Lovely organic apples were ground, pressed, bottled, capped and labeled by hand, and sent off to quench the thirst of children and adults alike at the third annual Apple Festival at the Rodale Institute. There might not be woodsmoke in the air, but there is enough sweet, crisp apple cider flowing in these parts to make us all woozy with the essence of autumn.
For how many years has humanity celebrated the harvest? Releasing that last torrent of wild energy before bedding down for the winter. Rituals of plenty, gratitude, and mischief. I once showed Rowan the pentagram in the center of an apple and he asked if that's where stars are born--inside of apples. I hope his future science teachers will forgive me, but I couldn't help myself. I said "yes."
Friday, October 14, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
As autumn brushes our skin and raises the hairs on our arms, there is a new daily happening around the gentle giant. The sun hangs ripe and low and guilds the trees, the grass, and our hair with gold leaf. A chorus of bird song erupts from the top of the dark pine. The raucous, ecstatic laughter emerges from what seems like total silence--as if Mother Nature tapped her baton , raised her arms, and let loose the orchestra with a forte arrangement. Chattering and giggling layered over broad, operatic vocalizations. The concerto lasts for about 10 minutes and then ends as abruptly as it all began. Then the birds depart in pairs and triplets, and in solitary flight. Swallows. Hundreds of swallows pouring from the pine and cartwheeling across the sky.
I'm reminded of the dance of the bees, giving directions to a good cache of nectar. Are they working out their migration schedule? Talking up the all-inclusive bug bar at the Sandals for Swallows South? Or might they simply be singing a singular farwell to their summer home? Welcoming the autumn equinox and the opportunity for us all to turn within--to consider our trajectories for the coming year. Thank you, dear swallows, whatever the reason. Your nightly chorus reminds me to stretch my voice and sing with wild abandon and the pleasure of speaking with love and joy in my heart.
Why do you think the sparrows sing?
Saturday, September 3, 2011
What do you think of when you the hear the word tag?
Playing hours of flashlight tag with my best childhood friend and all her neighbors on the shores of Lake Ariel. Nothing like playing outside after dark!
Do you think you're hot?
I am in fact sweating right now, so, yes!
Upload a picture or wallpaper that you're using at the moment.
When was the last time you ate chicken?
It has actually be quite a while. I'm thinking July?
The song(s) you listened to recently.
Singing in My Sleep, Semisonic
Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5
Camel Walk, Southern Culture on the Skids
If I Die Young, The Band Perry
What were you thinking as you were doing this?
That I should really be doing work!
Do you have nicknames? What are they?
Honey, Mommy, Pumpkin
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Hello, stranger. It has been a while. Don't you look incredibly striking today!
So many adventures, so little time to write. (That is Mr. I. M. Vainrooster from Klein Farms, our favorite dairy.) I do wonder how long a blog can languish before no on reads it any longer. Like the proverbial tree falling in the woods......Helloooo? Anybody reading this but me, myself and I? Life has been rolling by, much of it experienced out of doors. In the street...
in the river...
by the lake...
It is rare for the little bear to take a nap these days and there are times when he seems ages older than 4-1/2. It is unnerving sometimes to think he is only a pre-schooler. It will be another year yet before he goes to Kindergarden--he'll be one of the eldest in his class.
Yet as often as he shocks and thrills me with his wise insight and mature vocabulary, he is still such a young child. Half-way between baby and boy. Anyone who has been patient enough to have read my blog for long, will certainly remember that my little Peter Pan has struggled with that "in between" for a while now. Balancing the raw needs of the still new and still wild creature with the blossoming emotional sagacity and independent intelligence of a developing human unfurling himself.
What curiousities, wonders, treasures are nestled inside this little man? Sharp edges and sparkley bits, soft-as-down tenderness and sticky gooeyness, stinky cheese and sweet-as-strawberry jam....
...all the gorgeous, terrifying and exhilerating things that boys are made of.
What have you been pondering on these days?
Saturday, May 7, 2011
When does it start exactly--your fearless child starts seeing spooks in the dark and eyes under the bed and creepy things in the closet? Like shyness or embarrassment, fear sneaks up on your when you're least expecting it. Things that were once fun and exciting suddenly strike terror into your little darkling child's heart. And there is often little rhyme or reason to what inspires the fear.
My mother was concerned the art we chose to hang in his room would be "way too scary," but he loves it and finds something new going on in the scene nearly every week.
And while he adores fairly dark movies like Labyrinth, Pirates of the Carribean, and Jim Henson's The Storyteller, he was terrified by a seemingly innocuous picture book retelling of little red riding hood entitled Little Red Cowboy Hat.
His imagination is like wandering through a wild wood--full of shadow and light. The question is how to nuture the infinite possibilities of that mind without letting all the boogeymen slip in? Apparently there are rules to follow. Like a red cotton ribbon can actually keep the scaries from sneaking out of the closet when it is draped over both door handles. Who knew?
Since it seems we’ve had 40 days and 40 nights of rain already this spring and endless grey, foggy days, I decided to welcome in the sunshine to clear away the cobwebs with a scrumptious lemon meringue pie.
Instead of the bordering-on-jello lemon filling thickened with liberal amounts of corn starch, I did a smooth and juicy lemon curd. This really is how all lemon meringues should be. The little bear ate a huge slice and asked for seconds. It went so fast, in fact, I didn’t get any pictures of the lovely lemon curd center.
Lucious Lemon Meringue Pie (adapted from the Joy of Baking)
1 disk of your favorite pie crust (I do an all butter version)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temp)
1 tablespoons lemon zest
4 large eggs whites
1/2 cup plus 2 tabelspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out your pie crust and line your pie plate with the dough trimming and crimping the sides. Line the pie shell with aluminum foil and fill to top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown.
While the crust is baking, make the lemon curd. Place a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice. Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes light, thick, and frothly (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat, cut the butter into chunks, and whisk inot the mixture until it has melted. Add the lemon zest, immediately pour the curd into the baked crust, and smooth the top.
Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees F and bake the tart for 10 minutes until the curd is firm but still wobbly in the center.
Meanwhile, in a very clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
Starting at the outside edge of the tart, dollop the meringue over the entire surface of the hot lemon curd. Make sure the meringue comes right up to the curst and there are no gaps between the crust and the lemon curd. With your spoon, gently press down on the meringue to get rid of air pockets and smooth the meringue over the curd. Swirl the meringue and make some decorative peaks. Return to the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the meringue has lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack before devouring. Serves 6-8.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Everything old really is new again. As a child of the late 70's/early 80's, I spent an inordinate amout of time listening to records. There are times when I wonder why my mother keeps so much old stuff. But this time, when she presented the Little Bear and I with a box full of my old albums, I was tickled. Peter and the Wolf, Urban Chipmunk, Peter Pan, On Top of Spaghetti, The Magic Garden, Puff the Magic Dragon, Free to Be You and Me. The list goes on and on. The Little Bear has been having a great time singing, dancing and partying hard to all the kids classics I knew and loved.
Of course, the kids classics aren't the only hits he loves. In fact, his taste in music is just as ecelctic as his mom and dad's. Topping the list are:
We Will Rock You, Queen
Thriller, Michael Jackson
Low, Flo Rider
Bad Romance, Lady Gaga
You Spin Me Round, Dead or Alive
Hey Soul Sister, Train
Magic Dance, David Bowie
Thank God I'm a Country Boy, John Denver
Ghostbusters, Ray Parker
Firework, Katy Perry
anything by Harry Belafonte
He actually asked if he could be Harry Belafonte for Halloween this year. I'm not quite sure how we'll pull that one off without having him wear a sign, or carry a bunch of bananas, but we'll see what we can do. Of course, as soon as I located a number of adorable calypso-type button up shirts online (apparently called a gauyabera shirt), he told me he wanted to be Peter Pan. So I'm thinking we'll wait until at least September before I go any buy anything for Halloween.
The Mama Bear also landed a number of lovely new-old things (much to the Papa Bear's chagrin). An enchanting unicorn mug one of our librarians had since college (she's a few years removed from college now!)...
And two new kitchen chairs. These are used primarily for standing upon either when I need to reach something on an upper cabinet or when the Little Bear helps me cook, bake or do dishes--something he's been asking to take part in recently. Our former chairs, though high-quality and antique were just not up to the job and I feared for our safety. These oldies are much sturdier...
Speaking of baking...we whipped up a few loaves of Irish soda bread earlier this month for St. Paddy's Day and I must admit I've found myself day-dreaming of them almost every day this past week. Time to make a few more loaves to celebrate winters end me thinks. If you'd like to join me in a warm slice slathered with sweet cream butter and accompanied by a mug of strong black tea, here is the recipe I always use.
Apparently, "real" Irish soda bread contains neither raisins nor egg, sugar nor butter. Sites that promote traditional soda bread suggest our version should be called a cake, but I don't think "cake" really captures this barely sweet quick bread either. Whatever you call it, this raisin studded loaf is best served warm or, better yet, toasted.
1-2/3 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 large egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons warm melted unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together in a large bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the raisins. In another bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk and butter. Add the liquids to the dry and stir just until the ingredients are moistened. The batter will be thick but sticky. Form into a round mound and place on the baking sheet. Slash the top with a large "x" about 1/2 inch deep and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (for about 25 to 30 minutes). Let cook on rack before slicing. Scarf!
p.s. I don't know what is up with the crazy formatting, but I will attempt to fix it as soon as Blogger lets me!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I believe we've seen the very last substantial snow storm of the season. And, luckily, it was snowman snow. All winter we've been awaiting the snowman snow. We've had loads of ice-snow and plenty of cotton snow, but I feared spring would come before we were able to build that man of snow. The corn-cob pipe has been waiting since fall. Finally....
He only lasted about three days.
From snow to spring. And this spring, we're leaping head first into beekeeping. Papa Bear is the action sort, and Mama Bear is the planning sort. So, betwixt the two of us, (and with a healthy dose of bickering) we manage to get things done and done well. Lets hope this holds true for welcoming bees into our backyard. While I lectured on getting books, signing up for workshops and finding a mentor, the husband was online ordering two packages of bees and printing out plans for building a top bar hive.
We also took the Little Bear to a bee workshop for kiddos. He LOVED it.
To celebrate our impending adventure, and to quiet the daydreams of mass quanitites of golden honey, we indulged in a sweet treat straight from the expert: Winnie-the-Pooh. We considered the recipe for Marmalade on a Honeycomb, but settled on Apricot Honey Muffins instead. They're not overly sweet and are an incredible breakfast or afternoon tea.
Apricot Honey Muffins (adapted from The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature
1/4 cup dark honey
2/3 cup canned apricots, mashed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon apricot juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
coarse turbino sugar
Preheat oven to 375-degrees-F. Grease muffin pan or line with paper liners. Cream the butter with the honey and add the mashed apricot pulp. Beat in the egg and the apricot juice. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Fold into the web mixture. Fill the muffin pan, top with a sprinkling of coarse turbino sugar and bake 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with sweet cream butter and drizzed with honey.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
So I've been trying to keep up with an increase in hours at my part-time job and additional freelance projects coming down the pike. While also making time for valuable play with the little bear. (No, no, cleaning has not been on the feasible "to do" list for a while now.) All this means I've been neglecting my lovely blog. I promise a substantial post or two in the coming weeks. Until then, I leave you with a few Zen shots. (Wish I felt as calm and collected as these photos!)
Oh, and I've fallen madly in love: Taza stoneground Mexicano chocolate. It is sweet, bitter and just a little gritty. Kind of like the texture of icing when you don't cream the butter and sugar enough. I know it is a huge no-no, but I adore a good gritty icing now and again. There is something satisfying about feeling the sugar crystals exploding between your teeth. Does that make my tacky?
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Question: What lives in winter, dies in summer and grows with it's roots up?
Summer and autumn are the king and queen of the harvest--it seems everything rounds and ripens, eventually birthing delights as far as the eye can see. Even in spring we await with bated breath and sharp, glinting knife the first bitter dandelion greens, sour rhubarb stalks, dinosaur-like fiddlehead fronds, or tender asparagus shoots. But Mother Winter is not nearly as baren as we often imagine. She graces us with her own unique beauty.
Harvesting ice . . .
Star projects . . .
Wicked winter gardens . . .
And though we're still tucked under a thick, white blanket, the sap will be rising soon. Probably the most scrumpteous of wild Winter's gifts. And it couldn't come soon enough. We poured the final drops of last year's smoky amber liquid onto a big bowl of snow and it disappeared quicker than Frosty in July.