Sunday, November 29, 2009


Around here, Thanksgiving is not exactly traditional. We started with a potluck the weekend before with a group of dear friends, who we know through many different networks, but are held together by a common meditation practice. It was so lovely because it felt like the food had all been prepared with such love and consciousness. Unlike the Thanksgiving dinners of my own childhood, this left me feeling pleasantly satiated, but not over-stuffed and lethargic.

This year, we joined a winter apple club through a local orchard, which means we get a huge box of organic apples at the beginning of every month. And don't forget, we also went apple picking this fall. Lots of apples this year!

So, our fall menu has included things like dried apples, apple celery salad, snacks of apples and cheese, and for the potluck, I brought pumpkin apple soup and apple strudel from this month's Veg News magazine.

On the actual day of Thanksgiving, it was just T. and me, as the kids spent the day with their dad's family. I wanted to use as much from our fall garden as possible (which I'm happy to report is really doing quite well). So I made a version of this turnip soup, using turnips from the garden and substituting one third of the turnips with Jerusalem artichokes, also from the garden. It was fantastic. I also made a salad with lettuce and baby kale and Swiss chard from the garden. Not to mention a loaf of apple bread.

The day after was our day to celebrate with the kids. Our tradition is actually to go out for Ethiopian food, for something completely different. It's great food to share and linger over as we catch up on each other's lives. We then went to choose our tree. T. and I had agreed to get a smaller tree, to avoid the tree falling-over debacle of last year (don't ask). T. pulled out a 3-foot tall tree that looked more like a bush. The rest of us vetoed it, through much laughter, and found one that's more like 6 feet tall (we used to go for 8 or 9 foot tall trees). We were able to get it up, with a relative minimum of swearing. (I can't be the only one whose Christmas tree tradition typically includes swearing, can I?)

And then we had hot chocolate and...more apples! Specifically, apple tart with caramel sauce. Oh my goodness, this was amazing.

Finally, our weekend feasting ended with dinner at the home of dear friends, who made a big green salad, Thai-inspired soup with tofu, red curry, carrots, lemongrass, and coconut milk, a rice pilaf, and butternut squash.

A lovely holiday weekend of feasting on food, family, friends...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hold the presses!

After a long hiatus, I am finally blogging about biking again.

Here's hoping it inspires me for more frequent blogging about crafting, sustainability, etc. too, here at handcrafted life!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Enjoying the season (and seeking seasonal gardening advice)

I miss blogging! You'd think with both kids at college, I'd have more time, but somehow the grad. school/working full-time/attempting to take care of other life tasks with intentionality seem to still cut into the blogging time. Fortunately DD came home and requested apple-picking, giving me not only a photo op but a nice excuse to slow down and appreciate the season.

The apple orchard was beautiful. (Rochester folks, we went to the Apple Farm in Victor and it was really nice. I believe they have a sale this week. And, they will be offering u-pick until we get a stretch of weather below 25 F.)

There were tons of apples on the ground. We grabbed a bunch for the chickens, who LOVE apples. We didn't know this, but you're supposed to ask first! They gave us a reduced price, but if you go, please ask first! (Do as I say, not as I do.)

T., Zoe, and I have also been enjoy walks in our local gem, the Mt. Hope Cemetery, perfect for spooky October nights (and the rest of the year).

And now, on to some less exciting pictures, but (for me) very exciting gardening. This is the first year I have tried to garden so late. You can see that I'm not the neatest gardener in the world, as evidenced by the leaves I haven't bothered to rake out and the dried stalks of dill still left. Here are some turnips and collard greens. I think I planted something in the middle there but it didn't come up.

Here is my arugula bed, which has pretty much been going strong all gardening season.

And here we have some younger collard greens and Chinese greens. They're supposed to be cold hardy, although I'm still covering everything on cold nights, since we've only had a couple of nights of frost so far, and it's supposed to be fairly warm still for quite a while.

Here's some kale, just coming up recently. Again, I'm hoping it will last through the winter, but I'm not really sure how these things work.

Swiss chard (and a little head of lettuce), which in my experience can survive for quite a while in the cold.

And more turnip greens, along with broccoli, which have little florets on them that thrill me to no end. Can't wait till they're big enough to eat.

Fall/winter gardeners, any advice? Will this stuff last? Do I have to cover it every night once it gets below freezing?


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