Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fast, French, Fabulous

I was treated to an unexpected visit by one of my oldest and dearest friends.  He's often able to stop in on his way North this time of year so I usually try to keep some ingredients for some fast, yet elegant meals on hand.  It helps that there is an abundance of produce available both from the garden and from the CSA bag.  I found out that he'd be coming for dinner around lunch, finalized a menu in my head during the early afternoon, and cranked the oven to 450 when I got home.  We were eating by 5:15 and had a healthy and filling meal in front of us and great conversation between us.  

Roasted Salmon

Put a cast iron skillet into the oven set at 450.  When the oven (and skillet) is hot put the salmon down, salt and pepper it and drizzle it with olive oil.  Bake 10 minutes.  Scatter on garlic, lemon slices and fresh parsley.  Bake 5 - 10 min. more until the fish flakes.

Roasted Cauliflower

Put Cauliflower on a roasting sheet, drizzle with olive oil, chopped garlic and sage.  Roast 20 min. Add salt and pepper and fresh parmesean if you have it.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Par boil whole sweet potatoes for about 15 min. until fork tender.  Drain and cool.  Peel off the skins, slice and put into a baking pan.  Scatter chopped garlic and sage over the top.  Salt and pepper.  Cover with heavy cream and chees (Swiss or Mozarella work well).  Bake for about 10 min. untilt the cheese is melty.

Also on the table - Apparition wine from Americana Vineyards in Trumansburg, NY.  This is the perfect fall wine.  We love this vineyard and I usually buy at least four or five bottles so there's enough for fall entertaining.

This was a perfect meal with one of my favorite people on the planet.  What a great way to end a Monday.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Fun # 1

It's been a busy fall so far, but that's pretty normal around here.  Although we actually have fewer kid activities happening this year, it's seemed like much more is happening.  Part of that is that I'm teaching all Juniors this semester and that's the big English testing year in our state.  So, that's meant that I constantly have a huge pile of grading to finish.  But, even with all of the running around it's been a great fall so far.  It hasn't felt like fall here - it's been consistently in the high 80s.  As soccer wraps up and we head into November,  I'm looking forward to fall part two.  Hopefully it will be a little calmer and a little cooler.

Survival Strategy # 1  Crock Pot

We are managing to drive together most days this year which is good.  However, it also means that there are several days when we need to eat as soon as we walk in the door.  The crock pot is a fantastic tool that I use several times a week.  It's been a little hard to find recipes for the early fall though since it's been so warm.  I'll do soups later in the year, but no one is really in the mood for hot soup on a humid 85 degree afternoon.  This Lentil Dal really fits the bill.  I usually do a crock pot of rice in another smaller cooker, so dinner is all set when we get home.  It's a crowd pleaser, it goes together in about 5 min. in the morning, it makes enough to freeze or to have leftovers for lunch, and it makes the house smell amazing.

Crock Pot Lentil Dal
3 c. red lentils or split peas
6 c. water
28 oz. tomatoes
2T onion, garlic, fresh ginger
1T tumeric
1 bay leaf
2 t. cumin, mustard seeds
1 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Daddy/Daughter Camping

The girl and her dad were able to go out and camp together this year.  I love that they do that.  Eli and I went to the high school football game to cheer on my school's amazing guys.  We all had a great weekend together.

The Harvest (or Lack Thereof)

It was a pretty pitiful garden year.  The beans and flowers did really well.  Everything else was a bust. At least the garden looks pretty and because it's been so warm they're still blooming.

Pumpkin Patch

We headed to the local pumpkin patch and apple orchard with some great friends.  It was an awesome afternoon.  We had planned to go to the corn maze as well, but it was closed because of the heavy rain the day before.  Oh well, figures, the only weekend we have rain would be the weekend we planned to head there.  I'm loving watching these kids grow up and I'm so grateful for my parent friends as we help shepherd eachother through their teenage years (four of the five in that picture are now middle schoolers).

It was $40 to fill the wheelbarrow - we got as much as we could.


View from the apple orchard

Redskins Game

Ed and Eli had another chance to go to a Redskins game together.  They even won!  

Growing Up

We now have two middle schoolers (6th and 8th).  They've gotten so grown up so fast.  Mostly that is a good thing.  They're both pretty responsible, and most days they're kind and easy to be with.  No matter the age I love these kids so fiercely.  I'm already realizing that there are only four short years after this before our household starts decreasing.  It really makes me wish we had a bigger family.  It's going to be really quiet around here when they're gone.

1st day of school

Confirmation - She's now considered an adult in the Lutheran church.

Applesauce Weekend

It wasn't much of a party this year.  We had to do applesauce at our house because of Emma's confirmation, and the kids, Ed and my Dad had a school service event.  So, mom and I tackled four bushels of apples ourselves.  I missed having cousins and the weekend at the farm.  There's always next year.  At least the job is done.  I used the big pressure cooker to cook down the apples and it worked really well.  We got some fantastic tasting sauce.

I made him help me with the last half bushel because my hand hurt.


We held the campout a weekend earlier than normal.  The weather was gorgeous, but we were competing with several other events.  So, we had the smallest turn out we've ever had.  It was still a fun weekend, but we'll probably go back to hosting later in the fall next year.