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.

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.

Makin’ Kraut

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I love cabbage in an obsessive, kind-of-creepy way.  I adore it raw in salads, sautéed in butter, and cooked down alongside a big ole’ roast in a low and slow oven.  But perhaps my favorite way to enjoy this curciferous comestible is in its fermented form as sauerkraut.

I have been starry-eyed about kraut my entire life.  In elementary school, I was the kid ordering ruebens with extra sauerkraut.  In high school, I could be found asking for sauerkraut as a pizza topping.  And when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, sauerkraut was one of the few foods I could eat while battling morning sickness.

Beginning to make sauerkraut at home has only increased my passion for this food.  The taste and texture of home-fermented kraut is unmatched, and the nutritional value is even more unfathomable.  Loaded with literally millions of healthy bacteria, homemade sauerkraut is one of the healthiest foods you can consume.  And, one of the easiest to make.

Here’s how we do our kraut:

Step 1:  Thinly chop up a head of cabbage (green or red).

Step 2:  Spread a layer of chopped cabbage in the bottom of a glass jar or crock, sprinkle with some salt, and bash away at it with a wooden spoon.  (This will break down the membranes of the cabbage, allow the salt in, and pull water out.)

Step 3:  Continue the layering process (cabbage, salt, bash) until you have used all your cabbage and there is enough water to cover the cabbage leaves.  (You may need to add a bit of unchlorinated water.)

Step 4:  Use a plate or glass to weight down the cabbage so that every tiny piece is submerged beneath the surface of the water.  (This is very important because any cabbage leaves exposed to oxygen will grow mold.)

Step 5:  Allow to sit on your counter or in your basement.

Step 6:  Check on your kraut every couple of days until it reaches the tartness and funkiness of your liking 🙂

Better Late Than Never Garden Update

Well friends, it’s June 16th, and I am coming at you with my first garden update of the 2017 growing season.  Hum.  Where exactly did the time go?  And better yet, what on earth have I been doing?  Time has somehow slipped between my fingers so rapidly, that I cannot even seem to identify the activities that filled these minutes, hours and days.

But nonetheless, this garden of ours is surely well underway, and perhaps the furthest along we have ever been come this time of the year.  I believe I can owe a great deal of this success to the fact that my girls have been real, active participants in our homestead this year.  While in the past the girls surely had “jobs” like collecting eggs in the morning, watering their fairy garden, and picking ripe cherry tomatoes from the vine, but this year the girls have been logging some legit man-power hours.  Gianna hauls spent dishwater outside to water plants, and she moves the sprinkles around to various locations throughout these hot, dry days we have been experiencing.  Addie tilled all the garden beds this spring, and she does a great deal of the wedding that needs to be done in the veggie beds.

And let me tell you, this year these littles are much more appreciative of the strawberries gracing their breakfast table and the cilantro and lettuce making its way into their tacos come dinnertime.  And isn’t this what homesteading and forming connections with our food is all about?  With the knowledge of the human labor and natural resources needed to grow our food, we are much more humble and filled with an awe-inspiring sense of gratitude when we are able to bring that food to our tables.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, in which you are able to nourish your body with food that gives you strength in body, as well as soul.  

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Last fall I did some reading about how to grow pumpkins.  I was astonished to find that many people said to simply discard of your old pumpkins in an area in which you want to grow pumpkins again.  Those pumpkins will decompose, the seeds will deposit into the soil, and then regrow the following year.  So, last fall, as our decorative pumpkins began to go soft, I simply placed them in a side bed in our yard.  Then as I processed some pie pumpkins, I scrapped out the seeds and placed those in this bed as well.  In the very early spring (early March), I covered the entire bed with a very thin layer of compost.

And voila…

IMG_3109…we now have pumpkins taking over our yard.

Some of the pumpkins are ready for picking this week, so I played around in the kitchen a bit and came up with this recipe.  I hope you enjoy it!

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Pumpkin Zucchini Bread (makes one loaf)

Mix the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

In a separate bowl, mix together the following:

1 cup shredded zucchini

2 eggs

1/2 cup non-GMO canola oil

1 cup pureed pumpkin

splash of lemon juice

Next mix the wet ingredients into the dry.  Fold in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.  Pour into a bread pan and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour.  Enjoy!