Quiet

(written last month in the Missouri countryside)

Sitting here on a gently rainy day, I once again contemplate the meadow and the trees beyond it.

I know the rain has stopped for a while, not just because I no longer hear the raindrops on the roof.

Nor because, looking outward, I no longer see the rain coming down.

No, what has broken into my concentration as I study, is the sound of bird calls.

The sky is still full of gray , rolling, puffy clouds.

The sun has not broken through its ten o’clock position to shine on my cabin.

But there is stillness from the rain.

And the intermittent call and quiet of bird conversations.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

Reading for Information, Diversity and Intellectual Fun

I am reading Art and Physics by Leonard Schlain, bit by bit. It always takes me a while to absorb each chapter. When I feel I have given it enough distance in time, I read another chapter. In this way, I have made it about two-thirds of the way through the book over the period of about a year and a half.

I had gotten used to the pace of one artistic period compared to one development in physics when the author suddenly summarized the entire history of music in one chapter and compared it to the developments in physics which had been going on in each historic period of art.

I had to really catch my breath. I had the additional disadvantage of several years of music history in both undergrad and graduate music degrees. I had trouble stuffing all of that into one chapter and then comparing it to new concepts in physics which I was learning about in a little more detail with their artistic comparisons.

Now, several weeks later, I find myself awash with a chapter about literary trends across several centuries, compared to the physics developments presented in more detail with their art history periods.

I enjoy this kind of challenge, even though I read other books for pure entertainment. I intersperse my reading additionally with information I am trying to assimilate in order to start a permaculture farm, or at least a homestead, in our new setting on land in a new climate. I contrast my reading of philosophy and history with forest gardening and biogas systems and rainwater harvesting. And then sometimes I just take a complete break and read sci-fi.

It keeps my mind alert dancing from topic to topic, and in between, in stimulates lots of creative activity in the form of chants, fingerplays and songs for very young children, a new venture in making small-size fiber art, plus an active self-education in canning food.

I spend a lot of time alone this way, thoroughly engaged. When I need more company, I can move myself to an internet cafe. Occasionally, and I would welcome more, I find wonderful and interesting conversation with people who are actively directing their lives. I don’t know whether yet this happens more in large communities or small towns. I think perhaps I am meeting more people in the small towns. I haven’t lived there long enough to tell.

I have added a couple more books to the ones typically stacked up near me, one on cheese-making and one on designing and building a solar house. It will be part of a new and enjoyable exploration.

Oh, and I still have several more chapters of Art and Physics.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

Vulture Haiku(s)

I made a little line drawing of the two vultures sitting in the tops of the dead blackjack trees at the north end of our meadow.  They were there for quite a while.  These haiku resulted.

Feeling the sunlight

Buzzard stretching out his(?) wigs

Now folding them back.

(It is an amazing sight to see a buzzard stretch those large wings and turn back and forth to let the warmth of the sunlight hit them.)

———-

Treetop sentinel

A privilege to see buzzards

So near in the trees.

———–

Fall greens and yellow

Tree trunks becoming clearer

Seen through the forest.

(This one didn’t have anything to do with buzzards. It’s our first fall on the land so we have been watching the transition as the leaves fall and we can see further and further.)

————

Buzzards in the fall

Catching sunlight in tree tops

Black feathers shining.

————

Quietly waiting

Poised to fly gently toward prey

Black magnificence.

————

High in black locust

Dominant over the field

Waiting and watching.

————-

Grooming in a tree

Black specs circling n the sky

At home, both places.

 

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

A Delicious Memory

I served the cheese blintzes I cooked yesterday.  So delicious.  We ate some with a dab of apricot jam and some with fried apple peelings (I am dehydrating apples in the oven).

As is often the case, the taste made me remember where I had first eaten blintzes.  I remember being on the boardwalk at Long Island Sound, New York, at night in the summer visiting my grandparents.

It was a bit chilly for a small Texas girl.  The wooden boards of the walk were set so they came together at an angle in the center of the walk, so skating worked great in one direction.  Going the other way, you just had to skate across the boards, making it rumble and bounce you along.

I ate blintzes and knishes.  Cherry cheese blintzes and peppery onion knishes.  I loved tasting all the flavors and varieties, and my grandparents denied me nothing.

I remember my hair streaming out in back of me as I skated as fast as I could down the middle of the boardwalk.  It went on and on forever.  I was six years old.

Later, as an older teen, I went back and the boardwalk wasn’t so very long at all.

I still enjoyed the blintzes and knishes.

Maybe I will learn to make knishes, too.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

Clabbered Milk and Buttermilk

I made yogurt from raw milk, but did not get to eat it all within my preferred time frame.  As I was looking for recipes, there were several which used buttermilk.  So I made a pancake mix using yogurt, which turned out to be delicious and quite substantial.  I added a choice of apricot jam, apple chutney, peach preserves, or, for a bit of savory, salsa, all homemade.

I had been making yogurt cheese, so I added that to a cheese blintz filling, and used some more yogurt for the second cheese for the filling.

I made crepe batter, for the cheese blintzes, using yogurt instead of the buttermilk.

We will eat those tomorrow.

Finally, I started some more yogurt cheese.  That means I got some cheesecloth and doubled it and filled it with the yogurt and suspended it over a tall container by tying the cheese cloth to a wooden spoon handle.  I laid that across the top of the container so the whey could drain out.  Later, I will chop some onion and add spices for a savory cream cheese.

I think I am all caught up now on the yogurt, and so far, I am pleased with the results of using it like clabbered milk or buttermilk.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

More “Inspired Foods”

In my organic basket, I also received grapes. Additional to the basket, I bulk ordered blackberries and apples. In anticipation of making dehydrated apples, I purchased an apple peeler, corer, slicer. Today, I watched YouTube videos on how it works.

It works like a charm. I peeled, sliced and cored five apples to make blackberry-apple conserve. I have enough blackberries to make two batches and can them. I will make a small batch of grape-apple conserve with the grapes. With two batches using five apples and a third batch using two apples, I will still have lots and lots of apples to dehydrate.

The additional ingredients for the conserve are lemon juice (I used lime juice from the limes which were part of this weeks organic basket), local honey, nuts and raisins. Since there is a preference for dates here, I will substitute dates.

I will can in pints, with what is leftover in half-pints.

As I cook the blackberries and apples down to juice and then a thicker consistency, the bright red color of the blackberries is striking. I am also enjoying the aroma as the fruit flavors combine. It is a sensory delight.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

Kacky Muse “Inspired Foods”

Yesterday and today were cooking days.  I picked up my organic basket from www.BountifulBaskets.org and planned this week’s menu from it.

Using organic canned chicken and broth and broccoli which I canned last year, I chopped up chard, onion, carrots and sauteed them in olive oil.  I cooked roasted brown rice and combined them together.  It made seven pint jars.  I stuffed two bell peppers today with that combination, using up 1 1/2 pint jars.

An organic butternut squash was included in the offering.  I baked it and scooped out the seeds and filled the two halves with apple chutney.  It is flavored with cloves and allspice.  I scraped the rest of the squash and mixed it with more apple chutney and packed it into two more pint jars.  We now have a week’s worth of MRE’s.

I made yogurt a week ago from raw milk and it has continued to ripen without getting soured.  Using four pints, I am letting it drip through cheesecloth to make yogurt Farmer’s Cheese, a cream cheese like consistency, which I will turn into a savory flavor with onions and spices.

Two pints of the same batch of yogurt have been added to a mix of almond meal flour, golden flax seed flour, coconut flour and shredded coconut plus two eggs to make cheesecake muffins.  It tastes delicious with a spoonful of apricot preserves which I canned last year.

It is really fun to invent new combinations of foods with canned and fresh ones.  We are enjoying the variety for our meals now.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage