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QUENCH

 

HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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  • I had the most profoundly memorable experience today. The cookbook club at Haywood County Library (the county adjacent to mine) hosted me, and by hosted, I mean 12 ladies selected recipes from my book
  • What better way to clear out a case of the Mondays than a giveaway?! See that lovely locally-made wooden bag dryer there on my wall? Want to win one of your own (you do, trust me)? Pop on over to small measure to enter. Link is in my profile.
  • This guy right here? While he might be growing bigger every day, the truth is that becoming a mother has helped me to grow. To be more present. To be more patient. To be more empathic. As I tell all my soon-to-be-mama friends, parenthood is the toughest work you'll ever do, with by far the biggest payoff. The lovin', and the learning, are so, so good. Happy Monday, friends.
  • Today was a good day. This view, from the top of our road, certainly helped make it so.
  • I think the 48-hour flu I've been fighting has finally succumbed to my assault of grapefruit seed extract, osha root, propolis, elderberry syrup, Oscillococinum, apple cider vinegar, rose hips, hibiscus, ginger/lemon/honey/cayenne tea, and neti pot with goldenseal tincture. I don't take getting sick sitting down. And now, a winter storm, possibly. Bring it, I say. Happy weekending, friends!!!
  • This guy.
  • I've been waiting, for a book like this, to come into my life. Whoa. Picked this up a few weeks ago at @screendoorasheville as a New Year's gift to @glennbenglish. Just started reading it myself and it couldn't possibly be more of what I need to see, right now. Completely on point, wholly attuned to what I'm presently sensing and curious about and inspired by, and infinitely humbling.
  • Warm enough today to play soccer down in our lower field, do a bit of weeding in the garden, and push a nearly-too-big 4 year-old in his
  • New year, new moons, new calendars. Right on, right on.
  • @shelterprotectsyou has been posting images of the wedding she and @sheltercollective had here in September all week. They built this altar for the ceremony, and it's still here, just past the house, on the way to the chicken coop. We pass it every day. Some days, I casually note its beauty and the way it feels like an outdoor church here in our forested cove. Other days I barely register it as I scurry about, doing this and that around the property. Today, though, in the stark, grey, drizzly setting, it was quietly regal. Happy to have had her visuals prompt me to stop, look, and listen to this physical testament to love.
  • The chickens told me they much prefer the rain this week to last week's frigid weather, thank you very much. I couldn't agree more.
  • These potatoes @tableasheville changed my culinary life. They called them hash browns, but they were unlike any I'd had before. Par-baked perhaps, smashed into halves I'm guessing, and then roasted and maybe finished with a quick fry in the skillet and scattered with large sea salt granules? Whatever the method, the result was a creamy, yellow center and a crispy, salty exterior. Quite possibly the best hash browns I've ever had.

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Monthly Archives: June 2008

Livin’ In A Foodtopian Paradise


When I go out to eat, or go grocery shopping, or get a muffin on the go, I’m always looking for locally-grown items. It’s become a way of life, something I have worked so deeply into the fabric of my psyche that it happens without much prompting or intense cranial usage. It just happens. It wasn’t always this way, though. Having tried on any number of dietary protocols (macrobiotic, vegan, raw food, vegetarian, and now, pescetarian), I always maintained strict adherence to whatever the guidelines of the diet were, without paying any real attention to where things were sourced from. Climate concerns have changed my approach. Where something comes from and how it is produced is now just as important to me as how it tastes, if not more so. 

Foods locally grown contain higher nutrient counts, as they are allowed to become fully ripe before harvesting. There is therefore a considerably reduced transit distance from farm to consumer, using less petroleum. Then there’s the added benefit of direct interaction with a farmer, either via a farmer’s market or at a restaurant. They provide you with sustenance (I mean, we’ve all got to eat, right? Our single greatest common denominator…) and you provide them with a viable livelihood. It’s a beautiful reciprocity. 
To that end, without intending to, I’ve ended up living in what is being billed as America’s Foodtopian Society. Asheville is hot on the map as a local food destination (check out the foodtopia video). And then there’s the most local food of all, food you grow yourself. My humble starter veggie garden this year includes: four types of peppers, pole beans, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, cucumbers, fennel, 4 types of lettuce, carrots, radishes, beets, celeriac, tomatoes and kale. The mustard greens, cabbage and tatsoi aren’t fairing so well, a minor sacrifice to the soil inhabitants. 
There are also tarragon, marjoram, thyme, sage, chocolate mint, peppermint, rosemary, lavendar, winter tarragon, bay, dill, basil, lemon verbena, parsley and cilantro all happily growing outside. On the fruit front, the crabapples are dropping in abundance, the grapevine is scandalously showing its fruit, I’ve harvested several strawberries from the 10 newly planted everbearing strawberry plants, and blueberry hill, our affectionately dubbed knob holding 9 plants, is getting bluer by the day. I also suspect there may be a pear tree down the hill about to bear fruit for the first time in years. So, I know that sounds huge, and maybe it is. I have a tendency to truly throw myself into things I’m passionate about. Anyone can grow a few herbs, though, or find a community garden if you’re living in a city. Even when I lived in D.C. I managed to grow some beans and tomatoes through a skylight. Anywhere you can find a plot of dirt,there’s promise in the soil. 

Not so guilty pleasures


Remember the coffee cake from yesterday? The one that took extra long to bake? Well, I have to say, it was so worth the extra twenty-five minutes. It might just be my Sistine Chapel. In a word, unctuous. Extremely easy to make, as well, I might add. 

I’m a firm believer in making advance preparations for, you know, just in case. Vestiges of Girl Scout-dom. Which is why I always have in my purse, ever at the ready, the following items: pocket dictionary (for rowdy literary disputes), sewing kit, dental floss (because mangoes love dental pockets) and a lint brush (there are 14 animals in my care-’nuf said). Following this logic, I believe in a well-stocked pantry, just in case, in the middle of your morning, when you have many other chores which need tending to, you decide it’s SO time to rouse the ice cream machine from its slumber and crank out some frozen splendor. Or, in this instance, bake up a blueberry & marionberry orange coffee cake. With a well-stocked pantry, you’ll have what you need on hand for when the inspiration strikes. This is also the perfect time of the year to source locally grown fruit for coffee cake, or any other baked good, you can truly feel good about. Good for you, good for the farmer. 

Blueberry & Marionberry Streusel Coffee Cake,
adapted from Coffee Cakes by Lou Seibert Pappas 

Streusel Topping
-2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter
-1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
-1/3 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
-2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
-1 c. pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch spring-form pan.

For Streusel topping: In a food processor (or medium bowl if not available), combine butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and pecans. Pulse just until butter is incorporated and nuts are finely minced. If using a bowl, chop nuts in advance and stir in at end after crumbling together other ingredients with a pastry fork or two forks. Set mixture aside.

Coffee cake
-1/2 c. canola oil
-1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
-1/2 c. granulated sugar (I like using Florida Crystals brand; sucanat, a sweetener made from beet juice, also would work well here)
-2 large eggs
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
-1 c. stone-ground whole wheat flour
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 tsp. salt
-2 tsp. grated orange peel (from 1 organic orange)
-1 c. buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt (can also use regular milk to which 1 Tbsp. lemon juice is added; allow to sit 10 minutes before use to curdle)
-2 c. fresh or frozen mixture of blueberries and marion berries (other berries may be substituted)
In a large bowl or using an electric mixer, mix oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately withy buttermilk (or yogurt). Beat until just smooth. Stir in orange peel and berries. Pour into  prepared pan and spread streusel on top.  
Bake for 45 minutes,  or until topping is golden brown and cake is done in center (center should not jiggle-a knife poked into the center should determine this). Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove sides. Cool completely before serving. 

Sink or Swim


Here it goes. I’m off. You know that creeping sensation when you first step into a cold swimming pool, or the ocean, or a creek, when the water starts to climb ever-so-slowly up your legs, to the bottom of your swimsuit, across your midriff and, tentatively, much too tentatively, creep up your torso? Well, we’ll have none of that here. This is a creep-free work space. Work place? Work? 

I’m more a fan of the quick plunge. Why suffer the agony of the slow merge when full immersion promises such immediate relief? To that end, I’m putting aside formal introductions. No polite “How d’ do’s?” here. The instant, add water and stir relationship is highly preferable. 
The scent of a blueberry-orange coffee cake, which, incidentally, is taking much longer to bake throughout than the recipe indicated, is wafting up to the second floor office, from where I am writing. The new puppy, Dexter (aka Mr. Ferocious, Noodle, Piggers) can be heard insistently trying to bite the ears of Fly, the 3 year old German Shepherd. The garden needs weeding. The blueberry bushes need planting. I really need to empty out the wheelbarrow. And all I seem to be able to truly focus on is what my dress for my younger brother’s wedding should look like. This place holds promise. 
I think the coffee cake is finally done.