Swallow Nothing But Light

20140701-212743-77263684.jpgThe other night, I went for a walk that was one tenth of one mile. I heard a small baby crying. I heard a plane fly by overhead. I heard my daughter singing while my husband played guitar. I heard sprinklers sprinkling. I walked down the block and back in my slippers under a perfect crescent moon, slung low on the horizon while bees made their way to the honeysuckle and mock orange blossoms in our backyard before the trip back home. . . where ever that may be for them.

Home.

Yesterday, I woke up early and went for a run under clear blue skies with views of snow-capped mountains and mirror-like water out on the strait. I went for a run. . . no pain, no issues, no drama for the first time in nearly two months. Abby slept until almost 10 am, as she’s been doing for the last week or so.

20140701-213221-77541983.jpgWe headed to the lake for a midday splash with dear friends, and a stop at the local soft-serve dive. We arrived home at the heat of the day. I just let her lounge about watching movies and Phineas and Ferb for the better part of the afternoon.
Why?
Because we could.

After a summer of un-chosen service away from home last year, I’m finding even the most simple bits of a summer on our beloved peninsula full of gold. They say heaven can’t exist without hell, that goodness can’t be known without badness.
Yin.
Yang.
I say that beauty exists always, but is more simply appreciated in contrast to a dark or difficult backdrop.

I’ve missed two summers here at home (Tom’s brain tumor, and last summer) out of twelve. Missing them makes LIVING it now all the more precious. I’m happy to be a yes-mom, to buy the ice cream, to let her watch one more show, to blast the Katie Perry in the car on the way to 4-H, to allow an extra (virgin!) Rhubarb Sky just before bed, to stay quiet when I notice she’s still reading at nearly 11pm.

I have been picking and eating the raspberries directly off the bush as they ripen. I berry-stain my shirt from the haste of gobbling them down before they break apart right there between my fingers. All warm and ripe with immediacy.

The urgency of last summer is deeply contrasted for me by the languid savoring of this summer. Each day is a gift, no matter the circumstances or time of year of other easy distractions. But these summer days of 2014? GIFTS (all caps) because I am feeling each bit in it’s entirety.

I am devouring the light right now and it is good.
Lip smacking, juice-down-the-chin, last bit of a s’more GOOD.

 

 

 

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Fire-Crackers:: Easy kid project for iced graham crackers

20140701-164119-60079388.jpgI went for a walk while Tom was mowing which left Abby and a buddy in the kitchen on their own. By the time I got home, they were knee deep into creating a popup business on our sidewalk selling iced graham crackers.

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Here’s the gist of what they did.

MAKE YOUR OWN FIRE-CRACKERS

1. Make your favorite icing. (The girls told me they did about 2 cups powdered sugar to 3 tbs water to start).
2. Take some out and color it blue. Do another cup of red.
3. Dip half a graham cracker into the white.
4. Drip a tiny drop of blue or red in the middle of the white.
5. Drag a toothpick from the center out to the edge of the white and repeat.

20140701-164121-60081555.jpgAfter a while, they got a little bored of taking their time and started making them much faster, experimenting with color and method along the way.

20140701-164120-60080918.jpgI did this one very carefully and we all loved how much it looked like the fireworks that are so festively blowing up all over this place this time of year.

That’s it! The girls sold a dozen of these and likely ate that many too. I was pretty proud of their entrepreneurship, motivation and creativity.
Abby used A Beautiful Mess’ photo editing app right on my iPhone to make that first image and asked me to post it to facebook to advertise their sale.

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Foodie Friday:: Greens Soups

Long time farm member, Jess texted me earlier this week (we’re high-tech like that!) and shared this lettuce soup recipe. She added a bit more butter than it calls for. It reminded me of a greens soup I shared years ago and unearthed for y’all.
And, upon further digging, it seems I’ve shared this EXACT recipe before! Seems all of the good ideas have been done already. ;)

Lettuce Soup from Epicurous
1 cup chopped onions, scallions, and/or shallots
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup diced (1/3 inch) peeled potato
8 cups coarsely chopped lettuce leaves including ribs (3/4 lb)
3 cups water

Cook onion mixture and garlic in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add coriander, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in potato, lettuce, and water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potato is very tender, about 10 minutes.

Purée soup in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) and transfer to a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Bring soup to a simmer, then whisk in remaining tablespoon butter and salt and pepper to taste.

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Foodie Friday:: Salad

Salad happens EVERY day at Chez Sanford.

Salad happens EVERY day at Chez Sanford.

Happy Solstice, everyone! Here’s hoping the longest day of the year (tomorrow!) involves cooking and or eating outside, berries from the farmers’ market or your garden and a giantSalt Creek Salad to enjoy with friends and family. About once a week we have “GIANT SALAD” always written on the weekly Sanford Family Menu in all caps. We make a salad bar of sorts on our kitchen counter and we all build our own salad as the entire meal. I know you all know how to build a salad, but sometimes seeing someone else’s mix and match ideas can inspire a little creativity and maybe get you out of the salad rut you might find yourself in (I know *I* often just throw the greens on the table with nothing else and we just munch right out of the bag!). If you have a favorite dressing or topping, let us know on the facebook page. It could use a boost of farm member energy. And, if you feel like checking out a link, go HERE for a salad chart from O magazine.

Giant Salad Mix and Match Inspiration

Greens. This could be your salad mix, but also could be that head of cabbage or bok choi waiting in your crisper too.
Protein Ideas:
Cheese Cubes, left over turkey/chicken/beef/pork from last night’s dinner, hard cooked eggs, nuts (I esp. like cashews), cottage cheese, cooked beans, bacon crumbles, salami strips, feta, sesame seeds, canned fish, shrimp, tofu or tempeh chunks,

Extra Veggie Ideas:
thinly sliced radishes, grated carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes (I saw some at the P.A. farmers market!!!), summer squash, brocoli, celery, corn, peas, cucumbers, mushrooms, avocado, roasted beets (when those start coming in the shares, I roast a handful of them at once, peel, chop and store in the fridge for just this purpose).
Fruit ideas
berries, apple chunks, dried fruit (raisins, craisins, chopped apricots etc), frozen fruit (blueberries from last year, strawberry chunks, or even mango. . . they sell it at Costco in the freezer section). grapes, pears, mandarin orange chunks, pineapple
Other Mix-in ideas
Granola, croutons, crunched up tortilla chips, capers, olives, artichoke hearts, banana peppers or jalapenos!

1 oz garlic scapes
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c white wine vinegar (I use balsamic)
T heaping with honey
T dijon mustard
1/4 t salt
pepper

Throw it all in a food processor and puree until smooth. If I want something thicker for a dip, I’ll add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of mayo.

Bok Choi Salad:

Whisk together 4 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon toasted-sesame oil, and 3/4 teaspoon sugar in a bowl.  Toss in 5 cups sliced, raw bok choi (any type; about 1.5 pounds).  Top with 2 Tablespoons chopped cashews.  Serves 4.

From Martha Stewart Living Magazine, July 2009

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I’ve Already Blown My Summer Wad

This is the second day of summer (the days she’d normally be in school are how I count it) and I’ve officially blown my uber-mommy wad. I’m done.
Here’s a short list of what we’ve done since Friday:

Set up a grow your own crystal experiment.
Done three candy experiments from the book.
Made t-shirt bracelets.
Sleepover.
Archery.
Tried out the playground at her new school.
Let her make breakfast with zero help from me.
Made a master summer schedule so she knows when she’s going to each camp/activity/class in the next 11 weeks.
Made cheat sheets for what to eat for lunch and breakfast.
Refused t.v. and videogames for 2 days.
Waited through the “what can I do?” “what would YOU do?” pleas and stoically pointed at the “BORED” sign on the fridge.
Took her grocery shopping so there’s food in the house she wants.
Ice Cream.
Helped her plant her sprouted garden starts.
Got out the facepaint.
Quietly put a book in her reach without her noticing and fist-pumped when I found her immersed in it 10 minutes later.
Quietly put a pencil down next to her as she perused the summer “homework” packet her teacher gave to her. Fist-pumped again when I found her filling it in.
Printed out a coloring contest entry form and “accidentally” left it out on the table with colored pencils.
Shoved her out the door because it’s sunny, damn it.
Ignored it when she took pretzels upstairs.
Ignored it when she begged me for another playdate.
Ignored it when she went back for another popsicle.
Ignored it when she asked me AGAIN for another playdate.
Noticed that she just went back for more of that book.

All of the over the top projects are done for the summer and now she’s on her own to fend for herself with red popsicles, scooby doo episodes and Katy Perry songs.

Phew. It’s good to get over the hump early. It’s all corn dogs from here on out.  I’mma be over here with a beer at 4pm every day until September.

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Foodie Friday:: Radishes and Scapes!

Welp, it’s another radish flurry. If you’ve been a farm member for a while, you already know that I have a nasty secret (well, it’s not such a secret anymore since I keep dishing it to you!): I really don’t like radishes! I know! Blasphemy! But, I’ve been training myself to use them more and to eat them like they do in France: dipped in butter, then sprinkled with salt. Not bad! Below is a link to a radish pickle recipe that is also a tasty way to eat up these early season beauties.
Also, those green curlicues in your share are called garlic scapes. Our farmers call them “Garlic Winkies”, but I’m pretty sure that’s specific to Salt Creek Farm only. ;)
Use them in place of garlic in your stirfries, soups etc. Or, make a pesto with them!

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Foodie Friday:: Udon Soup with Bok Choi

This recipe is an amalgam of about three different soup recipes I found when I went searching for some way to use up my chicken, bok choi, udon noodles, limes and stock. This would be lovely on a cold evening that needs warming, but was also quite welcome on a recent hot night that demanded very little time in the kitchen and certainly no oven blazing. Homemade stock is always the best choice, but the organic boxes of the stuff from your grocery store will suffice in a pinch. If you don’t have bok choi on hand, spinach, chard or kale substitute nicely. If you are a mushroom fan, add in a cup of button and shitake mushrooms to round out the flavor. This soup is also happily finished with a poached egg per serving, but I didn’t have time for that business. If you don’t have or eat chicken, some tofu, tempeh or any protein would substitute well here. Enjoy!

Farm Style Udon Soup with Bok Choi and Chicken or Tofu

8 cups chicken stock
2 whole star anise
1 stick cinnamon

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 cube of fresh ginger (peeled 1″ square piece)
2-4 crushed cloves of garlic
3-4 tablespoons soy sauce or fish sauce or combo of both
1 lime zest and then in wedges for squeezing
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced (or tofu or other protein)
1 bunch bok choy leaves, sliced into ribbons, stems chopped into bite sized pieces
6 oz cooked Udon Noodles (I had one packet left from a previous recipe. More noodles would be welcome if you have them).
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp Garlic Chili Sauce (found in the Asian food section of most markets. I like to frequent McPhee’s grocery in Port Angeles for needed world market ingredients)

Optional: 1 cup mushrooms (button and or shitake with the stems removed) and one poached egg per serving

In a 4-6 quart saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add star anise and cinnamon and simmer for 5-10 minutes to infuse the flavor while getting the rest together.

In a separate pan, bring sesame oil to a shimmer. Add ginger and garlic and swirl around until aromatic, but not burned (about 2 minutes). Add soy sauce, lime zest and then add chicken and cook over med-low until almost done. Add bok choi and mushrooms (if using) and sauté until greens are wilted and mushrooms are soft (only takes a few minutes).

Remove star anise and cinnamon with a slotted spoon, then add chicken mixture to stock mixture. Bring back to a simmer, then add noodles and continue simmering for a few minutes, or until all of the flavors are mingled well.  If you can fish out the ginger chunk, do that now. If you are poaching eggs, this is when you would slip them into the soup. Add more soy and or/fish sauce and lime juice to taste.
Serve into bowls with green onions and chili sauce on top to taste with one egg for each serving.

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