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the Sweet Paul Makerie: Food Styling and Photography

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I promised last time that I would be sharing more about Paul Lowe and Colin Cooke’s food styling and photography class, and here I am to deliver. The class was my primary reason for attending the Makerie and it didn’t disappoint. A lot of the other students were in the class because photography is in some way important to them financially – either because they want to monetize their blogs and need better shots to do it, or because photography serves as a secondary function of their businesses. I was there purely as an aesthete. I want the shots I share in this space to be the best possible representation of the moment or milieu I’m trying to capture and food photography is one area where I feel very challenged. Paul and Colin really helped me to see and begin to understand the many puzzle pieces I was missing in the process.

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Paul’s food styling is impeccable, and take a look at Colin’s portfolio – the man is a pro, no question about it. Looking through his shots before the Makerie weekend, I felt a lot like I did the first time I saw the LSO performing; sometimes when you’re witnessing the work of someone whose expertise comes from countless years of practice, you can just feel that mastery in your bones. Throughout class I repeatedly felt humbled by the gap in skill and experience between myself and our two teachers, and I was reminded again and again of the importance of putting in the time to refine your own aesthetic and approach. As adults we so frequently want mastery to emerge right away – but you’ve got to earn it through hard work. There is simply no other way.

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It was actually very strange shooting photos that had been styled and arranged by someone else. I like cherry and other natural woods; I prefer the way stained wood looks as a backdrop and I use it a lot, and shooting on a painted colored background was so deeply weird for me. It taught me in a way I never could have learned on my own that branching out is sometimes necessary to create a diversity of mood and experience in my shots.

I also usually shoot my still life photos from pretty high up, and while there was a stepladder, I just felt selfish climbing up there with so many other people vying to use it – and there were so many of us working with differing ideas about how we needed to move the props around that there were always going to be bodies or hands in the shot anyway. It was more important to me to watch and absorb everything that was happening than it was to shoot close up on the food, so I wasn’t particularly aggressive about getting in there. The one thing I was aggressive about was photographing Paul work, like I was a paparazzi stalker, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to remember everything he had done without copious photographs of the process. If I posted them all here this post would be heavy with images, heavier than I like, so I’m sharing them as a complete photo set over on Flickr, annotated for your convenience.

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The single most valuable thing I learned from watching Colin work is to use my freaking tripod. I have one, but I don’t love setting it up, and I follow a lot of food bloggers who seem to just climb up on ladders and shoot, so that’s what I’ve done for both still life and food. Colin shoots with a remote and a tripod – or at least, he did it that way for every shot he took with us – and I can see how it would be huge in eliminating the camera shake I tend to get with my normal lens. I shoot most of the shots on this blog with a fixed focal length lens with macro capability, a 40mm – it’s not the best lens for the photography I share on this site, but it hit the sweet spot between quality and price when I bought it. The one thing about using it that has challenged me is that its focus is much more specific than the kit lens I initially shot with when I moved to digital, so if I move even a little my whole shot is thrown immediately. Using a tripod and remote instead should allow me a bit of a speed gain – fewer shots needed to get the right one, and also I can be down by my composition with the preview screen angled down at me, allowing me to move things around without having to disengage from my camera. Not only will I be able to recompose my scenes more easily, but I won’t have to relocate the camera when I’m ready to shoot again. Just rearrange, step out of the frame of the shot and hit the remote. I love this idea – it’s going to be huge for me.

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I don’t think I could ever begin to sum up everything I learned from watching Paul work. He talked as he styled the sets, and every other minute he was saying something new and fascinating. For instance, that cold and slightly undercooked pasta is easiest to style, and that we could wrap strands around our fingers to form pasta birds’ nests, then rub in pesto with our fingertips for even distribution. The pasta set was possibly the most instructive from a technical standpoint, in that we did more to the food in that set to make it photogenic than in any other.

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Paul also taught us that if we want to shoot our food on a bed of ice, that can be done by filling a clear plastic bin with the ice and then setting it down on top of bright blue paper; the blue comes through the ice and makes it look vibrant and cold in the photograph. In general, he stressed balance and composition in assembling the dishes, which I also found interesting as a cook. Those of you who have been following this blog know that a year ago, I could not cook at all, and in the course of my self-education I hadn’t yet begun to think about food this way. Watching Paul work changed something in my brain and taught me at a fundamental level to consider how my dish looks on its plate as I’m preparing it.

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The class as a whole was one of those experiences where you’re very aware that the real lessons will continue to emerge as you practice what you’ve been shown and work to deepen your own skill. I’m looking forward to seeing how my photography practice grows and changes as a result of this workshop.

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Recipe: Buttermilk Biscuits, Pumpkin-Honey and Plain

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What with all the canning I’ve been doing lately, it may not surprise y’all to know that I’ve been on a mission to master biscuit-making this month. But the actual impetus wasn’t my own canned goods – oh, no. It was two jars of cocoa butter from an incredible bakery in Reykjavik. It’s called Sandholt, and if ever you’re in Iceland, you’ve got to check them out. Possibly better pain au chocolat than we had in Paris, though nothing will ever top the wild strawberry tartlet we got at Pierre Herme. Every day, our breakfasts consisted of a pain au chocolat, purchased at Sandholt and eaten while walking around the city. Pain au chocolat on the way to the 871 exhibit. Pain au chocolat before a browse through record albums at Skifan. And then eventually mildly stale evening pain au chocolat for me, beset by insomnia, thanks to the midnight sun that seemed able to creep through even the sturdiest blackout curtains. I formed a quick bond to the place and, disappointed to be leaving it behind so quickly, I bought two jars of cocoa butter to bring home. At that point we still had 17 days of travel to go, but nevertheless I got those jars safely through three nations and brought them home. I think that calls for a biscuit, don’t you?

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I’ve tried other biscuit recipes before and the results were always very… northern. My family is by and large Tenneessean and I grew up eating proper biscuits every summer, and thus, biscuits that taste like an English scone just do not rock me. Enter Beth Kirby and her biscuit recipes. I went back and forth, reading through both the original buttermilk biscuit recipe and the newer pumpkin-honey variation. I studied them. I tried out the various options suggested in the articles and in the comments. I baked several batches. Some I shared with my spouse. One batch I failed at sharing with anyone (as I once told a coworker, you don’t get an ass like this eating salads). And two batches I made for my parents.

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Those were the really rewarding batches – both pumpkin-honey and plain biscuits, wrapped in a linen tea towel to keep warm, and three spreads on the counter, including one of the Icelandic butters, a banana cocoa butter that is epic on the pumpkin-honey biscuits, truly. Everyone standing in my kitchen eating them and acting like I was some sort of magician. Much better than furtively eating them alone while I photograph some apples, though let’s face it, any day you get to eat a biscuit is a good day.

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If you’re feeling any fear at all about making these, I would urge you to give them a shot. They’re magically delicious and wonderful to share with others. My notes below are full of my own kind of elaboration, but also give Beth’s recipes a read-through for a different take, and you’ll be empowered to make incredible magic biscuits yourself. Never forget, I am here for you in the comments section if you have questions or concerns. Sometime soon I want to talk about fear and the ways in which it makes small things seem impossible. For now, though, let’s all make biscuits.

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Buttermilk Biscuits, Plain or Pumpkin Honey

Adapted from Beth Kirby, both on Local Milk and Food52

Yields 8-10 smaller biscuits or 4 mammoth biscuits (that may attack your face; don’t say I didn’t warn you)

Ingredients (for plain biscuits):
– 250 grams or 2 cups flour (cake flour or all-purpose flour)
– 1 Tbsp baking powder
– 1 tsp kosher salt
– 230 grams or 1 scant cup buttermilk
– 4 Tbsp butter (half a stick)

Ingredients (for pumpkin honey biscuits):
– 250 grams or 2 cups flour
– 1 Tbsp baking powder
– 1 tsp kosher salt
– 1/2 a cup (120 grams) plus 1/4 cup (60 grams) buttermilk (you likely will not use the 1/4 cup; you’re merely holding it in reserve in case your dough seems dry)
– 4 Tbsp butter (half a stick)
– 1/3 cup pumpkin purée
– 6 tablespoons honey
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– A pinch of ground cloves

Preheat your oven to 425 whenever it suits you. I always do it during the second rest period so my kitchen stays cool in the meantime.

Mix the dry ingredients together so everything is evenly distributed.

Next, cut in the butter. I have developed a technique for this, but I don’t say it’s necessary or even universally helpful – it just works for me. I cut the butter into two (very cold) chunks and then cut it in with a pastry blender until I’ve got nice pea-sized chunks of butter distributed throughout my dough. You can also cut the butter in with your hands or two knives, or really anything that works for you. I have a pastry blender from my days of overzealously acquiring kitchen goods, and I like the way it feels, so I use it.

Once you’ve got your butter cut in, mix in your remaining wet ingredients. For the plain biscuits, that’ll be just the buttermilk. For the pumpkin variation, you’re going to take the first 1/2 cup of buttermilk as well as the pumpkin puree and the honey, and blend them all together using a fork in a separate bowl. Once they’re blended together, add them to the butter and dry ingredients.

The dough will be wet and will come together pretty quickly. Once it does, let it sit for 20 minutes. Letting it sit isn’t strictly necessary, but I find that when I do it, I get higher biscuits.

After it’s had its rest (or not – baker’s discretion), transfer it to a floured surface and shape it into a rectangle about an inch and a half thick with your hands. It does tend to stick, so make sure there’s an even but thin coating of flour over everything that will touch it, including your hands. Fold the dough rectangle like you would fold a letter to fit into a business envelope – the top third comes down onto the middle third, then down again onto the bottom third. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, re-flouring your surface if it needs it, and press it out again to about an inch and a half thick. You want to be really gentle with it – by folding it, you’re creating the layers you want in the finished biscuit, so as you work, visualize yourself NOT crushing all the nice layers you’re making. I use my hands because I hate rolling pins and I feel like I have the most control with my hands, but you can use a rolling pin here too. Just be gentle, whichever course you take. Once you’ve rolled it out, fold it in half, rotate it 90 degrees, roll it out again to an inch and a half thick, then fold it in half again, rotate it 90 degrees again, and roll it out again to an inch and a half thick. Your fold-and-roll sequence will basically be once like a letter, then twice in half.

Once you’ve rolled it out for the last time, let it sit another 20 minutes. Again, you don’t have to do this, but I find my biscuits rise higher when I do.

After the second resting period, cut your rectangle into smaller rectangles with a well-floured kitchen knife. You can, if you have it, also use a biscuit cutter to get perfectly round biscuits, but I actually prefer the aesthetic of the square biscuit, and besides, square biscuits do not involve re-rolling your dough to use every last bit of it. You can get flour to adhere to your kitchen knife by first sticking a little extra dough to the edge, or you can just keep re-flouring it as you slice. Be sure to cut straight up and down and avoid twisting, which will seal the sides of your biscuits. I usually form my dough so it’s a rectangle, cut once down the center of the long part, and then slice off individual biscuits from the two big resulting logs of dough. I aim for biscuits that are about two to three inches in size – depending on my dough, sometimes they’re more square and sometimes they’re rectangular. Either way they will be fine. You can control your yield here based on the square size you cut. Want mammoth face-eating biscuits? Cut 4-6. Want smaller biscuits to feed a bigger group? Cut 8-10.

After you cut them, pick each biscuit up, flip it over and place it upside down on a baking sheet. Place the biscuits very close to each other – almost, but not quite touching.

Now let’s talk baking time. This will vary based on two factors – your oven and your biscuits. Since we’re cutting squares here, you may find they cook faster or slower than mine did based on how you cut them and how many you got. My oven runs cold, so generally I start by putting 15 minutes on my oven timer and then checking the biscuits for done-ness every couple of minutes after that. You’re looking for a nice, golden biscuit top. In my oven, the large biscuits generally take about 20 minutes to cook, while the smaller biscuits are usually done around 17-18 minutes. I also sometimes vary the cooking time based on who I’m cooking for – some of my family like their biscuits softer than others. Bottom line, start at a bake time of around 15 minutes (maybe a minute or two less if you know your oven runs hot) and then keep an eye on them.

After they’re done, let them cool (if you can stand it) or burn your fingers by eating them right away (the latter is more my style).


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Recipe: Daily Granola

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So, last time I posted, I mentioned granola. I love granola for breakfast these days; I make a low-sugar version, so it’s reasonably healthy, and I can pour myself a small bowl of it and snack on it all morning. It’s just as good at 11:00 when I realize I forgot to finish eating it as it was at 8:00 when I scooped it out of its container. Can’t say that about yogurt! (Sad but true; ask me how I know.)

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This recipe is adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, one of the only cookbooks we own that we actually cook out of frequently. There’s just something about it that really speaks to both of us. I’ve made some minor changes to her recipe here, but the true genius of this recipe is the replacement of sugar with maple syrup, leading to a less sickly sweet batch that’s just perfect for breakfast. I actually don’t have much of a sweet tooth, especially not first thing in the morning.

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Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup (Note: if you’re just shy of the 1/2 cup of maple syrup, you can add about 1/8 cup of honey instead to bring it up to level. I wouldn’t go so far as to add 1/4 cup honey; the mixture should still be mostly maple syrup. This is just something you can do if you’re running low. No need to measure the honey you’re adding precisely, just pour what syrup you’ve got into your measuring cup, add honey to bring the total amount up to 1/2 cup, and stir to incorporate.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg white
Dried fruit to taste, if desired. Perelman uses 1.5 cups of dried cherries; when I make this for my husband, I add the cherries, but for myself am happier with just the grains.

The how-to:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and get a baking sheet ready. For some of you this will involve just setting the thing on the counter. For me it usually involves lining it with parchment paper so I don’t feel like I ought to wash the baking sheet when I’m done.

Combine all the ingredients but the egg white and the fruit (if you’re using it) in a nice, big bowl. Stir them all together to get an even distribution of ingredients.

In a small bowl (or, hell, your pyrex measuring cup, which is what I always do) whisk the egg white until frothy. The egg white is the protein that binds your clumps of granola together and gives you big clumps in your finished product. While we’re on the subject, if any of you have tried vegan substitutes for the egg as a granola binder, I’m all ears – this is so close to being a vegan-friendly recipe that I would love to take it all the way with a protein substitute for the egg.

Pour the frothy egg white into the granola mixture and stir to distribute it throughout. Be careful to get an even distribution.

Pour the mixture out onto your baking sheet and spread it out into an even layer. Pop it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet in the oven 180 degrees and continue to bake it for another 20-25 minutes. This step depends, of course, on how hot your oven runs. Mine is always a little cold so I tend to need the full baking time. If you’re not sure how long it will need, you can check on it at the 20 minute mark – when done it should be browned evenly throughout and should feel dry.

Remove it from the oven and let it cool – you can put it on a cooling rack, but you can also forget about it entirely and leave it on top of the oven overnight while you conduct a massive Netflix marathon with your spouse, which is more my style. Once it’s cool, transfer it into a storage container and mix in the fruit, if you’re using it.

I’ve noshed on the same batch out of an airtight bag for a month, but do note that it’s only intended to last two weeks, so it does get a bit stale. If you’d like, you can freeze it for longer-term storage.

Adapted from a recipe by Deb Perelman, in her Smitten Kitchen cookbook.


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Around here: Crafty Bastards and Kinfolk canning

I’m just back from Snow Farm and I have so much to share, but I haven’t gone into the Kinfolk canning event my husband and I attended the day before I left yet, or talked about the amazing Crafty Bastards art fair we attended. So, soon, a post about Snow Farm, but first, some more local D.C. area loveliness.

Mitts from Sardine Clothing, board from Blue Ridge Cutting Boards

Mitts from Sardine Clothing, board from Blue Ridge Cutting Boards

I had no idea how amazing Crafty Bastards was. I’d heard a lot of buzz about it from friends who participate, but was totally unprepared for the extremely high quality of the goods being sold. I’m used to art fairs with more of a blend of good, bad and ugly – at Crafty Bastards, even the stuff you aren’t personally into still seems objectively great. We had a blast and will block off both days to go next year. Among our favorite finds: a gorgeous cutting board from Blue Ridge Cutting Board Co., recycled cashmere mitts for me from Sardine Clothing, and a map of D.C. with a sea monster in it from Alternate Histories for him. Had a lovely chat with the woman who ran the Sardine Clothing booth and she told me that they make larger size skirts for those of us with a little more junk in the trunk; I think I see a custom order for one in my future.

Kinfolk event dinner table

Kinfolk event dinner table

Immediately after Crafty Bastards we headed out to Leesburg for a Kinfolk Magazine canning event, hosted by Rebecca Gallop from A Daily Something. I loved her aesthetic and knew she would throw a gorgeous event, and I was totally right. I didn’t take the DSLR and wished I had; there were so many great photographic subjects to be had and I felt handicapped with just my cell phone camera. The event was held at Faith Like a Mustard Seed farm, a lovely place with a great kitchen and tons of room for everyone to work. We made pickled red onions, dilly beans and apple maple butter – a task made easier thanks to the presence of lots of helping hands.

Cafe aprons from Shop Fog Linen and little spoons from Olmay Home

Cafe aprons from Shop Fog Linen and little spoons from Olmay Home

Rebecca had lined up some truly wonderful sponsors for the event, so we got some great goodies to take home. My favorite contribution was a set of matching cafe aprons (one for me and one for him, and we just happened to get two that matched – so us!) courtesy of Shop Fog Linen, whose products I love; so excited to finally own one of their lovely products. West Elm also sent us home with some nice big Weck jars, which we’re going to try canning in once we have a few more rounds of canning under our belt. Kinfolk sent us a lovely canning print, and Olmay Home sent us some adorable little wooden spoons – not sure if they truly are jam spoons, but that’s what I’m christening mine. We had a lovely casual dinner outside, with lots of canned products to enjoy, and spent the rest of the evening in the kitchen eating cakes made with canned preserves while we worked. Lehman’s sent our canning jars and I discovered a new favorite jar style – this one, in the half-pint size – that I’ll be ordering soon for pickling. Love the small size and wide mouth on this one.

Pickled red onions in my new favorite Kerr jars

Pickled red onions in my new favorite Kerr jars

I think my favorite part of the event was how inspirational the recipes and the setting were. I’m still pretty new to water bath canning and loved seeing all the pickled produce; it gave me tons of ideas for things I could do at home. And it was a pleasure to eat, socialize and cook in a setting that had been so beautifully dressed by Rebecca and Holly Chapple Flowers, who did the arrangements for the event. Holly herself was such fun; I’m a pretty dedicated introvert and loved talking to someone so bright and bubbly who made conversation truly easy. I’ve got a black thumb and loved hearing her take on gardening over our dinner.

Lovely dinner table arrangement by Holly Chapple Flowers

Lovely dinner table arrangement by Holly Chapple Flowers

We had a beautiful drive home (okay, maybe a couple of near misses due to my exhaustion, but since they didn’t turn into car accidents, my nervous driver self is calling it a win). I’m really happy that I’ve learned that I am capable of driving into at least some of the NoVa suburbs; should expand our options when it comes to acquiring produce to can next season. It was a great way to spend the day before heading up to Massachusetts for Snow Farm.


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Taproot at Squam: Yes You Can!

The view from the Eldorado dock at RDC Squam

The view from the Eldorado dock at RDC Squam

I’ve been home from the Taproot Gathering at Squam for about a week now, and I’m still processing, but it felt like it was time to talk about a few things. Like the Maine cider at breakfast – oh, man, how good was that stuff, seriously? The cider I have access to here is just not the same.

But enough about the cider – although it did make me feel evangelical, I came here to talk about the classes. My focus as I registered was very much on what I’m coming to think of as hearth-work – a different sort of creativity grounded in the cycle of nature, our home, and our physical well-being. Before I left my full-time job in August, our household was undernourished in these areas, and both my husband and I were made miserable by it. When I registered for Squam in late April, we didn’t yet have a timeline as to when I would leave my job, but our hope was that I would be able to transition to lower-commitment contract work by Squam. I chose my classes with an ear to a shift towards mindfulness in our day-to-day lives, a change in rhythm that, though still a few months off, I was already beginning to feel.

Bench in front of Eldorado

Bench in front of Eldorado

I had a few goals going in, but by far the most important to me was to take back the kitchen. Simply put, both my husband and I hated how we were eating. With him gearing up for a doctoral thesis defense and me incredibly miserable with my long hours, we were doing quite a bit of convenience eating. I’d also developed stomach problems that were making it tougher and tougher for me to find things that I could eat without feeling ill, making it harder to cook new things together at home. These challenges exacerbated our sense of being disconnected from nature; we live in a very urban area outside D.C., so our days are filled with concrete buildings and paved sidewalks, and the cyclical nature of the world was very far from us. I’ve come to feel that being aware of that cycle is so important – to both physical and emotional health – and I believed that from-scratch cooking, using fresh, local ingredients, was a good way to bring a bit of the thread into our daily lives. After leaving my job in August, I really wanted to invest time and effort in slow food. I wanted both our meal prep and our meals themselves to be mindful, a time of connection with each other. Making this change has been huge for us, a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces, but one of the pieces was my canning class with Ashley English at Squam.

Ashley's books balanced on the woodstove during class.

Ashley’s books balanced on the woodstove during class.

I admit, when I got to Ashley’s class I was kind of freaked out. Most of the women in class were experienced cooks, and honestly, when I cook with produce I’m usually so scared of my own ingredients that my husband has to be my sous-chef and prep all the produce himself. This is what you get, I suppose, if you spend ten years eating Rice-a-Roni and thinking about virtualization and private cloud in your free time instead of actually seeing and eating fresh food. Still, I felt ashamed that I hadn’t put the time into cultivating kitchen skills that my classmates had. I was really very tempted to hide in the bathroom so that no one could discover that I had no earthly idea how to core an apple. Instead I stationed myself behind one of the women who had identified herself as an experienced cook, studied her technique – and then jumped right in. Sure, I was really slow compared to my classmates, but the thing about Squam? No one is judging you. It is a judgment-free zone. Even after three sessions I still need to be reminded of that. Despite my sometime embarrassment I made myself participate whenever I could, and at the end of class I sat in front of our jars of pickled beets, and I watched as their lids popped one by one. Studied the beets in their jars, knew I had helped chop them and fill them – it was wild! I know this probably sounds bizarre to women who cook often, but for me it was a total revelation.

Apple butter in Ashley English's canning class

Apple butter in Ashley English’s canning class

Canning was first on my to-do list when I returned home, but I can’t say I felt totally secure about doing it by myself, so I decided that I would bake fresh bread first to help me calm the bleep down. Right? Sure, baking bread from scratch for the first time will totally be a calming experience! If this isn’t evidence that someone has flipped the “I can cook” switch in my head I don’t know what is. All I can say is thank god for Beth Kirby; her soothing, straightforward directions made the whole thing easy. I started following her right before I gave notice back in July, and over the past two months I’ve learned that every time I cook one of her recipes, it will work. Like magic – which is what this bread is. Originally by Jim Leahy from “My Bread”, Beth wrote about it for Food52, where I discovered it. Two things to say about it: it really is that easy, and it didn’t last the night. I threw it in the oven before we started our batch of peach-lavender butter and we ate our way through the loaf as we cooked. First smoked salmon sandwiches while we were still feeling energetic. Then just black garlic mayo smeared on ragged slices as we got into our jam-making groove. We ended the night running torn heel pieces of bread round the inside of the emptied jam pan as our jars processed, smearing jam all over our faces and hands as we lifted the heavy, soaked bread to our mouths. Utter, total heaven. Such collaborative joy.

Bread, jam and tomato basil sauce

Bread, jam and tomato basil sauce

I still haven’t gotten over my produce management fear – bird by bird, right? – so at present, canning is a collaborative activity for us. We’ve done a couple of batches so far, always following the same formula. He washes the canner and lids while I sit across the kitchen counter with my knitting; we talk while he preps the produce for me and piles it high in my jam pan. I measure out the spices, the liquids and so forth, and then we trade. He takes my perch on the barstool and we go over the events of the day while I stir and blend and measure out our batch into jars. Sometimes he falls asleep on the sofa while the jars process. It’s precious time to both of us. I’ve never been able to come home from Squam before and so quickly integrate what I learned into my day to day; it’s been wonderful to do it this time. I would go so far as to say it’s really eased the transition back into my day-to-day life. I also took Holly Bellebuono’s class on herbal apothecary and will be blogging about that next.

Some final notes:

-I hate taking notes in class, so I bought Ashley’s canning book as a textbook of sorts and am so glad I did. It’s an absolutely wonderful beginner book – the instructions are thorough, clear and reassuring, and the recipe section is approachable in scale. The book is available from Amazon.com here if you’d like to get into canning as well.
-Also, if you’re interested in having a 360-degree look at the Squam experience, check out Ashley’s post on Squam here. I always love to set my own experience side-by-side with the teacher posts; on some level it fascinates me to dig into the experience from multiple viewpoints.