10.25.2017

9 BIRDS // elspeth


I've been cooking in snatches recently. After dinner, before bed, in the morning while the coffee brews. In these snips of time I've made lemon curd and rosehip jelly and applesauce and homemade bread and toasted pumpkin seeds from the two pumpkins we grew for jack-o-lanterns out front. In another snip of time we planted a couple of hazelnut trees in the spring through the Food Forest Initiative of Cape Cod and discovered one day recently that three tiny hazelnuts were ready for harvest. And two months ago, my friend Drew brought over nine chickens for us to raise for meat. 


Sally helped Alex load them into the moveable pen I built last spring when we got our six layers, before we set them up with a run and a coop. I bought an extra "hen hydrator" and got a few bags of meat bird crumble and in the moments before and after work we fed and watered and moved them. They were certainly a different breed from the layers—it's hard to believe that a chicken can eat and drink and excrete at such a pace. But eat and drink and excrete they did until exactly one week ago our friend Neily and I built a fire and brought a big pot of water to a boil and two by two slit their necks. If you don't want to hear about this, skip down a paragraph. I won't go into too much detail. But I will say it was both a challenging and satisfying day; going into it I had helped with the aftermath of killing a bird twice but had only a vague understanding of the steps. I now feel confident that I could do a reasonably good job of the whole thing, if I needed or wanted to, without help.

Besides the satisfaction, the best part about raising and processing our own birds has been the parts. Neily told me that in Jamaica near where he's from people will help a friend or neighbor kill their birds in exchange for the hearts and the feet and the livers and the other innards, which can be boiled and fed to a dog. Since he brought the knowledge and the rooster-catching-courage I gave him two birds and most of the parts, but I kept a few livers and feet for us. 



Neily instructed me on chicken foot soup, which I'd tried at roadside stands in Jamaica the two times we'd been to visit. It was easy enough: for about 4 feet, he said, you use a couple quarts of water and throw in a few of the necks too for flavor (like you would for stock) and then add scallions, potatoes, thyme, carrots, salt, pepper, and dumplings rolled from water and flour. The potatoes and dumplings break down to thicken up the broth and the feet and necks give it a rich chicken flavor, and after an hour or two of simmering you have a thick, delicious soup. My girls remembered it from last fall, when Neily made it after we had to kill the roosters, and gobbled it up despite having been home for the slaughter the day before. I made chicken liver paté, too, the next night with butter and thyme and brandy and mushrooms, and Nora declared it "very yummy." Still, I couldn't bring myself to roast the one chicken we kept from the freezer until Saturday. 




When we finally did it was excellent: huge and juicy and flavorful and succulent. We ate it with friends at a house on the bay watching the sun set with beer and mashed potatoes and three girls and two babies, and it felt fitting. Some days I'm not sure exactly where I fit into the world—whether I'm meant to be a writer or a farmer or a radio producer or a business owner or a community organizer or maybe a bit of all of these—but I did enjoy raising, processing, and eating these birds. One day, I imagine, I'll know for sure. Or maybe not! But for now, this feels like as solid a knowledge as any.

8.20.2017

SOUR PICKLES & ZUCCHINI PARMESAN // elspeth


Hello from here, where we are making pickles and eating homemade fudgesicles and hosting meetings with our dolls at tiny tables. (The smalls, that is. Topics covered so far: Getting Rid of Pollution and How to Draw a Perfect Pig with Flowers on a Farm). 

So far we can report: lacto-fermented garlic dill pickles are not as easy as we want them to be. We made a big crock, it started out well, bubbling and fermenting away. We moved it to a cool place downstairs, but then it grew a white film of mold. Also, despite the fact that we added oak leaves to add tannins and hopefully keep said pickles crisp, they're not. We read about all this and have two takeaways: we think we should have used smaller, whole pickles instead of spears, and we think next time we'll do them in smaller batches in glass jars, because according to someone's Jewish grandma if you ferment them in the light near a window the UV rays (check to see if modern windows are blocking UV rays?) will kill said mold. In the meantime we're eating refrigerator pickles, because they're foolproof and fast, but DANG! our winter lacto-pickle consumption is off the charts high and getting expensive, so we're hoping to do better soon. 


The refrigerator pickles we are making come from my neighbor Sarah, who in turn found them on Smitten Kitchen. They are called Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles, and this is 100% true. There is not much to them: you slice up a few cucumbers, throw them in a jar, and shake them up with some white vinegar, salt, dill, and garlic. You wait a few hours. You devour them with egg salad and hummus and bread on the beach, and you pat yourself on the back for planning such a delightful lunch. You drink a beer and go swimming. That's as hard as it is. 

While we're on the topic of easy summer recipes that use up things there are too many of in the garden, you should also make this.  It's a Zucchini Parmesan from Martha Rose Schulman over at the Fake News NYT, and it uses only five real ingredients and tastes delicious. Basically you roast zucchini with olive oil and salt until it's a bit tender but also crispy, and then you layer it in a casserole dish with tomato sauce and Parmesan, bake it again, and eat it up. I thought my mom was leaving some sneaky hard parts out when she told me those directions, but actually it's as easy as that. My kids tried to hate it but ended up loving it, so thank you mom and Martha Rose Schulman. 


Before I leave you: filed under Somehow Both Surprising and Not, conservationists in the Antarctic discovered a fruitcake that is from the Scott expedition, and they think it's basically totally edible. Yup.

See you soon.

7.31.2017

JULY 31 & SOUR MILK // elspeth

   

We had a sick chicken recently. Before her illness the girls called her "other potato-head." She's the same variety, Americana, as the chicken they like best. But she's different enough from Herself to be distinguishable: she's higher up in the pecking order, for one, so her feathers aren't always ruffled and falling out. And she's always the last to come in from being in the yard, and her head is a bit pointier. She's also a bit of a grump. But she got sick for two days in early July, and now she has a new name: "Sicky Chick."


I'm not sure exactly what was wrong with her. She started sitting around and didn't seem to be eating or drinking or laying much, but on the advice of my friend Victoria I put oregano oil in the chickens water and offered her a bit of sour milk, and two days later she was out again hunting for earwigs. 

The sour milk is a new thing around here. The girls (human girls) don't always finish their milk at the table, and I hate throwing it out. It's important to offer it, I think, but it's raw and unhomogenized and doesn't save well, and so I end up pouring half of it in the compost more often than not. I was reading about something else in Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking the other day, and she offered a solution. She said her household always has a crock of sour milk going: you simply leave raw milk out at room temperature and it thickens up into a cultured dairy substance with a slightly yeasty but not unpleasant smell. The Irish use it to make soda bread, and I suppose I will now too, when I get around to it, as it really is as simple as leaving a jar of milk covered with cheesecloth on the counter. In the meantime Darina instructs that if it gets too sour, a person can feed it to her hens. She's right. They dip into it with their beaks and slurp it up with what appears to be pleasure, although pleasure on a chicken is a difficult emotion to read. 


In the meantime there's summer: the same long days at the restaurant but bigger girls with more of their own agendas. Sally's learned to jump off the dock into water over her head and swim back, and Nora has for the first time demanded a play date "with her own friends." The mulberries are ripe and we're headed blueberry picking tomorrow and planning on jam. The latest Bon Appetít is filled with amazing sounding things like pounded flank steak with zucchini salsa and green gazpacho, and with any luck I'll be eating them all and reporting back soon.

Happy almost August, friends.



5.18.2017

SPRING PESTO // elspeth


I should really be in bed. But quickly: start looking for the plant below, and you'll realize it's everywhere. My friends Audra and Deb pointed it out to me; it's called garlic mustard, and once you taste a leaf, you'll understand why. Apparently in 17th century Britain it was served with salt fish to give it some flavor, and it's a good source of vitamins A and C. 

To collect it, we took a walk down the road to Bound Brook and found a bunch at the very end. Of course when I got home I realized it's all over my yard! And on the way to school! And on the hill by the library! Yeah, it's one of those plants. Deb and Audra took the leaves home and whizzed them into a traditional pesto with Parmesan, garlic, oil, pine nuts, and garlic—but with garlic mustard leaves instead of basil. 

We had it on pasta, I've been eating it on bread, and tomorrow I plan to use it to top baked haddock. Happy spring, friends.


GARLIC MUSTARD PESTO

Play with this. Think of it as an outline. Almonds and pine nuts work, too. Also: Deb says the flavor of the leaves gets stronger, in a good way, once they flower. We've probably got a week or two left, depending on the heat. Now's the time!

4 cups garlic mustard leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Pulse together the greens, walnuts, cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the oil. Serve on pasta, toast, or as a veggie dip or a topping for fish.

4.22.2017

EARTH DAY, GOING ON 32 // elspeth


A week from today, I'll be 32 years old. In a lot of ways, my world is exactly how I always imagined it would be at this age. I'm married, my husband and I have a house in the woods and a lab on his last legs and two inquisitive, loving, wild daughters. I have a garden, just like my mom's. I'm on the board of the farmers market. I work mostly independently, producing radio pieces and writing, and in the busy season I make up the difference by throwing myself into the loud, lively chaos that is managing a restaurant. 

But the bigger world now is not what I imagined it would be like when I was little, or at least not what I hoped for. 

It is not that it's so surprising. My generation has been learning about our problems since birth. We are aware that we live in a state of ecological overshoot. That sometime in the 1970s or 1980s, scientists say, we started using more resources each year than the earth can regenerate in a twelve month period. That eventually—maybe in the next decade or two, or if we're lucky a bit longer—this math will simply stop working, and we will no longer be able to carry on. 


And then, of course, there's climate change. The year I was born, the atmosphere contained 343 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Today, we're up to just over 400, and steadily rising. 

The scientifically accepted future is terrifying. The natural state of the earth with present CO2 levels is one with sea levels about 70 feet higher. To reach this is not a question of if—geologic records show sea levels will rise this much if we do not reduce CO2—but a question of how soon. The same goes for ocean acidification, storm magnification, rainfall patterns, and rising temperatures. Even if we change course now, right now, we're in for a lot of consequences. And if we don't, what then? Maybe 2 degrees by 2030 or 2040, as many as 4 between 2060 and 2100. Famine. Extinctions. Violence. Drought.

In my imagination of today as a kid, we'd long ago changed course. But of course we haven't, or at least not fast enough. We're still just carrying on.



All of this makes for a huge psychological disconnect for my generation, for young people trying to plan a life. 

I'm not under any false impressions that no other generations have faced great challenges of imagination and morality, or that somehow we have it "worse." In so many ways, we've had such luck—a life of relative physical ease and security—at least so far. 

But I do think our challenge is unique in the moral confusion of it, in the way that we've learned about it in school our entire lives, being taught, subtly and overtly, that our way of life is wrong, that we are, each day, slowly poisoning the very place we depend on. And at the same time, how we've watched our teachers and parents and friends and selves continue to do these things, and listened as those who attempt to think outside this box are called "impractical" and "unrealistic." 

It feels like we might at least be unique in our confusion. 


But the good thing is that since November: suddenly, it's not confusing anymore. It's still complicated—incredibly, diabolically complicated—but the morality is stark. The only practical and moral way forward is away from fossil fuels, and no one in the highest levels of government is going to deal with this reality. It will have to be us.

Since November, I've stepped further outside my comfort zone than I ever have before. My entire adult life has been a subtle acknowledgement of the future I simultaneously hope and fear we will eventually come to: one where we must rely on ourselves and our neighbors a great deal more than we do right now. I have always been interested in learning the "real" way to do things—to preserve salt pork, to keep kimchi, to make a quilt. The way without refrigeration, without electricity, without sugar or vinegar or whatever cheat we happen to be using. Learning these things is what led me, in the first place, to local food.

But now that doesn't feel like enough. To put up solar panels, to garden, to raise chickens—these are all worthy and wonderful things if you have the land and the time and the money, and I will never stop wanting to learn. 


But what we really need is a sea change: a huge, collective acknowledgement of the trouble we're in by those in power, and an agreement to push our leaders to change course. I vowed at the beginning of this year to do two things I haven't done much of before: to take whatever action I can on the local and state and national levels to fight climate change, and to communicate my environmental beliefs more effectively with family and friends. 

So, here I am. The group I'm volunteering for on a national level is called the Climate Mobilization. It's less of an organization and more of a mission: build a WWII-scale mobilization to restore a safe climate. I found it right after the election, linked in a blog post. When I first read their stuff, it sounded kind of radical. They demand what they call "climate truth" and ask people to go into "emergency mode," a state of extreme focus, putting all of our attention and resources toward solving the crisis. But it also, immediately, sounded right. Like finally, someone came out and said it: we've been handed a world on the brink of collapse. If we want to have a future—for ourselves and our kids—we have to take this reality seriously.

There's a small but growing group of Wellfleetian and Outer Cape residents joining forces on a local level on this issue. We're hosting a climate science training at the Wellfleet Audubon tomorrow (4/23 from 10:30-1, for any last minute interest), and planning a series of climate-related events and political pushes over the few months. If you're interested in helping organize, let me know. Otherwise, know that soon we'll be reaching out community-wide. And thank you, as always, for being here.


(P.S., housekeeping: the kale soup I promised from so long ago was a bust. Blagh. Don't bother. And I'd like to share how to make kimchi and salt pork, because these are both new and exciting skills for me that I think you'd like too. I'll be back with those once I getter a better grip on the process. In the meantime, I keep cooking from my friend Sarah's new cookbook, Feeding a Family. So beautiful, so simple, so good.) 

3.04.2017

COMMON SONGS // elspeth

I have never been religious in the traditional sense. My grandfather, my mom's dad,  was an episcopal priest. My father didn't attend church growing up, and by the time he married my mother she'd had enough church for one life. And so I was baptized, and I went to services around the holidays a few times with my grandmother when she came to visit, but otherwise, I never had much experience with organized religion.


This has never bothered me. I have plenty of faith. The marriage between my parents cemented my belief in love early on. Their shared passion is birds, one it turns out I don't wholeheartedly share. But it meant I spent much of my childhood trailing behind them looking for rare species alongside my sister in the woods, on a beach, or in a canoe. Their love for each other and being together outside instilled in me a deep faith in the outdoors, in the logic and wisdom of natural systems. It taught me to emulate and honor truth, and I try and hope to do the same for my girls.

But recently, I've been thinking about religion. I've been wondering if in the celebration of secularization we've jumbled something crucial, if something important has been lost. I'm not necessarily imagining a return to church; as someone who's hardly ever been, I'm not sure what that even means. But from the outside, there are pieces that appeal.

There is value, I think, in gathering regularly. To putting our communities and their needs before our own, to singing loudly and learning, by repetition, common songs. To shuttering commerce on an agreed-upon day and giving everyone a chance to rest with the people we love. To bringing the old and young together; to wondering about common good. 

There's a group trying to do this in cities all over the world called Sunday Assembly. The founders say they wanted to create something like church, but open to anyone, of any belief, who wants to live better, help often, and wonder more. Assembly-goers sing, listen to talks and musical performances and readings, eat donuts and drink coffee afterward, and get together on other days to volunteer. For a lot of reasons, it's appealing.


We have five churches in our tiny town, all Christian, and most fairly old. One is known for its concerts, and another for the community suppers it runs in the lean season from October to May. 

Last week we went to one of the Methodist Church dinners. I couldn't tell you the first thing about being Methodist—I'm not sure if they have a minister or a priest, I have no idea if they sing during services, and I don't know what the collective feeling is on what happens after death. Sally convinced us to go; we helped cook one of the dinners once, a few months ago, and she remembered vividly the desserts and the after-dinner play time with friends. 

The place was packed when we arrived. Our friend Teresa was washing dishes. Three other people we know from town waved us over to their table, motioning us to grab plates and sit down. We got in line and heaped them with sausages and peppers and potato salad and coleslaw. The kids sat scattered, where they fit next to other adults, and I spent most of dinner getting to know a man I'd initially squabbled with over the seating arrangement. I discovered I liked him, that he is a passionate birdwatcher and biologist and soft-spoken and kind. I lost Sally at one point and discovered her upstairs in the nursery with a friend, funneling stolen chocolate milk.

Going transformed my day. I hadn't really wanted to get the kids dressed and out of the house again, but Sally had insisted. Alex came toward the end, when he got out of work just as things were wrapping up. It didn't matter that he was late; he still got fed. We were sent off with leftovers, and we put money in the jar because we could.



But you can't buy that kind of supper. Open and free to the community, it offers something no restaurant can. It's a place to be together, without judgement or prerequisites. And while I realize that has not always been the reality of religion, I think it has often been the goal. And I think the goal, however it's realized, still stands.

To that end, there's an interesting intersection happening right now between the Pope and environmental leaders. In September, Pope Francis said that to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against God, and implored Catholics to confess their environmental sins. "The world's poor," he said, "though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact." Last month, leading world scientists traveled to the Vatican to discuss how to save the natural world, with organizers stating that “the living fabric of the world, which we enjoyed in Genesis, Chapter II to protect, is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring.”

There are no easy answers. But it's a conversation we need urgently to be having, and I respect any leader who's willing to brave the truth, open up the conversation, and take a stand.

I'll be back soon, hopefully with a big pot of kale soup. 

3.02.2017

SEED ORDERING 2017 // the local food report

This week on the Local Food Report, my friend Jayde Dilks shared her 2017 seed order. 


Jayde is an excellent example of someone who shouldn't have time to garden, in that you'd never imagine she would. She manages a restaurant year round, full time, and often works both long and late. But the advantage to late, as she'll tell you, is that even if it's long, you still get a bit of your morning free, and morning is the best time for working in the dirt. And that is what I love about Jayde: she is busy, smart, creative, optimistic, and above all practical. 

To that end, her first rule for seed ordering is to grow what she eats in every day cooking, or what her friends will eat. Realistically there's no way she can keep up, so she likes to share, and she also likes to grow things she can preserve. Here's her list:

Boston Pickling Cucumber: This is an heirloom, known for its high yield, solid flesh, thin skin, and short, straight cukes. Jayde uses it to make garlic dill pickles, though seed packets say it's good for just about any kind of preserve.

Russet Burbank Potato: Also known as the "Idaho" potato, this is the most popular potato in America. It has a dry, flaky white flesh, stores well, and is excellent for everything from mashed potatoes to baked potatoes to (best of all!) French fries.

Yukon Gold Potato: Jayde says she tried purple potatoes last year, but they weren't her "cup o' tea" when it came to cooking. Yukon Golds are—as the name implies—yellow skinned and fleshed and makes great hash browns.

Iceberg Lettuce: It's not fancy, but it keeps well and there's nothing quite like the contrast between crisp, pale interior and ruffled, dark outer leaves to make a classic summer salad. It takes a while to get to full size (85 days), but it's worth the wait.

Sugar Lace Peas: These are bush snap peas—which means they don't need staking and won't topple over (like mine always do). On top of that, they're sweeter than the average sugar snap and has excellent yields.

Cute Stuff Pepper: This plant grows apple-size bell peppers that could be green, red or yellow and seed catalogs say they're excellent for petite stuffing peppers, which are one of Jayde's favorite dishes. Plus, as the name implies...they're cute.

Have you ordered your seeds yet? We are expecting a package from FedCo this week. And given the way the weather's warmed up recently...who knows? We might even put some arugula in the ground.

1.31.2017

FOOD & CONNECTIONS // elspeth


Food. To talk about my new favorite mâche salad or the pasta dish we made last night (kale, lots of it, olive oil, linguine)—in some ways, it doesn't feel like the point right now. It's not what we're talking about these days while we cook, it's not what Sally is asking questions about when we sit down to dinner.

It's clear, regardless of your politics, that there are a lot of people struggling in our country right now. The most pointed perspective I've heard since the election is episode #608 from This American Life. Over the course of an hour, reporters visit a young man going to work for the Trump administration, a group of self proclaimed Internet trolls, a border patrol agent, a pair of undocumented siblings who use their DACA status to return briefly to El Salvador, a civil servant at the DOE, and a woman who works in a factory where over half the employees, herself included, are losing their jobs. And what's clear from their voices is that while some of them are Democrats and some are Republicans and some are hopeful and some are angry, almost all of them are worried. 



I hadn't thought much until recently about the way those feelings can go together—hope is such a positive emotion and anger such a negative one—but in many ways, they're simply different expressions of the same underlying current. That current of worry is real, and it's powerful. 

There is no simple way to understand or to assuage this worry. It's complicated. And it's not always in our control. There is so much news circulating, and at such a rapid pace. In a lot of ways, it's overwhelming.

But perhaps because I'm an optimist, I'm starting to feel like maybe all this worry—and the widespread acknowledgement of this worry—is a good thing. We, all of us, should be worried. We have huge problems to tackle, huge divides to cross, huge leaps in understanding and action to make. But I feel like for the first time in my lifetime, everyone is talking about this undercurrent of previously-unspoken worry. There is a willingness to be honest that I have never before encountered, and an acknowledgement that we need to be on our toes, wide awake.

I'm trying to harness this honesty. I have thought a lot about how to do that and what to do with it, and I think there are two things that are important to do right now. The first is to make a list of positive change we believe we can affect in our own communities. My worry has a lot to do with climate change and environmental sustainability, and so my list does too

But the other thing we can do is to try to connect—not just with people we know and understand, but with people we don't know or understand, too. This will be easier for some people and in some places. But it will be equally important everywhere.



And that is why I still believe in the power of food. People connect most easily with a meal in front of them. Neighborhood potlucks, local restaurants, school lunch tables, family dinners, grocery stores, farmers markets—these are places where people make connections.

So in the spirit of building bridges, I will share that recipe for mâche salad. Mâche is a new green to me. I found it last year in the FedCo catalog ("Mâche, Verte de Cambrai. Open-pollinated. A small-seeded, small-leaved strain that performs especially well in cool or cold conditions and is the best kind for overwintering.") and decided to give it a try. It took almost a month to germinate, but it's been harvestable now since November. It grows year round on the Cape, even in our unpredictable winters, even after a snowstorm buries it for a few days. It is a new and unexpected hope. And at a potluck it is unusual, and a great reason to turn to someone you don't know well and start with conversation.

SIMPLE WINTER SALAD

If you don't have mâche, try using a mix of spinach and lettuce, or add some watercress.

1/2 pound mâche, or a mixture of spinach and lettuce
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
1/2 red onion, sliced into thin ribbons
a handful of crumbled blue cheese
1 avocado, sliced
walnut oil or olive oil and balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
sea salt to taste

Arrange the mâche in a salad bowl. Top with the pomegranate, red onion, blue cheese, and avocado. Drizzle with walnut oil or olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Toss gently and enjoy at once. 

1.04.2017

MAKING BUTTER // elspeth


2017: it is here, we are entering into a brave and terrifying new year. And I'd like to really dig into that, to spend more time here talking about the serious stuff. But first, we need to talk about something wonderful. I.e., butter.

Have you ever made your own butter? It happened, around here, on a lark. We've been getting cream from a local farm—a thick, gloppy, luscious quart of it each week, because that's the only size the farm sells—and using it for coffee and whipping and pouring over thawed, sweet strawberries. But a quart is so much! And since it's not homogenized or pasteurized, it doesn't keep past a week. It doesn't rot, either, but it does slowly sour until it's not what you want for coffee or sweets. (Anyone experienced in sour cream making? Please share!)

So a few weeks ago we decided to try to preserve it. The most obvious way, of course, is butter—you can't freeze cream and keep it in good shape, but you can quite nicely freeze butter. And it turns out all you need to make it is very cold water, a food processor or electric mixer (or brute strength), some salt, a sieve, and a bowl. In short, things you already have on hand.

After dinner one night I found a tutorial in Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking. Alex and I poured the cream into our food processor and let it spin until we got first whipped cream, and then butter globules and buttermilk. This took about 3 minutes. Then we strained out the buttermilk, put the butter globules back in the food processor with some salt, pulsed a few times, and strained it again. Finally we "washed" the butter: put some ice and water in a metal mixing bowl, kneaded the butter globules together in the water like you would bread, dumped the cloudy water, and repeated this process two more times until the water was clear. I'd say from start to finish turning the cream into butter took 10 minutes. We packed the butter into a glass crock, made sure to squeeze out all the water, and put it in the freezer. Then we drove to Maine for a week.


When we got home, we took the butter out of the freezer. I am happy to report that it has done its job well—the cream is preserved—and better still, in butter form, it is stunningly delicious. It is excellent on toast, and better still on homemade biscuits. 

When we went to told Sally what we'd done, how we made it—look! we made our own butter! so, cool, right?!—she shrugged. "I've done that at school before," she said. "It's easy." 

Always putting things in perspective, kids.


TO MAKE BUTTER

1 quart heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon "pickling" (kosher) salt

Pour the cream into a the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. (A food processor is more powerful and will make the process faster, but both will work.) Beat until it thickens first into whipped cream, then separates into fat globules and buttermilk. Beat in the salt. Place a bowl beneath a sieve and strain the fat from the buttermilk. Return the fat globules to the food processor. Beat for another minute or so, then strain again. Save the buttermilk for baking or another purpose.

Now fill a large metal bowl with cold water and a handful of ice cubes. Use your hands to knead the butter to force out as much buttermilk as possible. (Darina says this is important, as any buttermilk left in the butter will sour and the butter will spoil quickly.) But be careful not to handle the butter for too long with warm hands, or it will liquefy. 

Drain the water, refill the bowl with ice and water, and repeat this process 1-2 times more until the water is not cloudy but instead remains clear. Shape the butter into pats, use a mold, or pack it into a crock. It will keep for at least a week in the fridge, and indefinitely in the freezer. The more careful you are with the washing, the longer it will keep.

11.21.2016

KITCHEN TIP // elspeth

Halloooo out there. It's chilly! Happily, the chickens don't seem to mind. We've got one lady laying and we're waiting semi-patiently for the other six to start. Eggs! And they've got healthy-looking orange yolks. We'll see how long that lasts—you experienced hen-keepers out there, do you notice a change when your chickens are more cooped up over the winter? Do you keep them cooped up over the winter? The leaves are all fallen and a coyote stopped by the other day and I finally decided it's the season for the ladies to stop running around the yard and start staying in their run. We filled it with oak leaves and I'm bringing them food scraps and we're trying to keep them busy hunting around in the dirt, but I'm still wondering if it's the right thing to do. Which is to say: if you do something else, I'd love to hear about it. 


To that end, I have kind of a random tip to share with you today. It's about celery: I don't see it often at farmers markets, so whenever I do I buy a few heads. I break them down and cut off the leaves and trim the ends, and then I slice all the stalks thinly, like you would for stuffing or soup. I do the same thing when I buy the occasional head of celery at the grocery store, because I find I rarely use more than a few stalks for whatever recipe I need it for, and otherwise the rest goes to waste. I put the trimmings in mason jars to freeze for using for stocks and I put the sliced celery in wide mouth mason jars so that I always have some on hand and easily accessible for soups and stuffing and stews. I think of it as a gift to my future self. 

My mother was here recently and remarked that she'd never though of that, and she's thought of just about everything. It inspired me to share.

To that end: I hope you have plenty of turkey and pie and celery coming your way, and somewhere warm to share.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

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