Thomas Carlyle —
Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom.
photos by gluttonforlife

10.21.14 Invasion of the Kernel Snatchers

This is an overdue post I had promised to write sometime in August, I think, back when our local farmer friend found this rare treat/calamitous pest in his cornfield. I know this corn fungus as huitlacoche, the name (Nahuatl in origin) it goes by in Mexico, where it's considered a delicacy. In the States, it's called "corn smut," and destroyed for being a pathogenic blight on the harvest. Although Ustilago maydis can infect any part of the plant, it tends to enter the ovaries. It then replaces the normal kernels with large, distorted tumors or "galls." Doesn't sound very appetizing, right? But, like many fungi (think truffles), huitlacoche has a savory, sweet, earthy flavor that defies description. In Mexico, it's often eaten in cheesy quesadillas, with creamy scrambled eggs or in a kind of succotash with onions and spicy serrano peppers. I've come up with my own take on it that's delicious whether or not you can get your hands on any huitlacoche. It's available canned but I'm sure so much is lost in the processing. Go fresh or go home.
John Steinbeck —
A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ.
photos by george billard

10.14.14 Catskills Getaway

This past weekend we took off into the Catskills to celebrate our anniversary (lucky seven!), visit friends and explore some new territory. The fall colors were at their peak. Birds, bugs and bees filled the skies, harvesting whatever remains before bunkering down or heading off to warmer climes. The air was crisp, the skies turquoise and the colors of the leaves more nuanced than a Missoni sweater. Fields of milkweed exploded in a profusion of downy, winged seeds. I find few things as uplifting as piling into the car and hitting the road when the destination means new experiences, old pals, wild beauty and delicious meals. And so it was.
from "Fall Song" by Mary Oliver —
Another year gone, leaving everywhere its rich spiced residues...
photos by george billard

10.7.14 Fall Back, October Hot Links & Cider Syrup

I wish I had time to write in this space more often. There is so much to share with you that sometimes I am bursting at the seams with little anecdotes and kitchen discoveries and amazing new ideas I have come across. Then I sit down and inevitably feel overwhelmed at the thought of organizing it all into something coherent, meaningful and useful. But I am seizing a few moments today to get lots of it down here with little regard for rhyme or reason. The organizing principle is essentially "things I am thinking about and loving right now." These include some beautiful photos my husband took on a walk in the woods last week; a bunch of links I have been hoarding for you; and a recipe for cider syrup, a thick, sweetly complex elixir made by simply boiling down apple cider. I'm already enjoying mine immensely mixed with Dickel whiskey, apple cider vinegar and cardamom-fennel bitters for a cocktail I call the All Fall Down (after what happens when you drink too many...not that I would know about that).
John Andrew Holmes —
At middle age the soul should be opening up like a rose, not closing up like a cabbage.
photos by gluttonforlife

10.1.14 Cabbage Dispatch

We grew a cabbage this year. It may not sound that impressive, but it is. For years, our attempts at growing cabbages were foiled by one thing or another. Worms. Heat. Destiny. But this year one perfect dusky purple specimen prevailed. We haven't picked it yet. It sits there in its corner next to the collards as silent and perfect as the Buddha. Eating it will feel like a sacrificial act, so it must be prepared with reverence. This roasted version of a classic German dish is one possibility. Its sweet-sour balance is lovely. Stuffed cabbage also comes to mind at this time of year. Fall is in the air, my friends. A squirrel with the energy and determination of a Jack Russel terrier has been running back and forth across the yard all day, ferrying pine cones to his hiding spot. Good thing our cabbage is too big for him.
Frank Sinatra —
If I did half of what they say, I wouldn't be here—I'd be in a jar at Harvard.
iPhotos by gluttonforlife

9.25.14 Fellowship

This past weekend I attended my 30-year reunion at Harvard. It seems almost inconceivable that so many moons have gone by since my classmates and I were unleashed into the world, for that sounds like a lifetime ago and I remember it as though it were yesterday. The passing of time was never more apparent than when I stood with my freshman roommate and her son, now a junior at Harvard. It seemed both impossible and inevitable. In three decades we have all endured much, changed in a thousand ways. And yet it was remarkably easy to recognize each other, even with the new wrinkles and scars. The love was palpable, and the gratitude. As I learned five years ago at our 25th reunion, there is an overwhelming sense of joy in just being alive and present—in this moment and in the past. It was a golden time and that time is not yet over.