, pitifully asking “any food left on my plate?” and sitting around feeling like an invalid, being led from Points A to B, wearing old person sunglasses, pretending my other senses were growing sharper (which they weren’t).

Still, when I had the gift of sight, it was a really beautiful place. Really really beautiful, I can’t stress enough how glad I am that we were able to go. Warm sun, a buttload of cactus, all kinds of purty birds, and tasty Mexican food, plus I got to go biking on my last day which was ironic and cathartic all in one, given that I originally blinded myself while prepping to go biking.

Enjoy a few photos from our trip – again, these are more for me than for you:)

Damn, I miss that sun.

cactuscactuscactuscactuscactusvistacactusfamilypotbikesrock paper scissorsmmmmmvista

summer salad pie

summer salad pie

In May, I had my first surgery. It was minor, but it was not. I suppose it wouldn’t really be surgery if it was merely something minor, but really, it was quite minor. I spent many long moments post-laparoscopy melodramatically contemplating my mortality. That kind of thinking got me nowhere except dullsville, waist-deep in chocolate bars and pop tarts.

I feel better now. I’m still on the mend somewhat, but I’m alright. Summer has been beautiful up here. Warm and sunny and everything you hope for in the one season where you don’t need to wear a winter hat (or bonnet, as the locals would say). This past weekend, I cooked and baked for the first time in godknowshowlong. It was nice. I made a minty grasshopper pie. We cooked up a buttload of foraged mushrooms. We had vino and alfredo-y pasta, my fave. And I made this,….. this thing.

summer salad pie

This here is a gelatin salad nimbly resting in a cheese pie shell, topped unceremoniously with a tuna salad heavy to celery. The gelatin itself is of the lemon persuasion – mixed with tomato sauce – and is chockablock with onions, olives, and more celery.

And that’s really all you need to know, because any more would probably be incriminating.

If 1960s style cuisine gets you pumped, this is for you. Put on your best apron, don your pearls, set your hair in rollers, and get ready to finely dine on deep dish gelatin and tuna.

summer salad pie

Summer Salad Pie
Recipe adapted slightly from Betty Crocker’s Dinner in a Dish Cook Book © 1965

“Pretty as can be”: serves 6-8

Cheese Pie Shell

1 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. + 1 tbsp shortening
1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 tbsp ice water

Heat oven to 475 F. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening thoroughly. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle water gradually over mixture, 1 tbsp at a time, tossing lightly with a fork after each addition (if dough appears dry, a few drops water may be added). Gather dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to 1″ larger than a 9″ pie pan. Ease into pan; flute edges of dough and prick with fork all over. Bake 8-10 minutes; cool.

Gelatin Salad

1 pkg. (3 oz) lemon gelatin
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Few drops each
Worcestershire sauce
and Tabasco
Dash pepper
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1/4 c. chopped onion

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in tomato sauce, vinegar, and seasonings. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold in celery, olives, and onion. Pour into cooler Cheese Pie Shell. Chill thoroughly.

Tuna Salad

1 can (5 – 6.5 oz) tuna, drained
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp minced onion or scallions
1 c. diced celery
Salt
Paprika
Mayonnaise

Lightly mix tuna, lemon juice, onion, and celery. Season with salt and paprika to taste. Chill. Just before serving, drain and mix in just enough mayonnaise to thoroughly coat salad. Spoon on top of chilled gelatin salad. Serve.

If I’ve done one thing this summer, it’s read more than my share of dated romance novels. They’re all quite aggravating, and it’s hard to accept that they’re so blantantly anti-woman and yet all penned by women. Did these ladies have no self respect? This particular diatribe doesn’t sound much like me, I must have changed during my post-surgical convalescence. To make up for my unexpected feminist thoughts, I continue to blast through these books.

romancey

We traveled down to Windham, NY, which is on the edge of the Catskills, to watch a world cup downhill mountain bike race. It was one of the most wildly exciting octane-fueled weekends I’ve ever experienced. I was starstruck and could not stop grinning like a crazy person for three days straight. It was a blast, and I hope we can make it to some of the other sanctioned races someday, which take place all over the globe (Norway? Austria? France?!).

There were other events at Windham, including cross country races and a pump track showcase showdown. Bikes are nothing but fun. It’s been a slow summer in the sense that I’ve been limited to spectating, but I was reunited with my mountain bike for the first time in over three months last weekend, and I was nearly as overjoyed by that as I was at the chance to stand next to my favorite downhill shredder, who happened to be shirtless, while at Windham.

windham

pump track

A few weeks ago, I had nine active logging jobs. Things have cooled down a bit since then, because that was over the top and ridiculous. Speaking of over the top, the wood is piling up, just like the pulpwood you see here. This might be the tallest stack I’ve seen yet.

pulp

Lastly, my multiple gardens are in full force. Lilies and plenty of other good stuff in the flower beds, with datura about to bloom next week. Scallions + kale + black radishes, along with greens, peas, tomatoes, carrots and beans in my veg garden. It’s been a top shelf summer.

veglily and skull