Category Archives: In the Kitchen

it’s cold, cleaning . . . and nutella

steve

lenten roses

Winter weather has descended upon us.  It is cold.  Wind chill below 0, bone-chilling, a bit refreshing (for the first minute outside) – cold.  I don’t completely understand how weather works and why some days that are 20 degrees (F) out feel just fine, and other 20 degree days feel like the North Pole and the cold goes right into your bones no matter how well dressed you are.  I could say the same about 60 degree days – some feel like summer, some feel like winter.  Is it humidity, wind, sun that makes the difference?  Whatever the reason, we are in the cold temps that feel COLD.  We had a dusting of snow the other day, and it looked pretty on the lenten roses (which bloomed about a month early because of the crazy warm December), but now the cold has really depressed (the only word I can think of) these flowers.  They are all laying in a lump on the ground, frozen.

Which means that there are shorter periods of being outside, long periods of getting dressed to go outside (finding hats, mittens, socks and shoes), and longer periods of playing inside.  Yesterday, a holiday, we all spent at home.  A few friends came over to play, and all 6 children played together (for the most part) inside, with multiple ventures outside.  Retreating, when too cold back to the house to have hot chocolate and snacks, to read, and to play.   William and I spent nearly the whole day cleaning and organizing our house.  A task that is overdue, but seems impossible to get done since we are often busy and don’t build in time to do it.  I think I also tend to avoid it, having things I would much rather do.  It is also frustrating to try and tackle a large task like this to be interrupted by the need to make snacks, or drive the carpool, or get to a meeting.  But, yesterday was the perfect day for it – a holiday, children entertained and taking care of each other, a partner to support the effort, no work or carpool.

boys

vacuuminggames

games

First, I tried to organize my sewing patterns.  I had bought large 3 ring binders and sheet protectors to store and organize the patterns, but just over half way through the process, realized I did not have enough binders or sheet protectors (which means I have over 100 patterns).  But, I found a temporary solution.

William cleaned and organized our bedroom which has been a bit of a disaster since Christmas.

I organized the game cabinet as well as the toy cabinet, both of which are getting quite a bit of use in the cold weather, and it is satisfying to see everything made neat and useful (for now at least).  Surely by the end of the season, they will be a bit of a mess again.

Tidying up like this also makes me wonder if should get the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.  It seems like it might be written for me.  Perhaps the library has a copy, because I don’t have a lot of faith that I will follow through will changes that take a lot of time or effort, so I don’t want to spend the money on it until I read a bit of it.  We’ll see.

Finally, I made a batch of homemade nutella – or cholocate hazelnut spread – for the week.  This is a treat I make occasionally, and it is so good, better (in my opinion) and healthier than the store bought kind.  This recipe is based off of Susan Herrmann Loomis‘s recipe in her cookbook Nuts in the Kitchen.  Susan’s a distant cousin, too.  The kids love it and it is simple to make.

2 cups hazelnuts

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (you can use a fancy, expensive kind, or Hershey’s – I can’t tell much difference)

pinch of salt

Toast hazelnuts in the oven at 350F for about 10 minutes.  They smell slightly toasted and are turning a little browner.  Take them out and put the nuts on a kitchen towel (not a terry towel) and rub them with the towel to rub off the skins.  After the nuts cool, I usually rub them with my hands to remove most of the remaining skins.  Some nuts will  hang on to their skin and that is ok.  Try to separate the nuts from the flaked off skins and throw the skins away (or compost them).  When the nuts are cool, process them in a food processor until they are a smooth paste.  This will take several minutes.  It will go from a paste to a smooth paste after a while, but it will never be as smooth as store bought. Again, that’s ok.  Add the salt, sugar, and cocoa powder and process till mixed well.  Now you are done.  Scrape it out and put in in a jar.  I use a mason jar (fits perfect in a pint-size).  It probably should be stored in the refrigerator, but ours goes fast enough that I keep it on the counter.

nutella

toastev

turkey, how to roast one?

I never roasted a turkey before last week.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only times during the year that we eat a roasted turkey.  And, the only time we had Christmas dinner at our house (we usually eat at the Big House or my parents’ house), my cousin’s husband – a wonderful cook – took over the turkey cooking part, to my relief.   For all other holiday meals, someone else was in charge of the turkey – someone with many years of experience cooking turkeys.  Some years I think it is a shame that I have not learned to cook a turkey, like it is some right of passage I’ve missed, but usually I am happy that someone else has that intimidating and important job.

But, the other day I went into the farm store and saw they had fresh, pasture-raised turkeys – for a fairly good price.  A 15 pound turkey can feed our family for a long time, I though.  I bought one.  And, I roasted it the next day.   So, now I’ve cooked my first turkey and have done so without the fan fare and pressure of a holiday meal.

turkey1

turkey

To start with, though, I did what everyone does when they don’t know how to do something and want to find out – I went to the Internet.  I looked up recipes and read that you should truss the turkey, stuff it with aromatics, and rub the outside of the turkey with butter.  My trussing technique was pitiful. I used embroidery floss to tie the legs together (I couldn’t find kitchen twine, if we even have any).  And, I used broken skewers to try and secure the wings to the body, but it did not work and the turkey just looked like it was impaled with small wooden arrows.  I also mixed together butter with salt and pepper and some spices and herbs to rub on the turkey.  But, I am not sure how anyone can rub butter over a slightly cold, slightly damp raw turkey.  The butter clumped up despite my best efforts to spread it, and I decided to leave the clumps and let them melt over the turkey as it started to roast, hoping that would be fine.  I roasted it on a higher temperature for a short amount of time, then turned the oven down a bit lower than the recipe suggested.  Since I had to be out all afternoon picking up children and running errands, the turkey was going to stay in the oven for longer than the recipe recommended and therefore would also not be basted every 20-30 minutes as was also suggested.

Despite the novice approach, the turkey was delicious.  There are not any pictures of the finished turkey, since I must have been too busy, but  it was not much to look at.  Quite brown and not even as good looking as the raw bird (though it was more appetizing).

We’ve had sliced turkey, turkey soup, turkey mole, turkey enchiladas, and gallons of turkey stock and pints of sliced turkey in the freezer.  I will definitely do this again, perhaps improving upon my turkey cooking techniques.

My roast turkey recipe (this is for my reference, since it certainly not gourmet, but rather a no fuss, no pressure recipe, but feel free to try it):

Take the turkey out of the refrigerator about an hour before cooking it (assuming it is fully thawed).  Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.  Mix butter with salt and pepper and any chopped herbs or spices you want (smoked paprika, thyme, sage, and rosemary are good).  Set turkey in a roasting pan on top of a rack.  Or, if you don’t have a turkey roasting pan, like me, put it on top of 4-5 long carrots and a few halved onions so it is off the bottom of the pan.  Put a few herbs sprigs (thyme, rosemary, sage) and halved carrots and onions in the cavity of the turkey.  You could also do a half of a lemon or garlic cloves or celery.  Rub the butter on the skin of the turkey – or just clump it on top so when it melts it will spread over the turkey.  Roast at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Then, turn it down to 325 and cook for about 2.5 more hours.  You can use a thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh to see if it is cooked well enough.  Or, you can pick up your son from preschool, run errands, pick up your older kids from school, take them to their lessons, and when you get home, take out your slightly over cooked (you won’t need a thermometer – it is definitely done) turkey.  Cover it with aluminum foil.  Keep it under the foil tent for about 1 hour (or more, if you need it to finish helping your children with homework and getting the rest of dinner done).  Then, carve as best you can.

late summer icons

peaches mullet and watermelon watermelon apple eating apple goldenrod summer sun

Nothing says late summer in the mountains of NC like baskets of peaches, watermelon, the first apples, and goldenrod.

I have canned some peaches, and will likely can one more batch.  Then, I’ll freeze the rest, peeled and sliced, for smoothies all winter.

The watermelon came from our garden.  The first watermelons I’ve ever grown – and they were delicious!  I think I liked them the best though.  The children are used to seedless watermelons and William says he is not a big fan of watermelon, but I enjoyed them.  I cooked mullet one night, rubbed in salt and rinsed.  Coastal NC tradition says to eat fresh salted mullet with watermelon.  It really was a good combination.  I like the flavor of mullet, but . . . my, they are bony.

The meadow is full of goldenrod, cardinal flower, ironweed, and Joe Pye Weed.  It is beautiful, and so iconic of fall here.

The first apples are ready and I have a bushel sitting in my kitchen.  I really do need to make sauce because the apples have a lot of bitter rot and won’t last long.

Nights have been cooler recently and it is less humid than normal Augusts.  One thing I notice about nights in August, though, is that they are loud.  Cicadas, katydids, crickets are all making the most of the last warm-ish nights and sing all night long.  It is a chorus, or a racket – depending on your opinion – but I am always surprised at the noise level in the middle of the night from outside.

 

 

bread: part 3

Another special bread, to me and countless others, has been my mother-in-law’s (Susie’s) homemade loaf bread.  The first time I ever came to her house, I was in high school and visiting the Asheville area.  Her daughter, Elizabeth, was my friend and I went to see her.  Elizabeth invited me into the kitchen, cut off a large slice off a fresh loaf of bread and spread it thickly with raspberry jam from a large pot sitting on the stove, before we headed out for a tour of their farm.  I was very impressed that there were four loaves of this home made bread on the counter (and impressed about all that jam!).  Elizabeth said her mother made 6 loaves of bread every other day – to feed, I found out soon, 5 of her own children, 2 high school exchange students, many of the 10+ cousins who came through the house, plus all their friends, and her husband.  This amount of bread – delicious, fresh, homemade bread at that – was almost magical.  And, as I came to know Susie and her bread, I never really changed my mind about it – there was definitely some magic.

Elizabeth and I tried to reproduce her bread when we were in college (even attempting to sell loaves to other home-deprived students).  But, ultimately, our bread lacked something.  Elizabeth would make new suggestions about how to make the bread, based on many observations and conversations with her mother about bread baking.  We finally gave up trying to make Susie’s bread – it just never turned out quite right – edible, yes, but not like hers.  We decided there really must be some magic in Susie’s kitchen that made her bread come out so well (and so much better than ours using the same recipe).  Was it the oven?  Her large, blackened, finicky thing filled with random objects from egg shells to pottery to cookies and bread?  Was it the general fermentation happening in her kitchen at all times?  All those fermenting (some might call it rotting) jars of jam, pickles, leftovers, and who knows what else, scattered over nearly every surface of the kitchen.  Was it her bread pans?  Old, blackened, thick – that she never washed, ever.  Was it the flour?  She claimed she thought it was important to use some pastry flour, but I’ve seen her use any kind of flour on hand and turn out great bread.   Susie was a conjurer – churning out great loaves of some of the best loaves of bread.  However she did it, her bread never lasted long at her house.  Which was good, because those homemade loaves did go stale more quickly than any store bought, less tasty, less textured bread.

Now, I incorporate some of all these bread traditions and some of my own into my cooking.  I make biscuits and cornbread.  I knead dough and form loaves.  I’ve now also made the no-knead bread – which is wonderful and easy but requires planning and time (and I tend to fall short on both).  I also enjoy making tortillas – corn and flour, and occasionally make batch of one or the other to keep the family fed with burritos, quesadillas, and tacos.  Even though we have no Latin roots, the influence is definitely felt and influence has become important (the food is so delicious!).  Will that get passed on to the next generations’ bread traditions?

Anyway, below is a simple recipe for the most basic bread I make a few times a month – a yeast-risen loaf bread.  Do you have any bread traditions or culture in your family?

Simple loaf bread (makes 2)

Mix 1 cup oats with 1 cup hot milk or water.  Let sit for 10 minutes

Add 1 Tablespoon (or 1 package of yeast) and 1 1/2 cups more of water or milk.  Mix and let yeast dissolve.

Add 1/4 cup honey or molasses (or brown sugar) and 3 cups of whole wheat flour.  Mix with a spoon for about a minute.  Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Then, add 1 T salt, 1/4 cup oil or melted butter (and an egg if you want).  Mix in well, then start adding white bread flour until the dough is too hard to mix with a spoon (about 2 more cups).

Turn dough out on counter and start to knead, adding flour as needed.  Knead for 5-10 minutes and shape into a ball.  Put the ball back into your original bowl after you sprinkle flour in the bowl to keep it from sticking.  Put a damp towel over the bread while it rises.

When it has doubled in size, take it out and cut in half and shape each half into a football shape.  Put each shape into greased (or buttered) loaf pans.  Let rise again, with a damp towel over the loaves.  After about 30-45 minutes you can bake the loaves (when they’ve doubled in size again).  I like to slice the tops a little with a serrated knife just before baking.  I bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  There are a lot ideas about how to know when your bread is done.  I tap the loaves on the bottom to see if they sound hollow, but I also bake until they are golden or browned on the outside.  Susie says she can tell when they are done when she put a loaf to the tip of her nose and it does not burn.

Let cool out of the pan.

We eat lots of toast and sandwiches, so this bread does not last long.  I’m lucky if it lasts a week, but usually, it’s just a few days.

018

023

003

004

005

bread: part 2

Being a good Southerner, cornbread and biscuits played predominate rolls in my culinary upbringing.  My mother made good cornbread and we absolutely loved it with butter and molasses.  So good . . . such a treat.  This is still a treasured supper dish in our house now.  Our children adore cornbread and molasses – finding it as big a treat as I did as a child.

Mom-mom, however, was not a born Southerner, coming from Oregon, but she endeavored to make a pan of cornbread nearly everyday for farm dinners (mid-day meal).  Her cornbread was very different from my mother’s.  Hers was flat and dense and quite sweet – everything my mother’s wasn’t.  You didn’t put molasses on that flat bread, just butter.  I don’t know where she learned how to make it like that, and I’ve never seen cornbread like it anywhere else.  But, it was good.  And, my grandfather liked it – and that was all that really mattered.

We were not a strong biscuit family.  Sure, we ate biscuits, made good ones and liked them, but I don’t recall anything special about them – no important techniques, recipes, or ingredient secrets that were passed on.  In fact, the first biscuits I remember making were with my great-grandmother, Grammy.  I thought it was amazing and I loved helping her.  First, you took a cardboard tube and peeled off the top, then you whacked it hard on the counter and pulled doughy biscuits out and set them on a pan.  We baked them for 10 minutes and you were done.  Grammy was a farm wife with four children, and many time-consuming tasks, who did not really enjoy cooking.  For her, sliced bread really was one of the best inventions . . . canned biscuits, a close second.

I make biscuits like my mother (and mother-in-law) did – from scratch and almost once a week.  They are easy to make, and often I make them because they are fast and filling for this small brood of mine.  This past fall, I checked out a book from the library called Biscuit – part of the Southern Foodways Alliance series.  It was a great little reference and had many rifts on biscuits I wanted to try.  I turned the book in after a few weeks but my mind kept coming back to it every time I made biscuits.  So, when I was in a book store in Raleigh last month, I bought this little gem.  I’ve made a few of the different biscuits and it has been fun.  One of the most popular in our house has been the fried pie recipe.  Basically, a biscuit dough, rolled thin, filled with spiced pumpkin or apple, deep fried, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  So good!

007

001
mixing dough

 

004
currant, gorgonzola, pecan biscuits
001
fried apple pies

 

bread: part 1

One of my new favorite magazines is a quarterly called Taproot.  It is homestead-y, literary, artsy, sweet, and ad-free.  Each issue has a theme, and this winter’s theme was Bread.  It got me thinking about all of the breads that have been important to me throughout my life (so far).  My grandmother’s sourdough, corn bread, biscuits (a Southern staple), my mother-in-law’s bread, tortillas, and my own manifestations of bread as I feed my husband and growing children.  Bread is important and it can tell as story.   It can be difficult and surprisingly easy – to make, to understand.  And, it can be delicious!

The first homemade bread I remember was my grandmother’s sourdough bread.  She made two loaves at least once a week, every week, when I was young — and she had done so for many years.  That bread had a slight sourness, and a good kick of sweetness (I found out later was from a fair bit of sugar in the recipe).  The bread was absolutely delicious warm from the oven – even without butter.  I loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with that bread.  I loved the smell of that bread, and I loved seeing Mom-mom make the bread.  Her house would fill with it’s aroma when she was baking and that smell always made me feel at home and happy. I think she got her starter from a cousin in Oregon, and she told me once that she made the best bread of her life when her mother was dying of cancer.  She said she put all her anger, frustration, and sadness into the kneading of the dough, and would knead for long periods of time, working it all out.  That bread would come out wonderfully light.

Mom-mom gave me some of her starter when I was in college and I tried to make bread as a way to link me to some semblance of family life – probably I wanted that feeling that her bread gave me of being at home, loved, and happy.  It was hard moving to a city of over 100,000 people (and a dorm of a few hundred), when I’d come from a town of 15,000.  I wanted some security, to belong.  But, Mom-mom’s starter did not last long.  I could not keep it going with the erratic schedule of classes, breaks, and dorm living.  I also could not get quite the right result.  The taste was right, but the texture and rise were not.

Mom-mom never did give me any formal bread baking lessons, as she did for making cakes and cookies.  I guess I learned from just watching her work dough through on the counter and shape her loaves to rise – gently laying a wet towel over the bread while they rose.  I still use her techniques, even if I don’t use her recipe.

image

 

 

gnocchi . . . and my brother

015

016

018

My brother is not known as a good cook, though he really is.  He is definitely not a foodie – nor is he of the type that doesn’t care what he eats as long as it is food.  I often underestimate his cooking skills and palate.  In my defense, mashed potatoes are well-known as his favorite food.  We used to make our own suppers of rice and frozen peas when we were younger and our mother was out.  He was the one who thought to add a few extras to this bland dish – a fried egg, a dash of soy sauce, a sprinkle of ginger (well, the ginger might have been me).

My brother is an avid sportsman.  He brings home dozens of game birds throughout the fall and winter.  His freezer is stocked with fish he caught (as well as shrimp and venison gifted to him by fellow hunters and fishermen).  All of this he cooks and eats (with his wife and young son).  He’s been way ahead of the wild food trend currently quite popular with foodies.

Occasionally, I ask him for his tips on cooking, especially wild game (often it is “wrap it in bacon and grill it” – this advise goes surprisingly well for many foods).  Or, I’ll ask him for his favorite recipes.  Except that he does not usually do recipes – he just cooks, putting together what he thinks, or has learned, works.  Once, a few years ago when we were on vacation, I asked him what he liked to make for supper – something he liked that he made often.  He said “gnocchi”.  What?!  Isn’t that time consuming, finicky, and difficult?  His answer was no – it was simple, fast, and really good (and had mashed potatoes, so, in his opinion, perfect).  He proceeded to describe to me how he made it and told me he’d learned when he was in college and worked at an Italian restaurant.

I dismissed gnocchi making for a few years, though I was impressed by his knowledge and ability, because when I got home and looked up a recipe, I was again daunted by the seemingly long, slightly confusing, task.  Every recipe was full of long instructions, and each said you had to take every one of those little potato dumplings and roll them on a fork.  Which would take forever – especially when 4 kids are rolling on the floor crying for supper.

But, this past summer, I dropped by my brother’s house and he was in the kitchen peeling hot potatoes.  I asked him what he was doing.  “Making gnocchi (with these fresh out of the field potatoes from the farm).”  I couldn’t believe it – in real life I was seeing him make his “simple” supper.  I didn’t get around to watching him do the whole process (but to give credit to his claim of a quick supper, I was only in the house for about 5 minutes).

So, when I came across a recipe for gnocchi in my Smitten Kitchen cookbook the other day, I decided to make it.  This recipe actually did look pretty simple.  There was no rolling each dumpling on a fork to make ridges.  The sauce was a simple tomato broth.  I could at least try it!

So I did.  It did not take long to make – probably slightly longer than my average meal-making time, but much of that was baking the potatoes.  Once they were baked, it was pretty quick.  And, simple.  And, delicious.

William loved it, the kids were mediocre (but, turned out they were starting to come down with a stomach bug, so they don’t count this time).  I think I did not quite get the dumplings right, but I also think I will try again.  And, I will probably ask my brother for some tips!

 

 

preparations and celebrations

003

004

010

005

006

006

011

001

002

We’ve been preparing for and enjoying this Christmas season – and only one more day till Christmas!  It has been busy and joyful.  Cookies have been baked.  But . . . this year, I only got around to making two batches of cookies.  I am not sure what happened, except that I found myself one night at 9:30, by myself (everyone else was in bed), incredibly tired, in the kitchen searching for eggs – no eggs.  So I drove over to my in-laws and borrowed 5 eggs only to come back and not be able to find the coconut and then couldn’t find the pecans.  I was feeling very un-holiday-ish and I realized I really did not have to bake more cookies.  The only person who would had that expectation was me!  So, to bed I went.  The only cookies I made were ones you see above which was a recipe from my great-grandmother’s collection, an unusual but delicious sesame seed-cinnamon cookie, and (my favorite) what we call St. Nick Cookies but everyone else calls Mexican Wedding Cookies.

I bought a gorgeous wreath that my sister-in-law made at their farm and used it as an advent wreath for the table.  I did not have candles so i made roll-up beeswax candles every week – and after teaching myself, I taught the girls how to make the candles.  Though, we were a little slow getting some weeks’ candles in the wreath, they are all there now.

Kids made gingerbread houses at church and they were cute for a couple of days until I noticed teeth marks on them and candy that had been gnawed off.  So, we said they had 10 minutes after dinner to eat as much as they could off their house – then the desecrated houses went in the trash can.  They had fun!

Crafting is happening everyday in our house now, too.  I am trying to get some sewing projects done for Christmas (originally for Solstice, but that letting go of expectations thing was great).  Snowflakes cut and hung. The girls and Hythe are making presents and decorating gift bags.  It has been fun.

I am looking forward to spending time with family and taking some hikes in the next few days as we celebrate a beautiful holiday.  Blessings to you!

—————————-

Sesame Seed Cookies
½ cup sesame seeds
¾ cup butter
1 ½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cups sifted flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon (I accidentally used 1 tsp, which was fine)
Toast seeds in heavy fry pan, stirring constantly so seeds won’t burn.
Cream butter and brown sugar till fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time with vanilla. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in sesame seed. Add to creamed mixture, mix. Line cooky sheet with waxed paper. Drop by tsp. onto waxed paper. Allow room for cookies to spread. Bake in 325 oven for 20 to 25 min. or till cookies are done and slightly brown.
For a change, replace cinnamon with ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice or ¼ tsp. cardamom.
Makes 6 doz.

These come out crisp and delicious!  Make sure you only drop tsp sized cookies and give them plenty of room to spread.  Next time I want to try them with the cardamom – and maybe a little cocoa powder!

 

garden update and CSA box

006

002

001

We’ve had a number of hard frosts and freezes already this fall.  The fig tree, mulberry tree, and my ginger lilies look very sad.  I have not yet checked out how the vegetable garden fared after this latest cold spell, but I am hopeful that the carrots made it through, since that is the only real harvest from the garden right now, and will be sweeter for it.

001

I have never had so many carrots in my garden before and I love it.  I hope to make a carrot soup tonight, and I hope the it goes over better with the children than the winter squash soups have done.  We have eaten lots of fresh carrots and roasted carrots, also.

002

The garlic us up, but I have given up on the turnips – they are now a cover crop to be turned into the soil in the spring.  I think I did not order the best (i.e. sweetest) variety to plant.  I also planted some radishes a month or so ago and since I planted so many and we are not prolific radish eaters, they got left in the garden to grow.  And grow they did.  These are the biggest radishes I’ve ever seen!  I’ve not cut one open yet.  I doubt they are edible.

006

One of my favorite late fall/winter trees is the Witchhazel.  We have two trees beside our house and I love the bright yellow starburst on their branches.  A sunny, natural decoration in this greyish landscape.  I love it!

021

015

And, finally, I wanted to show off the last of the CSA boxes I have been getting from my sister- and brother-in-law (Annie and Isaiah).  They own and run Flying Cloud Farm here in Fairview, 1.5 miles from our house.  It is a 10 acre well-run, beautiful, organic (but not certified) fruit, flower, and vegetable farm.  I’ve never bought a CSA box from the farm because we have a fairly large garden and I can easily supplement from their fabulous produce nearly all year long.  But, this fall Annie gave me one of their extended season CSA boxes.  They have been packed full of gorgeous broccoli, greens, winter squash, and root vegetables.  We can eat through it all in less than a week, though I do have a bag of turnips in the refrigerator and three huge acorn squash on my counter, accumulating from past weeks.

012

Yesterday, I got a cookbook that I am excited about – called Farmer and Chef Asheville.  Annie Louise (my sister-in-law) has a recipe in it!  It will be made tonight with those lovely greens above.

Collard Greens in Coconut Milk

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic

2 T minced fresh ginger

1/2 t crushed red pepper

2 bunches collards, stems removed and torn (I like to chop- almost in large chiffonade, though I am sure that is not culinarily correct)

1/2 t each salt and pepper

Pour 1/4 cup coconut milk in large skillet, heat to a simmer.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and crushed pepper.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Add the greens and pour over the remaining coconut milk, stirring to coat the greens.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in salt and pepper.

 

weekend excitement

011

012

 

This past weekend began with the excitement of Halloween.  All the children were anticipating dressing up and deciding what exactly they were going to wear.  Since the weather was turning cold, we also had the challenge of what to wear with the costumes to stay warm.  Anne was still debating what she was going to be on Friday and even changed clothes/costumes halfway through trick-or-treating.  She started as a German bar maiden, but after she got a very puzzled expression from the first person who asked her what she was, she changed her story to “Laura Ingalls” and got rid of the beer stein.  Halfway through the night (after the horseback ride), she changed into regular clothes and said she was a teenager, hippy, or spy, depending on who asked her.  Evva, was of course, Pippi Longstocking – her current favorite book character.  Hythe went as a race car driver, and Steven as a bee (costume courtesy of a friend and neighbor).

Evva asked a few weeks ago if they could go trick-or-treating on horseback.  Anne and Hythe were enthusiastic and I got it arranged with William’s aunt to borrow a few of her horses.  It was a fun little ride (William and I actually walked–good exercise!) and they made it to 6 houses and the farm store.  Since we left early enough to not be riding in the dark, we ate supper after putting the horse back at the barn, and had time to caravan with a group of friends to the rest of the neighbors who were just a little too far to ride horses to.  Lots of candy was got by all!

017

019

024

021

We woke up the next day to this:

004

Nearly 3.5″ of snow – and it snowed all day, though the temps were above freezing so the snow on the ground melted as more floated down.  It was a beautiful overcast day and the children had lots of fun playing in the snow.  I stayed inside much of the day, cooking and cleaning – but, I did get out for a few walks to enjoy the fall/winter scenery.

006

010

008

We had a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party on Saturday night with lots of friends making it over despite the cold.  Everyone brought a dish to honor a dead loved one.  It was fun and special and made me remember how much I enjoy being with friends – and how it takes effort to make those gatherings with friends happen in our full busy lives.  I want to do it more often.

My favorite view from inside the house is this sink.  Nearly always surrounded by dishes to be washed or put away – typical in this household of many eaters.  But that view makes it much more enjoyable to complete those tedious tasks.  (we need to get some bird seed!)

027