Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I love my dinner robot...I mean my husband.

Every week I run off to swim class telling Ben that I probably won't want dinner. It's a late class and I don't make it home until 9:45pm which is dangerously close to my normal bed time. Still almost every week I come home to a food fragrant house that is too tempting to turn down.

This last week it was double rice flowered fish with ginger and black caraway and sesame asparagus. Such a wonderful take on sweet and sour. As my heart rate and adrenaline levels settled, Ben told me about how he nearly burned the kitchen down while cooking. He was glowing with the excitement of his culinary adventure. As I ate and filled Ben in on my class, my belly and my heart grew full. It wasn't long before we were both sleepy and ready for bed. As I buried myself underneath the covers and turned off the light, all I could think was, how lucky was I to have a husband who could cook so well and who could turn a brief late-night dinner into such a delightful experience.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Salty and Sweet


I have a confession to make: I'm scared. I've been scared of just about everything for most of my life, but right now, I fear that my current unease at putting myself out there in the world, as in dancing when I feel like it, engaging in conversion with an acquaintance, pursuing writing, as in singing karaoke at a bar with friends, taking myself seriously in a career, or picking up a dusty paintbrush, and the dissatisfaction that comes along with it will eventually destroy the happiness I currently posses in my personal life, aka, Ben and Hannah. Because fear thrives on neglect, you have one of two choices: confront the fear in the hopes that you posses the stamina to repeatedly venture past it or, go to such extremes to avoid it, that you end up alienating the ones that you love and even your own hopes and desires. 
Parenthood brings to the surface a lot of the crap we have painstakingly packed away in the neglected attics of consciousness. It can be an arduous and isolating journey coming to terms with how much our own fate is tied to that of our children's and this last year for me has been both salty and sweet. I have never been the type of person to push myself too hard, but being Hannah's mother has done something irrevocable to me. From the very first time she nuzzled into my chest, I felt a powerful desire to be something more. I yearn to be a better person, for me, and through me for her. It is as though her little bright eyes shined a light on every crevice of my being, exposing every lie I had ever sold myself for the sake of comfort. Living without these lies has been uncomfortable to say the least, but it has also been an amazing opportunity, for without them my options are plain. I can close my eyes and stand still - and in doing so, throw away my self-respect and  the potential respect of my daughter, or I could move forward, learn how to live, and become a worthy role model.

My mother loves telling the story of how as a baby I once fell while trying to pull myself up on a rickety piece of furniture. I apparently disliked the experience so much that, in an effort to avoid falling ever again, from that point on I shook everything I pull up on. Very clever for an infant, but as I watch Hannah learn to walk, and run, and jump with an unflinching determination, I can't help but wonder if my 'very clever' approach has translated to my adult life. It is scary watching Hannah find her footing in this world, her approach so unlike mine. When Hannah wants something, she goes straight for it. She falls, and falls again, never letting the experience impede her from trying again . She might alter her approach slightly, but pull back the reins she does not and you know what? She always succeeds. When I see her try a new stunt, like ridding her rocking horse standing up (one handed!!), I've stopped saying no. Because, although my insides are churning with the fear of her failure, she always succeeds... eventually. Perhaps all the caution with which I have lived my life, though protecting me from life's bumps and bruises, has also hindered me from taking chances, being reckless, following my desires, and most importantly, moving forward. 

Unfortunately, taking a good look at your fears does not diminish them. I'm beginning to get the feeling that they never go away and that we can only hope to grow more comfortable with them. So comfortable, that we no longer let them steer us away from the things we love, from the people we love. In my case, the solution is simple: it's time that I take a few spills and, in taking a cue from my 14 month old daughter, get back up, brush myself off, and keep going. It's called growing up, and what a relief to be finally doing it! The ironic part is that, in my endeavor to become a role model for my daughter, she has actually become my mine.




I'm going to try this out:
Little Peasant
Let me know what you think...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mom's Black Bean Burgers

The title Stay at home mom does not convey in entirety the job that it is presumes to represent. Before I actually was one, SAHM (for this purpose lets just call it mom) sounded like a one note job such as working on a factory line or answering phones. I had no idea just how complex being the caretaker of a fragile young thing could be. On a regular day, being a mom requires one to be a bodyguard, a personal assistant , an occupational therapist, and even a pillow. Yes, a pillow! On a bad day, it is essential that you be a nurse, a referee, and to be endowed with the infinite wisdom of the Dali Lama himself. The briskness with which you must change these hats, and the ability to match the appropriate role to each circumstance has left me more tired then chasing my very active 13 month old around the playground. The one role that I am surprised to say, brings out the most doubts in my ability, is the role of personal chef.

When my daughter first started eating solids, I was so excited to introduce her to all the flavors and textures that the world had to offer. I made her the most exciting purees; sweet potato with citrus, ginger and sage, pureed peas with mint, and roasted carrots with garlic and cumin. She literally ate it up. She was such a complicit little foodie that I had no idea what was just around the corner. Of course people warned me; They told me how their baby had been a good eater, once, before toddlerhood left them surviving solely on PBandJ and plain pasta. It was hard to imagine my pickled herring eating little girl turning her nose up to anything. Then one day it happened, the tongue trust. It's heartbreaking seeing your child spitting out food you worked so hard to cook, but it is something I would get used too. Most green vegetables were a no-go. Broccoli was abhorred. She'd happily eat something one day, then turn her nose up to it the next. Then, one day, she refused to be fed from a spoon and purees were a thing of the past.

Being my daughter's personal chef, and her my critic, has been a true learning experience, and a humbling one at that. Every time I step into the kitchen to make her lunch, or dinner, or breakfast, I have no idea what is going to happen, and how much of it will end up on the floor. It is like my very own cooking challenge only, there are no TV cameras, and it is not a reality show. Sometimes, she wolfs the food down, and others she is much happier smushing it between her fingers or smearing it across her high chair tray. What I have learned, is to not take it so personally, to not give up (I finally got her to eat broccoli hidden under a cheesy quinoa casserole), that ketchup is not evil, and that, in the end, I'd rather not be my daughter's warden. In every other role that I play for my daughter, I do my best to step back and let her discover the world in what way works for her. Do I let her play with matches, of course not! When she falls, I do my best to catch her, and when she throws her lunch on the freshly moped floor, I take a deep breath and with that wisdom I was talking about, I free her from her high chair so she can play. She will of course, be hungry later. Especially when I've made these oh so delicious, toddler friendly, and vegetable laden black bean burgers.


Mom's Black Bean Burgers
  • Ingredients

  • 1 can of Amy's refried Beans
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 Cup of Panko
  • 1/2 Cup of mushrooms diced
  • 1 shredded kohlrabi
  • 3 Tbs of corn flour
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (cheddar or parm)
  • 3Tbs mayonaise
  • 2 Tbs of oil

Heat 1 Tbs of oil over a medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 4 mins.
Add Kohlrabi and cook for another 3 mins. Let mixture cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the beans, eggs, Panko, corn flour, cheese, mayo, and oil. Mix well.
Add in the mushroom/kohlrabi mixture.
Form mixture into paddies before placing them onto a non stick heated pan to cook.
I make the patties toddler sized, but you can make then adult sized.
Cook on each side until done, about 4 mins roughly.
I freeze these individually and reheat them in the toaster.
Once heated, I cut them into wedges and serve them with a dipping sauce.





Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Gripping Revelation

On the nights that I handle Hannah's wake ups, Ben kindly lets me sleep in and brings me coffee in bed. Sometimes the coffee is just the way I like it, pipping hot with just the right amount of milk and sugar. Then, other times, he brings me coffee that is too strong, with not enough milk, and to my horror, luke warm. When he hands over the flawed cup, I find it impossible to conceal my dismay. He'll look at me ruefully as I take a sip and ask, "what's the matter?" He knows of course that it's the coffee.

All the time in my head I am wondering, 'does he listen to me when I tell him that I no longer like the coffee at Fort Defiance because it is too strong for me? That, post baby I have turned into a regular strength coffee drinker?' I question weather he sees me take the time to heat my coffee cup so that my coffee is as hot as possible. Doesn't he notice that my coffee is four shades lighter than his? This is why I need a coffee robot, I declare quietly to myself.

So many rituals in my life have been changed or eradicated since the birth of my daughter, but my morning coffee is not one of them. In fact it is as important as ever. Even Hannah herself understands the transformative properties of that magical brown concoction. Every morning she watches with delight as I guzzle my morning potion waiting with glee for it to take effect. I wonder how old she will have to be before she can make me coffee in the morning...

It was this past Tuesday night that I had the gripping revelation. They were playing WALLIE at the pier and Ben and I were picnicking. I had made sandwiches and he had made potato salad. I forgot to put basil on the sandwiches and they weren't very good, but he didn't say anything. As I watched the movie, ironically about a cute little robot, I realized that, on those morning where I am too tired to make my own coffee, I actually do have a coffee Robot, my husband. And as I watched my coffee robot eat my untasty sandwich without complaint, it hit me. Though it has been my dream to own one, I don't actually deserve a coffee robot. Awch.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hot Chicks, Cool Celery

With temperatures in Brooklyn hitting record highs, Cindy, one of my chickens, gave me a look of both sorrow and disdain. "May as well toss me in the oven, I bet it would be cooler than this heat-locker of a coop... at least the kitchen is air conditioned!"

Of course she didn't actually say that, but she just about implied it with those kvetching eyes of hers. I do love a good roasted chicken, so I was tempted to take Cindy up on her offer however, it seemed pure madness to even consider turning the oven on during such a heat wave.

If only Cindy could cool down with the refreshing celery elixir Ben made with our Red Hook CSA celery greens. She would be a mighty cool chick kickn' back with a icy glass of this aromatic brew. Instead she'd just another hot chick rollin' around in the dirt wishing she understood the meaning of air-conditioning.

Red Hook Celery Brew

  • 2 cups of celery leaves
  • 1 gallon water
  • ½ tablespoon celery seed
  • 6-10 oz. agave syrup or twice as much sugar syrup
  • Juice of 1-2 limes

  1. Coarsely chop celery leaves
  2. Add leaves and seeds to water in stock pot and boil for 10-15 minutes
  3. Let cool and strain into gallon jar
  4. Add sweetener and lime juice
  5. Server over ice in a collins glass



Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Ugly Pancake


My Mother never told me that not every pancake, is a good looking pancake. So it only stands to reason that I was more than a little thrown when I made these tasty, yet incredibly homely pancakes for the first time

It all began with a game of Something-Out-Of-Nothing - a game where I try and come up with a tasty meal out of what happens to be in the house. On this day in particular, all I had was some cold leftover oatmeal, 2 bananas, flour, and some eggs. Apparently, that's all I needed!

These pancakes were delicious, they were healthy, charming (yes, charming), great out of the fridge, they fit perfectly in the toaster, they had everything going for them... well, almost everything. These tasty cakes were only missing one thing, and there was no sugar coating what it was, these pancakes were not easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean.

I tried covering them up, drowning them in whipped cream and berries. I tried garnishes of all kinds, but nothing could hide their grayish brown complexion and peculiar shape. Unable to cope with the great disparity between taste and looks, I eventually stopped making them, and forgot all about their unappealing looks... until today. It was while I was eating cold leftover oatmeal that an image flashed into my mind. I was horrified. Not by the thought of these 'homely' pancakes, but of what an immature foodie I was to kick these delicious breakfast fritters to the curb for not being perfect. These pancakes weren't ugly, they were just different! How superficial can you get!

After whipping up a batch, this time using buckwheat flour, I am happy to say that they were even more delicious then I remembered, and I must say, kinda cute (yes cute!)

So, please, tell all your children, tell your friends, tell the guy sitting next to you on the bus: there is no such thing as an ugly pancake!


Blueberry Peach Oatmeal Fritters

ingredients

  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Buckwheat flour (or whatever flour you desire)
  • 2 very ripe mashed bananas (optional)
  • 4 eggs (whisked)
  • 1 peach diced
  • 2 handfulls of blueberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4tsp ground clove

  1. Cook the oats, water, syrup, and spices over medium heat for about 3 mins
  2. Add berries and peaches and cook an additional 2 mins (add more water if dry)
  3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and let mixture cool
  4. Once oatmeal is room temperature, add eggs, flour, and bananas and stir until mixed well
  5. Ladle the batter out into a lightly oiled, non stick pan in sand dollar sized disks
  6. Cook over a medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side


*these guys are great for freezing and reheat great in the toaster.

** Also good finger food for babies who are able to use their pinchers to feed themselves. I break these up into bite sized pieces for my 9 month old daughter. She just loves feeding herself these for breakfast.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Defining Romantic


Some people would like you to believe that once you have children romance is dead and that spontaneity is out the window. Don’t believe them. While it is likely you will have to repress a few impulsive urges, that does not mean that you can never enjoy an impromptu romantic afternoon or evening. Babies take naps, so do toddlers, older kids have music class and sleepovers, and they all thankfully have a bedtime. In fact, allowing for romance post child requires that you embrace spontaneity with a fervor like never before. It requires a whole new level of ingenuity, ardor, dedication, and lets face it, a few hours of lost sleep.


I have never been a fan of The ‘Romantic’ dinner. The candlelight, the soft music, the strawberry shortcake for two, the whole thing just seems absurdly premeditated. As if romance were something calculated. I happen to know that Fancy Valentine’s Day prefixes are the antithesis of romance. Nothing can ruin the wild nature of prospective love more then sitting in a room full of other hopefuls trying to approximate the very same thing. While you can aspire for romance, you can’t plan for it, and you certainly can’t buy it for $85 a head with a complimentary glass of Prosecco. Romance is organic, uncultivated; it grows out of adoration; respect, and desire, spontaneity is what sets it aglow. Sure, strawberries and Champagne with a loved one is special, but I’ll take getting caught in a rainstorm then warming up with a hot toddy with them any day.


For Ben and I, a romantic dinner usually includes cooking together, though sometimes we cook meals for one another. Much of the time it involves us geeking-out on how the food turned out, what we would do differently next time, and waxing about future cooking challenges. Sometimes we will choose a bottle of wine to go with the meal or make a cocktail and other times not. We never plan these romantic dinners, so it hard to say what they will involve and its hard to define what exactly makes them romantic. They pretty much just come about on their own, Hannah goes to sleep easily, the meal just comes together, we are both ready and willing to un-wind. What I can say, it that, now that we have Hannah, there is one ingredient that we can pretty much count on in order for us to have a romantic dinner, and that’s a baby monitor.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

About Time I Told You...

Browsing the the pages of a suddenly-and-out-of-nowhere-inactive-blog is what it must be like to walk the streets of a post apocalyptic city. There is something incredibly eerie and even sad about grazing in the sunken footsteps of something that was once so alive. So why haven't I made an entry to Gourmet Peasant in over a year? I thought it was about time I told you...
Meet Hail Storm Hannah, my daughter. That's right, I did not get abducted by aliens, or become less obsessed with the food I eat, nor have I become a food-fobic. I have merely become one of THOSE people.
You know who I'm talking about. I've joined the army of stroller pushers. If I go to a restaurant for dinner, it's to the early 5pm seating. Dinner conversation may include a myriad of subjects such as baby pooh, teething, and spit-up. Entertainment, provided by Hannah herself, may include the blowing of spit bubbles, experimental vocal stylings, and even flatulence. What I am trying to tell you, is that I have become one of those people who, if I have time to make a delicious meal, I surely don't have time to write about it. And, though I am sorry to have lost anything even remotely resembling free time, I have to admit, I am loving every minute of it!
In the weeks to come I will be trying to carve out a bit of time to share with you the wonderful meals I have been having, and making, and the wonderful new companion I have with me in life and in the kitchen.
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Why I Hate Thanksgiving...Not!

Now, if you thought that I was going to go into a bloated diatribe about why Thanksgiving sucks, then your wrong. It is however, a common theme echoed across the blogshpere this time of year. I hate Turkey, my family sucks, everyone just sits around the TV watching football, its a holiday based around killing the Indians, these are but of few of the Internet yodeling justifying why the Holiday stinks. Why argue with that, right? Wrong.

So you hate Turkey, that's fine. One of my customers at the shop hates it as well, but instead of calling off the holiday or complaining about how much he hates fowl, he served his guests Surf & Turf. Hate going home for the Holiday because your family is crazy, then don't go home, host your owl Thanksgiving and ban TV watching all together.

Don't agree with the ideology behind the celebration, then come up with your own. Host your own dinner in honor of the way of life that was destroyed by the settlers. Have all your guests dress in black and cook traditional Native American dishes. What I'm, trying to say, is that you have the power to reinvent the holiday.

As for me, I love thanksgiving. I love it because, over the past 12 years, my friends and I have created our own Thanksgiving traditions based on what we feel the Holiday should be about. It's all about the Family that you choose,

and a table big enough to house them all,
Its about smacking the Turkey,
answering tough questions like, Muppets or Fraggle Rock?
and behaving like a child again,

For me, its about cooking a feast that is worthy of friendships that have survived and thrived over the years,
its about cooking with loved ones,

and most importantly, its about Dorky Dance competitions,

video
To the Thanksgiving haters, these sentiments may seem paltry but, to them I say, try it one year, and then tell me you can't come up with at least one reason to be thankful.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Roommates

Having roommates is never easy. Even if you get along like like fried eggs and ham, there are bound to be some habits that grate on one another's nerves, for example, dirty dishes left in the sink, bogarting the remote, and singing along with every song played on the stereo. But, what if your list of annoying roommate habits included molting, pecking, and smelling like a chicken?Buzz and Auntie have recently been subjected to two new coopmates and to be honest with you, I am beyond disappointed to find that they have not only been picking on one of the new girls, but they have been brutally assaulting assaulting her.
The new chicks arrived Sunday evening and after evaluating their temperaments we decided that, due to her unflappable and cordial charm we would sneak the funny looking blackTurken, Bruja , into the coop while Buzz and Auntie were sleeping. This is a pretty standard integration tactic for new chickens and it seemed to work well enough forBruja. The next morning Buzz and Auntie picked on her a bit, but the climate of the coop had hardly been compromised.

The integration of chicken number two- Cinderella I'll call her for now - has proven to be more of a challenge. From the start she was very skittish and defensive, and for this very reason we decided to give her one more day to calm down before throwing her into the mix. The next day, when I brought her cage into the chicken run to set her loose,Bruja immediately ran over. How sweet, I naively thought, she's coming over to greet her old friend. I could not have been farther off the mark. As soon as Bruja reached Cinderella, she began pecking at her angrily. Buzz and Auntie soon caught wind of the assault and, like a pack of high school mean girls, backed up their new feathered companion by closing in on Cinderella from all sides. It was a barbaric display, one that has persisted all week long with early morning ambushes, heartbreaking cries for help, and many a rescue. It's hard to believe that my dear little chick-a-dees are capable of being suck bitches!
It's so bad that it has me wondering if I will be forced to put an end to this torment with a recipe I found in an old cookbook from 1909.
You hear that girls! You might want to re-think behaving in such an unlovable fashion so close to Thanksgiving... I do have 17 mouths to feed after all.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Sick and Twisted Lot...

Think about the three worst things that could happen to a foodie and sure enough, stomach ailments would be on that list – that's at least the conclusion I've come to after six days of unspeakable torture at the hands of the stomach flu. I hardly have to get into details to convey the pains, discomforts, and embarrassments everyone goes threw when they come down with a stomach virus, and if you share a bathroom with one or more people well, its just down right awful.
So everyone gets it, the Stomach flu sucks! But it sucks oh so much more for foodies. Why is that? Foodies suffer in ways non-foodies dare not imagine. For these food-frenziests, not only are they being robbed of their valuable vitamins and nutrients every time they head hastily to the bathroom, they are being robbed of something much more precious; they are being robbed of the notion of a good meal.

For the foodcentric, having their three meals a day stripped down to three saltine crackers, a ramekin of plain white rice, and a gallon of smart water may be tolerable... for a day!
But as day two rolls around, the outlook becomes bleak enough for them to gamble their digestive tranquility on riskier foods items such as, pumpkin gnocchi and roasted sweet potatoes. And such is the sick and twisted lot of a foodie, that as their stomach grumbles in protest of their imprudent decision - it was the pumpkin gnocchi of course - they ironically comfort themselves with episodes of Dinners Drive-ins and Dives, Good Eats, and Top Chef.
Sure, it may seem masochistic to fawn over an HD version of a 12oz. Burger drenched in Sister Sally’s Special Spicy Sauce as your intestines rally to take you down. But let me assure you, as the days pass - and intestinal health appears to be further away then anticipated - I myself have become so pooped (pardon the expression), that simply the idea of salt-brined pork loin and Chocolate Molten Cake has become spiritually nourishing.

For this Brooklyn Foodie, it has been six days of edible torment peppered with endless excursions to the bathroom. The only reason I am able to patiently await the day I can wrap my lips around a butter laden chocolate chunk cookie and let it melt in my mouth with little to no gastric consequences, is because I have sustained myself wholly on just the notion of the Barefoot Contessa’s scrumptious looking Carrot Cake - covered in pineapple, on the savory idea of Sopapillas from Salsa Brava in Flagstaff AZ, on early morning daydreams of quick-fire challenges involving poached eggs - Ruben style, on the itellectual essence of Crab Salad Strudel, Basil infused Ice Cream, Ham Hocks, and Bok Choy, and on the desire for Bread Pudding with a very Chocolaty Twist. How many un-foodies can say the same? Not many. That's because the only thing a non-foodie has lost to the Stomach Flu, is their lunch.

Friday, September 04, 2009

There's a new Bird in Town

Not Many trips to our local kitchen supply store, A Cooks Companion, don't result in the purchase of some fun new kitchen gadget or appliance. Mashers, strainers, mortar and pestles, knife sharpeners, you name it, we've snatched it up from this foodie haven where the Le Creusets are as colorful as they are bountiful and the staff is always prepared to answer questions and help you in your latest culinary exploit. Our most recent visit resulted in my favorite kitchen addition to date, the adoption of a penguin!
That's right, Ben and I are now the proud owners of a penguin shaped seltzer maker. This funny looking bird cranks out seltzer in a matter seconds and comes with two glass storage bottles with tightly fitting screw caps to keep your bubbles bubbly for refrigerator storage. For the last two weeks the two of us have been drinking seltzer like it was our job, much to the chagrin of our dear chicken Buzz who doesn't know what to think of the addition of yet another bird into this Brooklyn household.

Don't worry Buzz, our growing love of the penguin could never eclipse our love of your daily visits or fresh eggs, you may however, want to rethink the early morning squawks.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tough Decisions

There are few things I like better than a visit to the Red Hook playing fields for some tasty Soccer Tacos. Whenever I find myself ridding past that one block radius packed with bustling food vendors, I find it nearly impossible not to stop for an impromptu brunch of Salvadoran Papusas (fried masa pancakes stuffed with cheese, beans, and or meat), Mexican Sopes, or Guatemalan style tamales. Today Ben and I did just that, and as we washed down our Carne de Rez and Frijoles Papusas with some fresh watermelon juice, I thought about how much I love love love Latin American food. The revelation of how much I love pickled jalapenos, avocados, anchos chilies, and masa - in all its forms - suddenly left me with a terrifying thought, what if I had to make a choice?
"If you could only eat two types of cuisine for the rest of your life, what would they be?" I asked Ben, who immediately fell silent with mournful contemplation.
It certainly wasn't an easy question to answer. I myself was still mulling it over. Mexican food would have to be one of the two, but that left a tough decision; I would have to choose between Thai, French, Vietnamese, or Italian food. For the sake of culinary summitry, French or Italian Cuisine would be a wise choice; but that would mean I could never have Thai or Vietnamese ever again! Was I ready to make that decision? Then again, wouldn't I tire of eating Mexican and Vietnamese, FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE! I thought of maybe changing the rules to this little, and perhaps masochistic game and allowing for three types of cuisine instead of two, but that just felt like cheating.
I took my last bite of Papusa, heavily drenched in spicy red salsa, and looked over at Ben to access his progress with the question. "Well?" I asked impatiently awaiting his answer. He took a deep breath as though ready to relinquish his forever rights to two of his favorites foods and said, "I don't think I like this game very much." Fare enough babe, neither do I. Game over.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

Question: How do you discipline a chicken?

This may seem like an out-of-the-blue question considering my lengthy absence. Working in the wine shop and bartending, moving in with Ben and adopting two new chickens has this Brooklyn Peasant tackling problems never before contemplated: How do you juggle two jobs, marry two kitchens, and more importantly, how do you protect your beloved egg laying chickens from a family of pesky raccoons? Lets just say that in my struggle to answer these questions, I have exhausted my search engine, entertained bar regulars with weekly poultry updates, needs have been met, and questions have been answered...all but one that is.

Combining Ben's kitchen and mine turned out to be easier than I had originally expected. Because together we turned out to have two of many kitchen utensils and appliances, we simply gave a few things away. Two friends of mine inherited my Cuisinart, and my soon to be ex-roommate, after a mini sharpening lesson, inherited some knifes, a steal, silverware, and some pots and pans.

The raccoons, though persistent, were easy to handle. Some two-by-fours, chicken wire, and some green paint was all we needed to keep our prized chick-a-dees from the clutches of the insatiable raccoons. Of course we did feel bad having to fence the girls in,
(See how Sad Buzz looks.)
and so we resolved to let them romp the yard freely on weekends and holidays when we would be around to guard them from potential predators.

This seemed to work just fine for a few weeks. Saturday morning the girls would wake us with their hungry squawks and we would stumble out sleepily to open the coop door. Out they would run as fast as their wirey little chicken feet could carry them and as Ben and I hammered away at the second story flooring,
the girls were free to scratch their way threw the back yard, eating pebbles and rolling around in the dirt to stay cool. During the week, Buzz would demand food and or attention in the morning and for the most part we would oblige her, but she was always quieted when we would come out to say hello and feed her a tasty treat of dried cranberries. We just thought that she was a super friendly chicken with out of the ordinary social needs. Little did we know we had created a monster.

It all started a week ago when Buzz woke us at 6am with squawks so load we figured she must be getting mauled by and intruding animal. Well there was no intruder. As we rushed outside to rescue our dear little chick, there she stood on the other side of the fencing, glaring at us with disdain. Though we fed her and gave her attention, her cries could not be extinguished. We did everything, we talked to her comfortingly, we yelled at her in English and then in Spanish, we even threw water at her, but she would quiet down only long enough to peck at the wire fencing that stood between her and freedom. Over the next week Buzz would wake us every morning with her murderous cries. On Buzz's mornings off Auntie, her feathered counterpart, would take the floor with her raspy chirps. Somehow, by answering every cry, and by giving the girls a taste of freedom, we had created little monsters. So here we are, back to my original question, How DO you discipline a chicken? Only when this question is answered will Ben and I get a full nights sleep.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Feefee Monster and The Coffee Fanatic Redux

I admit it. I am a coffee fanatic, a coffee geek, and a coffee snob. I love coffee so much that I am excited about my morning cup when I go to sleep the night before. French roast, American roast, French press, drip, espresso, cappuccino, with whole milk, skim, or half and half any which way is fine with me as long as I get it strong and hot. The first thing I do upon rising is to participate in my brewing ritual. I grind, I brew, and I always heat my mug – something I picked up from my mother. I dream of the day they invent a “Coffee Robot” that will brew coffee to my liking and wheel it in to me first thing in the morning saying, with electronic intonation, “Here is your coffee…Madeline.” I owe most of my fanaticism to my mother for getting me addicted at the ripe young age of two. There I sat in my high chair, reaching with delight for my morning fix, a tippy-cup filled with five parts milk and one part coffee, what I called my “feefee.” (i was to young to say the whole word!) Until the explosive morning when my mother forgot to add the one part coffee to my milk, she was entirely unaware of the fact that she had created a feefee monster. I threw my tippy-cup on the floor. I kicked, I screamed, I cried, “FEFEEEEE, FEFEEEE!!” She had had no idea just how bad my addiction had become. She eventually weaned me off the caffeine, but by age twelve I was drinking a cappuccino before school every morning.

Why am I telling you this? Well, partially because it is one of my favorite stories to tell, and partly because I want you to take me very seriously when I tell you that you should forever buy your coffee from Empire Coffee & Tea co. They are truly the best roasters around. Many others, claiming to be serious about their coffee, will tell you to buy from Puerto Rican Coffee co. PR Coffee co. my ass! Okay, perhaps that was a little harsh. PR’s coffee is good coffee, but it is maybe my second or third choice. More often than not their beans taste bitter and burnt. Empire’s coffee is simply better. Maybe its because they roast in small batches, or maybe its because they have been doing it with love for 91 years, who knows why . The store is located on 9th avenue in the forties and is nothing fancy. There are two couches in the front and sacks of coffee and jars of tea in the back. You can buy your coffee by the pound, or have a fresh brewed cup and biscotti from the counter. I have been going there for about 15 years now, and the staff has always been incredibly nice, it’s actually almost bizarre how nice- this is NY after all. If ninth ave and 42nd is too out of the way for you, you can order their coffee online. The web sight is a little wacky and easy to navigate, after you fill out you order form you can leave a comment, or “ you could write some poetry if you like.” I left a bit of Pablo Neruda the last time I ordered.
So if you yourself are a coffee snob, or just interested in becoming one check out Empire Coffee & Tea co. online or at their store locations:

568 9th ave (41st-42nd streets)
nyc, ny, 10036
(212) 268- 1220
(800) 262- 5908

http://www.empirecoffeetea.com/start.htm