A Handmade Tale: The myths say that the Raven brought fire to the people by stealing it from the sun; I’m similarly enlightened by the Ravens and children I watch. (A 420 character, 9-line poem with my sketches by Patty) http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/handmade-tales/



Oops…forgot one of them. See lower right.


Echoes of little kid chortles, cries, chats, & chases.

I still hear them…AND their screams,

like the KAAAHH! of that young Raven who dashed by me in the woods,

impudent trickster,

rallying his sibs to come play drop-stick-and-then-dive-to-retrieve-it-in-midair,

even though he still needs his parents to feed and clothe,

well, not clothe,

but teach him the ways of the world while they pick his nits.











Did I mention I have lots of squash? Organic.  Non-GMO. Vibrant yellow.


It’s peak season for Early Prolific, Straightneck, Fortune, Seneca, Sunburst, Sundance, and Yellow Crookneck.


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The compact vines of my summer squash are healthy.  They’ve outsmarted the bugs, borers, and beetles, avoided wilt, mildew, and scab.

It’s an assertive vegetable, this Cucurbita Pepo.

It screams pasta primavera. And so I make request dough.  (It helps to have a pasta maker in the house.)

eggsforpasta pastasheetsplainandspinach pastaandtwopastasBut sometimes, the summer squash IS the pasta. As a cold salad or a warm side.



Cut the squash into thin strips using a julienne peeler.




Sprinkle the squash with salt, toss gently, and set in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Squeeze the squash over the colander, pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.

zicchini_noodles_02In a food processor or blender, combine some yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, basil, parsley, chives, tarragon, garlic and anchovy or capers. Blend dressing until smooth. I don’t always measure and usually have pesto on hand to play with. But if you are more exacting, click here for the recipe published by Kimberley Hasselbrink in her brilliant cookbook, Vibrant Food.


Toss the squash with the parmesan, pine nuts and dressing.  Garnish with basil.


How easy is that?


Toni 7/29/14



During the Depression, William Stafford’s family moved from town to town in search of work. He contributed to the family income by raising vegetables. Stafford grew up to be a poet of ordinary life ~ life during the hours before first light, his quiet time for toast and coffee and writing. He didn’t believe in writer’s block. If you get stuck, lower your standards and keep going. (Wise words, don’t you think?) Every morning, this modest guy went inside himself to find small words and write big thoughts.


It could happen any time, tornado,

earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.

Or sunshine, love, salvation. It could you know. That’s why we wake and look out—no guarantees in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning, like right now, like noon, like evening.

~ William Stafford

And may I be so bold as to add ~ like cucumbers. I have tons of small, bumpy-skinned beauties with dotted spines in all sorts of oddball shapes. They hang from trailing vines and hairy stems, at rest under three-lobed leaves.

My dad was a humble guy like Stafford.  He rose while the streetlight still gleamed, raised vegetables for our family, and, during the Depression, worked three jobs. But Dad didn’t make poetry with a pen. He made it with cement and steel, seeds and soil. What I know about growing things, I got by osmosis ~ near him in the garden, digging in the dirt.

This summer I have a tyrannosaurian yield of cucumbers, heart-nuking gifts from plants that ask for so little ~  heat, water, and Dad’s manure tea. (That’s another like for the poem, with apologies to William.)  The cukes grow day in and day out.  They don’t murmur, they shout.  Nonstop.  The drill is : Wash. Slice. Eat. Repeat.

Ah, the Joy of Pickles. They bring strangers together. People gather round the pickle man at the farmers’ market, crowding in for that crisp salty experience.  (I’d rather have my salt coarse and crunchy and sprinkled on dark chocolate.) But the best pickles are the ones you make yourself.  Like these.

Homemade Refrigerator Bread-and-Butter Pickles

 1 c distilled white vinegar

1 TBS salt 2

1 c white sugar

6 c sliced cucumbers

1 c sliced onions

1 c sliced green peppers

Some garlic and dill

In a medium saucepan over medium heat bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil.  Boil until sugar is dissolved.  Put cucumbers, onions and peppers in a bowl.  Pour vinegar mixture over them. Transfer to sterile containers and refrigerate.

 Prepare jars by running them through the dishwasher or filling them with boiling water, then dumping it out.

Pack the cucumbers vertically into the jars, making sure they’re tightly-packed. As you fill the jars, divide the garlic and dill among them.

 Fill the jars with the brine so that the cucumbers are completely covered. Cover the jars with plastic wrap, secured with rubber bands, or with the lids and refrigerate.

Want something a bit more sublime for afternoon tea?  Thin-slice a cucumber, lay the slices on petite little triangles of buttered bread ( note: that’s real butter), brew a pot of loose leaf and sip it in a proper china cup. Just like the Queen.


Look at summer, showing off as usual.

What’s running amok in your garden? 

Are you in the kitchen like me?



Toni 7/28/14