Wild

Milkweed 790 xxx
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.
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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).
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7.4.14 Born Free

Well, the first thing I have to say is that you all are poets. Talk abut using your words! In telling me what summer means to you, you conjured up so many ripe images, so much nostalgia. (Those of you who have not yet had a chance to leave a comment on my last post, still have time to do so before midnight on Sunday 7/14 to be in the running for a box of summer treats from the Glutton for Life kitchen.) Turns out we all love being outdoors more. Swimming, gardening, visiting those green places we return to every year. School's out. We kick our shoes off. Everything loosens up a bit. How fitting then that on this day of high summer, on this Independence Day, we celebrate freedom. In this country, it's a bit tattered but there's always hope that we'll rally and reclaim our birthright. In the face of all that is so blatantly bleak, I choose optimism. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.
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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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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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photos by gluttonforlife

5.7.14 Wild Green Yonder

If food is fuel, don't you want to be powered by something that looks this amazingly alive and vibrant? Are you willing to go further afield to nourish yourselves in all the extraordinary ways you deserve? Foraging is one practice that brings you so much more than food. It's a wonderful way to get outside, connect to nature and discover the abundance that is available to all of us. One of the very first wild plants to emerge in spring, and one of the most commonly found in meadows, parks and fields, is the nettle. It's a little dangerous, as anyone who has ever tried to pick it without gloves on knows. But, like most prickly characters, with a little understanding and the proper care, it reveals its better qualities. Before you know it, nettles become putty in your capable hands.
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photos by gluttonforlife

4.23.14 Further Afield (& April Hot Links)

Driving home last night on dark, rain-slicked country roads, we saw the ultimate confirmation that spring is here. Every year, on a wet, foggy night in April, there is a frog exodus. I'm not quite sure where they are going—from one part of the woods to another? from the pond to the marsh?—but they inevitably cross our road en masse (and, sadly, not all of them make it). Now we will hear them getting down to business in the damp nether regions of the forest, and soon we will see the jellied masses of their eggs in the vernal pools, brooks and streams. In the garden there are other signs of spring: the first tentative pink sprouts of my peonies; delicate green leaves and buds on the lilac bushes; my beloved lovage unfurling; a few tender leaves of sorrel. And further afield there are some wild edibles to be found if you're ready, willing and able.
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photos by george billard

2.12.14 La Vida Loca(vore)

Globalization means that you can buy Pringles wherever you travel. That plastic is the default material, even in the jungle. And that, no matter where you roam, a hamburger is not far away. But in rural Oaxaca, the locals have little money for these indulgences and outside influences are still regarded with suspicion. The indigenous Zapotecs live very close to how they have for centuries, farming the same crops as their ancestors and hunting and gathering in terrains virtually unchanged. It's a highly sustainable lifesytle, when avocados and pomegranates drip from the trees in your courtyard, and beans, corn and squash grow in the fields out back. A couple of goats or a cow provide milk, then cheese—the local quesillo is sort of like mozzarella—and, eventually, meat. These people don't have a lot, but they really make the most of it and they're proud of their traditions. I tried to sample as many local foods as I could, and it wasn't hard since those are what's featured in all the markets and restaurants. You don't exactly go out for Chinese when you're in Oaxaca.
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photos by george billard

2.7.14 Spirit Guide

Until you delve into the world of mezcal, it has a sort of hazy outlaw connotation, what with the worm and all. It's easy to imagine it as the drink of choice for that bad-ass bandido with the glinting gold tooth and a bandolier of ammo criss-crossed over his chest. But then you travel into the heart of artisanal mezcal terrain and you discover that this mystical spirit has a complexity akin to that of wine, with a similar display of terroir. A product of the ancient Aztecs, mezcal is thought to derive from an even older drink known as pulque, the fermented sap of the agave plant that is milky and lightly alcoholic. Once cooking and distilling entered the process, the flavor and potency of pulque were amplified into what is known as mezcal. It has been made for centuries from the many varieties of the agave plant or, as it's called in Mexico, maguey. This is not actually a cactus, but a type of succulent that includes the espadín, pictured above. During our recent trip to Oaxaca, we were lucky enough to get a glimpse into artisanal mezcal production under the tutelage of local connoisseur and scholar, Ulises Torrentera. A writer who fell in love with the mysterious poetry of small-batch mezcal, Ulises has a deep collection of carefully sourced spirits he serves at his groovy little mezcal bar in Oaxaca City, In Situ. Spending the day with him really left us in high spirits.


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photos by gluttonforlife

1.23.14 Armed & Dangerous (& January Hot Links)

I know you're probably expecting more posts about the Oaxaca trip, and I promise those are forthcoming, but my re-entry has been a little wobbly so I'm trusting you'll bear with me. Yesterday was my birthday and the evening before I hosted a "suprise" dinner party that was the final celebration of G turning 50 earlier this month. I use the quotation marks because evidently I am not as sneaky and clever as I thought. Anyway, it was a fantastic multi-course meal at Momofuku Ssam Bar that culminated with beautifully tender and crisply lacquered rotisserie ducks presented with Bibb lettuce, scallion pancakes and all the trimmings. (Incidentally, if you live in New York, the "large format" dinners that Momofuku offers are a great value and a marvelous way to dine with a big group.)

My own birthday celebration was a bit quieter, though I was inundated with love and good wishes (especially on Facebook - one great reason to join) and I was treated to a delicious lunch at the new Gotham West Market. More on that later, as well as details on my favorite present, featured above, and an assortment of links for you to explore and enjoy.
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