Just another day in paradise

Quiche, white sourdough cheesy bread with sesame seeds, and a glass of passion fruit juice (bought; shameful, I know – anyone have some spare?), with a view of South-East St Croix.

The question I get the asked most is not what I’d expect. People aren’t too terribly shocked that I’m building my own house with my own hands…or that at the same time I’m baking bread weekly for as many people as are organized enough to place orders (hint, hint), or that I’m doing all of this on a miniscule budget. Impressed, yes, but surprised, no. Instead, the question is “How do you ever have time to write your blog?”. Well, I can’t say that it’s easy, but blogging is a commitment that I made to myself when I decided to start this huge adventure, and come hell or high water I intend to keep it up! Some weeks it means sitting here wrestling with words, photos, and a terrible internet connection for several hours instead of taking a much needed nap. Other weeks it means getting up at 5 one morning to punch out a blog post before it’s light enough to work outside, then proofreading and publishing it after lunch, when it’s too hot outside to get much done on the house. Today it means taking an hour or so out of my Sunday, the day I set aside for running errands, a few social commitments, catching up on sleep, and doing those household things that tend to get overlooked all week.

A post made from a Saman tree branch, absolutely massive, ground to a rough finish with 34 grit paper on a 4 inch grinder.
Posts made from Manjack wood, some already stripped down with a hatchet, some still intact.

A quick briefing on the Nid Tiny House progress, and then I’m going to talk about food, ok? So the Nid. The driveway is drivable – or so Mandy has demonstrated, as I’m not brave enough to gun the pickup up a steep and bumpy curve with a load of sand, gravel, or timber in the back – the foundation wall is knee-high, all ready for the posts to be set in, and the posts are about one hour of grinding away from being set upright on the wall. This week has been spent mostly on cutting and stripping the posts, using a chainsaw then a hatchet and lump hammer. A slow process, costing me a couple of chunks of skin (hatchets and chisels should not be used when overtired) and a certain amount of frustration, sawdust in the eyes, and far too much effort in hauling and lifting 100+lb over-sized posts. I’m nearly there, however, and having them standing in place will be a huge achievement.

In other news this week, Mandy was removing the fallen roof of one of the ruins. Little of the wood was salvageable, so most was burnt in the floor of the ruin.

Now for my other love: food. Place some bread orders, y’all! I do love the baking, but I also love spreading amazing, wholesome, delicious bread through the community, that is so starved of fresh, local, healthy baked goods. This week, as well as the bread (white and cooked-grain – see Produce and Products for more info on each) I made what I’m calling Tiny House Toasties: thinly sliced bread baked with olive oil and rosemary and just a hint of salt, a crunchy snack akin to (but so much better than) bagel crisps. For the household, I also roasted a chicken (with English style stuffing, of course), a to-die-for tray of wonderfully caramelized sweet potatoes and carrots, and a couple of arugula-feta quiches. The quiches are pretty yummy, perhaps I’ll be nice and share a recipe today?

Apologies to any vegetarians out there, but this really is a great way to roast a chicken. 500-600ºF for about an hour.
So pretty!! Let me tell you, that pastry tastes even better than it looks.

Arugula Feta Quiche

For the pastry:
1 1/3 C white flour
1 t salt
1/4 C crisco (yes, really, it makes the texture just right)
1/4 C butter (frozen)
2 T cold water

Mix flour and salt, throw in crisco and cubed butter. Swiftly flake the butter into the flour with your hands, the crisco should somewhat combine with the flour during this process. Leave the lumps of butter, just try to flatten each one as you go. Add the water and gently stir/squeeze together with your hand, just enough so that no flour is left dry. Do not try to make it into a smooth dough! Cover and place in ‘fridge for an hour or two.

For the filling:
1 bunch arugula (coarsely sliced)
3 eggs
1/2 C milk (or water)
3/4 C Feta (crumbled roughly)
1/4 C shredded cheese (any kind, optional)
1 small onion (diced)
salt, pepper to taste

Beat the eggs in a bowl, add everything else and stir to combine.

Take pastry out of the fridge, should be very cold (freezer works well too), turn onto a heavily floured board, roll to 1/4 in thick, then fold in half and roll again to just under 1/4 in. Drape into a 9 or 10 in round pie pan, trim edges, pour in filling and bake at 400ºF for about 35min or until no longer liquid in the center. Enjoy!

In this hot, humid climate arugula is super easy to grow in the garden or in tubs in full sun, maybe you want to try? From seed it comes up in about 3 days and is ready to start picking in about 5 weeks, or you can go to the Ag center and get seedlings that are only about 2 weeks from picking for around 10c each.

Bake day lunch!

I just scored some milk that was on sale, so this week I’ll be making some fresh soft cheese, a real treat! With some herbs from the garden it’ll be superb on the sourdough bread or maybe even on the toasties…the possibilities are endless. Cheese will be a tad tricky to make as I’m currently house sitting, so have to drive halfway across the island each night, but it shall be done. The drive is well worth the escape it provides from the endless tasks related to building and simply living in the jungle, plus letting Mandy have her living room back for a little while. I’m just waiting for the day when I can move into the Nid and call it my own…

Hungry now? You’re welcome.

Last Sunday Mt Victory Camps up the road from us not only built this pretty bonfire, but also hosted a great event: Dub in the Rainforest. So happy that West End St Croix raised its sleepy head for a night!

Cheers – remember to show some love in the comments section!

2 thoughts on “Just another day in paradise

Add yours

  1. You are just too much, I think you are amazing….. love to hear about the Nid and how its coming along the wood is fabulous and your energy is amazing but so is your determination. I love you are adding food to the blog it looks delicious and know it takes even better. I am going to make the quiche hope it turns out as good as your looks.
    Hope the bread will catch on and you sell a lot. I will be ordering next week will take orders from some friends.

    Glad the weather has been good so you can continue to work on the Nid. Remember take care of you the Nid needs you.

    See you next Sat. it may be after 12 depending on the roads opening up after the Triathalon but we will be there.

    I have enjoyed the granola a friend got some for me last week from you.

    Have a good week see you Sat. Diana

    1. Thanks, Diana! I look forward to seeing you, and its absolutely fine if you run a bit late with the triathlon. I’ll do my best to have granola available as well as the bread!

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