Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The makings of summer

Not much food-making...I have neglected my own summer of food initiative. I have been making salad dressing since I discovered flavored balsamics. This week, I am on Fig Balsamic. With all the pesto in the house, I can whisk together pesto, vinegar du jour, and oil of whimsy to make a suitable salad dressing. Occasionally tahini or almond butter will appear. Salad dressing is so quick and easy....why do I ever buy it? Same with mayonnaise...with all these gorgeous local eggs, why buy the premade stuff? Living the good life...this is simplicity.
And this is what I've been more focused on than food:





Yes, it's art fair time again. Locals, please come to the Crescent Hill Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Art and Music Festival this weekend, at the historic Peterson-Dumesnil house grounds. Saturday and Sunday!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tempus fugit

and plenty of time has flown since I last posted. I, the sanguine butterfly, have flown straight into the hose again and my wings have been too wet to fly. I have been stuck, sobbing, to a deck pole while waiting way too long to dry out.  Thankfully, I am now shaking my wings and dusting myself off again.
But enough about that. We all hit rough spots, eh?
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Big, gorgeous, gigantic news around here. Chalk it up to Libra generosity, a mother's undying love for her child, or all of the above, but my loving mother has gifted me with a Nikon D40, with a cool lens, with a tripod, with accessories,  so I can take pictures of the things I make, including children (that would be GRANDchildren to her!) The occasion? My upcoming birthday. I am thrilled beyond belief and have a steep learning curve ahead of me, and endless admiration for those of you who make photography look easy.
I've been practicing...such great fun! I'm going to get Ansel Adams' photography books from the library. I'm going to enjoy this!

 Of course, plenty of pictures of my favorite people are in order, and even Bri has been getting in on the act (she took the picture of our dog).
Now, for a little chat about making stuff. Serena has old swimsuits, but we can never seem to find the ones that currently fit her. I took one old swimsuit, cut across the middle, applied elastic, and 10 minutes later had turned a size 4 swimsuit into a bikini fit for an almost-7-year-old. Sweet!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dad

I thought you might like to see my favorite picture of my dad...the one on the top. That's my Aunt Diana, God rest her soul...she died of cancer at age 21. And then a picture of me with my dad.
My Dad is a long story and a gaping void. I will always love him.
I have a stepdad who took seriously the task of raising stepchildren. I love him too.
I pray for their health and blessing. 
To the men who are the fathers of my children, I wish you good will too, and am thankful you are the fathers that you are.
One of those men is my husband. Thank you, dear one, for giving those long eyelashes to our babies and so much more. You, too, have loved ALL my children and made them ours. That is daunting task for someone as single and uninitiated as you were. Now I would say you have definitely been initiated! I do love you.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

There's More To Life

There's more to life than knitting.
shut up. Who let you in?
There is. You are wasting your time with all these things, all this junk around here.
I need to do these things. They help me grow.
Oh really? How are you growing right now? You seem edgy, angry, stuck.
Where's my knitting? Go away.
I'm not going away. I'm your Mid Life Crisis. I'm the one who will usher you into a brave new era of your life.You are supposed to work with me here. What about all those dreams and plans you had for yourself? Yes, HAD. Unrequited love, unmade beds, wasted days, too many regrets, too much wonderin about what could have been. Look at you...you're on the verge of becoming....bitter. And ignoring me will only increase your capacity for bitterness.
Well, why shouldn't I be bitter? Things haven't turned out quite as planned. I have a collection of unmet needs and desires...hopes and wishes...what am I supposed to do with those? There is so much to struggle over, so much healing to do, and I am overwhelmed.
Bitter. Indeed. Life is bitter.

So you are just going to give up and stay stuck? Ungrateful? Full of self-pity? Nice.
Well, actually, now that you mention it, I don't want to stay stuck. I have been thinking about going to go back to school.
Back to school? At your age? Phhhtttt. You can't afford it. You will still have to work. And, you have kids and a household to take care of. You are probably just doing it out of fear, since your marriage is a source of stress and grief these days, and who knows what the future holds.
So what? I am not just doing it out of fear. I have been itchy...unsettled...
For years! And then I come along and make you itch more. I am here to tell you to stop sacrificing yourself ALL the damned time. It's a pleasant illusion that one is indispensably knitting the household together, and so nice to stay in the vision of being needed so much you never leave your spot. It's a lie.
You have a contribution to make...something different, something more than you already are...
It's true. I am feeling intellectually bored. I am tired of feeling not good enough. I am tired of complaining and not effecting my own changes. I am tired of not stretching enough and believing the lies.
Yes, the lies, the illusions. Let's remove the veil together. You can start by lifting the illusion that it is your job to please everyone. I know you want to live an honest and authentic life.
Yes, but how am I going to do this-go back to school? It seems an insurmountable task.
You just start. You have your appointment on Monday to talk to the university...you have resources...you don't have to do it all at once....you can be flexible.
I'm afraid.
Of course you are. But you need to take this step. Otherwise, this will be hanging on to you for the rest of your life.
What are you thinking?
Mmmmmm, maybe therapist. Maybe art or music therapy, since my experience lends itself to that. I was so inspired by my last therapist, and so many of my friends are therapists, and artists.
To be developed and continued.....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer of Food - New Ways For Grilling

We have such little meat around here. Grilling for us is taking our meals AND our cooking outside. This summer heat prohibits us from using our stove very often, unless it's in the wee hours of morning. Even then, it's a muggy proposition. We love grilling packets of vegetables. We can throw the garlic bulbs in whole.
Chance, the grillmeister around here, was so impressed that I could cook brown rice on our grill that he is inspired to give pizza a go. I wish I could say we actually tried it out, but a series of car and scheduling and relationship issues have held it off. But we will give it a whirl, just like this.
Now, part of pizza making is inspired by the fact that I now have 4 different kinds of pesto in the fridge: cilantro, arugula, garlic scape, and plain old basil. The basil is growing nicely and I hope the pesto lasts past September this year (last year, we ate it ALL).
Next on my list is cooking for camping. We are hoping to camp the Red River Gorge and Asheville, NC this summer. I have once again fallen in love with MaryJane and will be making marshmallows using her recipe. I'm going to try using agar and brown rice syrup instead of her chillover powder and corn syrup. I'll report back, hopefully with pictures.
On the personal front, there's a sea change. I keep hearing this little voice that says, "there's more to life than knitting." Friends, meet Miss Midlife Crisis. She is talking to me ALL the time now. She wants to blog, even. So, you just might see a guest post around here soon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer of Food-2

This past week has been all about two things: strawberries and butter. Mmmmm.
Two days were spent in the kitchen hulling strawberries, crushing them for jam (detailed instructions are found here.), adding lots of sugar (Heavenly Sugar, and local honey), and eating jam on everything.
I am lucky enough to belong to a food co-op that sells fresh milk products, and was able to get a whole bunch of cream, which I then made into butter. Liquid gold, that cream is. Thank you, blissful cow. And I shall someday have to show you a picture of our butter paddle.
With my leftover cream and strawberries....what do you think? Strawberry shortcake! I also want to try freezer jam, and will make ice cream and ghee at some point...I have a LOT of cream.
I do believe the season for strawberries is done here. We will be looking forward to blueberry picking now, very soon, and luckily the blueberry farm we go to is very near the Kentucky Renaissance Festival, and we can kill two birds with one stone.
This past week was so busy, and we have had multiple birthday parties to attend, so our food has been a bit "off". I look forward to the breathings that happen....going out to gather food, coming in to prepare and preserve it, and hopefully keeping the memory of the love and gratitude and abundance felt in the presence of such a harvest.
Share YOUR summer food-related thoughts:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cool Giveaways

I just found out two blogs I "lurk" around are having fabulous giveaways and you should definitely go check them out. You can spread the love by following their blogs (and be entered again) and blogging about their giveaways. Seriously, these are extremely nice and talented women....don't miss out!
Cypress Sun Jewelry::: cypresssun.blogspot.com Beautiful and sparkling jewelry, inspired by nature.
Mama West Wind::::http://chocoeyes.blogspot.com/2010/05/mama-west-wind-grand-opening-giveaway.html
Sweet gnomes and dolls made from recycled sweaters.
Alrighty then, may your weekend be lovely! I am busy sewing bridesmaid dresses....first fittings today.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Few Pictures in Words

First, let me start by complaining about my camera. It's a cheapie and it's on its way out. I am hoping the Birthday Fairies (next month) conspire and pool their resources to feed my creative soul and bring me a real camera.
Wednesday, we made a colossal trip. Out to the country, to meet a new baby...a week old! I am amazed how one forgets the sweetness of a newborn. I believe mothers forget this because being a mother requires all your powers of presence in the moment, and the sweetness of a newborn gives way to the sweetness of a toddler, gives way to the magic of a 5 year old, gives way to the strength of Nine and the anxious idealism of Fifteen. There is much to savor and so much work to do. So, you forget.
But thanks to a dear friend, I got to remember, and send loving wishes with my thoughts while holding this new babe. Although, I am a bit shy about holding new babies, because I truly believe there is not just a baby, but a motherbaby, and motherbabies are holy.
We left to go strawberry picking. I must ask, why is it that I continually overestimate how much I can possibly expect to accomplish? I had visions of picking grandeur and all the gallons I'd tote home and how I'd be up to  my ears in jam for days. Tired children and a 17 month old who wanted ot be held the whole time amounted to a respectable gallon. I bought two more gallons already picked. We then visited the small famr animal display they had there, and fed some goats and chickens.
We dreamed again of owning our own farm. Just seeing my children around those animals....what a health-giving way to live.
Serena came away with pride in her berry picking ability. She was an eager and able helper, and would not eat one strawberry! Davis, too, snubbed the strawberries, except for a few he only nibbled on. He was more interested in letting the goats lick his hand while he giggled.
We came home tired.
Our little family is a shapeshifter. So many comings and goings. All 4 children were home for awhile, and as of yesterday, one is gone to her dad's and will be sorely missed all summer. Somehow I got used to that, they had to go have their Dad time, but there is always the feeling of emptiness, something missing, no matter how busy you make yourself.
One child is back from college and is in love and is delightful to have around.
Wednesday marked the end of an era...the kindergarten era for Serena. She moves on to First Grade.
There is too much to do.
Thanks for listening, all you friends known and unknown. I think about you often and wonder about your lives.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer of Food - It's Pretty Easy Being Green

Collards are a staple here in the near-south. I say near-south because just over the river is Indiana, which cannot techinically be called the south. So here in Louisville we have our own brand of horse-farmed, bourbon-laced, red-necked Southern charm, spoken with a midwest accent and a tinge of bullshit, bless our hearts.
Back to collards....these humble greens are extremely plentiful right now. Since I've been avoiding sugar and flour, with mixed success, I have been eating my weight in greens. I found a recipe for collard green coleslaw in an old Vegetarian Times magazine and decided to give it a try. I made mine with a decidedly Asian influence.
Collard Green Coleslaw (adapted from a Vegetarian Times Recipe, January 2009)
One bunch of collards, tough stems removed
3 medium carrots, shredded
I green onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 c brown rice vinegar
Generous swirl (about 1/4 c) sesame or olive oil
1/3 c sugar (this was in the original recipe but I omitted it)
1 tbls. shoyu (or to taste)
Finely chop the collards and toss with the dressing and other veggies. Sprinkle the top with black sesame seeds before serving.
Here are some other uses for collard greens:
-spread a nice big leaf with hummus and throw on some veggies and you have an instant "sandwich".
-saute them outright, the old-fashioned way, with fatback. Or better yet, bacon. Eating collards has made me crave bacon, despite the fact that I haven't eaten bacon in some 20 years now.

-do what the raw foodists do and make collard burritoes. You can chunk up some cumin, garlic, onions, almonds, salt and cayenne in a food processor, add a tiny bit of water to hold it together if need be, and add fresh tomatoes, nut cream (fresh cashew butter pureed with lime juice, water, and a bit of salt works too), green onions, guacamole, salsa, etc. Roll it up like a burrito.

-chop it finely and add to your regular green salad. Collards are mild enough to not offend your salad. What? You don't eat a regular green salad? Why not? Salad is a summer staple and helps take the Christmas cookies off your waist.

The other thing I have been making is calzones. I use the calzone "crust" recipe from Enchanted Broccoli Forest, and for a filling, I use mozzarella, canned tomatoes, garlic, local garlic scapes, italian spice blend, salt, pepper, olives, artichokes,a local egg, and local swiss chard or spinach or both. A friend of mine inspired me to make this, and her calzone filling had ricotta, mozzarella, swiss chard, onions, a pinch of nutmeg, an egg or two...it was divine. I always serve this with a sauce. For sauce, I just blend an organic jar of spaghetti sauce, then add lots and lots of extra garlic, a handful of sundried tomatoes packed in oil, oil from the sundried tomato jar, and extra basil. If I'm feeling extra special and chunky, I might even start by sauteing onions and then add the other ingredients, just chopping the tomatoes instead of blending them.
One more thing you must know. I eat a whole bunch of farmer's market kale every day. EVERY day.
What I want to make: Cheese and yogurt and fermented carrots. A stack of library books and two purchased gallons of non-homogenized organic milk and bunches of carrots from the farmer's market will have me on my way in no time. We are also going berry picking for jam. We will see.
Farmer's Market scores this week: kale, collards, green onions, carrots, garlic scapes, cilantro, eggs