baking, breakfast, chickens, coconut, muffins, preserved lemons, ricotta, sheep
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there is a season


It turns out that it is not especially difficult, as a person (admittedly self-diagnosed) of approximately reasonable levels of functional sanity, to become deeply paranoid and want to stay under the bed.  “The Universe is trying to teach me a lesson” is the kind of thing I might be tempted to think.  “Don’t Tell The Universe I Am Under Here” might be scrawled on a sign propped up by the bed.  Not that I have given the matter much thought.

Our community is reeling from the loss of a friend’s 21 year old son over the weekend.  As we are all learning and re-learning and learning some more, you really do see the best of a community at the worst of times. You really do wish you did not need to be reminded in this manner.  You vow to remember it very well, so the Universe will stop feeling the compulsion to teach you again.


Here on the farm, reeling continues with the passing of one of the Founding Ewes of our little flock, one of the last of the inaugural class of sheep here on the hill.  Rosie came to us in the family way and was the first ewe to birth under our bumbling care.  We checked her constantly, and then came home one day to find her standing, quietly yet obviously pleased with herself,  beside two beautiful, healthy white lambs.  “Thank God we weren’t home when she went into labor,” I remember thinking. What a mess we might have made trying to help.  To give you a sense of Rosie’s presence of mind, here is a story about the time a friend brought his herding dog over to help round up our sheep, who had never been herded by a dog before.  Sheep, as prey animals, are not prone to a lot of independent thinking in the presence of danger.  One shared brain cell governs the main response, which is flight.  The flock flew.  After a spell, Rosie peeled off and came up to where my husband was standing.  “Are you aware,” she seemed to be asking, “that there is a dog chasing us all around here?”  He reassured her.  I swear she shrugged; it’s possible that she sighed.  She resumed her place among the flock.  She was the first ewe I witnessed heading in front of me to the barn when her lambs were picked up in the field.  “Meet you in there!” one could almost hear her say.  “Just going to get off my feet for a sec while you have the babies!”  We had a very fine teacher in Rosie, and we will miss her.


A few days after Rosie went, a weasel found its way into the chicken coop, and in the manner of such things, killed the best and most favorite hen (and two other victims, whose losses should not be overlooked).  Mrs. F, though petite and profoundly ridiculous-looking, was by far the best mother hen we have hosted here in 11 years of chicken-keeping.  We’ve known some monumental dingbat failures and we’ve known some good ones.  Mrs. F was peerless.

We wish them peaceful rest.

I wish for fewer opportunities to feel this way.  I know that I can’t stay under the bed, and in my saner moments, I also know that the Universe is not trying to teach me a lesson.  No special attention is granted from the Universe.  It is just, in its grinding, relentless, gloriously dependable way, teaching all of us.  Fleeting, babe.  Even the dreariest & most endless-feeling Tuesday full of meetings and root canal is a blip.  Reach, taste, savor, cherish.  Repeat.

None of this has anything to do with muffins.  But I have been stumbling a little through the kitchen motions lately, and then I needed to make muffins for a meeting, and one of the people attending that meeting had recently smoked me a carrot.  Not a lot of people will smoke a carrot in order to make a relish that they will tuck into a basket of comforting treats they are bringing to you. Not because the world wants for generous souls–just because not a lot of people will ever smoke carrots.  Go ahead and make stoned Easter Bunny jokes.  I forgive you.


So when you are making muffins for a carrot-smoker, you aim high.  When you are tired and sad, “aiming high” means toasting some coriander seeds, but the bang you get out of that little gesture is tremendous.  I made these muffins once with cinnamon, and they were well-received.  But for Julie, I toasted some coriander seeds (a few more than I needed, as it happened).  You go ahead and steer your muffin ship as you please (replacing the coriander seeds with a teaspoon of cinnamon, for example), but the 90 seconds I invested in the seed-toasting and crushing elevated not only the baking enterprise, but a few other endeavors as well.  Once you have a little dish of toasted & crushed coriander seeds on the counter, you begin to dance a little looser in the hips around the kitchen. Bonus ricotta mixture below the muffins.  Still a teaspoon or so left of the seeds. Who knows what the weekend may bring.  I’ll be under the bed if you need me.

oat bran muffins with coconut & coriander

Heat the oven to 350, and prepare a 12-cup muffin pan by lightly greasing or lining the cups with muffin papers.

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast a teaspoon of coriander seeds for a few seconds, until they smell wonderful.  Dump them in a mortar or small dish, and lightly crush them.

In a medium bowl, combine:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 t lemon juice

and let stand a minute or two.

Add, and mix well:

  • 1 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 3T mild oil
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2T molasses
  • 1 t finely grated fresh ginger

In a separate bowl, combine:

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c oat bran
  • 1/4 c golden flax meal
  • 1/3 c finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (generous)
  • 1/2 t salt

Combine these two mixtures, then stir in:

  • 1/2 c dried cherrries

Divide among the prepared cups (they will be full) and bake for about 25 minutes, until the tops are set and springy.



ricotta with coriander & lemon

Combine it all in a bowl and mash the seasonings into the cheese.  Heaven on an egg sandwich, or anywhere else you might be tempted to spread it.





  1. jonquil says

    Swift journey Rosie,Mrs. F., & Young Man. A few decades now past, I learned the scent of death when a weasel got into my paternal grandmothers’ henhouse. We didn’t leave it until egress had been found & sealed.

  2. Oh oh oh. It is a good thing that April is National Poetry Month for that is the only comfort in times like these. Poems. And roasted coriander seeds.
    Thank you for this recipe. I think I miraculously have all the ingredients.
    As for your/our losses, there is but one thing to do, and that is carry on with another notch loose on our big open hearts.
    Blessings on Rosie, Mrs. F and Rupert.
    xo S

  3. Of course we need you – get out from under that bed! One foot in front of the other usually does the trick. Feeling compelled to send more treats your way. Hang tough. xo

  4. narf7 says

    Sounds like you have had “a week” for sure. If I could move the computer under the bed I think I would take up permanent residence there…I would have to scoot the dog out as he likes to lay there in the afternoons (for reasons of his own). I love the way that you write and using toasted crushed coriander as your “herb” of choice to loosen up those dance moves strikes a resonating “GONG” with me :). So sorry about your favourite chook (Australese for chicken). Isn’t it always the way that the weasel/quoll takes the best? It’s like they just “know” :(. I guess our lesson is that “Life goes on” but that time under the bed is precious regrouping, picking back up and girding the loins time that can’t be left unfelt. So glad I found this blog :). Hope the weekend brings you happiness and more of those hip shaking dancemoving opportunities than you can handle 🙂

  5. Pingback: Feeling Lost and Found with Poetry by Sarah B.C. Guimond | Laundry Line Divine

  6. Janet, So sorry to hear of your losses. You write beautifully and now I want to try the ricotta, coriander mixture with some preserved Meyer lemon! Thank you

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