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Dare

13 Jul

There’s something I dare not speak of.

You see that up there? And then do you see the other thing? I can’t, I just can’t. After last year, I just dare not speak of it.

And then there’s that other plant. You see that? You see all those?  Ugh, I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t talk about it.  I just sit and fret and chew on my nails and check the weather obsessively.  Ugggggh.  I can’t stand imagining another year of failure.

So! Let’s concentrate on the things I can talk about. Like garlic, turnips and cherries.

Stuff & Things

27 May

There’s been so much going on this May, that I haven’t been able to tell you about all the things I have wanted to.  So here we go!

First up: Eggplant Soup. Yes. Eggplant. Soup. If you thought squash soup was weird, you’re going to think eggplant soup is bonkers. But you’ll be wrong.  It is delicious.  I first tried it at Destino in Chatham, and then Mexican Radio in Hudson had a version of it, and then it was a special at Destino again.  And though it was different at the two Mexican restaurants, it was delicious at both.  It is silky and yummy and very, very easy to make at home.  Grill or roast a few eggplants, caramelize some onions, add some broth, puree and add creme fraiche, crema or heavy cream to your taste and garnish with a little salsa fresca and a squirt of lime.  Yum!

Next: Sifting. We’ve been doing a lot of this.  First I had to sift the compost pile.  Twice.  And then there was the tomato garden, which we’ve been sifting for weeks now. But it’s almost done, to the point where I was able to make some beds and plant some tomatoes (though I’m not sure they’re going to make it, they were all kind of weenie, and it has been hot Upstate this week). And then there was flour.  I made pancakes from scratch for the first time ever a few weekends ago, after an aerobic spate of dirt sifting.  I don’t know if I was just very hungry ofrif these really are the best pancakes ever, but I’m going with the latter.  Sadly, I left the recipe Upstate (it’s, naturally, from Amy Bess Miller’s The Best of Shaker Cooking) so if anyone has a copy laying around, email me the recipe for Apple Pancakes and I’ll post it here. *

Cluck cluck! Head below the jump for a favorite farm and a very cool old diner.

Root Down

10 Nov

When I’m stressed out, I buy books.

And so, on the day before my surgery, I found myself in the cookbook section of the Strand.

I was looking for a copy of Nigel Slater’s Appetite to give as a going away present to an aspiring home cook, but what I was finding was a mountain of books I wanted.  There was I Know How to Cook, Momofuku and Ad Hoc at Home; Jim Lahey‘s new bread book, Judith Jones‘ treatise on the pleasures of cooking for one, the surreal world of Heston Blumenthal and no Nigel.

So, I grabbed a classic Jamie Oliver tome for my co-worker, and, just for good measure, The Veselka Cookbook (complete with a recipe for my beloved Christmas borscht!) and for absolutely no reason (other than I’m a sucker for puffy book covers), Stephane Reynaud’s French Feasts for me.

On Friday, Isaac made us a beautiful pureed cauliflower soup while I lazed on the couch, trying to purge the anesthesia from my body as quickly as possible.  By Saturday morning, I was ready to get up and go again (I think they give you something when you have surgery to make you feel energetic and happy the day after), so we wandered down to the Tucker Square greenmarket.

The plan was to roast the last of the wee tiny beets and bitty little carrots from the garden, but we needed to supplement them with something.  So I grabbed a butternut squash, an acorn squash, a bouquet of sage, rosemary and thyme and a smoked duck breast.

Here’s where I divulge to you an embarrassing secret:

Want to know what it is? Head below the fold.

Colorful Food

30 Sep

Many of the dinners we’ve eaten this summer have been rather monotone.  There’s been lots of green punctuated by little stripes and dots of red pepper.  It’s been a season devoid of the wild colors of heirloom tomatoes.  But this weekend, when we stayed in the city, we hit the greenmarkets and bought every colorful tomato we came across, and then I took them home and roasted them.

For years now I’ve seen recipes for oven-roasted cherry tomatoes on blog-after-blog but I never made them. The cool weather just never seemed to coincide with the end of tomato season.  But in this weird weather year, the conditions I’ve been waiting for have finally occurred and I made up for lost time¹.

We roasted some wickedly sweet little round red tomatoes on Saturday, then drizzled them with good balsamic and ate them with roasted duck breasts and yet another version of that gorgeous squash soup (this time with white beans for creaminess and a purple opal basil yogurt crema).  And then on Sunday I roasted a mix of colors and shapes and served them over smashed red bliss potatoes alongside a pan-roasted fillet of Spanish mackerel and another purple opal basil crema made zippy with one third of a Jawala pepper.

And now, after having had two dinners in a row graced by oven-roasted tomatoes, I can say this to you: Do not make my mistake! Roast when it’s roasting out if you must, but do roast some of your most perfect cherry tomatoes and serve them with whatever you’ve got .  Pasta, duck, fish, salad, beef, pork, chicken, polenta, rice, bread, quinoa, kasha, grits, jerky, tofu, ostrich, cardboard.  Anything.  Just make them.  You can thank me later.

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¹ Set the oven to 325°F.  Wash a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, put them in an roasting dish or dutch oven, coat with a few glugs of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a minced garlic clove or two and place in the oven.  Roast the tomatoes–scoot them about the pan with a toss or a spoon once or twice–for an hour or so until they’ve collapsed in on themselves, taken on a burnished hue and released their juices.  Remove and mix in a handful of torn basil.  Enjoy!

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.