These days it's tilling and trenching and chipping and shovelling and spreading and wow. I forgot those muscles were there.
These days it's heeding last year's notes-to-self and STARTING TOMATOES IN EARLY MARCH. Did it. Boom.
These days it's mud-over-our-boots. Yikes. Ick.
These days it's seeds. Seeds and seeds and seeds and...
These days it's stripping down to a t-shirt every time the sun even considers making an appearance.
These days it's victory laps through the greenhouse when round two of Kim (plus cayenne) vs. the mice ends in germinated peas and decidedly unimpressed mice.
These days it's planning and mapping and reworking and how-the-heck-are-we-going-to-fit-everything-in-and-Phil! Fire up the excavator!
These days it's the smell right after a good rain. It's the smell during a good rain. It's the smell right before a good rain. It's, uh, a little wet around here.
These days it's experiments everywhere. It's attempts at mushroom farms in the boiler room. It's bookmarks in every single page of The Art of Fermentation. It's making our own fertilizer.
These days it's hiring interns. It's crossing off the days until they arrive. It's pinching myself on the daily because they. are. so. cool. and surely I'm dreaming?
These days it's books. All the books. Books on compost. Books on animal husbandry. Books on forest farming. Because summer's coming and this is the sort-of-grown-up, sort-of-farmer version of cramming for finals.
These days it's seized opportunities and unconventional lunches. It's rapini because the kale bolted. And because rapini sounds fancier than raab. It's Hollandaise because Capon sold us on sauces forever. And because Christoph said so (you were right. It is the best.) It's beans because International Year of Pulses, guys (for real. And actually, unlike most International-something-of-somethings, not totally silly. Take a gander.) It's poached eggs because practice makes perfect, and we have a lot of practice to do before May when we fill that chicken coop of ours...
Kale Rapini with Poached Eggs and Hollandaise
Kale is a champ. It will plug away through the dead of Winter, it will withstand two whole inches of hoarfrost, and it will stand up to the most torrential of rainstorms. And then, as if that wasn't enough, in the Spring it musters every bit of energy that it has, sending flower shoots skyward. Catch it in time, before the buds break, and you have unbelievably tender and sweet rapini, reminiscent of broccoli raab. But better.
The Hollandaise recipe comes to us from The Supper of the Lamb, one of the most unconventional cookbooks we've ever had the pleasure of reading. It's a must-read for anyone who appreciates food and theology and words and laughing. And Capon's Hollandaise is liquid gold and belongs on everything.
Large handful of kale rapini (or broccoli raab, or anything green for that matter.)
1 cup cooked brown chickpeas (or regular chickpeas, or any beans. Or no beans, if you're Alpha.)
Splash of olive oil, or small pat of butter
Splash of vinegar
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. cream
2 - 3 tsp. lemon juice
Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
4 Tbsp. butter
Begin by bringing a small pot of water to a boil. This will be to poach your eggs.
While your water is heating, heat the olive oil or pat of butter in a medium pan over high heat. Saute the rapini for several minutes until vibrant green and tender. Divide between two plates.
If desired, toss the chickpeas in the pan after the rapini is done to crisp them up a bit. Totally optional. Either way, toss these over the rapini.
Once the pot of water had come to a boil, add the splash of vinegar and reduce to a simmer. Crack an egg into a small dish, stir the water to create a bit of a whirlpool, and gently slip your egg in. It won't take long, just a couple of minutes. Once done, remove with a slotted spoon and place on rapini. Repeat with second egg.
Now. The Hollandaise. We're leaving this one to Capon. Enjoy.
In a deep pan, put two egg yolks, two tablespoons cream or top milk, and salt, cayenne, and lemon juice to taste. Whisk well. Then, pan in one hand and whisk in the other, heat over a medium flame, whisking without letup or hindrance. Scour every corner of the pan rapidly, and never take your hand off the handle. Hollandaise made this way happens like lightning. As soon as it begins to reach the consistency of thick custard, back away from the stove, stirring constantly, and walk to the spot where you have set aside a generous four tablespoons of butter. Throw that in and continue whisking. By the time the butter dissolves, you will have perfect and foolproof Hollandaise.
Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb
Dollop this over the poached egg and top with chopped parsley.