6.28.2016

Summer

It's summer! Yes! As a child, I counted down the days….yearning for the freedoms that summer brought forth. 



 We would tumble through the yellowed fields behind our house, (all five of us), ducking in and out of the tall grasses. A perfect path down the center brought us to a marsh teeming with life…mussels and crabs and sea lavender. 


If Dad was with us we were allowed to follow the narrow boardwalk out to the dock to "soak our feet".  Cool, salty water lapped over dirty feet and splashed across our tired legs. A true joy of summer. 


Other days we would ride our bikes from sunup to sundown…gathering hands full of wild raspberries and blackberries….our stained fingers and lips always giving away our adventure.



With so many brothers and sisters, and equally as many kids in the neighborhood, we threw together baseball games…using clothes poles and pine trees as bases...



…and we played hide n' seek til the last glimmer of daylight had eeked away, or the mosquitoes chased us indoors….whichever came first.


 Of course my childhood summers would not have been complete without gardens to water, sticky blossomed petunias to deadhead, or beans to pick. They would have been meaningless without the call of the Purple Finch, or the first sighting of the Baltimore Oriole. 


Summer….a path of childhood's memories carving me into who I am.
Free. Alive. 
(and still counting down the days :)

{Rose pictured is David Austin Roses' "A Shropshire Lad"}

6.19.2016

Farm to Table

I’ve decided in my next life, (or possibly when I retire), I am going to pioneer an affordable Farm to Table dinner.



Just to prepare you, I am going to get on my soapbox for a minute, (or two).



You see, I’m a gardener.  It’s in my blood. I’ve gardened since I was twelve. I’ve dug and hoed and seeded and coddled. I’ve weeded and staked and conquered. I’ve mourned disease and celebrated bounty.



A flower isn’t just a flower to me. It is saturated pigment, shapely petals and supporting stems .You see, I can’t really draw or paint. But I can masterfully use Earth’s palette to create beauty and joy. It is my means of artistic expression.



So when I hear about Farm to Table dinners….I get a little mushy inside. I imagine the expanse of tables covered in white linens….jam jars overflowing with zinnias and cosmos….yellowed fields bending their overgrown hay….blue skies giving way to laughter and good conversation.



And then I see the ticket price! Whoa baby! Way out of my budget. And definitely not affordable as a couple. Which brings me to the top of my soapbox.



 Farm to Table dinners have become elitist, which bewilders me.
Why? Because the local farmers, floral growers and meat and dairy suppliers are sooo down to Earth; yet, this time and place meant to highlight their hard work has become unattainable for us common folk.




And before you say it….I know about cost, and not undercutting hard work, and not expecting farmers to donate. I get it.



But I also get that we can still have this experience without having the finest cheeses, meats, produce, flowers and wine all at once!



How about a tomato tasting party with a few nice wines? Or a springtime dinner with early pickings like garlic scapes made into pesto or early greens sautéed with local wines and mustards.




How about local steaks with local spuds…
Or cucumber sandwiches…
Or stuffed peppers…
Or a pumpkin pie bake off?



Bigger may seem better to some….but when bigger drives the price up, making something as simple as good local food and drink unattainable to all, something is terribly wrong….



…which has led me to think of alternatives, rather than just complaining.




For now, I will pick my own produce and flowers, shop local, and cook tasty farm dinners right in my own kitchen, right down to the
white tablecloth and flower filled jam jar.



I hope you will too.






Kudos to so many locals here on Massachusetts' Farmcoast and beyond, for working the land, for following your dreams, for working long hours to bring us healthy food for our families.






5.24.2016

Dear Dad



        Dad, it's the eve of your 84th birthday and I just took a few photos of your pink dogwood tree. The air was dry and crisp, the sky the shade of blue that only raindrops can leave behind.




It's the kind of day that would beckon you to the porch to watch the hummingbirds.....the kind of day where, without a pause I would reach for the phone to call to tell you that the catbird was back or that the apple tree was in flower.


It's the kind of day where the breeze carries childhood memories that linger long enough to simultaneously bring gigantic smiles and a smudge of tears.

           


 I watched the sunlight weaving in and out of the dogwood's sheer pink petals, creating shadow and light in a complementary dance.



 And now as I write you this birthday note, it all becomes clearyour life...my life... woven together so masterfully, with a common love of all that God has so gracefully created.


Happy Birthday Dad. 
Miss you.

4.30.2016

Change

Sometimes I fight change.
I clench my fists and have an internal temper tantrum.
The world doesn't know, but my heart does. 


So when it came time to repair the white picket fence that bordered this shade garden overlooking our yard, I had a bit of an internal struggle. 

You see, almost 18 years ago, my husband lovingly cut each picket, painting each one white. He constructed the quaintest of fences to prevent our little ones from walking off this steep drop.
So when the seventeen year old not so little one suggested seeing what it looked like without it,(drill in hand), we may have had a tear or two. Not sadness really, but a bit of mourning for that strange speed tunnel of childhood that whooshed by us, making our hair stand on end and our nerves prickle up.



As the panels came down, we paused and looked at the view. Unobstructed views of the hill and garden and woods beckoned. 





Irises and daffodils became visible from the street and house. I may have smiled at this, thinking of the view I would now have pulling into the driveway or peeking out the living room window.



And suddenly my mourning, my sadness, my hesitation became a celebration of tiny bodies running under sprinklers on hot summer days….of well worn quilts spread with snacks and toys and dirty feet.


Taking down the fence became a rite of passage, a ritual transition of childhood morphing into young adulthood, of parents handing over well worn reigns of promise and hope and trust.


We'll be recycling the worn, but loved fence around my lavender garden.




And somehow I think I will hear whispers of time floating by on the summer wind.


4.19.2016

Simple Granola


Looking for a fast and easy granola?
I have made many batches of granola over the years, but this time I pieced together all of my favorite recipes into what works for us. That's the thing about granola…there's no "GRANOLA LAW" dictating what has to go in. It's really about preference. I'll share my steps and our go to recipe; and I will offer suggestions for add ins.

We tend to use granola as a snack, a yogurt topping (my favorite), and as a breakfast with milk and sliced strawberries. (and we use Gluten Free oats due to our daughter's Celiac Disease)




I obsess a bit about mise en place. I find it soooo helpful to have my ingredients measured and clearly visible. Plus, I clean as I go, so my kitchen is literally tidied up sans putting dishes in dishwasher and wiping the counter.



Mix your wet ingredients. 




Mix your dry ingredients.




Mix your  wet with your dry ingredients.




I'm a messy cook. Or perhaps a bigger bowl was in order.




Spread a nice thin layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. I use my huge one, but you may need two.



Let cool before removing from the tray. This allows yummy stuck together sticky, crispy/chewy bites. (If you prefer it separated, stir while still cooling.)

Ingredients:

4 cups oats (we use Bob’s Gluten Free)

¾ c sweetened coconut

¼ c unsweetened coconut

½ t salt

1 T cinnamon

1 t vanilla extract

3 T golden flaxseed meal

1/3  c canola/coconut oil blend (Spectrum)

2/3 c local honey (organic if possible)

2 T maple syrup

optional add-ins:  sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, dried cherries, cranberries or other fruit.

If adding nuts or dried fruit, back off on the amount of coconut.

Directions:

325° oven preheated

1.    Mix dry ingredients.

2.    Mix wet ingredients.

3.     Combine wet and dry.

4.    Spread on parchment lined baking tray

5.    Cook for about twenty minutes. Stir midway if desired. 
     Watch carefully for browning to avoid burning.

6.    Allow to fully cool, then remove to an airtight container. (Love my Pyrex with lid)

Please share your favorite granola add-ins in the comments below!

Enjoy!!

4.12.2016

The Daffodil Fields

If you haven't made the journey to Parson's Reserve in Dartmouth, Massachusetts,
 put it on your to do list.



You enter the woods through an almost hidden path...


...and trek up a nicely cleared, somewhat inclined 1/3 mile path.


As you round the last bend, the forest canopy opens to a glorious field of yellow.


It's like the secret garden of your dreams.


As you catch your breath and walk the paths, every vista is filled with pure butter melting across a green stemmed landscape.


It is intoxicating.


Billowing petals wrap delicate stamens in protective blankets.


Hollow echoes of a winter just passed disperse among the Birch trees...


...and springtime's melodic trumpets fill the air with a cautious melody.


It is a walk of meditation...of reverie...of faith.



It is hopefulness and motivation.



It is Earth's elements swirling around you in an innate tribal dance.



It is your earliest memory...your ugliest cry...

It is LOVE.


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