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The Cabin


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The days are growing shorter, the nights longer. I'm actually contemplating putting my shorts away, but more time indoors has given me time to find the cord thingee that allows me to hook up the camera to the computer. And, as we prepare to head north again this weekend, I'm reminded that I'm woefully behind on cabin reports.

Unfortunately, we have only had two visits to The Cabin since I last reported. Work duties for Paul have prevented a visit since Labor Day weekend, but this coming weekend looks clear, and it will be MEA weekend (which means that all kids in MN have Thursday and Friday off). So, tomorrow, I will do the final mow on the lawn, finish waxing the kitchen floor, grocery shop, and pack some clothes.

But, back to a lighter a brighter time -- the middle of August. We headed north, four of us in the mini-van (Peter was at camp, so not with us). My best friend, Susan, and her two kids joined us. It was a bittersweet trip -- Susan's son Nick's last trip before entering UW Madison.

It was indeed a glorious weekend. My FIL was also up north, which meant a really nice boat for fishing (and a little tubing for the girls).

We also were able to pick more blueberries, but this was an adult only trip, and Susan, Paul and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing stories with my FIL about the trials and tribulations of raising teenagers (not much has changed in the last 40 years, BTW). The berries were plentiful, which did lead to a meal of blueberry pancakes, and a blueberry/lemon quick bread.

Other meals included waffles, bacon, some more bacon, sandwiches and salads for lunch, sirloin on the grill for one night, sweet corn, home-grown tomatoes, and a fish meal. The girls baked browning (trashing the kitchen in the meantime).

Some photos:


This is my new toy, which I received for by b-day. A Nano and a players for the Nano, so when there's just the news on the radio, we have tunes. It is well loaded with a wide variety of music. The sound on this thing is pretty good, and it has a rechargable battery.


As you can see, the weather was warm enough during the day that swimming was a popular activity. The deck rail makes a very handy clothes line. But, the nights were cool enough that the dew was heavy, so we did bring everything in at night.


A basswood tree needed to be taken down, which my FIL dropped nicely with the trusty chainsaw. Nick and Paul took care of getting it chopped up. Cutting wood provides warmth two ways -- one while chopping, the other while burning!


The fishing was great. We had a couple of walleye meals and one sunfish meal, and both Susan and I took home more sunfish. They had great luck trolling for sunfish using crawler harnesses.

Since I do think some of my initial cabin photos are no longer on the server, an inside shot, looking from the kitchen door into the dining/living room. You can see the screen porch through the door.


The kitchen, complete with the gas stove, minimal cupboard/counter place, and the Servel gas fridge:


We played cards, walked to the point, fished, walked the road, picked bouquets of flowers. And enjoyed listening to music -- on the Nano or the radio. Enjoyed not listening to the news. Read trashy novels and had no agenda, which is a very good thing -- all folks should do this every so often.

A boy and a fishing rod, on the dock, waiting for dinner. He did get fish, and when we talked, we both acknowledged that this activity, in just this location, is the best possible medicine for almost anything. Dead calm, absolutely quiet, in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.


Finally, my favorite moment of the year. The morning we left. The night had been cool, and when I got up (very early, before anyone else), I got the coffee going. I grabbed a cuppa, and headed out the door, carefully shutting the screen door very quietly. As I looked at the lake, I went back into the cabin, grabbed my camera and a pareo (my preferred towel). I headed to the lake, sat on the dock, took some pictures with my cuppa. Hung the camera on a tree branch, stripped down to nothing, and got in the lake, and swam among the mist, with the sun just hitting the trees on the lake. While I say that every swim is the best swim of my life, this particular one was absolutely stellar, and one I shall remember for many, many years. This was the one I'll be telling folks about for years.


What the photo doesn't convey is that I was swimming in the midst of the mist, and the only sounds were the birds. Swoon.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I'll get my Labour Day pics up soon, along with a report.

But, I've made my list for this weekend, and we leave Friday noonish.

This is my list. Can anyone guess what I've planned for meals?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Cheese, Evap Milk, Bread crumbs( Dont see the macaroni, maybe its already at the cabin). Could that be Mac and Cheese?

Its so beautiful up in N. Minnesota. My ex's parents had a lake house on Mille Lacs where I spent time in my early 20's.

I remember baking a Tomato Soup cake in their not too well equiped kitchen.

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. . . . They had great luck trolling for sunfish using crawler harnesses.

What's a crawler harness? I'm still looking forward to first time I try a plate of sunnies.

Basswood is the ideal wood for carving - one could make a lot of nice bowls with a tree like that.

When I look at your list I see a really good brunch with eggs benny, florentine, etc. Mmmm.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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. . . . They had great luck trolling for sunfish using crawler harnesses.

What's a crawler harness? I'm still looking forward to first time I try a plate of sunnies.

Basswood is the ideal wood for carving - one could make a lot of nice bowls with a tree like that.

When I look at your list I see a really good brunch with eggs benny, florentine, etc. Mmmm.

A crawler harness is a rig that is generally used for walleyes. It usually has two hooks, sometimes three, snelled and sometimes some beads and spinners. If it has one hook then it is a minnow rig. You hook a night crawler in the nose on the first hook and somewhere in the middle on the second.

You can buy them pretied or you can roll your own.

Google it and you will see how easy they are to tie up. A snell knot is a basic knot for fishing that every angler should know. They are fun to tie, easy to customize with different size, color, configuration, length...

The basic components are cheap. I tie my own.

A variation is the quick strike rig that is tied up for use with pike. As with the crawler and minnow rig the quick strike rig can be tied in several variations. I tie mine with wire.

I read in an earlier post in this thread that perch were being tossed back because of the worms. Were those the little white worms in the flesh? No need to worry about consuming those. Just fillet and cook them up. You won't even notice them and they will not harm you or cause any intestinal distress.

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We're going to hunt for grouse (instead of swimming), so I've been madly gathering all of the blaze orange we own. One hat per person, two very heavy sweatshirts (Heidi and Peter), and a vest for Paul. My blaze is up at the cabin.

Paul will start on the rudimentaries of shotgun training with Peter.

Diana is up at Eveleth, working at camp this weekend, and called this morning to say just how beautiful it is up there right now.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Susan, when do you close your cabin? We normally close ours at Canadian Thanksgiving (this past weekend), but, since it's winterized, we've decided to keep it open at least up until New Years this year.



Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Marlene, essentially, closing our cabin up involves taking the screens off and putting the storms on; loading the indoor wood box with wood, and making sure that the drinking water jug isn't full. Oh, we also bring home any canned goods. The storms are on, and there are hardly any canned goods left, and my in-laws will bring those home next week.

Oh, the other thing my in-laws will do is remove the u-shaped thingee under the sink and put a bucket there. Since there's no running water, this is the only pipe that just might freeze, and since when one removes the trap thingee, all of the water in the pipes is gone.

Everything except the cooler is packed. Paul will be home at noon, and he's taking our other car to work, so it will be packed, and as I get the kids in the mini-van, he'll scarf a quick sandwich. I'm so ready to head north.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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We are home. We had a lovely weekend, but then again, I can't recall being up there and not having a good time.

Paul was due to leave the office at noon on Friday for a 1:00 pm takeoff, but you all know that noon really means 12:30, so he was home at 1:15 (after a quick stop to fill up the mini-van -- $2.45/gallon :biggrin: ). It was just four of us as Diana was at camp as a counselor for MEA camp. Ask if you want to know about MEA weekend (just about a state holiday weekend). The kids and I were waiting in the garage with all bags packed and a ham sandwich for Paul -- we were hot to trot.

It was a glorious day -- sunny, no wind -- and the colors were beautiful until just north of Hinkley, when they started to peter out. We stopped at the Lemon Tree in Cloquet for Adult Beverages (the prices there are good and just get higher the further north we go.

We stopped in Virginia at F & D Meats for ground beef, smoked fish, and sausage; Paul opted for the Fraboni's ring bologna (more on that later). Next stop was at Zup's in Cook. Zup's is interesting. I think they started as a sausage and bacon place, but have several grocery stores. We almost always stop there for bacon (outstanding; we prefer it to Fraboni's) and the other stuff we've forgotten.

One of the cool things about going up this late in the season is that although the "colors" are largely gone, we notice the Tamarack trees. You just don't notice them in the summer, figuring that they are yet another needled tree. But, there's the only needled piney tree I know of that turn golden and lose their needles.


I begged and pleaded with the family to stop at various more stunning sights so I could take photos, and it wasn't until I said that if they didn't stop, I'd pee my pants that this was the spot they chose. Trust me, in the late afternoon low light, they were spectacular. It was a breathtaking drive.

I did not photo my normal first look at the lake. By the time we got the mini-van unloaded; fridge and stove/oven pilots lit, and a fire going, it was just too dark for a good shot. It was 40 degrees inside the cabin, as it was outside, and the temp was dropping rapidly. One of the things I've learned to do when it's cold inside and we've lit a fire is to pull the top sheet and blanklets down to the foot of the bed!

For dinner that night, we had the ring bologna, kraut, baked beans and apples. Now, to the ring bologna. Neither Peter nor I are that fond of ring bologna, and this one sure was lacking in something. But, Paul and Heidi liked it, and the late season Haralson's have been just great. Cocktails for the adults; warmed apple cider (fresh pressed from an orchard for the kids.

Milles Bournes and KAXE and then tumble into bed. The end of the evening trip to the outhouse was brisk! We always stay up way too late on our first night up there; at this time of year, primarily to get the joint warmed up.

Saturday dawned very cloudy, and almost gale-force windy. Not a day for fishing, or for hunting. For breakfast, waffles on my neat-o-keeno NordicWare stove-top waffle iron and Zup's bacon (baked on a cookie sheet on top of parchment paper -- we are probably the only cabin on that lake with 100 sheets of the stuff!). Sitting around, talking about week, reading magazines or books, playing cards. Since breakfast was late, lunch was simple -- either a nosh on apples, smoked fish, cheese, carrots, or a grilled cheese sandwich (bread from the Italian Bakery in Virginia, readily available all over the Virginia/Cook area). One of the things I used to pride myself on was bringing exactly the amount of food we'd eat, and going home with a mostly empty cooler. Not any more! I've learned it's all about choices, and just because I think on a Wednesday I might want to eat it on Saturday -- no more!

But, before I get into dinner, a couple of pictures of the cabin. I think some of my original shots may have been lost in a server upgrade:


That's a sunfish sailboat and a canoe under the deck.


The reference section of the cabin library. I think I cut off part of the name of one of the nature books -- it's on lichen. In a cupboard above the shelf is a pare of binocs for birding.


Squash (ick! -- but Paul and Heidi love it), meatloaf and spinach salad. Note Chef PF (Peter -- also note his short hair!). Isn't the raw spinach beautiful? It's from the farmer's market -- as the season has cooled, some of the spring crops have re-appeared.


Sorry for the crappy shot of the done food, but that's part of the challenge of photoing after dark in a cabin lit with three little gas Humphrey lights.

After Paul and Heidi were asleep, Peter and I pulled out a book I had found at my Grandmother's house on card games (published in 1933) and tried a new-to-us game of solitaire, accompanied by Hydrox. Behind him is our Rubbermaid ActionPacker, which does a wonderful job of hauling a whole mess of stuff, and if you pack it right, the chips and bread don't get squished. Yes, that's a box of the game "Apples to Apples" on the top -- it resides at the cabin in the summer and comes home when we make our final trip.

Before Peter and I hit the hay, he shows me that he has learned a new skill:


Peter fixed breakfast -- Lois's Best Coffee Cake and scrambled eggs with red bell, ham and cheese. He's taking FAC's (Home Ed to Us) and is loving cooking.


While he was cooking, I went for a short walk down the road. This is what I saw a ways down the road, with a veer off to a clearing.


And, close to the road end of our property.


Guess what's coming?

It was a fabulous weekend. We didn't even go hunting, although Peter and Paul did have a gun training session, and did some shooting at the gravel pit. We didn't see a single grouse during any of our walks (and we didn't just veg, we did so some nice walks. So, the grouse are there for your taking!

But, before I close this post with a photo I took as I had my cuppa outside this morning while Peter was cooking. My every morning cuppa outside at The Cabin, although not at the end of the dock. The sun was just coming up over the point and hitting the island.


As we left the cabin, we had another long look at the lake, and it was yet again (30 years running) that I left for the last time in the year with a tear in my eye.

I am the luckiest woman in the world.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Yes, that is electricity coming. As I've mentioned before, we do have a gas generator up there, which we don't use very often since for most of our season up there, the days are so long. But, everyone else on "our" side of the lake wanted power, so my FIL went in on the project. It will be nice to have electricity in the fall when the days are so short, and to have a toaster, and to be less reliant on D-cell batteries for the radio, etc. Now, hopefully, my FIL won't be lulled into an electric fridge (the propane fridge makes NO noise) or an electric stove. Quite frankly, for most of the summer, it won't make any difference.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Susan, thank you for sharing your special place and times with us. I wonder if someday Wolfgang Puck with be replaced by Peter Fahning?

I'll be trying the coffee cake recipe this Sunday morning. I missed reading the thread that had the recipe.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook


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