Some mornings, when snow slumps down over your house like a wet blanket, you can’t help but feel a thin chill creep into you. Despite the five blankets you’ve wrapped yourself in, the hot chocolate steaming in your hand, the hat on your head, and the infinite treasure trove of goodish/
mostly-bad movies on Netflix flashing at you. It just gets at you. Which is probably why God invented soup.
Yes, God invented soup. Not your grandma or Thomas Jefferson. The universe was just a bunch of ingredients before he added a dash of this and that. And now we’re here, floating in the universe broth, making soup of our own. INFINITE SOUP. It’s goes on and on. (Maybe the molecules in the soup are making soup?)
It’s been years since I’ve had a classic mushroom soup. Something that hit me as truly, deeply mushroomy — that gave me the feeling that I was eating something somebody’s grandma perfected long ago and passed down from generation to generation (everyone knows grandmas perfected soup, even if they didn’t invent it). This mushroom soup gave me that feeling — and it’s vegan! Even though it’s made with coconut milk, this dish doesn’t have a coconut flavor. It really works as a cream replacement, making this healthier than a traditional mushroom soup. I dig that.
Todays giveaway, as part of the J. Q. Dickinson Friendsgiving Potluck this week, is on instagram! Check out my feed for the details — you could win a 1 ounce jar of J. Q. Dickinson Sea Salt and a hand-made mini cherry wood salt cellar (and a little secret gift from me!). I’ll be giving away salt & salt cellars every day this week so keep checking back! And follow along with this virtual potluck with the hashtag #jqdfriendsgiving on instagram.
So, despite my usual pattern of not particularly participating in the posting of holiday stuffs when tis the season, I’ve changed my ways for this years holidays. Partially because I’ve decided I really like holiday foods and I have too many recipes I need to share with you to NOT post. And partially because sometimes I get to partner with amazing businesses during the holiday season. And this year that business is J. Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, a sea salt company based out of West Virginia.
So your next question is: “Sea… salt? West… Virginia? No sea I see…” with lots more mental dot dot dots than I can really write here because that’s annoying. SO to answer your question, the Appalachian mountains harbor an ancient sea deep beneath the surface. A now very salty ocean that J. Q. Dickinson Salt-Works has access to through wells. My mind was blown when I learned that little tidbit. Yep, the mountains here are basically Middle Earth. I may be planning a trip to rescue Gandalf from The Deep later this winter (gotta have snow on the trek to make it look more epic).
The Dickinsons (Nancy and Lewis, a brother and sister) decided to re-open the family salt business on the same land where their ancestors harvested and made salt for 150 years — they’re 7th generation salt makers. Which makes this salt, and their company, about as rich in heritage as an American company can be. It’s amazing to see some of the treasures left over from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that hang around the family property, in barns and houses still standing — dusty 100 year old jars of salt with batch numbers hand-scrawled on paper labels; pictures of the Dickinsons great great great grandparents and their co-workers standing in a line wearing wide waist high pants held up with suspenders, caps tilted, eyes intense and full of life.
Autumn Squash Confetti Pasta Salad w/ Almond Butter Dressing + J. Q. Dickinson Salt-Works Friendsgiving Virtual Potluck (Giveaway!!!)
def. A gathering of friends in lieu of or in addition to a family Thanksgiving. A joining together of the community to say thanks. Often before or after the Thanksgiving holiday itself.
Somehow we pulled off a grown-up dinner party in our little house with not-much furniture and it felt cozy and dare I say lovely? Lovely. Angel (my BFF and now roommate!!!) thrifted a long, low bench which we used as a table. We used a gauzy white curtain as a tablecloth. Hand-me-down porcelain tea cups and old beakers became vases for flowers. Our kitchen work-cart became a bar cart. We set out a cheese plate on one of our wooden serving boards: chèvre, raw cheddar, and a hard manchego set out with a tin of macadamia nuts, honey with lavender flowers, and honey with fresh rosemary. With gluten free and reg crackers. Even though Byrd man and I aren’t super into cheese (allergies), there aint nothing that makes a crowd as happy at a party as a freakin’ cheese plate. And thank God for wedding registries because until a couple of days ago we didn’t have enough plates or bowls to feed a crowd simultaneously.
We set it up potluck style. And everyone pulled through with great dishes. We had lots of left-overs (what’s Thanksgiving without leftovers?!). Somehow we managed to make everything gluten-free, without talking about it before hand. And mostly dairy-free!!! (A sign that your friends like you a lot).
I have concluded that Friendsgiving is amazing. And a damn fine way to tell your friends that you love them.
Which brings me to my next point: today is a great day in the blogosphere. A gaggle of great bloggers have agreed to take part in a virtual Friendsgiving potluck with me, sponsored by the wonderful J. Q. Dickinson Salt-Works based out of West Virginia. I really can’t say enough nice things about J. Q. D. Salt. Their sun-dried sea salt, sourced from an ancient ocean that flows beneath the WV Appalachian mountains, has transformed my cooking. I really love salt, that’s not a secret. I pretty much eat little pinches of this salt as I’m hanging around my kitchen (it’s lower in sodium than most salt so I feel pretty good about this habit). I discovered it through my friend Lauren Stonestreet, who did a lot of J. Q. Dickinson’s branding photography. Once I tried it I was sold FOR LIFE. There’s really no comparison.
Filed Under: Dairy Free, dinner, Gluten Free, Vegan Tagged With: almond butter, gluten free, jqdfriendsgiving, jqdsalt, kabocha, kale, pasta, persimmon, pomegranate, salad, salad dressing, salt, squash, vegan
Last night when I came home from gathering supplies for todays Friendsgiving, the two trees that rise behind my house like spindly fork tines were covered in tiny, shadowed sparrows. There was a whole flock, making a chorus of sound as they jumped and flew out and up, circled back, re-settled on the branches. Over and over. Birds of no particular color, in the evening light. Sometimes silvering blue, sometimes ash black, sometimes the color of globe eggplant. Weaving through patterns of wind and electric forces that I can’t see or feel or consciously understand, out and in from those trees.
I’ve always considered signs, in life. I was raised to believe in them — my parents and I still talk of the signs we encounter in life or in dreams, despite our differing religious beliefs. Now that I’ve changed my name to Byrd, I suppose it will be hard not to see thin-boned feathered creatures as signs, constantly. But in life there are some moments that focus out more clearly than others. There are forgotten times when you encounter a dove eating a french fry in a parking lot. There are mystical times when you watch an eagle catch a snake off of the highway and eat it in mid-air. And there are the seasonal times caught in the golden glow of early winter evenings, when sparrows spinning over your house preparing to fly south seem to be telling you “this home is excellent for Birds — as a resting place or in-between place. Enjoy it while it’s still glowing here.”
So I will.
I’ll spend afternoons in my kitchen steeping cinnamon and vanilla and anise in a honey-maple syrup. I’ll toast nuts and make a slurry for a custard. I’ll bake a pie and watch it cool as the light changes from fire to ice. And I’ll enjoy a slice or two in the coming days, offering plates to friends, watching my Byrd man attempting to resist a third slice in a row. Pie, for some reason, can make a moment feel more like a moment. If you catch my meaning. A slice of pie for breakfast, with a carefully drawn cup of coffee, making the flickering fire in our wood stove & books and paintings and old records stacked on the coffee-table seem more real.
Quietly enjoying a slice.
Now, this particular pie is, to me, a self-confident, sexy, curvy lady with dreams and aspirations. A pie with a vision. Sure, she’s a sturdy, sweet slice of something sweet. But she’s deeper than your day-to-day fruit variety. She has more weight and, honestly, can mess you up a lot faster than a taste of apple (sugar high). She’s pretty happy just the way she is — spicy, laced with a little bit of rum, exotic in a way it’s hard to put a finger on. If pie wore lingerie she would be wearing some. A little lacy something — just for her.
So, you see, I’ve probably spent more time thinking about how to talk about pie this week than is healthy for a person. But who cares? Tis the season to make/eat/think pie.
Filed Under: Dairy Free, dessert, Gluten Free Tagged With: anise, autumn, baking, christmas, cinnamon, dessert, fall, gluten free, honey, macadamia, maple syrup, nuts, pie, pie crust, rum, syrup, thanksgiving, vanilla