Family Centered Kitchen

It is well

It’s raining today.  And the weather forecast is for a week of rain.  But it is warm, thanks be to God.

Our neighbours’ daffodils are rising through the mud, and the willows have sprouted catkins.  Spring is here!  We’ve seen lots of big, fat robins and a flight of eagles passed the house yesterday.  We’re glad they didn’t stop to snack on our chickies, who have begun laying again.

The fact that there is a sudden increase in eggs must be responsible for my inspiration to make Dutch Baby for breakfast.  Three pans.  Nearly wiped out.  I’ll have to devise a plan for when the littler boys start eating like their Pa and big brother, Jack.  Or when I have hungry sons-in-law to breakfast.

In any case, it is something comforting to enjoy.  It’s a dish that feels like a hug.  Just the thing on a rainy Monday after a weekend of… well…

Our weekend was somewhat dramatic.  I cancelled a much-anticipated trip to a conference of wonderful women in Boston.  It makes me sad.  But I know that there will be other opportunities to meet them all.  Oh, how I pray there will be. Because I was so sorely disappointed.

We thought that there was going to be a problem with some of our new goats coming to the farm.  And while we were trying to work out what really was happening, we were also scrambling to come up with a Plan B.  Sleep was lost, gray hairs were created.  And all for nought.  Because, in our very human way, we forgot to remember that God has all in hand.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” – St. Julian of Norwich

And then the telephone rang this morning.  It was the APR office wanting to set up our initial inspection, and to clear up some details about our final plans.  I became totally flustered.  I was sure I was going to say something stupid.  But Brian was right there and assured me that I was being stupid about sounding stupid.  And that I just need to relax.  Because I do.

And this weekend was also filled with good things.  Hopeful things.  Productive things.

Brian met with our new pastor on Friday (watch for Brian’s post).  We will be serving two beautiful parishes – St. Mary and Sacred Heart.  It represents quite a change for us, coming from such a large parish.  But one that we welcome with arms wide open.  The rest of us are looking forward to meeting Father David, and our new Church family this coming weekend.

Yesterday, we worked together on our plans for the alfalfa fields, and on the pastures.  How many tons of lime we need to spread this year for the fields to be ready for seed next year.  And how much diatomaceous earth to put on the pastures, and which herbs to include in our pasture mix for healthy, happy goats and sheep.  Inquiries have been made and answered about pigs, and turkeys, and tractors, and post-hole diggers and…  Things are beginning to come together.

We’ve been searching for a large RV to camp out in while restorations and other preparations are being made to the farm.  This appears to be the time of year to be looking.  Hopefully, we’ll find one that will sleep all of us.  And God willing, the temperatures will stay mild.  Wish us luck.

And soon it will be time to give away those things we no longer need, and to move our remaining belongings to storage so that we can clean up and rent out our little house.  Poor, sweet domicile…  It has sheltered us faithfully for a decade.  Seen the birth of 5 children.  And it will, we hope, bless a new (and much smaller!) family.

Such a mix of sadness and joy, wistfulness and anticipation.  We are off to new adventures.  And not everything is clear.  We worry and fret, though we try to remember that we are in His hands.  He wishes only good for us.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Perhaps another small sliver of left-over eggy, apply goodness?  No, I think I’ll just share with you my recipe.  And take myself out for a walk in this glorious rain.

Dutch Baby

8 eggs
1.5 c. flour
1.5 c. milk
1 tsp salt
½ c. butter
4 medium apples, thinly sliced
½ c. sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place two large baking dishes (glass/Pyrex) in oven with ½ stick butter in each. Beat eggs, flour, milk and salt together for 1 minute (some folks like to use a blender for this part). When the butter is completely melted and HOT, add equal amounts of batter to each dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Combine cinnamon and sugar, set aside. Divide the apples evenly between both dishes, sprinkle on cinnamon sugar and bake for and additional 10-15 minutes.

Serves 6-8 people.





Comfort and Joy

Mother Nature played quite a joke on us today.  She sent us several inches of new snow.  While the children were out taking advantage of what (we hope) will be the last snow of the season, I made a nice, big pan of macaroni cheese and worked on my crocheted cowl.

It nearly always takes a while for spring to warm up here in Massachusetts.  So I figured I would get a lot of wear – possibly 9 whole months – out of knitted and crocheted cowls.  They’ll be especially handy for early morning and evening milkings.  I really don’t like my neck to be cold.  And I have an awful lot of extra skeins hanging about just waiting to be used up.  This one is a soy/wool blend in a colour called “African Violets”, which I frogged from a nearly completed sleep sack.  Somehow, it got buried at the bottom of one of my workbaskets and little Jo outgrew it before it could be used…

Just look at these happy faces::

Joséphine - 5 months old tomorrow




All rosy from making snowballs outside, and ready to partake in one of our favourite Lenten Friday meals.  I share the recipe with you, below.  I hope you’ll love it, too::

Macaroni and Cheese

4T butter

2T oil

2 shallots, minced

1 tsp garlic, minced

4T flour

1 tsp dried ground mustard seed

4 c. warm milk

2 c. white cheddar, shredded (reserve ½ c)

8 oz. cream cheese, cubed

½ c. Swiss cheese, shredded

½ c. light cream

2 lb macaroni, cooked

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Sauté shallot and garlic in butter.  Combine flour, salt pepper, and mustard, and add to pan.  Cook for approximately 2 minutes.  Slowly add warm milk while stirring constantly.  When the sauce begins to thicken, add cheeses, one at a time, stirring until completely melted.  Finish sauce by adding light cream.  Sauce should be very liquid.

Stir sauce into macaroni and let sit 5 minutes.  Pour into a large casserole that has been oiled.  Top with remaining cheese or bread crumbs.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Serves a family of 10.

James recommends an accompaniment of salade mixte. But perhaps you would prefer yours on a separate plate…

Colour Me Happy

I’ve found a new food love.


Oh, they are exquisite.  I had heard of them, even seen them in the store, but have never tried one.  I brought home a little jewel box of them for the family to try.  Generally, we are adventurous eaters.  We enjoy trying unusual foods – particularly those that can be found in the produce department of our local grocery.  Andrew Zimmern would be so proud.

Sunday night, to accompany Brian’s homemade chicken quesadillas, I offered each to eat of those glowing egg-shaped baubles of citrus-y glory.

Did you know that you are supposed to eat them skin and all?  And it makes all the difference in the world.  The bitter sweetness of the rind is followed by an eruption of sourness from the flesh.  As you feast upon this ellipse of pure sunshine, the sweet perfume of the peel completely envelopes your senses, swirling around and around, growing sweeter all the time.


I am being romantic about it.  As I said, I am totally in love. Consider all of the possibilities:: pickling, candying, slicing onto salads or desserts, making a marmalade from. I weep to think that they are only available for such a short time each year.

There are other opinions, however.  Most of the family were rather nonplussed by the kumquat experience.  But Sophie said that they taste like having a nightmare.

That simply leaves more for me to enjoy.


Days to Remember

Brian arrived safely home on Saturday afternoon.  After meeting him at the terminal, we  made our way out to dinner at one of our favourite restaurants.  Being a Saturday evening, the lobby was teeming with humanity.  The wait was long, and it was loud, and the warmth was frequently penetrated by arctic blasts from the front doors as more diners arrived.

We sat and chatted, trying to keep the children distracted until our table was prepared.

Suddenly I became aware of someone standing on the periphery of our little family circle.  I looked up to see a face I knew well.  A face I hadn’t seen in several years.”Mary!”, I exclaimed.  We embraced each other and the years melted away.  We had an opportunity to catch up with each other – talking about our children, and life in general.  It’s hard to express what a joy it was.  An unexpected blessing.  Those are always the best, aren’t they?  Like a splash of colour in a dreary landscape.

The same kind of magic held the children spellbound in the presence of their Papa.  He becomes the point of colour in their scene.  And  it produces a day or two of blissful harmony in our home.  A warm glow of contentedness.  They wait to be read to, cuddled, petted, told stories of Papa’s week, shown photographs.  Their world is once again in order, the stars and planets set into proper motion again.

The sun shone all day yesterday, made all the brighter by the snow outside the door.  These are just the sorts of days that invite us to pick up a book and get lost in the story, or in beautiful pictures, curled up together in the sofa or seated companionably at the table.  They are days filled with beautiful music, and domestic hum.  Days filled with wood fires and cocoa, stories and naps.  They are days filled with the soft colour of love.  The kinds of days that will be remembered to our grandchildren.

And just maybe they’ll sit in the winter sunlight and share a book that was enjoyed by parent and grandparent before them.

Family Centered Friday

Something new for our family.  I have loved participating in Amanda’s {this moment}, so much so that I found I wanted to share more.  I will continue to participate in Amanda’s weekly offering of special memories.  In addition to sharing a special moment (or moments) from the previous week, I’d like to also share our plans for the weekend, or the coming week. It’s evolving.  Once I’ve got it all worked out, maybe you’ll want to share your Family Centered Friday thoughts with us and our readers, too.  For now, here are a couple of pictures from our week::


Josie gets a smooch from big brother Louis.

This weekend Brian and I will be attending the NOFA Mass Winter Conference for a little inspiration as we wait for the State to issue their final approval on the farm.  And there is sure to be LOTS of time spent in the newly fallen snow in the yard – snowfamilies, forts, and who-knows-what other creations.  And playing in the snow always means hot cocoa on the stove.  Here’s our recipe::

  • 1 c. good quality cocoa powder
  • 2 c. organic sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 c. boiling water
  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • Combine cocoa powder, sugar and salt and pour into a very large heavy-bottomed pot.  Add boiling water and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time.  Heat through, add vanilla.  Serve in special mugs and pass the marshmallows!

**you can substitute orange or mint extracts, or drop in a cinnamon stick for a change of flavour.  Or add a little peppermint schnapps or coffee liqueur for a grown-up treat!**

Have a beautiful weekend with your precious family!

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