Sun is up, Gus is down, kettle is on for a round of earl grey I intend to regret in a few hours. I'm in a rotten habit of late beds and early rises, and so am propping myself up on too many teas and coffees as any dedicated-though-lightweight stimulant junkie would. Also see: incorrigible woman refuses bed in favor of listening to Wilco in the half light of the day's end; claims it to be Essential Soul Business.

This evening Gus snipped the season's first wild chives. We bathed them in kefir, horseradish, and ACV; we rejoiced over their spicy return. Years ago wild chives were the very first thing we ate from our land and every spring we anticipate their emergence with the decorum of an amorous cow. Have you not recently seen (or, heard) an amorous cow, think: wild, loud, and lusty danger. Months of snow and California grown greens will put even the most poised homesteader into a wild chives induced heat, of that I'm sure. When Gus returned from his harvest, his hands and mouth thick with the stuff, he asked: how do we know the dogs didn't pee on these?? Hmm.. Certainly nothing is sacred to our mutts, not even the exalted chive, but love is love is love, even in cases of probable dog pee. We rinsed and rolled the dice.

WILD CHIVE + HORSERADISH KEFIR SAUCE

adapted from In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison

Recently I've been cooking pretty heavily from Deborah Madison's new cookbook, In My Kitchen. I've started a local cookbook club, following in the footsteps of my friend Sarah*, and In My Kitchen is our first book to tackle. I've always loved Deborah Madison's approach to food and her title Local Flavors is likely the most dog-eared cookbook in my collection. She's my vegetable queen and I love her, perhaps even more so now. This kefir sauce below is adapted from a yogurt sauce she pairs with braised leeks, mushrooms, and cabbage in IMK. In LF she has a similar dish (or did I just cook them similarly because I'm so familiar with the other recipe?) that serves up braised cabbage, kale, and white beans. The latter is something we often enjoy in winter months but somehow the hybrid of the two that Gus and I made tonight was much lighter. Maybe it's that deliciously tangy wild chive kefir sauce spooned on top.

1 heaping cup of kefir (heaps happen when you're 6 1/2, you know)

4 teaspoons chopped wild chives

3 heaping teaspoons prepared horseradish

pinch of salt

a half slosh of ACV (which I believe to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/2 teaspoon)

As simple as, Combine and Whisk. Though, should you have an ardent whisker on staff, I do recommend choosing a vessel whose capacity isn't nearly reached when all ingredients are married. No one looks respectable when licking slopped kefir sauce from the counter.

Enjoy: slathered on raw veg, spooned over braised veg, straight to the mouth when no one is looking.

*Speaking of new cookbooks, Sarah just came out with one as well! Feeding a Family is *beautiful*. Matte pages (the only way, if you ask me), written/photographed/cooked on an island I love, and full of recipes that just get me. I so look forward to really digging into it. Sweet Pea Oven Risotto, I'm coming for ya; Frozen Peaches and Cream Cake: see you this summer. So much love and many congrats, Sarah! xx

#FOLKSTEAD #RECIPES


Three nights ago I wrenched Craig from a deep sleep with the sudden memory that a ram was to arrive at our farm on Sunday. And while what some have said is true, that the ram was not outside our door looking for a pile of straw on which to lay his head in that moment, I stand firm in that: midnight panics are meant to be shared with Partners in Sheep, Etc., and a spring brain isn't one to count on. Case and point: the arrival of Jerry the Icelandic Ram whose Muzzle Grows a Third and Surprising Face Horn had been relegated to the place in my brain where checking the mail and making sure Gus has clean pants on Monday mornings live. That dark hole is no place for a modern day triceratops.

Having never introduced a fully mature ram into our flock (never mind a ram in defiance of nature), we spent the past few days running through all the scenarios that existed outside of everything working out just fine. Who would sleep where, what would happen if, why this could go wrong and when. But then Jerry, too beautiful and weird for this world Jerry, died unexpectedly before he was able to even see the stall we had readied. It was sudden and without a clear cause; also the sort of thing for which one has to be at least modestly prepared. Animals, domesticated or not, are animals and with that comes an inevitable uncertainty.

Last year we lost more animals to predators than all previous years combined. It was a summer marked by sadness and loss. We had come to the end of trying to have another child and I couldn't stop catching flashes of red in the yard. Nothing felt safe. Craig's ducks, my favorite hen and her just hatched chicks, Gus's kitten. It didn't seem to matter what we did, this beautiful fox was always full of little things we loved; I was not. It laid a heaviness on us that hesitates to lift yet.

I remember my neighbor turning down his preteen daughter's pleading for a kitten a few years back, handing over the Reasons Why one collects in five decades spent living pressed up to the edge of these woods. It's hard- all of it -but especially difficult is accepting that uncertainty, that putting your faith in everything working out just fine while training one eye to the shadows. Our neighbor couldn't do it; I think I have to. It's the only way I get one foot in front of the other to march out of the hard season. We live in the sun, we watch for the shadows, we do our best.

After news of Jerry's untimely death had made it around the homestead, I headed to the co-op in the next town. Halfway there I pulled over for a Barred Owl on the side of the road. She was dead, perfect save for a weird twist of the neck and a small pool of blood under her beak. Isn't that just how it is? You can live your good life and still get knocked out of the sky by something big enough. There will always a fox in the woods and I suppose it's up to us whether we live our lives because of or in spite of that fact.

#FOLKSTEAD

Old posts from now defunct online journals of my past, every Thursday.

This post was originally published elsewhere on August 19, 2015.

At 5:23 this morning I was that speck you saw dragging through fog and field, milk pail and bench slung over forearm and shoulder. I am not some noble riser committed to Early Days With Intention (though I could be served well by such an effort). Simply, I am the tender of a righteously salty dam and with the day's first light in the sky, I thought it neighborly to quieten her after a full night of bellowing. How honorable for a mother of a young thing to wail through the night at mere feet of separation. If there's another baby, another human baby, on this farm, let me call this to mind in the sleepless hours.

Make me like that cow, I think (very often).

#FOLKSTEAD #OLDERWRITING

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