With apologies to the Beatles, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and the state of Vermont.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chapter Twelve: The Commune Creates a Cookbook

   "Now somewhere near the Green Mountain forest, there was a young farm working on a book..."

Discussions about their new neighbor dominated conversation on the farm for the next few days.

One night at dinner Nancy finally protested.  "This is all speculation and, at this point, we've speculated and speculated and speculated.  We don't really know anything at all about them and all we're doing is talking about what we don't know. Until we know anything for real, I say we talk about something more interesting."

"Like what?" Marge asked.

"Like what we can do around here now that we're less busy."  Nancy helped herself to one of her pumpkin-mulberry muffins and then held it up for everyone to see.  "I've gotten lots of requests at the stand for the recipes for my muffins and breads and pies, and for Cat's amazing cupcakes.  I've been thinking for quite a while that we should make up a communal cookbook."

"That's a great idea," said Dan.  "People are always asking me and Sal about ways they can use some of the veggies that we sell."

"For real," Sal said.  "One guy asked me if you could use spaghetti squash to make spaghetti."

"Would you really give away any of the secrets to your cupcakes, Cat?" Viv asked.

"Maybe," Cat said.

"Well, I've been wondering how we could do more education about what we're doing on the farm," Luna said.  "I think that a cookbook is a great idea.  We could maybe put in a section on how you could grow your own vegetables, and make compost, and a bit about mulch, and maybe even a little write up explaining organic gardening and protoculture, and what Eco-expensive Agriculture, and Five Season Harvesting are."

"I'd like to write up something about krauting and sprouting," Viv added.

As people were talking, Nancy began writing down all the ideas.

"We could have pictures of the farm in the book," said Luna.

"And pictures of the produce," said Sal.

"And pictures of the cupcakes," said Cat.

"And we could talk about why we started the community in the first place," Dan said.  "And even include a little bit about what our life is like here."

Clean up after dinner ran late that night, and people were still talking about ideas for the book as they began drifting off to bed.

    "The topic was hot, and they wrote quite a lot..."

Things got busier for the next couple of weeks.  It was October and the season was winding down, but there were still tourists coming to see the last of the foliage--and then dropping by at the farm stands afterwards.  There were pumpkins ripening in the fields, and preparations beginning for the last of the harvests.

At one point a huge truck from a moving company came down the road and went up the drive across the way, but otherwise the commune heard nothing from their new neighbors.  It wasn't even clear that there was anyone living there yet.

And every spare moment seemed to be devoted to writing down recipes, and cooking and baking and testing out new stuff.  Dinners had become exotic.  Instead of simple vegetables and rice or quinoa, there were things like seiten-stuffed squash, bak choi fritters, spicy sweet potato salad, rumbling ratatouille, and zesty zucchini parmesan.

"What do you think?" Viv asked as folks were sampling her savory seaweed sauerkraut with lots of lentil sprouts.

"I think it needs more caraway in it," said Sal.

"Yeah," said Dan.  "I don't think it's savory enough."

Viv ran to the desk in the kitchen to write down the feedback.  Next to her, Marge was jotting down some ideas for a kale and collards strudel.

At the table Nancy was trying to persuade Cat to include at least one cupcake recipe.  "How about for your Hazelnut Surprise cupcakes?  They're very popular at the stand."

Cat hesitated. "Maybe..."

"And you've got to include something on how to make your stevia frosting."

"But that's a family secret, passed down from my great-great grandmother.  I can't share that."

Nancy took a deep breath.  "Maybe you can come up with a variation that you'd feel okay about putting in the book."

Cat looked at her.  "Maybe..."

That night Dan started taking all the hand written sheets people had given him and began typing them up.  He put aside all recipes that he couldn't read and typed up the ones he could.

Marge took his place at the produce stand the next day and by the end of the day, Dan had seventy-three pages typed.  It was every recipe that he could read.  Then he went after the folks that handed him unreadable recipes.

Nancy had beautiful handwriting, almost calligraphy.  Unfortunately Dan couldn't make heads or tails of any of it.  And Nancy had written pages and pages of baking directions.

"Would you mind reading these to me?"  Dan asked her.  "Slowly."

It took several hours, but when he was done with Nancy's recipes, he went after Ken who had submitted three items for the book.  Ken's handwriting reminded Dan of samples he had seen of cuneiform script, but Ken was willing to read his stuff slowly to Dan.  Then Dan went after Marge and did the same thing.

Dan also wrote up a small section about life in the community.  Nancy collected pictures from everyone.  Luna gave Dan sixteen pages on protoculture and organic agriculture.  Dan cut it down to twelve fact filled pages.

When they were done, they had almost two hundred pages of stuff, including the title page, table of contents, index, and twelve pages of pictures.

"This is great," Nancy said, looking at the final collection with Dan.  "Now all we need to do is get it published."

Ken was walking by when she said this.  "No problem," he said.  "My uncle is a publisher."

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