rolling out

the moment has come. the truck is in the driveway, and we are gearing up to move all our belongings down to massachusetts, back to the state in which we were both born. (although i was GA raised-- have no doubt.) while it's not entirely final (we'll be back for one more week of work and a final hurrah), it feels like the completion of a cycle, a death and birth at once.

haulin our babies.

haulin our babies.

it's a bit early to know fully what this transition means. maine has been an incredible time of growth and deepening for us; challenges helping us to articulate more concretely to one another what we are truly longing for, deep friendships allowing us to explore openly with what it means to begin a family unit and grow a farm of our own. we have struggled and laughed with each other often here, and we have also come to new points of understanding and clarity about our values that we have never had before.

i've begun to shift how i think about my life from what my current job is, to what my current questions are. right now they go something like: what kind of work do i  value? and how do i show i value it? how can i live out radical values & ethics in my daily life? how does our family function? what is the most fulfilling, and joyful project? how can i take my place in a wider community?

who knows what mass will bring-- i'm just stoked. we'll be trying out living inter-generationally (right behind our family) and committing to being in one spot (at least for the foreseeable future) for the first time in our lives. i can't wait to see what we learn in this new phase! i just hope we don't slam on the brakes too hard and kill all the baby plants in the back of the monster truck...

 

aged gouda cheez-its; cozy does fancy

so it turns out that pretty much all i want to write about is my little brother. you know how writers speak of "finding their subject"? i guess he is mine. he came to visit this past weekend and set my heart ablaze anew. the man can wax equally poetic about darren aronofsky and the higgs boson, all while eating a hot pocket yet making a massaged kale salad. it's hard to comprehend the awesomeness.

one level up from southern cheese straws. (and my mama makes incredible southern buttery cheese straws.)

one level up from southern cheese straws. (and my mama makes incredible southern buttery cheese straws.)

he also is the living version of this recipe; he's all about fancy mixed with cozy. he will either be rocking a skinny tie and polished leather shoes, or an enormous JNCO hoodie left by our older brother that goes down to his knees with some fuzzy skull-printed pajama pants my mom sewed. high and low, sharp and soft. so when he came to stay, i knew these aged gouda cheez-its were the perfect thing to make.

basically, butter, cheese, and flour. can't go wrong.

basically, butter, cheese, and flour. can't go wrong.

these cheez-its are in-freaking-credible. we woke up early and made them around eight am, and immediately set to work popping them in our mouths. when we feared we would eat them all before nine, we forced ourselves out for a walk, returned home, and polished them off with coffee. you want this. you want all of this.

this is my incredibly stylish and comfortable way of rolling out dough. (also, our entire house is packed for our move.)

this is my incredibly stylish and comfortable way of rolling out dough. (also, our entire house is packed for our move.)

me cutting dough in all my pre-coffee, pre-shower, and pre-bra glory. (i stay pre-bra.)

me cutting dough in all my pre-coffee, pre-shower, and pre-bra glory. (i stay pre-bra.)

this is my attempt at an artsy up close snap

this is my attempt at an artsy up close snap

i saw this recipe on the delightful molly yeh's page a while ago and have been wanting to make it. she is such a charmer. i don't know her, but huge crush from afar. you go, lil lady.

(the only thing i swapped was some homemade ketchup from last season that had a little heat to it for the hot sauce, simply because i had it, and am cheap.)

you're going to want to make nine batches of these to start. you can always make more later.

sunrise smoothies

bean (my little brother) is visiting, and it's the best thing in the world. it's as wholesome and sweet, as nourishing and GLORIOUS as mango-raspberry smoothies in the morning and homemade strawberry milkshakes at night.

mango raspberry smoothies

(which is what we ate today, plus brownies, cookies, pad thai, and scrambled eggs in between. life well lived.) we explored a maine state park, talked about transitions (he's going off to college!) and feasted in each other's presence.

IMG_2907.jpg

these smoothies are the best ways to start any day, whether it will be filled with hiking, lounging, laughing, milkshake eating, public library perusing, wood frog hunting, or all of the above.

recipe:

several peaches
a mango
a splash of almond milk
a dollop of yogurt

mix those together. pour out for the orange layer.

couple of cups frozen raspberries
big dollop of yogurt
a splash of almond milk
drips of vanilla

(feel free to add in other berries, fruits, maple syrup, or whatever you have on hand.)

blend those together. pour in, layer.

straws make them look fancy.

challah challah

shabbat, i love you. and not just for the carb heavy dairy potlucks at synagogue, and not just for the excuse to eat ungodly amounts of buttery, honey-filled, slightly underbaked challah. although that is a big part of it.

such pleasing little dough plops

such pleasing little dough plops

i love you for the island in time. i love you for the space you offer to rest, relax, read, rejuvenate. i love you for the space to fight with each other, to thresh, discuss, learn. i love you for a whole day when the world is different, paused, gentle. even when i have a skillshare event to attend for work, packing to accomplish, or errands to take care of, on shabbas i feel a sense of the holy with me all day. a sense that in my daily life, with my daily bread, i am being invited to experience sacred space right here in this moment.

roll em thin. they can get a lot longer than you think.

roll em thin. they can get a lot longer than you think.

i tell you what, it doesn't get much more holy feeling than melted butter mixed with honey and kneaded through some yeasty yeasty dough. i appreciate judaism so much for its sense that spirit lives in the mundane-- in each bite we take, a blessing, and BOOM, the sacred. we get to feel the holy each time we snack. so, for some of us, constantly.

make two pairs. start with moving the left over the right in each pair.

make two pairs. start with moving the left over the right in each pair.

(side & completely unrelated note: have you noticed that there are literally hundreds of thousands of hashtags on instagram #carbsmakeyoufat? that is actually a tag that thousands of people have wanted to attach to their thoughts. also there is something called the thirty bananas a day diet which i find HORRIFYING to contemplate. do not know what to make of any of this.)

then, twist the middle two. go back to moving left over right in both pairs. twist central two again.

then, twist the middle two. go back to moving left over right in both pairs. twist central two again.

let's make a new hashtag: #carbsmakeyouholy.

repeat this pattern until you have an enormous challah.

repeat this pattern until you have an enormous challah.

we made two types of braids: one standard 4-thread braid, and a celtic knot. (when we used to do dinner crew on friday nights with students, we would challenge them to look up complex knots on the interwebs and try to replicate them. resulted in some epic fails and AMAZING challot.) photos below show the celtic knot process.

divide into four chunks. roll out. start with two u-shaped pieces.

divide into four chunks. roll out. start with two u-shaped pieces.

lay the other pieces over the top, weaving in and out.

lay the other pieces over the top, weaving in and out.

weave back the other way with the fourth u-shaped piece.

weave back the other way with the fourth u-shaped piece.

smush the end bits back into the shape

smush the end bits back into the shape

bake em and BOOM.

bake em and BOOM.

recipe here (from-- who else-- joan nathan)

please note: we change two things about this recipe. 1) is melting butter instead of oil. (duh.) and 2) using honey instead of sugar. (again, duh.) finally, a slight underbake never hurt anyone.

 

 

permaculture convergence

this year marks the 10th annual northeast permaculture convergence, and it's being held in unity, maine at mofga. i'm fortunate enough to be on the planning team with the amazing lisa fernandes, rachel lyn rumson, and jesse watson, all incredible permaculture designers and facilitators. the theme this year is "celebrate our interdependence"; the convergence takes place over july 4th weekend.

design by shana hostetter

design by shana hostetter

i'm incredibly excited about this gathering. it will be a chance to skill up and dream big, learn and teach, vision and plan for how a resilient future can grow. there will be field trips ranging from eliot coleman's farm to avena botanicals with many stops in between. there will be a dance party and a passion show, a designer's lounge and regionally organized strategic planning groups. there are plenty of work study options to make the conference affordable. i'm particularly jazzed to hear sessions on social permaculture and how to plan for a future than places justice at its center. i'll be offering a session on using non-violent communication as a tool for permaculture design. jacob is teaching on propagation, and we have a windowsill of rooting plant babies in our kitchen.

i'm deeply grateful to be involved in planning an event for which the means so match the ends. the process of organizing has been incredibly nourishing; check-ins commence every meeting, collaboration is not only valued but enacted, support is freely offered and taken, much work gets done easily thanks to many hands. i have learned so much about healthy process, and can't wait for a convergence to be born out of that.

some questions i hope to explore at the convergence: how do we grow the movement inclusively? how do we lean in to our social justice commitments? how do we hope our work will look in ten years? who are our emerging leaders? how can we explore our edges as a community? how can we support each other better? how can we focus on positive solutions while thoroughly honoring our grief?

come and join us in our celebration and exploration july 4-6.

flourless chocolate ganache cupcakes

i have a story for you today. about cake.

gold wrappers make everything extra fancy.

gold wrappers make everything extra fancy.

when jacob and i got hitched a year ago, we didn't have one wedding cake, we had about twenty. dear friends rolled in a week early, rolled up their sleeves, dove headfirst into the industrial mixers we had (for the school we worked and lived at-- man, i miss those big beauties), and helped bake, frost, and decorate the elaborate confections that i had been fantasizing about for months.

i spent countless hours daydreaming out all detailed flavor combinations, sketching up fancy fillings and shocking pink piles of frosting. s'mores cakes with graham cracker fluff filled my thoughts as i taught my students just war theory (sorry, students. i love you. i have more complex feelings towards you, just war theory.) vanilla raspberry meringue whips kept me up at night. i kept pestering jacob about what kinds of cakes he was going to make. his answer was simple: "mousse. mousse and ganache. that's all anyone wants."

this is pretty much it, ingredient-wise. see? almost paleo!

this is pretty much it, ingredient-wise. see? almost paleo!

he poked around the internet for recipe imitations of the best thing i've ever put in my mouth: tartine's fantastic chocolate souffle cake, and got to it. he made this cake in huge sheet pans-- the densest, chocolatiest, most decadent, perfect dessert imaginable. and just like that, he put all my months of cake-creations to shame. there was nothing to do but stand over the pan and eat this directly out, with a spoon. i ate bowl after bowls of creamy cake/mousse/ganache perfection.

three in one, one in three. something like that.

three in one, one in three. something like that.

last week was a friend's 33rd birthday--(what a decidedly lucky number!) she was feeling exhausted by the pulse of the spring season, trying to get plants in the ground, sheep shorn, and children fed, and when i asked her what kind of treat she wanted, she answered "the richest most chocolatey thing possible." i knew immediately what to do.

fold the good stuff in gentle-like.

fold the good stuff in gentle-like.

i made jacob's fool proof cake recipe in cupcake form and it was just as delish. it has no flour, so it's gluten free, and practically paleo, right? boom. health food.

i swapped duck eggs instead of chicken, because her son has an allergy to chicken eggs. since the duck eggs are bigger, i used one less egg than the recipe calls for. other than that, these bad boys baked up perfectly and i was instantly transported back to our wedding.

this looks like  karen 's amazing marbled paper to me

this looks like karen's amazing marbled paper to me

if you've got the best, why mess with anything else? (this clearly also applies to my feelings about jacs. though really, i'm talking about cake here. you can assume i'm always just literally talking about cake.)

these little sunken divets are perfect for filling. you could try pb frosting or jam or coconut cream as well...

these little sunken divets are perfect for filling. you could try pb frosting or jam or coconut cream as well...

the next day i filled in a few more of these cupcakes with  cream, salty peanut butter, and powdered sugar whipped together, to create a homemade reese's vibe. those munchkins didn't last long either.

fill them up, let them set, eat them all.

fill them up, let them set, eat them all.

jacs got the recipe from the blog afternoons in tablespoons. recipe here. so, so perfect and delicious. make them, eat them, love them.

ta da!! be 33 and fabulous for a whole year!!

ta da!! be 33 and fabulous for a whole year!!

creamy dreamy chai herbal elixir

what could be better than something that tastes like a milkshake and detoxifies your liver like dandelion greens?

i want this in my belly all the time.

i want this in my belly all the time.

recently i took a cooking workshop with the wonderful chef frank giglio (i wrote about another recipe that came out of that health-tastic, taste-bud swelling day here.) he spoke of "elixir-craft," the art of blurring the line between herbalism and cooking (or in this case, making a smoothie.) something about making "food be thy medicine." it feels exciting and empowering to think of herbs as something i can incorporate into simple daily rituals to increase health, without being a trained herbalist at all.

soak your seeds and almonds ahead of time to wake them up & soften their husks

soak your seeds and almonds ahead of time to wake them up & soften their husks

i've been reading ben falk's new book, and he writes extensively about the need to have as diverse a diet as possible. just as diversity increases health and thriving in a community, an education, or a life, so too it generates health and wholeness in the body. we actually don't eat that many different plant families, so if we can squeak some in using teas, why not?

this creamy, dreamy, chai-ish tea elixir is divine. the basic formula that frank puts out there is: 1) 1 base tea, 2) a fat to make it sustaining and delicious, and to increase nutrient absorption 3) flavorings (vanilla, cocoa, spices, etc.) and 4) sweetener-- select your fave: raw honey, maple syrup, stevia, molasses, or good old fashioned sugar. whatever is your jam.

recipe:

1 quart tea (i used 1 part dandelion root and 1 part dandelion leaves)
1 T milk thistle seeds
1/4 c nut milk (or coconut, or cow, or whatever)
2 T hemp seeds (or cashews, macadamia, shredded coconut, pine nuts-- something with a little fat. You can also melt and add in 2 T coconut oil if you want this to sustain you for the morning.)
2 T honey/ maple syrup/ dash stevia, etc
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon

Soak the seeds for many hours/overnight to get them soft & supple. Strain them out and set aside.
Make tea with loose leaf teas. Let them steep for 20 minutes.
Put in to a blender: tea, milk thistle seeds, nut milk, shredded coconut or nuts (if using.) Blend for a minute or so.
Strain out all the tough stuff.
Pour back into the blender. Add in sweeteners, hemp seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, and blend again.

Pour & enjoy! Natural liver cleanser, perfect for the spring. Both milk thistle and dandelion are rad for liver health.

the need for spaciousness

there is nothing i love more than a whole day of being at home to putter, alone with bad tv on hulu, sourdough to rise, my mom to call, sun to bask in-- a day to attempt to slow my pace and not plan out every minute. today it was exquisite outside and i picked flowers, made bread, washed epic amounts of laundry and dishes, did some sewing. hallelujah for the little moments.

my training at the yale farm arranging bouquets for our flowers csa has served me well

my training at the yale farm arranging bouquets for our flowers csa has served me well

i've been pushing myself hard these last few months. jacob and i have been trying to figure out our next step, and i keep feeling like if i just plan hard enough, i will be able to control what happens. i clench tightly to some sense that i need to figure out the "best" course of action-- that there is a "best" path out there, if only i can bushwack through enough brush to get there.

bubble up, sourdough baby

bubble up, sourdough baby

but this fixation on planning out the future perfectly has not served me. i've felt stressed like never before, not sleeping well, grinding my teeth at night (?!), having acid tummy, feeling frustrated i can't speed up time to see what happens. that's no way to live! the more tightly i grasp, the less space for creative new energy to bubble up. as i only face toward the future, i miss this beautiful spring here in maine in its fullness. i do want to have a kick-ass plan, but i also want to remain open to unforeseen glorious possibilities.

salad a friend brought for dinner with lettuce, alfalfa, chick weed, violet leaves and flowers, hen and chick leaves, korean celery, chervil

salad a friend brought for dinner with lettuce, alfalfa, chick weed, violet leaves and flowers, hen and chick leaves, korean celery, chervil

cultivating spaciousness and relaxation, however, is something you actually have to make time to do. a full day of no agenda on the weekends, a true sabbath from the week, helps center me and give me a taste of the kind of calm and openness i hope to nourish. time outside, time alone, time making nourishing food, time with friends, all help to return me to myself, and i am filled with gratitude for the weekend.

remembering spaces

as we gear up for another big transition, i am thinking deeply about places jacob and i have lived and grown in the past years and feeling so much gratitude for all of the different teachings they offered us. i have been thinking a lot about the beauties and joys of living in community at Woolman, and how much we deepened our relationship and our work there. i just stumbled upon these pictures of the edible forest garden we put in there in year one. it was the first e.f.g. we designed and installed together, and such a joy to look back on today. fun to see the abundance, and to think about what we do entirely different now. i wonder about where we will be next, and all that we will learn there.

we built this entrance out of madron, black locust, willow, and redbud wood poles that formed the chuppah at our wedding

we built this entrance out of madron, black locust, willow, and redbud wood poles that formed the chuppah at our wedding

there was a lot of green abundance even in year two

there was a lot of green abundance even in year two

students wanted to build a cob bench, so they did. this black locust was so strong it busted a lot of drill bits.

students wanted to build a cob bench, so they did. this black locust was so strong it busted a lot of drill bits.

it was a challenge to find plants that thrived under the black oaks that we wanted to keep

it was a challenge to find plants that thrived under the black oaks that we wanted to keep

green mountain magic

we spent memorial day weekend at our dear friend's wedding in rural vermont.

jacob in dandelion

on the morning of the wedding, we set on an adventure over the verdant hills of "the kingdom," the northern and unpopulated uppermost corner of vermont. our friend is a state forester there, and manages something insane like 80,000 acres. despite his day job forest-romping, a small group of men went out into the woods the day before the wedding. the returned hours later, rain-drenched, carrying several christmas trees. when asked why they needed to harvest these trees, they replied, "decor."

prayer flags in woods

we were following paths through the woods and came upon some sun-bleached prayer flags. an auspicious sign the morning of a wedding.

vermont farm

this is just gratuitous farmporn. it's just too damn beautiful there. we are the luckiest to have such people calling us to ceremonies in these exquisite nooks and crannies of the world. it was such a wonderful place to toast their commitment to each other. (and toast we certainly did...) the weekend made us feel so grateful for those two, and also for all the people who helped hold our wedding, who cooked and baked and sang and danced and helped usher us in to this new way of being. it's such a joy to get to do that for ones we love!

this is the obligatory cheesy picture.

this is the obligatory cheesy picture.

salty salty chocolate toffee love cakes

sometimes you need to celebrate something huge and homey all at the same time. like when your baby brother is suddenly grown, and graduating high school, and going off to new york for film school in a mere matter of months. (!) some days you need to mark an occasion with a special treat, but are too deeply exhausted from crying as your amazing bean sprout of a brother gave a heartfelt speech to leave your own home where you and he can snuggle on the sofa all night. enter: salty chocolate toffee love cakes, the perfect mix of down home ease and classy style.

heartcakes.JPG

we make a lot of cake in my house. at least once a week we bake one, often with multiple layers, frost that bad boy, and dive in. we have ample data comparison points, and everyone, everyone declared this the best cake of. all. time. basically, we made our best chocolate sour cream layers from the rosie's bakery cookbook. then we made a salty caramel frosting, into which we whipped cream cheese for added delight. finally we sprinkled toffee bits on top.  we cut slices and toasted our little wonder bean, marveling at how fast eighteen years have gone by, and how sweet it is to be together to lick frosting off knives and day dream about all the oscars he will win.

this cake will not let you down. anything you are celebrating, do it with this mama. enjoy.

toffeeheartcake.jpeg

recipe:

chocolate sour cream cake layers from rosie's

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 c ap flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 cup stong hot coffee
1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt, which we used)
1/2 c veg oil
2 eggs

1. preheat to 345. grease two 8 or 9 inch cake pans (heart shaped preferable, obviously).
2. melt chocolate in double boiler. cool.
3. stir together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, baking soda, salt. set aside.
4. in another bowl, add liquids: coffee, sour cream, veg oil.
4. add liquids to dry ingredients, mix together. stop and scrape down a lot.
6. add in eggs. then, slowly add in chocolate.
7. pour into pans, bake around 35 minutes.
8. cool, then frost. then sprinkle with toffee. then eat until you have to hold your belly and complain. then go hug your baby brother and watch bad old bond movies all night.

salty caramel cream cheese frosting

1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 t vanilla
1 t salt

melt butter on the stovetop with brown sugar. stir and gradually bring to a boil. let roll for a couple of minutes until all sugars are melted down. pour into a mixer, and beat at medium speed. drop in  cream cheese and beat together. add in salt and vanilla. beat until thick.

spread over cake thickly. sprinkle toffee chunks on top (maybe 1/2 cup? but really as much as you can handle.)

repeat as necessary.

oikos

oikos is the greek root of the word 'economy.' oikos (house) + nomos (law) = economy. the root meaning of the word gets at the idea to have your personal economy in order, you must take good care of your home. there is something deeply proper and humble in the cyclical work of making a home, washing and mending and planting and tending to one's tools and meals and relationships.

oiling wood

it's been a long, cold, hard winter here in maine. we've been heating with wood, and our crackling stove has sucked the juice out of all of our wooden tools. our chairs are scratchy, our cutting board dry, our spoons and bowls in desperate need of lubrication. like us, they need the juice and joy of spring.

today i took out our luscious wood cream (that jacob loves to use as moisturizer) and gave them the rub down they deserved. then i went to our local gas station and bought two pizzas and a six pack of hard cider and went over to friends to toast the black flies emergence and the return of warmth.

i delight in this cyclical work of oikos, this commitment to oiling the tools year after year. i rejoice in the simple tending of friendships, the showing up for each other week after week, helping each other with the planting, resting with each other with a cold drink and a picnic blanket.

as we soften the wood with oil, the fibers of the wood grow stronger and more resilient.  that's how i feel after a winter like the one we've just had-- wrung out, dried up, whipped by the cold and dark and lonely of a rural maine winter. then, miraculously, spring softens me again, coaxing me out with warm breezes and budding leaves. i feel stronger and calmer than before, contented with dinners with friends, stronger and ready to dive in to the work of the season.


parsnip hummus

spring dug parsnip hummus

spring dug parsnip hummus

it gets to that point in the spring when you have eaten roasted roots every day for the last three weeks. your guts are ninety six percent roasted roots, four percent marshmallow fluff from the jar. we've all been there. it's beginning to get warm and sunny outside, and you desperately want to be harvesting spring greens and peas. but you can't. because it's only planting time, and it will be weeks until even the most tenacious of early radishes rears its feisty little ginger head.

enter parsnip hummus, the most delicious, fresh, sweet, refreshing way to serve this spring-dug root veggie. my friend chef frank giglio gave me this recipe at a seasonal cooking class last week at MOFGA, and i have been fantasizing about its creamy dreaminess ever since. (he also has a new book he did the recipes for! what up, number one on amazon!)

git up on that parsnip hummus

git up on that parsnip hummus

clean your insides and delight your taste buds with this health bomb of a snack food.

ingredients:
3 medium parsnips, washed and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/4 c olive oil for blending and 2-3 T for roasting
1/4 c tahini
juice of 1 lmon
1 t cumin seeds
1 T sea salt
1/2 t black pepper
water as needed

directions:
preheat oven to 375.
peel and chop parsnips. roast them with oil until tender, not crispy.
remove and allow to cool slightly.
add to a food processor/ mighty blender. add peeled garlic and cumin, ground.
pulse and scrape down.
continue to blend, pouring in tahini, olive oil, lemon.
scrape down sides and use water as necessary to get the consistency you like.

eat heartily, dipping with crunchies or with a spoon.