The chicken debacle and other changes

by Brittany Grace


My wooord. That is the most genteel, G-rated way I can sum up the past few months. I know the first blog post for Grace’s Goodness was about 2 weeks ago, but it was actually written in the spring, when you could still open the windows without a blasphemous blanket of heat enveloping your car or abode. 

So much has changed.

No more Taco Bell trailer. Change of business name. Change of job. Hiatus from school. No more chickens. My garden and its weeds have reached Amazonian proportions. This “path” thing that people like to see as life has recently turned into a wild maze, a labrynth of sorts, which I’m having an interesting time making my way through in order to get business kickstarted. 

So, after painstakingly weighing the pros and cons of my possible future, I decided it was high time for change. I have spent too much time doing what I knew other people would accept and readily embrace – i.e., a job at a school that doubles as a corporation and a grad school career in an ever-evolving field. Meanwhile, I have spent too little time cultivating my actual passions and influencing others to do the same. In the spring, I found myself procrastinating to the point of panic because I was choosing to read new recipes and Michael Pollan articles over sociolinguistic research for a final project.

I gave my work a two week notice and started brainstorming. I spent nights slinging drinks and selling tabbouleh at a local cafe. During this time, one of my Polish hens died, and then, the other two vanished. I spent 2o minutes walking around Reynoldstown with a cupful of chicken feed calling for them when I realized I had become the epitome of crazy. Chickens are not dogs. Thankfully, the neighborhood did not seem to notice; we have a few crazies that stroll around talking to themselves. I felt defeated. When I showed up later that night to have a drink with Daniel, I felt sort of miserable, self piteously telling him, “I can’t even keep chickens alive!” He laughed. Then I laughed, and realized: this was just the beginning.

Now, I am in the throes of getting this business off the ground. Recipes, meetings, licensing, tastings, web design…it is exhilirating. And scary.

The Taco Bell trailer that is owned by my landlord has turned out to be the impetus for an even bigger, better deal: an already-running, shiny-on-the-inside ice cream truck that the brother of an ex-boyfriend bought as a side project one year. This particular family is really awesome and has been very cool with my idea of turning the old ice cream thing into a farm “truck.” 

Tomorrow will be my first time selling food to the public at the Urban Picnic in front of the Sweet Auburn Market. I still need to make a trip to the EAV farmer’s market, and I need to buy more rice paper to make Vietnamese-inspired veggie wraps. I would also like to drink watermelon beer.

These wraps are vegetarian and vegan friendly, although I do like them better when fresh shrimp is nestled in the midst of all the fresh, earthy deliciousness.

Here’s what to do:

Buy the following from your local produce stand, favorite farmer’s market or pick it from your (or your neighbor’s) yard, then adjust to your taste.

Fresh lettuce (Bibb or Red Leaf works well), basil, cilantro, a little mint; Tear each into small bits.

Buy cucumbers, carrots, green, red and yellow peppers; give a good dusting with sea salt; chop finely or put into food processor.

Buy and cook rice noodles according to directions on package. You will probably have leftovers – those rice noodles are tricky. The first time I ever made a pack I had noodles to eat every day for a week.

Choose a flat surface, like a clean cutting board. Gently moisten rice paper with fingers dipped in warm water and work into paper until it’s pliable. Add noodles and all greens and veggies, but don’t put too much or it will be impossible to wrap.

The wraps should be compact and tidy, not like big fat cigars. You will probably have to experiment and try out the rolling method before you realize that a little goes a long way. Then, pull all ingredients to one edge of paper and gather with fingers; roll paper tightly around the goodness and seal the edges by folding them under like a burrito as you continue rolling. Dip your wrap in Hoisin sauce or soy-ginger sauce to add more depth to your treat.