Eating

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photos by gluttonforlife

7.22.14 Blenheim Bouquet

A good apricot is an elusive thing. As in the quest for a good man, you have to bite into quite a few before you find a winner. I read recently that Frankenstein farmers are taking the best elements from an apricot and the best from a plum and creating delicious hybrids with names like pluot, plumcot and apriplum. And yet I still want that perfect apricot, with its faintly downy curves, rosy bloom and fudgy flesh. Once in a blue moon, you might come across such a specimen, most often of the Blenheim variety. (Those of you familiar with Penhaligon's fragrances will remember Blenheim Bouquet, a bracing mix of citrus oils, spice and woods that has nothing to do with apricots but provided inspiration for the title of this post.) But somehow even the very best apricot never seems to quite live up to the taste I carry in my sense memory. Which is where roasting comes in...
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photos by gluttonforlife

7.18.14 Fresh, Direct

This is a quickie, just in case you've been eyeing those beautiful fresh beans at the famers market and been confused as to how you might eat them. They're not string beans—you don't eat the pod—but inside is a row of firm, buttery nuggets packed with flavor and nutrition. In the case of these cranberry beans, also called borlotti, the beautiful, red-streaked pod will catch your eye. The beans themselves are also flecked or striped with deep red, but they lose this color when cooked. No matter, they make up for it in other ways. Simply braised until tender, you can use these beans as you would dried ones, though they offer a distinct texture. I like them best drained of their liquid and tossed with a little sherry vinegar and some spicy green olive oil. Add whatever raw or cooked vegetables you have on hand—garlic, onions, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, greens—for a dish that's delicious warm, at room temp or cold.
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photos by gluttonforlife

7.15.14 Let Them Eat Cake

There's just something about a skillet cake. In general, I find baking a bit fussy—all those steps, all that precision—so when I can make a relatively impressive dessert without taking out the sifter or the Mixmaster, without whipping egg whites or weighing flour, I'm quite thrilled. It's sort of the sweet equivalent of a one-pot meal. If you haven't already tried this apple version, or this plum one, try this recipe for a rustic cornmeal cake studded with ripe blackberries. They are the dark and glorious jewels of summer, their glossy black beads bursting with a subtly floral elixir. I love to see lips and fingers stained with their scarlet juices, which also seep into the cake much like a trifle. It's no work at all to throw this together and the soft moans of pleasure it elicits will only add to your satisfaction.
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photos by gluttonforlife

7.9.14 Herbiage

First order of business: the winner of my summer giveaway! The lucky recipient, chosen via Randomizer, is CHRISTA! Christa, come on down! Please send your mailing adress to me at gluttonforlife@gmail.com and I will get your box of treats out to you very soon. The rest of you, thanks for your wonderfully evocative comments and stay tuned for future giveaways. Summer's bounty always inspires me to share.

You may have noticed that I am not posting quite as regularly as usual. I'm still hard at work on my book proposal and it's taking up all my free time and a lot of my creative energy. But it's also been really satisfying to see how much writing and photgraphy I have stockpiled since I launched this blog in 2010. What began as a way to share the beauty of my new life upstate turned into something more. In the 4-plus years I have been showing up here and trying to stay honest I have learned a great deal about myself, about finding balance, and about cooking, gardening, making a beautiful home, foraging in the wild and communing with nature. All this will be in the book, which I envision as a colorful, richly textured collage of photography, illustration and words.

And now, a bit more about herbs...
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Tagged —
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photos by gluttonforlife

6.30.14 June Hot Links & a Summer Giveaway!

Nature is orchestrating her botanical display with flawless timing, as usual. Just as the irises are fading, the peonies explode and by the time they're drooping, here come the elderflowers and milkweed blossoms! In the fields and hedgerows, wild berries are setting up and soon we will be vying for them with the birds, chipmunks and foxes. Our neighbor's enormous jasmine bushes that have (happily) grown up and over our dividing fence are in full bloom and their dazzling perfume fills every corner of our little cottage. The garden grows by leaps and bounds every night as we sleep. Carpenter ants seem to have broken ground on a demolition project inside the window frame behind our bed and their incessant gnawing is rather horrifying. (The exterminator is on his way.) It's officially summer! To celebrate, I'm sharing my latest list of obsessions and recommendations...and I've got a delicious giveaway for one lucky reader...
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photos by gluttonforlife

6.24.14 Freshly Minted

As soon as you can start eating out of your own garden, do. That connection between your hands and the earth—quite literally the fruits of your labor—is immensely satisfying. If all you can have is a couple of potted tomato plants on your fire escape, or a window box full or herbs, that is already plenty. I heard some chef talking recently about how one of the most important things he learned from Thomas Keller was to snip herbs from the garden right before adding them to a dish. They carry a special freshness and intensity of flavor. Right now I can step outside and have chervil, basil, chives, tarragon, rosemary, summer savory, cilantro, Vietnamese cilantro, parsley, dill, lovage, shiso, lemon balm, lemon verbena and several kinds of mint at my fingertips. That sounds like bragging, doesn't it? And what does any of it have to do with chocolate cookies?
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house & garden photos by george billard; food photos by gluttonforlife

6.17.14 Outside In

This is summer upstate: Tiny hummingbirds perched on the branch of the redbud tree, their scarlet throats glistening in the morning sun. Thick hops vines twining up the barn. Rising early to the impossibly loud birdsong and air so fresh it's like a cool hand on a fevered brow. Lazy dinners in the screened-in porch, as the sky darkens and the fireflies wink. The hot thrill of bear sightings. Ticks, ticks, everywhere. The sound of ice in the cocktail shaker announcing the end of the workday. Cold cherries. Shades of green so various the mind boggles. Whole fish on the grill. Canoe trips across the reservoir to the waterfall. Hands plunged into the damp earth. Foraging for wild berries. Memories of summers past—camp, swimming holes, fresh corn, cookouts, family picnics. Nostalgia, penetrating and bittersweet. Let me take you down...
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photos by gluttonforlife

6.11.14 Bee Sweet

I was instantly smitten. When I came across this glorious confection in the online shop of Hudson Chocolates, I knew it had to be be mine. Or rather my husband's, as a tribute to the good work he is doing with our two beautful bee hives this year. Dark chocolate honeycomb dusted in lustrous edible gold dust. Inside, salted peanut honeycomb candy. So meta. The product of some inspired upstate Wonka whose fertile imagination led him where no chocolatier has gone before. Breaking off shards of this masterpiece has been a painful pleasure. It's hard to contribute to its demise but simply impossible to resist. Chunks of buttery peanuts are suspended in airy caramelized crunch. And all of it enrobed in smooth and complex dark chocolate whose hexagonal imprint and golden sheen perfectly evoke our own precious hives. When the occasion demands pampering, celebration and indulgence, call for this treat. Perhaps you should order one today and get the party started.*
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photos by gluttonforlife

6.3.14 Oil Slick

A few months ago, yet another large and important study was released with irrefutable evidence that 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease could be prevented if high-risk individuals switched to a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts, beans, fish, fruits, vegetables and olive oil. It's been established that low-fat diets simply can't achieve these results and this is good news for those of us who love olive oil in all its diverse splendor—from mellow gold to vivid green, from rich and buttery to bracing and peppery. Quite frankly, there are few foods it doesn't improve.

Although you might not think of it this way, olive oil is essentially a fresh fruit juice and thus is fairly fragile. It needs to be extracted in a process that doesn't involve nutrient-damaging heat ("cold pressed") and it has to be properly bottled and stored to protect it from air, light and extreme temperatures. Finally, it should be consumed fairly quickly, generally within a year or two of production. Without all of these protections, olive oil (and all high quality oils, really) can quickly turn rancid, developing an off taste that some people liken to crayons or old peanuts (I swear) and a greasy mouthfeel. (For more horifying facts, see this.) The sad truth is that the average American has grown accustomed to consuming rancid oils because that is what is predominantly available. Intrigued? Read all about it in Tom Mueller's excellent Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil. If you don't have time for that, just be sure the olive oil you buy has been produced and cared for with integrity.
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photo by george billard (others by gluttonforlife)

5.30.14 May Hot Links (& a Creature Feature)

We drove over the Delaware River to Pennsylvania last weekend for a wild foods dinner at a friend's house (read all about it here) and on a pre-dinner stroll through the lush forest came upon this newborn fawn in all its vulnerable perfection. This incomparable moment of woodland beauty brought tears to my eyes. The mother, scared off by our approach, had run away, leaving this tiny creature curled up under some ferns to await her return. We kept our distance, but G tiptoed just close enough to get this sweet portrait.

Despite mainly cool temperatures, spring has finally arrived upstate and we are surrounded by the tender green of new life at long last. My tree peony has bloomed and the irises are about to pop. The hummingbirds have returned to the feeder and the yard is full of catbirds, whose glorious song never ceases to amaze. (Listen to an example, below.) A bear touched its nose to the screen on the window behind our bed where a birdfeeder hangs, instantly rousing us from sleep. We found our first morel, our first ramp and our first fiddleheads ever! Nature is suddenly full of food. 

Scroll down to see some photos from my Instagram feed (follow along @LauraSilverman) that capture the recent state of my world, and keep going to discover the latest links I've been saving for you.
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