Duck Prosciutto & Fig Pie with Rosemary Goat Cheese, Crispy Duck & Wine Reduction | Pie Month | Charcutepalooza
Pie #1 - Lemon Cream Icebox Pie
Pie #2 - Malted Crisp Tart
Pie #7 - Chocolate Kahlua Pie
Pie #8 - Bacon and Egg Pizza
Pie #10 - Raspberry Pie and the Perfect Pie Crust
Pie #11 - Lime Pie with Gingersnap Crust
Pie #13 - Crack Pie
Pie #14 - Chocolate Soufflé Pie
When I was 11, I used to play tag with my cow in our pasture.
It was a goof really. An accident. But then we couldn't stop.
We had three acres growing up, most of it pasture, fenced in, with a low catch of electrified wire to keep the sheep in place. Then the horse. And the pony. Then the cows. The pigs stayed in the barn. Chickens for a while with a rooster named Roscoe P. Coltrane who terrorized us. Rabbits for a while.
Each type of animal, the rabbits, the chickens and so on...they had a certain expiration date in our lives. We have rabbits. Then add some chickens. Now we're done with the rabbits. Let's get sheep. Now we're done with the rooster (thank god). Now we're done with the chickens.
And being done meant one of two things: either we sold them or we ate them. Wait. Except the horse. And the pony. They went to relatives who were ready for a new challenge. And so we led the animals into the back of the truck, or walked them up the plank to the back of the animal trailer, good money made from their lives. There were fairs and ribbons, but always, there was money.
And death. And new animals. With new names. With death and a little money hanging over their time in the pasture.
And that. That is how it is. There were tears, always. Even for the pigs, because they loved to be scratched behind their ears and right along their spines. They'd come to the fence, rubbing their shoulder back and forth along the fence, grunting for an ear scratch.
And then we killed them.
It is as easy and as horrible as it sounds, as thoughtless and full of emotion, all in the same instance. You feed a baby cow a milk substitute out of a metal bucket with a giant nipple on the side, spit and milk slowly covering its nose and chin, and then you're castrating him, and before you know it, you're calling up your neighbor to take the cow to the beef and dairy auction in Shipshewana.
Two weeks. Making another run in two weeks. And that's the rest of the time this steer has, which I named Rudy. Rudy has two weeks. And then I'll get some money for my savings account.
That is how Rudy and I began playing tag. I was out with him in the pasture, I'm sure feeling guilty about having named his expiration date. Rubbing that circle of fur in the middle of his flat face, all dirty yellow white. When he took off in a lumbering gallop. Then he stopped on a sliding dime, turned himself to face me, and stood very, very still. I really didn't know what to do. So I walked toward him, slowly. When I got ten feet from him, he took off further in the pasture. I jogged toward him, getting closer and closer. He stopped suddenly and turned his head to me. A light touch on that circle of fur on his face. Staring into those vacant wet eyes.
I walked back toward the house. When a rumbling came from behind. He was chasing me. With speed. I took off running as fast as I could, because a ball-less cow is less dangerous than a bull, sure, but it is still a sight of terror.
He grazed my elbow with his ear.
Just his ear.
Nearly 1000 pounds of beef, and it was his ear that got me.
And so I stopped.
And off he ran, looking behind him.