Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday, or Rain, Rain, you really don't have to go away if you don't want to. We welcome you with open arms!

Alicia de Larrocha plays the piano on my ITunes.  The bakery smells warm and yeasty. 

It is late and I am tired.

Somehow a lot of bread and cookies and cupcakes and cardamom buns got cooked.  Several different grains were milled. 

Right now Kamut pasta dough is sort of the favorite child.  Well.  That and the cardamom buns.  Oh, and the Good for You Chocolate Cupcakes.  The ones that the kids say taste like something store-bought, which means they taste pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.  Not to mention the spelt chocolate chip cookies.  Can you tell that Alpine, Texas has a sweet tooth?

Personally I like the Seedy Grainy Milk and Honey bread made with over 7 grains, freshly milled of course, with lots of sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and rolled oats.

The rain was coming down when I woke up before 4 this morning.  It has come down most of the day, occasionally pouring hard.  Even now I hear sprinkles.  I saw flash floods come down Cockrell a few times.  The dogs are so spoiled to arid Texas life they fuss when I ask them to go out! 

Rose and Nora and I grabbed some goodies and walked to our dear friends' home for supper.  It is hard to leave the bakery with stuff unfinished, but oh, so good to sit at table with people we love for a bit.  Especially when we are surrounded by food here, but not by a meal!

I probably should have driven the three blocks, but after a day inside, I was desperate to feel some rain on my skin!  Somehow we didn't melt.

So now I put on labels and listen to piano and feel very tired.  But more than anything, I feel grateful for all these amazing grains and for my mill and equipment, and most of all for my customers who care about freshly milled kamut pasta dough and yummy whole wheat chocolate cupcakes that taste "store bought" but aren't full of yucky stuff, and hand-made, individually kneaded loaves of bread that satisfy. Tired.  Thankful. 

PS A minute ago I got an email from a customer with a picture of their supper.  Beautiful homemade spaghetti, that a few hours earlier was grain in a bag in my ingredient closet!!!  And a picture of their precious daughter eating that feast! 

PPS Earlier today, when I was in the thick of dough and flour and mess, some folks dropped in to say hi.  The husband grew up in this house.  He and his wife wanted to let me know they were happy I was able to buy the place.  Can you believe his dad got a start making his way through college baking bread and selling it?  The man who had this house built and was professor at the college up the hill?  Who has a complex named after himself?   I was kind of embarrassed because I was a mess and busy, but really, what a gift!  These folks know all about the apricot tree and figs and pecans and can tell you lots about the composting that went on in their childhood!  This town sure is full of stories.  I am glad to be a part of one. 

Well, market will happen, rain or shine.  No one I know will complain about the rain.  We will huddle together, thankful for customers who come bearing umbrellas!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We are Definitely in Texas Now

I forgot to mention that last Friday night was Homecoming for Alpine High School. 

I guess one might imagine that I am not much into football. 

However, Maggie is in the flag corp and marches with the band, so I wanted to see her perform.

After the bakery closed, I grabbed a shower, sliced up some amazing veggies one of my customers gave me, made homemade pizza with baby eggplant, squash, tomatoes, peppers, basil, onion.  Put my feet up for a few minutes to rest while waiting for R. to drive in from the park.  Rose and Nora and R and I drove over to the crowded stadium.

Warm breezy air.  Purple and gold everywhere!  The lights on the field contrasted beautifully with the darkening sky and purple mountains on the horizon.  The band played.  Community happened as neighbors visited, cheered, and watched our team trample the visiting players.

I can't say I am any more interested in football than I have ever been.

But there was something pretty sweet about seeing a big part of our town, even the ones without kids, out to encourage the hardworking students.  Frankly I would prefer if we skipped the whole head bashing part and went straight to a two hour long performance of the band.  Which was amazing, and you can tell that they all have worked hard and long on their performance.  I was happy to see how beautifully the flags added to the music. 

Nora said hi to many friends at the game.  Rose ran off and found one of her pals.  Patrick and his guys sat near us.  But not too near.  They all ate lots of unhealthy, very unlocally produced junk from the concession stand.  (I guess my favorite is the nacho bowl with fake yellow stuff and sliced jalapenos.  Mostly I eat the jalapenos which is fine with Nora.)

We drove home, R and I and Nora walked hand in hand around the block, then we decided to sit on the couch to visit for a minute.  Thirty seconds later, R and I were sound asleep.  Til I had to get up and wait for Maggie to come home from the Homecoming dance.  Then sleep fast and take kids to the school to head out for cross country meet.  And then off the the farmer's market. 

Leaving homeschool world has meant leaving a tight-knit community that was very dear to us.  We miss it.  We miss our friends.  Our drama in the barn loft.

But adjusting has helped me see that we are developing a new tight-knit community.  Different.  But sweet and good.  I am so thankful for all the teachers who invest in my childrens' lives.   And for the chance to see the kids thrive in this pretty desert mountain town.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Maybe the Perfect Life is not always perfect.

Gotta take the bitter with the sweet.

Seems like I heard that somewhere, sometime.

So today I had some news confirmed that I kind of suspected.  Not really happy news. 

This evening at nightfall, I felt like crawling into bed with my book.

Somehow or another some little piece of me walked to the bakery, put my shoes on, grabbed the leash and Blackie and headed out for a walk around the loop.  I didn't know I needed to sob until I reached the section where there is no one.  Then the sobs bubbled.  No, erupted. 

I find it interesting that in so many moments of my life the bitter and the sweet are intertwined.

The other day Rose informed me she had picked out a meal from the most recent issue of Cooking Light.  I got her a subscription to that mag. last Christmas.  I have a few issues with Cooking Light.  They are great at cutting fat, but still use tons of white flour, sugar, etc.  But that is another blog post!  Nevertheless, they offer plenty of pretty food photos, and accessible recipes that are easily adapted to our diet.

Rose, who is 12, handed me a shopping list after church today.  She offered to make the meal for our early supper.  I grabbed backback, hopped on bike and rode to the supermarket to pick up the few necessary items. 

After getting back home, I took a break and Rose hit the kitchen.

Tantalizing smells wafted into my bedroom.  Chicken Thighs with Dijon-Thyme Sauce.  Roasted potatoes.  Garlicky green beans.  A friend of Patrick's came to join.  We pulled out the fancy plates, put Bach on Pandora, sliced the fresh bread and feasted.  Wow.

When my children serve me by fixing food it blesses me richly.  The meal was fantastic.  Really.  We were all impressed.  It took me back to Madison, New Jersey.  Was it 9 years ago?  More?  Sixteen year old Holly was coming over for cooking lessons in our teeny tiny galley kitchen.  Rose would climb up on the stool, elbowing Holly out of the way, irritated that someone was taking her place beside me in the kitchen.  Now Holly has completed culinary school after getting her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, works at an impressive restaurant, is a thousand times better cook than me, and Rose is making us meals.  And just finished cleaning up the kitchen. 

I know, I am not mentioning all the many, many times Maggie covers for me in the kitchen.  And Patrick.  And Thomas in the past.  They are all truly amazing.  But tonight it was Rose, and I feel like I must mention the moment.  And not only did we have a delicious, well-balanced dinner, but she also made dessert!!!  Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla IceCream (THE best icecream in the country) parfaits with a cooked raspberry-orange sauce, fresh raspberries and shaved chocolate. 

Oh. My. Goodness.

So the sweet tempered the salty, and a walk allowed me time to reflect, cry, ask WHY? and then count my blessings. 

The moon is just over halfway full.  The stars were barely visible with the moonlight and townlight.  The smell of the billy goat in the yard of the Radio Station made me laugh.  There is a crew of goats in the radio station yard.  Only in Alpine!  Blackie and I walked in near isolation, as the smell of laundry drying in the dryers reminded me that tomorrow we are back to work and back to school. 

Fall is here. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kamut or Pasta Carbonara...Yum...

Kamut is an ancient grain, purportedly from Egypt several thousand years ago.  Never hybridized, at least for the last few thousand years.

Actually, it is very similar to durum semolina, is a lovely golden colored grain with a large kernel.  It mills beautifully, and while it isn't great for bread baking, it makes AMAZING pasta.

Isn't it wonderful to have so much variety in our diet?  I love the fact that the hard white wheat I use has completely different minerals and nutrients from the Spelt and Kamut.  I try to get a variety into the kids on a regular basis.  Each grain with a distinctly special purpose.

But I haven't made pasta in ages.  You know, I try to moderate my intake of carbs so I can stay in the same size clothing.  But these kids of mine are long distance runners and I hesitate to give them white junky pasta from the supermarket, just to bump up their carbs.  Especially since it is devoid of  nutrients. 

A sweet customer of mine asked if I would ever consider making pasta as she is trying to feed her family locally produced foods.  Her request was inspiring, so I pulled out the big bag of organic Kamut, produced by farmers in Montana, milled it in my Meadows Mills stone burr grinder, cracked the dozen eggs, harvested by my dairy farmer, Sally over at Z-bar ranch, threw in a pinch of salt, a glug of olive oil, and began to knead. Thinking loving thoughts of my amazing running kids.

The pasty mixture transformed into golden, bouncy playdough.  I let the dough rest for a half hour, portioned out part for my customers and part for my kids and grabbed a rolling pin.  Instead of using the pasta machine, I decided to do a pasta rustica, and cut out fettucine with the pizza cutter.  I put the delicate strips of pasta on a rack to dry.  Got creative and made a bunch of farfalle (bowties) to store in the freezer.  Then called a couple of girl friends.

You see, these days, the kids are so busy with school activities, they have to grab a bite to eat then run to practice.  I couldn't imagine going to all the trouble of making fresh pasta without having someone to share it with me.  Seated.  At the table.  We made a salad, put on water to boil, cut up a couple of slices of bacon in a dice.  Fried it up with a sliced red pepper and several cloves of sliced garlic.  I drained the bacon, pepper, garlic mixture and placed it in a large pasta bowl.  In a separate bowl, I beat together a bit of cream, three eggs, some grated parmesan.  Yeah, yeah, I know it is rich, but the kids requested and you have to keep in mind we RARELY eat pasta.  Maybe once in three months.  And it is freshly milled WHOLE grain pasta.  And not more than 1/4 slice of bacon per person. 

Wait a minute.  Why am I getting so defensive? 


I dumped a generous handfull of the pasta into the boiling, well-salted water.  When it was tender, and rising to the top of the pan, I scooped it out into the pasta bowl with the bacon goodstuff, added the beaten egg mixture and asked J. to toss it with a fork.  The heat of the boiling pasta gently cooked the eggy mixture, melted the cheese, and basically coated each strand with savory deliciousness. 

I cracked plenty of black pepper on the top of the carbonara, and would have added a sprinkle of nutmeg, if I could have found any.  N. brought some red wine, which we shared with our fresh bread, delicious salad, thanks to J. and that amazing pasta. 

Kids gobbled and ran off.  We ladies sat down, buttered our freshly milled, hard white wheat Italian Peasant bread, ate our salad with Tree's sweet little cherry tomatoes and savored every last carb.  I think it is pretty awesome that our whole grain Kamut pasta tastes so much better than store bought whole wheat cardboard.  I mean pasta. 

After the ladies left and the table was cleared, I gathered the dogs for a two mile walk around the loop.  Probably needed a 12 mile hike, but the two felt pretty nice as I watched the crescent moon sink into the west and listened to the chirruping insects in the tall grass in the draw. 

PS  I don't imagine I will be making pasta every week, but I aspire to monthly, to feed these hungry kids.  And wouldn't aspire to more than once a year, if I were not a full-time miller/baker.  Am so thankful for a business that allows me to not only make good stuff for other people, but also helps feed my kids.  I hope you won't feel any guilt if you are a mom and buying storebought dried pasta. PLEASE don't feel guilt!  I do this because it is my business!  But if you have a friend with a mill, or have a mill yourself, or know a miller/baker, I do wish you would try some real pasta sometime.  And if you have a bit of extra cash, search out a local baker, and ask them if they would be willing to make you some dough.  It isn't hard at all.  I used a variation on the Frugal Gourmet's fresh pasta recipe.  You could do your part for the local economy and perhaps your baker and his/her friends would be inspired.

12 eggs (from a farm for the dark orange yolks and extra omega 3 fatty acid
4glugs olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 c-3/4 c water
freshly milled kamut, add flour to make a thick dough that will handle kneading.  If it is too dry, add a bit more water.  If too wet, add more flour.  if you can't find kamut, use durum semolina.  Regular all purpose flour is not going to give you the consistency you wish for.  But would work fine for egg noodles. 

This recipe made about 5 lbs dough.  You might want to cut it down to one fourth.  I rolled the dough in small batches on a big piece of freezer paper.  The thinner the better.  You really need plenty of flour.  If you don't continue to add flour to each side of the dough, it will become a sticky mess.  A pasta machine, the metal italian ones, work best for making a thin spaghetti.  I have one, thanks to Judith and Ned, and LOVE it, but it is a bit of production to use it.  You might procrastinate less if you just roll your dough out and cut it with the pizze roller.  Don't forget to try lasagna sometime.  Or homemade ravioli.  I was fantasizing about butternut squash and fresh sage leaves...

What Did I Do With Those Goodies from the Market?

Sunday I was hankering for good ole Sunday Dinner.

You know, the kind waiting for you when you walk in the door from church, roasting meaty smells wafting down the driveway?

We put in a chicken to roast and when we got home it was done to perfection.  I took some of Seiko's sweet red peppers, quartered them, and placed them in a skillet with a slug of olive oil and several generous slugs of balsamic vinegar.  Put a lid on top of the skillet and let the vinegar soak into the peppers as they braised.

Chunked up the sweet potatoes, the baby squash, the beets, onions, garlic and zucchini, drizzled more olive oil, tossed on a little sea salt, and place the cookie sheet in a 450 degree oven.

Sliced the eggplants into long planks, put a layer of them in a rectangular baker, sprinkled with Redmond's Real Salt, tossed on fresh herbs-thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, and added diced garlic and a drizzle of olive oil.  Sprinkled parmesan cheese over the herbs and eggplant, then sliced market tomatoes into rounds and layered them over the eggplant, herbs and cheese.  Sprinkled fresh herbs on  tomatoes, then a bit of olive oil, a bit of salt and a sprinkle of more parm.  Threw the eggplant gratin in the 450 oven with the roasting veggies.

Maggie gathered a beautiful bouquet.  We set out the nice dishes.  We invited a couple of friends to join us and we feasted.  Afterwards we took cookies and hot tea out to the backyard to celebrate the gorgeous day. 

It felt like Sunday.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What I Brought Home from the Farmer's Market

Nora is unloading the dishwasher.  Now that she is nine she has been added to the dishwashing chore queue. 

Nancy Griffith's Dustbowl Symphony is playing.  The mountains are draped in a fluffy white shawl and I have not quite warmed up from our chilly farmer's market morning, rain and temperatures in the 50 something degrees.

The Saturday afternoon chores have been begun, but I thought I would pause for a moment to brag on the great treasure I brought home from the market today.

Sweet potatoes, some larger ones, and a handful of fingerlings to roast from Mark and Debi
Baby yellow squash and zucchini from Mark and Debi
Yellow beets, just a handful also from M and D
Sweet italian red peppers from Seiko
Japanese eggplant grown by Seiko
Johnagold apples grown by Tony
A pretty bouquet from Pat
Venison sausage from the guy whose name I can't remember
Green chili chevre from Marfa Maid Dairy from Marfa
Garlic Herb chevre from z-bar ranch
Eggs and 2 gal. raw milk, cream on top, from Z-Bar Ranch in Marathon
A couple of pumpkin empanadas from the new lady
A giant lemon bar from Ellen (Nora's favorite way to spend her $2 allowance!)

I meant to get some green beans from Tree before she left, but missed out. 
There were people roasting green chilis in the big roaster, but I have some in the freezer we got the other day and had better use them first.  There were plants, other baked goods, other veggies that sold out before I got a chance to look.

We had several meaningful conversations, quite a few hugs, and lots of bartering and sharing as we huddled under the tents, shivering, toes turning to stone. 

Well, chores need to get done, the big kids will be home from their cross country match anytime, and I hope to work in a nap with the window wide open.  Love soaking up the turn of the season. 

I wish everyone had an idea how wonderful small town farmer's markets are.

True, those veggies cost a bit more than the ones in the grocery store.  But if we could get it through our thick skulls how much cheap food costs us, the world would be a better place.  In my humble opinion.

Not only that, but eating foods grown and prepared by people you know is truly a spiritual experience.  At least for me.  And it makes me grateful and appreciative. 

PLUS, as a seller, standing in the shivering rain, I am in awe of the folks who make such an effort to get out in the cold to buy from us when it would be drier and warmer AND cheaper to go to the local grocery store.  As we packed up our damp goods, I prayed a blessing on our customers and the growers of our delicious foods. 

Alright, I'm coming! (The pots and pans are calling my name.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


This afternoon Georgia was outside hula-hooping with Nora after school.  They called me out to see Nora show off some newly learned skills.  After being totally amazed, I looked over to the coral vines climbing up on to the carport. 

They were swarming with honeybees!  I welcomed the bees and told them I was happy to see them.  I wondered where they were going to stash the nectar. 

Not only is that coral vine absolutely divine, dripping with glorious pink jewels, the bees think it is the best restaurant in town.  I hope they come again!

Good and Perfect Gifts

This afternoon I drove home from a very quick visit to Big Bend National Park.  The scenery of the mountainous Chihuahuan desert restored me, as usual.  I see colors and plants and rocks I have been viewing in my mother's artwork since I was younger than Rose.  Today as I marveled at the myriad of subtle colors in the mountains and dry desert floor and flora, I saw all the colors of pottery glazes I see in the work of a dear friend and all of a sudden I understood her artwork.  I mean, I always loved it, and appreciated the design and color, but for some reason on my drive today it all came to life and I marveled at her work and the work of my mom.  Completely different media, yet they both offer something that gives honor and homage to this place I love so much. 

You would think an hour and a half drive would wear me out.  But as I cross through Persimmon Gap, head past Santiago Peak, see the cattle grazing (thank God the past rains have caused some grass to grow), rejoice in the spectacular clouds, I feel peace. 

I have so many things I want to write about grief.  Can you believe that we are afflicted with grief every day?  Still?  Maybe not every day, but most days something reminds one of the now 5 people living in our house that we have experienced loss.  I guess if you have experience your own loss you can believe it.  Sending Thomas off to school in New Mexico just about did me in.  I sobbed as I drove away from the dorm, telling Philip that it just wasn't fair at all that he was not here to be a part of this letting go. 

No one ever told me that the intense grief we experienced because of Philip's death would make small and medium-sized grief feel intense.  People like Cynthia told me it would hurt.  I thank God for her honesty, as she would say the hard things.  She had permission to, because her husband died several years before mine.  While she was still young and still had little ones at home.  She told me that while you learn to survive and thrive, the pain would erupt at the most inopportune times.  I listened, but nothing prepares you for reality like reality.

So, I am not sure why I am writing all this grief stuff right now, when I have several other topics I want to cover.  Maybe it will help prep someone else out there, since it seems like no one gets a free pass when it comes to loss.  Sooner or later we are going to grieve. 

Here's the thing, allowing myself to feel Philip's loss completely has made it possible for me to feel other things more completely.  Thomas's graduation and entry into the Occupational Services program is the best thing that could have happened.  I am thrilled about it.  Nevertheless, this child who was borne by my body, who lived in our home for nineteen years is no longer around.  I miss him.  And feel the loss.  Even though I don't want him to move back! 

Actually, I feel much better now, but the first couple of days I was rather sad.  And when people told me to think about how good it was for him to be in the program, and how I should be happy, it made me kind of mad and later I realized it was because I didn't want to be deprived of the opportunity to feel.  And giving myself permission to be sad and to honor the reality of the change in our family dynamic seemed to help me adjust more quickly.  After a couple of mopey days, I got over it and didn't feel intense pain anymore.  Just a little achey.  Then after a couple of weeks, I didn't even feel achey. 

I guess it is a bit embarrassing to write about personal things like grief.  But the experts suggest that the only way to heal from grief is to grieve.  So I embrace the moments, and thank merciful God for the ability to feel.

And remember that what I really wanted to write about today was the lovely lunch I got to share with my dear one, under the shade in his backyard.  A lunch that would make Michael Pollan proud! 

A giant chopped salad, with lemon cucumbers grown by Tony, my farmer's market neighbor, and his tomatoes.  The green ones I sliced and dipped in egg and a breading made with a mixture of chopped pecans, given to me by my church friends, harvested from their backyard and shelled!, some milk and honey bread crumbs, a bit of cornmeal and a couple of spoons of our 4-grain pancake mix, a generous dash of chili powder and garlic.  I know I hardly ever fry anything, but these green tomatoes were begging to be fried up in a cast-iron skillet, so I obliged. 

I found a little package of pork in R's freezer.  Pork we butchered with my dad, sometime this past winter.  Almost all gone.  I sliced it and quickly seared it in the cast-iron skillet.  Set it aside. 

Tried to figure out what in the world we needed to finish off the salad masterpiece.  I put the chopped romaine on the plates, added the cucumber, some chopped ripe tomatoes, slivers of onion, the chopped pork, the magnificent green tomatoes, chunks of local chevre.  Hmm.  Roasted okra, courtesy of Seiko from the market, placed on the side. 

I found a jar of apricot jam in the fridge.  We made it this summer from fruit from our tree.  I threw some in the blender with white vinegar, chili powder, a generous pinch, a dollop of grainy mustard and a bit of real mayo.  Drizzled it over our salads, had some freshly milled whole grain milk and honey bread toast on the side, iced green tea, friendship, love and joy. 

A sparrow came to light on cactus near the table.  Or was that a wren?  A butterfly lit on the table as we gave thanks and I appreciated his amazing colors.  Velvety browns on the upper part of his wings.  The dull underside was decorated with vivid eyes lined in blue.  The antennae were black and white striated with yellow bulbs at the top.  Another bird, R knew the name, but now I forget! played around the trees and the cactus and I wonder if he/she were working on the nest, or just looking at someone else's home. 

We spoke of work, his and mine.  Of memories.  Of a trip we plan to make soon to see some friends.  We spoke of the kids.  Family.  He had to get  back to work and I had to get home to kids coming home from school.  Back to paperwork and insurance and tons of miscellanea.  A bakery needing some ingredients and a new refrigerator. 

But my eeny meeny mini vacation was great!  And I can thank God that because of all this ability to feel deeply, even the lovely, beautiful things feel more intense. 

And I guess that is what I really wanted to say this evening. 

Pain and loss are brutal.  I wish none of us ever had to feel them.  But I have found that our pain has opened up my heart in such a way to be able to experience joy and love and beauty even more than I imagined I could. 

A while back a couple of friends and I were studying the book of James in the Bible.  There is a verse that says that every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights.  I am so very thankful for the many amazing good gifts in my life.  My children.  My family.  My dear boyfriend R who is a true gift, my friends, both the old ones and the new, my customers, my home, my business, the beautiful country I love so much here in the Big Bend.  Even that school in New Mexico, with professors trained to teach my son and to equip him for his next stage of life. 

I hope you will allow yourself to feel a little this week.  To see the beauty that surrounds you.  To taste and see that even in the pain there is good.  And if you someone gives you green tomatoes, I hope you will figure out a way to fry them up in a cast-iron skillet.  They sure are yummy!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Texas is a very big state

Patrick and I drove back and forth to El Paso yesterday.  We took 90 west to I10.

I felt lucky to enjoy such amazing scenery. 


Some rocky and rugged, up close and personal.  Some soft and craggy and blue, decorating the horizon in the distance. 


Bigger than it has to be.  Bluer than it ought to be.  Filled with gigantic clouds, scudding along, amazing me.


Open range, dotted with cattle, mantled with grass, thick from the summer rains.  Yellow and green.  Tumbleweeds, creosote, agave and other cactus, dotting the terrain. 

I breathed in deeply, letting myself feel the enormity of the place.  Grateful to be home.

PS Is it any wonder someone decided to film Giant here back in the day?  Or that Donald Judd picked Marfa to be the setting for his minimalist art?  West Texas. 

PPS Long drives are great for chatting with kids.  It was a gift to be able to enjoy the company of my second son.  He shared with me some of his dreams.  We talked about college.  We talked about love.  We talked about loss.  What a privilege.  I sure am blessed by my kids.

PPPS  Thomas has called me on several occasions.  He tells me about the movies he is going to see at the local theater at the mall.  He takes a bus to town by himself.  He tells me he likes his classes and is making some friends.  He has passed dorm room inspection.  He must miss me a tiny bit, but not too much.  Can you believe I have a son living under another roof?  Crazy.  I think I had better plan a trip to New Mexico soon so I can hug his neck. 

Full Circle

Last weekend my sister and nephew came out west for a visit.  Kids had football games and cross country matches and I had bakery hours and farmer's market.  We had a birthday party to plan. 

What I ought to have done was clean house, decorate, bake cake etc.

What I did was take a shower, change clothes, prepare some picnic goodies and head to Marfa with R. and Christine. 

Can you believe we had the opportunity to listen to Michael Pollan at the Marfa Dialogues?  I was so excited.

OK, true confession, I have never read one of Michael's books (see how we are now on intimate first name basis?).  I have read several interviews with him.  I always had plans to read one of his popular books, but was too busy living a sustainable life.  Even so, I always wanted to tell him thank you.  I have no doubt that to a great extent his work is responsible for us being able to survive as small family farmers and even now as a small town miller and baker.  I may not have read his books, but I believe what he is talking about to be true.  Am investing my life in it. 

A great deal of our customers have read his books.  And they invested in our milk and lamb and beef and chicken and bread.  And now they invest in my bread.  And cookies and other goodies, made from freshly milled whole grain goodness.  They appreciate the fact that I use raw milk from a ranch down the road as much as it is available.  And my raw honey comes from a multi-generational family-owned business up by my parents.   The organic coconut oil I use is from Mexico instead of Asia.  Less miles to get here from there.  And distributed by a woman who lives south of my sister. 

All that to say, I was pretty pleased to spend my Saturday evening listening to Michael Pollan and Hamilton Fish discuss Climate and Sustainability.  To be honest, it almost hurt as they mentioned Wendell Berry and I remembered my farm dreams.  I did grieve as I thought about all the loss that brought us from there to here.  And then I smiled at the irony. 

How many miles did we come to get to Alpine from Catawba?  We are still working on sustainability? 

After the dialogue I shook Mr. Pollan's hand and told him thank you.  Then we went outside into the glowing evening, took our picnic out to the tables in the vacant farmstand area and feasted.  J. brought a lovely handmade quilt and meatballs and carrot salad and boiled eggs and fruit salad.  And pepper jelly and cheese and crackers.  I brought Mark's baby squash and peppers, roasted with olive oil and sea salt, spread with Sally's herby chevre from Z-Bar ranch.  And Coyanosa tomatoes sliced and topped with Marfa Maid sundried tomato chevre and minced onions steeped in balsamic.  And of course homemade bread and cookies.  John brought the wine.  We celebrated G's return to the region.  We laughed and paused our stories when the train rumbled past.  We laughed and danced on the broad table top to 80's tunes.

Chocolate brioche at the morning market.  My dear sister's visit.  Michael Pollan.  Golden washed sunset and pictures.  An evening yummy picnic with friends.

You would think that would be enough!

Then we headed to Padre's, a local entertainment establishment, and danced and danced and danced to Joe King Carrasco, live Tex-Mex rock and roll. 

Life is pretty darn full.