Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pie Preparation

Mmm... Butternut squash just before heading into the oven for roasting. I have always been a butternut squash pie girl. From my mama, I think. In fact, I haven’t laid my hands on a pumpkin since the last time I carved one, probably decades ago. Anyway, there was much roasting this morning, along with the making of several pie crusts. We are headed north for the eating, which I am very excited about because my mother makes the best stuffing you have ever put in your mouth. I tried to give her a run for her money last year and didn’t even come close. Eat well out there.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Popcorn & Pies

Oooph, busy weekend around here. Looking forward to the holiday break. What’s everyone baking out there? I do love a holiday that requires a pie.

Last night I remembered that I forgot to tell you that popcorn popped in bacon grease is the bomb. I would like to feed it to someone unsuspecting to see if they would guess; it’s not as bacon-y as you might imagine, just gooooood in that piggy sort of way. Important Monday tip, ahem.

Friday, November 21, 2008

First Snow

Oh people. I am such a kid inside. Today we woke up to snow, snow neither of us had read was on the way, and I greeted it by hooting and hollering around the house with nothing but a pair of skivvies on, pulling back curtains in each room to review the beauty. What is it about snow that can transform a sleepy kid (or an adult just acting like a kid) into a streaking flash of energy when just moments before she had been bemoaning how cold it was this morning and instead of obeying the alarm clock, burrowing into the warm covers and positively toasty crook of her husband’s neck?

Anyway. We had bowls of steaming oats for breakfast, and I went out to visit the chickens who seemed a bit surprised by it all but mostly just fine. A note to any would-be chicken parents out there: we do not keep our waterer in the coop, due to space limitations. If your setup will share that feature, and if it gets cold enough to freeze a bowl of water, just buy this waterer and be done with it, you can just unplug it during the warmer months. We have been doing quite an early morning dance to get water to our girls, and honestly we probably haven’t been out there early enough. So down to the farm store I went and now we have two big waterers when you really only need one.

Speaking of the girls, they have been laying like absolute champs. We do have a little light on them in the early morning to stretch the day a bit, but not by much. I continue to feel for our two Rhode Island Reds – they really do get pecked and chased by our two head honchos, the Silver Laced Wyandottes. There has actually been some subtle reorganization at the top, and as you might imagine, I am endlessly fascinated by the rules of the flock. I would want to be one of our middle birds...they don’t seem to attract the attention of the bossy girls, but don’t seem to have to pick on anyone to maintain their rank. Yes, I am Heather the amateur chicken sociologist.

Enjoy the weekends out there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Eating

Have you given me up as lost? Assumed that Dietlind and I had so much fun that I just expired from it all? You would be close, but I think I’m going to pull through. Let me start by saying: it is so nice to be visited here. In San Francisco, I got used to being visited. Who doesn’t want to stop in over there? But Asheville? What with its exorbitantly priced local airport necessitating a two hour drive from a larger airport after you just survived sitting on your ass in several tiny plane seats for hours? And given that most of my people are coming from places like San Francisco, truly folks: we have nothing to offer you here when it comes to eating out, seeing good films on the big screen, or soaking up a lot of eye candy. But we do have beautiful hiking, mountains stretching as far as the eye can see, trees with leaves that turn magnificent fall colors before falling to the ground and kicking up that amazing fall smell, some very entertaining chickens, some homegrown produce, and a kitchen ready to serve.

And oh my lord, did we eat. There were brownies and there was a cherry pie, both by request (this pie crust is it people, just give yourself time to chill it). Diets mentioned that she hadn’t gotten to eat much of our wedding food, since she was running around heating it up and everything, so first we cooked up the wedding pork (ground pork, lots of chopped garlic, sesame oil, soy, chopped ginger, ume vinegar, vietnamese caramel sauce) garnished with chopped scallions, served over rice, and placed next to a heaping pile of garden greens. Then, also by request, Dietlind made her famous chicken tortilla soup which is spicy and limey and served heaped with cotija and avocados and tortilla chips that get that just-so crunch when given a moment to swim in the soup. Then B made his legendary Spicy Delicious Chickpeas, the chickpeas of courtship – seriously, these guys join this recipe in the cheap and easy but terrifically flavorful department. And then there were blueberry waffles topped with maple syrup, yogurt, and warm homemade apple sauce. There was the making of pots of coffee, the mulling of apple cider, and the swilling of juices with breakfast. And lastly, there was a breakfast so totally inspired that I am not going to say one word about it here yet because I want to make it for Rachel and AV when they come visit in just a few weeks. I will say that it involves farm fresh eggs and piling things on top of each other and a serious amount of holy shit this is amazing kind of talk.

We hiked, we walked, we got a little crafty, we watched Paul Newman and Liza Minelli and we talked and talked and talked. It was grand and we are still eating leftovers. Love you Diets.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


How did it get to be Thursday already?? Crazy, I tell you, just crazy. I am actually extremely excited that it’s Thursday, because in eight hours I will be hugging up my girl Dietlind, who will have crossed mountains and plains and time zones just to land here in the mountains to say hello. I am so lucky. We are going to cook and eat (of course), drink tea and wine, walk and hike, play with the chickens, meander around Asheville, visit the farmer’s market, go to a party, and who the hell knows what else. I am a little sad that it is raining cats and dogs outside because it’s bringing down the remaining leaves and I had hoped there would still be fall splendor when she got here. Oh well, she did not come all this way for the maple trees.

May you all hug old friends soon.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bok Choy Butts

Well, I gotta say. Winning elections sure makes the week go fast. Anyone else out there having a hard time getting out of the habit of obsessively reading several million tabs worth of political news? Righty-o, I will just stave off withdrawal with a little moderate following of the cabinet posts and demographic breakdowns of the election and...

We are having the most stunning weather this week. Seriously unbelievably beautiful. Everything that turns a color has gone for it, and the mountains are mostly deep red and yellow, so much yellow. The garden is loving the warm days and cool nights, and here are some bok choy butts to prove it:

Chez H & B does seem to be having a string of hardware malfunctions though, including my precious food processor and my camera. Grrr. The camera wants to be a videocamera at all times. Sorry buddy, you are a $99 point and shoot, so quit with the puffery. I have long held dreams of a new camera that will take attractive flash-free pictures of food, but the checkbook doesn't like to have its hand forced, if you know what I mean.

Speaking of food, a few days ago I made a leek, chard, and sweet potato galette that totally rocked the house off of its very foundation. I used this crust recipe, which is the easiest and best savory crust I have ever tried (remind me of this when I go crust hunting again, please), and then I just sautéed the leeks in butter with lots of salt and pepper, added the chard at the last minute, lined the bottom of the galette with rounds of sweet potatoes baked this way, threw some grated gruyere over the whole mess, and oh lord. Seriously, I thought my husband was going to pass out from the sheer deliciousness. Go there. Here is a picture of the prep work, the galette didn't have a fighting chance at the spotlight:

Ok, so is it annoying when I post the searches that lead here? Too bad, I think it's hilarious. Starting with the pressing questions:

Do carrots grow better when watered with carrot juice? Umm. I just don't understand this question. Wouldn't juicing up carrots and pouring the juice on the ones you are growing sort of cancel your end carrot gain? Er. Maybe you water the juice down? Get back to me, mysterious visitor, I know you're out there and you'll be back because I bet you still don't have an answer and the next time you google for it I'll be there...

What is an orange round miniature thing which you can eat and cook?
You can eat your cat. If it's small, the big orange ones are tough.

Can squirrels eat cinnamon?
Another gardener plagued by squirrels? Hard to say, perhaps just a squirrel lover wanting to make some cinnamon buns for the crew.

Is it true that sesame seeds make your boobs grow? Yes, absolutely, but only if you grind them up and snort them.

Now for the demanding ones:

Eat my boobs. Righty-o.

Photos of dashing smart handsome men models in underwears. Plural. Not just one underwear here. I am sorry this website was such a bust on that request, I will really have to talk to B about that.

List of things you should eat to make your boobs grow.
Goodnight, this joins the eating of boobs and the sesame boobs and several hundred other boob related searches, largely related to getting a bigger rack. If these people could see my modest boobs they would realize I have no secrets in this department.

That's probably enough for now, but don't worry: there's always more. Involving gopher fuzz, and the man with the biggest pea ever!

Last exciting piece of news: this time next week one of my bffs, Dietlind, will be here! I am so excited I could just pop! Eeeeee!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It Feels Good

Oh people. I am still awash in the moment, the moment when we hit refresh and saw that Ohio was sitting neatly in the pocket. We turned to each other, each of us adding up the safe treasure of west coast electoral votes and realized that this was it. Throughout the night we drank whiskey, ate popcorn, called people in Nevada to make sure they voted, ran around the house (literally), baked a cake, whooped on the phone with my parents and with friends on all coasts, and shed a few tears for the journey. When we went to bed North Carolina was still too close to call, and as I write this that is still true. I know we don’t need it anymore, but call me greedy: I want it. We did kick Elizabeth Dole to the curb, resoundingly, which feels pretty good. Looks like there’s the possibility that nasty old Prop 8 might have passed, along with two other anti gay marriage proposals (Florida and Arizona) – all three are huge blemishes on such a hopeful day.

Hope. A new feeling in this department. I’ll tell you: I am not accustomed to it. I sit comfortably with the folks who vote regularly for blue candidates even though they don’t come close to the core of our politics. And honestly, Obama is not the radical candidate that embodies that core. I know that. And yet. And yet I cast my vote for him with hope and trust and the genuine liking of him, and come what may: it feels great.

I loved this article. Make sure you get to the pie.

UPDATE 11/6/08: And we are now officially Obama country over here in North Carolina!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fall Fall Fall

Happy Monday out there. I hope your weekends were as beautiful as ours. We sat in the backyard watching the leaves fall, rode bicycles in short sleeves, drank wine in the park across from puffs of bright yellow maples. So beautiful. We also clipped our girls’ wings, which was hilarious and not nearly as traumatic as last time, and B and I both braved up and worked the phones for Mister Obama. What a hoot. I left a lot of cheerful messages, got cursed at and hung up on once, and had a few really nice conversations with people. This Tuesday will be the first time in years that I have watched an election roll in on the east coast. I will probably be hanging from the ceiling by the time the polls close out west.

Above are veggies waiting for stir fry in lovely Diana Fayt bowls, each of them a wedding gift from loved ones all over. Our baby bok choy is big enough for fine eats and I love the sweet crisp that it adds. The garden is happy – our kale is big and strong and last week I picked the first full serving of it without fretting that I was taking too much. The lettuces and arugula are sweet and spicy. The chard and beets did not germinate too well this round, I think we might need new seeds, but we have a handful of them nonetheless. The leaves are slowly dropping from the cherry and peach trees, and our blueberry bushes have gone from green to yellow to red. And so it goes. Enjoy fall out there.