hoe cakes with savory sour cherry chutney


Note: This post was previously published here as a part of my freelance work, and was written by my darling boyfriend, Adam. 
Cherry season, in this area, is fleeting and fickle. Cherries are a delicate fruit, prone to weather damage,  and during their short peak period of ripeness (only a little more than two weeks!) they’re prized pickings for birds and other pests.  Any local cherries that make it to your fridge are a thing to be treasured. 

So now that all of us CSA members have them, let’s revel in cherry season. Let's wring every drop of local cherry possibility from these few short weeks. Of course, you can bake a cherry pie or make cherry ice cream. You can freeze them, can them, or dry them. Or you can do like we did and make a sour cherry chutney.

We began by slowly caramelizing Emanuel Stoltzfus's dashing candy onions, then added the cherries. To ballast their tartness we added a few spoonfuls of wildflower honey. We bolstered the savoriness with the copious addition of black pepper and fresh thyme.The result is a fruity spread that’s sweet and sour, and a perfect compliment to cheese.

To make a dish of it, we spread it atop old fashion hoe cakes. These quaint little corn meal pancakes are said to have originated in the rural South. Farmers, the story goes, would heat the flat metal ends of their hoes in a fire and grease them up as impromptu griddles.  They drizzled batter right on their searing farm tools to cook a quick lunch in the field.  We finished the hoe cakes with some creamy Camembert, but goat cheese or blue cheese would work just as well.
Savory Sour Cherry Chutney

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

2 cups of sour cherries
½ medium onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)
¼ cup honey
3 Tbl of thyme leaves
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Begin with the hardest part: pitting the cherries.
Next, in a medium sauté pan, sweat the chopped onions in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to brown.
Add the pitted cherries and bring to a simmer. Then add the honey. Feel free to use more honey if necessary to balance out the sourness of the cherries.
Pick the thyme leaves from the stems and add them to the chutney. Crack a generous amount of black pepper into the sauce until it begins to taste rich and spicy.

Continue to simmer the chutney until it has reduced to a jam-like consistency.
Hoe Cakes

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

1 cup course ground corn meal
½ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup water

In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly whisk in the water (you can use milk instead if you prefer) until it resembles thick pancake batter. Depending on the brand of flour and cornmeal you might have to add some extra liquid to get the right consistency.
Let the batter rest for a few minutes to activate the baking powder and hydrate the cornmeal. Meanwhile, place a 10” skillet (or large-sized hoe) on medium heat and lubricate it with a small pad of butter.
Ladle the batter into the hot skillet and spread around evenly with the bottom of the ladle. After bubbles begin to form around the hoe cake, flip it and cook the opposite side until brown. Repeat until all batter is used, this recipe should yield three large cakes.
Next, using a jar lid, cut perfectly round, finger-food-sized pieces from the larger pancakes. Spread the chutney around the cakes and melt your cheese of choice on top using an oven set 400 F for approx. 5 minutes.

london: through the eyes of my father


It takes us a long time to realize that our parents are people. They have unknown pasts, and they too were young once, just like you. Life took them on adventures; there were lovers, friends, inner turmoil, and passions that moved them from one point to the next. It’s so easy to remain ignorant to these bits and pieces that make up who your parents are. If you never ask, you might not hear, and if you’ve never hear, you may never really know the people who raised you.

I'm personally very fascinated to hear my parents' old storeis. I see two people who made it a point to pave a path distinctly for themselves and not for anybody else. I envy their bravery, and at the same time, I identify with it.

In my continuing quest to get to know them, I recently convinced my father to take a trip with me. On our way home from visiting family in Italy, we made a pit stop in London to retrace his old footsteps. A friend still owns the house he rented when he was a young spiritual hippie living in London during the 70’s. We went and stayed with her — my dad sleeping in his old bedroom, and myself on the first story in her acupuncture treatment space. During our visit, we walked around London, enjoying the parks he used to meander through and retracing his steps to places he once frequented. 

Perhaps most satisfying of all, we spent time with his friends and talked about old times. I heard stories of friends who had died, the concerts they enjoyed in the park, and the worries that were on their minds. They looked back on fifty-some years, and I got to sit there, listening to the stories of their lives. I found myself envious of all the places they'd been. The solo treks through China, the gatherings at a Tuscan villa. I wanted their wisdom. I wanted to be able to talk about life like someone who's seen it all. They'd each gone through so many things. Changed careers, survived diseases, fallen in love  hardship after victory after hardship. Here I am, racing along the path of life. I think, "that can't be me." But before I know it I'll be right there with them; looking back on the memories. 

Needless to say, I was immensely stricken by this little meander into my father's past. I fell in love with his friends. I wanted to cry at their stories, and at the same time, I was really proud of my father for attracting such special people. For all the times I want to reject where I come from. For all the times that I can only see the faults in my father. This undid them. He's a good man  a true friend, a thoughtful person, and hey, he can identify just about any tree you're bound to come across. I'm glad I had the opportunity to return with him to London, to get to see the world through his young hippie eyes. It was a very transformative experience. 

I tell you this story, so that while you have the chance, you too will make it a point to uncover who your parents were when they were young. Visit the places they visited. Stay in the places they lived. Talk to the friends that they made. Take a walk through your parents’ footsteps, so you can bring yourself closer — to them, and ultimately, yourself. The look into the past will propel you down your own road, wherever that may lead.

creamy lavender body wash


Note: This post was previously published here as a part of my freelance work. 

Making your own soap is surprisingly easy, and a very satisfying thing to do. I like making this blend and having it on hand anytime my skin feels like it needs some extra love. You can substitute any essential oil that you’d like, but I happen to like lavender for the soothing nature that it provides.

You’ll Need:
1/4 Cup Dr. Bronners Pure Castile Soap - Lavender
1/2 Cup Softened Coconut Oil
3 Tbs. Sweet Almond Oil
15 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
Kitchen Hand Mixer
       Glass Container

1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk together using the hand mixer until creamy.
2. Store in glass container and use as needed.
3. Easy as that!