Sunday, October 20, 2013

the mushroom hunt

On Sunday, we headed to the woods to hunt for mushrooms. We were looking exclusively for chantrelles, which I crave intensely every autumn and refuse to buy from the market because they are so abundant in our forests. Chantrelles are also easy to spot and for kids to identify on their own. We left a little late in the day, but filled our baskets before the sun set. The sun was filtering through the trees as we searched. It was a lovely day, warm and sunny for this time of year. 

I spent my college years as an avid mushroom hunter, wandering through the wet forest and bringing bags and bags full of them home. I would eat them with everything and dehydrate enough to last until I could pick again. I have been wanting to share this love with kids for a while, as I feel like it is such a  fun treasure hunt, so perfect for kids. We had a blast and I think we will be heading up to the mountain again soon to pick some more. Until then there with be lots of mushrooms on the menu (I am thinking mushroom soup, chantrelles and eggs for breakfast, and pizza). Delicious! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

our garden in autumn: planting garlic, shallots, and bulbs.

The summer garden is done. I am bringing in the last of the tomatoes to ripen on the windowsill. We dug up the last of the potatoes. We have spent the last few weeks getting the garden ready for winter. We planted lots of cover crop, removed blackberries and oregon grape, and cleaned things up a bit. There is still plenty to do and some things we will save for winter, like pruning all the fruit trees and transplanting raspberry volunteers. I love how easy it is to clean up the garden when it is cold and plants come easily out of the dirt.

I am leaving some of the calendula in and we still have some squash growing. I planted some kale, swiss chard, spinach, and broccoli in our little hoop house. I am curious to see how it does and how long it will hold out this winter. We planted tons of garlic and shallots, as those were a pleasure to grow this year and they thrive in our climate. This year we made sure to plant lots of hardneck garden instead of the softneck, so we can eat lots of scapes in early summer. Garlic scapes are one of my favorite things to eat! We planted most of the garlic and the shallots in the strawberry and lemon balm bed. We planted some brassicas in that bed this summer, but they were overwhelmed with aphids and were fed to the chickens.

The soil is looking really healthy (much better than where we started), and I am excited for all the years of gardening we will have in this house. I felt such an urgency to get everything done garden-wise this spring and summer, and now I realize that it will take many years to get the garden where I want it to be. Especially with a one year old. Each year will get easier. And every year we will do what we can to make our yard an even more magical, fruitful place.

Monday, October 14, 2013

apple picking in the gorge

We headed east last weekend to the columbia river gorge to pick some apples. The drive is gorgeous, the apples are perfect, and the view from the orchard of mt. hood is beautiful. The day was crisp and sunny, and we wandered around the fields for a long time before picking. We picked fuji's, jonagold's, empires, and galas (and maybe a few others). The picking went fast and before we knew it we had picked 120 pounds of apples!  They are sitting in the garage right now, smelling so delicious every time I head out there. I made an apple crisp for shabbat, but other than that we have been just eating them fresh. It is fabulous having so many apples, but I need to get to work on preserving them. I am thinking tons of applesauce, as I didn't make enough last year. And then some apple pies, apple cake, apple pie cookies...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

books of the week

For the kiddos: Outside Your Window by Nicola Davies. Beautiful illustrations and poems following the seasons. This is one of my favorite children's books! Both kids love looking through it.  Gorgeous and sweet.

And for me: Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis. Recipes from a former chef at Chez Panisse.     The photographs and writing are beautiful and everything sounds delectable. The book and recipes are divided by season with some staple foods and cooking ideas listed in the beginning. I have a few recipes from this included in our meal plan this week. 
Anyone who knows me in real life, knows that I am the ultimate book lover. I love reading books, collecting books, perusing books. There are many, many books in our house even though we have a very tiny house. 

My favorite source for books due to both space and financial constraints is the good, old library. We have a fantastic library system here and we use it constantly. I love libraries. If I ever go back to school it will be to get my master's in library science. I started going to storytime as a wee babe (I come from a family of library and books lovers), and soon after I got my first library card and a big stack of books to go along with it. My middle school years were spent walking with friends from school to the library (with a quick stop for candy along the way) and spending the afternoon there until my mom could pick me up after work. I spent all of my teen years with an amazing job working in the children's section of a large library. I was the librarian for my son's preschool. I have watched the library shift and grow from card catalogs and microfiche to dvd's and the internet. It is such an amazing, incredible resource and I am so very glad it exists. 

In honor of my love for libraries and books, I am hoping to have a weekly writeup about some new books we are enjoying. We always have quite a large amount amazing books checked out at any given time, so I thought I would share some. I am hoping to share a children's book and an adult book every week, although sometimes I may focus on one or the other. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

this week's baking

This week's baking included:

sour cream apple pie (this was eaten in a day, many apple pie lovers around here!)

thumbprint cookies (we mixed in the nuts in the dough instead)

chocolate chip cookies (one of our two staple chocolate chip cookie recipes around here)

Everything was delicious and gobbled up quickly.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

the first days of autumn

We celebrated the first day of autumn by heading to a big, old oak tree in the neighborhood and collecting acorns. We road our bikes over and filled our baskets to the brim with nuts. When we got home, Uzi made an elaborate squirrel feeder with a ladder and sticks and a bucket filled with water and acorns. We have spent the last week watching squirrels scurry onto our patio and collect the nuts he left for them. It has been pretty fun to watch their antics. We saved some acorns for our nature table and some caps for an art project or two. I have a feeling we will head back to the oak tree and collect many more acorns before the season is over.