Tag Archives: Hudson River

Stuff & Things

27 May

There’s been so much going on this May, that I haven’t been able to tell you about all the things I have wanted to.  So here we go!

First up: Eggplant Soup. Yes. Eggplant. Soup. If you thought squash soup was weird, you’re going to think eggplant soup is bonkers. But you’ll be wrong.  It is delicious.  I first tried it at Destino in Chatham, and then Mexican Radio in Hudson had a version of it, and then it was a special at Destino again.  And though it was different at the two Mexican restaurants, it was delicious at both.  It is silky and yummy and very, very easy to make at home.  Grill or roast a few eggplants, caramelize some onions, add some broth, puree and add creme fraiche, crema or heavy cream to your taste and garnish with a little salsa fresca and a squirt of lime.  Yum!

Next: Sifting. We’ve been doing a lot of this.  First I had to sift the compost pile.  Twice.  And then there was the tomato garden, which we’ve been sifting for weeks now. But it’s almost done, to the point where I was able to make some beds and plant some tomatoes (though I’m not sure they’re going to make it, they were all kind of weenie, and it has been hot Upstate this week). And then there was flour.  I made pancakes from scratch for the first time ever a few weekends ago, after an aerobic spate of dirt sifting.  I don’t know if I was just very hungry ofrif these really are the best pancakes ever, but I’m going with the latter.  Sadly, I left the recipe Upstate (it’s, naturally, from Amy Bess Miller’s The Best of Shaker Cooking) so if anyone has a copy laying around, email me the recipe for Apple Pancakes and I’ll post it here. *

Cluck cluck! Head below the jump for a favorite farm and a very cool old diner.

Walka Walka Walka

13 Feb

I walked to work on Wednesday.

I entered Central Park through the Women’s Gate, near Strawberry Fields.  Within two minutes, I was deep enough into the park to have left the roar of the city behind me.  I was surrounded by mist and bird calls and tiny muffled sounds.  There were snow drops and spaniels and hurrying commuters and me, slowly making me way to the end of the park, wallowing in the beauty.

By the time I made it to The Mall, the sun had burned through the morning mist and returned the park to the land of shadows and bustle.

From Grand Army Plaza, I walked straight down Fifth Avenue.  Gawking at all the fantastically stylish women tottering on their sky-high heels I felt a bit like Bill Cunningham, and a little dowdy in my sensible shoes and too warm coat.

Click here for more walking, including a jaunt along the Hudson.

Rhubarb-barb-barb-barbara-ann

15 May

I am currently obsessed with azaleas.

Azaleas, Bee

Against an expanse of verdant, emerald green grass the shocking crimson, cerise and magenta bushes are my new favorite harbinger of warmer days. And to think I wasn’t even aware of their existence until Saturday.

After a dim sum brunch, Isaac and I decided we needed a bit of a walk. So we started walking, until we ran into a fence, and behind that fence were the azaleas. They’re magnetic. I couldn’t take my eyes off them, even to look where I was going. Needless to say, I very nearly walked into quite a few telephone poles.

And it’s not just me. My friend N told me she had been out biking and had the very same experience, except a bit more dangerous. She was on a bike and very nearly running into cars.

Azaleas, Robin

Where were these magnificent azaleas, you might be asking? In a cemetery. But not just any cemetery, Green-Wood Cemetery. Pastoral, elegant, and only a little bit creepy, Green-Wood was founded in 1838 on the rural cemetery model first made popular in Europe.

Itwas always meant to be a place where families would go for recreation, to walk around and look at the beautiful graves and to stop and have a picnic. In fact, its popularity was an impetus for the planning of Central Park.

Green-Wood Door

It’s not quite as popular a destination today as it once was, which I’m okay with, because it has to be just about the only spot in all of New York City where you can spend two hours strolling up and down hills, gawking at birds, smelling the flowers, marveling at the blueness of the sky and the sweetness of the wind while only running into about five (living) people.

Stained Glass, Reflection

But it’s not all just beauty and peace. Green-Wood contains the location of the first major battle of the Revolutionary War, the first battle of the U.S. army, and the first battle lead by a young general, George Washington.

It was the Battle of Brooklyn. At the top of the hill where skirmishes were fought, in commemoration of the lives lost, stands Minerva, forever saluting her sister the Statue of Liberty down in the harbor.

Minerva, and if you look just under her right shoulder, you can just barely make out the cruise ship the Queen Mary 2

Green-Wood is also a birder’s paradise. It is known as a pit stop for a wide variety of migratory birds, as well as for its immense and varied population of locals. But, like so many places in New York, it is most famous for its immigrants. In this case, immigrant parakeets.

Minerva In Green-Wood

Parakeets? Oh yes. A rogue population of feral, acid green Monk parakeets live in the turrets of the Gothic gatehouse. I once went on a tour at the cemetery. We met in front of the gatehouse, and the parakeets were in such a lather over the size of our group, that the tour leader was forced to halt his remarks until he handed a megaphone.

Crazy Old Pine Tree

Upon bidding the parakeets adieu we didn’t feel quite walked enough, so we kept on walkin’ on and ended up in Propsect Park. It was such a happy, busy place. Hundreds of parties and picnics and Little League games and Frisbee tossers and creative anachronists and happy, snuffly dogs. We walked its length and ended up at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket just as all the stands were shutting up for the afternoon.

Can you believe this is New York City?

This is my biggest complaint with this greenmarket, the stands sell out so quickly and close up so early. At a quarter to four there was only one stand remaining with anything other than bread, apples or cheese. Lucky for me, they had both ramps and rhubarb, so I grabbed some.

When we got home I whipped up a simple ramp risotto for dinner. It was gentle and rampy, satisfying and delicious. I saved the rhubarb for Sunday.

Green-Wood

I love rhubarb. I love its gentle, springy, somewhat azalea-like coloring and its alluring fragrance. My plan, since last year, in fact, was to make a glaze for some pork chops. And then I opened the refrigerator and saw how much rhubarb I had bought. A lot. There was no way I was going to need all that for a simple glaze. So i started pouring through my cookbooks.

Green-Wood Allium

I love pie, especially strawberry-rhubarb pie, as much as the next person, but I prefer my pie to be made by that next person. I’m just not a pie baker.

So I was looking for something different, something unusual, something that I could bring into work if I made too much of, and there, lurking in a book devoted to the seasonal cooking of the Hudson River valley, was the answer.

Rhubarb bread. Ms. Rose says it is the specialty of Mary Film of Buskirk, N.Y., who makes the bread for selling at bake sales in support of the restoration of the Knickberbocker Mansion in Schaghticoke.

Prospect Park

This is just about the easiest bread in the world to whip up, and oh my god… the smell! I wish that I could have invited you all over just so you could smell the aromas wafting out of the oven and through my house. It was beyond intoxicating. It was drool inducing.

By the time the bread was out of the oven both Isaac and I just stood next to the stove staring at it, willing it to be less than molten hot so we could tear into it.

Rhubarb Bread

Finally, it was time. We cut big, moist chunks off one loaf and tried not to bite our fingers amidst the mania induced by this bread. It is delicious. Rhapsodic. Purr-inducing. I’m ashamed to admit this, but we easily ate half the loaf, and probably could have eaten the whole thing if some part of my brain hadn’t snapped back into sanity and stopped us.

If you’ve got a friend with a large rhubarb patch, ask her for some, then bake her this. She’ll love you forever.

Rhubarb Bread

So I take it all back. I now think azaleas are beautiful, and can’t wait for the day when I can plant one in a yard of my own, but what I am truly obsessed with is rhubarb bread.

And you should be too.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Ramp Risotto and Rhubarb Bread.

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Idle, Idyll

17 Oct

Ok. Ok. Ok.

Athens, NY

I know you’re all thinking, where’s our usual Monday morning post Ann? Well, to be honest, there hasn’t been that much to write about chez Granny Cart.

The Berkshires

I’ve wanted to cook, but there hasn’t been the time. I’ve got a new boss at work, which has meant more late nights at the office, and the weather just hasn’t been conducive to spending time in the kitchen on the weekends.

Athens, NY

And, well, I’ve felt a little too stressed and uninspired to come up with anything exciting and new to share with you. The planning process has begun to stress me out and I don’t know why. Deciding on a dish and then procuring the necessary ingredients, two things that in the past have brought me tremendous joy, have, for the past couple of weeks, become a chore and are no longer fun.

Athens, NY

But the itch, she is coming back. Especially since I know there won’t be time for cooking this weekend (my Aunt L (of spätzle fame) and cousin S are coming to pay me a visit, and I’m so excited). And there wasn’t any done this past weekend either. Two weekends. No cooking. I’m already looking forward to next weekend.

Athens, NY

So where we were last weekend? Oh, just Upstate, peeping at leaves, peeking at houses, frolicking in nature, hanging out with my folks. We stayed in the ridiculously picturesque town of Athens, just on the other side of the Hudson from the town of Hudson. It’s so quiet and peaceful and full of gorgeous Victorian and Colonial homes and mansions. I could have stayed there forever.

Columbia County Sunset

But we had to eat, so we met up with my mom and step-dad at Local 111. If you ever find yourself in the town of Philmont, this restaurant is your chestnut. They cook with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible and put them to dazzling use in a beautiful, chic, über-sophisticated space that was once, wait for it, an auto body shop.

Olana

The next day we rambled about the grounds of Olana, the estate of Frederick Edwin Church, one of the founders of the Hudson River School of painting. The weather was so perfect and so spectacular we didn’t even bother going inside the house. I think Church would have appreciated the sentiment.

Olana

And then we came home. We’d eaten a late lunch at the Old Chatham Country Store (still as delicious as I remember, but filled to the gills with the sort of people I spend every waking hour trying to avoid here in the City) so we supped simply on a tomato, cut into slices and lightly salted. It was perfect. Light, redolent of summer and a little ascetic.

Olana

I have some recipes tucked away that I really want to share, but I just can’t find the right words for them. Perhaps there’s some weird outer-boroughs writer’s block plaguing Luisa and I.

Olana

I’ll be back next week, hopefully with something interesting to say about a few quince I got my hands on. That is, if I can find the time to do something interesting with them.

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