I must finally feel like I am home. Although we moved into this city house four years ago, I had never unpacked my lambs from the old blanket box. These lambs sat on my fireplace mantel every Christmas for 30 years, but when we moved, I felt like I was adrift, not really a part of this new/old house. This year the lambs came out of hiding and paraded across the top of a pie safe. I'm happy to see them and so is my family. The tradition continues.
In 2007, when I was in the throes of writing and illustrating a book, my husband Jeff signed me up for a blog. "Why did you do this to me?" I asked him. "I have enough going on." He said, "You miss all the people you corresponded with when you wrote your Heart's Ease column for Country Living GARDENER. This is a way to get back in touch."
I ignored the blog and continued on with life. Once in awhile, I'd post something and feel good about it, but I didn't really know about visiting other blogs, and I didn't understand what the "follower" button was-until last February or March when I finally installed it and looked on in wonder as readers pushed the follow button and joined me as friends.
Since beginning this blog, I've reestablished relationships with readers who wrote to me years ago. Just last week my husband showed me a big box of letters and copies of e-mails from readers from the years I wrote for GARDENER. Lo and behold, some familiar names popped up; Nancy (Lemon Verbena Lady) was at the top of the list. "I love your magazine column," she wrote.
Now I receive comments, real letters, and wonderful e-mails from readers with whom I've had a relationship for years, and I am so grateful for their love and friendship. To honor those of you who are followers, I want to do a drawing for one of my favorite books, The Tasha Tudor Cookbook, which is in like new condition and is signed by Tasha Tudor. And in answer to Brenda, from Coffee Tea Books and Me, who said she'd like one of my books, I am also including the winner's choice of one of my titles. Followers, please leave a comment to be eligible for the drawing.
Tasha signed this book plate in 1995.
Her charming illustrations are timeless. They touch our hearts.
Great recipes, too.
I can almost smell the scent of baking breads and cookies.
GOOD LUCK! Eligibility is for those who are loyal followers, and the drawing date is on Christmas Eve. I'll announce the winner on Christmas Day.
COOKING FOR FRIENDS
I've been turning to the Anna Thomas book Love Soup for many winter meals.
Also using Edward Espe Brown's Tassajara Cookbook and Bread Book.
Hand Fried Fresh Kale Salad
Two bunches of kale (about 20 leaves)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
Cut the kale into ribbons (I left the stems on the dino).
Add salt to the kale and start squeezing (I love this as much as kneading bread).
Mix lemon juice, honey, and pour onto kale. Taste it and add more salt if needed.
Add ginger and radishes, mix, add sliced apples.
I shop at 3 or 4 great little farmers' markets each week. Kale is on the top of my favorite's list right now. I especially love the dino kale, which is pictured on the counter along with season's end sweet peppers. We are so spoiled here.
I ALWAYS have fresh ginger in the refrigerator. In the case of the kale salad I love making, well, ginger and radishes are a must for a zinging flavor. If you can't use your fresh ginger right away, you can tuck it into a plastic bag and freeze it. I can't taste any difference.
I started with two huge bunches of dino kale, which filled the bowl to the brim. I added sea salt, fresh squeezed orange juice, and started squeezing the mixture in my hands, a process Ed calls "hand frying." WHY? I don't know, but I do know that fried kale is wonderful (as is this).
Within less than a minute of squeezing, the kale became as palatable as its cooked counterpart. Also, the dino kale reduced in size by half. Until a few years ago, I commonly made roasted kale salads and kale chips, but until I took my cooking class with Ed, I never had it raw in a salad. It is great. Give it a try.
The tree we love to use for Christmas is being planted this year, so I had to shop for another. I chose a variegated buckthorn, which looks like it has snow on its leaves. I love it. The buckthorn is in a five gallon tub and fit perfectly into my big, old crock.
I'll keep this outdoors in a big, terra cotta pot and use it again next year.
This Edwardian paper squirrel with a flocked coat always climbs near the top of our tree. It once topped a fancy hat.
Jeff has always wanted a sailboat, but with our schedules, we would never get much chance to use one. So, a few years ago, I found this in Maine. He can dream.
This is corny, but I LOVE it. Lili (Fearless Nesting), I am thinking of you here. This is a mussel shell from Burnt Island, Maine, in the Boothbay Harbor region. We boated out to Burnt Island for a picnic with my pal Marilyn and her family. The couple caretaking the lighthouse had gathered mussel shells and decorated them. I fell for it big time. Corny, but wonderful too. On the inside it says, "Burnt Island, Maine."
Finally, the wheatgrass that I planted on December 1st looks great. This patch of green will sit in the center of our dining table on Christmas Eve. The long, healthy grass signifies the good crops and harvest I'll have in the coming year.
On Christmas Eve by candlelight, we will toast the past year, talk about all that made us grateful, and we'll lift our glasses in joy and celebration.
Happy Holidays to you all. You are the bright and shining pieces of the quilt of life.