Search results for 'ramps'

Around The Edges

3 Jun

On Monday, I went paddling on Kinderhook Lake.

It should have been a bit naive of me to expect the lake to be serene, peaceful and calm on the first weekend of Summer, but honestly it just never occurred to me.  Why was it naive?  Because it’s the very same lake that I spent countless weekends on as a kid, zooming around behind my father’s speedboat–clutching, grasping onto an inflatable raft–screaming and giggling and panting for breath.  Two decades later, little has changed.  So I stuck to the edges.

What happens when New Yorkers leave New York? Bad things … for turtles!

Ramped Up

7 May

There is no surer sign that Spring has returned than the reappearance of ramps.

In years past, I was a part of the ravening hoard of ramp “hunters” at the Union Square greenmarket, marching from booth to booth until a waft of earthy, oniony air would hit my nose and stop me in my tracks.  But for some reason, this year, I had lost all enthusiasm for them.  They just didn’t seem special anymore.

Then on Saturday when I called my mom to make plans for our dinner at Local 111, she asked “Do you think they’ll have ramps?”  I said I thought they would. And they did; in a spring onion soup, alongside low-poached swordfish, and accompanying a local steak.

The soup was delicious, light and pleasant in a way that’s hard to do.  It wasn’t too “green”, as if it had been overloaded with spinach, nor was it too bitter, as can happen when you add too many raw alliums.  It was perfect topped by lumps of sweet, briny crab.  The encapsulation of Spring in a bowl.

And then there was the side of pickled ramps my mom ordered.  Tinted ever so slightly daffodil-yellow by turmeric, they were piquant in the most pleasant way.  Ramp-mania had indeed returned!

Want to find out where we went foraging for ramps? Find out after the jump.

Arroz con Cranky

5 Jun

I fear I’m not always 100% truthful with you, especially on one very salient fact.

West Village Puddle

New York City and I do not always get along. From the timbre of many of my posts, you’d think I walk around in some sort of Disney princess bubble enveloped in a halo of chirping birds and hopping bunnies, magically making my way untouched through the seething throngs of grumpy commuters, clueless tourists and the hopelessly deranged. But this is not true.

Japanese Maple, Raindrops

Sometimes, for no conceivable reason, the city just pisses me off. The anger is not acute. No, it’s not usually one specific thing that sends me round the bend, it’s more of a crescendo of annoyance.

The mockingbird imitating a car alarm for hours. Our upstairs neighbor playing GTA IV at 5am. The ingrate that forces me to miss my train into work. The destruction of yet another piece of my city’s gritty heritage. Almost being hit by a bike messenger (again) careening the wrong way down a one way street. Yet another endless line full of tourists with no sense of urgency at my favorite coffee place.

May Showers, May Flowers

Yes, they’re little things, and probably make me sound a little petty, but man, sometimes, a girl just can’t take it anymore. We New Yorkers live so close together, so cheek by jowl with one another, so constantly in each other’s faces that it can really begin to wear on a being.

Nap Time at the Dog Spa

I try pretty hard to stay positive. I say excuse me when I run into someone, I smile at the checkout girl that’s just had to help the umpteenth pensioner from Spain figure out how to pay for his coffee, I grumble under my breath as the train-I-needed-to-be-on-so-I’d-be on-time-for-my-meeting pulls away without me, and I take photos in an attempt to help remember those old spots that won’t be there for the next generation.

But sometimes, a girl just needs to snap.

Won't Be Needing These For Awhile

Take this past weekend for example. I should have been buoyant and joyful; the weather was beautiful, my work was done, all I had to do was sit back and enjoy 48 blissful hours of sun, fun and food but no, I was cranky. The trains were all kerfuffled, the sky opened up and let fly like it was Armageddon and the farmer I wanted to buy baby kale from wussed out and left the West Village greenmarket early.

Statues & Man

So there we were, Isaac and I, skirting the edge of Washington Square Park, heading for the Union Square greenmarket, when I just snapped. I stopped like a stubborn donkey and began stomping my feet like a two year old mid-tantrum. I wanted to go home. The city, its chaos and closeness, its clamor and commotion had done me in. I was beaten.

TK TK TK

We got back to the apartment and I ran for the solace of my kitchen. I began chopping: spring onions, green garlic, jalapeños. Some went into a pot of Steve‘s magic beans, some went into a pot of rice, some went into a red salsa and the rest went into a green salsa. After a few hours of stirring and prodding and chopping and tasting, I finally felt better.

Vaquero Beans

And who wouldn’t if they were sitting down to a meal like this? Spicy rice, tender, fragrant, achiote-marinated shrimp, zippy pico de gallo, sublime salsa verde and, of course, those perfect, wonderful, fragrant, intoxicating beans. It was a perfect meal.

And yet, I woke up with the crankies again the next day, and the next, and the next.

But then, on Tuesday morning as I was harumphing and grumbling my way through my commute, I pulled my nose out of my Economist and noticed the gentleman sitting across the subway car from me.

Camarones y Arroz con Cranky

He was amazing.

In his 80s, he was impeccably dressed. A perfect summer-weight pinstripe suit, beautiful tan leather shoes, a flawlessly tied tie with matching pocket square, a straw fedora that was a work of art, waxed handlebar mustaches, Col. Sanders beard, and to top it all off, a yellow rose in his button hole.

Suddenly my outfit, which I had been so proud of earlier in the morning, felt completely disheveled. And yet, I was happy. This man, this one single man, who seemed pulled from another time; a kinder, gentler, more caring era, sitting next to a rockabilly-tattooed hipster chick, plastered a smile on my face that still won’t go away.

Vaquero Beans

Perhaps I’m a little hard on myself. Perhaps I really am just a giddy, wide-eyed, New York City optimist. Or, perhaps, I’m just a real person in love with a difficult city. Disagreements are bound to happen, but we’ll always make up.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Arroz y Camarones con Cranky.

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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!