Sunday, July 26, 2009


The garden's chock full of these beauties. Such a summer treat.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Temperance in Ashe

This weekend, Noah's band, Irish Temperance, played two gigs in Ashe County, NC. The whole band stayed with some friends where we enjoyed this lovely view...
The New River snakes through Ashe. On Saturday morning, I found a great trail that meanders alongside the river. I couldn't have asked for a better running path. Noah made his way down a steep slope, fly rod in hand, to see what he could catch. What a great morning!
After my run I thought it would be nice to check on Noah. I hiked down the path to the river (which proved no easy feat!), searched up and down the bank but couldn't find him anywhere.
Then I spotted this little speck of a fisherman:
I think he only caught one little fish, but I know he had a great time. I enjoyed the trees...
The band played a neighborhood party at our host's house on Saturday afternoon, and then we all headed over to the Ashe County Arts Council for their evening gig. We'd heard ticket sales had been slow, but by the time the show started, the venue was packed. The stone building made for a most perfect music hall.
And I'm pretty sure the guys gleaned a good number of new fans.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thinking of Fields

I spent Summer 2005 working with Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) as an Into the Fields intern (Noah did too...the end of that summer was the beginning of US). I can't begin to share what this experience meant to me. SAF continues to be one of the organizations I admire most.

I'm getting ready to head to South Carolina for the weekend and already I'm thinking about the farmworker camps I'll pass. Driving down Interstate 40, I never used to notice the shabby worker housing tucked around the edges of vast fields. I never thought about how all the pesticides being sprayed on the fields affect the workers who pick those fields. I didn't value the food that comes to my table in quite the same way I do now...

Melchor Tomas - farmworkers turned farmer, Western NC
I'll probably be sharing more of my thoughts on farmworkers - especially during these summer months. For now...please be thankful for those who harvest your food. And if you're looking to make a meaningful donation...SAF is my first recommendation!
Also, Tony Macias, SAF's Assistant Director, put together this film upon returning from a delegation trip to Mexico.
Check it out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Homemade Ricotta and Summer Tomato Salad

Making cheese has become one of my new favorite things. Homemade ricotta is almost too easy. My friend Katie makes her own ricotta and mozzarella for lasagna. She's inspired me - as soon as the nights turn chilly, cheesy lasagna will be in our oven.

Ricotta Cheese
  • 4 cups whole milk (Today I tried low fat milk, and it worked just fine.)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and set the strainer over a large bowl.

2. Combine milk, cream and salt, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce heat to low, and add the lemon juice. Gently stir for 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should start to curdle.

4. Pour the mix into the strainer, and let the cheese drain for an hour or so. Use the cheese right away or refrigerate it in an airtight container. It should be good for a few days.

So far, my favorite way to use ricotta cheese is like this:

Summer Tomato Salad

  • 2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks - various sized heirlooms work especially well
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • one 3-ounce chunk day-old country-style bread, ripped into small chunks
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • nice handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup ricotta

Mix everything together in a bowl. Serve it right away, or if you can stand to wait, refrigerate it for an hour or so. It definitely gets better with age!

Now if I only had my own cow...

Sunday, July 5, 2009


We just got back from a GREAT weekend in Madison County.
One highlight was the Fourth of July celebration. Noah's family friends have been throwing this get-together for thirty four years.

We chowed down on pizza from the mountainside brick oven (note to self: add one of these to your life)...

And toasted to a night of catching up with old friends.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


The gristmill that sits next to my apartment started running in the 1830s. When my landlord, Ed, bought the property in the 1970s, he knew he'd always have a project at his fingertips.

This summer, Ed's working on rebuilding the mill foundation.

About a month ago, Noah helped Ed and his son pull the old mill stone out of the mill race.
It was quite a project. After it was done, we took group pictures and then retreated to the porch for some sangria.
One of Ed's first projects after purchasing the property was to rebuild the dam. Thanks for your work, Ed. I feel lucky to sleep to the sound of falling water.

June 2009

Watching all the rebuilding makes me think of the history of this place. We talk about all the meals that were once cooked in our outdoor fireplace. The old rusty horseshoes scattered in the woods carry images of farmers lugging their corn to the mill. We wonder if weary soldiers camped out by the pond on their way to another battle.
It's funny that we're a part of this place for such a small moment in time.
It'll be a part of us forever.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In Love with a Reader

Noah is an avid reader. It's one of my favorite things about him.

On the best Sunday mornings, we go into town and grab a New York Times. Thick and juicy, we take the day to devour the treat. Throughout the following week, we spend mornings with coffee and the remains of Sunday's paper. The crisp sheets become crinkled and smudged...tell tale signs that stories have been savored. What I really love are all the pauses we take to share what we're each reading. Sometimes one of us just agrees to read a whole article aloud. Of course, discussion follows. Many great conversations have started like this.

In the past year or so, my parents have also gotten into the Sunday Times. Their back porch is a great paper reading spot. We like joining them for this.

I'm not even making this up: as I type this Noah says to me, "Hey baby, can I read you something?"

I turn my head toward him, letting him know that I'm all ears. He shares with me a little blurb about Angkor from the National Geographic he's been pouring over (see photo above). In just a few seconds my mind has opened a bit more, and I'm back to blogging.

What a guy.