Kale Pesto (It’s a Thing)

One of my favorite parts of summer is fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Especially those which are grown nearby. Our local CSA farm, Sweet Land Farm, is now bursting with goodness from the earth (and the hard work of the farmers).

What I love is walking into the distribution shed every Tuesday afternoon, breathing in the heady, spicy scent of sweet Basil mixed with all the other veggies and the artisan bread that a local bread business sells. Even though I can’t eat “real” bread, I love the aroma! This CSA is where I learned to know so many greens–Kale, Swiss chard, Arugula, Broccoli raab–and, thus, learned to cook with them.

We all know by now how good for you Kale is, (and read here if you don’t) but not everyone gets as happy as I do about eating it. Have you tried making pesto with it? I’ve made delicious pestos with Arugula and Parsley, and, of course, Basil, so I’m not sure why I waited this long to try Kale pesto. You can use it just like any other pesto on pasta, zoodles, added to soups or marinara sauce, to name a few.

My recipe is simple and adjustable–add more garlic, lemon, salt, or olive oil to suit your taste.

Kale Pesto

3-4 cups of Kale leaves, rinsed, stems removed

1/2-1 cup Basil leaves, rinsed

2-4 garlic cloves

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans

1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put everything (except the olive oil) in the food processor, place the top on (with veggie chute removed), and turn it on while adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop, remove top, scrape with a spatula, and process until smooth. Repeat as necessary. Add more oil if needed and adjust salt, garlic, lemon, and pepper to taste. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Sweet Finger Lakes Getaway

Keuka Lake view from the Bluff.

Last summer at one of our Inner Crazy performances at Treleaven Winery, Alan and I had the privilege of meeting Bill and Mel. This couple were immediately warm and friendly, complimenting us on our singing and playing and sharing their musical interests with us. They have since become two of our most loyal fans, as well as good friends. Whenever we play in the Keuka Lake area, they are sure to show up. And they frequently surprise us by turning up to shows farther afield.

In March, right after our wedding, we played at White Springs Winery in Geneva and Bill and Mel came to hear us. We chatted with them during our breaks and told them all about our wedding. When we got home and looked in our tip hat, we saw a note from them. We were surprised and touched to read that they wanted to give us a couple of nights at their rental cabin overlooking Keuka Lake as a wedding gift! Since our kids were going to be on Spring break mid-April, we arranged with Bill and Mel to come then.

When the day arrived, it was sunny and cool and as we rolled into the driveway, we took in the vineyards to the right, the lake below, and the charming little cabin. Inside was perfect: sweet, clean, and it had everything one could need for a getaway.

The sleeping area was a part of the one-room floor plan, with a queen-sized bed (with a comfortable mattress) and bunk beds. There were also air mattresses available for more sleeping options.

The kitchen was complete with pots and pans and cooking utensils, plates, cups, flatware, a toaster, a blender, microwave…even a wine cooler, and an ample bar counter and comfortable bar seats.

The living room had comfy chairs and a sofa, a coffee table and end tables, a TV and DVD player and sliding glass doors that led onto the deck and had a view of the lake. The deck had a table and chairs, and the backyard had both a fire pit with seating and a gas grill.

The bathroom was well-equipped with towels and toiletries one might forget to bring, and even had a washer and dryer. Did I mention how clean everything was? I’m a neat-freak and appreciate clean spaces and surfaces, so this place was a delight.

We made ourselves right at home. Alan had a cold at the time and I was recovering from that horrible back spasm thing so we took naps, read, and cooked most of our meals in the little kitchen. It was peaceful and quiet, so we slept well, and felt rested and refreshed during our stay.

I think this would make a perfect writer’s or musician’s retreat, as well as being just right for a romantic getaway. And of course it absolutely would work if you have children.

If you’re interested in a visit to the Finger Lakes Region, Alan and I recommend staying at Bill and Mel’s The Place in the Woods. We both highly recommend it! You can find it here on VRBO.

Late Winter Musings

These last few days of winter and this last day before the season of Lent begins are vibrating with change, energy, and light.

I’m struggling to sleep past six each morning because I am still used to darkness and silence and haven’t yet adjusted to the sun peeking out and birdsong lilting through the closed window.

Not that I am complaining–quite the opposite! I actually prefer change over stagnation, but this year I seem even more aware of the natural world slowly waking up and shifting toward activity and growth.

I have the privilege of living in the middle of all this glory we call the Finger Lakes Region: fields and meadows, forests, hills, valleys, lakes, and wildlife everywhere.

Much of the time, I block out what is happening on the other side of these walls and carry on with the ” more important work” of business and commerce and marketing and study. This disconnect is detrimental to myself, other people, and the earth, so I seek to take a hint from the seasonal transition we are in and change my behavior.

When my children were young and we homeschooled, I followed the Charlotte Mason method which emphasized art, literature, music, history, handcrafts, and plenty of time spent out of doors for nature study. My kids and I each had a nature study notebook. The idea was simply to spend some time outside and draw something that you observed while there: a tree, a cloud, a bird, an insect, a leaf, etc. This strengthened powers of observation while creating a habit of attention to the natural world.

My homeschooling years are behind me, but I need to reconnect myself to nature’s rhythms and be at one with the true pace of the planet. I very much need to reawaken my whole self to what has been before me and what will go on after I have lived my life here.

Mary Oliver, who passed away earlier this year, wrote all the time of nature, of her observations in nature, and of the depths of emotion she experienced in the natural world. I’ll end with her poem, “Mindful” from her book Why I Wake Early:

Mindful

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Quiet the Night Descends

My dinner was eaten in solitude this evening. No one to ask, “What would you prefer?” No one to set the table for, other than myself. A small square plate, a napkin, fork, spoon and knife, a water glass and wine glass. If it hadn’t been so humid and still, I might have lit the beeswax candle in the hurricane lamp at the center of the table.

There was no one to interrupt the audio book I played as I prepared a salad, boiled water  and then cooked the gluten free pasta, sautéed mushrooms, and then the minced garlic, baby spinach and a few shrimp. And as I sat down and began to eat, no one to mind my watching a bit more of the documentary about Joan Didion, whom I have yet to actually read. (Yes, that’s a sad fact, I know.)

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Afterward, I washed pot and plate, put the salad and dressing back in the fridge, and slipped into my shoes waiting at the back door. The sun had already set, the grass was wet and heavy after the rain, like a green sea reaching to my knees in places. Cicadas and crickets, their brassy rhythmic choruses completely in sync, were the only sounds I heard. The air was stagnant; not a branch stirred.

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This year, the farmer has planted corn all around the periphery of our land as well as in the fields across the road. We are walled in by corn, much taller than I am, crowding out the view of the lake and the lower fields, and making me feel a bit claustrophobic. That sounds silly, because the sky is so big and expressive, yet that’s how I feel all the same. The past two years the fields were sown with either soybeans or potatoes, so this is my first experience with the corn’s ominous presence.

fullsizeoutput_141eI stood staring at the corn and the cloud-filled sky, took a few pictures, then trudged through the grass to see the garden. I must pick lettuce tomorrow; its red and green leaves looked luscious and ready to be eaten.

fullsizeoutput_1427I walked to the fruit trees beyond and around to the gazebo with fairy lights twinkling, a touch of welcomed civilization amidst the dripping grass, the darkening trees, and the unrelenting army of corn.

fullsizeoutput_1426After getting the mail, I went up the front steps, saying good evening to our two reading gargoyles, and in through the front door. Dorothy said it and it’s true: “There’s no place like home!” Home, a refuge against whatever my wild imagination conjured out of the settling darkness.

 

 

 

Finger Lakes Wines I’m Loving

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I seem to be on a foodie trail lately, so I’ll just go with it. I wanted to share my current favorite local wines with you. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Finger Lakes Region, you already know how much fun we have here. New wineries seem to spring up overnight around these lakes.

Last year, for Mother’s Day, we went over to Keuka Lake to Hunt Country, Dr Frank’s, and Heron Hill for a tasting at each. That was my first time at those wineries and I enjoyed interacting with the staff, tasting their delicious offerings and the views of Keuka Lake as well.

So here are my late winter picks:

Wagner Vineyard’s Vintner’s Riesling is one I picked out at Trumansburg Wine & Spirits about a month ago and immediately fell in love with. Sorry, out-of-towners, but you can only purchase this at local stores. Which means you will have to come visit! It’s a great price and easy to pair with light meals.

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Six Mile Creek Vineyard’s Ithaca Red is all berry jam and spices. Yum. This wine was one of the only things I could sample at last year’s Downtown Ithaca Chili Festival. It’s a fun wine to share with a friend on a cold day.

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Hector Wine Company’s Soul White is a semi-dry blend that I enjoy drinking anytime. Alan and I brought a bottle to the first Big Mean BBQ that we attended together to drink along with our fare from the Silo Food Truck. So it brings back happy memories for me whenever I taste it.

Hector Wine Company’s 2016 Riesling is their semi-dry wine that Jason served us after our show there a couple of weeks ago. Cheerful, fruity and perfect for a celebration.

There you are, dear readers! It’s Friday, so pick up a bottle of fabulous Finger Lakes wine, make a delicious dinner and enjoy your evening.

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Songwriting Madness in Winter

 

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At Hector Wine Company November 2017

We were at Hector Wine Company two days before Christmas, listening to The Blind Spots when the owner, who is friends with Alan, asked when we were going to play there. He said he had openings on all the Friday nights in February and we could have our pick. So Alan told him that we could do the last Friday night, February 23. I was inwardly panicking, my heart pounding and dread replacing the happiness I had felt at being out, enjoying the evening during the holiday season.

Here’s why I panicked: it’s an all-originals show that we’ll be putting on and we only had a handful of originals penned. How were we going to write 20-25 songs in two months? Alan, ever the optimist, thought it was completely within the realm of possibility. So is being stressed to the max and writing every spare minute we have!

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My songwriting notebook

Fast forward to this week, by which time we’re nearing fifteen completed songs. Completing the number of songs we need feels more like a possibility, but it’s going to continue to be stressful. I need to be disciplined to write during my mentally sharpest hours, while making time to create new products for my Etsy/craft business Delicata House, spend time with my kids, exercise, cook, clean, etc.

It’s a huge challenge, but we will meet it–we have to–and the reward will be that we’ll have access to several more local venues that only allow originals to be played. So if it’s been quiet on the blog lately and if it continues to be for the next three weeks, blame it on Alan. No, just kidding, it’ll just be that I’m songwriting my heart out. When we get some of these tracks recorded, I’ll share a link. In the meantime, if you’d like to check us out, here’s a link to the covers and one original we currently have on SoundCloud.

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At Home in the Finger Lakes

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A few days ago, I spent an hour or so on Instagram adding several hundred accounts to the list of those I follow. The photos from Europe and the UK in particular have me itching to pack my bags, cross the ocean and immerse myself in the beauty of otherness and be thrilled with whatever is new and foreign to me. I’ve been waiting to travel my whole life, but refuse to give up on my goal. Trying to be patient in the meantime is tough, but at least I can see through the eyes of other world travelers any minute of the day on Instagram.

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Do you ever feel discontented about where you live and wish for some fresh landscapes to inspire and refresh you? But as I wait for my opportunity, I will be thankful for the wildness, drama and variety of this region I live in. I’ve visited unremarkable places, but the Finger Lakes region is not one of these. Waterfalls, gorges, wooded hills, valleys, lakes and streams, farm fields and meadows stretch in all directions. Small town life definitely still exists and I live it. Small villages and towns are to be found every few miles. Biking, hiking, boating, fishing, skiing, and plain old walking can yield an abundance of breathtaking beauty.

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The leaves are mostly off our trees, the fields are either harvested or being harvested, squirrels are collecting their last store of food for winter. We’ve had a dusting of snow and have woken up to frost-covered cars several times already. The wind has taken on a cold and blustery Northern edge.

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We are discussing Thanksgiving recipes and preparing for the Advent and Christmas season. Wooden angels and pine trees already decorate my mantel and I’m researching where I can get some evergreen shrubs for the front door. In a week, I’ll be getting an evergreen tree for the library as well. Here is where I live and love, so I will notice the goodness all around me and be grateful.

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What do you love about where you live and where would you like to travel next?

 

Curiosity and a Cob Oven

 

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According to www.dictionary.cambridge.org, one of the definitions of the noun renaissance is: “a new growth or interest in something, especially art, literature, or music.”

This word renaissance has stayed with me since the end of 2015 as I felt a shift taking place in many areas of my life. Sure, “midlife crisis” may be the term used to describe major changes that humans undergo in an attempt to find meaning and satisfaction in their lives. To me, though, I began to “choose the path of curiosity instead of the path of fear”, which were words used by author Elizabeth Gilbert to describe creative people in a recent On Being interview with Krista Tippett.

To me, though, I began to “choose the path of curiosity instead of the path of fear”.

This meant doing new things through my anxiety and fear of the unknown. And I have a boatload of anxiety and fear. Some of my everyday anxiety includes when I have to talk on the phone–both calling and answering the phone, going to the bank or post office (I haven’t analyzed this, I just know it happens), going to large-ish parties or gatherings even if I know a good deal of the crowd, basically, introvert problems.

This week I was mulling all this over because I bumped into a girl I met at the Cob Therapy cob oven workshop at Hawk Meadow Farm that I took in June 2016. We stood in Greenstar and chatted. I asked her if she’d done anything with the knowledge we gained and she shook her head. Neither had I, I told her, but Alan has a pile of field stone that would be perfect for the base of a cob oven if we had a team of people and Matteo and Peaches from Cob Therapy to oversee the project.

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On the other hand, that workshop taught me things I have carried into this last year and a half. I helped a team of people build a beautiful and useful cob oven with my own hands. We worked at least 7-8 hours in the summer heat making cob, hauling stone, lifting, stacking, mixing clay, straw and sand with our feet and hands yet we all were positive and downright happy from start to finish.

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Although I respect and admire nature, I’m not inclined to get myself dirty, but it felt good and I won’t forget it. We worked together without jealousy or squabbling of any kind. We blended together and worked peacefully. It’s a cliché to say we felt like family for those four days, but there was that sense.

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Since that class, so much has continued to change in my life and I’m still following curiosity’s path. I am trying new things: a craft business, NaNoWriMo, becoming pescatarian, writing more poetry, challenging myself to publish a blog post daily, attempting to learn about marketing on social media, trying watercolor, and figuring out what I want to do next. I’m still faced with anxiety, but I have the solid memories from the positive experiences I’ve had to spur me on new experiences. My personal renaissance will continue, hopefully throughout my life.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

–Walt Disney

Where are you with your personal renaissance and with choosing curiosity over fear?

 

Local Wines I’m Drinking Lately

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Photo credit: www.winemaps.com

I am privileged to live in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. Specifically, to live between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. I can drive to a winery in ten minutes or less. They’re so close and there are so many.

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Photo credit: www.glenora.com

This summer and fall, I’ve been into whites and Rieslings in particular. Here are a few of my favorites:

Glenora Lake Series Riesling

 

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Wagner Vintner’s Riesling (only available in stores)

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Red Newt 2016 “Circle” Riesling

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Heron Hill Ingle Vineyard Riesling

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Although they are all from different vineyards, they all are easy to drink, medium-sweet, go with lighter fare and are inexpensive.

(I buy my wines from Trumansburg Wines and Spirits or from Northside Wine & Spirits in Ithaca.)

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Photo credit: www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com

Do you have a favorite wine you are drinking right now?

Day 28: Saturday Meanderings

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This hilltop home is being buffeted by the wind AGAIN. If we have one day per week when it’s still, that is something to remark upon. When my son was leaving Wednesday night, we stepped out into the evening and everything was still.

No crickets or frogs. No bird singing itself to sleep. Not even a jet or a truck. Just the lights twinkling across the lake, the stars winking at us overheard and quiet. “You’re in the middle of nowhere,” my son stated as he got into his car.

Yes, and the middle of nowhere has its advantages and disadvantages. On the pro side, we can play music as loud as we want, keep the property as neat or unkempt as we want and no one approves or complains. We can absorb the tranquility and beauty of nature from our windows and certainly from a walk around the yard or down the road. Lake, fields, hills, valley, farms, and big sky everywhere we look.

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On the con side, you have to drive a long while to get anywhere. Like to Ithaca for groceries or a concert or to a restaurant for dinner. And people don’t always want to come out to visit because it’s a bit of a hike. If they do venture this far, I hope they feel the rewards are many: the view, it goes without saying, and good food and conversation.

This is where I wanted to be when I was six years old living with my parents and siblings in a third-story apartment in Brooklyn. I hoped and prayed for this opportunity. So you could say, I’m living my dream.

Every summer which my mother, siblings and I would spend with my grandparents, flew by with a speed that was stunning and sad. I loved every minute of each day we were given here in Interlaken and every aspect of my grandparents’ home and lifestyle. Although, they were far from wealthy, there was a comfort and solace from the cold, tough and dangerous hustle of city life that I couldn’t wait to run to.

The walks with my grandmother down the lane, into and through the woods are some of my favorite memories of my childhood summers. The sound of my grandparents starting their day in the kitchen, making coffee and eggs, the smell of kerosene when the heaters were lit during cold spells, the feeling of gratitude at twilight as I sat on the tree swing and swayed as the wind pushed me–I hold these dear.

I’m thankful I can go back there and relive those good, wholesome moments and that I had them to begin with. And I’m thankful to be telling my story in the place where my happiest moments live.

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