...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


New Beginnings

First Day of School
This week was the one we'd been waiting for--V started K-3.  We are so fortunate in our city--and neighborhood--to have numerous publicly-funded Montessori schools, and some high achieving ones at that.  Just a few blocks away from the homestead is one of these gems, but we'd been on the waiting list since the lottery in spring.  We got the call on Tuesday and not a minute too late.  Yesterday V started preschool and we officially began the next big chapter of our lives.  This is a big step for her, not only because we feel it's such a great program and philosophy for our child, but because she'll be at this same school for the next decade building important relationships and life skills, creativity and friendships.  Oh, and Mommy might just get a little more personal time to boot.  Admittedly, I've been extremely giddy all summer about this new phase, though I tried not to get myself too excited since it wasn't absolutely guaranteed.  But even after two days of having a good three-hour chunk of childless time, I am feeling like a slightly new person.  As we settle into our new routine I am hoping to eventually carve out--and highly guard--some time to get back into yoga, do some serious sewing (with dreams of having an Etsy shop one day), bake bread regularly, page through recipes and make dishes that I've never had the time to make before (and improve on the creativity of meals around here--breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, all of it!), possibly do some volunteering, get together with a friend or neighbor for coffee (which we've been only talking about for too long), do more preserving and plan next year's garden more thoroughly.  My husband says "it's only three hours."  Yes, but it's a regular, guaranteed three hours three days each week (school is Monday through Friday, but I'm going to add an extra half-day shift to my current pastry gig.)  You'd be surprised what I can get done just knowing for sure I have that time reserved.  Of course there's all the life maintenance that I do around here anyway, but I've already discovered that I can get it done much more efficiently (read: more quickly) when I'm solo. Not to mention the load is lighter--no need to pack snacks for the gym bag, no need to factor in extra time for extraction every place we go. What I'm most excited about is that I'll get to have this personal time in the AMs then will have more time to focus and be present when my youngin' and husband are around.

First Day of School Breakfast--Gluten-Free Maple French Toast
With some of my home-canned peaches, an "All-Star" Breakfast
Last night I already felt I had more time to make a creative salad for dinner.  Picked up some fennel from our CSA farmers and was eager to use it.  

Beet, Cabbage, and Fennel Salad
Serves 4

I served this alongside some poached whitefish for a simple dinner.  One could use red beets as well, but the golden ones give it a beautiful color.

1 lb. golden beets, shredded
1/2 c. shredded red cabbage
1 bulb fennel, thinly shaved (I used a Japanese slicer) with handful of fronds, minced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. sherry vinegar

Place vegetables in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Combine the oil, vinegar, and preserved lemon in a food processor and process until a "dressing" is made (alternatively minced the preserved lemon and mix first three ingredients by hand.)  Pour dressing over vegetables and toss well.  Taste and season with additional salt as needed (remembering that the preserved lemons are already salted.)

Tomorrow will be V's half birthday.  I'm not usually one to get into half birthdays, but really just wanted an excuse to bake something, especially with her.  We made our favorite Vanilla Cupcakes using almond flour and had a great time working together (where did this additional patience suddnely come from on my end?)  

Helping to whisk...
...and mix
Mise en place
Mise en place is one of the most important steps in making any recipe, a point I try to convey in my cooking classes.  But honestly, it's been all in theory for me because I usually feel like I'm frantically throwing something together.  Sure, most of the things I make work out just fine that way, but I can probably still count on too many fingers how many times I've begun mixing  ingredients together only to find I'm out of something.  So today I actually had time to stage all of the ingredients in individual prep. bowls so that V could more easily help me bake.  She enjoyed being able to pour and mix, which are too often complicated by my lack of time to get organized.  Seriously, this new chapter has been awesome so far.  I hope it lasts!
Ready for frosting
The garden is still going strong and the fall crops are well established--even after some chipmunks turned under my brassica bed last Friday.  I reseeded immediately and kept them protected.  Everything is nearly back to normal already.  Coming out of our garden right now are lots of cherry tomatoes, which we're mostly eating out of hand like candy; basil basil basil--time to make pesto; and some interesting peppers that are relatives to poblanos.  Greens and beans are still popping too and the fall crop of golden raspberries are starting to peek out.

Pick a peck
One more school day for the week then a jam-packed weekend of fun in Milwaukee.  Summer's on its last leg so everyone and every organization are trying to celebrate before it's too late. 


  1. More patience will always follow better balance! Accept that as a blessing of the stage your daughter, your family and you, as an individual, have entered.

  2. Agreed! Balance is exactly what I'm looking for, just failed to find the right word. Thanks for reading.

  3. I just found your blog, and I love it! I'd love to see some more pictures of the garden you are harvesting all this goodness from!

  4. There should be plenty around my blog if you hunt a bit. Try searching "garden." Broad, but sure to pull up something. Thanks for reading.