...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


maple popcorn

We have a thing about popcorn.
A thing called addiction, really.

We just call it "pop."

Frequent phrases heard around here are:
Will you make some pop tonight?
Mmmmn, I'm in the mood for some pop.  
Let's get our pop on.
We really should just call it crack, since it's that addictive.
Once you start, you just can't stop with the pop.

Sure, there are savory pops.

The simple pop, popped in olive oil and a touch of salt.
Or, jazzed up with a little nutritional yeast
or nori flakes for umami.

But, the "maple pop" is really where it's at.

So, without further ado,
if you want to get your own maple pop on,
here is how it's done:

First, make your pop, however you would make it:

Boots loves to use this Back to Basics stainless steel popper.
She used to make her pop in a big stock pot
but this is more fun and we can count on it for consistent, even pops.

Try not to add too many kernels, though, or you'll end up with some that didn't pop
 (like we did in this particular batch, you'll see at the end).

Get out a super duper big bowl, you'll need it to be extra big for mixing later:
 This is our "pop bowl."  It's legendary.  If anyone ever breaks it, well, God help them is all I can say.
I pray that it won't be me...

A little bit of background is that this bowl was thrown by a potter with one arm.  For reals.
I could have six arms and use my legs, too, and not be able to throw a bowl this big and amazing!

Then again, I never really managed to get centered on the pottery wheel...
I started to convince myself crooked pottery was really cool, but anyway, I digress.

This bowl's sole mission in life is to deliver the most amazing, delicious, addictive pop,
and I think it enjoys it's job.  Occasionally, it takes a side job holding salad at a big gathering,
but we're not here to talk about salad, are we?

Back to pop:

 Oh, if only I could transform ever so briefly into a teeny tiny person
so I could jump up and down and do swan dives inside a bowl of pop like this,
kind of like Chuck E Cheese's ball pit, but edible, and way better.

FYI:  It's really, really fun to try different varieties of popping corns.

We look for heirloom varieties when possible, and always non-GMO.
We don't want any freaky frankenpop!

I highly recommend any pops from Fireworks.
So flavorful!  The variety above is Savannah Gold.
Now that you have your pop in your big bowl, salt it to your taste, 
and then it's time to really get down to business:

In a saucepan, begin heating a stick of butter and about 2 cups total of sweeteners...
Boots eyeballs it, but says she generally prefers a ratio of 
"like 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 cups maple syrup."
She balks when I ask for specifics.  People like specifics, I say...
But I get her point.   
Whether you go a little over or a little under, 
it's butter and brown sugar and maple syrup 
and together they will always do beautiful things.

Let all of that beautifulness come to a rolling boil.  
Check periodically with a thermometer -- you really only need to go to 275F.  
That's plenty.
When it gets that high, whisk in 1/2 tsp of baking soda:

It will froth up and spread further on your pop this way.

It's some kind of alchemy.

Now, get ready to make magic happen!
 Pour the sweet elixir all over your pop:

This is prime time to add peanuts or whatever nut you choose...
 and stir it up to spread that ooey gooey sweetness all around! 
(silicone spatulas are excellent for this)
Keep mixing it up, and voila!

oh yeah yeah yeah!!!!
It begins to harden and cool off fast.  You can eat it almost immediately.
Trust me, you will want to.


Sasha getting her pop on with us.

And me getting down to the bottom of my bowl.




rainbows everywhere...

Probably the best $25 I ever spent was on this round crystal prism.  

I hung it up in our west-facing bedroom window and it doesn't look like much until 
every afternoon, as long as there's a little sun,
it gives forth a whole bunch of rainbows.

Those closer to the window are smaller...

And then they get bigger as they disperse throughout the room...

This one was probably 8" long head to tail!

They splash across the bed, too.

I love to lie down and feel the rainbows around me.

The light has great energy.  

Good vibes.

 They even make my basket of laundry look kind of sweet.
(though I hear from my girlfriend that it'd be way sweeter 
if I folded and put my clothes away instead of looking at them!)


You know, sometimes I wish I had a prescription pad, 
because there are some things I would definitely write a prescription for.  
I would write a prescription for crystal prisms in a heartbeat!

I'm sure they'd take my license away, because I'd be prescribing things 
like talking to chickens,
and running with your arms flapping at your sides to pretend like you're flying.  

They'd call me a quack, 
and I would give them my best rendition of a duck vocalization.

So, my dear blog "patients":
If you have east or west facing windows, 
get yourself some crystals and kiss the rainbow.  

Kiss two rainbows and call me in the morning!


laughter in the garden

My friend Zee (here too, she has two blogs!)
 made this and sent it to me a few summers ago. 

I promptly tacked it up in our garden shed, for inspiration,
but it also evokes major nostalgia for me.

  It takes me back to my grandmother...

 My father's mother

who could warble like the birds when she whistled,
and played piano by ear (I loved her boogie woogie!).

She was quite a woman, in my eyes.
A great grandmother, for sure.  

She knew every recipe by heart,
scratch-cooked everything,
and she put up as much of the harvest as she could manage.  

Her gardens seemed to go on forever to my child-eyes,
Her flower gardens (she called them posies)
rivaled her vegetable gardens.

I have fond memories of helping her,
of sitting at her picnic table with buckets,
snapping the ends off green beans,
whistling while we worked.
She had a few apple trees, too.
When I ran barefoot across the fields, 
occasionally I stepped (ouch!) on a dropped apple
that rolled away, apples that would have otherwise ended up 
in applesauce or boiled down into apple butter.

(Mmmmmn, how I looooooove apple butter!)
Her root cellar was more modest than this one,
a bit cramped, down in a tiny basement 
that my grandfather had dug out to house the big coal furnace.
The shelves he built for her canned goods
were behind the narrow stairs.  

It was both frightening and fascinating to go down those stairs by myself as a child,
with all the creepy groaning sounds the furnace might suddenly make
and the massive pile of black coal looming to the right side...

Turning the corner to those gleaming glass jars was always a relief to me.

I can only imagine how my great-grandfather felt...
A coal-miner, descending into total darkness, deep into the earth, every day.
Gives me the absolute shivers.
When my grandfather died in 2005 
we found peaches my grandmother had canned 
probably 15 years prior (she died in 1992).

He kept them on the shelves all those years,
 didn't have the heart to eat them or to compost them
even after they were clearly past their eating prime.

Something about those jars on the shelves 
that hold a link
to time, place, and people.

They hold love and the energy of light from the sun,
the energy of the person who picked, peeled, and processed them.

Spring, summer, fall, winter.

A year in a basket, 
a year in a jar.

The more I think about it, 
really, each fruit and vegetable 
holds so much more than a year's work.

More than the planning, the sowing, tending, harvesting, storing/processing.
More than even that.

Each fruit and vegetable holds more years than we can fathom.
Decades.  Lifetimes.  Generations.  Eons.
Our great-grandmother's great-grandmother's great-grandmother's 
(or great-grandfather's)
and on and on and on.

Each plant, each seed,
has an energetic thread that takes it all the way back through time,
and projects it into the future.
Seeds must go back to the beginning.

I bet there are some smartypants plant people out there
who could tell you so many precise facts about all of these things, 
and I could look them up and regurgitate them to you...
Where the first vegetable and fruit seeds came from and 
when we started cultivated food 
rather than foraging and gathering...

When canning first came about, 
lacto-fermentation, sugar or salt-curing, etc.
and other historic methods of food preservation...
All of which fascinate me, and all of which deserve their own posts, 
no doubt.

But to sum it all up,
I think seeds are both the history 
and evolution 
of sustenance and life.

Plain and simple.

As intricate and amazing
as the cosmos

as beautiful 
as my grandmother's warbling whistle

as vital 
as her hard-working hands 
dancing across those keys.


Pas de Deux by Daniel Wurtzel

Something to take your breath away.
Kinetic sculpture by Daniel Wurtzel
"Pas de Deux"
(for best effect, view it in a larger window!)


garden udpate

vegetables and things are happening in these here parts...


soon-to-be-red marconi peppers!

bell peppers...
(will turn to yellow if we're patient)

beets, baby!!!



crabbages!  (er, cabbages!)

and cauliflower is coming on up...!

It's so satisfying to see the "vegetables" of our labor,
but now we're also clamoring a bit to figure out what to do with it all...

For our first year growing food...
with all organic methods, woweeeee!  
I'm proud of us!


goldfinches and echinacea

We recently changed the spot where we sit with our computers...
Now we're right next to a big window with some of our perennial gardens right outside...

(A no-brainer... why didn't we do this long ago?)
It's interesting how changing your vantage point even just a little
 will show you a whole new side of life, even in an area that you thought you knew well.

Like life in this one little spot of the garden that we thought
we knew everything there was to know about it... 
Turns out, things are still surprising me every day.

In addition to the ruby-throated hummingbirds feasting on our monarda,
now we have goldfinches coming to feast on the echinacea.

What fun!

It appears that they love to eat the seeds of echinacea (aka coneflower), 
so if you want to invite birds into your garden, plant lots of echinacea. 

The butterflies and bees love it, too!
The butterflies and bees come earlier in the season for the nectar 
and the birds come later for the seed...

It's a beautiful thing, how one thing flows into another.
Echinacea is simple to grow.  
You just need a sunny spot.  Water well at first until they're established.
Then they're super low-maintenance.  They're even deer resistant!

Don't deadhead them...
Let them dry out and the birds will continue to enjoy them into the fall.


gooseneck loosestrife

It struck me one morning how much this reminded me of our ducks, 
especially seeing this group of three duck-like flowers in one spot. 

I didn't know what it was, so I did a little research.
It's lysimachia clethroides, commonly called gooseneck loosestrife.
 Gooseneck, duckneck, whatever.

It's really lovely, but be careful with this one in the garden.

In the right conditions 
(which seem to be just about anything based on browsing some online forums),
 it multiplies like crazy and can take over in a flash.

 Some people sound positively honking mad and haven't been able to tame it,
in fact it's become the bane of their gardening existence. 

I suspect those are the gardeners who prefer to have every leaf and every weed under tight control... Those types of gardeners we most certainly are not.
(If we were, we'd be in big trouble!)

So far ours isn't out of control, it's just right.
 It takes a lot more than an overgrowth of flowers
to drive us honking mad, anyway.

But we'll have to keep a close eye on it 
(like the bumblebee "eye" on the left flower)...

White Flower Farms suggests planting it with equally "enthusiastic" flowers 
such as monarda and coreopsis.  They will keep each other in check.

The bees and butterflies love this gooseneck loosestrife, 
and that can't be a bad thing, since our pollinators are so precious...

More on that topic to come at another time...
Until then, be well.
Be ducky.  Be goosey. 
Or just bee!