The Incredible Edible Egg

We stopped buying eggs at the grocery store a few years ago. So far, though, we haven’t found a source for white eggs. So once a year we visit the seemingly endless stacks of cartons at the end of the dairy aisle.

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Here’s what amazing about eggs from the grocery store:  Every egg in a carton is exactly the same size and shape! There’s nothing about them to distinguish one from the other. Luckily it doesn’t take long before we remedy that.

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Nature and Nurture

All winter, I wonder about the bees. There’s no way to check on them. No way to know if they’re safe in their warm cluster or if they’ve fallen lifeless to the bottom of the hive.  When I feel the weather begin to change it becomes an exercise in patience. As much as I might want to, I will not risk opening the hive to take a peek, as that could cause them to break cluster early. So every day I glance in their direction, hoping to see activity, and finally, on a day like today, they fly.

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I did a lot of research when we got the hive. Most of what I learned I decided to ignore completely. For our hive there are no ‘treatments’, no chemicals, and minimal intervention. My job, as I see it, is to be sure I’m providing enough space and enough food for them to do what they need to do, not to attempt to manipulate their development. This is anathema in parts of the beekeeping world, but it’s my belief that our interference is likely to do more harm than good, and that bees can manage themselves to maintain a strong colony. My mantra when making decisions about entering or manipulating the hive is, when in doubt, don’t.

This particular hive is now emerging for its third Spring. They have had plenty of honey to see them through each winter, and we have brought 30-35 pounds a year into the house ourselves. Seems they know what they’re doing.

Public Service Announcement

When Dagny was five, we did not know that she didn’t have to go to school, and off to kindergarten she went. We found out when she was six, thanks to a woman Jon heard on the radio, and that was the end of that. Rowan has never been to school.

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If school works for you, I’m not interested in rocking your world. But if you, like us, don’t actually want to participate in school, know that you have that option. Homeschooling is legal across the United States, and in many other countries as well. There is an enormous amount of information and support on the internet for those interested in learning more about homeschooling. If you can’t find what you need, feel free to contact me and I’ll steer you in the right direction.

Pie Pusher

In our family, pies are not just for holidays. Just about anything might inspire a pie craving, but by far the most reliable craving-inducer is to watch an episode (or two…) of Pushing Daisies. When the characters are not talking about pie they’re rolling dough or mixing pie filling or adding secret ingredients or making deliveries of pie in the most picturesque of wooden boxes. You might think the murder central to each episode would dull your appetite, but, no. The creators of the show managed to turn dead bodies into just one more layer of creativity and visual deliciousness that leaves you hungry for the next episode. It’s like pie for your eyes, and it’s guaranteed to make us want pie in our mouths.

Apple Pie

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

7 cups apples, peeled if you like, and sliced or chopped

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 Tablespoons butter

1 egg yolk

1 Tablespoon water

Grated sharp cheddar cheese

Pastry crust (We like this recipe.)

Combine apples, lemon juice, sugars, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Lay pastry in bottom of pie pan.

Fill with apple mixture.

Dot with pieces of butter.

Cover with top pastry, poke steam holes, and crimp edges.

Whisk egg and water, and brush on top crust.

Cover edges of crust with tin foil.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 20 minutes

Remove tin foil and sprinkle top of pie liberally with grated sharp cheddar cheese, then bake for a final 20 minutes.

Your Move

On an endless afternoon in 1985, Jon pulled out this very Othello board and taught me how to play.

We played hundreds of games, but eventually the realization that he wasn’t going to win any of them meant the box gathered dust. When the kids were little it made its way back into rotation, but getting anyone to play against me was still a challenge. Rowan mostly used the pieces to make designs, drawing smiley faces or her initial or a heart.

She feigned disinterest in rules or strategies, lulling me into a false sense of security which vanished abruptly when I found myself roundly defeated.

If you’re looking for a gift idea this holiday season, I recommend Othello. Just warn the recipient to beware of hustlers.

Keeping Score

In the beginning we count weeks, “I’m 30 weeks pregnant.” Later we count months, “She’s 15 months old.” We ease into the idea of years, as if that will slow a score of them from suddenly passing by. The me who counted weeks and months made a decision and a promise. If time was going to pass as quickly as everyone said, if children grow in the blink of an eye, she was going to do her best to truly experience it. She would be with her kids. She would pay attention.

Dagny turned 20 years old this week. We started the day with pumpkin waffles, ended it with chocolate cake, and spent the day between together. I was there. I paid attention.

Pumpkin Waffles

1/2 cup brown sugar

6 Tablespoons cornstarch

2 1/2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 teaspoons ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

4 eggs, separated

2 cups milk

2 cups pumpkin puree

8 Tablespoons melted butter

Break up cornstarch with a whisk.

Add dry ingredients.

Separate eggs.

Add pumpkin and milk to yolks and set aside.

Whip eggs whites til stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Pour melted butter into the pumpkin mixture and whisk together.

Mix wet and dry ingredients til just combined.

Fold in eggs whites.

This recipe makes 9 waffles, and can be cut in half.

(Cake photo stolen from Dagny’s instagram.)

Sweetness and Light

I read a number of blog posts this week that mentioned the ‘Switch Witch’ or the ‘Candy Fairy’, both of whom take the candy kids have trick or treated for and exchange it for something the parents find more wholesome – books or craft supplies or something along those lines. I read other posts lamenting the existence of Halloween altogether. Mostly what I read boiled down to parents worrying.

People seemed to think I should worry a lot when my kids were little.

“Aren’t you worried they won’t learn to get up early when they need to if you let them sleep in whenever they want?”

“Aren’t you worried they’ll never learn to share if you don’t make them?”

“Don’t you worry they’ll never do anything else if you let them watch TV whenever they want?”

“Aren’t you worried they won’t learn to read if you don’t teach them phonics?”

“Don’t you worry about their teeth falling out and vitamin deficiencies and sugar highs and them never eating healthy food and all the other apparently deadly consequences of eating candy if you let them eat it any old time?”

Nope, nope, nope, nope, and nope. Why? I believed the best of my kids. I believed they were reasonable and thoughtful and intelligent and responsible and curious and trust-worthy. And you know what? They were. And yours are too.

As for Halloween, I think  a day where a 15 year old girl who loves costuming can walk into CVS as Ariel without anyone raising an eyebrow is a good day. I think filling the seemingly lonely older man down the road with happiness with a simple, “Trick or treat!” is worthwhile.  I think making space in our lives for imagination is important. I think staving off the darkness with fire is an instinct older than memory. I think fun is fun. And I think candy is delicious.

(Picture of Dagny by Andrew; picture of Rowan by Dagny.)