22 November, 2016  |   1 Comment

Thanksgiving thanks for Tisquantum

This year, we’re going to a pal’s house for Thanksgiving. That’s great because I don’t feel much like cooking this year (even though Thanksgiving is in my top 3 holidays). I had a humdinger of a fall last week and my turkey basting arms are all bruised and sore. This is the first time since we were married that I haven’t made the feast, so I’m really excited to see how someone else does it!

I posted a version of this this back in 2011 – but he seems even more important this year. And Tisquantum’s generousity makes the shame at Standing Rock even more grim.

Tisquantum is the real name of the Pauxet Indian history refers to as Squanto.

Thanks Squanto!

In 1615, Tisquantum had lived happily near Plymouth. As is the white person’s way, they kidnapped him and sold him into slavery in Spain (with 26 other locals). Eventually Tisuqantum escaped to England and went to return home, only to find that smallpox had taken most everyone he knew.

Three years of smallpox had utterly decimated Plymouth’s Indian population.
Tisquantum returns (after being kidnapped and sold into slavery) to devastation.

Six months later, the Pilgrims arrived.
And. Tisquantum. Helps. Them.

Tisquantum was the whole reason the Pilgrims survived their first winter.
Tisquantum was the whole reason the Pilgrims weren’t at war with the local tribes.

For the Pilgrims’ first harvest the 20 acres of corn grew well (the plants they brought from England failed). Thanks to this bounty, they decided to celebrate with a holiday. They even doubled their weekly individual food ration to get a bonus peck of corn along with the previous peck of meal.

This first Thanksgiving lasted three days. Captain Myles Standish paraded his group of soldiers and they tooted their bugles. They played stool ball, a sort of croquet. And best of all, they invited Native Americans to join in the fun. Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags, came with ninety guests. They played sports – and competed in races and athletic competitions.

Eventually things would go sour between the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims, but for now, there were races to run. Deer to eat.

For once in their hardscrabble lives, there was an abundance of food. On the menu was venison, duck, goose, eels, corn bread, leeks, watercress, and greens. Like all good guests should, the Indian braves added five deer to the feast. They rounded out the meal with wild grape wine.

Dessert was wild plums and dried berries, as one would expect.
Grin.

So thanks, Tisquantum, for that help. Without you becoming an advisor to the Pilgrims, without your translating and negotiating, without you there wouldn’t be us. There wouldn’t be this uniquely American holiday rooted in gratitude.

Gratitude that we weren’t sold into slavery,
Gratitude for grocery stores.
Gratitude for decoratively atmospheric fireplaces.
Gratitude for that extra peck of cornmeal.

And especially gratitude for perspective.

21 September, 2016  |   1 Comment

Repost! Wine Wednesday: Wine Cake Recipe

Wine Cake is our town’s go-to fundraiser cake. If you know exactly which women’s auxillary group has it for sale, you could even find it at the Harvest Festival and pet parade.

Thanks to a sticky glaze, Wine Cake is squishy and sweet and super-delicious. We serve it with barely sweetened whipped cream and all the berries.

Wine Cake Recipe


Cake ingredients

1 box yellow cake mix
1 three and a half ounce box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup white wine (I like Sutter Home’s Sauvignon Blanc for cooking)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

Glaze Ingredients
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan or grease and flour one and a half cupcake pans.

Combine the yellow cake mix, box of instant vanilla pudding, white wine, vegetable oil and all four eggs in a large bowl and beat with a well-muscled arm or (my preference) an electric mixer.

Pour the batter into your choice of pan.

If you’re going the Bundt route, put the filled cake pan in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Cupcakes should only take about 20 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the cake is done, make the glaze by stirring the butter with the water, sugar and white wine over medium heat until dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a bubbly boil. Be careful, for it is sugar and can hurt you badly if it spilled on your skin. Remove the danger pot from heat. Set aside.

Remove the cake or cupcakes from the oven and let the pan cool for 10 minutes.

If using the Bundt pan, poke holes in the bottom (top) of the cake. Pour 1/2 of the glaze into and around the holes. Let the cake absorb the glaze. If you’re working with cupcakes, remove all from the pan and set on a tray upside down. Poke holes in the bottom of the cakes and pour the glaze into your holes.

Invert the cake onto a serving dish and drizzle the rest of the glaze on top. You may need to do this in several batches. Serve and await the cheers and happy hollers.

14 September, 2016  |   1 Comment

Repost: Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

  • Seasons, seasons.
    This month seems all about revisiting things after taking a break from them.
    Sometimes the things are relationships, sometimes they’re beliefs, and sometimes they’re hobbies.

I’ve taken a big break from my blog, no surprise. Due to a combination of time and social media and a personal turn to the more private, this seems like the worst, most dangerous hobby in the world. Of course, I miss it.

Lately, due to wonky plug-ins and comments, I’ve had to go back in the archives.
I’m surprised at all the energy and adjectives.
I shared so much.
I’m not much like that anymore.

But all those past, bubbly posts remind me that I’ve shared some useful things. We still eat this soup nearly every other week. In fact, we ate it Monday.

Eat this with grilled cheeses and grapes

When I first made this recipe, we had no kids. I had more energy and adjectives. I shared so much.

Things change. Soup remains.

Now, this minestrone soup recipe is the most effective way I have to cram veggies into the girls. I make it on Sunday, we eat it on Monday. We eat it up and ask for seconds, not realizing the cabbage, greens, beans and lycopene doing their healthfuls.

Minestrone Soup is good for your ass and ass.

Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 pieces raw bacon, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 carrots, peeled, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic
1/2 green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
6 leaves swiss chard, stripped from the stems and sliced into thin ribbons
1 32 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
1 16 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed – we like butter beans
1/4 cup tiny star shaped pasta or 1/3 cup Ditalini pasta.
A block of parmesan cheese and a fine grater

Directions
Chop the onion, celery and carrots fine. You want them small, especially if small mouths are consuming. Mince garlic. Slice the cabbage fine. Remove stems from swiss chard and slice fine. Open the can of tomatoes.

Veggies are ready.

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the chopped bacon and stir until the bacon is cooked through and fat has melted down.

Remove the bacon from the oil to drain on paper towels. Add onions, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the pot.

Stir and cook veggies for 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic, cabbage and kale and stir frequently until mixed through and limp.
Add can of tomatoes, chicken broth and water.

Stir through until everything is mixed. Turn heat to high, bring the soup to a boil and then turn to low and simmer. If I have a random Parmesan cheese rind, this is when I add it. If you have no Parmesan cheese rind, I promise I won’t hold it against you.

After 15 minutes, add the white beans. Cook for another 20 minutes, add the pasta (if you’re using) and cook until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes, depending on the size). Remove bay leaves, taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Leave the bacon out and swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth and you’re looking a little Vegan around the edges.

Serve with sprinkled reserved bacon (this keeps it crunchy) and a healthy scattering of grated Parmesan cheese.
(Sometimes, when lilygilding, I drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.)

We serve this soup with grilled cheese or panini and a chopped antipasti salad. The girls eat it up. Now you can too.

2 September, 2016  |   4 Comments

Missing our Pinot

My dog died. Remember when we got her? Seven million blogging years ago?
We put her to sleep on Sunday. It’s Friday now, seven million grieving days later.
We had her for 13 glorious years. And I walked with her nearly every day of that time.

She had the best sense of humor out of any dog I ever met. I see her everywhere.

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This week has been for quiet time, reflection and surprise tears.

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Friends sent us flowers – what a delightful surprise to be reminded of the community we share.

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I think this experience, more than any other, has brought the contrast of Everyone Deals / But What About My Pain? to the front of my heart. Having a beloved pet die is nearly universal, but the pain, the love and the relationship was unique, only to us.

Nora Lea and Pinot

A lot of acceptance happens in that space between universal experiences had in a way unique only to me. We’re all working through that.