in celebration of curvilinear shapes

Because, why not?


I didn’t realize when we’d planted “cylindra” beets that they would actually grow into a cylindrical shape rather than a sphere. I had been wondering what was wrong with them until C reminded me of the name. Oooohhhhhh, right. Of course. Ahem.


The anthers on this thing are unbelievable.*

btw, that beet is the farthest I got with kitchen photos, so no blog hop for me. I thought our schedule was nuts last week, but just getting dinner on the table every night this week could be interpreted as divine intervention. Amazing things happened even though I was exhausted and didn’t bother to plan..the sorts of delicious, serendipitous Throwing Together of Things that I couldn’t repeat if I tried, and if I made an attempt to record a recipe, no one would believe me, anyway. I will just say this: beautiful things can happen with the Chevre That Wasn’t.

*How often do you get to say that?


This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop (and Lemon Blueberry Pie Kefir Ice Cream…whaaaatt??!?)

So, it’s that time again, already (following along with Heather for This Week in My Kitchen), and there was a week of radio silence in between. Hmmm…reasons for that:

1) Loss and heavy feelings to process these last few weeks, mainly on the periphery of intersecting circles of friends, but it brings up some emotions I had no idea were still so raw. It makes anything I might want to share seem pithy and it becomes easier to just shut down.
2) Working on the launch of a new project somewhat related to Luminous Traces, which has become the Luminous Traces Collective so that I can use the former name as my new business name. Confused? I’ll clear that up soon.
3) I have to put in odd hours at the day job because of this Summer Vacation nonsense. Year-round school makes so much damn sense. At least in my little family, the dreaded SV requires a monumental rearrangement of routine and much less time with each other as I have to make up working hours at night or on weekends.

But, we managed to make delicious things and eat them, together and apart:


It’s blueberry picking season in the northeast, so every week there will be berry projects. Each time we go, I try to just pick one thing to make with the fresh berries, and store the rest in the freezer for winter. The first excursion yielded one blueberry pie, one quart jar of fermented berries in honey (which is as easy as the name suggests: fill jar with berries, pour raw honey in to cover, give it a little stir every day, and when it gets bubbly, use the berries and the syrup to make tasty things even tastier), and a little over two gallons of berries in the freezer, about 15 pounds total.


Fermented berries seemed like the perfect way to use some of the “extra” honey we ended up with after extracting. This is how much was left in the bucket and filter when we set to cleaning them!


There is now enough milk every day to keep milk kefir grains happy. I love its effervescence, and it’s great for smoothies, salad dressings, or anything in which I would use yogurt. It also makes amazing ice cream.


We followed this recipe for Lemon Kefir Ice Cream, which was pretty exciting because the two main ingredients, kefir and honey, came from our own backyard. We didn’t stop there, though. You see, we had leftover blueberry pie. I know, I know…how does one have leftover blueberry pie? You must understand that we are a family of merely three, and our entire extended family is all 3,000 miles away. They cannot come help us eat pie at the drop of a hat. We often freeze half a pie when we make one, but I didn’t this time, and why not have pie and ice cream at the same time?

Yeah, I felt pretty brilliant.


Basically, we just followed the ice cream recipe (quadrupled, because why make 1/2 quart of ice cream when you can make 2 quarts?) and when it came to the point in the ice cream churning when it was thickened up and nearly done, I chopped up the leftover pie into bits, crust and all, and C churned just a wee bit more to blend it all in.

The texture is perfect, as is the pairing of lemon and blueberry pie. Make this, please.

In other news, I was here yesterday (speaking of Luminous Traces Collective). Our theme this week is Parallel Lines.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

This Week In My Kitchen :: Blog Hop


Joining Heather today for This Week in My Kitchen.

The last week and a half has been a jumble of four schedules and two cars, and if, like us, you live at least a half hour away from the nearest everything, then you know how little time there is for anything else besides planning for driving and actually driving. Somehow, I managed to keep everyone fed, except for the day they fed me (to celebrate another trip ’round the sun…whoosh!…more on that later), but I did not photograph it. Really, I just felt lucky to have a few moments each night to sit with my family and enjoy a meal together before the rush of bedtime for animals and child, and preparing for the next day.


One of the things that happened amidst the comings and goings was that we finally got things set up in the goat house to keep the babies separated at night. This means we get the morning milk; a half gallon every day! We have not yet been able to encourage the young ones out to pasture, but the mamas have no problem leaving the littles to their own devices for the day, so perhaps we’ll soon have them fully weaned. Mama’s Day Out consists of rotating browse, and then they come home to ridiculous, violent nursing. I recall some days like that in my own life as a working mother of a nursing babe…

Pictured above is the first yogurt experiment with milk from our girls. Three quarts, brought to 180 degrees and then cooled to 110 before adding starter. I’ve made hundreds of quarts of successful yogurt with raw cow’s milk, but I find it to be much trickier with goat. Precise temperature seems to be much more important, as is the incubation time. We’ll see how I did when I make this morning’s smoothie.

Stay tuned for some ideas for using garlic scapes, of which I’ve just harvested a bazillion. Pesto is a favorite all year long, so I’ll be whipping up several batches today to put in the freezer, as well as brainstorming some ferment projects.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

Summertime, she rolled right in…


…sweetly and gently, with a few days of high 70s and clear skies. The only thing to do, really, was to celebrate with our first fire pit meal of the season. While the kids ran around and C got the fire started, I whipped up an all-ages frothy cool beverage to enjoy, and it was too damn good not to share. Even if you’re not brewing your own kombucha at home, you should probably try this, anyway, with a store-bought ginger or plain kombucha.


-1 quart kombucha (first ferment, or a gingered second ferment, or store-bought plain or ginger)
-2 cups frozen strawberries
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1/2 cup maple syrup

A lot depends on the sweetness of your strawberries (and even your kombucha). You may want to adjust the lemon juice and maple syrup amounts. I’m only guessing, anyway, since I just glugged them both in.

So, whirr it all around in the high-powered blending instrument of your choice and enjoy the effervescent sweet-tartness! A sprig of chocolate mint makes just about everything better, in case you were wondering about the green stuff in my glass.


We roasted whatever we could put on a stick, including dessert. For a while, I avoided s’mores entirely as I don’t know of any marshmallows available that are made without corn syrup, but since discovering the world of making my own maple marshmallows, I wouldn’t want to go back, anyway. They take only about 15 minutes to make, and as long as you have a candy thermometer, it’s easy-peasy.


The first recipe I tried, a few years back, made for a mess when roasting, but I had my first go-round with this recipe from The Urban Poser, and not only is the ingredient ratio spot-on, but even without letting them sit to dry out, as suggested, my mallows were perfect roasters, even just hours after cooking up the goo, behaving almost exactly like the Kraft marshmallows I grew up with.

Only maple syrup, gelatin (we use the same grass-fed gelatin as suggested in the recipe), water, and vanilla. Simple and perfect.


Until you add cinnamon to the marshmallow goo before it sets. Then, you go beyond perfection and achieve marshmallow Nirvana.

Some wildlife wanted to get in on the action, including fireflies galore, and a visiting snapping turtle. An evening bursting with growth and life and early summer magic. At least I was able to enjoy it before the most cruel and unusual head cold from Hell knocked me on my ass for 36 hours. I was the one pampered on Father’s Day. Oh, well. Regularly scheduled programming back tomorrow!



Him and Me: 2

Our topic this week at Literary Traces is Elements. It inspired another when-we-were-young sort of story…


It is morning, and we escape.

Out of our neighborhood that is only slightly less sketchy than the next street over, where the gas station attendant was shot to death last week.
Away from the loquat trees and the boy next door, who shuffled heavily and carelessly through my little garden to spray ant poison all over his house and the herbs I was growing for tea.
Out of the city, out of the walls and doors and artificial light of every day.
Away from the ceaseless grating whirr of Carlos’ blender. What does he blend all day? 

It doesn’t matter. Today, we are free. 
This is the precious day of the week when your “weekend” day overlaps with mine, the day we set out early and expect to come home late. It’s just us these days, and we take our ritual cleansing very seriously as we set out into the wild.

At first, we thought we would go to a different place each time, finding strange paths to get lost on…breathing in the forest one week, salty sea air the next. But, it didn’t work that way. You see, we found a home. It was the place where we really lived together after a week of going through the motions of our city life routine, of punching time clocks and making the bed, paying bills and folding laundry.

I don’t remember the exact moment it became ours. It happened so organically we didn’t even notice we had forsaken every other wild place on the planet for this one glorious creek.
And so this morning, we escape. We go home.

You know, there was this boy I used to come here with. Before you. We would climb together and he didn’t know about the creek or at least never thought it was worth taking the time away from Little Yosemite to explore. It was different, the climbing thing. I was always trying to get somewhere. I had a goal and I would accomplish it and then I would go home. The elements were all there to be conquered or tolerated.

And then you brought me to the creek and we had no goal except to have no goal. We didn’t try to get anywhere. And the elements were all there to bask and bathe in, to give ourselves up to entirely.

We roll up our pants and step right in, shoes and all. It’s what we do every time, so we can be ready for anything. The chill of the water can be shocking, but we know that within an hour, the sun will be searing any exposed flesh and we will be glad of having some part of ourselves in the water. This is not a place to swim. It’s shallow, just up to our knees at the highest, and full of creatures tiny and not so tiny. We always enter at the same shady spot and just follow the green snake of the creek up, up, up, and although it is the same path each time, it always feels new.


There are boulders to scramble on and places where the trail meets the creek and follows alongside for a while. If we’re going to encounter any other humans, this is where it happens, but most of the time it is our own kingdom.

Perhaps this is why we always come back. Here, we feel like the only two people left on earth. It is you and I, the hot, dry air, sometimes heady with sulfur, the fiery intensity of California sun in high Summer, the solid rock beneath our feet and our backs when we sprawl out for a post-meal rest, and the water that cools our baked skin and provides a glassy surface for skipping stones.sunol4

Just that.

Senses buzzing, this kingdom of ours glittering in such crystal clear focus…
The everyday drifts apart and the gunshots, sticky loquat and Carlos’ blender are many thousands of miles away.


Eventually, we come back to the place we call home but isn’t home, a little dazed and drunk with thirst and hunger and happiness, ready to fast forward to the next day when your weekend overlaps with my weekend, when we can once again wash away all the stuff in between that gets in the way of living.



Golly, what babies we were. Wow.

Is this thing on?

Oh…hello there!

I needed a summer, I guess.

A short, very wet, magical and tragical sort of summer. It was challenging and inspiring, but I am ready for it to be over. There was just a little too much of everything. Especially the water.

Most of the magical bits about summer were the result of intense tragedy. Here I sit in my kitchen, filled with herbs drying…the ones that I frantically picked the day before Irene devastated Windham County. This kitchen is also filled with my gratitude…for our house on the hill, for the safety of my loved ones and friends, for the sunflowers that still bloom even though they were pelted to the ground along with the corn. I am so much more aware, so much more completely in love with the blessings in my life…and just as much anguished for those of my friends and in my community whose homes and businesses did not fare as well and who face long roads of recovery ahead.*

I have a hard time with the idea of saying anything more about it. There is so much and yet there is nothing. It is all very raw, and all very personal. How about a tour of some of the good things? I like distractions.

This is Augoostus. He is a good thing.

These are fairy watermelons. Also a good thing. They might really be sour gherkins, all pickled up and pretty, but I know the fairies bring them to all their summer parties.

All the pre-flood green things. The tomatoes eventually ripened and became sauce. I have since experienced my first fried green tomatoes and now I will never let tomatoes ripen again, if I can help it.

My boy, in the setting sun. A very, very good thing.

We are looking forward to autumn sunsets and stars out before bedtime, stews bubbling on the woodstove and hot apple pie in the oven in our tummies, digging up the last potatoes and planting garlic, kissing summer goodbye and welcoming the crisp breezes and acorns under foot.

What are you looking forward to?

* btw, shop updates are coming tomorrow thru the weekend. A portion of profits will be donated to flood relief in VT.