How is our little peach these days? She is counting her chickens, hunting for mushrooms, and driving the tractor-mower (again). She takes her mower-driving very seriously – she concentrates on all the steps and learns new tips. It really gave her a kick to tow the cart with Josh in it (as he does for her sometimes).
Autumn announced itself with a bit of a bang this year (killing frost earlier in the week) but is mellowing out to an Indian Summer at least for the next week or two. We all wish we could go camping (hot days and cool nights make great camping) but with the world as it is, and our lack of animal sitters, it is not to be. Our mantra lately is, ‘maybe next year’, which for a kid is the worst thing to hear.
But we will continue to celebrate the Harvest all week and into next week, having our lovely friend and his similarly aged ‘Pear’ of a child (get it, a peach and a pear?! love our baby fruits!) come to play outside [I don’t know if they have realized but it’s likely we will try and convince them to join us in harvesting the last of the potatoes and/or the grapes] and make some lovely food in the fire (though we do have a new ‘cauldron’ grill we need to try out). I think it will be lovely. Little by little, we are all finding creative ways to be together and make a better world (less is more, local is best, concentrated efforts reward).
Meanwhile, our hurdles are how to get a 10 year old to clean her room and brush her hair? Though she was very excited to clean the car for $5. which she spent at the Farmer’s Market on honey sticks and a goat milk berry smoothie. We went a little early yesterday so she could ride her scooter in the park where the market is – she is quite the savvy scooter-child! She’s requesting a skateboard for Solstice – oh, my mama heart patters with joy and just a bit of trepidation.
Happy Autumnal Equinox! A time to honor the passing of time, of good relations, in the presence of responsible processes of living and dying. It is a gift, especially in these times, to be able to celebrate with love and care and compassion. We, here at Rock Bottom Homestead, are enjoying our time together. We’ll be hanging some celebratory bunting and tomatillo garland (D’s big projekt this year – adorable), heading to the Farmer’s Market and making a lovely dinner of seasonal goods.
We’ve already been stretching the celebrations – we went for our ‘change of the seasons’ walk in the woods: spotted an American Woodcock and were followed by a Red-Breasted Nuthatch and a Black-capped Chickadee. It’s been so dry that there weren’t a lot of mushrooms to be found but we did find a large patch of spent Chicken Mushroom, and collected some medicinal Birch Polypore. It’s been cool and crisp the last couple of days, the extra blankets are already back on the beds but we’re holding out until at least October 1st for a fire in the woodstove, it’s the principle of the thing – ha! We will continue to celebrate this week – taking it easy – reading and playing games (our favorites right now are Evolution, Ratatat, and Parcheesi, though I am always up for Trellis and Tsuro), attending to putting some of the gardens to bed, finishing touches on homestead projekts (like coldframes, caging the young trees, saving seeds), collecting apples to press, putting up more jams/pickles (like grape for the former, and jardiniere for the latter), making handpies and parmesan sourdough rolls, and revamping our business ideals.
To celebrate the seasonal shifts we have themed family gifts (Spring is Art, Summer is Music, Fall is Books, and Winter is Handmade): for our family gift this year we got Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’ book ‘Lost Words‘. It’s a gorgeous large format hardcover book with lovely nature pictures and poetry to conjure back words of nature into our story lexicon. We highly recommend it.
Another fallacy comes creeping in whose errors you should be meticulous in trying to avoid. Don’t think our eyes, our bright and shining eyes, were made for us to look ahead with. Don’t suppose our thigh bones fitted our shin bones and our shins our ankles so that we might take steps. Don’t think that arms dangled from shoulders and branched out in hands with fingers at their ends, both right and left, for us to do whatever need required for our survival. All such argument, all such interpretation is perverse, fallacious, puts the cart before the horse.
No bodily thing was born for us to use. Nature had no such aim, but what was born creates the use. There could be no such thing as sight before the eyes were formed. No speech before the tongue was made, but tongues began long before speech were uttered. and the ears were fashioned long before a sound was heard. And all the organs I feel sure, were there before their use developed. They could not evolve for the sake of use be so designed. But battling hand to hand and slashing limbs, fouling the foe in blood, these antedate the flight of shining javelins. Nature taught men out to dodge a wound before they learned the fit of shield to arm. Rest certainly is older in the history of man than coverlets or mattresses, and thirst was quenched before the days of cups or goblets.
Need has created use as man contrives device for his comfort. but all these cunning inventions are far different from all those things much older, which supply their function from their form. The limbs, the sense, came first, their usage afterwards. Never think they could have been created for the sake of being used. ~ Lucretius
It may be because I can’t really get bananas right now, and when I do, I specifically get organic because the certification helps assess the Cavendish banana tree health and plantation soil health, which is in detrimental decline (the Cavendish being the kind that Americans typically eat, though there are many other worldwide kinds, and even cultivars of Cavendish – but undergoing some sort of fungal pathogen blight, and I get organic because other bananas aren’t sprayed but are wrapped in chemical bags to deter friends and artificially ripen – anything we do to lessen monocropping/monoculture of our food and soil, the better). Our friend apparently has a banana tree growing in his yard here in Maine which excites me greatly! I wish that banana tree very much luck and growth and future bananas! It is an amazing rhizomatic plant that grows essentially as layers of leaves with a shooting flower stalk that could (unlikely here in Maine unless inside, in a greenhouse) bloom and then fruit into a little bunch of bananas that look (to many of our ignorant eyes) upside down!
Bananas are a tricky bit for me, though. I am particular about its stage of texture – I prefer just ripe (still firm with bright flavor) but I can deal with them ripe (mostly because I feel they are good for me so I just get them into my body). Eventually, one escapes the morning routine and gets past its prime. You can freeze them (cut into thick rounds, freeze on tray before bagging up – use later for banana bread or desserts or smoothies), and even if they are dark – their flavor and nutritional content are the same, they have just reacted to the air (not as attractive but still usable!).
We used to go on dates (obviously before parenting – ha! Parents who still get to go on dates are blessed, you have no idea how blessed you are…) just for dessert. Way back when in our Burlington days, we would go out to find the best desserts in town (and it was such a good food town, yet still up and coming…). One of them that we remember fondly was a Mexican restaurant on lower Church St (Cactus Cafe, I think) with Talavera tiles and delicious food. And this dessert pleased us so much, we started making a version of it at home.
This other recipe I’m throwing in because I keep coming across it (from ‘fit foodie’), and I want to make it – I’m having banana cravings. And if we do lose the Cavendish, I think these recipes will do just fine with other bananas. Here’s to cravings!
Bananas (mmm) rollson Serves 4
4 ripe to really ripe Bananas, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1 can whole Coconut Milk (shake well or open and stir vigorously, working the cream back into the milk before using)
2 tsp ground Ginger
3 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar (or 2 Tbsp Cane Sugar and 1 Tbsp Molasses
1 ‘brick’ Graham Crackers (a full stack of grahams, or to taste)
Vanilla Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt/Frozen Coconut Milk, etc.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place Bananas in small casserole and cover with Coconut Milk, sprinkle with Ginger and Brown Sugar. Bake until bubbly and thick (about 20-25min). Serve over Graham Crackers and/or Vanilla Ice Cream.
4 cups of frozen Banana slices (lay on parchment covered tray and place in freezer, then bag if left over or for later)
1/4 all natural Peanut Butter (or Sunflower, Almond, Cashew, etc)
1/2 – 3/4 cup unsweetened Almond Milk (or other happy creamy product, Oat, Soy, Dairy, Nut, etc)
1/3 cup mini Chocolate (or Carob) Chips, optional
Place frozen banana slices, peanut butter, and 1/2 cup almond milk into a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend on high until a smooth consistency has formed. If things are too thick, add a little bit more almond milk.
Add in mini chocolate chips and pulse to combine.
Option to eat immediately for a “soft-serve-like” consistency or to transfer into a parchment-lined bread pan to freeze for a more “ice cream-like” consistency. Freeze for about 2 hours. If you freeze for longer, it will become solid and hard to scoop, so you will need to thaw!
Serve with more chocolate chips and a drizzle of peanut butter and honey, if feeling decadent.
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Hmmm, what happened to the rest of the days since last Thursday? Not sure – my blog for last Thursday’s recipe *poof* disappeared into the ether…and well, the other days are just touch and go. Sometime the stories and inspirations have to come from other places. But here we are – Tuesday again.
As it inches closer to the Equinox, I am dreaming of wood land flora/fauna cookie making. Nothing says celebration like baking, apparently – ha! I also dream of a family nature loom, something cooked in the fire, harvesting something lovely (like the grapes or even medicinal flowers for tea – or a foraging trip in the woods – yessss!), and pressing apples. The celebration day falls early in the week this year so it is likely I can milk the entire weekend before as part and parcel. I love a long celebration! Any big plans?
Normally we would head to the Common Ground Fair – it’s a nice way to kick off the season. We have favorite bits like the animal barns – who doesn’t love to see the fancy chickens, pet the bunny, watch the angora fur lady make yarn, watch goat milking or the center shows (Duende loves the herding demonstrations). We catch the Shave Ice booth on the way to cardboard hill, stop by the kid’s area to get some facepaint, somewhere in there we’ve picked up our cover crop from the Fedco tent, walked through the apple trees, checked out all the spinning wheels, and wish we could go to the herb or iron works or forestry workshops (but what would we do with our wonderful child? we’ve yet to go to any of the seminars during the fair). Eventually we settle on some lunch (if we can afford it, I also bring snacks), find the Revolution tent so I can peruse the Nearing books, pass the Taproot tent wistfully wishing I could afford another subscription, and out the same way we came in (which is technically the wrong gate for homeskoolers but we do it anyway, it’s not as crazy and they don’t seem to mind) but we wait to enjoy this section until it’s time to leave – the used book tent/the Chelsea Green tent, the smokey bourbon maple syrup, and a couple of actual farm market booths where I see how much change I have left to get as many lovely delicious vegetables to make dinner with for a full Common Ground Fair celebration meal. Last year we were up there just a couple of weeks later for the Apple Fair and Josh caught a couple of seminars then. If this were a normal year, it is likely we would do that again, but perhaps next year.
What is actually happening now around here? Marvelous things are still growing – white pumpkins, spaghetti squash, the beans are drying on the vine and plant (soon to be brought in and shelled), the corn bed is being prepared for the garlic to go in soon, and a makeshift greenhouse is being made out of the (now empty – thank you beautiful Ginger Broilers, you were lovely) chicken tractor to extend the heirloom tomatoes and plant some kale. 3 more rows of potatoes are set to dig up in another week, and the fruit plants will be mulched for the Fall/Winter. First frost is coming up soon (I think it is technically next week, seems probable), it will be light but is a good reminder to get things rolling. The fruit trees will be mulched and caged, and many herbs will be cut and dried.
And there will be some ordering changes for our wonderful regular customers – new order forms, and weekly products, as well as some surprises and monthly goodies. We’re excited about the changes as they help to streamline but highlight some of our favorite things to make.
She’s a maker, a doer, a shaker, a dancer, a marvelous wood sprite with magickal powers to amuse and amaze! She’s been hard at work playing lately – making all manner of craziness and discovery. She’s been playing badminton and board games, drawing on her outdoor chalkboard, shooting stick arrows from her wooden bow, invoking rituals all over the property (and making corn dolls, I think these things go together even if she doesn’t see the connection yet), riding her bike over hill and dale, and reading Roald Dahl (The Twits), and Dog Man
…and we finally got her a betta – it wasn’t the goal of the big fancy birthday fish tank to get a betta but all the other fish so far have died and they are pretty tough. So we will use the betta to get the bacterial strength of the tank up to speed before we consider other fish (not with the betta – he would then move to his bowl) – Duende is very excited, she named the fish ‘Raya’ (after the last betta Ray, and because of both of their ‘rays of color’).
And Duende has been on chicken-duty a lot lately – we lost one gal to (likely and immature) hawk, so D has been making a good presence up by the coop. Since they don’t have a rooster, they need a little more direction and care until they figure it out. And we are trying to introduce a new girl to the flock (she came with the meatbirds but is so lovely and sweet, and smaller) but that is proving to be a trial. She has til the end of the week to figure it out! D is a big help with that process. She’s been a good help in the garden this Summer, too. She harvests calendula every other day for me, and helped to dig up potatoes. And inside she’s more of an official ‘taste tester’ of new recipes (like Josh’s new Blackberry Hand Pies, and Parmesan bread, and all kinds of pickles).
I think today we’ll make some ice cream and she’s got an Atlas crate on Indonesia and a Tinker Crate on Stereoscopy waiting for her…Happy Duendesday!
Not much changes in a mere week around here – snail changes. The blackberries might have one more dedicated pick in them, juniper berries are ripening (we found a cute little patch in the back), our apples are few this year but tell us it is time to go ‘country apple picking’ (finding random apple trees with the back of the pick up and a tarp that need a good shake), the potatoes are being dug up little by little (3 more rows to go!), the late tomatoes are still growing, as well as the Summer squash, the Marfax/Kenearly/Black beans are drying, the garlic is curing, the calendula and sunflowers are still blooming, and the chicken harvest is Friday. Meanwhile, I’m drying herbs and flowers for Winter teas, Josh is canning pickles of every shape/size/color and making jams, and we’re eating late Summer corn around here like it’s going out of style!
I hear the Monarch’s are making more of a show in other places so that is good, but here they are far and few between – we normally have a good milkweed patch and we nurse a few caterpillars indoors, but this year, though I saw a few in the beginning of the season, I haven’t seen anyone since. The milkweed never really came up in its patch (though there seems to be more random milkweed this year) so I will try and reseed for next. Our hummingbird family came – they like to live in the Willow tree and eat from the copious red bee balm in the front drive. We’ve had a lot of leopard frog visitors and garden snakes, and voles (that the dog likes to hunt; he sounds like a truffle pig but looking for voles). We lost one poor beautiful chicken to a bird of prey (likely an immature hawk) which was sad, but the other gals seem to be doing just fine – they are a fine flock who will hopefully be laying some eggs soon.
Right now I’m dreaming of a built-in hillside root cellar and the outdoor bread oven, growing a big patch of breadseed poppies and hyssop. Until then, enjoy the rest of the Summer.
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.