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Seattle Fling 2011

Garden bloggers meet in Seattle in 2011

Cooking Lessons Over the Years

Rory in 2009 cooking lesson over the years

As a liberated  woman I have made sure that my grandsons have had a few cooking lessons over the years. Rory was 13 when this photo was taken, but it is not his first lesson. Perfect scrambled eggs was probably an early lesson, but by 2009 he had moved along to the perfect omlette.

Rory with Saumon en papillote 2010

Saumon en papillote, a Julia Child recipe, amazingly simple, but a dish with dash, has become Rory’s specialite.

Rory’s pickles for the Heath Fair 2010

I cannot begin to tell you how many blue ribbons this family has won at the Heath Fair in August.

Rory and more pickles for the 2011 Heath Fair

We made a lot more things for the Fair than pickles. Cookies are also always on the list.

Rory with cookies 2012

I told you he made cookies!

Rory making real caramel corn 2013

Making real caramel is quite an operation, but he is up to it.  When we are cooking for the Heath Fair, the rule is that  I can instruct and advise, but I cannot touch anything. That rule has carried over into all our lessons.

Tynan making cookies 2008

Rory’s younger brother followed in his brother’s footsteps.

Tynan kneading his bread 2009

I bake a lot of bread. It is fun to do. I tell all the children that they have to think about all the people who will enjoy their cooking while they work. That love gets cooked right into the dish.

Tynan with his raspberry jam. 2010

If you have a raspberry patch, you must make raspberry jam, and Tynan did.

Tynan at the Art Garden in 2011

I know Tynan did some baking every year, but there does not seem to be a photographic record. However, creativity comes in all forms – many of them are found at the Art Garden in Shelburne Falls.

Drew and Anthony 2009

Because Anthony and his younger brother Drew live in Texas we got them both at the same time in the summer. Less cooking, more field work like picking raspberries.

Anthony and Drew at the Hawley kiln 2011

Of course, we take all the boys touring locally at historic sites like the Hawley kiln, and art sites like MassMoCa. There is lots to do at the End of the Road and all around western Massachusetts. I think these boys have gotten fewer cooking lessons, but they are Boy Scouts. They need to cook around the campfire.

Bella and French toast in 2013

The boys are getting ‘old.’ They’ve got jobs and less time for cooking lessons and frolicking. Fortunately, we have Bella, a great-granddaughter, who has moved close enough to start her cooking lessons.

Sometimes You Have to Show Off on Wordless Wednesday

Rory and The Major in 2008

Sometimes you have to show off your pleasure and delight. Wordless Wednesday is the perfect opportunity. Grandson Rory has been visiting. He may be taller and have new skills – driving!

Rory and The Major July 2013

But the general attitude doesn’t change at all. Pretty nice gate, don’t you think?

For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Work Crew for The Annual Rose Viewing Arrives

Husband Henry, granddaughter Tracy and daughter Diane

A sizeable  work crew showed up to help prepare for the Annual Rose Viewing,  but it was impossible to get a photo of them all  working together. Diane directed the weeding of the Peony Bed that was in great need. Henry took direction as well as the girls. Eveyone felt the 90 degree heat.

Granddaughters and sister, Caitlin and Tricia

Granddaughters Caitlin and Tricia couldn’t even spare time to look up from their labors.

Great granddaughters Lola and Bella

I directed the shed clean up. Lola and Bella were ready to take up this job. Collecting all the nursery pots and categorizing them.

I’ve never seen pots so well categorized. By size.

Cake in the Cottage Ornee

Time to catch some breezes, and celebrate in the Cottage Ornee. Lola was 4 in May,  and Diane will be ? in two weeks. Cake and birthday books! The Little Yellow Trolley Car by Marie Bartlett and All Creatures Great and Small by Ashley Bryan for Lola. The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman for Diane. Diane’s book has three wonderful sisters in it, and Lola’s books include local history and the beauty of our world.

Passionate Nymph’s Thigh

And the roses continue to open. Peonies, too. All is nearly ready for the Annual Rose Viewing on Sunday, June 30, 1-4 pm.

 

W is for Water – and Dr. Betsy

Betsy on her 50th birthday

W 1s for Water, and for Dr. Betsy our fourth child, second daughter, and Queen of Water. That actually isn’t her title, which I don’t remember, but she has been working for the Mass Water Resources  Authority for a number of years, as the scientist on the staff, although she also has administrative duties.  Why is it we parents never understand our children’s jobs anymore?

Anyway just in time for her 50th birthday celebration, she has been given a promotion and will now not only be responsible for clean water quality in Boston and environs, she will be responsible for waste water. In and out, you might say. Congratulations, Betsy.

After reading Who Really Killed Cock Robin by Jean Craighead George when she was in 6th grade she decided she would be an environmentalist. Certainly there is nothing more basic to our environmental health than clean water.  I don’t know when she really became interested in water, but when she was in the Peace Corps in Kenya (1987-1989) she was given the job of helping a mountain village get water into the village. Up to that time women had to collect and carry water from a mile away. At her birthday party her sister asked how she knew how to do things like lay a gravity feed water line and build a huge water tank. She said, “I read a book.”  Music to a librarian mother’s ears.

When she returned to the United States, she went back to Clark University where she earned her PhD in Microbiology. Her dissertation was titled  Microbiological Pretreatment of Industrial Wastewater. One of the other mothers at the graduation ceremony said Betsy’s dissertation was the only one with a title that she could understand. I understood generally, not specifically. I kept asking what she had the microbes do? She said she trained the microbes to eat the hazardous waste in the water. Do I understand how you train a microbe? No. Surely there are no whips and chairs that small.

She then served as a Congressional Fellow for Representative Edward Markey (now trying for Senator) but eventually found her way to the MWRA and I think even Sheryl Sandberg would agree she is leaning in.

All the other women in the family

Of course, Betsy is not the only skilled, talented, energetic, forward thinking woman in the family. We all gathered to help celebrate Betsy’s birthday. We drank a lot of water. Other stuff, too.

To see what else begins w ith W click here.

K is for Kids on the A to Z Challenge

Rory with wormfood

K is for Kids at the End of  the Road Farm. There are always projects and chores. Rory is collecting food for the worms.  He and his cousins built our worm bin for vermicomposting, and have helped keep the worms fed when they are here. We’ve had the worms for five years now.

Ryan horseback riding lesson

Sometimes we have special events like riding lesssons at Birch Glen Stables. All the boys got lessons, and most of them were enjoyed.  I like getting their rotted manure for the vegetable garden. Horses have all kinds of value.

Tynan mowing. Chores can be fun.

There are chores, too, of  course. Fortunately, getting to run the equipment is fun. So far.

Rory and a loving goat

Our neighbor has goats and  sometimes the boys get to feed them at milking time. We love homemade goat cheese.

 

Anthony and Drew in the berry patch

Raspberries and Blueberries to pick.

Bella, Lola and The Major

Now we are looking forward to getting the GREAT Granddaughters into the garden and everywhere. They used to live in Florida, but now they live near!

I do have four  granddaughters including the mother of the two great-granddaughters, and the younger  girls now 26, 22 and 18, but their years at the End of the Road were pre-digital photos.

To see what else begins with K click here.

 

What is Winter For?

Grandson Rory sledding

Winter is for time with 16 year old grandson Rory. And sledding. And bowling. And movies. And philosophical, economic and history conversations. Whew!

Rory downhill

Time to come in

For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Celebration Season – Eat Your Heart Out

Heath Gourmet Club

Celebration Season this year has been quite lengthy. We had one rowdy family Christmas on December 22, but then a quiet adult Christmas  on December 25 with only one child and his lady, and a dear friend who always joins us for Christmas dinner. On December 29 the Heath Gourmet Club celebrated Christmas with a theme of Looks Like a Wreath to Me! Nearly every course was wreath-like. My savarin pans came in handy for the main course which was grape leaf covered rice and beef, with roasted cauliflower in the center and braised kale with colorful dice peppers surrounding it. My Green celebration bread was a big hit. Gourmet Club has been serving ourselves for over 31 years! Wonderful food with never a single failure, and friendship.

Wreath de Noel

The finale was not a Buche de Noel but a Wreath de Noel with lots of fabulous chocolate ganache, pistachio marzipan (home made) and topped off with a fondant ribbon.

Grand and great-granchildren

Yesterday, we drove throught the nearly 20 inches of snow that the last two days have brought for a final family Christmas. The eating continued with some of the Butternut Squash soup I made for Gourmet Club, and delicious pumpkin pie. The children all agreed that pumpkin is a vegetable and they were very happy to eat their vegetables.  It is impossible to get all the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren together anytime except in the summer, but we had a very nice showing. They even stopped moving long enough for a posed photo.

Son, grandson and great granddaughters

There were a few quiet moments. Reading Aloud. Lola, the youngest, got a new copy of Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library. Happy reading. Happy day. Happy family. And a happy new year beginning tomorrow

What Comes After Thanksgiving? The First Snow

The Major and Rory

Thanksgiving Day dawned mild and sunny.  There was little left to do in the morning at daughter Betsy’s house so there was time for a stroll and for The Major and grandson Rory to have a tete a tete.

Thanksgiving crowd

Things got a lot busier at daughter Diane’s house, especially in the Thanksgiving kitchen. Cooks and kibbitzers gathered near the stove to be there when the turkey came out of the oven.

The Thanksgiving table

It is impossible to get everyone in the frame at the Thanksgiving table but all 15 of us were there. We couldn’t reach the Texas branch of the family who were in Pittsburg (?) with the Lawn family but a toast was drunk to family and friends, near and far.

Lawn Bed

Post Thanksgiving weather was cold, breezy and raw. This morning we woke to snow. The flurries are slight, the air is still, and the temeprature is up to 32 degrees, but the ground is covered.

Japanese lantern

We are poised for a peaceful moment, but time does not stand still.

Christmas wreath

The Christmas wreath is hung and the dance towards Christmas has begun. The halls must be decked, the oven fired up and beds prepared for guests.

Mr and Mrs Vegetable – Garlic Heads?

Mr and Mrs Vegetable

When we finished the remodel of our kitchen a few months ago I took Mr and Mrs Vegetable out  of the drawer where they have been living for the past two decades. I remember these from my childhood when  they hung on the kitchen wall in  New York when I was about five (1945) and then in the farm kitchen in Charlotte, Vermont. My brothers and I found them in a big storage closet  along with our childhood Christmas ornaments after my mother died in  1990. We split up the ornaments, but neither of my brothers wanted Mr and Mrs Vegetable so there was no bickering when I happily took them away.

However I never put them up on the wall until now. Now my kitchen wall is worthy of these wonderful ‘sculptures.’  My husband and I have taken to greeting each other with open arms when he arrives home at night. Somehow, after some months, this still makes us laugh. Two silly people. What can we do?

Mrs Vegetable up close

This morning as my husband prepared his morning coffee he gazed at Mrs Vegetable and said her head, and Mr Vegetable’s head, and declard they were garlic bulbs. Garlic bulbs? I don’t know if any American housewife c. 1945 even knew what a garlic bulb looked like.

Garlic Bulb from our garden

All the other vegetables that make up their bodies are easily recognizeable: potatoes, tomato, carrots, lettuce, peas, green pepper and beans. I never gave it much thought but always assumed the heads were some kind of turnip. We disagreed, but by the time he left for  work I was coming around to his way of thinking, and he was coming around to my way. What do we do now?

Do you have vegetable sculpture in your kitchen or dining room?

 

Heath Fair 2012

Heath Fair Quilt

For the first time in seven years weather at the Heath Fair was just right. Not too hot. Not too cool. Not too breezy. Just right. It seems all the world thought the day was just right, too. I don’t know how many records were broken for number of attendees or business for the various vendors, but I can tell you that when I arrived Sunday afternoon to take my turn at the new Authors Tent, set up by Jack Estes and Betsy Kovacs of Pleasure Boat Studio, I was told there was no room to park. Workers were scurrying to create a new parking area at the far end of the Fairgrounds, but they let me park ‘illegally’ so I could arrive on time to read from my book The Roses at the End of the Road.

The Friends of the Heath Library book sale broke records, for book sales and raffle sales. We have to thank all those who donate books and prizes because they are loyal supporters of the Heath Library who understand how important the children’s programming and book collection is, while also appreciating the necessity for good Internet access. The Friends of the Library support both.

Mother Earth

When I saw Mother Earth being dressed in a beflowered and beleafed gown and readied for the Fair Parade I was sure I was seeing another record being made – for the largest puppet ever to appear at the Fair. This twelve and a half foot figure was designed by Larry Sampson, one of our newer Heath residents, whose day job is designing and building sets for movies and whatever dramatic project calls on his skills. The puppet was built by Sampson with the help of the Lyra Johnson and the children’s summer reading program, and dressed by Kara Leistyna, our Town Coordinator, who is also known for her talents as a seamstress. This was the largest dress she has ever made, with the biggest hoop skirt in Fair history.

I am sure all kinds of other records were being set by exhibitors. I know the excitement when a child wins his first blue ribbon for a piece of art, or for her squash. I know the laughter of my daughters who participated in their first skillet toss. No blue ribbons expected or needed for that competition.

The theme of the parade this year was Right to Farm. Now when you enter town on either Route 8A or Avery Brook Road  you are greeted by a Right to Farm Community sign. Heath does not have the dairy farms that it once did, but there is a beef farm, blueberry farms, maple farms and bio fuel farms. Sunflowers! Some energetic gardeners are selling their surplus asparagus and eggs and etcetera from a roadside stand. Some have even been known to sell perfect produce to local restaurants. Farming is not done on the scale as in years of yore, but our whole society is now thinking of the value of small local farms and how they can be an important part of our food security.

Ostensibly there is a lot of competition at the Fair, but while competing in the friendliest possible way there are lessons to be learned,  rules to be followed, and new opportunities to be discovered.

My garlic is on the plate

This year I entered garlic for the first time. Inspired and tutored by Rol Hesselbart, Heath’s garlic king and the man who gave me my first seed garlic two years ago, I searched the Fair premium book for the garlic category. It was not there. All I could do was enter my garlic under Vegetables – Other.

How to do it? All the other vegetable categories explain how to display your veggie – two squash or ten green beans or five onions. Uniformity is always key to winning a prize, and following directions like “stems must be on fruits and vegetables.”  Surely that didn’t mean the whole garlic stem which is about two feet long.

With no direction, I finally decided I would clean five of my most uniformly sized dried garlic bulbs, trim the roots, and trim the stems to about two inches. They looked very much like some of the onion exhibits.

When I brought my entries in on Thursday night another garlic entry was already there, but with no direction, this entry was a little bundle of garlic bulbs with long stems. How were these to be compared?

In the end, neither one of us won first prize. That honor went to Doug Mason who made a whole big bouquet of garlic bulbs, with long stems beautifully bound. Well!

The judges do the best they can, but they had no direction either. There was clearly a problem. More people in town are growing garlic and more people may very well want to compete for the blue ribbon next year.  The upshot is that by the time the Fair had closed we garlic gardeners learned that not only would there be a separate category for garlic next year, there will also be a special Hesselbart prize. Does that mean a blue ribbon might carry more than a $3 premium?  We can only wait and see. ###

Between the Rows –  August 25-2012

Composting and Recycling at the Heath Fair

We try to make the Heath Fair as environmentally sound as possible.