Most of the time I find myself musing on the differences between my Hoosier homeland and where I live now. But sometimes I find a connection that’s so concrete it drives me to want to know more about the circumstances surrounding it. That happened to me a few weeks ago when Peter and I visited the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich.
If I had an official list of my favorite bookstores in the world (hm, maybe I should have one), The Montague Bookmill would be on it. During last winter’s snowstorms there was a lot made of the Swedish word “hygge,” and while I still can’t point to a precise definition of this word, I know that the Bookmill has it.
I saw myself spending the whole day there, curled up in the stacks with a cup of hot coffee from the attached cafe, The Lady Killigrew, or perched on the sofa near one of the many bay windows, watching the Saw Mill River roar below. So that’s exactly what I did. All day.
When I was in the Hoosier state for the holidays I found a new item on my mother’s shelf of kitchen knick-knacks: My grandmother’s old recipe box. She’s in a nursing home now and stopped cooking many years ago, but back in the day no one could match her. And I know — we all think that about our grandmothers. Nostalgia sets our memories even better than eggs set a cake.
The box divulges its secrets.
Written on my great-grandmother’s stationery.
The finished product.
So what was in the recipe box? Mostly baked goods: Desserts like cookies, pies and cakes, and some heartier main courses like the hash brown casserole I’ve set out below.
“From Farm to Table” is a series of posts showcasing the small-scale farming culture of New England. Despite what people assume, there’s a lot of it going on around here. Midwesterners can barely conceptualize a farm that doesn’t stretch on and on, with stubby, leafy rows of soy beans blending into tall rows of yellow-topped cornstalks, and long, flat rows of pig barns, white-painted farmhouses and an occasional mammoth grain silo as the only man-made structures you might see for miles. Farming is very different around here, but just as culturally vital.
Last month, Peter and I visited a cranberry bog in Chatham, on Cape Cod. As any casual reader of this blog knows, Peter and I are frequent visitors to Cape Cod — even more so now that we live in Massachusetts. The Cape is great in so many ways, but especially for the deep sense of rural tranquility it can quickly impart (in the off-season) to someone who lives a mere hour away in the suburbs of Boston. And if you’re not from Massachusetts, you can be forgiven for not realizing that — like in most rural areas — there are lots of farms on Cape Cod: cranberry farms.
Cranberry Bog, Chatham, MA
Growing up in Indiana you really only associate commercial farming with corn and soybeans. Most people, in general, I think, associate commercial farming with these sorts of mega crops. And for good reason. During our tour, our tour guide (also the bog’s owner) told us it’s mostly these large farms that lobby for and benefit from government policies, including subsidies, buybacks, etc. Cape cranberries don’t receive a lot of government support, even though the industry has been struggling.
It’s way past time to make this official on my blog, so here it is. In early September Peter and I officially became Massachusetts residents (well, I guess it was “official” in early October, when we changed our vehicle and voter registrations). On September 1 I started a position as Senior Associate of Digital Campaigns at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, a nonprofit that promotes global and domestic human rights and social justice. I’m very excited to explore my new state, and to keep exploring New England from the perspective of “that girl from the Midwest.”
To kick off these explorations, some Massachusetts travel art:
We’re moving again, which means I needed a nearby place to offload some books. I’ve moved about once a year since leaving home, and it seems like every time I pack up all my things I’ve gained an extra box or two of books. I’ve been wanting to check out the Book Bower in Middletown for a while, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity.
Baked ribs with fixins’
Baked chicken with peppers
In just under the wire, two recipes to satisfy any late-summer sriracha cravings. Both are great to throw on the grill, in the overn or in a slow cooker, and serve over mixed veggies, rice or on a sandwich roll.
“The Emerald City” has been Seattle’s official nickname since 1982.
I originally posted this on my online portfolio, but I think it belongs on A Hoosier in the Nutmeg State as well. My boyfriend, who is from Seattle, served as my inspiration for this experiment. Now he can have a little piece of home, all the way in Connecticut. For reference, in real life this is an 18″ x 24″ poster.
Beans, beans, the colorful fruit …
So I’ve changed the name of this feature to “This month’s recipe” because it looks like I might only have time to update it once a month, not weekly. I promise, I do cook a lot more than that, but usually not something new or interesting enough for me to post about.
My last experiment was quick and easy, a dish that truly belongs on a blog about living in the Northeast: Succotash. The word “succotash” comes from the Narragansett Indians, and it’s considered a traditional New England dish.
When I’ve just visited some place pretty awesome but I don’t have time to get down more than a few sentences about it (or it’s just not the kind of thing that lends itself to a whole blog post) I like to put my thoughts on TripAdvisor instead.
On there now you can see some of my thoughts on the sites (pun intended) and sounds of Amelia Island, which I was lucky enough to visit this week for my boyfriend’s cousin’s lovely destination wedding.
I’ve been on TripAdvisor since 2012 but have just recently started to leave more reviews now that I’m traveling more.