Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Bonfire and A Dutch Baby

What did you do with your Christmas tree this year?  Remember – I am catching up on posts – we took this down weeks ago!  Typically we pay a Boy Scout to recycle ours as a fundraiser, but this year no Scouts knocked on our door.  They always wince when they see the twelve foot tree so maybe it was for the best.

Everybody always asks “Why such a big tree?”  Well, I was allergic as a kid and never had a living tree until I was 21. We’re talking an artificial white tree with velvet bows arranged just so.  Quite lovely and very memorable but not exactly real.  Even the “kid tree” decorated with candy was plastic and white.  It was Florida in the 70’s and my parents defined hip.  Since then, my husband and kids have made up for my lost years by going BIG.

This year’s tree barely made it in the front door.  It was a monster, twelve feet tall and almost as wide. Let’s just say it had so much character the guys at the tree lot were thrilled to see it go to a good home.  Taking it out was a bit of a conundrum so we just did what any sane people would do; snipped off the lower branches, sawed it in pieces in the house and carried it out back to the fire pit.

Can I say it is downright SCARY to see how quickly a brittle tree is consumed by flames?  I always scoffed at the idea that a tree could catch fire in the house but I feel compelled to say keep your tree watered well and never leave the lights on when you aren’t home!

Just a few branches from this year's twelve foot tree. Brittle evergreens burn fast and hot.

Taking Just a few branches from this year’s twelve foot Christmas tree. Brittle evergreens burn fast and hot.

We usually roast some hot dogs on sticks followed by marshmallows over the embers but this fire was too hot and quick.  We opted for espresso (from my new Christmas toy) and an apple Dutch Baby.  We were still on vacation and it was great!

Apples and espresso grounds and eggshells, oh my.  Random banana peel too.

Apples and espresso grounds and eggshells, oh my.  Random banana peels too.

If you’ve never had one, a Dutch Baby is a fast, easy to make, puffy crepe-like pancake prepared in a cast iron pan, often with sautéed fruit.  It’s pretty to easy to eat the entire pan in one sitting.

A "Dutch Baby" pancake.  Serve this with a little heavy whipping cream or some good vanilla ice cream ... heaven.

A “Dutch Baby” pancake. Serve this with a little heavy whipping cream or some good vanilla ice cream … heaven.

I’ve almost memorized the simple Joy of Cooking recipe, but you can use this similar one.  Instead of preheating my pan in the oven, I sauté the apples in butter with a tiny bit of sugar, then add some extra butter so the pancake does not stick.  Give it a try on a lazy Sunday and see if it doesn’t put you in a holiday mood.


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Compost is Messy, Just Like Life

Is it too late to say Happy New Year?  Even though it’s already late January it feels like Christmas was just a few minutes ago.  I’ve been meaning to post for days … well, actually for six months now …

Where have I been?  It’s a simple answer but a complicated response.  One week last July I received two passing comments along the lines of “no one reads this blog anyway” and “if you had a different format you might attract more readers.”  Those criticisms stung.  I wasn’t writing for readership.  I loved the colorful melange of scraps in those buckets, the meals that had created those scraps, the satisfaction of words on paper (or screen) and the resultant memories.  Was I really just wasting my time?

Instead of ignoring those thoughtless words and carrying on, I buried them.  I pushed them deep inside but rationalized that other people always see things more clearly.  I argued (with myself) that I had nothing to offer and it probably WAS a waste of time.  I heaped self-criticism upon self criticism and aired those harsh words (to myself) regularly.  Along the way I kept composting and photographing but the only writing I did was in my head. Eventually I stopped taking photos. I tossed my kitchen scraps in the trash. I put the entire endeavor asleep for the winter.  I was done.

But on a bitter cold walk earlier this month I realized I missed it all.  I was struck by how similar my actions were to real composting.  The thoughtless words I buried were much like the scraps I threw on the compost pile.  Insignificant individually, but after several months they resulted in something new and worthwhile.  I had – have – something unique to produce and to say.  My quirky idea of beauty or taste or style might not be yours, but it is wholly my own.

So, here’s to a new year of new ideas, new insights, and the latest dirt, um, compost.

frozen compost 2015

This frozen compost is from early January.  All that old stuff … I’m letting it go…. get it?  Frozen.  

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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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