Curaçao: Part I

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For our next ridiculous stage of Summer 2014, Evan and I went to Curaçao to celebrate our wonderful friends Sam and Shoshana’s wedding. (You may remember Sam and Shosh from dumpling making.) As one of our favorite couples of all time, this was a magical and weepy affair, and the week surrounding it was hands down the best time any group of people on Planet Earth could possibly have. We are incredibly sad to be back to real life.

While food didn’t play a hugely pivotal role in our trip, there were some exquisite catered affairs, a visit to a marketplace, the best mangos I have ever had – bar none – a fishing trip, and some clichéd beachy drinks in the mix.DSCN0851Having made a promise to a pal back home that I would drink at least one “something disgusting with an umbrella,” below is a Curaçao Piña Colada, which is a piña colada with a drizzle of Blue Curaçao in it.

DSCN0909The piña colada was both piñay and colady, but I gotta say that swizzle really made the grade on the disgusting… (Sorry it was umbrella-less. I did my best.)

More to come from the island!DSCN0904

Chelsea’s Panzanella

IMG_0730Given Evan’s love of making bread, the advent of Panzanella into our lives by one Chelsea Bardot Lewis has been pure revelation.

Panzanella is a salad popular in Tuscany made primarily with tomatoes and stale bread.

IMG_0729If you’ve ever made bread on your own before, you know its shelf life varies vastly from store-bought bread. This little trick has come incredibly in handy, and has yet to fail us as a spectacular midday (or late-day) meal. Chelsea’s Panazella was made with – exclusively local, and some even garden fresh (!) – tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, basil, and chunks of quickly-staling bread. With a simple dressing of olive oil, balsamic, and heaps of garlic (you may recall we were knee-deep, literally, in heaps of garlic), it was a positively heavenly salad.

IMG_0733 IMG_0740Perfect for a late summer meal where all these food groups are prolific, and even more perfect for a two-person family who can’t, despite trying, quite finish an entire loaf of bread in one day, thanks always for the inspiration. ♥.

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Montpellier Farmers Market

IMG_2200The local food movement in Vermont is impressively (almost oppressively) high-functioning. It is greatly inspirational and makes me really bitter with New York for not catching up… But we’ll get there. On a breezy Saturday morning Chelsea brought us to the Montpellier Farmers Market where we perused piles and piles of beautiful vegetables grown from Chelsea and Nate’s cohorts and neighbors.

IMG_0668 IMG_0664IMG_0673 IMG_0674 Additionally, there were buttery cheeses to try, sheepskins to rub ones face into, pierogi to nibble upon, and a dynamite green tea milkshake made with rice milk and Vermont maple syrup.IMG_0679 IMG_0682 IMG_0689

As well as the spectacular (and multitudinous) farmers markets, Chelsea and Nate also brought us to market-markets dedicated exclusively to local – often organic – produce, some beautiful local bakeries full of scrumptious treats, and inundated us with local beer and cheese – and not just Cabot (!), although Cabot definitely held its own.
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Way to be awesome, Vermont.

**And come on, NYC. We got this.**

 

Since We’ve Been Gone

IMG_1001As we’ve been heavily in and out of the city lately, we lent our farm share to our lovely friends Rach and Snead who were incredibly kind enough to not only use every last drop of their produce, but to also photograph the evidence!

And so, courtesy of our beloved buddies…

IMG_3563 IMG_3555IMG_3568 IMG_3564IMG_3567IMG_3572They have unnecessarily apologized for not being veggie (so I will relay their message), but such beautiful meals and inspiration! Thanks you two.

And Happy Birthday Snead!!!!!!!!!!!

The Search.

Craft BeerTrue to New England form Vermont has an amazing beer culture, and Waterbury is currently host to the most sought-after beer in the region – Alchemist’s Heady Topper. It is a terrific beer, cloudy and thick from the combination of unfiltered hops and mystery.

Alchemist produces less than 200 barrels of the stuff each week, and distributes it directly to stores across Vermont according to a public schedule. What results is hysteria. Some stores, such as the pictured Craft Beer Cellar, post signs in the window with the stock status (out of stock). Many are known to guard the identity of their most reliable locations like mama bears.

IMG_0786 Craft Beer Cellar

We walked into one store, and before we could even ask the clerk how he was this sunny Vermonty day, he spastically blurted out: “We’re outta topper.” When asked what tipped him off to our quest, he glanced us up and down before informing us that we were smiling more than his usual customer.

IMG_0785These four beautiful cans were not found at a fancy beer store, or even an un-fancy beer store. They were found at a gas station, on the top shelf, in the back of the cooler. Behind some Budweiser. That’s just how lucky (or determined) you have to be to find this stuff. and it is hella worth it.

Harvesting Garlic

IMG_0587Evan’s dazzling sister Chelsea and her (equally dazzling) husband Nate invited us up to their home in Waterbury Center, Vermont for a few days this July. Among the pleasantly packed days seeing VT’s highlights, we got to help out on their farm, Moonlight Farm, for an afternoon. IMG_0617Their farm is focused on fruits, with thousands of strawberry plants, a hoop-house full of raspberries, blueberry bushes coming into maturity, and beds full of ripening melons. In addition, they grow peppers for seed and rows and rows and rows of garlic.

IMG_0588IMG_1860 IMG_0593The hardneck garlic was reaching its peak when we were there, with other varieties to be ready the following week, and so our afternoon was spent pulling, clipping, stacking, and drying the wonderfully strong scented bulbs.

IMG_0605IMG_0610IMG_0612We went home that evening plastered in the aroma of garlic, smelling mightily like Italian food. It was phenomenal – so much so that I’m considering replacing my deodorant with just cloves of garlic. (I mean what can’t it overpower?)

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Oh. And yes, that’s me on a tractor. They let us take their awesome 1963 Massey Ferguson tractor out for a trip around the field. Proud? Yes, proud.

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Peppers Becoming Peppers

IMG_0469 - Version 2Our peppers are ripening slowly but surely, coming into their own fully-peppered selves.

But meanwhile, a complaint. NYC’s scent gets a particularly bum rap for a city that contains upwards of eight million peeps. But come mid-July even I can’t contest that a haze smelling distinctly of diapers, feet, and way-past-its-sell-by-date milk looms in a fog around our fair town, making almost cartoony wafting shapes above piles of trash.

And thus! Evan and I will be merely in and out of the city for the next few weeks, avoiding the Oscar the Grouch smell and seizing the opportunity to take some time off before Evan starts his PhD (whoot!  Go bunny!) and I start my Master’s in Food Studies, Nutrition and Public Health (for real, I’ll be legit).

So over the next few weeks we’ll be helping out on my sister-in-law’s farm in Vermont, visiting both sets of our folks in Northwest CT, and even going to a wedding in Curaçao! As such we will be dropping into the city every few days, instead of every-every day. Hopefully our little window bounty will survive the lack of attention – although as things are looking a leetle shabby as is, perhaps not.

But! We do have some fine looking peppers turning appropriate pepper-shades coming along, and some very exciting eggplants, which neither of us are sure when to cave and pick. Suggestions?

IMG_0473 IMG_0472 - Version 2 IMG_0470(Oh, and it’s a metaphor. We’re the peppers. Obviously we’re the peppers, pay attention.)

 

Verily, A New Couscous

IMG_0356Employing all aspects of my husband’s nerdiness, my dad recently purchased a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope for him.

Written in Shakespearean voice, but telling the epic tale of two siblings almost getting it on the rebellions’ fight against a totalitarian Empire – this is a play seriously worth reading. Complete with soliloquies by the formerly mute R2D2, triumphant monShakespeare's Star Warsologues by our here-to-rescue-you hero Luke, and nods to Shakespeare’s actual archetypal dramatic works, it is a clever and quirky laugh a minute.

So what could we possibly do but invite people over for a reading?

This was a fantastic affair.  Hilarious, ridiculous, and totally embarrassing. It also made a big mess for a weekday and involved a lot more prep and clean-up than expected, so for the last two acts (yes, this was a two-part event) we met in the park and made it a potluck.

Amongst this fantastic crew of readers are several vegans, and people who come over often enough to have exhausted my classics. So I did a variation on an Israeli couscous theme I make in the wintertime, usually with pomegranate and spinach. Inspiration courtesy of a post by Martha.

Israeli Couscous with Mint and Lemon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Israeli couscous
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped finely
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons very thinly sliced lemon zest (2 to 3 strips)
  • 1/2 cup salted pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

IMG_0331Pistachios
Seriously uncomplicated directions to this guy. Cook the Israeli couscous as you would pasta (although I prefer it on the al dente side, closer to four minutes). Add the other ingredients. Combine, put it in some tupperware, head to the park.

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IMG_0349This is a game we’ll play again, definitely with other works… though it has been pointed out to me that George Lucas did not stop at Episode IV. So no doubt more potlucks, vegan/vegetarian food, loved ones and the park to come.

A Jedi craves not these things. (But I do.)