Monday, August 23, 2010
I always seem to get sick this time of year. I told C the other day that I'm constitutionally opposed to the end of summer. And I do mean end. While August may be the height of heat and vacation fun in more salubrious climes, in Maine, if you haven't sweat by mid-July, you may as well give up until next summer (or crank the woodstove mighty high this winter).
As happens every year, my inside organs began scrabbling against my chest wall in panic when I drove past the beaver bog up the road last week and saw the red maples living up to their name, and turning crimson. Though it happens every year, it hits me like the acorn on Chicken Little's noggin and I feel sure they're harbingers of the Apocalypse. I begin grasping around me, trying to scoop up last bits of summer--The beach, the beach, we must go to the beach once more; Lemonade! We haven't drunk enough lemonade!; Popsicles! We forgot to make popsicles!--only it's like trying to carry handfuls of water up the beach to your sandcastle near the dunes...by the time you get there, all that's left are a few salty drops on your damp hands. It usually leads to ill-advised behavior, like marathon water-treading in 60-degree ocean water resulting in near-hypothermia. And it never once has slowed the inevitable march of winter, not by one iota.
I feel the same sense of panic whenever I notice one of my boys is a little taller, or a little smarter or a little more mature. Wait! Wait! I want to cry. We haven't done all the things we were going to do while you were little! I try to put on the brakes long enough to read another picture book, make a silly hat, build a fairy house in the woods. But they ignore my pleas and my mad scrambling to Slow. Down. Time. as resoundingly and heartlessly as the autumn wind does.
I know, as a person who has read more than a few issues of The Sun that life is impermanence and that trying to resist change is the source of suffering. That I should practice non-attachment to things like summer, my children's childhood, my very life. That life is like the beach, where the tide comes in and washes it clean twice each day, and no matter how high up you build your sand castle it too will succumb to the ravages or water and wind.
And that is what is so wonderful about the beach. It is never the same two visits in a row, or even from the moment you plop down your towels and beach chair to the time you scoop all the pails and shovels and sunblock and gritty sandwiches up and drag your damp, salty, exhausted charges back home.
But still, after even the most perfect beach day, I feel a tug of regret...we didn't get there early enough or stay long enough; we never made it to the tidepools; we didn't spend enough time in the water or on the sand; I didn't get to read enough chapters of my beach book. Always, always I feel there could have been more, that I could have tried harder, appreciated it more while it was happening, and now that it's over I've missed my chance.
It's a feeling I imagine I'll still be nursing one day, many years from now, creaking in my rocking chair on the deck, replaying my life (wondering why, oh, why, did I not make photo albums before I had 46 years of digital pictures to sort through with arthritic fingers), watching the leaves fall on a late summer morning.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
A table runner (or dresser skirt, perhaps?) embroidered with poppies and wheat.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
Friday night: Grilled Pizza (dough from an old Martha Stewart magazine--do not try this with no-knead refrigerator dough; it will ooze through the grates and into the fire--and flour, yeast and salt from our pantry) with: a) red sauce (tomatoes from a partially filled bottle of puree in the fridge) and chevre (from a local farm); b) cherry tomatoes (from the farmer's market), garlic and oregano (from our garden) with feta (local farm); and c) blueberry pesto (blueberries from local farm, basil and garlic from our garden, peccarino romano from the fridge and sunflower seeds from the pantry) with chevre. Yum.
Saturday night: Hot dogs for the boys (from the farmer's market, served with leftover from breakfast bread) and grilled eggplant and peppers with leftover feta cheese and flatbread for the Mama (farmer's market). Maine mustard.
After checking of our campsite, we returned to the beach for lunch and saw this amazing teardrop trailer:
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
*By locally-grown, I mean grown/produced in Maine.
So far, things have gone very well. I first tried the local-foods thing three summers ago, and it's gotten easier every year. For one thing, more and more grown in Maine foods have become available and/or I've become better at finding them. For another, I'm getting better at using ingredients at hand and modifying recipes when necessary.
I made this Bolivian corn chowder (from this gorgeous cookbook) for a party a couple of weeks ago:
Almost everything in it (carrots, corn, Swiss chard, potatoes, herbs) was from either our garden or the farmer's market. Even the sunflower oil was grown and processed in Maine (more on oil in a minute). I did used some bottled tomato puree instead of fresh tomatoes, because I happened to have some in the fridge that needed using. Other than that, some paprika, salt and one bullion cube were the only "away" foods (which I had already in the house and didn't buy for this purpose).
One of the side benefits (or challenges) of this project is to use up stored dry goods off the shelves. So far I've emptied:
-a baggie with a few tablespoons of wild rice (added to carrot top soup).
-a bag holding one pound of kidney beans
-a jar of coconut oil (I finally figured out what to do with that stuff which is supposed to be good for you but imparts a strange flavor to foods--use it in granola!)
-a jar of peanut butter (in some not well-received peanut sauce)
-a jar of cashew butter (also used up in the aid of making granola; now I'll have to try tahini)
I've also made a dent in a bag of garbanzo beans, a jar of no-longer-very-poppy popcorn, 25 pounds of brown rice, five pounds of quinoa. I'm eyeing yellow split peas, red lentils and soy beans. Suggestions?
The best part is now I rarely have to go to the Hannaford (i.e. big chain supermarket). All they carry that I can buy is toothpaste, mustard and butter (actually, they have a modest display of local produce that I'm glad to know about, in case I can't make it to the farmer's market some week and really need a yellow squash for some inexplicable reason).
I have had some cheats: lemons (I intentionally went into this planning on buying as many lemons as I want; what's summer without lemons??); sugar (for all that jam); three red onions (I needed them in recipes; really I did!); baking powder (a staple; exempt from all requirements).
The first time we did the 100-mile diet, our Waterloo was oil. After we ran out of both safflower and olive oil, we didn't last long (turns out not everything tastes good fried in butter, much to my surprise). So I was excited to find Maine-grown sunflower and canola oils through my co-op.
Unfortunately, the canola oil (despite coming in the groovy whisky bottle) smells horrible (C and I don't like canola to begin with, and this is very, very, unrefined canola oil). The sunflower oil is nice, and I'm getting less scared of using it (The World Food Cafe actually calls for it in many of their recipes). I think it could be used pretty much anywhere olive oil is used--dressings, low-temp sauteeing, that sort of thing. It is expensive, but so is olive oil (I haven't compared them on an ounce-to-ounce level). We'll see how long we last on the stinky oil once our olive oil can is depleted.
The second year we tried the 100-mile diet, I balked when planning a camping trip. I really, really wanted to just buy easy, packaged foods like granola bars and spaghetti sauce. We're going camping this weekend, so we'll see if I make it through (I'm thinking grilled pizza with blueberry pesto and chevre; local hot dogs and roasted veggies; french toast for breakfast; lots of blueberries for snacks. Sound good?)
I'll let you know how it goes. And part two of this already really long post was supposed to be about solar cooking. We're getting there...figuring out what it can and can't do (pinto beans...amazing! the most fantastic roasted eggplant ever! mushy rice. really, really hard bread. tasty potatoes!). I've gotten C in on the act, which works out great because he often works from home, so he's here during the day to monitor it and rotate it toward the sun.
So that's it for me. Don't forget, it's never too late to make One Small Change!