June 2012

Honeycomb 3 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.11.12 Waxing Poetic

We went to the 16th annual tractor parade in Callicoon yesterday (yes, exactly what is sounds like) and came across a stand selling raw local honey at the nearby farmers market. I love honey so much—its amber hues, its range of floral and earthy flavors, its dense sweetness—and, now that I've learned a bit more about it, I try to buy the least processed honey I can find. The next step, of course, is to start raising our own bees, and I think that's not too far off. We may try to do it on our roof so that we can avoid the whole electric fence/bear situation. These lovely people from Walton, NY, had brought a wealth of choices to the market: clover, buckwheat, basswood, wildflower, apple, goldenrod and raspberry honeys. Honey is the concentrated nectar of flowers, and its subtly detectable flavors reflect whatever blossoms are most pervasive at the moment it's made. Talk about terroir! The buckwheat is always a much darker color and has a pronounced muskiness that can sometimes be quite bold.
Favas 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.8.12 Jersey Girls

It's kind of a cliché that you run the risk of being disenchanted when you meet your heroes. Depending on how high you've raised that pedestal, it may be impossible for anyone to meet your expectations. Or, someone's private persona simply may not match a carefully cultivated public image. So it was wonderfully reassuring to encounter the women of Canal House this week at ICE—their workshop was on writing and photographing recipes (and cooking them)—and discover that they are every bit as warm and wise as I had hoped. For those of you who don't know them, Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton are a food writing and photography team that produces Canal House Cooking, a gorgeous series of seasonal cookbooks that has defined a new space in the publishing world. In their past lives they both worked at Saveur, where Christoper was a founding editor and Melissa was director of the test kitchen. (Still a favorite of mine, this magazine was truly a revelation in its earliest incarnation.) They refer to themselves as "home cooks," but this is a bit like Einstein calling himself a professor.
Grilled 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.6.12 Thrill of the Grill

Cooking over fire is quite primal, but your grilling repertoire need not (and should not) be limited to hunks of charred meat. Vegetables have just as much to gain from the high heat cooking and smoky, caramelized flavors made possible by even the simplest Weber. If you're new to all this, my advice is that you get one or two books to consult for basic techniques and inspiring recipes. This one from Cook's Illustrated walks you through the best way to grill everything from steak and fish to vegetables and fruit. Once you understand how to start a fire, move your coals around and use wood chips, I recommend The Japanese Grill and Argentinian grilling guru Francis Mallman's Seven Fires so you can make dishes like soy-sauce-&-lemon grilled eggplant and whole roasted pumpkin with mint and goat cheese salad. For dessert, how about grilled oranges with rosemary, or dulce de leche pancakes? It's about time you reached for your tongs.
Slice 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.4.12 Bowl of Cherries

Life is just a bowl of cherries
Don't make it serious
Life's too mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so,
But you can't take your dough when you go, go, go.
So keep repeating it's the berries
The strongest oak must fall.
The sweet things in life
To you were just loaned,
So how can you lose what you've never owned?
Life is just a bowl of cherries,
So live and laugh at it all.

Apparently the expression was coined in this song by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, which was sung by Ethel Merman in George White's 1931 production of Scandals. Ah, the carefree life. We gaze with longing upon that which we perceive to be free: children, butterflies, trust-funders... But it ain't about the Benjamins. Free is an attitude as much as anything else. Just ask Nelson Mandela who, after a rather lengthy stay on Robin's Island, said, "To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." Or, as written on my favorite album cover of all time, released by Funkadelic in 1970, "Free your mind and your ass will follow."

6.1.12 Hot Links: Surf's Up

Avedon 790 xxx
photo by richard avedon
Hopefully, you've got a fun weekend planned. (Actually, I just wanted to use "hopefully" in a sentence, now that it has been accepted by the AP Stylebook as meaning something other than "in a hopeful manner." Get clued in here, or skip it and read on about less pedantic matters.) I'm looking forward to playing in the dirt aka gardening, reorganizing the attic, making a cork bulletin board for my office wall, working on my novel and maybe, if time allows, dyeing some clothes with my new indigo kit. Oh, and foraging for some more mushrooms! To see my recent haul—as delicious as they were unexpected—visit my Facebook page and, while you're at it, consider doing me the great favor of clicking the Like button. Now, you're probably wondering about how that photograph up top figures into all this...