June 2014

Elderflower 790 xxx
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...
Ralph Waldo Emerson —
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…
Cookies1 790 xxx
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?
Pablo Neruda —
Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.
Cottage 790 xxx
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...
William Butler Yeats —
Nothing but sweetness can remain when hearts are full of their own sweetness.
Honeycomb bar 790 xxx
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.*
Pliny the Elder —
Except the vine, there is no plant which bears a fruit of as great importance as the olive.
Beans1 790 xxx
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.