Friday, February 14, 2020

Grenadilla Mousse

Grenadillas are dropping off the vine at my mother's house, and in Cape Town supermarkets they are abundant and cheap. Time to make mousse!

Head over to 66 Square Feet (the Food) for my grenadilla mousse recipe.


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Suddenly, it is summer

And just like that (snaps fingers), you are in another hemisphere. Another season. Another climate.

The dark afternoons become long, light evenings. Fog-shrouded and brown winter trees become rich green summer canopies, roaring like rivers in the wind. Brooklyn to Constantia, home to home, but neither, and never.

To anyone closely tuned to plants and to the minutely unfolding sequence of the changing seasons (botanist, farmer, forager, gardener, grower, seasonal eater) this sudden contrast - happening within 24 hours -  is as unnerving as it is miraculous.

I will be back in New York by very early spring, but for the southern summer month of February I am in changeable Cape Town. I landed in stifling heat, but as I type on this evening patio (where we ate by candlelight last night) in the lee of a cloud-shrouded mountain, it is now sweater-cold. On the other side of the mountain, facing the Atlantic, they are probably basking in the evening's golden sunlight.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Daylight Savings Walk - Jamaica Bay

Snow geese at Jamaica Bay. Photo: Vincent Mounier

The Good, the Bad, and the Berry (2 tickets left)
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
8 March 2020
12pm - 2.30pm
Tickets: $52

Today the clocks are set an hour forward. Come and celebrate the end of dark afternoons with a brisk plant identification walk followed by a picnic featuring the flavors we have seen.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is where New York's contradictions of populated skyline and free range nature meet in a fascinating intersection of estuary, wetland, beach, field uplands and woods.

Late winter and early spring show us undressed shrubs where tempting drupes and berries persist. Some of them are delicious.

Some of them are not. What are they? Friend, or foe? 

Learn to tell the difference between native and Asian bittersweet.

Edible and poisonous fruits. Which is which?

The refuge has a wild and exposed western side. Waterfowl like snow geese like to overwinter here, and if we are lucky we will spot them.

A viewing platform allows access to the wetland's edge.

The quieter eastern side of the refuge is where woodland and swamp meet. 

On our walk we will meet a range of Northeastern native shoreline plants, like pine and juniper, and in our post-walk hot toddy we will taste them.

Fragrant male eastern red cedars will be bursting with pollen.

And spring's luscious shoots will be disguised in winter's skeleton forms. 

This is the time to identify common edible plants for future forages.

Our wild-inspired picnic will feature a hot and fragrant toddy as well snacks checking the invasivore and native flavor boxes. (Yes, in a wild food world, such boxes exist.)

Despite the date, March can be the snowiest month in the city, so be ready with boots, mittens, and ear warmers, in case.

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is reached by car (lots of parking), bus, or by the A train (to broad Channel - a 15 minute walk away). Thanks to the National Parks Service (and our tax dollars) there is a very civilized bathroom on site.

(To learn more about my walks, or to join my mailing list for future outings, please visit the Forage Walks and Events page.)


More Spring Walks

Monday, December 23, 2019

Hoshigaki How-To

Every winter for the last five years we have had some interesting holiday decorations hanging in windows or from ceilings in two apartments: hoshigaki - strings of peeled persimmons, drying slowly in the Japanese tradition.

The finished fruit is dense, chewy, and as unctuous* as toffee, if fresh toffees grew on trees (as they do in C.S. Lewis's The Magicians' Nephew).

*You get to say unctuous once a year; I have waited a long time, and there it is.

Learn how to make hoshigaki in this story I wrote for Edible Brooklyn. Tips, tricks and deliciousness. This is a wonderful annual ritual, and persimmons are in season. You need to try this at least once.

That white bloom is a cloak of tiny sugar crystals. 

If you have ever had a very plump Medjool date, you have some idea of the flavor and texture of good hoshigaki, but the Medjool is less complex. And before you ask, these results bear no relation to what you might achieve in a dehydrator. You need more time.

I love the process of making these wonderful treats. They last a year (I have never managed more), and are reserved for special occasions. Like supper for two, with cheese! Or a forage picnic.

Come and taste some on our wild walk in Prospect Park on January 1st.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Fir - the love of December

Go on, buy me for the holidays. Either on my publisher's site (35% off), or from your local bookstore. Or you, know, at the other place.

Because it's time to play with fir - the most delicious scent and wonderful flavor. Fir is not pine, and pine is not spruce, and spruce is not hemlock, and hemlock is not larch. None of them are yew. Don't eat yew. Evergreens with needles can be confusing. Fir belongs to the Abies genus, and has unmistakably fragrant needles (the others are all interesting - and edible, too, except the yew - but without the distinct aroma of the freezing north in December).

I made a fresh batch of fir sugar last week. The flavor and scent last years. Literally. Although the fresh green will fade with time.

You need fir sugar on your party glasses.

Or on your drink for one. This is Firgid, from the book.

And this is house-cured gravlax. Recipe in the book. So easy. Memorably delicious.

And here are the fir smoked potatoes you should not live without. Roasted in duck fat. And you don't need a smoker.

And here is dessert. Made with this season's Meyer lemons.

I told you. You need to buy me

Have fun!


(Yes, there will be fir)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Jones Beach - Owl Watch

We went to the beach on Long Island that in summer is crammed with thousands of roasting bodies.

It was cold and empty, and the dune grasses were beautiful in their rufous, early winter color.

I saw tracks and found scat (rabbit?), and scanned every hump and hollow for the snowy owls we were hoping to sight.

Solidago, gone to seed.

And then we found her, between hell and high water. Not perched on a dune, but surveying her landscape sleepily from a rusty fence above empty handball courts. A New York owl.

Below her the courts were crammed with rusting barbecues and stacked picnic tables, detritus from summer, corralled by the dozen and locked up behind chainlink until next season.

They belong to the barracks of empty cabanas.

Much later we realized we could have found her via the road, rather than on a long beach hike, and so we parked the car there in the vast and empty parking lot named for the resort - Malibu - and ate hot tomato and chile soup with field garlic sprinkles and watched the owl. She's about at two-minutes-to-twelve above the cup on the left. Faraway, on the fence:


Friday, December 6, 2019

New Year's Walk

New Year's Tramp
Prospect Park
1 January 2020
12pm - 2pm

Bundle up and join me to greet the new year with the resilience that 2020 will require. What better way than with a bracing tramp outdoors? Up hill, down dale, and through the Brooklyn woods? 

On our wild winter walk we will identify edible plants that will be ready to gather in the spring, learn about spruce and pine, and will meet some sturdy botanicals whose flavors defy freezing temperatures. 

Our warming picnic will be flavored by the year's preserved forages (and some fresh ones, too) and will feature hot toddies, steaming soup, and a Spicebuche de Noel. And maybe something bubbly, too.

Book via the button below and please visit my walk page for info about my walks and refund policies.

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