Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back up and running and working on some brand new things!

I have not been able to blog because I've been sick. I'm finally able to get back up and running. My apologies for being gone so long.

I'm working on some new and very exciting things. I'm bringing in some new and different products to the gift shop. One product that will be coming in are Jonathan's Spoons. I'm very excited about having Jonathan's Spoons in the gift shop. Tomorrow I'm planning on taking photos to show these and talk about them. I'm also working on some new baskets. Some of these will be for mother's day and some will be for Easter. I will have some new spa baskets in small sizes and some coffee gift baskets. I plan to provide lots more information about all of these but wanted to at least share the new things that are coming up. I will be having local maple syrup for guests to purchase as well as maple syrup to be used in baskets.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maple Cookie Recipe




Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup of dark or light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup  of maple syrup

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts


Method

1 Cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed for three minutes or until light and fluffy.

2 Add the vanilla extract and egg and mix until well incorporated. Add the maple syrup and mix until well incorporated.

3 In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the walnuts.

4 Preheat the oven to 350F. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie, about 1 inch balls, onto cookies sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 3 dozen.

 

Well, as promised, here is that awesome recipe. I have been trying various cookie recipes using both granulated maple sugar and maple syrup. This recipe is just wonderful. Please, if you do try it, let me know what you think! I would appreciate the feedback. Enjoy.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Potato Base Sourdough Starter Care and Feeding

It has occured to me that I have never shown the actual base that is use to make my sourdough bread. I've been making this bread for 30 years now. I have sold some over the years as well. One thing I have found is that it goes in cycles much like the seasons. Sometimes you can depend on it and others, it lets you down. Every once in a great while, usually in the winter, the base gets very sluggish and undependable. It becomes difficult to get a good sized loaf, let alone 3, out of a batch. When this happens, I have found the solution to be frequent feedings. Sometimes it can take almost a month to build back up. When you go to use your sourdough base to make bread it should be bubbly. If it's quiet, more than likely it will be slow to rise and your loaves won't be very big.

Today I took a couple of photos to share so that you can see what the base looks like when it comes out of the fridge, after it's been stirred and finally, right after it's been fed. If you are new to this process or just plain curious, please feel free to email or sign up on my blog. I am very happy to answer your questions and help you out if I can. Anyway, today it's all about the base, what it looks like and basic feeding and care of your sourdough base.

[caption id="attachment_438" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Sourdough Starter from the fridge before feeding"]sourdough starter just out of the fridge[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_439" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="It's always a good idea to change bowls and refresh the starter."]sourdough starter in the new bowl[/caption]

 

Potato base sourdough starter should be kept in a glass container with  a cover. I use a stoneware dutch oven. The basic rule of thumb is to only use  glass and wood. Use a wooden spoon to stir it and feed using glass containers and keep it in glass as well. It runs on a 10 day cycle. You need to feed it at least once every ten days. It needs to be kept in the refrigerator in between feedings.

[caption id="attachment_440" align="alignright" width="300" caption="These are the feeding ingredients all ready to be mixed."]everything to mix to feed the sourdough base[/caption]

 

To feed the potato base sourdough starter you need:

1 cup water

potato water or 3 Tbls. potato flakes (made from real potatoes) Hungry Jack

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

You mix this together in a glass bowl and then add it to the sourdough starter and mix it in well. Then you leave the base out on the counter with the cover cracked. After 12 hours, you can take 1 1/2 cups out to use to make your bread.

[caption id="attachment_441" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="sourdough starter beginning to bubble after being fed"]sourdough starter beginning to bubble after being fed[/caption]

I will be following up with more information regarding the making of the dough and making the bread and baking it. Please don't hestitate to email me if you have questions. northforkbanb@hughes.net  Please also leave me comments or questions.

This is a wonderful way to make bread. It can be designed to fit whatever schedule you have and you'll always have great bread on hand. It's economical too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

16 th Annual New York Maple Weekend March 19-20,26-27

North Fork Bed and Breakfast is conveniently located near many local maple producers here in St. Lawrence County. If you are interested in finding out more information you can always check out http://www.mapleweekend.com/

Sweeter Creations in Madrid,NY and the Orebed Sugar Shack in DeKalb Junction,NY are both near our B&B. You can visit http://www.orebedmaplesugarshack.com/ to see what is available and get more information about these 3rd generation maple producers. They have lots of recipes that use maple products. The maple scones and maple sugar cookies we make here at North Fork B&B use granulated maple sugar which you can purchase as well.  

maple sugar cookies

Maple syrup is great on pancakes and waffles but it is also a wonderful addition to many main meals and great fun to use in baking. If you've never tried using granulated maple sugar in baking, you owe it to yourself to get some and try it. It's delicious!

Take a trip to the Orebedmaplesugarshack and see how maple syrup,maple cream, maple candy and maple granulated sugar is made. They have a heated sugar house too so you won't need to worry about staying toasty while you experience all that maple weekend has to offer. Be sure to ask for recipes too so you'll have some new things to try when you get home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I can't believe it's snowing again! But I still love it.

Was I ever surprised this morning when I woke up and it was snowing like crazy! Big fluffy flakes and lots of them. If I hadn't been on my way to the Dr. I would have taken a picture. The trees look very pretty all snow covered. You can tell it's not going to stay around. As I returned home, it was a drizzling rain. Ah...the second day of spring!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Black Capped Chickadee


Black Capped Chickadees are found both deep within forests and at forest edges. They are also found in rural and suburan areas where there are scattered trees, old fields and parks. Their breeding season spans from early April thru mid May. In the southern part of their range, the season begins in April with the northern regions beginning in May.
Typically, the houses should be placed in yards with mature hard wood trees where there is 40-60 percent sunlight. Black-capped Chickadee houses should be mounted 5 to 15 feet high and spaced one per 10 acres with the entrance hole facing away from prevailing wind. 1 inch of wood shavings can be placed in the house.
The black capped chickadee is a friendly little bird and usually one of the first to appear when a new feeder is placed outdoors. These houses should be placed one per 10 acres. In suburban areas, one may not be able to determine this type of placement. Putting out the house is still a great idea. If the chickadee frequents your yard, they will be looking for nesting sites so it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. Sometimes, as in my own experience, other birds come and take over the house you intended for a particular type of bird. I personally don’t worry about it. I welcome which ever bird wants to use the house and thoroughly enjoy watching the nest building process, the setting, the feeding and the departure of fledgelings. No matter how you slice it, birding is great fun and a fabulous learning experience.





Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bluebird Houses


Bluebird numbers have decreased 90 percent over the past 60 years in the eastern United States. The four reasons for this are: widespread insecteside use decreasing the food supply, severe winter which have increased winter mortality, changing agricultural practices reducing nesting sites and House Sparrows competing for the remaining nesting sites making nesting more difficult.

The best way to help increase the blue bird population is to provide wooden houses for them to nest in.

Bluebird houses shoule be placed by the end of February in areas around open fields, pastures, golf courses, cemeteries, gardens and large lawns which provide excellent bluebird habitat. These areas usually provide plenty of insects to eat. Avoid areas where insecticides are used heavily.

Place houses 4 to 6 feet above the ground and 50 to 100 yards apart. Face the houses to the south or southeast, if possible. Try to select places where trees, shrubs, utility wires or fences are within 25 to 100 feet of the houses. Bluebirds use these structures for perches when feeding. These perches are also helpful to young birds during their first flights.

If houses are located near woods and brush piles, other species of birds, such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and wrens, will use the bluebird houses. These species, like the bluebird, are welcome additions to the area and should not be discouraged from using the bird house. These birds are also helpful in controlling insect populations. It may be possible to get a bluebird to nest in the same area by placing another house about 10 to 20 feet from the one the other bird is using.

Now is the time to get out there and clean out your bird houses. If you already have bluebird houses in and around your yard, they need to be cleaned out. Bluebirds won't typically nest in a house that has left over nesting from a previous year. Swallows are notorious for taking over these nesting sites. If your bird house doesn't have a proper clean out, you'll need to take the bottom off or replace it with one that does. All or our bird houses are made with vents and clean outs so the birds don't overheat in hot weather and they can easily be cleaned out.



Eastern Bluebird,Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird                                                                                    Eastern Bluebird

Bluebird numbers have decreased 90 percent over the past 60 years in the eastern United States. The four reasons for this are: widespread insecteside use decreasing the food supply, severe winter which have increased winter mortality, changing agricultural practices reducing nesting sites and House Sparrows competing for the remaining nesting sites making nesting more difficult.

The best way to help increase the blue bird population is to provide wooden houses for them to nest in.
Bluebird houses shoule be placed by the end of February in areas around open fields, pastures, golf courses, cemeteries, gardens and large lawns which provide excellent bluebird habitat. These areas usually provide plenty of insects to eat. Avoid areas where insecticides are used heavily.

Place houses 4 to 6 feet above the ground and 50 to 100 yards apart. Face the houses to the south or southeast, if possible. Try to select places where trees, shrubs, utility wires or fences are within 25 to 100 feet of the houses. Bluebirds use these structures for perches when feeding. These perches are also helpful to young birds during their first flights.

If houses are located near woods and brush piles, other species of birds, such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and wrens, will use the bluebird houses. These species, like the bluebird, are welcome additions to the area and should not be discouraged from using the bird house. These birds are also helpful in controlling insect populations. It may be possible to get a bluebird to nest in the same area by placing another house about 10 to 20 feet from the one the other bird is using.

Now is the time to get out there and clean out your bird houses. If you already have bluebird houses in and around your yard, they need to be cleaned out. Bluebirds won't typically nest in a house that has left over nesting from a previous year. Swallows are notorious for taking over these nesting sites. If your bird house doesn't have a proper clean out, you'll need to take the bottom off or replace it with one that does. All or our bird houses are made with vents and clean outs so the birds don't overheat in hot weather and they can easily be cleaned out. Purchases can be made at  www.northforkgifts.com

Bluebird house

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lip Balm Golore!

I just finished making just about all of the lip balm needed to complete the fund raising order. Tonight I made Summer Honey and  Berry Lip Balm. Making this is great fun! Everyone seems to really love my lip balm so that makes it even better. Tonigt I'll make the rest and get them all labeled and sealed with shrink wrap.