Sunday, October 30, 2011


I read 'Growing a Farmer' by Kurt Timmermeister (click here) last week which had this quote in it I really liked:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." -Robert Heinlein

I have not (yet) learned to conn (it means to steer or pilot -I had to look it up) a ship, and I'm not sure how gallantly I will die, but I agree with this thought. I would add to the list: knit or sew a garment, grow a garden, bake bread, and fix a car's engine -or at least live with someone who can.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Grandmother's Summer

"She just don't got the time that she used to." -Justin Townes Earle

A woman I work with told me that in the Ukraine where she is from early fall -about September 20th to mid-November- is called Grandmother's Summer because it is so lovely and warm, the spiders go from place to place (like a grandmother visiting), and the bounty of mushrooms and fall produce is available then (as generous as a grandmother). Yes, I pretty much melted at this poetic description. This Sunday in celebration and anticipation of the Grandmother's Summer weather predicted for this week, I made a pot of Borscht -lamb and beet soup- to have for dinner tomorrow night. Beets from our garden and lamb stew meat reserved from the two lambs I spent the weekend packaging and putting into the freezer. There was an article in the paper today (click here) that reminded me of the long term value of my job -and the peril of programs like the one I work for being closed due to budget shortages. I'll hope for the best and plan for the worst -and make soup.

Russian Borscht
Adapted from Jeff Smith's On Our Immigrant Ancestors
2 T. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lamb stew meat
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 c. chopped cabbage
1/2-1 c. mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1/2 c. carrots, diced (optional)
1/2 c. diced canned tomatoes
3 large beets, peeled and diced WITH greens and stems added if possible
2 qts. stock
2-3 T. red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 t. lemon juice
1/2 - 3/4 t. salt
1/4-1/2 t. black pepper
Brown meat in oil. Add garlic and onion and saute until translucent. Add remaining ingredients and cook 2 hours. Can refrigerate and reheat the next day. Serve with sour cream and snipped fresh dill weed (if available).