Saturday Meanderings

Is it really the first Saturday in August? I cannot believe some children are already back in school. Are you wanting summer to stretch out or are you ready for fall? I am hanging onto summer, especially as we are enjoying it in the cool mountains of Arizona. It has been a very busy week so it feels like it just flew by. Well, Happy Saturday and it’s time for another Saturday Meanderings where we chat about all good things. Let’s jump in!

Local Farmers Market

Garden Fresh

A week ago, at this time, we decide to explore the farmers market up here in Pinetop. I would summarize it by saying it is small but mighty. I find pickling cucumbers, garlic and onions from the local produce lady; great Italian frozen take-and-bake food from Chef Scotty; an excellent quiche (by the slice or whole) that rivals my own; Japanese Milk buns from Cedar Hill Bake Shop (@cedarhillbakeshop); 1847 sourdough starter kit and grass fed beef from Skutel Cattle Company.

Japanese Milk Rolls@cedarhillbakeshop

It can’t recall a time when we had such a haul from a farmers market, but this one is a winner if you get there early. If you are ever in Pinetop-Lakeside on a Saturday morning, check out the White Mountains Market, 1501 W Mountain Blvd. from 9 am to 2 pm.

What are Japanese Milk rolls?

According to King Arthur Flour, Japanese milk rolls are referred to as Hokkaido milk bread. These rolls are incredibly soft and airy thanks to a simple technique involving a roux “starter”, known as tangzhong. The roux is mixed into the final dough, producing wonderfully tender bread each and every time.

So fluffy

You are probably wondering why I am a bit fixated on Japanese milk rolls, especially since I have never heard of them before, nor have I tasted one. In reading Elin Hildebrand’s book, Five Star Weekend, her main fictitious character is Hollis, a food influencer. According to the story, Hollis has a website, Hungry with Hollis, and she posts a video with her “making a meatloaf sandwich with homemade refrigerator pickles on freshly baked Japanese milk bread”. The video goes viral and hence her story begins.

Meatloaf sandwich, caprese salad and refrigerated pickles

Well, being the food enthusiast I am, once I read that passage in the book, I just couldn’t let it go. So when I saw the Japanese milk rolls at the farmers market, guess what I did? Yes, you are right! I quickly made a meatloaf and refrigerated pickles with the meat and cucumbers I bought at the same farmers market.

Making meatloaf

Needless to say, it is all very, very good. I’ve never seen these rolls for sale anywhere so if you cannot find them, I would say a close second would be Hawaiian sweet rolls. Not as fluffy as the Japanese ones, but a good option.

BTW~Making refrigerated pickles is also simple and I hope to write a post about that soon. Also, do you have a favorite farmers market? If so, please share.

1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter

As I mention above, I purchase the 1847 Sourdough Starter kit at the Farmers market. Story goes that the seller, during the pandemic got some of this semi-dry sourdough starter (you can find the entire source/story here) and is now selling activated bits of it. Since I don’t have any sourdough starter up here at the cabin, I thought, why not? Maybe it is the real deal or maybe it isn’t, but it will be fun to experiment with baking bread at 7,500 feet.

The instructions are not completely clear so I follow it as best I can. My beautiful Le Creuset pot which I use faithfully to bake my bread is also in the Valley, but I have a smaller Lodge cast iron Dutch oven that may work.

First sourdough bread in the mountains

I literally just pulled the bread out of the oven and I’m so pleased with how it looks. Unfortunately I need to wait a bit before I slice into it, but so far, so good!


It is definitely a week for cooking and new recipes. After making two Apricot Almond tarts last time at the cabin, I had 10 egg whites leftover from that recipe. Since I don’t like to toss or waste, I freeze the egg whites in a Ziplock bag and use them for a pavlova.

Mini pavlovas

What is a pavlova? According to Wikipedia, a pavlova is a meringue-based dessert. Originating in either Australia or New Zealand in the early 20th century, it was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Taking the form of a cake-like circular block of baked meringue, pavlova has a crisp crust and is soft and light inside.

Very large pavlova

A typical pavlova uses 4-6 egg whites, but with 10 I just assume I can make a bigger one…which I did but still had pavlova mixture left over. I use that for 6 more individual pavlovas. In summary, way too many pavlovas. Other ingredients include sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Here is a very easy recipe from allrecipe.

Mini pavlova

The fun part is the filling which can be fresh whipped cream, lemon curd or really what ever you’d like. I use whipped cream and fresh fruit for both the gigantic and mini ones. Thankfully friends agree to come and share the large one, with plenty left over to take home with them.

If you are looking for a light summer dessert, try making a pavlova. It’s simple and your friends will be impressed!

Gardening in the Mountains

New cherry tree

Most of our property here is natural forest and not structured landscaping or gardens. However, we do have an existing pear and apple tree that came with the property. Recently, we add a watering system and now will do more planting.

Planting impatiens

To date, we have two new cherry trees~a Bing and Montmorency and one new apple tree~a Fuji. I am excited to see how they grow, as this hardiness zone (6b) is so different than the one in Phoenix.

New foundation plants should be going in soon and hopefully then I will have hydrangeas, lilacs, peonies and hostas. Yippee!

Do You Use Dryer Balls?

We use dryer balls but I never understood the benefits of something so simple. Dryer balls bring forth fluffier towels, softer sheets, and less-wrinkly shirts while also reducing drying time by 25%. This is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fabric softeners and dryer sheets. The main purpose of using dryer balls is to reduce drying time, soften fabrics, and decrease static cling in your laundry.

Image~Smart Sheep

Benefits of Dryer Balls

  1. Drying time reduction: Dryer balls work by creating space between clothes in the dryer, allowing air to circulate more efficiently. This improved airflow helps to dry your laundry faster, potentially cutting down on drying time by up to 25-50%. This can lead to energy savings and lower utility bills.
  2. Fabric softening: The tumbling action of the dryer balls against the clothes helps to soften fabrics naturally without the use of chemical-based fabric softeners. This is especially beneficial for people with sensitive skin or those looking to avoid synthetic additives in their laundry routine.
  3. Reduced static cling: Dryer balls can also help reduce static electricity in fabrics, which is a common issue when using the dryer. The gentle agitation of the balls against the clothes helps prevent static buildup, leaving your clothes less prone to sticking together or clinging to your body.
  4. Environmentally friendly: One of the main advantages of dryer balls is their eco-friendly nature. Unlike single-use dryer sheets, which are typically discarded after each use, dryer balls can be reused for hundreds of drying cycles before needing replacement. This reduces waste and is more sustainable in the long run.
  5. Hypoallergenic: Wool dryer balls, in particular, are often preferred by those with allergies or sensitivities because they are free from synthetic fragrances and chemicals commonly found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
  6. Scent options: While dryer balls don’t add artificial fragrances like dryer sheets do, you can add a few drops of essential oils to the dryer balls if you prefer a scented effect. This allows you to customize the scent of your laundry without using potentially harmful chemicals.
Image~ Smart Sheep

Overall, dryer balls are a practical, cost-effective, and eco-conscious addition to your laundry routine, providing a more sustainable way to dry and soften your clothes. Apparently wool balls are the best and you can find them here.

Clean and organized kitchen…finally

That’s it for this week’s Saturday Meanderings. If you missed my Tuesday post, you can see all the organizing and cleaning I did in my kitchen here. Next week I hope to share my Spice cabinet redo.

As always, thank you so much for joining me today. I so appreciate your continued support! Enjoy your weekend and stay cool out there.