Giving Thanks, Pie

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Giving thanks. This year I have a wealth to give thanks for, so much so that ‘thanks’ seems a mild word. Thanks, blessings, gratitude, gratefulness – ball them all together, and the Pangaea like word that forms might begin to honor how I feel. I  visualize my blessing, a dictionaryesque tome, perched on a podium where it’s always open revealing a letter at random; R, R is for rain, radishes, Red Tailed Hawks, Robin O’Brien, romaine, roses, row cover…. From April to zucchini, the expanse of this year’s blessings, and all chapters of gratitude before, keep me in constant grace towards life. They make even the hard days of labor and loss be ones that hold great depths of thanks.

Somewhere in that tome is T for Thanksgiving and definitely P for PIE!
A pumpkin by any other name would taste as sweet, but the Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin indeed holds quite a charming and delectable name for which it is well deserving. For me, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin has become a staple. It will be one of those varieties that I grow year after year, not even curious of the other pie pumpkin varieties out there. This round netted squash has much in which to give thanks and at the Thanksgiving table represents a quintessential pillar of our feasting favorites: PIE! When Thanksgiving comes around there are many things I’m thankful for, a belly full of festive food, a table at capicity, joy bursting at the buttons and just when you think you’re too full, life’s just too good and you couldn’t possibly have more, there’s pie! Making your own pumpkin pie truly can’t be beat! F is for flaky crust, J is for Just one more piece and E if for ENJOY!

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Most Excellent Squash Pie –                                                                                                                              Recipe adapted from The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love , by Kristin Kimball

**Makes two pies** IMG_0327

Ingredients:

Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup cold butter

1/3 very cold water. I put the 1/3 cup cold water in a dish and add ice cubes to cool further.

Filling

2 1/2 pounds Winter Luxury Pumpkin or other winter squash cooked. I use a 6lb pumpkin for two pies.

1 1/2 heavy cream

3 eggs

3/4 sugar

1 tsp cinnamon, powdered ginger and cardamom (optional)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg and salt

1/8 tsp cloves

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                               2. Wash outside of pumpkin and cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place on baking sheet cut side down with a little bit of water. Bake for an hour or until very soft. The beauty of this pumpkin is that the skin very easily peals aways from the flesh!                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. While pumpkin is baking prepare crust. I always make mine in a food processor so it doesn’t get over worked. I add the flour and salt and buzz to combine. I then cut up the cold butter into little pieces and place in the processor with the flour. I just pulse it a few time and slowly pour in some cold water until the ingredients start to bind. I pour it out onto a cutting board and ball it up tight. Don’t over work the dough or make get is warm by handling it too much! If you feel like it’s getting warm you can put it in the fridge for a little bit. Divide into two equal ball and roll then each out and place in a buttered 9-inch pie plate. Chill for 30 minutes.                                                                                                            4. Placed cooked pumpkin in a bowl, add all filling ingredients and mix with a spoon. This filling always comes out beautifully smooth and creamy. You can use a blender if you like, but I have never had to. Jut a wooden spoon does the trick!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5. Fill pie crusts with fill and bake at 375 degrees until center is set, about 40 minutes.

V is for Voila!

Y is for YUM!!

H is for a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!!!

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GIVE THANKS!

GIVE THANKS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vaoie

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Many Muddy Hands

“The mind has exactly the same power as the hands; not merely to grasp the world, but to change it.”
Colin Wilson

Hands have translated, in grasp, many visions on this farm. I’m amazed at how much dreaming and learning the brain can do, and to have it all come out in the palms, the building and sculpting of neuron fire.  To think of all the incarnations this property has had, from pastured cattle, standing fields of alfalfa and rye, a once young orchard, buildings for chickens and racing pigeons, even a certain Sativa Illegalis. You pull the past out of a place, a sun bleached cow’s tooth found on the hill side, a rusty sythe and feathers shed. Fences laid out, working hands once setting boundaries that held importance in someone’s, now historical, present; a vision that has expired, but the fence lines still hold.

And what of this year and all the work done? Adding to the story, the visions, and of hands building a life. Each little seed was a project this year, germinating and growing into tasks that needed to be done, tending to life. But, when I think about the work of hands this year, my mind will be drawn to ones covered in mud and faces wearing white smiles. Work blurred with play, as clay binded with sand, and straw bales met earthen plaster from the same geographic region they had grown in. Insulating this shed with R-Max and store bought materials would have potentially been less money, less time (a weekend’s worth of work), and less joy. It’s not often that we put money, time and joy on a scale against each other. We’re taught that the math is simple and that money and time trumps. But, I’ve learned that on a farm the scale shifts and money and time become nebulous when weighed next to joy, food, family and the cycles of nature.  I didn’t know what I was getting into, ‘Insulating a Shed with Straw Bales and Applying an Earthen Plaster,’ the internet search results came in lean, but the concept felt healthy and strong for the life of this farm.  With a lot of faith and some substantial information gleaned from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and “The Straw Bale House” by Steen and Brainbridge, the shed is shining in it’s new insulating layer of local straw, local earthen plaster and layers of work by loving hands.  Thank you deeply, to all those who built, shaped and played with this project! An old shed, built from beautiful Siskiyou County straw, earth and family; Homeward Bounty’s new vegetable cold storage!

Buying a farm, 'as is'! Shed in the back ground.

Buying a farm, ‘as is’! Shed in the back ground.

The shed all cleaned out.

The shed all cleaned out.

Working on extending the roof line and including a vegetable washing station.

Working on extending the roof line and including a vegetable washing station.

Roof complete!

Roof complete!

40 bales of locally grown straw!

40 bales of locally grown straw!

Stuffing straw in the gaps of bales and sewing it in with wire to keep it strong. We also attached wire to the foundation and roof to keep the bales from falling down.

Stuffing straw in the gaps of bales and sewing it in with wire to keep it strong. We also attached wire to the foundation and roof to keep the bales from falling down.

1st coat - A mix of clay and water applied with a texture gun.

1st coat – A mix of clay and water applied with a texture gun.

2nd coat - a mix of 70% sand to 30% clay, fresh cow manure and a gluten paste.

2nd coat – a mix of 70% sand to 30% clay, fresh cow manure and a gluten paste.

Gaps were filled with straw soaked in clay and water.

Gaps were filled with straw soaked in clay and water.

Good thing we had a dry place to set up for the harvest dinner!

Good thing we had a dry place to set up for the harvest dinner!

3rd coat, one month later! What a dedicated crew!

3rd coat, one month later! What a dedicated crew!

Heartvest Dinner

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Another season to honor. One to name and define, to catalogue. Wedges of present moments strung together under concise themes: a day, the moth of August, a row of tomatoes , but contain truly nothing that can be defined in such simple ways. In reflecting on this, I guess the challenge lies in remembering each memory as pixilated as possible, the quality in every dot that makes it a whole, to remember and feel the authenticity of moments.

This year, not yet done, but cresting, has had many truly authentic moments and has been a season unlike any I’ve experienced before.  It was Green, not exclusively in the eco sense, but in its young tenderness, it’s vulnerability and wide-eyed wonder. We were novices, the soil, the seed, the farmer. Playing in an environment where a little beginners luck would be welcomed and the learning curve proved steep.

The season brought together Home and Bounty, as was manifested through its namesake! The family grew this season, extending to encompass yet more and more lovely smiles, warm hearts and willing to work hands. A community, with a deep appreciation for community, for local vibrant food and an even greater passion to share meals with ones dear! At the heart of it all it truly IS about eating! About making beautiful meals that make you and the ones around you glow. Each individual bite one to savor, like each pixel that makes the whole. The way the white lights caught the smiles amid animated conversations over a Harvest Dinner table. The zinnias shining out, the rain hydrating the cover crop seed, a night and a season beautifuly and richy authentic.  Thank you all for this wealth, this support and the pulse of a farm famly bond, the beat of anther successful Heartvest!

The spread - YUM

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Welcoming a beautiful rainbow.
Welcoming a beautiful rainbow.

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A storm rolls in.

A storm rolls in.

In the Groove

CSA Basket - Week #12

CSA Basket – Week #12

If a farming season is like a marathon, then I believe we’re somewhere around mile 19.  Yes we, as the runner may say in third person…. ”Come on legs, we can do it!”  Here on the farm it truly is a we, the soil and elemental unfoldings, the bellies and pocketbooks, the seeds and leaves and fruits, the calloused farmer hands and worn farmer feet.  “Come on gloves, (which look like they’ve already reached the finish line, but have been begged to keep on going) we can do it!” It’s at this mile where you’re pooped, but also very much in the groove. I’ve never run a full marathon, but after a few farm seasons you get the true sense of stamina, pace and drive. To know how hard you’ve worked and know, that now in August, you’ll be asked to pick up the pace, to get up at the same time you did in July, even though the sun is getting to sleep in, to maintain and even, accelerate. You pick up the pace, kick a little harder, because it’s harvest time and the bounty has arrived. Volume! You may think you’re a giving person; now, consider the humble zucchini! They say that wood warms you six times. I feel the same about zucchini: the bed prepping, planting, weeding, nurturing, harvesting and harvesting, hauling out of the field, and warmth of the kitchen as one zips around finding many yummy ways of getting it into your belly.

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It’s mile 19, the BEST part of the season! The beginning of the season opens with jaw-dropping -color-centerfolds. Oh yeah, seed catalogs baby! Now, in the heart of abundance, it’s a succulent recipe treasure hunt of salivating salvation. It’s finding gems like Sweet and Sour pickled Red Onions and Zucchini Bread with Lemon and Thyme.

It’s the time to honor and identify the season too. This year will be marked with eggplant dishes and okra. Last year there were tomatoes abound, salsas and sauces. Moving the abundance into bags and jars, extending the season, you encapsulate the year, define it, and give thanks.

Rolling up my sleeves to clean yet another squash, to reach tongs into a boiling bath of water, to spend extended hours on tired feet (tapping around a kitchen floor), long after the work day is done, in the name of preservation is exhausting. But it’s fuel, it’s drawing out the abundance to have lasagna in the winter months, pickles as the snows thaw and sweet fruit as spring arrives. Another season’s work ahead, one of beauty and paced rhythmic breaths. Feeling out the cadence and getting excited for mile 19 and zucchini! As you lace up your shoes and stretch,  a whisper from the fields, ”On your marks, get set, go” and you’re off!

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

Pickles!

Pickles!

Brought to you by the prefix re-

Re- agin, back, backwards. These last few days I’ve been reeling, I’ve been reing. I’ve been reacting, reassessing, reasoning, respiring with limited repose. I’ve been repairing, replanting, reflecting, remembering reaching green fields and really relying on reincarnation. It is again, back, backwards, but for many things there’s no going back. In our short growing season there’s no room to rewind. For now it’s the regaining of momentum, the rekindling of plant relationships and reattempting with resolve.

It is said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. On Tuesday night in Grenada, we reached a low of  27 degrees and I can tell you that it didn’t make many of my plants stronger. I knew that it was going to freeze and by moonlight, for when the sun goes down so does the wind, Jonathan and I made sure that everything had a cover and was protected. I knew that the weather would play with us farmers a little, that nature would trow in the quintessential late spring sucker punch, but this one was completely below the belt, not cool dude!

 

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Sow Seeds and Grow

Rice fields at Navdanya Farm in Derha Duhn, India

Rice fields at Navdanya Farm in Derha Duhn, India

I fell in love with seeds in the patchwork fields of 480 varieties of rice. Seeds, in the caring work- leathered hands of humble  women, wise seeds cradled by wise women, their bond authentically and intrinsically connected, woven with sweat, soil, sun, while chanting prayers of generations,  generations. The textile weave of earth’s patterns in rice, in women, in seeds, pulled at a string deep inside of my heart, hands, womb. A tapestry inside me that was braided long ago. A tapestry that lives in all of us.

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Three of the many varieties of rice at Navdanya Farm.

Three of the many varieties of rice at Navdanya Farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds have continued to make me think and feel deep beyond our connection in weave.  I’ve often found myself pondering their psychology. There’s a sense of personification when thinking of seed psyche; human emotions shed onto the  plant community. However, the more I dissect seed to seed fundamentals,  I find myself truly feeling each plant’s fierce desire to grow strong for the sake of their seeds. They gauge their resources in weather, soil, water, and conductive pollen  with a foundation of how to best live, in order to produce the most successful offspring- to keep their genetics alive, to procreate, to continue and be reborn into this world, generation after generation; every seed containing within its world the potential to replicate exponentially. Is this plan diabolical or the sincere desire to hold on to and nurture what we hold most dear?

Last year’s growing efforts were partly inspired by the cry of a overflowing bag of seeds, ‘plant us!’. Fourteen  months later, a legitimate chorus can be heard, echoing out of two bins of seeds. Next year, I may need earplugs. And so the story goes; if you have seeds and love growing plants out to seed, you gather a band of talented loved ones to help create a packet design and then make these special varieties available to growers everywhere. Yep, that’s the story, and I present you with Homeward Bounty Seeds! Available now on Etsy, search Homeward Bounty! A shout out to dear Ashley Mersereau of Roots and Wings Jewelry who has created the very beautiful graphics. As well as my Aunt Cathy O’Brien who laid out and organized the design.

Sow seeds and grow! Find that tapestry inside and let it pull you.

Cherokee Long Ear Popcorn -Homeward Bounty Seeds

Cherokee Long Ear Popcorn -Homeward Bounty Seeds

Pablo Lettuce - Homeward Bounty Seeds

Pablo Lettuce – Homeward Bounty Seed

ashleystudio

Ashley in her magical studio.

Ashley's art, find pen and watercolor pieces features in Homeward Bounty Seed packets.

Ashley’s art, find pen and watercolor pieces features in Homeward Bounty Seed packets.

40 Acres and a Girl

Bob Swanson captures a nice view of Homeward Bounty Farm

Bob Swanson captures a nice view of Homeward Bounty Farm

Welcome to a bright new Homeward Bounty chapter dear readers, fresh Siskiyou grown food eaters, wealth of supportive radiant friends and deeply loving family. This is it; be careful what you wish for, as I officially have a 40 acre piece of property to call my lifetime stewardship project. How speechlessly unidentifiable. How quietly humbling, a calling that rains down from the mountain and up from the fertile Grenada soil. A true commitment to HOME and ROOTS – I’m not going anywhere any time soon folks, you now know where to find me!

I’ve been subliminally taught the O’Brien mantra of Rescue and Hard Work. As you drive up to the property, these are two words that are called out loud and clear. Within that mantra the key is to hear what is chanted next;  trailing behind those words, the farm sings a soft song of Potential, Growth and Love. The O’Brien magic is to set your rhythm to that song, work is a dance, create something beautiful.

When the property closed, we sang the working song of this new farm like mocking birds.  An overwhelming crew of dedicated friends came out to clean, organize, demolish, burn, collect, drink, arrange, create, eat, rip and dance. It was a farm mob frenzy!

Some major highlights:

John Tannaci, saving the day on his tractor.

John Tannaci, saving the day on his tractor.

John Tannaci, my new neighbor and owner/grower at Hunter Orchard, drove his tractor up the driveway with a smile and a mission. “You’ll be needing to get things in the ground soon Kate. Do you have a field you need ripped?”  YES! Through this thoughtful and extremely generous act, John has opened the soil to this season and graced 2013. Potatoes are going in this week! I can not thank the Tannaci’s deep enough for their truly kind spirits and support.

William Wareham’s boat vision: What do you do with endless amounts of junk? Well, you convert some of into art! Who else would have the tasteful and creative eye, but Bill. On the property was an old fiberglass boat (doomed for the dump), until Bill had a vision to clean that baby up. Fueled by the power of an artists ascetic and a Dodge Hemi, he drove it up to the top of the hill and perfectly perched it. It now rests on the hill and has become the ideal destination to sit and watch the last rays of light stretch out across the Shasta Valley. All abroad the Sunset Cruise!

Annie Moore made the kitchen sparkle! The Demo team was a pack of wild hammers, crow bars and will! Ron Presley was one of the first to show up and worked even through lunch. My sister drove three hours north, and brought with her two hard working

Bill on a mission.

Bill on a mission.

farmers.  Jonathan filled his truck up to the brim with debris. Bob and Jack documented. A friend from old soccer days, Shannon, proved what teamwork means (ten years later). Kate Bachman fired up her chain saw and Celtic salt was gifted to bless the new home, thank you Marian. Sweet baby Magnus even made the trip, with his amazing Jenny Mae mommy.

I could have spontaneously burst in joy, leaving behind jewels of love and blessing. My heart ached. My cheeks were sore. My gratitude swelled beyond and beyond. Here,  what we grow is infinite.  In many life endeavors it takes a village. Thank you for being my village, my family, the rich soil to my roots.

The Demo team

The Demo team

So much junk!     
So much junk!

"The beds will be this big."
“The beds will be this big.”