Wednesday, 3 October 2012 | 48 comments
Some of you send me nice notes that say you’re jealous of my life in the country. No offense, everyone, but it’s not as romantic as you think. I don’t live in the kind of “country” that’s 20 quaint minutes outside of a hip, progressive town. I live in the kind of country where the closest town has a 7-11 but not a grocery store. There is no Trader Joe’s in a 50-mile radius. My internet comes from a satellite, and let me tell you, it takes a long time to stream YouTube when your internet is getting beamed down from space (approximately 1-2 days per music video, which is really unfortunate for Ben’s Gotye addiction).There are lots of ways that rural living is lionized that really just aren’t true. Raising chickens is not one of them. Raising chickens is absolutely as wonderful as you think it is. By all accounts, I got chicks and raised them in the name of having fresh eggs. “They’re livestock,” I would tell people firmly. “Not pets.” The thing about these silly birds, though, is that they’re kind of sweet, have a lot of personality, and eat your kitchen scraps. They have this fascinating society that you can just sit back and watch. I loved them for the first five months they were in my life even without the eggs. They were worth keeping around already. Then BAM, they started paying their rent. It’s difficult to fathom, that we’ve bred these animals that ovulate near-every day, spontaneously. They do it without complaint (although one of them sings a little song whenever she lays an egg, strutting and bragging a little). When the first hens started laying, I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was the best day of my summer. I cracked one of the small, pale brown pullet eggs into a ramekin to show anyone within spitting distance how bright the yolk was and how tall it stood up from the albumen.
More started coming. We were getting three eggs per day, all shades of tan and ochre. And then! Then, one day, Ben approached me with his hands cupped around something. He opened them, and nestled there were two perfect blue-green eggs. I flipped a sh*t. I even knew it was coming, but that didn’t stop me from freaking out. And the beautiful eggs that taste so good keep rolling in. So you can see where I’m coming from, maybe? Maybe you want to throw my chickens a party, too? I wouldn’t blame you.
Nowadays, with a few dozen eggs in the fridge at all times, I turn pretty frequently to a humble standby: the fried egg sandwich. This is the type of food I can eat when I don’t know what I want to eat; the kind of food I can make on autopilot and be incredibly satisfied when I’m finished with it, always. My sandwiches are typically open faced: toasted bread–fried egg–a little salty cheese–maybe some hot sauce. They are good that way and I didn’t really need to mess with them, until I paged through the egg section in Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors on the lookout for egg-using-up recipes. (One does not, it turns out, make a very big dent in one’s egg supply by eating occasional fried egg sandwiches.)
Deborah’s fried egg with sizzling vinegar is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Which is to say, it is delicious, especially if you’re me and instead of being born with a sweet tooth, you were born with something along the lines of an “acid” tooth. After frying your egg, you swirl some vinegar in with a little extra butter in the same skillet and then pour it, still sizzling, over the top of your egg. I’ve been throwing my egg on top of greens and toast, and letting the vinegary butter sauce dress the greens, too.
Fried egg in sizzling vinegar
Adapted just barely from Deborah Madison’s book, Local Flavors
I like this egg served on top of toast with some baby greens, letting the sauce and yolk dress the greens. If you go this route, toast your bread as you cook the egg and have your greens at the ready, as the process goes quickly.
You will need
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
1 fresh hen or duck egg
2-4 tablespoons red wine wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (add more or less vinegar to taste; I like it to be quite vinegar-y to cut through the rich yolk)
In a small skillet, melt one teaspoon of the butter. Fry your egg as you normally do. Remove the egg from the skillet and give it a sprinkle of salt and a couple grinds of pepper.
Melt the remaining teaspoon of butter. When it has stopped foaming, add the vinegar and a few pinches of salt, swirling the skillet to mix. It will sizzle and bubble up. When the butter and vinegar have mixed and the sauce has reduced just a bit, remove the skillet from the heat. Immediately pour the buttery sauce over the egg and serve.
Friday, 8 June 2012 | 20 comments
I’ve decided I’m going to start calling Tuscan kale by its Italian name, “cavolo nero.” Despite the fact that I eat it quite a bit, somehow whenever I talk about kale I end up swallowing my words. What can you say about kale? The brassica once unknown to this country is now the epitome of “health food”; liquefied into green juices and chopped into raw salads. Also: kale chips. I am tired of hearing about your kale chips, no offense, guys. On top of everything, I feel a little sad for all the other equally wonderful leafy greens, talking about collards more than a person has a right to do. » Click to read more
Monday, 6 February 2012 | 82 comments
I take pleasure in the spareness of this season: the quiet, the grey light, the bare branches. It’s been such a mild winter so far that whenever we get a rare dusting of snow, I find myself walking around in the woods for hours.All the silence and sparseness are a bit misleading, though. I think about the secrets under the quiet white veil; the life that is there, dormant, waiting to wake up; the soil that’s teeming, always, with all kinds of micro-critters. Nature is like this, I think. She enjoys vibrance hidden beneath humble exteriors. Like seeds.And jewel-bright grapefruit. » Click to read more
Friday, 5 August 2011 | 7 comments
I’m away from DC right now, traveling for work in Mozambique. It feels strange—something of a betrayal—to be writing here, when the Yellow House has become so much about a concrete space, its modest garden, the seasons that whirl around it, and the people who make it home. By contrast, I’m in a cool, tidy hotel with far too much room for one visitor. I worry that my green tomatoes have turned red with no one to harvest them. I fret that a neighbor will email my landlady to complain about our unkempt front garden. I’m happy, though, that I brought along the pictures of this little brown cake. » Click to read more
Tuesday, 12 July 2011 | 5 comments
I grew up in the kind of family who knew that, come summer, you better have an arsenal of recipes at hand for using up squash. Louise and I were packed off for a few weeks each year to my grandma and grandpa’s farm in Indiana, and I have vivid memories of heading off on August Sundays loaded down with a brown paper bag of zucchini in each arm for some unsuspecting church-goer. In retrospect, it was a brilliant idea: make little kids give it away, and no one can turn down the ‘gift’.
This frittata isn’t going to win any beauty contests—and with a hungry Louise waiting to dig in, I didn’t spend time trying to gussy it up for photos—but it’s a nice alternative to exploiting innocent children to use up your influx of squash. Grating summer squash renders it simple to incorporate into a variety of recipes, and I often stir sautéed squash into risottos and pasta sauces. The yellow squash in this frittata lends some nutty heft to one of my favorite easy meals, and goat cheese and basil dress it up for brunch or dinner.
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