26 January 2012

Silver Thaw of 2012

The snow took a while to arrive this winter, but January tried to make up for lost time. While the overall accumulation of snow was not particularly noteworthy for this area, several characteristics combined to produce a storm event that will be remembered for years to come.

It started on Sunday, January 15. The snow came down pretty heavy at times and continued to fall over the next several days. By Thursday, we had around 27" of compacted snow on the ground.

Snow accumulation by Thursday

Wednesday gave us our first taste of what this storm truly had in store for us. We experienced our first power outage, lasting approximately 4 hours. The next day brought a second one, this time only half as long. After the power came back that second time, Corinne scrambled to do laundry and run the dishwasher, just in case. That readiness paid off. Later that same evening, the power went out again. And this time, it would be out for over 5 days.

Going without power for a day or two is a fun adventure. We cooked on the wood stove. Anders played by headlamp. We sang songs around the piano. We enjoyed the romance of the candles.

Speaking of candles, we never really appreciated why there are so many different types. Votives can create a nice atmosphere, but tapers produce MUCH more useful light. Because tapers light from above, they do a better job of lighting a work space or dinner table. I'm sure this was obvious to everyone in the 17th century.

Mike's headlamp (high) and Anders' headlamp (low) zipping around in the darkness.

On Friday, freezing rain added about 1/2 inch of ice to everything. Conditions became so bad that Insitu even closed its facilities, which is a first in the 7.5 years that we've been here! The ice sure was beautiful.

Saturday morning, we were hopeful that power would be restored, but then we started to hear the noises coming from outside. With the power out and no one on the roads, we had the perfect conditions for listening to mother nature. The temperature warmed and the wind picked up, sending ice, snow and snapped branches crashing to the ground. The noise was so loud that we thought the trees themselves were falling. After listening to that commotion, our hopes for the return of power disappeared.

On the plus side, all of that time at home with no power to distract gave us ample opportunity to play outside in the snow.

By Saturday night we had started to tire of oatmeal for breakfast (on the wood stove) and grilled cheese and soup (on the wood stove.) So Mike went all out and we had ground beef tacos (on the wood stove). The beef didn't brown terribly well, but it was a nice change of pace.

Sunday morning we were finally ready to give in. Power had been restored to White Salmon on the previous day, and the hot water and electric stove at Donna's house were calling to us. On our way out we passed a series of utility trucks working right down the street from us, so we briefly flirted with the idea that we would be getting power back that day. But a quick chat with the flagger dispensed with that idea, and we continued on to White Salmon.

It would be several more days before our power returned. During that time, the snow continued to fall. Every other day during that time we would return to Trout Lake early in the morning to clear whatever snow had accumulated and light a fire in the woodstove. We lost track of the total accumulation.

This storm was even given an official name, the Silver Thaw of 2012. The aftermath of the Silver Thaw will take quite a while to clean-up, with downed trees and branches lining the roadsides. The consensus among many of the long-time Trout Lake residents is that there hasn't been a storm with this impact since the late 60's.

All in all, we didn't have things too bad. We had friends who were without power for 7 and 8 days! There were also many without water and heat. Our domestic water is gravity fed Trout Lake town water, so we don't rely on an electric well pump for water. We have a wood stove that can provide heat. And we borrowed a small generator for a day so that we could keep our upright freezer sufficiently cold.

If we were afraid of a little snow and ice, we wouldn't have moved here in the first place!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

21 January 2012

Tube Sledding

With all of the January snow, we decided that it would be a good opportunity to get in some sledding with Anders. We have an inflatable tube sled that has been tucked away in the garage for several years, just waiting for just such a moment.

Anders hasn't done very much sledding, so we started off easy with a walk to the mailbox.

After that, it was time for a little downhill action. Our driveway ended up being the perfect sledding bunny hill: Given a little push at the top, there is just enough slope to allow for continuous downward motion, and convenient bumpers on either side to help stay on track.

As Anders became more comfortable with the sequence, I would gradually increase the force which I used to push him down the hill. By the end, I was pushing as hard as I could, and he loved it! Thankfully, the sled was small and light enough that Anders could carry it back up the hill all by himself.

For some reason, Anders decided that he needed to have a snowball with him in the sled, too. Don't ask. After each run, he would replay the action with some sound effects, pick up the snowball and bring it back to the top with him.

Snow is fun!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

18 January 2012

More January Snow

The first big winter snow continued in January. We decided to avoid travel on the snowy roads, opting instead to work from home. This can be a bit of a challenge when Anders is home with us, but we usually each manage to get the better part of a day's work in. On this particular day, though, a 4 hour power outage thwarted our intentions. But that left us plenty of time to play outside in the snow!

With about 2' of snow on the ground, there was enough that Anders didn't sink to the ground when he walked.

Anders decided to take his matchbox snow-plow outside to plow the snow ("just like dad"). He didn't seem to make much of a dent in the snowpack overall, but he did at least clear off our benches.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

15 January 2012

Finally Some Snow

In Trout Lake, it is typical to have snow on the ground from November to March. But the last two winters have been disappointing with the snow disappearing in January. Well, this year, we had a little snow the week before Thanksgiving and then NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING. On Christmas Day, mother nature humored us and sent a few flakes for a couple of hours. And then more NOTHING. It hasn't even rained much. The winter moisture builds the reserve for our dry summers, so this isn't a good sign for the rest of the year.

Well, we finally have snow falling with more in the forecast. Here we are enjoying our first real snow this winter. Anders is sporting his new moose hat from Darrell (daycare Dad).

Happy Winter (finally!)

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders

01 January 2012

Favorite Recipes of 2011

It's time for the 2011 edition of our Best Recipes of the Year!

#1: Sweet Potato & Chile Hash with Egg
Source: Fine Cooking
This one is at the top of our year's finds. Just the right combination of spicy and sour, and vegetarian/gluten-free/dairy-free to boot! This became a frequent brunch favorite.

#2: Spicy Tuna Wraps
Source: Eating Well
Inspired by sushi, this is a different take on canned tuna. You can pretty much use whatever greens you want in this.

#3: Sweet Zucchini Relish
Source: AllRecipes.com
Who isn't on the lookout for a way to use summer squash? Well, this is a good one. Really good. Before we made this relish, we didn't really even eat relish.

#4: Blueberry Zucchini Bread
Source: AllRecipes.com
Still have some zucchini left after the recipe above? Try this variation on zucchini bread. Don't overmix or overbake!

#5: Pear and Vanilla Freezer Jam
Source: MyRecipes.com
We got some amazingly flavorful pears from a friend and experimented with a few different flavor combinations inspired by some online recipes. We used the less-sugar pectin, 3c of sugar per 5c of pear and then roughly followed this recipe. (We used limes and a friend used lemons. The lime version was the favorite.) The recipe is definitely a winner, although undoubtedly starting with really ripe and flavorful pears always helps.

#6: Spinach Basil Pesto
Source: AllRecipes.com
This one hardly needs a recipe. Basically, use your favorite pesto recipe but substitute spinach for about 2/3 of the basil. It has a bit less 'bite' than basil-only pesto, which we think makes it a bit more flexible. Spinach is also easier to come by in large volume.

#7: Beef Tacos de Lengua
Source: SimplyRecipes.com
We had a cow tongue in the freezer from a quarter share that we bought a couple years earlier, so we figured "what the heck?" There is no mistaking that it was a giant tongue. And when it came to peeling off the skin... well, I will freely admit that this was the hardest thing I've ever done in the kitchen. Thankfully, once you are done it no longer looks like a tongue.

Happy eating!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders