Look closely...one chicken is OUTSIDE the hen yard. And which chicken would that be? The runt, TINY. Tiny almost didn't make it when she arrived as a day old chick - she could barely walk, wouldn't eat and seemed to be having trouble breathing. But she would drink water, and somehow grew into adulthood alongside her sisters. She is fine now, peppy and the most spirited of the flock - but she is still small. Small enough to squeeze through the fence! She does this throughout the day, despite my chasing her back in when I catch her outside. That petite little dickens! I should try to fatten her up, maybe add some cheesecake to her feed. My friend Amy calls her the underchicken, and supports her moxie and strong nature, which combats her status as runt. Go Tiny!
Cheese makers frequently use old dumb bells as weight for pressing cheese. Every cheese room I have ever worked in uses them, and my Dad found a set on Craigslist last week for $5. Here he is repainting them, which I didn't know he was going to do. I love my Dad. Also, check out his dream work/tool bench.
I stopped in at a cycle shop in Interlochen today looking for a motorcycle. I was chatting with the shop folks about the type of bike I was after, and how I didn't want anything too big, nothing I couldn't pick up if it fell over. At that, the 60-something, buxom matron of the shop said, "No! You can pick up ANY bike! You just have to use your butt as a fulcrum."
I drove to the very tip of the Mission Peninsula this morning - this is the strip of land that separates the East and West sides of the Grand Traverse Bay. It is a fertile, lush place with hundreds of orchards, farms and vineyards, and it seemed like I was the only person up there. Food + Wine Magazine published this story on the area. Michigan is as beautiful as any place I have ever been.
I planted some rose bushes today - when you go to the plant store there are so many kinds and they are all so beautiful, and one has a funnier name than the next. I chose the sexy peachy Abraham Darby, and bountiful Lava Flow!
This weekend was the annual Mesick, Michigan morel mushroom festival. Foraging for morels is a Spring past time in this part of Michigan, but where to find the mushrooms is a fiercely guarded secret kept by the locals. It is a huge event with a carnival, parade, and the wierdest event, "The Blessing of the Jeeps". I'm not kidding.
You know this had to be the best 'shroomers party....
I was hipped on where to forage for the little bastards - go as far as I could down a seasonal snowmobile trail in Wexford County. I did, and the road was treacherous. I wasn't the only one who knew about this spot - there were whole families camped out in the woods in trailers and tents, spending days on end looking for morels. I looked for hours, and never found any of the elusive fungi. What I did find deep in the woods though were millions of trillium, the official flower of Ontario, and a species so delicate it is illegal to pick them
So I bought these beauties off of a sour faced, camo clad man in a pick-up who looked like Charles Bronson. He was parked at a gas station with a cardboard sign on his windshield that said MORELS. I bought half a pound off of him, and he gave them to me in a paper lunch bag. Everything about it was like a drug deal.
Dredge in a little flour and cornmeal, salt + pepper, and pan fry in butter. If you've never eaten one (and I hadn't before this weekend), believe the hype: morels are steaky and rich with a deep mushroom flavor, but aren't slimy or wet like portabellas or plain button mushrooms. That honeycomb of their crowns cook up with a unique texture - like tiny delicious sauce compartments. They are worth the effort.
I enjoyed them alongside a vegetarian pastie from Mr. Folsie's Pasties of Cadillac, Michigan. It was absolutely the best meal I've had since being up here. I wish you had been here to share it with me!
When I visited Dahlia in France earlier this year, I fell in love with macaron, small almond flour cookies with creme filling. I liked them so much, I came home and got a book on how to make them. It's a gloomy day outside, so I made a batch of lemon curd filled macaron, à la Kingsley. Ils sont bons!
The chicks moved out to the big barn this week and seem to love it. They run and fly and enthusiastically explore their new environment. Here is one of the Buffs in mid-flight, also the great old Purina feeder a nice neighbor gave me.
Adolescent chickens look as awkward as we did at that age: half grown, partially "feathered out", with feet bigger than their bodies. They will move out to their deluxe coop in the big barn this week, thanks to the warm Spring weather. They are fascinating beings, full of curiosity, elegance and ornithological beauty. "Bird brained" is a false notion - chickens are quick, confidant, sensitive, aware, and kind to each other. Even the runt, "Tiny", is strong and treated well by her sisters, who are twice her size.