Summer! The sights and scents of haying. The sweetness of fern, the hot aroma of wild sage, the occasional whiff of spearmint. The blast of heat up from the tractor, the wind turning leaves at the end of the field a milky silver, birds swooping down over the mowed grass. The rhythmic chugging of the baler, and the occasional snake, pressed flat to the hay, bound up with baling twine like a dull green ribbon.
Summer was also a time for farmhands, Onie and Herbie, who slept in the bunkhouse nearby. Herbie, thick and slow-moving, and Onie, lean like a string bean, showed up every day for noon dinner: a roast, baked potatoes, baking powder biscuits, a well-cooked vegetable, fresh milk from the Holstein out back, and molasses cookies or a slice of pie for dessert. Eating and talking didn’t go together; it was heads down and every man for himself. The potatoes were popped open with a whack of a fist and a sunny yellow pool of homemade melted butter soon followed.
This is the reason I first subscribed to Cooks Illustrated. Chris Kimball’s editor’s note was always the first thing I read. And because of wanting access to his story telling, I became a better cook. So it was with sadness that I did not renew my subscriptions to the entire array of resources after learning of his ouster from the company he started. Thank God he found(ed) another place to call home and another home for his stories… Go check out Milk Street.