Monday, December 20, 2021

Return of the Light

May you find peace in the promise of the solstice night,
that each day forward is blessed with more light.

12.19.21 @ 7:49 in the morning

That the cycle of nature, unbroken and true
Brings faith to your soul and well-being to you.

12.12.21 @ 5:33 in the evening

Rejoice in the darkness, in the silence find rest,
And may the days that follow be abundantly blessed.

12.20.21 @ 7:59 in the morning

(author unknown)

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Tornado Destruction Becomes Intensely Personal

"That snapshot looks like it could have come from one of our Christmases," was Jack's first reaction when I showed our kids the photo that Ed found in our fields yesterday. It was of two young girls, with hair that looks red -- much like Maggie's and Mary's. The younger child is holding a bell -- much like the one that hung on the Bailey's tree in "It's a Wonderful Life."  

When Ed picked up the photo, it was wet, but perfectly intact. We wondered where it came from. Then, I remembered that friend Ellen had found an old photo of a young woman this past weekend while on her daily photo excursions in The Parklands of Floyds Fork.

That evening, she posted the photo to a Facebook page created to reunite found items from the tornado with the owner (or family): Quad State Tornado Found Items. Within half an hour, she had a response from Haley Burton: "My Nana." 

Haley's Nana, Judy Miller, and grandfather, Billy Miller, both died in the tornado. Seven others have found photos that belonged to the Millers. There was a story about it in yesterday's Washington Post. Ellen is quoted, "I hated the universe and loved the universe with such intensity. I hated what had happened. I just loved that we could get something back to these families." 

Taking a page from Ellen's book, I posted our found photo to the same Facebook site. And within minutes, I got a message from Rachel in Madisonville. "That picture is of me and my sister. I'm on the right." She continued: "My parents lost their house (in Princeton, KY) and my dad lost his life. I would be grateful if you can send the photo to me." 

I had no words. It floored me to realize that a paper photo could survive -- and turn up 160 miles away -- but a house and a dad were lost forever.  When asked what I could do for Rachel and her family, she simply said: "Just pray for my mom." I am, and I hope you, my readers, will too. 

I've come to find out that Rachel's mom is in critical condition at Vanderbilt Hospital. There is a Go Fund Me page set up to help Rachel's family. I've made a contribution and hope you will consider making one as well. 

I can't help but think about Clarence from "It's a Wonderful Life" who comforts a deeply depressed George Bailey with a little secret: "Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel just got his wings." My wish for all who have lost so much: may you find peace and comfort in the days ahead.


Update to post: A news station in Nashville broadcast this story about Rachel's family. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Making a Better Bitters

Last December, Friend Alisa gave me a small book that she suspected I would like. I do, very much. Called Blotto Botany, written and illustrated by Spencre L.R. McGowan, it offers lessons in making cordials and other plant magic. Between its covers, there are dozens of recipes for cordials, and chapters on producing shrubs, bitters, and herbal medicinal remedies. 

Taking a page out of this book, I recently bottled up my latest foraging experiment: bitters. (And no, for the record, I did not get blotto.)

After researching bitters and how to use them – both in cocktails and as a digestive aid – I set out to create my own version using burdock root from our fields, berries from our spice berry bushes and fennel seed from my herb garden. Loosely based on this recipe from David Lebowitz, I added orange peel, a cinnamon stick and gentian root. I covered the ingredients in Everclear alcohol and waited three weeks, shaking the jar daily. Then, I transferred the finished tincture to small eyedropper bottles. 

Sunday evening, Ed and I did a taste test between our homemade bitters and two others that we just happen to have in our liquor cabinet: Fee Brothers Orange Bitters and the classic Angostura Aromatic Bitters. Not to brag, but we were both impressed by how well the Farm Dover version stood up to these industry standards. Ours tasted like tropical oranges with spicy overtones. The Fee Brothers was much more floral; the Angostura, more herbal. 

According to this article in Wine Magazine, you can think of bitters as the salt and pepper of a cocktail. One or two dashes can drastically change the flavor profile of a drink. Something magical happens when you add bitters to a Manhattan, Martini, Old Fashioned, Negroni (or any number of other cocktails): the nuances of flavor bloom and the cocktail tastes slightly drier, more balanced, and complex. 

You can also use bitters as a digestive aid, letting a few drops sit on your tongue before or immediately after a meal to improve gallbladder and liver functions. Alternatively, a dropper full can be added to sparkling water for a barely alcoholic beverage.

Whether we end up using our bitters to augment the flavor of our favorite cocktails or simply for their health benefits, it was easy to make our own version. Cheers to a delicious cocktail and to good health!