When I became pregnant with my first daughter, Ayla, I knew immediately that I wanted to capture the journey. I had this idea of standing in the same spot on a farm field, taking pictures every two weeks as the seasons shifted and crops grew up around me and my growing belly.

Well, it turned out that during my first trimester, I couldn’t overcome my nausea long enough to look decent in front of a camera. And by the time I thought I could, I was halfway into the pregnancy and other projects took over as we prepared for our first child.

So when I became pregnant with our second baby, I knew I had to line something up before I could make an excuse, nauseous or not! I had been following the photographer Jamie Love for some time, and reached out to her with my idea. She loved it, and conveniently, her home butted up against a corn field. And so began a kindred friendship and our adventure documenting one of the most powerful transformations in a women’s life: becoming a mother.

Over the course of nine months, we met every two weeks, taking pictures outside, despite the weather, and in her studio. (Jamie wrote a beautiful piece about our experience.) The result is this time lapse, showing my swelling belly and the final harvest: Cora Jill Frisch.

As we near Thanksgiving, this moving maternity portrait feels like a metaphor for gratitude.

Over the course of pregnancy, my thank you list grew to enormous proportions, because not only does it take a village to raise a child, but also to support a mother on her journey to birth and beyond! There were so many people who held me in a container of love, no matter what my emotional (eh hem, hormonal state), from Jamie showing up with her creative talents and listening ear, to my dear midwife and birth team, my community of friends, mammas, and colleagues, Ayla’s school teachers and friends, and especially, my family. I give thanks to Bobby and my mother, who kept me alive and fed when I declared I would never eat garlic, onions, mushrooms, etc. etc. etc. etc. ever again! I give thanks to Ayla, who leading up to becoming a mother of two, kept me present and enamored with my job as her mother… until she turned two-and-a-half. Then I wanted to give her up for adoption. (JUST KIDDING!) I give thanks to YOU for reading my musings and cheering me on as my passions as chef and mother unfold.

Like the wave of gratitude that builds with pregnancy, Thanksgiving symbolizes the culmination of months (about nine to be exact) dedicated to tilling the soil, planting seeds, tending crops, and raking in the harvest. It is a celebration of Earth’s bounty and an opportunity to give thanks for her gifts after months of preparation and hard work, accomplished with the help of many hands and animals.

The synchronicity of my pregnancy with the seasons felt primal, inextricably linking me to my own life force as a woman, a mother, a sister, and a daughter, as well as to the Natural World from which we’re born. To my children, I give thanks. For connecting me to my true purpose in this world and for giving me the opportunity every day to trust, surrender, breathe, and be present.

In this spirit I want to share the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. The Haudenosaunee are native to the Finger Lakes region, where I’m hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year in my home in Ithaca. Their Thanksgiving Address is an incredibly beautiful prayer giving thanks to every element of the Natural World. I plan to print it and have each family member read a verse around the table.

And of course, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a new recipe to try! Here’s one that Ayla and I developed: Tart Cherry Polenta Fritters. We call them Polenta “Cookies” because we use cookie cutters to make them. They are a fun way to cook with your kids, without making too much mess, and healthy to boot!

I hope you have a delicious, meaningful Thanksgiving holiday!

With love and gratitude,

Emma

PS. Stay tuned for my next post, which will include a studio time lapse of my pregnancy and Cora’s birth story!!

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Tart Cherry Polenta Fritters (Instant Pot or Stovetop)

This is a delicious side dish for any meal and a cornbread alternative if you just don’t have time to whip up a baked bread. I love preparing this with Ayla, because it invites her to cook with her hands and the results are fun! We like to make this for breakfast with maple syrup poured over top, or savory with over-easy eggs and avocado. It’s also delicious for dinner with stew served over top. Ayla likes to eat them plain, especially when her ice cream cone-shaped cookie cutter is a success! You can stir in other additions with the cherries, such as minced rosemary and maple sugar, or make this dish savory with grated parmigiano cheese and sautéed mushrooms.

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup medium ground cornmeal or rough ground polenta
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup tart cherries (substitute with cranberries, halved)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. To prepare the polenta in an Instant Pot, add in the cornmeal, salt, and water and whisk together. Press the sauté function and bring the polenta mixture to a boil while whisking. Then close the Instant Pot and select Pressure Cook. Set to high pressure for 7 minutes and let the polenta naturally release for 10 minutes. Then automatically release and open the lid.
  2. To prepare the polenta on the stovetop, add the water and salt to a medium-size heavy pot and bring to a boil. Slowly pour in the polenta while whisking vigorously to keep it from clumping. Continue stirring for 2-3 minutes as the mixture thickens. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking for about 45 minutes, covered, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. When the polenta is cooked, stir the cherries into the polenta.
  4. Then, line an 8 inch square baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the polenta onto the parchment paper. Use a spatula to smooth the polenta flat and then refrigerate in the pan, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes. The polenta should be firm to the touch.
  5. Remove the polenta from the refrigerator and transfer the polenta to a cutting board or sheet pan.
  6. Using cookie cutters, make shapes with the polenta – this is where your little assistant is needed!
  7. Once you have your polenta “cookies,” heat the olive oil over medium high in a cast iron skillet or large frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the shapes, leaving space so you can wiggle in a spatula to flip the polenta.
  8. Fry for about three minutes on each side, until bright yellow and crispy. Transfer to a plate and keep warm with foil over top or in an oven warmer. Fry the remaining shapes. Serve warm.
  9. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days.

Notes

This is a gluten-free dish!

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