Buzz’s Newest Obsession

At last, the first post and beam house is completed!ūüėÄ ¬†We are still waiting for the lawn to come in, and the wire for the deck railings hasn’t arrived yet, but the interior is completed and it’s been added to¬†website with a page of it’s own.

In September 2015, I made the mistake of showing Buzz, the man responsible for dreaming up and constructing the rental spaces at the Stone Quarry House, a documentary about a relatively inexperienced young man building his own tiny house. ¬†At the time, Buzz was experiencing a bout with the flu and feeling miserable, and I thought this might cheer him up – after all, he was such a better builder than this young man and it’s nice to feel superior when you are feeling down. ¬†Only a few minutes into the show, I realized my mistake. ¬†“I can do better than this!” – his competitive juices were stoked!

Buzz sat down and drew up plans for his own ‘tiny’ house, which for the sake of building codes is probably a ‘small’ house, rather than a ‘tiny’ house. ¬†But that is all for the good for our guests. ¬†Those extra feet allow for efficient use of space without the cramped feeling of an RV.

Buzz is¬†so excited about the idea that he has brought in other local friends, landowners and investors, and started a new business building ‘Tiny Timbers’ post and beam houses of his design – and he is collaborating with¬†a local architect to make the drawings ‘official’. ¬†Now that he has plans to build at least forty Tiny Timbers homes in Varna and Ithaca, I think I won’t have to worry about any new building projects here at the Stone Quarry House for some time!

It’s tough to decide which of the spaces I like the best – often it’s the newest one and I am very fond of this one. ¬†Buzz wants to give up the main house and move in there! ¬†I like all of the spaces, and I hope you’ll get a chance to try them all too and let us know which is best for you.ūüėČ

Rhubarb Season

IMG_0957.JPGAs rhubarb comes into season here in upstate New York, and lemons go out of season in Florida, I am leaning toward making rhubarb juice and including it instead of lemon juice in my morning tonic.  I canned rhubarb juice about three years ago, but my then college age daughter and her friends discovered how good it is in cocktails, and it vanished!

There are wonderful rhubarb recipes online, not all highly sweetened – this morning I was drooling over, the recipes in three blogs: Sheeats.ca, LocalKitchenblog.com and PunkDomestics.com. ¬†Dried rhubarb as an additive to last month’s recipe for tiger nut granola . . . I want it!

I checked the nutritional information as best I could – I could only find unsweetened rhubarb with pulp included, but it is a good source of vitamin C (although lemon juice is perhaps 8 times a better). It does have iron (only 3%, but lemon juice has none), 10 times as much calcium, and 5 times as much Vitamin A.

I only have two rhubarb plants, but I know folks with way more than they think they want. Maybe I’ll make a deal with them to harvest and process theirs, and give them a share of the products. Maybe next year, they will want to join in a work party making rhubarb juice (super easy with a steam juicer), dried rhubarb, and just canning or freezing it for adding to apple sauce, crisps, ice cream, etc. later in the year. ¬†I might try facto-fermenting it, or making rhubarb chutney . . . since I’m eating low-carb, I want to avoid the sugar, but it adds a nice tang to other fruits . . . obviously, I’m excited!

As soon as I get the newest addition to the Stone Quarry House furnished ¬†(I should probably blog about that, and get some photos up here too) I’m out to the garden and into the kitchen for some rhubarb goodness.

Grain-free Granola Update

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It’s been over 16 months that I’ve been eating grain-free and I recently found a couple really good grain-free granola recipes I thought I’d share, since my last post was also granola related. ¬† My web designer told me tigernut granola was the best food she had eaten in years. ¬†She is also eating grain-free, so maybe our standards are low, but I think anyone would like these!

The recipes are from the blog, Beyond The Bite, by Gabriella Schneider.

Tigernuts are little tubers that folks say gave us much of our nutrition way back in Paleo days. ¬†They are small, about the size of a marble, so I’m really glad I don’t have to farm¬†them. ¬†They are hard, very fibrous, and¬†a little bit sweet.

Tigernut Fruit Granola (Gabriella’s Feb. 18, 2015 blog post) ¬†is really my favorite. [Although I don’t use banana chips. ¬†I just add more fruits. ¬†One could add some nuts too.]

TIGERNUT GRANOLA
(Makes 4 Cups)
Ingredients

1 cup whole tigernuts (2 cups ground)
1 cup unsweetened banana chips
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup coconut oil ‚Äď melted
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt

Process

Place tigernuts in a bowl, cover with water, and allow to soak anywhere from 6-12 hours.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Once soaked, drain tigernuts and place in a food processor with the banana chips, pulsing until broken up into small pieces.
Transfer tigernut mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in shredded coconut and sea salt.
Melt coconut oil and pour into the mixing bowl, a long with the vanilla and maple syrup, stirring the mixture together with a spatula until evenly coated.
Scoop tigernut granola mixture onto the lined baking sheet, spread out evenly with the back of your spatula, and place the sheet in the preheated oven to bake for 35-40 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the granola to cool completely before mixing with the currents, and storing in a mason jar either in the pantry or fridge.

 

Sweet Cinnamon Tigernut Granola 

Ingredients

1 cup whole tigernuts
2 cups shredded sweet potato
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated palm shortening
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup dried blueberries

Process

Place tigernuts in a small mason jar, cover with cold water, and allow to soak anywhere from 6-48 hours (the longer, the softer and more ‚Äúplump‚ÄĚ they will become ‚Äď if soaking 48 hrs, change water at 24 hours)
Once the tigernuts have soaked, shred your sweet potato in a food processor, and transfer to a mixing bowl for later use.
Switch the shredder blade to the ‚Äús‚ÄĚ blade, and pulverize the soaked tigernuts until chopped up.
Add the sweet potato back in and pulse a few times until everything is combined.
Pour the mixture back into the mixing bowl and fold in the cinnamon, sea salt, and blueberries.
Add in the applesauce and melted non-hydrogenated palm shortening, and mix until well combined.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Transfer the mixture to a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly to all four corners of the sheet.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven up to 400 degrees, and bake for 7 more minutes until brown and crisp around the edges.
Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, then transfer to a mason jar and eat as desired.

Notes:

I used freeze dried sour cherries instead of blueberries, but I’ve also made it with freeze dried pears, strawberries, and apples. ¬†Dates would be good too.

You could substitute coconut oil for the palm shortening Рand make sure your palm shortening is certified sustainable if you decide to use it.  The use of palm shortening in processed foods is creating  environmental havoc in some tropical regions.

A couple of warnings – The first time I made this recipe I used tiger nuts from a one pound package and didn’t think about sorting them for quality. ¬† I liked it so much,¬†I bought tiger nuts in bulk. ¬†When it came to making the next batch of granola, I sorting through them carefully to make sure none had any ‘bug damage’. ¬†That took a while, and I did discard a few of the tigernuts – much as when one is cooking potatoes, one has to look for spots in the potatoes to remove. ¬†I don’t know if the first batch was¬†pre-sorted or if I ate those bits that I excluded from the second batch, but both batches tasted fine.

Finally, be advised, if your body isn’t used to difficult to digest ‘resistant’ starch, which is a great pre-biotic food, you might want to build up slowly, if you eat a really big serving, which will be tempting, ¬†you may find that you are clearing the room at inopportune moments!ūüėČ

Hestia’s Granola

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We don’t serve breakfast here, but maybe I should start stocking the cottages with this granola. ¬†It’s so good!

Inspired by The Big Fat Surprise, by Nina Teicholz and Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taube, by Buzz and I started a low carb eating plan in mid-December – yes, just before the holidays! ¬†A friend has had wonderful results with low carb eating, and we’d like to see if mild inflammatory symptoms change (a a few pounds drop off) by avoiding grains and sweeteners, which seems like it won’t do us any harm.

So this granola is off-limits for us right now. ¬†But we were assigned to provide¬†breakfast for an out-of-town extended-family gathering. ¬†I remembered how much we’ve enjoyed this granola in the past and I decided it would be an easy food to transport. ¬†My granddaughter and I made a couple of batches, leaving us with plenty to give as gifts. ¬†It does have many ingredients, but its the best granola I’ve ever had, and there is plenty of flexibility in the recipe. ¬†I thought you might want to try it too . . .

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Hestia’s Granola

6 cups Rolled Oats

5 cups Grain flakes (anything that can be flaked; I made it with more rolled oats so it would be gluten free)

5 cups Nuts (I used 2 cups pecans, 1 cup cashews, 2 cups walnuts and 1 cup hazelnuts – all roughly chopped)

1 cup Sesame seeds

1 cup Flax seeds

1 cup Sunflower seeds, raw

1 cup Pumpkin seeds

1 cup Coconut shreds or flakes

3 and 1/2 cups Maple syrup or honey (I used equal amounts of both)

2 cups Oil (I used Green Pastures Blue Breeze coconut oil/ghee, but I’ve also used local squash seed oil and grape seed oil and walnut oil)

6 cups Dried fruits (suggested are raisins, apple, cranberries, apricots or currants – but I’ve used dates, dried black currants, freeze dried strawberries and sour cherries)

1 cup Roasted soy nuts (optional – I don’t use them now out of concern for their reputed estrogen mimicking properties, but they are tasty)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix all grains, nuts, seeds in an extra large bowl (NOT the fruits – I’ve made that mistake – the fruits don’t need to be toasted!)

Gently heat sweeteners and oils together over low heat.

Pour liquids over grains, nuts and seeds in large bowl and mix well..

Pour mixture out into three 11’x13′ glass dishes in a one inch layer. ¬†Metal trays tend to stick

Toast the granola. ¬†Bake for 20 minutes then stir. ¬†Bake for 10 minutes and stir again. Bake for another 10 minutes and check to see if the granola is toasted to your desired level. ¬†If so, it’s done. ¬†If you’d like it a little darker, continue toasting it in the oven until you reach your ideal – but keep watch – burned granola is nasty!

Cool the granola.  When it is just a tad warm, mix in the dried fruits

Yield: 6 quarts which disappear fast.

Notes:

As mentioned above, this recipe is quite flexible – any grain you can flake (or find flaked) is fine, any fruit you like can work, maybe you’d like to try adding chocolate after the granola has cooled, trying cutting the sweeteners with erythritol and stevia to reduce the absorbed carbohydrates, skip the seeds if you don’t want the reputed extra Omega 6’s but instead increase the nuts, etc.

If any of your ingredients are pre-toasted (sunflower or pumpkin seeds for example), add them with the dried fruits at the end.

This recipe can be increased by 1/2, but doubling it will become completely unwieldy.

This recipe comes from Peasant Dreams Farms owner, Katie Quinn-Jacobs, who lives nearby.

My web designer tells me I must add the keywords best luxury rental B&B lodging cottage in Ithaca! ¬†I’m not sure how to do that, but I imagine eating this granola while looking out at the snow falling (as it is today) or sitting at the stone table outside in warmer weather, might bring all of those keywords to mind! ; )

Metropolitan Opera in Ithaca?

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Front row seats to live shows at the Metropolitan Opera? In Ithaca? You bet.

As an opera lover, one of my favorite Ithaca activities is¬†catching live¬†Met shows via simulcast at our local Ithaca Regal movie theater.¬†Its not quite like the real thing… sometimes its better! Every seat in the house is a good one (though it helps to arrive at the cinema early for the best seat selection), the sound is excellent, and I can nosh on¬†popcorn while I watch!

If¬†you also¬†enjoy an afternoon or evening with¬†Puccini, Mozart, Verdi, or¬†Bizet¬†then check in on the Met Opera Live in HD page for the schedule, reserve a ticket, and plan an evening at the movies during your stay in Ithaca. Coming up in January are¬†Lehar’s “Merry Widow” with Renee Fleming and Nathan Gun, and Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann”¬†(I really enjoyed Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse when it was last shown). ¬†For Valentine’s Day enjoy a double bill of Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta” (which I just learned was composed to compliment the Nutcracker Suite) and Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle”. ¬†Rossini’s “La Donna del Lago” is presented in March, and April finishes the season with another double bill, Mascagni’s “Cavalleria¬†Rusticate” and a new production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.

Here is an older but good article on the pros and cons of simulcast Opera vs. the real thing: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/arts/music/15waki.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

My ideal is to see the operas twice – once in HD and again at the Met . . . mostly a dream though . . .

“Ithacating” vs. The Spring

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Spring of 2014 may go down in history as one of the most beautiful that Ithaca has ever seen. We had a slow start, we worried winter would never break, but once the Great Lakes melted it turned to¬†perfect ‘pea-weather’ as they say around here, just enough rain and sun in the right proportions, warm and mild to a fault (and perfect for growing snap peas in case you were wondering)

Ithaca is often maligned for its frequent rain (the Cornell¬†students call it “ithacating”).¬†But all that rain, fog, and general moisture¬†is worth it… it gives us the explosion of green and flowers that we’ve been reveling in all spring.

So… heres to the cold winters, nourishing snows, and everlasting rain and the¬†beauty it leaves in its wake. Heres to Ithacating!

Incredibly Green! Our newest apartment is an eco-dream

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Opened in May of 2012, the Tower Cottage, is one we’re very proud of for its small environmental¬†footprint and I wanted to¬†write more in-depth about its green features.

It’s small, and thats a good thing:-). Small means doing more with less. For example fewer materials were used, but we used only the highest quality handmade tiles, stone, custom wrought iron, and hardwoods. The ‘slate’ tiles on the tower roof are actually made of the ¬†virgin plastic waste left over after cutting out the leg holes from disposable diapers, keeping that material out of the waste stream. ¬†And by cleverly using the space, it takes¬†less energy to cool in summer and warm in winter while maintaining all the amenities and luxuries of a stay at the Stone Quarry House.

We sited the Tower among the trees to make use of their natural cooling effect. Putting the bedroom at the highest point of the structure naturally gathers the heat during colder months, while plenty of windows means a refreshing breeze during the summer as the tower functions as a chimney pulling cooler air through the building.

The Tower Cottage is powered by the solar arrays near the pond and at the top of the hill. These arrays produce more just a bit more electricity than we use at the Stone Quarry House.

But the most exciting green technology in the Tower is… wait for it… the toilet! It’s a waterless composting toilet and uses very interesting technology. ¬†Guests add 1/2 cup of wood chips to the toilet instead of flushing. ¬†A small fan keeps the air gently moving away from the bathroom as any odors are vented away from the cottage.

Waste passes to a¬†sealed collecting/composting chamber in the basement which¬†has two sections. ¬†We¬†aerate the ‘active’ section¬†once a week or so with a crank on the outside of the chamber. ¬†Once every couple of years, it is emptied into the second section below the first. [We haven’t had to do that yet, but it is supposed to be an easy task.] ¬†After another couple of years one rakes out the fully composted material which we will use for our landscaping plantings and the orchard – though it should also be safe for the vegetable garden.

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