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For my birthday dinner this year I opted to make something fabulous at home rather than go to a fabulous restaurant. While I absolutely love going out for fancy dinners every so often (maybe once or twice per year), I had been saving the prime rib from our grass-fed side of beef all year for a special occasion. And my birthday seemed like the perfect occasion to use it! I’ve never made prime rib before, so I scoured the internet for tips on how to make the perfect medium-rare prime rib and the perfect rub recipe to go with it. I chose this recipe from Epicurious, but followed slightly different roasting instructions.

I started with the seasonings:

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves (not California)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil

And ground them to a paste with my mortar and pestle. Then, they got spread over the entire roast. My only complaint with the rub is that it was salty. If I used this rub recipe again, I would probably cut the salt in half. Then, the roast went into the oven, and this is where I deviated from the recipe. I found many “perfect prime rib” recipes that called for starting the roast at 500 degrees for roughly 5 minutes per pound, then reducing the heat quite low for 2-3 hours, then ramping the heat back up to about 375 for the last 30 minutes. Since my roast was about 6 pounds, I set it at 500 degrees for 30 minutes, then turned the oven off but kept it closed for 2 hours, then turned it back on to 250 for another hour and finished it off at 350 for the last 30 minutes. It was a long process. I tested it with my meat thermometer at the end and let it get to 140 degrees internally (medium rare), then took it out of the oven and let it rest uncovered for 25 minutes.

The meat was tender, pink, and delicious! My two complaints with the recipe and technique, however, are that the fat going through the meat did not break down as much as it should have for the length of time it was in the oven, and that the rub on the outside cuts of the roast was too strong. The inside cuts, where just a sliver of meat had any rub were perfect. I made mashed cauliflower and au jus to go with the roast, and bacon roasted brussels sprouts as well.

For dessert, I was so excited to make Tyler Florence’s Creme Brulee! I’ve made it before, and would recommend it to anyone whether you’ve made creme brulee from scratch before or not.

For 8 servings (or 6 bigger servings as his recipe suggests) all you need is:

1 quart heavy cream (remember to find good stuff!)
9 egg yolks (yep, that many)
3/4 cup sugar (though I only used 1/2 cup and it was plenty sweet) plus 6 tablespoons for dusting/torching at the end (or 8 if you make smaller servings)
1 vanilla bean

I also added some vanilla extract to the egg yolk/sugar mixture before adding in the heavy cream, to give it a little extra vanilla flavor. I won’t rehash the whole recipe here, since I followed the heating and baking directions exactly, but instead, I’ll just let you drool over the finished product:

It’s too good. Seriously. Adam and I both ate more than enough…see, I gained 10 pounds just from eating it!

Just kidding, I’m eleven weeks pregnant (or 14…the debate continues with the midwife until our first ultrasound), and haven’t actually had any creme brulee yet!

I’ve extolled the virtues of Snowville Creamery Heavy Cream before, but I’ll say it again: the stuff is amazing! When it comes to cooking fats, I try my hardest to make sure what I’m using is as natural and biologically appropriate as possible, and that includes butter. Snowville Creamery is an organic and grass-fed dairy in eastern Ohio, meaning their cows are always fed the most appropriate diet for their systems, giving their fat (and the cream in their milk) the correct balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats, and higher levels of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which are now believed to fight both cancer and obesity. “In fact, meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals can produce 300-500% more CLA than those of cattle fed the usual diet of 50% hay and silage, and 50% grain” according to T.R. Dhiman in The Journal of Animal Science (via good ‘ol Wikipedia).

I can get this lovely half-gallon of cream for $7.99 at either Whole Foods or Findlay Market (and I have to buy a half-gallon, it’s the only way they sell it), which is only marginally more than “regular” heavy cream when priced by the ounce. It is the only cream I’ve found, however, that is both unhomogenized (which leaves the fats intact, rather than shoving them through a ridiculously fine strainer to distribute them evenly throughout the container…which can just as easily be accomplished by shaking…), and lightly pasteurized. Because of those two things, and because it tastes delicious, I decided one day to try making butter with it. What follows isn’t necessarily a “recipe,” because the only ingredient is cream. I don’t salt my butter because I just salt the food I use it in instead, but if you’d like to salt your butter feel free to do so!

Start with good heavy cream. Only heavy cream will work, not half and half or anything like that. Pour it into your food processor, and turn it on.

Let it run for a while. You might be tempted to think that this is butter:

But it’s just whipped cream at this point, albeit thick whipped cream! Let it run until the butter magically separates from the buttermilk, which should take something around 5 minutes and will look like this:

Pour off the buttermilk into a glass, and then put the processor bowl back on the food processor and run it again. Do this two or three times, until you don’t get much milk out. There is still plenty of milk in the butter though, so press it firmly with a rubber spatula until nearly all of the milk solids are strained out:

You could also use butter muslin (which is finer than cheesecloth) at this point to squeeze out the remaining milk solids, but I generally leave it the way it is. Strain the butter chunks out of your buttermilk, and you get a lovely glass full!

Finally, you have butter and butter milk, and I promise that if you use good quality heavy cream that you’ll have some pretty irresistable tasting butter.

If you just looked through all of that and thought it looked like way too much work, then you could always just buy Kerrygold butter, which is from Irish grass-fed cows and also tastes very good. But what’s the fun in that?

Now that is a face not even a mother could love. Although, who knows…maybe when I’m a mother I’ll love a few more faces than I do now! After the initial loss of one 2 week old turkey, then the scare of a turkey with a broken leg, and then the loss of our biggest tom turkey about 2 weeks ago who was killed by the neighbor’s dog, we were a bit concerned that we wouldn’t have any turkeys left for Thanksgiving. But as you can see, Igor (the turkey with the broken leg) is doing fine:

The other 3 perfectly healthy turkeys are probably a good 10 pounds by now, and are continuing to grow very well. They’re just now losing the last of their baby feathers, and have many of their large “bronze” feathers already! They haven’t tried to really fly yet, which is good, because I’m pretty sure they could get over the fence by now. We’ll have to start clipping flight feathers soon, to ensure that we don’t have to coax any turkeys out of our big tree, or find one run over in the road.


Interestingly enough, they also love the camera! They must have felt like movie stars. The Araucanas are also doing well. We still have all 4 of them, and they are all so pretty! One was being shy, so she’s not in any pictures, but the other three were slightly more cooperative.


Overall, the birds are happy and healthy, the big chickens are laying eggs, the little chickens will be laying eggs in a few months, and we will have turkey dinner in about 15 more weeks! I can’t wait to post a free-range home-grown heritage turkey recipe this Thanksgiving!

I am happy to say that our garden supplied half of the main ingredients for this wonderful side dish, and in a few weeks, will provide 75% of them! We’ve had a much greater tomato yield so far this summer, and have harvested bowls full of cherry tomatoes, at least 20 roma tomatoes, and about 5 heirloom tomatoes already, and it’s not even peak tomato time yet! The herbs have been doing so-so in the back of the garden, but there was more than enough basil for this dish. Our 5 or 6 remaining eggplant plants are finally doing well, and have 3 good eggplants coming along. Next time I make this, it will be with our very own eggplant rather than with one I bought at the farmer’s market (which I still love, but eating my own vegetables is more exciting).

Not being vegetarians, we also had good, local sausage with honey mustard sauce with our grilled eggplant, but they could stand on their own as a light meal. Start by getting a medium eggplant, and slicing it into rounds about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. You don’t want them to be so thick that they take a long time on the grill. Then, lay a layer of slices down in a colander, sprinkle with salt, lay another layer down, sprinkle with salt, and keep going until you’ve salted all of the eggplant. Let it sit in the sink for 15 to 20 minutes, and at the end you’ll see that quite a bit of moisture has been drawn out of the eggplant. Rinse off the liquid and salt, and pat dry with a towel. That little trick is also very important if you plan to make eggplant parmesan, or if you want to use eggplant in any other baked dish. Eggplant holds quite a lot of moisture, and drawing it out beforehand will almost always make for a better, less watery dish in the end.

Now that your eggplant is ready to go, here are the rest of the ingredients:

–Extra Virgin Olive Oil
–1 pound fresh mozzarella, either in ball form or log form, cut into medium-thin slices
–Enough tomato slices to top your eggplant slices (at least 2 large tomatoes, or 4 smaller tomatoes), any variety will work (I used roma because we had many that needed to be used)
–Enough fresh basil leaves to top your eggplant slices with one leaf each
–Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Preheat and clean your grill as usual. I’m not the grilling expert, so you won’t get any particularly helpful tips from me in that department!
2. Lay your eggplant slices out flat, and drizzle EVOO over one side. Flip, and drizzle on the other side. Season both sides with salt and pepper (remember, you already rinsed off all the salt you used before).
3. Have your mozzarella slices, basil leaves, and tomato slices ready to go on a separate plate. Place your eggplant slices on the grill, and leave them to cook for 4-5 minutes.
4. Turn the eggplant slices over, then top with basil, then mozzarella, then tomato. The eggplant will cook through on the bottom side, while the cheese melts and acts as glue on the top side. Grill for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked (but not burned!) and the mozzarella is melted.

Isn’t it beautiful? I did not put the basil on bottom like I should have, and waited to put the tomatoes on until last. I made those little adjustments in the recipe because it will taste better the way I wrote it out. So basically, do as I say and not as I already did! This recipe will work for pan frying as well if you don’t have a grill, but I always enjoy the smokey/crispy quality that the grill imbues to vegetables. Happy summer cooking!

At the height of strawberry season this year, Adam and I were both happily indulging in the overabundance of strawberries on sale. Organic strawberries for $2 a pound? Yes please! We also have access to amazingly delicious heavy cream from grass-fed cows, from only an hour and a half away or so in Ohio, and it’s lightly pasteurized rather than ultra-pasteurized (keeping at least some of the beneficial bacteria that get boiled into oblivion during the high-heat pastuerization). Add to that local, raw honey, that tastes like sunshine. What does this leave you with?

Isn’t it beautiful? It’s not a recipe per se, it’s more of a combination of simple ingredients. Which I suppose is technically a recipe, but you know what I mean.

1. Whip the cream
2. Slice the strawberries into halves or quarters or slices (whatever you fancy)
3. Place strawberries in a bowl, add a dollop of whipped cream
4. Drizzle liquid sunshine (aka raw honey) on top
5. Eat!!

It’s so simple, but such a delicious combination. Try making the whipped cream with less sugar than usual, as the honey will add a completely different dimension of sweetness. A dash of cinnamon on top would not be unwelcome either, and if you have other berries in season right now, by all means substitute away!