food, farming, friends and family: a meditation on chosen simplicity and (in)voluntary complications – life.

Archive for September, 2010

Recycling Seasons



Alright Fall, I’m ready for you.


Good thing, too, because you started days ago. That’s what the calendar says anyway, though the past week has had days showcasing the sunshine of Summer and the cold nights of Winter. My experience with farming has put me more in touch with the cycles of the seasons – and life cycles in general (my own included). I’ve certainly come to see my own life path as more of a spiral than a straight line (and yes, that’s frustrating sometimes). And even the cycles of the seasons (cycles that we’ve attached to calendar dates and almost linearized) seem to spiral in and out of each other.

Because I’m still eating Summer’s raspberries


even as I plan Fall’s batch of sauerkraut.


And our greenhouse might be growing Fall and Winter’s salad greens


but it’s keeping some relics of Summer toasty too.


And several times over this year I’ve stood over a boiling cauldron of water, doing my best to bring the Summer Bounty into Winter with me.


Canned Peaches in a Honey Syrup


* Ripe, Firm Peaches: 5 large peaches is usually enough to fill a quart jar.

Choose “freestone” varieties – they don’t cling to their pits.

* Honey Syrup: Light = 1 1/2 C Honey: 4C Water

Medium = 2C Honey: 4 C Water

(I needed about 1 1/2 – 2 Cups Syrup per Quart)


* Sterilize canning jars and lids and get your canner water heating.

* Prepare the syrup by heating the honey and water together until the honey is dissolved. While it’s heating, start to peel the peaches.

* I used a knife to peel the peaches, but I have seen a couple of websites that recommend doing a quick blanch (30 seconds – 1 minutes) in boiling water and then quickly submerging the peaches in cold water to stop the cooking. Definitely a faster method, though I was a little worried about making the peaches too soft. Doesn’t seem to be a problem, though you should definitely choose firm peaches to begin with.

* Halve the peaches and pack them cavity-side down in hot quart jars.

* Pour hot syrup over the peaches (this helps them not to brown too, so the sooner after you’ve peeled them, the better!) leaving a 1/2 inch of headspace.

* Wipe your jar rims clean, remove all of the air bubbles you can, put on the lids.

* Process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes

(25 minutes for pints).

This is one of the easiest and most delicious canning projects I’ve done. The peaches didn’t get soft in the canning process. The light syrup was plenty sweet – and not too honey-ey – for the peaches (and tastes great on pancakes later: peach-infused syrup!). Planning on a repeat project with pears soon!

Bev Does BHam

Did that all just happen? Time flew by, as it tends to do – especially when you’re having fun, during my mom’s weeklong visit to the great Pacific Northwest. More specifically: YurtTown, USA. In the 5 years I’ve lived in Washington (an anniversary marked in just a few days), my mom has made her way across the country to visit each year and each home – 5 different homes now. In fact, it was 5 years ago that the two of us hopped into Donna-Jo, my old Honda Accord, and road-tripped it out here to move me into my first post-college apartment (4047!) for my first post-college job with EarthCorps.

But that’s ancient history.

This year my mom and I once again made sure to “squeeze the juice out” of our time together. We woke up each morning in the yurt with no agenda, but tons of possibilities. We went on walks and picked the blueberries that would grace our morning pancakes. We met up with friends, some new and some of the 2005 vintage, for delicious dinners and equally delicious conversation. We weeded the garden and entertained the chickens, went to the beach and read Still Life with Woodpecker to each other. We celebrated the coming of Fall without lamenting the passing of Summer.

When I woke up Sunday morning, there was once again the expanse of this ridiculously wide country between the two of us. And while I might have spent some time feeling badly about that, my mom’s reminders to “make lemonade” got me back on track. So happy we got to share time and space together. Till next time.


Horseshoes at Cama Beach.


Pancake breakfast with the last of the season’s blueberries.

Riverside Interpretive Dance.

Playing Catch-Up

A few weeks ago now I went back to Michigan to celebrate the marriage of my oldest friend, Erica, and her partner Greg. Erica and I have known each other for over half of our lives, and it meant so much to be part of such an important event for her and her growing family. The pictures don’t capture the building fun and excitement of the weekend, the beauty of the wedding, the [knees-shaking] toast I gave (aided heavily by Tom Robbins), or the time my mom and Erica’s dad stole the show on the dance-floor when Stayin’ Alive came on. Incredible. Erica, Greg, you two are certainly off to a great start – Congratulations and all the best!

Bridesmaids and the Bride-to-Be

Meet the Morin’s.
Erica, McKenna, and Mario

Cate makes a great wedding date.

Cloudview Revisited

Last weekend Neil, Chris and I crossed over the mountains and over the Columbia to spend time at our old farm and home, Cloudview. This was Chris’ first time there, and, for Neil and I, it had been nearly a year since we last visited. I say I don’t know how I let that much time pass; and in ways I don’t. But a closer look reveals: Life. Work and play and the busyness they add up to. What I take heart in is that no matter how long it has been since I last visited, I am always greeted with a spirit of inclusiveness and an abundance of good people and good food. On top of that, it is inspiring and fulfilling to know that a project I have put so much work and love into continues on – and grows. And thrives.

But thousands of carrots don’t leave you too much time to get sentimental.
So we got our hands dirty and the carrots clean. 


We got to know the faces of the flora and fauna. 

We explored the beauty of the landscape and talked about future projects.

We sold the only products I’ve ever felt happy to market.

And we spent some time taking in the views from our old home.
Ok, so there’s always time to get sentimental – and nostalgic, too. My year at Cloudview was one of the most transformative – and true – experiences of my life. It connected me to people I hold dear and to a community that, even as it grows, still includes me. My trips back are reminders that the values that I started to cultivate there are still resonating both within and outside of me. And while I’m still looking for the project (moreover the opportunity for a lifestyle) that will callus my hands, strengthen my spirit and leave me exhaustedly fulfilled, Cloudview makes me certain that it’s out there – and it’s possible.