Experiments in Homegrown Eating

Q: What do strawberries, scup, pasta, and Cornish Rock chicks have in common?

A: They are all recent players in my “getting to know your food” trials.

I picked close to 15 pounds of strawberries the weekend that Tony Andrews Farm opened. It’s roughly 3 minutes from home and the plants were loaded with beautiful, brilliant red berries. I picked and picked and picked until my knees and thighs said “no more!” But then I picked some more because I felt I had to. Here were these perfect things – ripe and tasty and IN SEASON. I just finished Animal, Vegetable Miracle and in the last pages Barbara talks about a spring morel hunt, and how she felt her primal gathering instincts kick in as she scanned the forest floor. I could totally relate. I mean look at these beauties. If one of them was peeking at you coyly from between green leaves on a warm, sunny June morning could you say no?


Some went into the season’s first pie (along with some rhubarb my parents gave me), some became a compote for shortcake and ice cream. I made one batch of jam and canned half a dozen jars. The rest I cut the tops off and froze on cookie sheets. Once they are frozen that way it’s easy to sweep them into gallon size freezer bags for use in pies, smoothies, etc. at a later date when they’re no longer in season anywhere but that oh-so-lovely-but-tremendously-far-away place, California.

It was a fair amount of work, but not outrageous and quite worth it. Unfortunately this April-disguised-as-June has not been kind to the berries, so they’re not the sweetest I’ve ever had, but a touch of local honey does them just fine. I’m hoping to go back for a second batch this week (though probably not quite as large).

In the protein department, the Hunter went fishing with the boys this past weekend while I hit up the local arts festival in town. He landed a nice load of large scup (aka porgy) on the rod and reel. Not many people know that these fish are actually pretty tasty if you can get around how bony they are. You gut them, take off the heads and spines and scales and throw them on the grill (or under the broiler – have I mentioned how rainy this spring -> summer segue has been?) – no filleting required. Dusted with a little seasoning and drizzled with olive oil or prepared as described in the recipes section here, they make a lovely coastal summer protein source. I loved the crispy skin around the edges. Yum!


Next was an experiment in pasta-making. Did you know all that fresh pasta contains is eggs and flour and some water? I have plenty of eggs, and a friend with a pasta maker, so it seemed like a logical thing to try. It was a lot of fun – pressing the dough through the machine was as satisfying anything I’ve ever done in a kitchen. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time and patience to let the dough sit as long as we were supposed to, so it was stickier than desired and a lot of the noodles clumped together. But they were so tasty even if not pretty, and it was a great learning experience and something I want to try more of. I didn’t take any photos but will make sure to next time.

Finally, last week another box of 25 (27?) peeping day-old chicks arrived. I immediately set out to naming them — let’s see: there’s Nugget, and Marsala, and Tandoori, and Parmesean, and Erin named one Rosemary, and Cacciatore…you get the hint? These are meat birds. (Also known as: the kind you SHOULDN’T name.)


They’re bred to get big, fast, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. They eat and drink like little peeping yellow machines, and get uglier by the day (thank God). I got a “bonus” ornamental layer in the order and the Rocks are 3 times her size already! They’re stinking up the basement right now but as soon as they’re feathered out and all this ridiculous Spring weather gives way to summer, they’ll go into the coop the Hunter recently built (with a little help from the Chesapeake).




These are small steps, and sometimes I get discouraged by how much more is needed to be locally sufficient, especially year-round. But for now I will grow my birds and tend the garden and learn how to can and buy from the farmers markets and bake bread and make pasta and freeze fruits and vegetables and get my weekly vegetable and raw milk shares — and that is a damn good start.

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This is an article that was posted on Jun 24, 11:15 AM.

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Comment [6]

  1. Stacey Jun 24, 01:05 PM

    Looks and sounds incredible! I’m so excited for all that you’re doing, and all the things I’m already learning with you. It’s so nice to have fresh n’ local strawberries and eggs! Animal, Vegetable, Miracle rocks.

  2. Amanda Christiansen Jun 25, 12:00 AM

    Love it! You really inspire me to work harder at eating local (since I can’t grow my own yet). I’m also going to try my hand at preserving some fruits and veggies this summer. I’ll be calling you for instructions!

  3. Brian Jun 25, 11:50 AM

    So, who handles the all too important step that lies between chicks and cutlets?

  4. jess Jun 25, 12:42 PM

    S – we’re making cheese soon, right? ;-)

    A – i’m no expert but i’ll offer all the help i can!

    B – i’ll let you know when we get there. :-)

  5. rwhpyhwk Sep 27, 06:23 AM


  6. rwhpyhwk Sep 27, 06:23 AM


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