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People Drop By From Time To Time… Part 2

7 Aug

People are funny… They search for the strangest things, and sometimes in their searching they make it here to my humble little blog. Sometimes the terms they use to get here make me wish they had never stopped by, but other times, they make me laugh my little patookis off.

I decided its been a long time since we last checked in with the interweb searchings that lead folk to the Granny Cart… So without further ado I present to you…

Curious Cooking Queries.

a simple explanation of making cheese (well, yes, I think we’d all enjoy that!)

leech my beet (shiver)

our ham comes from chicken sign

chicken soup sick -soul (those stupid books really have fouled up simple recipe searches)

cucumber and gin soup (yes, please!)

show me all croatian food recipes

roast a whole hog with sauerkraut stuffing (nummy)

recipe containing macaroni and cheese (hmm… I wonder…)

chicken lobster (hmmm… actually, I don’t quite know what I think of this one…)

jumping squid salad (no, thank you, I’ll pass)

boys should not cook (sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t)

pasta ending in i (actually, wouldn’t this query work better as “pasta that doesn’t end in i?)

Ah, The Barnyard.

mind reading chicken (this scares me a bit)

recipes for stopping bloating on goats

chicken crosswalk signs (lol)

homemade poison to kill woodchucks (if anyone actually has this, my mother would love you forever!)

raw goat milk sinus infection

hard bunnies (this also scares me)

The Funny, The Famous & The Frightening.

creative clevage (for some reason I can’t help but think this had something to do with Giada DeLaurentis)

between oven space and counter (in my kitchen, not much)

alton brown inflated ego (hehehehehehe)

chicken snack imagination lady (wha?)

homemade walk in cooler (yes please!)

granny goose tortillas (wha?)

can dalmatian puppy eat butter and bread (I see no reason why not)

“chez panisse” +”steve jobs” (I guess even he has to eat)

poem about food in a pantry (I bet that’s a pretty cute poem)
As usual, the photos have absolutely nothing to do with this post. They’re from our recent trip up to the Adirondacks. Pretty isn’t it? More to come on the trip (and most importantly the food) at a later date.

To The North!

29 Jul

Up to the ‘dacks we go! I’m off for a week of lakeside lounging with the family, and of course the dogs…

They’re not these dogs.

The strawberry blonde is Mimi from the goregous Laguna Lozna on the Island of Hvar in Croatia, and the piebald fella was just lookin’ out the window on a street in Dubrovnik.

I kinda wish I was going back to see these guys, but Wally and Ida Mae are perfectly amusing in their own ways!


Not that you can tell from these photos however…

Wally’s the spotty one, and Nay (nee Ida Mae) is the fluffy one.

The Greatest River & A Good Salad

14 Jul

The Hudson River. I grew up on the River. We would take daylong boat trips when I was a kid. I remember one Father’s Day when my dad stranded us on a sand bar. I thought it was the greatest day ever… I can’t be sure, but I think my mom was not amused!

For those that don’t know, the Hudson is a tidal river. In fact the river’s original name (in it’s original Native American tongue) meant “river that runs both ways.” The Hudson got a bad rap in the 70s & 80s (thanks GE) for being disgustingly, terribly polluted. As children, our parents would begrudgingly allow us to swim, tube and water ski in the River, but we were hosed off in the yard before ever being allowed back in the house. We also fished, but never caught anything more than disgusting, slimy eels.

While I loved the River it took a stint in the hospital (never, ever, sled after the age of 18, promise me this!) and a wonderful book, Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale to make me truly love the Hudson. Suddenly, I got it. Every train ride home to visit my mom was a journey to be anticipated.

As soon as the train would leave Penn Station I would put down my book and as long as the sun was up, I would just sit and watch, devouring the landscape. For years it’s been my dream to write a guidebook to the sites one can see on this amazing train ride (called the Adirondack it is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest train trips in the world). I also count bald eagles. Yes, the eagles are back and thriving! My best trip ever I saw 12 of them.

The return of the eagles is one happy result of the years of good stewardship of the River that are allowing it a renaissance. Thanks to good people like those sailing the Sloop Clearwater, I bet kids can swim in the Hudson again (without fear of an icy hose shower in the front yard upon returning home).

Last weekend I was hoping to at least stick my toes in the River. The boy and I headed up to the tiny town of Cold Spring. It’s a little town I’ve seen probably more than 100 times in the 13 years I’ve been taking this route. It always intrigued me with it’s little shrine overlooking the Hudson looking out towards West Point (actually, its a church, but I will continue to imagine that it’s a shrine to a saint that protected whalers while at sea). It has beautiful homes and quaint streets. I wanted to go! So go we did, catching Metro North at Grand Central Station (which always makes me feel so glamorous… running across the Great Hall to grab a train with minutes to spare).

Cold Spring did not disappoint. It is a gorgeous River town, clinging to the hillsides carved out over millenia. That day the volunteer fire department was preparing to celebrate their 110th anniversary with a parade and fireworks. The town was atwitter. I was nostalgic. All that was missing was a game where I could win a goldfish and I probably would have cried.

We wandered, poked about in stores, threw stones in the River (which due to the floods further upstate looked a bit like Yoohoo) and finally ate. Boy did we pick right. At the east end of Main Street is a little joint with a serious identity crisis called The Meeting House (this place is so a candidate for Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, serving classic American fare, a dumpling du jour, a raw bar and sushi).

Luckily, we ordered right. I had the Best. Burger. EVER! It was thick and dense, 100% meat, topped with gorgeous cheddar, some lightly sauteed portabella mushrooms and two pieces of applewood smoked bacon. But the real kicker? A few leaves of basil tucked into the lower bun. Genius! Restrained but absolutely delicious. I will be craving this burger for years to come.

It was a wonderful day, but very hot. Even though we walked and walked, we were still feeling a bit full upon return to the city. So we bopped into Trader Joe’s and picked up some stuff to make a light salad for dinner. Butter lettuce, radicchio, raspberries, Salem blue cheese and dill with a dressing of olive oil, walnut oil and a dash of vinegar. It was yummy, light and very, very easy. A simple way to end a day full of happiness.

Image of one of my favorite Hudson River School paintings, Julian O. Davidson’s “The Hudson River from the Tappan Zee, 1871″ courtesy of The Hudson River Museum.

Big Apple BBQ Gets u-g-l-y Ugly

12 Jun

I love barbecue, I mean, really, who doesn't? And in the past, I've loved Danny Meyer's porcine party, the Big Apple BBQ weekend. Despite the 'cue queues, I've always felt satisfied and happy after scarfing down brisket, sausages, and even last year, pig snouts. But this year, things didn't go so well.

Last year I got to Madison Square Park early, like 10.30, found my favorite pitmaster (Michael Rodriguez of The Salt Lick BBQ) got in his line and had my brisket and sausages within 5 minutes of the opening bell at noon (I even kinda got on tv!) I then jumped in another line while eating my delectable 'cue and had a second round, this time of pulled pork, before 1pm.

This year though I couldn't follow through on this perfect plan. I came down with a sinus infection last Sunday night and suffered all week, unable to take a day off from work for various crappy reasons, so on Saturday morning, I was knackered. It took two World Cup matches to levitate me from the couch and motivate my feet towards 23rd Street.

I got to the park and scoped out the lines. Salt Lick was way too long, even Dinosaur was a bit long, so I settled on Brisket and Sausage (are we sensing a theme here?) from Southside Market & BBQ. Being alone and iPod-less I was forced to listen to the conversations of the two tools behind me. Sample? Sure:

Tweedletool 1: So, I consider myself a total barbecue epicure.

Tweedletool 2: Really? What's your favorite place in New York then?

Tweedletool 1: ummmm… I'd say Brother Jimmy's.

*new scene*

Tweedletool 1: You know what's surprising about this event?

Tweedletool 2: What's that?

Tweedletool 1: That there's so many people outside New York that are SO into barbecue!

Sigh, yeah, for 45 minutes I had to listen to these two tools that would probably take offense if I called them frat boys, because, actually, they prefer the word fraternity and we graduated from Columbia three years ago (I'm just guessing at that fact).

Finally, I was about about to make the turn onto the last leg of the line where you pay for the food and then pick it up. At this turn was a man that, when I and my friends were about the same age as the Tweedletools would have called an SOS/TIG*, aka, a yuppie. He grabbed my arm when I ended up next to him and shoved $50 at my face. "Please, will you buy 2 portions for my buddy and me? You can keep the change."

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?? Hello, Eater? Yeah, hi, um, yeah, just wanted to let you know that you were correct about corruption in Madison Square Park. You just had the venue wrong…

Anyway, back to our story. With jaw agape, I turned to the guy and said something to the effect of "Are you f*cking kidding me??" SOS/TIG "What, is $50 not enough, here, have another twenty." Me "Seriously dude, go f*cking stand on line like the rest of us."

I am proud to say that he tried this on about 4 or 5 other people and, to a man and woman, my fellow New Yorkers all told him to go shove it. He ended up slinking off into the throngs with his tail between his legs to be replaced quickly by a younger version of himself. Man, sometimes I hate these hedgefund guys…

Back to the food: I got my brisket and Elgin sausage and headed for another line to wait and eat simultaneously. The brisket was fatty and gummy and barely edible. The sausage was really very, very yummy, but the best part? Seriously, it was the luscious slice of potato bread soaked in barbecue sauce and hot sauce onto which I dumped the cole slaw. Seriously, heaven.

The line I ended up in was very exciting to me. It was Mitchell's BBQ from North Carolina, and they were doing the whole hog. And I mean the WHOLE hog. They had smoker after smoker lined up next to their serving tent each with a full grown pig cooking away later to be chopped up and served on bread with some vinegar based barbecue sauce and mustard cole slaw. Or, at least, that's what I'm told they were serving because, well, I never got any.

Yeah, this is where it gets ugly.

I stood in line happily chomping away and playing with my new cellphone. Finally, I got to a place in a line where I could watch the proceedings. It was fascinating! They would pull a whole hog off the smoker, pull out all the big bones, put the ribs in a plastic bin and hand that to a girl who methodically pulled the meat off and handed it off for sandwich making.

As soon as the pitmasters got all the big bones out of the hog, they'd start shredding the meat by hand, looking for little bones and connective tissue (I'm assuming) and then eventually passing it over to another table where big cleavers chopped the meat into smokey porcine love. Or at least, that's what I imagine it tasted like (because I never got any).

At last, I was there, after an hour and half of waiting, I paid, and I was next on line. I was watching the woman pitmaster pulling apart the fresh hog they had just pulled off a smoker. I was watching the "VIPs" on the other side of the tent (those that paid tons of extra money for their "Bubba FastPasses") being served sandwich after sandwich. My mouth was watering, my eyes were fixed on the mistress of the hog. I was concocting a strategy (bbq sauce on the meat and then the slaw on the meat, a dash more sauce on the top of the bun, smoosh it all together and chow down) when to my horrified eyes, the woman pushed all the hog meat into a bin, topped it with the pig's skin, turned around flailed her arms in the no more signal and shouted out "The pig was bad, grubs over."

Noooooooooooooooo! I was so close! There was one person in front of me! This caused chaos on the line, but even more so on the VIP line. As Gothamist pointed out, the lemonade "spiked" with Skyy Citron vodka was flowing freely, and the guy at the head of the VIP line had definitely consumed his share of it. He started harassing the girl handing out the meat, he started pulling ribs out of the plastic bin and handing them to people to chew on and then throw at people on the line and behind the counter, he and his friends started grabbing whatever they could, coleslaw, sauce, etc, playing with it and tossing it around and then they started pouring some of said lemondade concotion on the table (I think if they could have pissed on the table they would have). They began yelling. This finally got the attention of the pitmaster, Mr. Mitchell (who is a very large man). He came over and said a few words to our new favorite idiot of the day and he kind of calmed down, that is until the subject of getting his money back got into his head which set him off again. Oy vey. Luckily by this time I had been given my money back and I was able to finally leave the hell hole known as Madison Square Park.

I felt so cheated having wasted almost two hours by this point standing on line and getting nothing for it. I don't know how they can fix this event, but it definitely needs fixing. I know they want to keep this as an event for the people, but the lines are so long that people get really cranky. Maybe there needs to be timed tickets (like they do for big museum exhibitions). Maybe they need to jack the price up, or make it one price, not $7 per dish. I don't know, but I really hope they bring in some logistics people before next year because I've lost my fervor.

*an SOS/TIG is something that my friends and I called yuppies back when we were too ignorant to know that we were heading straight towards yuppie-hood ourselves. A TIG is a Tucked In Guy, a nod to the art of tucking in one's pink polo shirt. An SOS is a Sweater Over Shoulders. This was generally used for women only, especially those that artfully tied their Ralph Lauren cardigans over their Lilly Pulitzer shells, but every now and then, you see an SOS guy. It's rare, but it happens. However, even rarer than an SOS guy is a TIG/SOS. It's kind of like spotting Nessie.

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

5 Jun

Friends

After 6 1/2 hours in a car with three other people and two dogs, I was really questioning if having friends that have a second home in Vermont was a boon rather than a bane. Luckily, after some wine, some sleep and a good breakfast, it became abundantly clear that yes, driving nearly to Canada was indeed a good way to spend Memorial Day weekend.

Cooking with (and for) friends

Sometime after midnight I was reminded that I had gifted said friends with a pasta maker for their engagement party and that, in the card, I had stated that I would come over and give a lesson on how to make pasta. This of course, was a challenge, so, while everyone else sat around in the sun sipping cocktails and getting tan, I hunkered down in the kitchen (with a cocktail, natch) and made ravioili fillings and fresh pasta. (Recipes for the fillings after the break.) To say this was labor intensive would be to belittle the art of making pasta. It was Herculean. I did have tons of help of course and they came out perfect, so the effort was 100% worth it.

Hiking (with dogs)

Sunday was lambie day which meant it was time for the boys (ahem, I mean men) to do their thing and play with fire and provide sustenance so we ladies gathered up the dogs and headed out for a hike. When our hostess told us she knew of a nice trail to hike up, we were all excited. Little did we know that she didn't mean a hiking trail, she meant a ski trail. Yep, straight up the mountain. It was a little rough, but at least we really earned our feast!

Lamb, cooked over an open fire

Yes, vegetarians beware, that is a wee baby lambie, on a closet rod that was slowly cooked for hours over an open pit fire. Since the men probably would have been happy just gnawing the meat off the bones, we ladies decided to throw together some sides: mint pesto, garlic aioli, truffled mac & cheese, salad and various vegetables cooked directly in the coals. My favorite contribution to the meal was my mother's famous salt potatoes. She says it's traditional Syracuse clam bake fare. All my friends laugh when they hear the term "Syracuse clam bake." No matter where they come from, they're delicious. Tiny little new potatoes, cooked in such salty water that when they're removed and cooled the salt coats their skins, served with melted butter. Heaven.

Dogs

Swimming holes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three day weekends

 

 

 

 

 

 

Head below the break for the recipe for "Perfect" Beef Ravioli and Asparagus & Ricotta Ravioli. Continue reading

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