Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallows' Eve

There has been a light rain all day.  The colorful leaves are falling frantically, and the balminess has made the air feel very close.  When the light recedes the night will be dotted with Jack o' Lanterns, and a heightened awareness of the ghosts around us.  The kids will eagerly go out for their tricks or treats on this all hallows eve, and we will hear their quick shuffle, wet footsteps brushing over the carpet of leaves.

 "It's said that All Hallows' Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin- and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own.  Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright"  Erin Morganstern

Happy Halloween!
It's said that All Hallows' Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin - and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.

It's said that All Hallows' Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin - and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.

It's said that All Hallows' Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin - and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rose Colored Glasses

Every day should begin with a cup of coffee, and watching the sunrise through rose colored glasses.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Bones That Hold Us Together (Thanksgiving Comes First)

It is hard to believe that it is that time of year again already!  As I looked back through my posts of the previous three years, I noticed that each year, the date of this post is a little earlier.  It is no wonder that today's installment is ten days earlier.  It seems the announcements bombard us daily of retailers joining in on the Thanksgiving Day openings.   I by no means shun the excitement of the holidays.  I have even, for the sake of planning and budgeting, purchased a smattering of Christmas presents since the beginning of summer, when I had some lovely crochet work done for all of the kiddos in my family.

But seriously folks, to me the magic of the holidays really begin with the last exhale of summer and when we are well into the new school year. It is late fall, leaves changing and flying through the air, cooler temperatures, light changes, Halloween.  Each of these things build on one another. There is a general sense of hunkering down, turning inwards towards family and the wonder that comes this time of year.

However, it seems the core concept of this season of giving is all but blotted out in a retail frenzy.  A number of retailers all over the country (the most recent one announced this morning, Kohls) have made the decision that Black Friday just is not enough.  They are opening their doors on Thanksgiving, calling employees in to work, and all but obliterating the family holiday.  Why?  To entice the public out to spend more money than they probably should all so that year end consumer spending shows growth?  Maybe getting back to building strong families would do wonders for the confidence of our population and there would be less reason to fill our worlds with loads and loads of stuff.  Again, I am not anti-holiday, nor am I anti-gift giving.  I am simply anti-rush.  Why can't we take things as they come and enjoy them individually for what they are.  Maybe the lessons that we should be teaching our children involve slowing down and appreciating what is going on around us in that moment.

 I am reading a wonderful book right now called The School of Essential Ingredients.  One of the chapters that I read last night had a Thanksgiving theme.  I loved this quote:

"I believe in traditions--they hold us together, like bones--but it can be easy to forget what they are really about.  Sometimes we need to look from a different perspective to find them again."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone took a minute to think about what bones we want to hold us together?

If you would like to take a peak of my previous Thanksgiving Comes First posts, they are here, here and here.  Thanks to Suldog for hosting this every year, and please feel free to join in!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Random 5 Friday

1.  Grey & Gold::  After months and months of very little rain to speak of, every storm coming through seeming just to skirt around our community, we had two days of grey drizzly weather.  No real volumes to speak of, but a steady drizzle that left wet heavy leaves dripping and falling.  Last night, the sun broke through the clouds just prior to sunset to give us the most dramatic light.  Perfect for taking our evening walk and planning the next steps to our fall finishing in the garden.

2.  Dehydrating::  Maybe it was all of the rain this week, but I have been on a huge dehydrating kick, as I mentioned here.  This morning I put the last of  ripe hillbilly tomatoes in.

3.  Tastebuds::  One of my nearest and dearest friends and member of our close knit tastebuds dinner club had her baby yesterday.  We are all so excited!  Maybe it is because my babies are tweens/ almost teens now, or because this group of people is our family here with ours being so far away, but it has been especially exciting waiting for this baby to come into the fold.    Welcome Charlotte Quinn and a heartfelt congratulations Daniela and Scott!! xo

4.  Sickies::  It has been one of those weeks.  Charles came home from school Monday not feeling well, a cold, no biggie, but the bigger concern the sharp right side abdominal pain and low grade fever.  The kid never complains about anything and this was a big deal for him.  By Wednesday things were subsiding, though we are still watching him closely as he had the low grade fever again last night.  This morning Sidney seems to be falling with the cold.  It has been a horrible allergy season here, yet I am afraid that what I had hoped were continued allergies for myself may be something else.  Between that and the fact that I am care-giving sickies, I am afraid that I won't be able to visit dearest Charlotte in the hospital as not to expose her to anything...this makes me very sad  :(

5.   Farm Chores::  Last Sunday after soccer we brought out the cover for the cold frame, reinforced it and reinstalled it over our budding greens.  Just in time it seems as we had our first light frost in the forecast for that night.  We are hoping for a break in the drizzly weather so things can dry out some and we can get outside and do some more winter prep this weekend.

Happy Friday!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

That Moment..

..when after two days of overcast and rain, the sun breaks through just long enough to make the world around you glow.


“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
Henry David Thoreau,

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Apple a Day, of Sorts

I have been on a serious apple kick.  This time of year I always can apple sauce, so that is not so off of normal, but the Honey Crisps have been so phenomenal,  I have been searching for ways to extend the season.   Then over the weekend I read Return to Gap Creek, the long awaited sequel to Gap Creek.  It seems that for Sunday suppers or special occasions during the winter they would pull the dried apples off of the shelf to make apple pie.  I started to do a little research, and low and behold, this is not so uncommon a thing.  There were tons of apple recipes that begin with dried apples!

With my little man home sick the last couple of days, I resurrected the dehydrator from the basement and went to work.  I began with about eight apples that I peeled and sliced, then dried for about 10 hours.  They filled three pints perfectly and smell delicious.  Then since I was not as successful making apple chips in the oven a few weeks ago, I sliced two large apples at 1.7 mm on the mandolin, sprinkled them with a little cinnamon sugar, and dehydrated them for about two hours.  Perfection! 

Now I am so excited about drying again I have more batches running right now and I can not wait to work on more things....maybe those tomatoes that are ripening on the sill.  For the time being lets hope a dried apple a day helps to keep the doctor away!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Random 5 Friday

1.   Pests::  It is that time of year; the last of the ripening tomatoes, apple season windows wide open AND  fruit flies.  Ugh these pests are a pain.  They will make a bee line for my glass of wine in the evening just so they can take a swim, but if I leave a glass out for them they avoid it like the plague.  We have tried many home remedies, and none that we have been successful with.  Suggestions??

2.   In the mist::  The fog in the mornings this week has just been magical.  There is something about a crisp October morning blanketed in fog that gives everything a dream-like quality.  Yesterday, as I was snapping a few, our resident deer family was out.  Our bigger than life farm poodle was off like a shot after them, he fears nothing!

3.   Farm Poodle::  Speaking of farm poodles, ours has just not been quite right the last ten days or so.  He's our little problem child trooper.  He is a rescue, that B did a PDA (heart) surgery on when he was about 4 months old.  A year ago he was diagnosed with Addisons disease (adrenal),  we medicate him and keep him on an even keel.  I was concerned he was on the verge of an Addisonian crisis with his behavior, so we took him in to work to do some labs.  Now, our sassy farm poodle is having liver problems.  We have him on five different meds right now, and hopefully things will be improved in a couple of weeks, the next step will be a liver biopsy.  He is already feeling better as you can tell from the deer chasing above, a grand effort on his fifth birthday yesterday :)

4.   Literary hugs::   I just finished this book this week.  I swear, every time I sit down to a Barbara Kingsolver book, I just feel enveloped.

5.   Soccer, Soccer, Soccer (in best Jan Brady voice)::   This weekend Charles' soccer club is hosting a big tournament.  Between games and working the tournament, oh and the predicted rain, this weekend is all but accounted for!

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Brings

October brings us many sights and sounds. As things begin to wind down, there are both spurts of activity, and moments of extreme peace.  It is the time of final harvests, but not quite time to put everything to bed for winter.  Volumes of geese fill the sky in graceful V's.   As they head to their Southern homes their evening roosting grounds are not far from us so the twilight air fills with the honks of settling in and old friends saying hi to one another.

  Some days are overcast.

Other days are crisp and vividly blue.

The berry canes are heavy with late ripening fruits.

The trees and late summer flowers are going out in full splendor.

The garden is finishing with bright orange displays.

But most of all the light and shadows are dancing.  It is a sweet waltz as the light and the dark switch places and we glide our way toward winter. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Oh Yes We Are!

A couple of months ago for our Tastebuds dinner club as part of a deep south theme and did braised pork belly.  We had about half of the meat leftover and were trying to decide what to do with it.  When you have six pounds of pork belly, well what else can you do?  We decided to roll up our sleeves and dabble in home curing.  We are making pancetta!  Oh yes we are!

 It is a multi-step process and we began with removing the skin, and packing the meat completely in a salt mixture. Once it was thoroughly coated, we rubbed in a spice mix.

Once we finished this we wrapped it in plastic wrap and pressed it between two weighted cookie sheets on the bottom shelf of the fridge.  We will have to flip it daily for a week.

As with many things we try, this process has been surprisingly easy.  Once the week is up we will rinse it off completely, then roll it very tightly in cheese cloth and hang it in the root cellar to finish curing.  That process will take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on what flavors we are seeking out.  Just another Saturday around the farm!

**As an interesting aside:  this cut of meat would be called a flap.  The same cut that we have been discussing in our Blog Camp Goes to MIT class. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Random 5 Friday

1.  Harvesting Now:  We picked the first of our drying beans earlier this week.  This peck basket yielded 5 Cups of dried beans.  If canned, these will produce roughly 5 quarts of beans!  These are our lazy housewife green beans left to dry.  They are duel purpose and make the most wonderful drying beans.  Best yet... this was only 1/3 of one of our two rows of these beans, and the part that was a bit more stunted because it was partially shaded!

2.  Compass:  Thanks to Uma who posted the Native American Code of Ethics on her blog earlier this week.  Truly words and actions to live by, that calmed my spirit.

3.  Eating:  This week began October #Unprocessed, a great exercise, and not to late to join in!

4.  Light:  The fall light completes me.

5.  Soul:    So does ^^ this guy.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October #Unprocessed

We are getting back into the groove of fall after our big spurt of late summer activity.  This week began October #Unprocessed from the Eating Rules website.  I stumbled across this a little over a month ago, and jumped on board with it.  Part of growing so much of our own food has involved becoming increasingly aware of what we are purchasing.  I began more intently reading labels and trying to make good choices in staples that we did not grow, and those things that we treat ourselves to.  We slowly began to eliminate highly processed and edible food-like items.  Like many things on this journey of ours, it is not all or nothing, we are gradually finding balance and peace with our food choices.

We have been moving in this direction for quite a while and much of what we eat we try to make from scratch with simple and flavorful ingredients.  When we purchase we look for organic, grass fed, hormone free, non-GMO items.   My focus for this month, aside from being even more conscious of our meals, is to begin to experiment and transition to more pure forms of sugar and wheat.  So far I have made a few items using only honey, pure maple syrup, and/or molasses as sweeteners, and they have worked quite successfully.  I am also playing around some with turbinado.  In my baking I am using primarily 100% whole wheat flour and learning how to manage recipes with it. 

The October #Unprocessed philosophy is not militant or unattainable.  It simply asks that you eliminate things that you could not create on your own at home with the ingredients listed on the package.  For example, I purchased soba noodles yesterday.  The ingredients listed were:  100% buckwheat flour & water.  Something I could easily make on my own, in my kitchen, if I had time.  You would be surprised at the number of things that you could make on your own based on the ingredient list on the side of a box (another good one I found was triscuits :) You may also be surprised at the length of ingredient lists on boxes full of words that you cannot pronounce or blanket words like 'natural flavor'.  It is all in the marketing.  Just do not fall prey to it.  Because it says it is 'natural' does not mean that is so, check the label, you might be very surprised!  A group of us on facebook have created a page where we are sharing not only the days recipes, but any challenges that we may be facing as we move through the month.   It also is about improvement, and learning.  So even if you can not commit to being 'all in', maybe you can focus on one thing.  For example try eliminating high fructose corn syrup this month.   Care to join in?  It is not too late!  Click on the link above and check it out!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

If I Were.....

If I were a month..... I would be October

If I were a day..... I would be Friday

If I were a time of day.....I would be dawn 

If I were a font.....I would be Ariel

If I were a sea animal.....I would be a jellyfish

If I were a direction.....I would be West

If I were a piece of furniture.....I would be a porch swing

If I were a liquid.....I would be a chilled Viognior

If I were a gemstone.....I would be an Australian opal

If I were a tree.....I would be an oak

If I were a tool.....I would be a pencil

If I were a flower.....I would be goldenrod

If I were an element of weather.....I would be the wind

If I were a musical instrument.....I would be acoustic guitar

If I were a color.....I would be blue

If I were an emotion.....I would be content

If I were a fruit.....I would be a mango

If I were a sound.....I would be a windchime

If I were an element.....I would be oxygen

If I were a car.....I would be fuel efficient

If I were a food.....I would be slow and homecooked

If I were a place.....I would be home

If I were a material.....I would be 600 thread count cotton

If I were a taste.....I would be sweet

If I were a scent.....I would be Aveda Chakra #6

If I were a body part.....I would be eyes

If I were a song.....I would be sung loudly

If I were a bird.....I would be an owl

If I were a gift.....I would be made by hand

 If I were a city.....I would be London

If I were a door.....I would be antique wood

If I were a pair of shoes.....I would be sandles

If I were a poem.....I would be The Road Less Traveled ~ Frost

I am playing along with Julochka today, won't you join me??  Please leave a message in my comments so I can follow along.



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