Sunday, August 30, 2009


The man who hates farm chores graciously added some much needed air to the compost bin this afternoon. Pox helped out a bit too. All in all, the compost is cooking nicely -- lot of critters including some luscious worms. This rich, coal-black dirt will be an excellent amendment next spring!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Four Eyes

By having only two hens that lay eggs, I refrain from using those eggs in foods where you won't taste their true flavor and texture. I feel a tad guilty buying eggs from another source but hey, an urban homesteader has got to do what she's got to do.

So for kicks on the night before the boys came home, I cracked open some eggs and did a visual comparison. The eggs on the right are from my urban homestead; the other ones are free range, organic brown eggs from a local grocer.

If you look closely, the deep golden egg on the right is from Pox; the one on the left is from the older, scrawnier Chicken.

The four eggs look similar but yet, they are so different. I'll eat my homestead eggs over the ones from the local grocer any day. At least I'll know that my chickens had a hearty meal that may have included a gullet full of delicious and delightful larvae. Yum!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

10 Days of Summer

I have spent the last 10 days alone -- no husband, no son, no job -- just me and my urban homestead.

It has been a long time since I’ve spent that many days by myself. In fact, it was most likely when I was in my 20s, working in downtown Chicago, that I've been alone for that long of a stretch. But even then, my life and my emotional needs were simple, and if I needed time for reflection, I could find solace during the quiet hours of my morning commute.

When these 10 days began, I established rules and boundaries to make the most of my time. I promised myself there would be no visits to Target (do I really need another thing from that store?), and almost no stops at the grocer. Instead, I shopped at the local bakery and ate food that was either in the house already or better yet, straight from my backyard. And yes, in the last 10 days, I have had almost every kind of egg imaginable – poached, fried, and scrambled – at all times of day. And I’ve also eaten countless cucumber and tomato basil sandwiches. Believe me, I’m not complaining. The meals have been divine.

I also promised myself that I would step outside my comfort zone. I attended an evening baseball game with a group of local professionals that I’ve never met, and last Saturday, I ventured some 30 miles away from my home so I could learn the nuts and bolts of preserving food. I also dined with a small group of women from all walks of life – actresses, chefs, producers, and me, an urban homesteader – just so I could get closer to reinventing myself as someone other than a mother and wife.

It was been a wonderful 10 days, and I’ve missed my boys. No doubt, I’m ready for them to come home. But then again, I’ve missed myself too. Let’s hope that I’m not gone for that long again.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Something's Wrong Here

I may be a mother with a young son but I still don't think I need special privileges to park. I'm certainly not handicapped. Anybody have any thoughts?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Make Me Some Pie!

Hats off to Martha Stewart and Evan Kleiman, Los Angeles' Angeli Caffe chef/owner and KCRW's "Good Food" host, for suggesting this can't miss recipe -- Tomato Pie.

I'm not a big Martha Stewart fan but this recipe works. When you bite into this sweet and savory pie, think fresh -- as in the freshest tomato sauce you've ever tasted. The filling is simple and combines fresh flavors of the season -- basil, onion, garlic, and two pounds of assorted homegrown cherry tomatoes. Top it with grated Gruyere cheese, cook for 50 minutes, cool before slicing and enter tomatoey heaven!

Here's the recipe -- I preferred the single-crust version.

Tomato Pie


Gruyère cheese and cherry tomatoes provide a savory version of that summer classic, the double-crusted fruit pie. Resist the temptation to eat this pie straight from the oven. Wait until it has reached room temperature; the juice from the tomatoes will have had time to collect. Serve it as a light lunch or as a side dish.


» 2¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
» 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
» 2½ teaspoons sugar
» 1¼ cups grated Gruyère cheese
» 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
» 1 large onion, diced
» 3 garlic cloves, minced
» 2 pounds assorted cherry tomatoes
» ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
» Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
» 1 large egg


1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 cup grated cheese. Add 1 cup butter pieces; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. With machine running, gradually pour ¼ cup of ice water through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without becoming wet or sticky; do not process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount of the mixture together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

2. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.

3. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.

4. Place tomatoes in a large bowl. Toss with remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, 1½ teaspoons salt, and 1½ teaspoons sugar, and the basil and pepper; when the onion mixture is cooled, add to tomato mixture; toss to combine. Transfer the mixture to a deep 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out half the dough into a circle 1 inch larger than the pie plate. (The remaining dough may be frozen up to 2 months for later use.) Transfer rolled dough to top of plate; tuck in edges to seal. Make 3 to 4 small slits in the top crust; form a decorative edge.

6. In a small bowl, mix the egg with 1 teaspoon water for an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the crust; sprinkle the crust with the remaining ¼ cup of grated cheese.

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet to catch drips; bake until the crust is golden and the insides are bubbling, about 50 minutes. Bring to room temperature, and serve.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Height of the Season...

Our tomato garden taken the first week of July. It was a very good season.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Seeds of Change

Earlier this month, I left my long-held position at an independent school located in the Los Angeles area. It was a hard decision to make -- I loved my school and my coveted position -- but the truth is, I love raising my child more.

I was always ambivalent about having children until Joe came along, when I was 41. He was a sweet surprise, discovered on Mother's Day in 2004, after spending nearly a decade married without children.

It wasn't that we didn't try having children. We just didn't produce one. But when that 8 lb. bundle of screaming joy was ripped out of me during an unexpected C-section, it was love at first sight...well sort of.

Since he was 10 months old, Joe has spent much of his formative years at a local daycare center. At first, I was ok with that. The center cared for him while I performed satisfying work and broadened my skill set. While I was writing, attending meetings, and handling press inquiries, the center was changing poopy diapers and teaching him how to play nice. While Joe was learning his ABCs at his school, I was at work, comfortably knowing that my job at MY school wasn't nearly as hard as the one his teachers held there.

Joe is now 4 1/2 and all that has changed. I've embraced my new life with him, and am quite ready and more importantly, comfortable to be his mother. I actually think I might be good at it.

Since Joe has been told of my news, he's a different boy. He's happier. He understands that Pre-K is important and not to be missed. But he also understands that having more time with mom is a special luxury. We are both looking forward to it!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Left this one on the vine a bit too long. Surprisingly, though, this cucumber wasn't bitter. Sweet as pie!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mr. August

The calendar that graces my kitchen features hunting dogs -- Weimaraners, Vizslas, the occasional Labrador and Mr. August – my 8-year-old -- possibly -- German hunting dog, Huckleberry.

This is not the first time Huck has made the cut and appeared on the calendar of Friends for Pets, the Sun Valley, Calif. , animal shelter that rescued him. He was Mr. October a few years back. I believe ever since he has been a personal favorite of the shelter.

Huck has always been easy on the eyes. His black and white speckled coloring is unique – he stands apart from the easily recognizable black lab or German shepherd – yet his markings make him look pure bred. In fact, we’ve often been told he looks like a Munsterlander.

I consider Huck to be the perfect, faithful companion. He is the third love of my life, after my husband and Joe. Huck was there by my side during those late nights breastfeeding, and he continues to be there with a tail wag whenever I walk in the room. He also possesses the greatest trait ever found in a dog: he seldom barks.

In the days ahead, I’m looking forward to spending more time with Mr. August. This August, unfortunately, we’ll be separated for a while when I’m out of town. I’ll miss him and his little hand nibbles.

Still, in my heart, Mr. August, with all his sweetness, will always be year-round.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Monthly Egg Count

Chicken and Pox exceeded all expectations: they laid a total of 56 eggs during the month of July. Not bad considering the weather has been extremely hot and production can be spotty during times of stress.

I celebrated the beginning of a new month with two fresh eggs...over easy of course.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hand Fed

Chicken and Pox eating green bean leaves this afternoon.