ForestNS Loves Nova Scotia’s Great Outdoors!

They love Nova Scotia woods so much, soon there will be none left.

logger love clear cut“No one loves the forest more than the people who care for it.
We live, work and play in the forest – it’s a part of our lives.”

Quoted from ForestNS’ propaganda video: Taking Care of Our Forests.

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First Foraging Class Next Week!

beaked hazelnut small.jpgOnly one week til the first foraging class of the season! And the forage is abundant this year! Looking forward to seeing all the students. Some are returning for a refresher.

 

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Cliff’s Quick Pugliese

first pugliese smallToday, through pure serendipity, I invented a short cut to pugliese bread that uses whole wheat flour, durum flour, and mashed potatoes and skips the need for the preparation of a biga. I baked it a couple hours ago and, without exaggeration, it is the best bread I have ever tried in my entire life. I am glad I wrote down the recipe and preparation method. It takes very little kneading but about 24 hrs to chill, rise and ferment before baking.

Cliff’s Quick Pugliese

1.5 cups ww flour
.5 cups durum flour
3 oz potatoes mashed smooth
1 tspn yeast
1 1/4 cups water
1 tspn sea salt
1 heaping tspn white or golden sugar
2 ice cubes

Preparation:

In a mixing bowl, without adding water, thoroughly blend ww flour, durum flour and sea salt.

Heat 1 1/4 cups water to about 90F or lukewarm. Pour water into 500 ml or larger jar. Add 1 heaping tspn sugar and dissolve. Add 1 tspn yeast and stir in. Let sit 20 minutes in a warm place til the yeast is vigorous and foaming well over the water.

Add mashed potatoes to flour blend, and yeast-water. Stir with wooden or plastic paddle til it is the consistency of wet paste. Slowly sprinkle in more ww flour and stir til it is more like a damp putty that you can then work by hand.

Dust hands in ww flour and knead for five minutes in bowl, thoroughly blending yeast-water and mashed potatoes with all the other ingredients. If some dough does not stick to your hands, it is too dry. If so, carefully add just a little more warm water. It should be the consistency of damp putty.

After 5 minutes kneading, cover the bowl so it is sealed and place in refrigerator. Let chill for 12 hours. This encourages a glutinous texture.

The next day, remove from fridge and remove cover. Cover with wet towel and place in warm area to rise and ferment for 6 to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Dust a work area with ww flour. Gently remove from bowl onto dusted surface. Flip so top and bottom now have dusting of ww flour. Gently shape dough into a rounded cake. The dough should be air filled, rubbery and glutinous now. Pinch outside and pull out then wrap over, drawing the stretched dough toward the center. Do this all around the dough ball, reforming the ball. This encourages air in the dough and develops the gluten.

Lightly oil a baking sheet and gently place ball of dough on it. It should 8 to 10 inches in diameter at this point. Gently round the sides. Score the top with a sharp knife in a cross pattern.

Place two ice cubes in a small, metal bowl and place in a corner of the oven. This will create humidity that helps form a chewy crust.

Dust the top of the dough with ww flour.

Spray the dough ball with cold water.

Place in oven and let bake at 400F for 40 minutes.

Remove and let cool 20 minutes before serving.

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Into a Listless Spring

Last winter may have crashed over the highlands like a tidal wave, but spring was fickle. Weakly warm days gave way to snow at the slightest breath of northern breeze, and snow gave way to balmy rain when the breeze turned to the south. Only timidly did the sun ever peek through the clouds long enough to make a difference. Yet bit by sure bit, spring took hold and the meadows and woods slowly greened beneath lengthening days. Let’s head into the back country and discover the forest the moment after it wakens from its long, cold slumber.

 

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Into the Woods: Barnyard Forage–Wild Mustard, Lamb’s Quarter, Red Clover & Stitchwort

As winter struggles to keep hold its grip of our mountain hollow, and spring comes listlessly, let us hearken back to late last summer again and enjoy a little warm sun and soft green grass, the braying of goats and the clucking of hens, as we learn about some of the forage to be found in the rich, hoof and claw turned soil around barns. In particular, we’ll examine wild mustard and lamb’s quarter.

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Due to Demand, Second June Foraging Class Being Offered

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Click here to go to the second June foraging class page.

The June foraging class has filled up. Because I am still getting many requests, I have decided to offer a second June class. Those of you wanting to take part but who weren’t able to register on time for the first class, here’s your chance. Please register quickly. Once it’s full, that will be it for June.

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2017 Classes

twa corbiesThe full roster of 2017 classes is now up.  Just go to the top and look up Twa Corbies Courses.  This year, you’ll find classes on foraging, cheesemaking, survival and bushcraft for the fun of it.  More courses will likely be added over the next month on organic gardening, brewing and other essential back-to-basics skills, but at this time we have a full roster available.  Email me if you have questions.

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July 2017: Wilderness Survival Course

cliff canoeingWhat if the sh!! really does hit the fan?  What if you are in the bush and everything goes south and you’re going to be stuck awhile?  How would you get by?  Would you know how to create shelter and find food?  Would you know how to find your way to help, or if you should even try or wait for help to come to you?  What would you do if you were sick and didn’t have access to modern medicine?  In this two day course, we will explore all these questions and more.  Using nature as our classroom we’ll learn how to survive, feed and care for ourselves using little more than basic woodsman’s tools and what the land provides.

Look under Twa Corbies Courses or click the photo to learn more:

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An Ideal Woodsman’s Knife?

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The Bark River Bravo Vortex with green micarta scales.

I have just received what I think is the best woodsman’s knife design I’ve ever seen, the Bark River Bravo Vortex. Or, perhaps, I should say the other best design. After a few months testing, I’ll do a review on it along with my other favorite, the Pasayten (that I’ve been carrying awhile now). Both are drawn from ancient know-how. The Pasayten was a favored design among the French Canadian fur traders and coureurs de bois, and is ideal for processing food, game and moderately good for woodworking. It’s weakness is it doesn’t have much fight in it and lacks a very stout point. The Vortex is clearly modeled after the Hudson Bay Company’s Roach design. Just slightly larger than the Pasayten and quite a bit thicker and stouter, it has the piercing drop point that became very popular among later American and Canadian frontiersmen, giving the knife some fight. However, the drop is slight, providing a lot of belly for skinning, butchering, and other backwoods tasks. A stouter point makes the Vortex much more suited to bushcraft tasks, such as pinholing fire boards. Both are extremely good all around designs, with the Pasayten favoring tasks like foraging, fish and game processing and camp cookery and the stouter Vortex being more an extremely good jack-of-all-trades but favoring bushcraft and large game processing. Both these knives are in my top 3 designs now.

tch pasayten

Tops Pasayten

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Pasayten sheath.

Those who appreciate good woodsmen’s tools know of the unfortunate fact that many excellent knifemakers do not seem to understand at all what it is that woodsmen and bushcrafters want in a sheath, and we often end up replacing the sheaths their knives come with for custom made work. However, the Pasayten and Vortex both come with remarkable sheaths that really cannot be improved on in any way that I can see. The Pasayten is straightforward, functional kydex. As one might expect, the Bark River made Bravo Vortex is fine leatherwork, but made after much consultation with expert woodsmen.

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Bark River Bravo Vortex sheath.

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Question for Foraging Students

Question for those of you coming to my wild food foraging classes this year.
Every year I get asked what are the ideal tools one needs to forage and I always reply a decent, sharp knife and a hatchet. Then I get asked where to find them and how to keep them sharp.
So this year I thought I would offer some nice Mora knives to any interested students. They are only $30. They are very tough, inexpensive and excellent foraging tools with Scandi ground blades–ideal for this kind of thing, and with care will last a lifetime. These are very popular among homesteaders and bushcrafters in the know for their incredibly affordable valuemora knife.  If you want one, please let me know so I can have enough available come class time.
I also might spend a half hour or so showing how to sharpen knives at home and in the field to any level of desired sharpness, from blunt to scalpel, with a couple stones and a piece of leather. If you want to spend the time on this, again, let me know.
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