Monday’s Muse

Moments of Pleasure
by Kate Bush

Some moments that I’ve had
Some moments of pleasure

I think about us lying
Lying on a beach somewhere
I think about us diving
Diving off a rock, into another moment

The case of George the Wipe
Oh God I can’t stop laughing
This sense of humour of mine
It isn’t funny at all
Oh but we sit up all night
Talking about it

Just being alive it can really hurt
These moments given are a gift from time

On a balcony in New York
It’s just started to snow
He meets us at the lift
Like Douglas Fairbanks
Waving his walking stick
But he isn’t well at all
The buildings of New York
Look just like mountains
Through the snow

Just being alive it can really hurt
And these moments given are a gift from time
Just let us try to give these moments back
To those we love, to those who will survive

And I can hear my mother saying
‘Every old sock meets an old shoe’
Isn’t that a great saying?
‘Every old sock meets an old shoe’
Here come the Hills of Time

Recipe Thursday: Maple Weekend Baked Beans and Fish Cakes

I have to say that I have always hated Baked Beans – there was something about the grainy texture of the beans and the sweetness that never appealed to me. And then I started making them myself and now I can balance the sweet with the savory more effectively. My lovely Cooking Down East by Marjorie Standish (after her long time column in the Maine Sunday Telegram since 1948, the collection came out in 1969) points me in classic directions. Though sometimes the shortcuts of the time are less than appealing like canned soup additions, Accent, but it’s not as bad as some of my other collections which feature Velveeta, Ritz crackers, etc. However, if a recipe has lard in it, I’m there. I have been known to get a little wild and crazy in the past and have thrown in Garlic and Ginger and even a little deep Chili to my beans, but this is a more traditional approach. Remember you need a long cooking time to make these just right (though you can speed up the process if needed by either cooking beans on stovetop for an hour before baking; bring drained soaked or parboiled beans with 8 cups water to a boil for 2 minutes, then simmer 1 hour. Add the rest of ingredients plus more water if needed to another boil, then bake for 3 hours).

Our beans change a bit with what we have around but I try and keep Salt Pork on hand, Molasses and Maple, sometimes Apple Cider syrup. The beans are what I have on hand, as well, like Pinto or better yet Maine Marfax beans or Yellow-Eye or Soldier if that’s what I have. Marjorie says a good Brown Bread and Pickles accompany nicely, as well as Fish Cakes if you desire something to cut the richness and add a hearty addition.

I’ve come across many a fish cake recipe that makes this process a little too complicated. I think what makes a great fish cake is simplicity though that is not to say you can’t substitute the fish: I use thawed frozen cod or haddock here but fresh is generally best, however, even can tuna or salmon could work, classic recipes (like Marjorie’s) use Salt Cod, and even smoked fish (you just don’t want an oily fish), and can even swap crab or lobster or small Maine clams or Maine shrimp. Adding herbs and maybe even a little chili powder ups your game (if you are a stickler for companion-cooking, add a little dry mustard, or just serve with a mustardy aioli or Tartar sauce). Frying with a little Lard is exceptional but as long as your cooking oil is made for higher heat and Non-GMO, you’ll have success here (for added flavor that’s not lard, consider adding a little butter or ghee to your oil while sautéing, and they also bake really well – put a little oil on a sheetpan, then drizzle a little more oil on top of the cakes to help them brown/crisp, flip if you like). For me it’s more about the pan and a strong little spatula – cast iron, either well-seasoned or ceramic-glazed works best for keeping the cakes from sticking and patience – just leaving them alone until they are ready to be turned.

Perfect for hanging out around the Sugar Shack. I think we’ll make an Apple Cake, too, just to have something else to ladle a little fresh hot syrup onto (I just got chills thinking about it – yesssss). Beans set well for a couple of days, deepening the flavors and leftover Fish Cakes for a Sunday brunch or Monday Pita lunch doesn’t sound too bad either. Enjoy!

Maine Baked Beans
Serves many

1 lb Dry Beans (2 cups), a kind that will retain its shape/be tender after long cooking
1/2 lb Salt Pork, cut into lardons (or Bacon or 4 Tbsp Veg oil)
2 cups Yellow or Sweet Onions, finely chopped (optional)
2 firm tart Apples, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup Molasses
1/4 cup Dark Rum (optional)
1/4 cup Maple Syrup (or Brown Sugar if needed & nowhere near New England/Canada)
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Dry Mustard, ground
1 big sprig of Sage or Thyme (dry or fresh, Rosemary or Marjoram could work nicely, too)
1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Rinse and check for stones or any less than stellar beans then soak overnight in a large pot or bowl with enough cold water to cover beans 1″. If you forget or cannot soak them you can parboil them (cover with 2″ water in pot, bring to boil for 2 min. put a lid on them and let sit for 1 hour.) Drain beans.

Preheat oven 300 degrees. In a heavy bottom pot (one that can go from stovetop to oven is best but you can separate all of these if needed), fry Lardons gently to render their fat and brown up any meat bits (but not crunchy crispy), add Onions and Apples if using and saute until they are softened. Add beans, herb, mustard, black pepper, and half the salt with 3 cups of water, cover and bake.

After 3 hours, check water levels and add more if needed (generally a cup at a time), add molasses/rum/maple and rest of salt. Cook up to another 3 hours or as needed, check hourly for water levels and tenderness. During the last hour of baking you can also uncover to brown up top of beans. Sweeten with more Maple and S&P to taste.

These reheat and freeze well for any leftovers, too (and are great the next morning with an egg on top!).

Down East Fish Cakes
Serves 4-5 as side

1 lb Cod (fresh or frozen/thawed, Haddock/Maine shrimp/clams, crab/lobster, can fish)
4-5 Medium Yukon Gold or starchy Potato, unpeeled, cut into 2″ chunks
Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
1 Large farm fresh Egg
1 tsp fresh or dried minced Parsley or Tarragon or Lemon Balm
1-2 cups Panko bread crumbs (optional)

If using thawed or fresh Cod, put in a shallow pot or deep saute pan with potatoes and enough cold water to just barely cover. Bring to a soft boil and cook until potatoes are tender and fish is flaky. Drain then add to bowl.

Mash with a fork the Fish and Potatoes together with herbs/S&P, and Egg. Scoop with a tablespoon; flatten and shape into small patties (about the size of the bottom of a 1/2 pint Mason jar). Slide onto a platter as is, or onto a plate with Panko crumbs (press down lightly to help the Panko adhere to the patties) and then to a platter until ready to fry.

Back in the cleaned deep saute pan, have 1/4″ hot melted Lard or a mix of Oil/Butter ready. Fry patties until crusty golden brown on both sides – flipping once about 2-3 minutes in(but do try and wait, if you try and flip too early they will fall apart). Serve with aioli or Tartar sauce and alongside a nice warm bowl of Baked Beans.

Duendesday: small obsessions

{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

Ever since she was a small pea Duende has loved to hunt for things – and eggs for Spring is a special treat. Most of her egg-searching career has been inside our various homes because this is Maine and outside is generally covered in snow during the Vernal Equinox. She doesn’t just search once, she has us hide them again and again (one year she hid them from herself and couldn’t find them! I think the year before last her and her friend Pear hid them from each other and spent the afternoon searching…too funny). This year she had an inside (because after decorating them she just couldn’t wait) and an outside search (multiple on both).

Her obsession with breeding the cat, for example, is another (though I think the obsession is more about having a thing she can focus on which is contrary to my interests, like her listening to the country radio station). And her only semi-conscious obsession with cardboard (which I support whole heartedly, paper-cutter I am, myself). And her lately ‘snack’ of salt/vinegar chips with chocolate milk (eww). Sometimes obsessions aren’t so bad, as long as they don’t get out of hand.

Of course, as a parent, I wish she would be more obsessed about her hygiene and cleaning her room but she’ll get there (hopefully in a healthy way). Until then, we’ll just enjoy her little idiosyncrasies as hopefully she does ours.

Rock Bottom Tuesday

A welcome warm spell has brought some unintended hurry to our maple sugaring process – normally what gets done in a few weeks has to happen in essentially one week. Though we did start late this year (setbacks abound) we might finish ‘on time’. Josh drew the first delicious syrup yesterday. Fortunately the nights are cool enough to offset the warmth of the days (too warm and not only will the sap stop flowing, but the sap we have in 55 gallon drums will sour before we can get to boiling it) as long as Josh keeps up with the process (and bakes, delivers, collects sap, etc). It is a dawn to past dusk process.

Meanwhile, it’s officially Spring! Yay! Happy Spring! The snowmobile trail has been closed (though with the weather it seems it was a seamless transition from the sled to the motorcycle for local folks), and buds are swelling on the lilacs and the silver maple tree. There is still plenty of packed snow in the shady areas of the hill and woods but the garden is bare and the lower lawn can finally be seen again. I am still suspecting another snow but the ground will be thawing underneath at that point. The woodstove is still warming our nights despite my opening windows during the day.

Plans are still moving forward with the studio reno (though everything is on hold when it’s sugaring season), and renewed plans of the outdoor bread oven resurface. I must get to the seeds this week; I couldn’t find the front porch/seedling room for awhile there – it’s only really a 2-season porch so I had to wait until it warmed up enough (and over the Winter it was frequently used as a giant closet/storage shed). Now I must really begin growing those flowers and herbs in earnest.

The marvelous child has been up to loving the sunshine (cheer, cheer, cheer, like a cherry in my ear) – hula hoop tricks, mud baths, and egg hunts. She helps with the sugaring, the chickens, and has been collecting basketry supplies (mostly willow and bittersweet vine). And those chickens, well – they have been loving going off into the woods lately (makes me a bit nervous but ‘forest chickens’ are sort of a delight to wander upon). They have only been out for 2 hours this morning and I have already seen them traverse the dooryard, the orchard, the garden, and now they are working their way across the lower lawn – they get around!

We wish you well and hope your Spring brings fresh new awakenings.

Rock Bottom Recipe: Spring-thinkings and a Quiche

I know it’s close to Spring when I start craving green things big time (I think I mentioned the same last year). We pull out all the frozen kale we put away last Summer, use up the fresh CSA micro-bitter-greens and baby Chard/Spinach (the Rainbow Chard from the farm this week is stunning!) and start drooling over Indian Saag or Palak and Trinidadian Callaloo or Moroccan Greens Dip or even just a nice slow braised pot of Collards (man, I love Collards). Much to my child’s dismay I support chucking in a couple of handfuls of Spinach to every red sauce and bean dish (Spaghetti/Meatballs, Pizza, Tuscan beans, yes). I can’t wait for late Spring and Summer Salads, foraging for Dandelion and Sorrel, and pulling Hosta, Daylilly, and Milkweed shoots for warm Spring vegetable dishes.

Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. Spring in mid-Maine is only ‘technically’ so – our weather can be pretty ‘Wintery’ for awhile. We’re in a warm spell right now (which hopefully won’t cut us short on Maple sap) but it’s possible we could still get snow. Last frost in my Zone 4b-5a isn’t until mid-May. It is generally colder inland in the Winter, and hotter in the Summer than the coast. And most of our growing space is on a North slope (the vegetable garden in 4b, the orchard in 5a). This year we will be growing mostly flowers (to sell, for beauty, in baskets, etc) and herbs and getting some perennial beds in place. I need to work on my dissertation in order to distract me from buying more seeds and seed supplies!

We are on celebration weekend – our chalkboard menu tells me we are full to the brim with ‘party foods’, Harold tonite (our Cheese/Bread board with Roasted Eggplant/fresh Cucumbers, Dukka, Pickles/Olives, Almonds, and fancy Salami), Wild Mushroom and Ham Ricotta/Black Olive Pepperoni Pizzas, New England Boiled Dinner for the holiday dinner on Saturday (Corned Beef, Potatoes, Cabbage, Turnips, Carrots, Rutabaga, Parsnips), and then likely ‘Red Flannel Hash’ supper on Sunday (with our lovely Eggs and crusty slices of buttered Sourdough) because Josh and Duende will likely be boiling syrup all day.

I still have lots of beets, so Roasted Beets on Micro-greens Salad will be happening, Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Lemon with Spring Lamb patties or Irish Lamb Stew, Maple-glazed Roast Chicken with Roasted Roots, and maybe this here Quiche (via Sur La Table). When I was newly on my own (on my very own, in my own apartment above a deliciously smelling donut shop and laundromat), I pretty much just made myself a Pea Quiche to eat for a few days (I’m so glad I’ve advanced a bit). There is something about Spring that says Brunch and Quiche (probably because I love asparagus in it and the light these days begs for lingering Sunday brunch ). With a light vinegary Pea-shoot/Cucumber Salad and buttered French radishes, I will be bringing in April happily.

I’ve heard people being very successful with Potato-style crusts (my guess is par-boil a waxy potato/Yukon Golds could work, slice/oil or butter and lay across bottom and sides of pie dish in 1 overlapping layer, then add quiche ingredients), and GF-Flour (like King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill); though I won’t judge you if you buy a frozen crust (the GF at Whole Foods are quite good!). What’s nice is that you can also substitute veg or cheese, too (Broccoli? still have frozen shredded Zucchini? and even Jack cheese is soft and yummy enough). Enjoy!

Spring Quiche
Serves 8

To make crust:
2 ½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
½ cup Ice Water

To make filling:
6 large Eggs
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ Tbsp Kosher Salt
½ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
3 Scallions, end trimmed and thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 cup fresh Asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces, plus more for top
1 cup Gruyere, grated
½ cup Fontina, thinly sliced
½ cup Parmesan, grated + 1 Tbsp

Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, then whisk. Add butter and incorporate into flour using a pastry cutter until butter pieces are the size of peas. Add ½ cup water, then stir with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to clump together. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for 1-2 minutes or until smooth and pliable. Roll into a large ball then flatten to 1″ disc and place between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper, then let sit in fridge for 15-20 minutes to rest.

When ready, preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 15″ circle, or about 3″ wider than your quiche pan. Carefully transfer the dough to the pie pan, and then use your fingers to press onto the bottom and up the sides, crimping the edges over to line up evenly with the top. Use a fork to poke the bottom of the dough, ensuring it will bake flat. Bake for 20 minutes, and then set aside.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, cream, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl, then whisk to combine. Add in scallions, 1 cup asparagus, gruyere, fontina, and parmesan, reserving 1 Tbsp. Stir together, and then pour into prepared quiche pan.

Thinly slice a few pieces of reserved asparagus and lay on top of quiche. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp parmesan, then bake for 45-50 minutes, or until browned and bubbly on top. Cover with foil to prevent burning, and then continue baking an additional 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Duendesday: almost Spring!

{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

Duende is already making a pile of her favorite Spring books (A Bell for Ursli, Rechenka’s Eggs, Miss Maple’s Seeds, and A Curious Garden to name a few…) and reminding me that yet again, I am late at considering the coloring of eggs for the Vernal Equinox [for Seasonal celebrators – we know the struggle of trying to find either white eggs or egg dye when ‘Easter’ is still weeks away and for some reason I do this struggle dance every year – last minute trying to find something special]. Sometimes we do something different besides dyeing the eggs – last year we emptied out shells and used finetip markers and crayons, a few years I made my own dye (which is only partially worth the trouble because she doesn’t like to eat boiled eggs anyway – just me in this house), and we have been known to make paper eggs to color (both cardboard shapes and paper mache). This year she might be able to hunt outdoors; I think the last time the weather was nice enough she was barely 2.

But it’s been an interesting Winter, between J’s surgery and my Shingles, we’ve been out of commission for a lot of it. And the weather has been temperamental; not nearly enough snow but crazy wind and ice. So, there is a bit of cabin fever (as I’m sure so many deal with, especially this past year). We are in a bit of a waffling warm spell (warm for a few days then the wind brings in below freezing temperatures, and then warm again – which is terrible for late maple tappers like us) but it’s warming up again for this weekend so she is out and about helping Daddy with the maple taps. She loves being up at the Sugar Shack while he’s boiling. She likes to swing from the Ash Tree, climb the White Pine there, jump off the ‘big rock’, chase chickens, pee in the woods, play stickball, and investigate the creek. She builds faerie houses and mini gardens, and makes witchy potions. Outside is good.

Inside is crazy – she’s been arting up a storm (despite the fact that all of our art supplies are boxed up in the other room) and dressing up, too. Right now with the home-reno, she has nowhere to dance either so she’s a bit batty. She’s taken to protesting and hanging up posters everywhere around the house that we should breed our cat (as I look around, there are 5 in this little living room alone), and either watching Star Wars (the original 3) or playing Legos Star Wars (egad).

May your Spring bring opportunity and celebration!

Tuesday Happens

A relatively quiet moment happens here on the homestead; we don’t always know what to do with it. It’s not as if we don’t have things to do – there is always so much to do, but sometimes the stars don’t align for many projekts and we are standing around not sure how to progress. For one, we are waiting on materials to continue the studio upgrade (we did decide to take it all down to the lathe, and the subfloor, and the ceiling beams and start over) which also puts any sort of organization of the library/dining room on hold. Two, with only one of us making food goods for the people we’ve had to cut down on some deliveries and specials. Three, the weather has been all over the map and we me just coming out of the fog, it’s been impossible to get the seedling shelves and clean the front porch/makeshift greenhouse up to speed (it’s become a bit of a stash closet over the Winter, too). All somewhat cumbersome projekts relying on mostly powers out of our control.

In other news, it is almost technically Spring (otherwise known as Mud Season, here in New England). Hopefully we’ll be boiling sap (even though the weather hasn’t helped with that either, we should’ve boiled earlier this year, we’d be done by now like last year – but with both of us out of commission at varying times, this was the only time to do it – let’s all cross our fingers for an extended sap run!), and having a nice New England Boiled Dinner for Saturday. I also have an exciting lecture to attend and help host: (Andreas Weber, biologist and philosopher – contact me if you are interested, it is a free public lecture but you must register). And hopefully we can get our Seasonal Woods Walk in at some point (it will be a big physical push for me!) and our annual egg hunt for the Big D (for which we have not yet prepared for, and honestly I forgot about until she just reminded me). I hope that I will be able to be more productive going forward, I’ve so much to do but I am patient that what needs to happen will.

With this Spring may we all get to find our way at our own pace.

Monday’s Muse

To the Oracle at Delphi
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti 1919-2021

Great Oracle, why are you staring at me,
do I baffle you, do I make you despair?
I, Americus, the American,
wrought from the dark in my mother long ago,
from the dark of ancient Europa—
Why are you staring at me now
in the dusk of our civilization—
Why are you staring at me
as if I were America itself
the new Empire
vaster than any in ancient days
with its electronic highways
carrying its corporate monoculture
around the world
And English the Latin of our days—

Great Oracle, sleeping through the centuries,
Awaken now at last
And tell us how to save us from ourselves
and how to survive our own rulers
who would make a plutocracy of our democracy
in the Great Divide
between the rich and the poor
in whom Walt Whitman heard America singing

O long-silent Sybil,
you of the winged dreams,
Speak out from your temple of light
as the serious constellations
with Greek names
still stare down on us
as a lighthouse moves its megaphone
over the sea
Speak out and shine upon us
the sea-light of Greece
the diamond light of Greece

Far-seeing Sybil, forever hidden,
Come out of your cave at last
And speak to us in the poet’s voice
the voice of the fourth person singular
the voice of the inscrutable future
the voice of the people mixed
with a wild soft laughter—
And give us new dreams to dream,
Give us new myths to live by!
Read at Delphi, Greece, on March 21, 2001 at the UNESCO World Poetry Day

pic from Delphi, Rachael M 2018

Recipe Thursday: Maple Sunday Chili & Cornbread

Everyone thinks Chili means something different – some are all about the beans (some no beans at all), some believe in big chunks of meat/some used ground (or no meat at all). I’ve had Chili with no tomatoes (think White Bean with Chicken and Green Chilis or a more ‘gravy’ style) and Chili which is more like soup, rather than a stew. Some Chili is all about the heat and some is about the style of chilis used. We’ve been to Chili cook-off’s and to be honest, I like most Chili but mine is my preference (ha!).

As a kid, I used to have a lot of Venison Chili. We housed 20 hunters a year and were paid a lot in meat (and we ate many forest animals and raised rabbits/turkeys/chickens and occasionally pigs – and if we didn’t have the latter, one of my uncles did). My people were mainly hunters, fisherman, fur trappers. They had the occasional ‘real job’ but even those were designed around the hunting/fishing seasons (even school in my area closed for the first day of any of those times). In a small town of less than 1,000 people (2010 census put my hometown at 562 – that sounds on the verge of extinction) there are not a lot of options.

Our Venison for the chili was ground, however, and full of our home-canned Tomatoes cooked and broken down into a rich sauce with lots of red Kidney beans. That was pretty much it. The ‘chili’ spice was likely from a packet and we ate it with cast-iron Cornbread. It was affordable and homey. And though I miss game (man, I miss game though I can still get some ground Venison or Bison or Elk once in awhile), I think my Chili has changed with the expansion of my world.

You will find Winter Squash taking a center stage here (with or without meat, most times we do without – when you make Chili sans meat I brown the Squash and onions a little more and rinse out the Tomato Cans with red or white Wine – or even beer – to increase the body of the stew), Crushed Tomatoes and Ancho Chili powder with a hint of chocolate and cinnamon (it really deepens the flavors) and lots of Rainbow Bell Peppers/Onions (be sure to add later in the process as long cooked peppers can taste acidic or fall apart, not so much a concern the next day as they disappear into the Chili) and yes, Kidney Beans – my childhood holdover. I could envision an experimental Chili with Chipotle and Ancho with maybe the Elk and Dried Plums (now trademarked under their new name – ha!) and Roasted Tomatoes but that is for another day. The Cornbread here is easy and just sweet enough to want butter (but not necessarily need it, and Gluten Free); it took us a long time to find a cast-iron cornbread we preferred.

We’re firing up the Maple Syrup boiler this weekend – our warm spell will be over and temperatures will be back to mid-30’s during the day. A cup of warm Chili will keep you comfortable though. If you are headed out to sample some Maine Maple Sunday wares – you could always pack some up in a classic thermos for a little car picnic. I like a long cook to bring out the sweet and savory flavors of this dish and cooking it a day before will only deepen flavors. Stay warm, stay sweet.

Rock Bottom Chili
Serves 8

1# Stew Beef (or Lamb/Pork/Game), cut into 1″ chunks (meat optional)
2 cups Kidney Beans (already overnight soaked or Canned)
1# Winter Squash (Butternut/cup, Acorn work great), peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
2-3 Rainbow Bell Peppers, seeded and cut into 1″ chunks
1 Med Onion (optional), diced
1 28oz Canned Crushed Tomatoes
1 28oz Canned Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (or cook fresh/frozen/home canned to equal both types of tomatoes)
2 tsp Mexican Oregano (or 1 tsp Italian Oregano)
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Ancho Chili powder (or other dark chili of choice)
1 Tbsp Cocoa powder
Sea Salt to taste
Glug of Olive Oil

If using dry beans, make sure to Soak them overnight (or a quick boil in the morning, then let sit at least 2 hours/or pressure cook). They may still be firm(ish) but will cook nicely in the stew through the day.

In a Large pot, add a good glug of Olive Oil and brown meat and Squash chunks (and onion, if using) until browned on all sides. Add beans (if not Canned), a bit of salt, the oregano, stir through then add the Tomatoes. Let them cook for awhile (about an hour) and test squash, hopefully it is still firm but getting more tender – add Peppers and Chili powder (cook another hour, you want the sauce to meld and concentrate) – tasting for preferred spiciness (add more Chili if needed). At this point, when stew has thickened, stir in Cinnamon, Cocoa, and if using Canned Beans. Cook for 10 min, then taste for flavor – add more spice if necessary. When Beans and Squash are fully cooked, the Meat (if using) should be tender.

Put on the back burner and save it for the next day or ladle into cups, grab a piece of cornbread and meet us by the Sugar Shack!

Cast Iron Cornbread (inspired by Plan to Eat blog)

  • 1 3/4 cup Cornmeal, preferably organic or non-GMO/local (Some have had trouble with the cornmeal not absorbing enough of the milk. Bob’s Red Mill works great. Due to their comments I do not recommend the Quaker brand of cornmeal or a blue cornmeal)
    * 1/2 – 1 cup of fresh or frozen Corn kernels (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted Butter (or bacon grease/Lard)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 10″ cast iron skillet or an 8×8″ pan.
  2. In a small bowl combine cornmeal, corn, baking powder, and salt and whisk well with a fork. In a medium sized bowl beat eggs and mix in honey, milk, and melted butter.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and place in oven.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of the bread. Allow to cool before cutting into wedges. Serve with lots of butter (optional) and Chili.

And since you missed (well, really I missed) Duendesday – here’s the peach dancing in the kitchen…

Happenings for Tuesday

There’s been a dedicated effort to work a bit indoors on the studio lately. The room (his name is James, after James Baldwin) is empty and we’re hemming and hawing on whether to gut the entire room right now or just paint it and make it usable. We’re getting tired of the band-aids that others before us have piled on this poor little house but at the same time we understand; sometimes it’s the best you can do at the time. Besides the bedrooms, it’s the last drop-ceiling room with paneling (light blue and gold fake wood paneling with black trim – oooooh!). But at least we did find a good hardwood floor beneath the crappy subfloor – it’s not great, but it is good. I’ll take that. But it means that everything that was in the studio is now in the ‘dining room/library’ (his name is Stan). Everything. It’s an unusable space right now – packed with boxes and tiny paths to water the plants.

In other adventures, the sap is flowing – it will be a warm one this week so there is likely to be a lot of sap, and likely boiling this weekend – come on up and stand around the sugar shack! Take a wooded walk (there is a snowmobile path cleared, just listen for those motor-sleds! I can make a nice warmy lunch while you track bunnies and deer on the property or practice your tree identification via Winter twigs. Do let us know if you can join us!

And I have spent most of my time these last few weeks in the bed’womb’ (her name is Oasis, which it is not yet but heading in that direction) as it is quiet and dark there – good for my ailing head/shingles/issues. I am still very tired/itchy/with sharp pain pangs in the head/ear but on the mend. I have had great care from my lovely Tulips (and friends – look at the lovely handcrafted chocolates I got! And an intriguing new design book, and my baby made me a pine crown!). On a few days I get a good couple of hours where I can feel human but it tires me so – for example, I had a lovely long meeting with my collaborative art group (with a wonderful guest herbalist speaker) on Saturday, then back to back meetings – though both very mentally and spiritually stimulating – on Sunday, caused me to be in bed all day Monday. So, I get spurts. Again, I’ll take it.

And that’s the thing; we all have so many struggles day to day, some big, some small and direct and there is a concern that utopic feelings are hopeless and useless (dystopic, really) but we need the reach. We need to acknowledge the small successes as part and parcel of larger success. There is no perfect anything – just a strong survival skill in the processes of satisfaction. I’ll take satisfaction in any manner these days. As my grandmother used to say, “A man on a galloping horse would never know the difference”. Wise words. Some days need to be enjoyed for their ‘good enough’ quality.