"The Pig Dies At Noon"

That’s what the email said, just to ensure that the more squeamish guests would be arriving around 5.

The invitation landed in my inbox because Eve had emailed me, asking “do you know where a friend can get a pig?” and I directed her to Richard at Northwind farm, where they raise a variety of first-rate pastured meat. I get my belly from them (in more ways than one). In exchange for the pig hookup, I got to attend a special sort of barbecue. The kind that begins with a live pig, and ends with dinner. Tate, the host, thought it would be a good idea if all of his hipster Brooklyn foodie pals connected with their meat in an intimate and direct way, seeing exactly what it is that goes into bringing an animal to the plate. It was an interesting idea, and I was by myself that week, so the prospect of meeting some nice people while soaked in pig’s blood seemed like a no-brainer. I charged both camera batteries (I have two now, because Claudia sent me one).

Richard and the pig arrived (a little after noon, actually) and he described how the pig would meet its end. He slipped a couple of ropes around the animal. Tate loaded the .22, and they worked out who would stand where. The picture below shows the moment where the pig figured out that the day was not going to go very well at all.

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Schwanzgespänken

So I’ve obviously been slacking off in a major fashion, but it’s for good reasons: first, I had some work to do around the house that involved drywall (that sexiest of building materials, am I right?) and second, I went to Vermont and relaxed for a couple of days and ate well but did not take a single picture of any food the whole time.

The next post (which I promise to have up on Monday morning) will be a good one, combining graphic violence with quality eating. Thanks for your patience.

Whoreganically Blown

Last night we had burgers. Nothing fancy about them at all, no gadgetary magic or exotic ingredients to make them blogworthy. What did make them very very pleasurable to eat, though, was the 20 minutes or so that I spent really actually making them. From scratch. I took a package of local, grass-fed stew meat, trimmed a few tough spots, and fed it into the Kitchen Aid grinder attachment along with a fistful each of parsley and arugula, a minced clove of garlic, a good-sized piece of smoked ham fat cut into chunks, and salt and pepper. I fed them all through the large die, and then the small, and then shaped them into patties. Cooked them. Served them on whole wheat buns with homegrown tomatoes and homegrown and fermented cucumber pickles. Steamed broccoli and sautéed zucchini, also from the garden, on the side. Seriously: 20 minutes, including cleaning out the meat grinder parts before everything got all hard and icky.

Why write about such a meal? I wasn’t going to, believe me. But by complete coincidence, earlier in the day I happened to be in a local chain drugstore (don’t ask) when, in the course of my hapless, panicked, Kafkaesque wanderings though the maze of aisles, I stumbled upon the following product on a shelf:

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A Rose is A Rose is Not A Rosé

I had a pretty productive day yesterday, and got some garden processed for cold storage so we can enjoy bright, cheerful meals during the long dark night of winter. I took every ripe tomato we had, which worked out to a roughly 50/50 mix of eating and paste varieties, trimmed off anything unseemly, and threw them all in a big stockpot with a bit of shallot softened in olive oil. After about 10 minutes, they had all pretty much disintegrated, so I stick-blended them all smooth and pushed the result through a strainer. The result, after the judicious application of salt and pepper, was just shy of a gallon of dreamily perfect tomato soup. Into the freezer it went, after I parked all the containers in sink full of cold water for a few minutes to cool them off.

The rest was lunch:

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Peasant Pheasant

My intermittent perambulations of area farmers’ markets are something I’m trying to make more mittent as I research some things for future projects. Recently, these more deliberate peregrinations made me the happy owner of a pheasant. Since it was a lovely cool evening, I roasted it on a bed of fennel, onion, and new potato. While it roasted, I took full advantage of summer’s influence on the various nightshades outside; I dug other potatoes, picked a variety of tomatoes, and grabbed a serrano pepper as well. The eggplants are coming along nicely, but need a couple more days to get big enough so that the first batch will make a substantial dish. I sautéed onion and pepper, then added chopped tomatoes, some smoked paprika, Espelette pepper and a few herbs and let it all simmer, covered, until the spuds were tender. I added a bit of salt and pepper and took it off the heat, leaving the lid on.

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American, Idle

It’s just too damn nice out for me to spend much time in front of the computer, so I haven’t been. I’ve been a plate-making machine, though, so there will be lots of hot, amateur man-on-clay action in the coming weeks to help slake your insatiable cravings for content. There has been food, though; cooler (perfect, beautiful) weather has allowed me to spend actual consecutive minutes in front of the stove, resulting in some pretty good meals. I’ll try to play catch up over the next few days.

One of the advantages of having a friend in the fish biz is the occasional hors commerce hookup: in this case a side of wild sockeye salmon and a big hunk of cod fillet. The cod is going to be either fish and chips or a coconut curry, but first off we had at the salmon.

You see where this is going, right?

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Oh Yeah

We went to a potluck birthday on Saturday, and among other things this is what I made to bring. Last summer I came up with a coconut borscht using Thai curry flavors, and it worked pretty well. This time around I made the same thing, but using smoked chicken stock as well as a couple of other additions. Do yourselves a favor and make this as soon as you can.

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Soy Gestalt

I was pretty excited to learn recently that there’s locally produced soy sauce in the Hudson Valley. Organic, no less, and made from New York state-grown soybeans and wheat. And so it seemed like a worthy subject to pair with the very high-quality artisanal miso made over in Western Mass. Read about it here in the new issue of Chronogram.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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