Friday, February 20, 2009

library card

Growing up, my mom frequently took my sisters and I to the library and during the summer months, the book mobile. There's nothing like stepping inside these quiet spaces filled with such knowledge and imagination. And the regularity of going, returning books and coming home with new words to read, was a wonderful rhythm and influence on my young mind.

I finally took the time (the mere minutes it took) yesterday to get a library card - something I've been wanting to do since I moved here, almost four years ago. In addition to the mental stimulation, there's nothing like holding a gently used book in one's hands and wondering about the other people whose hands have held it since it's existence in the library world. The importance of libraries in our lives and the support we give them is, I think, even more important into today's world than when I was a child. Not only does being a library cardholder promote/practice/encourage sustainable living, but it builds community all around, enriching lives.

Yes, it's hard to fathom the thousands and thousands of books, movies, publications and more, that are all available to us as library cardholders - it's even harder to believe that this rich resource is free of charge. But the reality is, it is available to us, if we choose to support and honor this tradition. I encourage you, if you don't have one already, to go to your community library and check out a book (or two or three) with your new card. I guarantee you won't regret it.

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

French Silk Chocolate Pie

I love recipe books (see the list down to the right?) and was given one by my parents this past holiday season. This particular book is titled Recipes and Remembrances - a collection of recipes and stories dating 1858-2008 - compiled by the Paynesville Area Historical Society.

Reading it from cover to cover; it transported me to another time. " The new creamery association contracts to build an ice house in 1896. Their 10-horse power engine can separate 2,000 pounds of milk per hour and was processing 5,000 pounds of milk every other day. By April it is called 'the busiest place in town' as farmers waited with their team to unload."

In the dessert section I came across a recipe from my Great Grandma "O" (as we fondly call her to this day). I remember only her love for cats, her favorite colors red and black, and her talents in the kitchen as a baker. I was inspired to follow the memories and create her recipe for French Silk Chocolate Pie. And since I was making it from scratch, it made only perfect since to also make the crust from scratch - something I had not done before, for I usually and easily rely on the pre-made dough found in the frozen food section of the grocery store.

First, the crust. Fairly common in ingredients: flavor was good, the texture not bad - though I never have the patience for the edging. I think I think the dough would preform some miracle and magically appear aesthetically appealing with just a toss and press here or there - it never does and I'm left usually with a very haphazard and lopsided trying to be decorative edge. Oh well, with the filling, who would really care?

The filling: hands down - it was the perfect combination of rich and silky smooth. Accompanied by freshly whipped cream and finely chopped fine dark chocolate sprinkles - it was divine. I thought I'd share the recipe with you so you may enjoy it yourself.

French Silk Chocolate Pie
Cream 1 cup butter and 1.5 cups sugar. Melt and cool 2 squares unsweetened chocolate squares. Blend into the creamed mixture. Add 2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add 4 eggs, beating with mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes after each is added. Put in baked and cooled pie shell, 9". Chill for about 4 hours or overnight. Serve with freshly whipped cream, chocolate shavings and/or pecans.

Friday, February 6, 2009


"Of the color between green and orange in the spectrum, colored like buttercup or primrose or lemon or sulfur or gold...."
---Oxford English Dictionary

I've been inspired by yellow lately. Curious as that is not normally a color I'm drawn to. But over the last few weeks I've purchased roses and daffodils and tulips. With all of them I have enjoyed their transition from soft and full, warm-of-life petals that generate hope and cheer to petals fragile and brittle and serious in their droopy to dropped nature.

My kitchen counter is the catch-all for all organic forms. It's where I can daily watch them (the potatoes, kohlrabi, gourds, a section of leek, garlic scapes, avocado peels, flowers, kale....) morph; shriveling or expanding, fading in color or changing color all together. I love watching the subtle changes in their texture, color and form and find inspiration even in what most would call ugly, perished, and ready for the compost.