Handwritten

Handwritten recipes upon note cards.  In the world of recipe-ridden Pinterest, I fear this practice is falling (or has already been strewn) by the wayside.  But the writing itself is so very powerful, isn’t it? When I read a recipe written in the hand of a loved one, it is as if I can see the person gently scrolling the pen across the page.  Memories of that person flood my mind.

This recipe comes from my mom’s recipe box.  I was filing through it, attempting to find something very different, but when my eyes fell upon this recipe I was immediately transported to my youth.  I am running through the yard to catch up with my friends during a very lively game of capture the flag.  My mom stoops over the rhubarb patch nestled along the south side of our house.  She looks up at me and smiles.  I continue my trek, scampering barefoot through the grass as my mom clips away at the stems of the bitter rhubarb.

My mom died of a very aggressive form of cancer two and a half years ago.  One day she was active, smiling, putting her positive energy out into the universe and the next moment the cancer could literally be seen eating its way through her body.  Even now, over two years after her passing, there are days when I am going about my daily tasks and I am suddenly hit with the most aggressive type of pain.  A pain that feels as if my heart is being cut open and all that pain, hurt, and loss is spilling forth in a way that I cannot seem to mend.

The pain of this loss is real, and heavy, and raw, yet glancing at my mom’s penmanship upon this notecard grips my heart with both hands and pulls me from my emotional pit and raises me to a solid place of healing.  Seeing her scrip makes me realize that the reason I feel so much heartache over her death is because of the profound love she showed me.  For looking at this worn card immediately reminds me of the overflowing love that washed over me on that warm spring day when she raised her eyes from the intertwining ruby stems of the rhubarb plants in her garden and blessed me with her fervent smile.

Rhubarb Cake

 My mom’s rhubarb cake recipe is one I have made for years and is a family favorite of young and old alike.  I have made some minor adjustments to the original recipe (reducing the sugar content a bit and replacing the shortening with coconut oil), but the end result is still a moist, spongey cake with the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups diced rhubarb

1 ½ cup sugar

½ coconut oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

dash of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Process

In a small bowl, mix the diced rhubarb with ½ cup of sugar and let stand.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients, and set aside.  In a stand mixer, cream the coconut oil and remaining 1 cup of sugar.  Add the egg. Slowing add in the dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating as you add.  Finally, add the vanilla.  Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Finally, fold in the rhubarb/sugar mixture.  Pour into a loaf pan and bake for one hour to an hour and fifteen minutes at 350 degrees.

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Retreat

Despite the grey, drab day, my girls and I were teeming with excitement last Wednesday as we slowly drove down Rockton Road, where the path before us turned from asphalt to crunchy limestone gravel beneath our tires.  We knew we were nearing our destination.

Coming into focus on our right was the farm that we visited many times in the past.  That wonderful place where naturally and ethically grown produce and animals thrive, and people aid in that growth with so much vibrancy and respect for Earth and what she provides for us that it is truly inspiring.

But this was not our final destination this afternoon.  Today we were venturing to a new space on the property of Angelic Organics.  Today we were lucky enough to visit the new Angelic Organics Lodge, nestled on the north side of Rockton Road on a gorgeous limestone bluff.

This space was beyond what I envisioned.  We walked through the entrance of this newly renovated space and quickly found ourselves standing on a deck overlooking an expansive oak savannah.  A muskrat scurried into the bend of Kinnikinnick Creek that lay before us, and we could hear nothing but the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, and the birds chirping happily in anticipation of warm spring weather soon to come.  The quiet of this space was so pleasantly overwhelming.  Such a change from the busy sounds of the city that we are often engulfed by on a daily basis.

Inside the walls of the lodge itself were lovely bunk rooms, a commercial kitchen, and a stunning dining hall that boasted a gorgeous stone fireplace.  And perhaps my favorite part of this building was the floors.  The flooring was made with craft paper, glue, water and then sealed with a water-based finish.  It was simply stunning!

This summer the lodge will be the home of Angelic Organics Learning Center’s Overnight Farm Camp, but the best part is, this space is not just for kids!  The lodge will host family weekends, adult farm camp, and even a weekend wellness retreat, complete with farm yoga.  Yes, please!

And if seeing the new lodge was not enough, our afternoon concluded with a chance to see baby goats, newly birthed on the farm.  And not just see them, but hold them, snuggle them and just love on them for quite some time.  It was the absolute best!

I invite all of you to check out the Angelic Organics Learning Center website for more information about all of their amazing programs.  The staff there is beyond words, and they are so helpful in answering any questions you may have about their workshops, camps, and more.  We are so blessed to have a space such as this in our area!

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Honey Lavender Walnuts

 

 

My girls and I have really been trying to adjust our eating habits throughout the school day.  Instead of snacking on crackers, pretzels and tortilla chips, we are trying to move our snacking to the non-processed variety.  This has been a bit of challenge for us lately, until we crafted this recipe early this week.  Our honey lavender walnuts give you that crunch that great snacks have, while also blessing your tongue with a bit of salt, spice and sweet goodness.  I hope you enjoy!

Honey Lavender Walnuts

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup local honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

dash of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms

1-2 cups walnuts (depending upon how much coating you would like)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the butter, honey, salt, pepper and cinnamon in a small sauce pan.  Stir continuously over medium heat until melted.  Remove from heat.

Add vanilla to the butter mixture and stir well.  Next, add the walnuts and stir to coat.

Turn out onto a jelly roll pan and spread out evenly.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Stir and spread out evenly again.  Repeat this process until your walnuts have reached a roasted degree that you enjoy.  Remove from oven.

Mix in lavender blossoms.  Allow to cool.  Enjoy!

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10 Years

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This year marked a pretty big milestone in the Fagan house.  This Thanksgiving was our tenth year hosting our favorite of all holidays.  We love Thanksgiving because it is a time to truly appreciate family, without the distraction of gifts and other commercial nonsense, and to simply feast upon Rumi’s words to “today, let us swim wildly, joyously in gratitude.”

This year I tried to fully embrace these words, because even though the people who physically sit around our table have changed drastically these last few years, there is still so much for which our hearts can be thankful.  It can be so easy to focus on Loss and fall into his grip because it often feels as if he is just waiting there at the ready to close his fingers around us.  But instead, this year I chose to reflect upon all the joy that has filled our dining room over the course of the past ten years.  Change and loss are definite parts of life, but on this day of thanksgiving, I chose to allow myself to be filled with joy, and love, and gratitude.  For it is all about perspective isn’t it?  Choosing a positive lens through which to look at the world can be so powerful and life changing.

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More Than a Party

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A few months ago, while nestled in my bed reading an issue of my favorite magazine, Taproot, I happened upon a lovely little piece written by Amanda Riley about a gathering called a “Swap Party.”  The concept and spirit behind this type of affair really intrigued me and I knew that I someday wanted to host such an event.  I mentioned the idea to my neighbor, Sarah, who was not only on-board to co-host this swap, but she seemed to be just as passionate as I was about how amazing such a function could be.

This past weekend, we held this get-together celebrating all things handmade and homegrown, while also honoring community.  Most women at our gathering had never met prior to this evening, but there was so much magic around the table as this community of makers each showcased her unique strengths and talents.

It seems the news and social media are just exploding lately with all the ways we are different.  Separate.  But what about all those entities that bind us?  Crafting and cooking, yes.  But, those heart felt discussions sharing our experiences of love and loss as well.  Today, let us focus on those things that unify.  It is so much more liberating to search for ways to build the bridges of community than to find ways of destroying them.

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Brassicas: My Beloveds

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A few months back I shared my love of cabbage with all of you.  But maybe I wasn’t being specific enough, or not general enough, depending upon how you look at it.  In actuality I harbor a secret love for all brassicas.  Cabbage, kale, collards, cauliflower. I adore all of them.

So, you can imagine my thrill when I found //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=makofahom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1607745712&asins=1607745712&linkId=82bdfd62229e8cf86f4ef4e04b84e03c&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables at the library last week.  I was immediately smitten, and for good reason:  an entire book, all about my favorite genus of veggies!

This week our kitchen has been brimming (albeit a bit stinky) with so many fabulous dishes featuring these amazingly healthy, nourishing plants.

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Create

String Art

I have been thinking deeply lately about the notion of creating.  In a world of increasing destruction and devastation, the simple act of creating something, creating anything really, is cathartic.

At our homeschool co-op I teach a writing and an art class.  Looking upon my students yesterday while they wrote, while they constructed, while they created, I was reminded of the deep power that lies within creation.  Bringing something to life that did not exist before is profoundly powerful.  Whether you decide to sit down and color in a coloring book with your toddler, doodle a poem on a cocktail napkin, or intricately knit a quilt, the act of creating holds great magnitude.  I truly believe that in creating we help to spread a bit of positive energy and love into the world.  And honestly, I think we could use a bit of both right now.

So, this weekend I encourage you to create.  Whether it is a gourmet meal for your family, or a cute little stick figure on the back of your grocery list…create something.  Create anything.  Use this as a chance to shrug off just a bit of the negativity that often weighs heavily upon our shoulders.  Create.  Release.  Repeat.

Happy weekend, friends.

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