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.
This weekend was my sister’s twentieth birthday. Strawberries and Cream is her all-time favorite so there was no negotiating (although I’m not too sure why anyone would want to negotiate themselves out of that!). For Grace’s birthdays my family always picks up a strawberries and cream cake from the grocery store. Although the cake is made fresh at their bakery it just wasn’t satisfying anymore. Maybe management changed, maybe there was some sort ingredient switch-up, or it’s possible my family has become quite spoiled. Turns out-baking with farm fresh eggs changes the baked goods game. This year I decided to try my hand at Grace’s cake (assuring everyone that if the cake was a flop ice cream would be on me!).
There is no cake left, there were oohs and there were ahhs and most of all the birthday girl was smiling. We ate it all. So I am jotting it down here for you dear readers to modify/replicate. If not for a birthday then just because it’s spring!
It‘s rumored that Marie Antoinette sang “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” when the people of France were starving. The tale goes that cakes and pastries were handed out to the poor. I guess they must have had a lot of leftover cake. Whether that’s true or not I will still take a fat slice of homemade cake anyday. Cheers!
Beware: This recipe calls for buttermilk and cake flour- two uncommon ingredients in my household- if you are in a pinch, no fear! I put the substitutes below 🙂 Happy Baking
For the Cake: -3 cups of cake flour (or 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour + ¼ cornstarch) -3/4 tsp baking soda -1 ½ tsp baking powder -3/4 tsp salt -1 ½ (three sticks) butter- room temp -3 large egg whites -2 1/3 cups of granulated sugar -2 tsp almond extract -1 ½ cups Buttermilk (whole milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar/ lemon juice)
For the Filling: -2 cups sliced strawberries -1-2 tsp sugar
For the Frosting: -1 pint of heavy whipped cream (chilled) -1/4 cup powdered sugar -1 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract will do! I prefer the almond undertone)
How to make that cake!
Preheat the oven to 350* F. Butter two or three round cake pans generously with butter.
Sift flour (3 cups), baking soda (3/4 tsp), baking powder (1 ½ tsp), and salt (3/4 tsp) together in one bowl
Cream the butter (3 sticks @ room temp) and sugar (2 1/3 cups) until light and fluffy
Add in the egg whites (3)and almond extract (2 tsp), continue beating on medium for a few
While the mixer is still running add in 1/3 of your dry ingredient mixture to the mixer. Scrape down the sides, then add ¾ cup of buttermilk. Repeat until all batter ingredients are mixed together.
Divide batter into buttered cake pans evenly. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until they reach a golden brown (Use ye-olde toothpick trick)
Let cakes cool for at least 10 minutes
Meanwhile… in the filling department:
Cut the tops of strawberries off and chop ( 2 cups worth)
Sprinkle with granulated sugar and let sit in a bowl for 10 min.
Strain and keep pink strawberry water for frosting
Whip it! Whip it real good!
Chill the whisk & clean mixing bowl in freezer until cold
Pour in (1 Pint) heavy cream, powdered sugar (1/4 cup) and almond extract ( 1tsp)
Add in whatever pink strawberry liquid you have leftover
Whip until stiff peaks!
Place the largest cake (there always is a bigger layer) on the plate & spread with whipped cream
Spread half of strawberries
Repeat if doing three layer cake
Frost top layer and decorate with remaining strawberries OR fresh chopped strawberries- it’s up to you!
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.
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
Mimi Thorrisson Manger Workshop- How I am making this work
Taking the voyage to Medoc, France is a dream. An expensive dream. Pitchfork and Pearls started with my own version of a vision board. Not necessarily cutting and pasting images from magazines (haven’t gotten there yet) but writing down goals that would propel me forward in this journey. Mimi was not on the top of the list. And I say this to bring reality to the conversation, I chose simple little goals that would be attainable in a few week, maybe a couple months, non threatening and totally in my comfort zone. I had just bought the new IPad Pro- which to me was a BIG splurge- and was feeling drained financially. As the list of goals got longer the visions got bigger, because 1) why not- no harm in day dreaming 2) its was FUN! Stretching my mind to open to the endless possibilities was invigorating. Physically writing them down was propelling them forward. That list is important and I will absolutely share with you. See how the goals JUMPED.
Hmph, I should briefly introduce Mimi Thorrisson before I go on. Mimi, her husband Oddur, 8 children, 14 Fox Terriers, and one Italian Pointer Monte Critso reside in Medoc, France. The Bordeux region, you may have heard of it once?or twice, probably in a wine store. Author & food blogger Mimi shares her excuisite life in France. Inspiring and dropping jaws in seasonal cooking, her travels, her entertaining techniques, and her incredible workshops. Find her on Manger, her food blog, or pick up her book A French County Kitchen. Miss Mimi also has quite the tantalizing instagram account…and if that is not enough many many posts reside on Pinterest gifting you windows of the fascinating life she leads. Ahh yes back to goals.
After writing Mimi’s name down on my vision list I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Visiting France in the summer like so many other lucky glamorous folks, taking so much more from this event, more than a simple vacation. I daydreamed about using this material to create connections, grow strangers into friendships, and picking up more and more inspiration along the way. Addicted. So I emailed Mimi thinking 2020 would be the year of Medoc & Me, & her 14 terriers, maybe I would even go home with a pup.. (heh okay keep your goals in check miss) Email sent, 7 hours later I get a reply from Mimi herself. Yes most of the workshops were full, there was a seat open in a new workshop that might be right up my alley (I told her my goals & my very unique (ha) interest in farm to table food because 1) why not give her the low-down, she knows her workshops best 2) She may not even respond, the least this email can do is get my goals in writing again).
Whoops- guess 2020 goals might just have to happen sooner than expected. Putting these bad boys in writing… was dangerous. So I replied with, let me make sure this can work financially and I will get back to you very soon. I knew if this was going to happen it needed to be smart decision. No room for buyers remorse.
Can I afford it? It would be tight. Is this bettering me & my business, my future livelihood. I 100% believed that it would and so the answer was Hi Mimi- I’m in. Because plans began in January I had time to pay in increments. ½ of the workshop fee now to reserve my spot. Flights & lodging would have to be done in a couple paychecks. And I was going to make it work.
As February comes to a close I am feeling tempted to splurge on warm weather dresses and Brigitte Bardot outfits for the Bordeaux region. I am reminding myself that those aren’t in my goals, my vision list. I will look the part just perfectly when wearing the clothes I have now. I mention this because a shopaholic at heart this might urge a reader to keep their goals in check, writing down ideas and visions that propel you forward, clothing is definitely not optional in this world, but it certainly will not take you to the places you want/ need to go (not for me anyway). Style will develop, transform and leave you like a one night stand. I am toning it down to only investing in staple items when need be. Grow the vision but be sure to not focus on what one is wearing (my personal weakness ladies & gents!)
So this is just the beginning to my next chapter & I am oh so grateful for it. I feel beautiful trips like these need to be broken down into real terms. I do not have deep funds to pull from & make these trips happen. Instead it is a very real budgeting system. Stripping down my ego, spending less. Cleaning out my brain of the luxuries crowding our vision daily (belive me- nyc can be crippling at times) and getting down to the basics. Simple meals can be just as exquisite, just stretching a dollar. Breakfast, stewed apples and plain yogurt, (ah my favorite!) what’s for lunch? Sweet potato brought from home. Keeping the grocery bills lower, the material goods at 0 spending and growing my brain. If this is on your radar, you’re going to make it happen! But there will be sacrifices. Sacrifices that grow you.
I brought this up to my mom when I guiltily explained my next adventure (guilty because I wish she could come with me! She absolutely is my best friend!) and she reminded me of growing up in Vermont, though beautiful it is an expensive place to live. Mum and her friends would do “no spend months” where groceries, gas, and of course monthly payments are the only items you are spending money on. No special dinners out for no reason, no splurges at the mall, and certainly no online shopping. Home, work, grocery store, home, it may seem drab at first but you soon will fine ways to brighten your simple world up. She said she was always so impressed with how much savings there were that she would challenge herself to an extra month of savings. So that’s what I’m doing!