Archive | September, 2008

Rain Check

25 Sep

It’s going to be rainy later today.

By all accounts, very rainy.

So I can think of no better day than today to say, I need to offer you a rain check on a post this week!

Last week’s craziness has taken a wee toll on my ability to sit in front of a computer when not at work.  There’s errands to do and runs to take and episodes of Project Runway to catch-up on.

So until next Thursday, I wish you good cooking!

Curry In A Hurry

19 Sep

My first “apartment” in New York was near Gramercy Park.

Sadly, it wasn’t near enough in physical or mental location for me to have been granted a key to this urban oasis.  From our perch in Philadelphia, the apartment was marketed to my roommate and I as a dorm room for SVA.  What it actually was was a room in an SRO.

It wasn’t bad, the room was clean and in a good location, but the other residents were, uhm, a little sketchy.  And, as you may guess, it was inevitable really, that the union of wide-eyed newcomers and crusty, down-at-the-heel hardened New Yorkers led to someone getting robbed.

I will forever treasure the look on the one policeman’s face as he digested my reply to his question; “Were there any identifying characteristics to your laptop?” “Oh yeah! It was covered in glow-in-the-dark stars and fuzzy duckie stickers!”  Ah, youth!

So, there I was, even broker than I had started out, with 2-day-a-week internship and a 5-day-a-week $10-an-hour retail job.  But! At least I was in New York.  And, best of all, I was near the beating heart of cheap food in Manhattan, Curry Hill.

I have always loved curry, even the sort that comes out of a packet, but my tastebuds had become more sophisticated during a stint of sharing cooking duties in a co-op dorm with an honest to goodness girl from northern India.  She taught me so much.  And so when I ate curry in New York, I always aimed for the most sophisticated and authentic place I could afford.

Sadly, this was nearly always Curry In A Hurry.  Aside from the cute name, and truth in advertising (the food really does come out quickly), there’s not that much to recommend the place other than its extreme cheapness.  But, it kept me fed, and that’s what really counts.

Happily, I’ve come a long way since those days, and I now prefer to make my own curry whenever possible.  One of the things Isaac and I miss the most about our weekends in the City is the diversity of food available to us at all times.  So this past weekend, when we were both craving something a little adventurous, we settled on making a gorgeous, soothing, balanced squash curry.

This might be the healthiest thing I’ve ever cooked what with the fake meat, kefir (my new addiction), nuts, turmeric and spices, and it might also be the tastiest.  This is a home run recipe; it’s balanced, soothing, invigorating, comforting and best of all gosh darn tasty.

So, if you know someone that, like me, works in financial news, or at a bank, or for the government, or in any aspect of the world that touches the global financial system, they probably need a hug and a bowl of something warm and steamy after this past week.

So do him or her a favor and make them some curry.  And then let them sit on the couch and stare blankly at the wall.  It’s been a rough week!

Head below the jump for Ann’s Sweet & Spicy Squash Curry.

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Macro-Micro

12 Sep

New York City is never more beautiful than when it’s seen from afar after dark.

Seeing its pulsing, sparkling lights, flowing and dancing at a languid, dreamlike pace from a plane coming in for a landing at JFK can bring tears to my eyes.  And the city is never more alluring than when seen from the Triboro Bridge or the BQE, as it plays a glittering game of hide-and-seek between the monolithic, brutalist shells that pass for housing along the highways of the outer boroughs.

Since I don’t love driving in the city after dark, Isaac has been pulling the return leg of our upstate forays, allowing me to sit and gaze out on the view of the city I love the most.  When the sun has set and the lights are on, all the hard edges and drab grayness fade away and New York becomes the city of dreams and possibility.

Each tiny apartment, lit up like a Russian egg, glowing golden with the light over the kitchen sink or silvery cool from the television, is a little bastion of hope and exertion, a refuge from the hurly burly that is daily life in New York.

Because, it is this daily life that makes New York so hard to crack.  Even once you’re inside the city, walking through its hallowed halls, standing upon its celestial corners, it’s still the dream city.  It isn’t until you live here, really live here, that the trials begin.  The scrimping of money, the oppressive noise and heat, the long, dark, cold winters, year upon year of toiling, hoping it’s enough and waiting for that big break or genius stroke of luck.  That’s when New York becomes the fabled she-lion that gobbles you up and spits you back onto the streets, naked, shivering and lost.

It’s a giant, heroic struggle, pushing against a Herculean tide of people, time and ambition, locked in constant battle with hope.  Life in New York is big and diffuse.

My yard is never more beautiful than when seen just before the sun sets.

In the country, I’m finding that my cares exist on a far more granular level.  I forget about work and ambition and our noisy neighbors, about the herds of NYU students that have invaded my favorite ramen joint, about the crazy lady who sits on the corner near my office and sings, about where the markets are going and why.

Up there, the little things are what I care about.  The tenths of inches my kale has grown in a week, the tenacity of the spiders to not be vacated from their cozy corners, the miracle of a day lily blooming before the deer decided to make it a delicious afternoon snack.  This is what occupies me when I’m 200 miles north of New York.

It’s like splitting my time between the two halves of my favorite New York treat, the black-and-white cookie.

Which brings us to food.  Shopping for dinner upstate is so much more fun than down here.  It’s the same farmers with the same produce as I see at the greenmarket in Union Square, but up there, they seem much happier, too.  There’s time to answer questions and chat about the weather, to swap recipes and discuss pest control.  The farmers seem less guarded, less tired.  Perhaps it’s because they’re not being stalked by magazine writers, chefs and foodies.

This past weekend we made our first foray to the Kinderhook farmer’s market. It was wonderful, despite the threat of rain.  I was seduced by gorgeous yellow beets and a sour cherry tart.  Isaac fell for potatoes and corn.  Rounded out with delicious chicken from Olde Hudson Gourmet, and we had ourselves an epic meal of locally grown and produced goodness.

We cooked the beets and potatoes together and then mashed them and stirred in some delicious garlic, local butter and the beet greens.  I roasted the chicken and made a sweet-sour Anaheim chile relish that was as good with the chicken as it was stirred into the mash. And we ate it all with a salad of the world’s pepperiest, most delicious arugula ever.

And while I love cooking simple food made from simple ingredients and padding about in the grass, I miss spending weekends in the asphalt jungle a little bit.  So I’m looking forward to next weekend when we’re going to stick around in the city.

Now, if only I could decide which side of the half-moon cookie New York is.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Beeten & Mashed.

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I ♥ NY

11 Sep

As usual in New York, everything is torn down

Before you have time to care for it.

Head bowed, at the shrine of noise, let me try to recall

What building stood here.  Was there a building at all?

~James Merrill An Urban Convalescence

Animal Farm

5 Sep

Would you please check out these pigs?

The happiest pig in all the world.

Totally zonked, ridiculously cute

Totally zonked, ridiculously cute

I hope now you can understand why I’ve had such a hard time crafting a post this week. Every time I sit down to write, I open WordPress in one tab, and then Flickr in another, and then all I can do is surf through all these animal pictures from our trip to the County Fair last weekend.

Who knew chickens could give you the stink eye?

Looks like he should be cast in rubber.

So, I’ve given up on trying to find something witty or interesting or thoughtful to say and given into the cute.

I love this pigeon. She looks like some sort of exiled Russian princess to me.

I love this pigeon. She looks like an exiled Russian princess.

Who knew pigeons had so much character and gravitas?

Who knew pigeons had so much character and gravitas?

Given all the rancor flying around in the U.S. at the moment, the hurricanes and market swoons, I think we could all use to take a few moments to sit back and smile.

This goat desperately wanted to come home with me. Isaac said no.

This goat desperately wanted to come home with me. Isaac said no.

The sheep were not amused by this hay-stealing goat, but I was.

The sheep were not amused by this hay-stealing goat, but I was.

This is the county fair I attended and showed at when I was young. One year I won a blue ribbon for a bunch of radishes, and I always did well at the horse show. Another year while I was hanging out at my 4-H leader’s cow barn, I got to help birth a calf.

Goats can give the stink eye, too. Every time I would turn to look at this guy, he would stop chewing his cud and give me the stink eye.

Goats can give the stink eye, too. Every time I would turn to look at this guy, he'd stop chewing his cud and stare.

Her neck looks impossibly long.

Her neck looks impossibly long.

Very little has changed. The food is a little more diverse, which is nice. Apparently Columbia County is now aware that tacos are incredibly delicious. The rides also look a little more rickety and all the fair-goers look a little shorter.

He won a blue ribbon for fuzziness.

He won a blue ribbon for fuzziness.

Massive rabbit disapproval.

Massive rabbit disapproval.

But, the faces on the 4-Hers, which is, really, what the fair is all about, are still shiny, happy and full of the enthusiasm gleaned from a year’s preparation, hard work and love.

Despite their sheepishness, they still managed a smile for the camera.

Despite their sheepishness, they still managed a smile for the camera.

Sheep in T-shirts are funny.

Sheep in T-shirts are funny.

There was just one somber moment to our trip when I spotted that same 4-H leader’s spot in the cow barn and went over to say hi, only to find out that she had recently passed away. It’s been a long time since I cried at the county fair.

This cow had some crazy tongue action going on.

This cow had some crazy tongue action going on.

See?

See?

But a few minutes in the sheep shed helped sort me out. I think sheep may be the new goats, especially Oxford sheep. I’m in love.

I feel head-over-heels for this sheep.

I fell head-over-heels for this sheep.

I desperately wanted to take him home with me. Isaac said no.

I desperately wanted to take him home with me. Isaac said no.

I hope you enjoy this recipe-free detour. In all honesty, I’m still learning about my new kitchen; about it’s quirks and what I need to have on hand for cooking on the fly. So, even though our two dinners last weekend were delicious, I think I’m going to hold off on sharing them.

That piece of straw was there for the long haul.

That piece of straw was there for the long haul.

Thanks for coming! See you next year!

Thanks for coming! See you next year!

Happy weekend everybody. May it be full of fun, friends, family and fleece!