the stretch

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did. It was family and food fun time, all around.

As has become somewhat common these days, some of our clan has adopted some non-traditional-Thanksgiving-friendly eating methodologies. It’s for the sake of their health, so it’s all for the best, but gluten-free vegan Thanksgiving dinners are just a little different. The cornbread stuffing is excellent. Salads are always great alongside brussel sprouts.  The pie is where I had to stretch.stretch vegan

Being a yoga instructor, I believe in stretching.  I’m willing.

However, I find some of the vegan and gluten-free recipes in the world to be weird. There are too many ingredients that aren’t real ingredients for this radical in the kitchen. I can deal with a little gluten-free baking mix for the sake of the cranberry pear pie crust (which is a family favorite) but I was struggling with pumpkin and sweet potato pies. No milk? No eggs? Not even the really good ones? Really?

stretch forks over knives

coree’s version of forks over knives.

Cashews to the rescue. Not local. But neither was the vanilla from our friend Henry in Costa Rica. After all, this is America. And even though the purple sweet potatoes were grown right here, who knows where to trace their origins? I sometimes wonder if all food originated on this planet.

It was a successful stretch. Maybe even a new tradition.stretch pie

And speaking of stretches, I’ve let one go by here lately. It was Lulah’s birthday. She turned ten years old. The stretch of birthing her brought me into motherhood, which has been a vigorous decade-long stretching regime.  stretch lulah 2

Even as a young girl, when I played family games I thought I would have a daughter. But I could never have guessed what that would really mean. The spectrum of my emotional palette has been extended beyond my imagination. Through tenderness, and tiredness, to incredible frustration I have been tugged and pulled and pushed and stretched these ten years. It has aged me, and more importantly, it has matured me. It has increased my understanding of humanity. And it is all about love. Even in the most heated moments of frustration, my love for this daughter of mine is complete and unfaltering.stretch mothering

The process of her growth amazes me at every turn. She is so much the same, but so much more of herself. I guess that is how incarnation works. So we are all like that. It is just the position of the parent to witness that growth from right up close.stretch little lulah

stretch demi lovato

the demi lovato look.

As usual, a good stretch is healthy and increases our over all strength and vitality.

I’m honored. I’m thankful. I’m the mother of Lulah.

Here’s the Vegan Purple Sweet Potato Cheesecake recipe, adapted with gratitude from here:

Crust:

1 ½ cups almonds, or almonds cut with other nuts

¾ cup pitted dates

Chop in a food processor until mashable.

Mash into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.

Filling:

4 cups baked sweet potato, pureed – preferably purple

3 cups cashews, soaked overnight

¼ cup dates, soaked overnight

¾ cup maple syrup

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup lemon juice

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

½ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp ginger

Blend all the ingredients except the sweet potatoes in the food processor until well pureed. Pour into a bowl and mix in the sweet potatoes by hand. It’s satisfying to watch the colors blend. Spread onto the nut crust and freeze for a few hours so it will slice clean. Enjoy. (I’m pretty sure you will.)

like sardines

IMG_8441Twelve and a half hours of non-stop driving. In the dark of the night. In the rain. With three kids and all cargo in the back seat of the truck. And the added bonus of ten (yes, ten) Shetland ewes and lambs in the bed of the truck. Sound like fun?

Maybe fun isn’t the right word to describe what Eric and I felt when we were hurtling down the highway, packed in like sardines, driving in the rainy darkness (at least it wasn’t snow), with our precious children sleeping fitfully in their seats, and a load of sheep to boot. Maybe stressful might be a more fitting description of our circumstances.

Mind you, the entire scene was self-inflicted. We traveled to Pennsylvania for the Thanksgiving holiday to visit Eric’s family. His sister, Hannah, lives with her partner on an incredibly bountiful farm, Village Acres Farm, which was the destination of our journey. Shortly after arriving, the food started flowing. It never really stopped flowing, either, for the entire two and a half days we were visiting. Mercy, we ate like kings and queens. All of Eric’s siblings and his father were able to come for the gathering so that itself was a pretty rare occurrence. So to then be loaded to the gills with farm raised bounty and goodness… wow. IMG_8442So, the sheep came into this equation because Hannah knows a whole slew of farming folks in PA. Some friends of hers, at Pairodox Farm, were selling their flock of Shetlands and she had the notion that I might be interested in some (and that it might be a good excuse for my family to make the trek to PA!) My niece, who is quite a skilled knitter and spinner, was interested in increasing the size of her flock, too. So she spent time selecting the sheep for both of our flocks. She did a fine job of it, too. I am so pleased with these new sheep, I find myself looking for excuses to go up to the pasture! IMG_8443So, long story short, we made the journey… safely arriving at the farm just before sunrise on Monday. Our plan was to stop at a hotel for a rest somewhere along the way home, but the temperatures were in the low sixties… too hot for the wool bearing critters that were packed in the back of the truck to sit still and not have the air movement around them. So we pushed on through. Eric did all of the driving, bless him. I know he loves me because he wasn’t feeling too thrilled with the idea of more mouths to feed on the farm just as winter is setting in… but he made a major and loving sacrifice for me and my crazy obsession with wool. But now that he sees just how beautiful this little flock of mine is, I think he’s a tad obsessed, too. The shepherd in him just can’t resist. Now, if I can just get a sweater made for him from some of that luscious wool, then I can give him a giant, warm, fuzzy, heartfelt thank you.10733590_10205395566712492_4437547705002951676_o{And a big thank you to Hannah, Debra, Chandler, and Owen for such a wonderful visit and for helping fuel my fire for wool. And thanks to the folks at Pairodox Farm for their care in raising such exquisite sheep!}

ringraziamento

Years and years ago, when I was just a fresh little bachelorina, flying around making friends with wonderful people everywhere, I had the fortune to stumble into this lovely family and one of their lovely traditions.

Ringraziamento (in short – thanks – in Italian)

Each year they invite folks they know and love to share a list of what they’re thankful for, as well as what has inspired them in the past year.  I haven’t seen my friend in over ten years now, and her family for even longer, but they still extend this warm tradition to share with me, and for that, I’m thankful.

The rules are basic – leave off the obvious things – job, family, health – include books, movies, recipes, places, all the rest.

Here’s my list for this year – feel free to comment with some of your own.

  • Snow flurries on Thanksgiving Night.
  • Homeschooling children, for the time we get to spend together, all the time, and the accompanying reminder that I have a LOT of spiritual work to do.
  • Ditto for self-employment.
  • A good growing season, an abundant harvest, and its end.
  • Reading aloud, with my children, and my husband.
  • Honest heat from the wood burning stove, and enough wood to keep it going, come what may.
  • Friends in unexpected places.
  • Children grown enough that they are no longer so tethered to my body – expanding possibilities.
  • Turning 40.
  • Iridescent feathers on the backs of our chickens.
  • Canoeing on still cold water with my daughter.
  • Laughing with Levon.
  • Bright stars – quiet nights.
  • Oh heck, the whole beautiful Living World!
  • Learning to crochet.
  • Loss, and the learning that comes along with it.
  • Creative outlets, any way they come (like the Radical Farmwives blog!).
  • Roasted sweet potatoes in three colors – white, purple, and orange.  Wow.
  • Homemade miso soup with daikon radishes and plenty of garlic on a cold night.
  • Bake It Like You Mean It by Gesine Bullock Prado
  • Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series.
  • Shakespeare’s The Tempest (movie with Helen Mirren)
  • Springsteen’s “High Hopes”
  • oh, and a saying: “if its not the chickens, its the feathers”

I could go on and on.  And I’m thankful for that, too.corn tassle