Telling the story of your table from field to fork. The table as love language. The table as relationship. The table as nourishment of every sort. The table as ephemeral art. This is the heart of so much of my work. Finding & creating sustenance where you are, when you’re there & embracing the perfect imperfection of things as they are. Of the season, of the region. Of the table. Of people. Of yourself. That’s all I stand for. All I do. And that’s what we lived, explored, and created together at the workshop retreat I hosted with Rebecca Gallop of A Daily Something a few weeks ago, Gathering From Scratch. Here’s the first installment of the photos (there are just too many gorgeous moments to limit myself to one post) and more about our workshop.
A couple of weeks ago, I wove a crown of flowers from local blooms as a farewell to the Estival Mother, a pretty little meditation on my gratitude for the swell of summer and all her wild, wild flowers. It was a study in a moments peace, and a nod to the fine tradition of floral wreaths that stretches back and back through May Days and Midsommers, through feast days and ceremonies. I don’t have long, languid hours stretched out before me to weave daisy chains. I doubt that any of us do. That’s a fantasy. But what I do have is a choice, and I chose, one afternoon, to say to hell with that load of laundry, I’m going to spend some time with these mad little poems and their spindly stems and nodding heads. I set to weaving them together with a bit of floral wire and within a few minutes, I had a crown. It was actually unbelievably satisfying. And I traipsed around in it doing the rest of the days work like a manic faery. I created a tutorial over on the Steller app (which, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I’m obsessed with…download it now on your iphone or ipad and you’ll know why!) So if you’d like like a step by step “How to Weave a Floral Crown”, you can find it there. As for here, you’ll just find photos of flowers and musings on peace below.
The truth. The truth is I’m, despite my best efforts to slow down & recapture a lost way of doing thing, wildly, inextricably modern in so many ways. I drive my car to run banal errands daily. I answer emails (in theory). I’m addicted to my ipad. And I resent the way the seasons give and take. Most especially tomatoes. I have a difficult time accepting the fact that I can only have them fresh in the summer. They come. They go. And it seems to happen in a flurry, and I hate it. I never get enough. I grew up with the false belief, as most children of the 80′s, that I could in fact have it all whenever I wanted it. Asparagus in February, strawberries in November, tomatoes in…never. I hated them growing up. Because even though I didn’t know the first thing about eating seasonally, I knew those watery, mealy facsimiles that the whole of creation seemed intent on slapping on sandwiches and slicing on pitiful salads were not good. The thing is, I had no idea there was anything else.
With the warm undertone of hazelnuts from browned butter, the bright herbaceous note of fresh rosemary, and the comforting & familiar burst of summer blueberries, this is my new favorite cake. It has a brilliantly crunchy exterior (courtesy of a bit of olive oil), and a soft, buttery crumb. I’m a bit of a serial monogamist when it comes to cakes, I’ll admit. And this is my latest fling. Sorry white cake, sorry chocolate. This yellow cake has me rapt. A slice is most especially complete with a milky, hot cup of coffee or, on especially dogged days, of iced coffee.
Given my predisposition for all things local, for me that means a cup of Velo Coffee. They roast complex, full bodied blends—all sustainable & fair trade, naturally. They’re everything I’m for: family run and they deliver their coffee locally on bicycles (further increasing sustainability via fewer emissions). My favorites are their Ethiopian blend (a sweet, round coffee with notes of tamarind, lavender, and white grape) and their limited edition Black Label (an especially juicy, well-rounded coffee with a note of cinnamon buns), and their killer iced coffee concentrate. Which is some sort of deceptively delicious diesel fuel, my favorite way to start my day mixed with some Cruze Farms whole milk. We’re so fortunate to have them right here in Chattanooga, TN. But that’s changing, and they’re growing. All they need is to raise money for a new roaster to expand production. I’m hoping you’ll all join me in supporting their effort to grow beyond Chattanooga and share their coffee with the world. You can support their Kickstarter campaign and learn more here. Every little bit helps!
Also…Velo & I are giving away the pictured Chemex & locally made ceramic creamer by Beam & Bailey along with a bag of Black Label Velo Coffee. Head over to Instagram to participate in the giveaway in support of the Kickstarter campaign.
This is a recipe from the new cookbook Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink (of the blog The Year in Food), and I was drawn to it immediately given it’s those stone fruit summer days. The swelling afternoons of July make me recall something about the smell of smoke from the chimney during summer rains and walking down the stairs in the dark for a cup of cold water. Thoughts that float by like leaves, like feathers, like clouds, like bad similes. I’ve remembered the difference between a floating thought and shoving a thought, and I can see one satin magnolia blossom from out my office window. I recalled a truth that’s easy to forget: you can change the tape. When you think something disturbing—a recalled memory, a worry, or any random bit of negative mental detritus—you can choose to watch it float right past you. You can do it a hundred times a day, a monsoon of feathery thoughts, none resting on you and all of them finally drifting away and leaving you with the smell of smoke & rain from the chimney and a cold glass of water.