All posts by Jodi

Blessed wife and mother of an amazing kid. Combining my two favorite hobbies of baking and writing in one place.

Strawberry Season

Strawberry season for us in New England is a few weeks away.

There really is something about sitting in a field full of strawberry plants, the sun shining down on your face, the birds singing and the smell of life in the air.

I’ve always loved quiet moments, those moments you smile to yourself because you just know they’re special. Like when the sun shines down at a certain angle and you swear you see angels coming down from heaven.

Or when you smell lilacs in the air or when you hear waves lapping on the shore, those simple pleasures in life that so many of us take for granted.

Do me a favor and go strawberry picking this year. Go when there’s not a lot of people, when your family will have a row to yourselves. Sit or squat down among the berries. Feel the warmth of the sun and listen to the birds up above, watch the wind blow the leaves all around and pick those bright red juicy strawberries.

Maybe try one of these recipes with your bounty:

Strawberry Skillet Cake

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry Lemonade

French Strawberry Cake

Jodi xo

 

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Days of May

May brings morning rain on rosa multiflora.

And morning light on made beds.

May brings awakening wild food.

And blooming forest floors.

The colorful copper birch leaves emerge.

Violets come into view.

May is when we gather the petals.

Simple syrup will sweeten drinks for weeks to come.

May brings soft breezes through open windows.

And May brings wishes.

Happy May!

 

Mother

We all have or have had one. The woman who gave birth to us and/or took care of us, whether we appreciate her or resent her, she helped us grow into the people we are today, good or bad.

I hope that you are in contact with your mother if you can be. I hope you have put aside squabbles and have forgiven her for what she should or shouldn’t have done according to your own standards.

Mothers don’t have all the answers, I know because I am one. I do the best I can do, as did my mother. Even at the age of 33, I still held onto resentment for my mother and then she suddenly died. I felt so much guilt about it. But that is life. We need someone to blame for our misgivings and mothers are perfect targets. I am okay with being that target for my own child. And I’m sure my mother was okay with it too.

When I was a kid, my mom was the best friend type of mom, but I didn’t want her to be my best friend. She wanted to be the cool mom, but I didn’t think she was cool.

Now, I want to call her and tell her about my day. I want to make her feel loved and happy and full of pride for what she accomplished in life. But I can’t. Because she’s gone.

If your mom is alive, call her. If your mom is down the road, go visit her.

Mother’s Day. It’s a good day to forgive.

 

 

 

Summer In Gilmanton

Bike tires on dirt roads

The wind whipping past my ears

Listening for frogs

Jumping in the babbling brooks along the way

To The Farm

Red Barn, yellow house

Tall grass in need of mowing

Steps made out of granite, framed by Brown-eyed Susans

Two old rocking chairs adorn the porch, strewn with fire wood and kindling

A black cast-iron wood-burning stove in the kitchen

Window above the sink

A view of the clothes line, yellowing pillow cases waving in the warm breeze

Floorboards creak, rugs heavy with dirt

Deserted rooms

Outside, crumbling rock walls section off meadows

Meadows dotted with tiny yellow and orange hawkweed flowers

Sheep to sheer and hay to haul

Wood to chop and birds to watch

This is summer in Gilmanton

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.

 

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.