Thursday, December 30, 2010
Spent the day brainstorming for the press' 2011 projects, test driving some new typefaces, and failing to patch my new jeans that were ripped on hog wire during a wood's walk.
Snuggling with the cat now and contemplating a midnight screening of The Bridges of Madison County (always a good idea or never a good idea depending on who you talk to).
Photos taken by Alexis Boling, my superhuman brother.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
aka, Josef Alber's Funhouse.
BFGBR doesn't roll off the tongue yet, but it will.
**Also, I can't help but mention, I woke up to a White Christmas. Thanks Santa, you're the best!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Before I moved to the farm I wasn't ignorant in the ways of country living, but I certainly wasn't an expert. I guess you could say the past eight months have been Country Education 101. I'm still learning the various social graces of this part of the world, but I think i'm making steady progress. Exhibit A: In the past week I have been "gifted" three 2011 calendars from two separate businesses, the G&S Gas Company and the Hill Farm Feed Store. I consider these calendars to be badges of my growing ability to navigate and feel comfortable in this part of the world. I think to understand why I'm proud of such an accomplishment you have to understand Hancock County and it's occupants.
The poorest county in Georgia, the population of Sparta and it's surrounding towns have been slowly diminishing over the past few decades. As jobs dried up here, the majority of financial opportunities went with it, and the people that live here seem to be committed to sticking it out because it's home, wish they could go somewhere else and can't, or wish they could go somewhere else and won't. What this means is that there are very few, as in no, girls below the age of twenty-five that show up in feed stores wearing muck boots that clearly "aren't from around here". If the moon pies and pork rinds behind the cash register at Hill Farm Store don't tell you, the picture of a toddler sitting on a dead deer with a caption below it that says, "Santa, if I don't get everything on my Christmas list Prancer and Dancer are next!" will. I believe I am somewhat of an anomaly in this town. To be clear, I don't at all confuse this with superiority, on the contrary, there's a lot I could learn from people around here, but every time I start to patronize a new business here I can almost predict how the initial interaction will go down; confusion, suspicion, reservation, and finally acceptance or ambivalence. I'd probably go through the same mental process if I were in their shoes, and it probably doesn't help that the Prius is the designated car for feed pick-up, but the phrase "Can I help you?" really seems to mean "Please explain" when it's coming in my direction.
In small towns, newcomers are an adjustment for everyone, but in time a newcomer becomes a neighbor. Take that Leave it to Beaver. In the meantime, i'm three calendars richer.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
A morning full of sausage n' gravy biscuits and the vocal stylings of Gram Parsons. Heading out for a run before a cold day in the studio.... Sadie ate the tongue off of one of my running shoes yesterday so here's to making do with what you've got.
I feel happy as a clam these days.... what's the secret you say? Take a deep breath, listen to the Flying Burrito Brothers cover of "Do Right Woman", eat a handful of salted peanuts, and call me in the morning.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Crunchy, nutty, and served with a beverage.... my kind of cookie. I've been wanting to try my hand at making biscotti for a good long while and finally a free moment presented itself for baking. Admittedly the recipe comes from a Martha Stewart Holiday Cookie Special I purchased at Target a few weeks ago in a moment of weakness. In my defense, Martha fills one with the illusion that giving away cookie care packages for the Holidays, each containing over a variety of 20 different beautiful and comfortably exotic cookies, is well within the reach of any lady (or gent) who can dream or bake big enough. And so, with Martha bolstering my confidence, I took my first crack at the world of biscotti (according to Wikipedia this word is derived from the Medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning twice baked). The recipe's trademark ingredients are orange zest, fennel seed, and almonds.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that biscotti making is relatively forgiving. I'm almost positive I over mixed the dough, as the second car of the day pulled into the driveway to tell me the goats were out just as the final ingredient was being incorporated into the mixture. Because the cookies naturally share some qualities with hard tack and have a coarse crumb, the texture did not appear to be adversely affected by the goats unannounced vacation plans. My baking efforts resulted in a cookie that had a slightly savory edge to it, which I contributed to the fennel, and was delicious with my afternoon cup of tea. See recipe below.
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from 2 large oranges)
3 large whole eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup raw almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk to combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, fennel seed, and zest in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and yolk with olive oil. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, raise speed to medium, and mix until well combined. Mix in nuts.
2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Using you palms, shape each piece into a log about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Arrange logs on a parchment- lined baking sheet, spacing at least 2 inches apart. Flatten logs slightly.
3. Bake. rotating sheet halfway through, until firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees. Transfer logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices on the diagonal.
4. Place slices, cut side down, on the sheet. Bake until firm when pressed in center and golden brown at edges.
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
So as of Sunday, Three Centuries Farm* is the proud owner of five three-month old Tamworths. These little guys really are cute as a button with their olive-y colored eyes and Irish red hair. I had my first pig adventure this morning while feeding up. One got a little spooked and somehow magically crossed the electric fence while I was looking right at him. I couldn't believe it, I had been assured and reassured that pigs were great respecters of the mystical white electric strings. Of course, on my first morning solo at the farm since getting the pigs one of them manages to do the impossible. But if I've learned anything in my life, it's that food is the great motivator, and with that as my mantra and a little patience I lured him back over to join his buddies. Crises averted.
Every time we add a new animal to the farm, I feel more and more assured that being out here is the right thing to do. It's been extremely cold here as of late and some mornings can be a little trying, but then I hear my mom's voice with her little French accent, "Megan, layers! Je vais donner une fessee!" (a warning that she'll give me a spanking if I don't put on warmer clothes.... I was the kid in elementary school who wore shorts in January) So with that reminder, I put on an extra layer and head out to do morning chores. We're all in it together now, me, Brad, my parents, the mules, the goats, the chickens, the donkeys, the dogs, the cat, and finally, the pigs. This is the good stuff.
is the most comfortable with us being around.
I also received the English version in my inbox.
It's official, we're on the map. Work on the website will begin soon, and we will be at farmer's markets
in Georgia this coming year!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Halloween is important to me. It always has been. I think it's because it means that Autumn is here for keeps. In the South, it often stays in the 80's all the way through October, but by the time November begins to open her eyes we're getting the crisp, cool air we're due, for putting up with all that hot, soupy summer air. Because I didn't grow any pumpkins or winter squash earlier this year, I had to purchase my seasonal stoop vegetables. I'm almost positive I bought the best Milledgeville had to offer, and here's why: 1) I got stopped three times before I even got to the checkout line by different people wondering what the hell was in my buggy. 2) They were so heavy they made my safety belt alarm beep continually so I had to strap them in on the drive home. I'm probably a little too proud of my blue gourd, my bumpy gourd, and my not so big pumpkin with the twisty stem.
Also, I know Halloween hasn't happened yet so I shouldn't even be mentioning Thanksgiving, but this year I already know what i'm thankful for: my friend Jess' pumpkin pie. It's definitely the best pie of it's kind, and it has made it's way into my top 20 favorite foods of all time. Speaking of Jess, we went apple picking with our Johnny Appleseeds this past weekend because we got it in our head that an event called the Ellijay Apple Festival would be fun. Apple picking = yes. Apple festival = not so much. Once I get the canner revved up i'll share the in's and out's of making apple sauce and butter from scratch.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Sometimes, you get to go to the beach for a day. Sometimes, after you've been away from the coastal environs for a year or two, you find being in the presence of the sand and salt to be life affirming. And sometimes, when you really just want to find a palatable, quick, "to go" cup of coffee (so you can spend some morning face time with the ocean because you'll be leaving in an hour) you find yourself in the, self-proclaimed, "world's best diner" sharing a table with a middle aged couple who really want to talk to you about their wooden puzzle making hobby and craft fair attendance records.
It wasn't horrible, in fact I probably felt so guilty about not wanting to be stuck in this conversation because they were so nice, but really all I wanted to do was watch some good old fashioned waves. The listening ear was rewarded with a tiny handmade pocket puzzle gifted to Brad and I before parting ways. I was happy about the puzzle, a little bummed about spending another half day in the car, but all of it reminded me of Enzo Mari and how much I love his wooden puzzles, and how I should just be grateful for any and all of this.
Did I mention the newest piece of my real life farm puzzle? I'll give you a hint. It's the same reason there might by a fifth Die Hard movie.... boys. Why do we continue to have so many boy animals born here? Our newest baby goats are both going to be Billy's. AND, half of the A- Team pullets have grown into roosters. Oh well, we'll look for new homes for all of these card carrying Y-chromosome members. In the meantime, i'll just enjoy picking up these tiny goats before they're too big and they smell like musty goat cheese. I've dubbed them, "The Tinys".
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Thursday is the new Saturday morning. I'm sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch, with the Statler Brothers seeping through the living room windows. I spent the last ten minutes giving little Bud some TLC as he seems to have some unidentifiable pest problem right now. It appears he's itched his underbelly raw, although he's on both flea and tick medication, and so, we gave him a bath this morning, but his sad eyes are hard to walk past without tugging on your heartstrings a little. The other animals on the farm seem to be in a better state of mind. At least one of the members of the A Team have started laying, and I can happily report that the goats still love eating peanut shells.
On the "to do" list today: get the press off the back burner and begin my new relationship with the press head on. Owning a small business ain't always the easiest thing in the world, i'm sure that's not news to anybody, but what i've been dealing with these past few months is something completely new for me and Brown Parcel Press. The press has been transitioning from being a shared entity, with a partner, to being solely owned and operated. When a partnership mutually decides to terminate it's agreement and a "we" becomes an "I", you're left with a lot of questions. In a sense the press has experienced a death, and i'm trying to breathe a new, different life into it. There is the small brand that me and my former partner built, but now it's time to really examine what we had and what I would like that to become. It's a weird thing to share, but I feel like somewhere it should be noted that this is what is happening. I'm very thankful to my former partner and all the ways in which he gave me confidence, support, and a helping hand and mind. I'll always know where Brown Parcel came from, but now it's time to take ownership of what I want the press to be. Things are going to change a lot, but in the end I know it's all for the best.
To old and new.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
A few months ago, our family made the drive to Madison, GA to visit the Sowhatchett Mule Farm. When Merlin died at the beginning of the Summer there were rumblings of whether or not we should dive back into the equine world. We adopted Merlin when we took over the farm, and although we were happy to have a retirement age horse around, keeping us company, we had never really talked about what we would do once Merlin wasn't with us anymore. We couldn't foresee how we'd feel about the back pasture being empty. Once faced with an overgrown field, empty feed buckets, and no horse around the "horse crossing" sign it was clear that this was a hole that we should attempt to fill. My pop, brilliant and outside the box thinker that he is, went on an investigation of sorts. What did his snooping around dig up? Mules. An animal that I was only vaguely familiar with before their existence on this farm became a possibility, are kind of unbelievable animals. I won't go into all of the ins and outs of muledom, but the basics are: a mule is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse. A mule has the vigor and strength of the horse, but the sure footedness, patience, endurance, and smarts of the donkey. If you don't believe me just look into a little book called "The Natural Superiority of Mules". For centuries these animals were an extremely large part of the farming culture in this country, but were eventually phased out of modern farming, in the middle of the last century, with the invention of the tractor. They are still used today by the Amish, the Army, and a few other smaller alternative farms.
Getting to the point, our family fell in love with mules, and the Sowhatchett Mule Farm, and for the past few months we've been working on repairing all of our fences and our handling skills, so that we could provide a good home for our very own mules. On Saturday we took delivery of Satin (her full name is Chief White Cloud's Satin) and Saturday Night Live. Never there was a finer looking pair. I'm sure i'll have more pictures to post on my Flickr as the weeks go by. Who knew? Mules are amazing.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Fact: Bears love graham crackers. "Bears don't love graham crackers", you say, "They love honey. And wearing red shirts that barely cover their little bear bellies. And stealing picnic baskets." Be that as it may, bears also love graham crackers, and because I love bears, I love graham crackers. Could it be how perfectly crisp and crunchy they are? Or, their mild sweetness? Or, the fact that they are the bookends of a s'more? Maybe. Either way, I found this recipe a few months ago on Lottie + Doof (via Nancy Silverman) and made these for my mom's birthday with some salted caramel ice cream. They were so delicious i've made them a few times since, but i've yet had the time to photograph the process properly, so, I set aside this afternoon to capture graham cracker making in all it's glory. Unfortunately, even though I was anal enough to break out my ruler when cutting these guys out, somehow, I lost track of time when they were in the oven. Truth be told, I broke the cardinal rule of baking and walked out of the room in their last 7 minutes of baking. You can't smell them burning if you aren't in the room. Don't cry little bear, there are still enough to share. Try the recipe at the bottom, this is one of the few recipes i'll guarantee 100% satisfaction from.
- 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
- 1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
- 5 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers, or cut into whatever size/shape you prefer. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350° F.
Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get two or three more crackers.
Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a wooden skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
**note: I've made this dough a week or so in advance and frozen it until I have the time to roll it out and slice it up and i've seen no adverse affects.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
press onto the lift gate and out of the truck.
Well, she finally arrived! After a little bit of head scratching on both the Georgia and Massachusetts ends of the voyage, the Vandercook was officially unloaded into her new
home in the general store on Monday night. Both Brad and I basked in the glow of 20th century proofing press beauty. Could it be, is she here to stay? Yes, children, she is. How do I know? I got to print on Miss Sp20 for 15 hours the very next day. I don't normally geek out about things, but I also never imagined I would get to own and be the sole operator of a Vandercook, and i'm kind of geeking out about this press. Don't get me wrong, the last Vandercook was great and she served me well, but having your own puppy is always better than playing with someone else's. I might even be found wearing a t-shirt like this in the near future.
Special thanks to Michael, of Kat Ran Press, who did a phenomenal job of packing the press, being patient with the Freight company rigmarole, being a mentor to me, and being such a fine steward of the press up until now.
This video isn't that eventful, but it captures me turning the press on for the first time.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
If there's one thing i've learned about the garden this year, it is to be fearless. Take things out before they take out their leguminous neighbors. My Armenian cucumbers are getting seriously out of hand. They're reaching out for tomato cages, propping up their octopus like extensions on peppers, lima beans, and the like. It's hard to enjoy the taste when you know you're digesting a bully. Another thing is to know your crop.... it's harder than you'd think to judge when something is at its prime, ready to be plucked and enjoyed. I may have waited a little too long to harvest my pink eye purples. If I was sick when they did the "Know When to Harvest your Garden" lesson plan in elementary school, i'm paying for it now. Learn as you go. Next year i'll move up the ladder from Guppy Gardener to Minnow Gardener.