Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Black walnuts and wood stacks

Despite the weekend wind, I was outside raking leaves and cleaning plant beds and driving the tractor over leaf mounds. We haven't lost even half of the leaves, and already I feel like I'm behind.

Next I went into the field to pick black walnuts off the ground. This year's harvest is abundant. I watched a video by a Canadian man explaining what to do with these nuggets. Peeled off the green outer layer. A water bath to mix the nuts against each other as an abrasion for any remaining pulp. Cure in a sack for two weeks. Hammer apart and pick from the five chambers. 

"Why are you doing this?" Shane asked, Erin and I outside at the time, peeling off the green.

"Because we have them, and I wanted to try it," I said.

I got as far as bagging them to cure. Hands stained. I did wear gloves for half the work, but didn't realize how stained my hands were becoming in the water, tossing and turning the mixture. The stain deepened overnight. I don't care.


I told some people at co-op about the walnuts. One woman commented how her dad loves black walnuts--I invited her over to get some. Another student who has a love for culinary arts wanted some too.

The woman showed up after school yesterday, here for the first time. I looked around at leaves on the patio and dirt on the walkways from potting and dog hair swept into a pile on the floor. A bag awaited the recycle can. Was anything clean? (Can anything be clean in the woods?)

I know full well: some women will judge you if your house is dirty, or if it's clean.

I felt an apology ready to spill. But then, she didn't notice, and looking at the land she said, "Your place is beautiful."

We talked about remodel projects and cold, old houses and I felt like she understood me.

We walked to the field with bags to fill. Her sons helped. I explained what I learned while we filled the bags to bulging. We walked back up the hill.


Today, I went outside to load my arms with wood. Looked at the sun rising and shining through the woods line. Dew glistened. I grabbed the dry wood and started a fire for the school day.

weekend first fire, absolutely delicious

kids taking over the dog mat in front of the first fire

black walnuts

Tuesday home work day by the fire. Oh, those braids. Oh, those toes.

White bean soup

There's a big pot of rosemary in my dining room window, keeping bay leaf company over the new season--transplanted. I cut a few twigs for soup last night. Heavy on garlic in a house of spreading sniffles. Thank you, Wegman's, for a savory soup.

Cannellini bean soup

1/2 medium red onion, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
9-10 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pkg diced pancetta
1/2 lb all-purpose butter potatoes (2 or 3?), peeled and diced to 1/2-inch
4 cans cannellini beans, undrained, + 2 cans water
Salt and pepper.
Optional garnishes: parsley, Italian blend grated cheese, black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil

Add onion, celery, garlic and rosemary to food processor and pulse until roughly minced.
Add olive oil and pancetta to stockpot on med-low; add minced mixture and cook 5 mins till softened.

Add undrained beans and water. Stir. Bring to simmer. Stir. Season with salt and pepper. Puree or mash to desired consistency, using hand blender.
Serve with extra-virgin olive oil, cheese, black pepper and parsley.

Monday, October 20, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (6140-6172)

misty, foggy days
and the glowing colors against a gray sky
that I get to see these things
the crunch of maple leaves under my feet
fuzzy socks
hot tea

piano music in the rooms
big, fat meatballs
the ache in my legs from roller skating
the woodstove insert
heat in my house again

a 40+-year-old music system in the rooms
a good night's sleep
and a Saturday nap

friends and neighbors who see me
walnut stain on my hands
walnuts curing on the patio

Reggie at church
yard work
dirt under my nails
my snake stompers
rosemary and bay leaf in the house

a table for three
good laughs over toppled cone cakes
good friends for Lanie
French toast bakes
orange juice in the fridge

a good man
another birthday here

Sunday, October 19, 2014