27 September 2007

Random, but tasty, FYI

Photo by Chester Higgins Jr for the NYTimes

Did you know? Yum! Read upon the Serious Eats site today:

National Meatloaf Appreciation Day
We're declaring Thursday, October 18 "National Meatloaf Appreciation Day" to celebrate the great variety and limitless potential of this humble main course!

Which makes the recent photo of newly-arrived in NYC (and using of one Honey Locust Farm House's product line) chef Fabio Trabocchi so appropriate...in the NYTimes this past Wednesday. Make your own diced-not-ground meatloaf using his adapted recipe and marvel at your own creation with the attentive eye of an artist bent on limitless potential. No dice? Leave meatloaf as the old-school wonder that it is, then, and invite me over for leftover sandwiches.

Mom, this was one of the first dishes I can recall making... Thank you for letting me get out my kid energy in the all-too-gross-yet-wonderful hand mixing of ground chuck, eggs, catsup, and dehydrated onion. Cold hands, warm belly.

23 September 2007

In a nutshell

Time short for writing
Must make for efficient words
Haul body to bed

Rooster crows at 6
Dogs bark mere minutes later
Who needs an alarm?

Yesterday's pants can get dirtier
A.M. incense burns
Sip coffee

Clogs on, where's my hat?
Does my shirt cover my back?
Morning air smells sweet

Downward dog to pick
Harvest lettuce, carrots, herbs
Cars honk to my rear

Back numb all too quick
Fingers dewy and dirty
I daydream of lunch

Made in mere minutes
Lunch is fresher, healthier
The real food network

Bison tomatoes
Kabocha and bitter greens
Egg yolks glow orange

CIA crew comes
Food energy and more hands
Externships are key

Carl brings softened shirts
Culled from basements and tag sales
All-Clad pans a find

Byron tills the soil
Baritone Jamaican accent
Breaks the silence

Walter has no teeth
Tomato lunch fuels his work
Calls me Adriaaan

Find shaded work spot
Weed the rows, hang the shiso to dry
Day is done

Collect the day's eggs
Leave shoes by the door
I dream of Happy Hour

Take a stretch, deep breath
Shake off the day long circus
Swing slow in hammock

Duly Noted

"It is not really an exaggeration to say that peace and happiness begin, geographically, where garlic is used in cooking."
X. Marcel Boulestin, chef, food writer (1878-1943)

"In general, I think, human beings are happiest at table when they are very young, very much in love or very alone."
M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992), 'An Alphabet for Gourmets' (1949)

"Tis better to be pissed off than pissed on." - Quote of the week at New Paltz's Muddy Cup

"Being tickled with a single feather is erotic, with an entire chicken is kinky." - Questionable Runner-Up Quote of the week at New Paltz's Muddy Cup, with name attribution, to boot.

"Going Down?" - handwritten inquiry on metal spike driven into the rock ledge atop Hook Mountain, formerly used by explosive-planting workers who rappelled 700 feet over the Hudson River in order to aid the quarrying efforts there at the turn of the 20th century.

15 September 2007

New Found Land

Newfoundland and Orange County. Never thought I'd live near to either, but here I am, in spitting distance of both at once.

I'm parking my car these days in Middle Hope, a karmic step above a place I once passed through: Little Hope. It was dotted with tombstones and surrounded by a black iron fence, and seemed more Beyond Hope.

Despite their differences, both places have something in common, more so than Newfoundland or the more infamous Orange County: land. Fertile land for digging, planting, reaping. And while Little Hope is primarily in the business of pushing daisies, Middle Hope is seeing all kinds of action, inch by inch, row by row.

In my few days here, I've heard several people calling this region the next Napa...though the agricultural spread here covers a breadth and depth far beyond that of the primarily wine-producing West. Visiting the Family Farm Festival last weekend, I mingled with vendors from all over the Valley, from CSA farms to local wheat millers and bakers, beekeepers, wool producers, house greening/energy efficient organizations...big bounty, good company. Tomatoes the size of your head, and rutabagas much bigger.

I came to the Hudson Valley specifically to participate in this wealth, or at least a niche of it. Honey Locust Farm House put out a call, and I happened to answer. Sustainably producing a wide variety of herbs (basils, anise hyssop, lovage, thyme), mixed greens (mesclun, puntarelle, radicchios, sylvettica, shiso), heirloom tomatoes, squash, kales, chard, edible flowers, and farm fresh eggs, Honey Locust sells directly to some of the top chefs and restaurants in New York City: The Modern, Del Posto, WD-50, Mercer Kitchen, Jean-Georges, Nobu, Felidia, and (formerly) Per Se.

Nancy MacNamara is the knowledgeable energy behind the operation. And after losing her staff this season, one by one, she's been the sole worker bee for the past several days, attempting to keep her 2 1/2 acres weeded and her contracts fulfilled. There's been some letting go and some cutting back, respectively, but her stamina and my persistence at showing up carry us well through the day-to-day.

Nancy's "past 55," short-waisted and muscularly long-legged, with shoulder length gray hair that's usually tied up on the back of her head. She admits to being an "old hippie," an "old broad," but she's just cool. Knowledgeable. Warm smile, quick laugh. She trots around in beige Crocs and sports a wide-brimmed hat, and I try to keep up and catch snippets of her softly-spoken directions as we weave across the farm and through the greenhouses.

She shows me her herb garden, a triangular beauty of landscape and variety, we teeter at the edge of the vermicomposting trough, we crawl through the jungle of cucuzzi in the top greenhouse, tear bottom leaves off of the tree-like lacinato kale plants...then it's on to the hot spots for nasturtium collection, where the watercress grows, how to cut lettuce, which radishes are for harvest and which are too large (since the chefs want baby and Nancy's been short-handed, most are left behind)...and on and on.

Nancy thinks out loud a lot, mixing her instructions with general teachings and her plans for the day - at that moment, before the next produce call comes in, or a special party is planned at one of the restaurants in the city.

Busy is the name of this game - always for the farmer, but a scoot too much at present for these two. We laugh, though, acknowledge what can actually be done, enjoy what we do, smell the sweet air, and practice our best downward dogs as we bend over the crop rows. My hamstrings have never seen the likes of this workout.

05 September 2007

For Dreamers and Doers

Many thanks to Kip, who's always had a way with words - and with sharing them. This just makes me want to light sparklers and dance about with mah friends and keep seeking everything.

"The Invitation"
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.