Here's the recipe that I used, five recipes, really. Mine is not exactly like the photos, but I like it better.
I think the meringue mushrooms must have been the best part for the children. It is, admittedly, a rich dessert, so I invited over Becky and Katherine to share the occasion with us. A cake like this is its own occasion. We revived the Christmas dishes and I continued playing Winter music from Windham Hill. Mike did the photo shoot.
I do think it was worth the wait, or the ten years it took for me to build up the courage to do it. I'd make this recipe again, for sure, though I'd probably beat the ganache a little less. And bake the cake at the right temperature. Everything has to have one little mistake, right? No one minded a bit.
Ahh, the elusive Lusekatter recipe. I made beautiful buns early in the morning that were rather bland, and then I made an over-risen extremely tasty Lucia crown in the afternoon. The children were pleased, both ways, and were especially happy to test out the second recipe (with saffron!) at 4:30 in the afternoon. I think, if you are looking for buns, that you should add saffron to the first recipe and another egg. It's hard to choose buns or a crown, but those candles early in the morning would be quite the sight! Can I celebrate St. Lucia day even after the children are gone and it's just Mike and me?
Come celebrate with joy and with spirit
Come celebrate this land
We have ploughed the fields and have planted grain, we’ll reap a mighty harvest
For the warmth of sunshine, for the summer rain
For the bounty of the earth, raise your voice and sing!
~Enki Festival Songs
We had a sort of family thanksgiving meal last night, made up of foods that we have put together over the Summer and Fall. We had such a good year in the garden, and I spent a godo part of yesterday roasting and pureeing pumpkins for the freezer.
We all worked on our feast together, sort of like Little House Day from Martin and Sylvia. We had the October beans that we grew in the garden annex, seasoned with bacon and onions. I made biscuits with buttermilk I made and Carrie's lard she rendered. Speaking of buttermilk--I made butter this week using local raw milk, two gallons. If anyone ever tells you to churn raw milk without separating the cream first, run away. Or say a prayer over your blender and set to work. This was not a job for the beautiful Dazey hand cranked churn I got recently. Anyway, I got the job done and we do have some nice butter.
There was raspberry and peach jam for the biscuits, with homegrown raspberries and peaches from the orchard. I made blackberry cobbler from more of the buttermilk and the annex blackberries. The cornbread was also made with the buttermilk. You get the idea--buttermilk and quick breads and beans. The food was largely free--the raw milk, the berries, the beans, the lard. All that was paid was with our time and a few seeds. It was the perfect meal for the big shift in weather that we seem to be having lately. It was thirty-nine degrees this morning and I think our first frost is not far off. We've got a wind advisory for today, just right for making the Molasses Festival a chilly affair. Well, we won't be caught without hats, mittens, and coats today!
- What do Mr. Rogers, my grandmother, and good early childhood teachers have in common? :: Slow and steady raises good children.
- Socialization: It's More than Having Friends :: It's interesting to go through this list and see what we need to work on and what we can already do.
- A Small Town Embraces Strangers with Mental Illness :: This is such a nice story from NPR.
- Creating a Festival :: We're coming into a festive time of year and these are helpful words. I am considering what I need to pare away from Advent, for instance, to make this year just what we need.
- Autumn Equinox :: One family uses Enki's "Duchess Autumn" to celebrate the season.
- Therapeutic Stories :: Two stories I need to print and use here.
- Ample Time and Space :: A series of six lovely videos of children in Lifeways care. Laurel enjoys these and I do, too.
- Apple Doughnuts :: These are baked and might be perfect for right now.
- 1 Hour Cinnamon Rolls :: These are the ones I mentioned previously. They are so good! I don't know if they take an hour, but they are so good! I added some pumpkin in and that really made them tasty. I think one could do with a little less sugar.
- What Are We Modeling? :: On the importance of imitation.
- The Melancholic Autumn :: This is so me. I like to think I was conceived on or near Michaelmas. This time of year drives me so strongly.
- Self-directed play is disappearing in kindergartens :: On the problem, the need for play, and how we can facilitate it. For us, play is a direct reflection on the home climate.
- Being Nine Years Old :: We are a year away, but I can feel it coming. I'm both excited and nervous. I told my parents I was perfect the Summer I turned nine.
- Shingebiss Redeemed :: Some history and new directions for this story. We've not done it, but I may this Winter.
- Knit Felt Slippers for Adults :: I would love to make our slippers!
- Foxfire Nation: Meet the Original Hipsters of Appalachia :: I really love the Foxfire books. They are like a time capsule of our history here. It is funny to see many things come into fashion that have been a part of life here for so long.
- Celebrating Festivals with Young Children :: Our own festivals generally have another toddler along, so I am often considering how to simply present the celebration while keeping its essence intact.
If you look closely, you can see the harvestman (or Grandad spider, as the children call them) carrying off a crumb of the cake. The fog only got heavier while we were there and it rained all the way home. Our moods were lifted only a moment, it seemed, but it was still nice up there.
Cherry trees are one of the first to start shedding their leaves, along with the buckeyes, walnuts, and locusts. The one at my grandmother's house was really lovely. Roan was still scanning it for cherries, but I was really happy to see the frenzy of Summer start to fade a little. It was cool enough to wear my new Fall Blueberry dress!
We went over the mountain from there, headed to the Swing Place. It was 66° F on the way and the children asked me to put up the windows. There were buckeyes all along the road with their red leaves and waiting nuts. Roan got out and said he was cold, but we acclimated soon enough and Laurel was terribly sad to leave. I made up a couple verses to "She'll be coming round the mountain" that might involve "shedding tears just like a fountain." No transitional songs would help her with this one (and she wanted to go so high on the swing!), but a package of gum helped a little.
On our way down, we found this yellow fringed orchid laying in the road, as if someone had picked it and thrown it down. I took it home and put it in water. The Turk's cap lily was blooming all down the mountainside, along with the first goldenrod (though I did see one plant last month). You can see the green goldenrod just waiting all over. The Summer flowers are shifting to the yellows of Fall.
I think I'm going to start calling myself a Property Manager, seriously. If you're on vacation or getting on in years or have crossed the great divide, I'm your girl. In addition to the Roland Estate and my bus-travelling grandmother, I've been asked to feed a cat out in the country. The cat belongs to my grandmother's second husband's brother, yes. He's got some nice fruit trees and a good-looking woodpile. These apples look especially optimistic. I think I canned some of these a couple years ago. There is so much fruit around just waiting for someone to take it; so much goes to waste.
Here's something that's not going to waste. ;-) The last of last year's pesto, the roasted tomato sauce, and plenty of fresh tomatoes from the garden. This was so good. I should have made three pizzas! The children gobbled up most of theirs, which just had pesto. I put the pesto on with a piping bag after the pizzas came out of the oven. I expect to pick more tomatoes today, so there may be more sauce in the works. Every day has some big kitchen project. Maybe I'll take a day off and go look at those apples again.
I had the children pull most of the carrots yesterday. They are not winners for size, as Dick Proenneke would say, but they made Roan so proud. His carrots, his cherry tomatoes. We've picked that many (half a gallon) twice before. I made a roasted tomato sauce with them and ran it through the food mill to take out the peels. They I heated it up later and put in some parmesan cheese, just the most basic kind. It was so good! I seldom use gourmet ingredients here--it's store brand basics for us. I did splurge on one block of fresh mozzarella, as it is obvious we have a fair amount of tomatoes to eat. As is common with a two year old, there are green ones in the mix (and some I cut off by mistake!).
I think I've only got two empty jelly jars left now. I've been busy filling them with anything I can think of. On the left is currant-pomegranate jelly. Pomegranate because my jelly bag fell and splattered everywhere. Now my freshly-painted wall have faint drip stains on them. :-( But, the jelly is good and I am becoming more adventurous and experimental. I think there is more room with that with the No Sugar SureJell, as opposed to the regular version. I know there's Pomona's, but I go with what is readily available nearby. I've also given up the name brand lids in favor of plain ones that are about half the cost. You can see my kitchen is a thrify one, but we are not suffering. I get rather perturbed when people says that eating healthy or well is expensive.
Let's see. The other jars have pesto in them, of course, for the freezer. I've been doing this for awhile and everyone loves it when I pull out a jar. My favorite way is to put it on a pizza after it comes out of the oven. I love pesto with tomatoes. I don't use pine nuts, to save on cost and because they can taste funny. I know someone who would put in English walnuts. There's a jar of banana pepper pickles, too, from a batch I made with peppers from The Annex. No one was picking them, so we did. Mike loves banana peppers and he was so pleased to see them. In the pint is dried mint. The Roland Estates is overrun with mint, so we've been picking a basketfull and bringing it home to dehydrate. We all love mint tea (I never thought I would say that), so this is a big savings and the house smells lovely.
The onions, pumpkins, butternut squash, October beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, swiss chard (whatever will I do with that?) and a few other things remain. I'm hoping to get in a batch of bread and butter pickles for Mike. He really loves them. I really don't, but I want to make him happy and I know that will do the trick. When I told the children that harvest time began with Lammas, it was no joke! I feel like my kitchen has been in constant upheaval and various stages of production all week. I carried the canner downstairs yesterday, only to carry it right back up.
Today, we're going to look for peaches and pick the blackberries. And wash the sheets and mow the yard. And, is it Fall yet? Can I get a frost?
Anyway, Lammas. I like the idea of this festival for the celebration of harvest time. Thanksgiving in its present place in the year makes very little sense to me. Pumpkins will be done growing by the end of this month. Dry beans will be ready to pick not long after. Tomatoes quit before the first frost. You get the idea. To celebrate harvest in August, to bolster us as we prepare to be inundated with garden work and kitchen work, seems very fitting.
The children and I got a bale of straw and we had been waiting to cut it open and try out straw plaiting. It's a little hard to do with straw from grain that has been mechanically threshed--there are many short and shredded pieces. These would have been left in the field after the grain was cut and then cut down at a later date. Nonetheless, there is nothing so thrilling as a big pile of straw on the front porch. I can see why Laura and Mary loved it so in On the Banks of Plum Creek.
We made wheat sheaf bread, too, using flour we milled. White wheat, so it does look like white bread. This is the recipe from Festivals, Family, and Food. The yeast amount was high, really, but the bread tasted good. I think I would make it with honey next time, and add a rise to give softer dough. Children tend to be heavy-handed with flour when shaping. ;-)
Laurel loved the opportunity to play with dough, as usual, and the children enjoyed making the little mice trying to get at the grain. We read the story "Robert's Harvest Loaf" from All Year Round and enjoyed some butternut navy bean soup with the very last butternut squash from 2015.
The recipe recommended sprinkling grain on the wheat heads, but these turned out much too hard for eating (though the children tried!). It may be that the authors intended folks would have fresh grain for this. We gathered them and put them out for our resident squirrel.
I think it was a lovely start to our easing into the school year. September 5th is our first official day, as far as I am concerned, but we are working to get back into our school rhythm gently. Tomatoes and all the other things follow no schedule but their own and it is often decided with very little notice that things must be canned or frozen right this minute.
I'll call this my crafting post for the week--making bread and braiding straw. For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.
Wednesday, I think, we went to the Southwest Virginia Settler's Museum.
It's an old farm that's on National Forest land, cared for by volunteers.
I hadn't been since Willow was a baby.
The place needs work and people, as most small volunteer projects do,
but it has a lot of potential and there have been numerous improvements in the past seven years.
I really loved these little corn husk dolls--they remind me of the ones at the Asheville Folk Art Center.
I did some canning Friday: sweet relish and blackberry jam.
I'm rather nervous that my relish will taste like Aunt Bea's pickles, but Mike is optimistic.
Blackberry jam, on the other hand, never lets me down.
In other news, I spent several HOURS yesterday going through our clothing stockpile for Fall and Winter.
It is early, yes, but school will be in session when the cold weather comes and there is no time like the present.
I'm struggling to find spare time, as it is!
What a trip down memory lane this was--there's Grandad's old hat that I made him and a lot of wee sweaters and hats.
Who were those babies? Where did they go?
I suppose the crown jewel in our weekend was the blackberry pie/cobbler.
Mike has been after me for years to make a cobbler with a pie crust, as that's what he was used to.
Well, I made a pie crust and pie filling and put it in a square pan. Haha.
It was absolutely delightful, really. Practically perfect in every way, and with ice cream! The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook seldom steers me wrong!
Everyone loves tiny versions of baked goods, right? I don't know why I've not done much of this before. Maybe it was the Tiny Cupcake Debacle of 2007. . . Well, anyway, the children have been helping me with Banana Bonanza, as we call it. There were peanut butter and banana sandwiches for Nature School. Please pardon our skimpy whipped cream on the pies. We supplemented later on. The muffins are Martha Stewart's recipe and they are truly good. She is hit or miss, sometimes. I think our grand finale will be milkshakes later today. I accidentally overbought bananas.
- Reading for the Love of Literature, Part II
- The Next Big Thing in Regional American Cooking: Humble Appalachia
- Waldorf Middleschoolers Beat Hopkins Engineers at Their Own Game :: On flexible thinking.
- Singing Children, Happier Children :: We are a singing family, for certain, and it is wonderful to hear Laurel sing our songs or hear Willow write her own.
- Bunion Treatment Without Surgery :: My beloved Chacos have given me mild bunions on my little toes. While I don't think Soft Star always makes the most durable shoes, I think there is good stuff in this article.
- Neurobiological Arguments for Telling Fairy Tales :: I certainly consider them to be part of a lesson, whenever we read them. It is like cracking open a timeless treasure.
- A Powerful Imagination for Releasing Stress :: I firmly believe that each day is new and I think this helps my anxiety.
- Home Birth in Appalachia
- Devices are Destroying the Family and Stealing Childhood :: Yes, I agree. The children and I went to a restaurant and watched as two young children played video games on phones the whole time. There was no interaction with the adults in their family.
- Winter Woods Neck Warmer :: On a lighter note! I think I will make one of these for Roan.
- Horse Powered Market Gardening :: I am just fascinated by things like this lately. At the bottom, there are links to farms using horse power.
- Six-Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake :: I'm going to have to try this with the Cloudburst Frosting.
- Two Monks Illustrate the Old Testament :: Pardon my humor. ;-)
- Memories Grown in a Waldorf School Garden :: I used to hate working the garden as a child. Now, I can find joy and satisfaction in it and my children do, too! Willow ate broccoli right after I cut it, which just amazed me.
- Five Steps to Raising a Viking Child :: As much as my children are the Scotch-Irish Appalachians, they are also little Vikings (really!). Here's to a Viking Summer!
- Kurt Hahn :: I mentioned him last week. Read his Six Declines of Modern Youth, his suggestions and his Expeditionary Learning Principles.
- How is Waldorf Homeschooling Different from School? :: Carrie has such wisdom. She has inspired nearly all my years of parenting.
It will be a very different experience for the child, if our approach to her comes from our helping her to learn about the world, to learn skills, and to learn how to work together.
~Dotty Turner Coplen :: Parenting a Path Through Childhood
Laurel and I made butter yesterday and we were really quiet pleased with ourselves. I still am--I almost believed it wouldn't work! We've watched Ruth Goodman make butter so many times, and there really is that moment when everything shifts. I thought it was going to be whipped cream forever and then it turned all grainy and golden and there was the buttermilk! I used a pint of Duchess cream and we got a good amount, more than a usual stick, of butter. We put in a sprinkle of salt as I was pressing it. You can see our rather simple (and free!) butter hands. It was the children who determined their use months ago. They are just wood shims that I washed well. They did the job just fine. The butter came out firm and dense and just lovely. I know my butter isn't nicely shaped, but we were expecting someone to drop by and I had to get it into the refrigerator so I could greet them. Next time!
We used this hand-cranked food processor that we got from Tupperware when Mike and I were first married. It was a warranty claim to replace a quite new food chopper and, boy, did we hit the jackpot! They are still available at a fairly hefty price, and our is useful in so many ways. I know you can make butter in a blender, but that seems so. . . violent. I really love tools for the home with children that have hand cranks on them, so I try to use them as much as possible. There is so much in our natural world that is circular and cyclical, that I feel it's very important for children to feel those connections.
Here it is on the lovely Kindergarten Buns from the Waldorf Book of Breads. This is a wonderful recipe if you want children to see you make a sponge and to look on as it grows. It's fairly quick, which can be helpful, too, and makes lovely rolls. I have taken to keeping my little iron skillet in the oven to put half a cup of water in--this makes the oven steamy and helps with rising. I read it in the King Arthur Whole Grain Cookbook. The rolls were so soft and the butter so tasty. Sigh.
And here is my intrepid helper, tasting the results of her efforts (and probably enjoying the strawberries and whipped cream a little more).
- Circle Skirt Calculator :: Some day I really am going to make something for myself!
- Fairies for Tea :: A wee tea set that looks fairly simple to make.
- No Wool, No Vikings :: I really enjoyed this article on how the Vikings used wool and they unique sheep they cared for.
- Grandma Moses paintings :: Always such a delight to see.
- An Easter Rabbit Story :: Great for little ones to act out.
- Kids Gone Wild :: More forest schooling. Notice the child waaaaay up in the tree. I bet Laurel will do that some day.
- Dollmaker Ineke Gray :: Very sweet dolls. I think these are closest to my desired style.
- Gluten Free Puff Pastry :: Might give this a try some time.
- Gordon Neufeld on Raising Children in a Digital World :: I enjoy his perspective and agree that parents are to act as a buffer to the outside world.
- Forest Frolics Fabric :: Just the sweetest prints I have seen in a long time.
- Sow, Grow, Stow :: On householding and living by the harvest.
- Reading for the Love of Literature Versus Reading to Decode :: I think this is how things have gone here. We are still early on, but the children have a rich tapestry of language, story, and song.
- Waldorf School Songs :: Over a thousand songs with sheet music! Many of these are traditional tunes.
I've been elevated to Platinum status at the library. Really, I've just been changed to being a teacher since I'm homeschooling, and that means I can keep books 6 weeks. One of those books that really deserves a longer run is the King Arthur Whole Grain Cookbook. I've taken it out before, but I've really enjoyed it this time. Our flour mill has really inspired me. I've made the hot cross buns, cinnamon rolls, Irish oatmeal shortbread, oatmeal sandwich and toasting bread, 100% whole wheat loaf (our regular favorite), and the puff pastry.
It is clear that I like to make bread. A lot. The puff pastry must be my biggest achievement, though. I wanted to make chocolate croissants for Mike and it worked! Roan and Laurel loved the chocolate part, and Willow loved the pastry. Mike's family is now expecting a repeat performance at their next visit. It wasn't too hard, oddly, so I think I can manage it. It's mainly a lot of folding, rolling out, and refrigerating. Butter is at a great price right now, too, which is good for a recipe that takes at least half a pound a batch!
Quite times are changing as I work out ways to get things done with fewer distractions.
Willow did a puppet show of the math processes story, "Four Friends," last week.
I made this very tasty bread for Valentine's Day. It was a quiet affair this year.
We had a nice family meal Friday and then tea with Carrie on Saturday.
We only did one or two Valentine cards, which was just fine with me.
We got our grain mill, at long last!
This is our time of year to stock up on things, pay big bills, and have a little fun.
I tell myself that this mill is serious business, but it is also fun.
It makes some very nice flour and we had a lovely loaf of bread last night.
More handwriting practice for Willow and me.
I really like the handwriting paper she has.
Those are her letters from last Fall.
She was amazed when she looked back through just a few pages.
The sleep process for learning really works.
I also taught her about making borders.
Now, she'll be bona fide. ;-)
And lastly, a proper icing-on-the-cake snow. This was yesterday morning. It was enough to cover up the old melting snow and make the world enchanting again. I think school was cancelled yesterday, too, though I'm not sure. We ran errands downtown, so we took a day off. I love snow like this, when it sticks to everything. Just magical. I am dreaming of a few years from now when we can all get out into the woods and properly enjoy it. It was pretty nice from the car, even so.
I have just a bit of time before the children wake up. I'm going to go read. Happy Thursday!
- Snow-bound by John Greenleaf Whittier
- Flour Sack Dresses :: A wonderful reminder to make do and use up.
- What Does Play Look Like :: 16 types of play.
- Wild Blackberry Jam :: With cardamom. Wild blackberries are very, very small around here, though they are very sweet. I'll probably use the cultivated ones on our street.
- What's Not to Like :: An interesting soup with eggs floating in it. Roan and I like soft-boiled eggs, so we might try this.
- How Reading is Taught in Waldorf Schools :: I think this goes well with how things are here. It's a discovery process.
- Father Frost and the Snow Maiden :: I love learning about old ways.
- A Walking Snowman Puppet from The Golden Hours :: What a sweet little fellow this is!
- Music In Waldorf Schools :: It is nice to read this summary. In a home setting, some of this won't happen. Mike and I are both very musical people, so we are happy to share that with our children.
- The Children's Year Craftalong :: Did I share this already? If I did, oh, well. ;-) It is nice to see the projects made from the book.
- Fairy Tales that Predate Christianity :: Great article. It is interesting to trace the variations and travels of stories. We have had numerous versions of the Cinderella story this year.
- Multilingual Folk Tale Database :: This is fun to explore and is sorted by central themes.
- Heirloom Name Birthday Banner :: This looks nice, perhaps something to be in a bedroom, as well. One could customize it very easily.
- Spaghetti Carbonara :: We saw this recipe on America's Test Kitchen. It's very good and the techniques used give a much better sauce.
- Kindergarten Teacher Betty Peck :: I recently stumbled upon this woman. What a presence she has. There are several youtube videos of her and her garden. Very inspirational.
- Chilly Winds, Warm and Happy Children :: On warmth and fresh air. Too bad there aren't tips for keeping the children dressed. ;-) My backwards overalls are still holding strong.
- Medieval Woman :: This site looks very interesting. I haven't had a lot of time to explore it yet.
Mike forgot something and had to go back out, but we started on the pizza without him. Without him, I couldn't get it through the kitchen doorway. I had to store it on the couch. We are still eating the leftovers, after three meals.
Willow and Roan have been using the chalkboards again. I am thinking this might be a good part of our weekly rhythm, maybe Fridays. It would be helpful for form drawing, which I have sadly fallen behind on.
Sunday is back as Baking Day.
Laurel really enjoyed kneading a tiny piece of dough, over and over.
Roan and Willow took ove the bulk of the kneading.
We are getting a hand-cranked grain mill, at Mike's suggestion.
I have wanted one for years and I think it will be great for the children.
And now, everyone is awake and it is time to get started on another week. Happy Monday!
This is a wonderful recipe that turns out well every time. It aims to impress and tastes really good leftover. The site it came from is defunct and the other place I found the recipe is, too. And it's not on the Wayback Machine, so here it is. I've made a few modifications and added a second rise. I find it harder to shape dough right after kneading, so a little break is helpful after the cranberries go in.
Grease a 11 1/2" cake pan (a big one). Oven temperature is 375° F.
1/2 cup each: warm water, warm milk, sugar, softened butter
1 tablespoon yeast
3 1/2 cups plain flour (or bread)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Stir yeast into the wet ingredients. Add flour, salt and butter and knead well. Let rise in a warm place until doubled. Knead in berries and nuts. Let rise half an hour or so (to let the dough relax) and roll out into a large rectangle.
Across the surface, spread the following:
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cut into one-inch strips. Roll one into a traditional cinnamon roll. Places the others around the perimeter over and over. Brush with an egg wash (one egg and a little water or milk) and let rise about half an hour (more or less). Sprinkle top with turbinado sugar, if desired. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until pleasantly browned. Cool ten minutes, loosen around edges, and turn out on a plate. Cut into wedges and enjoy.