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.

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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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Fricked

The Breuer/Whitney/MetBreuer/Frick Madison

Since it opened in 1963 I have disliked the building I still refer to as the Whitney Museum but is more correctly known as the Breuer after architect Marcel Breuer who designed it. Large, overbearing, and apparently a huge drain on the already-precarious Metropolitan Museum of Art resources, (the Met was the tenant between the Whitney and today), the Brutalist building has an almost “I dare you to enter quality.” (It did have a lovely if tremendously overpriced restaurant downstairs but that’s another story.)

Now The Frick has moved its collection to the Breuer while the Frick itself, originally home of robber baron Henry Clay Frick, undergoes a multi-year renovation.

Henry Clay Frick

The collection appears entirely fresh with paintings, sculpture, carpets, porcelain and furniture set off by plain gray-blue walls so the art looks very different from when items were grouped together. In the ‘old’ Frick both groupings and architecture often fought with the works producing an odd tension. At the Frick Madison, as is it being called, (but we New Yorkers won’t do that just as we don’t call it the Avenue of the Americas preferring old-style Sixth Avenue), there is nothing to distract the eye.  It doesn’t hurt that entrance is by timed ticket only so, although the space is far from empty, there aren’t overwhelming crowds. There is phone-linked ‘commentary’ courtesy of Bloomberg which is not a cinch to use but once worked out with the help of a guard has interesting narrations by Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director, and Curator, Aimee Ng. (Minor aside: if you never watched Salomon and Ng on the Frick YouTube series, Cocktails with a Curator, head right over there: https://www.frick.org/interact/miniseries/cocktails_curator)

What’s on view is a “gathering of highlights from the Frick’s permanent collection outside the domestic setting of the Gilded Age mansion,” with works organized chronologically and by region. Now a member, I plan to return often.

I considered a recipe for Oh Henry bars or one from Frick’s Meats, in business since 1896, but opted instead for drinks from Salomon’s presentation of The Polish Rider, a painting by Rembrandt on view. The complementary cocktail is the Szarlotka made with Żubrówka (vodka infused with bison grass). Here’s the recipe:

Rembrandt’s The Polish Rider

 

Szarlotka

1/3 iced Żubrówka Bison Grass Vodka (if you settled for other vodka I doubt if either Rembrandt or Salomon would come after you)
2/3 chilled freshly pressed apple juice/cider
pinch of ground cinnamon

And here’s the mocktail presented for the under 21 set:

Apple juice
Cinnamon

No measurements provided but a little cinnamon goes a long way.  The Polish version of cheers! Is Na Zdrowie! (Nah zdrov-e-yay).  Na Zdrowie to the Frick Madison!

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The Perfect Arancini

Just published in Italy Time: (sorry, have to click link to read it.)

https://mailchi.mp/572db561a5cc/original-italian-food-and-theatre?fbclid=IwAR00jzQPj-uozzHT8ADQULyw0Fz5E0ED3wj9vmiAbCP4ztkZF-xRY-pxd6s

NO recipe because I’m not big on frying and that’s how to make this. How about leaving it at a nice glass of a good Italian wine? If/when we return to restaurant dining perhaps you can find a good Italian restaurant that serves arancini. Trust me, they’re delicious!

 

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May the Road Rise Up to Meet You…

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

In a fit of ‘here’s to 2021’ partly inspired by The New York Times, during the seemingly endless New Year’s weekend, a friend and I went to the brand-new Moynihan Train Hall. Governor Cuomo called the building “deeply hopeful” and I concur. It is airy and full of light in large part due to the 92-foot high glass ceiling. Right now even the floor is sparkling clean.

92 feet–an acre of glass

The station is named after New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, originally from Tulsa, OK., who had a long, illustrious career you can check out here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Patrick_Moynihan and elsewhere. Public intellectual, sought-after speaker and much more, the Farley P.O., (where during The Depression Moynihan shined shoes as a boy), was renamed after him, a fitting tribute as he championed the renovation project.

Stained glass ceiling –but where?

However, I have a bit of an issue with The Times. The article, a two page spread with four-color pix, touted in glowing terms the backlit, stained glass ceiling which nods to the Sistine ceiling with a woman pointing her finger set among break-dancers wearing sneakers. I asked four (no kidding) uniformed guards at the station to direct me to this work. Despite going up, down and every other possible way I couldn’t find the artwork. If it is intended as a draw, perhaps it should be made a tad easier to locate?

Penn Station reminds me of my mother and father who took me to the train to go to summer camp in Maine. Back in the day that train left from the station’s Well, an area in the neither regions where it was particularly hot and dusty. Inevitably, Mom loudly announced that it was a “horrible place to be on the hottest day of the summer.” I would have given anything to become invisible.

Here, in honor of Moynihan’s Irishness, is a recipe for Irish Stew:

(Serves 4)  

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided

1-1/2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 medium onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced (or not, I don’t)

4 cups beef broth

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup frozen peas

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons water

Put 1/3 cup flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add lamb, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. In a Dutch oven, brown lamb in batches in 2 tablespoons oil. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, saute onions in remaining oil until tender. Add garlic if using;  cook 1 minute longer.

Add broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Return lamb to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until meat is tender. Add potatoes and carrots; cover and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in peas; cook 5-10 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

Add seasonings and Worcestershire sauce. Combine remaining flour with water until smooth; stir into stew. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

The idea beverage would be Guinness. Hate beer and all things similar? Red wine. Or Coke if you must.

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What Decked Halls?

For the first time in my life I have no Christmas tree. The Victorian skaters that usually grace my dining room table are in the basement in a box. No Santa perched on a tiny sleigh piled with tiny packages, led by a reindeer, graces my mantelpiece with pinecones and small, glittery ornaments sprinkled into spruce boughs. Bah, humbug; this year because of Covid-19 family gatherings are verboten as are so many of our holiday (Hanukah, Christmas, other) traditions.

 

I will “celebrate” by working at the All Souls Soup Kitchen Christmas morning (it’s a regular Friday thing so it falls out on Christmas) and then Zoom with family and friends during the afternoon. Instead of lasagna on Christmas Eve (in keeping with my role as Italian grandmother) and a church service to sing carols, I’ll watch TMC. On Christmas Day I will open a bottle of Prosecco (some traditions are just impossible to let slide) but instead of gravlax, quiche, edamame, haricots vert, ham or filet or some other meatly protein, I plan to chow down on Chinese food (a Jewish tradition I’m embracing for the very first time.)

I wish everyone a safe and as happy as possible holiday season. Here’s to a better 2021 in every way.

And, because I’m not making gravlax this year, here’s the recipe with one for the sauce that’s so good it would be delicious on cardboard.

Gravlax

(Start this a week before you plan to serve it)

2 lbs salmon. Have fish store remove skin and cut through the slab of fish so it’s in two equal horizontal thicknesses.

1/4 c salt

2 Tbls. sugar

2 Tbls chopped dill plus 1 large bunch fresh dill

t Tbls. bottled green peppercorns plus 1 Tsp of peppercorn brine

1 Tbls. fresh tarragon (or dried, makes no difference)

1 Tbls. Thyme  (fresh would be great but I typically used dried)

1 Tbls fresh chervil    (usually omitted because I don’t have any)

2-3 Tbls capers and additional fresh dill for garnish.

Place salmon on piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap it up in. Mix salt, sugar and chopped dill. Rub this all over both pieces of fish front and back. Arrange remaining dill on top of one piece; cover with the other and wrap in foil, crimping edges.

Put wrapped fish on plate in fridge. After one day turn over.

After two days remove and unwrap fish. Reserve dill sprigs. Make a puree of peppercorns and capers and mix with the chopped fresh herbs. Spread on fish and put the dill sprigs back. Add more fresh dill. Wrap again in the foil.

Put a cutting board or other flat surface on the fish and weights on top. (It needs to be quite heavy.)  Return to fridge for three days.

To serve, slice as thinly as possible at a diagonal. Arrange slices and garnish with fresh dill and capers. Serve with black bread and gravlax sauce.

Gravlax Sauce

4 Tbls Dijon mustard

1 tsp dry mustard

3 Tbls sugar

2 Tbls. white vinegar

1/3 c. light vegetable oil

1 small bunch dill, finely chopped.

Combine mustard, sugar and vinegar in bowl or food processor. Add oil drop by drop until mixture is thick. Stir in dill. Refrigerate until ready to use. It keeps several weeks.

Ho ho ho to all.  2021 on the horizon.

 

 

 

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