Tag Archives: austin

slow scrambled eggs, star wars hens, and bad chicken jokes. and introducing…sound effects!

i am way into chickens. not chicken as in roast chicken with forty cloves of garlic or as in beer can barbecue chicken on the grill (although those are two dishes i’ve been planning to make), but as in real, live, squawking, peck-you-if-you-get-too-close, yes-i-will-bestow-upon-you-many-fresh-and-delicious-eggs kind of chickens.

throughout sxsw, i was lucky enough to stay at the wonderfully warm and welcoming home of aris, orion, and mark. these three played host to a bunch of loud and crazy go gamers who took over the living room with about 9243 huge suitcases of gear. people even slept in tents in the backyard, where they shared sleeping space with six chickens, all with their own funny name, unique coloring, and distinct personality.

i’ve recently been really into buying good eggs from humanely treated chickens and making dishes that showcase the taste of the  egg. the yolks are so much deeper in color and in flavor and make some seriously delicious scrambled eggs. but who needs local, cage-free, farm-fresh eggs when you can have BACKYARD FRESH EGGS?  imagine being able to step outside every day and pick up a half dozen of the most gorgeous and subtly colored just-laid eggs from happy chickens who have just spent the whole day exploring the backyard, rooting around in the dirt, and eating scrumptious feed pellets and leftover dinner. don’t these dirty, irregularly shaped, pale sea foam green and brown eggs look like they will be the best tasting eggs in the world?

backyeard-fresh-eggs

i made some slow scrambled eggs for breakfast one morning in austin and there were undeniably the best eggs i’ve ever had. the oblong slightly-skinnier-than-supermarket-eggs had a tougher shell and a larger, deeper orange yolk, and turned out to have a phenomenally rich taste and a seriously sublime texture. it’s really hard to describe, but imagine…you’re eating your down comforter. okay, that doesn’t really work. imagine your scrambled eggs with the lightness and fluffiness of the best quality down, but also the solid weight and heft of having a thick comforter wrapped around you, all combined with the luxurious satisfaction and comfort of snuggling up in a warm bed on a cold day. that’s what those eggs tasted like. that’s what scrambled eggs should taste like, and i can personally attest to the huge difference between scrambling your eggs in a bowl and tossing them onto high heat for three minutes and the magic of taking twenty minutes to make your eggs.

until very recently, i was all about the quick and dirty eggs. however, at some point, i started reading more and more about cooking your eggs extremely slowly. apparently the proteins in the egg bond quickly over high heat, resulting in a much tougher, rubbery texture. this article from the northen michigan record-eagle (you know, i follow them on twitter:) does a great job explaining the process. i also watched kwame produce his amuse bouche of slow scrambled eggs topped with a sprinkle of bacon bits at the bacon smackdown and i remember being shocked that he just left the pan on the stove, had people stir it fairly constantly, and ran about the house doing other things for over twenty minutes. of course, the eggs turned out to be smooth, creamy curds of happiness.

but enough about the eggs. part of the concept of slow or real food is understanding where your food came from. when you go to visit a farm, you don’t just get introduced to the strawberries and the cow and the potatoes and the pig, do you? no, you meet the producer. you meet the farmer who grows the crops or raises the goats, or in this case, you meet the chickens who laid those delicious treasures.

tatum o’neal, on the left, is pleased to make your acquaintance. josephine p. feathers, however, is bored by you. she would rather eat feed pellets from marko’s hands. no offense or anything, but you are not of much interest when there is a belly to fill.

josephine-p-feathers-eats-from-markos-hand-while-tatum-oneal-looks-on

magua, named after the bad guy in last of the mohicans, was on his way over to say hello, but got distracted by something.

mogwa-from-last-of-the-mohicans-is-curious

in case you’re wondering if i had to risk life and limb to get up in some chicken faces to take these photos, the answer is yes. with no regard for my own safety but focused on the ultimate goal, i stuck my camera right up close to their beaks while they jostled for position around the pot of food. most of the chickens weren’t too bothered by it, but one chicken particularly resented my intrusion on her eating time and showed it by aggressively going after me with her dangerously sharp beak. meet my nemesis, the fearsome and terrifyingly evil ruler of the chicken coop, DARTH PECKA.

darth-pecka-is-terrifying

click below to send dark chills of foreboding down your spine while you gaze into the face of pure evil.

yes, that is actually her real name, although apparently orion named her before she started aggressively pecking people and trying to destroy the rebel alliance. sometimes the power of the dark side can be intuitively sensed by those who are one with the force.  she went after me with her most deadly weapon (beak, not light saber) and i still have the scar to prove it.

here’s a group photo of a bunch of the chickens eating aris’s leftover lentil soup deliciousness. i believe the only one who has not yet been introduced is the uniquely colored koschka who shines almost like mother-of-pearl all the way on the left.

chickens-eating

i’ve saved my favorite picture for last. chupacabra, the sixth and final chicken of the roost, has no idea of the sick joke he has unwittingly gotten himself into. or, to be precise, stepped onto.

chupacabra-on-a-plate

waiter, i’d like a plate of your most delicious chicken. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

oh chickens and your yummy eggs, someday you will be mine.  aris, marko, orion, tim, and ian (the o.g. chicken farmer in my life), thanks for dropping some chicken-owning knowledge.  i’m inspired to join your ranks.

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thie white house gets a vegetable garden and the country gets a role model for healthy eating

i have about five posts from sxsw slowly simmering on the burner, seasoned with local austin flavor and overflowing with big hunks of food porn (that sounds dirty). until then, breaking news: the obamas are planting a vegetable garden at the white house!

woohoo! i think this quote from the above article is right on: “The power of Michelle Obama and the garden can create a very powerful message about eating healthy and more delicious food,” said Dan Barber, an owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., an organic restaurant that grows many of its own ingredients. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it could translate into real change.”

if the one of the most admired and influential women in the world is talking about healthy eating, local food, the joy of cooking, and the nutritional problems with processed food, then our dysfunctional relationship with food in this country might finally be changing for the better. i have HOPE.

i also have GARDEN ENVY. butter lettuce? sugar snap peas? rhubarb and fennel and hyssop? someday i will have this too…

white-house-garden-graphic

and even though i don’t have a massive garden (yet) or all the imaginable resources as the partner of the most  powerful person on the planet right now to marshal as gardeners, there’s still stuff you can do. quoth michelle, ‘“You can begin in your own cupboard by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.” daaamn straight.

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vietnamese sandwiches, lime green street food trucks, and 70’s porn music

besides all the sxsw shenanigans and drunken reveling, it appears that my main goal here in austin is to eat myself into a street food coma. while aimly walking around south congress this morning, i randomly discovered a brand-spanking-new street food purveyor today on the corner of congress and crockett.  the ‘me so hungry’ mobile restaurant consists of an electric lime-green truck with ‘me so hungry‘ emblazoned on the side along with an alluring drawing of a scantily clad asian woman in a cheongsam minidress giving a serious come-hither look. curious about whether i might need to school some fat white redneck about propagating asian female stereotypes, i wandered over and instead met the super adorable christina and her even more super adorable mother, somchith.

christina-and-sum-chi-from-me-so-hungry

both christina and somchith were  incredibly sweet and friendly – we started chatting, and i found out that today was their third day open selling american-influenced asian fusion food. the menu included items like vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, chinese chicken fried rice, pad thai, summer spring rolls, and a choose-your-own ingredient ‘wok it out’ stir fry. i bought a barbecued pork banh mi with tender honey barbecue pork, fresh peppers, cucumber and cilantro, and an slather of sweet cilantro mayo on a buttered baguette. add a squiggle of sriracha hot sauce and you’ve got a massive torpedo stuffed full of fresh meat and veggies and sharply bright colors. assuming you manage to get it in your mouth – the sandwich is seriously ginormous – the sweet and spicy flavors joust for prominence on your tongue, with the creamy sweet mayo cutting down the fiery bite of the hot sauce.  if any adjustments were to be made, i’d suggest maybe a softer or thinner baguette to facilitate the stuffing-your-face process and make it easier to taste all the individual flavors in one bite. feast on this bit of food porn:

banh-mi-with-sweet-cilantro-mayo

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hot dogs drowning in cheese and a fire-breathing bartender

i love austin for a lot of reasons, but i’m all about this place because of their shockingly high ratio of street food vendors to drunk people, and there are quite a number of drunk people here.  i’ve seen several gourmet hot dog vendors, loads of taco trucks, a juice and smoothie RV, the cupcake trailer, and a hamburger truck dotted around the city, and those are just the ones i can actually remember from my constant sxsw-partying-induced wasted stupor.  6th street at 2am is a street food paradise, where tiny carts and eating opportunities abound on every block.

here’s a texas classic hot dog from the beezlebun’s gourmet hot dog cart on 6th street. custom made all beef hot link, topped with cheddar cheese, bourbon bbq sauce, jalapenos, and grilled red onions:

texas-classic-hot-dog

thanks to 6th street’s ubiquitous $2 beers (and a flaming doctor pepper from a fire-breathing bartender) i don’t actually remember what this tasted like (the only reason i have any idea what’s on the hot dog is because, although i could barely stand up straight,  i was able to focus enough to take a photo of the menu).  i’m sure it was cheesetastically delicious.

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hot dogs drowning in cheese and a fire-breathing bartender

i love austin for a lot of reasons, but i’m all about this place because of their shockingly high ratio of street food vendors to drunk people, and there are quite a number of drunk people here.  i’ve seen several gourmet hot dog vendors, loads of taco trucks, a juice and smoothie RV, the cupcake trailer, and a hamburger truck dotted around the city, and those are just the ones i can actually remember from my constant sxsw-partying-induced wasted stupor.  6th street at 2am is a street food paradise, where tiny carts and eating opportunities abound on every block.

here’s a texas classic hot dog from the beezlebun’s gourmet hot dog cart on 6th street. custom made all beef hot link, topped with cheddar cheese, bourbon bbq sauce, jalapenos, and grilled red onions:

texas-classic-hot-dog

thanks to 6th street’s ubiquitous $2 beers (and a flaming doctor pepper from a fire-breathing bartender) i don’t actually remember what this tasted like (the only reason i have any idea what’s on the hot dog is because, although i could barely stand up straight,  i was able to focus enough to take a photo of the menu).  i’m sure it was cheesetastically delicious.

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(mis)adventures in early morning pancake experimentation

it’s been a lot of fun, a lot of crazy, a lot of alcohol, a lot of 3am jump roping with a crowd of 100 drunk people on 6th street, and very little sleep here at sxsw. for some reason, i’m up at 8am doing some pancake experimentation with my buddy orion, age 10.

orion-making-pancakes

so far, only one lego man has needed rescuing from a gruesome pancake batter drowning.

things learned so far at this unnecessarily early hour of the morning:

1.  my boss ian has the joy of cooking pancake batter recipe memorized. that makes me happy.

2.  i am in some serious need of pancake flipping practice.

3.  orion is a very creative cook. he dreamt up an innovative dual flipping action procedure, whereupon we learned that putting a metal measuring cup full of pancake batter directly on the burner does not result in a fluffy, thick, biscuit-like mini pancake. instead, the actual product is a singed measuring cup (only slightly), a burnt and blackened crust of pancake, and a goopy, sludgy center with the consistency of wet cement, or maybe a bowl full of bird poop (or so i’d imagine).

you might argue that this outcome was a foregone conclusion. you could also make a case for the debatable intelligence on my part in allowing orion to light a cooking implement on fire. i will have you know that  i did actually do a quick internal debate on whether to exert my marginally grownup status to prevent this from happening. but i decided that a) i’m not really an adult (mentally), and b) as long as oven mitts were judiciously used, it became a useful educational exercise.

all in all – valuable lessons learned and nobody got hurt. well, nobody except a traumatized lego man, but they say he’s gonna be fine.

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(mis)adventures in early morning pancake experimentation

it’s been a lot of fun, a lot of crazy, a lot of alcohol, a lot of 3am jump roping with a crowd of 100 drunk people on 6th street, and very little sleep here at sxsw. for some reason, i’m up at 8am doing some pancake experimentation with my buddy orion, age 10.

orion-making-pancakes

so far, only one lego man has needed rescuing from a gruesome pancake batter drowning.

things learned so far at this unnecessarily early hour of the morning:

1.  my boss ian has the joy of cooking pancake batter recipe memorized. that makes me happy.

2.  i am in some serious need of pancake flipping practice.

3.  orion is a very creative cook. he dreamt up an innovative dual flipping action procedure, whereupon we learned that putting a metal measuring cup full of pancake batter directly on the burner does not result in a fluffy, thick, biscuit-like mini pancake. instead, the actual product is a singed measuring cup (only slightly), a burnt and blackened crust of pancake, and a goopy, sludgy center with the consistency of wet cement, or maybe a bowl full of bird poop (or so i’d imagine).

you might argue that this outcome was a foregone conclusion. you could also make a case for the debatable intelligence on my part in allowing orion to light a cooking implement on fire. i will have you know that  i did actually do a quick internal debate on whether to exert my marginally grownup status to prevent this from happening. but i decided that a) i’m not really an adult (mentally), and b) as long as oven mitts were judiciously used, it became a useful educational exercise.

all in all – valuable lessons learned and nobody got hurt. well, nobody except a traumatized lego man, but they say he’s gonna be fine.

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austin photo album: cupcake trailers and bacon wrapped chopped steak

i’m heading to austin tomorrow! we’re going to rock sxsw interactive with our kickass running with sxswissors game, a high school themed online and interactive game filled with senior pranks, sexy schoolgirls, passin’ notes, a party overflowing with alcohol, and a tricked out RV with karaoke and a red carpet.  i’ve packed my wigs, my wizard costume from the foxy lady boutique on mission st, some schoolgirl paraphernalia, 36 cartoon lunch boxes, 30 cameras, and of course my trusty orange jumpsuit.

besides all the crazy shenanigans the go game plans to stir up, what i am excited for? austin’s food scene. they have a bunch of exciting food events at sxsw, like ‘delicious tech for localism: sustainable food 2.0’ and ‘nom nom nom: secrets of successful food blogging.’ plus, they have great quirky local restaurants and markets and even a cupcake trailer. oh yes. heart explosions of sugary happiness. in case you’d like to peruse the austin awesomeness (ausomeness?), i took these photos last year during a three hour period in austin between the strip mall purgatory of college station and my flight back to sf.

hey-cupcake

the only possible thing that could suck about an airstream trailer selling cupcakes is that they did not foresee that i would be in austin on a day they are normally closed and stay open for me. and give me free cupcakes. other than that, hey cupcake is ah-dor-ab-lé.

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