Goose Egg Pasta

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Did you know it’s egg season? That idea always cracks me up. (Ouch, bad joke, but it’s true!) Anyway, the daylight hours are getting longer—today is the vernal equinox—and the chickens are getting back in the groove. I’ve been getting some beautiful chicken eggs from my neighbors, pictured on the left. I always enjoy getting duck eggs, center dozen, and found some the other day from Glenerie Farms in Saugerties. They also had goose eggs, which were a spectacular treat. I don’t need to tell you which ones they are. I was pretty shocked to hold one in my hand. Geese only lay about thirty eggs a year depending on breed, so around now is when you might be able to get your hands on one. The egg weighed 7.4 ounces. Without the shell, which I had to crack open with my large knife, it was 6. The yolk is a monster. The egg is mostly yolk, and the white is somewhat thin. I have read that when hard cooked the white is strangely translucent. Not clear, but not a truly opaque white like a chicken egg.

I thought the best thing to do with at least one of them was to make fresh pasta. The ratio for fresh pasta dough is 3:2, three parts flour to two parts egg. So this equation was easy: if my egg was six ounces then my flour ratio was 1.5 times that, or nine ounces. I added a pinch of salt, and proceeded as usual in my pasta making. I like to mix it in a bowl, because that old school right on the table thing is a mess, although that’s how my family did it when I was a kid. I rolled it out using my pasta machine, but hand cut it into thick noodles—not quite pappardelle. After cooking them, which took all of two minutes, I tossed them with butter, parmesan cheese and a little bit of cooking water. Served with chopped parsley and fresh pepper, it was a study in simplicity.

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Food Notes:

I suggest following Glenerie Farm on Instagram (@gleneriefarm) right away, as they have baby goats right now, and they are SO adorable. It’s a beautiful farm with chickens, ducks, geese, goats and horses. The animals are so well taken care of that you can feel it. A place so nice that E.B. White would have enjoyed writing about it.

Also, for the first time I tapped a few trees on my property yesterday. I don’t know why it took me so long–I have so many maple trees! Always planned it, never got around to actually doing it. A friend handed me a few spiles with tubing attached, and I figured even though it is late in the season, it was high time I explored this. I’ll keep you posted!

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Field Notes: Third Week in March

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On Tuesday, a historic storm descended that unloaded almost two feet of snow in this area. You can’t imagine—the amount of snow is so significant, that all everyone says is so much snow with a glazed look in their eyes. Between the vernal equinox this coming Monday, and that pesky daylight-saving time last Sunday, this is shaping up to be quite a week. Daffodils had been starting to bloom and the red maples’ buds were beginning their flush of red, and there was a palpable worry about this very early spring that the whole country was experiencing. Then this crazy March snowstorm came! Which is very much March, don’t you agree? It snowed all day long, and the winds were treacherous. I stared out the window for large chunks of time, mesmerized by the white screen of it that blanked out the house across the way. Every so often I would see a bird dart by, and I would wonder what it was like to be out there in the storm.

The whole week revolved around the storm. The day before we prepared, and I went for a long walk knowing I would be immobilized for a few days. The day of we stayed in almost all day, aside from one or two quick forays. The day after it was still cold and a little mean out—walking in the knee-deep snow is no fun—but we did manage a bit of sledding. On Thursday, the sun finally broke out, school reopened, and it seemed like the world was getting back to normal. I went out in search of some cleared space to walk in, down to the Rondout section of Kingston, where Rondout Creek feeds into the Hudson. Filled with history, and slightly desolate despite efforts for it to be revitalized, I walked by the old buildings that used to house so much industry, the brick kilns, and passed over the old train tracks. Some sidewalks were cleared and some not. A red-tailed hawk flew by and landed in a dead tree by the river. I even passed a man who I regularly see on the trails I frequent, seemingly having the same idea as I by walking there. We nodded to each other quietly, as solitary walkers do, lost in their own reveries.

Today I remembered that the train tracks are usually plowed for service vehicles, so I took a walk along there. The snow was glittering, and big icy chunks from the plow and the passing trains formed walls alongside the cleared gravel. The sky so amazingly blue today, and the trees, heavy with buds, bending and swaying in the cold wind. The constant sound of dripping was everywhere, even though the temperatures are still so low. The birds seemed patient in the dense brush, waiting for the snow to melt, practicing their song for spring. Cardinals mostly, with their persistent and brash song, so bright against the white snow. I even saw a bluebird, alongside the junco and titmouse. Redwing blackbirds and their watery liquid trill lingered around the icy patches of wetlands. A hawk soared over and then slipped through the trees. Everyone is waiting for the snow to melt.

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Carbonara-ish Dish

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I’m always surprised when I read those articles that say people don’t really cook much anymore, even though we are more obsessed with food then ever. How do they survive? I cook throughout the day, every day. But, we all like different things, and I’m not surprised by people who don’t like to cook. For example, I hate painting. I’m in the midst of painting the hallway, and soon will do the bedroom after having done the whole kitchen, and I struggle with it. The result is always worthwhile, but the process is just dreadful. I figure that’s how people feel who hate to cook. They want to eat, but they don’t want all that other stuff. I happen to like all that other stuff: thinking about what I have, and what I can make with it, food shopping, food growing, all the prep, the presenting, the eating. Even the cleaning, to some extent, is pleasurable, but when you cook a lot you also clean a lot, and I’ll admit that can be tiresome. Although there’s nothing nicer than a crisp clean kitchen.

My kitchen works in a pleasurable flow that many have described as an ecosystem. Maybe people are not cooking enough to create that flowing system, where meals come out of others. If you are a constant cook you know this feeling already. What’s nice is that everything gets used, and there is little to no waste, which is another thing all of us should be concerned about. I am so curious about how people eat on a daily basis. Although I love seeing interesting ideas from brilliant chefs, it doesn’t really thrill me like the quotidian. It’s not mundane. Sometimes the everyday things are a little extraordinary.

Like the dish pictured above. A carbonara-ish dish, that is a great example of putting together the disparate scraps that surround you. In this instance, a cast iron pan with bacon fat from the morning’s breakfast. A small dish of slightly dried chopped parsley from last night’s dinner. A bowl of spaghetti sitting in the fridge from dinner a few days ago. Salt, pepper and parmesan cheese that are always around, waiting to serve. The pasta is heated up in the fat, a few ends getting crisped up. Then tossed with the rest of the ingredients. I made it for myself, but everyone else in my family asked for some. I didn’t get much in the end.

Food Notes:

Interesting article. Makes me think about how eating gruel every day might be better for you than following your cravings.

Field Notes: Second Week of March

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Late winter is my favorite time to go off trail. It’s the only (snowless) time of year when the poison ivy doesn’t rule the landscape, and the ticks aren’t too active. I went for a wandering hike the other day, and, after falling twice in the leaves, I knew I had gotten a tick. Sure enough, when I got home, I found one crawling on my ankle. It’s already time to be more careful.

The walk, however, was still worth it. It felt fruitless at first. I climbed a rocky hill overlooking a rushing stream, and when I got to the top, I felt let down. It was a scrabbly spot that felt wrong somehow—the initial feeling was of disarray, unwelcoming even. I felt distinctly agitated. It was a high peak but packed with downed trees, and lots of spindly young ones, many of which were broken. As I struggled to walk through the mess, it dawned on me. The area must have been hit by a recent windstorm, or even tornado cell, as there were trees and branches both new and old everywhere, and it soon became clear to me that this area had been recently devastated. Was I feeling the devastation? I moved on, still feeling uncomfortable.

Down a sloping hill, wending my way through the tree carcasses, I heard some running water. When I happened upon a gentle stream I suddenly felt a warmth, a feeling of goodwill and welcome. The upset I had just felt melted away. This spot had not been devastated. It was a sheltered valley with a wide stream meandering through it, with bright green mossy rocks strewn throughout. It was practically asking me to have a seat. So, I did, on a large tree that crossed the stream (which had fallen long ago, smoothed and bleached by the sun), and I listened to the water rush by, gurgling melodically. It was warm and sunny, and just a soft breeze barely stirred the air.

That’s when it hit me that land has feelings. There is consciousness everywhere you go. Every time I go for a walk, it’s different. When I go on a regular route, at a regular spot, it’s like we are friends, and we are together again. I know this space, and it knows me, weather permitting, of course. We all have our moods. When I visit a new spot there are feelings to deal with—does this place feel bleak? Tortured? Sad? Pleasant? Welcoming? Friendly? When I am in a special spot, I can feel it right away, it just feels right. That day, sitting on that log, I felt like I had made a new friend. I knew right away that I wanted to see it again some day soon.

Other Thoughts and Notes:

I have Biocentrism on order from the library. I’m fascinated by the thought that consciousness might be what we are made of, not matter.

Have you ever read anything by Robert MacFarlane? I love his book The Wild Places. Highly recommended.

Here’s a great post from Eve at The Garden of Eating on what you can do to prepare yourself for this inevitably bad tick season.

Random writing link: I loved finding this article this week ab0ut unfinished stories, and why you shouldn’t worry about them being unfinished.

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More mysteries in the woods.

Brown Rice Pancakes

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I usually have a container of cooked rice in the fridge. I always make sure to cook enough to have extra on hand. Last week I had both brown and white rice in the fridge, and I was at a loss for what to do with the brown rice. I knew the white rice would be kimchi fried rice. But the brown rice? I eat so much brown rice that I think I had fallen into a rut with it. I hit the cookbooks for ideas. A brown rice casserole is always nice, a pie crust using brown rice is also clever. How about a cooked grain cake? Then I stumbled upon a cooked grain pancake from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. It was a revelation, a moment where you are like: of course! The perfect Meatless Monday dish. Easy to quickly put together, if you have your rice cooked already. I served it with a salad and a little spicy tomato jam. I think this would be great at any time though—a savory breakfast item par exellence.

Brown Rice Pancakes

1.5 cups of cooked rice (white or brown)

2 eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup parmesan cheese

½ cup all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

I put the ingredients in this order because I like seeing all the ½ cups—it makes it easy to remember so you don’t have to look at a recipe. It’s a common sense recipe—whisk up the eggs and milk, add the rice and cheese, then stir in the flour and baking powder. Use a good amount of shimmering hot oil to cook them up in. Use about a ½ cup of mixture for each cake. You will see in the edges puff up and lose moisture, you can peek at the underside to see how brown it is. I find these easier to cook than regular pancakes.

Other food notes for this week:

My favorite episode of Chef’s Table (on Netflix) so far has been the one on Jeong Kwan. Her devotion struck me deeply. The idea of temple food also hit a chord. Food made daily with utmost respect for its nourishment and love. I think this is why people are so in love with “grandma” cooking. Because it’s cooking that is devotional, meditative, done every day with love. It has years of practice behind it, and that practice imbues the food with a certain kind of goodness that can’t be replicated any other way. Practice is like prayer. It’s what I aspire to in my cooking. I think I’ll watch it again.

Field Notes: First Week in March

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March came in like a lamb and a lion this year. Wednesday, the first day of March, was soft and warm, and slightly damp. I went for a walk by a stream brisk with melt off, which was uplifting to see. The last year has been so dry that to see rushing water, coursing white rapids, and raging waterfalls cheers me even though it should all still be somewhat frozen at this point. At least there’s water!

The moss is thriving—everywhere I went there were patches on craggy stumps, or on outcroppings of stone. While climbing up over a ridge of rock to see a large pond surrounded by swampland, I had to pad my way over soft springy mattresses of moss. They are a treat for the eyes as well, after so much gray and brown, the green of the mosses pops out and you can feel your eyes appreciate it immediately. I haven’t yet gotten to identifying types of moss—I am more attracted to feeling it with my palms, appreciating it visually, or simply enjoying stepping on its cushiony softness.

As I walked in a roundabout way, following deer trails, reading the pawed up spots where they were looking for something to eat, I came upon something rare. A large pair of wings and the signs of the skirmish that must have caused it. The wings seemed to belong to a small accipter—a sharp shinned hawk perhaps? The body was left pretty cleaned up, no flesh left, just some bones, but the wings were left intact. Usually one to take finds like these, I left them this time. Something in me was telling me to leave them, so I did. Who was the predator in this situation? An owl? A larger bird? Or perhaps a weak raptor fell prey to a fox? The forest is full of these mysteries.

I trailed around the soggy edges of the swamp, and a light rain began to fall. The clouds were dark,  with possible threat. I spent a few minutes being still by the water’s edge listening for peepers, and sure enough, one loud fellow was singing his song. Later on at dusk, I heard a chorus of them by the pond on my land. But the very next day brought a sharp chill, and I haven’t heard them since. Now this weekend will be very cold, and we’ll start the woodstove up again. Which I look forward to because I don’t think I’m quite ready for such a quick and warm spring.

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Jam Roll Cookies

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So much has gone on since I last wrote here! As I’ve said many times before, when I am quiet it’s usually not because I have nothing to say. It’s because I have way too much to say, and I have a hard time finding out where to start. It would be remiss to not mention the turmoil going on in our world at the moment, I am quite worried about it. But I do think that we sometimes need a place to be away from the news and recharge ourselves. I’m going to make this that place, once again, for myself. Food is one of the great comforts of my life, and I turn to it over and over again.

I’ve been wanting to share this cookie recipe for a long time now. The recipe was generously give to me by a friend on Instagram, @dreamingitalian, whose lovely light-soaked photos I always find solace in. She emailed me the hand-written recipe that she culled from a family member. The recipe was for a very large batch, which I scaled down (four times!) to this more manageable size. The dough is like a soft Linzer Torte cookie dough, lightly sweet.

What I love most about these cookies is that they are at once homey and elegant. When I made them the first time, with a prune plum butter I made over the summer, my husband took a bite  and was transported to a cookie his grandfather used to make. They are an old-fashioned cookie, full of love. And, my favorite thing: they use up a jar of jam, always a boon to a preserver with a cabinet full of preserves.

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Jam Roll Cookies

Yields one large loaf, to be sliced up into about 20 biscotti shapes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter, softened

1/3 cup of sugar

1 medium egg

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/8 cup of brandy (I used this homemade elixir)

2 cups all purpose flour

pinch to 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda

pinch of salt

8 ounces of jam

nuts, cinnamon, sugar (optional or up to you to mix up)

egg whites and sugar for a wash

You may use a food processor for this. I don’t have a stand mixer (gasp!) but I’m sure that would work, too. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and the liquids. Then the flour, baking soda and salt to form a soft dough. The original directions called for it to sit a few hours in the fridge, but having tried it both ways, I liked rolling out the dough after just a ten to fifteen minute rest in the fridge, wrapped in a bag or wax paper. Roll the dough into a large oval (closer to a rectangle than a circle, if that makes sense). Spread the jam all over, sprinkle with nuts or dried fruit. (I especially liked plum butter with walnuts and cinnamon and sugar, but it’s up to you and what you have.) Then you roll the dough up, folding it in thirds. One long side towards you, and then the other side on top of it, like how you might fold a piece of paper into thirds. I turned it over to bake on its seam, giving it several decorative (not deep) diagonal slices, then brushed with egg white and sprinkled with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, and firm to the touch. You will be able to smell it’s warm cookie dough smell. About 25 to 30 minutes. Once cooled on a rack, you can slice the loaf into a bunch of cookies, each about 1 to 2 inches thick.

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Staying Hungry

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