Old Fashioned Sweet Pickled Beets — Produce with Amy

On the eve of Valentine’s Day I wanted to offer you up a romantic recipe. Last year I made a luscious beet soup that my husband John did not find delicious. However, his reaction was memorable and I still laugh thinking about it. Needless to say, I will not be making him soup this year. I am still deciding on an entree, but I know that I will definitely make a leafy green salad with pickled beets, feta cheese, raspberries, walnuts, and a homemade lemon dill dressing.

via Old Fashioned Sweet Pickled Beets — Produce with Amy

YEAR ROUND SUMMER SIMPLICITY – LATE NIGHT ZESTY BROCCOLI — Produce with Amy

Once we started growing our own broccoli, it would be hard to go back to store bought. The flavor of fresh out of the garden, or even garden fresh out of the freezer, is dramatically different. We use broccoli in pressure cooked meals, in green salads, as a simple side dressed with real butter and a splash of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt, or even as a late night snack (our favorite especially in the summer). Truth be told, I am known to sneak out to the hoophouse in my nightclothes to cut fresh broccoli, a few beans, and peas (if they are still growing) and whip up a batch with the seasoning mix I am sharing with you today.

via YEAR ROUND SUMMER SIMPLICITY – LATE NIGHT ZESTY BROCCOLI — Produce with Amy

Hunger Moon

I am haunted by words.  I am hungry for metaphors. I am constantly searching for ways to express the thoughts that linger in my head. I have a thirst to find meaning.  I am always looking for new ways to express my voice. 

As a high school English teacher I make a living out of my passion for language. I encourage my students to make connections with with the written and spoken word in various genres.

There are certain works that have haunted me throughout my life. In elementary school I was obsessed with the Trixie Belden Mystery Series. In middle school I loved anything by Madeleine L’Engle. I was especially enraptured by L’Engle’s Austin Family Series . In high school I had an affinity for Australia so I loved the The Thorn Birds and was smitten by Gone with the Wind.

As an adult Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried stands at attention in my life, as well as a myriad of poems. In fact, so many poems sift through my head that I sometimes think that my surroundings seem to mirror those evocative words. Or maybe it is because poetry forces us to slow down and pay attention. I notice things that would normally pass right by.

The month of February seems especially poignant to me. Perhaps it is because it feels like the longest month of winter (while it only stretches out for a mere 29 days). However, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan the month of February often delivers below zero temperatures, and while the days feel like they are getting longer, in my heart I know we still have a long way to travel before the spring thaw.

As a teacher, I admit that I savor my weekends as a time to reflect and recharge. While I love to sleep in later than our normal 5:30 alarm, that did not happen Saturday morning because my stepson had hockey. We did not get home until close to 6 pm and as we drove back from the rink, I marveled at the moon in all of it glory cresting the sky. The next day it would be a full February moon. Snow Moon. Otherwise, known as a Hunger Moon.

The Hunger Moon turned the snowy landscape of my backyard into something magical.

It was cold on Saturday, but I couldn’t let a beautiful moon go to waste. What a spectacular sight to witness from snowshoes as the Hunger Moon filled the night with majesty.

I’m so thankful for the peace and tranquility of home. 💚

My snowshoe trail circles our pasture.

As I look back at the photos that I snapped on the weekend, I cannot help reflecting on how fortunate I was to witness it. A moon so bright that it washed everything it touched with a magical light. Luminous. Spellbinding.

It felt like an ancient ritual as I watched the moon. A moment in time stolen from my Scandinavian ancestors. A rite borrowed from my Finnish roots. Ages ago a woman my age manifested her dreams and wishes by only the light of moon. A mysterious orb of silver to quiet her anxiety and make the snow feel silent and beautiful.

I loved the shadows cast on the snow from the bare branches.

What could be more poetic than the name: Hunger Moon?

Pure poetry.

I have been pondering what a wonderful writing prompt it would be for a group of high school students.

Or for any writer.

Maybe if we tell the Hunger Moon in February what we desire, our wishes come true.

It makes us feel a little restless.

It keeps us awake.

It brings an awareness of things deep within our soul.

It watches over us with a profound awareness.

It reminds us that the longer days we crave are soon to come. It gives us a taste of ethereal light that mimics sunshine. A soft glow of wonder.

My snowshoeing Selfie

It reminds me of a poem I once read by the poet Jane Cooper. As I approach my 49th birthday Cooper’s poem resonates deeply within my heart.:

HUNGER MOON

The last full moon of February stalks the fields; barbed wire casts a shadow.

Rising slowly, a beam moved toward the west
stealthily changing position
until now, in the small hours, across the snow
it advances on my pillow
to wake me, not rudely like the sun
but with the cocked gun of silence.
I am alone in a vast room
where a vain woman once slept.
The moon, in pale buckskins, crouches
on guard beside her bed.
Slowly the light wanes, the snow will melt
and all the fences thrum in the spring breeze
but not until that sleeper, trapped
in my body, turns and turns.
Hunger Moon as well as other poems by Cooper can be found HERE.

If you have any photos or poems about the moon, please share them, or a link, with me.

May your February be full of adventure, creativity, and plenty of inspiration. Stay warm and well, my teaching and writing friends. ❤

LOW CARB CHICKEN & MUSHROOM SOUP WITH CAULIFLOWER RICE — Produce with Amy

If you have been paying attention, some of the most popular buzz-words right now are wellness, self-care, and low-carb. Though, I admit, as I age I realize how important paying attention to all three are. While I have not jumped 100% on the “carbs are evil” bandwagon. One of my intentions for 2020 was to be mindful of creating a meal plan for myself that was lower in carbs.

via LOW CARB CHICKEN & MUSHROOM SOUP WITH CAULIFLOWER RICE — Produce with Amy

SOUL WARMING HOT & SOUR MUSHROOM SOUP  — Produce with Amy

Speaking of cozy, what is better for a cold winter day than a bowl of piping hot soup? Though, I am a soup girl (regardless of the weather) this recipe is one of my favorite winter warm ups. It is healthy, full of vegetables, and can be tweaked to fit your personal tastes.

via SOUL WARMING HOT & SOUR MUSHROOM SOUP  — Produce with Amy

Home Is a Verb

 

BRANCHES LIKE NERVE ENDINGS

How do I quiet my breath
to match the stars –
and make my papery eye-lids
feel like rain?
The birches are dressed in starch
and my neighbor’s awkward
garden raises weeds and
a tangle of berries.

The sky whispered lies yesterday
screamed a false blue
aqua like a Scandinavian soup
bowl, rimmed in yellow.
The birds, feathered messengers
of fear
shivered.

I write pages in my head,
my pen never touching down.

Last night I read somewhere,
“Read a thousand books
and your writing will flow like
a river.”
My heart feels like a lake,
Bottomless, metallic, and
hungry.

Sometimes I hear voices in feathers.
Crows write words in the sky,
like graceful quills
that embroider the dome with
loopy cursive.
Elegant reminders of
my own clumsiness.
Etch
verbs that I cannot decipher
without beating wings.
They scream a dialect
I cannot remember.
I fumble for the searing syllables.

It is no use.
I
cannot
caw.

Once I kissed a boy until
I realized his mind was empty
I could never love him
He did not know enough
words.
He could not describe how blue
the sky was and his insides did not
ache for the vibrant shade
of green the sky turns
after it rains.

I felt alone,
even when he clutched my hand.

Feverishly, I composed line-after-
line in my journal.
I was convinced I would rather
be alone.

My heart does not trust
Forests
where no trees grow.

~Amy
September 27, 2012

Another snowshoeing jaunt that left me mesmerized with our own backyard. Is there anything ever as beautiful as the land you toil over and dream into being?

I guess our phone upgrade was well worth the extra monthly charge. These photos were captured at dark – charged by only a segment of moon. Technology is amazing!

I often ask my students to write a letter to their “younger self.” I write that letter in my head every day.

Be patient.

You will find your forest and your home.

All the words are there.

Trust that he knows them by heart.

Home is a verb –
A garden
A place where your soul rests and awakens
invents a new language.
A place of potential and possibility.
💚

If you need proof, open your eyes.

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