Friday, March 31, 2023

Wisteria Syrup and Sake Popsicles

You need sake popsicles... 

One of my more inspired ideas, I made them for the first time back at 1st Place, where we had a huge old wisteria vine. To make them you need, well, sake (I like a cloudy one - so look for Nigori). You also need wisteria syrup for the flowers' unique perfume and flavor. They're still a month off from blooming in Brooklyn, but in this long, crazy country, they are already in bloom further south.

Find my recipe for wisteria syrup and the popsicles on Gardenista, and also (a slightly different version) in Forage, Harvest, Feast. 


Wild Walks and Forage Picnics

Friday, March 17, 2023


 I mean, Pirelli. You can tell he was made for the movies. 

I am sure he knew Marcello Mastroianni...

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Nkwe Pirelli, Five Weeks In...

 Nkwe Pirelli, King of String (and PrrrP) in one of his favorite spots. Plenty of live bird-action out there...

Sometimes we address him as Pirelli, especially when he pulls a "crazy Pirelli"- suddenly thundering down the passage with his tail cocked like a monkey's (the reference is from the movie Hunt for Red October, when a Russian submarine captain - Sean Connery - pulls a crazy Ivan). I have never known such a thundering cat. Even when he walks you can hear his tough little pads (Pirellis, of course) on the wooden floor. And yes, I have asked our downstairs neighbor, also a cat owner,  to let us know if it's ever a problem...

And sometimes we call him Nkwe, more as an endearment. (Nkwe means leopard in Tswana and Sotho, and he has the compact, lethal muscles of a leopard, as well as the tooth-and-claw, piercing talents...still plenty of street-swipe in him).

And no, he doesn't eat flowers. But he cannot be left alone with string, even for a few seconds. 


Monday, March 13, 2023

How to grow ramps - and why

What is that green shoot? It has four friends, too. They are all - well, cough, all five - ramps, just up in a pot on our terrace after a curious winter (deep freezes in December, thaws, record-high February temperatures, more freezes, and a lot of rain).

When you have seen a mountainside green with ramps, five plants in a pot might not seem like much. But when you have seen a forest where ramps used to grow, and that is now bereft of their green leaves in early spring... those five cultivated ramps are a big deal.

Ramps are a wild onion - Allium tricoccum and A. tricoccum var burdickii, and they are a beloved wild, native, edible plant; so loved that they are being harvested into oblivion in some US states, and in Canada. 

But they are not hard to cultivate. Love ramps? Have some land or a pot or a garden?

Find how to grow them in my Ramp 101 story for Gardenista. At least, that was the original title - it has been modified. I do harvest wild ramps in a place where they are abundant - leaves only. 

And that is my mantra: #rampleavesonly


New Forage Classes - March, April and May


Friday, March 3, 2023

Let it bloom

Friday office. I could not resist (decided not to resist?) the anemones that were being sold at the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesday. They were wrapped in tissue paper, in petite bouquets, still in tight bud. They remind me of childhood, where they bloomed in the cold spring of the Free State in my mother's garden.  

I was at market for the quinces, grown by Locust Grove Fruit Farm (NY), and kept in cold storage since fall, but they as fragrant as quinces should be. Today I am delivering them to two friends, will be poaching some to make a picnic snack for my class at the New York Botanical Garden tomorrow, and will bottle the rest.

The artichokes? Sold very fresh, with stems, at a Brooklyn institution - 5 Guys from Brooklyn. 

It's March!


Thursday, March 2, 2023

Tulips: week in, week out

Tulips and books. Read all about both, how to choose (the tulips), how to make them lean (or stand to attention), to eat them. In my story for Gardenista.


Book: My NYBG class, 4 March 2023

Monday, February 27, 2023


...the big blue of the beginning of Jamaica Bay, just off the tip of Breezy Point, Queens, New York City.

There are dunes, there is a wraparound beach. And on Sunday, there was clear water.

The giant pumpkin is an iron buoy, about four feet across.

The tide had been high, and was receding.

The dune grasses crest hills of sand that are part of the Gateway National Recreation Area - a federal preserve. The  preserve surrounds the gated human community of Breezy Point, where even the residential side roads each have their own barrier of a boom to keep them separate within their separation.

To access the point - whose barrier island mate, framing New York Harbor, is south, in New Jersey, at Sandy Hook - you can either walk along the beach for a couple of miles from a public access area, or drive and park, as long as you have a permit. We have a permit.  This is a birding hotspot. And we did spot hundreds of northern gannets, flocking like a snow shower against the backdrop of Coney Island as they dive-bombed the blue water for fish.

In the quiet dunes there were prints.

A tug left Jamaica Bay, drawing a barge. A cruise ship/floating petri dish sailed from New York Harbor. Thousands of souls, stacked, and ready for paradise.

And the outgoing tide, leaving fields of clam shells exposed.

In a hollow in the dunes were the signs of a gated community's party. A quick, casual, walking inventory counted 80 Bud Light cans. A bottle of Malibu rum, and a lot of hard tea.

Also an epipen and an abandoned toiletry bag containing an asthma inhaler.

We drove back out from this lovely beach, past the boom-sealed roads, the private security force's (sorry: Public Safety)'s headquarters, and wondered, as we have, so many times, about what makes this large country tick.