IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE

If we were having coffee, I’d say that I almost wrote 4/3/17 when I signed off this post.  What a scatterbrain.

Maybe that’s why this never happens to me.

April kind of went by in a blur.  But, oh! May! The flowers and birds are happy-go-larky.

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Nature always inspires me.  So does Wendell Berry~ poet, farmer, environmentalist.

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

Wild things and totes work for me. Hey, I ain’t no drag, I got a brand new bag.

 

How did I ever manage without it? It’s gentle on my shoulders ~ a-a-h ~ and the best part?  I know where everything is. And I mean everything.

 

Do you have a pen pal? Here’s mine. What a sweetie!!!

 

We’ll be together soon. Until then, I’m on turtle watch.

 

So, what are you (screen) watching? I’m finishing up Offspring, the Australian series. And The Great British Baking Show~ you know, the Downton Abbey of cakes and torts. Did you watch it?  It made me crave cheesecake tiers and lady fingers and sponges and macarons and frangipanes….well, you get the idea. I really love that tent and everyone under it.

 

I just finished (virtually) traveling to every US state with Stephen Fry, in a traditional British black cab. He gets right under the skin of American life~ the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give it a try. On Netflix, one of many intensely good documentaries.

Oh, this. Skip the movie, A Man Called Ove. Read the book. Precious.

 

Speaking of books, I checked out (and renewed) way too many books at the library this month.  Plus all my requests on OverDrive seem to come in all at once.
If you’re anything like me (and I suspect you are), you have a TBR list. Mine is out of control.

 

There’s time enough, but none to spare.

~Charles W. Chesnutt

How will I read them all?  Will I?  And then I read this. 

HOW MANY BOOKS WILL YOU READ BEFORE YOU DIE? SPOILER: IT DEPENDS ON HOW OLD YOU ARE RIGHT NOW

 

What are you reading now?  I’m between a thriller and a hard place.

I’m super excited about the new Richard Russo book that comes out this month. Trajectory, his new collection of short fiction.

 

Summer’s here! I’ve got my seed catalog dog-eared. My head is in the clouds dirt.  I can’t wait to see the garden grow….

…to the strains of Nestor Torres. I saw him perform, what a talent.
He’s on my Pandora, non-stop.

OMG, I finished listening to S-Town!!!! SO good. Did you? Can we talk?
Tell me, what’s up with you? It’s May….got plans?

 Toni 5/3/17

LIVING OFF THE URBAN LAND

One of the most fun experiences I’ve had this winter was a Monday evening spent making sourdough bread at Ground Floor Farm.

Here’s how much fun it was: I don’t like to muck around with sticky dough and I had a great time.


I marvel at this ‘farm’ building on SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the city of Stuart, FL. It wasn’t always such an urban dreamscape. I try to picture the street-savvy religious mission it used to be. Red-hot and righteous, the Salvation Army occupied this space off Colorado Avenue not that long ago.


Across the country, the Salvation Army plunges headlong into the emerging commercial culture of city life. Across town, so does the Ground Floor Farm.

I can tell a lot about a place by its chickens.


I heard about the farm but it wasn’t really on my radar until a chef at a local sandwich shop sang its praises. I realize now what all the fuss was about. Nothing else has measured up since.


I judge a farm or market to be a keeper if it adds something new and healthy to my diet. Food is medicine, after all.  And I just love the sense of discovery, don’t you?

 

Take a walk with me around the farm. Not a single thing or inch of space goes to waste.

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In the kitchen, Jackie and her staff bake bread, make cheese, and ferment almost anything from veggies to beverages to vinegars and more.


There are honeybees, flowers, and a cafe. Tours, educational programs, and a year-round farmer’s market.
Oh, and Joy.
There’s Lots and Lots of Joy.

Jackie (my bread guru), Micah, and Mike are dedicated to growing and producing food using sustainable methods. Ground Floor Farm is part urban farm, part kitchen/workshop, part market, part art/events venue, part community space…. and totally magical.

If you ate today, thank a farmer.

So, about that bread.


I’m not sure the evening convinced me to switch permanently from my bread machine.


The process of creating this loaf takes time, love, and plenty of muscle. But it has undoubtedly added to my quality of life. This hand-crafted loaf – the crisp crust, the internal crumb, the yeasty aroma, the complex flavor — is a work of art. And its life-affirming force promotes friendship and conversation. That alone is worth the price of the workshop. (Do I sound like an ad? Enthusiasm in the face of such joy is unavoidable.)


I’m aching for some sourdough bread right this minute.
That’s the beauty of this disarmingly lovely loaf ~ I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Plus, with the discards from the starter, I can make cheeky chews like these.

Popovers!

Ground Floor Farm’s next endeavor? To build a pizza oven.
I have no choice but to return.

Toni 3/10/17

WHEN ITALIAN EYES ARE SMILING

The Catholic calendar is chock-a-block with saints’ days.  Check out the plentitude just in March.

St. David’s Day, Patron of Wales————–March 1
St. Katherine Drexel————March 1
Bl. Charles the Good————–March 2
St. Chad————–March 2
St. Cunegundes, Empress————–March 3
Pope St. Lucius I, Martyr————–March 4
St. Francis of Assisi—————March 4
St. Casimir————–March 4
St. John Joseph of the Cross————–March 5
St. Phocas————–March 5
St. Fridolin———-March 6
St. John of the Cross————March 5
Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas————–March 6
St.Colette————–March 6
St. John of God————–March 8
St. Thomas Aquinas————–March 7
St. Frances of Rome————–March 9
St. Dominic Savio————–March 9
The 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebast————–March 10
St. Eulogius————–March 11
St. John Ogilivie————March 10
St. Sophronius————–March 11
St. Nicholas Owen————–March 12
St. Gregory the Great————–March 12
St. Euphrasia————–March 13
St. Josaphat————–March 13
St. Rodrigo———-March 13
St. Matildis————March 14
St. Maud————–March 14
St. Clement Hofbauer [Haufbauer]————–March 15
St. Longinus—————March 15
St. Louise de Marillac—————-March 15
St. Abraham the Hermit————–March 16
St. Joseph of Arimathea————–March 17
Saint Gertrude of Nivelles ————–March 17
St. Patrick—————March 17
St. Cyril of Constantinople——–March 6
St. Joseph—————March 19
St. Photina————–March 20
St. Cuthbert————–March 20
St. Benedict————–March 21
St. Catherine of Sweden————–March 22
St. Gabriel the Archangel————–March 24
St. Dismas————March 25
St. Ludger————–March 26
St. John Damascene————–March 27
St. John of Capistrano————–March 28 [Trad.] Oct. 23 [New]
Sts. Jonas, Barachisius and Companions————–March 29
St. Zozimus of Syracuse, Bishop————–March 30
St. John Climacus————–March 30
St. Acacius————–March 31

We just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style. It’s a day to really whoop it up for the patron saint of Ireland~  wear green, drink Guinness, and belt out killer pub songs between bites of corned beef and steamed cabbage.  All topped off with strong coffee, Irish whiskey, and a generous layer of cream.

 

You saw the calendar of March celebrations. Another day, another saint.

Today, March 19, belongs to St. Joseph.

 

As in Jesus, Mary and…. 

 

Sicilians honor St. Joseph because he saved them from starving during a serious drought in the Middle Ages. Parades are, well, inevitable. “Viva la tavola di San Giuseppe!” Let the feast begin!

They set up St. Joseph’s tables, Tavole di San Giuseppe, covered in food. The bounty of the altar is shared not only with friends and family, but with the needy. Everyone gives thanks for blessings received during the year.

The altar sports a variety of meatless foods like minestrone and pasta with breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are a symbol of the sawdust on St. Joseph’s floor and, yes, are even a form of protection. (Sicilians wrote the book on protection. They’ll scatter salt on the floor by the front door to ward off the evil eye, or, if necessary, employ more combustive measures.)  I’ve learned to keep some in the freezer so that when a storm threatens, I can scatter them in the yard while saying a prayer to St. Joseph to spare me from harm.  I’m not afraid of any upcoming storms: Theseus, Ursa, Valerie, Wyatt, Xavier, Yuri or Zeno.

All hail the conquering breadcrumbs. (Watch for #conqueringbreadcrumbs on Twitter.)

And always, always, there are fava beans on the altar. They are undeniably lucky because during that Sicilian drought, the fava thrived while all other crops failed.

The table is blessed by a priest and has three tiers, a nod to the Holy Trinity. The top tier is the statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and greenery.

The other tiers hold food, flowers, and candles.

The day ends with each person taking home a bag of bread, fruit, pastries, cookies, a St. Joseph medal, Holy Card and/or a blessed fava bean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That lucky bean is to remind you to pray to St. Joseph. I always pray for zeppole.

 

It’s the most famous indulgence of the Feast of St. Joseph.

Zeppole were invented in 1837 by a Neapolitan cook named Ippolito Cavalcanti. Apparently he was quite the baker as well as Dante’s BFF.

Few saints used to hang out with gourmands and men-about-town.  They were hermits or monks like St Cuthbert, on deck for tomorrow’s feast day. He was all about miracles and healing. And ducks. St Cuthbert  is associated with Eider ducks, known in Northumberland as Cuddy’s ducks. A colony nests on the Farne Islands where the saint had his hermitage.

St. Cuthbert discovered local people liked to eat the eider ducks and their eggs.  So he introduced the world’s first bird protection laws to protect them and other sea birds nesting on the islands.
These are believed to be the earliest bird conservation laws in the world.

There’s a two-day celebration for this region’s beloved Cuthbert. A man of vision. Like the courageous and fervent Patrick.

 

Clearly the heavens are populated with thousands of saints. It’s a staggering task to celebrate them all. The crowd faves are eternally commemorated but what about St. Cunegund? St. Nicanor? St. Carpophorus?

So, pick a saint. Have a frolicsome festival. Make something yummy.

 

Write a note to a great teacher on St. Ita’s Day. Make a donation to a feline rescue organization on St. Gertrude’s Day. Give your dog a special treat on St. Roch’s Day. Take your mother out to dinner on St. Martha’s Day. No matter what saint you celebrate, break out the fireworks!

Toni 3/19/17