Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's a Sourdough Special

August 29 - Day #4

(Starter, Reflector Oven, Biscuits, Dumplings, Pancakes, Corn Bread)

Sourdough Starter

Liquid layer on top:
Naturally occurring alcohol,
Before use Stir it in or pour it off.
Today we are learning the basics and many uses of keeping sourdough starter for bush craft cooking that would make anyone a happy camper. This is also thee most traditional and natural way for all your baked goods. Sourdough starter is just a mixture of flour, water and yeast. There is  natural bacteria and yeast in the air all around us, so if you only have the flour and water, leaving the container uncovered for a few days will allow the yeast in the air to become part of your mixture and the fermentation process. Whenever the recipe calls for a cup of your starter just replace what you take with more flour and room temperature water ( keeping a pancake batter type consistency, not too thick and not too watery ) this is called "inoculation" or "feeding" your starter. I have had the same container of sourdough starter for 4 months, some have had their starter for years.. If you can get a cup of starter off of a friend it would make it easier to get things going, just feed it to make more. Upon taking the lid off and smelling it you should understand why its called "sour"dough. Lastly if you aren't using it often, keep your starter in the refrigerator. It needs warmer temperatures to ferment and grow, there is a possibility of mold to grow on the top after awhile when not using it. No worries, just skim it off the top and stir before every use. If your sourdough starter freezes, it's ok, this will not harm the starter and is actually a good way to preserve it when taking a break from its use. I do not buy anymore bread products from the store, it's fun, it's easy and everything you make tastes satisfyingly delicious.

Reflector Oven 

You tend to appreciate your meals more when effort is put into the gathering of fire wood, creating the fire, preparing the meal and paying close attention to cooking the food that is going to give you the energy needed to stay strong and healthy. We do all of our cooking over an open fire and making sourdough bread definitely puts a smile on everyone because it's delicious and in abundance. To make a batch of biscuits for the group we use a "Reflector Oven".  Basically it's a metal (aluminum) rectangle with one side left open and a ledge on either side for your baking tray. The open side faces the fire and cooks like any oven but more fun!! May have to turn the tray around once or twice while cooking. There was plenty of Yukons Gold all semester to top it off :)

Sourdough Biscuits

• 2 cups sourdough starter
• 1/3-1/2 cup oil or fat
 • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
• Spice as desired

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Dump in starter and oil and mix. Add a 1-2 tablespoons of water to the soda, stir it up, then mix in. Drop biscuit-sized balls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until they’re just starting to brown. Biscuits are our bread of choice in the bush because they’re so easy. We bake these in the bush all the time because there is no proof time, just mix and bake. They look great when they’re browning in the reflector oven. To make a loaf of biscuits, cut the recipe in half and bake in a 9” pie pan.

Sourdough Dumplings

Mix up a batch of sourdough biscuit dough. Scoop spoon- fulls of the dough into the top of a simmering stew, keeping them afloat by not dropping from a height. Cover quickly and don’t peek for 15 minutes.

Sourdough Pancakes

• 2 cups sourdough starter
• 2 tbsp. sugar
• 3 tbsp. oil or fat
• ½ tsp. salt
• 1 ½ tsp. baking soda

Mix ingredients, leaving baking soda until just before your batter is ready for the pan. Dilute baking soda in 1-2 Tbsp. water and mix into batter. Don’t beat it, just mix it in. Batter will bubble from the soda. Fry on hot pan or griddle.

Sourdough Cornbread

• 3 cups sourdough starter
• 2 tbsp. oil or fat
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 ½ cups cornmeal
• 1 cup flour

Use either white or whole wheat flour. Mix dry ingredients first, then add starter and oil. Mix well. Pour dough onto floured surface or leave it in the mixing bowl and knead the dough with your hands.  Place loaf in greased bread pan, or break up into smaller loaves and put directly on baking sheet. Set in a warm place for a half hour to four hours; the longer it sits, the lighter the bread. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. You can also test for doneness by thumping the loaf with your finger. If you hear a hollow sound, the bread is done.


Use your imagination, have fun and ENJOY!!!  :)

Lifetimes Apart..

 Over a decade has now passed since my enlistment... I thought that it all may have been a dream but photos like this make me think again.. Here's to surrendering the past so I may continue to live in each moment of the present.

      Aticus -  2003 -  Private Holt                          Aticus - 2013 - Yukon

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snowshoe Expedition 2014

My first video (Introduction). Follow my upcoming journey as we venture into a winter wonderland! For this trip (as a group) we have started a separate blog specifically for our February Boundary Waters Expedition 2014 in the Superior National Forest of Northeaster Minnesota. We will be traveling by snowshoe and pulling toboggans through deep snow fall, 40 below temps, cover 100+ miles in 25+ days.. I'm really looking forward to the Aurora Borealis, Crystalline stars and the stillness of this vast and beautiful snow covered wilderness. bwwinter2014.blogspot.com Check out our blog to read more about this journey, our goals and overall purpose of being in these moments along the way. Smiling always  :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013


-My thought on stepping outside the box, then realizing there never was a box to begin with.

"I disconnected from it all, upon discovering I am connected to it all..." 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Never Nothing Going On...

August 28th  -  Day #3

("Sit spot", Natural Shelter, Fuzz Sticks, Net Bags)

Woke at 0615 for my routine of breakfast and compiling notes of yesterdays events into my log book. After Day 2 if feels it more like day ten with all this information packed into our days. Its a great change of pace and I can really feel it physically, being on my feet and working with my hands from sun up to sun down. It's a productive exhaustion that is truly wonderful and I'm eager for more :)

"Sit Spot"

"Sit Happens"
We do this for about 30 minutes before starting the day or seeing anyone else. A "Sit Spot" is exactly as it says. Find a place in the forest, on the edge of a field or by the river where you can just sit. This is a place of solitude, a place to focus and observe away from people. All you have to do is be still, listen, wake up to everything around you and as the sun starts to rise you will begin to notice the forest waking up too with all its inhabitants beginning to move about. As you do this day after day, you will notice the birds and other animals getting used to your presence, they may come closer to you and they may not hesitate to investigate you a bit more. If you have never done this, I recommend counting the things you see, any movement or close your eyes and count all the sounds you can hear (how many bird songs, winds, leaves falling, a stick snapping, red squirrels or a plane in the sky) how many sounds can you keep organized in your head by counting them? You would be very surprised...Try it, its pretty neat. Just be in that moment and become aware that there is never nothing going on :) 

Natural Shelters

Tim began the days instruction with natural shelters, concepts, components and designs. The first shelter I chose to create was the Quad-Pod, beginning the process by selecting a site in the woods that was level and wouldn't be flooded by potential rain fall. By building a box spring out of logs my body is off of the ground and body heat wont be transferring directly into the earth. Then using, ferns, leaves and pine boughs I created my mattress (this can never be too thick). You want the shelter big enough for you to sleep comfortably but you don't want it any bigger, the smaller the space the most heat is retained around your body. Using four poles I harvested with my axe and by placing them at the corners of my box spring/mattress , I now had my shelter frame. To secure the poles at the top I used my rope that we braided together yesterday (See Day #2) also putting a bundle of ferns sticking out of the apex to shed water droplets, the idea worked great! One side of this shelter will be left open for a fire and we will be using our tarps for the roofs (All natural shelter is definitely possible but with 10 students, time is a factor and material gathered would be 10x the amount) Each shelter that we build, we will spend at least 4 nights in. The only way to find out if you built it right or figure out anything you would do differently is to sleep in it. Sleepless night, cold, wet? FAIL..... Slept great, warm, stayed dry? PASS.....   

Fuzz Sticks

         How do you get a fire going with one match after multiple days of rain??? Hey, I'm glad you asked :)  Know that there is always dry tinder in the forest and this is a skill everyone should be aware of.  Using your knife or axe if you have one, go into the forest to locate some dry, dead, standing trees. Not to be mistaken with rotten, dead, standing trees... The trees you are looking for are not big, about 4 inches diameter and have an almost hollow sound when you knock on them and the inside is dry as can be. Because the wood is standing, the rain trickles down the tree, not really absorbing into the wood, such as you would find with a tree laying on the ground (most trees laying on the forest floor will be rotten). Get a few foot long sections of this tree and split it up into sticks not too much bigger then thumb width. Then using your knife (you should always have a knife in the wilderness) hold it up against the wood and carve away from you, trying to create thin layers that peel all the way down the stick. You want to stop at the end before completely shaving off each layer, making a feathering effect. The idea is "one match" will be able to ignite this tree, which you made possible by creating multiple smaller surface areas for the flame to catch. After you have made a bundle of these feather or fuzz sticks, make a tipi out of them where you will light the fire. BEFORE you light it, make sure you have more tinder on standby, twigs that snap or birch bark to maintain and sustain the fire after you get a flame. You do not want to light your Fuzz Sticks after all that hard work and then run off into the woods, scrambling to find more tinder as your flames dwindle and die... 

Net Bags

A simple way to make a net bag to carry your food, gear or in my case, the essential element of water. Start with an even number of strings, doubling them so they are twice as tall as the container you want to hold.. Ok, tie an overhand knot right in the middle of your lengths of string so they are all secured together. Got it. Ok, now place the overhand knot in the bottom center of your container, pairing up two strings at a time, tie another overhand knot to secure the pairs together. Now begin tying overhand knots matching up one string from one pair with another string beside it from a different pair. Keep doing this until you have a bag.




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tying It All Together.

August  27th  -  Day #2

(Natural Cordage & Rope, Bow Fire Drill Set, Plant Walk, Snack Time)

Woke at 0630 for an Oats, honey & raisins breakfast which is great energy for the morning and seems it will be part of my routine throughout the fall semester. I brought along an entire case of Yukons' Gold, so the class will have plenty of orange blossom honey for teas, coffee, biscuits, oatmeal etc. I don't believe I've ever been so excited to learn such useful knowledge!

Natural Cordage & Rope

If you're in need of securing or fastening something together there are many solutions in the natural world. Creating cordage out of grass, roots, saplings, and even the fibers of plants such as dogbane, nettle and velvet leaf. The plant fibers are much easier to process after the first frost when the plants are dying. We all made 2 ply cordage out of tall grass found on the roadside and when a piece was big enough two students would play tug of war to demonstrate how durable it can be. I harvested about 8 dogbane plants to remove fibers on the inside of the stalk. Very tedious work as the material is much smaller then bundles of grass yet surprisingly one strand of dogbane fiber is nearly impossible for one person to tug on and break. Impressive stuff!  I decided to make a bracelet after making a few feet of cord then doubling it over on itself, came out great (since this is back logged) I've never taken it off and the dogbane bracelet thus far has lasted over 3 months on my wrist.
Following the natural cordage instruction we all made our own 30ft ropes using bale twine and an old fashioned hand cranked rope making machine. Three pieces of twine were doubled over and stretched between two parts of the rope making device. As the crank was spun the three individual pieces of twine tightly spun themselves together then by sliding the rope divider tool it would allow the three peices of twine to wrap around eachother creating the rope. We tied knots on both ends which holds the braiding work from becoming loose. This rope making technique is over 200 years old and first appeared in the American Midwest in the 1800s as farmers needed a more efficient way to make replacement hoist rope for lifting harvested hay into the upper floors of the barn for storage.

Fire Bow Drills
We are not creating fire by friction today, just harvesting the material for our Bow Drill sets and getting into the fire making later. We began by learning how to section & limb speckled Alder trees using just our knives and utilizing a "rose cut", you can accomplish A LOT with quality knife.  So, there are four parts to your Bow Drill set, the fire board, spindle, hand hold and the bow. The bow should be light, sturdy and the length of your shoulder to fingertip (a natural arc in the bow is also helpful). In theory any string would work but nylon would be best, so tie your string from one end of the bow to the other.  For your spindle and fire board you want to use a soft wood such as Alder, Cedar, Poplar, Basswood, Willow etc. Keep in mind, If the wood is green "alive" then you need to wait a few days for it to dry. The spindle should be about 6 inches in length & thumb width as you whittle it into shape and the fire board should be flat on both sides in a rectangular shape and about 1 inch thick. For the hand hold you can use anything such as a hard wood, a rock, or bone (the idea is to use something that will give little to no friction). In a few days after these components have had a chance
to dry in the sun we will come back to them for fire by friction instruction.

Plant Walk

On our  plant walk this afternoon we talked about, identified and pressed 8 plant species :)

Sheep Sorrel:
Lemony, tangy tart flavor.
Delicious in a salad :)
St. John's Wort
Known Herbal treatment
for depression.

- Plantago major  (Plantain)
- Rumex Acetosella  (Sheep Sorrel)
- Chrysanthemum leucanthemum  (Ox-eye Daisy)
- Taraxacum officinale  (Dandelion)
- Abies balsamea  (Balsam Fir)
-  Hypericum perforatum  (St. Johns wort)
-  Prunus spp.  (Pin-Cherrys)
-  Usnea cavernosa  (Pitted Beard "old mans beard")


Grasshoppers glazed with a honey & brown sugar mix, fried up in a pan for a delightful afternoon snack.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My First Po-Em...

"On Top Of My Mountain"

The path in which my journey has taken,
Over the years brought many things to light. 
Always sensing there was something more,
More to life, more than survival, more than a fight. 

On top of my Mountain,
Stillness sinks in every breath of fresh air, 
Here on this earth, a magical place for everyone to share.
All things in common, all beings are one,
Be kind to another; be proud for all you have done.

Through the battles in Afghanistan and battles in Iraq,
My eyes opened to a broken way and no man should ever go back.
 Sickens me their intentions corrupt, benefiting only but a few,
See behind the curtain, see we are one and your eyes will open too.

On top of my Mountain,
Witness to a world we do not own, yet divided by all,
Finding freedom and happiness I have answered my call.   
Here to serve as well as to give, no greater joy,
No higher purpose for this life I do live.

Twelve thousand miles I drove, unsure of what I was seeking,  
Something profound discovered, myself I was meeting. 
Crossing many paths along this journey,
Enlightened by you all and the oneness for eternity.   

On top of my Mountain,
Never had I known these levels one could reach,
My light shines from here in hopes one day it will guide, and it will teach.
More truth than anything else, so simple to me now,
I shall spread this vision and wisdom, please guide me how.  

2,000 miles I hiked up the mountainous coast,
Only to be reborn, I have been diagnosed.
Be grateful for the gift we have, this gift that we share,   
Love thy neighbor, show the world that you care.

On top of my Mountain,
Now only a smile takes form, an awareness flows through,
As pure consciousness consumes my being admiring the view.
A sight not to be missed, the clutter has finally ceased, 
No judgement is passed as I sit here in peace...


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


"There are some things in life money can't buy, for everything else there's......wait, Nothing else really matters."


Monday, November 18, 2013

Bushcraft Journey Begins!

August 26th   -  Day #1

(Weather, Axe, Plants, Humanure & "One Match Fire")

Today marks the starting point of my 9 week fall semester of a living education in the Northern Maine Woods. I've been awaiting this moment so patiently for many years and now as a student of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School and the natural world, I couldn't be more excited, anxious and passionate to embark on this year of studies.

This morning I awoke in my two man tent at 0730 to a light drizzle and gathered with the other students for breakfast. Eight out of the ten students are Veterans from all branches of service, there is clearly a want and a need for this type of education that seems to have brought us all together. Our morning discussion dealt with understanding the weather without the weather man. If you are living amongst nature, being able to predict a storm or when it's going to clear could be extremely helpful or life saving and it's been done for thousands of years prior to our generation but with the use of technology most of these skills have been forgotten. Some would say we are the most uniformed generation as to what it is to feel or be aware of such basic human skills due to tech savvy advances in which we now EXPECT all the answers from. Clearing winds will come from the West/Northwest and veering winds will come from the South/Southeast moving clockwise bringing in the front. Every morning and evening we are keeping weather journals, logging cloud types, wind direction and precipitation along with our predictions for the next 12 hours. After a few weeks I should have a general idea of what the forecast will bring.

Tim Smith (Founder, Maine Guide Master & lead instructor at JMB) then went over the basic uses/safety for the axe, a tool that will become a very close friend of mine. The four basic uses are 1. Felling (how to bring the tree safely to the ground) 2. Limbing (removing the branches from fallen tree) 3. Sectioning (cutting the tree into smaller pieces) 4. Splitting (splitting the sections for other uses) These may sound self explanatory but I can assure you, there are proper, safe and effective ways for each that will benefit you and your axe blade. The five safeties are 1. Begin your cut at least 8 inches up from where the tree meets the ground  2. Be sure to stand the full axe length away from selected tree  3. Clear Zone, Look at where your standing and ask yourself  "if I swing and miss, will the follow though put this steel axe head into my shin?" also ensuring nothing is within distance of you and your axe, 360 degrees around and remove smaller trees, branches, rocks etc. 4. Chop at a downward angle, again an upward angle could land the axe in your forehead, on the good/bad scale this would be BAD... And 5. Escape plan, if something should go wrong such as the tree falling in your direction, where is the safest place to move quickly. We had plenty of trees for practical application as all materials were used for later skills & crafts. I was using the 26" Wetterlings forest axe, a hand forged Swedish carbon steel head with an American Hickory handle and I must say I have never used such a fine tool. I like the term "like a hot knife through butter" and that's just what it reminded me of. I understood the process and fundamentals quickly but with a little more practice the accuracy will follow.

Latin Family: Caprifoliace
English Family: Honey Suckle
Species & genius: Viburnum lentago
Common name: Nanny berry
Habitat: Wet soil, borders forest
Collected  08/23/13

Plants are surrounding you in nature, each one being unique and having something to offer. The basic understanding of how to identify, document and press a plant species into our log book was a skill I was eager to learn. Using a sticky transparent film we pressed the plants onto large note cards and documented the following information- Family English & Latin name, Species (Caps) & genius (lowercase) in Latin, Common name in English, Date gathered and Where it was gathered (habitat not street address)    

"One Match Fire"
Paul Sveum (Maine Guide & Assistant Instructor at JMB) gave a period of instruction on the "one match fire." If all you had was one match what is the most efficient way to make it count? Begin by gathering your tinder to create a "twiggy bundle", using the smallest twigs your can find that have a nice snap to them. You do not want green twigs that will bend or rotten wood which will smother and we were not allowed to "cheat" by using birch bark which contains oils and is used as a fire accelerant (that will be covered later)   

                         Humanure To conclude Day #1                                     We gathered around the restrooms to discuss  Humanure (composting waste cycle). The benefits, efficiency, practicality and simplicity should make a light bulb turn on in EVERYONE'S mind. It can be a restroom like any other, with a door, sink, mirror, toilet seat and can be as clean and sanitary as you want! The only difference is, your deposit goes into a container that has just a few simple steps to process 1. With each use, scoop just enough saw dust or leaf duff (top layer of soil in the forest) to cover, this will completely eliminate smell  2. When container is getting full, bring it to the compost pile where you   dump it in the center  3.
Cover with a few handfuls of hay and DONE! *Try to water a tree, urine does not help this process...Here it immediately begins to compost, it will heat up to over 150 degrees, over time    (1 year-ish) it will be nutrient rich soil with ZERO Oder. The size of the compost can be as large as you want it to be and when one becomes full, begin another while the first one ages. Are you seeing the cycle? When its done ageing you can plant flowers, trees, grass and even gardens, life will begin to jump out of the ground! Most everyone likes to push the little lever on a toilet, wasting a gallon of pure water so they don't have to even look at it and IT'S GONE! Mean while others dont have enough water to drink... Out of sight out of mind, it doesn't exist anymore after you flush it right? Because you can't see it, IT'S GONE? WRONG! At this point you have broken the cycle, now you have created waste and furthered the need for chemical fertilizer. We are humans, we all must use the restroom, we all know it, no matter how shy you want to be about it. Make it work for us and for the planet by not breaking the natural cycle. Here is a great book if you want to learn more :) The Humanure Handbook.                

Friday, November 15, 2013


This thought came into my mind while pondering the fact "listen" and "silent" are formed out of the exact same letters. A Thank you to my friend Bam Coleman who brought light to this inspired thought :)

"To just be... Just listen  &  Be silent."


Thursday, November 7, 2013


I've decided to begin sharing some of my short, snippets of original thought if you will. This will be called YU-KON (you can) QUOTE ME:  Enjoy...  #1

"Should we cross paths today, I'm going to infect you with a smile."    :)


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A 12 Year Old Boys Philosophy


            I have often been asked, "what inspires you to do this, create this space?" Or, "when did you know or decide this is what you wanted to do?"  Well, I was going through some boxes the other day and came across this envelope with a "letter to myself, in the future..." inside. 17 years ago this letter had been filled out when I was just 12 years old and in the 6th grade. Most of the answers I gave were what you'd expect 12 year old boys to write haha, my favorite subject being girls? Reading Goosebumps and I absolutely do love moms home made macaroni & cheese :) but when I got to the bottom question, "My philosophy of life is...?" and in the biggest letters I could write, my answer was, "BEING KIND TO PEOPLE."  Would this be most responses from a 12 year old? I don't even remember knowing what a philosophy was at that age. My mind wanders as I look at this letter from my 12 year old self and I guess my response to the question "what inspires you to do this, create this space?" and "when did you know or decide this is what you wanted to do?" My answer would be, I've always been inspired, I've always known and I decided a long time ago.

T-shirts!!! A simple message from my 12 year old self...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

9 Week Bush Craft Semester Complete!

            Just completed my 9 week semester of a living education and learning in the Northern Maine Woods at the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School! Made some incredible connections with beautiful people and very excited about all this "new to me" knowledge and these "back to our roots" skills. Discovering these basic, simple and important techniques on how to live, sustain and be happy gave me great insight and a deep awareness of what it feels like to be human.... Next chapter in my year dedicated to knowledge and wisdom, I will continue my immersion over the next 3 months as I have been blessed with a beautiful cabin bordering the 2.5 million acres of protected forest of the Adirondack Mountains (Upstate NY) My intentions are to study/memorize the plants, mammals, fish, constellations and perfect the basic craft skills we acquired over the last 9 weeks. Returning to Northern Maine in February for the Winter semester at JMB School for a 5 week snowshoeing expedition (2 weeks in the Northern Maine woods & 3 weeks in the Boundary Waters of the Superior National Forest in Northeastern Minnesota) I will also begin to update my blog with the 56 days of information from my now completed fall semester so you can click "follow by email" on the left side of my site or most likely read the posts as I share them on here. Enjoy the rest of this beautiful Autumn we are having and get cozy for the Winter. I'll be keeping the wood stove burning and always remember to keep smiling 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What, is your quest?

*to post a comment click on the title^

          I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit my website and I hope you are inspired enough to continue following this vision. This is my first website/blog attempt so it's a work in progress but I hope I've expressed this idea well enough to get you as excited as I am! Please don't hesitate to ask questions or post comments, I look forward to creating this with you :)