Before I forget, I want to let everyone know that tomorrow we're having a visitor on the blog. If you love fiber animals or fiber arts, you're going to love this guest!
I've been in Chicago since Sunday, probably driving everyone crazy back on the farm with my phone calls and emails, asking if they've done this or that. They say you worry a lot when you have human kids. Well, when you have a farm, it's even worse. Being a "small" farm, I know each animal and worry about their particular needs. Is Star, my 11-year-old goat, getting enough hay, or are the younger, pushier goats not letting her get her fair share? Did the horses get put back in the pasture after it quit snowing? Are any goats coming into heat? Should we let the llamas onto the back 20 now, or wait until I get home? Are the water buckets being refilled often enough? Are the goats getting their afternoon hay? You get the idea.
I am having a good time in Chicago though. Sunday night, I saw In the Heights, which won the 2008 Tony for best musical, and I can see why. It was excellent! Last night, we saw Jersey Boys, a jukebox musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, which won the 2006 Tony for best musical. Great music, but like most bands, the story is sad at times.
I love eating at locally-owned restaurants that make real food with real ingredients -- things that I might be able to duplicate in my own kitchen. For me, eating out is research, and I find it sadly strange that it's easier to find unique restaurants in cities than small towns. Sunday night, we had a serendipitous moment when we were eating at Quartro, a Spanish-Italian restaurant. The host gave us a warm potato salad, saying that the kitchen accidentally fixed one too many. I would have never ordered this, because it really didn't sound that good, but you can't judge a dish by its menu description. I never would have put chunks of warm potato on top of wilted arugula. I'm not a huge fan of arugula, but I'll eat it if it's hidden in a salad of baby greens. And I've never liked any greens wilted. Eeyew, right? Wrong! Wilted arugula is delicious. Now I want to grow arugula in the garden next spring and duplicate this.
Last night for dinner, we had some excellent green beans at a Chinese restaurant. They were stir-fried with carrots, ginger, cayenne and other spices. We'll definitely duplicate this one. Stir-fried green beans with garlic, red pepper, and soy sauce is already a favorite. I don't know why we didn't think of adding slivers of carrot and ginger. We had another dish with bok choy in it, which made me wonder why we haven't grown bok choy in the past. As much as we love making stir-fried dishes, it seems like it would have been an obvious choice for the garden.
Even though I'm having fun, I'm looking forward to getting back home Thursday, which you'd find odd if you knew me 25 years ago. I grew up in a small Texas town and couldn't wait to spend my weekends in Houston and then move to Connecticut for college. But after living in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington State, Florida, Nebraska, and Hawaii, and after visiting 49 states, most of the Canadian provinces, Mexico, and about a dozen European countries, I've found my little Eden on 32 acres on a creek in the middle of nowhere.