a new leaf

packed: check

very hot and sticky: check

jumping out of my skin to move on: check

What the heck? It's super hot here again and I'm not diggin' it. I'm not gonna lie, I'm sort of over summer, at least sweltering, humid, buggy Vermont summer. Gosh, I really HATE bugs, like the biting ones. I wish they would all just go suck their own damn blood .

Enough kvetching, I'm actually really excited for the next, and hopefully long, phase of my life. Sparkle (my trusty powder blue Honda) is $800 dollars more reliable with three spiffy new tires and new front axles. One more day of work and it will include more biscuit making, so it's bound to be sweet and lovely, as long as I don't get a sacrificial pie in the face or some comparably thoughtful farewell.

My transition will actually be 3-fold, because, well, my life is never simple. First I drive south a little past Burlington to stay and work at Freedom and Unity Farm for a little over a week, then it's off to Wisconsin (about 20 hours), then a few days later off again to California for a short visit with the fam and a very exciting wedding.

The farm will include:
getting dirty in a non frostingy, buttery, sugary, floury way, but like dirt dirt. Man, I miss that.

presearving the summer's bounty as fast as we can before it turns to chicken feed or compost. meaning: tons of pickling (we're even experimenting with pickling summer squash, green tomatoes, and kale among other strange things we're not quite ready to give up), zucchini bread up the ying-yang, and freezing just about everything our limited number of pans and freezer space will allow
yummy dinners featuring too many vegetables. The game plan when making a meal at the farm is: what can I make that will use up the most vegetables?

other surprises I'm sure


5 Days and Counting

Yes, that's right, five more days of work. I am SO excited for multiple reasons, but high on the list is to be able to get back on a relatively normal sleep schedule. A few days ago I woke up at 3:30am to go to work and two of my housemates were up cleaning from a party the night before. It really makes me feel crazy when I am leaving for work and see people who have yet to go to sleep.

On another note, yesterday I made sweet biscuits for strawberry shortcakes and they were like woah yummers, the best I've ever had I think. After living in the South for 5 years, I take pride in making a good biscuit. However, although I have made some damn good ones, none were good enough to brag about. Sorry I don't have a picture, I guess I was too concerned with eating one than photography. The recipe came from good ol' Martha Stuart, gotta love the woman. I wish I could say it was from Edna Lewis or some other really wonderful, traditional Southern cook, but I'll take a great recipe where ever I can get it. These were BIG and tall and fluffy and with a crunchy sanding sugar covered top, almost cloud-like, but satisfyingly cloud-like, not like eating air cloud-like, got it? It was Martha's sweet shortcake version of her basic baking powder biscuit. I plan on making the none-sweet version next to see if they make me rant like this too.

Lastly, in the spirit of off-loading the randomness that is my brain, I have been thinking about nostalgic foods again. I know, I've written about nostalgia before and I'm sure I will again because so much of our personal food preferences and excitement is rooted in warm memories, tradition, childhood, and habit. Just like all our other preferences, they act as a way we define ourselves; as silly as it sounds, the foods we like and don't like are part of what we call our "identity." Enough philosophical ramblings for the day, onto what I really wanted to talk about--the foods I have been thinking about making when I go home to California in a few weeks. I have been making a mental list over the past couple weeks, but have been meaning to make a formal list because my memory is complete shit and thus lists are my friends. However, while I'm at it and haven't blogged in ions I thought I would share it with all of you because I am confident you care...a lot.
Foods to be prepared, enjoyed, and consumed while home with the fam:

1. Something AMAZING to bring to my friend Natalie's pot luck wedding. This is very important and I've drawn a blank so far, but I'm hoping inspiration will hit before the big day.
2. Mama's mac and cheese (it has gruyere and fontina people)
3. Mama's corn pancakes with salsa and sour cream
4. Our famous taco shuffle, a.k.a. the meal we make when we know we are going to be feeding a crowd, which is pretty much always. It's perfect because everyone gets to assemble their own tacos and picky eaters (Danya, though I believe she's starting to warm to vegetables/colorful foods), former Vegans (oh my God, that's me), etc. are all happy. Plus it's fun to fill the table with as many wacky toppings as possible and then send them around the table (clockwise) until we've all gotten our fill.
5. Beet salad
6. Coleslaw
7. Challah french toast...and regular french toast.
8. Lotsa different kinds of pancakes I've been hankering to try--I love getting up early and making special breakfast for the siblings before they go to school; always more exciting than cereal or toast.
9. This isn't really cooking, but is seriously nostalgic--sitting on the huge green couch in our living room and savoring Mom's famous DARK coffee and talking really fast about life, philosophy, anything because we're so caffeinated and thus a little crazy and excited. This is the reason we're all addicted, it's pretty much the best part of the day.
10. Making lots of homemade ice cream; I have some special flavors in mind.
11. Chocolate spice cookies with Danya; we made lots of these last winter and couldn't get enough of them. I'm teaching her how to be a neurotic baker like me.
12. Egg in a hole, Noah's first culinary masterpiece and one of my favorite breakfasts.
13. Lots of chicken, the meat my family just can't get enough of--I think because my Mom can always seem to find a new, crazy yummy chicken recipe, thus we never get bored.
14. Pesto pasta.
15. Burgers on english muffins.
16. That salad with with avocado, shrimp, corn, and other yumminess that I can't recall at the moment.
17. My sister Kyle and I have the mission of recreating a favorite childhood drink that we used to get as part of a family food co-op when we were kids. It hasn't been on supermarket shelves for more than 15 years, but it came in capri-sun type bags with a straw and were carob-mint-malt flavored rice milk (or some other kind of alternative milk, we can't really remember). Wish us luck.

Ok, I'll stop now. We'll see if I can fit that all into a weeks worth of eating. The lift will help I'm sure.



Challah and Mixed Berry Pot Pies

Yesterday my lovely friend Emma and I made my Mama's challah recipe, which is infamous in my family; from what I hear, the news is spreading fast. I hate when people claim a recipe to be "the best," but I don't care because I can without a doubt (I've surveyed the challah eating population) tell you that this is the best challah ever. No joke, this is some kind of revolutionary bread material. It's not dense like many homemade challahs and it is also not too airy or dry like most store bought ones. It is fluffy, but not too fluffy, perfectly eggy, has that wonderful pull-apart crumb characteristic of a good brioche, and it makes ridiculously tasty french toast. That said, I'm not giving you the recipe, I'm sorry. Usually I'm the sharing type, but this one you have to earn; it's not the kind of thing you just throw around on the internet.
Now that you all think I'm mean, I'll tell you about these little guys: Mixed Berry Pot Pies. First off, I am never making these again! Not because they aren't wonderfully delicious and crazy precious, but because they are stupid labor intensive. I made the dough in four batches in the robo coupe, weighed them all into 3 oz balls, pressed them into 4 inch circles, wrapped them and threw them in the reach-in for 4 hours. To assemble I had to roll out each piece again and cut into 3 1/2 inch rounds and then carefully assemble these little babies. Halfway through making these, I came close to loosing my sanity. That said, these would be a breeze to make at home. The recipe itself is not difficult, it's only get crazy when you try to make enough for 150 people.

Unlike a typical crisp or cobbler, the filling has tapioca as thickener along with the cornstarch and also has a splash of cream and a pat of butter on top before the pastry dough goes on top. The dough is especially wonderful because it involves lots of cream cheese. It's like a rich, sweet, creamcheesy biscuit dough. The guests are in for a special treat, because this is a one time menu item.