I wonder if anyone else is a little weary of how busy we all seem to be. We’re all stressed, hectic, over scheduled, crazy, don’t know where the time goes….can’t respond to mail, return a call, be civilized. I’m as guilty as the next person, feeling overwhelmed and underfed….
The grace of hard work. Today, at the beautiful High Lawn Farm in Lee, Massachusetts. Good people doing the hard hard work of dairy farming, carrying on the vision of the Wilde family.
The weather, more Cape Breton than Berkshires end of May. A day-old calf, gorgeous Jersey caramel colored and twice as big as his much older neighbors, bucking and raring to go. A heifer being milked by the new automated milker.
Can’t help but wonder if the spectacular surroundings, the continual breezes and Berkshires magic don’t add something extra to the already exceptional milk from these Jerseys.
Drove home drinking High Lawn chocolate milk, ruminating on it all.
Raw, hilarious, excruciatingly piquant stories of relationships lost. Díaz’s prose is so damn alive.
The last story ends with Yunior, Díaz’s alter ego, throwing himself into his work, just trying to move on.
“You bend to the work because it feels like hope, like grace,” he says.
That is all we can do, often as not. Tuck our heads down. Work, hard. And push forward. Or what feels like forward. It is in this pure effort when all seems lost and stripped away that a space for grace may, just may, open.
But there is no formula. We have no control. No checklist of stuff to do in order to get from A to B to C to Grace. Just have got to bow to it.
… before long there will be interviews here with wonderful individuals about the lives they picked– or didn’t– and how they’ve experienced grace in their lives.
On a most gorgeous morning this past week, my job was to harvest rhubarb, the first local (oh so thrilling, after the winter that would not end), from Westendlock Farm. The farm sits on a hilltop with views to the Catskills and is surely among the most lovely in the state. A few fluffy white clouds skipped across a very blue May sky. A sow and her piglets romped across a field. This basket is what I carried out.
Nice work if you can get it, huh? Fingernails stained by quarts of rhubarb juice. Who needs a manicure? xo
PS Find les collines at The Farmer’s Wife in Ancramdale now as well!!
Rhubarb, first fruit of spring, after the hardest of winters (and not quite done yet!) you surely merit a second flavor. And this chock-full preserve lives up to its long name: rhubarb preserve with vanilla bean and Earl Grey.
Inspired by the recipe on the sensible and appealing Food in Jars, the predominant notes are rhubarb, cut chunky, vanilla beans scraped clean, and very strong brewed Earl Grey tea. The tea is a most subtle background note in a complex layering. Whereas that pink jelly below is a bursting zing of rhubarb flavor, this preserve takes a more seductive approach. The rhubarb becomes almost creamy, the tiny vanilla seeds are teensily crunchy, and the tea hovers round. The perfect thing on buttered toast for teatime on a blustery day.
And is that white stuff in the frame outside the window— can it be— yes, several inches of snow that fell overnight, in mid-April (o cruellest month!!), snow which was on top of ice, which was what the windswept rain had turned into when the temperature plummeted during the evening. It changed fast enough so there were areas of ice that were as frozen waves inching across the yard. Amazing. Truly one must have a sense of humor to bear weather in the Northeast.
Like a Highlights challenge, on the upper right side of the frame you can see branches of the prolific though biennially producing crabapple tree that made for so much fine jelly last fall. Dried and frozen fruit still clings, and it fed birds, deer, possum, and any other number of hungry comers through the hard winter. And if you look just to the side of the jar on the lower left you will see Clarence’s head, nose pointed upwind, on early morning woodchuck patrol…
Rhubarb, like you may not know it. A silky flavor-packed cool sweet essence of rhubarb, that stalky fruit we love so well in pie. But this jelly will give that pie a run for its money. And oh, the color! It is a guava pink that fairly sings of coming spring. For though the calendar says we’re two weeks past the Equinox, the weather is just beginning to get with the program. The treacherous six-inch deep ice pack on the northern side of the house has, finally, succumbed: there must be hope….
It’s the time of year when folks escape to warmer climes…but for those of us staying put in the tundra-like Northeast of 2014 there are other strategies to employ. On a very very cold Sunday a few weeks ago, simmering up a big pot of Meyer lemons with plump limes and fresh fragrant rosemary provided the perfect antidote to the threat of two-minute frostbite. The vibrant yellows and greens are a splash of brilliant color in the chill blue light of winter, and the aroma is just, well, heavenly. Thus was born the fourth flavor of les collines, Meyer lemon rosemary.
Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross of either mandarin or regular oranges with lemons. They are slightly rounder (and truly cuter) than regular lemons, with a thinner skin that is a warmer, just slightly orange-tinged shade of yellow and a juice that’s a degree less pucker-inducing.
Of course in these frosty climes the citrus is not locally grown (yet—til we have a greenhouse!) but it is organic—important to me as the entire fruit goes into the pot.
This jelly is very tart with an edge of marmalade-like bittersweetness and a preamble of pure rosemary. My sources say it is a little addictive even on its own…try pairing with mild creamy cheeses, glazing a pork roast or Cornish hens, or drizzling on a grilled or cedar plank salmon. Then close your eyes and you can just about feel the warmth of the sun…
Spotted in a window display at the wonderful Olde Hudson on Warren Street. The place to go in Hudson (the Hudson River town recently received a three-page spread in the New York Times) for the best in everything food, local to imported. Fantastic cheese!!! Stop in and say hello.
So now it is really, really cold outside—like, polarly cold—you will need some extra jelly and preserves to go with that buttered toast, that pork tenderloin, that cheese plate…time to stock up!