As I was editing these pictures, I became overwhelmed with how much life Mark and I have lived in a single year together as husband and wife. We made it through the hardships of mono, surgery and one of the hottest, driest summers on record. When I took these pictures, I was a newly-minted Ardry, still unaware of how the summer sun can sear the hairs on the back of your neck as you hunch over tomato cages for hours in the afternoon heat. I had yet to experience what it feels like to open up a beehive and find every last little worker bee dead, still clinging in small clusters onto partially drawn frames. I only had the faintest idea of just how much endurance and patience is required to last a full day during the peak of harvest, waking up before the sun rises and often not bedding down until long after it sets. I also had yet to know what it feels like to be a provider. To put in all of your chips up front before any seeds are even in the ground, to reinvest everything you have back into the farm with the hopes of a return - any return, just as long as it's not a loss.
When I took these pictures, I was still naive about farm life in so many ways. I still am. Perhaps I will be perpetually ignorant to a degree all of my life because I was not born and raised on a farm. But what I will never be ignorant of again is how important farmers are. The small, local farmers who you see at the market sacrifice so much just to feed us, to nourish us and provide for us. It used to be that humans grew vegetables and raised animals for themselves. Now, it is the fortunate few who grow it and raise it for all of us.
When I wrote this blog post, I expressed my desire to step away from my blog temporarily. And since then, I have realized that writing in this space has helped me grow. It has helped me to truly appreciate what I am a part of now. This blog has become a way for me to connect with my family, my heritage and my community; it presents an opportunity for me to not only share the landscape of farm life, but also an honest glimpse into my life. As I write, I revive the strength inside me that often wavers. It ignites appreciation of all that I am so fortunate to have.
A year ago, I had yet to feel the full satisfaction of working up a sweat in the cold, then coming inside and drinking something hot and steamy. Last year, I made homemade soy milk and this year I made it again, but melted some chocolate into it! I have two recipes for soy milk in the archives: the first one involves cooking the soybeans last and the second one steams the soybeans first. Both processes will yield a silky smooth product after straining, but keep in mind, homemade soy milk tends to have a much "beanier" flavor than storebought soy milks.
The best part about this recipe is that you don't even have to use soy milk - any milk will do. Only two ingredients: milk of your choice and chocolate of your choice, and you have the perfect cup of hot chocolate. Here's to the new year!
Soy Milk Hot Chocolate
2 cups (16 oz) unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup (3 oz) chocolate, chopped
Combine the milk and chocolate in a small saucepan. Over medium-low heat, stir the mixture until the chocolate melts.
Divide between two mugs and serve.