Search results for 'prospect park'

Prospects Rising

26 Mar

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I think spring has sprung.

Croci are blooming, Roger Clark has shed his ugly green jacket, and my mother tells me the vultures have returned Upstate (she swears this is a surer sign of spring than the return of the robins).

Prospect Park Croci

But what’s the surest sign of spring, chez Granny Cart? Yep, you guessed it, a very long walk.

12 miles to be exact, and with three distinct goals.

1. To show the boy Prospect Park at a time other than New Year’s Eve.

2. To have brunch at Prospect Heights’ jealousy-inducing Beast (I wish we had a spot like this in Bay Ridge).

3. To go to Fairway.

Prospect Park Entrance

We entered from the south through the horse tamers’ gate and headed around the lake.

Prospect Park Geese

Idyllic isn’t it? Until you notice that gigantic styrofoam cup.

Prospect Park Water Fowl

There was a little girl throwing bread crumbs to the birds. That swan was one foul fowl. I have a healthy fear of them, having been bitten (beaked?) by one in my teens.

Prospect Park Arch

There’s that guy that’s always getting in the way of my pictures.

Prospect Park Elm

This is the Camperdown Elm. Apparently it was planted in 1872, has a genetic mutation which causes it to grow outwards rather than upwards and is resistent to Dutch elm disease. That’s some tree!

Prospect Park Water Fall

Doesn’t this scene remind you of a Bob Ross painting?

Prospect Park Bridge

Retreating glaciers left little ponds and rills in the park which Olmstead and Vaux worked into their plans.

Prospect Park Meets The 'dacks

They also designed parts of the park to remind you of the Adirondacks. This nearly-hidden pagoda certainly did.

Prospect Park Trees Love Kites

It was a beautiful breezy day, perfect for flying kites… But the trees will always get one or two.

Prospect Park Snakes

One of the stranger design conceits are the large Grecian urns lining the park’s wall that feature intertwined snakes as handles. They’re rather realistic, and just a little bit creepy.

Grand Army Plaza

I love any park that sandwiches its north/south entrance with grand monuments featuring horses. This arch sits at Grand Army Plaza, home to a wonderful Greenmarket on Saturdays.

By this time we had about 6.5 miles under out belts, on empty stomachs. It was time to stop and refuel. Two beers, two coffees, two poached eggs, Beast’s incredible roasted potatoes, some polenta and a grilled vegetable sandwich later, we headed west.

Ah, The Majestic Gowanus

Someday, just maybe, the Gowanus canal will be beautiful. But for now? Not so much.

Smith St. Pussy Willows

I was absolutely gobsmacked to see this pussy willow tree growing in the middle of industrial Brooklyn, directly below the Smith-9th St. subway station.

Smith St. Pussy Willows

It’s such a misnomer to call this elevated platform a subway station, as it rises 91 feet into the air and is the highest one in the system. The views are incredible.

Carroll Gardens Church

Eventually, we finally made it to Fairway. Why was getting there so important? Because I have been suffering from a major squid joness. Why? I read somewhere that Atlantic squid are at their most tender and flavorful in the late-winter/early-spring.

Squid & Cockle pasta

I kept trying to get them at our local fish shop, but I was always late. And then I’d see them at the Greenmarket, but would always be doing something later that evening that made carrying around a pound or two of fresh cephalopods a little, well, inconvenient.

And so finally I decided that if I couldn’t get fresh, local squid at Fairway, I’d give up. Thankfully giving up was not a necessary option.

Squid & Cockle pasta

Fairway had them. They also had the most beautiful New Zeland cockles (yes, I know, totally not local, but they’re delicious, so ease up) and gorgeous, aromatic sweet limes.

Squid & Cockle pasta

In fact the squid were so fresh one still had dinner in its belly. Kinda gross, but I took it as a sign of quality.

Dinner could not have been easier. Chop some French shallots, some garlic, sautée, squeeze a lime, add some vermouth, pop in the cockles, toss in the squid and then serve over top of radicchio pasta.

Squid & Cockle pasta

I don’t know if these noodles are available everywhere. I got mine the same place I got the farro curlicues. There’s not much of a raddichio flavor, but the color is lovely and the texture is simply out of sight. They cooked up to an almost ridiculously perfect al dente.

Our only misstep was not having any bread around to sop up the sauce. It was sweet and luscious and perefctly briny.

Squid & Cockle pasta

Oh, well, next time.

Good thing I’ve still got some squid stowed away in the freezer.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Squid & Cockle Pasta with Alliums Three-Ways.

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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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Wally’s Favorites

19 Mar

Oh, hi, it’s me Wally again.

That tree was bothering you, right? I knew it.

Wally Vs. The Tree

As you can tell, our summer trips to the Adirondacks make me very happy. I love getting to play in the water and ride in the boat and have people play fetch with me all day long. I mean, what dog wouldn’t love that?

But you know what the best part of going to the ‘dacks is? Getting to eat everyone’s food. My mom can’t watch me all the time, so I get to eat lots of stuff I probably shouldn’t. One time, Annie made these really delicious little sausages called chevapchichi or something. She said she learned about them in Croatia. I don’t know where that is, but if all the food there is like that, I sure would like to go someday. Plus, I hear there’s a really cute girl dog there named Mimi.

Wally in the 'dacks

I also love hiking, and we sure do do a lot of that up north. I like chasing deer, and ducks, and rabbits, and, well, anything! Annie keeps telling me about this amazing place in Brooklyn where she lives called Prospect Park. She says there’s lots of ducks and kids to chase, and they even have an entire beach, just for dogs! Can you imagine? I sure can’t. That’s something I’d need to see to believe.
Prospect Park

And just like you humans, I really love pork. One time, Annie made some pork at her mom’s house, and it was great, but I bet it wasn’t as great as this roast pork with biscuits. I was there when she called her mom and told her what she was making. I went and asked my mom if we could drive to her house, but Mom said it was too far away, so all I could do was look at the pictures on the internet.

So, if you have a dog in your house that loves pork, too, you should make this for them and then let me know how it was. I bet your dog would be really happy. And if you have leftovers, I always accept doggie bags!

Mmmm... Pork

So, I hope you enjoyed my post. It took a long time for me to type. I have really big paws, so it was really hard! But don’t worry, Annie will be back soon, along with my mom, dad and little brother. I hope they bring me some cool Italian dog treats. I earned them!

People Drop By From Time To Time… Part 5

30 Nov

The Granny Cart kitchen has been quiet, posting has been light, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped dropping by.

Lower Manhattan From The Promenade

Oh no. the human is a curious animal.

For a while I was confused why my favorite tomato bisque recipe was getting so much traffic, then I realized it’s because the recipe name includes the year it was created, 1907, and people are searching for what people ate 100 years ago. I think that’s cool.

Slightly less predictable was the rapid up-tick in people searching for pickled egg recipes just before Thanksgiving. I mean… To whom doesn’t a vinegary, purple egg simply scream harvest festival?

Jeff Koons Blue Diamond, Christie's, New York

And how do I know all this? Because the good people at WordPress, the platform upon which the Granny Cart floats blissfully through the universe of the internets, are kind enough to allow us users to see the phrases; often funny, sometimes scary, but always interesting, that drive people to our blogs.

There are lots of queries about farro, couscous and pickles, a few about boar roasts, many about poultry, and a goodly number looking for cheesemaking hints. There’s the accent crew too, looking for recipes for Spätzle, Čevapčići and Coq a la Bière. But the grand majority of the inquisitive folk that end up on the Granny Cart probably don’t want to be here.

Bridge, Prospect Park

I hope the person that was looking for Vermont “Olive Oil” finally found what he was after, because the information was certainly not contained on this here Website.

To the gentleman who put curry on his curry, while I agree that the situation might in fact be a pressing one, I really don’t feel that it’s that big of a predicament. In fact, I bet it was quite tasty in the end!

I hope the person that wanted a “recipe containing macaroni and cheese” found one. (If not there’s one right here if you’re still looking, and it’s called Mac & Cheese).

Finally, I will end my commentary on the state of search queries in the same way as always by appealing to the people searching for “tiny bunnies that don’t grow.” Have you found them? Do they really exist? Please, if you’ve managed to find the world’s most perfect pet, contact me. I’ll be waiting.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge from the grounds at Olana

The Cute

cats that look like gernot (Kind of makes you wonder who Gernot is, doesn’t it?)

give a pig a pickle (That’s gotta be pretty amusing)

how to get a live chicken in a bottle (I bet it’s nowhere near as easy as getting a ship in a bottle)

Cauliflower poodles (Ah yes, behold, there on the horizon, the noble, cruciferous hound)

cute hard boiled eggs (I think these would make this person very, very happy)

Hudson-Athen Lighthouse, Hudson River

The Curious

sunshine scientific names (I’ve never wondered about sunshine before… But if clouds have names… And precipitation has names…)

onion and cheese mexican joke (So a queso and a cebolla walk into a cantina…)

everything is pickled people are pickles (Sounds like the start of someone’s manifesto, if you ask me. That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to write one of those…)

will God allow me to eat shrimp (Oh dear. I think there’s only one person that can really help you make that call, and it’s not me)

rabbits eat pickles? (If pigs can…)

Dumbo Warerhouse

The Creepy

what to do with wife that doesn’t make dinner (Might I suggest a two prong approach: 1. Become friendly with a restaurant that will deliver and 2. Learn how to cook for yourself, perhaps?)

Round-the-World Cookbook cannibal recipe (I’m sure this exists, and yet…)

I’ll give you my antidote To the venom, (But…?)

june cleaver tablescape (I think tablescapes were a little before the Beaver’s time, and yet simply imagining this sends shivers down my spine)

delete granny’s pet,now! (Oh dear, must have been old Gernot again)

Gowanus Canal

And finally, I would like to leave you with one of the truer statements I’ve ever encountered.

small is beautiful but not for cheese

Sir, you, me and Isaac must be seperated at birth. You are welcome here anytime. Please, take a seat, make yourself comfortable, oh, and don’t forget the cheese!

Have a happy weekend everyone!

Mmm… Bière

7 Nov

Oh friends, have I got a treat to share with you.

Autumn in Prospect Park

I discovered a recipe this weekend that is so delicious, so sexy, so perfect, and yet so simple and rustic that it simply begs to be served at your very next dinner party, or for Christmas dinner, or for Saturday dinner. This is the kind of dish you can serve to your mother-in-law with absolutely no fear. You are guaranteed oohs and aahs, and that your guests will make happy little oinking noises while they’re sopping up the delicious sauce.

Have I piqued your interest? Are you just dying for me to tell you what this most perfect dish might be? Not just yet…

Autumn in Prospect Park

The Boy and I were doing some Western Orthodox Christmas shopping on Saturday at our favorite non-used bookstore when I spotted this gigantic, gorgeous volume, of rustic French cooking. We were having a glorious fall day. The weather was crisp and I was wearing my favorite scarf (the one that makes me feel like I’ve just gotten back from an assignment for National Geographic to Marrakesh to write the definitive work on camel’s milk cheese), NoLita wasn’t overrun by giddy European tourists taking advantage of their currency being worth two-times as much as the dollar, and we were planning to go out for an anniversary dinner that night, so there was no pressure to think about cooking.

Autumn in Prospect Park

But ever since I had put one toe out the door, all I could think about was cooking. It was so cool and delightful, the air was crystalline blue and held the promise of a chilly evening. I wanted to cook something warm and comforting, a dish as snuggly and delicious as my favorite cashmere sweater, so I promised myself that I’d bring it up only if I happened to think of something or happened to come across something.

Autumn in Prospect Park

And so, there i was thumbing through The Country Cooking of France while the Boy was nosing about in the serious literature when it jumped out at me.

Coq a la Bière.

Autumn in Prospect Park

The recipe sang to me of warmth and simplicity. I had to make it. So I called him over and asked if he’d like to stay in this evening rather than go out for a big fancy dinner, and then I sweetened the deal by promising to make mashed potatoes. It didn’t take long for him to agree.

I briefly contemplated buying the book, but I just couldn’t part with $50. I had a purse crisis recently and ended up dropping some serious dosh on a new bag. I felt the need to scrimp and so I tried my best to memorize the recipe, promising the book I’d come back for it on a more flush day.

Autumn in Prospect Park

We popped over to the Whole Foods on Houston Street to visit their new beer room. Serious suds people! They’ve got beers from around the world and lots of American microbrews too. Sure, they sell some beers that you can get at the very finest bodegas, like the Indian ones near 6th Street or heck, even my beloved Eagle Provisions, but what is exciting is that much like the good folk at Bierkraft, they sell growlers of locally brewed hoppy delicacies. I picked out a brown ale from France and a cider from Normandy, then we headed home.

I’d forgotten that cooking with beer is awesome. Unlike cooking with wine, where you can just recork the bottle and stash it in the fridge, once you open one of those fancy corked bottles of beer, well, there’s no way to save the fizz, so, well, you’ve got to drink the beer. Bummer, right?

Autumn in Prospect Park

I measured out my cup and a half of ale and then drank my half of the leftovers while pulling together dinner. It’s the easiest thing I’ve cooked in months. You brown the chicken, chop some vegetables and then let it stew for an hour or so. At the end you stir in a pat of butter, crème fraîche and brighten it up with a shot of vinegar.

Coq a la Biere

The mashed potatoes were a happy accident. I took my eyes off the garlic for one minute, and when I turned back they were a nanosecond away from turning into tiny little lumps of char, so I threw in the lacinato kale (I never got my second salad) to stop that from happening. The resulting potatoes smelled a little like the very best of garlic bagels. The toasted garlic are delightful points of flavor amidst the silky purée made a little sour with crème fraîche.

Toasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Kale

The resulting meal is so French. It’s the food equivalent of that beautiful Parisian woman we all know, the one who can throw on a sweater, a skirt and a scarf and look more radiant and pulled together than I ever could, no matter how much time and money I had at my disposal. And, to top it all off, it’s so much simpler, and slightly more unusual, than its more famous cousin Coq au Vin. There’s no futzing about with cooking each vegetable separately, no marinating, no peeling pearl onions (does anyone enjoy that task?), and it may encourage you to go out and buy a nice bottle of gin.

My Notes

Never having been to France, I’ve never thought much about the classics of French cooking. But between this Coq a la Bière and the Sole à la Meunière and the utterly delicious cherry clafouti from over the summer, I’m beginning to think I really should go back to the beginning, start boning up on my classic French technique.

I’ve got the weekend to myself while the Boy is away celebrating Western Orthodox Christmas and Ratatouille up next in my queue. Who knows where inspiration will strike next!

And, check it out! Abby, the assistant Web editor over at OrganicGardening.com did an interview with me, and she posted it today on her blog Good N Planty! If you’ve ever wanted to learn even more about me and the Granny Cart, hop on over there, or just go over and support her NaBlaPoMo efforts! And be sure to check out all the gardening knowledge on their site, these people are experts! Thanks Abby, my mom will be so proud!

Head below the jump for the recipe for Coq a la Bière and Garlic Bagel Mashed Potatoes.

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