Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Spring's best trees

Umbrella magnolia are in bloom.

Historic Green-Wood Cemetery is an accredited arboretum and home to some of the oldest and most beautiful trees in New York City. Our proximity to this beautiful, huge green space was not something we appreciated when we signed the lease on our current apartment. We lucked out. Although Prospect Park is also very close by, Green-Wood's tranquility is quite different. It is quiet, clean, and its grass is the best for lying upside-down on.

I wrote about (some of) Green-Wood's trees in spring for Gardenista. 


June 16th, Alley Pond Park Walk

Monday, May 9, 2022

Pine honey that isn't...honey

I wrote a story about making pine cone jam for Gardenista, and included my updated recipe for the delicious, useful, intriguing stuff. In my research that spring of 2019, when I first began playing with the jam-making, I learned that the cooking-syrup for the cones is sometimes sold as "pine honey"- it's often not honey, of course. But it is very, very good. I have two small jars of it and I eke the stuff out. (The cones above are the babies from an old Himalayan pine in the neighborhood. When mature they are very, very long.) 

It can take a couple of years for a female cone to mature from its sappy baby-form to the dry woody, quintessential pine cone we know, so you'll often see different stages of cones on one tree at a given time. The male cones are much softer and produce pollen, before withering and dropping off (...).

These hand pies for a forage-picnic were filled with a mixture of black currants, juniper, and pine cone honey. The candy-like cone was a garnish that baked into a toffee-like treat.

That's a jar of the honey (the cooking-syrup) strained and bottled. I warm a tablespoonful to add to the lightweight batter for madeleines, and I drop a very small, jammed cone into each madeleine as a surprise when you bit into them.

And then... thanks to the diversity of New York City's population and the stores that cater to their appetites and soul foods, I found pine cone jam, ready-made, on a shelf! This was last year.  The supermarket is Gala International, trending very Eastern European and Russian. (I have foraged happily there before for interesting things like fresh purslane, frozen black currants and red currants, and am mesmerized by their preserves, which are basically all the things I actually forage!).

Baby pines cones are ready to collect now, depending on the species that grows near you. The jam and the honey are food and medicine, and I find them wildly useful.

See the whole piece on Gardenista.


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Maine in May

Maine in May is a beautiful escape, for the city-dweller who loves plants. You'll find my story on Gardenista. With a bonus of lilac honey.

Can you identify the flowers above?


My next NYBG Forage Class is 12 May

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Enter the crabapples

Sometimes, it's good to lie upside down on the soft, violet-stippled grass of a cemetery and stare up at crabapple blossoms.  We are lucky to have Historic Green-Wood almost on our doorstep.


Spring Walks and Picnics 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

How to Help South African Flood Victims

Photo: Rogan Ward, Reuters

To help victims of the unprecedented floods in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, you can donate to Gift of the Givers Foundation

For non-South African donors, my suggestion is a donation of R300, which is a fraction over $20. If you can give more, please do. Fresh water, shelter, and food are desperately needed.

The number of deaths is rising and is at 443 at the time of writing. Most victims were shack dwellers - people living in the informal and flimsy, foundationless shelters that characterize most of South Africa's city-fringes. 

If you use Facebook, you can also donate to Charlize Theron's Africa Outreach Project, which has set up a fund exclusively for the Kwa-Zulu Natal relief efforts.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Empty windows

Nothing much to see here, really (or is there...?) but this view of the street means that spring has been declared.  The citrus trees have moved out to the terrace. 

The blue suitcase is one of several that will stash winter sweaters and mittens and scarves once they have all been washed and cedar-balled. And the boxy thing on the windowsill is a fancy noise machine that we bought at our last place, when unpredictable neighbors threatened our slumber. It makes very good cricket sounds, wave sounds, rain sounds. And other, esoteric sounds. Now, the machine is a helpful option for warmer nights when a souped-up, drive-by car, tweaked to backfire like gunshots cruises the blocks at random. The day of the subway shooting? Not a great day to hear that damn car.

Fat floor pillows will move in, now, the suitcase will move out, and the bay window will be a place for humans to spread out, lie on their backs, and look at the ceiling. It's remarkably therapeutic.

On Gardenista, you can see how our terrace wakes up, as the bedroom empties out.