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Original Content

Yep, another blog post.  Hold onto yer hats!  This one is even all original content; GASP!


I haven't yet blogged about our csa, or how amazing it is... but I promise you I will, and that it is indeed amazing.  We went with Riverbend Farms this year and they are simply wonderful, if not simply for the unique things we've gotten so far: corn meal AND turtle beans from last year's harvest (!!!)  I really meant to keep some of the turtle beans for us to plant our own beans next year... but then I forgot to save a few and they all got soaked along with the edibles.  Oh well.  This meal was incredible, not just because I used an entire tub of mascarpone cheese in the polenta, or because I cooked the beans in my favorite Italian fashion, but because aside from the salt, mascarpone cheese and oil, every ingredient came from within 80 miles of our house.  Locavore-ism at its very best (and most delicious).

I made the beans in the same fashion Kyle and I learned five years ago (has it really been that long?) while living in the hills of Italy:


Rince your beans well, and pick through them to sort out broken beans and pesky stones.  Soak your beans in cool water with about an inch of water covering them (add more water as the beans will absorb some).  Cook them in their soaking water with a few cloves of garlic, add salt and stir every once in a while until the beans are the right consistency for you.  I like them just past al dente so they still have a tiny bite to them. When they're done, drizze really good olive oil and serve with crusty bread  Holy cow it's sinful, not to mention incredibly healthy.  You can use them at every meal (they were quite lovely with CSA eggs fried and their yolks oozing onto the beans) and they keep in the fridge until they mold or smell funny, but I can pretty much guarantee they won't be around long enough for you to get to that point, so just keep using them until they're gone. 


This polenta was absolutely fluffy, perfect, sinful and divine.  I was literally in love.  If you can get your hands on homegrown corn meal, do it now and do it fast.  Little chunks of whole squeaky corn REALLY brought the dish together.  For one cup of corn meal, I used 4 1/2 cups of 1% milk with a 1/2 cup of half and half (this is what we call improvising when you don't have whole or 2% milk on hand). 


1C cornmeal

4 cups whole or 2% milk

1 tub mascarpone cheese (12oz ?)

Salt to taste

Two cloves of Garlic (or five garlic scapes) minced


Bring the milk and garlic to a simmer and slowly add the cornmeal over medium heat, whisking constantly until well incorporated.  Stir once every 5 minutes until it reaches the consistencey of apple sauce, about 30 minutes.  Serve immediately. 



Chicken update

Well, the ladies are officially pullets (or teen-aged chickens). They're living outside in their coop, and have all of their big girl feathers.  Jackie O. is beginning to develop her waddle and comb, while Hermione continues to look like a hawk.  They love digging through the grass looking for bugs and I've been giving them plenty of scraps from the kitchen (so far eggplant skin has been the biggest winner in their book).  Hermionie was even coordinated enough to grab a fly out of mid-air yesterday.  We're waiting on a new fence to be built so we can let them roam around the backyard (with adult supervision of course) but they seem pretty happy in their run, and always return to the coop at dusk to get some shut eye.



The first few days they were outside (or even a full week) they were pretty hesitant to spend time out on the grass, but are now out there rooting around looking for things most hours of the day.


Last Friday, Kyle came home from Egg|Plant, an urban farming store in St Paul that has everything one could need to raise a backyard chicken, with a pretty decent sized box in his hand.  I had sent him there to pick upsome chick feed and what does he come home with? 


A baby chicken. 




Okay, she's not exactly a baby chicken, but a pullet... two weeks younger than our own, and a Buff Orpington by breed.  I was less than pleased about the prospect of a newbie as I've read horror stories about new, younger chicks being integrated and ultimately being pecked to death by their head master (in this case, that would be Jackie O). But the store owner had only the one little girl left and was about to be reduced to begging on Facebook, convincing Kyle to take one for the team.  

Not knowing what this little lady's fate would be, we didn't name her concerned we'd have another burial ahead of us.  The first few days we were on edge;  Jackie O. reared up, poofed her neck feathers and showed the new girl who was boss... but pecking never ensued.  Two nights ago I opened the coop to find all three girls nesting together in a little ball of chicken fluff, and all of my worries melted away.  Yesterday was the first day they all scratched around the run together in perfect harmony, and we're ready to give our little blondie a name.  We've come up with a short list, and would love you to help us out.


What should we name our new chicken?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Diana, Princess of Wales
Ingrid Bergman
Mary Kate Olsen
Marilyn Monroe





It's coming....

Appropriately in conjunction with my last post, the cookbook is available for pre-order over at Amazon.



HOLY SHIT!  I can't believe this is all coming together.  I get to see my first proof pages tomorrow... and then we all have to wait until October before holding this beauty in our hands. Remember: Christmas is only six months away.




Where the hell have you been?

Does this sound like you?

"So Kate, what the hell?  You just get a couple of photo gigs with the City Pages and Heavy Table and forget about the people who helped you get there?"

No!  No, I haven't forgotten you!  There's an explanation that I've completely neglected to mention to you.  An AWESOME explanation, at that!  Back in January you remember this post, where in exchange for taking pictures I was able to enjoy the new winter menu at a place called Heidi's.




And then this happened in February:




Which was quite sad, really.


But Stewart and Heidi really appreciated the work I had done for them back in February, and it just so happened that Stewart had been approached about writing a cookbook and asked me to be the photographer.  Uhhh... What?  I'm still in disbelief about the whole thing, and as of next Tuesday, the entire thing will be wrapped up.  Hence, the absentee blogger.  I can't share any images with you from the book, but I can tell you the food is delicious and that I'm very proud of the work I've done artistically (and of course I'll encourage you to purchase the book come October).  Until then, I'm working on getting back into the cooking and photographing groove I've been missing out on a personal level for the past few months and bringing you the snobby food posts you've grown to love from yours truly. 


They grow up so fast (or) Tragedy Strikes the Coop

I wrote this blog entry last week before I left on a work trip to NYC.  A lot has changed, the most important of which is that we lost our little Judi.  Whether it was a prolonged issue regarding her pasting or just nature's course, Sunday was a challenging day for Kyle and I. Lesson learned: DON'T GET ATTACHED TO YOUR LIVESTOCK.  Much easier said than done, but a good idea none the less.  I just keep trying to remind myself that I am ethically okay eating chicken.  Hermione and Jackie are doing well and lets just say that the term should be growing like chicks, not growing like weeds.  It is becoming very clear to me that those little balls of puff are chickens, bred for egg laying and not as cuddly pets.



Monday, May 17, 2010

First things first: I've started a Formspring.  If you're not familiar, it's essentially an easy way to ask a person questions.  So if you're interested in raising chicks and have a question, ask away. Wondering what the inedible strands you have to get through before eating the heart of an artichoke is called?  Inquire here! (It's actually called the "choke" if you were curious).  Need help on your algebra homework?  I'll take a stab at it.  Let me be clear that even if I don't know the answer to your question, I probably have an opinion about it and will gladly share that with you and the rest of the world (you're welcome in advance). 



Our little ladies are a week old today, and they've grown QUITE a bit.  You can't really tell from the pictures how much they've progressed, but their body sizes are quite a bit larger and they are much more sturdy on their feet. They aren't particularly, you know, smart, but since their brains are about the size of a pin-head, I think they're doing pretty damn well. 

Hermione's feathers are really starting to form on her wings, and there are a few pin feathers forming on her butt.  Jackie's are forming well on her wings, but there are little tufts of down in between each one (or maybe that's a feature of her breed?  We'll find out) and Judi remains to be at the bottom of the totem pole in size, feather development... and then there is that whole pasty butt thing.  It is getting considerably better (only a little in the morning, no more butt soaking) and I'm hoping it will be gone entirely by the end of the week.  There really is nothing like looking at a multi-purpose vent first thing in the morning to really bring a romantic side to chicken rearing. 


That's as far as I got.  I'm still sad about Judi, and have kind of detached myself from the other two.  That being said, my anxiety dreams about the cats becoming locksmiths and entering the hen room over night have ceased: apparently I now know how to deal with the loss of a chick and my psyche rests. 


We cleverly (thanks Peter) raised up the waterers so the dummies can't poop in their water dishes any more, and we've changed their bedding twice.  I'm really excited to give them some spinach one of these days (and even give them a little time outside!)  and we bought some parakeet gravel for them to help aid in the digestion of real food.  


Hopefully I'll get over our minor hiccup soon and bring a little more substance to the table.  Until the, RIP Dame Judi Dench.  You were really cute.