Lights, iPhone, Action

There was much of all the above in my ecumenical week of December 29th. On Tuesday, Temple Emanu-El offered a free Handel & Hannakkah (their spelling) concert with counter- tenor Anthony Roth Costanza and mezzo- soprano Isabel Leonard together with the Clarion Choir and orchestra playing period instruments no less. Judas Maccabeus, written by Handel five years after he wrote The Messiah, has similarities though this oratorio focuses on the rebellion against King Antiochus that allowed the Jews to reclaim the second temple. The huge sanctuary seats 2500– and almost all the seats were filled.

Friday Emanu-El had a classic Shabbat service enlivened with Hannakuh (my spelling) music and performers from the Yiddish production of Fiddler on the Roof. The performance, um, service was pretty rousing all around ending with the dreidel song for which one of the cantors donned sunglasses and rocked it.

Saturday I trekked to Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights to see the houses adorned in zillions of lights, total holiday one-upmanship. My express bus was comfy and landed me less than two blocks from my destination. A friend and I walked around gawping and especially liked the more over-the-top  homes. Santa riding a polar bear is a new look as was a

Dyker Heights house in all its modest decoration

display featuring six reindeer—possibly made where the classic legend is ignored or not appreciated. In this display, poor Rudolph didn’t even get a nod.

Sunday was the annual Park Avenue tree lighting with streets blocked off so people could congregate. I thought crowds would be on the sparse side but no, the area was jammed  with adults, babies, toddlers and a great many dogs. The event takes place in front of the Brick Church that went mod a few years back with colored lights. I forgot to wear my reindeer antlers but will get them out for Christmas day.

Brick Church with trees

Very bright all around, a great contrast to last year.

More lights…

Light Oven Baked Salmon

3 Tbls low sodium soy sauce

2 Tbls olive oil

2 Tbls honey

1 Tbls Dijon mustard

2 cloves minced garlic (not in my house)

1 lb salmon filet skin on

Let salmon come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish (or any dish that will hold salmon) with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.

In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, olive oil, honey, Dijon and minced garlic (if using.)

Place salmon, skin side down, in baking dish. Pour about 2/3 of the sauce over the salmon, reserving the rest. Bake for 15 minutes; brush on the remaining sauce. Bake 2-5 minutes more. Test for doneness by sticking knife into thickest part of fish. If flaky, even it a little pink, that’s it.

Serve with dry white wine, sparkling water or pretty much any beverage of your choice. Hum a seasonal song.

 

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Today’s Bears and Lions

To say that both the Brown and Columbia football teams are inept is an understatement. On Saturday I went to the game at Columbia’s Baker Stadium with a friend although we left slightly before halftime when lightening crackled. (At that point Brown was ahead 7-0. When play resumed they lost—by a lot.) The whole experience was so far removed from my previous involvement with college football it was like a time warp.

Back story: many of the men in my family —father, uncle, cousin– went to Princeton. All of them cherished college life.  Going to a Princeton football game was a sacred ritual; it didn’t matter if it was raining or snowing, we went. Once, in the stands with our fathers, freezing from an onslaught of wet snow, my cousin and I, (both in our very early teens), begged for the car keys. Finally, one of the men tossed them to us; we finally found the car in one of the large lots, opened it and huddled in the cold back seat until the game was over and our fathers returned. No one discussed our near hypothermia; the game was what counted. I still know the words to all the Ivy college football school songs from Going Back to Nassau Hall to Roar Lion Roar.

Today’s football experience was different. I missed the bands– Columbia’s band was –literally–disbanded a few years ago and Brown’s didn’t come to New York.

Instead of college songs there was piped-in, contemporary music. Before the game the senior Columbia players were introduced with reference to their home towns and majors (several are in Sustainable Development, a field I never heard of before but apparently it equips one to join the military or work for a company that wants to operate in a way that reduces strain on the environment.)

Farewell to an actual Columbia lion; instead, there was a huge blue and white lion-esque blowup which the Columbia players ran through to get onto the field. Although my friend went to Brown, we sat on the Columbia side because only there can you secure a ticket for a seat with a back.  There are cheerleaders, mostly women with a few men, but as yet women refs haven’t hit the Ivies.

Regardless of the changes, the day was a lot of fun. The world has moved on and with it college football.

 

 

Here is a recipe with a focus on brown:

Caramel Sauce with Brown Sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

½   cup butter

¼ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a gentle boil and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; add vanilla extract.

Serve over gingerbread, bread pudding, ice cream or anything else as it would enliven a sponge. Listen to the Brown Band play a few Brown songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vcr6rrl23YI

 

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Review: City Center Fall for Dance

Review for www.newyorkarts.net:

Dance Antipasto

Fall for Dance, City Center’s festival of moderately-priced eclectic offerings, returned to a wildly enthusiastic crowd more than ready for live entertainment.  Even without the urging of Felix Hess, Emcee of the opening act, to “make noise” the audience was revved up and ready to roll in the full we’re back spirit.

Streb Extreme Action opened the evening with electronic music and the circus plus a cheerleading-esque routine. The curtain rose on three performers poised high above the stage atop a metal unit that looked like a gigantic Erector Set. Their boots were strapped to the top bar enabling them to revolve forwards and backwards highlighting abs of steel. Later, the entire troupe in asexual steel blue unitards bounced creatively on a huge trampoline before landing on crash mats with a sickening thud. While it was exciting to watch the athletes flying and posing in the air, the whump as they landed with outstretched arms was terrifying. There was more fear and tension as the company leapt from the trampoline in twos and threes so that a mid-air collision seemed entirely possible.

Streb Extreme Action

Interspersed with the performance and covering the breakdown of the equipment, Hess worked the crowd, urging them into a stadium wave and shooting T-shirts into the audience.

Cheers to the performers for technical flair and a fervent hope that they avoid injury.

Our Indigo: If We Were a Love Song, was set to music by Nina Simone performed by A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham, a company “galvanized by Black culture and history.” In Little Girl Blue, Gianna Theodore displayed sinuous limbs and lovely flow; too bad the choreography was so earth-bound because, on the few occasions she was upright, her impact was much stronger.  Emotional pain was suggested throughout the work but, except for a few group tangles and the exaggerated chest contractions of Jae Neal in Don’t Explain, the effect was murky. None of the pieces, all choreographed by Mr. Abraham, went anywhere even as the superbly conditioned dancers bent, rolled and occasionally reached out for one another. The group spent too much time on the floor to make their movements fully visible which diminished the total effect. If Indigo were a painting it would be a dark central blob with a few elongated curls that would not make me spend a long time in close examination.

Our Indigo

 

Last up was Sweet Gwen Suite, a recreation of three Bob Fosse works from the 60s’ choreographed for Gwen Verdon. Their daughter, Nicole Fosse, credited as Artistic Director, said she intended the work as homage especially to her mother.  Dancing Verdon, Georgina Pazcoguin, a New York City ballet soloist, is very unlike her physically, a smart call to avoid that particular comparison. Pazcoguin rendered the hip thrusts, shoulder pops and other hallmarks of Verdon’s dancing and Fosse’s choreography admirably but minus the sense of impish fun that Verdon injected.  Zachary Downer and Tyler Eisenreich completed the trio in the right tone but it was true Gwen-ness we were waiting for and didn’t quite get. We did get style and an angled sombrero, part of the reimagined original costumes with plenty of glitz from costume designer Bobby Pearce. The three go-go numbers were fun but the real Verdun/ Fosse team was boffo.

Suite Gwen Suite

 

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On the Waterfront

As in the East River via the NYC Ferry which does an admirable (yes!) job. On Sunday, departing from the East 90th street landing, the boat zigged and zagged to Astoria, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City and East 34th street before docking at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, my destination. People boarded with dogs, babies and bikes on a perfect day——the air was cool as befits early fall but warm enough to sit outside on the top deck.

Top deck of NYC Ferry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Navy Yard was on the Open House New York ‘open access’ list so a friend and I figured more areas there than usual would be viewable. Wrong.  Many, but far from all, of the indoor food stations were open and there were a few half-hearted demonstrations of carpentry and art that we passed by. There were two or three food trucks. In terms of visitors, there weren’t a ton in marked difference from my experience as an OHNY volunteer the previous day at  1014 Fifth Aveue opposite the Met Museum.

The Yard opened in 1801; served as America’s premier naval shipbuilding facility for 165 years, and was at its peak during WWII. In 1966 it was decommissioned and sold to the City. Now it is an industrial park with some very old buildings and many new ones. At the end of our visit we bought beers and sat outside sipping. We passed up very good looking Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches (offered in both the regular and veg versions) because the timing was wrong.

Getting to the Navy Yard was more than half the fun. Too bad there isn’t an audio guide describing what you are passing as well as what buildings used to be there but regardless, the skyline on both sides of the river are interesting and ever-changing.  Long Island City is sprouting skyscrapers and everywhere are examples of both good (rare) and terrible (plentiful) urban architecture.

 

 

It’s not the same as the New York of my childhood but it’s still a pretty wonderful town.

Here’s how to make a non-authentic and delicious banh mi:

Shortcut Banh Mi With Pickled Carrots and Daikon – NY Times

(This serves 6. Cut back ingredients for fewer servings)

¾ cup shredded carrots

¾ cup thinly sliced cucumber

½ cup shredded daikon radish

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the pork

½ cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

2 to 3 tablespoons sriracha or other chili sauce, to taste

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (not in my house)

1 pound ground pork (substitute ground turkey or thin-pounded chicken breast)

2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (substitute low sodium soy sauce)

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

½ cup chopped fresh basil (if you have it on hand)

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1/2 lime

For the sandwich

6 small hero rolls or 2 baguettes cut into thirds, split (if you choose baguettes get very fresh ones)

Fresh jalapeño, thinly sliced and seeded, for serving (or not)

Mint sprigs, for serving (you can opt out  —I would)

Cilantro sprigs, for serving (also opt out of this but that depends on your cilantro position)

 This is in no way authentic but delicious.  Beer goes well with it as would champagne or tap water. Hum Anchors Away if you’re so inclined.

 

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Lakes

Great Lakes

Great Lakes

My driver from the Chicago’s Midway airport to my friend’s house in Sawyer, MI, was the Michigan version of Bob and Ray. The house sits on a large expanse of private beach right on Lake Michigan where the water was so delightful I spent more time in than out. There are rocks to admire and pick up as well as a sandbar which is nice underfoot.

 

 

Tomatoes were peak so we ate pounds of them, in salads, ratatouille, on sandwiches, etc. How many meat markets are National Historic Sites? Drier’s, (aka Union Meat Market) in nearby Three Oaks, is. The shop opened in 1875; has a pre-Civil War front and sells indescribably delicious liverwurst, ring baloney, hams and bacon as well as condiments such as their special mustard.

One evening we drove to the Indiana Dunes State Park, walking along a trail to a platform jutting over a wetland. Several avid bird watchers were there pointing out a goldfinch and sandhill cranes overhead; wood ducks and herons in the water.

My visit included two evening power failures due to heavy rain. My host was prepared with an assortment of lanterns and headlights so it was fun (for me); not so great for her as her road partly washed out and a large tree fell on the forest trail to the beach.

Trumpet-blowing pig, Bill Stewart

Lake Two was Erie. Buffalo is at the eastern end of that lake at the head of the Niagara River. There I connected with my older daughter and Bob, her partner, for dinner at the start of Labor Day weekend. Saturday we went to the Burchfield Penny Art Center that displays Burchfield’s works and those of other artists in a stunning space. Among them: ceramicist Bill Stewart whose pig I loved.

 

 

We had to skip the Albright-Knox as it’s closed for a massive renovation but spent a little time at the lovely Japanese Garden adjacent to the Historical Museum. After lunch we visited the Martin House, a Frank Lloyd Wright complex built from 1903-1905, which gave rise to renewed feelings of dislike for the man although it’s hard—really impossible—to overlook his work. The house is stunning and uncomfortable with the usual unsittable chairs and sofas facing away from one another rendering conversation impossible but has a large kitchen with clever refrigerated cabinets set into the wall. (If anyone has a range from this period, do contact the house trustees who have been seeking one for some time. www.martinhouse.org

Back in western NYS where my daughter lives, one rainy day was spent making gallons of tomato sauce from the enormous garden.

Just a few tomatoes…

The following day we went to Letchworth State Park stopping at the small, very informative museum and the adorable Glen Iris Inn before viewing two of the three terrific waterfalls. There is kayaking and whitewater rafting, thankfully not on the Genesee River which forms the falls.

This recipe comes from Bob who has become a true vegan.

Vegetable Pancakes Phillips Creek

(Note: measurements are approximate. Recipe is very forgiving. If you don’t have these vegetables substitute others although the zucchini is a keeper.)

Shred:

2 medium zucchini

2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled)

12 string beans

In large bowl combine vegetables with:

½ cup matzoh meal

One egg.

Stir to combine well. Form into patties.

In a cast iron skillet, heat about 2 Tbls. vegetable oil.  Add patties and cook about five minutes on each side or until browned. Serve with applesauce, sour cream or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Hum a few bars of New York, New York.

Continue reading

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Ho-Ho-Ho boken

I went there by bus from Port Authority which seems a lot nicer than years back when I was last there.

Hoboken has a split personality: the water’s edge is lined with gigantic, expensive apartment buildings while the actual “downtown” is made up of brownstones. There are lots of flowers in window boxes and on stands.  I found the vibe yuppy to the max, supported by a population of blue collar workers who probably work for the yups, all of whom have babies, dogs or both.

Dog fountain in Elysian Fields Park

Bagel shops and pizza places predominate the dining scene. The pizza makes sense; after all, Hoboken is the home of Frank Sinatra. (Apparently an Italian population came after an earlier German group.) The bagels, (including one store called O’Bagel), speaks to what Gen Y eats for breakfast—and maybe lunch and dinner.

In WWI, the city was a major hub for departing doughboys. General Patton is credited with the motto “Heaven, Hell or Hoboken… by Christmas.” Hoboken is purportedly the home of the waffle cone; Tootsie Rolls made in great quantity during WWII, perhaps to add something tasty to military K-rations and the first recorded game of baseball (take that, Abner Doubleday). During the 1950s, Hoboken’s economy was driven by Todd Shipyards, where many ships were built, as well as  Maxwell House, Lipton Tea, Hostess as in cupcake and Bethlehem Steel.

My friend and I lunched at Elysian Fields where the food is fine but our server, a young man whose name I won’t reveal, was so tall we thought the blood might not be able to reach his head in that he forgot to put our order in and other server errors.

We came home by NY Waterways Ferry where my request at the ticket machine yielded four tickets (I asked for one) but no change. However, when we disembarked, a free bus was there to transport me to the East Side where I hopped a regular Madison Avenue bus uptown. Had we stayed longer, we could have enjoyed a free concert in Frank Sinatra Park but sans old Blue Eyes….

To honor all the Hoboken pizza and pizza eaters, here’s a DIY version. I’ve made pizza a few times and always started by buying the dough. You can top whatever dough you decide on with a good tomato sauce which you can also buy and augment as you see fit—with sausage, more fresh basil, other cheeses and –if you must – pineapple and ham a la Obama.

Pan-Fried Pizza—New York Times from Mark Bittman

  • 2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more as needed
  • ¾ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for cooking
  • About 2 cups any light, fresh tomato sauce, warmed
  • Sliced mozzarella to taste
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Prosciutto slices and basil leaves for topping (optional)
  1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a food processor. Turn machine on and add 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons oil through feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a tablespoon or so at a time, until mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. (If mixture becomes too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)
  2. Put one tablespoon olive oil in a bowl and turn dough ball in it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. When dough is ready, re-form into a ball and divide it into 4 pieces; roll each piece into a ball. Place each piece on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until each puffs slightly, about 20 minutes.
  3. When ready to cook, press one ball into about a 10-inch round. Use a little flour, if needed, to prevent sticking and a rolling pin, if desired. Film a 10-inch skillet with olive oil and turn heat to medium. When oil shimmers, put dough in pan and adjust heat so it browns evenly without burning. (If dough puffs up unevenly in spots, push bubbles down.)
  4. Turn dough, then top browned side with tomato sauce, cheese, a bit of salt and pepper, and, if you like, prosciutto and/or basil leaves. If top is now heavily laden, cover pan and continue cooking, or run it under broiler, just until toppings become hot. With only a couple of toppings, just cook until bottom browns. Repeat with remaining dough; serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Drink a nice Italian red wine. Or, a Hoboken beer like Pilsner Parkway. Play some Sinatra music and pretend you’re a true, under-thirty Hobokener. Older? Just play the music.

 

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Digits

I.e., fingers as in the Finger Lakes. I rented a terrific house in Naples, NY, selected because the town is roughly mid-way between where my older daughter lives and my granddaughter is working at her college this summer.

The first day we went to Grimes Glen, known for its three waterfalls. You’d have to be a more intrepid water-walker than I to see them all but we got fairly close to the first one. Minus family I visited Conklin’s Gully where people have built stone cairns.

Daughter Carolyn at Grimes Glen

Grape pie is one of the touted foodstuffs of the area, made by several local bakeries. We bought one and, while it wasn’t terrible, I’d take blueberry, apple or cherry any time. One night we had dinner at Park Inn in Hammondsport where the seafood “stew” was fabulous. Earlier we had lunch at the iconic Ruth and Bob’s diner in Naples, straight out of the 50s complete with orange bar stools, linoleum on the floor and servers in their sixties and up. The food is unremarkable but the step back in time is priceless.

Wineries abound here although most of the local wine is pretty bad. Hunt Country Vineyards has a gorgeous setting brightened with magnificent hollyhocks although their wine would work better as  as a substitute for vinegar in salad dressing.

One day I drove—in pelting rain so heavy there were times I could barely see the vehicle in front of me- to Aurora on Cayuga Lake. The town is on the National Registry of Historic Places with several inns that were originally mansions. Wells College is here and just outside the town sits MacKenzie Childs, home of pricey, whimsical, ultra-cutsey table ware and other things I did not buy.

Even the bathroom at MacKenzie Childs is cute

Naples is home to the Cumming Nature Center, a spin-off of the Rochester Museum and Science Center.  After an eco book discussion there was a hike along one of the center’s beautifully maintained trails, enlivened by mushroom info from one of the hikers, a former mycologist.

I particularly like the paperweight display and glass history exhibit at The Corning Museum of Glass. The current display linking wine and glass was meh but the glass-blowing demo was great with a woman blower who made it look easy.

Native Americans were in this area (and elsewhere) long before Columbus so a visit to the Ganondagan Center in Victor was a must. The museum is small, the introductory film explaining the Seneca take on the origin of the world a little Disneyfied and the (reproduction) longhouse not to be confused with Motel 6. The site’s curator was a very informative guide.

Ladder in the longhouse

Apparently lacrosse is based on games played by various Native American communities as early as 1100 AD. Outside the longhouse is a Three Sisters garden planted with corns, squash and beans.

 

 

 

Originally I’d thought to offer a recipe with ladyfingers but they can be hard to find. Instead, here’s one for fingerling potatoes.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1  pound fingerling potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Line baking sheet with foil; heat oven to 400°F.

Melt butter (I use microwave but that’s your call)

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise.  Add olive oil to butter in a bowl with salt and pepper. Roll potatoes to coat.

Put potatoes on baking sheet cut side down and roast until tender and golden brown flipping halfway. Roast about 25 minutes

Taste; add more salt and pepper if needed. Scatter parsley.

Serve with any meat or poultry. Or serve warm with drinks. Listen to Billy Joel sing and play New York State of Mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol0dPJdzm1M

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Not Exactly Snug…

As part of our post-pandemic efforts to renew acquaintance with the world beyond our apartments, a friend and I went to Staten Island’s Snug Harbor. First came the ride on the iconic ferry where bouillon is not served and no one announces “all ashore that’s going ashore”; instead there were several unintelligible messages on the PA system.

Snug Harbor was founded through the will of Robert Richard Randall, heir to a shipping fortune, who died in 1801. Randall’s will called for building and operating a “haven for aged, decrepit, and worn-out sailors.” Over the next century, Sailors’ Snug Harbor expanded from its original three buildings to 50 structures and 900 residents from every corner of the world.

Maybe we picked an off day but our take on SH was of many imposing buildings, some in Greek revival style with massive columns; numerous  small, somewhat ramshackle cottages; huge outdoor spaces and almost no visitors. We started off at the Noble Maritime Collection, one of the few open buildings, which contains a huge number of shipping-related items: paintings, ship models, examples of scrimshaw and sailor’s knots and an exhibit devoted to the still-functioning Robbins Reef Lighthouse and

Kate Walker at work

doughty Kate Walker, (1848-1931) who manned the light and is credited with saving the lives of over fifty sailors. The Noble is, um, helmed by a sweet man who seemed thrilled to see us—my hunch is he doesn’t get many visitors.

Then onto The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, fabricated in Suzhou, China with eight pavilions, a

Inner pond, Chinese Scholar’s Garden

bamboo forest path, waterfalls and a variety of scholar’s rocks including a 15-foot formation that towers over the central courtyard. I paid $4.00 for admission here, well worth it, and had the whole place almost to myself.

The rest of the eighty-four acre park with its many botanical gardens, landmarked buildings, sustainable farm, several museums, music hall, chapel and so much more, appeared deserted. We saw a notice for an arts festival in later June so maybe that will entice hordes to visit.  Apparently the area is also used for weddings although I’m glad neither of my daughters wanted to be married there because the whole place badly needs work and has a sad, disused feel.

Two fun factoids:

  1. Herman Melville’s younger brother, Thomas, was Governor of Snug Harbor from 1867 to 1884; the author reportedly visited often.
  2. A hard fought court battle is in the works that seems to be relocating Snug Harbor to Sealevel, South Carolina. There’s a fuss over breaking Randall’s original will and a long story including details of a thirty-year court battle taken as high as the Supreme Court. The long, complicated story is spelled out here: https://juddtully.net/articles/snug-harbors-tug-of-war/

And to eat:  Ship’s Biscuit, that mainstay of sailors of yore, is tasteless and an invitation to break a tooth or two. It can walk the plank. Instead, here’s Port and Starboard Orzo Salad (so-called because it has red and green ingredients like boat running lights. And, it can be made ahead and taken with you onto the boat or porch, table, backyard etc.)

Port & Starboard Salad—from Marine Max

2 ½ cups orzo, cooked al dente

2 green peppers, deseeded and sliced

1 red onion cut into small dice

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp basil, chopped (this implies fresh is at hand. Fine to cheat with dried)

1tbsp olive oil

2 oz feta or goat cheese, crumbled

A healthy grind of black pepper

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place onion and peppers in a roasting pan and drizzle with half the oil. Roast for 15 minutes, turn the vegetables, add the tomatoes, and roast for 15 minutes more. Remove, and let cool. Toss vegetables and cooked orzo together with the remaining olive oil, feta and chopped basil. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

To drink? Anything from cold beer to white wine to soft drinks. No timbers will be shivered regardless of what you drink although it’s helpful if the skipper remains uninebriated and can steer.  Heave ho!

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Morphed Apples and Dead Trees

Both installations are outdoors; when I went neither was particularly crowded. Currently I’m walking outside maskless which is wonderful. Let’s hope conditions continue to improve because, as I’m sure you agree, it’s been a long, tough hall.

Apple Heads, a project by artist Joanne Howard, in Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side will be around till November. (Hopefully Halloween apple bobbers won’t be tempted by them.) Howard carved forty-five real apples into human(ish) faces and let them dry so they shriveled. Then they were cast in bronze and attached to fence posts.

apples on Park fenceposts

The artist says the works are “guardians of nature.” I went with a friend and, since there’s no signage the apples aren’t immediately obvious–—as women, we asked. The day we visited the Park was gorgeous with masses of blooms including spectacular iris.

 

Maya Lin, renowned  artist and  environmental activist,  founded a site called What Is Missing? an “online memorial to what we’ve lost to climate change.” This installation, Ghost Forest, in Madison Square Park on 23rd street, displays forty-nine  already-dead, white cedar trees from New Jersey’s Pine Barrens (Memories of The Sopranos anyone?)

Rising sea levels killed the trees which are ‘planted’ in man-made holes—some are forty feet tall. As they dry out the trees will change so I plan to go back and see the next development. Meanwhile, they are a striking contrast with the surrounding lush plants and spring greenery.

As part of the exhibition, (also open till November—come visit out–of-towners and help bring NYC back), there is an audio background called Soundscape featuring sounds from some of the native species of animals once common in Manhattan.  To hear it, go to madisonsquarepark.org. Never knew that elks shriek. Maybe it’s a mating call?

Both these free, unusual installations are part of what makes this city wonderful. Yes, NYC isn’t as it was and may not ever return exactly but it’s on the way back and I’m happy to do what I can to support it.

In the spirit of inclusivity, this recipe more or less combines wood (OK, a stretch to smoked) and apples. Herewith:

Apple Chips

2 granny smith apples

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp smoked paprika (smoked=wood, sort of)

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

Preheat oven to 225 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Using a mandolin or sharp knife cut apples into thin slices—try for consistent thickness and as thin as possible.

Lightly brush both sides of each apple slice with the smoked paprika mixture and place on baking sheets.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours (until slices start to crisp up). Flip over and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes. It will be tempting to keep baking longer because the chips will still feel a little soft while hot, but the chips crisp up once out of the oven for a bit.

Let chips cool for a few minutes before eating.

NB: If you are using a knife and end up with thicker apple slices bake for an extra 10-15 minutes.

Low-calorie, kid-friendly, tasty—what’s not to like? You could always drink apple juice or—gasp—hard cider. And cheer for vaccines and NYC!

 

 

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Oysters Out in Oyster Bay Do It…

Teddy Roosevelt

Driven by an intense desire to be anywhere other than Manhattan, a friend and I took the train (known by locals as the Toonerville Trolley) to Oyster Bay, LI. Once there we made our way to the Planting Fields, an early 20th century estate where Coe Hall, a 65- room Tudor Revival mansion, is the crown jewel. The 409 acre grounds include greenhouses, formal gardens, paths and hiking trails and were originally landscaped by the Olmstead Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmstead of Central Park fame. Today the whole shebang is a State Park.

The main greenhouse, known as Hibiscus House with not a hibiscus in sight, was open and filled with ‘exotic’ plants, most of which I couldn’t identify although the oranges and lemons were pretty obvious. Apparently William and Mai Coe, who built the house, were somewhat obsessed with plants and trees and had the money to indulge their passion.

 

We had a pretty awful lunch outdoors at the Magnolia Café (limited menu, one person to take orders) although I suspect the food scene is better later in the summer. In the same building are lots of great old photographs including one of the elegant wedding of Natalie, daughter of William and Mai, when she married an Italian count.

After inspecting more trails and falling in love with the weeping cherry trees, we

walked back to town, a little over a mile and a half.

In town I checked out the Bahr Gallery featuring wonderful vintage 1960s posters https://www.bahrgallery.com/.  If you find yourself in this ‘hood I’d venture two miles further on to Sagamore Hill, home of Teddy Roosevelt which I visited years ago.  (Sagamore is the Algonquin word for chieftain and Teddy was nothing if not a big chief. Tusks and stuffed heads abound.) If going to Sagamore Hill, get your hands on a car.

Trophy Room at Sagamore Hill

 

I toyed with a bear recipe in honor of Teddy but how many butchers feature that? Instead and to banish all thoughts of the café, how about oyster stew? This recipe can be made with oysters in a jar (hold the pearl) or canned although freshly shucked bivalves will be better.

Oyster Stew a la Sagamore Hill

5 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 pint oysters with their liquor, jarred or freshly shucked, about 2 dozen

1/4 cup flour

2 celery stalks, minced

1 medium onion, minced

1 3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup cream (or use milk only)

Splash of Tabasco or other hot sauce

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup parsley, minced

Rinse oysters under cold water then strain and reserve the oyster juice. Put oysters n a bowl.

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add flour and stir to make a roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the mixture for a few minutes, stirring often.

When the roux turns the color of coffee-with-cream, stir in the celery and onions.  Increase the heat to medium and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the oyster juice and any juices the oysters in the bowl have released. The flour in the roux will absorb the liquid and turn into a paste. Slowly add the milk and cream, stirring to incorporate while pouring. Add a healthy splash or two of hot sauce, to taste.

Heat the soup to steamy, but below a simmer, over low heat, cook for 15 minutes. Do NOT let it boil. Add oysters (if enormous cut into pieces) and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the edges just begin to curl.

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve it forth.

Teddy drank enormous amounts of coffee but that’s too plebeian for the ultra-elegant Coes.  I would serve oyster stew with crusty bread and good white wine or perhaps Prosecco.

 

 

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