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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mindless Excess

Really. The business associate of The Mister who sent this knows there are just two of us.

So now I have this 13# cudgel in the downstairs refrigerator. The website says it will serve 60 with 3030mg of sodium per 4oz serving. I don't think it would even be a good idea to donate it to the Rescue Mission with all that salt. Too bad the associate didn't just donate $120 to the Mission or the Food Bank in The Mister's name. Really.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Xmas 2009

One thing I can say for certain about Christmas 2009 is that I cooked Wendy's beef rib roast to perfection. Although my mother did one every year, I've only tried it a few times myself. It was gratifying to get it right and if I never do another, I will be quitting while I'm ahead. It was very good but I think I prefer goose.

Thank you Elise of Simply Recipes for the recipe and the crucial reminder to let the beef sit out at room temperature for several hours before putting it in the oven.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Skaneateles, New York, Winter 2008

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stickley Schmickley

In twenty years of doing business with Stickley I haven't had one thing thing done right the first time. This lamp table is ORANGE! I'm going to strip it. I'm going to sand it. I'm going to refinish it. I'm not going to buy another thing from Stickley.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Buckeye 1996-2009

Buckeye, believed to be one of the country's oldest and most prolific male peregrine falcons, died last week after apparently striking a building near its urban nest on the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, Ohio.

I've been following the falcons on the Terminal Tower since they were first provided a scrape maybe twenty years ago. Szell and Zenith were the first I remember. At that time peregrines were still migrating every year and one year when Szell didn't return Zenith bonded with a young falcon from Columbus, Ohio, Buckeye.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Clear

Flickr is better than Picasa. I'm not much of a photographer but I couldn't understand why my pictures looked even less impressive here. I finally went back to Flickr and tried uploading from there. Voilà!

Friday, November 6, 2009


While I was still sitting here this morning this sharp shinned hawk chased what I think was the jay I heard just before the impact, into the window at high, if not full, speed. My heart is still racing.

The hawk finally flew off without any apparent difficulty but I haven't been out to see if there's another bird on the ground below the window.

...no sign of the jay.

A Hint

A hint of what's to come. Fortunately the weather is going to warm up again at least one more time and give me a chance to finish up a few things outdoors, including planting some garlic in a prepared bed. And cleaning the bird feeders.

After I clean the feeders I'll spray them and some plantings like the rhododendron with my favorite deer deterrent, Tree Guard®.

And that will be it. The season will be over.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beer Week

Oh the hell with the diet.

nys farm & empire beer dinner
monday, nov 2nd @ 6:30pm
$45 per person (tax and tip included)

applewood smoked trout
w/ dill & lemon infused Meadowood Farms sheep’s milk brebis cheese,
chive blini & caviar
beer pairing: cream ale

course 1:
kobe beef tenderloin carpaccio
shaved Meadows Farm kobe beef served w/ Lucky Moon Farm roasted
garlic & hardcooked free range egg, frisee, olive oil, caper & lemon
beer pairing: brown ale

course 2:
roasted local quail
stuffed w/ herbed cous cous & dates,
served w/ roasted root vegetables,
topped w/ an espagnole “brown” sauce
beer pairing: critz farms pumpkin ale

course 3:
profiterole of duck confit
puff pastry filled w/ Hudson Valley duck confit,
accompanied w/ Liehs & Steigerwald slab bacon
braised in Raindrop Farm maple syrup
beer pairing: smoked maple porter

course 4:
braised short ribs
Maple Ave Farm prime black angus beef short ribs
served w/ pureed Frosty Morning parsnips
& barley wine demi-glace
beer pairing: barley wine

course 5:
organic pecan pie
served w/ Kimberly’s dark chocolate stout ice cream
beer pairing: black magic stout

eat where you live

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Food Inc.

We saw "Food Inc." last night and even though I've read Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation" ) and Michael Pollan ("The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" ) the images in the film made their arguments even more compelling.

More than the tragic story of a mother who lost her preschooler to E. coli O157:H7, I was moved by the mother of the poor family who asked how she is supposed to feed her family a healthy diet when fast food hamburgers are cheaper than fresh vegetables. That about sums it up and it explains so much.

But the overarching image that I took away from the film was one in which people, human beings, have become just like the pitiful cattle in the dreadful CAFOs, the contained animal feeding operations: overfed on unnatural diets with resultant health problems by a system increasingly in danger of collapse.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

What happened? How did I gain almost 10lbs.? The short answer is that they were giving away ice cream. Or almost. Often this year a local supermarket has had Ben & Jerry’s on sale for $2.50, often when I’ve had a coupon to bring down the price to $2.00. If I hadn’t felt guilty about the dairy farmers getting screwed out of a decent price for their milk I probably would have gained another 10.

To make matters worse–or better–this supermarket is the only one in town that carries my favorite B&J’s flavor, Dave Matthews Band’s Magic Brownies. Lordy, I love this stuff and the fact that my indulgence supports a good cause:

“As the main course in our ongoing Lick Global Warming campaign, Dave Matthews Band’s Magic Brownies™ combines the spirit of Dave Matthews Band, the razzle of chocolate and [the dazzle of ] raspberries and the conscience of Mother Earth in one place. A portion of every sale of Dave Matthews Band’s Magic Brownies™ goes to Dave Matthews Band’s Bama Works Fund to support the work of nonprofit groups taking action against global warming. In 2007, this flavor produced royalties of $35,471 for Bama Works.”

$35,471 in 2007 alone and I didn’t eat much that year! How much ice cream would that represent and how much have they raised this year when I’ve been eating my fair share and then some?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dinner After the First Hard Freeze

Frost is one thing and not unexpected mid October but this is way too early for the first hard freeze. We haven't put up all the hoses, emptied birdbaths, etc. If we don't get an Indian Summer it's going to be a dreadfully long winter.

Jacques Pépin's Corn and Hominy Chowder
Serves: 6

• 3 tablespoons good olive oil
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 1/2 cup minced scallion
• 1/2 cup Green Hot Salsa or less for a milder soup
• 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in sauce
• 1 (28-ounce) can white hominy (about 3 cups kernels and juice)
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
• 4 cups chicken stock, homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
• About 1/2 teaspoon salt (less if using canned chicken broth)
• 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn)
• 1/2 cup (lightly packed) fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic, onion, and scallions.
Cook for 3 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the corn and cilantro.
Bring to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes.
Stir in the corn and cilantro, return to a boil, and serve.

from Jacques Pépin: "Fast Food My Way"

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Frost is On the Pumpkins

It's cold this morning after the first, light frost. I didn't want to leave my cozy comforter here on the chilly porch to go get the camera and take a picture of the two white pumpkins I bought this weekend so I did a google image search. My god there are a amazing number of stupid white pumpkin photos out there. Fortunately Waldo Jaquith has this fine image at Flickr. Grazie Waldo.

Several years ago I read Marlena de Blasi’s “A Thousand Days In Venice” and couldn't wait to try her recipe for stuffed pumpkin. As with so many recipes these days, especially those that have been translated from metric to imperial, this one needed adjustments. In order to avoid any uncertainty about procuring fresh truffle, one change I make in my version is to use Boschetto.

This year I'm going to enjoy my first white pumpkins for awhile as they sit on the floor in the kitchen and then I'm gonna stuff 'em.

Whole Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Porcini and Truffles
(Zucca al Forno Ripena con Porcini e Tartufi)
Serves 8

1 large pumpkin, approximately 4-5 lbs., stalk end cut to form a cap,
seeds and strings removed from cavity

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
1 ounce dried porcini, softened in 1/2 cup of warm water

1 egg, beaten
1 cup mascarpone
4 ounces Boschetto al Tartufo Bianchetto cheese, grated
(or another cheese and 1 truffle, thinly sliced or 1.5 ounces truffle paste)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon white pepper
sea salt
4 slices firm-textured day old white bread, cut into 1 inch squares

1. Place the pumpkin in a heavy baking dish and bake for 1 hour at 350°.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan, melt the butter and sauté the onion. Add the mushrooms and sauté until both soften.

3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients one at a time. Add the mushrooms and onions and stir until well mixed.

4. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the pumpkin, replace the pumpkin cap and roast for 45 minutes or until the pumpkin flesh is very soft.

5. Carry the pumpkin immediately to the table, remove its cap and spoon out portions of the flesh with the stuffing.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


After days and days and days of much-needed rain we have some sun this morning. It's gonna hurt but I'm doing a bike ride this afternoon before I head to Ohio tomorrow.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Boschetto al Tartufo

I like all the pecorinos from il Forteto but there's also a lovely soft cheese made with sheep's and cow's milk and truffles. My favorite way to eat eggs is in a simple cheese omelet with Boschetto. That's it for foodie indulgences for a while.

In an e-mail today from iGoumet:
"Boschetto al Tartufo Bianchetto is about as amazing as a cheese gets. Our friends at Il Forteto in Mugello have now created another outstanding version, aged for four months. Instead of a blend of sheep and cow milk, Stagionato is made from pure sheep's milk. The master cheese maker at Il Forteto has still maintained a precious harmony between the pronounced, pungent taste of the extremely scarce (and expensive) white truffle and pure sheep's milk. The scent and flavor will still bowl you over with delight. The base is firmer and drier, so it's easier to add a dash of truffle flavor to your favorite dishes. If you love our original Boschetto as much as we do, the Stagionato version is a must try."

I'm very tempted but I'll wait to see if it shows up at Wegmans...

Oro Antico

For me, food blogging has become a lot less enjoyable in light of the economic distress so many people are experiencing these days. Fortunately I don't get much traffic here so any excess on my part isn't likely to be noticed. I think.

Anyway, I am cutting back on some things to allow us to give more particularly to organizations that are losing state funding but I don't believe anyone's fate is going to be made better if the purveyors of specialty foods go belly-up. While I can I'm continuing to purchase my favorites especially from those who operate with practices I support.

Il Forteto, a cooperativa agricola in the countryside near Florence, got its start three decades ago with a group of idealistic university students and 40 sheep. Today the property supports more than 2,000 sheep and a large, modern creamery producing a variety of superb sheep's milk cheeses.

What's equally impressive is il Forteto's philanthropic mission to provide a haven and a productive future for children with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. Those who are capable assume jobs on the property and contribute to the farm economy.

My pecorino of choice is il Forteto's Oro Antico Riserva del Casaro. Wegmans often has it, and when they don't iGourmet always has, but this summer I'd gone through what I had and I couldn't fine it anywhere.

Then last week, there it was in the case at Wegmans in several uncut wheels! I bought one, an entire small wheel of Oro Antico. It turns out that Wegmans is promoting several of the wonderful cheeses made by il Forteto this fall.

For the moment I'm getting an inordinate amount of pleasure just looking at this uncut cheese while I finish the much saltier pecorino Romano I bought to tide me over.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Warblers have also returned to the park this week including a number of black-throated green and black-throated blue warblers.

Hummingbirds are still moving through central NY; we saw one at the feeder last night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

They're Back!

The cairn builder or builders have returned. I noticed the large cairn a week or so ago but yesterday there were others. Maybe not quite as impressive as those of Andy Goldsworthy but still a joy to see up ahead on the trail.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

First Up

First up was a team of Belgians. They were followed by twenty-one teams including Belgians, black Percherons, one team of Shires and for the first time in several years, one team of gray Percherons, my favorites.

Both the Shires and and the Grays added a pair to compete along with eleven other teams in the eight-horse hitch event. I loved every minute of it: more than 150 draft horses, more than 600 horseshoes going clop, clop, clop on the pavement and who knows-how-many pounds of tack jingle-jangling.

Congratulations to Windermere Farms of Defiance, Ohio and their magnificent black Percherons who won again this year.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The End of Summer

It feels every bit like fall. Good weather for going to the state fair, not so good for the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers still struggling to ripen.

We did our first trip to the fair on Friday to see llamas. One of the things I will never understand about The Mister is how he can hang out for hours in the llama barn at the state fair year after year.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Spa

There's racing and then there's racing racing. I used to enjoy thoroughbred racing. I will be forever grateful to Point Given for giving me a way to escape the immediate aftermath of the events on 9-11-01. I spent a few days on the Cape that October before I picked up my aunt in Oxford (she was supposed to fly from Logan to Pittsburgh on 9-11) and after a short visit here, I drove her to my cousin's near Pittsburgh.

From Pittsburgh I drove to Ashland, KY where The Mister and I lived '78-'83, and then on to Lexington. I stayed at one of our favorite inns, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, caught two days of racing at Keeneland and visited Point Given and his stable mates, including Seattle Slew and Silver Charm, at Three Chimneys Farm.

It was a beautiful autumn that year and I was lucky to be able to take off the way I did.

Now I find it kind of sad that since then I've come to see horse racing as just another example of excess, another lovely notion ruined by too much money. And the connections of Rachel Alexandra are a perfect example.

As of yesterday, Rachel A. is scheduled to run at Saratoga on the 5th. Despite my misgivings, I'd really like to see her run. But, and this is why I'm trying to sort all this through here, the 5th is also the day the draft horses compete in six and eight horse hitches at the state fair and I always love seeing them.

'Tis a quandary.


First there's the race against late blight. I've picked more tomato leaves than fruit so far this year but weather conditions have suppressed the blight for the last couple of weeks and now I'm just waiting to see if the plants will hold on long enough for all the green tomatoes to ripen.

Then there's the race against the calendar; I'm still waiting on the first eggplant. I didn't have to protect them this year from flea beetles but I think I'll try to extend the season a bit for these beauties with a poly tunnel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Real Heavyweight

At this point in my life I've been routinely shedding possessions rather than adding to them. For one thing, over the past several years now I've limited myself to no more than one new cookbook each year but for some odd reason since I've been doing this the cookbooks have gotten huge. Why??

I tried to avoid buying my own copy of this tome. I borrowed a copy from the library and tried to be satisfied with that but it is just too lovely, the stories, the photos, the recipes, everything about it except the size.

page 578, Special Sablé Biscuits, plain & salted

page 588, Chocolate Parfait
made with Amedei Chuao and a Swiss meringue

Friday, July 31, 2009

What I Did On My 'Vacation'

Well. This year Versus finally made The Tour available online. I bought a pass for the whole thing and got a great picture when I hooked up the MacBook to the TV. I don't care for the Versus commentators, particularly Paul Sherwen, so I listened to David Harmon and Sean Kelly on EuroSport.

I was sorry to see my favorite rider, Oscar Pererio, abandon early on but I was happy to see Franco Pellizotti win the polka dot jersey.

And the tour went through the Val d'Aosta this year on a gorgeous day with great visibility. Merci Versus.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mannequin Pis

or Manneken Pis
"Is Peeing in Public Green?"

a Mannequin Pis bell my mother bought in Brussels during WWII

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Dark and Dreary June

Shortly after I put up my last post I read that Kenny Rankin had died. It came as a shock. His voice has been part of the soundtrack of my adult life. For years Kenny Rankin and Michael Franks were the two people I would drop everything to see perform, especially in the intimate settings of clubs like The Bottom Line.

I've been playing his music constantly for the past three weeks. I've downloaded the stuff I still had on vinyl and anything else I didn't already have. Some recordings like my favorite disc, "Here In My Heart" aren't available any longer; how does that happen?

A few days earlier Koko Taylor died so I've felt obliged to play some Wang Dang Doodle, etc. too.

The music hasn't made me feel better so much as it's supported the mood I've been in.

We've had so much rain the garden is a mess: weeds and slugs. Until this week I haven't even wanted to look at it. I've been able to ride a bike into one village or the other for various errands but I've only done one nice ride on my road bike. And here it is the end of June.

And I haven't been able deal with people except in small doses. Almost everyone I come into contact with seems clueless about the ramifications of the economic collapse and they continue to act as though nothing's changed. I feel like I live in an asylum. And the inmates are definitely running it. And just to prove it there's this national hysteria about Michael Jackson.

I'm just grateful it's been a good month for strawberries.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Old is New

The old quart canning jars I brought back from Ohio are in better shape than I expected; only one of the 36 had a chip on the rim. I haven't used a lot of quart jars in the past but I'm planning to use these to can more in the way of sauces, ragus and such. I've wiped off one layer of grime. Now I kinda wish I still had a dishwasher...

I can't help but wonder about the folks who filled these jars over the years and the meals they prepared with the contents. I think these jars are typical in that they haven't been used by the children or the grandchildren of the original owners and the details of their history are lost forever.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Peregrines 2009

On Tuesday they banded the four young Syracuse falcons: three were judged to be female, but they're uncertain about the smallest bird.

Meanwhile somewhere in or around the Cleveland Clinic, a 2005 Syracuse fledgling named Cade is tending her first brood of four.

Unfortunately the fledging I had the close contact with last year, Matilda, was euthanized after she was found badly injured earlier this year.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Wet Week

After two months with very little rain, storms staying to the north of us, storms tracking south of us, the week I plan to set out tomatoes and such we get at least some measure of rain every single day. I feel like I'm getting further and further behind. Oh and we've spotted another groundhog in the neighborhood; lovely that is.

At least the little fringe tree is happy and its scent fills the yard.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Long Week

Last week was a long one. It started off on Monday with the installation of an old cabinet where the dishwasher used to be, followed by the new countertop, sink and old new faucet. As with any project there was a mess to clean up before I could make a cake and head to Ohio on Thursday. And the tomato plants had to be staked and moved outside at the last minute when I realized they were going to outgrow the lights before I got back.

All went well in Ohio although my mother says that's it for birthday parties; if she has any more birthdays she says please just send a card.

Memorial Day (observed) I was home for our traditional trek to Tully's to watch the lax championship game. As it happens, this year both teams came from the homes of two members of the Iroquois Confederacy with long traditions of playing lacrosse, the Onondaga and Cayuga Nations. I was cheering for Cornell but Syracuse did it again coming from three goals down with less than four minutes left to tie it in the last few seconds and then winning in overtime, 9-10.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Me Mum

hiding her rheumatoid hands, 1984?

Today is my mother's 90th birthday. I'm driving to Ohio this morning with a homemade angel food cake per her request.

Europe, WWII

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


My tomatoes have taken off but I won't be able to put them outside until Monday; it's going to be interesting to see if they outgrow the lights before then.

Meanwhile there are four peregrine eyas on the State Tower Building again this year and they're also growing at the usual alarming rate.

May 16

May 20

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Haxnicks Ltd

Haxnicks' Easy Net Tunnel

I've become a big fan of Haxnicks products. I got a big net tunnel from Seeds of Change a few years ago and after seeing how well the material holds up I invested in a few more this year. The netting provides protection from critters, especially the bunnies when they're small enough to squeeze through the fence, and the deer before I set out the tomatoes and such sprayed with Tree Guard ®.

We escaped the freezing temps the past two nights but one of the great things about these tunnels is that they can also support some Agribon or plastic. They're wicked easy to move and store.