Sunday, October 30, 2011

I beg your pardon - I think I promised you a Crazy Face

I owe y'all a photo, and my mom an apology. Although I suspect that nearly 100% of the comments may have all come from the same individual, here is the Crazy Face I promised:

I think this is irrefutable proof that people are nuts for my persimmon cookies.

I also want to take this moment to introduce my Mom.  Look!  She is beautiful.   She's also smart (working on her second Master's degree), brave (ran the Paris marathon, beat cancer), and mad-skilled (she knits, cooks, speaks multiple languages, sews, grows beautiful plants, and teaches).  All of that, and she's a good sport. My mom raised my sister and I to be independent and to think for ourselves.  She taught me to be curious and to make things from scratch.  I don't know who I would be without her, but I do know that I probably wouldn't be here, with a backyard full of chickens and a cupboard stocked with homemade jam.

She also drew that circle freehand. I told you: mad-skilled.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I read this article in the NY Times the other day.  We live in such a strange world, with such strange distribution of resources.  I feel a little despair when I read this stuff, reminding me of how unsustainable our systems are.

And then I feel better when Abe comes home with two giant, food-grade containers stacked on the roof of his rabbit.

thanks to Josh and the man who gave them to us FREE via Craigslist

Because we don't have to farm 2,000 acres of carrots in a dessert.  We can have a tiny farm in our backyard, watered with whatever we can collect from our roof.  We can grow what we need, use dual flush toilets, and save pasta water for our house plants.  Even within a broken system, we have choices.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Willy Nelson sells out

Tonight Abe wanted me to look up a Coldplay music video on Youtube. (I know.)  So I went rogue, and instead clicked on a video that said it was Willy Nelson covering Coldplay's "The Scientist."  (I know!)

We were watching along (you'll see), and I hear Abe say, "aww... I like this..."

Until we get to the end, and I hear him again: "...until they Chipotle Mexican Grill your ass!"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Persimmons: A Primer

You may already be acquainted with the Asian Persimmon.   Just to be confusing, Asian persimmons are the kind sold in American stores.  Here is a wonderful-but-sexual,-so-I-warned-you poem about persimmons and being Chinese.

Our persimmons grow in a tree planted by the original owner of our house, who kept a wonderful organic garden that still sprouts ghost tomatoes and watermelons in places where we never dropped seeds. [note to self:  Arrange for delicious fruit to haunt the people who come after me when I'm gone. I think this is a beautiful legacy.]

Our tree is diospyrus virginiana, which is the fancy name for the persimmon native to the Americas. Although it's supposed to be a winter fruit, ours always ripen in October.  I would like to brag about this the way that parents do when their children learn to walk or use the toilet at an early age. I would like to have a sticker for the back of my rabbit: My persimmon tree is an early bloomer at Carolina Backyard Farm.

 so proud.

The tree is tall and very narrow, and Abe sometimes will climb it to shake the fruit down. I nag him not to, because the American persimmon is astringent and not-that-delicious until it falls from the tree unaided.  Also, we don't have health insurance, so if he falls, his broken leg will have to go unaided too.

When the fruit is ready, it's very soft, apricot-y and finally sweet.  I collect the fruits from the ground, pick out the leaves and dirt, and smash them in a bowl. The texture is kind of slimy; the color is bright, red-orange. Our persimmons have big, black seeds, so I pick those out too.  Ripe persimmons don't keep well, so I try to use them quickly or freeze for later.  The pulp makes delicious cookies or persimmon pudding, if you're a traditionalist.  I have a recipe from my aunt's mother that's completely charming, written in beautiful cursive, full of her baking "tricks," and slightly terrifying to me, since her final word on it is "GOOD LUCK!" in all capital letters with an exclamation mark.

I basically learned everything I know about persimmons from, which is a fantastic resource if you're interested in foraging the fruit or old family recipes for persimmons.  (I just used other links so you'd think I'm well-read. On wikipedia... so never mind.)  My favorite recipe is Lena Porter's, but I love to read some of the really old recipes there.  Last year, we must have made at least 12 batches of cookies at Christmas.

don't worry, you're not too late to start your Christmas baking. this is a photo from last year.

You'll all have to take my word for it that there really are persimmon cookies in those bags (or Naomi's, since she ate them), because my mom might object if I posted the other picture I have of last year's persimmon cookies.  She's in it, and making a Crazy Face.  Should we petition her for permission to put it up by posting at least 10 comments here?  I think we should. As a bonus, she will feel less lonely reading my blog, knowing there are ten other people lurking around (or at least one person who cares enough to develop with a very close relationship with their "post comment" button).

This year, the chickens have discovered the persimmons, and they've been greedy.  I'm hoping to rescue enough for Abe to brew some persimmon beer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

party animals

Leave a comment, y'all!  It's my birthday.  I woke up this morning to a phone call from my parents in Africa.  We had a good connection for about five minutes, and then I just repeated "I love you!" a bunch of times because I couldn't hear their end. Their call was the perfect way to start my new year.

Then Franc decided to get in on the festivities, jumped on my belly, and licked my face.  (I love having a cat named Franc. People think it's hilarious because it is. I don't love that I say things, and then feel an urgent need to clarify that Franc is a cat.) Franc really gets into a holiday spirit.

Abe's got the whole day planned, so party on, dudes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

In which Wendell Berry says it better than me

My cell phone stopped working about six months ago. Since then I've been using my cell from college, which suffers from a broken speaker, explaining why the last time I called was around Easter.  Finally, our contract is up, so I've been researching phone plans and mobile devices and pay-as-you-go options and wondering why, when you ask for "basic" phones, the salespeople take you to the cells-for-seniors section.  On Sunday, Abe and I went to AT&T, Verizon, Best Buy, Sprint and WalMart (shudder). In four hours, we made as much progress toward peace in the Middle East as we did toward getting phones.

When did cell phones - and everything - get so complicated? I don't need for the internet to fit in my pocket, and I sure don't want the monthly bill for it. I don't need another touch-screen piece of junk that will break after a year. I just want it to be simple.

Oh yeah, and I want an iphone.

I find myself torn between these two lives - the one where I crave convenience and compliments on my shoes, and the one where I delibrately choose simplicity.  There's a part of me that wants to redo the kitchen, add on a front porch, upgrade our appliances. And another part of me can't wait to move out of our conventional house and into something tiny and sustainable.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

multiplication of rabbits

Blog, Meet Jena-from-the-wedding-this-weekend. In addition to having unusually long and silky ears, she is a dear, dear friend of the bride.  She dressed like a rabbit, I told her about my faithful baby-rabbit-blog followers (known less formally as "mom"), and she obliged me with a photo. Then I obliged her by stalking her on facebook in order to spell her name correctly.

Yes, thanks for asking, the wedding was fantastic. It was (appropriately) held at a retired dairy farm in Lancaster County.  It was even more beautiful than it looks here (and much, much, much, much much much colder):

There was love and drink and dancing and much bundling in sweaters. There may have also been accidental flashing - a story for another day.  When we got home, we got busy with this rabbit:

...which we're hoping to bring home soon to be our very own VW Rabbit Pickup. As everyone knows, farms need rabbits and pickups. It's older than Abe and I, but runs really well and can also carry more stuff than we can.

And then, both of us under-the-weather from all the wedding cooties, Abe cooked up this rabbit:

...featuring fresh bunny meat, tomatoes, and herbs from our garden. Before making all of Franc's dreams come true, we're fairly certain this bad boy fathered another litter of kits, so we can prolong this baby-rabbit thing for at least a few more months.

Thank goodness, because I'm afraid we just don't have anything else to talk about anymore.