Friday, October 31, 2008

End of October

Prosecco with a splash of pomegranate juice, and Finn Crisps with Ajvar: spicy red pepper paste.
And a small bagna cauda with beetroot and carrot...

BEM Monge




Depending on one's point of view there is a very cool/very creepy (nice euphemism for the Halloween-appropriate word sinister) ship docked just down the road. I saw its tail - if you know a better word tell me, I don't mean the stern - rising up above these rooves yesterday and had a look today, on my way home, and also from the roof.

The technology is very cool. Its application and raison d'etre are the creepy part.
And why Monge? Gaspard Monge. Mathematician and sometime 18th century "examiner of naval cadets" in the 18th century French navy!

Here is an automatically translated page about BEM [b√Ętiment d'essais et de mesures] Monge, with all the inherent amusements...on the page you can switch back to the French. Her Captain is Denis Household. In both languages. Even better.

What I want to know is, where and what is the crew eating while in New York?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time to think of forcing bulbs

Should I be suspicious of Anne Raver? She says that narcissus (paperwhites, in particular), "stink". That they smell of Tom Cat! When he's at home. I wonder if she drinks Sauvignon blanc. Maybe it's only Safrican Sauvignon blanc that says Tom.

Narcissus smell like heaven. And no, I don't go around sniffing tomcats.

There is a little road that runs east-ish from Kirstenbosch, South Africa's National Botanical Garden, past a tiny stone chapel, to Bishopscourt, a wealthy suburb. It takes all of a minute or less to drive down. The green fields on either side of the road are filled with old oaks, and in very early spring, narcissus/narcissuses/narcissi [dear Sir, please send a mongoose, and another mongoose...sorry], in drifts.

At least, this used to exist. I have not driven down the little road for years, and something horrible may have happened.

I used to park my beat-up little white car there as a student and wade through the tall wet grass to pick the flowers whose long supple stems dripped stickily, and whose pure, fragile ivory flowers excited me in a way that is hard to describe.

Especially to someone who thinks that their scent is a stink.

Fall anemones


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Big Rig



Could be described as Doc Lite, but still interesting. Get it at Netflix...

Once Upon a Time in Red Hook




Estorbo has a different take on it.

Weekend roundup

Late night welcome to Brooklyn: Italian bubbly and Portuguese sardines from the cat (who thought it was time to Give Back). They were confiscated at Newark on the outward bound flight...The cat is devastated.

Late night salmon supper: smoked Irish salmon from Russ and Daughters, quick-pickled Kirby cucumber, wholewheat toast.

Indoor picnic. Saucission and Taleggio from Stinky. Cornichons from a jar from France.

Ah, breakfast...his not mine! Creme fraiche and black raspberry jam on a croissant!

Dessert with friends. Creme caramel and roasted quince...



Butter

...it's what's for breakfast.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Boeuf bourguignon

Cold weather food for 4 or 2 or...1 (freeze the rest, it improves):

2 lbs Beef (from the shoulder/"chicken steak"/paleron), cubed
4 rashers bacon
1 bottle of red wine
3 onions thinly sliced
3 tbsp flour
3 carrots, chunked
5 cloves of garlic, squashed,
3 cups small mushrooms
parsley, thyme and bay leaves.

Brown meat in batches, remove; add onion and bacon, cook 10 minutes, add flour. Cook a couple of minutes. Add wine and stir and scrape up fond (brown stuff stuck to bottom of pan). Add meat again and other ingredients. Bring to boil then lower to simmer. Cook 2 hours or more, stirring every now and then. Best the next day after chilling overnight, but very good the same day, too.

Arborio and apple pudding, see previous post.

Notes from a wet and cold Tuesday evening

Warm flowers opening.

First cut tulips of fall. Even if it feels like winter.

Leftovers inspired by Joe Bastianich article in the NY Times this morning: he eats arborio rice for breakfast before his training runs. He's lost 45lbs. Now Mario Batali needs training runs. Heck, training walks. Anyhoo...arborio rice cooking with leftover fullcream milk (from creme caramel-making), creme fraiche and quince syrup from dessert on Saturday night, as well as some raisins and cinnamon stick; and apples stewing behind, ancient relics of the farmers' market two weeks ago. Rice pudding part will top stewed appples (cooking in pomegranate juice, also undrunk from Saturday) and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Dinner? Leftover Boeuf bourguignon over wholewheat berries.

Rain on skylights, Nina Simone, leftover birthday prosecco with a splash of pomegranate juice.

Seasons have changed.

Construction Turkeys

Ah, Sciame Construction.

I forgot about these guys: at a new building whose support structure caught my eye, so, stupidly, I looked at it. Where the Bowery turns into 3rd Avenue, between East 6th and 7th Streets, east side of street opposite Cooper Union. Clear?

So when I looked they started hollering. Good mooooooorning, Sunshine! But not in a nice friendly way: in a creepy, slime-drippy, I-need-a- shower-now-to-wash-it-off way. Of course I ignored them, as my mother taught me a long time ago (classify under "unwanted attention"). And walked off.

Then the neighing started.

Neighing.

Now that was new. I have never been neighed at. I was wearing tall boots...I started over- analyzing and then decided. No! Up with this I will not put, and turned around, took out my camera and pointed.

You see the belly on the left? It is retreating backwards with its wheelbarrow, as fast as its bowlegs can carry it, to get out of range. I assume that was Neigher #1. The thumbs up goon is Neigher #2. The smiling black guy with the concrete? Doesn't strike me as a neigher.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Flowers

When I emerged sleepily from the bedroom this morning I saw what all the snipping noises had been about: flowers! Vincent had to resort to jam jars for the irises...

And at work, when I returned from picking up a papaya salad for lunch, I found more from Natalie and Chris, and from the latter, who knows my drinking habits well, a bottle of prosecco...then Natalie, who has quite a sweet tooth, suggested that I might need some little cakes. I suggested she pick her favourite flavour. I had half a red velvet cupcake - really nice. But you know me. Give me salty things any day.

There really is nothing better than flowers. Except my husband-and-cat combination. And my mom's flowers are still somehow finding their way to me from South Africa. The florist she spoke to there, about having flowers delivered here, said, New York, where's that? Canada?
Really.

Prescription for a Birthday, on a Monday


-to be taken once with a small, well-chilled Screwdriver:

One friendly and loving person to go out early while One is still sleeping, to find flowers, orange juice, croissants and brown bread. In the light of the croissants the brown bread was ignored, see below.

A friendly and loving hand to make the Screwdriver, while One is poaching brown organic eggs.

Brown eggs and simmering water and a croissant bed = very good foundation for breakfast.

Pancetta crisping, ready to be added to eggs...Coffee on the boil. Milk hot.

Chives, just-snipped from the terrace. A knob of organic, sweet cream butter, to melt over eggs and croissant. Black pepper.
And the crispy pancetta.

Sunshine in late October, a cat wearing a ribbon, and lots of flowers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fortuities, I mean chickadees

Rarely, I dream about birds. They are usually very small, pretty birds, of a species my dream invents, who sit on my hands or fill my dream-composite garden.

Until visiting Vancouver no little bird (apart from my large pet bantam when I was small!) had ever perched on my real, not dream-hand, though a friend had told me about chickadees fluttering about him somewhere near Toronto (is it only Canadian chickadees that are so friendly?).

In Stanley Park, standing under a canopy of quiet redwoods, or near a lake on a path overgrown by salmon berries and listening with ears pricked for the high-pitched staccato twittering of these little birds, with a hand held out in hope, is one of the nicest things I have ever done. I know one should not feed wild birds but...I am weak. How they see one, or notice one standing there, in a random spot, stopped just because their calls have been heard high above, I don't know.

Near the lake, above and below.


In the forest. This was wholegrain bread crumbled so the grains remained. Sensibly, they did not like it. So then I bought them the wild seed in the first pictures.

"I flew all the way down here for this? I don't eat bread, you silly human!"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Waiting for chickadees

...who are usually more reliable than Godot.

This was a little while ago in Vancouver's lovely Stanley Park. I dragged the patient Vincent to the park almost daily to see if the chickadees would sit on my hands, and it was like magic when they did, fluttering down like Kundera's fortuities from the apparently empty, soaring green trees above.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A pick me up, tira mi su, a tonic

So, quite aside from my therapeutic bag of Doritos, dipped into over two days, I bought a bottle of Prosecco and made some bagna cauda. The weather is just right for this wonderful dish: a bath of olive oil, lots of garlic and anchovies. The tonic part of it is the dish of raw vegetables - with all their vitamins and minerals - that are dipped into the bath. And the nice crust of baguette, hot from the oven, to sop up the oil, and to satisfy the craving for seratonin and endorphin-releasing carbs.

I switched to a Gigondas for the meal itself, because the white wine didn't feel right with the strong flavours of the garlic and salty anchovies. But the bubbly sure felt right slipping down my throat while I was chopping and slicing...



The early week news remains what it is, but very good things have been happening too, especially today, and there is a lot to look forward to and a great deal to reasonably hope for.

Bicycle recycler

I didn't think I would see him again. On Court Street some weeks ago I watched as this man sailed by on his roadbike loaded with bulging black trash bags stuffed with bottles and cans, destined for collection at a few cents per item.

Then I spotted him recently on Henry Street, packing one of the bags, with his wife packing her own shopping cart with the same. He then climbed very slowly onto his bike while she helped him hoist five full bags onto his back. He set off in the nice green bike lane, and she followed behind, much more sowly. He stopped for a red light at State Street and leaned with difficulty against a lightpole. As I passed I greeted him and remarked on his superior balancing skills; he gave me a rather tired smile.

He is not a young man, nor even middle-aged, and this is a hard way to earn a buck. But it is done very well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dumbo

On a very blustery, bright blue October afternoon, I visited a terrace in Dumbo*, with some plans for its 1,600 square foot terrace (view from, above) rolled up in a drawing tube. I think it all went well and the North American, bird-friendly garden, with leanings to the Northeast - and with concessions for the kitchen garden - is on its way.

I walked home and was arrested by these beautiful views, down consecutive streets running down to the East River, of a gilded Manhattan Bridge in the late afternoon light.



* Dumbo acronym for those who aren't local: Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

I like the Gothic scale of Dumbo, the cobbled streets, the looming, earthbound feet of the bridges, and their soaring cables. There are still empty, warehoused streets where one can walk alone in the middle of the old cobbles, but new windows are appearing in old buildings as developement continues.

Walking home up the hill from the Fulton Landing to the Brooklyn Promenade, the wind played havoc with my skirt. I thought I had it under control after the first, single upflip Incident, when I got caught in a vicious and continuous eddy on the Promenade level and was reduced to near, half laughing hysteria as the skirt blew about my head and my handbag and drawing tube were dropped, forgotten in my hour of need, as all hands were summoned to control the situation.

I pray that some rabid blogger (like me!) was not ambling along 50 paces behind me with a camera, because if they were, I am toast.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A chip too far

Some people have a shrink. I have a bag of Dorito's.

Rooftop crop

Well, croplet, then. Rainbow chard. I've made only three salads from them so far since planting in summer, along with - very prolific - flatleaf parsley. They are pretty and pretty chewy, too, but they're mine, so I like them.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Risotto: shortrib and red wine

Shortribs are perhaps the second proper thing I ever learned to cook, as I may have written here before: dictated to me by my mother from her bed, where she lay with the chicken pox I had given her.

They are a favourite, and a very rich one, so I don't eat them very often. But one of the best things about them, apart from the first eating, when they are tender and rich with red wine and bayleaves (I forgot the juniper berries this time), is Night #2: shortrib risotto. Sometime in the last few years in this tiny apartment, I found myself with leftover shortribs and the idea of a risotto was born. Now it is standard fare and I always braise more than I need...

Mise en place, kind of: red wine, of a sturdy but fruity nature. This unfancy Swartland Shiraz was too young , but quite drinkable.

Long ago I decided that carrots were important for the risotto - they add a necessary sweetness. And I started off with finely chopped onion. Below are the onion and carrot, one whole clove of garlic, and some thyme from the terrace, to which was added a very small cup of Arborio rice, all stirred to coat with the small slosh of olive oil.

Then a cup of the red wine (the same that the ribs cooked in, and the same that you will drink). Stir until absorbed.


I added the meat with some warm broth, and kept stirring. Then whole flat-leafed parsley. Not the stems.

Stir and add broth till the rice is JUST done. Add a little knob of butter, and about a 1/4 cup of grated parmesan. The real one, need I add.

It all takes about 20 minutes.


Not a light meal. But very good for nippy nights.

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