Monday, 10 December 2012 | 42 comments
I have family friends who host a yearly, big breakfast/brunch (complete with mimosas and bloody marys) before tromping out raucously into the cold to find the perfect tree and bring it home. I wanted to bring that tradition into our life this year, but it was not meant to be. We squeezed in getting the Christmas tree just before Ben dropped me off at IAD to catch a flight to Ghana for work. Just 24 hours later, these grey, winter morning pictures seem pretty outlandish—it’s 90 degrees and humid here, and my hotel room overlooks the pool bar where there’s a live steel drum band playing. » Click to read more
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.
Tuesday, 3 January 2012 | 7 comments
Happy New Year! At midnight, a big group of friends ran with us outside, around the new house, banging pots and pans with wooden spoons, and whooping and hollering. It felt good. I can only hope your 2012 was rung in as exuberantly. I’m hanging out over with Kelsey of the blog Happyolks with a recipe for goat cheese toasts with yellow split pea spread this week, with some thoughts about gathering. Go check it out, if you’re so inclined.
Sunday, 21 August 2011 | 9 comments
My friend Meghan tells me I’m unfit for survival, because I love all things bitter and astringent (her rationale being that through history, a bitter taste has signalled poison, and that we have evolved to dislike that taste accordingly as a survival mechanism). Black coffee, tannic wine, vinegars, and chocolate with a high cacao to sugar ratio—these are among my pantry staples.Bitter greens are no exception. Luckily for me, kale, chard, lettuces, and other bitter greens are something I can grow myself in my small city backyard. My garden is putting out some wonderful ruffly-edged collards right now (yes, they survived the slug-pocalypse). The fantastically talented artist/blogger/letterpress-er/gardener Heather Smith Jones, one of the ladies behind the collaborative blog tend, recently asked me to contribute a guest post. With these collards coming in, I thought I’d chat a bit about the realities and rewards of growing things in a tiny city garden. You’ll find the recipe, along with more photos and thoughts, over there. (And so much thanks to Heather and all the ladies of tend–I’m honored they thought to include me in their week of guest posters.)
Thursday, 19 May 2011 | 17 comments
The internet is a beautiful and terrible thing. Sometimes you stumble upon a site that just stops you in your tracks, making you compulsively visit it over and over again, regardless of the fact that the content hasn’t changed (but you’re hoping it will! Maybe this time…click…nope). That’s how it was for me this week when I discovered the online presence of Robert Sinskey Vineyards.
It’s hard not to be drawn in with a site design as gorgeous as this one. But on top of that, the business itself has eerily similar qualities to the vineyard Ben and I dream about owning someday: attuned to the earth, kind to its workers, seasonally-oriented, and tied to a farm-to-table restaurant. Virginia is a nascent (but growing) wine region, so for young wine lovers like us, it’s nice to see more established business models that fill niches other than those we see here.
» Click to read more