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The Root Of The Matter

26 Feb

Isaac has been protesting of late that we haven’t been eating enough winter vegetables.

In his perfect world, winter would mean an endless parade of dinners featuring cabbage, squash, hearty greens and root vegetables.  Apparently, I have been depriving him of these things this winter.  So last week when I had a craving for lasagna, I knew how to get him to agree to it.  I suggested we have squash lasagna.

I know squash lasagna sounds a little weird, but it’s not. In fact, it’s awesome.  A few years ago I made a vegetarian lasagna that featured a thick, fragrant layer of spaghetti squash mingled with ricotta cheese and herbs.  Sometimes, when Isaac is dreaming about it, he’ll walk up to someone on the street and just start telling them about it.  Sometimes I suspect he keeps me around solely in case I decide to make that again … Kidding! But honestly, it was very good and I have no idea why I never wrote about it before, maybe because it’s a little complicated, and well, a little weird.

So, squash lasagna was on.  A layer of garlicky, herby butternut would replace the thick layers of cheese and bechamel.  And there would be a spicy, aggressive layer of chard.  And a topping of caramelized mushrooms and lots of fresh mozarella.  And then, while I was thumbing through the latest Bon Appetit and saw Molly‘s recipe for clereiac salad, I knew we had  a complete meal. When I asked Isaac what he thought, I think he actually did a little jig.

Head below the fold and take a jump with us.

Andre’s Cafe

15 Jan

Are you a New Yorker?  A frequent visitor? Maybe you’ve been here just once?

Yes? Have you ever been to Andre’s Cafe? No? Tsk tsk.

Oh, come off it Ann! A Hungarian place all the way up in the barren no-man’s land also known as the circle of hell the Second Avenue Subway hath wrought? Why should I bother?

Why? Because your preconception of Hungarian food is probably wrong and you like good coffee. Oh, and because you deserve a pastry today!

Well, sure, I always deserve a pastry, but aren’t Hungarian pastries stuffed with, uhm, poppy seeds and gummy cheese?

Gasp.  Get yourself to Andre’s, stat!

We went this weekend for lunch and it was great.  Everyone thinks of Hungarian food as paprikash and strudel and sticky pastries and these things are available at Andre’s, but when they’re done properly and well (read not by your mother in the ’80s as an attempt to cook something new and exciting) they’re utterly sublime.

Oh, and the coffee!  As we sat rhapsodizing over how delicious and balanced it was, the little old lady sitting next to me leaned in, “Isn’t it divine?” she asked, “It’s the best coffee I’ve ever had. It’s what keeps me coming back, well, that and the pastries.  Every time I eat here I call my brother and say ‘You have to come to New York and try this coffee!’ That’s how much I love it.”

Yeah.  That pretty much sums it up.

But coffee, coffee’s just a beverage Ann! What about the food?

Andre’s specializes in both savory and sweet strudels (I’m going back for the cabbage strudel, you can be sure) and palacsinta; crepes filled with delicious things like pepper stew (lecso), mushrooms (the couple that replaced the old lady oohed and aahed over these) and cheese with dill and bacon (I’m going back for that too).  And as if that wasn’t enough they also serve full dinners, sandwiches, soups and yeah, pastries.

Bacon, bacon and more bacon below the fold.

Like Herding Ducks

29 May

I fried some tomatoes last weekend.

Unfortunately, not in a culinary sense.  There was a frost warning Sunday and Monday nights, so my mom told me to put up-turned terra cotta pots over the two tomatoes I had planted.

But what turned out to be even worse than the frost was the two days of 90°+ heat on Wednesday and Thursday.  My poor helpless tomatoes fried in their own little pizza ovens.  By the time we woke up on Saturday morning they were shriveled and dead, dead, dead.

And then there were the beans.  Also dead (not sure if the frost or the heat got them), except for the ones that survived and are infested with aphids.  Where are all those ladybugs that lived in our house with us all winter long when I need them?

It’s kind of a relief though.  I knew something had to go wrong in the garden eventually, so I guess I’m hoping that this will be the extent of it.  For all my cranky, curmudgeonly complaints, I’m still a wide eyed optimist.

Want to see a really pretty picture of a tiny rooster? Head below the jump.

Ink, Pixel, Dirt

21 May

I’ve been keeping a garden diary in a little black and red notebook.

I find it amusing that the notebook is from Poland, and that its calendar is going to run out after this year.  I also think it’s funny that I find it easiest to keep this record in pen-and-paper form.  I spend my entire day in front of a computer.  I share my life with the world via a computer.  And yet, every week on Sunday night, I sit in the passenger’s seat of our car and scribble away as we head south, back to the city.

And that might be the reason I like it so much; it’s the antithesis of the 50-odd hours I spend chained to my desk at work each week.  Anytime I stay there past 7pm, which is everyday, I have to sign-out in a log book.  I’m often shocked at how hard I find writing after a long day of typing and conference calls.  I grab the pen and my brain pauses.  My hand feels weird curved around the pen.  And then it all comes back and the letters flow with the ink, in a halting, inelegant script.

Things are really speeding up in the garden, and the last two weeks have required two or more pages each to record all the developments.  By the end of those two measly pages, my hand is always cramped up and sore.  I can remember back in my high school days being able to write and write and write for hours on end.   I filled up notebook after notebook with my musings and stories and poems and rants.

For tomato talk and a twilight walk, head below the jump.

Traction

30 Jan

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with two cheap Ikea rugs.

Last weekend they helped avert a minor disaster.  Isaac and I have been shoveling the driveway upstate instead of hiring a plowing service.  It saves money and is good exercise, but we’re not quite as strong as a plow.  And since this has been an odd winter, with ice storms in between snow storms, our driveway has accumulated a viciously slick layer of ice below the snow.

On Friday, I loaded up Oliver with a bunch of little stuff to go upstate, while Isaac and his sister (who had flown in from Colorado for a mini-break that involved helping us move) packed a rental truck with our dining table and other furniture better suited to life upstate than life in a studio apartment.

I took the Taconic, happily bopping along to the awesome new Raconteurs album, managing somehow to stay on the road as I gawped at hawk after hawk perched ridiculously at the top of the tiniest tree, while the duo in the truck took the Thruway.  Beyond all expectations both vehicles arrived at the house at nearly the same time.  We showed Isaac’s sister around, unloaded and then decided it was time to return the truck.  We wanted to accomplish something other than moving that day.

And then reality kicked in.

Click here to gain more Traction.