I live in Minnesota. You may have gleaned that bit of information from other blog posts on this site by now, but in case you are new here, the land of ten thousand lakes is the place I currently call home. Right now it’s May. A glorious month in a state that has a long winter and a spring that usually gets either a slow start or a false one. That’s what we had this year: a false start of a spring. It was almost 90 degrees for one day in April, with lots of days in the 60s and 70s to boot. Things started growing fast, buds popped out and flowers started hinting at blooming. We rejoiced, threw open the windows, got the boats ready, tilled up the fields….and then it got cold. The starter’s gun fired a second shot. A chilly few weeks of rain punctuated with a few nights in the low 30s made us a little nervous. But we covered things up and life went on, despite the curveball that climate change likes to throw now and then. We toed the line again, and and now it’s 75 degrees, we are running strong and the forecast for the next ten days looks just about perfect. Continue reading “Why to Love May in Minnesota”
I learned how to make bread in a valley nestled between the Red Cloud and Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Two summers spent as an assistant cook at a youth wilderness camp provided ample opportunity to practice combining water, yeast, flour, oil, honey, molasses and a bit of salt. I learned to knead the dough smooth. I learned to form the dough into uniform loaves and how to tell when to take them out of the ovens. For good measure, I learned how to carry 50 pound sacks of whole wheat flour down a narrow staircase and how to keep mice from getting into the storage room. We used a bread recipe that made seven loaves at a time, and I eventually became pretty capable of turning out something edible for the camp guests. There’s not much better than homemade bread to come home to after spending all day on a mountain trail. I remember thinking that the bread we made gave everyone just that much more energy and provided just that much more comfort than something commercial would have been able to. And the kitchen staff had really strong forearms from all that kneading.
After those summers of baking bread everyday for three months straight, you’d think I would have continued the practice. But I didn’t. Instead I went back to college after each summer and baking fell promptly off the radar in the wake of studying, the local pubs and life in a dorm room. Continue reading “Bread”
A lot happens over the course of single season during the life of a garden. By November, the plants that produced all sorts of good things during the summer have become compost, the fields have been tilled under to mark the close of the growing season, and the leaves on the aspen trees have turned from green to gold. Enough food was grown to eat, to preserve and to sell. Abundance sprang from the soil and found its way out into the world. Pounds of produce were harvested and enjoyed.
There were some things that didn’t work, as there always are in farming and gardening. Maybe there wasn’t enough mulch in some places, and the rows ended up being waist high grass by September. Perhaps the raspberries wanted more water than they got, or the cucumber beetles decided to feast on the melons. It’s likely that uses for cucumbers and…
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