Monday, February 19, 2018

What is brewing?


Quiet on the blogging front. It's all about time.

Busy on the vinegar-making front. Although, with vinegar, a lot of waiting is involved. The busy part simply means cutting up fruit to combine with sugar, water and an aromatic (or not) in a wide mouthed jar. This sits for a while, 7 - 10 days, infusing and fizzing steadily. Then, after the solids are strained, the liquid goes back in the jar, protected by some cheesecloth (for dust or fruit flies), for some weeks. Three to six. Ish. Acetobacter are everywhere and they convert sugars into acetic acid. Voilá, vinegar.

This winter vinegar session began in December, inspired  by my friend Sarah Owens (whose latest, lovely book is Toast and Jam), who was making apple vinegar. To date I had only made vinegar from floral fermentations (elderflower, common milkweed), and waking up to the fermenting potential of winter fruit has been a wonderful adventure. My vinegars over the last couple of months have used apples and pears, dried jujubes (from Chinatown) with orange, pine buds, fir needles or spicebush as aromatics. Only one was a spectacular failure (durian!) - the rest taste very, very good. I think. There is really no need to ever buy vinegar, again.

I cook with it a lot. Plenty of Phillipine-inspired adobos. And lots of quick-pickled vegetables. These vinegars are also wonderful in drinks, with or without alcohol. Fruity, complex, sour.

Brooklyn Vinegar Recipe

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew, [Ugh. Then again, he did write Merchant of Venice]
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble

- Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1

Otherwise, I am reviewing copy edits (from a sterling copy editor) to the manuscript of Forage, Harvest, Feast; will then be working on a few other projects; gearing up for exciting spring forages and walks; and, all the while, and in between, figuring out - big picture - with the Frenchman what the long term future holds, and where.

So who needs vinegar?

(Seriously, I use no newts.)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Spring Forages


My spring list of walks and talks has been updated.

We're ranging farther afield for our walks: Inwood Hill Park and Pelham Bay Park - two of the wildest spots within New York City.

And staying - very - close to home, I am also offering two mid-week cocktail evenings in our garden, with botanical cocktails and mocktails and snacks to fuel us while we talk about unusual wild edibles that can be grown at home.

Please visit the Forage and Plant Walks and Talk page to book.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Antidotes


January knocked it out of the park, in terms of extremes. Bobbing in the calmer but untrustworthy waters of February I am not sure how to proceed, but am massively grateful for Friends and Frenchman - my chosen family.

There are sparks of brightness. Maybe Amazon's take over of Whole Foods was good in this dose: Irish daffodils at just $2 a bunch. brightening an evolving weekend ritual -  bites of celebratory seafood in smoked or pickled form. Today's at-home brunch featured pickled herring (Blue Hill Bay, from Brooklyn's Acme Smoked Fish) on dense brown bread, with fresh dill and lashings of cucumber (sprinkle the slices with salt and sugar 5 minutes before you want them) and radish, and modest dollops of wild salmon and whitefish caviar - yup, essentially smørrebrød. Complete with a tiny shot of vodka, each. Bring on the Vikings.

Then came a five-mile run for the Frenchman, and five-mile walk for me (a humblingly painful back injury of almost four weeks ago has healed to the point of walking easily, but there is still a way to go; X-rays show promise, MRI still to come).

More brightness was a sneak peak at the layout of my new book, in the form of a sample chapter sent to me by my publisher (Chelsea Green) yesterday. I liked it very much, an intense moment of relief. The manuscript is still being copy edited, then comes back to me for checking; goes back for layout, comes back; goes back out for proof reading and indexing, then...print, print, print. So much work, by many humans. It will be ready for readers in early autumn.

And spring is just six weeks away.
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