Cat's Cradle

This week's featured recipe is delightful one, not only because of the way it marries savory and sweet, but also because of the fact that it came from our former employee Lucie's awesome mom, Susan Belsinger. On a visit to see her daughter (years ago now), Susan came and gave an herbal remedy and recipe talk in our greenhouse, which was then being used as a multi-disciplinary class and lecture space as well as an aquaponics location. The greenhouse still stands, though the fish are long gone. Lucie worked in our housewares department for years, and while she's moved up in the world (like, literally, up; she moved north to Oregon and started a farm with her husband) we still consider her and her family part of the Mountain Feed family. So this recipe seems sweeter to us than the minimal sugar content might account for, because when we make it, we think of Lucie and her husband and her farm and her life moving forward so beautifully, and also we think of her mom Susan, who wrote several excellent herbal cookbooks that we still like to reference, and who is still cookin' with herbs to this day, and we think of the greenhouse in past incarnations, and the classes we held there, and the moment in time when all these good people came together in this particular bit of space-time. All of this added sweetness. Holding all these things at once, like a child's game of Cat's Cradle, the threads of connection forming patterns that we weave in and out of, like the way gluten creates chains that cause bread to rise, like the way polysaccharides break down into pure sugar. The honeyed sweetness of memory, and the way sweetness in the past allows us to imagine sweetness to follow. The way the thought of that sweetness extends beyond the present moment, touching the past and the future at once. So that when we see Lucie posting pictures of their farm-grown winter squash and herbs, there's an added layer of sweetness to the seeing, a sticky bit of love that smudges the picture with memory and best wishes for the future.

I mean, I haven't even involved butter in this metaphor yet. But trust me, these scones are delicious, buttered. And even if you aren't flooded with memories when you make them, you may share them with friends or family, or savor them yourself, so fully, in such a way that memories are formed, and then you too will be a part of this complex chain of sweetness and herbs and carbohydrates and memories. Don't worry, there's no membership fees, no hidden agendas. Just a long chain of connection that stretches out, the slenderest of threads, linking vegetable and grain, animal and human animal, then and now and what if. Milk and mothers and years ahead and behind, the dark earth and the rustle of sugarcane in a hurricane breeze.

It could also just be a good bite to have for breakfast, too. You don't have to attach all the rest of this to it.

This time of year, we are sometimes flooded with associations, some of them positive and some negative. Sometimes they're mixed, like blessings and lessons often are. The winter holiday season is often etched in our memories, a touchstone of time where family often come together, celebrate, document the moment in photographs and in tales told over and over in years to come. Every year, we open the boxes; special candleholders, ornaments, recipes that are only used this time of year. Along with the decorations come memories, of last times and first times and best times. Every year we add another layer, take another picture, hang another ornament, eat the same beloved recipes. As the month of December quickens pace (it will slip by before we all know it) we are aware of the supporting web of lineage and history, tradition and new understanding, that entwines all of us with the threads of this moment. COVID-19 complicates things now, but it will eventually be a part of the tales that will be told in years to come. The way we Zoomed with Grandma, or how Santa wore a mask. The way we went out at low tide to watch the sun set over the lowest tide of the year, the way the light hit our faces and the slippery rocks gleamed. Memories are forming all around us, associated with time and light, season and weather, the rapidly advancing ages of children the battered stars that top the tree, the simple light of a lit candle, flickering.

This year, we hope you are forming good memories, their sweetness heightened by the recognition of all the difficulties we have endured this last year. We hope you shop local, because Amazon warehouses are brutal and because small local businesses have the coolest stuff, anyway. We hope you gather your loved ones close, and eat the foods that feed your spirits, and celebrate the season in the ways that seem best to you. We hope you are nourished, by the world, by memory, by good recipes and good friends and good times. We hope you like these scones.

By Jessica Tunis