What I’ve Been Doing This Week.

I learned some things this week. For example, I now know that eating too much yogurt can result in an unladylike digestive tract. I also learned I’m finally going to need to buy a “do not eat pickled eggs” sign for inside of my car. And a toe update!

I made a lot of yogurt last week.  You read the post about it, you knew I did it, and yet none of you. Not ONE of you thought to email me and tell me not to eat an entire gallon of yogurt myself in one week.

I’m ashamed to even know you.

Who among you has an ounce of compassion? I think none.

For if any of you had the slightest bit of it you would have let me know that eating a gallon of yogurt (as I was obviously going to do, having made it) would send my digestive tract into overdrive and my anus into leaf blower mode. 

I’m so sorry to have to tell you that, but – I mean, it’s kind of your fault soooooo. Honestly you should be thankful that I’m showing quite a bit of restraint in my description of the ordeal. 

We’ve established that I was not feeling well, but I still had things to do. One of which was to run to the local feed store to pick up maple syrup supplies. Betty tagged along because as you may know, Betty will say yes to going anywhere or doing anything.

She is not particularly interested in farm related stores (she’s more of a knitting store or Coach woman) but it was a drive in the car, so she came along. Maybe something exciting would happen she imagined. Like a police chase or Ferrari spotting.  

As it turns out, the most excitement she had during the drive was when we had to go through not one, not two, but THREE death defying roundabouts.

We got to the store without incident. This particular store carries pretty much any and every farming, outdoorsy, homesteady kind of thing there is.

Which is how my mother ended up with a big jar of pickled eggs.  As we were in the car about to leave the parking lot to head home, I realized that I had forgotten to check for something in the store and left her in my car while I ran back. 

I never thought to tell her not to eat pickled eggs in my car. I know better now. 

When I got back and opened up the car door a cloud of eggy sulphur stench drifted out. And there she sat. Betty. An opened jar in her lap, vinegar dripping from her fingers and egg … literally on her face. 

It took her seconds to inhale the egg but 4 oldies songs, a jazz classic and 3 roundabouts with the windows down to thin out the pickled egg fog.


I’m smashing this post out at 10:30 on Saturday night because I spent most of the day cleaning up my backyard and laying out my latest maple syrup evaporator incarnation. 

Because this is the first weekend I’ll be boiling sap this season to make my own maple syrup.

You might remember that for the past couple of years I’ve been using my DIY rocket stove for boiling sap outside.

This year I wanted to see if I could speed up the evaporation process (that’s where you boil and boil and boil the sap until you think if this stupid stuff doesn’t turn into maple syrup soon you’ll do something drastic – like buy a bottle of syrup.)

So after a bit of searching on the Internet I found this setup of cinder blocks and patio stones.  

Laid on top are standard, full sized steam pans which you can get cheap at restaurant supply stores or on Amazon.

Sunday morning I’ll wake up, make a coffee and go outside to start a fire in it and hope it boils sap. 

Sap which is staying cold (remember I told you, you have to think of sap like milk – perishable. It looks like water but isn’t) inside this snowbank I formed in my backyard with every bit of snow I could shovel up.

Each 19 litre (5 gallon) bucket is filled with sap, giving me 26 gallons of sap. That’s 400 cups of sap. It takes around 42 cups of sap to make 1 cup of syrup.  Which means …. I should get an amount of syrup that is too difficult to determine. If you are a Mensa level mathematician who has won math awards feel free to work it out.

It might be 10 cups but I don’t trust myself with anything to do with math unless it involves cash money.

Although I never ever get as much syrup as I’m supposed to based on the amount of sap I have, partly because I tend overboil a tiny bit and because the trees I collect out of only have a Brix level of 2.5%. That means nothing to you if you aren’t a maplehead (I just made that term up but it sounds way classier than a cheesehead in my opinion) but it’s the amount of sugar in sap.

The sap you see above does indeed look blue in real life. Not as blue as it’s showing up as in the photo here, but definitely blue.

Wish me luck. 

I made another DELICIOUS recipe from Gayle of My Family Food Life this weekend. Tonight actually. 

Tostadas with a topping of avocado cream, sautéed lentils, onions and pablano peppers. They took 30 minutes and that includes making the delicious avocado cream out of an avocado, cashews, lemon juice and a couple of other things whizzed up in a blender.


That’s my dinner right there which I ate a few hours ago and am already looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow.

What I've Been Doing This Week.


Have a good remainder of your weekend! Phew at 11:06, I have just made it in under the wire for my midnight publishing time.

update: in my rush to publish I forgot to include my toe update, so here it is – my toe is fine! Perfectly perfect.  I just kept pushing the skin back (ouch) and moisturizing. If you missed it, here’s when I decided to do home  surgery on my toe.

REMINDER it’s “Spring Forward” time so don’t forget to set your clocks forward tonight if you’re reading this late Saturday evening and  living in 1982. Everyone else can just let their iPhones and tablets autoupdate themselves. 


  1. Gayle M says:

    I did the cotton under the nail thing, too, after it became ingrown after a nail break. We could be twins! Yep…internet investigation led me to the cotton under the nail treatment. But…I lifted the nail just enough to get a bit of cotton under there. Next day, removed it and inserted a little bigger piece. By the third day, it was getting better, but I shoved an even bigger bit under there. Like these are miniscule pieces of cotton, but felt like boulders under there. Eventually the cotton trained the nail away from the side as the nail grew out. Glad your toe is better. And, yes, you can get a bunion on your little toe. My mom had both a big and little toe bunion on the same foot …but she was 92 by the time they really botheted her. Lol

  2. Renee Ryz says:

    Bummer – those of us that are not on Instagram are out of luck for that recipe then.

  3. Janet says:

    I went to Gayle’s Instagram site to get the tostada recipe and became transfixed with her lemon loaf recipe instead. Who knew I would have full fat Greek yogurt and 5 lemons in my fridge this week and it would be just what I needed? The lemon loaf was excellent! Maybe tomorrow I can make the tostadas. Happy syrup boiling Karen!

  4. Scout says:

    Karen…… don’t ever eat a gallon of anything. My mother likes warm, spiced apple cider in the fall. Don’t do that either. Just ……don’t.

    • Karen says:

      Yeck. I guess the cider could have a rather unpleasant effect too. You can’t see this right now but I’m making a sympathetic barfing face for your mother. ~ karen

  5. Lori says:

    Do we need to tell you not to eat all your syrup in one sitting? :)

  6. KimS says:

    Karen, did you know that there is an over the counter pill you can get to help with the too much dairy problem? It’s called Lactaid, and there are store brands, too. One of my daughters friends in HS had never heard about it/he thought he’d never be able to eat ice cream again! Now he thanks me for that tip every time he sees me.

    • Karen says:

      Oh yes! I do know about that. I actually don’t have any problem with dairy. And interestingly enough, yogurt doesn’t really have very much lactose! (I know you would think it would) But this much yogurt infiltrating my digestive tract? Yep, just toooo much for my little body to handle, lol. ~ karen!

  7. Have an excellent maple season!!! Today is the day I have to pull my taps down here in Chicago. I think I will have gotten about a gallon when it’s all said and done. With the cost to boil it all down, I’m guessing it’s about $55 a cup. We have to figure out this boiling off thing, 6 propane tanks or a cord of wood, YIKES

  8. Sarah says:

    The recipe link takes me to a “Sports Highlights” page; which is weird, because there isn’t a chip-eating contest photo on the feed…

  9. Cathleen Partridge says:

    I would love a copy of the tostada recipe. I am not sure why some food bloggers make their readers jump through hoops to get a recipe (not you my dear) but the original poster. I really don’t want to watch a video and then take a screen shot at the end of the video. Sorry for the rant. Also the link you posted to the recipe goes to a page with sports highlights.

  10. Cathleen Partridge says:

    I would love a copy of the tostada recipe. I am not sure why some food bloggers make their readers jump through hoops to get a recipe (not you my dear) but the original poster. I really don’t want to watch a video and then take a screen shot at the end of the video. Sorry for the rant.

    • Anita says:

      Karen, I loved seeing that you are going to made your own maple syrup. It reminds me of my childhood when we’d collect buckets of sap around my parents 6 acres. My Dad had an ah ha moment and found an old exhaust fan and attached it to an old downspout and tada the downspout blew more air on the fire and improved or I guess decreased the amount of time needed to boil the sap. My dad passed away 5 years ago but every time I see buckets on maple trees I think of my Dad and his exhaust fan blowtorch ❤️

      P.S. I love homemade syrup, it’s worth all the time and effort. I still have one litre of syrup left from our farm and use it sparingly and reminisce.

  11. Lez says:

    Oh Karen, I’m thinking that after the Avocado cream, lentils, onions & peppers, you are going to have exactly the same problem later as you did with the “too much yoghurt”!
    All of the above turn my anus into a leaf blower! LOL! :)

  12. Gayle M says:

    Wondering…how will you lift the steam pans out of the arc?

    We modified the traditional cinder block arc set up so it was one block taller (catch more ash) and we had two draft/feed holes and two flues, but a single space for the fire. Bought two cast iron grill grates–one to support the fire and one for the pan on top. Decreased our boil time on 5 gal by half. Yeah, we’re making a pint each time, but…we’re a verrrrry small operation here due to inadequate cold storage for the sap (snow is gone, too warm). Happy boiling!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gayle! I haven’t figured out how I’m going to lift the pans yet, lol. I knew it was going to be an issue though. I was hoping I could find steam pans with handles, but couldn’t. I was going to add a chimney to the back with some pipe but I’m going to try it like this to see how it goes. I don’t want smokey maple syrup though so I may have to modify it as I go to ensure that doesn’t happen. ~ karen!

  13. Lois Baron says:

    love me some tacos

  14. Jules says:

    I was trying to imagine a very hirsute intestine until I read your full post. Something like my legs but inside.
    Has Betty tried pickled eggs in a packet of crisps/chips? Popular bar snack in back street boozers here in the UK, once upon a time.

    • Karen says:

      You mean a pickled egg literally dropped into a bag of chips? (or crisps as you say) So it gets covered in broken crisps? She might like that. ~ karen!

      • Jules McShera says:

        Yep, just like that. It’s not what I expected when I ordered those two things with a round of drinks! It was gross actually, I just ended up with soggy crisps. Could work with a sufficiently drained egg I suppose, I’ve not fancied revisiting that one.

  15. Lis says:

    You promised a toe update…but I think you forgot it, lol.

  16. TucsonPatty says:

    You are such a busy girl – no wonder you need to gas up now and again!
    I really thought yoghurt was supposed to do something wonderful for your digestive flora.
    That cake photo always makes me drool!
    I want to try the tacos, now. I have been craving a taco, and the little shop right outside the salon doesn’t have them made like I’m wanting. So, I’ve been getting a bean tostada and breaking my “flat taco” in half so I can have a pretend one. (they only make fried tacos with meat inside, and the beans would run out into the deep fat fryer, or so they tell me.
    When I was a kid, we used to cut up sweet potatoes and use the toothpick and water method for just a huge beautiful house plant. Memories.

  17. Colleen says:

    Care to share your farm store? I live pretty close to you and I might not have discovered it yet…

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