Manger Workshop- Playing Restauranteur

Day Three

(Please read the previous post- Manger Workshop- Remembering a Beginning to understand this one fully)

Photo credits: Oddur Thorisson (our fearless leader, and owner of ALL denim shown above)

The Summer abundance workshop seems to be quite a hit, I have learned that this one is and has been the quick fill out of all the workshops for Mimi & Oddur Thorisson.

Our ‘Playing Restauranteur’ workshop was special, a new workshop but not a new concept. If you have followed Mimi’s blog or maybe read her cookbooks cover to cover you may know that her family presented the town of Medoc with a “Pop- up” a few years ago. They opened the many rooms of their home and transformed it to the ultimate French Bistro experience. Suddenly we were in the big leagues.

Oddur and Mimi separated us into two groups halfway through the second day, Team Lunch vs. Team Dinner. We then brainstormed what we would be presenting, how we would be presenting it, and which lovely sequence of rooms would we covet as our ‘French Bistro’. I was Team lunch. So I will focus on the epic course of events we took to make sure our meal was special, after all we were nearing the end of our great Mimi expedition. It needed to be epic, St. Yzans Style.

The lunch went like this…

We wanted a uniform… but that’s tres dificil to coordinate when traveling as strangers. So we fashioned ourselves in Oddur Couture as I like to put it. Soon he flew down the stairs with 6 chambray denim shirts. We looked Magnifique. It sold our unity!

First we served oysters and Champagne in the garden to get the pallet moving

We had the most appropriate music setting the mood of our French Bistrot. I used the Manger Workshop Playlist you can find on Spotify (It has become a close friend and first thing I turn to when prepping my meals)

We then brought our guests into the Green Room, a room where we had not yet dined for the workshop.

Roberta and Myself, serving the fresh oytsters! By the end of the workshop I named her my Italian auntie

Roberta, a graduate of the International Butler Academy in Holland taught us how to serve, how to approach our guests, how to set the table. Serve left, clear right.  Under her tutelage we turned our French Bistro Lunch into an extraordinary experience with seasoned staff.

Garnishing the Gazpacho

Cool gazpacho took the helb as we sailed into the afternoon. Refreshing and lovely it truly took the summer solstice lunch to the next level, reminding us all just how much we missed tomatoes.

Next course was Asparagus a La Bismark… a favourite of Lady Bismark

Although we were under Oddur’s tutilage, Mimi was a little helpful

Soon to follow was our Quaile stuffed with Foi gras. Served atop the wild asparagus.

Country Quail stuffed with Foi Gras wrapped in bacon

Our desert was Crème Caramel, with the crunchy caramelized top we truly blew away our guests. Lastly we brought out Espresso with an extra piece of caramel candy to close the lunch.

Creme Caramel, Mimi’s granmother’s recipe
Not a piece was left

We wobbled out to our guests once the espresso had been served. Mimi devoted an entire section of her latest book to ‘staff meals’ and although our staff meal was a bit more extravagant than they typically are (i.e., we feasted just as much as our guests did… wine pairings and all, immediately after each course was served). We grew just as most groups would, closer together laughing at the silly mess ups and enjoying each moment for what it was. We all agreed we would absolutely do it again. This was the first ‘playing restaurateur’ workshop, and if they present another, I advise you take it! It means more cooking time with Mimi & Oddur, more jokes and games. More secrets disclosed of the home, more moments to learn from.

Shucking oysters for the first course, Champagnge & Oysters

Now this post has become quite long, as one usually does when chatting about St.Yzans Style and all things Mimi Thorisson. I came to Medoc as a fan and left with many friends. The Voyage to Mimi was well worth every minute of travel, every dollar saved, and every indulgence taken. Cheers Dear Reader, I hope you are inspired to bring a little Mimi into your life.

Xx

Manger Workshop- The Garden Party

Day 2

There isnt much else to say following the first post. One can go on and on about such lovely times but I feel strongly that less is more. Afterall, I want this amazing family to have more business, I cant give everything away, where would your mind then wander Dear Reader?

These photos capture much of the second day… A garden party & splitting up into teams for the final day in Medoc, our restauranteur challenge. Please read the other two posts regarding my time with the Thorissons & my reflections to get a good feel for the expierience. Now, feast your eyes!

My love, the one that got away.. or that Oddur just wouldnt let go!
Mimi gave us a taste of her new adventures in Torino, Italy … Homemade PASTA!
Agnolotti pasta, filled with ricotta mixed with hazelnuts. The black specks you see are a tint of coffee. C’est Magnifique
Making the Red Salad with my little helper, Lucien
Endives, Red onion, purple cabbage, pomegranite, and beet root. Buy yourself a mandolin my friends
We headed to the garden
Rose Champagne was had
The Garden was ravaged for an afternoon of sage fritters

I had the most lovely time. I truly wish everyone I love gets to expierience something of this excitement. Heart is so full!

Manger Workshop- Remembering A Beginning

Where to begin?

Ahh yes, I will try my best by remembering a beginning.

It’s beautiful arriving upon a moment that you have been looking forward to for so long. The experience feels slightly just slightly out of body. I have been awaiting this experience for a few years, reading every post, and every page that  Mimi has shared with the world of food. As each moment pulled me closer to the workshop, I plowed through obstacles, small ones, but obstacles nonetheless that challenge one whilst traveling alone (maybe they happen just as often while with someone, but having the crutch of a companion makes the obstacles seem smaller, more mundane). I think I might cover my thoughts on that topic once I get finished with this one.

I arrived at the Chateau le Ormes de Pres with a happy excitement, driving around the little village 100 times attempting to find the entrance. It’s amazing how well you know a place once you leave, laughing at the moments of complete ignorance that plagued the beginning of your trip.

That night I gave myself a tour of Saint Estephe. If I’m being honest, I was trying to find a place to eat, as well as keep myself busy until night fell. It stays light quite late in Europe. I was puzzled. The area looked abandoned. Moving from one village to the next I was perplexed to find NOTHING. No store of any type, modern conveniences aside. A few locals here and there (even more perplexing, was where did these few people eat! What did they do! How did they survive? Who were they?!) I found more tractors than people.

Fields and Fields of grapes
Seemingly abandoned villages
The Priests home, sitting right behind the Church, hands off people. I will be the one renovating this beauty!

Day one

My fellow workshop attendee, Roberta (and soon to be fast best friend) hopped in the Peugot and got moving, over the hills and around the bends to St. Yzans De Medoc, Mimi’s village. It looks a bit like the others; a church with an impressive steeple, small roads, and stone homes built closely, one abandoned chateau after another. But Mimi’s home is glorious. the smooth fox terriers greet you with anticipation, and you realize there is life to this village after all.

Walking into her home… through what looks like a side door, you land in the La Boucherie. Instead of the traditional boucherie (butcher room) where meat is the main attraction, this one houses heaps and heaps of vegetables. Mimi’s husband Oddur, mentioned on our last day that they surround themselves with an abundance of produce for two reasons, 1) we fuel ourselves with it, we do it for us first, our family and  2) it creates moments that represent our family, when a photographer or journalist pops by we are never scrambling, this is our life and this is what it always looks like (I’m paraphrasing obviously).

The first photo I took of the workshop, Oddur met us at the door, we stepped into a room that seemed like a movie set.

The many photos that represent their family & lifestyle through the years are the raw truth. This family is just as fantastic as your wildest dreams imagined it to be. Soon you walk into the “Big Harvest room,” then the “Green Dining Room” and then to where the heart beats – her kitchen.  Each room is adorned with copper pots; antique this and that, hardwood floors meet tile. Your eyes don’t stop moving, there are moments where you feel small and there are moments where you feel like you’ve left the century you came from. The home is bigger than you think, and I mean that in many ways, she holds history and that beauty exposes itself in every corner.

The room just before Her kitchen, housing the florets, wine glasses etc…
Before we knew it the Savoy cabbage became our dear friend
Chou Farci, from Mimi’s first book, apropriately our first meal in Medoc
These meringues became the most elegant desert

This world they live in is a fairytale. Oddur said it simply, they want to be together as much as possible, and live that way. So they do, and they do everything they can to hold on to this lifestyle.

I soon found myself falling a little in love with this life. The home being wedged between vineyards and abandoned chateaus begins to feel more charming than inconvenient.

So for those of you who are thinking about attending this workshop, I recommend you hop on the opportunity. Of course there is no end date in site but this beautiful family has to live! And I’m sure there will be less and less workshops as the years progress, their adventures are growing as I type. But for now…snatch it up while you can, the experience is that of a fairytale.

Some folks wrote to me asking if the trip was worth it. As I said, this trip exceeded my wildest dreams. The drive to Medoc, the adventure of traveling alone in Europe, renting a car and navigating the vineyards with little to no service was all worth it. However, the workshop itself was magic. Mimi says to make this home yours, relax and enjoy yourself over the next three days. Once you do just that, the workshop transports you, it pauses time. The simple techniques you glean from Mimi as she glides around the kitchen, you could not possibly put a price on. The quality of produce and drink make you amp up your standards for your own kitchen, brainstorming how you can replicate in your everyday usual before you even leave Medoc.

You don’t drink? No problem, there is no pressure to consume any alcohol, cooking with drink, now that’s a must! If you do love wine, Oddur will be sure to help keep your glass full with the most delectable bottles. Mimi herself prefers not to have a glass until the evening, so if you are at all worried I guarantee the pressure is off! The cooking alone is intoxicating and smiles never ever left my face. I go back to those three days often in the short time since I’ve left, truly a Red Letter triage of days.

stay tuned for the day 2 & 3 reflections!

Xx

To Market to Market

Farmer’s Market optimization

The word agriculture translates to: “Field” + “Cultivation”

Call me crazy but field cultivation sounds SO dull. When I think of agriculture I think of beautiful animals plowing through the land, breaking apart soil and creating new homes for seeds to grow. Agriculture is sprouting plants that will someday fill stomachs and sustain our lives. But mainly, I think of hard working farmers toiling in fields from dawn to dusk. Brillat-Savarin the father of gastronomy (Frenchie, obviously) said “The universe would be nothing were it not for life, and all that lives must be fed.”.

Of course he is right. But what we feed our stomachs, and our animal’s stomachs, matters! Not to be super quotey but – Michael Pollan planted a seed that has grown into a HUGE farm in my mind: “you are what you eat and you are what you eat eats too.” The food we consume matters, not only for our bodies but also for the farms. Voting with our forks goes beyond what our stomach wants. Take these 7 tid bits with you during the next grocery run and we can begin to make the shift to a truly a sustainable plate:

1) Meat for dinner? Again? Why— I choose 1-2 meals per week where I have meat be the star. Reason 1) $$$$ meat is expensive. 2) To me, quality is more important than quantity, I make sure the meat that ends up in my market tote is from a farmer I trust, and desperately want to support! Also gotta give ye olde veggies a chance to shine!

2) Buy for the week – (easier said than done, I know), but I try to do my buying once a week and the staples once a month. For me this habit began when I started living on my own, realizing just how much I was wasting. I began to buy less each week knowing that I can always buy more the following market day. It worked! Less $ wasted and less veggies wasted!

3) Find the market! I urge everyone with the ability to get to the markets and experiment with those ingredients (I understand in rural areas this may not be possible!)

4) Obviously don’t shop on an empty stomach. Over purchasing is my claim to fame.

5) Bring a reusable bag & baggies for wrapping all the goods up & toting them home safely!

6) Think outside the box. Get some of those items that intimidate you – for me beets were those root veggies that I lOVED when prepared for me but initially shied away from buying fresh. Turns out they are easy to cook and create a wonderful juice. They are now my go to when I’m feeling uninspired! Ha!

7) Value added-Invest in that cheese. I love cheese. I love it I love it I love it and I will absolutely be the one spending $15 on a nice raw aged cheddah. But since I am not spending much on meat/ fish products I validate splurging with other bi-products that make me a happy gal.

That’s it for now! Enjoy your market time!

Snail blazin’

April showers bring May flowers… and snails

Last week I got all excited about supporting a particular local farmer at the Union Square Market. This guy had all the plants for building up my home garden. I got a dozen different plants ranging from tomatoes (which I don’t like- I know, weird- they are for tomato sauce) to spinach and bush beans (which I really really like).

I planted those suckers in the beds and gave em a goodnight kiss (I did no such thing) My own ruffage in my own backyard! Proud plant mother moment.
I couldn’t help but gawk at how many slugs/snails were blazing around my humble Brooklyn Backyard… So cute, so not offensive, I was even thinking this was a win- at least there was life back here! After all… Slow Foods mascot is the snail, it had to be a good omen! Right?

No
No No
NO


They ate my baby spinach! They noshed on my Montpelier bush beans! They didn’t touch my tomatoes (figures- the one I would volunteer as tribute, they leave alone, continuous eye roll)

So I called my mom.
Turns out her grandmother used to put cheap beer in empty tuna fish cans and the slugs would blaze on over to this amazing drink (slugs love beer) but end up passing away in their slow drunk sluggy dreams. My roomie’s mom also confirmed this “let them drink beer” technique, so all the moms have voted and feeding beer to slugs wins.

Another, more snail loving course of action is to hand pluck all of the snails (before they get to the beer)and bring them to the abandoned backyard adjacent to yours. 🙂

But the beer works… if you dont have the luxury of an abandoned backyard to use at your leisure

Bottom line is, these critters like cool damp places, so ofcourse my overgrown backyard was a haven for the little cuties. Spring is their prime season. So cleanin up the beds, weeding out the unwanted plants and giving your garden more sunlight should dry up the land nicely. Dryer conditions= no more snails!

P.S. I planted Marigolds near the half eaten baby plants. Their natural chemical wards off most pests, which is absolutely what we want.

Happy Gardening!

Don’t Panic- its Organic!


Maybe.. the real Sh!z doesnt need labels

Second semester freshman year I fell in love with a challenging/interesting course; Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture(FAO for short- hey- Cheers to an environmental liberal arts education!) That was 5 years ago… and my oh my has the industry grown. With a boom in young farmers and a big jump in the general pop’s excitement toward healthy food, organic has become a household term thrown evvvvvverywhere. In that first 3 hour class my professor assigned us an impromptu- debate(classic liberal arts) on the varying sides of organic agriculture. Questions flew across the room accompanied by quick well prepared rebuttles. I kept quiet.

turns out i didn’t know jack about organic.

And in all honesty I don’t think most have a clue what organic really is, we name drop it left and right hoping someone doesn’t call our bluff asking us why we choose organic, how its important (including myself). So here’s some history, it may help a bit…

DONT PANIC …. ITS ORGANIC

1905-  Sir Abert Howard set off from England to Indore India to become an “agriculture advisor”. Instead of advising he became the student, and brought back his learnings of soil health, composting, regenerative practices etc. etc. to the US & UK through his book An Agricultural Testament– Classic organic farming text. No I have not read, yes I will soon.

1940-The Organic movement began in the US through JI Rodale’s publishing work. A playwright, editor, & author Rodale used his influence in print to familiarise our fav word organic with pesticide free (influenced by Sir Albert Howard). Keep in mind, these methods are nothing new, Sir Albert Howard is a messenger not the creator in this wild ride. Indian agriculture techniques found in Howard’s book were traditional ancient agriculture techniques.

1970(s) Organic industry grew, and so did environmental awareness. Growing too fast for its own good, there wasn’t enough of a structure developed to support its size. States were the ones regulating which meant the standards varied per region… giving the term organic no uniformity.

1990-Congress passes OFPA (Organic Foods Production Act) with the attempt to set up a national standard.

2002- Rules begin to be implemented (yay!) For the most part, this is what they consist of:

  • Land must be free of pesticides/ chemicals etc three years before you even think of being certified organic
  • No use of genetic engineering (GMO)
  • Crop rotation, cover crops, animal crop waste should be implemented, use of synthetic materials is allowed
  • preffered organic seeds
  • Pests (including weeds & diseases) will be initially controlled by management practices but basically if all else fails … use a substance that is approved by the national list..
  • animals must be fed 100% organic feed
  • no hormones or antibiotics for any reason (preventative measures can be used including vaccines- producer MUST give medical attention if required, however that animal will no longer be sold as “organic”)
  • All organic meat must have access to the outdoors, pasture for ruminants (info found at http://Www.sare.org )

Then…. Organic went mainstream

Although the original thought is exciting, massive growth in the organic movement moves it farther and farther away from it’s roots. Eco-friendly systems that focuses on connection between farmer & consumer kind of diminish. Prioritizing healthy soil loses focus as assembly lines grow.

Michael Pollan’s (author of Omnivores Dilemma-highly reccomendspoke to the topic of Big Ag in an article from Organic Consumer’s Assosciation “If organic agriculture means anything it should mean that the food has a lighter environmental footprint, its really the supermarket shopper that drives the industrialization” He urges environmentally conscious shoppers to shop their local markets instead of heading straight for the ORGANIC label.

Currently there are 8,760 year round farmers markets in the U.S. So lets get go! IF you live in the NYC area you sure are a lucky ducky, there are tons and tons of local options thanks to GROWNYC. If you aren’t in the area, no worries, you can find a farmers market near you at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets 

Share with me your seasonal finds!

Chateau Ormes de Pez



The Elms of Pez

A trip is planned for Bordeaux as you know… these sketches are me doing my very best to contain my exciteement. Thank you for baring with me!

June 2019. Plans are coming to together and solidifying as the next few months progress.  I’ll be flying into CDG and spending the first two nights of the 8 day trip soaking up the magic of Paris. It’s been just under two years since my last visit, I am due for another! Although Paris is incredible it is but the beginning of my voyage. I will be taking a train to Bordeaux where I rent a car (to say that I traveled by plane, train, and car). Who knows, maybe I can convince someone to lend me their boat!

I will barrel my way through Bordeaux to the commune of Saint Estephe in southwestern coast of France, which hugs the Gironde Estuary.  The Medoc region in France is known as the wine growing region (go figure-afterall we are in Bordeaux) It is also the region where Mimi Thorisson now resides and provided inspiration for her second book French Country Cooking. The French countryside indeed.


For those new here, I will be taking a much anticipated workshop with Mimi & her husband Oddur in June. Learning the ropes of her kitchen, and Oddur’s photography skills. Mimi sent a list of her housing recommendations and after reading up I made my decision. The deciding moment was when I came across an entry on Manger: “ Chateau Ormes de Pez… the place I’d love to stay if I did not live in Medoc. In fact I think I might like to stay there anyway” Mimi’s words, and advice I must not take for granted. So, it’s four nights at the Chateau Ormes de Pez, The Elms of Pez. Check out Mimi’s post for yourself!http://mimithorisson.com/2013/05/09/lintendant-his-slow-cooked-lamb-2/


Dating back to the 16th Century, the Chateau is now owned by the Cazes Family (will report back about who these people are and why their name is just so important in Bordeaux). The home was originally named “Domaine de Pez” the field or Domain of the town of Pez. During the French Revolution the name was changed to reflect the many Elm trees that garbed the 82 acre vineyard. An award winning vineyard in Bordeaux? How perfect. 50% of the grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon (the real reason behind my housing decision). The remaining acres are filled with 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The soil consists of gravel, clay, and sand just perfect for these earthy robust wines. I’m salivating.


The beautiful building sings romance, a sweet melody that runs through the vineyards, around the horse barn and through each of the five rooms. I wrote to the L’intendant Gilles de Marcellus about my stay and he suggested a car. Enter the first car rental this chick has ever signed for. Wish me luck! Or better yet, wish the people of Bordeaux luck…

Secrets to raising kids (the goat kind)


Margaret and Rose (my nigerian dwarf goats) were purchased with two intentions. The first, and one that certainly got my parents on board was to create a micro-dairy system. Supplying our family with all our dairy needs. The second reason was to fill my summer with baby goat love! I had the opportunity to take them to college with me at the end of that summer, so it seemed like the right move for me! Becoming mom.


After much research I officially brought my girls home, separating them from their mother, and feeding system. I then gave myself the responsibility to feed each girl 4-6 times a day!

… Taking them away from their (biological) mother at two weeks old had me feeling a variety of emotions. Was it too soon? Is this healthy? Will it be too much work? Are there any other options? Not at all comparable to human surrogate motherhood, but to my then 19 year old self certainly felt just as serious.

For all those new to goat mother & fatherhood (it’s true- you feel like parents!) I created a little pro & con list to help understand the benefits and downsides to raising goat kids as bottle babies (taking them away from mother pretty early-like I did) opposed to dam raising (allowing the doe to raise them naturally). These are conclusions I drew from raising my two doelings, an experience I am so very grateful for. I can’t wait till I am able to do it all over again but this time will be with a few changes.

Dam Raised:


Pros-

-There is a fair amount of convenience when raising kids with their mother. It’s like having a child and having a night nurse. If you don’t feel like milking or there just isn’t time- no worries, we won’t hold your grades! The kid will drink up any extra milk the momma produces, happy momma =healthy milk!


Cons-

    -Colostrum is produced by all female mammals once giving birth. This first bit of milk that the mother produces is packed with antibodies. A Built in health system. Let’s hear it for Mother Nature!

Inevitably there will be less milk in production for the farmer- depending on how many goats you have this could be a bummer.

    -When the mother is the main focus for the kid, you will have to do some major bonding work to get them to trust you. Constant touching, and handling will get your kid affectionate in no time. Nigerian Dwarfs in general are a very interactive breed, constantly looking for attention so no fear! You will have a playful goat companion one way or another!

Bottle Baby:


Pros-

-As I explained before, bonding is key. When you, the human, become the feeding system by default you are bonding & desensitizing. The kids will now look to you for all their hunger pains & follow every step you make. So lots of goat time!

    – The biggest pro of all- You get to give bottles to baby goats!


Cons-

    -Sticking to a schedule- You have to stick to a feeding schedule, just like a newborn human! Those babies NEED nourishment constantly (I’m talking 4-6 times +per day in the first month).

    -Eliminating mom from the equation means you become the monitoring system. Keeping a close eye on their weight gain, bowel movements, doting on them so they are used to human touch, etc (you probably would be doing this anyway- however its maximized with bottle babies)

    -Coccidiosis (lots of diarrhea, dehydration) is the number one fear I had raising my girls. Kids are prone to get it when they aren’t processing their food correctly… and most common when feeding milk replacement ( powder milk mixed with warm water)

-Like I said.. goat Kid diarrhea is REAL. I kept a huge pack of baby wipes with me at all times before I switched them from milk replacement to actual goat milk (a friend gave me a couple gallons of frozen goat milk from her herd to thaw out & feed to my girls). They went from green diarrhea to soft pellets in a day (TMI?)

changes I will be making with my next go-around…

Bottle feeding my girls was an amazing experience, but I would change a few things for the next batch I raise:

-Raise partially on dam- this means not taking them away until at least 1 month of age, once doing so keeping the kids with their mother for a couple hours a day. This gives you the milk product you want for yourself as well as a happy healthy kid!

-Goat milk only- Instead of bothering with milk replacement I will have a source of goat milk ready (from another herd) for the girls to consume. This means I will be saving some of my own herd’s goat milk in the freezer for the next season)


There are some things that worked brilliantly. If you are able to take your goats on little adventures, do so. Try to introduce them to all the people (you won’t have an issue with getting people to swoon over your new goats!). Snuggle them all the time and you will have yourself some very affectionate ruminants. Oh.. and get two. It’s not an option, they will need a companion no matter how dedicated a mother you may be. My girls stand for their feet to be clipped, follow me everywhere on the farm, and are fine with me “milking”(getting them used to touch on their udders is important- we will be breeding them this fall!). I attribute their kind little souls to our very consistent schedule of bonding during their first 6 months.

Just Grow with it


My new mantra, Just growing with it has taken my full attention. The now go to answer when asked do I like the city? Wow, your job doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with sustainable agriculture… are you happy? Yes, Just growing with it Karen. Often, I flip back to freshman year Keeley, she had plans about everything. She would take one look at my current seat at the table and spit out her cheap wine. This is not where she intended me to be. Oh my my my am I happy about that. Turns out, just growing with it definitely has its perks.

Learning to let go of control has been quite an adventure. Coming up on my 2nd birthday in NYC… I am noticing a shift in my adulthood… let me explain. When traveling in the city, the size of your fire does not matter, you have no control. You are at the mercy of strangers. The train conductor, the uber or taxi driver, the gentleman crossing the street during your green light, a traffic jam. You know the deal, you don’t have a vote regarding what time you arrive. Historically I have been very punctual person (salute to my father). I have now leaned into losing control of my arrival times (other than my job ofcourse) instead of staying frustrated. My roommate and friend from college, Nora pointed this out to me when walking home yesterday.


Two years in this city have flown by, and I am just growing with it. A planner at heart, I am scheduling in these years as time to grow. Time to take chances, hop on opportunities, spend a lil, save a lil and grow with the path I am taking.

Friends for five strong years, Nora and I became roommates last December, right before the holidays. Ill be honest, we are very fortunate, and scored a great deal on a smashing apartment in Brooklyn. We had dreams to stay in Manhattan (she lived in Chelsea, I in Hell’s Kitchen) but the Brooklyn bells were ringing… Let me show you what I’m talking about:

My farm girl heart is oh so pleased with the luxury of a backyard. Now that things seem to be thawing out, plans are in the works for what to do with our gorgeous spot. A salsa garden for sure, all the herbs, and ofcourse flowers everywhere, but I am thinking of trying my hand at fun produce such as artichokes and figs. Leafy greens are a must, beans and peas to trellis up the fence. Taking all suggestions, leave an idea or comment below, something unique you have in your garden or are planning to implement.  After all, I am just growing with it. Cheers!


By one get one (goat)



Most students arrive home from college with tattoos or piercings. I brought home goats or rather the idea of a micro dairy operation. Studying sustainable agriculture does things. With an organic farm on my college campus, my interest in all things goat-related was consistently fueled.


Briefly during my sophomore year I spent time working at Consider Bardwell Farm. This farm is home to one of the best raw milk creameries in the northeast. Somehow I worked my way into the position of selling cheese at the Winter Farmers Market in Dorset, Vermont, it was a dream.

I went home that summer with the idea of making my own goat milk dairy, so that one day I could have fresh goat milk cheeses at my dispose. And to do it correctly, I would need to begin from the ground up. Nigerian Dwarf goats are the perfect addition for small scale dairy options. Standing no taller than 24 inches at maturity (smaller than many dogs) they take up very little space. For such a small size these goats produce about 2 pounds of milk a day. Perfect for supplying a family their dairy grocery. Enter Margaret & Rose.

Excuse the poor quality photos- they are a few years old!

Many stories go along with this pair but my favorite is our first day together (they were 12 days old). I am named after my nana’s maiden name, Margaret Rose Keeley Frayne.  My grandmother has dementia, and at this point it had gotten quite bad. I am so grateful that this disease has kept her lovely nature — she is still the sweetest human I’ve ever known.  Moving along, on this day the house was empty except for nana. My mom, dad, and sister were out running some errand or at some horse show, I had gone to a Nigerian Dwarf Goat farm for “information” about the breed (or that’s what I told my parents). I arrived home with my two little darlings before everyone’s return. My intention was to get just one doeling (female baby goat), but with a bit of  research concluded that goats needed companionship – oh darn, guess I would have to get two. At this point my parents understood my interests in micro dairy and my long-term plan, but not the sincerity of it.

I showed the new goats to my nana and her reaction was interesting, something familiar. She seemed to know that I had done something without permission; that these goats were a little unplanned. She smiled and petted my twin girls, cooing to them telling them they are pretty girls. I brought them out to the barn to get them settled and we began bonding (bottle feeding every makes you mom real quick).  



Gravel crunched and my family was home. Smiles greeted me, but I was definitely in trouble for (1) bringing home an animal without permission and (2) getting 2 instead of my anticipated 1 doeling (oops). My grandmother had warned my mom when she came in that I had brought home two goats. In fact her words were “Did you see, she’s got goats, she’s got two of them” (!!!!!!!) This was and always will be a memorable moment. You see, my grandmother mainly speaks in broken sentences now and these sentences usually consist of how beautiful we are (I told you she was sweet), or asking for food (I can absolutely relate). Nana remembering my goats and inferring that they were not part of the plan was a fleeting moment but a great one and it only seemed fitting to name my girls Margaret and Rose.


Thank you for letting me share this story, Nana and these girls mean so much. It was inevitable that Nana would make her debut on Pitchfork and Pearls