Search results for 'spätzle'

Mt. Greylock

1 Dec

We got to the top, and there was nothing to see.

And yet in a completely white world, there was plenty.  After spending about 10 minutes in blinding whiteness I concluded that I’m really quite happy I never settled on “Arctic Exlorer” as a career path.

We thought we were supposed to be following the red blazes, which took us tromping off willynilly into the forest.  Multiple times they would just *poof* disappear.  But the baby blue blazes, they looked solid and dependable, so we decided to follow them.

And they took us to the top.  Up through the ancient, breathing, dripping rain forest and out into the wide white world, 2,200 feet above where we started.

What to eat after a seven mile hike? Pork of course!

Lost & Found

20 Nov

I found a key on Sunday.

It was shiny and bright amid a sea of gray gravel and dank, drab leaves.  It was just the latest in a series of tiny, buried things I’ve dug up since we bought the house in August.  Yet oddly enough, this lonely, forgotten key, proved to be the least mysterious thing I’ve found so far.

It wasn’t lost years ago by a traveling magician; it didn’t unlock a hidden passage; it wasn’t hand-crafted by an orphan raised by Shakers and it never served as a clue in a great mystery.  Once I had finished with my yard work, I walked to the front porch, fished the key out of my pocket, stuck it in the front door, turned it, and walked straight into the house.

I had been weeding when I found the key.  I got an idea into my head–I have no idea if it’s right or wrong–that, at this time of year, when most vegetation has died back and is turning brown, that anything remaining green and vibrant after multiple killing frosts and a few flurries, is a weed and should be removed from my gardens.  I started with the Queen Anne’s lace in the perennial beds then moved around to the front of the house where I fear I might have yanked out some wild bleeding hearts.

There were some funny, round leaves growing up through the little glacial moraine of gravel that helps to drain the stone foundation of the house (it’s built into the side of a hill).  I decided they had to go.  They came up easily, and I soon had a healthy pile of them in my weed bucket.  And then i grabbed one and pulled.  And pulled a little harder, and then with a gritty, metallic pop, out came the weed, and a rusted over latch.  The weed’s root had grown right through one of the nail holes that at one time held it onto the side of our house.

I’m so pleased that our house is providing the mystery I had hoped for.  It’s what I love about old houses.  They remind you that you’re not the first one to own them.  Was the latch abandoned because it no longer worked, or did someone drop it, cursing his cold, fumbling fingers?  When did ConEd stop using glass insulators for their wires?  What can I find out about …ock & Co. from …lem England?  Who left the key there, and were they coming back for it? (Okay, I’d actually rather not know the answer to that last one…)

These are fun little mysteries.  They serve as things to mull while doing dishes or pulling weeds.  But there do exist two larger puzzles that have me vexed.  One: How did a beautiful piece of Pueblo Indian pottery get into the garden?  And two: What is that strange building in the woods with all the crockery? (And only tangentially related: Why is my forsythia blooming?)

I found the pot one of our first weekends there, buried in the corner of a garden bed.  I knew what it was immediately.  My mom is a long-time collector of this sort of pot, and this example, though broken into a dozen or more pieces, is a beauty.  The burnished glowing auburn surface and deep-cut decoration means this pot was made with love by someone very talented.  Sadly, its been under the dirt just long enough to make the signature unreadable.

But how did it get there? Obviously someone buried it.  Was it because they felt remorse for breaking something so lovely?  Or were they trying to put it to use as a home for beneficial animals in the garden, figuring, well, if it’s broken, it may as well do some good?  How did it get broken?  Did a dog or child run into it?  Was it thrown at the wall in the midst of a heated argument?  Regardless, I’m keeping most of it in the garden as a decoration, and two fine pieces grace my kitchen’s windowsill as an aid to daydreaming.

I’ve got my own fanciful ideas about the strange building behind the house.  I discovered it over our four-day weekend when we went out back to gather kindling.  I was first drawn to it by the pattern of walls made discernible by the cover of fallen leaves–it’s a little, rectangular building.  And then I noticed the little blue teapot, and then a big spattered enamelware bowl, then a huge crock, a wooden bucket and more and more and more.

Dozens of vessels of every shape, size and material imaginable scattered in the woods near a little hut, just up the hill from a beautiful, cold, clean stream.  My mind raced.  Might it be an old moonshine still from Prohibition days?  I can’t wait for Spring, when the leaves have settled and deer hunting season is over, so I can venture back into the woods to do a more thorough investigation.  Until then, I’ll just have to do some research online to see if I can date any of the crockery to around the 1920s.

I have no culinary mystery to leave you with, but perhaps all this thinking and contemplating and pondering has left you hungry.  I know it has me.  So might I suggest some spätzle? The latest issue of Saveur has a wonderful recipe for käsespätzle that includes roasted garlic in the dumplings.  Given my undying love for these little German dumplings, I had to try it.

As with most recipes for spätzle, Saveur’s tells you to use a spätzle-maker to make them small and uniform.  Bah! I say.  Just drip the batter into boiling water off your spoon.  The spätzle will turn out bigger, more toothsome and hence more delicious.  Cook them until they rise to the top, then sautèe with a little butter and chopped garlic, sprinkle with cheese and broil until golden and delicious.   Serve with some braised sauerkraut and sausages, and you’ve got a meal fit for ein Königen.

No mystery there.

That’s A Wrap

29 Jan

Cling film is out to get me.

Morning Light, Through My Window

Every time I open the drawer where the Saran wrap lives, I break out in a cold sweat. I know there’s going to be a fight, and I know who’s going to win. Hint: It’s never me.

I marvel, absolutely marvel, at the men and women on TV who can wrassle the stuff. I see them in commercials, on cooking shows and sometimes even in sitcoms and movies. They deftly grab the box, open the lid (without cutting themselves), pull the wrap from the roll with a sure hand, and cloak their leftovers in a layer of plasticky protection in one fell swoop. The wrap sticks to itself or to the bowl and never tears. I sit on the couch and seethe with jealousy.

It’s the dirty little secret of my kitchen. I can’t use plastic wrap.

Morning Rain

For a while I was very excited by that press & seal wrap (you know, the stuff that’s really just co-opted lab film). I remember it so fondly from 10th grade Advanced Biology. We’d use it to seal Erlenmeyer flasks full of fun experiments, and to protect Petri dishes from contamination. I embraced the press & seal and it hugged back. But, I can’t use it for everything.

My battle with cling film is decades old, but has recently become more heated. I suspect the plastic wrap has escalated because I won’t let it live in the “wrap & roll condo.” Some of you might have one of these, or remember them from your childhood.

Wrap & Roll Condo

They’re wall-mounted metal containers in which aluminum foil, wax paper and paper towels can live free, independent from their hateful boxes. You just pop the roll into the little cradle and use at will. No flimsy cardboard, no plastic ferrules popping out of place. They’re genius. Why no one makes them any longer is a great mystery to me (just like the song, I got mine on eBay).

I would love to forgo cling film entirely, but it does serve one purpose. It abets my pasta-making mania. On the rare occasion that I remember to pull a piece of the hateful stuff out of the drawer (before I get my hands all covered in flour), it is inevitably blown by a draft into an origami-inspired shape, the one and only time it ever sticks to itself. It forces me to stand at the counter, hands covered in sticky goo, in a desperate race to pull the layers apart before my dough forms a dry crust.

A more reliable scenario, however, is that I forget the wrap entirely. I will have just formed my perfect dough into a perfect little ball when I remember I’ve forgotten the stupid stuff and swear loudly. Not wanting to scatter flour all over the kitchen I try pulling the drawer open with my elbows. Fail. Try rinsing the dough off my hands. Fail. Capitulate, pull the drawer open with my now supremely gooey fingers, fight with the box, fight with the wrap, shower dough all over the cabinets, cut myself on the lid, swear a lot more, get the film off the roll, watch it all stick to itself, fight to pull the layers apart and then finally, wrap the film around the dough, at which point it choses to adhere to all of Murphy’s rules at once, but not to itself.

But, it is the struggle which makes the fruits of victory taste that much sweeter, don’t you think?

Seagulls, Tornado-Batterd Church Roof

Saturday was cold here. Bitterly cold. Stew weather. So we picked up some venison meat at the greenmarket and headed home. I didn’t want to go back out there and didn’t want to send Isaac either, so even though we were out of red cooking wine and had no fresh vegetables in the house, I decided to make do with what was inside, where it was warm. I thought adding some Cynar would add a nice flavor, and, thus inspired settled on a venison and artichoke stew.

Two things got in the way of this plan: 1. I was out of frozen artichokes and 2. I was unprepared for how much of the of the Cynar’s bitterness came through after a bit of cooking. So I improvised. I added sundried tomatoes and honey and jelly to mellow out the liqueur and tossed in whatever was green in the freezer; peas and garbanzos.

Venison Stew with Cynar and Csipetke

While the stew was burbling away in the oven, I made Hungarian dumplings.  The dough was easy enough, but once again,  I had to fight the wrap.  Despite all that, these are fabulous, toothsome, hearty little guys, like spätzle on steroids, and the perfect foil to this profound, mysterious and deeply flavored winter stew.

Mmmmm... Dumplings

While it’s true that the cling film waged a fierce and ruthless battle, I persevered and won the day. It was a personal victory, a victory for men and women everywhere, but most importantly it was a victory for my belly.

Those were some damn fine little dumplings.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Venison Stew with Cynar and Hungarian Dumplings.

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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!

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.