Blog

Thoughts on home, nourishment, work, and earth. 

Winter Solstice Supper

 

December 17th, 2016

Old Line Supper Club: Winter Solstice Supper 

Each course of the Winter Solstice Supper was based upon a gift from my life; the gifts of history, harvest, education, and love. Winter Solstice is a time of celebration, harvest, and gifts given and appreciated, and our meal was much the same. Below is a copy of the menu and stories from the evening. 

Photo from Miranda Ellis Hontz

History

Both of my grandmothers have libraries.

Maryanne kept a basement pantry stocked with endless canned vegetables, beans, and Campbell’s soups. As child of the Depression, her basement was an abundance of post war innovation and reminiscent of a stocked root cellar. When my family visited her home, she would send me down to choose a can for lunch. I was in awe with the endless possibility of meals tucked away underground, waiting.

Dorothy has a collection of cookbooks that overflow the bookshelves. Countless volumes could become weeknight sustenance, dinner party offerings, cakes, confections, and treasured recipes. There is more than one lifetime of suppers in these pages.

As a child I didn’t recognize the history in my grandmothers’ cooking, trickling through. Roots and alliums, butter and potatoes, orchard fruit - despite all that has happened since, Ireland whispers to me still.

 

Oat cakes with chive butter

Fried apples

Salt and coffee baked beets

Spruce smoked potatoes

Grilled leeks

Onions pickled in molasses and cider

Dill pickles

 

Mulled Winter Warmer; sweet vermouth, brandy, mulled cherry cider, honey


Harvest

Four of my seasons have come and gone, I hope I will see many more. I have only begun to work with the earth.

I have tended the dirt, fermented compost, nurtured seedlings, collected seeds, wished for rain, and wished for rain to stop. I have brought death to some insects and beseeched others to live with me. I have shielded plants from the hottest sun and early frosts. I have whispered to many plants, earth’s creatures. For this, sometimes the earth rewards me. Flowers, fruits, seeds, and grains are my provision for the future.

I feel her magic at all times.

Winter soup; Winter squash, butter beans, kefir cream, cultured salsa verde, last harvest bitter greens, cornbread crouton,* jalapenos and carrots en escabeche

Cranberry Smash; Gin, cranberry, lemon, rosemary sprigs, raw sugar

Cranberry kombucha


Education

My brother in law, John, is not exacting in all things, but certainly in many. He taught me how to start tomato seedlings, respect the Bay, properly taste Belgian beers, and pursue the perfect pasta. A devotee of Thai cuisine, John also taught me to make Thai curry paste, and then showed me a book that can teach me to make 500 more.

I’ve learned that there is a lot of knowledge to be pursued, and it can come in unlikely places. Microbiology lives in my beverages, weather patterns rule my garden, and nations reveal their psyche in their food. In many ways, John showed me the path through books and life I’m walking, which has been quite a gift indeed.

Maryland Thai curry paste

Choose a large mortar and pestle, preferably a Thai-style 8-10 inch non-porous stone bowl. In a dry skillet, toast 1 tsp coriander seed for about 30 seconds on high heat until fragrant. Move to the mortar and pestle and grind into a powder. Peel a 4-inch knob of baby ginger and slice thinly into small matchsticks. Peel half a bulb of garlic cloves. Add the ginger and garlic to the mortar and pestle and grind until they are broken down, resembling a rough paste. Remove the stems and scrape the seeds of 2-6 bird’s eye chiles. Mince the chiles, then grind together with the other ingredients until you reach a smooth paste.

Be patient and continue working the paste until smooth. Mix in 1 tbsp brown miso - this is a non-traditional ingredient used for umami and salt to replace Thai shrimp and fish sauce. Reserve the paste in a jar in cold storage for use in coconut curry and omelets.

Whole wheat pie crust* // mashed potato crust

Eggs

Kefir cream

Greens

Mushrooms

Curry paste of baby ginger, garlic, bird’s eye chiles, miso, and coriander seed

Italian Mule; Brandy, amarao, ginger beer, lime

Rooibos & black tea kombucha


Love

Jake and I are getting married in June.

I didn’t care when, but I knew it should happen almost since the beginning. I love him. I have never doubted that he loves me, but there have been moments when I have known without distraction.

Jake is a baker of all things. Sourdough, sandwich bread, steamed buns, baguette, ciabatta, biscuits, pies, pastry, cookies, and tortillas are all his purview. Sometimes, to my complete surprise, this attention has been turned exclusively to me. On my twentieth birthday, Jake made the first cake for me - my favorite, a carrot cake, with candied ginger, pineapple, and cream cheese icing. Another time he made a key lime pie, and his fingers cramped from zesting so many tiny limes! One Valentine’s Day, during a move, Jake made a red velvet cake and managed to keep it a secret throughout our whole move between houses to reveal it at the end of the day.

Each cake has been a creation just for me, and I feel incredibly special. I hope this kindness is a gift I can give to others many times over.

Buckwheat & beet pound cake

Carrot orange marmalade

Cream cheese ice cream

Apple cider jelly

Coffee Nightcap; Coffee, coffee liquor, whipped cream

Lavender decaf coffee


Thanks to One Straw Farm, Brown’s Orchard, Darlin Corey Farm, Hope Ridge Organics, Daisy Organic Flours, Trickling Springs Creamery, and the back yard for produce, dairy, and preserves.

Caiti Sullivan // Vegetables & Stories

Ian Mansfield // Beverages

Jake Quaytman // Grains

 

Old Line Supper Club: An Almanac

 

Old Line Supper Club

An Almanac

Old Line Supper Club is a dinner gathering celebrating local, seasonal food. On October 21, 2016, our meal reflected a year in full: the textures, memories, and experience of the seasons of the calendar year. Sign up for updates on future clubs here.

Spring

spring.jpg

February 18, 2016. Baltimore, on the corner of Key and Light.

Popcorn with black garlic and sumac

Collard dolma filled with bulgher wheat and capers

Steamed buns with sheep cheese and pumpkin kimchi

Aji chiles stuffed with garlic sauerkraut

Seed crackers, sheep cheese, and pea hummus


Summer

To reach Fairhaven on the Bay, drive south from Baltimore. 235 to 695, take exit 4 for 97, to 50, then 665, then turn right onto Route 2. Follow 2 south through both roundabouts, eventually turning left on Fairhaven Road. 

You will round a bend and the Bay will open up to the left, beyond. In the summer, the cattails crowd the road, ending at the tideline. The pond is to the right, and the bridge rides the water, tethering the land together. For a moment, you might be swallowed up. The horizon stretches out, the haze of humidity obscuring the outline of the Eastern Shore, blending the water and sky together. Up the hill you’ll enter Fairhaven on the Bay, turning left over the hill to empty into the Chesapeake. 

At the top of the hill, mulberry trees line the road, giving their fruits in June. Many neighbors keep a garden and banana trees. These never mature in the summer, but their leaves are excellent to make parcels of grilled fish. Our house had a garden of tomatoes, holy basil, and bird’s eye chilies. I planted cilantro, sage, collards, beets, carrots, and radishes. When the summer neighbor was away, we took parsley, rosemary, and oregano. A friend brought cucumbers over and I made pickles. 

Dinner was light as the air was thick with moisture. Mosquitoes, frogs, and waves spoke loudly. We ate from the garden with herbs here and there, and stayed out late into the night, looking towards where the horizon swallows the sky.

Beets, onions, pickled beets, pumpkin seeds, pickled black Spanish radish, beet greens

Carrots, dill pickles, fennel, daikon, fermented radishes, chiles

Watermelon radish, bean sprouts, cilantro, radish greens

Pumpkin rye bread


Fall

I was born on November 26th, 1991.

Nights are cool, the breeze picks up, and the sky is dry, clear, and pale blue in the afternoon. Faint smells of wood smoke often drift by in the wind, and plants are giving up their fruits. When I was young we lived next to a corn field, and the dry stalks, awaiting harvest, would softly rustle in the breeze. Change is happening, slipping from the day into the dark. 

Lights are warmer in color and tone, gathered around me as the night approaches. With frost outside I’ll stay in, curled into the lights, the blankets, the orange squash and savory stews. 

When we lived in the country we had land. Or, we lived on land. Out beyond the house, behind the overgrown hedge, a yard meandered into the woods. We’d gather up wood to burn in the afternoon, and sit around, staring at flames, as the darkness fell on us from the trees and finally set. When our bonfires burned out, we wandered back from the yard into our beds; the fields were reaped, harvests gathered, my garden left to rest. 

Brown sugar roasted pumpkin

Tomato fig jam

Pickled and fried onions

Garlic yogurt sauce

Turnip-parsnip mash

Spiced yellow split pea puree

Mint


Winter

winter.jpg

Feathers, down, wool, sweater, scarf, blanket, woodsmoke, stove, body, warmth. Underneath, inside, I wait. 

Sticky toffee pudding

Almond coffee ice cream


Produce and dairy from One Straw Farm, Calverts Gift Farm, and Shepherd’s Manor Creamery. Herbs are grown in the back yard at Caiti Sullivan's residence. Some ingredients were foraged or sourced from fermentation reserve. 

Food by Caiti Sullivan and Rebecca Karten. Breads by Jake Quaytman and Rebecca Karten. Drinks by Ian Mansfield. Writing from Caiti Sullivan. 

Cheers!

 

On 2016

I want to write about being creative. 

In the past 15 months, I have graduated from college, had four different jobs, moved three times, lived in the country, lived in the city, traveled to 15 states, had two birthdays, adopted a dog, grown three gardens, and became engaged! 

I often feel guilty about "not being creative" or lacking specific visual art output, but when I reflect on my life, I have been busy! I have been learning, gardening, fermenting, cooking, reading, making friends, brewing, dog walking, drawing, writing, and spending time with my person.

Creativity has found me in many ways. I have been rescuing food as well as learning ways to preserve and ferment different foods and drinks. I have also started to chronicle what I am learning and making here, through my project Charm City Homestead. 

I have been learning about fermentation, microbes, gardening, plants, and the earth! This past fall I met Sandor Katz, a very influential writer in my life, and felt inspired to diversify my skills and share them. There are also beers, meads, ciders, miso, okra, sauerkrauts, and other fermented goodies bubbling away in the basement as I write. In the spring I hope to volunteer with an urban farm in Baltimore, and am dreaming of next year's garden every time I read my Baker Creek seed catalog. For now, only 'Nam (my lime leaf tree) is snuggled inside.

And I am excited for the future! Creatively, I am interested in the business of living. How can it be better, kinder, or more satisfying? I have been practicing skills to create foods and gardens, live purposefully, make connections with people, and to live in a way that is better, kinder, and more satisfying. I plan to post more here soon. Until then, I have plenty of projects in the new year to keep creating!