Thursday, February 24, 2011

Please Pass the Salt

It ain't nothing new, same as it ever was. Salt makes things taste better. Tomatoes, potatoes, and yes, even caramels. I meant to make this recipe for my Valentine, but time was not on my side this year, and so it was the sell by date of the heavy whipping cream that mandated I take a break from printing Tuesday evening to make some good old-fashioned candy. I tried making salted caramels when I was still in college and considered myself a decent home baker, but I quickly learned that just cause you know your way around a cake pan does not mean you know your way around a candy thermometer. I ended up way over-salting, and slightly burning, my first caramels earning them a one-way ticket to Inedibility Town (located on the continent of Wasted Afternoons, right on the Trashcan Longitude, in case you've never been there). I used a new recipe this time and am pleased as punch with both the process and end result. The smell of caramel boiling alone is enough to make me want to repeat the recipe every now and again. You can follow the recipe, courtesy of Amanda Hesser at the New York Times, here.

Salted Butter Caramels cooling off in their Space Age Suit

For a Martha-esque finish, you can wrap them in small squares of wax paper.

My favorite Valentine's Day present. From my longest running Valentine.

In Farm News: Here she is: Our broodiest hen, Mama Cass. Believe me, she looks just as crazed when she's in focus as she does out of focus. In case you don't have your own backyard flock, let me tell you of the wonder that is a broody hen. It's dedication personified. The hen sits and sits and puffs her body up to cover and warm all of the "potentials" below her. She gets up maybe once a day to grab a quick drink do a little peck, peck here and there, uses the bathroom (which is worth a whole gross post in itself because she saves it all up for one go), and returns to the baby throne.

When staring into the face of a feathery biological clock, one can't help but marvel at the powers of instinct. Unfortunately for this hen, this is my first time going through all of this and so I wasn't able to spot her broody behavior on the exact day it began. That means i'll be sneaking out with my candling light tonight so I can try to examine the eggs and determine how far along the embryos are, discard any non-potentials, and have a better idea of when these little guys might be gracing us with their presence. March, you better get here fast, cause down on the farm Spring done sprung.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day Chickens!

I hope yours has been filled with pink flannel shirts, red lipstick and more white daffodils than could fill a hungry whale's tummy. (plankton flavored daffodils)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Syrup of Figs.

Overcast day no. 27/34. Time to be thankful for the Lisa Frank sunset from Saturday and the camellia bush in bloom. The pigs rooted up the California Fig Syrup bottle in the woods behind the mule barn and it was in really nice condition. After a little investigating, it seems that these bottles are relatively common, but there's not much information on the company itself other than the fact that they were involved in a lawsuit regarding the use of the words "Syrup of Figs"... Apparently they had been using it a lot and they weren't too keen on sharing the phrase. "Syrup of Figs" does have a nice ring to it, does it not? I take it the judge didn't think so as he dismissed the California Fig Syrup Company's claim. I think I would have dismissed the claim based on the fact that trying to patent a laxative medicine from "California figs" is a waste of our judiciary system's time and just plain un- American.... or maybe, it's the most American thing you can do.

Enough nonsense. Looks like this week is going to be a busy one. Lots of press and farm doings. We finally got our goat situation under control by using electric netting to concentrate their grazing and keep the kids protected from coyotes. If you're thinking about getting in to the farming game, hobby or otherwise, Premier 1 fencing is going to be your best friend. Seriously, trade them your Fruit Roll-Up for their carrot sticks at lunch. They are that good.

Also, I've been working on some illustrations for the press' website. (see below) I think it's hard for people who don't know much about printmaking to understand exactly what letterpress is, or why it is different, and by different I mean better, than digital printing. I aim to change that through illustrations, you know, children's book style. (No, i'm not writing a children's book, though I fully intend to one day, it's just a turn of phrase I'm going to force into the lexicon. For example: If you're driving with your honey and they say "Darling, please slow down, make way for those ducklings crossing the street up ahead." You can then respond, "Oh, I am.... children's book style." I'm telling you it's going to be big, try it. And if you didn't understand what I just said click here.)

This looks like the press I print on!

And these look like the reason I'm always looking for the pencil sharpener!