My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


The Chickens, Part 2 8

Posted on July 25, 2010 by crankycheryl

There are no pictures or descriptions of animals actually being killed in this post.  But I’ll tell you the rest of what happened when we brought the chickens from Paula’s Williston farm to the slaughterhouse in Morrisville.

The boys and I got an early morning start, but arrived at Paula’s a little late, and the round-up was underway.  Paula’s daughter and her friend were shooing the chickens towards the adults, who were putting them 2 or 3 to a box and the boxes in the cars.

I was not good at herding chickens, but did show a quick aptitude for finding stinging nettles while trying to coax the birds in the right direction.  The boys were hanging out with Ventura the turkey (his day had not yet come), and the beautiful egg-laying birds, but kind of got into the spirit of laughing and getting these flappy big monsters into boxes.   The birds were 8 or 10 weeks old (the two batches were in their pasture together), and enormous, looking too heavy for their legs and kind of thumping from side to side as they ran.   As I was tucking them into their boxes all I could picture was me on the interstate with huge angry roosters flapping around my head, boys crying and trying to escape.

At last we were packed and off we went.  The birds occasionally made some inquisitive noises.  Z. said, “Don’t worry – nothing bad is going to happen little birdie,” to which E. replied, “They’re on their way to BE KILLED!  Something VERY bad is going to happen!”  His brother shushed him and told him not to say that because it would scare the birds and that wasn’t nice.

We arrived at Morrisville’s Winding Brook Farm, which I’d always been curious about as I see their meat on lots of local menus.   We pulled in to the small parking lot in front of their barn, and spotted the Ag. Dept.’s mobile slaughterhouse, a regulation-looking white trailer with the door open and a guy with a long rubber apron moving around inside.    The plan had been to drop off the birds, but instead we stayed to help, and before I knew it Paula was handing the birds in one at a time.

E. & Z. found a place they could bounce on a big piece of wood, and visited the guinea fowl and calves.  There was another family there, who we started talking to.  They were waiting for a goat they had purchased to be processed, and the little girl who was with them joined our group’s kids.  The girls gathered around Paula and petted and kissed each chicken as it was handed over.

While we were there, all sorts of people were coming and going.  Men in button-down shirts stopped in to talk for a minute; I assumed they were managers or buyers for local restaurant accounts.  Then another family came in, three men and a young-ish girl, speaking an Eastern European language.  One of the men pulled out a whetstone and long knife and started sharpening it.  I asked if they did their own butchering, maybe for halal meat, which they said that they did.  The knife-sharpener said they were there for a lamb, and asked if I could help by holding its legs since his friends refused to.   (I pondered whether I could, decided I probably would so as not to be a hypocrite of a meat-eater, but we left before it was an option.)

After the last bird had been handed in, we followed the kids around on a tour of the farm, cooing at goats and piglets and peacocks and all sorts of farm critters.

We left for a few hours, visiting some of my favorite Lamoille County food spots – Bee’s Knees, Applecheek Farm, and Elmore Roots Nursery (which was closed, but I spotted several things of interest, including native ginger).

Then it was back to the farm to pick up our processed birds.  The butchers gave Paula a big vacuum pack of necks, one of hearts, and then started handing us the vacu-packed chickens.  It cost $172 for butchering 35 birds, including extra ice to chill them to a safe temperature.  (They told us that the price goes up when the weather’s hot.)

And now here are 10 of them in the freezer.  I’ll let you know what I end up doing with them.

Bee's Knees: Restaurant Review 0

Posted on August 13, 2009 by crankycheryl

I can’t imagine going near Morrisville without a stop at the Bee’s Knees.  And having just had a Twitter conversation with the lovely Leftover Queen about its charms, I’m reminded that I never posted these pictures from our recent visit.

I’m also using this post as the first official CrankyCakes Restaurant Review. I’ve been polling food-loving parent friends about what matters to them when they go out to eat.  I’ll be reviewing by going twice – once with E.  & Z. and once with just adults.

I was first introduced to the Bee’s Knees by friends who live in Craftsbury, who were big fans of the food.  Though they found the very eclectic, kind of mussed decor a little off-putting, I found it was easy to feel comfortable – and a place that it was clear many local people did just that.  Customers felt right at home moving furniture around to accommodate their group, or helping themselves to a book, or perching with a laptop.

On my first visit, I tried their Big Salad, because that’s what everyone else had ordered and I didn’t want to appear so piggish as to order one of the bodacious sandwiches or specials that really tempted me.  I started out a little dubious about the chevre-carrots-glazed-walnuts combo, but ended up liking it.  It’s a bit of a hippie affair – lots of wholesome ingredients thrown together – that’s elevated by the high end cheese and nuts.  Nothing at all to complain about, but not the dish that brings me back there.

I was so happy that I felt downright naughty ordering the Cowboy BLT on my second trip.  Featuring chipotle mayo, local humanely-raised bacon, and Cabot pepper-jack cheese, it was crispy, creamy, fresh, and spicily comforting.  (Can spicy food be comfort food?)  I remember nothing of the conversation, or who I was with, or what we might have been meeting about at that visit, I’m sorry to say.  But I do remember my regretful last bite of that wrap.

All right, so the recent visit wasn't all that recent.

Since then, I’ve been several times, often ordering off the specials board.  What I like about bringing my boys there is that we can put together a happy combination of baked goods, fruit, and milk for my pickier guy, while getting good and more interesting food for his brother and for me.

And that’s what we did on our last visit.

Tomato-Fennel-Chick Pea Soup, with Batman spelunking under the bowl.

Caramelized Onion, Oyster Mushroom & Thyme Quiche

I have no excuse for leaving without a Chocolate-Sriracha muffin.

I have no excuse for leaving without a Chocolate-Sriracha muffin.

So, how does it measure on the official Cranky Scale?

  • Fast service? Not always.
  • Welcoming attitude? Definitely.  Not only did they not roll their eyes at us, they actually beamed at my kids.
  • Interesting choices for kids’ meals? Yes!  And willing to make substitutions for picky eaters.
  • Presence of toys, books, drawing implements, or other appropriate diversions? Lots of em.  It was hard to get my kids to leave, but fortunately there’s a little vest-pocket sort of park next door and I bribed them by telling them I’d bring them to the elf house in it.  I’m going to be at a loss when I lose weapons like this from the parenting arsenal.
  • Parent-friendly food. Most definitely.

2.  Meals with Grown-Ups:

  • Food quality? Really good.  I’ve not yet encountered any slimy lettuce or sub-par anything.
  • Value. Good.  More expensive than a chain restaurant, but really good value for the price.
  • Good service. Casual but caring.
  • Atmosphere. Funky, a bit disheveled, but now with a more formal dining area behind the main room.

Should you go with kids? Absolutely.  With adults? Yes.  And with any out of town guests who want to get out and eat local foods and experience some of Vermont’s funky charm.  And don’t forget to tell them that CrankyCakes sent you.

[By the way, I’d love a comment from you if you’ve been at night.  How does it work to eat there when all that live music is happening?]

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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