Fall Sweater

Its pretty hard to get decent shots of a toddler modeling his new sweater. The second photo was snapped after asking him if he wanted his photo taken, I'm guessing that was either a no or a "tough guy" pose. Who knows, either way I think its pretty cute. Maybe he was counting to ten? This was a great little knit. Jane Richmond does such a wonderful job with her simple patterns. A few changes were made but not enough to warrant any sort of recognition. The yarn was reclaimed cashmere and merino, a handsome mix of one strand black, one grey and one white. I can not explain to you the joy I found when handing his finished sweater to him, he nodded with approval and felt how soft it was. My heart sings in these moments.

Oh my, he is growing so quickly.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.


Friday Senses

Making: A pair of cabled over the knee socks for my new boots! I'd link to it but it is in this book and I can not find the pattern on ravelry!! 

Seeing: A very clean house. I love having the time to keep this place organized and peaceful.

Smelling: Vegetable stock simmering on the stove. 

Tasting: coffee and brownies with pink sea salt. It's ok that I had a brownie for breakfast...

Hearing: Cars wizzing down our street. Having the windows open at our place and the radio off (I usually have NPR on all the time ) I can hear everything going on outside. Yesterday I recognized the sound of our car as Xavier parked it, coming home for lunch. 

Feeling: Balanced. I will have to tell you in a separate post how great staying home has been for me, and for our family. 

Reading: East of Eden. I read it in high school but totally didn't appreciate it. Now that Im getting into reading it again it is becoming a favorite. 

Praying: For creativity in this season. 

Thanks again, Elise, for the Friday Sences Idea.


Soulful Soup v.2 Elise from Dear Family

I am so excited to share my sweet friend Elise with you, readers. She is a constant source of fellowship, inspiration and comfort in times of need. Elise is one of those friends that I pass potential recipes through before I start them, asking weather the gruyere is worth the splurge in this or that, and she always gives great advice (its usually yes, in regards to the gruyere hah) So of course, I asked her to do a guest post with one of her favorite soup recipes. Please enjoy, and get to know my dear, dear friend. 

IMG_3655 IMG_3658 IMG_3665 IMG_3667 
How could I ever follow up Kirstin's lovely post regarding our (and I'm sure yours as well) extreme love for a pot of vegetables, beans and warmth? Soup ends up on our table at least twice a week, but in the winter, we have soup or stew almost every day.

I like routine, and Monday's are my very favorite day. I generally shop for groceries for the week and bring everything home and prep for the upcoming busy days. A whole chicken heads right for a crock pot filled with onions, garlic, lemon and thyme. The chicken will be used for many meals to come, but most importantly, those bones are made into stock, so we can enjoy soup all week long.
If you haven't made chicken stock before, I just take the drippings from the pan I cooked the chicken in, the lemon, thyme, onions and garlic go right into a large stock pot along with the bones. Fill with water and simmer for 8-10 hours. It's so easy and so perfect for the cold nights ahead.

Since we have been a little sick the last few weeks,  I knew we needed a big bowl of vegetables and ginger. So I made carrot ginger soup. It was so simple but we couldn't stop slurping it. It is sweet and earthy from the carrots but spicy and warm from lots of ginger. We served ours with crusty bread, spread with a 1-1 parts dijon and maple syrup, topped with crisp apples and greens.

Carrot Soup
2lbs Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 apples, chopped
1 onion, diced
5tbs ginger, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 cups stock
3tbs apple cider vinegar
Orange, zest and juice

In a large pot, sweat onions over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 10 minutes or until soft. Add carrots, apples, stock, apple cider vinegar, zest and juice of an orange, cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and simmer about 30 minutes or until carrots are tender. Start pureeing in batches, using a blender or food processor until smooth. 


Malissa's Garden

Malissa is really doing something special. The plot she is working on is in an area that a lot of people would not be comfortable venturing into, a rough part of Chicago. Despite some of the difficulties she has had in getting the community garden started, the fact that she is there tending, weeding, being available to people that walk by, that really makes a point. There is still living earth underneath the paved over and ugly surfaces, just waiting to be tilled, to be fruitful. 

People are like this too. 



Soulful Soup v.1

“You will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or 
illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.”

-John Steinback, East Of Eden 

Ask almost anyone what they find comforting in a time of need, or sickness, or general coldness of spirit or body and they will answer you quickly, "Soup". Although, soup certainly need not only be celebrated in times of despair, but also prosperity simply because it usually consists of such affordable ingredients.You can make essentially anything into a soup, simmer it slowly for a few ours then maybe add some cream, herbs or vegetables (or all of those) and you have a hearty delicious meal to be enjoyed with several others, or several times. That is precisely what the soup I made today was, (pictured above) and the ingredients and "recipe" will follow below.  I find that soups are usually better the next day, after the ingredients have a chance to really get to know each other for a while. You can even stretch out the last bit of soup by adding a little more stock to thin it out (just a tiny bit), grate a nice hard cheese on some bread and broil it in the oven,  and top it with the thinned out soup for a crunchy but mushy in an oddly yummy way, but very satisfying dish. 

Soup usually ends up on our dinner table at least twice a week, in some form, because it is so economical, simple and sustainable. I don't really use recipes for soups anymore, because I have learned that what makes a soup really delicious, is balance and time. I don't claim to have a full understanding of what it means to make a balanced dish, or soup, but leaning away from using precise recipes helps to refine that sense. Is the soup a little bland and bleh? Add some salt, or maybe some crushed red pepper. Really rich? Squeeze some citrus or add a bit of  vinegar depending on the other ingredients. Soup is a great place to start creating and experimenting with your own recipe ideas, it's pretty hard to mess up. 

 The first soup that I made on my own was for a friend of mine named Ryan. I had a smoked ham hock, the ends of several different bags of beans, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, and I think a tiny tiny bit of ground bison. I added this and that and tasted and threw in some rice at the end. He was late for dinner, he's the friend that usually is, and the soup started to stick to the bottom of the pot. I panicked a little after tasting it, there was a slightly burnt flavor that permeated the whole soup. I added a little garlic and hoped it would mask the flavor. When he arrived and dinner was served, I thought it was just alright, but when Ryan took that first bite he said something along the lines of "this tastes like what cow boys eat." and asked for a second bowl shortly after. What he was trying to say was that he loved that smokey/ charred flavor that came from the little bits sticking to the bottom. It's all about perspective. 

Chick Pea & Kale Pesto Soup 


1 can of chickpeas (rinsed)
6 c of water 
2 cubes of rupunzel salt free vegetable bouillon  
1/2 cup left over smashed potatoes 
1 oddly huge red potato, cubed
2 tablespoons of kale pesto (or any pesto)
1 rind of a chunk of parmesan reggiano 
crushed red pepper to taste 
1/2 pound of mild raw italian
 pork sausage rolled into balls*


Boil the water and add the bouillon in a heavy bottom pot. (I use a dutch oven for pretty much every soup I make) Add the rind, chickpeas, cubed and mashed potatoes, pesto and meat balls. Season with s&p, and crushed red pepper to taste. Bring every thing to just under a boil, then turn it down to medium low and let it simmer for a few hours. If it starts to reduce too much and gets too thick add a little more water (or stock if you have it). Now, this soup is certainly not a "looker" the kale gives it an interesting green color which some people may not be into, if that is the case, add some pretty fresh herbs on top with more crushed red pepper to make it look a little less "earthy".  This can totally be made vegetarian by omitting the meat, but I suggest adding another can (at least) of chickpeas in that case.  Serve it with some fresh grated parmesan and thick slices of warm bread. 

* to make the meat balls, remove casing from sausages and add a handful of breadcrumbs, and egg, a sprinkling of parmesan and s&p. Use your hands (or a fork if you're squeamish) and combine everything well, this will take a few minutes. Roll the meat into little balls, about the size of a quarter. 


Check back next week for Elise's take on soup. 
If you'd like to participate in this series, email me 
Thanks for reading!


Gentle Weather

This morning's chilly air announced that it is time to change the bed linens from light cotton sheets to thick quilts and woolen blankets. The tights and sturdy socks were retrieved from the storage bin, my favorite black sweater dress reappeared at its rightful place in the closet. Cold little toes on even the colder linoleum kitchen floor begged for the oven to be turned on, when the oven is on there must be some thing waiting to rise in it's heat. Banana bread found it's way onto the table, just as the sleepy man of the house roused from under the sheets, all before the sun came up. 

I cherish these transitions, when the day's light waits a little while before kissing your face good morning through the curtains. People feel inspired, the holidays are coming, meals and gifts are being planned already. My list of holiday knitting seems to grow by the day, that barista that pulls the consistently beautiful espresso, I'm sure he'd love a pair of mittens too, they don't take long to make. 

To celebrate the coming of fall I usually start with an apple pie. Sadly, the mild winter and late frost last spring killed off most of the apples around here. Just yesterday I heard a farmer speaking on the radio about how he had so few apples in his orchard he named them all, just like we name hurricanes, started with Alice and got to Rachel. We will have to find an equally delicious substitute, a butternut squash pie will do nicely, with real maple syrup for a little extra sweetness, and maybe some sage in the crust. Yes, yes this will do. Brussels sprouts will be nice and sweet, showing up on farmers market tables soon. 

The subtle nudging of cooler weather gently reminds us to start  "putting up" those jams and stocks, saving those final summer harvests and plan for the harshness of winter. "Start looking for a sturdy pair of boots" it says. This winter particularly may be harder for our family, considering my decision to stay home with Julian instead of taking him to work with me. A part of me is fearful, the convenience of having a bit extra for the little luxuries will be dwindling. Things like bartering and exchanges of time for favors will come in handy, maybe a baby sitting co op for date nights, or a family set of hats, socks and mittens for a share of the fall csa. I'll have to ask. This is also slightly exciting, creativity mostly comes from necessity , it's all about the way we choose to view things. 

What preparations will you be making in these next few weeks? 
Thanks for reading, 


Friday Sences

Making: A cozy hat for my Dad's birthday, with some handsome reclaimed merino.
Seeing: The season slowly changing, give me that crisp air, some cozy socks, and apples!
Smelling: Pretty Flowers our friend brought over while my boys were sick, a tiny blessing.
Tasting: Left over pot roast with herb de province gravy and colecannon potatoes.
Hearing: Cotton Jones . I think Im a little behind on this one.
Feeling: Thankful for good health, both my son and husband caught
 a terrible tummy bug this week, and that I was well enough to care for them!
Loving: Spending time with my family this weekend, for my dad's birthday.
Reading: Earth to Table by Jeff Crump & Bettina Schorman. An inspiring cookbook indeed.
Praying: For courage, to delve head first into passions laid on my heart.
Thanks again, Elise, for the Friday Sences Idea.
What about you? Link back in comments
 if you do a sences post, Id love to read them!


Granola for Giving

I realize it has been quite a while since I have posted any recipes! While there has been nothing particularly glamourous coming out of my kitchen, there has been lots of simple and homey meals which are the foundation for time spent well together. Last night I made my first pot roast not from a recipe. I actually have never made a pot roast before, Im not a huge fan of red meat. My husband on the other hand, will make burgers and serve them with a side of sausage. We can be worlds apart on our preferences and passions when it comes to food sometimes, but having the opportunity to meet him where he is and just make something simply because I know he will like it can help our home feel a little more welcoming to him. That is sort of the point of cooking right? It's more than just chemistry and composition, its about heart and soul.

Last weekend we were able to have dinner with a family we love dearly. Jeff and Melissa used to work at my favorite vegan diner in the city, but we met them through a church we were both attending at the time. Jeff was there to celebrate with Xavier and I after I accepted his proposal, announcing the news to the entire restaurant while popping open a wonderful bottle of champagne. Melissa and I were pregnant about the same time, the birth of her son Abraham preceded Julian's by just a few months. She also seems to be the one I turn to most when I have questions about living sustainably, or my garden, and sometimes just need someone to listen, she is the best listener. I knew she would prepare something delicious, and I was right! She served us a spread of creamy orzo with some sort of rolled and baked eggplant, tomato and cheese concoction that was so good that Xavier ate two whole plates! There were sauteed green beans with toasted walnuts and garlic, and a berry clafoutis. The meal was so satisfying, and encouraged long, meaningful connection and conversation.

As I mentioned before, knowing Melissa would prepare such a wonderful meal, I wanted to bring her a little hostess gift to thank her. Earlier in the week I had gone through my pantry to make room for the next bulk grains/beans run and ended up putting together a yummy granola for giving. It was perfect for the occasion! It's deeply toasty, just sweet enough and perfect for topping greek yogurt in the morning (or honestly at night, when I want a little tiny sweet snack)

Granola For Giving
4 c of Organic Thick Cut Oats
Coconut Oil
Amber Honey
Saigon Cinnamon
Roasted & Salted Almonds
Thompson Raisins
Unsulphured Coconut Flakes

I left out the exact measurements because you can really play with and adjust the ratios. I honestly just put a little of this and a little of that and mixed it all together until it tasted right. Melting the coconut oil is the only way to get it to coat the oats properly, so I highly recomend that. Then I popped it into the oven for about an hour at 275 degrees until it got little crunchy. I leave mine in a little longer to get that toasty flavor, but some people may not prefer that. Pressing some foil on top and weighting it down helps the granola to be a little chunkier, if you like that. After it cools, toss in the nuts and raisins. It stores best in an airtight container, and should be eaten with in the week. You can seriously add pretty much anything you'd like, maybe some vanilla or real maple syrup instead of the honey, or maybe omit the cinnamon and add another spice, or adding dried cranberries with walnuts. If you eat a lot of granola (or buy a lot, I should say, because I think the packaged granolas tend to be way overpriced and filled with preservatives) you should really consider making your own for giving, or keeping.

If you try it, let me know how it works out, or what you added! This certainly is getting me excited for the gift giving season, Id love to get a couple of packages from friends with home made goodies like this.

Thanks for reading!



a simple non list of essential baby items.

It truly seems that each passing day brings a new word, a new discovery or excitement for my little one. Getting all weepy about this fact also seems to come in waves almost everyday. The point where you stop counting the months your baby has been in your arms, and start counting the years is swiftly approaching us. While having a tiny person in my life brings on a whole new set of challenges, requirements, worries, I can't help but consider all of the challenges, requirements and worries that came along when that tiny person was even tinier. Spending more time with baby Indiana while his parents work and look for a new caretaker doesn't help my weepiness, holding a warm and snuggly baby in your arms can be mildly addicting (until he starts that angry cry of boredom, hunger or general baby human fussiness, then, I am glad mine is older now). But, with experience comes wisdom and what I believe people refer to as "instincts".

When we found out we were expecting, X had just lost his job, and I was starting the enrollment process for culinary school, so financially speaking, we didn't think we were ready. Of course, we were excited and joyously anticipating his arrival but honestly, the thing that most overwhelmed me was not the idea of sleepless nights or sore nipples, it was what we "had to buy" for a baby. I could get on my soap box and rant about the totally useless and over priced products on the market and how predatory marketing companies are towards new and expecting parents, but instead, I will just elaborate on what I personally found truly useful. 

I recall when my friend Polina, who was raised in Eastern Europe, brought her little son Lev home from the hospital. Her mother had flown in from overseas, and greeted me warmly at the door, taking the bag full of vegetables and herbs I had brought as a gift over to the table. I looked around for Polina and she was sitting down on the couch, next to the precious tiny babe. I was a little shocked when I realized he was stark naked, just laying peacefully in the afternoon sun on a soft cotton blanket. It was such a beautiful sight! As I was admiring his tiny toes and fingernails, he started peeing all over in his sleep, (hah, what a beautiful moment right?) I watched her mother, unfazed and not in the least surprised, simply covered his little bits with the blanket and then took it away to be washed when he was done. Another soft cotton blanket was placed underneath him, and he slept through the whole ordeal. Now I know that this seems incredibly unpractical, but is it really?! With how much those tiny newborns soil themselves, it seems like it might take much more time to fully undress them and change a disposable diaper, throw it in the trash and then fully dress him again. Sometimes in the pursuit of connivence, practicality can be lost, no?  Im not sure I will do exactly the same with any new babies that come our way, but it certainly got me thinking about what we really need for those tiny humans.

Julian's room while we were waiting for him. 
When it comes down to it, all a baby really needs, for the first while, are breasts (or bottles), something to cover his butt, things to protect him from the elements, be they bitter cold or summer sun, and a place to sleep. We have somehow over probably about a hundred years, accumulated and acclimated to these outrageous ten page long lists of things the are considered "basics". The items I used most during those first few winter months when Julian was tiny, were a boppy, lanolin cream for sore nipples and any skin problems for baby, a set of flannel wipes and cloth diapers, a set of snap up baby pajamas with footies, a stroller for walks, a rocking chair and a cradle my dad hand made for us. These were items that didn't really take a lot of deliberation, or price checking and comparing, or safety hazard warning label reading. We didn't even need a crib! I bring this up specifically because X and I got into a minor argument over the purchasing of a crib and crib mattress. I had been reading all of those emails the baby sites send you about what you should have ready at what time. Being 8 months pregnant, I was breaking all the rules by not already having a complete nursery, everything imaginable that a baby might possibly sometime in his entire life time maybe use, and black out curtains. I cried when he told me I was being irrational by demanding we buy a crib the next day or else! Looking back, he was right (he usually is right by the way, but that is not on the record) and we didn't use the crib until Julian was at least five months old. The other things that were helpful, but certainly not required were a moby wrap, a insulated car seat cover to keep out the cold while transferring him from the stroller (we got the city min by baby jogger) to the house, a mixture of lavender, tea tree and jojoba oil with some water in a spray bottle for rashes, and a water proof canvas bag for soiled diapers.

I honestly feel that everything else can wait, or at least you shouldn't fret about them. Baby certainly does not need a bin full of funny toys awaiting him, he will probably like to play with whisks or bits of silk scarves and fabric, or if he is like my baby, yarn. Although all of the cutesy clothes for babies are very tempting, its a trap! They really do grow out of them before your eyes, best to stick to a few quality pieces for each few months. The more little clothes you have, the more laundry you will do, and the longer you will wait between loads (i.e. stinky loads of laundry). The baby food makers that have high price points do the same thing as a steam basket and a food processor, things you may already have in your kitchen, along with ice cube trays for storing and portioning fresh foods you've prepared.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, it seems that in the pursuit of "simplifying" parenthood with all sorts of baby themed products can actually make things a little more complicated then they need be. Of course I am also preaching to myself in this case, and remembering all of those little things I worried about and didn't need to. What are somethings that you bought or where given and really never used? Or what things would you really recomend to an expecting family?

Thanks for reading.


Friday Senses

Making : a comfy open cardigan for fall, with Quince & Co's lovely wool/silk blend, Tern. 

Seeing: Julian grow and grow and grow, too fast.

Smelling: coffee, always coffee. 

Tasting: home made coconut & almond granola. A whole wheat pizza 
with crispy kale from the garden, caramelized spanish onions, spicy sausage and pecorino. 

Hearing: all the Iron and Wine albums on repeat and this story on NPR about organic foods.

Feeing: Proud of friends who have just returned from doing humanitarian work,
 or are heading out soon. 

Loving:  All of Julian's new words, particularly when he says "choo choo".  

Reading: Culinary Intelligence by Peter Kaminski & vol.4 of Kinfolk Magazine

Praying : Direction for our family, wisdom for upcoming decisions. 

Thanks to Elise for the "Friday Senses" Idea.