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Off Grid Modern Prefab House Settles Into Spring With Snow Shakshuka Fiddleheads And Cattle Wrangling.

Off grid, at the modern prefab cabin, snow became spring, then snow again.

Then it was 80!

Then frost again. And back.
There is change in the air.
And yet, like seasons, and weird fluctuating springs, it is a reassuring cycle where everything is new, yet known.

A few weeks ago, I took an Amish friend on an errand to a nearby village. I could not stop exclaiming over the interesting cottages, ornate Victorians and darling shops. For fun, I dreamed: "Oh L., LOOK! What is that brown house??? Is it now a bank? Let's buy it and live there!" "L. Look at THIS Victorian! Imagine when it snows and we could be reading a book in that bay window all cozy by the fire... let's move THERE!" "Look at these cute stores! We could live in this house on the Main Street and WALK over for ice cream!"

We were giggling and having a grand adventure but after awhile L. turned to me, wearing of dreams, and ended it:
And with that, our own beloved homesteads flashed open in our hearts as we happily, appreciatively drove back home.

I am now in the city. Again, doing errands, I stopped in my tracks in the dish towel aisle when, way in the back but somehow calling to me, literally waving at my cart, I spied a lone green potholder and towel in a sea of flowery pink patterns... and as I lifted it I knew... I KNEW to whom I was going to gift this dishtowel.
My friend L. is wise. (In fact, all of my friends make me a better person.) I could not stop thinking of my friend's words these past days because maybe this message is meant for me.

You see, our family, like everything in life, is changing. After six years of homeschool, it is time to step into high school, to be not just farm, but world citizens. I am awed by the teens' hard work and diligence that has allowed them to choose from schools that want them. I am thrilled they can be with a herd, in a culture that will make them even better for this planet. I am excited for them as they grow.

While I appreciate our back-and-forth and make sure to see the best of what the city and farm offer, my gravity, my peace, is on the land. But as tumultuous as change is, it is also natural as seeds carried in the wind: drifting, spirling, wafting down... to bloom where you are planted.
Even if it's not in your own earth.

We have a lot of change going on... and yet it's the same, and centered.

And not. How do we go more back-and-forth and embrace it, while also keeping our homestead happy? NO ONE wants to rehome our fur and feathered family. But I can't schlepp a rooster, no matter how beloved, to town! A teacup donkey would kill her canine neighbors in the city. We are creatively trying to balance the chaos while also allowing us all to grow our own way.

I will say that after years of making something-outta-nothing, of step by step, of a little here and a little there, the off grid prefab and homestead is FINALLY coming together. Off grid living is routine, the fences and run ins are solid, the chickens and horses and teacup donkey are thriving, the garden areas and cold frames and... everything is gelling! Set up for the rest of our lives.
And so...

In the meantime, I sit in the pasture and wave madly at the international space station as it flies over... cycles of the earth, cycles of rockets, cycles of seasons and years. Each one new and never experienced, yet old as infinity.
I also have received news that I too have alpha gal, for which I have been caretaking our daughter for over a year.
Life is interesting.

(Good news: most of my fave summer sailing beers are fine!)

Ok serious (well I was serious!):
TO START, ALPHA GAL 101:What it means is...
1. that I have to read EVERY inactive ingredient because more than not they have a mammal ingredient no matter what your doctor thinks
2. that I can only have vegan rice, sugar, flour or WATER because often they are processed with filters made of BONE CHAR
3. no dairy (I live for cheese), pork, lamb, beef, venison much less gelatin vintage molded food of which I love to experiment!
4. we will run from summer cook outs, and often, holidays: fumes are dangerous.
5. a restaurant can kill us (it's just not worth it, bring your own food to discreetly snack upon), and so can grandma
6. my makeup, moisturizer, soap, shampoo, detergent, and dish soap must be vegan
7. animal exposure must be a minimum. No hugs, no bedrooms, and sweep sweep sweep.
8. travel: no international unless food and water on the airplane are safe, no hotels because all the carpet cleaning/sheets/towels are cleaned with mammal. AirBnb + wash and bring our own sheets, towels, soaps, pans, utensils is the only way we can go...

We have navigated this with our daughter for over a year now. She usually wears gloves when she rides or pets her dogs. As the caregiver I have to be just as vigilant because now I'm taking care of two of us.
We ALWAYS wear tick repellent + check after + shower + check for the next 24 hours after the woods.

Each fall, I pick a little sumac along the fields for Middle Eastern dishes. Because when you get a hankering for Middle Eastern food in a town population of 40, you gotta be prepared.😂 
Every summer, I can a basic tomato/onion/garlic sauce I use for EVERYTHING, including Middle Eastern food. I also can roasted red peppers. All of this comes in handy to make the BEST white bean soup, ever.
Copeland's Ka Pow Middle Eastern White Bean Soup That Actually Has Flavor!
I am ALWAYS disappointed when I order white bean soup at restaurants, no matter the ingredients. This stew, however, actually tastes AMAZING.

In a pot, simmer your favorite white beans for hours until tender. Drain, and salt, stir gently, set aside.

In the bottom of a pan or pot, sautee a bunch of onion and garlic in olive oil.

Once done and a little crispy, add in some cumin, then roasted red peppers with juice it is canned in. Stir. Add in a bunch of my tomato/onion/garlic sauce. Add in the beans, a bunch of hot sauce, more salt, lemon juice, and carefully mix it all together.

Simmer until it looks so delicious you want to eat it. Pour into bowls, top with ground sumac and fresh parsley (if you have it), and eat it!

Copeland's Shakshuka:
This time of year I crave shakshuka.  For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it is SHAKSHUKA SEASON.

There is something about a *perfectly* poached egg in a stew of savory deliciousness that makes this the perfect comfort food as the chickens after a winter break start laying again!
It's fresh. Savory. Stewed. Creamy. PERFECT.

First, in a skillet, I make the harissa. I never bother making the harissa a paste in the blender because THINK OF IT for hundreds of years nomadic Africans have been making harissa and do YOU think they had a blender? Naw. Just chop that stuff up and get to work in the pan.
(Also: I always add a ton more caraway/cumin/coriander/hot spices than called for, ha.)

To that, I add in a bunch of the roasted red pepper I can every summer, chop it with the spatula, then I add in any other extra ingredients to customize the shakshuka- grill some eggplant? Stir in olives? THEN I dump in a half quart of my tomato/garlic/onion sauce, get all that simmering, and add in salt/hot sauce/spices/lemon juice.

Add the egg, put the lid on... and taaaaa da: once it's PERFECTLY lightly poached (it will continue cooking), spoon the sauce into a bowl, then the egg, then sprinkle with sumac. Often I don't add in thick yogurt or feta, and just have the savory sauce and egg. (Note: now that I have alpha gal I certainly don't add dairy!)

It's great by itself, but super good with fresh homemade bread or naan.
 Fiddlehead Pasta

Dice onions, chicken in a pan, add fiddleheads if you promise not to destroy them by GENTLY turning them, otherwise cook them in a separate pan with a little broth so the onions soften. You can add a little duck fat at the end to finish them with an edge if you like.

While THAT is cooking, cook and then add very al dente pasta and gently stir so that the pasta absorbs the rest of the broth / flavor, then add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Fiddleheads have both a light (like asparagus or artichoke) yet strong flavor so you don't need too much.

Confusing I know but if you've had them you'll understand. If you don't have alpha gal like we, feel free to toss in a little parmesan!

Reading Club:
The next weeks are busy with gardening.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your spring!
Here's some more moments from ours:
HAS ANYONE SEEN MY LAVENDAR SOAP???? I can't seem to find it.
(Why does the breeze smell so good?)

(Rule is you can't dig past your waist.)

They have worked on this hole for weeks. (Not allowed to dig deeper!)

We were called in to help a friend wrangle vicious longhorns.
We are always here to help, folks.
Wrangling a VICIOUS longhorn.
(Yes I was careful not to touch the milk / wash hands!)

My friend C and her vicious longhorn.

The girls are wrangling cattle, too.

Vicious longhorn.

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