Where has it gone? Summer 2019

I’m sure I’ve said this a million times - but I’m not sure where this month went. No, I’m not sure where this year has went. A small ticker of small events ran through my head this morning. So little to show for seven months, but I feel my roots have shimmied their way into the soil a bit more this year. So, for a recap, here is what 2019 has brought me since the last time I blogged:

  • I’ve planted sixteen rose bushes in the front - blush and pink and red and peach and yellow. They bloom a little then die quickly. I love them. I’m going to deadhead them as soon as I hit “send”.

  • We’ve a garden on the deck now. It’s beautiful. I hadn’t previously been so successful, so I’m glad to take it on a smaller scale and learn what I’m doing this year. It’s worked well, I think.

  • We had to remodel the bathroom. Maybe that’s why I have been so far behind in updating this space. Working from home means that so much of my day was disrupted with the contractors over. Including the dogs being at their grandparents’! Glad it is (90%) done.

  • I lost a bantam. My favorite one, as these things tend to go. I’m sad. Her name was Little Brown. She was my favorite hen of all times. The barn is a little quieter, as she was always yelling at me for snacks (and she always got more than the others because of it - the rascal).

  • We went to Baltimore last month and are going to Philadelphia this month. Concerts. But also a day trip to New York is on the agenda. Can’t wait.

  • I’m trying my hand at Italian and back to Spanish. Wish me In bocca al lupo!

And most boring of all, I’ve not baked much this year! It’s hot now. I don’t want to - it’s as simple as that. But, I have been getting creative with meals. Which is what I bring you today - the best weekday pasta I ever made. Enjoy, dear Reader!

Weekday Pasta

This is all completely up to you on what vegetables to use up. That’s the beauty of it. But note that cooking times are estimated based on the ingredients I listed for my dish.

Ingredients:

  • One large yellow onion, diced

  • 2 large zucchini

  • 4-5 medium tomatoes (I liked campari here), roughly chopped

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced both greens and whites

  • 1 can drained chickpeas

  • 1 bouillon cube

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup red sauce (or sub with more red tomatoes and about 1/2 cup water and stew at the beginning)

  • 4 tablespoon butter

  • 1 box spaghetti

  • Plenty of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta to box directions

  2. While that is boiling away, heat a large skillet or Dutch oven with olive oil

  3. Stir in onion and cook for a couple minutes until just fragrant

  4. Add zucchini and green onion whites

  5. Cook until browned and softened

  6. Add tomato and chickpeas, stirring until tomatoes are just stewed

  7. Add water, bouillon cube, and red sauce, stir and allow to simmer until thickened

  8. Add butter, stir to melt

  9. Add spaghetti and season to taste

It Should Be Easy - Ramp and Pesto Pizza

I’ve gone all in this Spring. Celebrating it. Loving it. Enjoying it. Napping outside, napping inside. Napping between calls. Muting myself on calls to go outside with the dogs. Anything I can do to soak up this time of year.

One way I’ve been celebrating is with fresh produce, using what’s in season and what I’m craving most. Here we have ramps, given to us in a bundle of salad mixes and radishes. Slightly garlicky, naturally ombred and absolutely delicious, I wanted to highlight their natural tastes and not mask it as an aside.

So here is a ramp pizza. Pesto, mozzarella, and red pepper do the rest. It’s a perfect little dinner for two (or one if you’re very hungry after a long day of napping, as I usually am!).

Ramp Pizza

This recipe is adapted from a few places. Most importantly is Smitten Kitchen. I used pesto as the base and my dough recipe from here. and a pizza stone from Sur la Table. And yes, these are a little fluffy, and that’s do to accidentally doubling the yeast 😅

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Strawberry Shortcake, as Easy as Pie

Strawberry Shortcake

I like simple in most areas of my life. A simple morning of dogs and coffee. A simple farm, 5 acres and 26 chickens. A simple basket of hammered gold filled with simple eggs or blues, greens, and browns. A simple wardrobe of whatever is a hand-me-down of Nolan’s or bought on a whim after a glass or two of wine. A simple shower at the end of the day. A simple pillow of 800 thread count. Simple, comfortable. Easy, but the way I like it.

Same with desserts. Or breakfast. Whatever you consider biscuits and cream and strawberries. The below doesn’t involve rolling or kneading or resting. It involves a shaggy dough and an ice cream scoop. Think the stale Bisquick from your grandmother’s pantry, but with a little extra (by “extra” I mean tequila).

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Ingredients for Biscuits:

  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour

  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 TB sugar + more for sprinkling

  • 1/3 cup sour cream

  • 1/3 cup whole milk

  • 1/2 TB vanilla extract

Directions for Biscuits:

  1. Preheat oven to 450*F and prepare a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment

  2. Sift all dry ingredients together

  3. Whisk all wet ingredients and pour onto dry

  4. Mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms

  5. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop dough out and drop onto prepared pan

  6. Sprinkle with sugar

  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and puffed

  8. Allow to cool before serving with strawberries and cream

Directions for macerated strawberries: Slice a quart of strawberries and cover with a 1/2 cup sugar, 2 TB water, a splash of vanilla, 2 TB tequila or rum, a sprinkle of salt, a zest and juice or a lemon or lime, and a few basil leaves, roughly chopped. Allow to macerate overnight.

Directions for whipped cream: Beat heavy whipping cream on high with a stand mixer. When peaks form, add a splash of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and a couple tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar to sweeten

To serve: Slice biscuit in half, jam full of strawberries and cream and enjoy for every single meal - I mean it. Every. Single.Meal. You won’t regret it.

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Brunch with Vermont Creamery

Vermont Creamery Brunch Bruschetta

How lucky are we to have Spring come again? The trees are waking up, small buds perk a little every day. Our dogs run outside in the sunshine until they’re sore; puffing in the still-cold air. I’m learning to love Spring for what it is: a greeting, a promise, a chance to try something new.

And so I bring a bruschetta. I use this term loosely, of course. It’s toast. With goat cheese. Micro-greens and tomatoes roasted to the point of jamminess with half an onion to cut the sweetness. Topped with an egg, the freshest I could find: still warmed from the morning lay where I tucked it into my pajama pocket when I opened up the barn door for a flock of eager, hungry, crowing hens.

Vermont Creamery asked me to provide a “tip” for Spring cookery. Mine is to surround yourself with animals, all kinds and all ages and all sizes. Dogs to comfort you, to keep you warm in the still-cold morning. Chickens to watch from your kitchen window, to give you fresh eggs every day. We can learn a lot from chickens, you know. Keep busy, rest often, and keep one eye on your friends at all times.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 campari tomatoes or whatever variety you have at hand, sliced in half or quartered if larger

  • ½ white onion, chopped

  • 4 slices of your favorite rustic, crusty bread

  • 4 eggs

  • 4 oz Vermont Creamery goat cheese, slightly warmed to room temperature

  • ½ cup arugula or other microgreens

  • Rice wine vinegar or a lemon half

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450*F

  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil (for easy cleaning)

  3. Drizzle tomatoes and onions with a little oil and roast for 25-30 minutes until skin is wrinkled on tomatoes and onions are softened and browned

  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool

  5. While tomatoes are cooling, toast your bread and fry 4 eggs in your preferred method

  6. Evenly spread goat cheese on each piece of toast

  7. Top each with greens, then roasted tomatoes

  8. Gently place fried egg on all slices

  9. Either squeeze a little lemon or a teensy drizzle of vinegar on egg

  10. Season to taste and enjoy!

Vermont Creamery Brunch Bruschetta
Vermont Creamery Brunch Bruschetta
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Vermont Creamery Brunch Bruschetta

Goodbye, Rooster

My flock is without a leader and I am without a friend. We had to put our rooster down. He was sick; nothing we could do. It was good to hear it from a vet. I didn’t feel as guilty then.

He wasn’t getting better. His breathing was ragged. He went lame, shuffling his mass across the straw when I found him under a two-by-four. He crowed once when I grabbed him up. He fell asleep on the way to the vet. I was in the backseat, saying my sorries and my goodbyes and my rationalizations. Nolan drove us, our eyes meeting in the rearview mirror. The rooster nodded off, his comb now bleeding, poking out of an airhole I had cut into the side with a dull screwdriver.

I wasn’t in the room when he died. We sat in the car. I needed air. It may be silly, but I’ve never handled these things well.

I am without a friend. Our flock is now at 26. This is the last photo I took of him. “He was a good boy” is the maxim we’re repeating. The small eulogy for his small life. He was thoughtful and gentle for a rooster. He was malnourished when we got him and his body grew to its limits quickly. He wobbled under his own weight. He was patient. He was vigilant. He sometimes, confused, brooded in the nesting boxes. He was as tall as Milo. He went peacefully and is buried by the creek bed. He was my first rooster I ever owned. I will miss him. The morning is no longer punctuated with his trumpeting. I will miss him.

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