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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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  • Attended a love and light-filled Solstice potluck gathering this evening at the home of our dear friends Katherine and Andy. So grateful for the fellowship and community this place offers. As those of us in the northern hemisphere shift into winter, and a return to light-filled days, sincerest wishes from our home to yours for health, happiness, and abundance in the months and new year ahead.
  • A winter's day, in a deep and dark December. Enjoyed a walk down our driveway earlier to gather holiday cards and gifts from the mail with my little fella. Happy almost solstice, friends.
  • Local friends-whatever your plans are for this evening, change them! Come join me instead at @rhubarbavl for their
  • Great burger and transcendent frites with a charred onion aioli at @kingjamesavl. Great vibe and an exceptional waitstaff, which deftly caught that Huxley was nearing meltdown mode, and saved the day with a lightening fast, perfect grilled cheese. Wonderful seeing Steven Goff and @samlg87!
  • Livin' in an Appalachian paradise. ??(view of Mt. Pisgah, from the top of our road).
  • The finale at last night's Sunday Supper @rhubarbavl was this Chocolate Coffee Tart with Vanilla Orange Marmalade from my book
  • What a surreal experience last night @rhubarbavl, being served your own recipes! Shown here: Chimichurri Deviled Eggs (
  • So much delicious decadence on display yesterday afternoon at my 7th Annual Ladies Cookie Exchange. Thanks to all you lovelies (and your littles!) that made it out! Such a wonderful community of women I'm surrounded by. We three Englishes won't have to bake any more this holiday season! *That's your girl waiting patiently for the sugar frenzy to begin, @littlecoffeebeans !
  • Put this down as a night to remember. Immeasurable gratitude to @rhubarbavl for hosting recipes from all 7 of my books at tonight's Sunday Supper. @glennbenglish couldn't have been more thrilled. Our favorite restaurant in Asheville now feels even more like our dining room away from home.
  • Asheville and vicinity friends, I want to let you in on a secret. @oldworldlevain is a baked goods goddess, a fascinating woman (she bakes AND teaches tango lessons!), and simply a lovely human being. This medley of deliciousness is a mere sampling of the tastiness she had on offer today at her pop-up inside of Wood & Spoon in west Asheville. You can order regularly from her though, and you should. Her goods are creative, imminently flavorful, and clearly lovingly made. Obviously, I am smitten.
  • All kinds of magic percolating up in here.
  • Last night this sweet, tiny elf wanted me to pick him up, and then asked

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Monthly Archives: April 2012

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! What a week it’s been, chez English. While I’ve been battling my way through the most severe seasonal allergy attack of my life, I’ve also been reveling in a number of exciting new prospects.

To begin, we introduced Huxley to his training potty on Tuesday. He’s already used it a few times!  Of course, he’s also definitely, decidedly, without question NOT used it, too. And so begins that journey.

Secondly, in the past few weeks, I’ve amassed a mini orchard, comprised of: one apple tree, two pear trees, two cherry trees (Bing! YUM!), two peach trees, and one plum tree. Now, to plant them, and to plant them well. Any suggestions or tips for planting fruit trees as deftly and successfully as imaginable?

Lastly, and not to be outdone by toddler potties or mini orchards, my offer for a new book proposal was accepted! I’ll tell you more about it as the process unfolds, but, suffice to say, the topic is very, very dear to my heart, and involves something I’ve been doing and planning and dreaming about since I was, oh, 7 or 8 years old. And you, dear readers, you will love, love, love it!

In the mean time, here’s a smattering of this’s and that’s that caught my attention this week:
*Roasted strawberry muffins, oh yes! 
*The idea of single udder butter has me captivated.
*DIY backyard beekeeping.
*Homemade coconut rochers, people!!!
*A store for the honeybees.
*The world is full of goodness when we are grateful.
*Handy round-up of online shops with the Earth in mind.
*Loving my garden clogs (bought gently used, for $5!).
*Pistachio citrus cake-it’s not just for pregnant ladies.

That image above is from the deck floor of a yome my friends are buying. My buddy Jess‘s husband, Drew, and his brother built it. Isn’t it just lovely? The yome will be my friend’s “yome away from home”, as they live in Decatur, Georgia but plan to house the yome here in the mountains. We went on a reconnaissance mission for them this past Tuesday, to check on the yome’s condition. Turned out we were already connected to the current owner, via a root system network of friends. Ah, don’t you just love serendipitous occurrences?! ‘Twas mean to be, it would seem!

This weekend, so long as I feel up to it, we’re hoping to see some friends tomorrow evening (for a surprise birthday party! I ADORE surprises!!!) and then go to this incredible old timey Cake Walk, sponsored by Slow Foods Asheville. Happy sinuses permitted, it should be a glorious weekend.

Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, whomever you do it with, may it be grand!

Hubs Considers: A Walk In the Rain

I’m still down for the count, folks. Working on getting this crud out of my nasal passages (and my eyes! It’s moved into my eyes, oy vey!). In the mean time, I am honored to bring you another lovely, thoughtful guest post from my dear, sweet Hubs, who continues to nurture me back to health with warm meals, gentle words, and hot toddies. Oh, yes. I think it’s the hot toddies that might be healing me the most. 
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It’s another rainy day here in Western North Carolina. We have lots of them, and I am very grateful for it. Not as grateful as Huxley though. As I type this, Huxley is outside with Ashley, partaking in one of his very favorite things: running through puddles while he joyfully exclaims, “go fast, go fast!” 
For Huxley, puddles are a source of play and wonder. Like most anyone that can’t count their age on their fingers, I tend to do my best to walk around them. Watching Huxley squeal with delight, I can’t help but wonder if I have been missing out all these years. Some say that if you pay close attention, and allow yourself a bit of humility, you have a lot to learn from your children. I find they’re right.

There are lots of practical reasons to avoid the rain. Soaking wet clothes aren’t always conducive to a productive day. Today I wanted to do a little reinforcing on the chicken coop, but my power tools and rain don’t mix well, so I decided to wait rather than follow Huxley’s embrace-the-rain ethos. I have no doubt that he would love to be out in the rain right now, with my power tools, commanding them to go faster. Obviously, power tools and toddlers aren’t an ideal combination. We are still trying to convince him of that, despite the occasional protest. Drilling can wait.

The thing is, when it comes to rain, a lot of us adults have thrown the baby out with the rainwater. Sure, there are lots of times when it makes good sense to avoid getting wet, but the truth is, there are also times that it’s actually a bit silly to let a few drops of water hold us prisoner indoors, because  there are plenty of fun and wonderful experiences to be had in the rain. 

There is so much dynamism that we are missing out on. Rain is always moving. Every drop catches the light and fills the empty air with substance, reflection, and motion. When we embrace that, it moves us too, and it’s pretty darned invigorating.  When the drops explode on the first surface that they contact, they create a melodic orchestra of percussive rhythms that stirs the soul, if you let it. As those drops morph into puddles and streams, the liquid connects everything that it touches, including us.

I took a walk in the woods by the house today, as it rained, and I can assure you that I didn’t melt, freeze, or float away. In fact, it was pretty fantastic. I didn’t plow through the puddles Huxley style, but I didn’t take great care to avoid them either. The sun came in and out during my walk, which is always a fun touch. I have seen the rain coming down on a sunny day. The rain makes the woods louder, and quieter at the same time. The leaves crunch less, the birds are less chatty, and the white noise of the pitter-patter muffles many of the usual sounds. 

With so many different surfaces, from an infinite variety of leaves, rocks, downed trees, and streams, the orchestra is particularly marvelous. The brooks all babble at full throttle, and on this day, the rumble of thunder made for some heavy-duty bass riffs. When wet, every surface in the forest becomes a reflective surface, catching the light, and bending it. It’s nothing short of miraculous.

I know it’s a simple thing; a walk through the woods in the rain, but simple pleasures appeal to me more and more these days, and when I give them careful attention, I find the wonder that’s always all around us, but all too easy to overlook. I suppose I have Huxley to thank for that. 

You can see more images from Hubs’ walk in the rain here.

From Bolt to Vase

One of my most abiding pleasures in life is finding beauty in unexpected places. Whether that’s in the gentle sway of laundry drying on the line, the cascade of leaves from a ginkgo tree, or the camouflage print on a toad’s back (Huxley and I found an incredible specimen hiding out in the mint patch by the front door!), discovering the innate exquisiteness in nature is so very fulfilling.

Which is why I was so happy to realize just how gorgeous collard bolts are in a vase. Who knew, right?

Hubs is the party truly responsible for this revelation. I’d been trying as much as possible to pull off the flowers from the collards in the garden (planted last September and still going strong owing to our incredibly mild winter!) all spring, so as to prolong their life span. Then I got busy with writing-projects and baby-watching and, well, life, then it rained, and the flowers went bananas.

We began noticing just how much the pollinators of every persuasion out here in the cove seemed to love the flowers, so we opted to let them be, for now, at least. Hubs got curious about what one could do with the flowers (aside from sharing them with those buzzing beauties), and brought a handful inside. I put the blooms in water until we decided what we might do with them and realized, suddenly, that they were perfect just like that.

For Jen’s potluck dinner, we placed a vase of the blooms on the feasting table. They served as a perfect compliment, and nod to, the southern bounty of foods it adorned. I’d have never have imagined I’d be tricking out my dining room table with collard blooms. And now, well now I can’t imagine not doing it!

For those who’ve mentioned it, you can see many more images of our old window cold frame, and read about how we made it, here

Soup & Snuggles

So, that seasonal allergy thing I mentioned? It’s still here. It’s much better than yesterday, but it’s still lingering. Swallowing last night felt like daggers were being jabbed down my throat. Not good.

Fortunately, Hubs came to the rescue. Instead of heading to his usual Sunday ritual of 4 hours (!!!) of competitive Scrabble in town, he stuck around, and after whipping up that amazing bit of French toast, he pulled out the stock pot and brewed a savory batch of his stellar chicken soup. Although different every time he makes it, the pot he made yesterday mirrored this recipe in many ways.

Additional sick day components were shiitake and cremini mushrooms (good for immune system bolstering) and lots of fresh herbs (full of chlorophyll and infection-fighting properties). All soup is better with bread, and Hubs served his alongside thick, hearty slices of our much beloved local bakery Farm & Sparrow‘s Market Bread. And then he served it to me in bed. I’ve got a good one, folks.

Along with my typical sick-fighting arsenal of grapefruit seed extract and nettle tincture, I’m downing hefty mug upon mug of my go-to Ginger Tea. Hot, spicy and soothing, this stuff is an absolute balm to my scorched throat. I’ve also taken a few hot baths with eucalyptus essential oil added in. Never one to get sick sitting down, I’m giving it my all. Consider yourself warned, cold. You’re going down.

Fortunately, Huxley seems just fine. Though he’s had a cough each morning since Friday, he’s suffered none of my other afflictions. He even wanted to play outside today, in 40 degree weather. He knows, though, that, alongside his Papa’s chicken soup, his snuggles (“Huggies!” are what he calls them) will get me well as fast as anything.

What about you? What do you do when you’re down for the count? I’m always up for learning of time-honored natural remedies!

Happiness Is A Plate of French Toast

Happiness is a spouse who cooks up a batch of his inter-galactically renown french toast (and that’s not at all hyperbolic, it’s just that good)without solicitation. Super happiness is then achieved when he covers it in freshly made blueberry maple syrup. Over-the-top happiness is experienced when he makes it the morning that you are feeling haggard, and run-down, and congested after tending to a teething baby overnight and sharing his seasonal allergy-related (I think) cough.

Thanks, Hubs. Huxley and I much approve.

*Hubs would like me to share his “secret” tip for making French toast with ease: Forget about soaking the bread slices in a large Pyrex or similar rectangular dish. Use a cookie sheet (with edges) instead, which makes it easier to fit all of the slices in one batch and provides more space for turning them as they soak. There you go!