Monday, July 30, 2007

This, er, rocks

We woke up the other day to find this. One of our best friends in town is the water meter reader, and he had left us a message!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Iron Chef Summertime

Week 5 of One Local Summer has come and gone, and this week the main goal was to use up three rather urgent items:

(1) A young turkey, about 5 pounds, that suffered a severe injury and had to be processed. This was agonizing. It's always terrible to see an animal in pain, but this was also our only male of a variety that we'd very much like to breed in the future. (That's Blue Slate, if you're curious. Really nice birds.) So I steeled myself, as you do in those situations, and did what had to be done. And then I tried my best to think of it as an ingredient. Not "the turkey," but "turkey." Ouch, what a way to ruin your day.

(2) Tomatoes. Thousands of them. Sooooo many tomatoes. Delicious tomatoes, all ripening at once. We've sold pound after pound (people are pretty impressed with the spread at the farmers' market, I think), dried some, froze some, meant to can some but didn't get to it yet, and still all the horizontal surfaces in the house are covered with toms.

(3) Ditto cucumbers. Not only do I grow them myself (three varieties!), but my friend L2 keeps foisting her extra slicers on anyone who'll take them.

What I made out of these three ingredients was sort of pan-Iberian: half Spanish and half Mexican. For the record, the two dishes didn't go together particularly well. But individually, they were both excellent.

Here's the turkey in mole sauce:

And here's the gazpacho:

The photos are awful, aren't they? Especially the mole one, which looks suspiciously like something you'd scrape off your shoe. Ew. But the flavors were outstanding.

Turkey - our own
Tomatoes - our own
Onions and garlic - our own
Dried cayenne peppers - our own
Almonds, raisins, baking chocolate, ancho chiles, lard, and other seasonings - elsewhere

Tomatoes - our own
Cucumbers - our own, and L2's (.25 mile)
Vidalia onion - central Georgia (about 130 miles)
Green pepper - L2's (.25 mile)
Stale bread - Luna Baking Corp., Athens, Ga. (35 miles)
Garlic - our own
Vinegar, olive oil, seasonings - elsewhere

As for dessert, we are struggling to keep up with a burgeoning supply of watermelons--because, I mean, who can turn one down? Fruit salads, licuados, you name it. Our most recent one was a yellow-fleshed watermelon from south Georgia that was one of the sweetest and best I've ever had. I was shocked to find that hardly anyone around here had ever seen a yellow-fleshed watermelon; I remember them from my childhood in Ohio. Maybe it's a regional thing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Sorry I've been so tardy about this. Last week after my One Local Summer post, a couple of you requested recipes. Here they are, with my changes noted:

. . . . . .

adapted from Molly Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

2 Tbs. butter (I omitted this, because I fried up a few strips' worth of bacon and used both the bacon and the grease in the chowder)
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped celery (I omitted this because I didn't have it, and it wouldn't have been local if I did)
1 sweet red bell pepper, minced (I used green because we had it)
4-5 cobs' worth of fresh sweet corn
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (I used fresh, so I used a bit more)
1/2 tsp. dried basil (ditto)
1 c. stock or water (I used water)
1 c. evaporated or whole milk (I used whole)

Cook the onions in the butter or grease until soft, then add peppers and corn. Add seasonings, stir well, and cover. Reduce heat and let cook 5 minutes.

Add water, cover, and simmer 10-20 minutes (Molly says 10, but that's pretty bare-bones if you ask me). Using a blender, pureƩ half the soup and add it back into the pot.

About 10 minutes before serving time, add the milk. Don't actually cook it; just warm it gently until it's hot enough to eat.

adapted rather loosely from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

6 to 8 c. sliced ripe peaches
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. flour
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 c. flour (I prefer a mix of soft wheat and all-purpose, but in this case I used only the former)
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. cold butter, cut up
1/2 c. buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8x10-ish oval or rectangular dish.

In the dish, toss together the peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon, 1/4 c. flour, and lemon juice.

In a bowl, mix the 1 1/2 c. flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the buttermilk until dough clings together. Scoop up large spoonfuls of dough and "cobble" them onto the top of the fruit.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden and has lost its doughiness underneath (you may have to stick a spoon in near the center to ascertain this). Serve warm.

. . . . . .

By the way, what are your favorite fresh fig recipes? They're in season right now and I've just bought a LOT of them from a nice elderly gentleman at the farmers' market, so I need your help. I already make that classic delicious salad with the fresh mozzarella and basil and prosciutto (mmmmmm). I eat a lot of them plain, of course. I have been known to make fresh fig ice cream, but I'm not in the mood for heavy creamy stuff lately. What else should I do?

The world in mid-Georgia

I think my international cooking craze started when we moved out to the country. Because we were no longer surrounded by restaurants, I got it in my head that if I wanted to eat decent world cuisine, I was going to have to Iron Chef it myself.

About that time, my cookbook collection--already a couple of U-Haul boxes in size--truly began to explode. Now it is all we can do to find places for the new entries. Major collections began to accumulate, especially when I discovered how frequently volumes from the justifiably renowned Time-Life Foods of the World series showed up in thrift stores. (I think I have almost all of them now, both hardbound cultural studies and spiral-bound recipe books. And, as with almost all my cookbooks, I got them for a song.)

For a long time, Asian food has been a weak spot in my repertoire. But a couple of months ago I started learning spoken and written Mandarin, and it seemed as good a time as any to whip my Chinese cooking into shape. So far, reviews have been mixed: I loved my tea-cooked eggs, but the s.o. thought they were "funky" and my friends looked askance at their goth-style cobweb markings. A batch of bitterish almond cookies satisfied no one.

But there's one recipe that has produced a fantastically snackalicious addition to my repertoire. From the Foods of the World China volume, I present...


2 medium cucumbers
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. Tabasco
1/2 tsp. salt

Peel and seed the cucumbers, and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Toss with remaining ingredients. Chill.

Easy, eh? Don't blame me when you eat two batches of it per day. Remember, I said "snackalicious."

That salad, along with the tasty Fish Fillet Soup Noodles from Stella Lau Fessler's Chinese Seafood Cooking, made up this week's One Local Summer meal. Neither the noodles nor the seasonings were local, but the dishes made such excellent use of our homegrown and home-caught foods that I decided to go with it.

Cucumbers - our own
Seasonings - elsewhere

White bass - caught in Oconee River (20 miles)
Fish stock - frozen from fish caught at local fishing creek (12 miles)
Green onions and jalapeƱo peppers - our own
Noodles and seasonings - elsewhere

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Local Summer: Week 3

Back in the old days, produce wasn't the only thing that ebbed and flowed according to the seasons. Meat was seasonal, too. People ate quick-maturing, quick-to-prepare poultry in fair weather, then slaughtered a hog when the first cold snap arrived. With no refrigeration, they depended on the weather to chill the larger animal's meat while they hurried to process and cure it.

Well, we definitely have refrigeration, but the same is turning out to be true for us. We always get our pig in midwinter and eat more poultry throughout the rest of the year. 2007 marks the first time we've raised any chickens specifically for meat, and we're starting to reap the benefits now. Dark Cornishes are flighty, but they are really worth raising!

This is what we ate for this week's One Local Summer meal:

Chicken - our own
Thyme - our own
Vinegar, butter, and wine - elsewhere

Corn - Athens, Ga. (35 miles)
Milk - Starr, S.C. (73 miles)
Green pepper - my neighbor's (.25 mile)
Onion - Vidalia, Ga. (136 miles)
Bacon - our own, from a central Georgia pig
Basil and thyme - our own
Butter - elsewhere

Peaches - south Georgia, because all the peaches in north and central Georgia were killed in the spring frost
Soft wheat flour - Athens, Ga. (35 miles)
Buttermilk - Starr, S.C. (73 miles)
Butter, baking powder, sugar, lemon - elsewhere


Ah, the summer slump...

...when I just can't seem to make myself blog anything.

Well, never fear. I am still here, doing all the usual: eating local food, taking naps with dogs, studying Mandarin Chinese while weeding the garden, etc. I heart podcasts. When your body has to do the dishes, it's great to let your brain do something else.

We have also been battling these:

And playing with these:

Monday, July 09, 2007

Fuzzy math

I counted the quail. There are FORTY of them. OMG.

My excuse is that they are small and move quickly.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Identity crisis

Can someone help me figure out what the heck this mystery cockerel is? Yes, this is our friend the mystery chick, all grown up and as enigmatic as ever.

It has naked blue legs, a beard, no crest, and what so far appears to be a pea or rose comb...

...and its feathers are white spattered with black. It is unusually tall and fairly slender in build.

It came from Murray McMurray, so one would assume it's something they sell. In other words, it's probably not an Appenzeller Barthuhner or anything really weird like that.

Anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This is how we get overcommitted

Whew! Long time no post, I know. I've just been very busy. First we had a delightful visit from Ms. Jenny, AKA Stew (about which, more later). But right after she left, a friend dropped by to give us a gift: a box of tiny, peeping, chipmunky Coturnix quail chicks. We have so far been unable to count them, but there seem to be at least 20.

I've put off posting about them until I was fairly certain (from web searches, etc.) that we don't need a breeder license to have them. And it appears we don't--that's just native Bobwhite quail, and it's just if you're going to sell live birds. So all is revealed.

Do you know how difficult it is to photograph a constantly-moving animal the size of a shrew? Blursville. Oh, well.

We hadn't planned on getting quail--I mean, we have enough to deal with!--but that's sort of how things work in the country. People have animals, the animals change owners, people take up unexpected hobbies. These do seem relatively low-maintenance, at least: They are kept in rabbit-hutch-type accommodations, and they start laying one egg per hen per day at age 6 weeks. The males are ready to eat at about the same time.

I picture myself from now on cooking like Bobby Flay on Iron Chef: Tiny fried quail eggs on top of nearly everything I put on the table.

In other bird-related news, we took down the partition between the ducks and geese, and they have not bothered each other in the least. Victory! One pen is much more convenient than two when it comes to feeding, watering, etc. Maybe that sort of makes up for the unexpected foray into quail.

So, Jenny. She came on Sunday and we had a really fun pool party over at L2's house. For a while it looked as though we wouldn't be doing any outdoor activities; lightning struck on our property when we were getting in the car. Despite seeing the bolt spark off our power lines, the s.o. heroically managed not to drop the fruit salad he was carrying. Then the skies opened and it rained buckets for about 20 minutes. Then the sun came out again. After a nervous peek at, we commenced swimming and hot-tubbing.

On Monday we lazed around a lot and then went to our favorite fishing spot. I caught the world's smallest largemouth bass (catching minuscule fish is a special talent of mine) and Jenny got in some quality birdwatching. We saw an indigo bunting, a belted kingfisher, a common yellowthroat, and a prothonotary warbler. The birds there really are spectacular! (Jenny, don't be jealous, but the next night we went back again and I accidentally flushed out a pair of great blue herons at very close range!

And lest I forget to mention it, on Monday afternoon we had an all-local Greek-themed meal, which I respectfully submit for this week's One Local Summer entry:

Milk - Starr, S.C. (73 miles)
Cornmeal - Athens, Ga. (35 miles)
Feta cheese - Athens, Ga. (35 miles)
Lamb's quarters - Royston, Ga. (55 miles)
Mint, dill, sorrel, chard - our own
Olive oil - exempt

Lamb - I am having an awful time remembering what town our lamb source is in, and I can't find their business card; let's just say it's no more than 150 miles away and is somewhere in middle Georgia.
Oregano - our own
Olive oil and lemon - exempt

And now, speaking of food, I have to go feed the dogs...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Look! Look!

Liz has started a whole new blog to house the burgeoning One Local Summer project. I've just posted a roundup of the southern participants' Week 1 meals. Go check it out!