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White Bridge Road

30 Oct

The map of Columbia County is littered with little roads that are public, and yet, ostensibly private, like Spangler Road.  And they’re perfect for walking.

We found another one last weekend, White Bridge Road, about three-quarters of a mile down Route 13 from the ridiculously picturesque hamlet of Old Chatham.

To get there you pass a spooky old graveyard and a mysterious little building set into the hill, filled with water that I think was maybe at one time a spring house (does anyone know?).

Chipmunks and foliage and tipples, oh my! Head below the jump for more from our walk.

Things I’m Loving

6 Jul

It’s been a very easy summer to complain about.

The weather has been dreadful and the hours at work long and exhausting, and that has meant that finding the time to keep the Granny Cart up to date has been nearly impossible.  I begin a post and then it sits for a week, sometimes two, until I find the time to complete it.  And then, when the post is finally done, it’s nowhere near as good as I had hoped it would be.

So, in an attempt to not dwell on the negative, allow me to paraphrase Juliet:

Swear not about the rain, the near constant rain, that daily changes good dirt to mud, lest my prose prove likewise dour.

In a move that may surprise those that know me in real life, I’d like to stop complaining for a minute, and focus on the good things, because in the rare moments when the rain has stopped, it’s actually been quite an awesome summer.

So, in no particular order, Things I’m Loving, Summer 2009.

The Red Barn‘s Tiny ‘Tinis. 2 oz Martinis. Perfect in both concept and execution.

I swear, not all the things I’m loving this summer have to do with booze! So head below the jump to check out the rest, and to let us know what’s been keeping you happy this summer, too.

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.

A Turkey On Every Couch

2 Oct

You’re never going to believe this.

So I’m going to promise right off the bat that I haven’t moved April Fool’s Day or Halloween.

It’s often very hard for me to get out of work by 7pm-ish so that Isaac and I can get a jump on our drive Upstate, but this last Friday, I did it! I was so excited and ran to meet him.  I jumped into the driver’s seat and we set off, even managing to make it through the UN General Assembly mess and some very thick pea soup fog around Hudson without much effort.

And then we got to the house.  We opened the door, and it was cold, and smelled a little different, but it was late and we were hungry, so we continued to unload the car.  As Isaac cracked open a growler of beer, I headed upstairs to turn on the heat.  And then I stopped.  That odd smell was even stronger upstairs… And then I heard a little noise.  I froze and veeeeeerrrrry slowly turned my head.

There, on the couch, was… something.  I screamed (Isaac said later that it was so blood curdling that he expected to come up the stairs and find a hockey-mask wearing chainsaw-weilding mad man threatening me).  And then I looked again.  And then I screamed again, “THERE’S A F*CKING TURKEY ON THE COUCH!!!!”  Isaac laughed, and headed upstairs behind me, and said “Oh my god! Take a picture!!!”  All I could do was think, Oh man, he so does not get the gravity of the situation.

It was just at this moment that the turkey decided that she didn’t like the look of us at all and started trying to fly away, only to run repeatedly and with gusto into the ceiling and and living room wall.  It was awful.  Thump.  Thump.  Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

I grabbed a towel and opened the sliding door to the backyard.  And then started talking very softly to the turkey.  Heeeeeere turkey turkey turkey.  Oh please stop flying into the ceiling turkey.  Oh turkey, how did you get in here? I used my most soothing voice.  I clucked and hummed and cooed and tried very hard to get her to come towards me and to please stop flying into the ceiling.

It didn’t work.  She started freaking out even more.  And then she ran.  Down the hall.  I followed her and almost fell.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaa! Glass! Everywhere!! That’s how she got in! Through a double-paned window at the foot of the stairs to our bedroom.

There’s a little nook there, with a window and beautiful wainscotting and bead board.  The window was shattered nd every square inch of the beautiful moldings were covered in mud, shards of glass and turkey sh*t.

This is where my mind began to shut down a bit.  I was tired, hungry, and at my wit’s end about what to do.  I have no memory of how she began running down the hall again, but she did, and this time towards the door! I was so happy! Yes! it was almost over!! But, no.  Apparently she didn’t want to go back outside where turkeys belong, and instead decided to go downstairs.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in case you’ve ever wondered, turkeys can use stairs.

So there we were, in the kitchen, the very place I hoped she would never go, and what does she do?  She heads for the laundry nook and wedges herself neatly behind the washing machine.  Great.  Now what?  She seemed happy and calm behind the washer, so I got a chance to think.  I spotted my gardening gloves and decided to take some decisive action.

Together, Isaac and I got the washer moved, and then, I grabbed her.  I didn’t get a good hold of her, but I had her.  I ran towards the front door, but she began to panic, and twist and freak out. I kept squeezing tighter and tighter.  Then I felt something under my fingers; the softness of her flesh, the hardness of bones.  She made a little noise, tried scratching me, and then I lost it and dropped her.  I felt nauseous.

She was hopping about like I had hurt her, holding her wing like it was broken and moving in a jerky fashion.  With a jerking gait, she trotted into the small room off the dining room, and stopped.  It was over. She had had enough. I calmly walked up to her, grabbed her wings very gently, kicked open the front door and set her down.

She ran away, but I was broken.  All I could think was that I had killed that poor turkey.  I’ve never needed a glass of beer so badly in my entire life.

I was covered in turkey sh*t and feathers, as was my house. I felt filthy and intensely depressed.  I had brought up two sandwiches for our dinner; ham & brie, and you guessed it, turkey.  Isaac gamely ate the turkey one, and I tried to eat the ham, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t stop running the last 40 minutes through my head. I kept coming to the same conclusion, that I’d killed the turkey.  After a few bites, I had to stop and cry.

The next morning, there were no obvious signs of her anywhere, so I began to feel better.  Maybe she had survived?  Maybe she was faking injury?  We had to drive up to my mom’s house to borrow her vaccuum, and she, being an amateur wild life expert as well as gardener, thinks that was the case.

We have a few theories about how the turkey got into the house.  The window that she came through is under the deck off the master bedroom.  We think she might have been taking a nap under the deck when something scared her–the weather (it was very stormy), the volunteer fire department’s siren (which sounds like an air raid siren) that is near by, or possibly a coyote or rogue dog (there’s a lot of them)–she then burst from the ground, hit the underside of the deck and crashed through the top window.

After spending the day cleaning and vacuuming and trying to figure out how to get our very, very old window replaced, I whipped up a nice, vegetarian pasta for dinner; because, while this whole adventure isn’t enough to make me a vegetarian again, it sure has put me off turkey, and to a lesser degree, meat, for awhile.

Ed’s Note: One. I’d like to thank Lisa for the able assist on the title of this post.  My feeble idea was to call it Wild Turkey, but in an email reply to my story, Lisa said, “Oh my! You should start a second blog about your adventures Upstate and call it a Turkey In Every Living Room!”  And thus a post is born.

Second. I’m not a huge fan of swearing in my writing.  At work we eschew it because there’s usually another way to get the point across.  That said, there are certain people like Michelle and Carol who use it to such amazing effect that I bow down before their cute little cussin’ asses.  And, given that, in real life, I am a prolific, creative and liberal user of epithets, I figured, for accuracy’s sake, to leave the swearing in this post.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Pasta with No Turkey and Glazed Brassicas with No Turkey.

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Whoopie!

1 May

Did you know there’s a season for whoopie pies?

Wind

Neither did I until yesterday. A bunch of my co-workers are obsessed with a brand of packaged “cookies” called “cakesters.” I hesitate to give you a link, as I’m afraid it will only fuel the mania, but, since I can hear you asking, here it is.

They’re so obsessed that they went out and bought a case of the ooey, gooey treats. I find this terrifying. Why? Because I cadged one, and seriously people, these aren’t soft, pillowy Oreos. They’re whoopie pies. And whoopie pies are something I hold very (very) dear to my heart.

Reflection

I’ve long suspected (like, since I was in junior high long) that there is a correlation between Oreos and whoopie pies, and this new development, of the “cakester,” serves, to me, as a confirmation. Growing up, the family that lived at the bottom of the hill in our neighborhood was from Lancaster Co. The mom was a champion baker, and her specialty was, of course whoopie pies. I loved (lovedlovedloved) going to their house because she always had some on hand and because they had a gigantic Old English Sheepdog who was the most awesome dog ever.

So, I can understand my co-workers’ obsession with tender chocolate cookies and sweet, fluffy filling. But only to a point. What I can’t get over is their fetishizing of a product filled with chemicals and high-fructose corn syrup, when as well paid, sentient adults they could be fixating on something worthy. Like the whoopie pies, baked fresh in Lancaster Co., and brought to the Union Square greenmarket a block away from our office a few times a week.

Chelsea

I’m passionate about food, something you’re probably aware of. But what you might not know is that I’m also kind of loud. So it’s easy for me to come across as a bit strident and bloviating (known to some as annoying), especially when I insist on say, harranguing every person that walks past my desk with a “cakester.” “Whoopie pies are better you know!”

Luckily, people still like me despite this minor personality quirk and put up with my abuse, but only up to a point. I could tell that it was time to stop talking and start acting on my whoopie pie assertions.

Shadows

So, despite being desperately late to work yesterday, I dashed into the greenmarket, no mean feat as they’ve changed the layout (p.s. I hate it), and found the stand I was looking for. I glanced around. Meats. Check. Scrapple. Check. Stone-ground corn. Check. Lots and lots and lots of plants. Check. Whoopie pies? Uhhhh… So I asked the guy, “Where are the whoopie pies?” “Oh, they’re seasonal, fall and winter only.”

Whaaaaaa? I had no choice but to believe him. I mean, you can’t argue with someone who doesn’t have whoopie pies. So I turned away, and slunk off to the office with my metaphorical tail between my legs. Getting my co-workers off the “cakesters” just may take a bit more effort than I had initially assumed.

Swoon

But, there’s a reason I bring this up, and that’s seasonality. Who knew that there was a season to whoopie pies, and who knows the reason why? At Pegasus, our favorite Greek-Cypriot spot in the neighborhood, the owner make the world’s best avgolemono, but, much like the whoopie pies, only in fall and winter.

The soup I can understand. So much whisking and standing over a hot stove, no one wants to do that in the middle of summer! But whoopie pies? I mean, wouldn’t the machines and stoves do most of the work?

Saint

But really, the point I’m trying to make is that this is a tough season for eating. The weather can’t make up its mind and the culinary standbys of the past season are gone while fresh, new vegetables that make spring so exciting are only just beginning to make an appearance. It was one of these vegetables that I was obsessing over this past Saturday. Asparagus.

As I lay napping on the couch, I dreamed of supping on lightly pan-roasted asparagus topped with a gently poached egg and pillows of lemon and black pepper flecked fresh goat cheese. Then I woke up. At 5.30pm. In Bay Ridge. An hour’s subway ride from Union Square. It was never going to happen. So I rubbed my eyes, shook the cobwebs out of my brain and snapped to attention. If we were going to have a delicious dinner, I needed to act fast.

Shadows

I roused Isaac, slipped on my shoes and dashed out the door. We headed to the fish monger. Isaac had seen that he had halibut fillets earlier in the day, but they were gone, so we settled on flounder and some colossal shrimp. We ran across the street to the Korean market and grabbed leeks, mint and lemons. They had asparagus, but it was flown in from somewhere that wasn’t upstate New York, so I left it there. I can wait for local asparagus.

Copper

The meal was composed entirely on the fly. I made a quick shrimp stock from the shells and then melted the leeks. I decided pretty late in the game that the dish needed bacon. It was a good move.

This meal is seriously delicious. And the leftover sauce was exceptional a few nights later as a post-work dinner with pasta, a dash of sherry vinegar and a flurry of grated cheese.  And, in it’s way, being based on wintered-over leeks and citrus, it is in fact seasonal.

Flounder Smothered in Melted Leeks

I know it’s kind of a cruel turn, to start with whoopie pies and end with flounder, but I hope that, like my co-workers who put up with my occasional tirades and bursts of vulgarity, you’ll forgive me. It is my birthday after all.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Flounder Smothered In Melted Leeks.

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