I made it to town finally to buy peas. I’m grateful that our local store, the Hitching Post, carries local seeds from the fabulous High Desert Seed & Gardens. “We’re done with Burpee,” said Sherri, “they don’t care where you live.”
High Desert seeds are tested and grown for high altitude and dry conditions right down the highway in Paonia now, after starting a few years ago outside Montrose. During a mild break in a day of chaotic skies, I got the pea trellis assembled and a whole package of Magnolia Blossom snap peas planted, just in time for more moisture to soak them into their bed.
I finally couldn’t stand it any longer. With temperatures above 50℉ the past two days, it was time to get into the garden. I needed some of the wire cages to protect the tulips poking up through mud, before the does destroyed them. The cages were stored in the back shed, so I had to brave a snow field to get to them.
The first few steps were easy: snow crusty enough to hold my weight. Then I punched through. Little Wren danced around on top of the crust the whole time. So did Topaz. It was a long way to the shed and it was rough on my knees and my back. I found a shorter way out, after dropping the cages over the back fence where I could get to them easily from outside. Then I crawled over the crust for twenty feet til I got up next to the raised beds, where reflected heat had melted a narrow path. It was fun, crawling over the snow, and doubled as icing on my knees.
I’m grateful for where I live, and for neighbors who share certain values that reflect an understanding of our interdependence. We don’t agree on everything, and some of us barely agree on anything, but we do share a love of the land on which we live, and a willingness to help each other out when what we can offer is needed. Big thanks to neighbor Joe for all the plowing he’s done this winter, and for pulling my car out of the snowbank with his tractor this afternoon.
It’s possible that there is someone in the neighborhood who didn’t look outside this evening and marvel at the truly astonishing colors that permeated everything from sky to snow to winter junipers. But it’s not likely. One of the values we share is a reverence for the beauty of the place we live.
We started off with a salty dog in our RBG glasses that Amy had provided. That’s her refrigerator covered in pictures in the background, and the lights over my living room window above that. Our dish for tonight was Carrot Button Noodles, which Amy found online. I was grateful I had just enough carrots left from the garden to make the dish.
Chopped, cooked til tender–but not quite tender enough–and drained, then into the food processor to puree until smooth–but not quite smooth enough.
I ended up with little bits of carrot in the dough but so what. The recipe calls for potato starch, which wasn’t to be found in the valley, and I’m just as glad. I used half cornstarch and half wheat flour, and liked the consistency of mine. Amy found potato starch, and said hers were really chewy. I went back to the website just now to get the link, and read “When used in doughs, potato starch, when cooked, gives a chewy, translucent, and glossy end-result. They have a silkier mouthfeel than using wheat flour….I like to use potato starch because it’s a little chewier than cornstarch. You cannot use any other flours or starches as the texture will be completely different.” Oh yes I can!
After kneading til it was smooth, we pinched off small bits and rolled into balls, then poked with our pinkies. It said to use a half teaspoon to roll each ball but we both thought that was way too small. I supposed Amy might have enjoyed her chewy buttons better if they were smaller, and I would have appreciated a higher sauce to noodle ratio on mine which a smaller button would have achieved. So now we know that for next time, if there is one.
Boiled about five minutes and drained…
Then topped with the garlic-soy-vinegar sauce. Amy had scallions which would have added nice color and crunch; I did not so I used some finely chopped shallots. Then another fun part, pouring boiling hot vegetable oil over the top, which sizzled, and sprinkling with sesame seeds. Equally fun was eating them. The little button holes caught and held the sauce. Smaller buttons, more buttonholes, more sauce per bite. Which may be the whole point of these noodles. Neither of us tasted a bit of carrot in them, though they were half carrot. But it was so simple, and so delicious. I’ll definitely be making more vegetable noodles this way in the future, if I live long enough. I’m always grateful for zoom cooking with Amy.
Further research, which I wish I had done before we made them, reveals a Chinese video with a different and even more delicious-looking sauce, and slightly different steps. I believe I will make them again, with potato starch. Even if I don’t make the exact noodles, I am definitely going to try this sauce.
I’m grateful for yet another day of beautiful, mild fall weather which Wren and I could spend outside puttering in the garden, tidying up the yarden, before another winter storm blows in overnight. Already clouds are massing above, obscuring the waxing moon; there’s moisture in the dark air. I’m grateful to have some of the firewood stacked dry under the shed roof,
I’m grateful that the green tomatoes I brought in weeks ago are ripening so well! I pulled them out of the brown bags to finish on the counter before turning them into sauce. After a hard day’s work inside and out, Wren is grateful to rest with me.
I’m grateful for the steady wisdom of Robert Hubbell weekdays in my inbox: for his optimism, criticism, research, references, compassion, and wisdom. I can’t recommend his newsletter highly enough for all Americans who believe in democracy, equality, and true freedom. I also admire and am inspired by and grateful for pastor John Pavlovitz who promotes true Christian values of kindness and inclusion. And I’m grateful for Jessica Craven, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, the J6 Committee, and so many other voices on the national stage speaking truth in the face of corruption and lies; and for the thousands of door-knocking, phone-calling, postcard-sending activists in my community and yours who are putting their precious time and energy into spreading the news that if Republicans win next week, we all lose. If you follow this blog and you are not an advertising troll, you probably care about many of the same things I do. Please trust me on this: it is imperative that every one of you votes. It’s going to be a close election, and there will be nasty fallout with Republicans across the board refusing to honor the results if they lose. We have every reason to be hopeful, as Hubbell says often, and no reason to be complacent.
I’m grateful for FedEx Ground, which I learned a lot about yesterday when a package got delivered to my yard gate. I’d been trying to update my delivery preference by phone or online for a month, after a 50-pound bag of animal food got left at the dropbox at the top of my driveway. It’s a bitch for me to lift that much anymore, much less into my car from the ground and then out of it again into a wheelbarrow. The dropbox is there for when the driveways are impassable in winter, but somehow that specification got lost over the years. But I wasn’t successful with the online or phone intervention, so when drove out last week just behind the FedEx truck and saw him pulled over a mile later, I pulled up behind him. He was courteous and friendly, and happily agreed to deliver to my yard gate from now on.
So I walked out to thank him when the truck pulled in yesterday, but it was a different driver, and she said, “It said dropbox but I didn’t see one so I hope it’s ok to bring it down here.” I was delighted and grateful, and explained again that it was an obsolete instruction in their route notes. Then we fell into a delightful conversation in which I learned that she and her husband bought the route–who knew? It’s a FedEx Ground thing–and it’s now their family business, she is the mother-in-law of the regular driver, she wasn’t planning to drive but it’s hard to find a driver applicant who can pass a drug test or has a clean driving record, five of her family now drive the routes from Cedaredge to Somerset, and so on. We ended up talking about raising meat animals with non-GMO feed, ethical eating, the challenges of gardening in this arid climate, and more. She was in no rush, which was refreshing, and she ended our visit by thanking me for supporting her family with my business.
I’m grateful for this kind of random interaction that illustrates for me, lest I should forget, the value of being open to authentic connection with strangers, and recognizing the interconnectedness that permeates all our lives. Other recent examples of this potential for meaningful connection out of the blue include developing a virtual friendship with The Hungry Traveler, and meeting an online mindfulness friend in real life today.
Today I’m grateful for any tomatoes at all. I planted half as many as last year, and they did less than half as well, so I found myself with a decent early crop of ripe tomatoes with which I made a couple of small batches of salsa, and with big expectations for a future which did not come. Yet. Last week I picked all the good-sized green tomatoes because I was nervous about a potential frost, and they are sitting in brown paper bags ripening, I hope. Meanwhile, the basket of ripe tomatoes grew smaller by a fruit or two a day as I was too occupied with other obligations to process them. When I finally got to it today, I roasted them with a couple of paprika peppers and an onion from the garden, as well as a store-bought garlic head. Then I ran them through the food mill to remove skins, and got a delicious thick marinara-ish slurry–but only just over a pint. Last summer I canned quarts and quarts of sauces and salsa. You just never know what you’re gonna get with a garden. I’m grateful for the domestic adventure a garden provides!
My guilty pleasure. I can’t think about where it comes from. Though I do buy local ‘happy pig’ bacon when possible, and otherwise the most ethical available. Which isn’t very. This is why it’s a guilt trip for me; and an indulgence.
When I want bacon I manage to automagically separate the food from its origin as a sentient being. My mind disassociates. Today I’m grateful for the first batch of homegrown jalapeño poppers. So simple, so delicious.