january

MOTHERHOOD RISING

 
Mark and Sam 9 2017.jpg

Happy 2018! If by chance you, like us, have ushered in the new year under the deep freeze of Winter, I hope it has been coupled with warming beverages and hearty food. More than that, I hope you and yours have stayed safe and well shielded from the elements. My heart feels very drawn to the poor and homeless among us seeking shelter and sustenance. In my rural locale you don't see homeless men and women on the streets, but if I did, I wonder how I might respond. I hope with a charitable, trusting heart. If nothing else, now is a time of year to work on being genuinely grateful for a warm home and ample clothing, not begrudging of the inconveniences the cold brings. Following along with our farmer friends in the Northeast is no joke — it's cold, and while animals and farmers alike are hardy, they are all pushing the limits of their working bodies. If you are one of the many working with and through the elements, bless you! And thank you. 

Mark and Sam 11 2017.jpg
Mark and Sam 3 2017.jpg

I am acutely aware of how different life would be if we hadn't moved home. For one thing, we'd be in this cold every day, caring for goats. At least, Mark would be. I might be wiling away the time knitting by our woodstove. Ah, how we long for you, woodstove! I miss putting my body outdoors and feeling the harsh air on my cheeks. I miss throwing hay and crunching snow under my work boots. This year, instead of all that manual labor, I am hugely pregnant, preparing for the biggest labor of my life, and walking up and down stairs is enough. All of my body's resources are inwardly focused—baby gets (and deserves) it all. 

We are mere days away from being cataclysmically blindsided with love when our baby finally comes earth-side. Every day is a lesson in patience as I slowly waddle around my house and wonder when shim will feel ready to be born. Every day is a lesson in cherishing this fleeting time when it's still just Mark and I. Every day is a lesson in forfeiting the desires of self for the needs of the baby. Here we are, nine months into a whirlwind pregnancy that started with us feeling scared and excited, and wraps up with us feeling eager and oh-so-ready. I want to be a mother. Mark wants to be a father. Every night before bed, and every morning when we wake, we talk about cuddling our child. Our very own! An actual breathing, thinking, sentient human being. Is there anything so equally magical and practical as new life? Advancing the race is the purpose of being alive, and yet it is the most miraculous act I can possibly conceive of. Motherhood, I'm coming for you.

Mark and Sam 6 2017.jpg

Photos were taken at 36 weeks by our dearly beloved best friend, Andrew Enslen.


—S

A CAKE FOR JANUARY

 

In consideration of the state of the union, there is much to write on, much to mull over, much to overcome. We have no shortage of thoughts — and, in full honesty, moments of desperation and anger — and so a bit of lightness and levity feels as important as ever. To this end, may we not forget that we are the masters of our mood and gratitude is a choice. If by chance every turn you make on the internet is wrought with opinions (good or bad) on politicos, here's something different: a cake adorned with hopping marzipan bunnies. A cake for January. Dense from olive oil and buttercream, and balanced with the lightness of lemon, this is Karen Mordechai's olive oil cake from Sunday Suppers, my favorite cookbook and Mark's favorite cake to eat. I'm not much for New Year resolutions, but I did make one: eat more cake. It's the same resolution I set in 2016, except this year I added the fun + highly caloric goal of a Cake-a-Month. Because as sad as mediocre cake makes me, excellent cake makes me really happy. 

For being extremely rural, Mark and I have found ourselves in quite a few clubs: Raw Milk Buying Club at our neighbor farm, Hamity Family Book Club Special (a self-made club in which we mail, every month, a special book to our nieces + nephews; psst: highly recommended), Fish Gang (a weekly supper club with our pals), and the Book Buying Club at our local, independent bookstore. The fourth really came in handy last week, when I was eager to buy Elaine Khosrova's Butter: A Rich History but didn't have expendable income. All our paychecks spent on books finally paid off because we had credit for a free book! I am unapologetically interested in butter. My job as a milkmaid surely influences my interest in the *magic alchemy* of plants being converted into milk being converted into butter, but if I could talk to you for five minutes I might make you a believer in butter, too. It is this food that is so elemental—boring, almost—that fuels my interest in cake, also. I love olive oil (the preferred fat of our family across the ocean) as much as butter, which I suppose explains this January cake.

So, I don't have the cake recipe to share* but I do have a hot tip for how to make any baked good special: marzipan. Marzipan is ground almonds and sugar, and it originated in Eastern Europe as so many delectable things do. It acts like fondant, but tastes delicious. If you don't care to make it, it can be found in a roll tube in the baking aisle. I work food coloring into hunks of marzipan, roll them out with a rolling pin, and use my favorite cut-outs to "theme" a cake. Over our winter visit to Ohio, I found this vintage bunny cut-out and couldn't wait to use it atop a big layer cake. I never make enough frosting, which is why most of my cakes look wonky and so lightly frosted, but I always have enough marzipan on hand. I'd love to know if you decide to give this a try, or if you're already a believer in marzipan.

Happy January's end, and may you find yourself with a big slice of cake. (You probably need it!)

*Sunday Suppers is a phenomenal cookbook that you should check out from the library, or maybe join a bookstore's membership club so that you can, eventually, get it on free credit. 


—S