Happenings on Tuesday

When it rains, it pours around here – (quite literally, there was a drought all Summer and now we’re sopping wet around here, no days to put out the laundry, we’re running out of towels!), we offer up a lovely pasta week and shazamo! Everyone wants some. Who knew? How amazing. So we worked our little fingers off making glorious seasonal gnocchi (golden beet/sage and sweet potato, red beet/thyme and potato, ricotta and parmesan), and then we also got a banner bagel order (of course, some of that was due to order form confusion which caused a series of problems down the line – if your bagels are a little funky this week it’s because they are handmade and variety is dependent on many factors – like too many bagels to proof at once). Whew! We might start offering goods twice a week.

But even though the 40lbs of pasta making was crazy making, I’m already dreaming of new flavors for next month’s pasta offering (maybe butternut squash and spinach tagliatelle, ricotta and lemon farfalle?). We’re also thinking of a holiday cookie week – rosehip shortbread, blueberry Linzers, apple white chocolate oatmeal? Ideas are flying. Next week is a specialty bread week: Sourdough Parmesan loaves – oh, so yummy. Josh has been developing this over the last month or so and it is delicious (as well as the soft sourdough rye he’s been working on, keep your eyes peeled for that one!).

Meanwhile, we got a whole pig (and Josh got a smoker for his birthday – let’s hope the two come together for some intriguing treats!), the Rosehip wine is bubbling away, cheese dreams are still developing, the garden is all but put to bed (though all the bulbs need to go in tomorrow! eeek!), and space for a new pumpkin patch is being prepared. The chickens are not laying eggs quite yet (soon) but we did find that the marvelous little chicken that we saved from the meatbird harvest (it was our ‘exotic’/extra chick that they throw in, seemed a different breed – colorful, small, sweet) is a rooster that we now need to rehome. I’m a little sad – that chicken was becoming quite the pet for me.

The next week will have many changes – politically, astrologically, seasonally; may you adapt smoothly and sanely.

Autumn Duendesday

{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

There’s not much more exciting than baby animals for this kid (alright, they don’t even have to be babies – she loves all animals). So, when Nana asked if Duende would like to babysit her new Maine Coon kitten, the kid’s head nearly exploded with glee. A couple of hours of kitten bliss.

We lived in Wiscasset for 2 seasons when she was a wee thing (walking, barely talking, though she used to tell me when I asked her what she wanted for a snack ‘cheese plate, please’ – my child, for sure!) and there were legends that the antique shops had Marie Antoinette treasures in them from the time she was going to hide out here in Maine. Though she never made it herself, apparently some of her furniture and goods and her cat made it to Wiscasset – perhaps siring or mixing with some local wild cat and the Maine Coon cat was born. So the story goes. Now both of Duende’s grandmothers are Maine Coon cat keepers.

Now that Duende’s own cat (Squiggy) [is a lazy monster who is not interested in much], is not a kitten, she is reinvigorated to implore for another baby animal. I’m thinking a tortoise. Ha!

Tuesday Happenings

It’s the little bits that excite me on most days – the big things don’t change very much; there is always baking and pickling to do, always garden and chicken and orchard tending, and always updating the house (built in 1820 with us being the 3rd owners, there was not a lot of updating being done – at least since the early 70’s – it needs an overhaul and apparently I need to win the lottery).

But I do like the little bits, like Rosehip Wine bubbling away in the fermenting crock, bottling cider and homemade beer, turning the front porch into a greenhouse, mending and patching worn or ‘boring’ clothes, crocheting new rugs or dishcloths, painting everything white and starting fresh and clean, updating our First Aid kit (for years we’ve relied primarily on Weleda Calendula cream and Arnica oil for scrapes and bruises/aches, Hydrogen Peroxide for cleaning out bigger cuts, Castor oil for swollen lymphs, and a comprehensive whole food daily vitamin with targeted vitamins/amino acids for specifics – I’ve had Lyme disease so there are lots of targets, with an extra D and Vit C for the Winter) and maybe adding a few more emergency supplies, and finding better organizational skills (redoing the pantry/laundry room, the studio, etc).

Right now this place looks like a homestead bomb went off – mason jars everywhere (some stacked full of jams/pickles, some empty awaiting next goods), sheetrock stacked and ready for house updates, dried herbs in various stages, Kiwi/Atlas/Tinker crates or projekts in every room, and collections of ‘nature’ on every other surface (snakeskins, birds nests, chicken and turkey feathers, rocks – my goodess, the rocks, leaves, acorns, etc). I love it but it can get a little overwhelming. I know Spring is normally the cleaning time but I think we need to do this every season – with the holiday coming up, I think a good fresh sweep is necessary.

May you find your own version of ‘clean sweeping’.

Monday and a Birthday

On a personal note – I want to make it clear who makes the worlding happen here at Rock Bottom Homestead (& Orchard) – I call him my Beautiful Tulip (as compared to my Tiny Tulip) and it is a fact, he inspires me every day. He is my muse and my accomplice in this crazy life. He helps me make the better decisions around here and yet…let us all be reminded that there is a reason I adore him. And a reason he is with me – he is crazy, too, in all the right ways. He is also a lovely human being. Poetic, funny, savvy, and always up for a challenge.

Happy Birthday, my love, my world is certainly a better place with you in it.

Tuesday Happenings

We waited as long as we could but I love when the woodstove has a fire in it. The last couple of nights (that strange 73 degree day, notwithstanding) have been around the freezing mark, the mild frosts killing the rest of the errant squash and tomato plants in the compost around the apple trees though the grass is still rich and green. Many trees are deep golds and reds or losing their leaves altogether. Sounds like a perfect time for a fire.

We pulled the carrots – huge, sweet, mostly Red Atomics and Purple, soon to be carrot jam (I love carrot jam, especially with brie or as a topping for spice cake). Our Pear tree managed to produce 3 lovely pears, they need to age before we eat them. The bees busily try to eke out the last of the flowers. The tea herbs are finalizing their drying. I picked many, many tiny rose hips – dried some for rosehip flour and boiled 4 quarts for rosehip wine. We’ve also been saving/collecting/drying seeds – Morning Glory, Parsley, Echinacea, Radish. I’m waiting for the rain to stop so we can begin collecting goods for basket weaving – bittersweet, willow, fruit tree suckers, etc. I’m very excited about this last new venture. We’ve been contemplating it for awhile.

Tuesdays are now delivery day – getting the goods together for Josh to take to Portland: Spicy Kimchi, Fresh Ricotta, Pesto, Blackberry Maple Syrup, Blueberry Jam, Carrot and Cucumber Pickles, Sourdough Boules (and Mini Boules) and Bagels (in all kinds of flavors – from Cinnamon to Everything) and Crackers (from Lavender to Sesame), Flatbreads, and then next week Fresh Pasta (Gnudi, Tagliatelle, Farfalle) and then after that Berry Hand Pies! Lots of delicious loveliness being delivered!

Happy October!

Recipe Thursday: Spaghetti Squash ‘Salad’

What to do with all that Spaghetti Squash you see at the markets? In our case, it was the only squash that grew in abundance this year – light golden ostrich eggs all over the bean beds. I think we ended up with 9 or so of them and though they can keep for a couple of months (in a cool dark dry place), I feel the pressure to use them up soon or roast them/shred them/then freeze them.

I’ve never been one to really care for it ‘like spaghetti’ – treating it with red sauce. I like it for what it is – a yummy and unusual savory but sweet treat. I think it will be great as an addition/substitution for mung sprouts in a sort of Pad Thai and sometimes I like them just roasted with butter and parmesan cheese.

This recipe is inspired by a long ago Grace Parisi dish that we’ve tweaked to our liking. It’s a warm – room temperature salad with olives, feta, bacon and could be served with crusty bread if you want it super hearty or even add more vegetables if you want a full veg meal (like canned artichokes, palm hearts, capers, a bit of roasted red pepper, or even add Jardiniere). As a side I would think it could be great with pork tenderloin or even a nice dry-aged steak. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash ‘Salad’

Serves 4 as dish/6 as side

  • 1 Large Spaghetti Squash, halved lengthwise – seeds removed (and saved!)
  • 1 cup sliced Almonds (or the seeds from the Squash, Pine Nuts, Pepitas, or Sunflower Seeds)
  • 5 ounces Bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted Green Olives (such as Cerignola or Picholine)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced Scallions
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Lemon Zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flake (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 ounces Greek Feta, crumbled ( 1/4 cup)
  • Sea Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a large sheet pan add enough water to come up halfway on the sides of the pan (it’s easiest to do this while the sheet pan in on the rack in the oven, just be gentle when you close the oven) and place the squash halves onto the pan, cut side down. Roast until tender (when a knife slides easily through the skin and flesh), about 25 min adding more water if needed. When done, remove pan from oven and turn squash over to cool a bit before shredding into a large bowl (discard any remaining water and skin).

Meanwhile, saute the lardons until mostly crispy (you can either strain the bacon and put to the side in a medium bowl or use the remaining oil to saute the nuts/seeds – its a decadent move but delicious) and dry toast the nuts either on a smaller sheet pan (or pie plate) in the oven for about 7 minutes until golden or on the stovetop in a saute pan.

Chop Olives and Scallions (and any additional veg) coarsely and add to the medium bowl with the bacon. Add Lemon Juice and Zest, Red Pepper flake, Sea Salt, and Olive Oil to a Mason jar or dressing shaker with lid and shake vigorously to emulsify. Add medium bowl and dressing to large bowl with shredded Spaghetti Squash.

Crumble Feta Cheese, add fresh ground Black Pepper, and toasted Nuts/Seeds and Serve! Happy Squash Season!

Tuesday Happenings

Tuesday 2-Do

  • Put the garden to bed: this year we are going to start a new ‘no-till raised bed’ sort of scenario to build up some good nutrients. We’ll rake all the current (and still emptying beds, need to pull the carrots still, let the calendula finish, leave the late radish blooms for the bees) beds, compost them and then cover them with cardboard or tarp. If we have enough time we may cover crop them with rye, let it grow, mow, then cover with cardboard or tarp. Weed and mulch the strawberries for Winter. With the great local CSA’s (this year we’ve subscribed to Farmer Kev’s and the Andrews Farm – both fantastic) and the Farmer’s Market at Mill Park (Augusta), we are going to focus on the specifics of what we like to grow (dry beans, pumpkins/squash/melons, and a little kitchen garden bed of lettuce/peppers/cherry tom’s, etc). I’m only sad that I am going to take a year off potatoes – our harvest was partially eaten by voles this year so I need to address that (with a lot of castor oil, which will also dissuade the moles that we are also dealing with, getting nematodes – to kill the grubs that they eat) but maybe I’ll grow fingerlings in grow bags.
  • Forage for mushrooms, pick ripe rose hips (for wine, flour, and tea), keep up with ripening juniper berries. Hang and dry late herbs and collect seed. I might be lucky enough to get another batch of cleavers, goldenrod, and yarrow to dry for teas.
  • Plant bulbs – garlic (usually we line garden beds with garlic as a companion plant but this year we will also do a full bed of garlic – we have garlic needs), narcissus, and a few Spring friends like crocus and early Summer little iris, windflower in the orchard.
  • We still have to paint the chicken coop (will help it Winter and make it purty), and fix some garden gates. Cage and mulch the younger fruit trees (elderberry, blueberry bush, hazelnut, apples, cornelian cherry). Duende is voting for a ‘blinding barn red’ while I’m hoping more for a ‘mellow yellow’ (it has a green metal roof), Josh doesn’t really care as long as it gets painted. Until then D has been chalking graffiti and witchy protection spells on it.
  • We put in our Fedco tree order (a couple more apples, pears, elderberry, and medicinal/ornamental/orchard companion like pussy willow, comfrey, boneset, lavender, blue false indigo, perennial hollyhock, purple asparagus, rugosa, beach plums, wormwood, and wild bergamot), but still have to put in the seed order (which will be heavy in flowers and medicinals this year).
  • We’ve updated a logo that we are excited about – low maintenance as a minimum of branding (if you know us, branding is not our thing, and since this is a very lowbrow scenario, we want it to match our ethos). Deliveries have been going nicely and it seems our new order form is catching on. Let us know if you want to be on the list, or know someone who enjoys Cottage foods. Working with Olde Haven Farm has been lovely – do check them out and try their amazing goods (especially the sausages! they have a Facebook, too).
  • Meanwhile, we also have a birthday to prepare for in another week or so- yay, Josh! More dissertation to write. And some new Fall/Winter plans to work on baskets/wreaths, charcuterie/cheese, and blueberry bonsai!

Get to it! May your 2-Do list invigorate you!

Monday Monday

We want there to be a reason to get up in the morning. We want the moon and the sun and the earth to continue their dance around us and us equally around them. We want the seeds to sprout, the flowers to bloom, the leaves to fall, and the dormant time to rest. We want the sun to set and rise again, and to know that it will. How do we know what we know and want what we want? Do we do it in kindness, in care, in consideration – or out of habit where we assume or presume that it will happen? What do we do to help what we know and what we want to happen? And do we do it with kindness, in care, and in consideration of others (all others)? The leaves are changing once again, are we?