Thursday, September 30, 2010

Farmama: The Blog That Reaffirms Birch and My Dreams

I happened upon this blog while visiting one of the many I frequent on nearly a daily basis: Mom in Madison. Denise also has a food/cooking blog that I visit as well. She posted that sunflower butter cookie recipe that I'm just dying to bake, but haven't been able to due to a two-week whirlwind of adventure and fun with my sister's family who was visiting from England (more on that another time). So maybe this weekend I'll get to it, finally, not to mention all the sewing projects that were put on hold. ANYWAY, I've been delighting in Denise's blog so much that I took a look at some of her favorites and came across my personal Holy Grail of Blogs: Farmama.

Sara and her family are sustainable farmers that, as she puts it, "unschool" their four beautiful children. She crafts away with her homemade wool yarn, cans all summer long for food in the winter, shares with her neighbors, digs cold storage pits, keeps bees, and the list goes on. Her family really is living out Birch and my dream for our future (not including our dream of a small cafe/home decor shop). She received our ultimate respect when I came across the fact that they thresh their own wheat. I mean, seriously, they are fantastic!

Obviously, I don't want our fond respect to sound like psychotic obsession, so please know, Sara, that we aren't crazy people. Well, not actually crazy.

That being said, her "bookshelf" alone is worth its weight in gold. I immediately added the majority to our list of must-reads. Now, I have to admit that my fondness for blogs isn't quite shared by Birch, but when I showed him this one, he was just as excited as I was (and just as shocked when he read there that all American-made canning lids have BPA in them. Yep, that's right, people. You know your carefully homemade, organically grown pickles you've been enjoying? Slightly tainted by BPA. Awesome.) Oh, and weird coincidence: she has a son named Asher (you know, like Birch's brother).

On an unrelated note, Birch has promised me that when we own our farm, I can have kitties again. Birch is allergic and I made a very hard sacrifice in leaving my beloved cat, Embe, with my parents when he and I got married. Hopefully, the farm will happen soon enough for Embe to join us (she's nine or ten, now). We'll build a special attached room for them and let them roam about the farm. And yes, they'll be neutered and spayed. No barn kittens, for us! Well... only rescued ones. Oh man, this could get out of control.

So, Farmama, keep farming and keep blogging. You are an absolute inspiration to us and what you're doing isn't just good for yourselves but also for the world. Now everyone else, go check out her beautiful world!

My Fall Wardrobe Wishlist

Hydra Heart = yum. Add the heavy tread option = can actually show them off!
Fisherman's Daughter lightweight scarves and gloves.
I'm in love with Ozetta's scarves, so much so that I wish I had a real winter to wear them in.
No Hurry Pants and Linen Pocket Top by New Extrave.

*All photos courtesy of the sellers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cozying Up to Fall

Fall clothes are my favorite. I know I'm not alone here. Scarves, sweaters, tights, the occasional hat and gloves, and cozy wool pants. I complained about fall, but that was really just my displeasure at losing Birch to the madness that is teaching high school students. Now that I've reconciled myself to it, I'm actually really excited for fall. After much consideration, it's my favorite season. It's beautiful, it signals the coming of pumpkin curry and from-scratch pot pies, the clothes are divine, my long hair will finally be a blessing, it'll be Keats' first ever Halloween (we're thinking The Flying Man complete with cannon), and then (!) Thanksgiving. Um, yum! We'll do some gardening, of course, and with the cooler weather our tropical Olive dog starts to shiver pretty bad so we'll relent and get her a sweater, too. I've already picked one out. I think it's awesome, but it'll have to remain a surprise for you until she's actually wearing it.

So fall clothes...
Isla New York's amazing, customizable jersey hoodie wrap 

(Okay, I'm having issues with uploading pictures, etc., so the one will have to do for now. Believe me, my wishlist is full of fantastic handmade finds. Another time...)

Time for Craziness, Little Keats, Little Keats

So remember when I was gently and quietly reading Beatrix Potter to Keats? Yeah, no more. Books send Keats into a tizzy like nothing I've ever seen. He loves them! He squeaks and yelps, swinging his arms around in a whirlwind of activity that ends with complete surrender to enthusiastic fury. Indeed, eventually we actually have to take away and hide the book because Keats becomes so furious with his at-the-moment inability to grasp the heavy book that he begins to scream and cry. Reading as a before bed activity? I don't think so... not yet anyway. Oh, and he especially goes crazy for those about/with animals.

So despite Keats' mellow disposition, there are, so far, two things that he is absolutely impatient about: books and food. Sound like anyone you know? He is indeed his father's son.

Time to invest in some more board books. Oooo, padded too. Have you seen those? They're awesome. Makes me kind of wish my books were padded. Kind of cozy. (Not that I've invested much of my free time in reading books, but that day will come... Right? I hope so.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New York Style Cheesecake

This version didn't chill in the refrigerator for the full six hours before we consumed it... we were just a little bit excited.
So, back a couple of months ago I scoured the internet for a delicious cheesecake recipe complete with pretty pictures. I found it. Smitten Kitchen to the rescue, once again. I was all set and prepared to make a 4th of July cheesecake and take pictures throughout the process and then Keats got sick. As in, really sick. He had a fever and little rashy bumps spreading across his whole body. We took him to the doctor who diagnosed it as "a virus" and prescribed "waiting" and a bit of children's Tylenol. Trying (and failing) to remain calm through our first sick baby ever, Birch and I continued with our plans for the holiday weekend. Birch marinated and slow-smoked pork shoulder and ribs while I followed this amazing recipe for the first time (there have been several made since). 

I modified the recipe slightly, using all organic ingredients, cultured cream cheese, less sugar, and a fresh berry topping complete with the most patriotism I could muster. So here is Smitten Kitchen's modified recipe of a Gourmet Magazine recipe, once again modified by me (in bold): 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Doctor's Okay Means Avocado Today

Keats is growing up fast and I don't just mean the usual baby speed. Seriously, he's working his way up the milestone chart like he was born to it and we're excitedly trying to keep up. He is sitting, standing, rolling, laughing when we laugh, and getting started on some rudimentary crawling. He "talks" for hours on end, smiles at just about everybody, and recognizes Birch and I as his housemates. Do babies understand the concept of parents? Who knows. I have a whole diatribe about babies and what they know, but I won't burden you all with that. Suffice to say that my Epistemology class in college ruined me forever in that department. It's really difficult not to launch down that road, but I'll stick to my purpose: baby food.

For those in the know, my man is a ridiculously good cook, restaurant good (without the organization and no sous chef). So, great sink piles, counter messes, and hours of preparation and cooking aside, this is a serious heaven-sent miracle of life to have a husband who cooks every single meal every single day, especially now with the little man hangin' 'round. With my food taken care of, I was surprised to find that Birch is completely at a loss when it comes to baby food. He scoffs at my ideas but has decided to let me have full reign over this pureeable step in our baby's life. Note: I do know that "pureeable" isn't a word. Anyone know the correct word that means that? There has to be one out there.

So, before the blender came into play, with the doctor's okay we simply put a plum, a peach, and an avocado up to his mouth which he then sucked on like crazy, lovin' life. This method was perfect for those foods that smash up easily (like between your fingers, for instance). But what about those foods that didn't do that? Spinach, apples, carrots? I went to my usual sources first: Prudent Baby and Smitten Kitchen. And guess what? SK just had a baby and has started a baby food site. How exciting! That spinach and white yam recipe is definitely on my list of things to try.

I bought Tovolo's silicone ice tray set and a Fred & Friends Ice Invaders tray, too. And yes, I found it difficult to stop there. On my wishlist there are trays with dinosaur fossils, shells, stars, Tetris shapes, and the Easter Island statues. I know, pretty freakin' awesome. I'm really looking forward to some carrot-yam Moai.

So, with my ice trays in tow, we tackled applesauce. Birch picked about sixty Gravenstein apples from off my parents' tree then peeled, cored, and chopped them all. Taking about half of the bounty, we boiled the apples down until they were mushy (note: they should have been just tender, but Keats needed a diaper change). Scooping them out with a slotted spoon, I plopped the sweet smelling apples into the blender, adding just 1/6 cup of sugar and pureeing for about two seconds (yes, literally). With the mushy apples this made an incredibly smooth puree. On our second try, we cooked the apples for less time and this made a chunkier sauce that was still easily smooshed in a baby's mouth... and our own. I poured the applesauce into the trays, being sure to fill each cube perfectly by scraping the back of a knife over the top for even coverage. The silicone of the trays makes that really crazy easy, by the way. I covered both trays with plastic wrap and stuck 'em in the freezer.

Later, it was time for Keats to try it out. Feeling somewhat overzealous, I took out two cubes/ounces of sauce and let them defrost for about ten minutes just on the plate (no microwave), helping them along every so often by scraping Keats' spoon against them. Bite by bite, Keats gobbled up his applesauce, making a hilarious face with each bite, no doubt because of the tartness, but asking for more until he got so excited he couldn't swallow anymore. (Not because he was full. He really seemed to forget how to do it, losing all concentration with his excitement.) That's all right, though. I deemed it a huge success and he's had an ounce of applesauce, avocado, or pureed carrots once a day for a few days now. Oh, and I've ordered some books by Annabel Karmel, too, The Healthy Baby Meal Planner and First Meals, which I'm hoping will be as useful as they seem! 

So, there it is.

Oh, and though I'll have to surpress the urge to allow Keats a taste, I'm planning on making these next. Yum!