Home Fires Burn Bright

My sister, Joyce, makes the annual pilgrimage – five years and counting – to match my stay at the hermitage we call Shalom. Each year she comes to visit, cook, and stay awhile. She cooks, I chop vegetables and meat, and together we fill two freezers for the coming Winter. I have called her the Queen of Soups, and indeed she is. My gratitude for these joyous times can hardly be put in words. This effort, if it can be called so, enables me to spend the cold time without worries, for food, or that I am loved. I am grateful.

This year Joyce came for the last half of the month of July, traveling from Montana in this time of frightful pandemic. But, we figured out a safe way for her to get here and be here and I am so glad. We cooked and ate happily for thirteen days straight. We took time for walks and sitting in the glorious and long evening light on the deck. We talked late into the night.

Some might consider this sort of thing, occurring between siblings somewhat later in life, sort of unusual. We do not. It is the most natural and wanted thing we can think of. The result, in food, and, yes, friendship, can barely be measured. Bounty!

We cook mostly in a huge cast iron skillet and Big Red, an enormous enameled cast iron pot. Here, from Joyce’s notes, is what we made together, gallons at a time (pics follow):

July 19, 2020

Pasta sauce: ground chicken, ground beef, Italian sausage, with lots of summer veggies. Gallons. Serve over pasta or maybe polenta. The chunky, just barely done, vegetables make it really special. Parmesan.

Chicken noodle soup (that would be one whole chicken) with added peas and carrots. Gallons.

Shrimp, veggies, garlic, with butter and white wine sauce. Gobs of spinach and mint (basic if you have it.) Jalapeno, more parmesan. Pasta. Delicious for tonight as only a little made it to the freezer.

July 20

Venison chili with Hatch Valley chilies and pinto beans. Pure sustenance!

July 21

Sage, rosemary, and thyme chicken with apples, onions, and carrots. Huge pot full. Did I mention the apples?

July 22

White beans, smoked turkey, greens, and veggie soup. Perennial favorite. 12 containers! Cherry-Blueberry pie. Will be eating good.

July 23

Elk curry with veggies, coconut milk and Thai noodles. OMG! Two pecan pies using light corn syrup rather than Karo. Use Karo!

July 24

Lucas came for dinner—rained, so we went from the deck to the basement. Had Santa Fe zucchini boats: ground turkey, black beans, corn, jalapenos, spices, fresh cilantro with cheddar on top. Believe!

July 25

Chicken and Italian sausage in Italian sauce. Serve over pasta or rice. Spicy.

July 26

Venison stroganoff. Good with egg noodles. I’ll have to stock some sour cream to add at the last minute.

July 27

Vegetable-beef soup, peach pie. In love.

July 28

Asian pulled pork, cole slaw, Olathe corn. Serve with rice or polenta. If you don’t have the local Colorado corn and some butter, forget the whole idea.

July 29

Vegetable beef-venison soup. Good with Papa’s corn bread. Sustains life.

July 30

Ham hocks and bean soup, shrimp Mediterranean, cherry pie, pecan pie. We put the soup away and ate the shrimp.

July 31

Venison backstrap kabobs from the grill, Grandmother’s oatmeal cookies. Celebration!

Every Day

Hoping for what sustains you.