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HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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  • Confession: until last night, I had never had honest to goodness snow cream. @glennbenglish whipped up a tasty batch with vanilla and nutmeg, and we enjoyed it alongside @oldworldlevain's heavenly frangipane tartlettes with fresh cranberries, orange peel, and cinnamon. Snow-pretty AND tasty.
  • Scattered, smothered, and covered. Snowy day in the cove!
  • We three Englishes do so very much love snow. Forecast to receive between 3-6 inches tonight! @glennbenglish captured Huxley and I taking in the view on his way back to the house after locking up the chickens.
  • Woke up to overnight snowfall, always a treat. Then heard from my neighbor Lynn, a licensed massage & bodywork therapist, that the snow was preventing her from getting in to her clients in town and, as a result, she had an opening in her schedule and could give me a massage. Whenever she travels, I pet-sit her cat Sophie, and in exchange she trades me a massage. Not only is she a seriously stellar masseuse, she also is an aromatherapist, a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner (a kind of Japanese acupressure technique), and is certified in neuromuscular therapy. So when I get a massage from her, I receive this healing trifecta involving scent, body, and spirit. Plus, in all honesty, I feel like this woman is actually imbuing my body with love when she works on me. I left her house feeling light and bright, and nourished. She has offices in Asheville and Johnson City, TN (the home massages are reserved for family and neighbors!). If you're looking for a rich, wonderful, deeply healing massage, please consider Lynn. You can find her information at www.lynnbernatsky.com. || I passed our bamboo grove and its tiny creek on my walk over to Lynn and Steve's; it somehow spoke to me of good things in store.
  • Woke up to this view. Some kind of wonderful!
  • Spotted Quench in the wild today.Always a thrill to see my books out in the big world, and rubbing elbows with friends @thejoyofcooking, no less!
  • Good day to be in western NC. View of Mt.  Pisgah from the top of our road.
  • You will not pass! || Our shorty with his soul sister Raeglan, adventuring in our woods two days ago. @thebriere4
  • Batman Begins. You ought to hear his 4 year-old take on Batman's gravelly, husky whisper.
  • Post meal, pre-hike to the frozen
  • Yesterday marked the very last photo shoot for my upcoming picnic book. 20 picnics, showcasing all 4 seasons, DONE! Snow, the necessary
  • The cold never bothered me anyway ? Love exploring our woods in the winter.
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Herbed Pickled Asparagus

Lately, I’ve felt as though I’m continually engaging in a Sisyphean battle with the 8-ball; I’m finding that I’m perpetually behind it. Maybe it’s on account of the colossal shift in my schedule since late March, when I handed over the remaining bit of text on my last book, “Keeping Bees” (the fourth in the “Homemade Living” series). My days opened up into wide expanses of time. The schedule of the past two years coming to an abrupt halt, I’ve found myself attempting, futilely, to juggle all of the balls that have fallen to the wayside and been relegated to the back burner while I’ve labored fastidiously on writing.


In any event, I know things will settle. I’ll fall into my new schedule. I’m digging my new job. Exciting prospects are on the horizon. I was featured in this magazine. I’ve got an interview with a reporter for the Washington Post at 11 a.m. today. I’ll be hopping up to the Big Apple next Tuesday and Wednesday for a dinner at this place with the entire sales staff of Sterling, my publisher’s parent company. I haven’t been to New York in a good number of years, so I’m especially looking forward to that tiny vacation.

One of the many tasks I’ve been intending to get to that fell, somehow, through the cracks, involves participation in this month’s Tigress’ Can Jam. The chosen ingredient to bottle up in jars for April was herbs, chosen by Marisa over at Food In Jars. Tigress, in her endless graciousness, sent me a head’s up that I’d missed the deadline, but said she’d still allow my recipe’s inclusion if I could post by Wednesday. And so, I offer you “Herbed Pickled Asparagus.” The recipe, one of the Spring offerings in my “Canning & Preserving” book, couples fresh, seasonal asparagus with a medley of herbs. I chose marjoram and oregano, but in truth, you could just use whatever your preferred herb is, or whatever you might simply have on hand. Thank you, Tigress, for the grace period. Happy canning, everyone!

Oh, and 8-ball, consider your self forewarned; I’ve got my eye on you.

Herbed Pickled Asparagus
Yield: 4 pints.

You will need:
-3 pounds fresh asparagus
-2 1/2 c. white wine vinegar
-2 c. water
-2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
-1 1/2 tsp. pickling or kosher salt
-4 sprigs fresh oregano
-4 sprigs fresh marjoram

To prepare:
1. Sterilize 4 pint-sized mason jars, lids, and screw rings. Fill a canner of large stockpot with water and set over medium-high heat. Bring just to the boiling point. Place the lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and set the pan aside.
2. Wash the asparagus and trim each spear to 4 inches. Quickly blanch the spears by placing in boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately plunging into an ice-water bath. Remove from water and pat dry.
3. In a heavy, medium-sized stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring the brining solution just to the boiling point, cover, and remove from heat.
4. Place the hot jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. Pack the asparagus spears into the jars, tips pointed down. Add 1 sprig of oregano and 1 sprig of marjoram to each jar. With the help of a canning funnel, ladle the brining solution evenly over the asparagus, reserving 1/2-inch headspace. Use a nonmetallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles and wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on the lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.
5. Using a jar lifter, place the filled jars into the canner. Process for 20 minutes, beginning processing time only once water is at a full, rolling boil. Remember to adjust for altitude.

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