Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Quiet Sunday at Home

 T'is rare to have a quiet Sunday this time of year. I often feel that the fall is the most intense and stressful part of my year. In the spring, the new warmth and light bring energy aplenty, and I start juggling touring days with my kids' activities and school. I weed the garden and plant. I certainly keep busy. But the excitement of spring plus the rest and calm of late winter bouy me forth.

Fall however is my busiest moment of the year. School starts up again. Activities must be scheduled and put into place. New arrivals are to be welcomed and integrated into our family. The house is put back in order after the summer rentals. And, to top it off, it is the time of the year that I've seemingly non-stop tours. I'm grateful for the work, don't get me wrong. But it does require some expert juggling, and infinite levels of energy to care for all concerned, and not have a house that's a wreck, an empty cupboard, nor children stranded at school till all hours. Oh yes, and happy clients.
 And so, a short and quiet day (I've a concert tonight with my choir) is a true delight. The kids are with their father, the weather is spectacular, and I've the time to care for our chickens (we've three since last March), sweep out their house and lay fresh straw, change their water, give them grain and soaked stale bread, plus some time pecking and scratching in the garden.
 Filou is now a chicken herder. From his experience herding terribly pregnant goats (a while back now...) to today's mini-escapade, it seems that his Bichon/Poodle roots have some herding instincts in there somewhere. In any case, my chickens were not allowed to amble out of the garden too far before he dashed over to them and barked/ran them back to their pen. I was at first afraid he might go after them in earnest, and then realized that in fact, they were flocking to the safety of their pen, not into his jaws. Oh... interesting, and I suppose rather helpful.
 A while back I wrote about the building of the hen house (in exchange for a tango weekend with a dear friend). But as I didn't write much last year (or at all?) I haven't shared our joy in having 3 fresh eggs daily for the past six months. And, not only for ourselves but also for my summer renters who arrived to a note on the fridge

"There are 3 chickens in the back of the garden, please give them your scraps and left overs, with some grain and stale bread from the shed. Change their water once in the week, and they'll pay you back with many fresh eggs"

They've  been a hit with us all.

All summer I've proudly shared my favorite lunch - a fresh fried egg on my toasted multi-grain bread with fresh tomatoes from the garden, drizzled over with the olive oil from Paul Pierre (retired goat cheese maker). And I enjoy it still as the tomatoes continue to ripen and enliven my cuisine, and the eggs keep a'coming.
 This weekend's bounty includes a bowl full of ripe tomatoes, a couple loaves of my no-knead multi-grain bread, and a batch of raspberry muffins. The recipe for the latter is below:
A variation of one of my standards:

3 cups semi-whole wheat flour
1 cup non-bleached sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups plus turned raw milk (this can be replaced with yogurt) or enough to fully moisten the dry ingredients
2 eggs (mine are pretty small, so maybe just one large egg)
1/3 cup cold-pressed sunflower oil
a handful or more of summer raspberries (kept in the freezer for just this purpose)

Bake at 200/400 till puffed up and lightly browned. (about 15-20 minutes depending on your oven)

Remove from the oven, let cool, and warn the kids to not burn their tongues on the raspberries!

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