"You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, “Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep.” That’s for the writing poems part." -Frank O’Hara, Personism: A Manifesto // It’s for the cooking part, too.
When I told Dan this is too simple to put on the blog, let’s just say he might’ve called me crazy. Yes, it’s simple. Ridiculously simple. But when he said “not everyone who roasts a whole head of garlic will think to turn it into a soup,” well, he makes a point.
Roast your garlic and a pound of carrots for 45 minutes to an hour, and you’ll have something so wonderfully flavorful you’ll want to do very little to it.
But maybe you’ll want to add shredded, crispy bits of brussels sprouts…which REALLY elevates this whole dang thing. I’m not even spreading lies. Just don’t buy an entire stalk of em along with other heavy things from a farm that doesn’t offer bags cause, that’s not so simple. (Totally worth it, though).
You will need:
-1 medium head of garlic
-pound of carrots, peeled or not
-1 cup red lentils
-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
-1 tsp ground cumin
-red pepper, as much as you’d like
-salt, to taste
-olive oil, for pan and roasting
-pound of Brussels sprouts, halved and sliced
-more olive oil
Can you believe that’s it?
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Laying the garlic flat on aluminum foil, cut the tops off the head and drizzle olive oil over it. Seal it shut.
Lay your carrots on a sheet pan and toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper.
Put both the garlic and carrots in your oven. The carrots should take about 40-45 minutes to caramelize, and the garlic about an hour.
While that’s in the oven, drizzle olive oil into a preheated pan and add your shredded Brussels sprouts. Stir only occasionally, as you want most of them to be crispy.
When everything is out of the oven, carefully take the cloves out (you can wait about 15 minutes if you have the time) and add them to a blender along with the carrots and enough stock to make a nice puree.
In a pot, gently toast your ground cumin til well-scented. Add a drizzle of oil and your red pepper flakes. You want to infuse that oil with some heat. Then stir in the puree and the rest of the stock. Add the red lentils and simmer til they are cooked.
Pour into bowls and top them with the nutty goodness of Brussels sprouts. Let me know what you think!
Let’s be real. Your chickpeas are grateful when spring and summer at the farmers market debuts their color, crunch, earthiness, herbiness, bitterness, spiciness, and sweetness. My new thrift shop platters are pretty grateful, too. Nevermind how work-friendly chickpea salads are, they are FUN, filling, and way too easy to put together.
Sometimes I have a neglected radish in the crisp drawer, or a wedge of red cabbage left (you’ll be amazed by how long and fresh they last!) They make wonderful additions to any salad that contains legumes and/or avocado. I’m a sucker for balancing out textures. Creamy wants crunch. My sweet buds want earthy and spicy. I always want cheese. Perhaps I want it all.
Here’s a recipe that comes with many variations. Everything depends on your market haul. One week string beans were everywhere and so, a green and yellow bean salad with chickpeas and yellow tomatoes had to happen. (Beware: the beautiful purple variety turns green when cooked). Then squash makes an appearance. Soon, every tomato you can imagine. Sometimes you’ll want to use a different lugume. Sometimes, depending on the size of your haul, you won’t need them.
But when I’m going to work, I need to know I’m taking something hearty with me. Something that doesn’t make me want to demolish Levain Bakery’s chocolate brioche. Which I have done and just did thank you very much. It is literally the size of a hero.
This addictive chickpea and avocado salad was created by my haul from Down to Earth Markets in Jamaica, Queens the very first day they made an appearance. I will make variations of this forever. Also, don’t be lazy. Peel your chickpeas if you’re not in a rush!
-29 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (peel em)
-2 shallots, minced
-1 large hass avacado, diced
-2 medium tomatoes, diced or variety of cherry
-3 long radishes, sliced and quartered
-1/2 cup purple cabbage, chopped
-1/2 cup fresh herbs (parsley, basil, dill, whatever you like)
-lemon zest (tiny bit)
Toss with a quick dressing of juice from 1/2 a large lemon, good olive oil, oregano, salt n pepper. Your favorite dressing will do, too.
Add some crumbled feta. I didn’t have any the first time around. Small pastas like orzo make a fine addition, too. Grate a carrot. Chop olives. Sweet and hot peppers. Cucumber! CORN (in season right now!) We’re trying to eat healthy and seasonally here. Can’t you tell?
During our winter visit in 2017, I remember we quickly drove past a shop in town that had the word CHEESE in it’s name. That’s all I saw. Cheese. We didn’t have time to check it out (every shop closes by 6PM!) but for the next six months, I knew it’d be a priority visit for me if I had a chance to return. Well, a few weeks ago, we walked a couple of miles into town, hangry, and I asked, “Where’s the cheese!? I don’t see the cheese!” Then I remembered all trees were bare the last time we were here. I spotted the only tree-lined block to our right and told Dan it had to be behind them. And there it was, a cheese shop with two entrances, held in what seemed to be a secret block of independent shops.
At first, I thought it would be similar to World of Cheese in Forest Hills, where, simply put, they sell cheese. But since they’re called The Cheese Plate, I am happy to announce that they sell cheese, but with a cheese-mongers excitement, will put together a cheese board for you to enjoy inside, or outside, their shop. This would be our first meal of day 4. I told them Dan and I enjoy firm cheeses, and we settled on an Italian variety called Piave Vecchio, and Jake’s Aged Gouda. A cross between Parmesan and Asiago, Piave Vecchio crumbled onto the wood. Jake’s was firm and nutty, cut into hearty strips. Then quince paste was added to the board along with pistachios and almonds, olives, slices of apple, and soppressata. They gave us a generous amount of cheese for two people. I’m not complaining.
THEY ALSO SERVE ICE CREAM. And after a walk around town, we decided to return to go get some. We got chocolate, coconut, and blackberry. But alas, this isn’t about the wonderful way we started our 4th day, is it? But look how cute that guy is, handing me creamy blackberry amazingness.
Now, there are many places to eat around here, but when you know you only have 5 days in New Paltz, you eat at the one and only locally sourced Indian restaurant that you fell in love with during your first visit. And you don’t eat there once. If you’re anything like Dan and I, you eat there 3 very magical times and wish you ordered Chicken Masala to take back with you to Brooklyn. This is because every vegetable, cream and butter, is farm fresh. You can TASTE the difference. Coconut samosas? Such a wonderfully sweet departure from the savory potato or meat one we’re used to. The naan? Just look at it.
When we overheard that they serve a buffet on Tuesdays, we changed our plans to accommodate this feast. Dan truly stuck to his favorite masala and I can’t say I blame him. Tomato and cream have never tasted so rich. We almost thought it was butter.
It was on Tuesday, day 3, that I fell in love with a soup. A thin, extremely fresh-tasting broth, heavy on the cilantro, mildly spiced, reminded me of a cross between my tomato soup and my carrot masoor dal. I kept eating small spoonfuls just to identify everything I could. I gave in and asked them about it, and was told it’s their vegetable soup, pureed with red lentils, and that if I return on a regular day when it’s made to order, it’ll be even better.
On the 5th day, the day we were set out to leave, I discovered it was their South Indian Mulligatwany. Guys. I’ve had mulligatawny many, many times. But never like this. I am convinced it has to do with the very ingredients they use, and how they use them. When we returned, with our suitcases in tow, needing to catch a train 2 hours from when we sat, I ordered this again. It was thicker. Richer. I think coconut milk was present. I loved it. But is it strange that I love their thinly-brothed version even more? It holds true to what Mulligatawny means: pepper water.
In my version, I use everything I thought I had tasted, and I came so very close to how it actually tasted. And yes, every single veggie and fruit came from the farmers market. I seriously encourage this. Heirloom tomatoes are IN and if I find out you store-bought yours, I already know you will not be able to experience this soup the way I swooningly did.
A variety of carrots and onions are everywhere. Fresh herbs a must. Fresh spices, yes please. Peppers! Oh my goodness the peppers. Use sweet and ones with heat. You won’t regret it. The color of the soup will also depend on the color of the tomatoes and sorts of peppers you used. Mine were a variety of yellows and reds. It’s lighter-looking than what I had in New Paltz, but that’s also because sunshine lit this bowl up.
1 large heirloom tomato, diced (a pound and a half)
2 carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 serrano pepper, diced
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp garam masala or maharajah curry
1 bay leaf
2-3 cardamom pods, gently cracked open
1/2 cup dried red lentils (masoor dal)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4th cup coconut cream
Gently toast cumin seeds in pot, about 30 secs, then semi-coat with olive oil. Add your onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute for a couple of minutes then add tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and spices. Let the spices perfume your kitchen and then stir in your lentils, add your stock, bring to a boil then simmer for about a 1/2 hr, stirring occasionally. Add coconut cream. Puree with an immersion blender or whatever blender you have. Serve with cilantro. For a heartier meal, also serve with basmati.
For a thicker soup, add more of the veggies you love, and/or add another half cup of red lentils. Some recipes call for an apple. Why not? You could also use coconut milk instead of cream, I was just aiming for richness here. I welcome any herb you’re growing here, too. Add a dried pepper for extra heat! I ran out of em. OH, and try grilling your tomatoes for a few minutes before adding it into the pot. I know that’s exactly what I’m going to do the next time I make this!
Okay. We didn’t just eat 5 days straight. We walked in the rain, too. We walked A LOT.
A fallen nest. A single, big-headed dandelion for one adult wish. Plenty of wild onions and flowers. The silhouette of Mohonk Mountain and it’s house. A field of corn, and then a single tree in a field of thousands of corn. These are only some of the things we eyed on a roadside in New Paltz.
We were either walking to the farm a half mile in, into town two miles in, or to a strawberry field we never actually found. Long story short–we walked and we ate. We walked in the rain, sharing a small umbrella. We did this often. We walked under the sun and pointed to all the beautiful roadside things, and sadly, the not so beautiful. We toyed with the idea of someday doing a catering business, using local ingredients only, maybe from a town like this. Maybe I’m not even toying around at this point. But what I do know: walks with my best friend have healed the part of my brain that was loud with awful news, social media, worry. While I can’t get rid of what’s happening, I can do more and be more ready to give my all, for myself, and for others.
Only a half mile away, Wallkill View Farm had everything I needed, stocked full of local preserves, pastas, cheeses, sauces, spices, and allllll the produce. Every fruit and vegetable was minutes-ago-picked. On our first day, I bought generous-looking figs, raspberries which were on the tart side but immediately made me think JAM, plums, peaches, cherry and plum tomatoes, a banquet of basil that looked too beautiful to put into our next few meals. I bought creamers (baby red potatoes) that hold ridiculously true to their name. Applewood smoked bacon that lasted us 5 days, to be served alongside farm fresh eggs. My sweet guy made us breakfast every morning.
We bought prosciutto that ended up on one of our homemade pizzas. A single eggplant that was sweet and fed us for two days. Cinnamon raisin bread and a cinnamon crunch ice cream from Jane’s creamery in Kingston. Perhaps I’ve never been happier. I did not plan this trip whatsoever. This was all Dan with the help of Aunt Donna, whose beautiful home felt most like the grandest escape from city life.
What more did I do with this market haul? Guys. I could cry while telling you how each ingredient made me feel the most comfortable in my own skin. I made pesto out of some of the basil, pistachios I found in the fridge, capers, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. I tossed creamers with a few spoonfuls of this and roasted them. They were crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. Easily the best roasted potatoes I’ve ever had. I served the rest of the pesto with sliced cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. This was our lunch before we went to A Tovola, where we ordered hand-rolled pasta reminiscent of the pasta-making class we recently saw at Eataly.
One night we made pizza so good that we swore we could open up a restaurant. I made sauce out of the plum and cherry tomatoes. I woke up early to work on the dough so it could rise while we walked into town. We topped one pie with prosciutto. It was thin, sturdy, crisp. It was everything. Dan even made panko-breaded eggplant, which we decided is the only way to bread these babies.
Now let’s talk about the fruit. You gotta know I made jam, right? And you must know it was THEE BEST small batch jam I’ve ever made. While we couldn’t find the destination for picking strawberries, we ended up at the Dressel Farms market itself to buy the small, jewel variety.
Quick recipe for my small batch berry fig jam:
You want about 4 cups total of chopped fresh fruit, which makes about 2 cups of jam. I used:
2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 cup raspberries
about 5 big figs, diced
1/2 cup sugar (more if your fruit is not sweet enough)
tsp lemon zest
fresh squeeze of lemon
Put all berries and figs in a pan over medium heat. Break them down with a masher and add your sugar and zest. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often. I like to leave my jam a bit chunky but feel free to mash some more or use an immersion blender. Add a fresh squeeze of lemon (or orange!) towards the end to brighten up the flavors.
Sometimes I add other things, like mint, thyme, or freshly cracked black pepper, or even booze. But I wanted this to be all about the fruit and nothing more. BECAUSE:
It was also meant for pop tarts. You heard me. Pop tarts. Dan has been asking me to make these hand pies and I thought this was the perfect time to do so.
For the pastry, all I used was:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
In a big bowl, cream your butter and cream cheese together with sugar, salt, and extract til light and fluffy, about 3 minutes in your stand mixer with a paddle attached. Slowly add in your flour, continuing to mix for another minute or two til well incorporated. On a floured work surface, divide this into two equal parts, pat both into rounds and individually wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour, or longer.
Dan rolled one out and used a pizza cutter to cut rectangles out of them. Then we filled em up with a big tbsp each of jam. Used a fork to seal the edges. We made a quick glaze of confectioners sugar, squeeze of lemon, dash of vanilla extract, and a tsp of jam. It was delicious!
The morning before our last day, I remembered I had a second dough chilling in the fridge. I also had 2 peaches, 1 plum, and a handful of strawberries. I sliced them up so they could take center stage of a galette. I topped it with a cinnamon, brown sugar and pistachio crumble, and served it with cinnamon ice cream. No regrets.
This post did not even begin to touch all the wonderful stores we walked into, or the restaurants we ate at. One truly needs to be talked about, but I think I’ll save that for the next one. For now, I leave you with desserts and love. Next might contain soup, and more love. And definitely more support of local farms, with recipes to go along with it. I bought this book at Wallkill View Market and am feeling very, very inspired.
Plus, I returned home to find that my purple tomatillo plant grew a foot, and it’s tiny little husked fruits are beginning to grow. Heirloom beets are almost ready to be pulled out. Cherry tomatoes are about to debut their flowers. Dan’s are already blooming! There’s so much beauty to what’s to come.
So here’s the thing about having expectations during a planned trip, or, hey, even a planned blog.
Don’t have them.
For our third Glasbern Inn visit, we were expecting a snow storm that would want us to cozy on up to the fireplace for the totality of our time there. We got spring instead. We got more spring than actual spring right now. Mid-60-degree weather in February. It’s April 12th and I’ve yet to feel such a warmth as that.
We were also expecting our usual breakfast and dinner prepared by the chef we fell in love with a few years ago. Instead, we got ourselves a new chef. With new (affordable!?) prices to match. Hello, Executive Chef Ralph Edmonds! Mornings are still precious. We sit by sunlight and firelight, basking in both. And the food? Still farm fresh and locally sourced so, still pretty amazing.
The unexpected warm weather led to long walks, greeting the new calf, and a spontaneous winery visit where I could sit with my love, celebrating the moment I purchased this blog. HELLO, DOT COM!
We had Vyncrest Winery to ourselves and it easily became one I’d love to return to. After 12 free tastings (what!?) and the purchase of a bottle of their traminette, Dan asked me what I want others to get out of this blog. The truest answer I can come up with is this: to have you not follow my recipes so closely, eventually. They are ideas and contain flavor combinations I’d love for you to toy with in your own way, differently during each season. I want you to get to know an ingredient so intimately that you’ll find ways to use them creatively. If you ever do choose to use them, I’ll always encourage you to do so loosely (unless it’s baked goods, in which case you should follow loosely after following it the first or second time–just in case!).
Many people already view recipes this way. I have a binder full of them and they are mainly there for inspiration. In all honesty, having to write down “exact” amounts of everything is a struggle for me. I don’t cook this way. A part of me wants to tell you I sprinkled this and that into a pot and threw in a few orange peels and hoped for the best. Which would be true. But then I still am asked for exact measurements and I do want to be able to give you those answers. Which I happily will continue to do so! Just a little differently, and in a way that I am comfortable with.
From here on out, recipes I share will contain a variations section. Just quick notes on what other ingredients and spices work well with the main recipe. And each recipe will finally be printable! But this is as far as planning as I’ll go, for now. I’m still trying to redesign. Create a logo and header. Work on bio. Edit past recipes. Create a recipe index. I expected all of this to be done before reintroducing the site, but, having that expectation has honestly prevented me from actually working on this entirely. This is a journey I’m on and I think I’d rather you see the process and the changes as they come, instead of something close to “perfection”, which is an expectation I’d rather not have! There will still be photos, of course. Like of cows.
I’m still experimenting in the kitchen and learning new things about me in relation to food. I’m even spending a lot of time learning about flour and having a silly relationship with my first ever sourdough starter. (More to come on that). I don’t think Cook on Your Nerve will solely be a recipe-sharing home for me. I’m eager to cook more seasonally, be more hands-on in the garden and at farms, and even more eager to explore the politics of food itself. Who knows what this will become. I just know it will become, and currently is, exactly what it is in this very moment–a Home, where many things can happen. And that’s perfectly okay. This trip, and this guy, helped me to see this. And if anyone ever wonders why this our go-to destination, it’s really because it clears the mind and fills the heart. And tummy.
You wonder if there is a poem out there that celebrates this moment. Between friends and between yourself and all the veggies, is there a poem? If not, perhaps you could write one, in the same breath as Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, about every saturated-in-color vegetable and fruit that comes home with you on the first Saturday of September–this year and last.
But if there is a chance you’ve been feeling less like a poet these days, meaning, you haven’t broken a line in a long while for the sake of sound, silence, and meaning, then you become–you are–a poet in your kitchen, roasting tomatoes with whole cloves of garlic. The woody scent of thyme and rosemary from your garden when met with high heat can make you long for the long, deliberate drizzle of rosemary-infused olive oil, and flaky salt, which you know your tomatoes love. You’ve a mind and heart towards Tory and Jon, who shared their share with you as they made their big move into Corona. Think of all the dinner parties and PICNICS, and sneak peaks into their first garden out back.
Your first thought, after all this gratitude and daydreaming, was roasted tomato sauce, which you learned to make in Valerie’s kitchen a couple of summers ago. This is the way you will make sauce forever. The flavor is tomato multiplied by tomato, on the savory-sweet side. But as you peel each one, you begin to crave soup.
You never made tomato bisque. I don’t think you ever had tomato bisque so you’re not entirely sure where to begin, but to begin. It started as your favorite sauce, with the addition of chicken stock, cream, carrot and celery, pureed til silky. Doesn’t the same happen in writing a poem? You never know how a poem will end til it begins to unfold itself, line by line, and if it ends on bisque with warm slices of bread instead of tomato sauce, then you take slices of your warm, roasted garlic ciabatta and you dip dip dip it into the creamy broth.
It almost looks like your favorite carrot soup, which you’ll write about another day. The local farm feta, and micro-cilantro which was part of the share, didn’t just provide this bisque with good looks. It went amazingly well together. Having had Brooklyn Grange’s micro-greens quite a few times, you think you’ll just start picking your cilantro from the garden earlier than usual, because after a week, you honestly want to give up with their eagerness to bolt.
Then there is the tenderness of toy choi, which you just discover and are fond of.
But with something so tender, you need to put it to use almost immediately. By 9PM the first day, they were wilting. So the next morning, without getting all fancy and having a panic, you whip up a fine breakfast in which you sauteed their small, cabbage leaves, along with their flowers, with smoked kielbasa and red onion. Served it with egg, heirloom tomato salad with local feta, and a blueberry muffin your mom made.
Everything else will come together, slowly, as the week goes by. You’ll think Jen was making use of the fairytale eggplants because the bowl was getting emptier and emptier as days went by. You’ll soon find one in almost every corner of the house, courtesy your cat, Loonz.
You’ll take what’s left of their most adorable selves (you make a note that you’ll grow them next year, seriously this time), and you roast them with warm spices (garam masala) and garlic.
You’ll want to stuff the beautiful, red peppers but never find the time to, so you add them in salads and stews. You do the same with the two onions.
You’ll blister shishito peppers, finishing them with smoked salt.
You’ll share arugula with mom, because everything about this is about sharing.
You’ll eventually find the time to write it all down. You’ll feel exactly as you feel when a poem has ended. Which is the same feeling you’ll get when every tomato, herb, oil and cream came together in your pot one afternoon, and again when the last bit of bisque is gone.
So why return to Glasbern Country Inn?If the deep quiet of farmland and still waters is not enough, then here are my three other reasons: to taste their winter menu (because you know their Spring blew me away like mighty winds against a dandelion), to continue photographing a single place during it’s each season, and the absolute truest reason of them all, I returned for love. To sit across from this man, coffee in hand, almost entirely alone…finally alone.
It is extremely rare living with two, big families, to ever feel we have a place to ourselves. One family in my small, Queens, semi-basement apartment, the other in Brooklyn. Heading to Pennsylvania where there is nothing but land, water, roaming cows and amazing eats, is nothing short of bliss. I didn’t even get to the part where we sleep in a large barn with a king-sized bed, fireplace, and Jacuzzi, did I?
For this trip, I came prepared. The day before we left I made Jon’s Spicy Lemon Garlic hummus, my Cherry Bourbon Brownies but with walnuts in it this time, and one of Dan’s favorites, Ham and Cheddar buttermilk mini-muffins, adapted from a Lee Bailey recipe that I will share with you at another time.
We arrived when the sun was setting. We sat on top of a hill basking in deep, orange light, patiently waiting to get our feast on.
As soon as the sun dipped too low to feel it, we practically ran towards fine dining. I do believe we did this both nights. Their Butter Valley Bib Salad, topped with pomegranate seeds, chèvre, candied pumpkin seeds, greens dressed in a maple walnut vinaigrette, was a favorite starter alongside our truest favorite: bread and their roasted garlic paste in olive oil, rosemary lovingly placed on the plate. We then got their charcuterie board that I would need to get again the next day, but this time, with local cheeses.
On the board: duck prosciutto, lonza (cured pork which was AMAZING and salty and perfectly pink), herbed sausage, soppressata, grainy mustard and pickled cabbage. The names of the cheeses next night escape me, but I was mostly tipsy off of local beer and their beautiful Jack Daniels Chocolate Gelato at that point. (I will always order this for as long as they have it on their menu.)
On our plates: Night 1, I ordered their special. Special because it was a first test recipe for them and also special because these prawns only make their debut two months out of the year. Dan had their freebird chicken breast, solely based on the fact that the last time he had it, he fell in love.
Next night, we ordered a meal that tasted like fall and winter. His risotto dotted with peas and mushrooms. My center-cut porkchop had an apple cider glaze. But what I cannot stop talking about, or thinking about, is the silkiness of the sweet potato puree that accompanied it. It was so simple and all I had were questions. Did they use a food processor? A heavy or light cream? Definitely farm-fresh butter. Is it whipped? Dan thinks they may’ve put the sweet potato through a strainer–twice. Whatever it was, I’ve every intention of remembering it forever. I’d like to make my own, and think I will once a chill in the air returns to us.
Breakfast at Glasbern feels like my heart is sunning in morning light and he’s right there, across from me. I love getting the day started this way. He makes my coffee just the way I love it. He takes a seat, not without putting all the goods on the table first: fruit (their raspberries are always wonderfully bright and sweet), an assortment of freshly baked pastries. I order a waffle topped with buttery whip and caramelized apples. He, a beautifully plated crème brûlée french toast with berries, bacon and sausage. Next day I try to keep it simple: Irish Oatmeal, smoked ham and bacon.
We then must leave. Something always happens when we return to NYC. A sudden heaviness. For Dan it may be the city filth and MTA. For me, it’s the cramped apartment and more concrete than not. So the second missing Glasbern hit me hardcore, Dan suggested we have ourselves a picnic, which we did get to enjoy alone outside my apartment.
Dan made roasted garlic paste inspired by Glasbern’s, served with tuscan herb olive oil and bread, rosemary becoming the center of this private galaxy.
I quickly put together Campari tomato salad with mozzarella and basil.
I made a golden beet and apple salad, zested with orange.
Our cheeseboard had parmesan, cheddar, cherry tomatoes, olives. Simple.
Quite honestly, it was a perfect day equally matched to a long weekend away, and it wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t say, “Hey you, let’s take a walk and have ourselves a picnic.” I can very quickly lose myself in negative thoughts and feelings, but much more quickly find myself draped in morning, stunning light.
OKAY. I am ready to talk about the farm-to-table meal that was so good, I cried. It has only taken me seven months. But before I get there, let me start from the beginning.
After I had my birthday picnic late-April, I wanted a quiet getaway with Danny, with green, with all the flowers. I desperately wanted OUT of a city that I haven’t left in YEARS.
And so we ended up on a farm.
Glasbern Country Inn had everything I needed, and still does. The air so clean; it’s green in Spring punctuated with big-headed dandelions. These were meant for big-time wishes let me tell you. Walking trails, garden, a few ponds, cows that are free to roam around, and what I really wanted: a farm-to-table dining experience. The room? It included a fire place (which Danny and I kept lit the moment we entered the room), Jacuzzi, plush robes, a desk, a beautiful view.
We had about an hour and a half before our 7PM dinner reservation, so we decided to explore the land a bit. We went the Garden Way which is a lovely way. There were sweet bird houses lined up in a row. Happy bees at work. Danny had on the sort of bright, boyish smile he did during our first date, when there was really nothing but us.
Several times I was close to tears. Close to the pond, we stumbled upon hundreds of fallen leaves that the child in me wanted to pick up.
Every fallen leaf turned to skeletons, all completely intact. All unique. This particular spot must’ve been untouched for quite some time and all I wanted to do was collect every single one and build some sort of structure out of ‘em like I was roaming around Glasbern in the spirit of Andy Goldsworthy. It felt so good to be hands-on with earth again. This, right here, was the moment I fell into immense calm. Transitioning from city to THIS was work. I needed to let go of my to do lists, the voices of my boss(es) and co-workers and family, responsibilities—everything. It wasn’t too difficult, though. I was with my love and I knew I was “here.” More here than I’ve ever been. When we moved on, I told myself I’d return to this same spot to collect more leaves tomorrow morning. I thought they would still be here considering they had been for two seasons now. They weren’t. And this was the first lesson/reminder I got out of our time here: while there’s a spark in you–an idea–go with it NOW. Don’t wait for tomorrow. It’s a lot like putting ourselves in a cage, really. Though I’m glad Glasbern leaves theirs always open.
By the pond, Danny was photographing a hissing duck. Yes. Hissing. We couldn’t figure out why the drama, until I started photographing the surrounding area by the pond and found a lady duck seated inside this enormous tree. Hissing in the name of love. I get it.
After this walk, hunger hit us like mad and we rushed our way to the restaurant. We sat close to a fireplace. I think we both viewed the menu skeptically. He wanted a burger and there was none. In fact, there were few things to order, accompanied with big prices. But we don’t get out much so we tried our best not to care too much about what we’re spending.
We began with beer. Mine real dark and his a crisp white called Wicked Hijinx. Our waitress came out with a small white plate in which she drew an S with roasted garlic paste, then filled up the curves with a glorious olive oil that tasted both fruity and herbal. She lit up the plate with the tip of freshly cut rosemary, then sprinkled sea salt over it. This was served with soft, hot bread fresh out of the oven. Danny looked at me and said, this place is really winning me over.
And I was won.
Maybe even one.
Our salads came out first which we immediately devoured–not without discussing what was in them first. A raisin from his accidentally ended up on my heirloom beet salad w/ goat cheese and it was a spectacular moment for me. I wanted to give them a heads-up on this beautiful discovery but decided I’ll simply revise this recipe in my own kitchen and share it with you. Part of the reason it went so well together is that the beets themselves were surprisingly tart but so entirely earthy. The sweetness of the raisin brought out what was missing for me from these (still beautiful!) red and yellow beets. They tasted as if they had just been plucked from deep-bottom, scrubbed clean and cooked minutes before serving, and I appreciated that most. Danny was surprised to see me finish an entire salad for once.
I’m getting to the part were I lose my shit. For the main course, he ordered their free bird chicken breast w/ leg confi over a bed of sauted greens, red pearl onions and fingerlings. I, a grass-fed beef tenderloin with port reduction over whipped potatoes, a side of green and white asparagus, topped with swiss chard micro-greens YES.
FIRST of all, who the hell is the chef of Glasbern because this meal made me want to quit my job, move here, and cook by this being’s side.
Every bite of every thing on our plates was precious. I chewed slowly. That beef was like buttuh. The asparagus was perfectly tender with a crisp bite. And I have to say, as I was eating from my dish I did not think Danny’s chicken would be WOWing. It actually wowed me to tears. In that one bite I felt that free bird was a very happy bird…I felt it was truly taken care of because how the hell could it taste this wonderful. It was tender and juicy and contained a perfect, crisp skin around it. I became hyper-aware of the farm vs. my city. I became hyper-aware of the man sitting across from me who I have always loved eating with. I could think of no other sitting across from me at that moment, sharing this beautiful experience with. It was the first time I felt we were seriously moving towards the right direction, and for the moment, we were both okay asking ourselves if we could imagine our lives in a setting like this. We were excited at the idea that we can plan more trips, discover new places, eat more delicious things together wherever we go. I wish I could’ve lived in that moment.
Next day made me realize we’ll be eating Spring during the rest of our stay here. Breakfast included more fingerlings (I adore these babies.) And after some more exploring of the area, we came back for dinner and cared even less about money.
This time our bread came with smoked sea salt, which was nice, though I totally wish they roasted up some more garlic for us. For starters, we had a cheese plate and a beautiful bowl of pea soup. It tasted so YOUNG. So fresh. Was there mint? I’m trying to remember. Then he ordered scallops which were seared to perfection, and duck, and I, a good ol’ fashioned meat loaf with mash.
We ended that meal with cappuccinos and three scoops of their gelato. One really stood out to me..it was a Jack Daniel Dark Chocolate scoop and I almost died of happiness.
Next day we were in a mood. It was in part because we were leaving Glasbern and about to enter the hell that is Times Square, and, I think, in part because it was back to reality. Back to our jobs we kinda didn’t like. Back to working out our stuff (individually but also together), which I didn’t think needed too much work anymore but, I don’t know. I just know that this trip made me realize that when you take out all the other outside noise that leads to certain, personal anxieties, you can achieve peace with anyone, anywhere, most importantly in yourself. I left Glasbern wanting to remember this, wanting to work on this, wanting to protect my love from NOISE because that’s all it really is, a certain negative buzzing we develop in our brains due to the stress of being a social being who has to figure shit out on the daily… because, really, whatever problems we did have, we didn’t have them in each other’s company. Never when eating together. Never with our first hug and kiss after a week of not seeing each other. Never in bed or in a park or during a walk or while cooking. I am always astonished when an argument arises, because they only do when a part.
Writing this is making me remember another important lesson I got out of our trip, and I’ve a sudden urge to go back just to learn some more. I want to taste what their Autumn is like. What their winter is like. I want the warmth of the fireplace. I want this right here, right now, in NYC which will forever be my home. I want that warmth inside me, always, Lit. That’s THEE home. Sometimes I forget I have such a thing. But I do. It blazes with a love that will never, ever, leave me. It kinda looks like the flower he captured so beautifully. And it probably grows just like that. With water, with care, with time.
Have you ever felt like rows of cut rainbow swiss chard and heads-down sunflowers, with skies of gray threatening an any-minute-down-pour? Yeah. That was me the moment October hit. I feel similarly now, and decided to carry William Stafford with me in hopes for a better mood. But, like my good friend Valerie says, “He’s so comforting and yet disturbs or awakens (awakens is a better word) at the same time.” Which is what I need.
The earth says where you live wear the kind
of color that your life is (gray shirt for me)
and by listening with the same bowed head that sings
draw all into one song, join
the sparrow on the lawn, and row that easy
way, the rage without met by the wings
within that guide you anywhere the wind blows.
Listening, I think that’s what the earth says.
The earth was saying a ton when October hit. It was saying it in rain and darkened clouds. In the passing of my favorite neighborhood flowers, the cosmos. In the threatening of all outdoor plans. The last of my tomatoes. I felt Earth’s words held deep in my bones, which hurt, mind you, especially when it rains. Let go, it says. Or this is all necessary, it says. Or don’t let ME get in your way.
I was to spend Saturday the 1st throwing a picnic with my loves at a winery in Long Island. And Sunday, I was to go apple picking. Neither of these things happened. Both sky and health kinda put a damper on plans, but I did my BEST not to let it ruin every single thing about that weekend. Earth, I was listening.
What I wanted to bring to the picnic I STILL had to make; a gallete of roasted beets and apple, feta, orange zest and herbs. I had already bought half the ingredients. It’s a recipe I toyed with in my mind that I really wanted to test out. I enjoy the cold salad version very much but wondered how everything would taste in the oven. I mentioned this to Tory and told her if there is a moment where it is not thunder-storming it’s butt off, I will hop on the F and R train to her home and we’ll bake up this idea I had. Plus, we were both incredibly sad about our winery plans falling through, so we clearly needed to hug it out.
And hug it out, we did.
I dropped off my FIRST homemade pie dough (GRATE FROZEN BUTTER INTO THE FLOUR Y’ALL), which I carried on the train like it was a newborn, and we then set out to the Brooklyn Grange to pick up her CSA. I asked her not to let me buy more than one thing and she said she’ll stop me at three. I love her. I purchased a container of spicy radish and arugula sprouts, solely because I wanted to sprinkle this on my gallete. I regret not buying the last of the tomatoes. I thought I saw sauce in my future but at least there was definitely sauce in Tory and Jon’s.
First thing I did when we returned was drop the beets in a pot of water. During this time, we drank pumpkin beer while Tory made us appetizers of cream cheese stuffed blossoms and fried baby green tomatoes. It made for a wonderful mouth experience.
When the beets were half-way done I took them out and sliced them. Same for the green apple which I peeled first. I tossed both in olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh thyme, roasted them for about 15 minutes. When done, I tossed ’em in a little freshly squeezed orange and a bit of it’s zest. More pepper. I rolled out the dough in STYLE. This thing is made of marble, errbody. And then to Tory’s surprise, I carefully arranged beet and apple at it’s center, instead of throwing it on top like she thought I would. The finishing touches are the spicy sprouts and feta. Tory rolled honey on the crust <3
While the galette was in the oven, Tory worked on her spicy carrots and garlicky yogurt, which were so delicious and beautiful to look at. Lots of mustard seeds in that pan. Lots of love for this girl, elegantly crushing her garlic.
The earth says always eat with love and laughter surrounding you. A rush of color reddens your cheeks and that’s the color to wear, always, like the stain of a beet. On this day, I ate with Tory and Jon and it was a beautiful, soul-satisfying meal. It always is when we come together. When, what we make comes together. I love how it always works out. I’m already brainstorming all sorts of galettes I could possibly make. It’s FUN, guys. And I would tweak this recipe a bit. Try a different cheese, a different herb, more honey and citrus and heat. But I have zero negative things to say about my first. It was beautiful.
2. at first, you think you’ve been asked this because Tory is going to be away that Saturday and she just needs someone to keep her veggie loves nice and safe. still, you say Yes. and you are already delighted because any reason to go back to the Brooklyn Grange will always be a really damn good reason. (VEGGIES AND CHICKENS AND BEES, OH MY.) but most importantly, your friend asked you to do something for her; you say Yes.
3. through FB messenger, you ask her when you guys can meet so you can give her all her veggie goods. she takes a moment to respond. maybe she’s laughing. maybe she called her husband, Jon, over, to tell him what Crystal just asked. and then after a minute or two, she says, “no no I meant for you to keep it!” and your jaw drops.
this is really about love. Tory could’ve chosen anyone, but really, she chose you. this may seem insignificant to some. it’s just veggies, right? but no. it’s just love. you know what it’s like to be someone’s last thought. lately, you’ve been feeling the weight of it. but this has never, and will never, be the case with the friends you have in your life. so, pay close attention to the messages you get from this visit.
4. before heading to Brooklyn Grange, she forwards you an email which states what she and Jon are to pick up for the day. it’s a very impressive list.
– Cherry tomatoes (the LAST of them)
– Chard (you’ve never messed around with this before)
– Curly kale (same as chard!)
– Candy onions (oh, these are beautiful. and live up to their name.)
– Carrots (orange, with their long roots and green heads still attached)
– Beets (so TINY! and red.)
– Mint (the best you’ve had)
– Shishitos (you LOVE shishitos, thanks to Tory)
– Jalapeños (you’re currently growing these but you want some NOW.)
– Maya Habanero peppers (sounds dangerous)
– Sweet Carmen peppers (YES.)
5. you arrive with your friend at 11AM because that is the time you are used to meeting Tory and Jon. it just feels right. you show Jess around. walk up and down the aisles of peppers and onions, tall looming sunflowers with heads gracefully bowed towards the smaller flowers of the earth, and you gotta show her the spotted chicken! and the white chicken with the fuzzy fro and perhaps, this time, you will visit the beehive. you never do make it to the beehive. instead, you find the gourds waiting to be full and round for Autumn and you are now full, ready for September to work it’s inevitable change on your life.
it’s saying, Hello, Flowers!
6. this appears to be the month of peppers and eggplants for this magical rooftop farm. when your eyes catch sight of bashful, mauve flowers, your mind wanders to Nigel Slater, who made you fall deepest in love with earth’s purple schlong (he called it that in Tender! and who made you catch butterflies again when an eggplant was recently given to you to work with:
“The thick stems, with their light, fine hairs, the mauve flowers drooping as if in shame, the first hint of ivory or purple fruits, and the soft, jade-green leaves make this one of the most covetable plants to own. And if it gives us only two or three ripe fruits at the end of an infrequent hot summer, we should just be thankful. Rarely is the cook given anything quite so beautiful to work with.” -Nigel Slater, from Tender
7. you’re at the farm stand and you want it all. you’re packing up Tory’s share, and all kinds of recipes are driving back and forth, up and down your brain. Jess is coming home with you and you are going to feed the wonderful lady. a fellow CSA-er says she does not like mint, and hands you hers. now you have two. this is clearly a special day. you’re about to leave with the share but then you spot lavender-veined, fairy tale eggplants and a bag of arugula with nasturtiums laying beautifully on top of my favorite peppery greens. you snatched these beauties up, shouting, MINE!
8. you go downstairs to order a coffee because you need the time to figure out what you’re going to make when you get home. you lay veggies out on COFFEED’s wooden tables. you start googling recipes. your heart begins to race. DON’T PANIC. you don’t have to use them all in one day and to hell with these recipes.
9. you’re home and the first thing you do is put the tiny beets in a pot and let ’em boil. then you make a refreshing cocktail of cucumber, mint and lime. you get into a conversation about figs with Jess and use it as a 15 minute writing prompt. they are FASCINATING. do you all know about the Wasp and Fig relationship? the two couldn’t exist without the other in most cases.
10. Jess gives you a helping hand in the kitchen. Even a photographic hand:
you decide to serve Beer Battered Fairy Tale Eggplant, Blistered Shishitos tossed with sesame oil and soy sauce, a Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger (recipe in my next blog post!), and a beautiful Arugula salad w/ Green Apple, Beets and a creamy Cheddar/Parmesan blend that surprisingly crumbled like feta. you and Jess are happy and it all looks beautiful. next time, though, you are going to treat fairy tale eggplants more simply. they are too elegant, too beautiful, to be deep fried. but the shishitos and salad? perfection.
11. over the next few days, you think about the rest of the veggies you have. you ask Tory what she likes to do with kale, and she says a white bean soup. you know you’re going to be visiting Connie soon so why not? you make a minestrone of sorts and love how the kale brightens everything up the way green ought to.
12. a few days later, you almost forget you have peppers. almost. you just got back from the farmer’s market with beautiful heirloom tomatoes, and once you make a roasted tomato basil sauce, you’re suddenly craving italian hot sausage with onions and peppers. this dish was SO so comforting.
13. it is now mid-September and the changes are in full swing. it really is the month of New. i gave my two weeks notice at a job i’ve had for over two years. yesterday, i let the kiddo know that i’ll be leaving by the end of next week. (i was his caregiver.) i wanted to squeeze him. tomorrow, i go apple picking with Valerie, another mid-September thing where the orchards are letting go and i’m creating out of their offerings. i will bake kiddo a pie. i will NOT panic during this transitional month. i recently learned i have some urgent health problems to take care of. instead of freaking the hell out, i’m going to treat this as a sign from above that it is truly time to take care of ME. i am filled with so much gratitude knowing that i am not alone in this. let’s not forget what this post is really about: loveLoveLOVE. with a side of veggies.
14. what do you do when your friend asks you to pick up her CSA share?
you thank her. you thank her and you send her all the love.
I will gladly eat the almost-flowering buds of a hardneck garlic bulb. I would also eat their flowers, but I haven’t seen them in bloom yet.
I saw these wild scapes at the farmers’ market for 2 bucks and needed to have them. They reminded me of the strange curl of my hair, each thick strand curving in a different direction, looping dramatically each morning.
This bunch had about 18 scapes and I put them in every dish I could think of for the week. They are a tad bit less intense than garlic itself, but the garlic flavor is still clearly present.
The first dish was Lemon Scaped Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes.
I filled my cast iron pan with cut scapes, slices of red onion, grape tomatoes, quickly sauteed in olive oil + salt and pepper, then roasted til tomatoes looked ready to pop. I tossed this with thin spaghetti, arugula and spinach, lemon zest and a few squeezes of it’s juice. That’s it. Simple and bright. You can eat it hot or cold.
Next day we BBQed, and my side dish was a pasta tossed in garlic scape pesto with BACON.
That’s right. Crispy bacon took the place of the saltiness of grated parmesan that I did not have. I noticed with my first few posts that I sorta/kinda appear as if I am a vegetarian. Friends, I am not. In my food processor I put peppery arugula, spinach, scapes, fried bacon, walnuts and olive oil, blended well. It was the sort of intensity I was after.
For the rest of the week I added a scape or two to anything I’d normally put garlic in, which is pretty much everything. Soup. Stew. Pot pie (which I’ll write about next week.)
I thought this would be the first and last time I see scapes for the summer, and then I met up with Tory and Jon at the Brooklyn Grange and Tory handed me the last of ’em grown there. Oh, my heart. I happily carried them with me, along with two bulbous candy onions.
Also, on the Grange, we spotted us a beekeeper. Sunflowers. More chickens. More things to photograph. More to love.
Some of my favorite Saturdays have been spent with these two beautiful people.
After the Grange, we walked ourselves to Milkflower and had us a beautiful meal of blistered shishito peppers (my first time!). She warned me about the occasional spicy ones. Like 1 out of 12? Let’s just say I barely tasted our pizza that Tory and I split, (cherrystone clam w/ garlic and fresno chiles) but that squeeze of lemon wedge truly brought out all of it’s flavors for me and what I barely tasted tasted freaking amazing. I’ve never been disappointed eating there with them. And this time? We sat underneath the young grapes.
On my way home, my mom was visiting, and she sent me a text stating, simply, “I’m hungry.” Although I just ate, I was still very eager to use these candy onions and scapes, so I ran home and whipped us up a plate of braised london broil and salad. The onions here live up to their very sweet names, and roasted scapes will always add a much-needed touch.
If you see these loopy green scapes around, please buy them! I see no reason not to. It means no part of garlic goes to waste, not even it’s flowers, and I love everything about that.