Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mud-Luscious and Puddle-Wonderful

in Just-
spring    when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles    far    and   wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far     and     wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan       whistles

--E.E. Cummings

This may be my favorite Spring poem.  I shared it with Anne's 8th graders the other day and we had such a good discussion about it and they were able to 'get' it.  It was magical.  I recited it for the kids last night as we ate our favorite Spring tradition--nettle soup!  OM and kids and my kids and I went on the lovely hike yesterday to gather nettles and just get out in the gorgeous Spring weather.  It was a fantastic day:
Jack's ladybug friend

Gino and Caroline with special rocks and little daisies

They dammed up the creek!

Photo documentation of OM drinking her FIRST beer--a Newcastle Nutbrown Ale!

Angelina and Caroline taking a break from their dam work!
looking up at the sky through the trees' mossy arms

OM and I picked nettles while the rascals dammed up the little creek SO well, that it flooded over the trail.  Then, they had the job of unblocking the culvert, which took several jabs with long sticks, muddy hands and lots of determination.  But they did it and it was pretty exciting when the water started whooshing through again.  OM and I got a lot of tender nettles while the kids did their work.  The nettle plants were pretty small, but abundant.  In early Spring, their top leaves are sort of purple-ish-- lovely!  We of course wore gloves and plucked several leaves off of each plant, leaving enough for the plant to go on.  I filled about half of a paper grocery bag--enough for soup and a frittata, but I'd love to go back in a few weeks and get more for pesto.  Here's a few pics of the soup, followed by Greg Atkinson's delicious recipe:
This is right after I added them to the pot--they cook waaaaay down, like spinach.

My kids love nettle soup!  

 A bright sauvignon blanc would have been especially delish with this, but all I had was zinfandel--still good!
Greg Atkinson's Stinging Nettle Soup

Nettles lose their sting as soon as they're cooked to become a heavenly green leafy vegetable.  They taste like Spring itself!!!
(makes about 6 cups of soup)
1/2 pound (about 8 cups, packed) stinging nettle leaves
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper (I leave this out as my kids aren't pepper fans)
4 cups (1 box) chicken broth (I use low-sodium, organic)

1.  Pick over the nettles (wearing gloves) and remove any debris; pile them into a colander, give them a rinse.
2.  In a soup kettle over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil; add the sliced onion and saute', stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until it begins to color.
3. Stir in the potato chunks, nettles, garlic, and broth.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
4.  I used an immersion blender to chop it up, but you could also use a blender, in small batches, to puree' it.  (I think I'll do that for today's lunch.)  I also add a squeeze of lemon just before serving, to bring up the flavors.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Then Laugh On, Happy Rain!

The Laughter of the Rain
The rain sounds like a laugh to me--
A low laugh poured out limpidly.

My very soul smiles as I listen to
     The low, mysterious laughter 
   of the rain,
Poured musically over heart and brain
Till sodden care, soaked with it through
     and through,
Sinks; and, with wings wet with it as
     with dew,
   My spirit flutters up, with every
   Rinsed from its plumage, and as
     white again
As when the old laugh of the rain was
   Then laugh on, happy Rain!  laugh 
     louder yet!--
Laugh out in torrent-bursts of watery
   Unlock thy lips of purple cloud, and 
Thy liquid merriment baptize the earth,
   And wash the sad face of the world,
     and set
   The universe to music dripping

--James Whitcomb Riley

I am reading through James Whitcomb Riley's collected poetical works that my dear ol' dad gave me, all 829 pages of it, and I am finding some gems, such as this.  So, if you like to read this blog, brace yourself for more JWR, because he's under my skin in a very good way!  

It has been typical PNW crizzazy March weather lately.  I love it! I love the unpredictability and the variety of conditions.  Today it was:  cold and clear, rainy, snowing cottonballs, hailing, sunny, windy, and sleeting.  Not dull.  And like JWR, I say, "Unlock thy lips of purple cloud, and let thy liquid merriment baptize the earth."  Isn't that just a great line?

Here are some other things that have been making me happy lately:
Barns I pass on my drive to work:

Nancy's greenhouse, aka The Nut Hut:

Nancy's horse, Rebel, and a juicy red apple:

OM dancing with the dancing girls:

Plus, the realization that Newt Gingrich sounds exactly like Kermit the Frog!  Next time you hear him on the radio, picture Kermit.  It will make you laugh, guaranteed!  Just like this lovely rain.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Twangle, then, with your wrangling
The tinkling links of a thousand 
And clang the pang of a maddening
Till the Echo, hid in a land unknown,
        Shall leap as he hears, and hoot
        and hoo
        Like the wretched wraith of a

--James Whitcomb Riley, from his poem A Nonsense Rhyme

Good morning, Friends! Guess what?  Today is a partial snow day--2 hour delay!  The very best of all snow days--no make up and these free golden hours to read and drink coffee and even blog.  

We have had some nice days lately, filled with lots of comfort food.  Let's take a peek from the weekend menu:
Lots of onions...

Make for delicious "Fronch" onion soup (we've been watching Better Off Dead--haha)

Tons o' pancakes!

Good ol' mac-n-cheese
The chicken whisperer

Coffee's on--it's a snow delay day!

Candlelight breakfast, naturally.

Mr. Guy out in the snow event that made today possible!