September 30, 2011

CSA, Week Sixteen.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
Our fresh + local food adventure–through our weekly family share of produce from City Fresh–is rounding into it's last bend with only four weeks remaining on the schedule. I am told there will be two holiday opportunities, but otherwise, we are back to the market for our fresh produce. Nate and I scoped out a local fresh market this morning, and we were delighted + excited by the overwhelmingly regional selections and prices both. Nate was whipping through the few aisles enthusiastically identifying zucchini's and naming squashes by their varieties. He nearly brought tears to one of the owner's eyes, and she offered him a job on the spot. I think we have found our new grocer. The commitment to local produce, meat, and bakery items is unparalleled by any of our other options. What great timing! We were just beginning to mourn the closing out of our CSA season.

It's officially Autumn here, the breezy cool days have begun to demand savory warm soups, and many root vegetables of all colors. Though our schedule couldn't be much busier, it's a pulling in, and a simmering down kind of food season for our family. We've begun sharing thanks around our dinner table, as part of our blessing. It's a sweet nightly surprise to see what the Craunlets lift up in thanks. I am amazed that–though it is often small and selfish pleasures that they share–there are evenings when they are thankful for having a warm home, for fresh food and not knowing hunger, for family near and far, health and provision. Things that seem much too big for them, but as I am reminded, not too big for their hearts. 

Week Sixteen Round Up: 

1 flamingo pepper
4 apples
1 bunch beets
1 poblano pepper
1 bunch cilantro
1 head broccoli
1 red bell pepper
1 lb sweet potatoes
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch white radishes
1 lb green beans
1 bunch curly kale
1 eggplant
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 red tomato
1 green tomato
1 bunch chives
1 buttercup squash
1 watermelon

Tonight's dinner is already bubbling away in the soup pot. It's a hearty peanut butter, sweet potato + acorn squash soup. It's warmed with a bit of fresh ginger, a good dash of ground coriander, and a pinch of both salt and pepper. It smells like autumn in here. I cannot wait to share our dinner table and break bread with friends tonight. It's a sweet small family joining ours, and the promise of an evening of  much conversation and laughter.

September 29, 2011

Beautiful Normal.

The surface of Nate's desk; rolled drawings and a Superhero figurine.

September 27, 2011

For the Birds. 802, and OK.

Last week I carved out a few evening hours to take a fresh and fast ceramic decal class taught by the fabulous Kristen Cliffel that was offered at Art House, only a handful of blocks from my house. I came armed with a few simple images on my flash drive. An OK stamped print in the loose shape of a tornado controlled by a grid, and a scattering of birds that I photoshopped into different scales and reflections. I had no grand plan other than to learn the decal process, and to hopefully make a fabulous plate. I have this thing for plates. I was mostly interested in seeing imagery that I use in print translate itself in a print-like application to ceramics. It seemed like it would be a playful extension. And it was. More than I could have imagined.
It's a simple process, one that's unbelievably quick and rewarding. Pulling your wet and thin image gently across the release paper, sliding and situating it ever so gingerly onto the waiting [factory-glazed] ceramic plate or tile...I couldn't stop at just one! I was delighted to see my fascination with bird imagery get more playful, due to the experimental aspect of this new process and my flock of more than a dozen little birdies begging for use. I culled some text decals from the "free pile" to undertone the playfulness with a little more urgency and a touch of sadness.
I picked up my finished and food-safe fired pieces this morning, and to hold them in my hands–all smooth and permanently adhered, images burned forever on the plates–I am over the moon! Here we are, at post eight hundred and two; weary and worn, overworked, but yet comfortable, hopeful and full of life and laughter at the same time. These constant dualities punched out here on Chatter in a regular rhythm; some more than eight hundred times. And everything is OK. And I am still making amidst the constant whirlwind.

September 25, 2011

Color. At Long Last.

The front façade of the house is fully primed. And her windows have their first coat of color. COLOR!! Already, I am absolutely smitten. She is becoming quite the beauty.
We finally updated our house picture pages too, click on over here to see a fuller view of all our progress. Slow and steady.

A quite productive weekend.

September 23, 2011

CSA, Week Fifteen.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
More apples. Can anyone say applesauce? My father-in-law has lent me his food mill, and after one use [for our fabulously divine peach butter] I am head-over-heels smitten. I want one all for my own. But for now, this borrowed one is working splendidly.

This week's family share from our City Fresh CSA is a mix of treasures on the cusp of two seasons. Lots of colorful root veggies, a cantaloupe and a deliciously full head of broccoli.

Week Fifteen Round Up: 
4 apples
1 bunch Thai Basil
1 bunch lemon balm
1 handful radish micro-greens
1 tomato
1 pint tomatillo
1 lb sweet potatoes
1 bunch carrots
1 eggplant
1 bunch white radishes
1 head broccoli
1 bag swiss chard
1 cubanelle pepper
1 bell pepper
4 ears corn
1 cantaloupe

The week was made sweeter also by another trip to our local raspberry farm, and two heavy quarts which we enjoyed by the handful, and also processed into some rosy delicious jam. I know, more jars of sugary sweet preserved fruit to put down. I'm serious about getting ready for winter, and equally serious about putting off all of the pestering demands of work right now, and instead standing over a bubbly simmering pot of molten fruit. This week, I also blame a good friend who gave me a huge canning pot on Monday. The pot insisted it be tried immediately. And raspberry jam seemed a perfect fit. When the week of clouds and rain broke yesterday, we seized the sunny opportunity, and picked two baskets full of sweetly plump rubies.

In the coming cool-temperatured week, we are hunkering down to fix up a hearty soup that will combine our overstock of sweet potatoes and acorn squash. A soup that richly calls also for creamy peanut butter. Did I mention how much I love Autumn meals?

September 21, 2011

In Progress.

The constant clearing and re-claiming of space; this is what occupies the studio desk this week.
Moving forward; making work. A finished triptych of prints, and a small artist's book in progress.

Feels good to be hitting a stride as we move again towards Fall.

September 20, 2011

Poster Children; Still on Project.

This is the epitome of house painting weekends around here.
Craunlets climbing far higher on ladders than I would have otherwise allowed, prior to the insanity that has set in due to the relentlessness of this endeavor. So yeah, here they are smiling, perched on either side of an A-frame ladder, with only half an eye on them.

Honestly, I am so desensitized to seeing them monkeying around on our lower ladders, that this now-normal situation wasn't even the least bit concerning. I wasn't an ounce worried about their potential 6-foot fall to the stone path. In fact, I was way too preoccupied keeping my wits together whilst balancing on the very tippy-top of the fully extended 28-foot ladder I was using to reach up to the very heights of our front gable with my paintbrush.
That's a daunting high. And worry not, dear readers, it's a ladder on which the Craunlets are not permitted to play.

This weekend's huge accomplishment, you ask? The front façade is fully primed up in gray, and she looks lovelier than ever.

September 16, 2011

For the Love of the Crunch.

We hosted a friend and her two babes this morning for a casual playdate. I made coffee. And she baked and brought over these fabulously crisp and delicious biscotti.
They are chocolate, and hazelnut, and just the right amount of crunch.

They've been a perfect accompaniment to this chilly cool day, and a second cup of coffee.

And they have me thinking–as much as I adore all things crunchy, sweet, and baked from scratch–I should really tackle biscotti.

CSA, Week Fourteen.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
Maybe it's the sudden change in the weather; we are all of a sudden hungry for hugely filling and warm meals. For extra and heaping helpings at the dinner table. For the variety of color we love on our full plates, and this week's timely family share from City Fresh deliciously does not disappoint. Further, it even included the sweet surprise of a sunflower in addition to the wide mix of produce. Team Craun is loving our Cleveland CSA.

Week Fourteen Round Up:

4 apples
1 head broccoli
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch cilantro
1 head purple curly leaf kale
1 cubanelle pepper
1 eggplant
4 peaches
1 flamingo bell pepper
1 heirloom bell pepper
1 lb. sweet potatoes
2 slicing tomatoes
1 cantaloupe
1 bunch chives
1 pint concord grapes
1 banana hot pepper
1 bunch radishes
1 bag spinach
1 acorn squash
1 sunflower

Hungry for a hearty and warming soup, and eager to use up several remnants of last week's CSA share, I whipped up a fabulously early fall soup for dinner. All culled from the kitchen shelf and refrigerator, using up the last bits of this-and-that we had on hand. The very best kind of soup. And perfect for our chilly Autumn temperatures.

Everything We've Got Creamy Corn Chowder

4 T butter
1 white onion, diced
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 stalks celery, diced
6 ears sweet corn, boiled + sheared from cob [approx. 4 C]
4 C potatoes, peeled + diced
5 C Vegetable broth
1 ham steak, trimmed + diced
2 tsp fresh thyme
3 T flour
1 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk

Cook onion and celery in butter until tender but not brown in a large stock pot. Add potatoes, corn, vegetable broth, salt + pepper. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a good simmer for 15 minutes. Combine heavy cream and whole milk, whisk in flour until well incorporated. Pour into soup pot, and stir to combine. Add ham steak and thyme, and return soup to a gentle boil. Simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes until soup is slightly thickening and hot through.

Fabulous with toasted fresh bread and garnished with a sprig of fresh thyme.

September 15, 2011

This Normal.

Loving the return to days with Nate. His bear personality, both ferociously intense at times and yet passionately cuddly.
And his process at play is so different from his other half. Miss all-in-order and a-place-for-everything. [Seriously, who does a 100-piece puzzle like this?!] The days alone with one help me to savor the sweetness of each of them. Uniquely different, and perfectly themselves.

On Bread and Slather.

It's when the chaos begins to crescendo. I crawl away from all of the demands, and gravitate to the kitchen. To the room of delicious comfort. To the chopping, and peeling, the bubbling down, and constant stirring. The distracted focus shifted from work to a simple paying attention to process. The sweet fix of stress.
And it's often justifiably something that I have long wanted to learn or accomplish. Yesterday was a bender of more water-bath canning. And a long desired goal to learn how to make fruit butters, and jams. It's an urge to make in abundance, and a compulsion also to escape.
The lids popping into their seal has become an addictive sound in my kitchen. The towers of jars preserved, a small obsession and storing up of future food pleasure for enjoyment whilst in the anticipated throes of winter. Opening up a jar of local treasure, and remembering its season long past, and the delicious flavors saved. It seems so nostalgic, and so long passed to our experience and understanding. And it's the food foundation I want insist upon for the Craunlets. 

I'm in the kitchen again today–work at wait once more–whipping up a large tub of french boule dough. Enough for four on-demand loaves for the next several days. What else could support our already-opened jars of concord grape jam, and peach butter?

Recipes here: concord grape jam + peach butter. Both are fabulous; I assure you.

September 13, 2011

In the Middle of This.

A small in-progress artist book that's currently on my studio desk. 
And my brief but decisive mantra of the moment.

September 9, 2011


We seem to have been bitten by the Fall hunker-down bug today, and we are  furiously cleaning and organizing and sorting and storing more than we ever have in our best Spring cleaning overtures. 
We're on a roll over here, and I hope the energy lasts through the weekend, as we whip this house back into shape.

CSA, Week Thirteen.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
A bountiful mix of fruits and vegetables in this week's family share from our Cleveland CSA, and a certain leaning towards Autumn with the acorn squash, sweet potatoes and concord grapes.

Week Thirteen Round Up:

1 acorn squash
4 apples
1 bunch cilantro
1 eggplant
1 pint concord grapes
1 bunch kale
1 head green leaf lettuce
7 okra
1 bunch oregano
1 patty pan squash
4 peaches
1 green bell pepper
1 orange med/hot pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 lbs red skin potatoes
6 ears sweet corn
1 lb sweet potatoes
1 bag swiss chard
2 red tomatoes

Finally putting the piles of apples to use, Nate and I whipped up some terrifically delicious applesauce. It's infused with lemon peel and cinnamon, and is slightly sweetened with brown sugar [recipe here]. We both agreed easily upon licking our stir spoons clean, that the batch was certainly fabulous, and worth all of our time coring and chopping and cooking and stirring and mashing. 
I've been meaning to attempt canning for ages, and a big pot full of bubbling hot applesauce seemed a good place to start. So–on a bit of a whim–I decided to give it a go. We filled up four freshly cleaned pint jars, immersed them in a boiling water bath for fifteen minutes, and then placed them on a wire rack to cool. Less than twenty minutes passed, and I heard four pops as the seals settled down. I'm still amazed it was so simple. And I'm darn delighted to have something completely homemade and local on the pantry shelf.

Of course, now I'm resolved to turn this week's concord grapes into jam. If Summer was a pie bender, I am certain already that Autumn promises to be a jam and canning fest!

September 8, 2011

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful XL

I'm a total Roman Numeral fail. It seems in digging through the archives, I managed to skip over XXII and plunged straight to XXIII without a blink, somewhere way back between September and October of 2010. Oops. It's been a while since I punched out a gratis post here, though I've plenty to be thankful for. Today seemed like a good day to pick it up again.

I  very nearly numbered today's post as XXXX, until my fabulously smart sister informed me it would properly be numbered XL, as in subtract ten from fifty sort-of-thing. But XL turns out to be quite apropos–beyond correct–as this post is now punching itself out to become an EXTRA LARGE one...

It's been a nearly-coming-unglued kind of summer, and all week the temperatures have dipped way low. They've been accompanied with gray skies and frequent rains. And they are sufficiently drenching everything. The windows have been all-the-way open, and the smells and sounds have been so invigorating. Autumn is coming. Indeed. It is coming, and this Summer must relent.

381. I am thankful for abundant provision. I am undone that we have the luxury of a warm home, and the pleasure of fresh and healthy foods for meals.

382. I am thankful for the Dave. The steadfast and hardworking husband. My very best friend. And I am this week pointedly thankful that his finger is on the path to full recovery, and he is at last back on duty for the Craunlet nightly baths!

383. I am thankful for Skype. For hour-long free video phone calls to my parents, where the Craunlets chatter away and play show-n-tell with the Grand Dubs. It's so close to actually having them over, and just sitting around the dining room table.

384. I am thankful for Isabella's first grade teacher. She's exactly who I had wanted for her Kindergarten teacher, though she is just right [and admittedly, probably even better] as her 1st grade teacher, as it has worked out.

385. I am thankful for my last year of days with Nate. We are hitting preschool pretty hard this year, and I am enjoying his personality and playful spirit. Just today, we raced to the top of the stairs for nap time. His win was followed by a waterfall of his cacophonous laughter.

386. I am thankful for friends and family that have carved out minutes, hours, and days to come alongside us in our house-painting endeavor. I am thankful also for the fruits of this hardest ever work, that we are beginning to see out there as we get to more painting. This house that is more and more becoming our home. It feels so rewarding to care for something so correctly, even if it is the longest and hardest route. Restoring this house has been restoring me this Summer, and for that I am unquantifiably thankful.

387. I am thankful for lost teeth, and hugely round smiles with a row of empty on the bottom. I am thankful for the sweet family heirloom pillows that were handmade and given to the Craunlets by a distant family member; they perfectly hold a tiny tooth, and their small prize from the Tooth Fairy. 

388. I'm thankful for holiday weekends, and days packed full of adventure and relaxation resulting from the simple vacation-shifted perspective of having more time to do these things than normal. Why do we let normal invade our week days, anyway?

389. I'm thankful for the simple pleasure of making food. For dicing up a fresh garden salsa,  cooking down a huge batch of applesauce from local apples, processing peanut butter, and mixing up fresh dough for bread. Man alive, food can be so delicious to the belly and the spirit.

390. I'm thankful for this life adventure. For my Team Craun, and our awesome two Craunlets. I cannot imagine it better differently.

391. I'm thankful for my many jobs. For the opportunities to make and teach print and book arts. For the late night design gigs with my husband, and the piles of to-do notes and phone-call lists that litter my physical desk top.

392. I'm thankful for second-run movie theaters, and our family ticket total of $6 to see the new-ish movie of Winnie the Pooh. And I am thankful for its beautiful sweet story of friendship, loyalty, and perseverance. And the many funny lines and scenes that even the Craunlets' giggles could not refuse.

393. I'm thankful for deliciously dark and locally roasted coffee. I could sip on their Full Moon blend all day.

394. I'm thankful that my first attempt at water-bath canning seems to have yielded four successfully sealed pint jars of applesauce. Having no official equipment makes me all the more excited. Though I'd love to go crazy investing in these lovely canning jars by Weck.

395. I'm thankful for the Craunlet's insatiable hunger for learning. And I'm thankful for their current research projects on butterflies, and sharks, and for the charming books that they are creating to illustrate their learning.

396. I'm thankful for crossed-off to-do lists. I have lots of them this week, and it feels incredibly triumphant!

397. I'm thankful for near-daily rest time, and the consecutive hours of quiet that it provides my afternoon.

398. I'm thankful for our first pet's resiliency and resolve to thrive. Clementine Bubbler has survived many water changes, and has most recently endured a cracked fish bowl, water leak, and a cloudy rock avalanche.

399. I'm thankful for the sweet surprises of the post. For all the junk, and bills, it's the lovely crayoned postcards and handwritten letters that reason the mail's existence.

400. I'm thankful for 400. For my brilliant resource on Roman Numerials, and for catching my error, and finally catching up to the numbers.

September 7, 2011

I Nominate my Mom and Dad.

It was a quiet but quick lull in the family meeting; the topic of needing someone for the 2012 Family Reunion Games was raised. The rain fell around the picnic pavilion as we reviewed the minutes of last year's reunion, parsed out the new and old family business, and voted in positions for the coming year. And in a stroke of amazing confidence, Isabella rose and spoke: I nominate my Mom and Dad. History wrote itself down immediately, the youngest to impart a nomination on family record. Some almost 80 years of family reunions. This quiet one comfortable in a crowd.

And it is written, Team Craun shall now host the games at next year's reunion. Her nomination was quickly secured by a second–made certainly official–as most sat still astonished, it was jotted down into the minutes.
It was a holiday weekend full of all sorts of familiar adventure. Reunion games of the old fashioned style. Much pot-luck feasting. Spider swinging on the playground; these sweet Craunlets growing  up, and growing closer. These dear friends. 
The weekend also afforded an overnight stay at a hotel, indoor swimming and a buffet breakfast. It was a relaxed fun knitting together; a fresh breath of life blown into our little family. And a certain slowing and cooling that heralds the very beginnings of approaching Autumn.

September 2, 2011


It is here at last. And we are slowing down to enjoy our long weekend.
It will involve much relaxation, droves of family, and feasting on all sorts of pot-lucky nibbles. The very best kind of weekends, in my opinion.

CSA, Week Twelve.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
It seems we are entering the teaser weeks -- the ones that promise occasional cooler temperatures and hints of impending Autumn, but can at the very next turn serve up a handful of sweltering days for a  hazy and humid heatwave. There were mornings this week that were absolutely chilly, and the cool breeze a sweet welcome to a busy day. And today, we cautiously opened the door to a heavy veil of warmth and the promise of rising temperatures and approaching thunderstorms.

The same frenetic mix is noticed in this week's City Fresh share also -- hello, delicious acorn squash. We plan to stuff you full with maple sugar, and sunflower seeds and then roast you on the grill. But we are still loving all the tomatoes and peppers, you will once again be diced into a tasty garden salsa for our holiday weekend festivities.

Week Twelve Round Up:

2 slicing tomatoes
1 eggplant
1 head red butter crunch lettuce
2 cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
1 bunch beets
1 med/hot pepper
2 lb. red skin potatoes
4 peaches
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint yellow roma tomatoes
5 okra
1 handful micro greens
1 bunch basil
1 bag assorted cooking greens
1 bunch mint
1 acorn squash
5 ears sweet corn

With last week's peaches, and our recent raspberry-picking, I whipped up a fabulously tasty pie. And I can attest once again that pies fix everything! The first two slices of this one were enjoyed well after dark last night, whilst sitting on the kitchen counter and sharing a glass of wine and quiet conversation with the husband. And the Craunlets, they enjoyed their first slices for breakfast this morning, as a Thank Goodness it's Friday surprise!

Summer Peach and Raspberry Freedom Pie

All-butter double pie crust
2 C fresh raspberries
4 C fresh peaches, pitted, peeled + chopped
3 T [heaping] cornstarch
3/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 T butter, cut into small pieces

Roll bottom crust 1/8" thick into a circle on lightly floured parchment to 13" diameter, fit into 9" pie plate, and trim edges around pan. Set aside in refrigerator to chill 30 minutes.

Gently toss fruit with lemon juice and zest. Whisk to combine dry ingredients, and gently mix into fruit mixture. Pour into prepared crust. Dot pie filling with the small pats of butter. Roll out the top crust, and cut vent holes for baking, and place on top of pie filling sealing the edges with fork tines. Trim, and place pie in refridgerator for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425º and line bottom with aluminum foil to catch any bubble over.

Bake pie for 40 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Let cool on wire rack.


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