Slow Food Sunday

IMG_0164 IMG_0174IMG_0143The busier the season gets, the more I want to slow down. That includes the way I eat. Without really intending to do so I’ve been making a lot of slow foods on the weekends. You know the kind of recipes that take all afternoon to make. For example I put in 4 hours to make a steak and Guinness pie yesterday. It was amazing. We ate it in 15 minutes. I’m sure that had we had friends around and lots of chatting it would have taken longer but this was the kind of meal you just hear silence through because it’s so yummy.

Or take the English muffins in the picture above. They are not just any English muffins, they are spelt sourdough English muffins. I ground the flour and used my own sourdough starter to make these English muffins. I then slathered them with the peach lavender butter that I made earlier this summer.

The tortellini, well I made the pasta and the filling myself. I rolled out the dough and hand folded each of the tortellini. It took me over an hour. I then served them in chicken broth that I made and froze from a previous slow food dinner.

I’m not sure if I can adequately describe to you  the satisfaction I get from the process of making this food. It’s a beautiful thing to slow down and know your food, to connect with it in a way that let’s you watch raw ingredients transform into something amazing.

It makes me sad to meet people who say they don’t have time to make good slow food. It’s not that you don’t have time, it’s that you don’t make time. Do you have time to watch a 3 hour movie or two or three TV shows? Sure you do. You make time for it. Same thing goes for cooking. I find it disheartening to think that my generation has to teach itself how to cook by googling it because in just a short span of 60 or so years westerners decided not to teach their children to cook anymore. Everything I know about cooking I learned by either reading cookbooks or watching cooking shows.

When I got married the only thing I knew how make was overcooked pasta and quesadillas. In that ten years I have transformed my relationship with food. Before cooking I didn’t care at all where my food came from or what was in it or who made it. Now, if I met 20 year old me I would cringe at what she ate. I would probably try everything my power to make her amazing food and teacher to make it herself.

By making slow food every week I hope to show my girls the importance of making meals from scratch and that food is for enjoyment, not just filling your stomach.

So this week being Thanksgiving week I will be doing a lot slow cooking and I am so happy about it. I urge you all, though I am certainly preaching to the choir, to start cooking slowly just once day a week. Connect with your food, you’ll enjoy it so much more.

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Tent(h) Anniversary

DSC05795 DSC05802 DSC05825 DSC05826 DSC05837 DSC05840 DSC05843 DSC05848 DSC05857 DSC05873 DSC05893Yesterday marked our tenth anniversary. I thought that we would do something fancy like going to a desert spa all alone and just hang out in silence. D however had a better idea, knowing me better than myself sometimes: he suggested we have a “tent anniversary” (all his decisions are made based on whether it would make a cringe-worthy pun) and go camping instead. Camping in November, you say, is she mad? Well no, just ready for adventure.

We went to the Chiricahua National Monument, just two hours east of Tucson. I’ve been wanting to go here for many years and finally this seemed like the time. Late fall is a wonderful time to go camping here, no one is around and you get the trails all to yourself.

This place proved to be so much more amazing than the pictures led me to believe. I’ll have a more hike-specific post soon.

We drank wine, I made some really taste food over the fire, and we wore winter clothing, ski jackets included.  Oh was it cold. It was 28 degrees at the coldest point in the night. I was very glad to have a down sleeping bag rated for 21 degrees and D has this silly sleeping bag (which he wants me to tell you is a “Sleepwear System”) that he can snuggle up to me with, because without him I would have been very cold I think. But I’m not complaining about the cold. It was lovely to feel the cold and to figure out how to work around it.

Ten years has passed by so quickly. We’ve done and seen so many things together. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what a lucky gal I am. It’s hard to find someone you are really compatible with and make it work in the long term. A happy marriage takes work, but it’s good work, work that leads you to wonderful place. I look forward to the next ten years!

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Know your food

IMG_0153There is nothing quite like waking up with sun and realizing you are hungry then walking out your bedroom door to your garden where you pull up french breakfast radishes. You wash them off with freezing cold water from the outdoor faucet and eat them before they are a minute old. Growing my own food has changed my life for the better.

Wishing you all a wonderful Monday.

 

Posted in Garden | 6 Comments

A Lantern Walk

DSC05776For several years now I’ve been wanting to do a lantern walk with the girls. For some reason or another I let excuses come up and the day slipped by. I would say to myself, “they are too little” or “there is no one else to go with” or some other silly excuse. But the words of a fellow blogger and dear friend kept coming up that if you want the community you have to build it. I kept feeling a tinge of jealousy thinking I want the community she has; I wish I lived near her. Finally this year I said to myself “plan it, and they will come”. I put out a call to our homeschool group inviting anyone who was interested to come join me at the park for a Martinmass lantern walk.

DSC05774Well I was surprised and elated by the response. Families were so excited by the invitation. We had six families come out and more who wanted too but couldn’t make it at the last minute, however we were quite the crowd with 15 children. Everyone brought handmade lanterns, some of them were even made with me at our park day earlier that day.

DSC05782We met at the park in the fading light. I lit everyones candles hoping the wind would die down and then we walked. First we encountered the beggar and the roman soldier who cut his cloak in two and gave the other half to the beggar. Then we all walked around this beautiful pond watching our little lanterns glow in the night. When we returned back to our cars I warmed up the apple cider I brough (thank goodness for camping burners) and we ate traditional german sweet breads hand made that afternoon by two different families. DSC05789DSC05786

It was such a lovely evening and the kids were so excited. Everyone went home happier than when they arrived.

I learned a wonderful lesson about building community from this day: if you invite the things you want into your life, they will come.

Posted in Life Notes | 12 Comments

Backyard Dream Farm

A while back when we were living in France and didn’t know where we would end up, I started a Pinterest board call “Backyard Dream Farm”. I let this be the place where all my ideas went, from the practical to the completely wild. I still add to it and go back to it as well.

So fast forward to now and we have our own house and the freedom and (some) means to do what we like with it, so I thought I would take you all on a tour of our little urban farm in the making. I’d call it a homestead, but we aren’t really homesteading, not like some people I admire! We are just at the wee beginnings, but it will all turn out beautifully I think.

DSC05759 Here we are in the larder, which is actually our side room with screened windows so it is quite cool in the winter (I’ll need to cover the windows somehow to make it a bit cooler in the summer). I need to develop some sort of better system for storing food long term here; I need cool and dark and that I don’t have anywhere in the house… I wish I could build a root cellar.

DSC05750Outside the larder is our newly built firepit. I built this because we have no fireplace in this house and we still have a 1/4 cord or wood left from last year, so we have to use it somehow. This pit is much deeper than it looks here and probably won’t be used very often because this year is predicted to be very mild and warmer (trying not to feel miffed that even our slightly chilly winter might be going away). But I should be grateful that we don’t get the polar vortex right?!

DSC05755Moving on out into the yard we have the fall/winter garden. There are a total of 9 beds with space for one more. We have over 200 sq. feet of growing space. I look forward to seeing the development of the garden over the coming years.

DSC05754Just outside of the garden is the girl’s playspace. D just built this sandbox this weekend. Yes I said it, D built the sandbox himself, I only helped with some lifting. As you know most of the time it’s me going around doing all these things, but this time he took charge, so I wanted to make sure he got the credit! Behind their house is a small backyard with a bench and a flower garden just for them.

DSC05753Directly across from the playhouse and sandbox is the mud kitchen. We recently connected a good hose with a wand that allows you to keep the water open without the water leaking out. So when you are ready to all you have to due to press on the handle lever and it exuberantly sprays out. This has really helped the girls play more with the mud kitchen. Before they would open the faucet and water would come rushing out and they would run away. Now we won’t be wasting water!

DSC05758Let’s go all the way to the back of the yard where the compost bin is. You may notice I moved it from the garden to the back of the yard due to some mice and flies. Since there is a faucet close by and compost gets dry so quickly here I have put a hose there so that everytime I go out to dump something I can water it too. It helps alot. I’m less lazy about the compost now. And you know what, all the stuff is actually composting! Yippie!

DSC05751Last but not really, is the future home of our chicken coop. This old tool shed is perfect for a chicken coop: we’ll be removing two walls and replacing them with wire to make it open and airy, since very rarely we get down to freezing here (and only at night when they are snuggled inside) they need more ventilation than protection from the cold. Around the coop we’ll put up a run with lots of space. There is even a faucet nearby for easy watering and cleaning.

What else is in store? A laundry line, greywater system, small orchard of dwarf fruit trees, solar panels, a wood fired outdoor oven, rainwater harvesting system, and who knows what else. I don’t think we’ll have any other animals at this house beyond chickens. We live in the center of the city and I feel like goats or pigs should really have lots of space. Though mini nubian goats are something in my long term dreams!

Welcome to my backyard dream farm.

Posted in Garden | 8 Comments

Thankful Tuesday

DSC_0171This Tuesday I am thankful for:

  • the swiftness of the plumber to come out to my house and fix the backed up plumbing that I could not get to because it was under the slab
  • all the teamwork D and I did to clean up our backyard to make it look lovely
  • the cool nights
  • slow food Sundays
  • the freedom that comes with children getting older
  • the really lovely library we just discovered
  • for libraries which allow me to check out 25 books at a time, which would have otherwise cost me so much money
  • for D creating a visual budget sheet for me so I can track how much I am spending each month without having to deal with numbers. I’m a visual kind of gal (will share this with you soon, it’s so neat)
  • the joy that clean sand in a designated spot brings to children
  • friends far away who sent us fall colors years ago
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A walk in the wild

IMG_0128 DSC05744 DSC05745 DSC05746 DSC05747 DSC05749 IMG_0125There is something about getting out into the wilderness that transforms these two. They suddenly leave all their bickering behind, and I think, become who they really are. When I take these two out of the city of the pavement and into wild it’s like they have always lived there. They should be there because it is nature.

I always have this idea about teaching them something like this a metamorphic rock or this the desert marigolds or there is horned toad, but really they just absorb it all and don’t need me. Well except as the snack vendor.

I love every ounce of who they become when we go out. Fearless, brave, resilient.

I believe that is absolutely essential for our humanity to connect ourselves with nature. We so frequently surround ourselves with our own man-made world that we forget where we came from.

What do you think?

Posted in Life Notes, Natural Parenting | 12 Comments

Temporary Dairy Allergy

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No, the title of this post is not wrong: I have been diagnosed with a temporary dairy allergy. The allergist tells me it is fixable by taking antihistamines everyday for the next three months, eating insane amounts of mushrooms, and avoiding dairy while also ingesting lots of pro-biotics. Oh and don’t forget to drink my weight in water everyday and putting olive oil in my nose…..

You might wonder how one becomes allergic temporarily. Basically it works like this: it’s really dry and you aren’t getting enough water, you then get a cold and your gut lining cracks. At the time you might happen to be eating more dairy than normal and your immune system thinks it’s something bad and starts to fight it off. Everytime you eat cow milk dairy products, or something that might have dairy in it, or something that was “processed in a facility that also processes dairy” your body goes a little crazy. For me that means terrible, almost suffocating lung congestion. It’s not fun.

Good news is that all tests for dairy allergies came back negative so indeed this was some strange unfortunate accident. It does seem though that I can eat sheep and goat milk without ill effects so at least it’s not a total loss. So this handmade chevre rolled in herbs de Provance that I bought in France two years ago, it would be totally cool to eat it.

My hat is off to anyone with incurable allergies. It sucks big time and makes eating out almost impossible. Thank goodness we live in the age of the internet and natural food stores where apparently anything can be made into milk and I can make dairy free anything I want.

Posted in Cooking and Food, Life Notes | 16 Comments

Thankful Tuesday

DSC05651I like that November begins the holiday season with being thankful. I feel like that the most important part about ending a year is to be thankful for all the things that have happened: good or bad, they are all important lessons to learn. So each Tuesday of November I will share with you a few things I am thankful for for the past week or month or even year.

Today I am thankful for:

  • Cool temperatures
  • Warm soups that make me feel strong
  • Nettle tea
  • The never ceasing love of small children
  • Our home that we own and are not renting
  • All the home owner problems we have experienced in the last few months that helped me to learn new skills
  • All the friends I have made around the world thanks to this space

What are you thankful for?

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The Weekend

IMG_0115 IMG_0113 IMG_0116This weekend was:

  • Filled with homemade sweets leftover from Halloween
  • Spent mostly in the garden, building a new bed where the compost bin once was
  • Spent down on hands and knees looking under each leaf of my pea plants picking off microscopic green caterpillars who are munching on the leaves at a frightening rate
  • Cooler by the minute as the wind whipped through the valley pushing out all the warm air
  • Lots of cups of tea and lots of bone broth meals

November was most welcome here with its grey skies and cold wind. I saw many of you got snow this weekend. I hope you were ready for it, or mildly pleased.

Happy Monday!

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Posted in Life Notes | 4 Comments