Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall

Ox-Cart Man 
by Donald Hall
pictures by Barbara Cooney
children's book 1979
finished 7/19/16

Donald Hall has made frequent appearances here in my letters. I mentioned once that in 1989 he, along with his late wife, poet Jane Kenyon, and the late poet Maxine Kumin made a visit to our town and gave readings at the elementary school. It felt like Tom and I had gone to literary heaven. We brought along this book so he could sign it. 

As you may imagine, it is one of my treasures. 

We have an old Larkin desk set up that holds all the children's books I saved from when my kids were little, some from Tom's and my childhoods, and a few I've bought just for myself.

Now that Hazel Nina is older, she goes over and picks out books for us to read. I was pleased the other day when this was chosen. As you can see we both took it quite seriously, because indeed it is not a frivolous book. It is a book of history - a book that tells children that life changes, that it wasn't always the way it is now, and that it may not be the same in the future.

This is a wonderful book for children and adults. In its pages, we learn what life used to be like in 'the olden days.' Days when a family spent much of their time together, working, yes, but enjoying that work. Children were necessary participants in the family. Their play was also their work. 

The book begins with the father about to depart on a long journey. You may click on the photos to see the words more clearly, if you wish.

The book then proceeds to show the reader what the family did during the past year.

And then the trip begins.

There he sells his wares.

And with the money he earned,

He then walks the long way back to his home.

And the cycle of the year starts all over again.

A very satisfying book that quietly shows the warmth and love of family life, and the good, honest work that keeps the household going. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

"See how fast the summer passes by"

The post title comes from Vashti Bunyan's Swallow Song which you may listen to here.

I've spent some time in the garden today, doing that most melancholy of summer gardening chores - removing spent plants.

The peas are done. We got three excellent meals from the few plants we put in. Is that worth it? We think so. Those peas, fresh out of the garden, cooked a very few minutes and then dotted with butter make one of life's sublime foods. If I can have eat them three times a year, that's enough to hold the memory until next year's crop. No peas in the store, frozen or fresh can compare.

You may see them in the garden on July 8 - in front of those orange daylilies.

And the first picking on July 14.

Another plant I cut down today was the mallow. I've mentioned before in my letters that I grow mallows because my mother told me they grew in front of the chicken house on the farm where she grew up. I knew as soon as I had my own farm that I would plant them. I think some view them as weeds, but I find them a lovely addition to the garden. They self-seed all over, which is a bonus.

They were the queens of the garden on July 1, and for two weeks afterward.

Today they looked like this. Blurry, but you get the idea.

Though the mallow, and also the aquilegia

look terrible after blossoming, there are some plants that look almost as good when they aren't in bloom. I think both the Baptisia australis (blue wild indigo) and peony plant are lovely in the height of summer when their blooms are long gone.

Though it was sad cutting down and pulling out the dead plants, I was cheered by beautiful daylilies which are still going strong.

We've been so lucky with rain. There was a dry spell for a couple weeks, but since then, we've gotten at least an inch of rain a week.

Most of the nesting is over. I still see a few phoebes, the crow family, a wren, and an occasional robin. The cedar waxwings stop by to eat some honeysuckle berries, and the turkeys stroll by with their almost full-grown babies, but the songs are done. It makes me feel wistful, but I look forward to spring next year when the beauty and birdsong begin all over again.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Loi Couscoussaki

This was new on my local co-op's shelf this week.

And because I always try any new-to-me pasta that I see, I bought some. We had it last night with the pesto recipe I posted recently. It was so good that I hated to see the meal end!

It has a different taste from both regular couscous, and Israeli couscous. I didn't happen to have any of the latter at home, but I do have some regular couscous - on left, so you can see the difference between them.

You may find out more about Israeli couscous here. I like it, too, but this Greek couscous is my favorite! I love the texture and the taste. The Greek couscous took a few minutes to cook, while you barely have to cook regular couscous. Last fall I posted a Couscous Tabouli recipe here

You may read more about the Loi company here. They offer several different varieties, and I plan to try them all.

Please do visit Weekend Cooking for lots more food related postings. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

CSA flowers, a birthday, and daylily season

Yesterday was week five of the CSA flowers. More about the CSA here. The woman outdid herself! Not only are the flowers outrageously beautiful, but she included two kinds of basil, and branches of crabapple trees with their little green apples! Addendum: Friday morning when I changed the water, I found rosemary hidden among the flowers!

Next Wednesday is the last week of the first half of the CSA season. I had mentioned that I signed up for both so it will be nonstop bouquets through September 7. Yesterday was Margaret's birthday, and Tom and I gave her a subscription for the second half of the flowers. She was so thrilled! Speaking of her birthday, she turned 34, the age I was when she was born. This year I am double her age!

Me at 34

And my beloved daughter.

It is daylily season at Windy Poplars Farm!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Basil pesto, 2

I posted a pesto recipe eight years ago, and since then I’ve found it too rich, too fatty for my taste. This summer I came across a recipe that used less oil, and tried it. It is great! I’ve made it several times already, using the basil that often comes in the CSA flowers and the basil from my garden. 

Speaking of the garden, I have a post coming up about the new one - that I mentioned back in March. It has been a grand success and we couldn’t be happier.

Basil Pesto

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups packed fresh basil
1/3 cup olive oil
garlic put through the press
scant teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cheese

Put walnuts in the food processor 

and grind very fine.

Add basil,



and salt, and blend well. I blend a bit after each addition, and then some more when everything is in.

At this point, I take out my 1 tablespoon (because you probably know by now that I don't like cheese). You might think that a tablespoon isn't very much, but it is so rich, so full of flavor that it is plenty.

Then add the cheese and process until well mixed.

This was last night's supper, mixed with 

A perfect meal. Absolutely delicious!

You may visit Weekend Cooking for more food related postings.