Potato Soup with Milk and Honey Bread

March in New England is a fickle beast.

Temperatures in the 60’s with sunshine one week and 18 inches of wet, heavy snow the next, (great book reading weather!)

I just finished a great little novel by Jenna Woginrich. The $4.99 ebook is called Birchthorn.  It’s suspenseful with great characters and plot twists. There’s a scene in it where one of the characters, Eli, has a pot of potato soup on the stove.

Now, I have potato soup on the brain.

Since every great soup has to have a great accompaniment, we will start with bread.

Milk, honey and a little butter are warmed and yeast is added.

This mixture is combined with flour and salt.

While Marcy sleeps next to the radiator, I work the dough in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

It’s then covered with a towel and placed in a warm place to rise.

Next, potatoes are peeled and cubed.

We add just enough water to cover the spuds and season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Then, comes the bacon…

#bacon

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Listen to those three halved pieces of glorious bacon sizzle.

Every potato soup needs a gorgeous little purple onion.

After an hour, the dough has risen and we are ready to knead.

It only takes a few flicks of the wrist to get a smooth soft ball of dough.

That ball of dough is placed in a cast iron skillet and allowed to rise again while the oven comes up to 350 degrees.

Once the potatoes are done, they are lightly mashed along with the water that didn’t evaporate.

A couple tablespoons of butter, the bacon-fat-sauteed chopped onion and that glorious bacon  are added to the pot of potatoes.

All that’s left to do is add a little more salt and pepper and place the pot over low heat, stirring every now and then.

A warm loaf fresh out of the oven.

And a hearty meal.

Take that March, you fickle beast.

Petite Milk and Honey Bread

  • Servings: makes 1 small loaf
  • Print

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)

Place milk, butter and honey in a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup and heat for 90 seconds. Sprinkle yeast over top and let sit for 5 minutes or until bubbly.

Stir flour and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Pour milk and honey mixture over top and mix with a wooden spoon and fully combined.

Place a tea towel over top of the bowl and let rise until double in size, about an hour.

Once risen, on a floured surface, knead dough until smooth, about a minute.

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the ball of dough in a cast iron skillet and make a cross on top to let the fairies escape. Place the tea towel over top to let the dough rest while the oven comes up to temperature.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Slice/ break and serve.

Potato Soup

  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • sharp cheddar for serving (optional)

Place peeled and cubed potatoes into a medium sized pot and cover with water just to the top of the potatoes. Add some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn burner down to medium-high and let simmer until soft.

Meanwhile, cook bacon slices in a skillet until crispy. Cut into pieces. Place diced onion into bacon grease left in the skillet. Saute on medium-low until translucent.

Mash cooked potatoes with remaining water, leaving some chunks. Add milk, butter, bacon and onions to the pot. Stir to combine and place back on the burner set to low, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, if you like.

Serve with shredded cheddar and warm bread.

 

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Acorn Waffles

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The three of us picked acorns last fall under the thinning leaves of a red oak. We made sure to leave behind the ones with holes, cracks or stains.

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We placed them on a tray in a single layer by the woodstove to dry. And even though we were careful with our selection, a few wiggly acorn weevil larvae still found their way home with us. We looked through the acorns on the trays for holes and threw out the ones that the larvae had wiggled out of. After a couple days of drying we processed a few cups for pancakes and cookies. We stored the remainder in a bucket for later use.

Properly dried acorns can be stored for years.

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About a week ago, we started on another batch.

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We use a slab of wood and a stone to crack them open.

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We check each one for quality, even though we did a great job when collecting, we still find a couple of the nut meats with sign of weevil infestation.

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Using a hand crank mill, we ground down the nuts.

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This is what one pass through will give you. We grind it at least 2x for a finer flour.

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Then we wait. We soak the ground acorns in cold water to leach out the tannin, changing the water morning and night, until it no longer tastes bitter or astringent. The chaff will float to the top and can be poured out. The finer the grind, the faster the leach. This batch took nine days.

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This morning, we placed the leached acorn flour in a towel over a strainer.

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And working in small batches, we wrung out as much moisture as possible.

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We will keep the acorn flour in the refrigerator since we will be using it over the next few days.

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Acorn imparts a nutty flavor and a great texture to waffles. They are light and airy.

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Acorns are nutrient dense, containing complete protein, carbohydrates and fat.

Acorn Waffles

  • Servings: Makes 5 waffles
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup acorn flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons oil of your choice

Preheat waffle maker.

Whisk flours with baking powder, salt and sugar. Add milk, egg and oil and whisk just until incorporated. Lumps are okay.

Pour about a half cup of batter onto waffle iron (amount is dependent on your waffle iron).

Cook until done. Enjoy with pure maple syrup or peanut butter and bananas.

For more information on acorn processing, check out Arthur Haines’ website: http://www.arthurhaines.com/

September

There’s something special about September in New England.

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The days are cooler but the sun still brings warmth.

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Flowers still bloom.

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Wishes can still be made.

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There’s a golden hue to the sun filtering in through the windows and splashing across the hardwood.

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It’s still warm enough for strawberries.

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But cool enough for fires in the stove.

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There’s abundance in September.

Here, in the form of apple cake.

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And center stage in September are the leaves turning from green to yellow and red.

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Get outside and enjoy these last few days of September.

These days that bring crisp air, bright sunshine, crinkling leaves underfoot, the smell of pumpkin spice, the taste of apples and the sound of acorns falling to the ground.

Summer Days

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Here it is, the last day of August.

We’ve enjoyed these summer days.

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Backyard fires, complete with roasted marshmallows,

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Mornings in bed,

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Walks in milkweed meadows,

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Foraging forays,

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Beach days,

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Family love,

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Treks on backyard trails,

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Cloud watching,

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Rock hopping,

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Garden growing,

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Wetland walks,

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Warm sunrises,

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Lounging,

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And a deep appreciation for each one of these summer days.

The last day of August also brings us the first day of school.

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The Woods

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When I was a kid I would wander the woods in back of my grandparent’s house for hours by myself. I’d pretend I lived out there among the hardwoods, the maples and oaks.

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Now, I have two amazing souls to wander with me.

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The sun was shining down on us today as we immersed ourselves in nature.

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For most of the day we meandered through a pine forest.

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We sat by the water.

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We picked pine needles.

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We stopped to notice lichen on bark…

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And patterns left by wood boring insects.

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We ate low bush cranberries.

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And we chatted with chickadees.

Now that we’re home we are enjoying those pine needles we picked and the vitamin C they will provide in a batch of Pine Needle Tea. We also picked newly sprouting black birch branches for Black Birch Tea.

Go wander the woods, it’s good for the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change, the only constant

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Heart-shaped, fluffy white clouds in the blue sky.

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Purple and pink sky in the morning. A sure sign of an oncoming storm.

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Snow can change the landscape dramatically.

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And it sure is fun to play in. Peaking through the hemlock boughs as Ethan prepares to sled down the big hill.

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Have you ever browned butter? If not, you should. Swap out one stick of softened butter with one stick of browned butter and your chocolate chip cookie recipe will be forever changed.

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Do you see what Regan sees?

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Afternoon sun shines on cattails in the frozen ground. My shadow on the bridge.

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Daffodils are emerging from the leaf litter. Change is upon us.

 

New Year

Each year goes by faster than the one before.  Just like everyone else, I’m finding my way.

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We celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago. I’ve been on this planet for thirty-five years.

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We finally had some snow. I spy Ethan. Do you?

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This is our bedroom window on a cold winter’s morning.

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I’m in awe of the beauty of this planet. And I’m always looking up.

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It’s nearly February and the geese are still beating their wings and honking.

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I’m rewarded with color.

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And beauty.

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And squirrel tracks.

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Each year we reflect. I love what I see.

 

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve. I’m five years old. I’m lying in bed watching the light stream through the vinyl blinds. It’s nighttime but the moon is bright and it’s being reflected off the snow that is blanketing the ground. I’m supposed to be sleeping. I can hear music coming from the other room.

I lift the covers off of me and swing my legs out of bed. I place my feet on the carpet and walk through the dimly lit kitchen and into the living room where I see my mother sitting in the middle of the couch on the very edge of the cushions. On the coffee table in front of her are the two slender red candles we put out weeks before when we were decorating the apartment for Christmas. Tonight, they are lit and I can tell they have been burning for some time because they are half the size they were and there’s wax all over the silver candle holders. It seems like she is waiting for someone. I think it must be Santa.

She tells me to go back to sleep. Santa won’t come if I’m awake. I run back to my room and call for her to tuck me back in but she’s already making her way back to me. She wraps me in blankets and says goodnight.

I toss and turn for what seems like an eternity. I wonder if he will skip my house because I’m still awake. I finally start to doze but then I hear footsteps. I’m lying on my side, my face towards the wall. I hear my door creak open, I see light shine in from the kitchen, I see the shadow of Santa. He tiptoes into my room and as I hold my breath, he places my stocking at the foot of my bed. I want to turn around to see this mysterious person but I know I can’t. I concede to simply watch the shadow on the wall. He retreats.

I gently nudge the stocking with my toes. I hear wrapping paper crinkle inside. I feel as if I just might burst with excitement. I can’t wait to see if he received my letter and brought me the very toys I asked for. I close my eyes and smile. It’s almost Christmas and I almost saw Santa.

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December

Each one of these December mornings I am gently reminded just how many days are left until Christmas.

Today? 4 days!

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Inside, our balsam fir tree is trimmed.

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Outside, it feels more like October.

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There’s time for walks…

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There’s time for practice…

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And there’s always time fore baking…

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These unseasonably clear skies offer us more time outside to enjoy the splendor of December.

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Merry Christmas!

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Today, we celebrate Thomas!

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Today is my husband’s birthday.

We met when I was a freshman in high school. We started living together almost immediately. Thomas and I made a great team back then and now, nineteen birthdays later, we are unstoppable.

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In one of my English classes, we were tasked with writing an essay about an important person in our lives. I wrote about Thomas. I read it aloud and everyone stared. Mr. Loomer said, “Wow, saying one person is your whole life is a big statement.” It was a big statement and it’s still true. Although now, we have a son that shares that spot with him.

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I could go on for days about how amazing he is but instead I will just say Happy Birthday to the funniest, most caring, devoted, and thoughtful husband in the world, who makes me feel adored and as if it’s my birthday every day. Happy Birthday to the greatest, most compassionate, and positive teacher and father to our boy.

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You are my hero and my pillar of strength.

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Thank you for being you.

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Simple recipes with nourishing ingredients.

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