Sunday, January 25, 2015

SUNDAY: Sharing the Feast

"It is only by sharing  that we may make a feast"

It was early Sunday morning, well before the day broke light. . .I looked out the kitchen window. . .the ground glistening with frost. . .no movement anywhere. . .WINTER. . .COLD. . .STILL. . .

I shivered a little. . .wrapped in an over-sized robe. . .and fuzzy houseshoes. . .waiting for the coffee to perk. . .looking forward to those first warm sips to start the day.

Neighbors. . ."Where ARE the neighbors,?" I thought to myself. . .I haven't seen them since Fall. . .only an occasional truck or car now and then. . .Whatever happened to the days of family and friends gathering together on cold Winter nights for SOUP--or chili--or stew. . .Whether at homes or church. . .we gathered together. . .each with our contribution to the feast. . .SMILES. . .LAUGHTER. . .SHARING. . .

I poured my coffee. . .headed for the couch to snuggle with Boo. . .still DARK. . .still QUIET. . .still lost in my thoughts. . .
"STONE SOUP". . .I said to myself. . .I hadn't thought of that story in ages but somehow it seemed appropriate and not unlike our SOUP suppers of the past. . .
"Many years ago three soldiers, hungry and weary of battle, came upon a small village. The villagers, suffering a meager harvest and the many years of war, quickly hid what little they had to eat and met the three at the village square, wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of anything to eat.
The soldiers spoke quietly among themselves and the first soldier then turned to the village elders. "Your tired fields have left you nothing to share, so we will share what little we have: the secret of how to make soup from stones."
Naturally the villagers were intrigued and soon a fire was put to the town's greatest kettle as the soldiers dropped in three smooth stones. "Now this will be a fine soup", said the second soldier; "but a pinch of salt and some parsley would make it wonderful!" Up jumped a villager, crying "What luck! I've just remembered where some's been left!" And off she ran, returning with an apronful of parsley and a turnip. As the kettle boiled on, the memory of the village improved: soon barley, carrots, beef and cream had found their way into the great pot, and a cask of wine was rolled into the square as all sat down to feast.
They ate and danced and sang well into the night, refreshed by the feast and their new-found friends. In the morning the three soldiers awoke to find the entire village standing before them. At their feet lay a satchel of the village's best breads and cheese. "You have given us the greatest of gifts: the secret of how to make soup from stones", said an elder, "and we shall never forget." The third soldier turned to the crowd, and said: "There is no secret, but this is certain: it is only by sharing that we may make a feast". And off the soldiers wandered, down the road."

It's daylight now. . .the sun is bright. . .the last bit of frost is gone. . .Inside I'm rattling pots and pans. . .looking for the right size. . .gathering the last of the winter vegetables. . .as John comes staggering in. . .half asleep. . .pouring his first cup of coffee for the day. . .

"Whatcha cooking?"
"We're having company for supper. . ."

1 sweet potato
2 carrots
1 lb squash
2 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 cup onions, peeled and cut into 1/4" wedges
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup pureed tomato (or tomato sauce)
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne (to taste)
1 (10oz) package frozen peas
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
croutons for topping
Peel sweet potato, carrots, and squash, cut into 1/4-1/2" pieces. . .Peel and mince or press garlic. . .Cut bell pepper into 1/4" strips. . .Cook sweet potato, carrots, squash, garlic, onions and 1 cup of broth in a covered pan for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a few tablespoons of water if mixture begins sticking to the pan. Bring to a boil. . .Add 1 more cup of broth, along with the bell pepper, tomatoes, lime juice, and cayenne. Return to a boil and reduce heat. . .Simmer covered until vegetables are tender, about 12-15 minutes. If stew sticks to pan, add more broth. . .Add peas and stir occasionally until hot. . .Add salt and pepper to taste. . .Ladle into bowls and garnish with croutons.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Chair and A Spare

I can't believe my luck. . .Driving down a Missouri highway, minding my own business, lost in my thoughts, I begin to see something taking on some kind of form way up ahead. . .My junkin' instincts are on high alert. . . My foot gets a little heavier on the gas. . .I begin to shake my head as I get closer. . .a big smile forming on my face. . .

"One (wo)mans junk. . .Another (wo)man's treasure"
I thought to myself.

This has happened to me before--when I least expected it. . .but this time I STOP and CONSIDER. . .Did I REALLY want two more chairs to clean up and store with my other fifty or so? . .After all, I've been cleaning out and cutting back on junkin' lately. . .because I have found I already have so much and need to purge some of the possessions. . .Add two more? . .Where will I use them? . .Hmmmm. . .Wouldn't they go well in the log cabin?. . .or by the fireplace in the house?. . .Wouldn't Boo enjoy one there? . .What will John say when he has to unload the car and find a place to store them?
Do I dare load them up and carry them home?

OF COURSE.!!!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

From Kitchen Pantry to Peaceful Library

I LOVE books. . .it's my one weakness (smile). . .So it wasn't a major decision to clear the pantry shelves and make a library retreat for myself. . .

I'm trusting you with my secret hiding place. . .my 'hidey-hole'. . .Here I can retreat from the world and take some time for myself surrounded by all the books that I love. . .Over the years I have acquired quite a collection on subjects that I enjoy. . .books on decorating, architecture, quilting, 18th and 19th century history, local history, costumes and vintage fashion, cookbooks. . .Oh My. . .the cookbooks!!!!

Maybe I have one more weaknesss. . .Here's just two shelves of them. . .I have. . .let's see. . .one-two-three-four--five shelves of nothing but vintage cookbooks. . .AND. . .more hidden away in the wicker baskets above. . .

I prefer 18th, 19th, and early 20th century cookbooks, whether original or reprints. . .I simply cannot pass one by. . .I pick them up at yard sales and flea markets mostly and at little expense. . .

I know what you're thinking about me housing so many books. . .In this new age of tech and ebooks and readers, why bother with a library? . . .Why not depend on Pinterest for recipes and inspiration? . . .The simple reason is that I love holding a real book. . .I love the way it feels. . .I love the way it smells. . .and I can certainly flip through a number of books much quicker than running through Pinterest pins. . .Don't get me wrong. . .I love Pinterest. . .It's great for visual inspiration. . .but when I want more, I turn to real books.

While John has been putting down the new living room floor (photos later), I've been cleaning out the library. . .simplifying. . .Looking for the floor underneath so much clutter. . .Clearing shelves of down-right junk. . .I've carried boxes and boxes of donations to Goodwill and over a hundred extra books to the public library. . .Once the floor was found (grin), I decided to move the comfy wicker chair in--much more relaxing than the cane bottom chair I had. . .With a few more comforts of pillows and a throw, I've found it hard to stay away. . .

It's small. . .but cozy. . .in fact, it's so cozy that I've been known to doze off into a dream world from time to time. . .a GOOD THING on any cold, wintry day. . .

I did make space on the shelves for any books I might find in the future. . .although, if I add too many more, it will require another purging or a larger library. . .Hmmmm. . .That's something to think about. . .I think I've told you that I have one more house to build in my lifetime?

Abandoned Virginian farm house

I'll soon be reworking parts of this blog. . .updating the tabs and adding new links. . .We've changed our home almost entirely from the beginning of this journey. . .My bedroom is in the process of change and John is almost finished with the floors. . .Once those are done, I can begin final work on the living room, too. . .This year promises to be THE YEAR that the major renovations to our house are finished on the inside. . .I'm so excited about it. . .Sure hope you'll stick around for the finale. . .

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