Our seesaw winter continues. Winter blows in, then spring comes barking at its heels. It leaves me feeling unsettled and edgy. I can’t quite relax with all this change blowing around me. Usually winter evokes a certain sense of solitude and quiet. It is the time that I generally read and write. These days I find it difficult to find my center. My writing projects are left scattered across my desk, waiting for me to settle in and focus. Before long we will be in the greenhouse planting tomatoes and the opportunity for writing will be gone. I have always found my true north by the seasons. I could never live in an area where there wasn’t a solid delineation for each one, some internal call for change, yet the seasons themselves seem confused and muddled; their ambiguity disorienting.
When confused, I find there are two things that help immensely, my home and my thirst for discovery. My home offers me a sense of place where I am loved unconditionally. Without it I would be a boat without a rudder. My sense of discovery helps me to not wallow in my insecurities and self-pity. The other day while I was going dishes, Val came in with a hand-made spoon. “Look what I made! Would you like to try?” I looked at her with doubt. I had never used power tools in my life. I put on my coat and followed her out to the barn. We looked at the wood we had recently had our friend Ted mill for us from a fallen cherry tree on her father’s property. “You don’t see grain like this anymore,” she said. “You won’t believe how much character it has when you start working with it.” I heard a voice whisper, “carpe diem” in my ear. I looked at the wood in front of me, and selected a piece that might make a good salt-bowl. Val used the band saw to cut it into a small cube, which I took over to the sander. Val offered some simple instruction about the mechanics of the sander, then stepped back and said, “Have at it!” I held the cube in my hand, turning it over and over to examine its grain and how I might approach it. I turned on the sander, took a deep breath and started rounding off the corners. After a few moments I would look at it and adjust. Before long it started to take shape. To my surprise I was completely immersed and enjoying myself. We figured out how to attach a lid with a brass pin and drill out the center for the salt. I found myself learning by doing, developing a dimension of myself I had not yet tapped. Since then I’ve made about a dozen salt containers complete with spoons. Most of these have been given away as gifts. We have ventured into spoons, spatulas and pasta/salad paddles. As we explore we have decided to bring these items to market in May. We feel these kitchen wood-crafts would complement our vegetable sales, along with bringing some much-needed revenue. Since coming to the farm, I am shocked at how much life has been thrust my way. It’s virtually impossible to be bored, although I am still learning to find the balance between being and doing. One thing I can say is that I’ve never felt more alive.
We have scheduled Friday and/or Saturday to be our ‘shop’ days. One of my favorite things to do before we go out, is to watch Val make her wonderful Lemon Scones. There are few things better with a hot cup of coffee. After trying many scone recipes over the years, Val has adapted this one from the Zuni Cafe cookbook.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (we use King Arthur)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 pound cold butter (2 sticks)
- Grated zest from one lemon
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 large farm fresh egg
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use silicone mats.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking power, and slat in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
- Add lemon zest and butter. Cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas. Add golden raisins.
- Whisk together the egg and milk. Add to the dry ingredients and mix and fold until the dough masses and the flour is absorbed.
- Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 balls. Pat each one into a 6 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Cut like a pie into 6 wedges each.
- Bake until edges are lightly golden and firm to the touch, about 25-30 minutes.
Serve warm from the oven with lots of sweet butter to melt into all the crevices.
Yield: 12 scones
“Happiness is homemade.”