May you have a day with friends or family that is filled with abundance (mashed potatoes wouldn’t hurt either).
Some little tragedies…
…The biggest and most devastating one being the fire at Love Apple Farm out on 9H earlier this week. I was very sorry to learn that the farm stand was destroyed and that they are now closed (early) for the winter. No farmer can afford to lose 2 weeks of sales! Hopefully they will be able to recover and rebuild, and we will seem them again next summer.
That makes my personal tragedy this week seem so petty.
I came home on Thursday night to find a dead mouse in my kitchen. Yes, this was my personal tragedy – this former farm girl does NOT do well with mice. As in, I was near hysteria. Cockroaches – fine, spiders – fine. I am not fine with mice. And it was late at night and there was no one I could disturb at that hour to remove the thing. Luckily the next morning the cavalry came, and I worked all day to “re-claim” my kitchen space. While several people in Hudson now know one of my serious issues and think I’m a lunatic, I survived.
Having my favorite breakfast helped too.
The next little tragedy of the week? No pierogies!
We were talking just this morning about the pierogi sale we had stumbled upon, quite happily, last winter and so today I wandered – and lo and behold I found this sign. However, only those smart enough to pre-order were getting food since at that point they were pretty much sold out. The next sale will be at Easter; mark your calendars!
This little bump in the road (as far as my weekend eating is concerned) was balanced out by my fabulous finds at the latest Trash & Treasure sale at St. Mary’s, which continues on today and tomorrow. I often find a little this or that at the sales, and usually (if my wallet is lucky) it’s only a game being sold for 50 cents. Today, however, I acquired a new Pyrex pie dish for $1 and this lovely new cookbook for only $2!
On to the real purpose of the moment: cooking and eating, of course!
This morning was the final outdoor market of the season for the Hudson Farmers’ Market. The sun was gorgeous but that wind was cutting, no? I shopped for the upcoming week which will include an entire meal consisting of latkes (Thanksgivukkah!), a huge Thanksgiving meal with friends as well as lots of baking and comfort food. I think I bought a little of everything. I was in denial of the changing of the season for so long, and now I’m embracing it with lots of potatoes, squash, kale, apples, etc.
This weekend is dedicated to making pie crusts and testing new recipes for nibbles and all sorts of scandalous treats. Last night, as part of my “re-claiming”, I tried a new recipe for Whiskey Pecan Caramel Corn – it’s a keeper. A couple of notes in case you decided that you also need this treat and you haven’t made lots of caramel corn in the past. 1. The caramel really needs to get to 300 degrees, which is hard-crack stage. You have to be brave and know that while the caramel at the edges is quickly becoming very dark brown and you’re thinking you will have burnt nothingness, if you take it off the heat as soon as it reaches 300 degrees you’ll be fine. 2. Rather than use 2 baking pans, I prefer to use a huge roasting pan (so big that it never fit in my NYC oven…). My pan has 2-3 inch sides which makes it much easier to turn the caramel corn as you bake it. And finally, 3. When you take it out of the oven, keep stirring! Stir the caramel corn every couple of minutes as it cools as you can break it into smaller clumps more easily this way. You could always let it cool as a big clump and then break it up, but you would have naked non-caramel-covered popcorn bits, and who wants that?
Next weekend there is no farmers’ market – they are taking a (well-deserved!) one-weekend break and opening up again indoors at the church on Union and North 4th December 7th. But we have a new gathering this one weekend only: Basilica Farm & Flea. It promises to be big and fun. You will need to walk off all those latkes and turkey sandwiches, and why not do it while supporting more of our local area producers? I’m hoping to find delectable food things, and maybe even a Christmas present for Mom.
And then that brings us to Winter Walk 2013 on Saturday December 7th from 5pm – 8pm . Winter Walk is always lovely and festive, and crowded, and usually the coldest day of the year. Bundle up, and make sure you don’t miss the eggnog challenge.
Good grief, that means it’s winter.
We had a beautiful full harvest moon on Wednesday. Which means harvest (duh) and that means it’s fall. I love this time of year!
I’m still busy eating salads with the amazing produce we have available at our market. One day our salad was sliced heirloom tomatoes, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and topped with a lovely burrata (from Vermont, and purchased at Samascott’s Garden Market). Milky cheese and tomatoes – perfect on a hot sunny day.
Have you tried the smoked trout available at the Hudson Farmers’ Market?
I love it! I’ve used it to make Smoked Trout dip which is rich and creamy and very more-ish. Local Valatie gardener/man of taste Kevin Lee Jacobs from A Garden for the House suggests a similar sounding Smoked Trout on Toast. Both of these dishes are great for a chilly evening. But one of my favorite uses so far has been in a smoked trout salad. It is simple, allowing all the ingredients to just taste delicious, using a recipe like this.
As I do at this time every year, I am avoiding winter squashes and roasting roots and potatoes. And I have yet to buy apples. We have soooooo much time for that, and it’s right around the corner. So eat your plums and nectarines and tomatoes before we bid adieu for another season.
Are you going to Olanafest? It’s happening tonight, September 21st from 5 – 7pm: a celebration of food, art and farming. I think we are getting the schmancy kind of fancy up here, don’t you?
If you really want to taste farm to table, more than what is available at so many of the restaurants in Hudson, you should look into Eat the Farm #2 next month. It’s at the farm. Chef Hugh Horner of Restaurant Helsinki cooks a meal entirely from the offerings of Holmquest Farms on Spook Rock Road. The first one sold out in July; the October 10th happening will likely be the last for the season. You can’t get more local than that.
But just when I think that there will be no more food events for the season in our area, along comes Basilica Hudson.
Basilica Farm & Flea is happening over Thanksgiving weekend, and they promise FOOD, vintage, art, design, culture. I think this will be worth a look-see.
Autumnal Equinox is tomorrow. So, enough with the distractions – go back to your cooking and your gardening. There is so much to do this time of year, and so much to eat! Put away some ratatouille, and tomato sauce and maybe a fruit jam or two. You’ll thank yourself later.
I’m currently making my way through Michael Pollan’s latest book, Cooked, as he explores the 4 basic elements (fire, water, air, earth) that humans utilize when cooking in order to nourish themselves. I find myself particularly inspired by something he says toward the end of the water section:
“…the opportunity to work with my hands – with all my senses, in fact – is always a welcome change of pace, whether in the kitchen or in the garden. There’s something about such work that seems to alter the experience of time, helps me to reoccupy the present tense. I don’t want you to get the idea it’s made a Buddhist of me, but in the kitchen, maybe a little bit. When stirring the pot, just stir the pot…. Unitasking.”
How very Ram Dass.
But it spoke to me because my head was still spinning from yesterday’s conference call where I was trying to talk about the importance of social media to engage (my work) community, only to be told several times that this or that was against policy, and that I couldn’t use images or connect with certain people and there’s this policy, etc. When I finally suggested that it would be more helpful to tell me what I could do, I got my own words spun back at me, but nothing more. Essentially, I was speaking to people who do not exist in our current social society.
Which made this Dilbert cartoon that a colleague had given me several years ago resonate even more – even though my name isn’t Beth, and the person who kept telling me everything was against policy is named Beth…
I decided to practice being present by baking, which is always good for my soul. I wanted to try a recipe for chocolate zucchini bread – as I’ve been intrigued by the combination since I found Clotilde and her blog, Chocolate & Zucchini. Just try to look at her site and not get sucked in for hours dreaming of future meals… But this recipe did not come from Clotilde but instead from (gasp) Better Homes & Gardens. Yet another sign that I’m becoming old.
And so I measured and chopped and shredded and mixed. Everything went according to plan (meaning, according to the recipe) and out of the oven came 3 gorgeous little loaves. And then I went to melt the chocolate to drizzle on top of the loaves. I was obviously no longer present, as I put chocolate in a pan, over high heat, and left the room.
I worked all afternoon to get the smell of burnt chocolate out of the house.
Inspired by the idea of going to Hudson Food Studio tonight, but then too lazy to go, I decided it had to be summer rolls for dinner.
I’ve decided the whole purpose of summer rolls is really just to serve as a conveyance for peanut sauce. Yum. There are a million recipes out there (I seem to have half of them on one of my Pinterest boards) but I used this recipe as a loose (very loose) guideline. I used tamari in my peanut sauce because that’s what I had, but I would suggest using a low sodium soy sauce instead. I thought I wouldn’t be able to find rice paper in our little town, but Olde Hudson has that as well as a number of other Asian cooking necessities. And you can find all the vegetables you need at the Hudson Farmers’ Market. Or, you could just go to Hudson Food Studio and have a tasty meal prepared by someone else.
I’m not sure that I’m feeling any more centered. I may have to try more baking tomorrow.
My brain has melted.
Or drowned – hasn’t it been a crazy hot/rainy summer?
That’s my only attempt at an excuse for not writing for so long. Well, the brain has been fried by the heat of summer, and huge upcoming life changes and watching the veeeeeeeery slow progress as my house moves from a peely-paint house to a lovely crisp clean abode. It’s such an improvement that my electrician says that it will raise the assessments for the entire neighborhood. Sorry neighbors!
I intended to have a garden… However, my harvest this year was garlic scapes. And I cut those too late, leading to my second harvest, the tiniest heads of garlic I’ve ever seen. I’ve got them curing in the basement, but I have a feeling I will be buying garlic from the farmers’ market…
I’ve visited a couple of restaurants in the attempt to escape our very un-air-conditioned house.
I love going to Bonfiglio & Bread for mushroom toast or the poached egg bowl (how do you describe it?) for breakfast, and even on days where the breakfast chef isn’t there, the kouign-ammans are de-lish. I’ll be there when they open up again on Saturday the 17th. I hope they’re poaching eggs that day. Relish Hudson is also a great option for breakfast – really nice egg sandwich variations. And I love sitting in the window on a quiet morning, gazing at our cute Amtrak station.
Many days I have no desire to prepare food (what?) and if it’s super hot, it’s ice cream for dinner. Lick has saved me from a melt-down more than once. One of my new favorite desserts does take some cooking (baking the crust and making the blueberry sauce on the stove top – best done earlier in the day), but this blueberry ice-cream pie will make anyone happy. I found the recipe while searching for gluten-free recipes when a dear friend was coming to visit, and I halved the sugar called for in the recipe to make it more friendly for those who watch their sugar intake. It’s just delicious. And who doesn’t need ice-cream pie?
For the most part I’ve been enjoying the bounty of our season and very often don’t do more than wash, peel (if necessary), cut up and eat. This weekend, however, I found myself with a load of blueberries along with a half of a cantaloupe, and then I bought a couple of pounds of doughnut peaches and plums. Too much goodness! I solved this (partially) by attempting a recipe for blueberry refrigerator jam - success! If you’re not into canning, and I’m not, this is a jam for you. So is David Lebovitz’s No Recipe Cherry Jam which I’ve made numerous times. And I haven’t tried this recipe yet but it looks just as easy: Triple berry quick jam.
Dinner the past two nights has been corn on the cob, just barely boiled, plus some of the above-mentioned fruit. Don’t you love corn season? Maybe I’ll have the desire to cook something a little more elaborate next weekend – but I’m not complaining if I have to eat more corn.
Copake Falls Day on Saturday August 17th – I’m very excited about this as Margaret from A Way to Garden opens up her garden for Garden Conservancy Open Day and I love to wander around and imagine it’s my yard. Maybe next year. The Fabulous Beekman Boys will be there for a lecture/breakfast/book signing. Copake Falls, just this side of the border with Massachusetts.
Dutchess County Fair - August 20th – August 25th – rides! fried foods! Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck
Columbia County Fair – August 28 – September 2 – a classic county fair. Columbia County Fairgrounds in Chatham
Taste of Hudson on Saturday September 7th, 11am – 2pm – don’t be silly and think you’ll get any food at 2pm. Think early, people! Warren Street below 3rd Street.
Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest on Saturday September 7th and Sunday September 8th – one of the biggest area extravaganzas. Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck
Since I’m just back from vacation, I’m happy to be back in my kitchen. However, I’ve been reading (a lot) about a particular eating space that has just opened up… and as soon as I wish to splash out a little, I know where I want to go.
Fish & Game: An Ode to Hudson’s Tasty Past in Rural Intelligence
Where Basic Ingredients Rule in the New York Times
Zak Pelaccio Cutting the Fat, Glazing Turnips Instead in the New York Observer
Straight from the field to the plate in the Times Union
Our Man in Hudson in A Cook Blog (Edible Hudson Valley)
Perhaps once the fuss dies down a bit?
I was out of town for a couple of weeks, and as usual, eating. While we went to some gorgeous places for dinners, the lunches were my favorite.
As beautiful as all of this was, I am happy to be back in my kitchen again. What are you cooking these days?