...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


6 best food magazines

 I'm not much of cook (and that's an understatement!), at least not yet anyway, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying food magazines.  Over the years I've gotten hundreds of issues, devoured and dog-eared them, and saved recipes for that elusive "someday" when I might start to get my proverbial feet wet in the kitchen.  If nothing else, they whet my appetite, and sometimes, if I get lucky (when she takes a break from her other reading material), they inspire Bootsy to get busy in the kitchen.  And when she gets busy in the kitchen, delicious things always happen. 

I've subscribed to a bunch of food related magazines over the years, 
but these are my tried and trues, my 6 best, which I recommend, hands down:

Fine Cooking
Total eye candy.  Probably the best photos of any food magazine.  Nothing too outrageous, but some nice creative riffs on classic fare.  There's an emphasis on fresh and seasonal, whole foods, and keeping flavors clean.  (Thankfully there's no skimping and no diet-talk, which I absolutely loathe in food magazines or cookbooks.)  Most recipes look fairly straightforward, do-able, and have all been tested.  You can't go wrong.  

Edible Fingerlakes
I absolutely love that this magazine is so LOCAL.  I read through it and see so many faces from our local farmer's market, and discover new farmers, restaurants, and other food purveyors slightly further away that I didn't know about.  I plan summer day trips and exploratory afternoon adventures around what I find.  The recipe portion of the magazine is relatively small, but always good, and always seasonal.  They have Edible magazines in many local-food-centered communities around the country.  Check it out and see if there's an Edible near you. 

Bon Appetit
The former Gourmet magazine used to be one of my favorites, but alas they are no longer except for some special editions and cookbooks they put out.  Bon Appetit has been a nice fill-in and has its own merits.  One of my favorite features is in the front of the magazine where readers have written in about something that they loved at a restaurant somewhere that the magazine then seeks out the recipe to share with everyone.  There's always something interesting in there.  But really, the whole magazine is usually quite good.  On an average month there are probably at least a dozen recipes that I save. 

Oh good God.  If you love cheese even half as much as I do, you will swoon over this.  You will daydream about quitting your job to a) become a cheesemaker or b) open your own cheese shop because your refrigerator is no longer big enough for all of your cheeses and it'd be nice to write off all of the money you spend on cheese as a business expense or c) travel all over the world in search of more cheese, or d) all of the above.   Need I say anymore?

Saveur stands out from the others in that it goes really in depth into one particular food or theme.  If it's a theme that you like, you're in luck.  Occasionally the theme is something that doesn't excite me, but that doesn't happen often.  They also publish an issue each year that's the '100 best' of something that year, and while sometimes it gets tedious, there are always treasures in there.  Out of all of the magazines, this one challenges me the most -- pushing into different flavor zones that I definitely wouldn't think about, and sometimes am still unsure about, but try to keep an open mind.  It's definitely the most worldly. 

La Cucina Italiana
I was on the fence about this one for awhile, and even let my subscription lapse, but I found that I missed it.  I like the stories.  It makes me feel like I'm on vacation in Italy when I'm reading it.  The recipe titles are first written in Italian and then in English, so I've learned some Italian foodie vocabulary without even trying.  It's helped me to think about different things like zucchini blossoms, chestnut flour, and ways to use things that I'm not terribly attracted to like anchovies and bitter greens.  The desserts consistently look spot on.  There's always plenty of olive oil, garlic, and italian cheeses... and I don't think there's ever an issue without pasta.  And I'm not talking about heavy pasta drowning in something like cheese or meat or sauce.  The pasta in La Cucina Italiana looks so light, so pure and holy, that sometimes my old Catholic roots kick in and I feel an internal need to genuflect.  

So what does a girl do with gobs of recipes?  Why, she organizes them of course: 

Back in the day I used to just save my food magazines, but that quickly began to take up too much space, and finding recipes I wanted to look at again was cumbersome and frustrating.  Then Sasha enlightened me about her friend Sigrid's method, which is essentially to cut out the recipe and glue it to some 5" x 8" index cards.  I put the picture on the front of the card, note the source, and then glue the recipe to the back.  My general rule of thumb is that if the recipe doesn't fit on the back of the card -- it's probably so complicated that I won't ever want to make it, no matter how good it looks.  

The 5x8 index cards, storage boxes, and tab dividers are available at Staples, 
or probably any office supply store.  


the edible moon project

My friend Sarah told me about this awhile back...
I think it might have been her niece, working on a project for school,
who made the phases of the moon out of Oreos!

This project may give new meaning to the term 'full moon'
since you'll eat your way through it...  

I loved this idea and finally made it for myself.
All you need is a pointy knife or toothpick and some cookies.

Being the super duper organic eaters that we are, we of course don't have Oreos around... 
I stopped at our local co-op to get these one version of 'healthier' knock-offs.

They're a pathetic waste of calories, in my opinion.    
(barely any cream, and what cream there is -- is pasty, dry, and and overly sweet.) 

So folks, the lesson is:  if you're going to try this at home, I highly suggest getting actual Oreos.  

Probably the top cookie makes a cleaner break than these, too,
 which would make for an even nicer MOON. 

You'll need 7 cookies to show the 8 phases, since the new moon requires no cream.

And here's the 'triple moon' symbol
(waxing, full, waning)
aka the 'triple goddess' 
which in paganism stands for the three natural phases of a woman's life
(maiden, mother, crone).

Have fun getting jiggy with your moons!  


impromptu duckling swim...

The ducklings loooove sliding along on their bellies in our little shallow stream so much
that we just couldn't resist this idea that we found online... 
We found some folks on poultry forums who have said it's perfectly okay for young ducklings
who don't have the naturals oils of their duck mother to go for a safe little swim like this...
So we set up some paint roller trays and filled them with water from our pond.
We also sprinkled some mealworms all over the water.
You can see they went wild for them and didn't stop until every last worm was had!
Today was a pretty hot day, so we felt comfortable going on this little adventure knowing
that they shouldn't get too chilled from the water.
Their chicken mothers kept a close eye on them and even joined in on the fun,
but they don't like to go in the water...

And after all of that mealworm-gobbling-swimming-adventure the little duckies needed to clean up...
They were so happy...

And the Mammas seem happy with a good day's work...
Every day is a new adventure with their wacky water-loving offspring!

p.s.  Happy Summer Solstice!!!


hens co-parenting ducklings

(Imagine the Brady Bunch theme song, if you will...)
Here's the story of a lovely lady
who was bringing up one lovely little duckling on her own.
The duckling was gold, not at all like it's mother,
it gets a little funky when you pair a chicken with a duck.
Here's the story of a hen named Commie
who was busy bringing up two ducklings of her own...
There were three of them living in the coop all together
yet they were all alone.
Till one day when out in the yard,
Jersey met Commie
and they knew that it was much more than a hunch,
That this group must somehow form a family.
That's the way they became the Chicken-Duckling Bunch!
So, here's the update: 
Both mammas started to venture out of their respective nesting spots yesterday...
This picture below here is of their first encounter of each other and the other ducklings.
You can see they were on guard -- Jersey is all puffed up and making her broody warning sounds, which roughly seem to translate as "stay away from my baby... or else!"
We were very worried because we had read stories about rival chicken mothers,
attacking each other and even going after the other mamma's babies...
We held our breath...
There were a couple of squawks and domination pecks exchanged
but then things gradually got more and more calm.
We still had our reservations about it, so we checked in on them all day long
to make sure everything was going alright.
As the day went on, we noticed them and their ducklings begin to hang out together.
As night came, to our great surprise, Commie gave up her nesting spot in the coop
to nest next to Jersey in her ramshackle outdoor bin...
Look at them, sleeping peacefully next to eachother with their babies warm underneath!
This morning, we noticed that the babies are SHARING the mothers,
and the mothers are sharing the babies and taking responsibility for protecting all of them.
(If only some of my students could learn about sharing and getting along
in such a short period of time!)
Needless to say, we are tickled beyond belief -- to our total astonishment and delight,
they have become a little blended family!
We've got two chickens co-parenting ducklings.
It's wacky, but it works!
I like to think that maybe they picked up on the vibe of our whole home here,
which is all about two ladies having a lot of fun together in life.
Or maybe they realized that parenting alone is no easy task...
Here, Commie is taking a little break while Jersey takes over the duckling-warming-duties.
 And then they had some romps in the mud all together.
It was like a trip to an amusement park.
The ducklings go absolutely gaga for water and mud...!
They dip their whole beaks in and fish around like they're going to find a treasure.
We have to be careful not to let them in deep water just yet.
They could drown easily and they don't have the natural oils
that their duck mothers would have spread over them to help waterproof them... 
It's so much FUN playing in the mud with your family!
Stay tuned for more updates on the Chicken-Duckling Bunch...


getting our hatch on...!

When we went out to the coop this morning, Boo found this duck eggshell
and we thought -- oh no! what happened?!!! 
We thought the worst for a split second... that perhaps one of the other hens ate the egg...
But it was broken and empty for the best reason possible...!
We lifted up our broody hen and found that our very first sweet little "chuckling" has arrived!
I'll notify Websters about the need to add a new definition to chuckling in the dictionary.
Not just a verb anymore, chuckling is also a noun...
chuckling = duckling with a chicken mamma

We are swooning with delight,
and so is the chicken mamma.
wobbly wobbly
on those webbed feet!

When I was in the coop,
the little chuckling spent some time exploring
but never more than a few inches from mamma...
It's so sweet to watch them interact...
our chicken is a very tolerant mamma.

The other girls were bothering the new mamma in the coop so much,
that we decided to close the door and shut them out for the day
so she and the baby (hopefully babies soon!) 
could have some much needed peace and quiet.
There are plenty of other places for other hens to lay their eggs...
We have nesting boxes set up all over the place:
(They're just fussy hens and have their favorite place to go lay, which is of course
where the mamma's nest is...  Oh well, they'll have to use their coping skills
and figure out how to deal with it!)
And then there's our good girl Jersey who has been sitting on some duck eggs, too...
Hers should be on roughly the same hatching schedule as the other clutch, so we'll see!
She has taken up residence in an old dog house...
So far, so good!
Stay tuned for more chuckling reports!