Saturday, May 30, 2009

What a Dinner!!!

Last night Mary Ann Justman and I catered a dinner in Austin for Design~Build~Live They sponsored Brad Lancaster, the rainwater catchment guru of the U.S., for a series of presentations over the weekend. Fascinating guy to be sure. See his page here His books are amazing and full of great ideas on how to utilize all the rainwater that we watch flow down the road and out of site. The dinner was held at Boggy Creek Farms,, A USDA-Certified-Organic Urban Market Farm. This farm is spectacularly beautiful, lush and alive with colors and sounds and smells and it was such a joy to spend the evening there. Carol Ann Sayle & Larry Butler are warm and funny and have more energy than I thought possible when you are farmers on TWO farms and work nonstop to keep things running. They opened up their fabulous farmhouse kitchen to us and provided us with lots of fresh veggies with which to create a meal for 25 like minded folks. Here is the menu:

It was a fun dinner and a chance to be really creative. You know it's funny that when the parameters narrow, it seems like it creates an opportunity to push the envelope in a different way. The "rules" for this dinner were as follows: Vegetarian and Seasonal with Locally Sourced Ingredients. So the list of available ingredients came first and the menu evolved from there. Really if you think about it, that's the way we SHOULD eat. Here is a pic of one of the hors'd'oeuvres, Herbed Roasted Baby Potato Halves made with new potatoes fresh out of Boggy's fields! They were served on a bed of amazingly beautiful, crimson amaranth leaves.
And a pic of the Tea Eggs, sitting on a bed of black sesame seed Gomasio and chopped fennel leaves. I love the marbeled look of the tea eggs! These are eggs from my sweet hens.

Design~Build~Live provided us with the best group of volunteers ever. Young, capable and efficient, they knocked me out with their willingness to tackle any job from grilling pounds of beautiful yellow squash (the hottest job of the evening which earned Lisa a 2 minute vacation to the walk-in cooler...ahhh..heaven!) to washing piles of dishes and smiling angelic smiles throughout! They helped the repast proceed smoothly and with lots of laughter and joy. Here are Effie & Lana cleaning up.

And a photo of Mary Ann at the end of the evening finally getting a chance to relax a bit with a glass of hibiscus mint tea before the packing up and loading begins.

Thanks to all the volunteers and all the generous growers who, along with Boggy Creek Farms, provided all the ingredients for this wonderful feast. And if you are ever in the Austin area on a Wednesday or Saturday morning, drop by Boggy Creek Farms at 3414 Lyons Road. They are open from 9-1 and have lots more than the best produce around! Go and be inspired!

Life Is Good...

Here is a pic of my two mixers side by side. They are beauties, yes? And workhorses to be sure!
But it is a bit amusing to see them together. The Hobart purrs under the load of 6 loaves of tells me, "I was BORN for this..." while the KitchenAid looks on in awe. But the KitchenAid does chores that the Hobart is just too much of a brute to handle. Like a regular batch of cream cheese icing or Italian Cream Cake batter. I guess REGULAR is the operative word here. There is nothing REGULAR about the Hobart. And I am in love with this machine.
Having the Hobart and now TWO ovens has made my baking days SO much easier. Blessings to my dear husband for making it all happen.

Remember my grass fed calf? A beauty he was. Well, as great looking as he was, he TASTES even better (this sounds a bit wrong somehow, but it is true). John Karger, who raised the calf, asked me to take pics of the meat when I got it to see the marbling and overall quality. When we brought the bounty home from the butcher shop (Thanks, Dutchman's Market!), I took out some New York strip steaks for dinner that night. When I opened the package, I was a bit disappointed. The steaks had little marbling. My first thought was "shoe leather". But I grilled them up and oh my, were they delicious! Here are the steaks prior to cooking:

A week later, I opened a package of hamburger and had the opposite reaction. The meat seemed so fatty! But I patted out the burgers and cooked them up and there was NO fat in the pan! They were quite lean and incredibly delicious...the best beef I have ever consumed. And we have a freezer full! Next week, short ribs!
Early Monday morning, my garden guru, Bernadette Ahrens from Comfort Feed & Garden, is coming up to the house and we're going to butcher my 11 chickens. They are huge and I will be glad to have them in the freezer instead of the chicken coop. Between the remark about the calf and now the chickens, I sound positively ruthless. But really, I am incredibly grateful for these animals feeding us and since we are not giving up meat, I want us to eat clean meat that I know was raised responsibly. So now, after the cow and the chickens, I want to raise a pig this Autumn!