For fellow book nerds out there, you know what I'm talking about when you just fall into the pages of a great book. It's a full dive in, head first, and there isn't too much that can tear you away from it's grasp (not laundry, not the need for sleep, not your new Netflix rental, not even freshly baked cookies).
I had a moment this week when I actually had to set my alarm to pull myself away from my current read: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by the fantastic Barbara Kingsolver. My love of Kingsolver's novels goes back eight years to The Poisonwood Bible (which I chose to read right before living in Ghana for half a summer) and has been followed up with some of her other novels: The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, and now: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. This book, unlike my other Kingsolver novel-obsessions, is non-fiction. It's about how Kingsolver, her husband, and their two daughters left Tucson for Appalachia, and turned their typical world of weekly grocery lists inward to their own struggles and joys of growing and raising food to feed their stomachs, as well as their relationships to each other and the world around them.
I'm not even halfway through and I feel like I've made some important and life-changing revelations. Things that I knew to be true, but now actually feel true somewhere deep in my gut. It was this feeling of epiphany on the importance of eating seasonally and locally that has cloaked my work here over the past week and a half: while tearing the garden lettuces for dinner and feeling their cool, crunchy leaves; slicing the onions into slivers of green and purple and white; cracking eggs that are brown, speckled, and even a light blue-gray into a mixing bowl (with only one hand, no less!), filling ice-cold glass bottles with milk from our cow, Chloe, and all the other countless kitchen preparations that deal with the gorgeous foods that are produced by our little farm. I'm well-fed here because I am eating well, and I'm eating (for the most part) locally, seasonally, and amongst people who get it.
Speaking of getting it, I got into the strawberry patch yesterday and picked several cups of ripe, ruby berries and thanked my lucky stars. As a kid I adored strawberries. I would dream of sitting (quite literally) in a wooden barrel of strawberries, to munch away at my leisure. My love for them had waned in the past few decades, (probably due to truck-ripened gargantuan strawberries, rather than sun-ripened little guys), but good news! I have re-discovered my love for these tiny jewels, and, thank goodness, it's a true love indeed.
I love a strawberry patch. Finding a perfect strawberry is practically a treasure hunt: lifting the big, shady leaves to find which ones are hiding the loot. It's an adventurous way to go berry-picking, and (bonus) there's no thorns! This is what's a called a win-win situation, friends.
For my fellow farm-workers, I made this Strawberry Coffee Cake recipe (via Joy The Baker), and with a few changes (more butter and berries, of course), it's a keeper. Please trust me on this. The entire pan of coffee cake was gone within 20 minutes of the first slice. Hooray! My first coffee cake, with strawberries from the garden outside the kitchen window no less. Perfection, I have found you.