I'd much rather read than write so it's not much of a blog...

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Climate Change On A Dime

So many things seem to conspire to keep me off balance these days, including the weather. In the past week we've gone from digging out on a daily basis, sometimes more than once a day, to freakishly warm weather and a complete melt-off of all but the piled snow. This morning we woke to heavy lake effect snow and so for now at least it's back to snowshoeing out to the compost bins and the bird feeders, the way it should be in central New York in winter.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's All About the Sausage

Portuguese Kale Soup

1 lb Portuguese linguiƧa or the spicier chourico
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups stock
4 cups water
2 cups dry red wine
8-10 oz chopped kale
4 cups diced potatoes
3 cups cooked kidney beans

I usually start off by washing the kale.

I slice the sausage and render some of the fat before I add the onion and cook it until transparent. I add the stock, water and wine and let it simmer while I chop the kale which then cooks while I prep the potatoes. When the potatoes are almost tender I add the beans and cook the soup for about another 15 minutes.

If I'm using linguiƧa I add some cayenne but otherwise I don't add any seasoning because the salt and the seasoning from the sausage is sufficient.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fire and Ice

I would be enjoying this frigid, sun-dazzled winter morning but for the more than a million people without power. Some of our family and friends have been affected but they all have some way to heat with wood so they're in better shape than a lot of people.

Friday, December 12, 2008

No Tree This Year

An overcast but beautiful snowy morning here in CNY. I've already done a bit of shoveling and put out seed. There's close to a foot so far but it's tapering off.

Less than two weeks to Christmas and I have almost no holiday spirit. Like someone with bipolar disorder I seem to vacillate wildly between questioning every dollar I spend and thinking I might as well buy all the oysters, caviar and Amarone I can because it could well be our last.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bobolink Dairy

Seasonal Chef

I'm adding the last few things to the larder including cheese from Bobolink Dairy. I buy cheeses made closer to home but none of them compare to Bobolink raw milk cave-ripened cheddar or their Foret-washed farmstead cheese so twice a year I go a little further afield, just over the state line to New Jersey. Some cheese lovers might protest but I find the cheese keeps beautifully when I vacuum seal it and then let it breathe or bloom after I open it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Batter My Heart"

We ended a strange week on a strange note by going to see the HD theater broadcast of the Met's new production of "Dr. Atomic". I thought it was way too long and the new staging seemed to have everything thrown in except the kitchen sink.

I have no idea why there was woman walking back and forth across the stage with a dustpan but it was, like many of the other details, an annoying distraction.

Regardless, it was well worth sitting through just to see and hear Gerald Finley sing the "Batter My Heart" aria, John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIV.

A glorious baritone voice singing beautiful poetry set to a heartbreaking melody.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cooking Quince

I finally got some quince on Saturday, a half bushel. Yesterday as the first snow fell I cooked up the first batch and canned it. The world may going to hell in a hand basket but I've got me some lovely quince.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My 'Heirloom' Food Chopper

It was my mother's food chopper and it's the only one I've ever seen that's made of two hinged pieces that open to make it super easy to clean.

Monday, October 13, 2008

60 @ 60

I didn't think I was going to do it this riding season but the weather was perfect yesterday and The Mister was willing to ride with me. It took 7 1/2 hours but I ended up doing 62.2 miles.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Pub

The black canopy covers the stairs that go down to The Empire Brewing Company. The second floor windows directly above the canopy are those of The Mister's new office. He can actually take an elevator from his floor and walk out into the middle of the pub.

And so we have come to appreciate the concept of 'the growler'.

from The New York Daily News:


Once you are the proud owner of your own jug of beer, American Beer's Jay Steinhauer - who hopes to add even more taps for growlers at American in the fall - offers a few tips on taking care of it.

1. KEEP IT FRESH: Freshly poured beer won't stay fresh for long, says Steinhauer, so “keep it in the fridge,” he says. Unopened, it'll last for a week or two at most, but “once you open it pour it off in a couple of days,” he says, if not that night.

2. TREAT IT GENTLY: “Don't let it jostle around,” recommends Steinhauer of growlers, as that will kill the carbonation in the beer, especially if it has already been opened.

3. CHECK YOUR SUDS: If your growler has been sitting for a few days, says Steinhauer, gently rotate it, as the first beer poured is a little thinner and less flavorful. Or do as Steinhauer does, and serve yourself last.

4. TIDY UP: Most places don't clean the growlers before they refill them for you, so be sure to clean them yourself with lots of hot water. But don’t use soap, says Steinhauer, as it is hard to rinse away and the residue will interfere with the flavor of your beer.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Pot

This poor pot has had something cooking in it everyday for a couple of weeks. I think it needs a few days off.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Newman's Own

Getty Images
It hit me again this morning when I pulled out my bag of coffee and saw his picture on it: he's gone.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Goose

Total weight: over 30 pounds.

Elderberry Pond Farm

Elderberry Pond Farm

A friend and I went to the Organic Abundance Event at Elderberry Pond Farm yesterday, a fund raiser for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. Despite the lack of sun and cool temps it was a great success.

There was however, one aspect of the event that I wasn't able to keep from putting a damper on the day. One of the local chefs happened to be particularly extroverted so while we were eating at his station we learned a bit – probably more than we needed to know – about him.

This very young looking man and his wife, who have in the past few years bought and rebuilt an old farmstead as an inn and restaurant, were graciously contributing to this fund raiser for organic farming but the details of their life seemed to me completely at odds with organic and sustainable farming.

The chef explained to everyone that his wife wasn't at the event because she was home taking care of their little boys, ages 4 years, 22 months and 6 months. When a guest mentioned that the chef couldn't complain about having only boys for obvious reasons, the chef said he and his wife weren't done and they were going to keep going as long as they could.

He was also promoting his inn by listing the amenities including jacuzzi baths and flat screen plasma TV's in each room. And what was he driving? A freakin' Escalade!!

Also this past week The Mister noticed a man buying organic milk and then carrying it out to his Lincoln Navigator.

I know I'm not always consistent myself but these folks just can't be spending much time thinking about what they're doing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Season of Bounty

I'm trying to be mindful of my great and good fortune in having such abundance but I'm just so weary after all the time I've been spending in the kitchen dealing with it while at the same time suffering from the worst seasonal allergies I've ever had. This week I've been turning mountains of cime de rapa into rapini and just when I thought I was making progress I received a gift of I-don't-even-know-how-many pounds of fresh wild goose last night.

But goose is a wonderful substitute for wild duck in the ragu, the sugo d'antra, I learned to make in Tocchi so I am right and truly grateful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Ike still had a punch when it ripped through here early Monday morning and took out the power. We couldn't sleep for about two hours during the height of the windstorm and I spent a good part of that time wondering how people make it through the long hours of a full-fledged hurricane without going nuts.

Despite the downed tree limbs and general mess left by the storm I really do enjoy the quiet of the house when the power is out – as long as I can pull out my old Chemex and make a good cup of coffee for myself and my neighbor when she remembers I have a gas cooktop.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Lorings

Lorings are still my favorite for canning. I wish I could preserve the beautiful colors in their skin but at least a good part of it bleeds into the flesh and makes for some lovely jam.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Not Yo Mama's Dilly Beans

Not the recipe I used years ago but one with more spices and in this batch my Metechi garlic and chiles japones. Two long weeks until we can crack open the quart of trimmings...

Monday, September 8, 2008


I have a windfall of gorgeous organic Blue Lake beans. I was only planning to freeze a couple of packages of my own beans every few days but on Saturday one of the organic growers at the market had a bumper crop and was practically begging me to take a box. I couldn't pass 'em up.

Monday, September 1, 2008


It's hard to believe that we can be enjoying such glorious weather while the Gulf Coast hunkers down as Gustav approaches. But that's what we've got and we're making the most of it. After spending Saturday at the state fair where I enjoyed an hour or so getting as close as I could to 13 hitches of six draft horses each, we biked up to Oneida Lake yesterday and ended up doing over 40 miles before we went to our final baseball game of the season.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Good Peaches

Really, really good peaches this year and some spectacular red heart plums but they don't begin to make up for the dismal tomato crop. After a few more jars of peaches I'll be moving on to green tomato chutneys & piccalillies, lots and lots of chutney & piccalilly.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Local Olympians Win Gold Again

Beezie Madden aboard Authentic

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sweaters in August

Yesterday's weather felt every bit like October with more rain and cool temps. At least it settles the question of whether or not to bother taking my summer clothes out of the big suitcases I store 'em in.

Friday, August 8, 2008


We had rain most of the time we were in Vermont and now more rain here at home. The Brandywines are doomed. I should have planted rice.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Cistern

This is the one part of the house I've never stepped foot in, never really seen until it finally dawned on me last week that I could get a picture of it with a digital camera held over the edge. When we bought the house twenty years ago this was filled with 4 feet of water and every bit of roof on this Dutch colonial had old half-round gutters draining into it where they weren't twisted out of shape.

The first summer we had drought conditions so we'd used most of the water by the time we did the tear-off of the roof (of course thereby breaking the drought) and hung new gutters with conventional downspouts.

The plan was to cut an entryway in the 5 1/2 foot high, 1 foot thick concrete wall and use the space as a root cellar but I've now accepted the fact that it ain't gonna happen. Maybe someday when I'm dead and gone, someone will actually use this again as intended and the fact that we never cut into it will turn out to be a good thing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Bad?

I have 20 tomato plants in the garden. In this bed I have 3 Brandywines flanked by 2 Black Krims and the one Brandywine in the center has some form of 'wilt':

One tomato plant out of 20. At this point I'm pretty sure it's my fault. I think I got sloppy when I was pruning them and in taking off some suckers at the soil line at the same time I suspect I gave the soil-born disease a way in.

My dilemma is whether or not to remove the plant now or wait...

Funny how everyone seems to be blogging about tomatoes this week.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Clubman Has Arrived

I think the bonnet stripes are too much but there it sits in the driveway this morning.

Now I just need me a couple of nice pigs.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grisamore Farms

I picked the seven quarts of red raspberries at Grisamore Farms in Locke on Wednesday. As I finished, a woman and her two young daughters, all in sun bonnets, joined me.

It wasn't easy picking–there were a lot of overly ripe berries that were just too soft–but the flavor was very good.

I've been picking red raspberries at Grisamore's for almost twenty years. One of The Mister's coworkers took us the first time and then for several years my parents would visit the middle of July and the four of us would pick berries, stopping in Skaneateles for dinner at Doug's Fish Fry on the way home. My mother and I spent the evenings, most often warm and humid, making jam. Good memories.

Now I usually go by myself. It's a beautiful drive down 81 then twelve miles on a picturesque country road to Locke. Past seasons I've gone as many as three times to pick raspberries, sour cherries and blueberries but this year I'm going to try to make do with two trips and keep the carbon output and fuel costs down.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


They took forever to germinate this year but they were well worth the wait. So far we've been eating them a few at a time but next week there should be enough to warrant a sit down with some pecorino Toscano fresco and a glass of Prosecco.

Other first plantings didn't do as well due to slugs or flea beetles or the fact that I didn't water enough during the dry spells so I've spent the last couple of days clearing beds and sowing warm weather crops like beans, cucumber, summer squash, more basil and lettuce...

Now if I can just do a better job of keepinging everything adequately watered.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Oenothera Triloba

Just as I was finishing up outside last night I noticed the night blooming primrose, the stemless one that opens at dusk and is spent shortly after the break of light. There were already five blossoms but while I was taking a picture a sixth dramatically unfolded.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

On One Acre in Kentucky

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

When I saw this photo my gut immediately tightened. It's has to be one of the most frightening things a person can experience, to be in the vicinity of a wildfire. I'll never forget standing on the deck of our house in Kentucky watching and listening to a brushfire race across the hill behind us, waiting to see if it would jump the road below. We were lucky; conditions were such that the fire burned out without any real damage.

Obviously a lot of people in California this summer aren't so lucky. I hope they get some relief soon, especially in Big Sur where Emile Norman has his home and studio.

The Bees and the Basswood

The big basswood outside the kitchen door is loaded with blossoms this year. On this humid, overcast morning the fragrance fills the air. But there are so few honeybees. When we first lived here twenty years ago the tree would fairly hum with honeybees. I don't know if I'll ever have chickens here, I doubt I'll ever have a goat but I think I could manage a beehive so I'm going to see if the beekeepers at the state fair next month can tell me if I have a good location for a hive.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


The weed-pest of my garden, 2008, is yellow nutsedge, the result of another mistake on my part since I thought it was a rather attractive grass when it first appeared. Damn, you can't even eat the stuff which at least was a saving grace with my previous bete noire, lesser bittercress.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Before It Warms Up

I'm sitting here working up the nerve to open my first batch of fromage blanc and ladle it into the butter muslin lined colander. I am so counting on this to work, to provide us with a cheese that's better than what I can get locally or that isn't shipped from someplace afar.

The weather has been cool and clear so I'm taking advantage of it with the cheese and a pot of fagioli alla Frantoiana done in a slow oven, my favorite aroma therapy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Emile Norman

I was on my way to bed last night when I saw that the local PBS station was rebroadcasting "Emile Norman: By His Own Design". I have the dvd but still I got caught up in it all over again and ended up watching the whole thing trying to imagine what it's like to live a life filled with so much beauty.