(from J) Folks, I hope this finds you and yours safe and healthy. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but things are getting a little weird out there. Here at Rock Bottom it is business as usual. Boiling sap, starting seeds, baking bread and doing our best to take it day by day and remember the good things in life. Due to concerns around the coronavirus and more directly, a frankly great sugaring season, I think we have decided to put off deliveries in hopes that things will settle down a bit on all counts.

Ok, onto sweeter things. I have a lovely batch of first-run maple syrup ready to go. Its a beautifully light and delicate batch, closer in viscosity to a simple syrup but with such utterly glorious flavor, almost floral in character but distinctly maple. This is not your grandfather’s pancake syrup (though it is delicious on them too). This is syrup crying out to sweeten cocktails, coffee, yogurt, pastries, you name it. I am continuing to boil and will do a batch of traditional maple syrup, thick and probably dark (because that’s how I like it).

Along with the syrup we will continue to offer our sourdough boules, crackers, and pizza dough, as well as flatbreads (not sourdough), vegan Kimchi, microgreens and other treats. I will send out another update with official quantity, pricing etc. next week as we are still sorting some of that out.

(from R) I think we should start a little farmstand out by the roadside for drive-by bread and sundries. Though we are across from a great little market that gets better day by day, our goods are a little different and can only add to their community bounty.

With all that said, we are wishing you safety, sanity, and deep thinking. The most important thing we can be doing right now is using our little grey cells to understand and make sensible decisions. Using compassion, generosity, and care – we should be able to get through this better than when we went in. Wishing you all love and growth and sweetness.



Monday Musings

Here’s a list of Big Great Books for your current state of mind:

The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu. Likely the first novel, written by a woman around 980 BCE in Japan about the courtlife of a man (clearly in contrast with the women) who is not perfect and in fact very flawed by his inheritance and his decisions. The poetry that carries the attendance to nature along is intriguing. Recommended by R – I’m in the midst now, this is my 3rd time getting back into it, it’s stylistically calming.

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha – Miguel de Cervantes. You know you’ve always wanted the time to read this Spanish modern marvel written in the early 17thc. It might be the perfect panacea since it is broken into ‘stories’ that carry you along a pilgrimage for purpose and placement in the world. Recommended by J – It’s classicly long on every level but it’s worth the effort.

Kristin Lavransdatter – Sigrid Undset. Written in the ’20’s but set in the Middle Ages in Norway, this story is for those who love the sweeping adventures of following a single character’s full life (based on ethnographic accounts of the area and written in modern realism). The beauty is that it is a woman’s perspective of a woman’s sense of morality and community. Undset won the Nobel. Recommended by R – Make sure to get the Nunnally translation. When I first read this, I read it as a historical novel but I see that it’s so much more now.

Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon. Outside the box but still a relatively straight forward narrative. Idiosyncratic & postmodern writing about rockets, WWII, free will, sexuality, paranoia. If it clears anything up for you – comic artist Frank Miller did one of the covers, Devo (Whip It) and Laurie Anderson wrote songs inspired by it, and Fred Tomaselli created a monumental art work. Considered one of the 20thc greatest works. Recommended by J – It’s a big crazy novel with 400 main characters and it’s funny without being comical.

Or finally pick up:

J’s Quick Big Book Recommendations:Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, Underworld by Don DeLillo, Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow

R’s Quick Big Book Recommendations: Some Sing, Some Cry by Ifa Bayeza/Ntozake Shange, Dune by Frank Herbert, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, Watership Down by Richard Adams

Not a novel fan (how are we friends? ha!) – Try Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the U.S., William Least Heat-Moon’s Roads to Quoz, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, or Alan Moore’s From Hell, or the Beastie Boys Book

Tuck in and tune in…

book porn



Recipe Thursday: Patatas a lo Pobre

We succumbed to the romanticism of Spain, for sure, even before we got to spend a month there 10 years ago (a very telling 10 years as we suspected halfway through our trip that we were pregnant – ‘my baby loves this Spanish wine!’, ‘my baby loves morcilla!’) – we read Chris Stewart’s Driving Over Lemons, too. A travelogue about one of the early Genesis members heading off to Andalusia to raise sheep (and buying – maybe sight unseen? something we would likely do – a ramshackle farm with no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no road directly to the house) whose cantankerous neighbor makes this meal for him.

Don’t make this a dish of perfection – the charm is in the raw simplicity. Hack the vegetables into chunks (but not so much you chop off a finger – ‘carefully’ hack), whole unpeeled garlic cloves – think camp style cooking (in fact, we have made it camping).

This dish is best served with a big cold cooked ham you can just saw chunks off of, a bowl of olives, some crusty bread, and lovely bottle of Spanish wine – if you really want to push this simple decadence over the edge, get a chunk of Tetilla cheese, too. This is sometimes one of our favorite anniversary meals (as it is pretty pricey to get a nitrate-free ham, we only do it once a year, and it’s worth it) – no dishes, just forks and wine glasses, a cast-iron pan, serving platter. Put on some Flamenco music, hang out by the fire (whether inside or outside – doesn’t matter)!

Patatas a lo Pobre

Serves 4 with Ham, 2 without

1/3 cup Spanish Olive Oil
4 medium Potatoes (about 1.5 pounds), peeled/unpeeled – up to you, cut into 2″ish chunks
1 large Onion, cut into chunks
head of Garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
2 or 3 Red and Green peppers, cut into large thick strips or chunks
Sea Salt, Freshly Ground Pepper

Heat a deep (preferably cast iron/what the old ladies call ‘spider’) frying-pan over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion chunks.

Add the garlic cloves. Add the potatoes. Add peppers. Stir gently, add generous pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Let the vegetables cook until the potatoes are tender, about 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in Pan. Alongside other goodies and relax.

Practice your Spanish.


D for Duendesday!

{a day to check in with a 9 yr old’s doings}

She’s on the lookout for a new bike (the one she has is a bit small, they are so sized for age instead of size, is that a thing or am I just imagining), I think she wants to be a BMX star (damn that Shaun the Sheep) as she loves to set herself up on specific rises to the get the most speed or oomph, and the bumpier the better, she likes to slam on the brakes and let the back of the bike slide in the dirt to an abrupt but dramatic stop. As a parent, I do hope this activity comes with a love of safety wear, too.

She’s also an avid climber. Right now mostly on trees and rope – she fashions herself bungee cord climbers, ties her knots (she’s always been a pro at tying things, when she was really little I gave her a whole skein of bright orange yarn and left her be for a bit, when I returned the entire room was a giant orange spider’s web, she had weaved and tied to every surface she could latch onto). But the rule about climbing is – don’t get up into something you can’t get yourself down from, which mostly works.

It’s also teasingly Mud Season, though we might have another snow waiting in the clouds above for unsuspecting and overly hopeful gardeners, the mud is here so there is she. I frequently worry when she gets ‘too fabulous’ that somehow I have a fashionista or dainty princess (you’d think the above two paragraphs would quell this, but sometimes it’s hard to tell which way they’ll go). She will dress up in the fanciest dress possible – tons of tulle, layers, satin if possible and then go play in the mud. I win. Yay!!! Ha! Though there was no dress this week outside (she is getting more possessive of them, ever since the ‘silly putty debacle’) she did make some lovely mud people. I think they are all Mud-Mama’s (me) and that one guy who couldn’t behave himself and had to go to jail.

Happy Mud Season!

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Rock Bottom Breaking News:

  • Bread Shares are now a thing – right now there are only 20 and notices have been sent out to people already signed up for weekly shares. But what are they? They are a month to month CSB (y’know, for bread!) which streamlines the payment and delivery process. It also opens up a whole new program for us – in being able to get you awesome homestead goodies. Because besides the heavy Winter wheat options now (bread, pizza dough, crackers, flatbreads and soon pasta) – coming up there will be Maple Syrup, and seedlings, and Kimchi, microgreens and foraged packs, then veggies and fruits, jams and pickles, household goods like crocheted scrubbies, dishcloths and Frenchpress cozies, cheese and charcuterie, herbal teas and medicines, so many plans and ideas coming your way. So, thank you to all who participate in the shares program – it really helps get us on our way more efficiently!
  • And the sap is flowing nicely. With all this wonky weather, we may see a longer run than anticipated but it’s a finicky relationship (man, earth, atmosphere) so we shall see how it goes. But we are boiling. The new evaporator system has been cranking – if you want to come and participate (i.e. stand around the fire and likely drink beer or empty buckets/fill evaporator, chop wood?) we are here and boiling all weekend.
  • Thursday we have a date to go up to Fedco and get more seeds and supplies. I need some nightshades and more herbs – there’s a new herb garden planned (more tea and medicines)! I love going up there – I know, it’s not the ‘cutest’ or the most ‘romantic’ but that’s what I like about it. It’s straightforward, lowbrow, easy to engage with and ask questions and get what you need – besides the ride is somewhat romantic. I love a country drive – see how gardens are coming along, see what is peeking out from behind Winter.
  • And speaking of – next week is Spring!! Whew! Though on our North slope it won’t really feel like it unless this thaw continues like it is – even with another snow, we might be magickally able to get the peas and potatoes in early this year (rather than late, as every other year – mostly due to my school travels of which I am technically done with). Because we are ‘seasonal freaks’ we will struggle next week to find white eggs to decorate [we took a break from chickens this Winter but will resume again this Summer – they need a new coop and location] and celebrate with a lovely Moroccan lamb tagine, flowers on the window, and a festive attitude!

Monday Thoughts

“The ceremonies that persist—birthdays, weddings, funerals— focus only on ourselves, marking rites of personal transition. We know how to carry out this rite for each other and we do it well. But imagine standing by the river, flooded with those same feelings as the Salmon march into the auditorium of their estuary. Rise in their honor, thank them for all the ways they have enriched our lives, sing to honor their hard work and accomplishments against all odds, tell them they are our hope for the future, encourage them to go off into the world to grow, and pray that they will come home. Then the feasting begins. Can we extend our bonds of celebration and support from our own species to the others who need us?
Many indigenous traditions still recognize the place of ceremony and often focus their celebrations on other species and events in the cycle of the seasons. In a colonist society the ceremonies that endure are not about land; they’re about family and culture, values that are transportable from the old country. Ceremonies for the land no doubt existed there, but it seems they did not survive emigration in any substantial way. I think there is wisdom in regenerating them here, as a means to form bonds with this land.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants



Recipe Thursday: Best Ever Brownies

I kid you not. A magickal space between fudge and cake exists and it is in these brownies…when you are feeling sad or needy or have a deep chocolatey sweet tooth urging you to find the happy place, or even if you are in a lovely appreciative-of-all-the-worlds-gifts kind of mood – this will exalt you to a higher plane.

One of these, with a glass of deep red wine cures most ills. Hoard these from your children, relatives, and neighbors.

Best Brownies Ever

10 Tbsp butter (1 1/4 sticks) (plus a little for preparing the pan)
1 + 2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 + 2 Tbsp cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Lg cold eggs
1/2 cup flour (can substitute GF flour here, but use a premix, not just rice or tapioca, etc)
2/3 cup nuts (optional, hazelnut or pecan work esp well)

Position a rack in the lower 3rd of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8″ square baking pan.

Melt butter in saucepan. When melted, take off heat and stir in sugar until sugar is dissolved. Use spatula and transfer to mixing bowl. Stir in cocoa and salt.

With a wooden spoon (yes, do it, just like I say) stir in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well-blended add the flour and cinnamon and stir until just barely blended (so you cannot see it any longer), then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon (yes, count, I swear it’s the secret – don’t mess with the secret).

Stir in the nuts, if using.

Spread evenly in pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 20-25 min.

Cut right away but let cool in the pan, on a rack. Enjoy!




{a day to check in with a 9 yr old’s doings}

It can’t all be wine and roses – or in the case of a 9 yr old, all milk and cookies…

What does a day look like when she wakes up on the wrong side (of our) bed? The sass is strong with this one. It demands things like tv and brownies, pickles and videogames and dramatizes everything she can think of that might have set her off (a lot of ‘you never’ seems to come out now). And when you don’t provide – it gets very belligerent and obstinate. And contemplates life without you – ha!

I think this cycles with growing pains and weather changes – and responses to our moods, as well. I find March, in general, pretty tough for everyone. It’s when you become ‘done’ with Winter – the land is so grey, the snow (if any, though sometimes in March there is too much) loses its shine, there’s a bit of cabin fever (though everyone is outside a lot in Winter, too, we don’t go far), and there’s likely been a little too much screen time.

One starts to itch for the Spring renewal – we’ll start seeds today to get that ‘feeling’ started, in just 2 weeks we’ll decorate eggs and the worms will wake in the earth, by Earth Day the snow will mostly melt and the air will start to warm…we wonder now if we can stand much more of Winter without selling our child to the gypsies (let’s ignore the fact right now that we are likely the gypsies we speak of) but we’ve come this far – I think we’ll make it.

self-portrait 2020