Tag Archives: walking

White Bridge Road

30 Oct

The map of Columbia County is littered with little roads that are public, and yet, ostensibly private, like Spangler Road.  And they’re perfect for walking.

We found another one last weekend, White Bridge Road, about three-quarters of a mile down Route 13 from the ridiculously picturesque hamlet of Old Chatham.

To get there you pass a spooky old graveyard and a mysterious little building set into the hill, filled with water that I think was maybe at one time a spring house (does anyone know?).

Chipmunks and foliage and tipples, oh my! Head below the jump for more from our walk.

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.

The Other, Other Island

7 Aug

I bought a car last week.

I know this may not sound like extraordinary news, especially since in, let’s say, 98% of the country most people own at least one car, if not several. But here in the city? Not so much. I sold my last car over 10 years ago when I moved here.

And I’ve been just fine without one. Sure, there have been plenty of times when the freedom a car offers has been a longed for and wished for luxury, but until recently, it just hasn’t been possible or necessary. That said, I’m very excited to have that flexibility back in my life. And of course, I’ve already named him, Oliver, in honor of my favorite episode of the best show on television.

So, you might be asking yourself, “Well gee Ann, what’s going on?” Well, you see, there are some changes afoot chez Granny Cart that necessitate the owning of a car. I don’t feel 100% comfortable sharing those changes with you yet, but I can say a few things. One: we are not leaving the city, never fear! And two, when everything is all set and done with, I probably won’t be able to talk about anything else, so sit tight friends!

The whole buying process was a little fraught. So when the weekend finally rolled around, it was time to take Oliver out for a drive. There are so many interesting places to go when you own a car in New York. We could finally go to Storm King; 500 acres of monumental sculptures and rolling hills. Or, we could head north and take a kayak tour of Bannerman Castle. Or, we could drive to Philadelphia to satisfy that decade-long pretzel craving I’ve been suffering. Or, we could drive to New Haven to finally figure out what all the fuss is about.

But, we decided not to do any of these things, at least, not at first. Instead, we popped over the Verrazano Bridge and went to Staten Island. Poor Staten Island… It’s definitely the most beleaguered borough. To wit, on Monday, one of my co-workers asked me what I’d done on my first weekend as a car owner. I told him where we’d gone, and with a pained look on his face he said, “Ann, don’t you realize, most people buy a car to escape Staten Island?”

Well, that might be true, but we had a blast. We went hiking in the Greenbelt, an amazing 2,500 acre park in the middle of the island. No, that’s not a typo, two thousand five hundred acres of untouched virgin woods and hills and swamps and ponds with 35 miles of trails (pdf) weaving in and out and up and down smack-dab in the middle (okay, slightly on the periphery) of New York City. That’s pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.

I used to have a lot more time in my life to sit around and surf the web looking for cool things to do with my copious free time. And even though those times are long gone, sometimes I’m able to recall a nearly forgotten post, like this one, that I’d filed away in that “maybe, someday” corner of my brain.

We hiked for nearly three hours and never saw another person, and only occasionally was the reality that we were still in New York City forced upon us. If you can’t make it to the Catskills or to the Adirondacks, seriously, this is a next best thing. Beautiful, chockablock with nature, quiet, solitary and simply gorgeous, I can’t recommend the Greenbelt highly enough. What an under appreciated treasure!

But, that wasn’t it. Oh no. Staten Island had much more to offer us than just the woods. After a quick stop to refuel with a slice from a pizza joint in a strip mall that seemed to have not been touched by the passing of time since, oh, they filmed Saturday Night Fever, we went to the beach, because, remember, Staten Island really is an island!

Great Kills is part of the National Park Service’s Gateway Recreation Area, which is made up of coastline in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey. We only stayed for a few minutes, just long enough for me to pad about in the water and make a cursory pass of beach combing. The sky was threatening rain, and we had to get home with enough time to make dinner and do the laundry. I was sad to leave, but, I have a car now! I can go back anytime I want!

I was craving steak for dinner, but due to a few driving snafus, we didn’t make it home before all the neighborhood butchers had closed. So, I had to make do with what was lying around the house. I had some eight-ball squash, two frozen sausages, eggs and olives. Yeah, I could make dinner with that!

I chopped and scooped and sautéed and stuffed and came up with stuffed squash to serve with the minted white cabbage slaw that had been planned for. It was a wonderful dinner, but as often happens, we found that the squash are even better a few days later, as leftovers, with a chopped tomato salad of heirloom tomatoes, basil, garlic and dressed with good balsamic and olive oil spooned over top. This was my dinner last night, and it made me positively hum with delight.

It was a great end to a great day. We were sore and tanned from our adventures and full and happy from our dinner. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I found the other (not Manhattan), other (not Long Island) island to be a quite pleasant place.

So, hang in there Staten Island! You’ve got at least one friend on the outside.

Head below the jump for the recipes for In-A-Pinch Stuffed Squash & Minted White Cabbage Slaw.

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Perfetto Primavera

29 May

Has Lidia ever changed your dinner plans?

The Harbor Meets The Hudson

She’s a dangerous lady to watch when you’ve only got tentative dinner plans, trust me. That’s just the situation I found myself in on Sunday. Earlier in the day I had gone for a really long run, and then Isaac and I had gone on a not so long walk, but either way, I was sore, and tired, and felt that I had earned a kip on the couch.

Tugboat

But there was Lidia, back in Maremma, my favorite place in Italy, and dastardly lady that she is, she was making pasta with ceci and spinach, my favorite food in the world (pasta) combined with my favorite legume (chickpeas). And then, right after that, she made swiss chard with magic Tuscan beans. It was too much. Our dinner plans had to change.

Birdbath

I peeled myself off the couch and trotted off to the Korean bodega a few blocks away. I grabbed chard, and since I am often indecisive (and greedy) a can of ceci and a can of canellini beans, because, even as I was watching the show, the two separate recipes were combining into one.

Koi

We ate a lot of Italian food this weekend. We had been hoping to get away for the holiday, but for a number of reasons, that didn’t happen. So, we stuck around and indulged in the relative quietude the city sometimes offers on this first weekend of “summer.”

Tom Otterness Tableau

We went to Hearth for dinner on Saturday night for no reason other than we could. Wait, that’s not 100% true. We went to Hearth on Saturday night because the food is awesome and we could score a perfect reservation with no trouble. Our meal gave me a new faith in sauces and dressings. And then we breakfasted on the antipasti platter and a perfect pizza on Sunday at Adrienne‘s. And then on Monday night I whipped up my own “pizza” to go with a delightful salad (hopefully more on that pizza another time, because it was awesome).

V. Ponte & Sons

And even after all that, I still think this pasta was the highlight of the weekend’s eats. It’s such an earthy, honest and goshdarnit, delicious dinner. Oh, and it’s easy and quick to make, too.

Umberto Brothers Storage

This recipe is perfect for busy moms with too many nearly grown men nipping at her heels, hounding her about dinner. It’s also perfect for the newbie entertainer that’s having his first dinner party and wants to impress the ladies but is afraid of messing up an expensive cut of meat. And, it’s perfect for a couple like me and Isaac that treasures delicious leftovers as the only way to survive our too busy weeks.

Perfect Pasta with Beans & Greens

What I hope you take away from this is that this is a perfect dinner. Pour yourself a glass of crisp white wine, whip up a green garlic salad dressing to serve over the tiniest, most dainty spring greens and sit down with this pasta for a perfect evening. Enjoy!

Head below the jump for the recipe for Perfect Pasta with Beans & Greens.

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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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