Friday, October 31, 2014

Spiced squash

We'll be having this spiced sweet squash for supper (I'll be using butternut, tonight). Find the recipe and a squash-growing story on Gardenista.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


It is Thursday, October 30th:

Do you know where your nuts are?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Terrace report

The afternoons end quickly, now, and my summer habit of early evening gardening ends in the dark, as the sun sinks below Bill Clinton's office. The gins and tonics and the crushed mint drinks of the sunlit terrace have been replaced by cider.

Recently I dug up the last of the gloriosa lilies, pulling out long, fat tubers belonging to the last plant, a threefold return on the initial investment. I may dig up the lily bulbs for the first time this winter, too. The long freezes and many, rotting thaws of last winter have me spooked. The boxwoods will be sprayed with Wiltpruf. Also a first. I may wrap them, against snow breakage...

Temperatures will dip below 40'F late this week, and I'll try to collect some Malabar spinach seed before then. The raspberry's offspring have been divided from the mother plant, and the Plectranthus cuttings I bought from Cape Town in June are about to bloom.

Perhaps I'll mulch the blueberries.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Foraged finds at Ssäm

As a birthday treat, Vince dragged me by my heels from under my rock and I ventured out of Harlem, and into the East Village, an old stomping ground.

At Ssäm Bar (and sitting at the bar), a favourite haunt - along with Momofuku - from long ago, I sipped a Celery Sour. And then we ate some of the nicest and most thought-provoking food I've had in a long while.

We really have been in seclusion during our Harlem year. Of course, when one can cook, forages for interesting ingredients and can shake up one's own cocktails, the edge is taken off cave life.

But. But: it's really, really good to drink someones else's drink, and to eat food on which you have had no influence and upon which you have never laid a hand.

The outstanding plate was one where scoops of smoked liver mousse sat on a crunchy bed of what looked like sand (I suspect it was supposed to be forest floor), but turned out to be bread crumbs toasted in brown butter, with...wait for it...pickled autumn olives, and topped with hen of the woods! See, it's like eating at home. But not. Our server called the autumn olives (Eleagnus umbellata) 'olive berries,' which is fine, but he also said the hens came from Oregon - not sure about that. They're a mushroom generally occurring east of the Rockies and are in season here now

Evan, he said, when I asked who the resident forager is. A quick Internet search makes that Evan Strusinksi. And this article makes very nice reading.

Go to Ssäm and eat that mousse. And don't order the bread to go with it. Completely unnecessary with those wonderful crumbs.

And no, don't skip the pork buns. That would be wrong.

Monday, October 27, 2014

True Blue

That dirty, dirty, New York sky...

Above Lenox Avenue, at 123rd Street.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A good slice

Sometimes, this is as good as a day gets.

Sometimes, it's as good as a year gets. And that is not a bad thing.

If I could lift one good thing from this difficult 2014 it would be sourdough bread - the baking of, the satisfaction of, the good smell of, the chewiness of, thechestnuthoneydroppingthroughtheholes of. I made the first loaf in many months last night. The nights are cool enough to turn the oven up full blast, now.

I am very glad I can cook. I am glad I enjoy eating. I am glad people taught me how to make a table welcoming. As superficial as these acts of pleasure are, sometimes they feel like they are the only real things I can rescue from life. Along with gardening, or creating of any kind, for that matter. Life is horrible, and hard and I have no idea why people keep making more people, to perpetuate the whole damn mess. Someone once wrote that my book has no darkness in it. I had to laugh. Sadly. Because it is all about darkness. All the gardening, the cooking, the foraging, the flowers. My light sabers, swung and sliced at the darkness.

I'm not sinking into the abyss. Don't fret. It's inside me, always has been, always will be.

The most important question is: do I make mushrooms à la Grecque tonight, to eat with what we have managed not to consume of the wonderful bread, or a mushroom soufflé ?

Soufflés are powerful light sabers, too. They defy the abyss. Its the air in the egg whites.

What would the Frenchman like better?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

From the road

New Jersey: snapshops from the road.

 Of the fields...

Of the parking lots...

This sticker made me pause behind this car for a long while. Then the driver and his wife got out. The man who owns this car and who elected to sport this sticker was in his sixties, and was wearing Bermuda shorts. Pure white, with large, fuchsia pink, turquoise and yellow polka dots. I walked away then to look at some pumpkins, during which interval I composed a very good little speech. Mainly about his shorts, what they told me, with a short aside for his wife. Unfortunately (fortunately?), by the time I had turned back again and was ready to deliver this speech, the car had pulled out and driven off. Pity.

Of the stone houses, where it is dahlia season.

Of the river bottoms, the last wildflowes to set seed. This may be a Silene...does anyone know?

October has galloped by.

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