This morning, Dick and I attended the funeral of a lifelong friend. It was sad... a tragic, unexpected death. We had previously made plans to attend a concert in the evening, not knowing that it would provide the comfort we would need today. The performance by Ellis, a Minneapolis folk artist, was the 251st in a series of Grassroots Concerts debuting in 1988 in the Brainerd area.
(photo from ellis-music.com)
Ellis's songs, which are retellings of simple, everyday happenings and memories, are soul healing and uplifting. She is a gifted guitarist, vocalist, and storyteller who captures the details of life from both thought provoking and humorous perspectives. Three of my favorites were a tender song that she wrote for her granny titled "You Are Royalty To Me", a song titled "George Anne" about people who called Ellis's residence for two years asking for this woman who was apparently a former resident, and "How Would It Be." Here is a YouTube video of Ellis performing "How Would It Be" at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts August 26, 2007.
I received these handmade felted wool shoes from my daughter Heather for my birthday. They are keeping my tootsies warm as I type this post. They are so so comfy and the timing is perfect as these October nights have cooled considerably... down to 39 degrees overnight. It's difficult to see in the photo, but there is vertical rib stitch around the shoe's perimeter. I love them immensely. You can get a pair, too. http://www.etsy.com/shop/quiltery I wear mine everyday all day long when I am indoors. When I need to wash them and wait for them to dry (they air dry fast), I miss them so very much. They are perfect in every way.
It has become a tradition... to go to the autumn craft festival, which is held at the Brainerd (Minnesota) Senior High School in October (and again in November for Christmas items), to stock up on handmade knit dishcloths. Today was the day.
I choose to purchase dishcloths from the same woman, whose booth is set up in the same location each year, for $2.50 each or 5 for $10.00 even though I discovered she was undercut by a competitor this year who is selling hers for $1.50 apiece. It a loyalty thing. Truly, at either price it's a labor of love. I chose two autumn colored ones and three that are stitched in brighter, summery colors to celebrate the amazingly perfect, warm, sunny October days we have been blessed with all week. If you've never washed dishes with a knit dishcloth, you absolutely must. It's like a combination dishcloth and scrub pad. I use nothing else.
My milk packaging took on a new look that I absolutely love! Same company but a new name and a label makeover.
This milk that I purchase from Kalona Super Natural (formerly Farmers' All Natural Creamery) that is processed in Kalona, a town in southeastern Iowa, has the qualities I look for... The company "believes in doing less-not more", so the milk is non-homogenized and low-temperature pasteurized to retain "its most natural state." The milk "comes from small, sustainable (organic) family farms with average herds of 35 (grass fed) cows (raised with no hormones) on just 90 acres."
The scents of autumn... Pear Spice Cake from my October 2010 Clean Eating E-Newsletter. It's light, moist, and lowfat. The cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves permeate the house with the most wonderful aroma as it bakes.
Pear Spice Cake
1 egg + 1 egg white
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp oil
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sucanat (a free-flowing brown sugar that has a molasses flavor and can be found in the grocery’s natural foods section)
1 pear, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with natural parchment paper. One with removable sides is ideal. Beat first six ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients. Mix together wet and dry ingredients. Fold in half of the pears. Pour batter into baking pan. Sprinkle remaining half of pear evenly over top. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. I served with a dollop of honey flavored Greek yogurt on top of each slice. A perfect complement…
The colors of autumn... a red kuri squash that I purchased at the North Wind Organic Farm in Bayfield, Wisconsin this past weekend.
The flavors of autumn... Creamy Red Kuri Squash Soup is a recipe from Louisa Shafia's Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life. Her cookbook is divided into seasons making it easy to find recipes using foods that are at their peak ripeness and available locally. I learned of her cookbook from a web search for "red kuri squash soup" that brought me to janespice.com. It's a definite must-make-again.
Creamy Red Kuri Squash Soup
Serves 4 to 6.
4 heaping cups coarsely diced kuri squash (2-3 lb squash)
1 quart vegetable stock available in grocery’s natural foods section (I used low-sodium.)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 sweet unpeeled apple, cored and sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 – 2 tsp salt (I omitted.)
½ tsp pepper (I provided at serving time as an individual option.)
Remove squash seeds, peel skin with a vegetable peeler, and coarsely dice. Place the squash in a soup pot with the stock. Simmer covered until firm tender, about 15 minutes. While squash simmers, add 2 tbsp olive oil to a sauté pan. Heat briefly over high low heat then add onion, apple slices, cinnamon, and cayenne and sauté until onions and apple slices are soft. Add to squash and stock, stirring until combined. In batches, if necessary, puree in a blender until smooth adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil as it blends. Add a little extra stock or water if the soup is too thick.
Bayfield, Wisconsin, a New England-feeling town located on the Lake Superior Shore, held its 49th annual Apple Fest this past weekend. Its population is only 611, but during this event it swells considerably. Dick and I increased the total by two.
We toured some of the many orchards surrounding Bayfield. My favorite was North Wind Organic Farm, a 110 acre wind and solar powered orchard and berry farm. I fell in love with the old... a handmade wooden cart used to transport apples from the orchard, a '52 International pickup, and a rickety shed. The property was void of noise... only the sounds of nature and the gentle warmth of the autumn sun.
Each day during the three-day event, the "Blue Canvas Orchestra" provided the most amazing music. We listened to their two hour set two days consecutively while eating the earth's best ice cream-topped apple tortes.
The only day we missed the show and apple tortes was when we rode the ferry to Madeline Island where we spent the day biking. Peace. Seldom did we meet a car. (I shot this post's top photo from the ferry that transported our bikes and us to Madeline Island.) We camped at the Dalrymple City Park just outside the Bayfield city limits. It was a short bike ride to downtown where the the Apple Fest was set up. We had a beautiful view of Lake Superior. In the photo's right side, you can see the front end of our pickup poking out from our campsite.