Monthly Archives: August 2007

In a Pickle

My pickles taste gross. They’ve been in the cupboard aging for a few weeks after I canned them. Finally I took them down and had a tasting. Bill actually spit one out. Some became shriveled, others were too sweet, others were good but then they had a bitter yucky aftertaste. I fermented some in salt and a crock, and they are just painfully salty.
I did manage to make some really good sweet pickles (pictured here). It was an 6 day recipe–4 days of boiling water poured over the cucs in the morning, one day of soaking them in a sweet brine (1 quart vinegar, 8 cups sugar, pickling spices, 1 tsp salt), the final day I jarred them up. A sample taken before sealing was delicious.
But I don’t love sweet pickles. Tthe garden is filled with Parisian pickler cucs and Smart pickle cucs so I have to find the perfect recipe for crispy, dilly pickles. Please advise.

Job Title: Scrounger

A friend of mine just sent me a link to join his “LinkedIn” network. I went there and signed up for his group, called Freelancers. For my job title I typed in “Scrounger.” It’s what I do best.
Tonight we went d-diving for the piggers and found a two buckets worth of raspberries (yellow and red). The big score, though, was six really ripe goat cheeses called Red Gold. Stinky! Probably good when it’s not bad. Then we cruised a bulky pick-up pile and found a million kitchen utensils: tongs, wooden spoons, spatulas, and yes, a rolling pin. I’m back in the pasta-making business!
Also today I hit the library, which is where the best things in life are free comes true every day. I found great books about weeds, turkeys, and brain-tanning. Look for some gross photos soon.
Here’s a photo of the latest score: 8 overripe pineapples. I’m slowly dehydrating them (my dehydrator can only do one at a time and takes about 12 hours).

Pasta making

Finally my broody chicken has returned to the world of the living. For almost two months (hens tend to brood–adamantly sit on their nest) she sequestered herself in the lot under the bougainevilla. Every once in awhile she’d get up, take a big one and run around clucking like a mad woman. She followed me back into the backyard last week and now is enjoying the company of the pigs, the turkeys, and her other chicken friend. She’s also laying eggs again. In celebration, I made some fresh pasta using her eggs. Of course when I was rolling it out (one blog said you’re supposed to roll the pasta dough until you work up a sweat on your back), I broke my rolling pin. Jesus. Needless to say, the pasta was a bit thick, but delicious. BTW, the stuff in the background of this photo is the leavings from the nocino, which I decanted today. I’ve got about 3 quarts of the liquor, which is supposed to age until winter. It smells like heaven, it tastes a bit medicinal.
P.S. Dumpster find of the week: 25 containers of champagne grapes. The pigs stomped them up in their trough and made the most glorious sucking/slurping noises.

Oh crap

It’s not all pigs and roses around here. Lately I’ve been having some troubles on the ye old urban farme. First, I finally moved the chicks–now teen chickens–out onto the deck. When I picked up their brooder box, I saw that I had ruined my hardwood floors. File that under F-ing Hell. My landlord is going to kill me. I guess it’s from the heat of the chickens which condensates water which then buckles the floorboards. Later my friend Max said it’s no big deal and he’ll help me fix it. In the meantime, it’s like a frozen seismic wave in my living room.

Then the sweet and gentle next door neighbors complained that the pigs smell. “My little girl,” he pointed to his adorable little munchkin, “was in the backyard and almost vomited from the smell.” I crouched down and said sorry to the angel. She giggled. I felt like the world’s biggest ass. I’m on a major cleaning regimen for the piggers, and have been putting down extra bags of sawdust and coffee hulls to mask the odor. The worst thing is, I can’t even smell them anymore. I might start burning incense. I brought the neighbors some roses from the farmer’s market and said the pigs will be gone by September 8, and could I please give them some pork chops?

Luck of the Irish

We bid farewell to our awesome visitors. Joe, Paul, and Naoise–all from Ireland–camped out in our guest room for a week, and helped out on the urban farm tremendously. A delivery of 5 yards of dirt did not daunt them, they got out the buckets and spread the love all over the garden. Amazingly, they actually wanted to go dumpster diving with us. They couldn’t believe the bread dumpster. “If there was one of these in Dublin,” Paul said, “I’d never buy bread again.” They were all vegetarian but we didn’t freak them out too much with our meat farm. Naoise pointed out that most carnivores never know what they’re eating. They only got mugged once (what can you do?) when a guy came to the door when I wasn’t home and told them they had to pay extra rent for staying at our house. At first they were freaked out, but then it became a good story to tell, a horrible keepsake of Oakland. God, our neighborhood is harsh on the young and innocent. “The Kids” as we called them, left this morning by train to New York. Before coming to the Bay Area, they worked on a building project in New Orleans. Good, good, kids.

Rabbit recipe

My rabbits are now proper butchering age. So it’s all rabbit, all the time. The other day I went over to my friend Jim’s house (he’s a goat advisor) and brought a picnic lunch. It was so good. Here’s the recipe, adapted from The River Cottage Meat Cookbook:
1. kill and clean one rabbit
2. liberally salt, pepper and oil the bunny.
3. pick fennel stalk from local fennel growing area.
4. wrap the rabbit in the fennel stalks
5. then wrap in bacon
6. place rabbit in a deep baking pan
7. pour a splash of wine and 1 cup chix/duck/veg stock over rabbit
8. bake at 350 for about an hour
9. cut into pieces like chicken
The rabbit meat soaks in all the fennel flavor, the bacon mellows that, and there’s a pool of yummy drippings to pour over the meat. We ate it with cucumber tomato salad and a crusty baguette.