Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Book.



The first book I gave John was Pablo Neruda's Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. We had been dating some, but he was headed out of the country for a long-extended stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There was no telling when we would see each other again, no way of even guessing. For the most part, I felt envious. He would be wandering around ancient streets, experiencing dynamic culture, drinking cheap, exuberant wines, and, because he's trilingual, speaking in a language I could not understand. I burned with envy, sulked with sadness, and yet, tried to be supportive. The obvious indicator of support, I suppose, is the gift of a book, which he would need on his 15+ hour long fight(s).

Reading Pablo Neruda's fiery smooth poetry is like eating rich, smooth, black chocolate. It's so dense and complex that one can only nibble a little bit at a time for fear of overstimulation. I guess that's why I like his poetry so much, you can read tiny crumbs at a time or inebriate yourself if you so desire. I gave this book to John because the English poems have their Spanish translation alongside them and I thought he'd enjoy reading both languages. And because I was crazy about him. Inside the front cover I had written a little note, it read:

John,

Hope you like the book, especially The Odes. My favorite is the Ode to the Cat - though the Ode to the Artichoke makes a close second. Hope it's aesthetically pleasing to read not only in Spanish but in Argentina as well.
Have a lovely time.

Annie

It's funny, he didn't notice the note until some time after we got engaged, over a year later. I saw the book on his shelf, turned to the inside and he leaned over my shoulder and said, "What's that?" Men.

We aren't eating artichokes right now, but we can dream about them or, better, read poetry about them. Also, there's a great recipe we've tried from Goop posted below. And, of course, what better way to appreciate the beauty of them than Neruda's Poem, Ode to the Artichoke.


Exerpt from Ode to the Artichoke

But
Then
Maria
Comes
With her basket
She chooses
An artichoke,
She's not afraid of it.
She examines it, she observes it
Up against the light like it was an egg,
She buys it,
She mixes it up
In her handbag
With a pair of shoes
With a cabbage head and a
Bottle
Of vinegar
Until
She enters the kitchen
And submerges it in a pot.

Thus ends
In peace
This career
Of the armed vegetable
Which is called an artichoke,
Then
Scale by scale,
We strip off
The delicacy
And eat
The peaceful mush
Of its green heart.


That's my favorite part. For the full poem, click here.

Steamed Artichokes with Cheat’s Aioli. (Courtesy of www.goop.com)

Any vegetable would be delicious dipped in this aioli and it’s also good for a sandwich. The basil’s great here.

SERVES: 2
TIME: 45 minutes, largely unattended

  • 2 artichokes, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or Veganaise (the only substitute that tastes good)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/4 of a juicy lemon)
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • a generous tablespoon of thinly sliced basil

Steam the artichokes for about 45 minutes or until they give little resistance when you pierce them with a paring knife.

Meanwhile, mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Let the artichokes cool a bit and serve them with the aioli. To eat, peel off each leaf, swipe it through the aioli, scrape it with your teeth and repeat over and over. When you get to the heart, remove the sharp thistle and enjoy the best part of the artichoke.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Something Out Of Nothing.



Wednesdays, for us, are all about scraping the bottom of the barrel, or, to be more precise, getting as creative as possible with the skimpy selections in the kitchen. Our food-ship doesn't cruise in until Thursday, the CSA pickup day, when we have excess and plenty, which is why Wednesdays are magical, difficult and inspiring: Wednesdays, we make something out of nothing.

Right now in my refrigerator I have some wilting beet leaves, half a package of mozzarella and a paltry portion of long-ignored kale. Fortune favors the bold, however, and my backup staples are always waiting to assist me: flour, yeast, sugar, olive oil, milk, garlic, and thank goodness, half a lemon. It's the bare bones basics, but I think it will get us through another meal until tomorrow.

The big idea was pizza (with a white sauce, of course). Our tomato supply was diminished earlier in the day, half of our last tomato was divided into thin wedges and placed with care on toasted tomato-cucumber paninis (the cucumber is gone too). Therefore, the last option was a white sauce. Milk, garlic, butter and flour took care of that in a flash, and once the dough completed it's second rise, a pizza with kale, capers on a garlic white sauce was bubbling in the oven. The smell of it baking sent our hungry tummies into a shark-like feeding frenzy and, though I would be doing a discredit to all our other meals by saying this, turned into the winner of the week. Hey, it's pizza, what more can I say?

Tomorrow will bring fresh eggs, maybe even a twin yolk or two, vegetables, coffee, baguettes, shiitakes and so much more. We'll play, experiment, devour, taste, admire and cook to our heart's content. But Wednesday will sneak up on us again, driving us to scour our dwindling cabinet supply, which is why it's always important to have a Wednesday night staple. I guess to- die -for "bare bones pizza" will be ours.


The recipe for the dough is from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors. Since everyone's minimal food supply is different, (and I'm tired) I am supplying only the pizza dough recipe. If you'd like some tips for the white sauce, just ask and I'll freely oblige.

All or Nothing Pizza Dough

Makes two 12-inch round pizzas or one 12x16 inch pizza.

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 scant tbsp. active dry yeast (we use Red Star)
pinch sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1 tsp sea salt (or kosher salt)
1 tbsp olive oil

Put the warm water in a mixing bowl and stir in the yeast, sugar and 1 cup of the flour. Set aside until foamy 20 -30 minutes. Lightly oil a clean bowl for the dough. (Hint: if step one doesn't produce foamy results, start over, your yeast was inactive.)

Stir in the salt and oil, then start stirring in the flour until the dough is fairly stiff. When too stiff to stir, turn out onto a lightly floured counter and knead the dough until it is smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. Add more flour as needed. put the dough in the oiled bowl, turn once to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

Punch down the dough, making sure to release all the air and recover to rise again, this time it should take less time.

Divide into 2 or 4 pieces, shape loosely into balls, then roll out into thin circles. For one large rustic tart, roll into a large thin rectangle and bake it on a sheet pan. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Special Secret.


Today my husband gained new found respect and awe for the awesomeness that is 'me the farmer'. Okay, not even close, but he did learn firsthand how grueling a solid five hours of farm work (in 80 ish degrees) can be. We trucked side by side out to backyardharvest, an incredible organic farm run by two very talented, ethical, supernatural-strong people. Here's a summary of the day: we weeded and weeded and weeded the onion beds. John was attacked by a fire ant. I was pierced by briars hiding down in the hay. John's face got sunburnt. I looked over at his boot and thought I saw a brown recluse spider and screamed. He thought it ran up his leg and was forced to strip down to his skivvies in front of the Misses of the farm. My fingernails are filthy and primitive looking. My forearms have an irritated rash from the hay.

We can't wait to go back.

On the drive home I wondered why the work was so rewarding. We didn't leave with any onions for ourselves. And though we were paid, that in itself seemed like an added bonus. Why is it so fun? Why do we enjoy it so much? I have no idea what makes the work so great, but I'd venture to say, it's because it's special. Growing a farm's worth of food is some serious responsibility. The owners are out there every day with sweaty brows and dirty hands racing to cultivate organic food. They work a million times harder than we do. And yet, in a way, for John and me, visiting their farm and working through midday feels like cutting a school day for a field trip. Remember how educational field trips were? How it felt so fun to visit the zoo but you were really learning? John and I come home with a suitcase or two filled with new knowledge about how to grow, when, what kind, sun or shade, etc. Farming alongside Becky is like reading an almanac while you work.


(Note: John loves llamas like a kid on a field trip.)


Which brings me to the special secret learned today that I'd like to share with you. It's sort of a right of passage, I guess, to hand out farmer's inside information. We paid our dues, now we're spilling the beans (yes, so I can attract some readers): a secret trick for how to get rid of flies. Any kind. Any time. Anywhere. We haven't tried it yet, but they do it and there's not a fly in sight. Not even buzzing around their compost pile. All this advice, and just in time for summer grilling.

How to GET RID of Flies.


What you will need:

1. a large ziplock bag
2. water
3. a penny

Directions:

Fill a large ziplock bag halfway with water. Insert a penny into the water and hang the bag outdoors (with string/shoelace). Repeat process if needed indoors.

That's it! No one knows why this works. The most feasible theory is the glint of the sun on the penny hurts their many thousands of eyes. It doesn't matter how. It works.


Equally as mysterious and inexplicable as the penny trick was coming home to find a humanoid llama in our living room.

video

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oui, Asperge.


Today was a winner. Hopefully for my sister too, who turned 26 (Happy Birthday). But how couldn't it be a winner when it was started off with Revuelto De Esparragos for breakfast? I don't want to translate that for you because you might wince but I'll take a chance: Scrambled Eggs With Asparagus. Not the fat, grubby-finger asparagus, but the slender, twiggy, crisp babies. Look, we even got the food to look like the picture in the cookbook. Success! (Alyssa, I would have cooked it for you were you not so far, far away.)

Revuelto De Esparragos is everything you want in a Sunday breakfast, especially since they taste oh-so gourmet and are so simple you could whip them up with eggs for brains (kind of like I did). They are creamy and rich without any cheese. So you get some major taste mileage without adding calories. Appealing, no?

(That's my sister.)

After we devoured our so-much-more-than-scrambled eggs, we headed off to get some food from the Co-op. You know, the usual staples, a tomato or two, some granola for John. Who should we breeze by in the vegan aisle? None other than Mr. Michael Stipe. Though we let him be, we couldn't help but feel pleased to know he was at one of our favorite haunts. Though I have to be honest when I say the highlight of the experience was hearing him answer his phone, ever so softly, "Oui."

I'll spare you the "Celebrities eat well, so should you" sermon and move right on to dinner (though it's true). This dish is so pleasant it deserves to be bragged about. It's also going to take up maybe three minutes of your hands-on time. In fact, I think I could tell you the recipe in one sentence. Slice tomatoes, tear bread chunks and mushrooms (we like Shiitake), add fresh spinach, chopped basil and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, add chunks of mozarella, bake for twelve minutes on 350.



That was a bad sentence but you get the picture. Everything comes out melted, warm and looks like a rainbow of health. What? A rainbow of health? I shouldn't try to tackle two recipes at once so I beg your pardon. I'll just put it this way: it's mom-with-five-kids friendly.

I'll leave you with the more specific breakfast recipe, direct from The Food of Spain: A Journey for Food Lovers and the hopes that when you make it, you have a winner of a day too, or maybe just bump into a celebrity.


Revuelto De Esparragos

2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 thick slice bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch asparagus cut into 3/4 in lengths
1 tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
6 eggs, beaten

*Serves four Spaniards or two chunky monkeys

Put the garlic and bread in a food processor and grind to a loose paste, adding a small amount of water (1-2 tablespoons).

Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the asparagus over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until just starting to become tender.


Add the garlic and bread paste, paprika, vinegar and a pinch of salt, and stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.

Pour in the eggs and stir for a few minutes, remove the mixture from the heat just before it is fully cooked (the perfect revuelto is creamy in consistency), then season to taste and serve immediately.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kings On The Cheap.



Seems like whenever our new "locavore" lifestyle is discussed, the first response I hear is, "We can't afford it." At first, this statement made me nervous, wondering if perhaps we were not being as responsible with our money as we ought. (What can I say? We eat well. ) Instead of succumbing to paranoia I took the high road and kept an eye out on receipts and prices. Turns out we're not so flamboyant with money as I feared; we eat like kings on the cheap. You can too, and like it or not I'm going to tell you how.

Know there are some sacrifices to be made. This venture is a commitment. Not only is it a commitment to buying local and organic, but it is also a commitment (which we sometimes break) to avoiding restaurants and trying to grow our own food.

That said,

  • STOP EATING OUT: We must limit eating out if we are to afford buying local. The cheap, organic restaurant (The White Tiger) has threatened to blow a hole in this principle, but we've managed to stick with cooking. Sometimes it's hard and we slip, but we always feel better when we eat what we have made.
  • EAT LESS MEAT: John loves his burgers and sausage. It hurt to take them away from him. Yes, he had some frozen Jimmy Dean sausage patties in the freezer, and once we made our rules he said, "I'm not throwing these out." I shrugged and watched him ration each little sausage until the frozen bag was empty. Now I order ground lamb and he rolls up his sleeves and works them into little lamb sausage patties and gets his fix. I'm sure if there wasn't work for him involved he'd never again look with longing at Jimmy Dean.We purchase two "selections" of meat per week. Usually it's 1 lb ground lamb ($6.50) which is much healthier than beef and very versatile. The ground beef is good too, and cheaper (1 lb. $4.50). Both lamb and cow were well treated through the duration of their life. Yay.
  • EAT WHAT YOU BUY: It is a sad day when something we've purchased rots and I have to compost it. Because we are selective about our veggies, we make sure and eat them. We try not to waste. It's amazing, however, how much longer it lasts since it hasn't been schlepped from California (or further) sitting on ice until purchased. Our produce has twice the lifespan of grocery stores', which enables us to devour it without haste or waste.
And, lastly...
  • GROW YOUR OWN FOOD: I can't take credit yet for these rewards, but I know we will save money in the long run heading out to our backyard to pluck tomatoes off the vine. This is a small investment money wise, but it is a very large investment time wise. If you are planning to grow a vegetable garden, know you will need to give it a lot of care. We are true amateurs in this project but it's okay, because we haven't spent much (30 bucks, maybe?). My only request is that you buy seeds from credible sources (most commercial seeds are developed with a termination gene so that your plants die after a year in order to get you to buy again, though that's another (blog) story). Try heirloom.

I'd also like to leave you with an itemized list of my biggest weekly CSA purchase. Note how much I spent and that I was preparing a dinner party for eight.


Items ordered on April 6, 2009
1 x Arugula -- Sylvette = $4.50
1 x Beet Greens and Roots = $5.00
1 x Beets -- Tops and Roots = $3.50
1 x Bok Choi -- Young = $4.00
1 x Bread -- MultiGrain Pan Loaf = $4.50
1 x Bread -- Sour Dough Baguette = $3.00
1 x Coffee -- Costa Rica LaAmistad -- Dark = $9.90
1 x Eggs -- Multicolor = $4.00
1 x Granola -- Autumn Harvest -- 1 Lb. = $8.00
1 x Kale -- White Russian = $3.00
1 x Lamb -- Ground lb = $6.50
1 x Lamb -- Liver = $4.00
1 x Mushrooms -- Shiitake -- Fresh -- 1/4 Pound = $7.00
1 x Radishes -- mixed bundle = $2.50
1 x Salad Mix = $4.00
1 x Salad Mix -- Baby Lettuces = $4.00
Total: $77.40

Friday, April 24, 2009

Know Her Too.



I've been afraid to tell you about Molly Wizenberg because I worried you would leave me for her. Irrational, I hope. Then I thought, maybe if I give you a delicious recipe and then reveal her to you that you would trust me and stick around. I don't have much of a sweet tooth so a desert is not part of my manipulative plan, but I do love cheese. With high hopes, I present this creme spinach on sourdough bread to you with the prayer it will tantalize you into keeping me. (It is a lot tastier than it looks, I promise.)

Molly Wizenberg is a huge source of inspiration for me. She's a phenomenal writer, an imaginative cook and has a tear inducing life story. I feel like my life has paralleled hers in many ways. I look up to her like a little sister even though we have never met. As timid as I am about this introduction, I feel you need to get to know her too. Her blog, Orangette, is fascinating and endlessly popular. Her book, "A Homemade Life" is a perfect read, chock full of fun, sweet and exciting recipes.

But it is her story that made my heart stop. I'd like to share the synopsis of her book:

When Molly Wizenberg's father died of cancer, everyone told her to go easy on herself, to hold off on making any major decisions for a while. But when she tried going back to her apartment in Seattle and returning to graduate school, she knew it wasn't possible to resume life as though nothing had happened. So she went to Paris, a city that held vivid memories of a childhood trip with her father, of early morning walks on the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter and the taste of her first pain au chocolat. She was supposed to be doing research for her dissertation, but more often, she found herself peering through the windows of chocolate shops, trekking across town to try a new pâtisserie, or tasting cheeses at outdoor markets, until one evening when she sat in the Luxembourg Gardens reading cookbooks until it was too dark to see, she realized that her heart was not in her studies but in the kitchen.

In A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg recounts a life with the kitchen at its center. From her mother's pound cake, a staple of summer picnics during her childhood in Oklahoma, to the eggs she cooked for her father during the weeks before his death, food and memories are intimately entwined. You won't be able to decide whether to curl up and sink into the story or to head straight to the market to fill your basket with ingredients for Cider-Glazed Salmon and Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots.
My story isn't quite so glamorous as Molly's but there are some similarities. I took a break from school to care for my father who was also diagnosed with cancer. This was my first time cooking for a loved one, and it was hard. After he passed away, I couldn't bring myself to go back.

I wasn't in Paris, nor do I know much about chocolate (um...I like eating it) but the experience opened a window through which I fell in love and married my dear husband. Now I am learning to enjoy the pleasure of cooking my very best for a loved one again. Making meals that bring delight and writing about them in a sincere, heartfelt capacity has been so enjoyable for me. I am so glad to know there is someone out in the world that feels the same way. I am happy to share her with you. That's what this is all about (sharing). My only hope is, after you meet her, that you'll still come to see me from time to time.



Better-Than-It-Looks Creme Spinach



This recipe is a very fast and an easy way to knock out some spinach, Popeye-style, even though it's not canned spinach. The concept is nothing new but the flavor is surprising and original. Best served poured over a sliced sourdough baguette and toasted at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp.


1 lb. fresh spinach
4 oz. creme fraiche

2/3 cup milk (whole works best but 2% is ok)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

a few grinds of fresh pepper
3 tablespoons flour

olive oil (as needed) or butter
water (as needed)
1 sourdough baguette
1 clove garlic, crushed
parmesan or mozzarella (as you like it)

In a large pot, bring water to a boil (any amount of water is OK). When boiling, dunk in fresh spinach and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from boiling water and drain, then let rest.

In a large saucepan over medium low heat, heat a generous coating of olive oil (or melt butter). Add creme fraiche and stir until it melts. Pour in milk and whisk together until smooth. Then add flour, salt, pepper and garlic whisking as you go. Add spinach and let rest on low heat. Taste your sauce. If it is too potent, dilute with small amounts of water at a time. Add more salt or pepper (or garlic) to suit your tastes. *You should only be able to detect a hint of olive oil, or maybe none at all.

Slice baguette in half and half the halves. Pour spinach sauce over bread. If you're feeling frisky, grate parmesan or mozarella (or your favorite cheese) lightly over the spinach. Toast until crisp, about 10-12 minutes. Serve.

This recipe would serve 4 people generously (2 slices each) or 8 people modestly (1 slice each).

*Also, this recipe is your recipe too. You can tweak it according to your palate and improvise as you go.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Peace, Love & Hoppiness."



Sometimes, I get it so wrong. Sometimes, I get so down on myself. Some Thursdays, I go to the CSA to pick up my food, come home, spread the produce out and review it like precious wares, and then want to go to the corner and cry because I've no idea what to do with any of it. This seems crazy to say, but sometimes, I don't feel worthy of this food. I feel unprepared and unfit to own it, cook it, work with it. It's so perfect it continually reminds me I'm not perfect at all.

Sometimes, I heat olive oil in the pan and just stare at it without a clue.

I get tired and fussy. I don't have mint. My rosemary is molding. The bread won't rise. Neko Case isn't getting me through cooking dinner and I'm scared of the lamb liver I'm trying to prepare. Now what.

To be honest, I don't know. It seems it would be so much easier to trot over to a restaurant. I'm tired. I have these beautiful vegetables I need to cook with less than a solid cooking background. Now what.

I don't know. The road is long, my friends, and I'm exhausted. I am also worthy of ridicule and a good spanking at this point, but... sigh.

I just looked over at my bottle of Terrapin. It says "Peace, Love and Hoppiness," and that made me laugh. I guess sometimes you have to toss some garlic and onion in the pan of olive oil and see where it takes you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Smells Like Love



Today I have someone I would like you to meet. Her name is Andree Terry and she is a local soapmaker in Athens, Georgia. She is also part genius (she graduated from UGA at 19 went on to obtain 7 or so degrees), wholly philanthropic (she donates her products to hospitals) and happens to make the most soothing, sweetest smelling soap (trust me). She's a woman after every woman's own heart and skin.


Remember that scene in Macbeth where Lady Macbeth is feeling guilty? She is sleepwalking through the night, trying to scrub her bloody hands and plagued conscience clean. When she cries in despair, "Out, damned spot", I wish I could appear like a fairy godmother and, with a little wink, toss her a bar of Andree's Essential Soaps. That would have been just the trick for her hands. If I gave her a bar of the Juicy Pink Grapefruit, it might have scrubbed her conscience clean, too.

Andree’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's, Cancer and Glaucoma: horrible diseases that wreak havoc on skin. When she saw that commercial soaps weren't helping her mother's skin, she ditched them and, backed by endless research and world-wide travels (think Egypt, France, England etc.) decided to make her own. She mixed and poured away in her own kitchen until her products became so popular she outgrew herself and opened up a store on Prince Avenue. When I visit her I am reminded of how radiant her beaming skin is, and when I complimented it, she agreed, saying "My skin looks better now at age 55 than it did when I was 40. It's softer, too." I didn't stroke her cheeks, but I didn't need to. The woman is glowing.

Her products are special. Most commercial soaps, like Dove, use animal fats (sodium tallowate) and/or harsh chemicals that can do more damage rather than repair to your skin. Animals are now ingesting chemicals, hormones and antibiotics at a distressing rate. Since soap is made from their stored fats, the chemicals are transferred from the stored fats into commercial soap. Andree does not use any animal fats. All of her products contain plant based botanicals and are certified organic. She uses the most luxurious oils: palm, rice bran, avocado, olive, and coconut, just to name a few. Since we don't yet know all the cancer causing agents, precautions need to be taken when purchasing products. Soap is something you use (or should, anyway) every day for your entire life. I could be wrong (I often am) but I’d venture to guess it isn’t too safe to bathe in animal hormones.


If you should decide to stop by her store, you'll be greeted by her two adorable adopted Pugs: Abbie and Mya. If you stay awhile, you might get to watch Andree make frothy bath salts, carve scented soaps from the wooden mold and whip up lotion as light and airy as a kiss. Forgive me for this big, cheesy line delivery, but her store also smells like love.

And love is exactly what keeps her going. Her life's passion is helping people's skin ailments: whether it be a teen's acne or a loved one's radiation burn, she personalizes her products to soothe and mend. If you have allergies, she will make your product allergen-free. If you have a friend whose skin is dry or chapped, just say the word and Andree will customize the product to fit the purpose. She has people pining away to buy recipes but she will not sell out because she knows that doing so would cost her products' quality and reputation. If that's not worth fawning over, I don't know what is.

*UPDATE* Andree is also a cancer survivor, officially confirmed today! CONGRATULATIONS, ANDREE! Help her celebrate by grabbing a bar of soap! She has offered a 10% discount on any purchase by a TwinYolks reader. Isn't that wonderful? (I highly recommend her Foaming Bath Salts. O ooh la la.)

She has a wide variety of scents. I know you can't smell them through the computer, so let me recommend a few: Sweet Georgia Brown, Almond & Oatmeal, Lavender, Juicy Pink Grapefruit (John's favorite) and Lemon Verbena are all wonderful.

Don't forget to mention you're a TwinYolks reader and don't forget Mother's Day is right around the corner!



Monday, April 20, 2009

Heart Beets.


Beets matter. You may only see them rear their heads at Thanksgiving (or, wait, is that cranberry sauce? Nevermind.) but they still matter.

In fact, they are delicious. Not only are they beating down the doors of five star restaurants dressed in high grade balsamic vinaigrette and skirting around with some blue cheese (a good idea), but they are also helping many a heartbeat calm itself with their almighty health benefits.

If they are the new rage, I'm not surprised. Why wouldn't they be with their powers of lowering blood pressure and their cancer fighting antioxidants? I'm no nutritionist, but I can read. My guess is that if you're looking at TwinYolks you can too, so see for yourself:

The pigment that gives beets their rich, purple-crimson color-betacyanin-is also a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Beets' potential effectiveness against colon cancer, in particular, has been demonstrated in several studies.

In one study, animals under the double stress of chemically induced colon cancer and high cholesterol were divided into two groups. One group received a diet high in beet fiber while the other group served as a control. The beet fiber-fed animals rose to the challenge by increasing their activity of two antioxidant enzymes in the liver, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase. The liver is the body's primary detoxification organ where toxic substances are broken down and eliminated, a process that generates a lot of free radicals. Glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase are the bodyguards for liver cells, protecting them from free radical attack, so they can continue to protect us.

In other animal studies, scientists have noted that animals fed beet fiber had an increase in their number of colonic CD8 cells, special immune cells responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells. With the increased surveillance provided by these additional CD8 cells, the animals in one of the studies given beet fiber had fewer pre-cancerous changes.

(More info here.)

I don't have the winning recipe for you tonight, but do you remember that saying, "boil 'em, chop 'em, stick 'em in a stew..." No? It's OK because that's what you can do with beets: pretty much anything. I like to steam them and then toss them into a stir-fry, usually with their leafy counterparts. They are also good in salads and/or roasted in the oven with olive oil. They leave a touching crimson stain on the plate (see previous blog post), marking your life with artistry, passion and beauty. (Did you shed a tear? I knew you had a heartbeet.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Magic Ingredient.


They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so I'll start with an apology for the beet juice stained plate picture above. With all my heart, I wanted pretty pictures for you. I just didn't know it would turn out to be so dang good. It wasn't until the food disappeared that my husband looked at me, sighed and said, "Babe, that was some blog-worthy pasta." I nodded and expressed my disappointment at not having a proper photo. "Just take a picture of the plate," he said. Pathetic, I know, but I will try to compensate by revealing the saucy goodness that I failed to photograph.

A generous soul gave us some of those rolled up egg noodles. You know, the ones that cook in under 10 minutes? They are genius. With some simmering creme fraiche and some sauteed shitakee mushrooms we had a deluxe dinner pasta sauce. In an all time low moment, meant to be shared between husband and wife, I'm sure, I had some sauce on my chin. When my husband pointed it out, I grabbed a piece of bread, mopped it off my chin and ate it. Yep, I'm that barbaric and it was that good.

(A word about creme fraiche. It's fancy, expensive and full of fat, but it's what I like to call the "magic ingredient." If you think your dinner is headed straight to the compost - a dab o' creme fraiche will save the day, any day.)

My cooking skills are less than perfect. Often when something delicious is created, I'm as surprised as anybody else. I didn't get any by-the-book qualities, and sometimes I struggle to share recipes because I play as I go and don't keep track of what I'm doing. This can end in disaster but thankfully tonight it didn't. If you're like me, you will love making this recipe. If you're not like me but still want to try it I'll give you the most exact recipe I can but you will have to trust your nose and tastebuds.

Also, if you think of a snazzy name for it let me know. I'll stick with "Mop Your Chin With Bread Pasta" for now. (See? I need your help.)

Mop Your Chin With Bread Pasta

1/2 package tagliatelle (egg noodle) pasta (about 4 oz)
1/2 package creme fraiche (also about 4 oz)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup whole milk or 2%
salt and pepper to taste
water as needed
1 or 2 large shiitake mushrooms, chopped lengthwise

Coat a large saucepan with a generous amount of olive oil and let warm at medium low heat. Add minced or crushed garlic and simmer until light golden. Pour in 4 oz. of creme fraiche, stirring until melted. Raise heat to medium and add shiitake mushrooms (sliced into long strips) and cover, simmering for about 7 to 10 minutes. Uncover and add milk, salt, pepper and water as needed (taste before adding). Cover again, raise heat a little more and allow sauce to simmer for about 3 more minutes. Uncover, stir, and let rest on the lowest setting.

Boil noodles until tender, remove, drain and lightly spray with cold water (this keeps them from getting too sticky). Ladle the sauce over the pasta and serve. Please note that the sauce will be thin, (I hate to use the word "runny" but it's accurate) that's OK the flavor's still there.

PS. The beet recipe has not been forgotten, don't worry. (There wasn't any sauce left to photograph.)

PPS. Yes, those are my long toes poking out of the picture. I'd hoped you wouldn't notice.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Will Work For Carrots.



Today I worked a full 5 hours on a lovely farm outside of Athens, Georgia. You would expect, I'm sure, for me to express my new found appreciation for ethical farmers but all I can say right now is "ow." I might fall asleep while writing and the time is 3:30 pm. I want to sing their praises, true, but I can't right now because I'm tired to the bone. My fingers seem to be the only appendage with any energy left, and my brain just misspelled it's own name as "brian." (I corrected it for you so you'll take me seriously.)

Lets be honest here, shall we? I spent five hours on my knees pressed hard into the rocky soil: they ache. When I shifted my weight to the side, my neck started cramping: it aches. When I looked down at my arms, they were sunburned: they'll ache tomorrow. When I changed clothes, small pebbles of dirt rolled off my jeans like a dirty brown avalanche. I am one blog away from crashing into a death-like midday sleep.

BUT, when Boo, the farmer I'm proud to be working for, handed me a carrot, rinsed free of dirt with the water from their well, leafy top snapped off and ready to eat (still kind of dirty though, oh well) I took one bite and looked at him and said, "are you kidding me?" right as he was mid sentence apologizing for it not being their best bunch of carrots.

To be honest, I don't even like carrots that much. They're the usual reject-food in my house, the last resort with hummus. But this carrot, oh man...Bugs Bunny himself would've stolen it, were he not a cartoon. The taste lingered in my mouth for at least an hour, teasing me with it's fresh sweetness. Now I know why I never liked carrots much: they weren't the real deal. As much as my body doesn't want me to admit it, fact is, the work is brutal but the rewards are "crazy delicious." Where do I stand now? Hi, I'm Annie: will work for (real) carrots.

My body is beckoning me to rest now, and a part of me feels bad for all the complaining. Once I'm acclimated to the labor and the heat maybe I'll grow to love it. All I know is today I didn't have to endure a stuffy office and I ate the best carrot in the world.

Night, night.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Superior, Super.


We have high hopes for our blueberry bushes, purchased three weeks ago from Thyme After Thyme, one of the most delightful, magical nurseries in all the Southern Georgia land. The layout enchants you with it's elvish charm. The flowers are arranged in a forest of sorts, with whimsical garden ornaments springing up to announce the decorative, heart-warming joy that is gardening. If you visit Athens, visit Thyme After Thyme, just for a stroll. You'll feel the euphoric nature vibes, I promise.

We wanted two Brightwell blueberry bushes, based on the lilting name and the vigorous, healthy bush. However, in order for one to procreate, it must be pollinated by a different type of blueberry bush. The next lush looking one was the Climax, which we purchased with juvenile grins. If the birds and the bees do their job to nature's liking, someday there will be a Brightwell-Climax bush, flourishing with blueberries in our old backyard.

Blueberries are wonderful, are they not? As of late they are wonderfully expensive, especially when purchased out of season. Are they up to $6.00 a quart yet? Don't worry, the price will drop when they're in season... soon. And yet they still are worth buying and eating for their superior, "super" nutritional value. Right now I get them frozen and ration them into the Best of Pancakes.

I will try to be honest and true to you out there, especially with recipe descriptions. I promise not to over-exaggerate. That said, please believe me when I declare these to be the best Best of Pancakes I've ever had.

(My husband wanted me to say that if you went up to his "Best of Pancakes" recipe on the street and said "you know, you are the greatest stack of pancakes" they would say "fool...you don't even know me".)

If that doesn't win you over, I suppose nothing will.

They are so crisp, soft and salty-sweet you can gobble them up with or without syrup. Yes, it's true: with or without syrup. The tang of the blueberries adds a sweet surprise and the cake is melt-in- your-mouth satisfying. They accompany a Saturday morning of lounging, jazz in the background and your favorite (online) newspaper, (mine being The New York Times), so well you will want to repeat the routine again on Sunday morning, and every week after.

The Best of Pancakes

2 tablespoons canola or (vegetable) oil
1 egg

*1 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 or 6 blueberries per pancake

Add dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Add liquid ingredients one at a time, stir well. Make sure your batter is not too thick (see footnote). Heat griddle or pan to medium high heat and coat well with oil or butter. (Make sure the pan is hot before you put the batter in, if using, but do not burn butter.) Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle. Once the bubbles appear, place 5 to 6 blueberries on the pancake and flip when ready, about 30 seconds. Let the other side of the pancake rest long enough for the blueberries to dethaw, lowering heat if necessary and gently remove pancake. Serve.

* We use whole milk but 2% will do. You do not want the batter to get too thick. Add one extra tablespoon of whole milk if using.






The Ache.


Well, I suppose I should be honest with whomever reads this little blog of mine. My hope is this upcoming confession falls on sympathetic ears, overworked kidneys and hyperactive hearts: I really, really, really miss Diet Coke. (Isn't the stuff supposed to not be addictive anymore?) Sometimes, I get The Ache. Oooh man do I get it bad. My gums want to feel the fizz, my heart wants to race with caffeine, my stomach wants that caramelized pang of fullness and my throat wants to guzzle with a capitol "G" some Aspartamene and Sodium Benzoate.

Here's the mystery: it isn't a sugar craving. Can't be, I've got some chocolate stashed in the freezer. (It's organic, I think...) Nor is it a salty desire either, plenty of that around too. Perhaps a psychological association with feeling wakeful, motorized and calorie free? Who knows. The fact that I still want it at times (oh sososo much) makes me raise my eyebrows in suspicion. I can swear under oath right now that I've not tasted a drop in over a month. The cravings should be out of my system but instead they linger on, plaguing me. Sorry to say, I don't think I'll be getting to the bottom of this one (without getting sued) but I will report back to you at the end of May if I still haven't given The Ache the shake.

My dad used to say that if you quit drinking Diet Coke you'll drop five pounds in less than a week due to the emission of sodium (which causes water retention). Since I started giving it the cold shoulder, I've felt my natural waistline returning, and not with a vengeance. It's hard to prove when you have an appetite like I do and no scale in sight, but you could try it. Maybe you'll see he was on to something.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Following With Ease.



My brother is a farmer on the cusp of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In high school he was a supreme jock, semi-smooth ladies man and stellar athlete, doubtless following with ease the same path of my father who was also a socially gifted, athletic man. Yet, midway through his bullying high school jock years, he began meeting with a group of other “dudes” (aka: a small group, religiously centered) and instead of pushing me around kid-sister style, he began instead to drop tiny seeds in pots and watched as they pushed themselves up out of the dirt. Our basement was cornered with his plants. Seems that the more they sprouted and blossomed, the kinder he became. Although I cannot possibly chart this correlation into fact, I can say that he ditched his “bad-A” persona, faded away from the basketball courts, mellowed and worked in the dirt. He planted a tree in the front yard of my mother’s house – without bothering to ask permission, went off to college and beyond, farming here and there along the way. He was also a consistent “stalker” of his mentor a la literature: Wendell Berry. (I say that with kindness, only to suggest he traveled through a few states to hear a lecture or two. Or three.)

He was a very demanding brother. Often he would charge me to do, go, get, be, try, finish, etc. He pushed his interests with the confidence and superiority of an elder. He told me where I should go to school, he expressed his disappointment when I didn’t quite finish, he clogged my ears with his music and he criticized my outfits. Yet he never once told me I should start growing my own food. He never said I should try to eat organic and he wouldn’t guide me towards farmers markets. He kept his passion to himself, with the wisdom and confidence held in his mind that people would “get it” sooner or later. He was cultivating organic foods on remote farms before most of the fussy labels were even slapped on and placed in the aisle of a grocery store. He was ridiculed and labeled all sorts of mean hippy names by his peers who were heading off to business school. He refused to spray pesticides, even for Ralph Lauren. He went off to Argentina and returned drinking Matte out of a carved gourd before anyone knew what it was (I didn’t, anyway). He worked on farms in Oregon, Boston, Tennessee and scraped the dirt off his hands with dignity. I could be wrong, but in my eyes, he claimed a stake in the ethics of farming before it coincided with “trendy.” Of course, there are people who have been farming in America since before the country was named. What he does is by no means groundbreaking. I don’t mean to suggest that he is an innovator to the farming institution, only that he is an innovator to me, and I think he would be to you too if you knew him.

I don’t know why I want to glorify him. It could be because I am trying to follow his ways, or it could be because the person that ridiculed him as a “hippy-loving tree hugger” is now (in all likelihood) eating the organic food straight from where he farms. I’m just proud of him, that’s all. People who work hard deserve credit and people who are mocked because they do what they love, yet do it anyway deserve a little bit of glory, even if it is from their blogging kid sister.

Soften The Greens.

I'm happy to report the brussel sprout situation has been resolved, and tastily too. When you trim the thick, perky stalk free of leaves, and then discard any wilting (yellowing) leaves, the mighty bushel isn't quite so intimidating anymore.




See how manageable that is? Easy breezy. (Note the stem in the corner - that goes into the compost, nothing to be done about it, it's very tough.) The leaves are chopped and added to some already-simmering garlic, onion and ground lamb. Water probably needs to be added at some point, to soften the greens and voila!




I poured this mixture over steamed rice, sprinkled with goat cheese and... well, I think it made my husband happy, which is the standard by which I measure a recipe. (I should think about raising the bar a little, true.) I know I haven't given you an exact recipe, but that's because you probably don't need one. It's almost as though this dish cooks itself. The brussel sprout leaves need time (15+ minutes) to soften and if things start drying up and getting stuck to the pan, add water as needed. I put the lid on this dish at medium heat and let it be. I also snuck in some seasoning (salt, pepper, chili powder). You could substitute the ground lamb for ground anything, but the goat cheese is a flavor picker upper - so it stays.

I give this dish an overall 3 stars out of 5. Not a crowd pleaser, but a husband pleaser: uncomplicated and healthy. Oh, and an opportunity to reclaim some much needed refrigerator space.

Enjoy.





Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Fuss Was About.


When I first told people I was moving to Athens, those who knew it well clasped their hand to their chest and sighed, "Oh... I love Athens. I'm so jealous." I'd visited a few times, but had no idea what the fuss was about. Sure, Athens has a hopping music scene, out-of-this world food (at collegiate prices) and a fun-loving, free spirited vibe. It's the town for cool, in-the-know, local-minded, creative artists, really. And since I am not cool, barely in-the-know and boring, Athens really freaked me out. I mean, freaked. me. the freak out. Upon visiting, I burst into tears, accused the town of not being bathroom friendly and cried that I would never, ever fit in. Boo hoo, I know, but I felt like I was re-entering high school. Back last spring, I had a rough (hormonal?) visit here. My poor fiance was thinking he'd have to go to school somewhere else. Yet encouraging people kept telling me that it's brutal at first, but if you give it time you'll never want to leave. I moved here, sulking and doubting it.

Several months in I was still miserable. Now, a year later, I'm starting to feel hope. Feeling more at ease (instead of odds) with Athens has let me look back and see what was causing the strife. Please believe me I when lay huge blame on the Kroger two blocks from our house.

Going to the Kroger was bad news. Not only did I drive home hating life, but I also took it out on my then-fiance as well, passive aggressive-style. I'd pop an attitude and refuse to let him help me bring in the groceries and make him listen as I banged my purchases against the counter and slammed cabinets shut. All the while wondering: why am I so frustrated? I had no idea, but something was off, and now i see it was that Kroger! Just thinking about it's big white sign and it's jammed parking lot makes my fists ball up. Here's why:

1. I had to war with other cars and dodge stray grocery carts to get a parking spot.
2. The fact that they have antibacterial hand sanitizer to wipe down your grocery carts with made me like I was entering a hospital.
3. Their organic food section was so tiny and shriveled it propelled you toward the cheaper non organic stuff.
4. Long lines, slutty tabloids, small selection of good food and always, a whopping grocery bill.
5. Everything seemed to be lying to me: what does all natural even mean?
6. Products were over priced. Boxed lettuce is marked up 200 percent. Because it's boxed.
7. I hated overhearing chatty cell phone conversations while trying to figure out which milk didn't have antibiotics. (Although I was also guilty of this, I must admit.)
8. And the CLINCHER: John (my husband) bought shrimp at the meat counter for a curry and when his sauce was perfected, he poured in the shrimp, only to see fruit flies rise, simmering on the surface. (After that he'd get a mild panic attack in the meat section.)

(I'm sorry if the list makes me sound like a brat. But the above things really started getting to me, ya know?)

Change did not come after I read "A,V,M" and when inspiration hit I started buying food from the CSA. I look forward to Thursday pick-ups and I like ordering online. When I go to get my order there are happy people eager to chat about what's new. Everyone's smiling, nice, and helpful. The food is quality, and the whole process makes me feel more connected to my community. The food comes in recycled bags, and the only label you have on it is from the family farm that picked it fresh for you that day. We compensate our food staples with purchases from the *Daily Co-op. Though we try to be limited because it is more expensive. Although the produce is organic, they aren't exclusively local which is nice when you really need a tomato. The CSA can be pricey, sure, but you know that your money is going directly to the farmer and the farmer's family, people who are trying to grow food with sound ethics, and that justifies the price for us. I may not have become cool, but I feel a little less boring and a lot better about this town.

Try it at least once, if you can. Even if you only buy a bag of salad greens, I think you'll notice the difference. Plus, the greens don't come in a box, hence: no mark-up.


*a tip for staying on the cheap at the Co-op is to buy out of the bins in the back of the store. Also, they charge if you use their bags or containers. We re-use our containers and bring in freezer size ziplock bags for hauling out flour, pasta, beans, etc. If you bring in your own containers, weigh them before you fill them up so they don't mischarge you.

*and yes, I think there's something in my nose in the picture above.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Two Bunches.


Hmm. What we have here is a small – yes, small – portion of my Thursday CSA pickup. The huge green bushel (on the far right) in a clear bag that looks like a small tree is (believe it or not) brussel sprouts. So. Before you navigate away from this page in disgust, let me try to explain their existence in my kitchen. Some time ago, I suppose when my husband and I were children, back when the idea of “green” was repulsive, we were both forced by our loving parents to eat them, or else. This demand created a strong dislike, as they were often steamed, stinky, slimy and well, gross. I braved another purchase, a decade later, feeling less partial to another head of broccoli than usual. I googled, “how to cook brussel sprouts” and managed to find an easy recipe that made them taste nothing short of delicious. I am not lying! Take those tiny cabbages, toss them in olive oil on a baking sheet, generously salt and pepper them, and roast them to a crisp in an oven set to about 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes. You won’t be sorry. They come out crunchy and salty, like a good french fry. Just don’t forget to flip them over halfway through. If you like them steamed – feel free to send a good recipe. For now, this is the only way I know they’re more than tolerable…

Which brings me to this mini-tree on my kitchen counter. Well, I got over-excited when I saw that the sprouts were in season and actually ordered two bunches of them. (Other bunch not pictured.) I expected to get a bag full of the round heads, and instead got the whole bushel. (Remember when I mentioned that you get the whole vegetable? They are not cutting corners over at that CSA.)

The problem was, the sprouts on the stems were about pea size, whereas I’m used to golf ball size. I’d received more leaves than tiny sprouts and no idea what to do about it. I asked the manager and he explained to me that brussel sprouts are no different, botanically speaking, than broccoli or cabbage. What I held in my arms could be steamed, sautéed, roasted or turned into a salad. This means I have a lot of food and a lot of options, thus, a generous trade. And for $6.00 an arm load, they’re a deal. I’ll get back to you when I figure out a creative recipe, but do try the one above. You won’t be sorry (unless you are scarred beyond repair from certain childhood memories).

Occidental.



Some life changing events are born from something as common as a book. Not often do we read them anymore, which may be a reason why so many of us are uninspired. Often, I find the source of my adventurous concepts to be cloaked in the bindings of a book, hidden in a story, or declared across the page in the form of a pronounced headline. (Though most often the former(s).) I can’t pretend to know what inspires most people, yet I love sharing the tiny miracles that inspire me.
The source and cornerstone of my new-discovered passion would be “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles her adventures in eating all things local while shunning the embellished options in the grocery store aisles. She packed her bags (and her kids) and trucked it country wide to get really, really dirty growing her own foods for a full year. Along the way she and her family explain why we who shun “regular” grocery stores yet flock to Whole Foods are missing the bigger picture. And missing it we are, although she can explain why with much more eloquence than I. I’ll spare you the book review and leave you with the idea that inspiration is yours, should you decide to get a copy of that book as soon as you can and read it.
Maybe many of you have read it, enjoyed it, and yet remain partial to the convenience of the drive-thru or the grocery store. If this is the case, it only begs the question: have you tried it? Have you drawn a line around the edge of your kitchen and refused to allow anything processed (or anything that’s not local) cross it? If you are still schlepping over to the Publix (or even Whole Foods) then maybe it’s time for a change.
After reading above referenced book, my husband and I decided to start our own vegetable garden/local food challenge. Soon after we tilled our sun-filled patch of rented backyard, Michelle Obama broke ground with her organic garden on the White House lawn. This made me feel (I must admit) a little bit cliché, (which is irrational), and also very proud. It seems high time - if not quite late - to get people back to their roots via planting, growing and eating roots. This is a good thing. Yet, why must we wait for the ever-looming cloud of an economic depression to scurry us like frenzied bunnies back to our gardens? Why do people give up such rewarding work and trade it for lackluster, borderline poisonous (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRicUInkYQM) and certainly tasteless food? Will people abandon their shovels and tillers when the Nasdaq tide is high? I wonder if that White House garden will survive past the next 4 to 8 years. I hope it will, least of all as a reminder.
Yet I digress. I am rambling. What I wanted to tell you was a little story about my ever craved after, ever struggled for, ever imaginative thing I like to call my French Dream. Please don’t gag yourself (on a baguette).
My French Dream is my ideal lifestyle. In my eighteenth year of life I visited “suite Françoise” with my father who is now dearly departed. Paris is divine, yet it was the miniscule, faint little town dotting the border of France and Germany that captured me with all its subtle, remote charm. It’s a dreamy town called Hagenau. My heart felt fit to erupt there. Every sight: cottage, windowsill, lady or gentleman’s image was fit to be photographed and sent to a loved one on a post card. I fell in love. My first four+ hour-long meal was spent as a guest to a family, the husband springing up every half hour or so to rummage his selection of olives and oils to dazzle us with, eager to please. We sat outside, our hair tousled by sweet breezes and our hearts calmed by smooth wines. If I wouldn’t have terrified my generous hosts with oozing tears, I would have shed them into my tapenade from pure bliss. When I returned to America my eyes were opened and my heart was devastated with the sight of the concrete mess of buildings, electric neon signs, advertisements, billboards and blech. Why do we deface our country with countless eyesores such as these? When did we decide to plow over aesthetics with concrete and cement? How right Joni was! I hate to repeat the line now for fear of getting the song trapped in my mind but oh dear, here it comes…no stopping the truth... we paved paradise and put up a (gazillion) parking lot(s). And I don’t like it, not one bit.
I savored every sight in France and penned them into my secret semi-mature journal and declared the means by which I would (someday) live my precious little life. The list is blowsy, juvenile and perhaps a tad trite. Yet it is my French Dream, and I’m somewhat pleased that it is the antithesis of the corporate American dream:

1. I want to have a beautiful garden. I want to grow my own food and eat it straight from my own yard.
2. I want to always have fresh flowers in my windowsills – never fake, and plant them myself.
3. I want to drink wine every day, learn to be somewhat of a connoisseur of it, developing with a very rich(and snobby) palate.
4. I want to learn how to bake fresh bread, grow herbs and make my own soap.
5. I want to be surrounded by marvels of nature, not marvels of man.
6. I want to walk or bike to the places I visit most.

Not on the list (yet), but something life has shown me that I want, is the ability to stand in the kitchen with wiry hair in a flour-covered apron wielding a wooden spoon and swatting one of my naughty children while I bake slender and crisp baguettes. You know her, the kind of mother that is quick to mend a stinging swat with a kiss on the forehead and a homemade cookie. I want that to be me: bustling in my kitchen, windows open, birds singing, delighted to relish in my own messes… it’s a true prayer.
The joy it has been, finding I can incorporate this dream into my American life, in my Athens town. Thanks to the local genius-lady “witchdoctor” down the road I am learning how to make organic soap. Thanks to an upcoming move, I’ll be biking to the co-op, and many a heartfelt thanks goes to my husband, who delights my silly heart every time I glance out the kitchen window and discover him pulling weeds from our garden. I can dream and live my French dream and be all the healthier and happier for it. Am I a walking cliché? Yes. Aaah, c’est la vie: I dream in French.




A Good Friday.



Since April brings in spring, showers and is quite the egg-centered month, I thought I’d introduce the meaning of my blog title to you. Here's my brief introduction:

It’s always a little bit of a thrill to crack open a large farm fresh egg and discover that had it been born, it would’ve had a twin. Twin yolks are sort of rare: one egg in a thousand is a twin. The special thing about the twin yolks, and the relevance to this blog, is that it is very rare to find the double yolk in store bought eggs. I guess that’s just one of the many surprises that come with buying local, buying fresh. (Another one being when you buy a vegetable you get the whole vegetable… I’d forgotten carrots had tops before my first purchase. I’d almost forgotten they were pointy, too.) The larger the egg, the more likely it is to have two yolks, and the farmer’s markets and CSA’s (http://www.athenslocallygrown.net/ ) have some of the largest eggs around.

I won’t hamper you down with any double entendres that come with the symbolism of the egg, the month of April, and the new beginning of my blog. It's relevant to me because April is when my husband and I swear off all grocery stores and all restaurants and eat whatever local farms have to offer. The purpose of this blog is to document the failures and flops and the (hopefully…) successes, too. I’ll probably be doing most of the cooking, (and talking) and -sorry- didn't go to any fancy culinary school. I hope you won't hold it against me or my blog. My palate serves me well, and I’ll refrain from posting any recipes that are anything less than delicious. (And I’ll warn you about the major flops.) You can laugh at me and my endeavors, because that's what this is all about: trying something new and learning from the inedible dishes along the way.


So, if you see me at any restaurants around town, I promise I’m just having a Terrapin. And if you catch my husband lurking in the corners of a restaurant, or slumped down in his carseat at the drive -thru, breaking the rules of the creed, feel free to egg his face on my behalf, preferably with a double yolker.

Happy eating and happy Easter.
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