11.24.15 Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

Ls cocktails 790 xxx
photo by samantha goh

Another month has passed. Are you the same? I'm not. I feel my roots shifting and it's exciting and scary. My jaw sometimes feels weird when I wake up in the morning and I know I have been clenching my teeth as I sleep. Change is good but it can wreak havoc. I have started to emerge from behind my desk, making forays into the world beyond just sending my words out to be read. There I am, above, serving cocktails at an event created by And North; read about it here and check out the cocktail recipes here. Saying yes to many things also entails saying no a lot. Does that make any sense? Redefining your life is a process and I feel like I am approaching a tipping point.

Cocktails 790 xxx
photo by samantha goh

Weekly, my partner and I are making progress in our quest to open Fish & Bicycle, a bar and cafe in Narrowsburg, NY. We got a small thrill seeing the name in print for the first time, here. And just like that, New York Magazine makes me an "expert" on this area.

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wild thing

On to the accomplishments of others...I have pre-ordered this book, written by Pascal Baudar, a genius forager based in Los Angeles, whose inspiring work I have been following on Facebook. I can't wait to get my hands on it to read in greater detail about the amazing things he finds and concocts in his neck of the woods.

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now, foragers

Pascal works with his lady-love, the amazing chef Mia Wasilevich, to create incredible wild food feasts. The next time I go to LA, I vow to cross paths with them!

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life in venice

Speaking of LA, I am over the moon about Travis Lett's new cookbook, filled with mouth-watering recipes from Gjelina, his restaurant in Venice, California. I wrote about it here, back when I first visited in 2010. It was delicious then and even better when I went back for a quick visit last year at this time. This book would make a great gift for anyone who loves vegetable-focused cuisine or just wants to drool over the pizza photos.

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rye humor
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beet it
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cottage industry

Have you heard about "Cabin Porn"? It was originally a site started a few years ago to feature crowd-sourced images of cabins all over the world. And now they've published a book, sort of a greatest hits, but also with new images taken by the crazy-talented Noah Kalina. The amazing thing is that on the cover is a photo of the cabin built by my friend Scott Newkirk. It's the first place I ever stayed when I came upstate to Sullivan County and its special magic has been featured in lots of publications, including here. Scott sold it a few years back but the people who bought it have become friends, so I still get to visit. This book would make a fantastic gift for anyone trapped in an urban environment, or anyone with aspirations to build a home in the wild.

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photo by noah kalina
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photo by noah kalina
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yam session

And, oh yeah, Thanksgiving. I pretty much fell down on this one for 2015, so it's a good thing that there are A TON of relevant recipes and references already on this blog. Some of my classics include these Sweet & Spicy Yams, cooked with pancetta, chile and maple syrup into irresistibly caramelized deliciousness.

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sprouting ideas

Not to mention this crisp and refreshing salad that lets you trick all the haters into eating (and loving) Brussels sprouts. For more Thanksgiving ideas, go here, here and here.

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the day after

Once it's all over, make a big pot of rice and keep adding turkey stock (that you've made from the carcass) and cooking it down until it's a comforting mush. This is congee and there's nothing better the day after Thanksgiving. Top it with shredded leftover turkey, sesame oil, cilantro, sliced mushrooms...whatever you've got.

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steeping beauty

I'm daydreaming these days about the kinds of drinks I want to serve at my bar, and experimenting with different ideas and techniques. One result is an incredible English milk punch, an old-fashioned cocktail that's made by steeping fruit, spirits, sugar and spices overnight with boiling tea and water, then straining it and adding boiling milk. The milk curdles and you strain the mixture over and over to remove all the solids, leaving behind the whey. It results in an incredibly smooth and silky cocktail that's potent but beautifully balanced with no sharp edges and plenty of richly layered flavors. If you've got the inclination and the patience, give it a whirl.


This recipe makes quite a lot, which is great for a party—think Christmas and New Year's Eve—but can also be scaled down for more intimate gatherings. Conveniently, it keeps in the fridge for weeks. I have a stash of these jars and they're ideal for holding large quantities. (My screened-in porch serves as a back-up refrigerator!)


Before I sign off, I want to wish each of you the kind of Thanksgiving that would make you most happy. Maybe you're going to eat an omelette and go hiking by yourself. Maybe you'll be in the bosom of your family, enjoying every tradition from the green bean casserole on down. Maybe you're invited to a stranger's house, where you'll feel right at home. Wherever you go, there you'll be and that in itself is something for which you can be thankful. You're alive, the world has not yet imploded and there is love all around. Don't have enough? Take some of mine, with heartfelt thanks for being here in all your glory.


Pineapple Milk Punch

serves 60
  • — 80 coriander seeds
  • — 10 whole allspice
  • — 4 cinnamon sticks
  • — 1 whole nutmeg, roughly chopped
  • — Peel of 8 lemons,sliced (minimal pith)
  • — 4 whole pineapples, peeled and chopped, juices reserved
  • — 36 ounces fresh lemon juice, divided
  • — 14 ounces fresh ginger juice
  • — 16 cups granulated sugar
  • — 48 ounces (6 cups) Appleton 12-yr Jamaica rum
  • — 25 ounces brandy
  • — 8 ounces Pernod
  • — 8 ounces absinthe
  • — 4 ounces Angostura bitters
  • — 32 ounces (4 cups) hot green tea, strongly brewed
  • — 128 ounces (1 gallon) boiling water
  • — 128 ounces (1 gallon) steaming hot milk

DAY #1

Use a mortar and pestle to lightly grind the spices, then combine them with the lemon peels, chopped pineapples and their juices, 24 ounces of the lemon juice, ginger juice and sugar in a large glass container.

Muddle until the mixture is combined, then add the spirits, bitters, tea and boiling water. Mix well, cover tightly and store overnight at room temperature.

DAY #2

Strain mixture through a fine sieve and return to container.

To the strained mixture, add the hot milk and remaining 12 ounces lemon juice; the milk will coagulate.

Pouring a little at a time, strain the liquid through a double layer of cheesecloth into a glass container. Store, covered, overnight in the refrigerator.

DAY #3

Strain mixture at least once more. You want it to be as clear as possible. Serve over ice, garnished with a star anise pod.

Download recipe  Download Recipe


Oh Laura! This reinvention is marvelous and so well deserved. Brilliant and exciting (nerve wracking too I'm sure). Perhaps one day I'll traipse through your county . Xo
Tamika on November 25, 2015 at 7:39 am —
When fate smiles upon us, our paths will cross, my friend! xo
laura on November 25, 2015 at 7:48 am —
Reading this latest entry was like a delicious overdue weekend visit with you. I feel warm and fuzzy and full. Happy Thanksgiving!
Scott on November 25, 2015 at 9:33 am —
Love you, Scottish!
laura on November 25, 2015 at 2:24 pm —
always thinking of you on this day! if your travels swing you through nearby zipcodes, I would love a gluttonous embrace. xo + peaceful holidays to you both.
Janet on November 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm —
We're Westchester-bound, but dreams of you and Guido's are always with me! xo
laura on November 25, 2015 at 2:25 pm —
What joy to wake up to this blog. An inspiring and embracing of life and things. Thank you for starting my day. Jan
Janet on November 25, 2015 at 5:23 pm —
Happy Thanksgiving from America, Janet!
laura on November 25, 2015 at 9:00 pm —
I just saw your garden again and have to say the raised beds you've made are very nice. I hope to do something similar in my next home. I love all the herbs you grow too, but mostly concentrate on heirloom tomatoes & lots of basil. Right now I have to comment on your latest post: you've having a lot of tension, hence the grinding of teeth. I have a similar problem and have begun a routine of yoga exercises which include deep breathing. It is a wonderful, safe way to relax and change your body and your mind. Your dentist can help you with the grinding teeth. I enjoy your blog. Thank you.
Chris Maciel on November 29, 2015 at 12:49 pm —
Chris, I meditate and practice yoga, so I'm hopeful that will help address the increased tension I am experiencing. Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment!
laura on November 29, 2015 at 6:44 pm —