Letter to my husband ( who is in the UK for a month)

Lala and Lalita

Andrew,

A most shocking and upsetting thing happened this evening. Lala and Lalita disappeared at bedtime. They were nowhere to be found. Curly, alone, and in the usual place, where the stream cascades over the log and flows into the wetlands, looked stressed and upset. Where were the girls? Nevertheless, through habit or self-preservation, I cannot say, he followed protocol and (dutifully?) went into the henhouse on his own without his girls, squeaking more loudly than usual. I called and called forever and  ever and searched high and low (even beneath the boxwoods, where Lala used to lay her eggs, thinking that maybe she was conducting some kind of training program for Lalita regarding family traditions ) but no sign of them and it was now dark at 6:00pm. I gave up and was about to e-mail you about their demise when I heard the familiar, usually irritating, but now, longed for, quacking about 20 minutes later. In the pitch dark, illuminated by your little flashlight (one of the more useful purchases you’ve made) I followed the panicky noise. Lala and Lalita were stood at the base of the peach tree, disoriented and trying to get into the henhouse through the chicken wire. Weirdly enough, considering their pea sized brains, I herded them, shining the torch across the Herb Garden down Rhubarb Alley, and they actually scurried along, with agility, speed, and a sense of direction that would put Mapquest to shame, directly into the pen. Moreover, contrary to the usual cajoling and herding efforts required, they couldn’t wait for me to open the door to let them in, and, when I did, there was Curly; waiting and as  eager and agitated as a nervous bridegroom. He did the head bobbing thing and ushered them to what I suppose to be their favorite corner. I felt great relief and satisfaction that all was was as it ought to be and, I believe, that even the Senator ( the giant ‘boss-man’ Muscovy alpha male) seemed to express satisfaction over their reappearance and gave a  very wide berth to Curly & Company. I shall sleep easier tonight.
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Upcoming Dry Stone Wall Building Workshop in Connecticut

Stonewall Building Workshop
Andrew Pighills, 
Two-day workshop 
Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 24th & 25th,  2016
Tuition: $350

Learn what it takes to build a dry stone wall from A Dry Stone Walling Association–certified instructor. Build a free-standing wall by applying four basic principles and employing a few simple techniques. From “founds” to “throughs” to “copes,” each stage in the construction will be explained and demonstrated. Participants will build a wall using native stone. This is a great chance to try something new or fine-tune skills you already have.

students learn how to build a dry stone wall

On Saturday evening we have a Pizza Party, where participants get to relax with drinks and pizza, cooked in our own outdoor wood fired oven.

20140928_090334                                  Pizza Oven

The workshop is a two-day event, Sat. and Sun. Sept. 24th & 25th , 2016 and will be held at Stonewell Farm, 39 Beckwith Road in Killingworth, Connecticut. All instruction is on an individual basis. Pre-registration is required, as the workshops fill up quickly.

To register, contact:
Michelle Becker, Workshop Administrator
e-mail: mb@mbeckerco.com
Tel. 860-322-0060

Leeks and Eeks!

Lately I’ve noticed that, for the culinarily sophisticated, there are only two socially acceptable ways to consume vegetables, without appearing ‘outré’; Raw or Roasted. Palatability notwithstanding, I’ve found that if one chooses the latter, and carefully follows the trendiest recipes, they will achieve both. The vegetables will be sufficiently firm, toothsome and of an adequately neutral temperature on the inside to satisfy the vitality enthusiastic, raw food contingency, while the outside, blackened, crispy and redolently carboniferous, will fulfill the roasters is all of us.

Recently, and at the encouragement of the hostess for a Thanksgiving meal, I prepared a leek dish, the recipe for which I was directed to by the hostess at finecooking.com website. Reading it through and looking at the photograph of the completed dish I was struck asunder by the painful and humiliating realization that I was hopelessly out of food trend fashion. What to do? Follow the recipe to the letter and bear the dish to the gathering with the pride of knowing that I was ‘au courant’ in the eyes of the professionals, or, change the recipe, for the sake of my outlandishly old-fashioned tastes regarding palatability, and risk that humiliation? I chose humility. Dental challenges asides, I find raw vegetables delectable when they are really raw, and I truly enjoy cooked vegetables, no matter the method, when they are, in fact, cooked, but I can’t seem to warm to the idea of the hybrids. I feel similarly about pasta.  It’s either cooked or its not. (Of course, there’s overcooked, but that comes under different headings entirely; DIY Home Improvement, subcategory: Wallcovering Adhesive, or Hobby Farm as Chicken Fodder). If I had the time, I would be game to argue about ‘al dente’ until the  proverbial cows come back to their proverbial home, however, with limited time,and patience at a premium, I settle with two categories; cooked or uncooked. Many shades of subtlety pertain but these I leave to professional gastronomes, not churls, like me, who like to judge a dish by its digestibility.

Back to Thanksgiving. I ventured into the garden and dug the leeks. Cleaned them, sliced them into uncouth, miserably out-of-fashion, dowdy, mouth-sized one inch sections, if you can believe it, blanched them (yes, I’m almost ashamed to admit it, I did, and didn’t even bother to plunge them into cold water, which I’m sure a sophisticated professional would do for the sake of the written word, or, at least under the gastronomic auspices of ‘retaining color’), (white!?) and then went on my merry, bombastic way of recipe bastardization by adding more cream than was called for ( by gastronomes and cardiologists combined), adding salt (quelle horreur!) and mincing garlic to such a fine mash as is generally reserved for political debates.

A few, very kind and obviously old-fashioned, friends have asked for the recipe (out of compassion or sympathy, no doubt) and so I include it here. But, be warned! The result is nothing like the culinary standards that are described in the first paragraph. These are more comfort than current; soft, creamy, calorie rich leeks that accompany mashed potatoes and are to be washed down with plenty of good, dry red or white bordeaux.

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