“Why I wish I were a Mennonite”

Confession: This almost seems egotistical for a Mennonite to link to. But a friend told me about it in the last month and I was blessed. I think we could probably take a moment to hear what Mr. Taylor had to say–to celebrate what we’re good at without forgetting we don’t have it all–

What do you think? Is he representing the Mennonites you know? What do you want to be known for?

Why I Wish I Were a Mennonite
by Aaron Taylor

Iced coffee

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.

We realized with a small shock we’re two-thirds of the way through summer vacation. How did that happen? Oh well. Pour out another round of iced coffee; we’ll need the boost before this is all over…

iced coffee

Iced Coffee

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup instant coffee
Splash of vanilla

Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until dissolved.

syrup

Pour several tablespoons over ice, and fill glass to brim with cold milk. Refrigerate remaining syrup until needed.

iced coffee in a cup

There are certainly fancier versions. I like the simplicity of this one.

The recipe is from my sister-in-law Renita, who says it’s public domain for the young housewives in her community. My little secret is to make half the sugar white and half brown, for an almost-caramel twist the whole family will enjoy

fight over.

shari

Mo-o-o-ommmm….! You have iced co-o-offfffee?!?

pout

Yes dear. Go unload the dishwasher.

*****

Just kiddin.

three straws

No children were harmed or disappointed in the making of this blog post.

kids

What’s your favorite cold drink in the summertime? Want to share the recipe?

Herb gardens

Confession: I am obsessed with herbs.

Sage

Sage

Gripped. Infatuated. Besotted with herbs.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm

Last year we dug up a patch along the south side of my house and I started an herb garden, with flat slabs of limestone for edging and paths, and a handful of starts from my aunt and a few friends. Thyme. Sage. Rosemary. Chives.

Cilantro

Cilantro

This year I am somehow, miraculously, close to thirty varieties. Many are gifts from friends, some are pilfered from random parks and things, some are greenhouse finds… one a last-minute gift from a very sweet greenhouse owner at Pampas Creek in exchange for the promise to come back again.

What is it about herbs? They’re so full-bodied–good to smell, good to taste, good to touch. Low and fragrant, vibrant green.

I love the classics—peppermint, parsley, basil, oregano, Echinacea, bee balm.

Second year parsley

Second year parsley

Bee balm

Bee balm

And I love branching out into a few crazies—barbecue oregano, wooly thyme, purple basil, Russian sage and—my newest newbie—stevia.

Stevia

Stevia

Golden oregano

Golden oregano

Everything is small, still, and learning to find its place in the world. Some varieties don’t do well. My dill looks like it thought “yellow and straggly” was hip this year, my rosemary didn’t survive the winter, and my cilantro went to seed too quickly… Oh, and I can’t grow herbs from seeds to save my life. “Starts only!” is my banner from here on out.

Dill. No really. I'm serious. This is my dill. I left the label in the ground beside it so I wouldn't forget.

Dill. No really. I’m serious. This is my dill. I left the label in the ground beside it so I wouldn’t forget.

Basil--somebody tell me how to keep it from getting eaten!

Basil–somebody tell me how to keep it from getting eaten!

Rosemary. This year's version is in a pot so I can bring it inside before winter.

Rosemary. This year’s version is in a pot so I can bring it inside before winter.

I want to learn more about using herbs, in cooking and teas and home remedies. Right now, I fiddle around with them, snipping cilantro into refried beans and using fresh parsley and thyme in my tomato sauces. Mostly I walk through the garden and touch and smell, and taste heaven.

I just gave my oregano a haircut and dried it in my dehydrator. That was fun.

Before...

Before…

...and After

…and After

In a jar, all ready to crumble and use.

In a jar, all ready to crumble and use.

 

What do you love about herbs? How do you use them around the house?

A Grimm Tale for Our Time

But Mom, I wish there WERE no chores.

Oh really? Oh really, small son? Then listen to my tale…

*****

In the high and far-off times, oh best beloved, before iPhones, before sliced bread, before Adam and Eve, God created two special people: the very first man and the very first woman.

Now the man’s name was Doofus and the woman’s Dilly, and they decided right from the get-go that chores were for the birds; they would have none of them.

So they sat in their beautiful garden.

And they sat.

And they sat.

After a time, Doofus said “Sure am hungry. Maybe I should rustle up some food.” But he thought of the work of hunting an animal or picking a basket of fruit. He thought about skinning and hulling and slicing and frying. He thought about these chores. And after a great deal of thought he decided—he’d sit a while longer.

After a time, Dilly said “It’s getting frosty. Maybe I should sew myself a dress to protect me from the cold night air.” But she thought about gathering the materials, and weaving the fabric, and stitching the seams. She thought about these chores and decided—not to bother.

And so they sat.

And they sat.

Doofus starved to death, Dilly died of frostbite, and God the Ever Creative Innovator started over again with a man named Adam and a woman named Eve. He put His two new people into the garden and the first thing He said to them was “Children, you have chores!”

*****

Moral: Necessity is the mother of invention.

*****

I know, I know. I committed the unpardonable in letting my main characters self-destruct. Don’t read too much into it.

I need a better moral–a lighter, funnier twist instead of dark cynicism. Suggestions? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? “Clothes do not make the man”? :)