Thursday, May 14, 2015


About a year ago I shared about my discovery that, for many years, I've been severely gluten sensitive. Going gluten (and quinoa and oats, too, sadly) free has made a tremendous difference in my health, energy, life! But it has been a steeply uphill climb, sometimes. It may seem strange to say but I'm fortunate that I cannot even eat a speck of gluten without unhappy consequences. It may keep my back to the wall, sometimes, but it does keep me on the "straight and narrow". One challenging but very fun thing that's happened because of this is that I've had to replace all of my plastic and nonstick cooking tools - pots, pans, measuring cups, etc. - anything with a nook or cranny that could contain a speck of old gluten. After using the same things for twenty years, it was pretty darn fun to get new sets of everything, though, sometimes I would yearn for an old favorite pot or wooden spoon.

Another challenge has been going without 'take-out' and convenience foods. Oh, how I miss Joy-Wah, our local Chinese restaurant... and tacos and fried foods and shtuff like that. Enter into this story the discovery of a British TV show called 'the Great British Bake Off' where ordinary people create extraordinary dishes. It kind of woke me up - if they can do it - I can learn to cook anything! If builders, grandmas,  accountants and 18 year old girls can do it - so can I! I can cook anything! (Or, if you've seen 'Ratatouille'.... "anyone can cook"! ;) ) And that is where my creative energies have been focused these days - in the kitchen.

The pictures here are of the sweet potato, chocolate donuts I made with our brand spankin' new deep fryer - they were SO light and fluffy - a tender crisp on the outside and, then, rich, soft chocolate to sink one's teeth into - and very happy on a Saturday morning! Can't wait to try my yummy fish 'n chips recipe!!


Oh, yeah! David broke his finger but we seem to be almost completely over that and, honestly, we'll take the funny face. I'm just amazed that I even got two whole boys inside the frame (and not too blurry, to boot!) Apparently, rich, chocolatey donuts make great carrots! ;)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

a fairytale garden

I have often lamented to my friend, Mary, that there are no grand gardens to visit in Vermont (that I could discover, anyway.) Nothing artistic and creative as far as public gardens go.... I guess that I just chalked it up to the hard winters. I have often had to bite back my extreme jealousy (heh, heh), as I've watched dear Madelief visit some of the most precious gardens in England - places that I've only ever dreamed of seeing in person. And so it was that I became an armchair traveler - living vicariously through my blog friends who share so generously. Until, that is, when, one fine day last summer, Mary asked me innocently if the Garden Conservancy's featured garden for the weekend was in MY Chester.* What?! What is the Garden Conservancy? Where in the world is this grand home hidden? I had no idea! (Though, I suspect there are many corker estates hidden up secretive dirt roads on posted land all over these hills.)

As it turned out, it was, indeed, MY Chester - fortunate me! And so it was that I found myself, one sparkling Sunday afternoon, walking in a dream. Tom had heard rumors from builders and craftsmen in town of a home being built that employed imported German craftsmen and stone from an old castle in Scotland. Don't know if it's true or not but this home and garden had such a fairytale vibe that I truly do believe....

What I loved best were the layers of texture and color, both in the outside build of the house and the garden which worked beautifully in harmony together - and all of the details.... down to the last wooden peg and herbs and moss planted in between the stones. Oh! It was all so lovely!

My deep gratitude to the owners who offered us their hospitality.... so kind! It was a dear pleasure!

*Every New England state seems to have a Chester - not to mention the original in 'Ye Jolly Olde Englande'.


Jane and Lance.... their garden bothy - really, more like a garden hostel!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring has not sproinged!

We've had a little bit of thaw but everything is still white - just a bit of mud around the edges of the parking lots and roads and, despite the frigid temperatures, this morning, the birds were singing.... then! They're quite still now that it's blustery and snowing. Brrrrr!!

Apparently, spring is still just a twinkle in Mother Nature's eye!

Happy Hope of Spring, though, and Happy Vernal equinox! ;)


Sorry for the ridiculous title. What can I say...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

garden in review

Oh! Hahahahahaaa! Just kidding! There is no 'garden in review' from this past year because... well, last year, I hardly had a chance to garden. Weeds ran amok, sensitive plants seem to have disappeared and, yet.... and, yet....

When we lived in the parsonage, in town, I had a lovely little kitchen garden directly out the kitchen door. As I cooked, baked, simmered, stewed away, if I needed herbs - pop! Out the screen door I'd leap and, kapwing! I'd be right back in adding it to whatever was steaming away on the stove. If I needed tomatoes or cucumbers or salad or, even, a small bouquet for the table, I could just zip right out to those two long raised beds and be back in with the ingredients as quick as a wink. Then, we moved up here, on the hill, and didn't have any garden - let alone any fresh produce - and, to be honest, I considered raiding a 'certain neighbor that I know of's' garden more than once. I was that desperate for a REAL tomato and fresh veg! (yes! I know about those farmer's markets in town but.... no vehicle, alas, and... I'm talkin' about needin' a garden of one's own, here!!!)

Finally! The moment came (to cut a long story short) and, just before the infamous operation, my husband was able to build a lovely little plot with raised beds!! I bought my seeds and hopped to it! Never mind that it was 'too late' to plant seeds!! (and too hot that day to be doing anything, really!) I planted them!!! and, then, went under.... I don't remember much more from the summer. I kind of think I really woke up in September and lo & behold..... I had a GARDEN!!! (Sort of.) In all of the chaos of my other beds (and my house, too), I had one little corner of my world that was blooming and fruitful and beautiful. Okay! So, I never staked the tomatoes and I thinned the carrots too late... it didn't matter. It was weeded and lush and.... a lovely kitchen garden!

As for the rest? Well, there were some very pretty surprises because I didn't weed - a few things reappeared that I thought had gone forever. Our compost pile spit out a couple of cute pumpkins and, now, winter is giving me a lovely restart button. Time for fresh dreams and plans!