Monday, November 26, 2018

My father

Henri Viljoen, 29 November 1932 - 23 November 2018

There will be a remembrance for my dad in my parents' garden on Saturday December 1st at 5pm. 

I do not believe we will meet again, but ever since I heard Laurence Olivier reading it (as a very old man, in a documentary of his life, which my mom and I and my dad watched together), I have loved this poem. 

Death Is Nothing At All, by Henry Scott-Holland

Death is nothing at all. 
It does not count. 
I have only slipped away into the next room. 
Nothing has happened. 

Everything remains exactly as it was. 
I am I, and you are you, 
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. 
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. 

Call me by the old familiar name. 
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. 
Put no difference into your tone. 
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. 

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. 
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. 
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. 

Life means all that it ever meant. 
It is the same as it ever was. 
There is absolute and unbroken continuity. 
What is this death but a negligible accident? 

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? 
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, 
somewhere very near, 
just round the corner. 

All is well. 
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. 
One brief moment and all will be as it was before. 
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

For more about my dad, you can visit Seven Lessons from My Father

Thursday, November 15, 2018


As snow flurries shroud Brooklyn I hurry this post out to show autumn on Long Island, last week. Beautiful Caumsett State Park is just over an hour's drive from home and is near the town of Oyster Bay, where I think I could live very happily. Quiet water and big trees. Strangely, there is always a long line of cars waiting to get in at the gates, but somehow all the human cargo is dispersed once there. Or perhaps we head in an unpopular direction? We rarely see more than a couple of people once we are off the main paths.

The massive beech above must be one of the most beautiful trees in the state. 

Juniper berries (really cones) were prolific and sweet beside a well trafficked and tarred path. Soon we branched off into the rustling woods and tramped through rustling leaves.

Our destination was the beach and we found it at extreme low tide in the long shadows of winter's time change.

Last time we were here all these rocks were under the shallow, clear water of the Long Island Sound.

A man in his late 70's stood and looked out at the water for a very long time.

The sand was covered in these shells, which proved to be occupied. I have never noticed them, before.

They are slipper shells - Google images revealed this after I searched for "Long Island molluscs stacked." They are native to these eastern Atlantic shores but have now invaded France, where they poach the food from mussels and oysters and scallops. They are hermaphrodites: The big one on the bottom is a female, with males stacked above. If she dies, the next in line male switches to female.

Our picnic on the sand started with salmon roe on the popular seed crackers, with crunchy radishes, then a warming course of beef and beer stew (From Darra Goldstein's lovely Scandinavian cookbook Fire and Ice), and ended with some runaway cheese.

(Darra wrote a very kind review of Forage, Harvest, Feast for The Times Literary Supplement, calling it "a joyous cookbook about the delights of the natural world"- you can read the whole review if you are subscribed!)

We walked down the beach and up through the woods, in a big circle.

We saw only one deer on our walk, and heard lots of woodpeckers, and an owl.

Today it must all be snowed under, and one day we will visit when there is snow and a hard freeze to make it stick.

The linden viburnum (Viburnum dilatatum, locally very invasive) that I collected along the way has been turned into a quivering, crimson jelly, just in time for Thanksgiving. I may make the goose from Forage, Harvest's Feast's list of seasonal wild menus at the back of the book - but our new apartment's oven is small, inside. Perhaps it will be duck, or ducks. Juniper is in season, and I am still finding lots of red berries (viburnum, aronia). Lambs quarter seeds, too. So there is still lots of wild, out there, and plenty from the year's preserves in the forage cupboard.

What will be on your menu?


Friday, November 9, 2018


Photo by Vincent Mounier

My happy place: with my husband, in the woods, meeting a new plant (Viburnum dilatatum, linden viburnum - invasive and delectable, if you like tart flavors). This is out on Long Island's north shore, and within the driving limit that my back can handle right now. Stupid back. I can't sit for long without pain, but I can walk for miles. So it could be much worse.

The fruits make a crimson jelly. And a good, sour powder, too. The seaweed I collected  a little later is already dried and crispy, waiting for future recipes (crackers, for sure, and probably some things I have not thought of, yet).

It is a blustery weekend in New York City and I think by Monday many of the beautiful autumn leaves will have been blown from their branches. So peep as many as you can now if you live in the hood!


Forage, Harvest Feast - A Wild-Inspired Cuisine

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


For another few days autumn in Brooklyn will still be very beautiful. Riding my bicycle home through the park from the farmers market is a pleasure.

And on the days when the sun shines, the sky is that immaculate blue.


Forage, Harvest, Feast - A Wild-Inspired Cuisine

66 Square Feet - A Delicious Life