The weather has been so cold, and the footing so treacherously icy, that I haven’t been able to ride much. But, being in the saddle is only part of horse ownership. I’ve been using these winter days to do ground work with Tonka. I’ve taught him to come and stay, drop his head when I say down, and walk and trot politely next to me without a lead rope. This work not only keeps his mind engaged, but it also builds our relationship. Anyway, with the paddock deep with snow, I don’t want to have to trudge out there to catch him. It’s so much nicer to have him come to me!
Yesterday we had a brief respite from below freezing temperatures. Depending on where you walked, the ground was mucky, slushy, slick with ice, or covered with crusty snow, but there was also sunshine and temperatures in the 40s! I tacked Tonka up to remind him that despite all of the stays and comes that he really is a horse and not a dog. We splashed through icy water and walked around the muddy track, and even went back into the woods and broke trail, which was hard work for Tonka. Then I joined other women out in the field. We simply stood there, our horses knee-deep in snow, all of us facing the warm sun. A horse or two dozed. We chatted. I’m eager to get to serious training in the riding ring, but, when a day like that comes along you have to embrace it, let go of goals, and just be.
As winter winds down, my public speaking calendar fills up. This year, what with the publication of The Farmstead Egg Guide and Cookbook, my schedule is especially busy, which is great! On March 2, I’ll be at the Townsend, MA library to do both a storytime and a chicken keeping slide show. Also in the next two months, I’ll be talking about backyard chicken keeping in Providence, RI and Newbury, MA. Also, I’ll be doing readings and talking about cooking with good eggs at a number of bookstores.
Looking ahead, on June 11, I have a special Farmstead Egg Guide and Cookbook program at the Tower Hill Botanic Gardens. If you’ve never been to this outstanding garden, this is the excuse to go. Not only do they have gardens and woodland trails and greenhouses, but they also have a lovely cafe. I’ve reserved a table for twelve for dinner before my talk. If you’d like to join me, email me now to reserve your seat.
Once again, I’m offering chicken keeping workshops at my home. Not only will you be able to meet the girls and scratch the goats, but you’ll be able to see my systems, from cleaning, to composting. You’ll see how I handle the hens, and you’ll get to pick up a chicken, too. The first workshop takes place April 5. You can sign up now, here.
For details on all of these programs, and to check in for new ones being added, go to my website’s event page.
I look forward to meeting you!
Yet again, a food magazine has come up with an improved scrambled egg recipe. I’m sure it’s very good, as is any recipe with extra egg yolks and cream. However, they’re really and truly missing the point of what makes scrambled eggs the perfect food: ease and simplicity.
To make perfect scrambled eggs, put a pat of butter into the cast iron skillet, (other pans will do, but the heavier the better.)
Crack two eggs into a bowl (the fresher the eggs the better):
and with a fork, stirred them up with a splash of milk and a pinch of kosher salt. Put the eggs to cook over medium heat. As the egg set, move them gently about with a spatula.
In about three minutes, you’ll have perfect scrambled eggs.
Scrambled eggs are perfect this way, but also excellent embellished with cheese and/or sautéed vegetables. Sausage is good, too. Such scrambled eggs make the best dinner when you don’t feel like cooking at all. But again, they’re the best because they’re not fussy. (Recipes can be found in my Farmstead Egg Guide and Cookbook.)
I can’t start the day without a real breakfast. If all I have is a donut picked up at a drive through, I’m edgy and hungry in an hour. I need the protein of my morning eggs, and along with that some carbs. Although toast is good, I’m quite fond of muffins. However, most breakfast pastries are too sugary and too rich for me, so I’ve been perfecting a Not Too Sweet Breakfast Muffin. I’ve made them with whole wheat flour and nuts so that I’m satisfied all morning. I sweeten the muffins with honey for complexity of flavor. Honey is tricky to bake with – recipes burn easily and the crumb (a baker’s term for texture) is hard to get right. Also, pastries made with honey stale quickly, so any muffins not eaten on the first day should be frozen. (I store them in a zip bag, and remove one at a time, and warm up in the microwave.) But, I love the flavor that honey brings to these muffins. Just be sure to buy local honey. Supermarket brands often originate from China, are adulterated, and have high levels of pesticides. I’m fortunate that there are beekeepers right here in my town.
Not Too Sweet Breakfast Muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins or chopped dried fruit
1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Coat a 12- cup muffin tin with nonstick spray.
2. Combine the dry ingredients and stir until all is thoroughly combined.
3. Beat the butter, honey and sugar until smooth. (If using a stand mixer, use the paddle.) Beat in the buttermilk and eggs.
4. Beat in the dry ingredients until just combined (over-beating will make the muffins tough.) Stir in the nuts and dried fruit.
5. Fill the muffin cups with the batter. (I use an ice cream scoop for this task.)
6. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the muffins spring back to the touch.
As expected, Scooter, who follows warmth the way a sunflower tracks the sun in the sky, found the perfect pool of light on Lily’s new bed.
Oh, Lily. What to do?
As always, Lily is a good dog.