Monday, June 21, 2021

A Daisy A Day

The daisies currently booming up a storm in my garden made me think of this.
Maine singer/songwriter released A Daisy A Day in 1973. Strunk, who was born in New York, adopted Maine & wrote many songs about his new home. 
Jud Strunk was 45 when he passed away in a plane crash. 
I often heard my grandmother humming this song, when I was a child. 

Daisy A Day
He remembers the first time he met ‘er
He remembers the first thing she said
He remembers the first time he held her
And the night that she came to his bed
He remembers her sweet way of singin'
Honey has somethin' gone wrong
He remembers the fun and the teasin'
And the reason he wrote ‘er this song
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away
They would walk down the street in the evenin'
And for years I would see them go by
And their love that was more than the clothes that they wore
Could be seen in the gleam of their eye
As a kid they would take me for candy
And I loved to go taggin' along
We'd hold hands while we walked to the corner
And the old man would sing ‘er his song
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away
Now he walks down the street in the evenin'
And he stops by the old candy store
And I somehow believe he's believin'
He's holdin' ‘er hand like before
For he feels all her love walkin' with him
And he smiles at the things she might say
Then the old man walks up to the hilltop
And gives her a daisy a day
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll give you a daisy a day
I'll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Canada Geese & Goslings at Togus Pond


 There was a lot of activity at Togus Pond this morning! We pulled over for a snapping turtle, intending to move her across the road, but then realized she was already in the process of laying her eggs in the sand & gravel at the side to the road, so Doug watched over her until she finished, and had buried the nest, and then he helped her back to the water. 
I heard loons & saw red-winged blackbirds, saw ducks & frogs & finches - but the best was this family of Canada geese. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Get Ready for the Maine Pottery Tour!

 

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Maine Pottery Tour is back! It's happening this year on May 1st & 2nd with 43 studios participating. 

The pottery tour is an opportunity to meet local potters & ceramic artists, see their working spaces, and shop for handmade pottery & other fine handmade goods. It's like Maple Sugar Sunday, only for pottery! 
For a list of participating studios, check out the Maine Pottery Tour website. For a google map you can load into your phone, click here: https://www.google.com/maps/@43.9489129,-71.2854808,7z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!6m1!1s1rGOOjdwHY01lzWp-p8XcS_qjNHGFMjZO

Let me just toss in a plug for my studio, Fine Mess Pottery, where I will be unloading a kiln Saturday morning! 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Seed Order

 It's always a bright moment in my Maine winter, the day I place the order for the seeds from Fedco that will become next year's garden. Usually I prefer to wait until mid-January, when winter is deepest and seems like it will never end, to give me that pinpoint of hope, but I'm told waiting might result in not getting the seeds I want this year, and I do want the varieties I've chosen for good reasons. 


I only have so much space, so every year I am torn between my favorites & trying something new. Here are this year's choices:


Sun Golds - These will always be on my list. They are just The Best: best flavor, most fruit, both earliest & latest tomatoes, and utterly reliable. They are a cherry variety; otherwise I'd be tempted to just fill the garden with them. 


Garden Peaches - Also an early tomato; in Maine the growing season is fairly short, so I've learned not to waste it on 90-day germinators, no matter how amazing they sound. These are yellow, 2-inch tomatoes, very flavorful & pretty in salsa. 


Oregon Spring - New to me this year, and said to be a hedge against a cool summer. 

Pruden's Purple - I think I had these in the garden several years ago, so not entirely new. They are a full size tomato - a whole pound per fruit - with a mere 72-day germination. We shall see whether that rings true. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The House Smells Amazing: How to Roast Garlic

 


Roast garlic is milder and sweeter than raw garlic, with a nutty flavor and none of the burn. It's ever so easy to do! You don't need a garlic roaster, but if you have one you can cook & serve in the same dish. 

Roast Garlic

You'll need:
A head of garlic
A teaspoon of water
A tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
A tiny pinch salt

Aluminum foil or a garlic roaster

If using foil, lay flat a square large enough to completely wrap around the garlic head. Bend up the sides to make a bowl shape.

Remove as much of the paper skin as you can without taking apart the head

Cut off the tips - not the root end! - of the cloves

Put a teaspoon of water in the roaster (or foil bowl.)

Place the head root end down in the water.

Drizzle oil over head. Sprinkle the tiny bit of salt. 

Place in cold oven; turn up to 400°. Roast for 45 minutes

Remove from oven. Scoop soft cloves out with tip of knife to spread on bread, or use in dressings or sauces. 



Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sugar Cookies for Christmas


I'm not much a baker. I do love sweets but honestly the world conspires to put cakes and brownies in my path; I don't need to go to all the effort of baking them. Anyway who has time for stuff like that? But I'm a potter, and the pandemic has fucked with my livelihood most truly - all my holiday events have been cancelled. The lemonade from those lemons? This year I have the time.
I have fond memories of making sugar cookies with my sister, as a child. Here's the thing about most sugar cookies: they exist to be beautiful. For the fun of decorating them, for the pleasure in admiring their icing. As a general rule they taste...fine. 

If you are using buttercream frosting, they are a vehicle for getting that to your mouth in the prettiest way possible. If you are using royal icing, well, that hasn't got an amazing flavor usually, either. 

In my usual fashion, I am leaping right in with alterations before I have even tried the standard way, because I want to make cookies that taste great and look amazing. I really want the experience of decorating them - that's the fun of it - but that's not a satisfying experience if the cookies are only ok. 

2 things are wrong with sugar cookies: too dry, and insipid flavor. I added a little more butter, and some almond extract which also serves to add some moisture. They taste like those almond horseshoes that fancy-schmancy bakeries sometimes have. 

Almond Sugar Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups flour (plus a little for the rolling board)
1 teaspoon baking powder

You'll need a rolling pin, a smooth surface to roll on, some parchment paper, some cooking spray, and a cookie sheet.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch slices & put in a bowl with sugar. Mash together with a mixing spoon or potato masher until well combined. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend together well. A stand mixer is super helpful at this point. Add the baking powder to the flour & stir it in. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix thoroughly. 

Divide the dough in half.
Spread a very little flour on your rolling surface, and roll out one of the halves of your dough to a quarter inch thick. Flip it frequently while rolling. Place the rolled sheet of dough on a piece of parchment paper. 
Do the same for the other half. 
With a sheet of parchment paper between them, put your rolled sheets of dough in the refrigerator to chill for 1/2 an hour. Preheat the oven to 375° f. 

After the dough has chilled, bring it out and cut your cookie shapes from it. Spray some cooking spray onto the cookie sheet & place the cut shapes onto the cookie sheet. 
Bake for about 12-14 minutes. Cool on rack. Tops will be pale, bottoms will be lightly browned. Makes about 20 3-inch cookies. 

The cookies are only half the battle! Here is the recipe for Better Royal Icing. 

Better Royal Icing
6 tablespoon pasteurized egg whites (The eggs you get at the grocery store are already pasteurized, or you can get a carton of just egg white.)
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Paste food coloring. 

This will make a lot, so you can make several colors, and have some of each at the runnier flood consistency & some at piping consistency. Once it's mixed, separate into smaller bowls & make your colors. The ones you plan to "flood" just need to be thin enough that they will smooth out, so you will add egg white to those a tiny bit - like a 1/4 teaspoon - at a time, until it flows off the mixing spoon. 

I'm not gonna try to teach you how to flood cookies or pipe decoration; I am an absolute amateur at this & you'd be better off to watch videos from My Little Bakery or Sweet Amb's.  

Here are some of my steps in the process: 


The piping was actually the hard part! The trees came out pretty much
as I envisioned; the little churches, not so much. 



Last step: cake paint. Might skip this step next time. Also, gotta work on those little churches. 
Those are kinda janky.