Friday, April 11, 2014

The Grass is Always Greener

Springtime in Kentucky means the grass grows like a mofo. I have been known to quip "April is the cruelest month - for mowing." Because it is. The grass grows so fast you can hear it. And it rains regularly so you can't mow for a whole brace of days, by which time the grass is often too long to mow properly, so you wind up with all these lumps of dried dead grass lying all over the lawn, which should in fact be mowed once more to mulch them properly. But you can't, because it's raining again! (Sigh)

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a farmer sitting on a tractor in a field of high grass. He is talking on his cell phone, and the caption reads "Right now I'm dealing with all this spring bullshit." I am not including the image here, because of copyright reasons, but you can see it over on the Conde Nast store website if you wish. It pretty much sums up what it's like here in spring, yepper.

One way I know it's spring is that the neighbors livestock somehow always winds up in my yard. Whether it's cows from the pasture to the east, or horses from across the road, for some reason, the grass here on our farm must be more delicious, because this time of year I am regularly chasing some damned critter back home. Or leading it. More than once, usually.

But that's ok, it's a small price to pay for the best time of the year. Spring here in Kentucky is glorious. Cool breezes, warm sun, what my mom used to call "Portuguese weather." Spring is often when I am reminded of mom the most, as flowers start blooming again, and mom loved her flowers so. The other day just the sight of some of my daffodils brought me to tears, missing her.

But spring is also the time of new births and rebirth, and with each chick that hatches I am reminded that life goes on, and renewal is a part of the whole wheel of life, just as death is. And nothing is cuter than a newly hatched chick finding its legs and pecking for food, except perhaps the bunnies in the back leaping for joy as they run around at Silflay. I miss seeing goat kids gambol, but the neighbors newly born cows do the same thing, so it's almost as good.

I don't include poems often in my blog (my friend Katie is the poet, I just meander) but this is one of my favorites, both the author and the subject:


She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind and curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead”


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Two Knives and Some Fat*

I have always loved pie. I love making it. I love eating it. But I have never gotten the Holy Grail of crusts down perfectly, and in my mind, that's a lard-based crust.

I want to be the Empress of Pie Crust. I want to be able to whip a perfect pie crust together with nothing more than two knives, some fat, and some flour. Come hell or high humidity. No food processors. No tricksy vodka recipes, just the basics, like our grammas used to make.

I told A today that I was going to make a pie a week for a year until I got it right. She said (and rightly so) "That's a lotta pies!" Well, that's a price I'll have to pay I guess. One hopes it won't take a year...

Like my friend Julie, I'm going to work my way through some pie books until I get it absolutely right. And I may blog about it, in the most blantantly copying way (that girl had a bestselling book and a Nora Ephron movie, all I want is perfect pie crust.) Right now I am using Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott, and started with her lard recipe and a buttermilk pie.

A friend commented on Facebook "Must be something to do with leftover holiday provisions. Or so said Mrs. McGuiver when she made the same yesterday." And well, yes. There was the larger part of a quart of buttermilk in the fridge about to hit its expiry date, so buttermilk pie it is.

Never made it before. Have made all sorts of chess pies, most especially my Chocolate Chess Pie, but hadn't tried buttermilk before.

I will note that either a) I didn't roll the crust out thin enough or b) the recipe needs expanding a bit, but I didn't get enough crust along the top to make it purty and fluted, so it looks rather ragged. But I picked a wee bit off the edge and it tastes divine!

So I'm going to do some math (argh) and increase the recipe about 25% before next weekend, when I'll try again with a different filling. But for now, here's the Buttermilk pie as it cools:

*And thanks to my friend Melissa, who says "Two Knives and Some Fat" would make an awesome book title." Or, at least a good one for a blog post to get started, anyway. Thanks Melissa!