Monday, July 22, 2013

Purple and Blueberries

Blue and purple are the inspiring garden colors of the moment with echinacea, globe thistle, bee balm, and agastache attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

I made this quick blueberry jam yesterday, enough for three random jars for the fridge and freezer. It's too hot to can. The blueberries came from bushes planted for community use at our new high school.


I used the recipe from Fine Cooking's latest magazine. It required no pectin, and I had everything I needed: only blueberries, sugar and lemon.

It was delicious on my favorite oatmeal pancakes. The recipe is an old one from Orangette. The only trick is remembering to soak the oats in buttermilk the night before you plan to make them.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Escaping into Nature

There was a long feature article in the New York Times today discussing the way Goldman Sachs and their ilk manipulate the aluminum market  in a legal way under the rules of the self governed London Commodities Market. In a ridiculous repetitive dance they move 1500 lb bars back and forth from warehouse to warehouse to increase their profits from storage fees. An astute commenter from Oklahoma had much the same reaction as I had:

"Well, isn't this special. We need new ideas, new forms of energy, innovative ways to bring medical
costs down, and industries that don't ruin the environment. And the best Goldman can do is to
shuffle aluminum from warehouse to warehouse. No wonder America is going under.
The only innovation is in corporate greed."

According to a Florida jury of 6 women, it's OK to shoot a 17-year-old black child after following and stalking him if you've decided he might be a danger. Never mind that the police have told you not to engage him. Never mind that he was unarmed and minding his business.

When everything seems to be awry, it's necessary to get away from the greed and ugliness of this country and out into nature. We escaped to the woods where humans are small and mountains are big. We looked at natural wonders that are virtually unchanged since Thoreau saw them more that 150 years ago. For the moment one can believe that nature is more powerful than greed, and drilling technology and rampant pollution

In Franconia, NH it appeared for a moment that water is an eternal force strong enough to smooth and shape the hardest stone, and that the life force of trees can enable them to defy gravity and split rocks to survive. We were only passing creatures leaving a small footprint.

It is so much easier for me to disengage from the ugly media assault when I'm on vacation. Why can't I do it at home? Is it worth the disgust and disappointment of the news to be an informed citizen?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

And Now... Raspberry Jelly

So 3 lbs of raspberries has become (with 4 cups sugar and a lemon's worth of lemon juice) 9 jars of delicious sweet jelly. They posed before the still producing bushes.

Our CSA share is going strong. This was last week's bounty.

It provided just the right items for very hot, humid week when I didn't want to cook. There's a nice garden salad with lettuce, carrots and peas. I made a delicious fava bean spread. It was perfect on the bread that Doug brought home from a North End bakery.

I love the hugging carrots.

And even more impressive: a carrot braid. It's a shame to disentangle and eat these.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Raspberry Harvest

It's a banner year for raspberries. I wish I knew what makes one year a bust and the next a blowout. We're picking more in a day this year than we did in the entire season last year. Perhaps it was the relatively cool, wet spring. All the plants seem to have a profusion of flowers. Perhaps it's a good year for pollinators. Although I've been hearing a lot about colony collapse affecting honey bees, in my garden there were some along with many bumble bees and tiny varieties. They were buzzing busily around the peas, the apple tree, the ornamental flowers, and the raspberries. But even if I knew the answer, many of these things are not under my control.

All I can do is get out there and pick before the birds, bugs and other creatures take too many. The past few days I've been heading out multiple times: at dawn before the birds get busy, in the mid-afternoon when it appears the berries are ripening before my very eyes, and sometimes right before dinner to put a few berries on the our plates. Each time some of the most perfect berries go into the freezer so we'll be able to put them in smoothies and baking long after the plants stop producing. Perhaps I'll try making some jam.

Sometimes I have a helper.

She has an interesting old manicure.

I would have taken a photo of my breakfast: oatmeal pancakes topped with raspberries, blueberries and banana, but it looked so delicious that I had to eat it right away.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Wonderful Friends Remembering Ross


 We've just gotten back from the annual Ross party in honor of Ross Getchell, a fraternity brother of Doug's who died of brain cancer in 2001. After a few sad reunions, the fraternity brothers and other close friends decided to create an annual celebration of Ross and friendship. It's still going 11 years later. Most of the credit goes to our wonderful hosts Paul and Kristen who open their home every year for dozens of people over a couple days. 

Paul and Kristen don't get nearly enough appreciation for their hospitality.

Many guests bring salads, bagels, chips and snacks of all sorts year after year. Kristen manages all the meals and makes her terrific gazpacho. Abbe's giant cookies are a BIG hit too.


The beautiful thing about this type of event is that the adults get to see and catch up with friends who knew them back when. Everyone can let loose, listen to music they still love, and let the cares of adulthood fade away for a few days. Such relaxation can lead to long, deep conversation and wild dancing!

There's live music.The band that comes each year with a set of musicians that vary just a bit, is headed by a guy who led a band the brothers used to go see in college. This year Gwen returned. She can channel Janis Joplin. And when the band does "City of New Orleans," everyone sings along.


Over all these years we've also watched everyone's children grow up. They've been friends for years. Now they can put up the tents themselves. They cherish seeing each other each year. The photos of  Renee and P are from 2009 and this year.

It's always a weekend of crazy fun whatever the weather. Some years it's been horribly hot and humid, some years (like this one), it rains buckets. And occasionally, the weather is perfect. But even when it rains there's fun in clearing water from the tent and jumping in puddles.

 The Ross weekend also makes for great family time.


The Ross Party is one of the definite highlights of our year... every year. And each year it gets more and more special. Not only do we get to hang out with a group of smart, generous, kind people, but our memories and care of each other grow and grow. Ross has created a great legacy full of smiles, laughter and love.