Category Archives: Day to day

Sweet and simple

Winter can be, well, depressing. Eating locally can get, well, boring…especially in February and early March. Here is my sweet, simple and delicious recipe for roasted sweet potatoes – a tried and true that picks me up even at this time of year.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 c. chopped sweet potatoes (skin on)
1/2 medium onion – sliced
1 clove garlic – sliced
2 T. olive oil
Salt & pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 c. chopped parsley (if available)
2 T. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 F
1. Combine all the ingredients up to and including the parsley in a large bowl. Mix until fully combined and coated with the oil.
2. Place in a 8×8 baking dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
3. Remove from oven. Drizzle vinegar over and stir everything around.
4. Place back in oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

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Things kind of happen

So, it started out as a small break. I was switching jobs and needed to take the time to really focus on all my new roles and responsibilities. And it was summer, so ‘what-the-heck?’ And then July came and I put an offer in on a house back in Montgomery County and ‘holy crap!’ My brain was filled with the anxiety not only of a new job but a new house and all the layers of emotion, fear and joy and confusion that go along with both those things. September came and I finally closed on the house, moving into my sweet little cottage along the Mohawk River just up the street from an actual fort. And with it came new responsibilities like buying a lawn mower and painting the sun-porch and taking out the trash every Thursday night.

And writing somehow never came into the picture. I mean, I’ve thought about it a lot, but things just kind of happened and I didn’t.

So now it’s October and there really aren’t any more excuses. I’m settled into my job and my home and the pattern of my day and I have a gorgeous view of the river from my sunny office window. I can’t complain and I can’t procrastinate anymore. It’s time to write about the things that happen and not get swept away by them.

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So I took a break

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around for a while. There have been no recipes, insights or reflections from me for nearly a month now. Somewhere along the line a week’s long break to get things in order here ended up being a month (or more). So where have I been and what have I been doing?

Well, I started a new job.

I am now the market manager at Schenectady Greenmarket. It’s only been a week, but what a week it’s been! I’m trying to get into the groove of balancing my new role with my writing and family and friends and all the other things that make up my days.

For those of you in the area, the Market runs on Sundays from 10 to 2 on Jay Street in Schenectady. Stop by, say “hi” and enjoy all the wonderful food and wonderful people the Market has to offer. I’ll see you there.

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True north? Maybe not…

As soon as the sun begins to shine and the snow stops falling, my job requires that I am on the road visiting farmers. I love this part of the year…and I loath it. There are two fundamental truths I have discovered over the last few weeks:

  1. I live in an amazingly beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful area of the country.
  2. Despite printing up and following directions, I will get lost.

I told this to the Lemon Drop yesterday afternoon as I asked him to talk me out of the maze of back roads I was on in Rensselaer County. He just laughed and laughed. What makes the entire experience even more funny is that I have a master’s degree in geography.

It isn’t my fault though…

Sure, I have no sense of direction and I second guess any kind of instructions no matter how simple or exact. No, the problem is not on my end, it is with the directions themselves.

Why take me down six back roads when I could easily take a main route the entire way and then a left onto the desired street? Why aren’t roads marked? Or signs twisted so you think you are on the correct road only to realize 3.7 miles later you actually aren’t?

The only thing going for me is that I am not required to find my way around at night. I once had a 1.9 mile night-time journey take me an hour and a half because I missed the one and only left turn I had to make. Yes, a GPS would make my life simpler and my bitching wane, but I don’t think about it until I’m in the middle of nowhere on mile 4.2 when I was supposed to find Barton Road at the 1.6 mile mark. And I’ll forget about everything by the time I hit the road again on Friday.

My faults are many, I’ll admit. I have a problem with any kind of authority (shocker, I know). And I don’t like having to hand control over to anyone or anything (even directions) – I’ll do it, but grudgingly and I am always poised to snatch that control back at the slightest moment of weakness (huh, maybe that’s my issue with men?).

Is that why I keep getting lost? I don’t know and I’m not convinced. I still think Google Maps has it out for me.

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Conversations

Sometimes we can’t say the things we really want to say. Or conversations stop and switch before we get to make the point we really wanted to make. Or we have a delicate or difficult question we really want to ask but miss the opportunity or lack the courage to ask it. What happens when we hold onto these unspoken pieces of ourselves?

Do you forget about them or do you play them over and over in your head? Do you have 1,000 conversations rolling around inside of you…Or is it just me?

Every time I drive these conversations begin to surface. I tell an obnoxious friend that I love them but I don’t like them right now. I ask my closest male friend if I’m pretty or beautiful or plain. I yell at the boys(s) that broke my heart. I share my deepest dreams and fears with the man I love…In my head…as I drive.

I wonder if any of it will come true. I wonder if I should tell my friend that they are being obnoxious. Or if I’m pretty or plain. Or if the man I love would run were I to show him the raw version of me.

In the end, 990 of those 1,000 conversations stay in my head. Of the 10 I say out-loud, maybe one goes well; the rest should have been left unspoken. But how do you know if you keep it all inside? How do you know anything if you don’t take the risk and try?

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Breaking ground

Every year around this time, I get a little nostalgic, a little dreamy and a little misty over a boy, The Farmer Boy. I don’t think about him in the winter, summer or fall; no, spring was our season, or rather, those few weeks that lead up to planting. The reason my mind drifts back to The Farmer Boy isn’t because of his good looks (and ladies, he was sooo hot) or his personality. No, the reason I think of him is because this boy broke up with me with the most spectacular line ever.

Let me set the scene: Planting was about to begin. I knew what that meant, I wouldn’t get a chance to see him for six weeks. I was OK (though not thrilled) with it. One night, while on the phone, I asked for a small favor.

The conversation went like this:

Me: Every once-in-a-while, can you maybe, along the way, let me know that you miss me?

Him: Ah…well…The thing is that I really love riding around in the tractor. I mean, I love planting and, well, I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you that.

Me: Huh?

Him: You see, now that you mention it…I’ve realized that I love my tractor more than I like you.

Me: … But I have boobs! …

So as farmers climb up into their tractors, my mind drifts back to the boy who loved his tractor so much he chose it over a really, spectacular rack. And though it was painful at the time, I think it’s pretty damn funny now.

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Rhythm of the season

Spring has finally (kind of) made an appearance in Upstate New York. The Winter was cold and bitter and even snowy…but it was also long. Why is it that we spend all year complaining about the season we’re in? Winter is too cold (or too warm); Spring is too short, too rainy, too cold or non-existent all together; Summer is too hot, too wet, too dry; Fall is too short, too warm, too stormy. I’m just as guilty as the rest, I complain right along with everyone else.

To me, Spring is always about transformation and transformation is never easy or smooth. Transformation, instead, is about stormy emotions, destruction of the old, birth of the new. Muddy paths and windy nights; turmoil and chaos – that is what Spring brings. It is an unsettling of routines, souls and perspectives. It is scary and beautiful all in the same breath. It is about surrender and acceptance.

Spring in Upstate is also the time when fields are plowed and planted. It is the time when farmers emerge from their workshops rested and repaired with a curse on their lips and a prayer in their hearts, prepared for the marathon that is about to begin.

Farmers are always in a tussle with Mother Nature. Last year it was a record warm Spring and a devastating Summer drought. This year, it is the continued cold snap and flooding. We need to get seed in the ground so that it can mature in time and be ready for harvest but we also need the ground warm and dry enough to get into the fields.

For many of us who have a supporting role on farms or in farmers’ lives, planting means saying “goodbye” for a solid six (or more) weeks. I had my goodbye chat last night, planting hasn’t started, but it will in the next few days. There may be a quick call from a tractor cab here and there, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope. After seven years in the country, I’ve gotten used to the rhythm and the calendar that farm men live by. I’m not saying that I like it, I’m just used to it now.

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