About two months ago, we took Huxley to see the film Inside Out. It tells the story of 11 year-old Riley and the emotional roller coaster she experiences after her family relocates from the midwest to San Francisco. Her emotions Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust attempt to navigate her new experiences and keep things copacetic and tip-top from Headquarters, a quaint euphemism for her brain. It’s a pretty genius depiction, in my estimation, of a rather abstract concept. Every day, experience orbs are racked up in Riley’s memory, color-coordinated to their respective emotions. Ideally, the orbs are primarily those of joyful experiences.
All of which has what exactly to do with jars of jam and pickles and peaches and cherries and such, you might be wondering. Racking up experience orbs of joy, that’s what! When I’m canning, I’m happy. Like, really, really happy. I get in a groove, I feel the flow, I completely focus on the task at hand. And for a person that’s typically juggling many things (too many things!) at once, finding a groove/flow/focus trifecta is supremely satisfying. I’m quite certain that loads of joy memories are taking root when I’m canning.
That’s a good thing, considering the wealth of glorious fruits I was generously given this summer. As part of their Canbassador initiative, the Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation sent me shipments of their lovely stone fruits, as they’ve done over the past 5 summers. I am so, so very appreciative of this bounty. First, in June, came the cherries, nearly 20 pounds of them. Huxley and I sat out on the patio in our skivvies and de-stemmed and pitted them (for every cherry stem he removed, he ate one, making him look not unlike a zombie, a very, very cute zombie, by the time the job was done). They were rendered into cherry pickles, black pepper maraschino cherries, cherry moonshine (!!!), cherry compote, and cherry butter, as well as a sweet cherry pie. Next, in July, came the peaches. Those were transformed into spiced pickled peaches, peach lavender butter, and Marisa‘s Salted Brown Sugar Peach Jam.
If you’ve never canned before, I invite you to go for it. It’s really quite easy, and, at least in my case, a bliss-inducing experience. I put up loads of other things this summer, with many more jars to go before I put the canning pot fully away for the season. If you’re looking for tips, instruction, tutorials, recipes, or just inspiration, do check out Sweet Preservation. The website is full of helpful information for the canning novice and seasoned jar bather alike. Massive thanks, WA State Fruit Commission, for another very, very appreciated shipment of your glorious stone fruits!
Happy Friday, friends. So far today in our kitchen, we’ve made some sorghum bourbon butter pecan ice cream. For dinner, catfish and hushpuppies are in the works, likely alongside fried green tomatoes. This very second, a blueberry icebox pie is being assembled, while a strawberry crumble pie will be baked first thing tomorrow morning (both recipes from “A Year of Pies“). The ice cream and fried deliciousness is all part of recipe development and testing for my new southern pantry book while the pies will be my and Glenn’s entries at our friend Barbara Swell’s Retro Pie Contest tomorrow afternoon. I do so very much love a baking/stirring/measuring/whipping/tasting/chopping day in the kitchen!
Just a small round-up this week, of this and that’s that caught my attention:
*Butter and salt-coated radishes. So fresh. So clean. So simple. So good.
*So honored to have been included in the Garden.Kitchen.Table summit. Do yourself a favor and check it out! And if you’ve ever wondered what I look like when I’m talking to a computer screen (as dorky as you’ve likely imagined!), you can view my interview here.
*Looking forward to hosting Chris Bennett here for a few nights next week. He’s the author of Southeast Foraging, and will be giving a free lecture on foraging information from his book this coming Tuesday night at Villagers.
Alright, all that food mentioned above won’t cook itself. Back to work for me! Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!
*For this week’s “What I’m Digging” round-up, I’m sharing images of our home and property. These were taken last year, right around this time, by the wonderful Tim Robison. Tim wrote me yesterday, saying he had a bunch of images from a shoot we did together that I could have. Everything still looks almost completely the same, so I thought it would be fun to share those images here with you. Thanks, Tim!
Happy Friday, friends! As I type this, the profoundly loud, but immensely welcome, sound of drill cutting a hole into the side of our house is filling the air. A range hood that we purchased nearly a year ago (!!!) and are only just now getting around to having installed is getting duct work put through the attic. Those of you that know me personally know just how very excited this is. No more exposed wires coming out of the wall over the range, woohoo!
In other quieter, less jarring news, here’s a smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention recently:
*Nearly every post in Stony Soil Vermont reads like poetry. Brett is my kind of writer, no doubt about it.
*Sarah’s Strawberry and Honeysuckle Crush looks outta sight!
*Fantastic tips from Ashley on Meal Train Etiquette.
*I picked up some items from Melissa’s studio on Sunday for Glenn’s birthday on Monday. And then he went to her studio on Tuesday and picked up some items for our 8-year anniversary that day (the material for 8 years of marriage is pottery). It all feels very The Gift of the Magi!
*My friend Faryn told me about Field Day, dresses made out of upcycled vintage sheets. I love that they’re both environmentally friendly and adorable, not to mention have pockets (dress pockets are my JAM!).
*If you’d like to travel without leaving the comfort of home, go check out my friend Nicole’s Instagram feed. She and her friend Marley spent a week in Istanbul before heading to Barcelona a few days ago. Get ready to sigh in dreamy delight.
Alright, cutting out early to check on the range hood’s progress. Then we’re off to Marshall, NC, for the 4th annual Mermaids in Marshall parade. We went last year and had so much fun. Plus, I get to dress Huxley up as a pirate, always a good thing. We’re actually heading back out to Marshall again tomorrow, for our friend Tara’s monthly wood-fired pizza night at her bakery, Smoke Signals. Think picnic blankets, toted in coolers full of beer and wine, and kiddos running around all while the aroma of smoke and fire and yeast and cheese waft through the air. So, so good.
Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!
*I post a photo of Huxley in my What I’m Digging round-ups because, truly, he’s what Glenn and I dig the most. This photo is from a recent visit to Hole Donuts, one of his favorite destinations. And it’s highly appropriate that I’d post it today, considering that it’s National Donut Day!
For pretty much the entire day today, I’ve been repeating a phrase silently to myself. “Pay attention to what you pay attention to.” I’ve been reminding myself, with gentle nudges, to notice and note the activities and tasks that I’m most drawn to, that bring me the deepest satisfaction and joy, that feel less like work and more like, well, like living. By paying attention to what you pay attention to, to what perks you up, gets your creative juices flowing, and comes effortlessly because it’s what you desire and crave, you do yourself a huge service. You create and carve out a life that brings fulfillment, that feels like breathing, not gasping for air.
Which totally relates to how I feel about baking this pie. I’ve made it twice in the past 5 days. When I’m baking, I’m jamming. Which is to say that, for me, baking comes naturally. It’s what I most prefer to do in the kitchen. When flour and sugar and butter and fruit and flavorings mix and mingle, I’m a happy lady.
Strawberry season is seriously in affect. I picked a flat of organic strawberries at the farm down the road from me this past Friday (for only $18, friends!). This pie was the obvious and necessary means of heightening the happiness that strawberries bring me. When I’m making pie dough, I am fully present. I’m not thinking about anything other than making the pie dough, searching for the tactile and visual cues giving me the head’s up that the dough has reached its sweet spot. It’s never an effort, or a chore, or a labor. It’s an opportunity to engage all of my senses, to get me out of my ever-loving mind, and to tether me firmly to time and place. It might look like a pie, but really, its an exercise in mindfulness.
Want to Zen out on pie-making yourself? Here you go.
Strawberry Crumble Pie (from A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies)
Makes: One 9-inch pie.
You Will Need:
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/4 teaspoons salt
-1 cup butter (2 sticks), chilled and cubed
-3/4 cup ice water
-1 ½ pounds strawberries, stemmed and halved
-1/3 cup cornstarch
-1/3 cup sugar
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Make the Pie Dough:
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, but with several pea and lima bean-sized butter bits in the mix. Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump.
Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and fold it together into itself using your hands. The dough should come together easily but shouldn’t feel overly sticky. Divide the dough in half and shape into two flattened disks. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Prepare the crust:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, saving the other to use within the next few days or placing it in an airtight bag in the freezer for future use. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1-inch and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust about 6-7 times with a fork, then place the crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Line the piecrust with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, and then remove from the oven, leaving the oven on. Remove the dried beans or pie weights and parchment, and cool it completely before filling.
Prepare the filling:
Combine the strawberries, cornstarch and sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the crumble topping:
Combine the flour, salt, brown sugar, and butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Crumble together with either your hands or with a pastry cutter, leaving pea-sized chunks of butter in the mixture. Set aside.
Assemble the pie:
Pour strawberry mixture into the prepared piecrust. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly across the surface, packing down as needed to accommodate the entire amount of the mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Cool the pie at least 1 hour before serving.
This weekend was full of wonderful things, not the least of which was a bit of a revelation about myself. I’ll be 39 in July, and what I’m coming to realize with each rotation around the sun is that it is in the company of those that are equally interested in the natural world and all of its splendor and wonder that I’m most comfortable. The glamorous life is not for me. The wild, slightly disheveled, a bit messy, patina-showing, natural state of things is where I’m most at ease, most myself. At heart, I’m just a hippy. And that’s really, really alright by me.
Saturday started with french toast on the porch, always a good thing. Yesterday Huxley and I headed to my first ever handmade/homemade swap. I brought little jars of rosemary-infused honey, and Glenn made the straw-blown watercolor paintings adorning the lids (we’ll be married 8 years on June 2nd and with each passing year, I love that man more and more). You can read about the swap and see many more images over on Amanda’s blog. We had such a great time. While I’m floored by the wealth of items I brought home (including: an Amish paste tomato plant, body butter, bath salts, cream deodorant, bug spray, two types of lip balm, rose & lemon balm tincture, elderberry tincture, echinacea tincture & a travel tube of all-natural first aid ointment, blueberry relish, and strawberry rhubarb jam), what I equally enjoyed was meeting like-minded ladies and mamas. I like being amongst “my tribe.”
Here’s hoping that the week ahead is filled with health, happiness, and love, from our home, to yours.