Sunday, March 29, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Trav planted peas today, and the branches he cut off of the red bushes are going to be, what he calls, the "pea sticks"- for the peas to grow on. Its a different approach, so we'll see how that turns out. I am so craving a seven-layer salad right now, and have been for about two weeks - I guess it'll be another 68-77 days (according to Trav)!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Last night I went to supper with Luca (the italian) at Trattoria - an italian restaurant in town. We ate well, as italians do, with some antipasti (antipasti misti: grilled vegetables and aged meats, burschetta: tomatoes on bread with olive oil and herbs, prosciutto: aged ham with mozzarella melted in the middle) la prima piatta (I had gnocchi with a tomato sauce, Luca pasta with a white wine creamy sauce and porcini mushrooms, which he let me try) with, of course, three different wines throughout the meal, of which he also allowed me sips. He finished with an espresso, but I was almost too full to make it out the door a good hour and a half after we had begun. I listened to Luca's story, injecting bits of my own at his request, but mostly listening. He was born in Italy, his grandmother owned a hotel and restaurant, his grandpa was a cheesemaker and bee keeper. he has a younger brother who was studious and is ambitious. He is now the head firefighter in the south of Italy. Luca, on the other hand, has been in and out of various school - hotel management, bartending school . . . He moved to the U.S. in 2003, working for a ski resort I think in the restaurant part of the resort. Those in charge were too money driven, however, and he soon transfered to San Fransisco. Soon after he moved again, this time to Santa Barbara where he again worked in a high end restaurant, I believe in the management and probably cooking end of the business. His partner was unwilling to change to become more organic/sustainable/local, so Luca found roughly 5 acres in Massachusetts. He moved there in October, leaving behind a house he still hasn't sold, 2 weeks left to work at the restaurant, and a bee hive he will bring back after he returns to CA to finish work. He plans to create an entirely self-sustaining farm but plans on making mozzarella, caciocavallo and another italian cheese to make money until eventually he can become completely off grid. He may start a B & B type business (or an agritourismo as is popular in Italy) to get more funds until he can eventually kick everyone out and live by himself. He is friendly once approached, but a little wary at first. He has some interesting views and concepts on religion involving Mary Magdalene and Jesus having a daughter that he elaborated on later in the night, but I did not completely understand them. Overall, it was a fantastic and fascinating night.
Today in class was more cheese - we explored cultures (or "coutures" as my french instructor Marc says) and made a 'bloomy rind' cheese (think along the lines of brie or camembert). We will finish that tomorrow. We also learned a little about basic aging from Monset, our spanish teacher. Now, I think a description of Marc is in order . . .
Marc went to a premier cheesemaking school in his homeland of France. He has worked in various parts of the food industry - he worked at Nestle, a large creamery, and other places he has not elaborated on. When he talks about cheese he gets very excited, a lot of hand gestures and bulging of his already buggy eyes. He 'styles' his hair with half of it flattish and one side gelled up in a disheveled manner. His handwriting is awful, and sometimes he doesn't understand our questions, but tries his hardest to give us an answer. His teaching is based more on how this should feel, but backed up with chemistry and science. His uses ridiculous analogies that somehow make a bit of sense, but most of the time just make us laugh. While making cheese, he was so excited about each stage. He would say "I want you to come feel this . . . feel the curd . . . stick your hands in this . . ." of course in a thick french accent while caressing or squeezing the curds and giving us a big, goofy grin.
After finishing up with class (late, as usual - I don't even know why they gave us an upper time constraint) I was talking with 2 sisters from Georgia. They intend to start up the Calyroad Creamery (look at their pictures: www.calyroadcreamery.shutterfly.com). Both are in their 50's (just a bit younger than you, Mum and Dad) with children. Robin, the younger of the two, was flight attendant for years until she got married. She now has 2 sons - a 13 year-old who rolls his eyes at his mother's "cheese project" and a 10 year-old who is their self proclaimed marketing agent. The older sister, Cathy, has an older daughter, and maybe some other children. She is starting her 3rd career -first at Home Depot (traveling often and far), now as a real estate accessor or something, and now as a cheesemaker. We decided to go to a French restaurant in downtown Burlington for supper. We started with a cheeseplate of 3 different cheese from area cheesemakers: a fresh goat chevre; a stronger, bloomy rind type cheese (also goat) with ash on the rind; and an aged, raw milk cheese similar to a young parmesan. We decided that if Calyroad makes Chevre (which will be their first cheese) as good as what we had, they will sell out in no time. I then had a stuffed quail while they feasted on halibut and scallops. All was delicious. We talked about everything from goat herd management (they will be using goat milk from a nearby farm of 19 goats) to what I do, we discussed the class thus far and much, much more. In short, if they lived near us, they would fit right in with Tim & Lisa, Bill & Linda, Brian & Ruth as wonderful, interesting neighbors and good friends. We exchanged contact information so we can see how one another does. I'm really looking forward to seeing how their business goes - they start soon once their milk supply starts coming. They have everything but a bulk tank. On the way back to our hotels we got a little lost and almost went to New York!!! (we would've had to take a ferry, but we saw the sign) Reminds me of some other lost travelers we know . . .
Well, that's it for now. Love much from the Green State (especially on St. Patty's Day!!!!) - Katie
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The day started out sunny and warm, a beautiful day for a walk. I walked down to a diner nearby and ate some blueberry pancakes and then headed for downtown. The walk there I started to think that it didn't seem all that different from Wisconsin - the pine trees, their faint scent in the spring air, the soil, too, seemed somewhat sandy. But then, through a break in the trees appeared something that never appears in Wisconsin: Mountains. After this startling and jaw-dropping discovery, they seemed to be surrounding me as I made my way to the University. When I got to the University I felt like I was on top of the world for it is situated above downtown Burlington and the city flows down from the top of the hill to Lake Champlain. The campus itself is beautiful. The buildings are almost too picturesque with their dark, antique bricks and dark green roofs. There are a few new buildings, but have been built to match their older and smaller counterparts. I was then walking down what seems to have been the UVM's version of "Frat Row" when I saw the Lake, or just a glimpse. 10 minutes or so later I was there, frozen lake in front of me with mountain tops, hazy, but towering in the back. I walked along the edge for a while, watched some kids climb on the rocky shoreline, and soaked up some sun before wandering through the houses of Burlington. The houses and people are not much different than any other town -some as pristine and mountainous as the surrounding peaks, others barely managing not to roll down the hill and into the Lake- but there seems to be a special something about it. A little more fresh, or something. Maybe everyone is just happy to be living in Vermont? I then stumbled upon Church Street, the 4 blocks of Burlington devoted entirely to people and commerce. No cars allowed, just the hipsters, hippies and high-class that only an ultra liberal city like Burlington can handle. I ate at a bustling sandwich called the Red Onion and decided it was about time to go back to the Hotel, seeing as I had been walking for hours. I returned to my room, coat in hand because it was so warm and sunny, and that was it for the day. Cheesemaking tomorrow - - I can't wait!!!
~Mom & Becky
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I've finally arrived!!! After a seemingly endless bus ride aboard the "Megabus" - a double decker bus that goes frequently from Minneapolis to Chicago - I made it to the city of Chicago itself. Breakfast at some Pseudo-French place was delicious after seemingly endless hours of riding with cramped legs (the dude in front of me had his chair all the way back). I walked around to try to see some places my friend Martin (who's been to Chicago several times) suggested I see. The Sears Tower was pretty much right next to where my bus unloaded, so i got to see it, along with many of the city's over-friendly pigeons at 6:30 in the morning. I then took a subway a short distance and visited the John Hancock Observatory (although it won't be for long . . . some Englishman just bought it and will inevitably rename it) but didn't go to the 94th floor - it cost money and took more time than I wanted to spend. I visited the Holy Name Cathedral with its exquisite stained glass windows, but it was under renovation so I wasn't able to go in. After seeing most of the Chicago Tribune building, which as stones imbedded in it from all over the world, I stumbled upon a large group of people gathering at the river. I soon learned that I had showed up on the day when they died the river green. I think most of the city must have been on the banks of the river and, with copious quantities of beer flowing before 10 AM, a crew of 2 or 3 boats began to dump a red die into the river, which actually turned it a florescent green (as opposed to the dull, dirty green it already was). On my hurried way back to the Subway system (it was getting about that time that I should be making my way towards the Midway Airport) I stumbled upon some gorgeous government buildings (I think) and the new Trump Tower. I made it to the airport well ahead of time, through security, and then waited while reading/napping/people-watching. I waited longer than my 2 flights combined, for I had to make another stop in Detroit with a 2 hour layover. The Detroit Airport has a strange underground tunnel to get to the B and C gates. There are lights flashing to a bass-heavy, wild music. Amusing but bewildering to a tired traveler. All in all I had a wonderful time in Chicago and would love to go back - - although as my plane flew over Chicago in parting, I got to see an overview of the rest of the city, the part I had not (and the part most people don't) visited. It looked dirty, crowded - quite unlike the pristine buildings I had just lugged a suitcase around all day; a testament to the dirty deeds Chicago is notoriously built and thrives on. It was dark as I landed in Burlington, but I look forward to exploring tomorrow after a good night's sleep.
Kohlrabi basking in the sun while cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli look on...
(The ancho and big bertha peppers, egg plant, pok choi, and iceberg lettuce are still undercover. Basil is being sown as we speak.)
Travis, scooting around the neighborhood
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I recently went to Champagne, Illinois to compete in an intramural gymnastics meet. I was a lot of fun, but a lot of driving (16 - 17 hours). Our lone boy to compete, Brian, placed on floor and vault. We were all very excited for him since it was his first ever meet (he taught himself gymnastics in his barn at home and thus has had very little training). We also had a couple of girls place on floor, bars, and in the all-around. I, myself, didn't place, but I was satisfied with my routines (I did all but the floor). Stay tuned for my next gymnastics adventures on the 28th of March in Iowa.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Trav and I went out to see his family this weekend. I always love the drive to go see his grandma. Its so scenic, and I got lots of good knitting done! There are fields and fields of windmills now, and they are working on hooking up the huge power lines to transport the energy. It was really windy out, so its crazy to think of how much energy they were creating as we drove by. We could even see the windmills from our bedroom window at his grandma's. Its hard to capture just how impressive they look, but Trav was game to stop for me - I was too chicken to walk right up to one though, maybe another trip.
Now, on to Percy's new kitchen...
I know you guys are waiting to see pictures.