Friday, February 3, 2012

Knife Skills Part 2, or Ode To The Humble Onion

Its been a busy few weeks for shewearsboots.  Among the myriad of January adventures (6 shows in 4 days with the Don't Tell Darlings, June Apple Kitchen debut impending, selling more produce for Horse & Buggy, oh, and Western wear shopping adventures),  I've been reading Mark Ruhlman's Twenty.  The "cook manifesto" genre appeals to my little home-cooking soul. This isn't really a book of recipes to follow, but a series of techniques/concepts that Fancy Pants (that's Ruhlman) decided were the 20 most important things a cook could know and understand.   Seriously people: this is my kind of book. There's an entire chapter on things like "Onion" and "Butter" and "Poaching" and "Water".   Ruhlman works his way through the building blocks of how we create, build, and manipulate flavor, instead of just giving a set of instructions.  You know the old adage: give a woman a fish, and she'll eat for a day, but teach a woman to cook, and she'll make that truffle-duck-aspic-flambe she saw last week on the Food Network. (Not true. There was no duck-aspic-flambe. Actually, there might have been, I don't know. Who's got cable?!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Knife Skills, Part 1, or Butternut Squash Gets its Revenge

We've recently had a minor come-to-Jesus financial moment in our household, and as such, we've decided to cut way back on eating out. Like, almost eliminate it entirely.  Two people, it turns out, can spend a HECK of a lot of money on food, and as two people dedicated to eating, we were really good at blowing money on local, wholesome, fresh, EXPENSIVE meals for ourselves.

Now, don't get me wrong, Jefferson and I work hard for value. We get our produce from Horse & Buggy Produce, basically the cheapest way to get fresh, local produce in our area.  We shop at Fresh to Frozen, a local grocery salvage (yes, you heard that right) that takes those pallets of smashed spaghetti sauce jars, cleans up the ones that are perfectly fine and sells them for super-cheap prices. Alongside the occasional 10-lb. bag of mustard.  We love it so much that I'm a little afraid to tell you all about it, lest you also become bargain afficianados and we end up fighting over a plastic bag in the aisles, its contents identified only by black Sharpie writing on the plastic bag that reads "Cheerios".  So, yes, in an effort to trim our budgets, my husband and I are spending more time at the grocery salvage and the Love of Jesus Thrift store (only 1 mile up the road!), and less time at Relay Foods and Amazon.  But I digress...

So, in the spirit of thrift, I was recently visiting my fabulous bandmate and best friend Camilla in Charlottesville, and we decided to make some butternut squash-kale-chickpea salad delightfulness. At home. To save me some money. So, good for me, resisting the desire to go out to dinner with my lovely friend, in an effort to follow the rules that my household had set forth. Kudos to me. Well done. (Plus, we went out to dinner the night before.)

Now, there is a right way and wrong way to cut up a butternut squash. The WRONG way is to use a paring knife (sorry, Camilla, I generally respect your choices in such matters, except when they're WRONG. :)  The right way begins with the sharpest, heaviest knife in your arsenal.  Camilla was prepared with a lovely, heavy santoku knife, a Japanese style knife that includes a more rounded tip than a traditional chef's knife, so there's less rocking and more straight downward cuts. They are also incredibly sharp, which, when you're cutting a very dense vegetable like winter squash, does you a big favor.

So, here's how to cube an entire butternut:

  1.  Peel and lay on its side.  Cut off the stem end.
  2. Bisect the squash so that the top skinny neck is separate from the rounded bottom.
  3. Take the "neck" piece, and cut off a small plank alongside one side, to create a flat surface.  **Pro tip #1: ALWAYS position what you're cutting on the flattest surface it has. If it doesn't have one, give it one.**
  4. Now, make several planks, cutting the squash into even widths. Any width is fine, but 3/4" is a nice cube size. So, let's roll with that one for now.
  5.  Stack those planks, and cut down through all of them, in 3/4" strips, so you have large "matchsticks". Like, these are the Jolly Green Giant's matchsticks, people.
  6.  Stack again, and cut crosswise so you end up with 3/4" cubes.  Halfway done!
  7. Grab the rounded bottom piece. Place on its FLAT (see Pro Tip #1 above) end, and bisect it into 2 halves. Scoop out the seeds and separate from the gooeyness. Discard gooeyness. **Pro Tip#2: Save those seeds, dangit! Y'all buy a totally useless Jack-o-Lantern and get all excited about the seeds, and then you toss perfectly good toasting material? BOO! Separate the seeds, rinse, and toast as you would pumpkin seeds. They're AWESOME, and, it feels like you just got away with something free.**
  8. Now, with your emptied out, rounded halves, place the hollow, concave side face DOWN on the cutting board.  Cut that half into 3/4" strips, then, rotate the strips 90 degrees, and cut again to cube. Do the same with the other half.  Throw away the blossom end of the squash.

Right, so, pretty easy-peasy right? Sure, as long as you hold the knife firmly, keep the hand holding your squash away from super-sharp-knife-of-destruction and for PETESAKE PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU'RE DOING!

But why, you might ask, are there no pictures with this post?

Oh, there are. Oh, yes there are. But for the squeamish among us, I'm saving them until the end of this post.  Because my dear reader, when you fail to Respect The Knife, it fails to respect You. And so, as I type this, there are currently 4 stitches in my left hand, holding together what used to be my squash-holding apparatus.  Because I did not do EXACTLY AS I SAID above.

Fortunately, the knife was so sharp, it was a pretty clean cut. And bonus, after the trip to the Emergency room and watching the 28-year-old second-year Resident with shaky hands squirty lidocaine into my open wound and stitch me up, we went out to dinner. BOOM. And THAT'S what you get for trying to save a buck. So, hell, treat yourself.

*Carnage below. You've been warned.*

Its way more Frankenstein now. For realsies.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Simple Pot Beans or How the Holidays Got Away From Me.

Oh internets: I've missed you so.

I have received several admonishments for disappointing you, my dedicated (if not numerous) readers, by categorically neglecting my blogging duty. I was informed that I'd better pull myself together right quick and POST SOMETHING ALREADY, lest the fickle love of the Intarwebs wane, and another derelict-in-her-duty food blogger lost in the sea of abandoned weblogs.

And so, I owe you all an apology. Oh, and also, about 6 blog posts.

Just like everyone else at this time of year, Christmas was fully upon me before I knew what was happening, and suddenly my life was one shopping-day / holiday party / earnest 4-mile run after another, Just like every other food blogger, I also had my fair share of culinary delights and gastronomic disasters in the last 6 weeks.  Fortunately, I documented all my triumphs, and they're waiting in a queue for you to inspect.  Unfortunately, I forgot that you might also like to see the disasters, but I forgot to take pictures of the failed pie crusts, the splatted pumpkin purees, and the lumpy deviled eggs, so you'll just have to wait for the next time I royally mess up in the kitchen (you won't wait long).  All in all, the flurry of holiday cooking had me THINKING a great deal about blogging, just not actually doing it. So, in the spirit of the new year, here are the promises I make to YOU, my fine, unwavering readership:

1. In 2012, I promise to post at least ONCE every week.
2. I'll unveil a monthly feature called "Gastronomic Disasters" that occur in my kitchen. WITH pictures.
3. I promise I'll proofread my posts at least once before I publish them. I'm lazy, for sure, but I'm also a college educated lady. I'll try to do better at sparing you the typos.

Okay. On to the show.  Since there's a giant backlog of recipes, over the coming weeks you'll see holiday favorites like the Old Fashioned Aged Egg Nog that's still working its magic at the back of my fridge, and the Deep Dish Apple Pie of Doom.  Sorry they didn't make it into the public arena in time for the holidays, but seriously, how many more food writers needed to talk about apple pie this December? You'll thank me when its 15 degrees in your house on a bitter January afternoon, and a pie recipe wanders across your reader feed.   Not just for Christmastime anymore, kids.

But come tomorrow morning, we'll all be thinking about 31 pounds of cheese we consumed this year, several of them on Christmas day alone, and wondering how we'll get our GI tract back in regular working order. I myself consumed no fewer that 4 different kinds of meat on Christmas day: prime rib, regular BBQ rib (not a typo, I could only eat one), smoked turkey, and honey-baked ham.   But that's standard holiday fare in Georgia. Our gracious host, my ex-military, currently bad-@ss-police-officer brother, primed the pump Christmas morning by devouring 2 fried pork chops before consuming the day's meal, which brings his meat total to 5, not counting the deviled eggs.  In any case, it was an animal-protein-tastic day, and my intestines are still whining about it.

On the eve of the New Year, as we all say in unison that we'd like to lose 10 pounds or so this year, I'm going to spend the rest of this post's real estate on a crucial-but-under-appreciated workhorse food in my kitchen:beans. Yes, yes, beans, beans that musical fruit, and so the rhyme goes (DEAL WITH IT, people, its perfectly natural). Tasty, easy, versatile, nutritious, oh, and did I mention CHEAP? Hell, we gave them out as FAVORS at our wedding.  But we have rules about beans at our house.  Here's the thing though, the number one rule that I have about beans and that I suggest you follow:

Buy AWESOME ones.  

Self-evident, no? But what do I means by awesome beans (also not a typo, just being cute)? I means Rancho Gordo.  Heard of them? No? Click the link now. NOW. YOU WANT TO GO TO THERE. These folks are incredible. They head to Mexico and Central American, buy crazy heirloom beans from grannies at roadside stands, and bring them back here to share with us.  They work with local growers in Latin American countries to bring their crops to us. Rancho Gordo beans cook up faster, because they haven't been stored and dried for years and years.  Their beans cook up tastier, because their heirloom varieties grown in small batches, and they're fresher. Oh: and they have like a zillion kinds. So you won't get bored. And spices and hominy and popping corn and chiles. Plus: flat-rate shipping (holla!).

Now, I know what you're thinking. "5 bucks for a pound of beans? That's outrageous! Beans should be cheap. I can go to a grocery store and buy a pound of dried beans for a DOLLAR." Okay, I hear you.  But here's the thing: you get what you pay for.  The beans in the grocery store are anywhere from 2-4 YEARS off the plant. You can count the varieties on one hand. And the taste: unremarkable. They're cheap protein.  Look, there's nothing WRONG with them.  They're cheap and accessible.  But you'll work hard to conjur a hint of taste from them

The bottom line: if you can afford a cup of coffee at your local cafe, you can afford to buy a pound of beans for $5 instead of $1. And here's why: when you buy grocery store beans, how long do they sit in your pantry? Months, right? Because, they're BORING.  Because they're uninspiring.  So you grab the frozen chicken breast out of the freezer, and you make fajitas instead (exciting! but potentially problematic! where's that chicken from?)  But when you buy freakin' fresh, delicious, unique, and BEAUTIFUL beans, you will EAT MORE BEANS, thus saving yourself money.  So forgo the five dollars of chicken (which gets you 1 meal), and buy a pound of gorgeous beans, and you'll eat like a king for at least 2, if not 3 meals.  And your arteries will thank you.

Seriously, if you need more convincing, email me and I'll talk you into it. I mean, LOOK at these ladies:

Rancho Gordo Cranberry beans

(PS: obviously, your beans don't have to be from Rancho Gordo. There's lots of heirloom bean growers out there. I'm just loyal to these folks, But keep your eye out at farmer's markets and co-ops for locally grown dried beans, or use our friend The Google, who Knows All.)

So with no further admonishment about high-end-bean-purchasing, here's how to make a simple, extremely delicious, full-of-fiber pot of beans that takes no time at all and will keep your belly full and your digestive system happy. No pre-soaking required. You can start this recipe with dried beans after lunch, and have supper ready by 6pm, easy-peasy. Crock Pots ready, set.... SLOW COOK!

Simple Pot Beans
a winter meal triple-threat


1 pound of dried beans (the most beautiful beanies you can find/afford)
1 onion (or shallots, or garlic)
2 ribs of celery (or bell pepper or chiles)
2 carrots
salt & pepper
olive oil, butter, bacon fat, fatback, or another fat of your choice
ham hock, bacon, prosciutto, or other pork product (optional)
chicken or vegetable stock (optional)

 1. Chop yo' stuff. Dice your onion, celery, and carrots into a fine dice. Don't have these things? Try garlic and leeks. Or onion and bell pepper. Just gather your favorite aromatics, and chop down to size.  These are ingredients used to build a flavor base for your beans, but the better beans you buy, the less you need. (Next week's feature: how to properly dice an onion! Neat! Useful!)

 2. Sautee yo' stuff.  Take your fat o' choice, and add 2 tablespoons or so to a large sautee pan over medium heat.  (If you have one, use a regular finish skillet or a cast iron one instead of non-stick. We're using aromatics to build a base of flavor through browning, and a non-stick pan doesn't promote browning as well.)  Once the fat sizzles when an onion piece is dropped in it, your skillet's hot.  Add your aromatics and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables become soft.  (If you're using bacon or prosciutto, dice and toss in with this mixture.)

They'll begin to produce small brown bits of carmelized sugars, or fond on the bottom of the pan. This is good. We want this. These are a result of Maillard reactions, complex chemical changes to sugars in foods that create hundreds of volatile, delicious-smelling flavor compounds  Keep the heat at medium - too high, and you'll scorch those lovely browned bits.  You'll start to see them stick to the bottom and sides of the pan. They look like this:

Remove your skillet from the heat, and set it aside.  Now, get this bad boy out of the cabinet: 

Step 3: Lock 'n load.  Rinse your dried beans, and put them in your crockpot. Toss in your sauteed veggies, and then add a cup or so of water to the skillet you sauteed them in, and gather up all that lovely fond, using a spatula to scrape browned bits off the pan.  Toss that water into the pot, then cover the beans with 2-3 times as much water as volume of beans, depending on how much pot likker you like.  Add a generous pinch of salt, or cut your water with half vegetable or chicken stock, if you're inclined. Or, you can add one of these: 

ham hock magic.
 Step 4: Slow Cook. Depending on when you need them, set your crockpot to low or high.  In my crockpot, using fresh Rancho Gordo beans, they'll take 3.5 hours on high, or 5 hours on low to fully cooked.  Dried beans from the grocery store may take an extra hour. ***IMPORTANT NOTE: do not add anything acidic to beans before they're cooked. Acidity will prevent beans from fully cooking, and you'll get tough, unfinished (and unpleasant!) beans.  So, no tomatoes, no lime juice, no vinegar until AFTER they're fully cooked.*** When they're finished, they'll be soft and creamy.

Spritz with lemon or lime juice, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on top of rice, quinoa, or another grain, or with cornbread and greens. Or on top of tortillas, topped with queso fresco and fresh green chiles.  Or on squash, with roasted squash seeds. Whatever. Eat your beans. They're good for you. 

P.S. And please, no complaining about getting the toots. Tooting is good for you too. In the immortal words of REM: "Everybody TOOOOOOOOTS... sometimes."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Observed or When My Heart Beats Hard

I don't even know where to start. And yet, I must, given that I'm 2 weeks from the last post and the masses are clamoring "more! more!" You know, all 7 of you...

My Thanksgiving was just as it was for many food bloggers out there: a delight, an indulgence, a downright Bacchanalian fury fest of harvest homemade-this and local hand-grown that.  I myself fell into flights of fancy: because I was traveling to family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, I INVENTED a holiday as an excuse to get to cook the big gala meal.  Seriously, who DOES this? This slightly-too-pleased-with-herself-for-her-own-good renegade domestic, that's who.

And so the big not-actually-a-holiday commenced. The Friday the week before Real Thanksgiving, we had Thanksgiving Observed. I observed my own personal Thanksgiving rituals, which include homemade pies, brined turkey, and chestnut stuffing, and a very important midday meal of a wheel of baked brie and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. You know, to keep up one's energy.

First off: stuffing. Jeebus, let's talk about stuffing.  In honor of my dear friend Laura, with whom I've shared no fewer than 4 Friends-givings and Lonely Orphan's Thanksgivings, I knew there had to be homemade stuffing. Trouble is, Laura was usually in charge of the stuffing.  She knew how to score and roast chestnuts, tear the bread and all the rest. And people: her stuffing is for real. Like, she generally made 3 pans of the stuff because we knew we wanted AT LEAST as many leftovers as for the actual dinner.  So I emailed her:
"I am making stuffing by hand. for the first time. by myself.
will you please share your ridiculously yummy recipe?
also: what do I do with the chestnuts?!?!"
Laura responded promptly (she's very responsible; she's a librarian, don't you know?) with her "recipe", that included the following:
"I don't have a recipe, so much as some guidelines. Use more bread than you think you'll need - either left out to get stale or toasted crisp. Use an enormous amount of butter...."
Oh Lordy, one of those recipes. I asked what exactly she meant by "enormous amount".  A stick? A pound? A gallon-tub? Her response was culinary poetry:
"I would probably go with the half a pound. Without the butter, you're just eating stale bread."
Thanksgiving Observed, aerial shot
Hell yes.  Kitchen wisdom, from a bad-*ss librarian. The stuffing was delicious, despite the shards of chestnuts under my thumbnail. (Funny, as I was screaming in pain while peeling those suckers, I remembered years ago Laura hollering from the next room, and never really knew what the big fuss was about.)  That stuffing? Totally. Worth it.

Then, there was the finest pumpkin pie I've ever made, (or rather, my variation on this recipe) so absurdly scrumptious that I'm making another one next week just for kicks, (to be shared on the blog as soon as we get a new camera, since our current geriatric point-and-shoot is declining so rapidly that I can only take 4 pictures on newly charged batteries before it starts flashing low-battery warnings at me, which prompts NSFW language from my mouth at 10am over cooling pies - nobody wants bad mojo over their breakfast baked goods, its a bad scene), homemade cranberry sauce which is so stupidly easy to make, I can't comprehend the canned phenomenon (other than the lines' handy serving size suggestion), and bacon mashed potatoes (which is a personal invention, but pretty much means mashed potatoes, replacing 1/3 of the butter with bacon grease and crumbled bacon).  All in all, a ridiculously wonderful night.

Oh and all that food: for 4 people. 'Cause that's how we roll. So, copious leftovers were had, and the next morning it was stuffing (oh glorious!) for breakfast and stuffing (oh divine!) for lunch. And I had it on the docket for dinner, but went on a quick outing to the local Target, and saw a gent sitting 6 blocks from my house. He looked like my grandfather.  He was holding a small sign, just a sliver of cardboard, and it had one word on it: hungry. I saw him on my way to the store, and again on my way back. And I got home and looked in my fridge.

I looked at the handmade stuffing, hours of labor, with homemade bread and sage from my backyard.  I looked at the bacon mashed potatoes, potatoes grown in the Shenandoah Valley, organic, from Horse & Buggy, and apple-cider gravy, homemade too.  I looked at the roast chicken, pasture raised and fed, slaughtered just a few weeks ago by a small farmer in Amelia.  And I looked at the nearly 2 bushels of apples in my fridge, from Vintage Virginia Apples, Winesaps and Staymans, Black Twigs & Albemarle Pippins.  And I put as much of all this locavore-loving, foodie-feeling, privileged-to-have-the-best-of-the-best eats food as I could fit into a large tupperware container,  and grabbed the biggest Sun Gold apple I could lay my hands on, and drove down to meet the man with the sign. My heart was beating hard in its chest.  Why was I so afraid? Its beating hard now, just remembering it.

I said, "Hi! Hey, I don't have any money, but I do have lunch!" as I handed him the container. He protested "Oh, but I don't want to take your container!" I told him to not worry about it.  He thanked me, and I said that I hoped things would get better. He was cheery, bright-eyed, as he assured me "Oh, they are! They will!"  I reached into the pocket of my warm down vest, and pulled out the Sun Gold, big as a softball.  His eyes lit up, and I put it in his hand.  He looked at it, a smile growing on his face, and said "Now, that... that I like," gesturing to the glowing orb of fruit in his palm.  I smiled back. I walked back to my car, and looked over my shoulder. He waved, and then gathered his things. He put on his coat, his hat, and crossed the street to the bus stop, still looking at that apple. He had been hungry. And now, he wasn't.

I drove home in tears. They came in spurts, but they didn't stop for an hour.

I don't know what came over me. I still feel overwhelmed thinking about it. I know that when I came home, I felt so full of ... gratitude? Despair? Luck? Confusion? I felt like I'd gotten carried away, that I'd almost missed the whole damn point.  There was all that local flavor bursting out of my kitchen, we're all swept up in the trend of the handmade and homemade, the local and organic, freshness and quality, and how food can make us feel good.... I love all that. I love the resurgence of food culture and of domestic traditions, of our appreciation and enjoyment of food, of knowing food's story and it becoming a part of my own experience, and the pleasure of telling story while doing the eating.

But this is not a Thanksgiving morality tale. I didn't do it to be virtuous. I did it because I was compelled. Because I was shaken at my core, where my heart beat so hard at the sight of a man whose only identity was simple: hungry. This man who looked like my grandfather, the same heavy hands with broken nails, a white slick of hair, he didn't need the story of where the chicken came from, or who grew the potatoes, or the origin of my sourdough in the bread in the stuffing. He just saw an apple, a big, golden apple, and he looked at it, and it looked like it was good to eat.  "That I like!" he said. Simple as that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Search for Richmond's Finest Milkshake or My Not-Quite-Shotgun Wedding

My husband and I were married this year on April 23rd, in a lovely mountain-side ceremony tucked in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, surrounded by friends and family.

The wedding was followed by 1920's era pre-war swing music by our good friends, Skeedaddle

Jefferson's masterful homebrew (30 gallons, oh my!),

cake pops from my delightful friend Emma, 
(please go make them if you haven't yet. oy!)

and of course, an old-fashioned Virginia pig roast.

It was glorious, as you might imagine.  All of it. But what we didn't tell our families (until the next morning anyhow) was that we had actually already been married for 5 months!

Although not a shotgun wedding, Jefferson and I were married quite literally in the eyes of the law. On a brilliantly sunny November morning, we walked to the Charlottesville Sheriff's Office, Jeff wearing his favorite bamboo shirt and me in a lavender linen dress (found at Goodwill that morning), and asked the Sheriff to marry us.  Captain M.W. Baird presided over the small gathering: just me and my husband. A short, but touching ceremony (Cpt. Baird was a second-generation wedding sheriff; his father had also been sheriff, and wrote the marriage ceremony) and we were legally wedded.  And as we walked out into the crisp autumn air, we went in search of a celebration fitting to the occasion.  We found it at Timberlake's Drug Store: Milkshake.

Post-wedding, pre-milkshake Timberlakes.

After spilling to the family they weren't the FIRST to see us wed (though the most dear), they asked us 2 questions: 1. Why? Well, mostly tax purposes (yes, we will happily pay you less in taxes because we LURVE each other), but it also turns out that getting officially married involves a lot of paper work with the guv'ment, and we spent the rest of the day (post-shake) changing my name, getting me on the insurance, issuing new social security cards, etc. Turns out: it was GREAT to have all that out of the way months in advance.  In any case, that was a question we'd expected and had good answers for.  But not the next one: 2. When would we celebrate our anniversary?

To be honest, we hadn't thought about it.  It was obvious that our family wedding on April 23rd was the proper, official-in-our-minds' date of the anniversary, and that we planned to celebrate the day that our commitment was blessed by our friends and family, not the day it was witnessed by some amorphous, anonymous authority like the US government.

But I think the emotional nature of Wedding Number 1 took us by surprise. There was something deeply special and intimate about having that moment to commit to one another, alone, in private. We wanted to enjoy that memory, and honor it, outside of Wedding Number 2.  We wondered "what's an appropriate commemoration for that morning, the small, quiet marriage in front of the second generation Wedding Sherrif?"  Jefferson answered first: Milkshake Day.

Let me explain: Jefferson's family has a history of creating holidays around the need for dessert.  His father celebrates 4 times a year with cake, spaced appropriately according to important birthdays and other occasions.  Unfortunately, there was one quarter without an event to celebrate, and due to a slightly neurotic need for symmetry (and let's be honest, cake), he simply celebrates "Cake Day".

Like father, like son.

And all this blathering leads us to the point of this blog post (though I hope it was a good story anyhow).  Milkshake Day will soon be upon us! November 17th is the day in question, and we encourage lovers of all ice-cream products, husbands, wives, boyfriends, and girlfriends to join us in this arbitrary and yet totally-not-Hallmark holiday, with a milkshake treat.  Don't resist! How often do you just go out FOR A MILKSHAKE? Go, enjoy, or do like my father does, and make your own at home with Schwann's Ice Cream and a raw egg (Midwest farmers: I don't question).

Now I know I don't have a huge Richmond reader base, but Jefferson and I definitely need some suggestions for an appropriate milkshake venue. I like my milkshakes so thick, I can stand a spoon up in them.  So you tell me: where's the best milkshake in Richmond? And then meet us there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Elim Springs Farm - Pasture-raised Chicken Special!!

Hey all..

This is a quickie-post for anyone out there in virtual food land.  I met up with a farmer yesterday to collect Horse & Buggy Produce's eggs. (Which meant a cooler full of around 150 eggs in my car. Ha!)  His name is Rich Hamilton, and he owns Elim Springs Farm in Ford, VA.  He raises pastured beef, poultry, and eggs, and there is a serious special happening today and tomorrow: he is processing several hundred birds between now and Friday evening, and anyone who is willing to drive out to the farm can take home a freshly-processed, non-gmo-fed, bug-eatin, grass-pickin' chicken for $10. Of any size. These birds generally go for nearly $4.00/lb., so this is a pretty significant discount. Happy birds make tasty meat, and his eggs are top-notch. Here's a picture of his happy little chicken tractors:
Elim Springs Farm, Chicken Tractors

The farm is about an hour southwest of Richmond. So its sure to be a gorgeous drive.  So, take off work a little early on Friday, throw the cooler in your back seat, and drive out to Ford.  If you're interested, take a look at his website, and give Rich a call to let him know you're coming. Oh, and if you want to see how chickens are processed, he's welcoming anyone who wants to help. Talk about knowing where your food comes from!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Case for Pie - New York Times, 1902

NYT broke this story on May 3, 1902:
"No pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished." 

I'm not saying this statements in this column aren't socially and culturally problematic, even racist, but I cannot help but get behind one thing this author siezes upon:

 Pie. Is. Powerful.

Thanks to Alex Barron for this. I don't know where you find things like this, but I'm glad you do, and I'm glad you send them along to me. What's your favorite piece of pie? And have you made it recently?