Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

fall is on the ground

We are busy these days...enjoying the cooler days, collecting chestnuts and picking pears. Cutting wood for winter, collecting an armful of eggs each day from the girls, and getting into the rhythm of a half day of school for Little One. And yet, life feels simple. I love it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

mostly local: Berley's pink penne

We are back in the swing of things after a two week vacation of sorts, during a portion of which we visited Capriole Farmstead in Southern Indiana. The cheese was amazing, and I came home and made the following dish, adapted largely from Peter Berley's version in The Flexitarian Table. Here 'tis:

Penne with Beets, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese and Hickory Nuts

local ingredients:
~2# beets with their greens (greens in good shape)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 T chopped fresh tarragon
5 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese
3/4 c hickory nuts (or sub walnuts if needed)

remaining ingredients:
sea salt and fresh pepper
2-3 T good quality extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces whole wheat penne (I used brown rice)
large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Trim greens from beets, leaving about an inch attached and scrub well. Wrap in foil and roast in 400 degree oven about 45 minutes or until knife can pierce easily (this can be done in advance). Let cool a bit, run under cold water, and slip the skins from the beets. Slice into 1/2 inch sticks and set aside.

Wash and thinly slice greens. Add to beets.

Heat water for pasta - cook until al dente.

Heat oil in large skillet until it shimmers, then add sliced garlic, tarragon and pepper flakes and cook until garlic is lightly colored. Add beets and greens and cook while stirring until greens have wilted.

Add the cooked pasta and goat cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and incorporated (a splash of milk is sometimes helpful here). Season with salt and pepper, top with hickory nuts and serve.

Personally, I think the fresh tarragon and hickory nuts make this dish. Enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

to market, to market...

Tomorrow marks the first Farmer's Market of the season for those of us here in Greencastle. I'm thrilled to be back in the saddle, as they say. We've expanded a bit this year and are planning to bring heirloom varieties of spinach, lettuce, radishes, pea shoots, cilantro and salad kale this first Saturday. Of course, the white-deathless cookies will make an appearance, as will baked goods from MamaLisa...warm cinnamon rolls...yum. I'm thinking I'll need to nab one of the those for myself.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

a dress

I have finally managed to put together (with help!) a dress for this summer. It was Vogue 8229, now out of print, apparently. I made the sleeveless version in a navy linen (I'm trying to introduce something other than black to my closet). I skipped the zipper, since I could get it on over my head without, and overall it went together very easily. I have several other summer dresses lined up, but seeing as how it took well over a month or two to finish this one with all the other things I have going on, I should probably just aim for one garment per season.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

another case of the uglies

 So here we are, gearing up for another season of spraying in the cropland below our home. The same fields that are currently flooded...poor soil quality and erosion surely contributing to their lack of ability to hold the water we've been getting. Largely, I try not to think too much about what goes on just a mile away and to focus on my own little plot, thankfully uphill of the GMO monoculture. 
Just about a week ago, though, my mom sent me a link to help out our local FFA chapter by registering our little farm and then selecting the FFA chapter of our choice to receive funding. Having once been a member of such chapter (though not because I was interested in farming - was it that jacket we got to wear? Oh, dear...I hope not!), I was happy to help out.
Until I went to the site and saw that the sponsor for the project was...Monsanto. Now, you can call me paranoid if you like, but there was no way I was going to register my little organic farm with Monsanto, which required me telling them what it was, exactly, I was growing. Maybe I've seen too many slow food documentaries, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. My apologies to the Future Farmers of America in Putnam County...
On a positive note, for those of you in Indiana, I added a blog to the list on the right dedicated to local food in the state. Also, I recently read this article about the potential for technology entrepreneurs in the slow food movement (found via facebook friend and local organic farmer, Mark Apple).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

mostly local: thai beef salad

Tonight's dinner was the first mostly local, "fresh" tasting meal we've had this year...hip, hip, hooray!
Thai Beef Salad
(adapted from a Cooking Light recipe)
local ingredients:
*grass-fed beef; sirloin steak, sliced across the grain into thin strips
*radishes; approx. 2 cups sliced
*cilantro; approx 1/4 c. chopped
*mint; approx 2 T chopped
*pea shoots; approx. 2 cups
*large spinach or lettuce leaves (our variety of spinach is pretty crunchy, so it works well; otherwise, use lettuce)
*honey; 2 teaspoons
*garlic; 1 clove, minced
additional ingredients:
1 T. chili garlic sauce
2 t. grated fresh ginger root
1.5 T fresh lime juice
1 T. soy sauce
Combine beef with chili garlic sauce, minced garlic clove and ginger. Marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.
Combine soy sauce, lime juice, and honey - set aside.
Saute beef in cast-iron skillet 2 minutes or so. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Combine in large bowl with radishes, cilantro, and mint. Pour soy sauce mix over and toss. Add pea shoots and toss to combine. Serve on large spinach or lettuce leaves.
Happy Spring!

Monday, April 18, 2011


A much needed update from the Kendall farm...

We are in full-spring-swing here: eating spinach and pea shoots fresh from the garden, collecting lots of eggs, building raised garden beds, preparing for the next batch of layers (25!) and another batch of meat birds (60!!) four weeks after that. We have successfully taken down a nasty outbuilding that plagued the property and are nursing new trees and seedlings to adolescence. The master plan for the farm is always in the back of my mind...and I am trying to make steps toward that end each week. My hope is that by the end of the summer, we will be well on our way. I've read and read about permaculture design and am really longing to have that characterize that master plan I just I'm learning about all the perennial vegetables that I didn't know existed and interplanting like crazy. The "garden" has essentially quadrupled, which I could - quite possibly - regret...though I doubt it. The icing on the cake: tonight we will eat our first batch of morels...thanks to Wyatt and Elise and their discerning eyes. Life is good again!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


The weather reports have informed me that a cold wind will push back over our country. I imagined it would come earlier - half expecting winter to lay claim again to this territory - and that snap likely will come by Thursday. Today, though, it was warm again.

At around 6:30 pm, I found myself walking the slight incline up from the barn to our house. I knew the hour was soon approaching to trudge back inside, to begin the daily discipline of urging my son into his room. Anna and Elise had already gone in to begin the process for our daughter. As I walked, I thought, "the days are coming soon when we can once again drift into the night" - like May fireflies trailing up and away. And I pictured our children growing older and laughing on this lawn infested with crab grass and discarded ash. I imagined them playing games of hide-n-seek while we called to them from the front porch.

I am smitten by spring. The fever has caught me, carried into my mind and soul by these warm updrafts, by a community of children and families released for spring break, and by a flirtatious desire to do something playful and free after so many months of doing those things complicated and labor-intensive like the winter's long haul and burning of wood.

We spent part of the day with friends in town. They were kind enough to invite our family over for lunch, and their's is a relaxed home which made it all the more enjoyable - full of room for the kids to play, full of an easy attitude that fits well with our own parenting philosophy, and full of leisure talk that need not be directed to some agenda. So - for awhile at least - we did the simple things that make living so much more enjoyable: eating, resting, sharing, playing.

Wyatt was eager to visit this family, for he knew that the son had a stash of Nerf guns, an arsenal that Wyatt was eager to access.

In just the last few weeks, our son's inner soldier has emerged, and his attention has turned quickly from the pistons and buffers of Thomas and Friends to anything that can pose as a projectile-dispensing weapon. It began with him taking a small piece of plastic that was a type of clamp. Not in Wyatt's mind's eye, though. To him it was a pistol that could be sternly grasped and positioned up to his squinting eye, and aimed at me as I went walking by.

Much to Wyatt's delight, Saturday the gods of war smiled upon Wyatt in a most gracious way.

As Anna and I were cleaning out one of our many out-buildings, we stumbled upon one of the few remaining boxes from our last move that we had yet to open. On the outside, the movers had scrawled with permanent marker "Picture/Toys." Inside, lay a box full of my old toys - mostly a mass body of colorful plastic men - hordes of G.I. Joe's from the earliest Cobra Commander to a second edition Snake-eyes to the more exotic and less-desirable late editions - the ones that seemed to appear from Swam Things home with their limbs and torsos and heads mutated and gross.

Yet, it was not these toy soldiers that won Wyatt's attention. He was - of course - beyond thrilled to discover that in this pile of fallen soldiers there were guns .. lots of guns - little pistols in cold black, large bazookas in army green, M-16's, grenade launchers, semi-automatics, and two ominous looking enforcers that I immediately recognized as Roadblock's weapon of choice, so large that they had to be placed in a tripod.

While Anna continued to clean out the building and I tore wood boards from the outside, Wyatt positioned himself on the front porch and entertained himself for the next several hours - discovering, imagining, learning ... everything short of drooling. When I eventually stopped for a break and found Wyatt still on the front porch, he looked at me. I noticed that he had begun to sort out all of the guns. Then, he began to ask me first one and then another question, all of them derivatives of his new fascination: "What are guns for?" "Do you like this one?" "Where did you get these?" "Did you play with these?"

There is a strong chance that when those fireflies do appear it will not just be hide-n-seek that is played upon our land. There's a good chance that this place might become - at least in Wyatt's young mind - a place of battle where Cobra and his henchmen will have to be battled, withstood and pushed back.


Sent from Anna Kendall's iPhone

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 Acres

"In the prime of his life, when he worked ten or twelve hours every weekday and socialized all weekend, he had pretty much ignored his land." - John Updike

I am away this evening, sitting in a nicely furnished room on the campus of Wabash University. It is lovely and everything is in order, which is not how my true home is at this time of evening. It is just after supper time for Anna and the kids, and I have called to connect in some loose fashion to the events of our their day - listening to the questions of Wyatt and the monosyllabic responses of Elise. We had to break up our conversation so Anna could restore order.

It is not so much that I am ignoring my land or my family. Anna is well in support of my participation of this particular experience and my call in general. She understands that my vocational identity is pastoral in the spiritual sense, not just the agrarian sense, and that there are times when I am led away from home.

At the same time, I - after having read that above quote from Updike in a short story about a retired man who came to walk and know his home parcel - am also aware that one of my ongoing desires is to get to know intimately the 10.99 acres of land that we have been gifted with ... and to begin to attach my own story to its history. That desire, unfortunately, too often gets filed under the "hope," rather than the "urgent" or "seemingly important." Meanwhile, it is those later two categories where I find myself expending my energy.

Anna just asked me if 49 tomato plants are going to be too much this year. I have no idea. It sounds overwhelming. It sounds ridiculous. But, I guess there is only one way to find out: plant and nurture 49 tomato plants and discover how much is too much and how much we can can and how much we can give away.

I am deeply thankful that - even despite my ongoing hiccups, hesitations, and excuses - my wife is tying us to the land of our home. I am thankful that she - before I - had the foresight to see that what is most needed is a place to call home and a home to know so that I might learn to be in community in a way that is authentic.

I hope it does not take me, like Updike's reflective retiree, all my life to finally walk my land and to live into my place.


Friday, March 04, 2011

little photographer and the garden

Wyatt has been quite interested in snapping photos lately. This one he took yesterday using my phone, just as we were finishing up the first of several raised beds we're putting in the garden this year. Also pictured is Dd the chicken. Elise has been obsessed these warm days with holding the chickens, wrapping them up in blankets and the like. In fact, if she's outside and *not* holding a chicken, she's probably crying about it. Poor girls end up running away trying to smooth all the ruffled feathers after the encounter. Come the end of April we'll have about 25 more, which should help spread out Little Two's love a bit.

little photographer and the garden

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Great Mystery

Religion has, rather, tended to create people who think they have God in their pockets, people with quick, easy, glib answers. That's why so much of the West is understandably abandoning religion. People know the great mystery cannot be that simple and facile. If the great mystery is indeed the Great Mystery, it will lead us into paradox, into darkness, into journeys that never cease ... That is what prayer is about. - From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sabbath Poem

Do I need to know,
I wondered - watching the smoke trail
The more I thought,
the more I knew:
I did not
to know the news of the day,
the uprising
and job reports
and the progress with the talks with China.

Yes, it is a global world,
but today I did not care.

One of the disciplines I have is to read
brief meditations.
Yesterday, #2 asked me,
Where are you?
What time is it?
Meditation #2 told me,
the answer to the first is "here."
the answer to the second is "now."

So I let the need to know about the world's struggles and hopes disappear - dissipating like the smoke before my eyes.

Later today, I did a chore:
cut some wood to keep our home warm.
The tracks of deer and rabbit and dogs were all around,
but there was no life to speak of,
only the calm cool slow motion of winter,
the gray sky.

Yesterday, I saw three deer
up on a ridge. I watched them
for awhile,
until the trees on the other side
moaned their age.
I turned away,
I looked back,
they were gone.

And then you - my family - came with me.
To collect the wood.
You picked up the sticks and limbs
I had strained over,
the sawdust still heavy on my jeans.

You lost your glove,
but your good
walked back with you
while I went up the hill to the next stack.

My daughter
you lifted a stick to me, and said, "here, Dad."
the worker,
with blushed cheeks.
Wind smacked,

we bounced
and jostled
our way back home.

Again I think:
in two years,
I've been given so much.

The grace.
The grace.

Jobi Wood

Friday, January 21, 2011

meet Ada

Winter's Bone

Yes, it is true. We are now the owner's of an eight-month-old English Mastiff. We, the family that wears petite and small and toddler, have taken on the responsibility of a dog once owned by men with names like Maximus and Brutus and Caesar.

Not that we adopted Ada from hulking Roman gladiators or imperial soldiers. We got her from a family down south of Greencastle, and they told us they got her from a tattoo artist over in Avon ... and that he got her in exchange for a tattoo. But, it is true that Ada's long-ago ancestors were quite fashionable back in the days of the birth of Jesus Christ. Rumor has it that in Caesar's attempt to spread his Pax Romana outside the European continent he sent his warring men across the small straight to the land of the Gauls. There the Roman soldiers discovered dogs as big as horses fighting against them, the same dogs they would then bring back to Rome to parade in front of Caesar as trophies of victory and the same dogs they would use for sport on the field of the great Coliseum.

Thankfully, Ada does not seem to have inherited all of her ancestor's girth or tenacity. She is currently sitting at my feet gnawing on a bone while Elise bounces on a ball in front of her.

Although, I must say that our morning walks have provided sufficient muscle-straining. I have been trying to teach her to walk beside me as we tour the property, but I am finding it difficult to keep her from bull-rushing ahead of me in search of deer or other neighbor dogs.

The kids have been sick. Anna had taken them down to French Lick, Indiana this past Sunday in hopes of breaking away from our country home that feels more and more like a cabin. Unfortunately, even though she left the cabin, the fever went with her, and by Monday morning Elise's body was doing its best to expunge the virus. Wyatt succumbed not long after.

I went out to dinner on Tuesday night with two friends and told them about Anna's trip and how it was meant to be a break for her. They looked at me incredulously. How was it that Anna was forced to take the kids and to take care of the sick kids while I was able to stay at home and enjoy some peace and quiet. Truly, not fair.

And this was after I had the opportunity last week to be up at Wabash University for three days in what amounted to a stay at a pretty nice hotel. I was up there for the start of a new program I am going to be involved in throughout 2011 and 2012: the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program. This is but one of the many great programs supported by the Eli Lilly Foundation to support ministers and churches. The further emphasis of the Wabash program is to gather some of the more promising Christian ministers (from all denominations and non-denominations) across the state to think, talk, and plan about ways we can tackle some of the challenges facing the state of Indiana. That's rather ambitious, but what it boiled down to in our first three days together was talking about leading our churches into the truly important conversations ... the harder conversations.

The luxurious part of the program came from the fact that Wabash housed all eighteen of us "paid Christians" in Trippet Hall - the very building where they house the university's trustees and board members whenever they come to town. This building was built specifically for this purpose, so the northern half of the building includes twenty rooms, each amounting to something very close to a Sheraton hotel room. On top of that, there was a small lounge on the second floor where they kindly provided both a full fridge of quality beer, Kashi treats, and some pretty good wine. I was most pleased and surprised to discover that one of the beers on hand included a local brew from Indianapolis called Sun King. I thoroughly enjoyed chill-laxing in the lounge with a pint in hand on Monday evening.

I must say this is one of the true blessings of serving as a minister in Indiana. The work of the Lilly Endowment is probably doing more than any other body or organization to train and encourage ministers. It has certainly been that way for me. Programs resulting from the Lilly Endowment have allowed me to meet some other great young ministers; it has allowed me to see parts of the West Coast that are amazingly beautiful; it has allowed me to pay off all of my remaining seminary debt, and it has matched my own contributions to my 403(b) fund. All in all, I guess I did end up getting employed by Eli Lilly, even if I never did become a freshman sales associate for Prozac and Cialis.

It is a wonderfully beautiful and chilly wintry day out here. It's so nice to be home again and to have everyone back to health ... I hope for good.