Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Edge of September

The late August terrace in the late August light (from the late August rooftop!), after a brief rain shower. The terrace is watered by hand, and is not suffering in the way that street trees and other plants are in New York. Our drought is serious and I am seeing smaller shrubs and trees die on my regular walks through Prospect Park. 

It's still hot and has been very muggy, and evenings are now filled with cricket-chirps. By 8pm it is dark. It seemed to happen very quickly, but the incremental loss of light is perhaps something we deny until it is undeniable.

September is a good month, in this city, and I look forward to it. Crisp edges appear, summer's blur is lifted, and my walk schedule fills up again. I hate carrying a picnic backpack when it's sticky. Dry air puts a spring in my forager's step. 

Places to go. Spaces to explore!


Late Summer and Fall Walks and Picnics

Monday, August 22, 2022

Summer savory: You can't buy it, so grow it!

Last week I cut down the mini hedges of summer savory in my windowboxes. I felt a bit bad about it because bees really love their tiny flowers.  But they have other tiny flowers to plunder.

I wanted to dry the herb while it was still very leafy. It dries quite fast, spread out on a counter or on baking parchment. 

After a few days I crush it, remove the stems, and squeeze it all into the designated container in my spice collection. Overflow goes into a mason jar. It keeps its strong flavor for many months.

And the flavor of summer savory is...? Similar to oregano, but not quite. Throw in a pinch of thyme. A whiff of bee balm. 

One of the ways I like to use it is to help turn ordinary cheese into fancy cheese: fresh goat cheese, say, with good olive oil and summer savory becomes very delicious, overnight (this is not something to leave out on the counter, by the way, unless you like botulism - keep it in the fridge)

My whole story, with growing tips, food ideas and a recipe, is on Gardenista.


Friday, August 19, 2022

Sand ginger

It's the part of August when realize that you are turning on lamps at 8pm. The long nights of light are retreating. But this must be exactly what triggers the sand ginger to flower: Every morning there are more blooms nestled against the lovely, edible leaves.

I bought my sand ginger plant on a whim, intrigued by a lesser galangal I did not know (it has many common names - I just like sand ginger). It is now part of our summer meals, and it is also the plant that keeps on giving. I have divided it several times to give away. 

Read all about how to grow sand ginger, and how to use it in your meals, in my story for Gardenista. It is a very easy plant to grow.


66 Square Feet - A Delicious Life

Monday, August 15, 2022

Hot bath? Not for these birds.

 A little privacy, please!?

In the hottest days I put a few ice cubes in the birdbath to keep the water a feather above tepid. I don't think this nicety gained me better on ratings on AirBnB (BirdnBreakfast, of course), but one can only hope.


Next Class?

New York Botanical Garden, 17 August, 11am

Monday, August 8, 2022

Beach plum gin

August in Brooklyn feels like January in Keetmanshoop, right now. Oven-hot. But New York also slings a bucket of soapy mugginess at you to make sure you will really, really look forward to September. And I do. Look forward to September.

There are compensations. For me, they are fruit. Beach plums are beginning to ripen. Elderberries (the ones that have not shriveled on the parched shrubs) are turning purple. And Aronia is ready, too.

I opened a 2020 bottle of beach plum gin the other evening. A maceration made in that first summer of pandemic. It is very good, but improved by a bitter strip of ruby grapefruit peel, with lots of dry tonic (Fever Tree Lite) and ice to make the glass bead. Perfect for this weather. This is the gin I refer to as Pits-and-Pulp, using the leftovers from a beach plum purée. I create another gin, too, that is redder and richer...

I explain that, with a recipe, in the recent story about beach plums I wrote for Gardenista, which you will find in that link. They are a wonderful East Coast fruit, and a very resilient shrub. I hope more people will grow them. 


Find me @66squarefeet on Instagram

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Time to drink the elderberry gin

Now that the new crop is ripening on shrubs around the city it seems safe to drink last year's elderberry gin! Why on earth did I wait so long? I usually make the gin with the elderberry pomace leftover from creating a fermented syrup. There is still plenty of flavor left to infuse the liquor. After that the elderberries can be used one last time: Pushed through a foodmill to extract the dark pulp, which I freeze to stir into soups, stews, and all the other outlandishly warm things that seem impossible on a 95'F day. 

Tonight's cold supper is a cold lentil salad vibrating with the flavors of onion, garlic, carrot, salted anchovies and vinegar. I'll top it with nine-minute eggs, halved. 


All About Elderberries

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Aronia - good for what ails ye

As late summer arrives in waves of humidity, with a side of cicadas, Aronia begins to ripen. The dried fruits above were added to a batch of roasted beets, for a savory spread (I call it a pâté) that I make for forage picnics.

I also preserve the antioxidant-laden fruit in a chutney that is flavored with juniper and spicebush, and which is very good with soft cheese.

The chutney recipe, and much more about superfood Aronia, is over at Gardenista.


Edible Plant Walk, Queens Country Farm Museum

10 August 6pm