trying to unitask

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 digress.

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2a8955900cca11e3855722000aa800e1_7I 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.

b029e4ce0ccc11e3a39822000a9e0344_7And 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.

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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.

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they did not actually look this green in real life

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.

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I’m not sure that I’m feeling any more centered.  I may have to try more baking tomorrow.

catching up…

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!

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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…

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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.

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The Hudson Food Studio is our newest option for dinner and really helps round out the cuisine available in town.  Sam Pratt wrote a nice review of the place here.

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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?

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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.

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Coming up!

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

goodness

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?

eating elsewhere

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the rooftops of Jerusalem

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.

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a spread at a restaurant in the Muslim quarter

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fish at a restaurant in Jaffa

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I always love dessert

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goats milk yogurt and cheeses at Nataf, in the hills outside of Jerusalem

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falafel with pesto and goat cheese

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eggplant and garlic pizza in Tivron, north of Haifa

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borekas

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more borekas, and some turkish delight

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The Levinski market in Tel Aviv on Fridays was fantastic

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dried fruit

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favorite garenim: sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

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spices

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more nuts and seeds

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a corner shop at the Levinski Market

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We definitely should have spent more time here…

As beautiful as all of this was, I am happy to be back in my kitchen again.  What are you cooking these days?

food and drink doings

Tap New York is this weekend at Hunter Mountain.  I am sorely tempted to attend “New York’s largest craft beer festival” but then how would I ever stagger home???

Chronogram did an article on Hudson Valley Breweries, and I find I’ve only been to one of them: Brewery Ommegang.  But really, where is their mention of Crossroads Brewing Company or Chatham Brewing or Browns Brewing???  They are all delicious…

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This weekend (meaning Saturday 4/27) check out the “Colossal Cookbook Sale” at the Library, from 10am – 2pm.  Here are my treasures:

cookbooks

Because I needed more cookbooks…  And just in case my to-read pile wasn’t big enough, I got my hands on the last copy at Tractor Supply of this beauty:

modern farmer

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If you get a chance to eat out this weekend, note that 3FortySeven Warren Street is opening up (sans Tortillaville until May).  I can’t wait until BackBar becomes official…

taste of india

truck pizza***

Next weekend is a big food weekend here in Hudson NY.

farmers marketThe Hudson Farmers’ Market is back outdoors starting Saturday May 4th, 9am – 1pm at Columbia and North 6th Street.  It’s been great to watch it expand over the years – it makes me happy.

rampfest2013_logoThe 3rd Annual Ramp Fest Hudson happens at the Basilica on Saturday, May 4th, 12 – 4pm.  Get there early.  Remember that my loss (I’m out-of-town) is your gain (there will be more to eat).  Be nice to the photographer Smith.

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AND there will be a wine AND chocolate tasting at Verdigris.  In our town of yummy options, Verdigris is a haven filled with treats of all sorts.  The question for me -always- is where do I begin?

You have one week to build your endurance for this food-filled weekend!

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crazy vanNow, can anyone tell me what this crazy van on North 6th Street is about???

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I’m off for a couple of weeks to the land of palm trees and hummus.  No worries – I will continue to eat well…

foraging for a festival

Ramps are about to become an endangered species:

rampfest2013_logoThe 3rd Annual Ramp Fest is happening Saturday, May 4, 2013 from 12 – 4pm.  Chefs from Hudson, the Hudson Valley and NYC will participate by making all sorts of lovely tastes featuring ramps.  Don’t be crazy and show up at 3pm – you will not eat.  I am devastated that I will be out-of-town that day.  Since at the previous two fests I seemed to try everything at least twice, that means that there is more food for you.

sigh.

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I will have to do my own foraging.  I once thought I had found *a* ramp under a tree in our yard – but I am quite sure that whatever I found was not edible.  We can usually find ramps at the Hudson Farmers’ Market, but they’re not out yet (it’s too cold).  However, I consistently find dandelion greens in my ever-so-organic lawn (meaning, I don’t do anything more than mow it).  Last year I tossed dandelion greens with a simple vinaigrette and it made a great crostini.

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This year I think I may try a dandelion soup with chives from a recipe I found on Chefs Consortium – it looks lovely and sophisticated.  Once I uncover my garden from its lasagna garden layering and let the sun shine through, I will surely have purslane and that often makes a nice little side salad.

The anticipation that accompanies Spring is sometimes overwhelming, no?

reading and eating

Officially it’s Spring but it’s still cold outside, and I haven’t seen the self-serve spinach stand pop up at Eger Brothers (corner of 23rd/9/10 just outside of Hudson).  However, it feels like things are really heating up, at least online.

This weekend the thing to do is go to Verdigris Tea & Chocolate Bar for their latest chocolate tasting – and this is a chocolate and chocolate tea tasting!  Hmmm….  curious.  The tasting is Saturday 3/30 at 5pm at Verdigris, 135 Warren Street.  Call ahead, just in case – I would hate to steer you wrong.

If you haven’t yet bought your Easter candy, head now to Vasilow’s Confectionery, who recently had a nice feature in the Daily Freeman.  I’m always torn between the malt balls and the great variety of licorice…

Haven’t you been curious about Verdigris’ former space at South 3rd?  Michael Davis of 3FortySeven gives us the scoop on what’s been happening inside the future Fish & Game.

And while Zak Pelaccio and Lady Jayne are working out the details on Fish & Game restaurant, he wrote a great guide to eating and doing in Hudson.

The Crimson Sparrow has gotten a couple of great mentions lately, in the Times Union and in Chronogram.  And they’re involved in a friendly face-off with Berkshire chefs in the ChefX Dinners, happening April 7 at Crimson Sparrow with Berkshire chefs, and April 29 in Great Barrington featuring Hudson restuarants The Crimson Sparrow, Helsinki Hudson, Grazin Diner, Swoon Kitchenbar and Local 111 (from Philmont and YAY for a female chef!!!).

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I’ve eaten my matzo brie and matzo crack, and it’s about time for hot cross buns and way too much Easter candy…

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