the farmwives’ kitchen :: thankful

I woke up excited.  It was a beautiful day, with a rather exciting prospect of rain in the afternoon.  The question was, could I make a batch of plum jam, mow the lawn, and bake a three layer chocolate cake before friends arrived?cake 1

The answer, of course, was no.

Today, for once, baking the chocolate cake came to the top of the list.

You only turn 40 once.

The cake was a classic chocolate from Alice Water’s Art of Simple Food.cake 2

With a little help from my daughter and primary baking partner, the cake came together beautifully.  There’s something about pouring boiling water into the batter that really makes it work.cake 3

And then the kids enjoyed the perks of their mother’s fortieth birthday.cake 4

Meanwhile, I whipped up a double batch of honey-sweetened custard filling (a full dozen egg yolks were involved – thank you chickens!) and put it to cool in the fridge.cake 5

After a lovely lunch of fresh roasted corn, grilled sausage patties, and fresh tomatoes, the custard was nearly cool enough, so I assembled the cake.

Each of the three chocolate layers was topped with custard and fresh-picked blackberries.  It was a moist, fresh, chocolately, mess.  I’m pretty sure everyone had seconds.  Well worth the morning’s labors, and a complete pleasure to share with friends and family.cake 6

It is a fine thing, to be alive.cake 7

letting them grow

Things feel different around here these days. It’s really quiet and there are remarkably fewer dishes in the sink. Last week our dear friends were visiting from Nashville. On Friday, when it was time for them to pack up and head back to the city, they also packed up a little something extra… three additional children! Oh, my. All three of my kids were heading for a week long adventure in the big city.

This is out of the ordinary for Eric and me. (And for the kids, too!) We generally like to keep our little ones close at hand, with most of their influences coming from us and the farm. I mean, that’s kind of our personal mission: to have a strong and connected family with compassionate, capable, nature-oriented children. Sure, they have had sleepovers here and there, but a whole week? And in an urban setting with bus rides and Elvis, big libraries and public pools, candy stores and Bobby’s Dairy Dip? Not so much.photo 5

As it inevitably goes, my kids are growing. Their interests are widening. As much as I want the farm to be their center of influence, and eventually the place they might choose to live and possibly even raise their own families, how will they choose this life if they never experience anything different? The sparkling allure of “other” might hang in the backs of their minds when they are adults, enticing them to get the hell off the farm. What basis of comparison will they have to decide if there is nothing to compare? I don’t know the answers. Not at all. I don’t even know the questions, as new ones seem to arise each and every day. I muddle through this parenting gig, hoping that I’m not totally screwing up.

I know how to love my children, though. I love them fiercely. But I can’t let that fierce mama bear love hinder my children’s potential or limit their opportunities. As their parent, I obviously have their best interests in mind. I wouldn’t just set them loose in the city. They have a loving and remarkable guide. (Albeit somewhat crazy for offering to host my three wild kids for an entire week! Eric says it’s the greatest sacrifice since the Crucifixion. Ha!!) It’s the letting go part of parenting that I am wrestling with now. I see, too, that there is more than just “letting go”… it’s about letting them grow into the beautiful flowers I know they will become.

Here I sit, with tears in my eyes just thinking about my babes. I’ll bet they are laughing and having a grand time. I hope so.photo 1{photos courtesy of D.}