{dirt 60631} What Spring?

{dirt 60631} is a pictorial journal of Yvonne's garden journey in a Zone 5, Chicago city lot.

OK, its time for Spring now! Winter please leave.  Temperatures in the 40's and 7+ inches of rain is not typical mid-May weather.  But then again, this whole winter/spring has not been typical.  A dry October and November meant the ground was a frozen desert for the trees, shrubs and bulbs.  And then, no snow cover to mention (yes, this is Chicago), and a cold, dry March and April.  So it's no surprise that the daffodils, tulips and alliums weren't at their best; some didn't even make an appearance.

However, with all the the rain, the garden is a lush green landscape and the weeds are running rampant due to no attention given to them in this weather.  But, the pots are planted, the grass is mowed, and the birds are raising their young ... all ready for Summer, as it will be here on Friday.  Spring, we miss you!


Inspiration Wednesday

No words needed here ... just a beautiful moment.


{foodie 60631) A Braise Farm to Table at Highfield Creamery

{foodie 60631} is a diary of Yvonne's passion for food and the journey it takes her on.

It's late July, the clouds have cleared, the sunset is long, the scent of hay is definitely in the air, crickets are singing, and 30 foodies have come together for a farm to table dinner at Highfield Farm hosted by Braise.

Highfield Farm is a small batch creamery that makes their cheese from the milk of their 13 on-farm, grass-fed Jersey cows.  If you've never had small batch cheese from Jersey cows, you don't know what you're missing.  These cows aren't 'factory' cows that need to be milked two or three times a day.  Instead, they produce a higher fat milk (less water) and as a result, they only need to be milked once a day.  And the cheese ... oh, the cheese! The cheese produced from the milk is smoother on the tongue and richer in taste.  The cheese we had with cocktails was a summer cheddar and a winter cheddar.  Due to the difference in fed from the seasons, this same cheddar takes on a much different personality.  My favorite, the winter cheddar was smooth, rich and more savory than I expected.

Being a foodie, I am attracted to Braise by their philosophy and seasonal menu.  Braise, which got its start in 2004 by hosting cooking classes and dinners in farm fields before it was all the rage it is today, focuses on food that is seasonal, honest, and fresh.  They source locally, garden their rooftop, bake their own bread, butcher their own meat, and craft their own cocktails.  And let me tell you, the Rhubarb Hibiscus punch we had was out of this world!  Unfortunately, I couldn't wrangle the recipe out of the chef.

Tonight's dinner was just as amazing:  a Grilled Peach and Bean Salad with house made pickled jalapenos and toasted almonds, Pork smoked in hay, Whey Polenta (whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained to form cheese), and Confit Chanterelle Mushrooms with a mind-blowing Radish Romanesco sauce.  By the time the Melon Mousse dessert came, I could barely eat another bit.  Light and fresh, it was the perfect ending to a family style meal.

Maybe we'll be seeing you at a Farm to Table dinner soon!


{dirt 60631} A Race for the Fennel Pollen

{dirt 60631} is a pictorial journal of Yvonne's garden journey in a Zone 5, Chicago city lot.

Every year I plant fennel ... the bulbs for salads, the fronds for smoking chicken, but mostly I grow it for the fennel pollen to add to savory dishes and salads.  This year I'm in competition with a swallowtail caterpillar for the fennel pollen.  The race is on, and I'm losing.  This little beauty is a voracious eater and has gotten to the fronds and pollen before me.  Sometime, you just have to give in.