House-sitting in the country (with real live chicken and everything!) is life exotic to citified dwellers like Jef and me. A few weekends ago, you would have found us porch-bound with mugs of tea, a guitar, and a gigantic stack of food magazines. Heaven in a woven basket.
Above, the stuff snacks in dreams are made of: fruity husk tomatoes, plump, juice-filled tomatoes on their picturesque vine, nutty flax armadillo loaf, sweet-savory cranberry walnut sticks, chewy, pungent cheese ciabatta, stinky Amram and Drumm cheeses -- best of all, the fruit was grown locally at Rogowski Farm and the bread and cheeses lovingly made at nearby Bobolink Dairy.
And then a chicken comes to visit you on the porch, and that's it - you're head over hiking boots.
I mean, seriously. See all that grayish-bluish bright stuff -- that there's wide open sky! And the green and brown layers of fuzz -- dirt, grass, and crops! Even on a cloudy day, you know the sun's up there, just taking a little well-deserved rest. Life beyond concrete and neon lights, who knew?
Jef and I drove with all four windows down and oohed and ahhed over everything -- the sprawling yards, cute squat homes, crooked wooden fences -- all of these things that had surrounded both of us while growing up in rural Maryland. You wouldn't have guessed it from the way we hyperventilated over the stars, closed our eyes and breathed in the sweet wind, snatched the camera to catch the first few glints of sunrise over the barn, and danced in our socks to the soultingling voices of Van Morrison, Neil Young, and Tom Petty (guess what, you can blare music late at night in the country!).
Oh, the food you'll eat! We dined on what was probably the most delicious salad of our lifetime: CSA salad with roasted baby beets and baby carrots (seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic), perfectly crisp red leaf lettuce, arugula's spicy leaves, peppery radishes, the refreshing crunch of cucumber, popinyourmouth tomatoes, extra-minty mint, super-basily basil, and the farm's own savory Roasted Onion Dressing. I know it's not really a recipe, just inspiration to join a CSA and eat like this every day while the summer bounty lasts!
Other meals included scrambled fresh eggs with scallions, Mark Bittman's overnight waffles, and a lip-smacking comfort fried rice with diced potatoes, sliced bell peppers, crisp green beans (actually purple beans that turn green when you cook them!), scrambled egg, baby bok choy, green onions, garlic, and a yummy thick mushroom sauce we found in the cupboard.
I know we're painting a picture here that's bigger than life itself. But that's how the weekend felt to us. Time stretched out like a gauzy hammock and hugged us deep into its transcendent web.
Speaking of which, I'll even miss this country spider I was obsessed with -- it spun a gorgeous web on the antennae of our car overnight and came with us on our trip to see Bobolink Dairy's cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, Babka the dog, and the generous, knowledgeable people making delicious artisan food.
Many thanks to the lovely couple who opened their home and chicken coops to us.
Jef: We should name our first kid "Country."
Me: [The Look.]
Jef: What, you don't think it's a good name?