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Wednesday
Sep222010

Cock-a-doodle do (Part 2)

After we got rid of Jack, we found ourselves with two VERY pleasant little chickens on our hands. Jack was pretty mean and always got to eat treats before everyone else, so with him out of the picture I found myself growing quite fond of the two gals. I grew quite attached to them both, Ingrid with her cute curly cue of a feather and wonky toe, Hermionie with her puffy face; The coop was a happy place to be. 

 

 

About two weeks after we got rid of Jack, I remember waking up and hearing a familiar crow, and thought to myself "someone else in the neighborhood has a rooster!" Not only was I happy because we had gotten rid of our icky rooster, but I was pleased to know that someone else in the neighborhood was in the chicken rearing business. It wasn't long before a good dose of reality set in and the feeling of dread rushed over me: what if it was one of ours? I quickly ran out back to see our sweet Ingrid raise her head to the sky and yell in that pathetic voice "I'm a boy chicken!". No, I shook my head. It couldn't be true. What person could have such terrible chicken luck? She was so sweet, so tame! She let me pick her up, and always came over when I put my hand in the run. She couldn't be a rooster...

 

Then, in a moment of doubt, I resorted to the best resource I know: the Internet.  Thank the Lord for google. I ran to my computer and typed in "crowing buff orpington hen" and found lots of hits about Buffs (her breed) being noisy girls, especially if they had come to be at the top of the pecking order. I blamed her call of masculinity on gender identification issues and called it a day.  We continued on with a few weeks of afternoon crowing, but that one telltale morning, moments after the sky began to lighten, I heard a crow and began to realize that I was living a lie. My sweet, adorable Ingrid was really an Ingmar.

 

I considered dropping her off at the front door of Egg|Plant, the lovely shop that gifted the bird to us, but decided it would be worth my while to try and find him a nice home. A post to the Twin Cities Chickens Google Group and a few anxiety filled mornings later, Ingmar had found himself a new home on a farm with 12 lovely hens to keep him plenty busy. It was a sad departure, but going to a loving person who wanted to breed Buffs, it was a match made in heaven.  And then there was one; Sweet, goofy, poofy-faced Hermionie. 

I actually think the solitude did her some good. She became much more excited when I came out to feed her tomatoes, and has since become as sweet at Ingrid once was. But we couldn't leave her alone. Chickens are social birds and need a flock to be happy (not unlike geese... or velociraptors {which are SORT OF birds, according to lots of conventional scientific thought [from what I remember about Jurassic Park]}). So it was back to Craigslist we went. Less than a week after emptying our nest of our final (fingers crossed) rooster, we introduced two new honest-to-goodness hens to the flock. 

 

The large lady is known as Peggy Olson and is a White Rock, a large gal as white as snow, known for friendly demeanor and large brown eggs. 

The smaller black gal has been named Nina Totenberg, an Australorpe (Aussie for Orpington!) with stark, coal colored eyes and a very timid personality. 

They were said to have hatched just a week before Hermione and after a few days of figuring out who was in charge (it's Peggy, but the way) we once again had a happy, healthy coop, this time filled with all girls. And as of today, our lives as urban farmers is forever changed, as our two new girls presented us with a couple of morning presents. 

 

Not just one, but TWO eggs were pictured in the text message I received from Kyle today. Knowing this day was coming was one thing, but to hold a tiny li'l chicken egg in your hand changes everything.

Monday
Aug302010

Cock-a-doodle do (part 1)

Sometimes things do not go as planned.

 

Recap: I was dreaming of a kitchen counter covered in these

 

So we got some chicks

 

Then that cute fluffy yellow one died. 

 

Panic!  Terror!

 

Okay, fine, we moved on. Then we got this one, you voted and her name became Ingrid.  And life was good.

 

 

Our backyard had become one of my favorite places.  We would sit outside, watch the chickens and admire our partially done fence.  We even got a pool!

 

That is not us, and those are not our kids

 

Kyle and I were in the pool enjoying ourselves when we heard it.  I had heard it earlier in the day, and was worried but brushed it off.  When we heard it again, I did some quick internet research.  Jackie, who was supposed to look like this:

(this is a hen, FYI)

instead looked like this:

(and, of course, this is a rooster, also FYI)

Shiiiit.

 

 

From that day forth, the glamourous Jackie O was now referred to as Jack Kennedy.  To keep our neighbors happy, the next day he flew the coop to a nice couple in Brooklyn Park who told me they would be using him for breeding. (Fingers crossed for you Jack!)

 

And then there were two.

 

To be continued...

 

Wednesday
Aug112010

Outstanding in the (Minnesota) Field

 

You may remember my post from around this time last year when I wrote about the fabulous experience I had with Kyle and my parents at the Minnesota version of Outstanding in the field.  We were fortunate enough to experience the dinner once again, for what I can only hope is a newly formed tradition with Kyle and my parents. 

 

 

This year, similar to last, my parents, husband and I packed into a four seater Toyota and travelled west into what I consider uncharted Minnesota territory.  This time we were farther south, and stayed on a highway I was relatively familiar with, until we passed all the expensive Excelsior houses and spun around in a rural round-about.  "How civilized" my mother commented.  I was gathering excitement for our upcoming meal; wondering who I might know, how things would be different from the year before, and of course, what we would be eating.  As we slowed to approach the would be dinner site (Star Thrower Farms) , I jumped out of the car to grab some pictures and cleverly ran into my lovely friend Kathy, who just so happened to be the woman who earlier this year introduced me to the wonderful world of foraging.  Having not seen each other for months, we gabbed about how good it was to see the other again, until I realized I had all but abandoned my dinner guests to chat.  I trudged along to meet up with the rest of the crowd and get my hands on some of the first treats of the evening. 

  

First up, charcuterie compliements of celebri-chef Mike Phillips.  His work at the Craftsman has been well regarded in the Twin Cities, but is about to partake in an new adventure called Green Ox, creating salumi for the masses (!!!!).

 

This year's event was notably hot and humid, compared to last years breezy, overcast and ultimately electrified experience.  We stood around and chatted sipping on our aperitifs of Minnesota made vodka and refreshing prosecco. Jim Denevan (founder and ah-mazing artist chatted with us a bit, giving us a breakdown of how it all began.  Soon there after we were introduced to farmers Deborah and Scott Pikovsky and took off to enjoy a tour of the farm.

 

 

The tour involved meeting some of their Icelandic sheep, their many rams, the milking room (including a not-to-be-messed-with guard llama) and my favorite: an amazingly well preserved old barn with gorgeous interior architecture.  Finally, we headed down the hill towards the massive linened table set for 150.  Jealous yet?

The guest chef this year was again Scott Pampuch, owner and chef of The Corner Table and the man behind the locally based Tour De Farm.  His experience cooking with local food is quite extensive and it showed clearly throughout every course.  Up first was a salad of grilled sausage and peaches, mizuna and kohlrabi purée with a sprinkling of lamb pancetta served with a Rush River Double Alt beer.  The peaches were sweet, the lamb sausage earthy, the mizuna added a slight spice, the kohlrabi purée was smooth and creamy as silk, pancetta crunchy and salty and the beer bitter.  Not a bad way to start off an amazing meal. 

 

Up next was a lamb tamale made with Kathy's foraged black trumpet mushrooms and Riverbend farms cornmeal, dressed wtih greens, pickles and oh-so-hot hungarian wax peppers.  Amazing.  Gorgeous.  SPICY!

 

Phillips and Pampuch sprinkle sheep queso fresco on a lamb tamale salad.

The sun seemed to be lowering itself in the sky at an alarmingly slow pace, but fortunately two of the dishes were paired with rosé, my all time favorite way to beat the heat.  Well.  That and sitting in my newly purchased backyard swimming pool.  But that's a story for another time.  We followed up the tamales with a simple dish of grilled lamb, potatoes, baby carrot and onion. When well executed, the easiest dishes can beat the most extravagant any day of the week.  


Nothing better to beat the head than a cool, tart palatte cleanser.  This consisted of goat yogurt paired with ground cherries served on what were at one time the floor boards lining Chef Pampuch's attic.  Absolutely stunning.

The palatte cleanser came in quite handy as the next course consisted of a rich and flavorful lamb loin, heart, kidneys (blech!) and tongue.  I'm the first girl to step up to the organ meat plate, but the kidneys were way too much for me.  I'll take liver any day of the week though and I wonder who got to eat the lamb sweatbreads? Hmmmm.....

At this point it was time for a break and some good digestion.  Mom and I hit the Biffy's (seriously the nicest port-o-john I have EVER been in.  It flushed!  And had a pump for water!  Very ooh-la-la in the land of portable toilets) and I became infatuated with OITF's vintage bus. 

 

We rounded out the evening with some lovely desserts.  We started with the best dessert of all: cheese, berries and honey.  But soon enough the sun passed beyond the trees and the cheese had been consumed. A quick round of sweet corn ice cream followed, which we enjoyed as the bugs began their twilight assault and quickly devoured our legs. It was time to go.

 

 

Thanks to everyone who made that lovely Saturday night possible: The lamb, the farmers, the land, the chefs, the line cooks, the dishwashers, the foragers, the diners, the crop mobs, the organizers and everyone in between.  It couldn't have happened without you. 

 

 

Saturday
Jul312010

A food lovers engagement

Normally I'd post this over at www.kngsommers.com but I think you'll find the relevance here. 

 

Martha and Tom are a pair of Twin Cities food bloggers (I definitely recommend their blog, appropriately named "Martha and Tom") that suggested an engagement session at the farmers market.  There are many more to come, but I needed to get a few edited so they could announce their engagement to the internet.

 

Tuesday
Jul132010

Blood work

Today started off just fine.  I woke up at a relatively normal time, felt good and was ready to start the day.  Until I realized I couldn't eat breakfast.  I am a major breakfast eater, and turn into a she-devil if you keep it away from me.  It's not so much that I'm hungry in the morning, necessarily, but come 10 or 11am, if I haven't eaten it becomes very noticeable to just about everyone this side of the Mississippi.  I had my annual exam at 11:10, and because I'm interested in seeing how much cholesterol lowering medication I'm going to need go to on (and prepare to send the bill to my enablers. You know who you are) I made the wonderful decision to skip breakfast and let the medical tech poke me with a needle. 

 

Someone pointed out to me that fasting is the reason to schedule your appointments very early in the morning.  Well that's all fine and dandy, but also the reason I had this appointment to begin with: my last appointment was at 8:45 and due to a bit of sleeping in, traffic on 35, and a tight schedule, I arrived at 9:05 and was told that was too little, too late.  Hence, the reschedule (over a month later might I add). 

 

The blood withdrawl went as planned, I was poked and prodded and looked at, and was sent on my merry way.  This is when things became problematic. I'm going to go as far as to say my brain doesn't work at all if I don't eat breakfast.  I was in Edina and couldn't for the life of me figure out where I was going to go eat.  So I just got in my car and drove, ending up at Costco in The West End of St Louis Park, and tried every sample they had to offer, hoping it would sate me enough to make a fricken decision.  On my way out I saw a Panera bread sign and thought to mysef "FINE!" 

 

Sometimes being a stubborn ass isn't worth giving up decently okay foodstuffs.  At least it would be consistent.

 

As I walked up to the door all I could focus on was the poster depicting what looked to be a Caprese salad and then there, on the menu it was listed "Tomato, Mozzerella and Basil Salad"... aka, suburban caprese.  Fabulous.  I ordered that along with a Black Bean soup and took my seat at the counter waiting for my buzzer to buzz.  As I approached the counter I knew something was wrong.  That was a big bowl of lettuce, topped with mealy tomatoes and THREE fucking balls of fresh mozzerella.  I'm fairly confident there was actually more fat free Italian salad dressing on that salad than there was mozzerella.  And of course, croutons.

 

WHY DO PEOPLE MESS WITH PERFECTION?  CHEESE, TOMATOES, BASIL!  IT'S SO FUCKING EASY!!!!!!! And the black bean soup?  Of course.  OF COURSE they put a 1/2 cup of cumin in their Black Bean soup and lunch was rendered inedible. Fortunately for me they gave me a half pound chunk of multigrain bread which I slathered with three teenie tiny packs of butter so that I could get the energy to walk out of that place, leaving piles of terrible food just sitting on the counter. 

 

Needless to say, I haven't really recovered from my lunch experience.  I'm still hungry, but have no motivation to eat, or perhaps fear that anything I do eat will be as utterly disappointing as that ridiculous lunch.

 

Now, I know what you're thinking:  "What a fucking snob, eat your shitty salad dressing like a big girl and shut up already."  I would like to point out that I truely enjoy about 10,000 things that don't make me a goddamn snob.  So I'm putting together a list to keep me in your good graces after I just chewed out Panera.

 

1) MSG.  I love the stuff.  It's like crack to me.  Give me a bag of Cool Ranch Dorito chips and that bag WILL be gone, regardless of size.  This actually probably encapsulates a lot of trashy items I like, but Doritos and Earl's really take the cake here.


2) McDonald's

Though I dont' actually eat there, I would eat the hell out of a Filet'o'Fish any day of the week.  And McDonald's breakfast?  Don't even get me started.  Fat? Sodium? Cholesterol?  Bring it on.

 

3) Shake'n'bake

Pork chops, specifically.

 

4) Ranch dressing

On anything.  Including Pizza

 

5) Tostidos Salsa con Queso

This is almost as bad as Ranch.  Eggs, chips, burritos, straight out of the jar...

 

6) Lalli's Pizza in Milwaukee, WI

I haven't had this in years, but I still dream about it

 

7) Pickles wrapped in cream cheese and ham

 

8) Mini corn dogs

 

9) Strawberry Quik

 

10) BBQ meatballs

 

There, okay? I like disgustingly tasty things.  Now somebody get me some wine.