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What the World Might be Like


It’s felt like rain for days now, the air warm and thick, but nothing. We sure could use a few bucketfuls to fall from the darkening clouds, the autumn carrots especially. Hoses have been put away at this point, so those little guys are on their own. Maybe today is their day.

I reposted my about page, you can check that out here if you're new to this blog and have wondered who's behind this thing. About pages are a tedious, naval-gazing thing to write, which is why I haven’t replaced the outdated one I took down two years ago. Until now. I tried to be brief yet thoughtful. I hope it is helpful to new folks arriving here.

A few weeks ago I made a batch of oatmeal cookies for company and I think I accidentally used garam masala instead of my usual pumpkin pie spice (this might be why my husband keeps asking me to label our spice jars). Also used dried cranberries because I had no raisins, that part I’m certain of. The spice mix-up though? I’m not positive I did so, but pretty sure. If I’m correct in recollection, those oatmeal cranberry garam masala cookies were the most incredibly flavored cookie we’ve ever tasted. You can’t beat the aromatics of garam masala. If I’m wrong though, because I was distracted while baking alongside a houseful of company, then I have no idea what I did and make no promises. But it’s something to think about if you’re feeling brave and experimental with your baking this autumn.


Sometime in mid-summer I noticed our cilantro was desperate to bolt, and per usual, tomatoes were nowhere near ready for harvest. This is an annual occurrence, an area of my life where I do not seem to live and learn. I think the pinnacle of life as a gardener will be remembering to succession plant our cilantro. Then I’ll be living the dream. For now though, I experimented with harvesting that cilantro, covering it with a measured amount of apple cider vinegar, and froze it for September salsa making. But when it was finally time to make our first round of salsa, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t use the frozen goods. Sure, I’ll be practical and use it up with our second or third batch, but for the first go I just wanted to get my hands on some fresh cilantro. So I went to the coop and sure enough, fresh looking bouquets of the herb awaited, grown by farmers much smarter than me. I grabbed a big bunch, some raw milk, and a case of jars, then headed to the register. Put my wares down and as I was cashing out, Brian, the farmer who grew the cilantro, came up behind me with his own purchase: one big bag of tortilla chips. That was it. I found such humor in the serendipitous moment of me trucking to the coop for cilantro to make salsa, and the farmer himself next in line, looking to purchase nothing but the perfect salsa delivery vehicle. I love moments like this. On my way out the door there was a stack of Rebecca Solnit’s, A Paradise Built in Hell, free for the taking. It’s been on my TBR list for ages, so I gratefully tossed a copy into my bag. Then I went home and made salsa with Brian's cilantro, pondering what the world might be like if everyone could purchase groceries with their farmer standing in line beside them.

One More Use for All Those Tomatoes


Picked another bushel and a half of tomatoes on Saturday, which puts us at a grand seasonal total of more than we can count. I aspire to keep better track of these things, but so far it hasn’t been my way. I do keep general garden notes and maps from season to season, but weighing each little thing? Not so much. I did weigh potatoes this year though and so far (few more rows to dig), we’re over 300 pounds. We like to share potatoes.

Those tomatoes though. we’ve dehydrated a bunch already, eaten plenty fresh, made tomato pies, tomato sandwiches, tomato omelettes, tomato salads, gifted pounds and pounds, and have frozen gallon upon gallon for a big sauce making day coming up soon. Have to time that right so we do it before temps dip and we lose our basil. Made one batch of salsa, too. More of that to come.

Playing around in the kitchen a few weeks ago yielded yet another use for tomatoes, a quick sauce of sorts, served with pan-fried white fish that we keep stocked in the freezer as part of our annual fish share (think of it as a CSA with an Alaskan fisherman instead of a farmer). I made the dish again over the weekend and paid careful attention so I could share the details with you. If you too are experiencing that very good September problem of tomatoes covering every surface in your home, you can at least put a few to use in this recipe. That's the key though, it's got to be fresh tomatoes. From your garden or another local garden, it just won't be the same otherwise.


This recipe looks simple, and it is, but packs incredible flavor due to cooking technique and fresh in season ingredients. Reminds me of rustic Mediterranean cookery. 


Pan-Seared Cod with Fresh Skillet Tomato Sauce 

Have ingredients chopped and ready to go before you begin, this comes together quickly. 

1 1/4 lb cod fillet (or other white fish - ours comes in one large fillet that I cut into portions prior to cooking)
1 good sized onion (or a few small ones), sliced thinly into half rounds
4-6 cloves garlic, minced 
6 tbsp butter
4 cups diced ripe fresh tomatoes, remove pulp and seeds before dicing
2-3 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp dried oregano or twice that if using fresh
handful of fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper


  1. In large stainless steel skillet (don't use cast iron with tomatoes, it can alter the flavor), sauté onions in 3 tbsp butter over medium heat for several minutes, until soft and tender. Add fresh garlic, cook for another minute.
  2. Add tomatoes, season with a good pinch of salt and pepper, honey to taste, and oregano. Turn the heat to medium-high and let it bubble away uncovered, for 5-10 minutes, reducing and thickening the sauce a bit. Transfer sauce to a separate bowl.
  3. Add remaining 3 tbsp butter to skillet. Season fish with salt and pepper, then sear for about two minutes on each side. Remove fish to a plate, add sauce back to the pan, let it mix with any juices left from the fish. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Return fish to the pan, nesting pieces on top of the sauce, also add any juices left on the plate. Cover pan and cook on medium-low for a few minutes, until fish is cooked through (just a few minutes!). Remove lid, pile on some chopped fresh basil, and serve.

We like to serve this with grilled zucchini, thinly sliced roasted potatoes, or over rice. 

Print Recipe :: Pan-Seared Cod with Fresh Skillet Tomato Sauce


Late summer is all about tomatoes around here, and we’re always looking for one more way to utilize them. Hoping to squeeze this dish in at least one more time (or three!) before the month is up. Enjoy!

(Sorry if a recipe post feels a little boring, but this one is worth recording.)

If you have any must-make tomato recipes, please feel free to link them in the comments. 

Sewing, and Another Roadside Find


All of a sudden there’s a second blanket on the bed. Well, half of it anyway. One of us is not ready to commit. But I’m told that person did manage to scoot herself far over to the extra-blanketed side in the night. I won’t shut the windows though. Not now, not ever. Pile on more blankets as the deep cold of winter arrives, just keep the fresh air flowing.

I’ve been sewing a bunch lately, which is unusual for this time of year because I’m normally in knitting mode at this point. One of the projects is to be used in knitting though, so I guess it works. The first newly sewn item is a project pouch made from vintage feedsack, the second is a foraging bag, something I’ve been itching to make and finally got to. The foraging bag allows me to remain hands free, is easier to access than a pack basket for those meandering never-know-what-you’re-going-to-find type of walks, and contains various pockets to separate and organize goods. To be sure, if you stumble upon a windfall of feral apples, you're going to want your pack basket, but this bag has its rightful place. There are just a couple of things I’d change about it, but the design feels about 90% there. I set out over the weekend on a couple mile walk and had no trouble filling it with rose petals, wild mint, goldenrod, blackberries, chokecherries, and rose hips. An unexpected bonus: The pockets are large enough to place a quart jar or quart yogurt container into, for delicate items such as berries (wish I’d brought an extra for the rose petals). I’m going to work out the couple of design upgrades, then make a bunch, the project pouches too, which will also include coordinating notion pouches. Several will make it into my gifts-to-give-basket, and I hope to reserve some for a November handmade shop update, here through the blog. It’s been years since I’ve done that! Empty nests makes for busy hands. (Knitting project and notion pouches will feature vintage fabrics as long as my stash allows.)



Yesterday I mentioned my husband’s knack for bringing home “useful” roadside finds, and how mostly I razz him about it, but then whenever I ask if he’ll construct some odd thing for my very important ideas, he’s usually able to fashion something pretty decent out of the junk we have on hand. Actually, now that I think about it, he probably collects roadside debris because he has a wife with a penchant for thinking up random projects to be built.

Last night over dinner we were catching up on our days, when Adam shared that he found a chainsaw in the road on his way to work. Not just any chainsaw, but a professional grade Husqvarna that he guesstimated set its owner back about $1200-$1500. Think he would have cried for the guy right there on the spot if it weren’t for the need to act quickly while dozens of cars on the busy road whizzed around the darn thing. He couldn’t believe it sat right there in the middle of Rt 6, noticed by every passerby, and no one stopping. Maybe we really do live in a throwaway world if no one can find the gumption to stop for a chainsaw nicer than most of us will ever touch let alone own. (For what it’s worth, this particular saw was also far more powerful than most people should touch, or own.) But, it was the morning commute, people had places to be, and perhaps folks don't really get excited about chainsaws anymore? Well, there was this one suited up attorney on his way to a day full of real estate closings and court appearances that sure does. He pulled over, noticing there was also a helmet and gas can in the road. Dodging in and out of traffic, he grabbed the saw, helmet, and gas can, moving them to the side of the road. Then he thought for a moment about how to handle this, how to get this saw back into its owners hands without leaving it there for someone else to come along claiming finders keepers. So he loaded the machine in the back of his truck, then wrote a note that read, “Hey, I have your saw, didn’t want to leave it here. Call me and we can meet up.” Added his phone number, and placed it inside the helmet. He figured if most people weren’t going to stop for a $1,500 chainsaw in the middle of the road, they’re not going to stop for an old gas can and tattered helmet off to the side. Except hopefully, the guy who probably by now realized he lost his gear. He’d be the one backtracking to try and find it. And sure enough, he did exactly what Adam had hoped, found his helmet and the note inside. He called Adam and couldn’t believe his saw was safe. The guy just had one of those busy mornings setting out to work where he got distracted, forgot to shut the tailgate of his truck, and his tools fell out. Turns out he earns his living with that saw, which Adam suspected from of its size, so he was especially grateful for its return. And I was grateful for the decent man across the dinner table, mostly because I wasn’t surprised by the way he handled it.

Come Anytime


Without warning, mornings have suddenly turned brisk and find me searching for slippers and wool sweaters upon waking. Taking long underwear inventory. Organizing mittens and hats. I don’t mind, I love the colder months, but as summers go, this one has been mild so I’m not leaving it behind in earnest. I’d actually be okay with it staying longer, which is something I don’t normally say. 

Potatoes are being dug a bushel at a time right now, tomatoes harvested at nearly the same rate, fall beets are looking plump, and the final planting of bush beans is coming in young and tender. I aspire to be better at recording garden harvests, but each year it just doesn’t happen. I do make general notes and such, but truly weighing every little morsel we bring in? Nah. It would be good information though, maybe next year. 

Emily has returned to school and although I didn’t carry any expectations, I can now say transitioning into year two is easier. We met her roommate’s parents and they are the nicest people. Dad even commented on Emily’s Tort Law Museum poster, saying his own father was friends with Ralph Nader (who founded the museum). We’ve never met another soul that knows anything about this shrine of tort law, so Adam and Emily were pretty chuffed.

It’s been two weeks since the eclipse and I’m still recalling the eerily gorgeous  shift of light, the way everyone stopped and looked up, away from their screens, away from themselves. They said to expect changes in animal behavior, but I wasn’t sure I’d be lucky enough to observe anything in this realm. But then, as Emily and I were sitting on the back deck, I heard an animal noise that to me sounded sort of like the chirp of a big bullfrog (there is a vernal pond close by), unusual for an August afternoon. It was loud and very close, and not exactly bullfrog-like, but it was the first thought that came to mind. Emily commented that it was actually the sound of a raccoon. Even more unusual on an August afternoon. Then, in the next moment, behind us, an immense fluttery descent as a bird crashed to the forest floor. Dropped right out of the tree. Both within a minute or two of each other, right at the apex of the event. 

It’s been a summer filled with music and gardening. I figured out early on that I wouldn’t be in Vermont as much this summer, so I had to replace that with the next best thing(s). If you haven’t yet picked up Jason Isbell’s new record, Nashville Sound, you should do that. Like most songwriter offerings, it deserves to be listened to as a full body of work, start to finish, not just a cherry-picked radio-friendly track or two. For as long as I can remember, the saddest thought I’ve known is that one day, Adam or I will permanently go to sleep without the other. There are events in life more brutal, but pure sadness? For me, that is it. Uplifting, eh? So to hear the sentiment put into song was affirming and also a relief. Because now, rather than focus on the grief of such an idea, I can see that “maybe time running out is a gift, I’ll work hard to the end of my shift.”

If I know you pretty well, chances are I’ve asked what your “last song” might be. We tend to focus on the idea of a final meal if given the chance, but I’ve always been curious what a person’s final song would be. For decades mine was Ripple, but over the last year or so I’ve felt it wasn’t the one anymore. For a short while I thought maybe it would be In My Own Mind, a song I’ve loved for ages, but it never took root. Then I heard the closing track on Nashville Sound and now, please let it be known, if it appears I’m about to take my final breath, I’d love for someone to spin that tune. So sweet and hopeful. (Do you have a last song?)

I have a few more thoughts on the record, like how much of it is politically reflective, and when asked his thoughts about this, Jason expressed not trying to make a statement of any kind, but rather he wrote these songs for himself, serving as a personal reminder to never forget the genetic lottery he was born into - a person of correct gender, with correct skin color, in the correct nation, and to always remember the immense privilege and responsibility that comes with possessing such things. 

One more thing. We had the chance to see Isbell live earlier this summer, and there was a point in the show, a moment of pause between songs as Jason switched out guitars and checked tuning. The venue was small and the room quiet, nary a scent of tobacco or weed in the place, and no reflective blue screens waving around as the artist had requested folks to "enjoy the show with your iBalls, not your iPhones." It was a pretty chill scene despite the energy behind Jason's crazy-good band, The 400 Unit. Then, out of the near silence, an obligatory concert heckler found his voice. Only on this occasion, the call was not for a cover of Freebird or some other predictable concert-speak, but rather a loud and clear expression of gratitude: "Jason, thank you for your music; your lyrics help me to understand the human condition." It was the most accurate and heartfelt heckling I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. The entire place concurred. A summer highlight, for sure. 


To be honest, my heart is kind of heavy today, for the same reasons yours might be, but I haven't written here in some time so I thought I should give it a go. It seems trivial to offer random musings about music and gardening with fires raging and cities flooding and leaders looking to upend the lives of so many young people. It's all too much. But today I'm alive and best I can tell, there's still some time left on my shift, so I'll show up and do what I can. As I told my sister this morning, who lives in Irma's Floridian path and may be evacuating: This home welcomes refugees, come anytime.