an untitled poem – Dec 11th

A square of paper featuring an original poem typed with a traditional typewriter in black ink on white paper overtop salt crystals on a crinkled white background
I silently cast a white
bone spell
with the new moon

A starless revolution
I waited, visiting in
perfect stillness

Engorged circle
hanging in the air
like breath

Fat Moon –

I rose to melt the frost,
blinked blood and
knew it didn't take.
                            E.K

This untitled poem is an original piece that attempts to express the particularly crisp, acutely bitter ache one can feel after struggling to start or successfully maintain a pregnancy.

Do you enjoy reading and/or writing poetry? I do, and I think I’ll continue to share more of my own to this space.

Thanks for reading it ~ Bette

Recipe: Brown Butter, Toasted Almond and Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Close up of a large, golden brown chocolate chip cookie in a cast iron skillet cooling on a stovetop

This skillet cookie is an adaptation of the Bon Appetit Giant Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie recipe and combines a few of my favorite dessert elements: luxurious brown butter, sea salt, toasted almond and chocolate – with toffee-like crunchy cookie edges, and a delectably chewy cookie center. Think: chocolate chip cookies and your favorite fudgey brownies linked up to make a tasty, golden, nutty cookie baby…

A slice of skillet cookie on a bright yellow plate surrounded on a tea towel by a mug of coffee, a knitting project in progress, and a faded orange cloth napkin

My modifications on the original recipe linked above are as follows:

  • I gently browned the butter in a 9-10″ cast iron skillet, removed the skillet from the heat when butter golden brown and fragrant (approx. 5 mins over medium heat) and let the browned butter cool 10 minutes before combining with brown and white sugar in a large mixing bowl
  • Swapped 1.5 teaspoons vanilla for 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Swapped 50% of the all purpose flour for lightly toasted almond flour
Close up of a large golden brown chocolate chip cookie in a cast iron skillet

Brown Butter, Toasted Almond and Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie Recipe

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour, toasted and cooled
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Pre-heat oven to 375º

In a clean frying pan or skillet lightly dry-toast almond flour over low heat until fragrant. Set aside in a small bowl and allow to cool.

In a medium-sized bowl sift together flour, baking soda and sea salt. Stir in toasted almond flour and set aside.

In a separate large bowl, combine brown and white sugars. In a 9-10″ cast iron skillet, brown the butter until golden and fragrant, then promptly remove skillet from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before adding to sugar mixture in large bowl and stirring until combined.

Add the room temperature egg, and vanilla and almond extracts to the large bowl and stir to combine.

Add dry ingredients to the large bowl and stir thoroughly until combined. Throughly fold in 2/3 cup of chocolate chips.

Spoon cookie dough into buttery, still-warm skillet. Press dough gently into an even layer that fills the bottom of the skillet, then sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of chocolate chips on top.

Bake for 18-20 mins until puffy and golden.

Remove skillet from the oven and allow cookie to cool completely in skillet for an hour.

Slice into 8 wedges and enjoy.

Bette xx

Recipe: Bison and Butternut Squash Stew

Continuing our household effort to dine more healthfully, ethically, and sustainably while attempting to reduce the number of trips we make into town to shop during the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been researching and exploring the big wide world of grocery delivery services.

The most notable delivery last week was our inaugural order from The Honest Bison.

The Honest Bison was founded on one very simple truth: we believe everyone deserves access to food they can trust. When we realized just how hard it was to find unprocessed, humanely raised, quality meats in today’s markets, The Honest Bison was born.

We started out with just 100% grassfed bison but have since branched out to include a curated selection of other high-quality meats as well. As we continue to expand, our mission still remains the same – to bring trust back into today’s food system.

From The Honest Bison’s “about” page

I picked out a variety of cuts of grassfed bison, elk and venison, in addition to bison snack sticks, jerky, oxtails, ground meat and soup bones.

Bison meat is leaner and significantly lower in calories than a comparable serving of beef, and is a good source of protein, B vitamins, selenium, zinc and iron.

*** Please note: this order was purchase entirely out of pocket and this post is not an ad, I’m just a pleasantly surprised first time customer ***


Bison and Butternut Squash Stew – truncated recipe at the bottom of this post

I started this stew as I would any other, steeping some herbs in fat…

In this case I opted for rendered bacon fat and rosemary.

Bette’s hand holding a jam jar containing rendered bacon fat in the foreground. The background is out of focus but shows a dutch oven pot on a stovetop and various food items clustered together on the kitchen counter.

For a lean meat like bison, adding a rich fat to the pot helps keep things supple and moist during browning.

A rosemary sprig going into a large empty enamel coated cast iron pot

Warming woody herbs gently in fat first releases the aromatic oils for maximum flavor.

A sprig of rosemary simmering in a shallow pool of clear bacon fat inside a heavily-patinated, enamel coated cast iron pot

I removed the rosemary and added a one pound package of bison stew meat (thawed, patted dry and seasoned with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper) to the pot and cooked it for a few minutes over medium-low heat until gently browned.

I then removed the meat from the pot and added a diced medium-sized yellow onion and two finely sliced cloves of garlic to the fat, plus a tablespoon of good quality extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons of water.

I simmered this all together while stirring occasionally over medium-low heat until softened and golden.

Chunks of bison stew meat simmering in an enamel coated cast iron pot, view slightly obscured by steam

I returned the meat to the pot and added 14oz of crushed tomatoes, a bay leaf, cumin, red pepper flakes, and a tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar to mimic the red wine traditionally used in hearty red meat stews.

Bette’s hand holding a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
Bette’s hand holding a bottle of imported Organic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Public Goods

When stewing meats I like to add acidic elements like tomatoes and balsamic which can help tenderize meat and break down connective tissue.

Bette’s hand holding a container of red miso paste, the label reads: Traditional Red Miso Master Organic

I also added a tablespoon of red miso paste for maximum umami and enhanced complexity.

Bette’s hand holding a large mason jar containing gelatinous homemade chicken bone broth

I then added approximately 16oz gelatinous, homemade, collagen-rich chicken bone broth concentrate made earlier in the week, in addition to enough water to allow everything to float around freely within the pot.

Bette’s hand holding a half an unpeeled butternut squash

Next, I peeled and cubed half of a large butternut squash, roughly 2 cups total, and simmered everything together over medium-low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally until the liquid was significantly reduced and the contents of the pot were moderately homogeneous, seasoned to taste with more sea salt and more pepper once finished.

Butternut squash is one of my favorite ingredients to add to winter stews because it is inexpensive, abundant, nutritious, and when cooked slowly, surrenders beautifully to create a full-flavored, impossibly sumptuous gravy.

Close up of bison stew over steamed rice in a speckled tan ceramic bowl

Served humbly over steamed rice, this bison stew was wonderfully rich and satisfying. The bison meat itself was so hearty and deeply comforting; we went to bed with full bellies and woke up with an urgent hankering to eat leftover stew for breakfast.

Bison and Butternut Squash Stew Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 pound bison chunks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons water
  • Bone broth, stock, and/or water as needed
  • 14 ounces (half of the 28oz can pictured above) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (in place of red wine)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 scant teaspoon cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon red miso paste
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • approx. 2 cups cubed butternut squash

In a large pot, combine bacon fat and rosemary and warm together over medium heat until fragrant. Remove the rosemary and add one pound of 1″ cubed bison stew meat. Cook 8 minutes or until gently browned. Remove meat from the pot and set aside on a spare plate. Add diced onion, finely sliced garlic, EVOO and water to the pot and simmer until golden and soft. Add meat back into the pot as well as any juices that collected on the plate.

Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cumin, red pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar, and stir. Add red miso paste and stir well to dissolve. Add bone broth and water to the pot to suit your own taste, or until there is enough liquid in the pot for things to move around freely. Add cubed squash and stir. Bring the contents of the pot up to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally until the liquid is significantly reduced, meat is fork-tender, and contents of the pot are moderately homogeneous.

Serve over steamed rice, potatoes or boiled noodles.

One pot makes 4-6 servings depending on appetites and once cooled, the leftovers refrigerate, freeze and reheat well.

Enjoy in good health ~ Bette

Hand-mending and an iced lemon loaf cake

This morning I began a massive mending feat: stitching two large Sashiko-inspired patches on to the knees of my well-loved, worn-nearly-into-the-ground Lucy and Yak organic cotton twill Dungarees.

Sashiko is the traditional Japanese method of decoratively mending or reinforcing textiles with cotton fabric and white or indigo-dyed thread. Sashiko is an expression of the traditional Japanese aesthetic Wabi-sabi, which is characterized by the appreciation of “imperfect beauty” and impermanence.

Faded black cotton pants slung across a coffee table with two large brown patches over the knees tacked down with several metal T-pins

I plan to sew each patch down by hand in a grid pattern of small stitches using linen thread in a few different natural tones that remind me of wildflowers… the resulting mend should reinforce the knees and lower legs for at least another year of abruptly kneeling in dirt to spot cool bugs, and scooting across the living room rug while “playing dogs” with… the dog. Don’t ask, I’m an adult and this is just how I live my life.

I’ve had this same pair of dungarees since the early days of Lucy and Yak, and I have worn them more times than I could possibly count. I envision them 10 years from now, held together entirely by clever little hand-stitches and assorted patches cut from long-since-retired-yester-clothes.

Close up of a freshly baked lemon loaf cake cooling on top of a piece of parchment paper on a wire rack

In current food news ‘round these parts: I baked a lemon loaf cake today using this recipe and it turned out great, really great. My only deviation from Maria’s recipe was that I opted for a quick vanilla bean icing to douse the top instead of the suggested lemon glaze. Smash hit. Well done on the recipe, Maria. 🙂

Close up of the cut end of the lemon loaf cake. The cake is moist and yellow inside with a golden brown edge, encased in a thin layer of vanilla icing

I’ll continue to share the process of mending the knees of my dungarees as I go.

What was the last piece of clothing you brought back to life with a thoughtful mend? I’d love to continue the discussion in the comments below.

All the best ~

Bette

A Recent Culinary Experiment: Curing Egg Yolks

Close up of cured egg yolks coated in kosher salt flakes on a bright blue plate

I recently experimented with curing egg yolks following the directions provided in the recipe for Asparagus with Cured Egg Yolk in the Le Creuset cookbook.

Close up of the cover of Le Creuset: A Collection of Recipes From Our French Table on a brown countertop

The Le Creuset directions for cured egg yolks call for 6 egg yolks, a mixture of sugar and kosher salt, and time.

Bette’s hand lowering an egg yolk into a round glass baking dish full of salt

Yolks were deposited carefully by hand into round indentations made with the back of a wooden spoon, sprinkled with salt mixture until just covered, then covered completely with a tightly fitting lid and refrigerated for 5 days until firm.

Close up of cured egg yolks coated in kosher salt flakes on a bright blue plate

Resulting yolks were indescribable but I will try my best: salty complex umami flavor when grated over bitter salad greens with a simple balsamic vinaigrette, luxuriously silk and rich when grated over warm buttered toast with avocado – some delicious sort of witchcraft takes place when grated over hot buttered noodles… forgive me, I’m drooling now.

Bette’s hand holding a clear 8oz jam jar to the light containing 6 cured egg yolks separated by small squares of parchment paper

Good for 30 days in the fridge which was the perfect amount of time for me to use the whole batch testing out various applications. I think for the right foodie recipient, a nicely labeled jar of cured egg yolks would make a fantastic holiday gift. Maybe with a microplane (aka a rasp grater, and FYI every kitchen needs one), a loaf fresh bread, and a wedge of good cheese?

You can tell what my priorities are (eating good food)!

Best, Bette

Stitch-meditation: October Untitled

October Untitled, cotton thread on flour sack

A quiet meditation held steadily in my hands and in my mind throughout the month of October.

Hundreds of tiny hand-embroidered knots in a 4″ hoop testify to countless hours spent stitching slowly, silently.

When I gaze upon this finished piece I feel: washed in warm – nestled someplace soft.

Best, Bette

Lemon-Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Round shortbread cookies with scalloped edges on a dark purple plate next to a mug of coffee in the middle of a messy desk covered in colorful knitting and embroidery projects in progress

Shortbread cookies are hands-down my favorite kind of cookie when I’m feeling cozy and nostalgic, namely Walkers shortbread which I used to scrimp and pinch my pennies as a child to buy from World Market.

I’ve never been to Scotland – I can’t speak to the authenticity of this shortbread recipe but the resulting cookies are tasty and beautiful, and tick all of the necessary boxes for me so I will call them “shortbread cookies” and sleep just fine tonight.

Lemon and lavender cut through the richness of the butter (use the highest quality butter you can find for this recipe because you will taste it) and waltz the tastebuds effortlessly between tart and floral, tart and floral, tart and floral… mmm… butter… *Homer Simpson voice* mmm donuts… I mean cookies! I mean biscuits!?

I digress…


Close up of Bette’s fingers holding a Lemon-Lavender Shortbread Cookie in the foreground, colorful knitting out of focus in the background

The recipe

  • 1 cup (208g) good quality salted butter, softened/room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, spooned into measuring cup and leveled with a butter knife
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups (180g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon food grade lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder or by hand with mortar and pestle (my method of choice)
  • zest from one lemon that has been soaked in a 1:1 water to white vinegar solution to remove surface residues, rinsed, and dried

Some tips to consider before starting

  • I find that weighing my butter and flour first yeilds a more predictable outcome as opposed to scooping or eyeballing my way along and wondering why they don’t turn out quite right. You will find the weighed ingredients in the recipe prescribed in cups and grams – if you don’t yet have a food scale for baking, now is a fine time to get one!
  • It is critical to let the butter come all the way up to room temperature to soften, which will take some time – maybe even several hours depending on the temperature of your home. Be patient and know that the butter and sugar will cream together much more uniformly resulting in a better cookie overall. If I know I’m going to bake cookies on say, a chilly Saturday afternoon in late October, I’ll weigh out my butter when I first wake up and leave it on the counter with plenty of time to soften up, then make my dough after lunch.
  • If you don’t have powdered sugar on hand, it is easy enough to make with regular granulated sugar and a blender or food processor. I usually make a batch in my blender using organic cane sugar granules so I always have a bit around on hand for recipes like this.
  • Feel free to omit the ground lavender and lemon zest if you don’t have them or if you’re going for that classic buttery shortbread taste, or experiment with adding other dry flavorings. Chai powder is delicious, and finely ground rose petal are just plain ol’ lovely.

To Prepare

Close up of room-temperature butter chunks and sifted powdered sugar in a stainless steel mixing bowl

In a stand mixer affixed with paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with sturdy spoon or hand mixer, add butter and powdered sugar (sift in the sugar to prevent lumps) and cream together until uniform.

Gently incorporate the vanilla and lemon zest into the creamed butter/sugar mixture until combined. Sift ground lavender into bowl and discard the few reedy bits that were too large to sift through (these will add an unpleasant texture to the cookie and too much floral flavoring).

Sift flour into bowl to prevent lumps in dough and work together with stand mixer on low speed, scraping the sides down occasionally as you go, or mixing by hand with a stiff spoon or hand mixer until combined.

Dough should be fragrant and uniform in texture, sticking to itself at this point.

Bette’s hand holding the paddle attachment of a stand mixer which is covered in cookie dough

Shape into a tidy ball in the center of the bowl and cover. Refrigerate covered dough in bowl for an hour.

Bette’s hand holding a 2-inch round cookie cutter

Roll dough out roughly 1/4″ thick on to a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured 2″ round cookie/biscuit cutter, proceed to carefully cut cookies, placing them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet or large plate as you go, and re-rolling remaining dough as needed until you have 24 total cookies.

Shape any remaining dough scraps into free form shapes of roughly the same size as the cut cookies (so they take roughly the same amount of time to bake) or feel free to eat remaining cookie dough scraps raw as it is eggless.

I have also been known to chop up the scraps into cookie dough “bits”, freeze them in a single layer on parchment paper, then fold them into homemade vanilla ice cream with heaps of finely grated dark chocolate for a slow food interpretation of cookie dough ice cream. Yuh… it’s goooooood.

Refrigerate unbaked cookies uncovered for an additional hour.

Preheat oven to 350º.

Close up of cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet after being sprinkled with lavender buds and sugar

Working in batches of no more than 12 cookies at a time, transfer chilled, unbaked cookies to a room temperature baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top each cookie carefully with a few whole lavender buds for color and a small sprinkling of granulated sugar. Proceed to bake for 8-12 minutes, until the bottoms are just starting to turn a light golden brown – visible when the edge of the parchment paper is gently lifted up from the baking sheet for a quick peek.

Cookies will seem fragile and are likely to crumble if picked up at this point. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow cookies to rest on the hot baking sheet an additional 5 minutes, then transfer them very carefully using a flat spatula to a wire cooling rack until cooled completely.

Close up texture shot of a baked and cooled cookie which looks crunchy and buttery

Once cooled, the cookies with firm up nicely with a gentle crunch and hold up impressively against repeated dunks in hot coffee. Store in an airtight container in a single layer or stacked in layers and separated by pieces of parchment paper. These cookies will keep on the kitchen counter for several days, in the fridge for a week, and in the freezer for a month.

Bette’s hand dunking a cookie into a mug of coffee with a ball of wool yarn in the background

Serve with coffee or tea and enjoy thoroughly .

Best, Bette

DCOTD (dish cloth of the day): Ricochet Lace

I’ve taken to knitting cotton dish cloths again in a continuing effort to eliminate paper towels from my home, and as a way to grow my toolbox of knitted textures, cables, and stitch motifs.

The pattern is Richochet Lace Dishcloth by Hannah Maier, which features the Baby Fern Lace Stitch and is available as a free download via KnitPicks.

Yarn is good old affordable (US grown, Canadian spun) Lily Sugar’n Cream in the color Tangerine.

Dish cloth? Wash cloth? Face cloth? Cotton scrubby? Trivet? Doily? These decorative, machine washable workhorses go by many names and serve a thousand various functions in my house.

I say “dishcloth of the day” in jest – although they are quick projects and the idea of knitting 365 cotton dishcloths in a year isn’t totally unrealistic for me, I won’t be posting a new hand knit dishcloth daily. Let’s shoot for weekly? we’ll see…

Until next time xx Bette

A good hair day: soft fluffy braid-out

If you have a good hair day but don’t take a bunch of selfies, does it even count?

Ok, ok, I’m feelin’ myself today and in a great mood so let me have my fun…

It’s been 1 year and 5 months since I started growing my hair out again after wearing it short for several years (like, buzz cut short) and can honestly say this is the fastest my hair has ever grown.

Trimming it every 6 months, hardly fussing with it, and it’s growing like a weed…

I attribute the improvements in length retention, growth, and overall health to:

  • Detangling, washing, moisturizing, and combing into simple protective styles like braids or 2-strand twists every 1-2 weeks.
  • Always wrapping my hair in a satin scarf before bed. Literally every single night – I’ve been so diligent, y’all, this is a first for me! Edge game on 1,000! Very few single-strand knots! Hooray!
  • Eating well, staying hydrated, and abstaining from alcohol.
  • Finding out I was pretty anemic via bloodwork and finally supplementing correctly for that.
  • Never using any kind of heat styling tools. Air drying only (which takes some rather significant time management skills and a bit of planning as my hair continues to get longer), and getting creative with tools like old school foam roller sets.
  • Never detangling or brushing dry hair.
  • Never using any kind of chemical processing agent, color-lifting agent or dye.
  • Cleansing only once weekly maximum, usually every 10-ish days but it depends on where I am and what I’ve been doing.
  • Learning to feel confident regardless of what my hair is doing and lovin’ on MY OWN UNIQUE TEXTURE exactly as it grows!

Happy Saturday! Bette

Dutch oven bread and hand-mended clothing

Two things that have been bringing me joy lately are fresh loaves of bread baked in the Le Creuset Dutch oven Kaleb got me for my birthday this year, and thoughtfully hand-mending my clothing.

For much of my life I prioritized quantity over quality when it came to clothing. I think moving from Arizona to St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, then up to Washington in just under a year forced me to whittle my wardrobe down to versatile basics, pack light each time I moved, and to treat what I have with care – all skills I now consider essential and am grateful for.

This patch is one I ordered from The Far Woods and had been saving for a special occasion. Covering an unfortunate bleach spot on one of my favorite shirts felt like I was finally putting it to good use.