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


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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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



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

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.)


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.


(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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I love Sake, the fifth cat in my life, but it’s a little like adoring a child in mid-meltdown. She has a tendency to nip when she wants attention and would like me to play with her 24/7. Last November Sake came from the ASPCA aged eleven months, spayed and chipped. She cats my footsteps and gets an A in litter pan tidiness but some memo didn’t reach her because she doesn’t purr but wags her tail when happy.


Cat one, Tinkerbelle, arrived when my younger daughter was almost two. Some months back we’d had to put down our very old dog and my then-husband confessed he was sick of dog walking. I’d never had, (this was before we acted like animals were children and owned, rather than adopted them), a cat before but fell into a woman with two kittens who was willing to part with one because we “lived on Park Avenue.” (Not exactly—we were the last building before the train went into the tunnel at 96th Street.). She arrived with a carrier; I reached in and one kitten attached itself to me.  After spending two days under a bed, Tinker, a handsome marmalade female, emerged to become a great family member. She was willing to be dressed in doll clothes  and wheeled in the toy stroller and had a habit of leaping up to turn on the light in the room outside the kitchen. During her last weeks my second husband cooked her chicken livers and gave her water from a wine glass in the kitchen sink so she wouldn’t have to lean down.

marmalade cat–not Tinker but close

A while after Tinker’s death we wanted a kitten for my younger daughter’s thirteenth birthday. It was a freezing cold February when there wasn’t a kitten to be had until my older daughter located one at a vet’s.  We took an astronomically expensive cab ride to view her finding but only after we said ‘yes’ did the vet announce we would need to leave her with him another four days, engendering another long, costly cab ride. Sushi was a lap sitter and the life of every party, accepting pats or being picked up by anyone. When she was nineteen we had to put her down  saddening me and devastating my husband.

It took him eleven months to come round to considering a new cat. On the way to the animal shelter in Vermont I casually said, “Maybe if we took two kittens you would feel less guilty.” Bingo. Within an hour we had told the shelter we didn’t work and would therefore be with our kittens all the time, (a boldfaced lie as we both had demanding, full-time jobs), and were given custody of Pogo, tiger with a ringed-tail that reminded me of Walt Kelly’s Pogo) and her littermate, Fuji, a gray and pinkish tortoiseshell. Other than fruit these girls ate absolutely everything (salad, pasta, vegetable soup) so it was hell to make yourself a sandwich and a no-no to leave any food unattended. I once entered the Vermont kitchen just in time to see Fuji raise the lid of the metal breadbox while Pogo deftly removed a package of pita. Pogo was incredibly smart and athletic, given to walking on the beam high above the dining table while guests looked up, (some horrified she would fall into their plate). Fuji loved tossing around a toy stuffed octopus while Pogo watched, the bubble over her head reading “how juvenile.”

Dorset dining room but reimagined by owners after us.

A year ago, missing animal companionship, I adopted Sake. She loves it when I get out my watercolors hoping to play with the gum eraser and tubes of paint. As I write, she is sitting in front of me hoping I’ll give in and fetch one of her toys. I’m not crazy but obviously I quality as a cat lady.

And now a recipe for –no, not cat food nor curried leopard—but:

Sloppy Joe’s (made with Catsup)

1½ lbs ground beef or turkey

¼ Tsp salt

¼ Tsp pepper

¾ – 1 cup catsup

2-3 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp mustard

6-8 hamburger buns

In a medium-sized frying pan, brown meat until completely cooked. Salt and pepper the meat while browning it.

Add ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Mix thoroughly and continue cooking until heated through. Taste and add a little more catsup, if needed.

Serve on hamburger buns.

Your choice as to booze, beer, soft drink etc. Toast Biden and wish him well. Then meow.

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My Oregon Trail in the Time of Covid

Just published. Sorry about the ads inserted at site. To read click link:

Traveling the Oregon Trail in the Time of COVID



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VOTE 2020

Armed with a filled-in absentee ballot I went to vote at the Robert F. Wagner Middle School on East 75th Street. Me and lots of other people. I arrived at 10:15 when the double lines stretched around the block as other voters kept coming. At first the weather was misty; then it turned to sprinkles and at about 11:45 became real rain, time to launch the umbrella.

double lines around the block

The culinary highlight of the day happened at roughly 11:15 when several young women appeared with pizza boxes, offering slices to everyone on line. “Pizza at the Polls,” said my server, cheerily. I took a slice (pepperoni) and was glad I did; as the woman in front of me said, “this is perfect; carbs and fat, just what we need to keep going.” The woman with the box told me that the effort was funded by “a woman who saw it on Instagram and replicated it. “

Finally, three and a half hours later, I was inside the school to vote. Again, the workers were magnificent. We were handed hand wipes and directed to a waiting spot distanced from others. Two minutes later I reached the computer station where my name was recorded and I signed with a stylus that I was told to keep as a push would turn it into a pen for marking my ballot.  Ballot in hand I moved to the area to fill it in and then to the scanning area. This whole operation took under seven minutes until I was out the door with my I Voted!

Every poll watcher, line organizer and other personnel encountered was helpful and knew exactly what to do, something of an election first.


Fuel for the rest of the wait

Mid-morning pizza snack

Bravo, poll workers, pizza deliverers and funder and cheers to all of us who stood in line quietly until we reached our destination. It was a proud—if damp—experience and entirely worth the effort.

I hope you don’t expect a pizza recipe. In the past when I had the Vermont house and outdoor grill I made pizza using dough bought from the supermarket, but for now that’s over. We’re mid-pandemic and no one is cooking for anyone unless it’s yourself or your family. If you have a yen for pizza select the pizza place of your choice that serves your personal fave: Margarita, thin crust, Sicilian, gluten-free, white, or something else. Order a personal slice or whole pie for the family and eat it on the spot or take it home. To drink? Water from your water bottle.  If you have yet to vote, do so.

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Northeast Travels

In this weird season of blur, I’ve been lucky enough to travel a few times. I visited family in Hopkinton, MA, going by train to Providence, RI where I sampled a hot dog at Haven Brothers,  a long-lived local institution.

at Havens in Providence

During the weekend we walked a section of the Charles Rail Trail, a long, flat expanse  with memorial benches every so often, the whole flooded with masked walkers and dogs.

At one point we went into a store selling mostly dog treats with a few intended for us four-legged types. The trail is interesting with historical markers so you know when you’re walking through Mudville, immortalized in Casey at the Bat. The poem was written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer and first published in The San Francisco Examiner. This link takes you to the poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45398/casey-at-the-bat

Tunnel on Charles Rail Trail

The following weekend I visited friends at their house in NW CT. One night we went to a concert called Wanda Loves William, featuring singer Wanda Houseton with the HBH Band, the event organized on behalf of Shakespeare in the Litchfield Hills. The four-piece band was fabulous as was Wanda who is full of sexy innuendo and personality. After an overcast day the weather turned beautiful and sunny as we sat in our carefully defined pods where we were allowed to remove our masks. In the beautiful evening, Wanda  sang (among other standards) Oh What a Beautiful Morning to an enthusiastic audience.   Check out Wanda and the band and, should you wish, buy a CD. http://www.wandaworld.biz/whb.html

Wanda and the HBH Band

Both weekends were a treat as I was around friends and family for chatting, meals and simple hanging out, casual pleasures I used to take for granted.

This recipe is baseball-oriented—sort of. I’ve never eaten a hot dog gussied up with additional meat sauce but then again I’ve never done a lot of things that this pandemic season has inspired.

Sauce for Coney Island Hot Dogs

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup beef stock

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. In a Dutch oven (or other heavy pot), cook beef 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Move pot to indirect heat. Cook, uncovered, 20-25 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Make the hot dogs any way you like, insert into buns and top with this sauce. Yes, a lot of lily-gilding but so what? In a real ball park you could drink beer but in this season of Zoom and home schooling, something a lot stronger might be indicated. You can still sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame.









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Civics Lessons

Monumental Women in Central Park


Over the weekend a friend and I went to the new Monumental Women sculpture in Central Park. The women shown are 19th century women’s rights activists, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (both New Yorkers) and Sojourner Truth, born into slavery in Ulster County, New York in 1797 although she lived in and around NYC.

As an idea the work gets a 10+; as a work of art, a far lower number as it’s blocky, awkward and not emotionally engaging.  An interview (on Zoom, where else?) with the sculptor, Meredith Bergmann, gave me the impression that she had been curtailed in various ways by the MW committee, not a surprise as almost anything developed by committee gets tweaked. Perhaps when the sculpture becomes patinated it will be more pleasing; for now it’s not particularly beautiful although a work showing women made by a woman in the Park is great and long overdue.

Later the same day there was a postcard writing group that gathered in Riverside Park to which I toted my lightweight folding chair, cards, stamps, water, etc. My cards will be mailed tomorrow to voters of color in Texas. All I can do is pray they have the desired effect; meanwhile, I go on writing cards and phone banking. Four more years of the horror currently in effect is beyond me.


On the plus side, I’m visiting family over Labor Day weekend taking a train to Providence as that’s closer to their home in western MA than Boston. They—my younger stepson and his family– will be the first glimpse of family I have had since the pandemic began. All the Zoom and FaceTime in the world doesn’t come close to being with actual people.  Also this week,  when the stitches from my Mohs nose surgery and plastic repair come out I’ll have another cause for celebration.

When it comes to monumental women, Eleanor Roosevelt is right up there.  By all accounts she served ghastly food even at the White House where she offered dinners like deviled eggs with tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, wheat bread and coffee, one of her “seven and a half cent” menus. Other non-winners were sweetbreads, gelatin salads, spaghetti with boiled carrots and the so-called “Cheapest Soup” made of flour, lard, a bunch each of spinach, mustard greens, green cabbage, beet tops, watercress, radishes, chopped onion, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, green onion top, salt, pepper, red pepper pod or drop of Tabasco with a “bacon strip” or non-meaty hambone to lend the illusion of actual food. Yuck.

One of the few dishes Mrs. Roosevelt is said to have cooked decently was scrambled eggs. The secrets of success (which she probably ignored) are having the pan hot but not too hot and adding a splash of cool water to ‘loosen them up.’ Other sources recommend adding one or two tablespoons of sour cream or crème fraiche.

Personally, I’d prefer FDR’s martini: two parts gin, one part vermouth, 1 teaspoon olive brine, a lemon twist and an olive, the whole shaken (OK James Bond!) with ice, strained and served straight up.  Perhaps it blunted the taste of Mrs. R’s terrible soup. Cheers!


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