Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ta-da! Croissants

They tasted great, light as a butterfly, crisp on the outside, flaky on the inside. Delicious!

This is the result of my fourth try at baking croissants. After using a David Leibowitz recipe with a portion of whole grain flour mixed in for the first three batches, with improved results each time, this time I tried the Julia Child recipe. Every batch has been an improvement, and the learning curve is less steep now. I will keep on.

There are many keys to good results: speed, cold dough and cold butter, getting the timing right, practice, practice and practice. I recommend it highly if you like 'em.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Getting a Little Wet at Rap-Shaw

Rap-Shaw is actually two islands, Chicken, where I landed from the lake and left my snowshoes, and Williams, where all the buildings but one are located. There is a shallow shoulder of sand and rock between the two, all of which is glacial in nature. Late in summer, and usually through the winter, this shoulder is above water. This year there is about 7 inches of water over the highest part.

I reconnoitered and decided to go for the snow-covered path. Turns out this little bit of snow cover prevented the ice from forming well, and I stepped in, over my boot tops, about half way across. Nothing to do but forge ahead. I had worn my thickest wool socks and insulated boots, and the temperature was actually above freezing, so I suffered not at all. Lucky gal!

Going back to Chicken, I crossed uneventfully on the bare ice. Good lesson, over shallow water.
From up here on the porch of the dining hall we can see that my position was not completely foolhardy.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stillwater and Rap-Shaw, December 2013

As of yesterday, I've visited Rap-Shaw, a little island fishing club we belong to, 32 straight months! It has become an interesting drill, and the sights are always always fresh and beautiful. 

Camp is officially closed in winter, though one can stay over, self serve, in an insulated cabin.

Getting onto the reservoir in December is always dicey. 

I paddled over in November. Right after that, cold set in and the lake froze up but with a big load of snow on it. Snow is insulation, as you will see very clearly illustrated in tomorrow's post.
The cold held into December, and it almost seemed like time to give it a try. But "giving it a try" where ice and deep water are concerned is, well, incompatible with life. So I waited. There is a cam trained on the landing, and there had been no evidence of anyone else becoming the first to give it a try.
Then came a big strong thaw late in the first week of the month! And lots of rain. The snow melted, and the ice became covered with a significant amount of water.

Additionally the level rose, which always means there is risk along the edges.
Finally it got cold again, went to minus 1 on December 12, and stayed below freezing for most of the next two weeks.

This morning I saw ice fishermen on the reservoir via the cam. This was the day! The weather is better today than it will be tomorrow. Off we went!
The ice is 9-10 inches thick except along the edges. All of the landmark low water stumps and submerged eskers are covered now, and one must choose entry and exit carefully. It was a good day.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Abandoned Buildings on Route 177, Jefferson County

Route 177 connects Adams Center in Jefferson County to West Lowville in Lewis County. It is the route we most frequently take to go to Stillwater beyond Lewis County in Herkimer County. It crosses the Tug Hill, recipient of copious snow. There is a gradual and significant gain in elevation across its course, and the Maple Ridge wind mill project, with 200 towers, is toward the Lowville side.

We notice many abandoned or unused buildings all along the route, and several more homes only used occasionally or seasonally. The land that Route 177 traverses is primarily open farmland though almost all of the farms are gone now and many have been shut for decades. The road crosses some of the snowiest land in New York State, receiving many feet over the course of an average winter. Barnes Corners, part way along, is famous for this abundance and is a major destination for snowmobilers.

This building is near the western end of the route in Honeyville. It may have been a telephone station. It looks municipal or utility-related. We will locate informants to tell us about it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bill and Jeanette Magee's Rural Christmas Tableau

Bill Magee of Fenner represents Madison County in the NYS Assembly in Albany, and he is the Chair of the Committee on Agricultural, both seats he has long held. He is also an auctioneer. The Magee's aggie Christmas displays are legendary.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Teacher, Miss Bradbury

Rose Hill Cemetery, near corner of Highland St. and Highland Ave.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Homemade Croissants

My second attempt at this multi-step and two-day endeavor.
Two things: practice makes perfect and it is worth it. 
Everything needs to stay cold, so fast work is essential. 
They taste amazing! Try it!
There are excellent recipes on the internet including 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Got Milk? in Lewis County

As a matter of fact, they have lots of it up there.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Snowy Owl at Hancock Airport

The newspaper reported that snowy owls had returned over the past few days. Sure enough, this one was right along a service road, on a light pole, unconcerned by passing cars and crazed photographers.

Take a look at David Figura's column in yesterday's Syracuse.com for the story, and at Greg Craybas' photos at this link. They are amazing.