Friday, January 25, 2013

Farm Story 4 Real Adventure Sans Video Games

     Turkeys were raised on this farm in the early 1900s, not to be eaten by the family, but sold as a product of the farm.  The turkeys were free-range, a good idea that was obvious to farmers before mass production of fowl created the overcrowded conditions to raise many birds as quickly as possible in close crowded conditions.

     The hen turkey on the original farm had the habit of laying her eggs in a place across the road known as Aron's field.  It was Robert's job to collect the eggs.  Once collected, the eggs would be placed under a docile chicken, and she would be the kinder, gentler, surrogate parent. Now of course, anyone familiar with the possessiveness of a turkey would know that this was no easy feat.  Not only was there a hen, but a tom turkey who would be there to prevent any harm to the nest.  The challenge was to search for the nest, retrieve the eggs, avoid being discovered by the tom turkey, and get back home across the street without breaking any eggs. This had the makings of a challenging game - a potentially harmful real life quest requiring   skill and daring. Today's child might even choose this over any thumb-numbing video game if, of course, they would like a real adventure.

Beware the ungrateful bird!
     Unlike the safe video game, there was a real chance that the cantankerous old tom turkey would sneak,  no, forget sneak up, would brazenly make a bold attack out of nowhere. If you are not familiar with a turkey attack, rest assured it is no mere gobble.  Forget the cute Thanksgiving pictures with beautiful fluffed up feathers.  There is a reason that Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey would be a good national symbol.  (" He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on." - Benjamin Franklin)." A tom turkey is a formidable foe that takes a flying leap up, wings outspread and feet forward so that the talons can grab you and finally can stab you with its inch-long spurs.  Ouch!

     Robert must have let down his guard one day because he lost the round with the turkey.   It resulted in a gash that needed to be tended by the doctor.

     Now for those who may feel the attack was slightly justified because, after all, there was a raid on the nest, the story does not end here.   That turkey continually spread his fear and command over the rest of the barnyard that he apparently called his domain.

     The farm corn crib is a great place to store the crop, but it also makes a safe place to hide.  That is, if you need to play hide and seek with the farm turkey whose job to feed is yours. That was Ethel's job - give food to the creature that considers it appropriate to bite the hand that feeds it. There, in the semidarkness, one could peak through the slats and secretly observe the area. Safely inside the corn crib to escape the huge tom turkey, she could watch it just outside the door, the creature half the size of her, pacing, waiting, and watching with beady eyes.  The fact that whoever came out of the corn crib would be handing out turkey food didn't seem to matter. It was inside the corn crib that Ethel would hide, the door safely shut, looking through the slats of wood, waiting for the unappreciative turkey to leave.  Evidently, a brave and patient youngster, she would sit it out until the turkey left the corn crib area.  Then, and only then, would she come out with the food for the ungrateful fowl. Never when this story is told was there a mention that not doing this feeding chore was an option.
The ghost of the turkey past lives on in the current flock  - watching your every step.

Great even if not on the grill.  Adapted from Food Network, Bobby Flay
           Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Butter, Capers and Orzo 5*
1 lemon, finely zested
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Splash heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature (used 6 T, probably could get by with 4T)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (8-ounce) tilapia fillets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound orzo, cooked al dente
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup drained capers

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat and cook until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and let cool.
2.  Whisk together cream, butter and wine mixture in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Can be made 1 day in advance and refrigerated.) Bring to room temperature
before serving.
3. Heat the grill to high. (or heat pan)
4. Brush the fish on both sides with oil and season with salt and
pepper. Grill the fish for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until lightly golden
brown and slightly charred.
5. Toss the orzo with a few tablespoons of the lemon butter and 2 tablespoons of the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the orzo to a platter. Place the fillets on the orzo and top each fillet with some of the lemon butter and capers. Garnish with the remaining parsley.

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