Wednesday, September 15, 2010



The farm where we get our raw milk also sells grass-fed beef so we picked up a top round on our last milk run. For whatever reason, cooking roast beef has been intimidating to me but with some advice from Andy I went for it and it came out so yummy. We really bought it for the roast beef sandwich potential but I knew that we were out of mayonnaise which is an essential element. I have wanted to make my own because I am concerned, with store-bought mayo, about the quality of the eggs used - they are are no doubt from factory farmed birds - and the oil used is one I try to avoid. I figured that if I made it at home with pastured eggs and olive oil that it would be a health food. Nutritionally dense, right? Right? But it seemed like it might be a pain in the bum so it never became a top priority. But now I was out of mayo and needing it in a big way to properly appreciate my well cared for roast.

I set to work using Alton Brown's Recipe but instead of doing it in a glass bowl I did it in a jar with the whisk attachment on my immersion blender. It was genius even if I am saying so myself. Next time I'll do it in the wide mouth pint jar - I think that will be perfect. I only had the narrow mouth quart at hand and it worked fine but it was tricky to get the oil to trickle while still whisking continuously.

The all-olive oil option is quite a bit grassier than if you use canola or a mixture. I quite like it though it is a bit different if you are used to store-bought mayo. I heard the recommendation of starting with a small amount of Olive Oil and mostly safflower or canola oil and then slowly work to a higher Olive Oil amount. We tried it with some of the meat and handful of tomatoes in what might be one of the last picnic lunches of the year. Success. I'm pleased to have another pantry staple that feel completely do-able to make on my own but I'm still holding out on Ketchup for now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

letting summer go

the orchard

This summer was difficult. Andy's mom, who had been ill with cancer, was in hospice care and there was lots of travelling back and forth from Massachusetts to Maryland. Sometimes the whole family but mostly Andy going back-and-forth, back-and-forth all summer long. It was difficult for us to find any sort of a workable rhythm and the children were showing the effects of the disruption. There was a lot to deal with both practically and emotionally and it was a challenge to meet everyone's needs. More truthfully, it was a challenge to attempt to meet everyone's needs. In the middle of this we took our family vacation to Cape Cod. The beach usually acts like a salve to help heal us and smooth out the rough bits but after so much upheaval the children were out of sorts and we all just wanted to be at home.

Even though we were graced with beautiful weather we had a bit of a "Summer That Wasn't". There was far to little swimming and picnics and absolutely no camping, canoeing or fishing. We managed to pick strawberries on the last possible day and then just gobbled them up out of hand. We'll have to beg some jam from friends for the winter. The summer just went by too quickly.

Andy's mom passed peacefully in her daughter's home surrounded by family and friends. The beauty of Jewish funeral traditions helped us all to process her death while being supported by friends and family. We miss her so much and often forget that she is not with us in body but only in spirit. I know our sadness is only for us - because we want to spend more time with her, because we wanted another 20 years at least; but she had a beautiful and fulfilled life. She was a hub of community and family, raised two amazing children and was happily married for almost 40 years. She loved and was loved and will be so dearly missed.

I sit here in mid September wondering were my Summer went. Here in New England we really need to make Summer count in a big way if we are going to get through the cold season. I didn't store up enough sunshine this year but I am going to have to make it last. This summer was hard but it was important. It taught us more about love and life and death and family then we knew before. It showed me what an amazing Man, Son, Brother, Husband and Father Andy is and reminded me countless times how proud I am of him and how blessed I am to have him as my partner in life. It brought family closer together and reminded us that a thick slathering of Love helps a lot no matter the problem. And that often Love is all we have to offer and that it is enough.

This was an important summer even if it looked different from most summers and so if there isn't enough jam in the pantry or berries in the freezer we'll deal with in. Right now I am letting Summer go. I've got wool on my needles that is starting to look like a scarf and the wood is stacked. I'm opening my heart to slippers and soup and books by the fire. And tea. I'm going to need a lot of tea.