Pickles and Pickling: A Quick Introduction

pickle photoIf you’re a TruLog Wilderness Blog reader, you’ve seen our canning and preserving introduction. If you’re new, then welcome! You’re just in time for a great autumn favorite– the basics of pickling! As promised, here is your introduction to pickling.

If you’ve got a bumper crop of produce–or if you’re just interested in keeping some cucumbers, tomatoes, or garlic around–then there is no better way to store your hard-earned veggies than pickling. There’s nothing like that delicious, snappy, tangy taste of pickled produce for a treat come mid-winter!

Pickling is as easy as one-two-three! Here’s part one…

At its simplest, all pickling is, is submerging vegetables in a preservative. Sound easy? Good! You’re on the right track for a world of delicious pickled treats. Now, the specifics get a little more complex. Hope you’re ready for some notes!

First, it’s important to understand what you’re doing when you pickle. Pickling, officially, is anaerobic fermentation– and while you don’t need to know much about the science behind it, you do have to remember that proper pickling needs clean equipment and produce! When you pickle, you’re using the brine to cultivate helpful bacteria. This means that you need to sterilize your equipment, otherwise you may start cultivating bacteria you don’t want!

True pickling isn’t the only way to get pickles, however. If fermentation doesn’t sound like your cup of brine, then there’s always the vinegar brine method! Using man-made brine from a solution of boiled vinegar and salt, the pickler-on-the-go can make ‘Quick Pickles.’ And while they’re not technically traditional pickles, they’re delicious! Depending on what you want to pickle, you may want to decide which technique you prefer before you begin.

Pickling can be as simple or complex as you want it to be

Of course, no matter what you’re looking to pickle, you can dive head-first down the pickling rabbit hole. As with any culinary subject, there’s always more to learn. But for those looking to get started with pickling, we recommend this refrigerator pickle recipe from thekitchn.com!

The simple gist of it, is that you’re pouring a flavorful brine over raw vegetables inside a canning jar. First, wash and prepare the vegetables to preference. Then, cook the brine with whichever flavor you prefer! The recipe as written calls for mustard seeds, but you can use garlic or peppers, as well. Finally, pack the vegetables tightly in their jars, and fill the jars with brine. Once you’re done, you can let the jars sit in the refrigerator until they’re ready– usually just a few days!

For more information on pickling, stay tuned to the Tru Log Wilderness Blog. We’ve got all of the traditional culinary info you could want!

Fire Lookout Towers: Ideal Wilderness Getaway?

fire lookout tower photo

Photo by #ODF

Looking for a unique wilderness getaway, but feel like you’ve seen it all? Don’t worry– if there’s anything we’ve learned in our years working in the Rocky Mountain wilderness, it’s that you’ll never run out of surprises!

Take these fire lookout towers, for example! If you’re looking for a unique wilderness getaway with a view to kill, you’re gonna be hard-pressed to find something to top this two-story tower nestled in Oregon’s Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Offering a 360-degree view of Eastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains, this lookout tower is a great place to go if you’re looking to get away.

Be a part of American history

Fire watch lookout towers are built with a single purpose: to give the person staying there an unrivaled view of the surrounding wilderness. Built in the 1930s, towers like the ones in the Strawberry Mountain wilderness were often built by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a part of America’s ‘New Deal.’ With an eye towards natural resource management, these towers were often built in distant, hard-to-reach parts of the American wilderness. With towers like these, firefighters were able to respond to forest fires that might go unnoticed for weeks!

Nowadays, there aren’t too many places in the American wilderness that still use these towers for spotting fires. For the most part, modern technology lets the forest service spot fires with satellites and hi-res aerial imaging. That means that the need to keep a lone employee in these towers has dropped to a crawl, leaving a lot of them empty! That doesn’t mean they’re useless, however– the forest service and US Government have found an excellent solution to their problem.

Time moved on and let guests move in!

Without support and upkeep, a lot of these far-flung towers have started to break down. But recently, the forest service has decided to renovate a few of these towers! Though the amenities are just about as rustic as you can get–the tower is miles away from most utilities–the view can’t be beat!

Staying in a wilderness location means being prepared. There is no water available at the location, so any visitors have to think ahead and pack what they need to stay safe and healthy. In the same vein, make sure your vehicle can survive the trip! Wilderness roads can be pretty dicey– low clearance can mean significant damage to your car. Remember, wherever you decide to go on your wilderness getaway, make sure you do your research! Know what you need to bring, and how to stay safe and comfortable.

If you’re the type who likes to look for new adventures, then stay tuned– Tru Log’s wilderness blog is the place to find all of your off-the-beaten-path wilderness getaways!

Log Cabin Construction: Tips from the Pros

cabin construction photoThere’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re building a log cabin. Especially if this is your first time putting together a wilderness getaway, you’re going to need a helpful guiding hand to steer you away from all of the little pit-falls that come with the project.

Though there are a number of places from which you can buy floor-plans and construction instructions, nothing beats first-hand experience. That’s why we here at Tru Log have put together a few tips and tricks from the pros! Though this list is by no means comprehensive, it’s a great place to start.

An ounce of prevention…

If there’s one thing that professional log cabin construction companies say about individuals’ projects, it’s that you have to plan ahead. That doesn’t just mean what you’re building where– rather, you’ve got to think about what you’re building when!

Storage, preparation, and staggered construction needs can save your build project a whole world of trouble. For instance, did you know that one of the reasons building projects settle is the loss of moisture in the lumber? In dry conditions–like building in the Rocky Mountains–your project can lose up to a couple of inches of linear structure due to moisture loss. While that may not sound like much, even a little bit of movement in a fundamental part of your cabin’s structure can mean serious damage.

While most construction professionals take this into account, it’s something that you can never be too careful with. Proper storage of building materials will keep them strong and safe, and ensure your cabin stands for decades. Think about where you’re keeping fresh lumber, how much space you need for drying, and where and when you need access to each location.

What about after construction is done?

Time and time again, professionals will tell you that keeping your log cabin safe from the elements is essential to keeping it in good shape. If you want it to stick around, make sure that the logs are out of the way of moisture, wind, and direct sun. If you’re using a sprinkler system, keep it well clear of the walls. Make sure that the roof overhangs the wall by quite a bit, to keep precipitation and snowmelt clear of the logs. If there’s one thing that professionals agree on, it’s that you need to keep your logs clean and dry!

If you’re worried about upkeep, that’s okay! Tru Log’s steel log siding cuts out the middleman, letting you enjoy your wilderness retreat without the full-time upkeep. If you’re worried that your construction project is exposed to the elements, then take a look at what Tru Log can do for you. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have— Tru Log is here to help!


Keeping Chickens: Little Livestock

chicken coop photoWilderness life is best when you’re sharing it. Of course, that can mean spending time with other people, but who wants to do that? No, today we’re talking about the best company your log-cabin life could have: chickens.

No, wait! We’re not saying that chickens are the solution to life’s problems, but we are pretty sure that they’re a whole heck of a lot of fun. And with chickens gaining popularity as both wilderness and urban livestock, we thought we’d take a second to talk about the best ways to start taking care of our fine feathered friends!

Preparing for chickens is key

First thing you should know about keeping chickens, is that they need a fair amount of preparation before your yard is ready. They’ll need food, water, and shelter. Pretty basic, right? The trick is, there are a couple of different specifics chickens need, especially if you’re planning on raising them in bulk. Chickens need a coop and nest boxes, as well as either a safe, fenced-in yard or a chicken run. All of these can be made by hand or bought outright. If you’re interested in building your own, take a look at this Farmer’s Almanac guide to building a coop!

Make sure you’ve got a good supply of chicken feed and know where to get more. So-called ‘scratch feed’ is what you’re looking for– a mix of different, large-size grains. Chicken feed is often scattered on the ground for chickens to seek out (hence ‘scratch feed’) so larger particles are better. Likewise, make sure you’re ready for the other side of the equation. You’ll have to do your fair share of shoveling, so make sure you’re ready! On the bright side, chicken dung makes for a great addition to compost piles.

Keep your chickens happy, healthy, and safe

Like us, chickens are social animals. You’ll need to get at least four hens to keep them in top laying shape. In addition, they need space to roam and play in order to be healthy. If you want your chickens in top condition, you’ll need to give them enough room– either let them roam in your yard, or give them an enclosed, 5’x20’ chicken run.

Once you’ve taken the time to make them feel at home, chickens are a great source of fresh, tasty eggs. Make sure to check your coop every morning (and sometimes in the evenings, too!) Clean them gently with warm water, and store them in the refrigerator. As a quick warning, chickens can develop a taste for their own eggs– be sure to clean any eggy straw or bedding before it becomes an issue!

If this sounds like your kind of project, stay tuned! The TruLog team as a whole bunch of different TruLog Wilderness Lifestyle tips to put at your disposal. Make sure to keep checking back!

The Outside Of The Garage Looks Great In Faux Log Siding. What About The Inside?

The Outside Of The Garage Looks Great In Faux Log Siding. What About The Inside?

Now that you’ve got the outside of your home covered in faux log siding, we’re sure that your attached garage was covered as well. After all, when you cover a home in steel log siding, you cover the whole house! Even if your garage is detached, we’ll bet you covered it in cabin siding to really sell the idea and make everything match perfectly.

So the outside looks great. But what about the inside of the garage? After all, in previous blogs we’ve been detailing the decorating styles that really sell the idea of the inside looking like a cabin as much as the outside does. It’s easy to add some antlers to a great room or a rough-hewn bed to a bedroom, thus making it look like a room you’d find in a log cabin.

But the interior of garages? That’s a tough one. It’s actually kind of hard to find things that make a log cabin garage unique on the inside, save for the exposed logs on the interior. After all, having been built to house the modern invention of the car, it’s always going to look a bit modern.

But look hard enough and ye shall find, so here are a few thoughts on how to make the interior of your garage look like a log cabin now that the exterior is covered in faux log siding.

The Floor

Epoxy garage floor coatings are becoming more and more popular as people (mostly men) are spending a greater amount of time in the garage than ever before. These coatings can make cleanup of oil, antifreeze, fertilizers, and, let’s admit it, beer easier than ever.

While you could head down to the big box store and pick up a can of floor paint, that stuff doesn’t hold up for long. Get a pro to install something with flakes inside the clear top-coating, something that has a distinctive wood look to it. That way, instead of boring gray concrete you can have something that looks like it should be in a log cabin.

The Door To The Rest of the House

If you have an attached garage, there’s always the door that leads from the garage to the rest of the house. This door is often a fire door, made from heavier material to protect the rest of the house in case anything in the garage ever catches on fire. If that door could use an upgrade, nothing says you couldn’t find one that looks a bit more like it should be in a log cabin. After all, this not only improves the look of your garage but also of the interior of your home.

The Workbench

If you already have a huge rolling toolbox and a steel workbench, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to get rid of it just to make your garage look “less metallic.” But if you just need a simple workbench, you could certainly make yourself a workbench from logs that would certainly help sell the idea.


There are all sorts of things you can hang on the walls to sell the idea of a log cabin. Old saws, farm tools, and the like can go a long way toward giving your garage the feel of a barn from the past. After all, what is a garage but a modern barn!

While the garage might be one of the harder rooms to retrofit and look like a log cabin, we bet you can do it. After all, you want it to look as good as your exterior does now that you have faux log siding.



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