the end. for a bit.

tumblr_mhkgtu7RJv1qzb2eco1_400I know. I know. But it’s true.

I firmly believe that when writing stops being a joy and starts being a source of anxiety & guilt, it’s time to walk away. Over the past few months, this blog has become less focused & more neglected. It’s time, I think, for me to walk away.

I’ll walk back. Just not for a while. School is more time-consuming than I’d imagined, and I have been gradually shedding all sources of anxiety that aren’t a part of my student contract. I’ll miss blogging, but the updates I’ve been posting lately aren’t the kind of blogging I’d like to be doing anyway. You’ve stayed with it, and I thank you. But for now, I need some time to do this…

tumblr_mjatu2RgX51qzb2eco1_400(And my homework. Mostly my homework.)

…without feeling like I’m neglecting other projects. I’ve re-started my tumblr, so that as I find fun things on the Internet I can share them. But new content? Well, I think it’s time that I get back into writing for myself & working for publications, then think about sharing thoughts on the Internet further down the line. Hopefully when I have fun, insightful thoughts to share with all of you.

Have an awesome life in the mean time. It’s been real.

[Drops microphone.]

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a holy god the weekend already round-up

I’m eager to post about the conference I attended last weekend… but it’s already Thursday, & I’m trying to finish absolutely all homework by tomorrow. In the mean time, there are loads of fun things on the Internet that I wanted to share. Like this video of Buttermilk, the coolest kid in town. Here’s some other stuff:

Now, I’m off to bake no-knead bread, pumpkin-pecan scones & pumpkin muffins… though I really just want to be eating these apple cider donuts with salted caramel icing.

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oops, i did it again

applesIt’s year 2 of doubling-up on the CSA fun here at the Betz house. With our second CSA starting up, our cellar is filling with apples, storage squash & potatoes. I just wanted to take a second to point out some things. (1) Holy apples & pumpkin. I want to be baking muffins & pie & bread. I want to make sauce. Did you know that at lots of farmers’ markets, you can get nearly a bushel of apples for about $20? That’s crazy cheap. And leads to loads of apple chips, sauce, butter…

(2) We signed up for an extension with our summer CSA. We’re already seeing the transition from summer to fall here, too. Excited to see what’s in store this fall. Those sweet potatoes? Best. of. my. life.

csa1

(3) This CSA is more traditional–pooling crops from a few different producers & providing thrilling fall flavor, from sorghum molasses to kettle corn to apple cider syrup. And apple cider. And persimmon pulp. Oh, God. So good. The CSA is ten weeks. This is what we came home with in week 2. It’s unreal.

csa2We made tomatillo salsa, green tomato sauce (with these tomatoes & the 8 pounds), a huge pot of red curry, braised greens (with white wine & bacon) & apple butter. We’re no where near done.

What’s fall bringing to your kitchen?

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comfort

laurens_breadWhen a good friend announced that she was coming back into town for a visit, I didn’t expect her to come bearing gifts. She’s working on a small farm, mostly in their bakery. After some serious burns and slashes to fingers, she’s become quite the pro. This magical loaf of seeded sourdough came all the way from Eastern Pennsylvania to my doorstep.

We ate it with butter & stew. We toasted it with coffee for breakfast. We savored every. Last. Crumb. I miss the glorious process of bread baking. I miss being a baker. I miss early morning alone in cafés with the day’s freshest pot of coffee and a pastry straight from the oven.

I miss time.

I dogsat this weekend, marking the 1oth weekend in a row that I’ve been cramming my homework into far too limited hours with even littler time for recreational food-making. Which is why when Joe announced his birthday present, I was over the moon. An all-day Sunday workshop at a Muddy Fork, sharpening artisan bread skills, making pizza for lunch, and being sent home with a sourdough starter. It’s that time in the semester where moments like that to hold onto make everything else seem bearable.

Weekends 11 & 12 are equally busy… but tomorrow morning sends me off to a food symposium to present my first paper as a geographer-ish academic-ish thing. And doing hours & hours of homework on airplanes. Direct flights to tiny New Haven airport? Three connections. Six hours. Blah. So, everyone call & check in on Joe. He’s bacheloring this weekend.

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26 (continued)

Image

So, yesterday was birthday. Google knew that & gave me this as my homepage…

Sweet. But a bit like your neighbor you’ve never spoken to wishing you a happy birthday through the fence–and you know they’ve just been listening to your conversations on the patio for ages. (That didn’t happen. It’s a hypothetical. Creepy, right? But sort of sweet?)

I worked at Market in a light, autumn rain. We picked up both of our CSA shares (which absolutely covered our table in produce). I cleaned up the apartment, did laundry & in general felt like I got my life in order.

Because I’ve realized that with my birthday & the updated structure of my life comes not really caring about a lot of things that used to worry me.

Joe & I joined the Y today. We took a break from projects today. I dropped into the pool with a torn swim cap on my head and back fat popping out the top of my swimsuit. In the lane next to me, a woman over 70 was pacing her way through the pool. We were in our own worlds.

I did 30 laps. Including some with my face in the water. (Though mostly they were backstroke & me kicking along with my kick board.) At one point, I backstroked into the woman next to me as she passed through my lane to the ladder.

We ended up in the locker room at the same time, surrounded by seven year-olds at a pool party. I slipped into dry things while the older woman carefully dried her short hair, then each limb before slipping into layers of socks, orthopedic shoes, sweater. She was utterly at piece with herself.

Meanwhile, I dropped shampoo, then lock, then purse, then shampoo trying to get myself to the single, closet-sized dressing room. Each time, I squatted carefully–avoiding any bending to keep everything below my waist well within the bounds of my towel–and retrieved my belongings from the floor.

I’ve conquered the pool. I’m able to ignore the lifeguard as I frantically paddle through my lane. Now, this year, I’ll continue conquering myself.

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26

cake

My birthday is Saturday. Good timing. I’ve been slipping into a weird place lately. I’ve been running frantically each week & trying to drop obligations from my plate.

And put more cake on my plate. Man! What kind of cake do I want? I’m getting side tracked.

I’m setting goals for year 26, to keep myself sane & give myself space. Here we go:

  1. Dye my hair. Or something. This is the last year or so I have to do something stupid that won’t make me look like a poop at work. Check: It’s purple, y’all.
  2. Have a continuous sourdough starter. Which is tied into the incredible birthday gift Joe landed for me. Which is amazing & another story.
  3. Go ice skating. Because I never have.
  4. Make applesauce. Because I never have. Done–and apple butter.
  5. Launch a professional website–as in The Professional Megan Betz. Check.
  6. Make sloe gin. Becaaaaaause.
  7. Read in French at least once a week. So that it doesn’t all fall away.
  8. Meditate for five minutes a day.
  9. Do yoga on a regular basis.
  10. Learn how to swim. I mean, I can swim. But get better at this lap swimming thing, & stop having panic attacks in the pool. I did this for a while, but fell out of practice once pregnant. If I could half-strikethrough, I would.
  11. Bake Paris-Brest. Oh! Maybe that’ll be my birthday “cake.”
  12. Go camping for more than one night at a time.
  13. Go canoeing again.
  14. Spend a weekend with Chloe at her place & make bad decisions with no boys allowed.
  15. Do this juicing thing on a regular basis.
  16. Bake more healthy, wholesome desserts. And limit sugar.
  17. Have gin in the freezer. Always. As in all the time. Just in case. Check. I obviously started with the essentials.
  18. Buy a KitchenAid. In pistachio green. Because I’ve waited 10 years & started saving up a few times. Check: After literally 10 years of saving, I bought one in my dream color. 
  19. Have nightly tea.
  20. Get a puppy. Okay, so that can’t really go on the list, but it’s a possibility. I want to see it on the list.
  21. Get more professional wardrobe. Check: I’ve transitioned to only buying pieces that build a wardrobe that will work in multiple contexts. Unless I find sequined shorts. Then all Betz are off.
  22. Stop asking Joe to take me out to dinner all the time. Suck it up & make food at home. All the time. We’ve gotten better at this. It helps when it feels too bothersome to take a baby out with you (even though she loves people watching & eating out).
  23. Get back to vegetarianism. Meat only on special occasions. For family.
  24. Plant a tree. How about six?
  25. Journal regularly again. Check: But I’m cheating. I’m journaling about my research as I start working on my dissertation, which is actually richer, more thrilling & far more interesting than you’d think.
  26. Act my age. And love every second of it. Because 26 feels good, friend. It feels good. We’re doin’ things with life. Big things. Being grown ups & stuff. So, let the small things go & live big.
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autumn

autumn

Finally.

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another round-up

coffeeWow. School. Ouch. Brain bruises from stretching it too far. This is basically my life. The coffee consumption–and the Gilmore Girls watching while grading papers & organizing notes–has greatly increased.

makeup

I wake up sluggish & ignore any offers to do anything social, because how can you have a social life when you have multiple books to read each week? I’m falling flat.

glowJoe & I have big plans for this week. Joining the Y. Eating healthier, with recipes like this autumn salad, nori rolls, an awesome lentil salad & maybe even some cinnamon rolls. And more cupcakes (less because they’re paleo; more because they’re good for a gluten-free crowd). (Hey, it can’t just be vegetables.)

I know we say this a lot. But we both feel really differently this time. Lots has changed for us in the past few months, & we’re trying to live fully in this new phase of our life. Plus, those recipes just. Look. Delicious.

Here are some other fun things the Internet had to offer this week.

Hold the tuna. Don’t hold the anchovies: Where we eat on the food chain matters–for Mercury levels in seafood, and for limiting our impact on ecosystems. Here are some awesome, lower-impact seafood dishes from onearth.

SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) are getting hit. Hard. Congress wants to make drastic cuts. Here’s more on the issue from the Wall Street Journal and the Center for Research on Globalization. Think that’s not a big deal? That it’ll force people to work harder & better their lives? Think again. 76% of SNAP goes to households with children, who, unless we revoke child labor laws, can’t better their own lives. Most of those children are white. Most of their parents are working–and many are working multiple jobs. Check your privilege. Then, yell at Congress. Because this is unacceptable, and we can stop serious cuts from happening.

Cory Booker is winning at the politics game. When he took the SNAP challenge–living off of a budget that totaled approximately $30/week, to mimic the budget that SNAP provides individuals–it sparked a huge conversation. It also inspired a lot of people to give it a try–hopefully increasing their compassion. Most recently, Panera CEO Ron Shaich is taking the challenge (and trying to run a pretty solid business, like having a pick-your-price location that funds their foundation & donating their food “waste”).

Want a rustic French dessert that’s like a pie with limited effort? Check out these lovely galettes at Tasting Table for inspiration, then try the blueberry cornmeal recipe. “One crust, many options” sums it up well, I think. Galettes always impress–and there’s no fluting or criss-crossing or fancy-pantsing necessary.

Happy weekend!

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summer squash soup

There’s a horrific lack of photography going on, but I haven’t had time to take pictures. I just inhale food these days. Anyway, this soup ended up being so wonderful–summer flavor with autumn hardiness. Delicious.

First, let me say: I. love. our. CSA. We get awesome produce, and each week comes with a fun newsletter. This week, they had a recipe for summer squash. Since we’ve started basically hoarding the stuff, I thought I’d give it a try. Really simple. Very summery. A good way to use up squash–whether you’re eating it all now or putting it into the freezer for winter back-up meals.

I tweaked it a bit, but here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 + 1.5 tablespoons butter (separately)
  • 1.5 pounds summer squash of any and all varieties, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic (the spicier the better), diced
  •  1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoons white flour
  • salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot until it smells nutty and is golden.
  2. Add the squash, garlic & shallots to the pot; sauté until the squash softens.
  3. Add the cup of wine. Stir, & simmer for  five minutes or until the wine reduces by half. (This evaporates the alcohol out & leaves the delicious flavor.)
  4. Add the vegetables stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the basil, salt & pepper. Simmer for an additional five minutes.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour & remaining (1.5 tablespoons) butter. Ladle out a cup of your soup stock, and whisk it into the butter-flour mixture until you get a thick, homogenous liquid.
  7. Add this back into your soup. Stir until the soup thickens.
  8. In batches, scoop your soup into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  9. Serve with a big chunk of fresh bread & a salad of spicy greens and fresh tomato for a great summer dinner.
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that’s it

I’m done.

It’s over.

I got my first pie pumpkin of the year. This week, I’m turning it into kolokithopita, pumpkin garlic knots + pumpkin chili. And probably some other bread-based product, because let’s be real: All I want is some way to pretend that my bread has a higher nutritional value than it really does. #Winning

It turns out that planning a garden to keep food growing through the winter requires, well, planning. It sort of fell through the cracks. I blame the truly bizarre late start to summer–our tomatoes didn’t really take off until well into August. How am I suppose to think about spinach & carrots when I’m gorging myself on tomatoes?

We salvaged some crop plans and have finally put that cleared (and hopefully poison ivy-free) patio to use. Our long raised bed has been seeded with carrots–yes, it’s late; no, I don’t care–lettuce, spinach & radish. Some afternoon, when things are sprouting, I’ll post pictures of the full patio transformation.

We even got the side beds redone! Lavender plants. Mums going in soon for fall color. Plus a second strawberry patch that we just planted to fill in a sad-looking patch of soil that was filled with old peppermint plants. We will have strawberries for days. (And if not, we’ll have strawberry plants upon strawberry plants.) Strawberries are an incredible ground cover, since they want to take over all the space they possibly can anyway. These are in a shady spot, so I’m not really expecting much fruit. At least it will be a low-maintenance, quick-filling landscape for the next few years.

As for what we’ll plant when the tomatoes, peppers & nasturtium finally get torn out of the community garden plot… Okay, we’ll probably be eating a lot of spinach this fall. And we’re hoping to throw out some alliums (onions, garlic) if we find bulbs at the co-op. Maybe even some more brassicas (broccoli, cabbage) if plant starts return to the farmers’ market. Look at me using fancy gardening words!

Are you all still in summer mode, or are you dreaming about a hot cocoa & an oversized fair isle sweater?

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