Wednesday, February 18, 2015


We got another 3 or 4 inches of snow last night, bringing our total to about 9. We forgot to put orange flags out along the driveway, so now we can't exactly find the edges of our drive. A neighbor offered to plow it, but it's gravel – so that doesn't work so well.

Tonight's low is expected to be -8 and tomorrow, -12. Rotary is cancelled for tomorrow and so we have decided to just stay in and hibernate. Plenty of pork in the freezer; we won't starve. Plenty of firewood stacked on the back porch; we won't freeze. Plenty of books to read; we won't get bored.

We are stranded, but happily so.

Maybe when it warms up on Friday, I can take the red ribbons off my valentine tree. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dreaming of Spring

Spend the day thumbing through seed catalogs, dreaming of beets, beans, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, fennel, kale, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, shallots, spinach, squash, tomatoes and turnips...

...and blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries and strawberries.

And then there is basil, chives, cilantro, dill, lavender, lemon grass, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme.

So excited....

Sunday, February 15, 2015

All Puffed Up

Made a Grand Marnier soufflé with créme anglaise sauce for our day-late Valentine's dinner. As I pulled it from the oven, it was beautifully golden and all puffed up – as was my ego! Nothing like this gorgeous dessert to make a girl feel like a professional baker -- and hopefully make Ed feel like the special guy I think he is.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Walter White Lives On at Farm Dover

The kids got Ed and me hooked on the TV series Breaking Bad, which is the story of a chemistry teacher (Walter White) diagnosed with a terminal lung cancer, who teams up with a former student to cook and sell crystal meth. Last summer, we watched all 62 episodes over a period of a couple of months. It kept us on the edge of our seats and when it was over, we were exhausted.

Spoiler alert: In the final episode Walter White dies. But, I'm happy to report that he lives on at Farm Dover. I selected the portrait of Walter White to frame from the paintings that Jack did and gave me for my birthday.

I hung it today in our loft. (There it will stay unless Mary talks me into sending it to her for her Brooklyn apartment.)

On a lighter note, I also framed the painting of the bird and bug. It makes me smile every time I see it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Being open to happiness

This poem about coconuts and happiness popped up in my in-box this week. It comes from a blog called Eat this Poem which explores "how poetry moves from page to plate, and inspires our palates along the way."

The poem's title caught my eye because Ed and I just came from a place where coconuts grow on trees and young men shimmy up to twist off the fruit and machete chop the stem so that a straw can be inserted, offering coconut juice to thirsty travellers.

The poem is about a particular coconut discovered by a small boy in the fruit section of a grocery store:

and this was happiness
this little ball

But his dad, who had other things on his mind, wasn't open to happiness at that particular moment. He wasn't ready.

and because I wasn't
happy I said
to put it back
because I didn't want it
because we didn't need it

Happiness can come at any moment, so we had better be ready, says the writer of the blog. 

Are you ready? Are you open to happiness? 


by Paul Hostovsky

Bear with me I
want to tell you
something about
it's hard to get at
but the thing is
I wasn't looking
I was looking
somewhere else
when my son found it
in the fruit section
and came running
holding it out
in his small hands
asking me what
it was and could we
keep it it only
cost 99 cents
hairy and brown
hard as a rock
and something swishing
around inside
and what on earth
and where on earth
and this was happiness
this little ball
of interest beating
inside his chest
this interestedness
beaming out
from his face pleading
and because I wasn't
happy I said
to put it back
because I didn't want it
because we didn't need it
and because he was happy
he started to cry
right there in aisle
five so when we got it home we
put it in the middle
of the kitchen table
and sat on either
side of it and began
to consider how
to get inside of it

From Bending the Notes (Main Street Rag, 2008)


While we were in Thailand, I ordered Tom Kah – coconut soup – whenever it was on the menu. I couldn't get enough of it. On our last day, we stopped by a market and I bought the essential ingredients: lemongrass, galangal root, thai chilies, and kaffir lime leaves, tucking them away in my suitcase. 

Once home, I found this recipe and this recipe and combined them to make a Farm Dover version of Thai Coconut Soup. 

And in that bowl of silky, aromatic soup, I found happiness.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Plates

As we were helping my dad dismantle the home that he and my mom had shared for years, we were pretty successful about finding good homes for the beautiful antiques that my parents had collected over the years. In the end, there were just some odds and ends left and sister Sherry arranged for someone to come in and haul the rest away, allowing Dad to move, unencumbered to his new apartment.

Among the items still left was Mom's good china, which had no sentimental value to any of us since, to our knowledge, she never used it. When no one spoke up for it, I brought it home and put it in my basement, hoping someday one of my children might want it. 

A couple of weeks ago, my niece, Amy, called and asked if she might use it until someone else wanted it. I was delighted that it would be used and enjoyed. I brought the box upstairs and opened it. Mom's china is very simple, very pretty – just a creamy white plate with a wide teal band and a silver edge. As I pulled out the plates, I felt a sudden connection to Mom and I called Amy and asked if I could wait a couple of weeks before delivering the box of china to her. I wanted to use it when my sisters come to Farm Dover for a birthday lunch on Feb. 20. I thought they too might appreciate the connection to Mom.

I set my table with it last night and posted a photo to my instagram account. Daughter Maggie saw it and called to say that she would love to use it once she and Nate complete some renovation projects on their home. 

So I'm going to use it for a romantic valentine dinner with Ed and for sister Kathy's birthday party. Then it will go to Amy to enjoy for a time, then eventually on to Maggie. 

I'm hoping Maggie will use it for as long as she enjoys it and then offer it to her siblings or one of her cousins, who will use it for a while, and then send it to its next intended destination. 

I'd like to think that Mom would be happy that we are enjoying her china and have found a way to form a sisterhood around it. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

When One Door Closes...

Two years ago I gave up gluten. I did it in hopes of alleviating my achy-breaky joints that make me creak around like an old women in the morning. It helped. A lot. So, I've kept at it and it has gotten easier and easier. I no longer crave glutenous french bread, or brownies, or chocolate chip cookies. (Actually, that is not entirely true. I do occasionally crave chocolate chip cookie dough; I just don't act on it.)

In my mind, the door on wheat flour is slammed shut. I'm okay with that. But when that door closed, another two opened. Going gluten-free has opened a new way of thinking about what I put in my body and how it makes me feel. It has also greatly expanded the foods I'm willing to get to know and experiment with.

The shelf in my pantry that used to hold two kinds of flour (all-purpose white and whole wheat) has exploded. It now holds buckwheat, white sweet sorghum, almond, brown rice, oat, teff, tapioca, white rice, and garbanzo bean flour, as well as an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. (Note, if you wanted to try to go gluten-free you could get started with just the all-purpose gluten-free flour.)

The next shelf up, holds new grains including buckwheat groats, millet, quinoa, tapioca, three kinds of corn meal and seven different rices.

The one up from that holds an assortment of nuts and seeds, many that I never considered stocking on a regular basis: pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia seeds, raw cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts.

I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to try. This week I ran across one entitled: The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread. I was intrigued. I was doubly intrigued when I realized that my pantry already held all but one ingredient: Psyllium Seed Husk, which is often used in gluten-free baking to hold ingredients together. I picked up a bottle at Kroger and I was all set to experiment.

Yesterday, I baked a loaf. I'm not sure I would agree that it is life changing, but I will say that it is quite nice to have a slice toasted and slathered in butter and honey. In fact, it is far nicer than a piece of store-bought bread that I suspect would now taste to me like cardboard. I'm not even sure that I would call this bread,  I think nut-and-seed cake does it more justice.

I'm going to try to freeze some slices so that next time Ed has a piece of toast with his poached egg, I can have one too. Who knows, he might even choose my toast over his wheatberry sliced bread from Kroger.


Ed likes to remind me of this cartoon from The New Yorker, April 25, 2014:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Unpacking my Bag, Part 3

I do hope you are not getting tired of seeing what is in my carry-on bag. I'm enjoying showing my treasures to you. Fear not, this is my last post in this series.

Item #4: Pottery
I have a weakness for pottery from faraway places. Some of my favorite souvenirs from our travels are a vase from the oldest Polish settlement in Ontario, a pitcher from a topferie (pottery shop) along the roadside that follows Germany's Moselle River and one from a hilltop town in France's Dordogne region, rooster plates from Greece, and coasters from a tiny shop in Paris' Marais neighborhood. So Ed was getting worried when I kept pointing out the large ceramic urns that I saw at nearly every house along the floating market canal in Thailand. They are enormous, designed to hold rainwater, the cleanest water the residents have access to. I could just see his mind working to figure out how to tell me that "no," "absolutely not," "no way" were we going to try to bring one of those back to Farm Dover. I didn't ask.

Instead, I found a lovely (small) dish at a pottery workshop in Chaing Mai. It is a piece of Celadon stoneware, known for its green glaze. Most of the pieces in the workshop were large and ornate with hand painted details that, while lovely, did not really appeal to me. Then I saw this simple one and knew that it would be at home at Farm Dover. (And I found the wooden spoon at a local market; the perfect addition to my collection.)

Item #5: Salt
Just ask my friend Walt how much I love seeking out salt from places we visit. Whenever I find an unusual salt, I double my purchase; one for me and one for him and Lynn. So, as we were traveling to the floating market on the last day of our travels, we passed acres and acres of salt fields. Our guide explained that the salt water was pumped in from the Gulf of Thailand and three grades of salt were produced, the nicest being from the top layer – its flakes used as a finishing salt. I begged our guide to stop and see if I could purchase some. He did, and I did. The only problem was the only size that I could purchase was 2 kilograms (or about five pounds). That is a lot of salt. 

I packed it in my suitcase and swore to the customs agent that I was not bringing in any illegal substances. As our bags came off the carousel,  a cute little puppy was sniffing each bag -- then I realized that the person holding the leash was a U.S. Customs official. The bag of salt looked remarkably like what I think a bag of cocaine might look like and I didn't really want to try to explain that all I was bringing in was sodium chloride.  So, I made my way to the other side and snagged my bag before the puppy could sniff it. 

And finally, Item #7: Original Artwork

I celebrated my birthday in Cambodia and when Jack asked me what I wanted, I answered that I wanted one of his original pieces of artwork. While living in Shenzhen, he's been painting with Chinese brushes and ink and I admire the creativity that starts in his brain and comes off the end of his brush. He brought me a whole canister filled with his art. I'm trying to decide which one to frame first. 

I've been looking at these since I got home and think I've narrowed it down to these two:

The portrait is of Breaking Bad  character Walter White. And I love the bird trying to catch the bee. What do you think? Which one should I chose? Just think what these could be worth when he is a famous artist. But to me, they will always be priceless!

And now my bag is empty.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

In the Mighty Jungle

I know I was supposed to finish unpacking my carry-on with you today, but instead, I bring you some more elephant photos. One of the best things about having your son ride on the elephant behind you is that you get sent some terrific photos. These arrived in my inbox today.

Thank you Jack. What great memories we share....