Thursday, September 30, 2010

Plant jokes


Fall in the Northeast:  They're h-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-re...

But at last the NYPD is targeting this monoculture.

But officer, the public demands them! There is no market for Interesting Fall Perennials.

Tell that to the judge, buddy. Is that kale in the back of the truck?

City farming

The haul from the roof farm on Tuesday evening. I fried the green tomatoes last night and they were surprisingly delicious! Dipped the slices in whisked egg with some cream, then into self rising flour, heavily seasoned, and cooked in an olive oil and butter mix. Drizzled some lemon juice over at the last. Outside was crisp, inside tender and slightly tart, and piping hot.

I have taken out the black cherry tomatoes and planted in their stead some strawberries from the terrace, which were already rootbound, only a couple of months after rooting from runners...

In their new home:

The strawberries are proving far more energetic in taking over the world than the cucuzza threatened to be. I took that out some weeks ago, smelling the burned hair pong of the leaves all the while. I was sorry to see the flowers go, though - they were luminously beautiful, opening before sunset. But after the last - and only mature - cucuzza won the blue ribbon for heaviest summer squash at the Farm City Fair, I thought it was time to quit. Sorry I didn't get to eat it, though. I wonder who did?

I planted mesclun and the last of the spicy microgreen mix in its big pot.

Coming up, on the 19th...

 And yesterday:

Estorbo is here identifying a problem: the upland cress in the trough did not grow green and lush like the crop sown on the terrace, but turned dull red and remained stunted, for . The soil also remained wet, even though the drainage holes were working. So I pulled it out and noticed this kind of fungusy, spore-y growth on the soil down the sides of the trough which was packed with roots. It was new soil, so the roots belonged to the cress, despite their dwarfish leaves.

It was only when I looked at the picture on my computer that I noticed the critters...small, pale.

Any ideas? Click to enlarge.

I had planned to sow the second packet of chervil here, but now am not so sure. I'll wait until I know what the bugs were/are. The top trough shows what I will pick tonight and tomorrow, the middle what I picked in the last two weeks. It rejuveneated little, and I'll take the stems out and replant later this week.

They taste as good as they look. We're having an ensemble of sausages for supper and these leaves with walnut oil vinaigrette will be a perfect, mustardy counterpoint.

The cat supervised rubbish removal and safe return of terra cotta pots to the terrace.

Speaking of which. Walked down the brownstone steps this morning to find one pot missing altogether, but the impatiens that had been in it were standing all naked and intact on the same step. And another impatiens pot was jammed on top of a very happy (well, it used to be very happy) begonia, now crushed. Lots of broken, sappy stems. Sad and mysterious.

Taxus berries

I love these berries. But I do not swallow the seeds. They contain taxane and are VERY poisonous. Paclitaxel, a cancer treatment, is derived from the leaves, which, if eaten, are also highly poisonous to stock. 

I eat the sweet, juicy pulp around the pit, and spit that neatly into my hand, cherry fashion. It's not that I like living on the edge, I just really like fruit...

Soon I will elaborate on this love and the pickle it can get me into. And explain why I called Steve Brill at 10-plus pm one night this summer saying, I'vejusteatenallthepulpandtheseedsofamayapple. Was that a bad idea? 

This was after I'd contacted  Forager X, at the other end of live email, in sudden panic, who had scanned all his literature and texted all his foraging pals about the toxicity of the seeds. Nobody in books would come out and say that the pips actually were poisonous. Just that that they were 'apparently' poisonous. One friend had swallowed 'some' seed long ago and lived.

Steve's answer that night: No one ever eats the seeds...

My silent response, Then why don't you SAY so in your book????

How many did you eat? he asked mildly.

All of them, I said, Everything inside the mayapple. It was delicious.
 
Maybe you should call doctor, he suggested.


...to be continued

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rainy terrace

On a rainy the day the Pat Austin opened her first real rose bloom of the year - as wide as my hand outspread, far better than the flower that won the blue ribbon a few weeks ago at the Farm City Fair. She just hates the heat, and cooler, kinder days have seen the set of big, multiple buds on long, long stems.

We were under another tornado watch, but just saw a lot of skylight-drumming rain.

Early this evening the sun came out and dried up all the rain (and yes, I was besieged by spiders on the roof farm).

Something about the weather and wind, perhaps, made the jets approaching La Guardia adopt a new final approach route, roaring over us every couple of minutes, very exciting.

And a new set of Men tortured us in the pauses between rain showers to drill and dig and cut tar. Last week it was a private sewer company. This week it's Con Edison, our electricity provider. It's noisier than I can say. And far noisier than I can think.

But the plants didn't seem to mind.

I took eight strawberry plants to the roof and planted them in the vacated green pepper pot. I now have a dozen green peppers to cook. Walnut sauce coming up.

The constant reproduction of the strawberries is a kind of tyranny. They won't stop. I am very curious about how they will survive the roof.

And finally, a rather ratty, volunteered autumn clematis, climbing up the New Dawn.

It's almost October.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lobster roll


The Red Hook Lobster Pound raised the bar - and the price - of street fair food at the Atlantic Antic, and their team worked like clockwork: did it right, and did it fast. It was probably worth every dollar. 

Actually I didn't see the price displayed but assume it was the $14 they charge from their storefront in Red Hook, where we've eaten their rolls before. One hot buttered, one cold lobster salad.


Pictured here are the hot buttered version. Note the airborne butter in the first picture.


And here the cold version, layed on a bed of slaw.


Lovingly filed with mayonnaise-y lobster meat.


And topped with paprika.


Curious about the lobster roll's history, which is fuzzy. Apparently it evolved as a way of making use of the useless legs and (then?)-useless claw meat. Filling them with tail meat seems hedonistic to purists. Accounts for the price, too. Anyone have some early lobster roll documentation?

If I had lots of lobster legs I'd make some very good bisque...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Atlantic Antic - La Mancha: sardines, sausage and sangria



The 36th Atlantic Antic has been and gone. Our jeans and T-shirts have been soaked to remove sardine fumes, and we are digesting hundreds of pictures. There will be more posts, and Vince is working on a movie.

We could smell the sardine smoke before we turned onto Atlantic from Henry. The line for the sardines was not as long as last year's, but turnover was brisk and steady. The fishies were $4 each this year, up from last year's $3. But you could get two for $6...


Also available was a side of smoked chihuahua.


Poor thing.


The sardines were excellent. I ate mine with my fingers, much easier for the bones. Then I scrubbed and scrubbed with lemon and wiped and wiped with napkins. Sardines linger.


There was paella, as usual. 


It was the most expensive item on the menu, at $9 a plate.


This area, right next to the beer tent of the Chip Shop, was packed, so there was a lot of artful balancing.


And chorizo,  half a sausage for $7.


I know that sangria is an extremely low thing to like, but I do.


Cheap wine, chopped fruit and suspect sweetening. Yum.


Judy and Susan, below,  womaned the sangria table. They said that they are La Mancha regulars and were just helping out. Funny thing is, I walk past the restaurant every day. It's on my shopping route for groceries. It is dark inside, always looks empty, and I've never been tempted to enter. It has been in business for as long as I've been in this neighbourhood, and plenty haven't. Lost City reviews La Mancha and confirms that they opened in 2004.


And ever year I queue for their sardines.

Atlantic Antic 2010



The 36th Atlantic Antic has been and gone.


Bus schedules and traffic had a bad day.


One mile of a Brooklyn artery closed to traffic.


The Frenchie and I started at Henry Street, the very top end of the festival, near the sardines (next post), and walked east, into the mouth of the beast, along with tens of thousands of people in the annual ooze up and down the Avenue...


Lots of music, and a lot of food. 


Some of the food - and some of the music - was pretty good, but there was a lot of the more ordinary junk (food) that I swore just a few days ago would not be found here. So, it's changing...No sign of last year's Pizza Moto.


There was beer...


 There were island pineapples.


A state senator...maybe his sign was for a rally in Chinatown? Arabic might have gone down better on this stretch of Atlantic. 


And the thirsty for lemonade...


 ...or pineapples. 


Morton's Steakhouse was selling sliders for $5. Not sure that ground beef and street fare were a wise combination, I passed...


A tap on my shoulder and there was Dwayne Cole, above left, whom I bump into on the street more often than anyone else I know. His Internet music station is monkey grip music cafe. But I have known him since 2000 from  Al di La, where he is practically an institution. If you want to catch him, his shift is Wednesday through Saturday. On Dwayne's right is his son, Michael.


There were oodles and oodles of dogs. This was the only happy one. About to be fed.


Most of them looked like this. Tail seriously between legs. Dog: Too many &*%$;!^^$&*!@^** feet, man! 

 Maybe the dogs needed this:


Below: But she needed that. Now.


There were beanies galore for babies.


And then I screeched to halt. This wide open, bright lace work hanging from a stall - skirts, shawls, pants...


I walked in and met two ladies, both sitting and eating grilled Mexican corn.  


This is Sonia Walton, and she sells these gorgeous things. I am going to write more about her.


Did I not promise just three days ago that NO Italian Sausage stands would be here? Oops.


Above -  making zeppole at the sausage stand. Little balls of batter, deep fried. He whirled like a dervish. Dropping them into boiling oil. And they sold like, er...hot cakes.


This ensemble gave me a nostalgic flashback to The Wire, peerless amongst television series. Totally Avon Barksdale.


And by mid afternoon, a trashcan , overwhelmed.


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