Friday, July 31, 2009

Life In The Sticks.

My original plan was to write more during the farm sitting days. Seems the main thing I've been doing more of over the past two weeks is drinking coffee. I'm sorry. The days out here have been unpredictable, long and pretty dang exhausting. I don't want to sound like a whiner, I love it out here and I think you would too. So, in case you are interested in ever running an animal farm, here's a little preview of what to expect...

- Pigs and chickens must be fed, even in the rain.
- Pigs and chickens smell worse after a heavy rainstorm.
-Risk of falling into pig mud is worse after said rainstorm.

- Wonder is everywhere.

(a moth...but what kind?)

- Companions make all the difference.

-They (sort of) make you feel safer, when surrounded by unsettling sights.

- Hard work makes relaxing much more gratifying. Relaxing is best with a little friend.

And last but certainly not least...

- Country livin calls for country food.

Delicious sauteed sweet corn with carmelized onions, tomatoes & lightly fried okra. For the best results, gather heirloom tomatoes from your farmer's market and the freshest corn & okra you can find. This recipe is ideal for summertime and exhaustion. It may not seem impressive, but it is, I promise. Check it out HERE.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Think We Should All Go.

I think this looks delightful.
John thinks it looks a little too chick-flickish,
but he's taking me anyway.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Of Cabbages And Kings.

Maharajah John...

and his shy Maharani would like to give you a cabbage recipe today, one that doesn't make us want to yawn and start setting up picnic tables (that would be cole slaw...). Cabbage is a little bit of a threat to creativity, as it seems to represent two uninspiring cooking options: one already noted and the other being Sauerkraut.

Don't get me wrong, both coleslaw and Sauerkraut are tasty accoutrements. Yet, in my humble opinion, they are a little bit too fail safe in capturing one's imagination. And since I've received via Athens Locally Grown a cabbage the size of a bowling ball, perhaps it can't hurt to try for some artistic mileage.

I know. It's cabbage. The word alone sounds particular, crabby and disenchanting. It resembles something you would kick around out of boredom. Yet I would argue that anyone who is glum at the thought of working with cabbage doesn't realize what a relenting and agreeable vegetable they're using. It not only has remarkable health value, but also partners up well with any sort of spice, meat, or cooking method one could imagine. For example, cabbage can be sauteed into an Asian stir-fry, grilled alongside a burger or submerged into a hearty soup.

In trying to figure out to do with this great ball of boredom, John and I each manned cookbooks and scurried through their respective "C" indices. What struck our fancy was the cabbage rolls, yet we were ill supplied to make them. However, they are impressive looking, and I would bet the farm (were it mine), that they are delicious, maybe even fit for a king (that is, you).

Recipe HERE.

Also, are you enjoying Ratatouille...? Or perhaps chocolate cake?

Let me know!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Borrowed Life.

There is something about this place. Green Dale Farm, that is. John and I are back here for the next two weeks. In case this seems confusing, we did a four day stint a few weeks back to grow accustomed to the daily routines, and now the owner is in South Africa with his family while we manage their farm.

We've been entrusted with the care of countless hens, two dogs, two cats, one fish, one bunny, six ducks and twelve muddy pigs, one of which is expecting. In addition to providing for them, we also collect around two hundred eggs per day. (Sidenote: double twinyolks for breakfast this morning!)

Maybe that sounds like a lot of labor under the Southern July sun, but we are enjoying every moment we have out here. Perhaps not the initial moment of waking up, which is at a godforsaken hour, but once the coffee reaches our bloodstream we become aware of how magical and pleasant this farm life is: it is almost like waking up to find you get to play around in a dream.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The 3 Winners.

Dear Readers,

A while back, perhaps about three weeks ago, I was in a little bit of a cooking funk. Nothing I seemed to produce was worthy of neither photograph nor paragraph. With a small smile and a little nudge I managed to prod my husband into more and more dining out ventures, and I suppose it is also true that for that spell he was eating quite a bit of cereal. As the days went by my beautiful vegetables turned from freshness, and I let them slip through my fingers and fall, rotten and whole, straight into the compost.

The three recipes up for your vote were each significant into bringing delight back into the process of cooking. And I think you all deserve to have each of them. However, before I reveal all the "secret" ingredients I want to tell you a little secret, if I may.

When I cook for myself, I might as well not cook at all. The endeavor usually ends poorly. This idea is mysterious to me, but it is a reinforced truth. Food ought to be prepared with someone else in mind whenever possible. Food ought to be cooked and shared with love. Always. Whether it be a decadent chocolate cake or a lunchtime pb&j - I've learned that if you make it with love, then you'll fall in love with the process of making it.

With LOVE,


P.S. I would also like to recommend some Edith Piaf for the Ratatouille-making, and be sure to note that you cannot rush delicious Ratatouille. Be patient, go slow, and enjoy yourself. That, and this dish is (even more) pure bliss with a poached egg.

Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille
(yes, it's a Molly Wizenberg recipe, but it is NOT on her website. Buy her book!)

1 lb. eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1 in. thick rounds
olive oil
1 lb. zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise, & sliced into 1/2 in. thick half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 lg. red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
4 lg. cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400F.

Arrange the eggplant rounds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour 2 tbsp olive oil in a small bowl, and brush onto the eggplant. Flip the slices and brush the second sides as well, taking care that each has a thin coating of oil. Bake for 30 min, flipping the slices halfway through, until soft and lightly browned on each side. Remove from the oven and cool. Cut into rough 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

Warm 2 tbsp olive oil over med-high heat in a large, deep skillet. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 10 to 12 mins. Remove from the pan, taking care to leave behind any excess oil, and set it aside. If there is no oil left in the pan, add about 1 tbsp; if there is still some remaining, proceed to the next step. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini, stir to incorporate, and cook until everything is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Discard the bay leaf, and stir in the basil.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with additional salt for sprinkling.

Note: Ratatouille is even better on the second day or the third (although John and I ate it immediately, this is probably true... oh well) If you can, plan to make it ahead of time, so that the flavors have time to meld and ripen. Also, be sure to have some crusty bread on hand for sopping up the slurry at the bottom of the bowl.

  • Don't worry, I didn't forget desert, but I must give credit where credit is due - John's birthday cake is HERE. If you want to give yourself an added treat, read the story. This may be one of the best cakes in the world. If you don't believe me, ask John.
  • As for the parfait, dearest voters, stay tuned :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reader's Choice.

I'm popping in for a second, embarrassed and ashamed at my extended absence to apologize to you for again not having the time to write to tell you about all of the following delicious food stories:

1. John's outrageously mouthwatering birthday cake.
2. the French classic, Ratatouille, with slow roasted summer vegetables
3. the happiest, tastiest summer parfait in the world

But I don't want them to pass by unnoted, either, so I present to you a Reader's Choice, if you will. You can *vote for which recipe you want in the comments section, either 1. 2. or 3. and the winning "vote" gets the recipe.

So let me know what you feel like cooking!

*(Votes are counted Friday at 8 pm EST.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


It is safe to say


(or its logo)

wouldn't exist



He tastes

all recipes: the

good, the bad,

and the ugly,

and he proof-reads

every draft.

He's the best.

Happy Birthday John!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Dutch Baby.

When you love someone, anyone, and you want them to know it, I recommend you make them a Dutch baby pancake for breakfast.

Sure, you could scramble them eggs, or flip flop some pancakes or even go grab a coffee. These are all very nice, but if you really love them, and want to prove it first thing in the morning, you will make the Dutch Baby, out of the blue, for no reason at all, other than to express said love.

"Why the Dutch baby?" you ask.

"You'll see," I say, with a devious grin.

Dutch Baby Pancakes With Lemon and Sugar
from "A Homemade Life" by *Molly Wizenberg

2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 lg eggs
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 tsp salt
freshly squeezed lemon juice
powdered sugar, sifted

"Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Put the butter in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet and place over low heat. Alternatively, put the butter in a similarly sized cake pan or pie plate, use a pastry brush to coax it up the sides of the skillet.
Meanwhile, in a blender [or food processor] mix together the eggs, flour, half-and-half, and salt until well blended.
Pour the eggmixture into the warmed skillet. Slide into the ove, and bake for 18 to 25 minutes. The mixture will rise and puff around the edges, like a bowl-shaped souffle. The Dutch baby is ready when the center looks set and the edges are nicely risen and golden brown.
Remove from the oven. Drizzle-or splash, really; abundance is good here - with lemon juice and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Serve immediately."

*(I really love her, and if you do too, you might do yourself a favor and buy her book.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When You Realize You Have No Idea.

Out in the country you can see hundreds upon hundreds more stars more clearly. It is an astounding sight, amidst astounding quiet, and while gazing up at them, you remember you are ever so small and you feel ever so humbled.

Especially when you realize you have no idea which one is the North Star.

And then you might consider that at one time your Grandfather told you, but you have since forgotten.

And you wonder if you have forgotten because you were young and forgetful or because you can't see the stars well because you live in a smoggy city.

Then you find yourself coming to the conclusion that it is both.

Which makes you want to move somewhere you can see the stars.

Because, for some reason (perhaps literature or poems), you know deep inside that reflecting upon the stars is important. You aren't exactly sure why it is important, but you think it might be because doing so makes you aware of the fact that you are tiny, which makes you a little humble at the idea you are relatively insignificant.

And you also know that those are important things to realize from time to time. And you think, hey, these stars are pretty neat, and you like the way they keep you in perspective, just by looking at them.

Then you find yourself hoping that one day your children will be able to see them too, and in your optimism you think how great it would be to be able to show them the North Star, and want them to remember where it is...

in case they ever get lost.
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