More of Everything Else, please

muffins

It didn’t feel like an Adventuring Sort of Day, even though Juno stalled just shy of letting us in on the snow dump. It was blustery and I felt chilled unless I was standing inches from the fire. Snow was swirling ’round outside our windows, but didn’t seem to land anywhere. It was a Chocolate Banana Muffins for Breakfast sort of Day, instead.

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It was a taste of sunshine from the south kind of day, a daydreaming of green things while we pored over our notes from myriad seed catalogs and planned our garden sort of day.

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The increase in daylight hours does all of us good, even in the thick of a winter storm. It sets me to thinking hopeful thoughts, whereas weeks ago, in the deepest darkness of the year, I struggled to get through even the most basic, every day tasks. Not least of all, it makes sledding more sparkly, and the boy likes to stay outside digging in the ice until dinnertime.

progress

Less moping means more of Everything Else.

fivesenses103

I revel in this mid-Winter time, when my brain is messy with ideas and there are so many unfinished projects around the house. Big projects, like our kitchen-in-progress, and the wee projects that remind us it’s okay to stop moving every once in a while and not feel guilty about it. If only for a few minutes in a day, while my eyes search and my fingers fit puzzle pieces together, I can move freely about in the brain clutter and start tidying up.

There’s a lot going on in there. I hope this is the year I figure out how to pick the choicest bits out and share them with the world.

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the circle game

welivehere

It’s been a wild ride into autumn, life in a constant state of flux-y turmoil sprinkled with the odd joyful moment. The photo above illustrates finding one of those odd joyful moments in a sweet golden hour of the last week of summer, reminding ourselves that we live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Do you remember the 52 Project? It fell off the face of my blog, but not because I’m a slacker. It’s just that this happened, a while back:

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…and The Boy said he didn’t want me to post so many portraits of him in this space anymore.

So, I stopped.

These days, I ask his permission before I publish any posts with his image. He is old enough now to require that consideration and I do my best to respect it. Well, except for right at this moment while he’s in bed, but if he wants me to remove his gleeful splashing face in the morning, I will do so without hesitation. I have a feeling, though, that he’ll really get a kick out of it.

And, remember the One Shot Project? I didn’t discontinue that on account of being a slacker, either. My lens experienced a sudden recovery from its mysterious illness and stopped crapping out after only one shot. Simple as that. I suppose I could have continued with the project, anyway, but it seemed a little…I don’t know…contrived, I guess.

All that said, the only reason I haven’t shared my now-well-tested and ridiculously delicious recipe for fermented cocoa granola is because I’m a slacker. Stay tuned.

Pick a Color, Any Color

my post on Luminous Traces Collective this week…

studiobird

I had something completely different in mind…a hue lively and bright, to help me pretend summer has not yet begun its exit while my tomatoes are still young and green (hint, hint)…but then, this guy paid a visit to my workplace and changed everything.

I spend so many of my waking hours adding color to whiteness, that it only seemed fitting and, perhaps, necessary, to celebrate a blank canvas.

And then we dyed him teal. KIDDING.

Anyway, full set of images here.

in celebration of curvilinear shapes

Because, why not?

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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.

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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

Another awkward summer week of limited childcare, evening shifts, and general overwhelm, so I really have to give myself (and C, for his part) a small pat on the back for somehow managing to keep us all fed (and photographed to join Heather for This Week in My Kitchen blog hop):

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Smoothies are the staple around here, especially in the warmer months. We have so much kefir now that I have to keep up on the culture every day, and prefer to dress it up rather than drink it straight. I keep it simple, and just throw bananas, berries (still using up frozen from last year’s picking!), and sometimes nut butter, coconut oil, and/or flax. The extra gets poured into popsicle molds for cool probiotic treats anytime.

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So, the oven is broken. Again. It needs a new, expensive part, so I’m not sure how long it will be, but if I can get my hands on a cast iron pizza pan, then my whole world will change. Because, really, my first thought was…but pie season has only just begun! As long as the grill holds out, we may make it through just fine. With pie.

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No kitchen post would be complete without sharing whatever wound up in a jar this week. Our lemon balm patch is diminishing…weird, I know, but there it is. I was only able to harvest just enough for one batch of our new (since last year) family favorite, Honey Lemon Balm Jelly, but no more for drying. Although Heather says this “isn’t really the kind of jelly one would slather between two slices of bread with some peanut butter,” that is our preferred way to use it! Of course, it’s wonderful with soft cheese on crackers, especially a tangy chevre, but for school lunches and on-the-go snacks, cheeses never fare well (for us). If you make this, please do give it a try with nut butter, also! The sweetness is subtle and the herbal bouquet soothing. It’s like delicious tea that you can spread. I’m encouraged now to try it with other teas, like earl grey…anything that wouldn’t be too weird with lemon juice.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

the things that are okay. good, even.

The last several weeks have brought many challenging and painful moments, from the usual blah blah financial hardships blah blah to the extremes of loss and all the dark and deep contemplation that accompanies death and moving on. I’m tired. But, I am alive, and I am healthy, as are those who are closest to my heart. I am simply exhausted of the many reminders this year that every moment we find ourselves to be alive and healthy is a moment to be celebrated and treasured. I know this, but it’s easy to forget amongst the daily grind, and the forgetting is often met, eventually, with a hard slap to the heart. So, you know, time to (wo)man up and just fucking celebrate or, at the very least, acknowledge. Here are some good things immediately in front of me:

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  • There’s enough garlic hanging from my porch rafters to get us through until next year’s harvest.
  • Onion greens are soft and silky and so much less a beast to braid than hardneck garlic. Our onions may be small, but we weren’t able to grow them at all last year, so it’s a step forward.

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  • I’m attempting a fall crop of shelling peas. I have no idea if it will work, as it depends on when Jack Frost brings the icy hammer down, but just getting them in the ground felt pretty good. I have faith that the odds are in my favor.
  • The boy is suddenly reading. And, I mean really reading. The kind of reading where we have to ask him about fifty times to please put the book down and come to the dinner table. That kind. I find it hard to be exasperated because I think it’s awesome.

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  • This was supposed to be a garden post, hence a photo of my weed-ridden cabbage patch. The good thing here is that I’m not beating myself up for not keeping a pristine garden with our busy schedules. At least I can see the cabbage plants.
  • I actually wanted to spin this week, after not touching my wheel for months. I haven’t sat down to it yet, but the feeling was there, which is a damn good thing seeing as how I’m teaching at Fiber College next month and was feeling less-than-inspired to create samples and a new template for my class. I’m getting excited about it again. Phew.

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  • Some of my basil looks like this, but some of it doesn’t. I feel okay about this for at least two reasons. I already made a ton of garlic scape pesto, so whatever I manage with the basil is a bonus. And secondly, tomatoes aren’t near ready yet.
  • I think it may be possible to woo our baby girl goat with raisins.

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  • C is taking down a barn in a neighboring town and bringing it to our place. I want to paint it the color of these cherry tomatoes.
  • We thought we lost one of our ducks, but then discovered she was nesting under our bedroom window. No super-sleuthing skills required. She made her whereabouts known by demanding to be fed at 5:30am with loud outbursts of quacking. Under our bedroom window. This will continue for the next four weeks, if she’s lucky enough to survive outside the coop for that long. Odds are sketchy around here, but we deserve a lucky break. DUCKLINGS ARE GOOD THINGS.

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  • I have managed to grow two healthy axolotls from eggs. They make me smile every day and will require their own post at some point.
  • I’m hosting a batt sale, and also a giveaway on my Facebook page, so stay tuned for a chance to win a fiber prize.

And now, I’m tired. So, good night Ezra, Molly, and Michael. You touched my heart, and I’ll hold you there. May peace come to all those who feel the pain of your passing, and may all of us left behind celebrate daily the good things in our life.

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And good night to Granola, a sweet little lass we were hoping to have here on our wee farm for a long time.

  • One more very good thing of note: our neighbors. Such a blessing to live where we do. When my fingers wouldn’t work to untangle her little body from the fence netting, where she’d wrapped herself too fatally tight in a panic, helping hands came to take care of the unpleasant business. And yet more helping hands came to bandage another of our goats who was wounded during whatever goat-crazy happened while I was away from home. We take care of each other here, and that is a very good thing, indeed.

What are you grateful for today?

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:

boozyberries

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?