Wednesday, October 30, 2013

in my autumn kitchen {with gratitude}

It's funny how when you lose nearly an entire garden, you are suddenly aware of the abundance you actually have. I've already used up more than half of my winter food stores, (and, yes, it's not even winter yet!) but I've made quite a few almost-completely-homegrown meals lately - oh how I love that! It's also funny that something as ordinary as this (and necessary as far as our ancestors were concerned) is somehow elusive and complicated in these modern times.

Here's a look at my kitchen goings-on, and some simple dishes that have graced our table over the past couple weeks:

Before the frost, I picked a bouquet of celery, parsley, and the last of the carrots for our first real cold weather staple - chicken with dumplings, but made this time with turkey and goat's milk. That was promptly followed by another favorite here - curry turkey (based off curry chicken, but again with goat's milk in place of the coconut milk and sour cream) using carrots and onion from the garden. And the lemon even came from my little potted lemon tree!

I made my first ever homegrown kimchee, right down to the garlic and ginger.

I've been making a weekly stock for soups (our favorites being of the Vietnamese variety), using most and squirreling away some for the freezer in preparation for Thanksgiving. 

I have a big pot of lemongrass awaiting harvest and a small jar of crystallized honey, a beautiful gift from our beekeeper, and by far the best I've ever tasted. While the chickens take their annual cold weather rest, duck eggs are still in abundance, and we had enough recently to bring over to our local fire department.

How truly fortunate I feel to have such good food to eat and to share.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

the finer things

Sometimes I feel like eating a decadent breakfast, and the stars align just so, and I'm able to spend more than 10 minutes at a time in the kitchen preparing something luxurious to eat.

I recently had just that kind of morning. So, crab cake (or in our case, leftover white fish and salmon from dinners earlier in the week) benedict it was! The only thing missing was a nicely toasted and buttered English muffin, but there was no time for baking - best to get on with the eating part anyway.

The beauty of them won over my little girl, who pointed to the prettiest one on the platter and asked if she could have it. I was thrilled, and immediately thought of how I could boast about my 2 year old's refined palate. Which is to say that she took one bite, declared it, "kinda yucky," and proceeded to eat the entire plate of bacon instead. So be it. More for me until she comes to her senses!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

autumn air

There was an urgent feeling of preparation in the air today. We went about the day in a flurry of winterization activity. I harvested the last of the herbs for drying and the remaining Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, and carrots from my little kitchen garden patch near the house. All that remained salvageable from the flooded main garden were some onions and basil. Everything else was completely destroyed, but I've accepted that and am counting my blessings regardless.

I had a moment today to sit in the sun and watch the bees, appearing just as purposeful and busy as I. They seemed drawn to the little yellow flowers on the cabbage, likely the only cultivated plant still flowering on the whole property. The beekeeper came recently and thinks we're in danger of losing the hive this winter - the bottom box was likely flooded, and he couldn't find a queen or any brood. I asked if they could reproduce and get their numbers up before the cold comes, and he answered, "Yes, if they choose to." That gave me a lot of peace, that simple phrase. And I've been contemplating it a lot these days. If they choose to. There is so much I wish I had control over - I struggle quite a lot with it, to be honest. Wanting to help, to fix, to save, to change the outcome. But in the end, most decisions are not mine to make. As much as I want to live as though I am the one orchestrating events in my life, most of the time things are just happening around me. Or, in times of hardship, they often feel like they're happening to me. How much more content I could be if I would embrace the fact that I am a part of the whole, with only my own choices to make - how freeing to let go of the burden of decision for others, and how arrogant I felt to realize that I wouldn't necessarily make the right choice anyway. If they choose to....

I still left all the flowering stalks standing tall for the bees, though, just in case they need them.
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