I’m grateful for waking up alive on another beautiful fall day, savoring coffee on the patio as potential days to do so decrease.
I’m grateful for two days worth of harvest putting the garden to bed; it could freeze tonight or come too close for comfort for the peppers, so I brought them all in: two types of paprika peppers, Fresnos, jalapeños, and the last little blot pepper.
And grateful after a busy day for a lovely walk up the driveway with Wren and Topaz, in the golden grasses and rabbitbrush, with decorative clouds, and a mountain bluebird hopping fenceposts ahead of us. We heard our first sandhill cranes overhead on the way back downhill.
I’m grateful for a full and beautiful Autumn day. It was gorgeous outside all day, a crisp wet morning from night rain, a clear blue sky with a few puffy white clouds moving along, some distant rainstorms, a little time outside with coffee, kindle, kitty, Wren, and hummingbirds; much good work to do inside, a gift delivery to a friend going into surgery tomorrow (may you walk pain-free now), just one wasp sting, and more fun in the kitchen.
The sourdough I mixed last night was barely risen by morning, it’s so cool at night now, so I put the bowl of dough in the sunroom for a few hours this morning. The bake didn’t happen til after lunch, but I look forward to a cheese and tomato sandwich tomorrow, and I was glad to share the perfect, warm loaf.
Later in the evening I processed a pound of peaches off the counter, making a few jars of peach salsa. I was grateful to have all the spices required except fresh cilantro, so I just used coriander powder. Also one jalapeño, and one Fresno pepper from the garden, and store-bought garlic and onion. Chopped, diced, minced, and cooked, I got three half-pints to can in the water-bath, and a smidge that was too hot to taste tonight but I refrigerated for tomorrow.
I’m grateful for that satisfying pop the jar lids make with a successful vacuum seal. There’s nothing quite like it: You pull the hot jars out of the boiling water, set them on the counter, and wait… I like to wait in silence, because the pop is just so satisfying when it comes. The truth is, you can have a successful seal even without the pop, but it just doesn’t feel finished to me until that *pop* happens when the lid sucks down onto the jar, sealing your summer produce to preserve it for a good six months or longer: A job well done. I’ve got a couple of pounds of peaches left on the counter, and maybe one more on the tree. I look forward to picking the last of the peach harvest tomorrow.
I’m grateful for any kind of harvest, and maybe more grateful this summer for a slow and gentle harvest without any urgency to put up the fruits of the garden. Some years I’ve been grateful for a hectic and abundant harvest of tomatoes, or cucumbers, or peppers, or any combination. This year I’m grateful for a tame and easy harvest.
One of my dear next-door neighbors came over this morning to help pick the last basket of apricots off the tree. We dropped plenty for the deer, Wren, and Biko, and left plenty pecked ones on the tree for the birds. I was grateful for help with the last basket, and she was happy to take them home. I’m grateful beyond words for the joy this amazing tree brings to me and to others, for its beauty all year long, for the history we’ve shared, and for the generosity of its harvest this year.
I’m grateful that the apricot blessing is winding down! It’s been –is being– an extraordinary year for apricots at Mirador. The east side of the tree looks like it’s about given up all its fruit… but the west side still has plenty to offer! However, at this point even many fruits within reach have been pecked by birds on their tops or far sides, and so while I may still be able to harvest a few more, I’ve pretty much surrendered the season. A couple of baskets remain in the kitchen to be turned into jam or frozen, but within a couple of days I believe that apricot harvest will feel complete. It’s been a fun ride!
Though little Wren buries herself in towels or the bedding during a rainstorm, she quickly runs outside when the storm has passed, to enjoy with me the gorgeous aftermath. Note the slowly ripening peaches on the next tree up for harvest, another banner year if I can get to them before the rodents.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, apricot upside-down cake is brewing. I’ve never made an upside-down cake, honestly never understood the appeal until quite recently when Deb shared some homemade pineapple upside-down cake. Hmmmm, I thought, this is actually quite tasty. And so when NYT threw this recipe my way in its ‘Many Ways to Use Apricots’ feature, I saved the recipe, and baked it tonight.
While I’m immensely pleased with the outcome, I haven’t tasted it yet. The blessed rain postponed my dinner plan so I’m saving the cake to serve with coffee tomorrow. Instead tonight, I zoomed with a friend and student as we sipped cocktails together and discussed impermanence, non-attachment to outcome, and the infinitely unfolding path of mindfulness practice. I’m so grateful for every little bit of my life; even more so when I remember how fleeting and fraught with uncertainty it is. I’m grateful for gradually learning how to hold everything, just as it is, the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows. And the ten thousand apricots.
I’m grateful for another beautiful day of being alive in the neighborhood, and another Boyz Lunch. Today we enjoyed yogurt and spice roasted salmon over rice, fresh garden peas and lettuce, and three-bean salad. The marinade was simple, colorful and tasty, and the salmon cooked to perfection cut in small bites and roasted on high for ten minutes.
There was also a dessert, allegedly sour cream-raspberry brownies, but actually just pudding. I don’t know what went wrong. It was even a high altitude recipe, which I can’t recommend until I troubleshoot it. The Boyz are so agreeable, and maybe actually liked it better as pudding as they said. It was a lot of work and costly ingredients, so I packaged it up and froze portions in case of emergency, rather than dumping it.
It’s a great year for the miniature lupines that I’ve only found in one patch along the trail. I was challenged to find information online about it, but then I was grateful to remember I have a book! So I turned to Weber’s Colorado Flora, and from there was able to locate it online as Lupinus lepidus. It was years before I even noticed this little flower, and the patch just keeps growing. When the seedpods burst they can shoot up to twenty feet. I’m definitely going to collect some seeds to sow in the yarden this summer.
It’s a sad truth that the smaller, more delicate, and more sparse plants on the forest floor are the natives, and the much more prolific, prickly or gaudy plants are invasive exotics, like this weedy alyssum below. Carpets of it all going to seed! Sure, it looks like a fairy land in the right light, but drop a match or catch an ember and it’s nothing but tinder. Everyone is thrilled about all the green everywhere, and though I’m not obsessing over it, I can’t help but think often about how as soon as summer dries it out we’ll have ten times the wildfire fuel on the ground as we did last year.
I AM grateful for all the green in the garden, though. Lettuce, arugula, and orach are bountiful now. I’m so glad I made time to plant arugula and lettuce under plastic hoops in late winter, and also that I let the orach go to seed last fall and it self-sowed.
I’m grateful to have found Hook & Loom rugs a couple of years ago when I was looking for a new, environmentally friendly kitchen rug. I bought a couple of small throw rugs then, too. I’m grateful to have remembered Hook & Loom when I started shopping for a new living room rug last month. I ordered some swatches to better determine what I want for the new, streamlined aesthetic now that I don’t need all my beautiful maple flooring covered with rugs to protect my dear departed old Stellar dog from slipping and sliding. After a day with them on the floor, I’ve only eliminated two options, but here they are all together. Three are wool, one is organic cotton, and the rest are recycled cotton. Wren can’t decide her preference either, though she has certainly enjoyed skidding around on all of them. We’ll decide by the end of the week.
I’m grateful for sweet potatoes, and for a snow-day lunch today of a baked sweet potato and a bowl of garden beans. I finally shelled the rattlesnake pole beans last week, and only got a small bowl full, so I soaked them overnight, sautéed a small garden onion, and tossed in some Scotch bonnet pepper flakes from last year, and a healthy shake of Penzeys Arizona seasoning, for a hearty bowl of beans to accompany the buttery tuber. So simple, so delicious!
I didn’t grow up cherishing the ‘whoopie pie,’ in fact I’m not sure I ever ate one. But for some reason this recipe caught my attention, and I had everything I needed except the oatmeal. My Personal Shopper picked up a carton of ‘traditional old-fashioned’ oats, and neither of us was sure if that fit the bill for ‘rolled oats.’ I’m pleased to announce that it did! I searched it and found a site assuring me that there’s absolutely no difference between rolled and old-fashioned oats, and was grateful to confirm that when I opened the can to bake this evening. (I also did not grow up eating oatmeal, or I might have known this.)
The recipe calls for dried cranberries to go in the basic cinnamon oatmeal cookies, and for canned whole cranberry sauce for the filling. I guess I could have bought both of those ingredients also, but decided instead to use up the last of the dried sour cherries, handpicked by John, that were given to me a couple months ago. Was it that long ago? Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not. I’d been nibbling on them, and used them as a martini garnish, but had enough left to bake these delicious cookies. Instead of the cranberry sauce in the filling, which was otherwise just a basic cream cheese-buttercream frosting, I used a few cherries and a tablespoon of the raspberry syrup I made earlier this fall. So simple, so delicious. I’m grateful for the gift of sour cherries, grown with attention, picked with love, and given with generosity.
I’m grateful for this moment, this evening, stepping outside onto the deck to witness the aspens gloried up on Mendicant Ridge with cumulus clouds above and a light shower farther east, with junipers under my protection in the foreground. I’m grateful for Living Inside the Kaleidoscope.
I’m grateful for this moment, having stuffed two Sirenevyi sweet peppers with leftover mushroom stuffing from the other night, grateful for parchment paper which makes life easier and cleanup quicker, grateful for the source of the paper, for the growth of the peppers, the water to grow them, the time to attend to them… grateful for the nourishment of a simple vegetarian meal.