The prevailing mode of this “new normal” has been looking for comfort – safe fun places to go to, favorite recipes to cook, good books that let you take your mind off the things around. It’s not always possible, with the stress of work and remote schooling, but I find myself living from one moment of comfort to the next, focusing on “staying within the four walls” of the moment.
All the worry and anxiety are always there, as a backdrop of this season, but outside of these pages. Capturing all the good things here.
We visited this farm last year and saw a cow milking demonstration, a dwarf pig (“Wilbur”), and fairy tale gardens. We visited their small, but well curated exhibit of things made of agricultural products, and a gift shop. This year, since we didn’t want to be indoors, we skipped the exhibit and the cow milking (it takes place in a barn). Wilbur, sadly, was not there either. But we still had fun walking around, feeding goats and llamas, looking at the fairly gardens – now a bit overgrown, and climbing hay stacks.
A “Three Bears “garden display
“Charlotte’s Webb” display. Phoebe and I were going over our favorite parts of the book, missing the Wilbur
Hay stack hopping
There were a lot of people visiting the farm and almost everyone had a mask on, which was good because it did feel quite crowded.
This park had massive fires 9 years ago and a lot of the unique forests (The Lost Pine) were lost in the fires. We were curious to see how the park looks this days and were able to snag a pass – it’s hard to get an admission to a state park these days without an advance reservation.
We hiked the trails, remembering them in their former glory. The forest is coming back, but slowly. It’s not the same experience anymore, but it was still a nice day out.
The water fountains (not functioning anymore) were discovered after the fires. They were made in the 1930s, out of sandstone quarried nearby, with the water pipes laid out above-ground.
Examining American Beautyberries. The looked better than they tasted.
“Fabulous and Monstrous Beasts” aren’t scaring anyone.
My refuge for the last couple of weeks, this trilogy by Jane Smiley:
I hadn’t heard of it before checking it out at my online library but I am so glad I gave it a try. The trilogy follows an extended family of Iowa farmers, younger generations moving away from Iowa and their farming roots. This is not a family drama, though. Quoting The Guardian, “Some Luck is not simply an observation of family life and the pressures it is naturally susceptible to; it is […] a dissection of the idea of family, and of the truths its façade will shield from view.” Highly recommended!
** My favorite pumpkin bread.
It’s not too sweet, and it uses the entire can of pumpkin puree so you are not left with an open can of unused pumpkin. It makes 2 loaves, I freeze one. I will post the recipe soon (hopefully) but my changes to the original recipe were: use canola oil instead of butter and reduce sugar by about quarter cup. Otherwise, the recipe is perfect as written.
** Roast Chicken
I make this recipe throughout the year. It’s easier than it looks, although it took me a long time to get around trying it. I don’t fuss with different recipes anymore.
I rub it with some cooking oil and some herbs (usually thyme and rosemary, or Italian mix), salt and pepper well, and bake 15 minutes on 425 F and then an hour at 375 F. It always comes out perfectly juicy.
It can be prepped in advance, and put in the oven till you are ready.
Help is always welcome!
** Halloween sugar cookies
We had a very low key Halloween, but a batch of sugar cookies got made. Here is the recipe we use for our sugar cookies. We (the girls) made some bats and ghosts.
Looks like instructions were not being followed well
** Smoked ribs
Brian’s new smoker’s been put to good use. The ribs were outstanding:
Served with creamed corn and green beans, a delicious meal we ate outside on a warm night.
Wrapping up here. Hoping you’ve been finding your own moments of comfort, whatever it means to you.