The New Normal: Winter’s Here

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I’m told the Farmers Almanac calls for a bad season this year. I believe it. 

We get groceries delivered and they had to cancel, too cold to finish the harvest, they said. No potatoes. No celery. No soup to warm our bones tonight. 

The walks to the chickens are doable in the frigid mornings, but only because I’m distracted by the beauty of our farm. The cardinal-colored shack that’s broken and stark in the patch of trees. The burn pit that spreads motes of ash to the whispering and broken creek bed. The one lone goose who trails behind. The gravel that shatters around my stomping feet.

The icicles that form on the grill of the old Ford we left neglected all Summer. The battery dead and the paint peeling off the door handle.

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Icy, Rainy, Tired Days - What I got at the library this week

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Yesterday was spent between couches and bed, with brief periods in the barn and in town. Our smallest hen, a tiny barbu d’anvers bantam, seemed a little croaky and may have had a small cold. I stressed all night and as soon as I got up, went to the store for some medicine.

Iced roads, hot gas station coffee and a stop at the French restaurant in the strip mall. I came home to the dogs panting clouds in the sleet and melting boots in the foyer.

We ventured out for pizza. We ventured out for a painting I’ve been eyeing from the antique store. We ventured out to donate some books to the library and to pick up a few books, too.

An hour on the phone with my mom. Three movies with my husband. A slice of pizza shared with the dogs. A Sunday for a Thursday was exactly what I needed before holidays and work and responsibilities get in the way.

And if you’re curious what books I got from the library this week, here you go!

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Morning on the Farm: The Chickens' Breakfast

My little pug in the morning

In bed by nine thirty - who have we become? Every day seems to be dragging once it hits 3 o’clock and Nolan and I just sit on the couch, staring at our phones…microwaving dinner…thinking of our upcoming vacation to Seattle, Chicago, and Austin.

But it’s the morning that’s come alive for me. N works more mornings now, so he’s up first. He brews the coffee while he has a cigarette and brings me a cup while I, stumbling for my glasses and alarm, let it cool on the table until my head is raised enough to avoid the coffee dribbling down my pajamas.

He goes to work; I read for an hour.

The dogs, snore and stretch and snuggle their heads into pillows and my thigh. Any way to avoid the sun.

And then I rouse them up. We do the chickens. This morning, I had to carry Murphy to the backdoor. He is stubborn and wouldn’t get up with the others.

In this cold weather, I give the chickens any attempt at warmth that I can. I keep an electric kettle down in the barn for them so I can easily heat water for them throughout the day. I also bought oatmeal, which I mix with any herbs that are still growing in our kitchen garden (this morning, it was basil) and a mix of dried herbs (usually red chili flakes, to help with worming and immunity). Mixed by hand, a reserve for my bantam, I throw the aluminum pan into their coop.

This is a near-daily act of love I use to say, “Thank you” to my flock.

Back in Action: Fall Soup - Pumpkin, Curry, Apples, and Almonds!

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Well! The wedding is over and this week has been a dragging-out of lazy afternoon, laundry, and slouching my way back into the daily routine.

I don’t want to say or write too much about the wedding until we have all of the photos. I want to put the best out first and I’m sure will be sharing many, many, many photos throughout the next few weeks (or months!).

But we’re slowly moving from crisp to cold, the mornings that were foggy two weeks ago now freeze as crystals on the too-shaggy grass that crunches to the barn. The nights are long, the dogs are tired. We went to bed at nine last night, our eyes not adjusted to so little daylight.

And so I want something hearty and warm. Fragrant, smooth, sweet and bitter. I want it all. I get greedy sometimes. So I adapted my old soup recipe for Table Magazine last year with some ingredients I had around the kitchen. Ate two bowls quickly for lunch, a third for dinner.

Shared below, I hope you’ll make it, too.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 apple, roughly chopped

  • 1/3 cup orange juice

  • 4 cups good quality chicken stock

  • 3 cups pumpkin puree

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic, diced

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoon yellow curry powder

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat oil and sauté onions and apples until both are softened and browned.

  2. Deglaze with juice and allow alcohol to cook out, about 1 minute.

  3. Add stock, pumpkin, salt, pepper, garlic, and almonds.

  4. Bring soup to a boil, cover and let it continue boiling for 30 minutes.

  5. When 30 minutes have elapsed, remove from heat.

  6. Using a blender or food processor, pulse soup to desired thickness.

  7. Return to Dutch oven and stir in cream and curry.

  8. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Pumpkin Curry Soup