Tuesday, October 30, 2012

photos from a friend

Thanks to Winston and several friends, we now know that a small tree blocks our Pennsylvania driveway.

This we can handle with our chain saw.

The blue spruce that uprooted and tipped onto the house...

"By the skin of our teeth" takes on a whole new meaning.
Thanks to Ann, Russ, Ed, Winston (and probably Mark who may have tipped someone off) for long distance investigation.  Things seem more manageable when you have information...and friends.

lucky us

lucky, lucky us

Michael and I ventured out last night at about 9:30 to check on the state of things, but we didn't get far before I chickened out.

Perhaps it was the sight of this tree which smashed the windshield of our Super's car.  Or maybe it was the sound of wind bursts like heavy machinery gusting down the tunnels of our side streets.  Intrepid Michael wanted to soldier on, but I was unnerved by thoughts of impalement.

Everything is easier in daylight, and this morning a walk around the 'hood (limited by knee recuperation) showed many of our local streets blocked
E 73rd
E 74th
and trees uprooted.
Bridges should open today at noon and busses should start running after 5 pm.  Until then we remain in lock down.  What to do with a found day in Manhattan?  Laundry, canning (both vegetable and pork stock), invoices.  There is always work to be done, and I won't complain about spending a quiet day in the company of my husband.

P.S.  Just heard a large spruce fell out in PA and is leaning on the house.  Damage to roof...unknown.

Monday, October 29, 2012

all battened down

After knee surgery last week, today was supposed to be my first day back at work.  Alas, 'twas not to be.  Normally I walk between clients, but it seemed unwise to do 4 miles on a recovering knee, and with public transportation cancelled, I decided to stick to the east side.

Central Park closed,

streets deserted,

and upside down trash cans (took me a while to figure that one out...sometimes I'm dense!).  I checked on a terrace whose owners were out of town, and noticed lots of ginkgo fruit knocked to the ground by increasingly strong winds.  Note to self: gather ginkgos post-Sandy.

Michael and I walked around the block in search of lunch and had an excellent Turkish meal.  Not many people on the streets, but those that were seemed curious, bemused, and glad to have a glass of wine.  Inside the apartment we're as divorced from nature as it's possible to be.  One window faces a brick wall; we can't even tell that it's raining.

We're well stocked with water, comestibles (both feline and human), and booze

and I'm using the day to catch up on paperwork.  Plenty to do unless we lose electri

just kidding

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I'm not home yet,

but I wanted to show you where I was last week.  It's real.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

paw paw creme brulée

A celebratory dessert.

Mark is back and I had paw paws, what more do we need for a celebration?  I took my inspiration from Leda's custard, and after combing the web and synthesizing a few recipes, came up with this one.  It's a keeper!
To make the purée, slice each paw paw in half and scoop out the flesh.  The seeds are large and apparently challenging to propagate.  (I have sent them to Sara, Propagation Goddess.)  The fruit clings to the seeds quite tenaciously, but if you slice through it with a fingernail, you can peel the jacket of paw paw off the seed.
Put the flesh in a food processor and purée till it's perfectly smooth; you'll need a cup for this recipe.  Paw paw purée freezes well...in case you have extra.

Paw Paw Creme Brulée

- Combine 2 cups heavy cream with 2 tablespoons bourbon and bring just barely to a boil.  Remove from heat.

- Whisk 2/3 cup sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt into 5 egg yolks.

- Add the heated cream mixture to the eggs, a little at a time, whisking constantly.  (This is called tempering the eggs and the goal is to raise the temperature of the eggs without cooking them.  If you add too much hot liquid, too quickly, the eggs will cook and solidify rather than form a silky, thickened liquid.)

- Stir in 1 cup of paw paw purée and combine thoroughly.

- Pour the custard into ramekins and place the ramekins in a shallow pan.  Fill the pan with water to within a half inch of the top of the ramekins and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes.  The tops of the custards should look jiggly when you pull them out...not entirely solid.

- Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4-6 hours.

- Before serving, sprinkle a layer of sugar on top of each custard (about 1 Tbs. per ramekin).  Then, using a small torch, melt the sugar and let it cool (briefly!) to form that glassy, sweet topping that cracks so satisfyingly under a gentle whap from your spoon.

Do not kid yourself thinking there will be leftovers and you might save one custard for breakfast.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

a girl never forgets her first mushroom

For most of my life, I actively disliked mushrooms.  Then one day in Central Park, on a foraging walk with Leda Meredith, I spotted a flash of orange on a tree and asked if it might be Chicken of the Woods.  I must have read about its vibrant color scheme somewhere; this bracket fungus is one of the easiest fungi to identify.  We brought it back to my place, sautéed it in butter with some field garlic (also harvested from the park), and a mycophile was born.

Every fall since then I keep my eyes open for Chickens.  Depending on several variables, especially rainfall, they may show up earlier or later than usual.  This big boy cropped up near home in late August, but it was too far gone by the time I discovered it.

Then, last weekend, as Mark and I left the Silverberry Patch, he slammed on the brakes.  "Why?" I asked.  He thought he'd seen a glimpse of orange, and we both knew what that meant.

This chicken was young, tender, and succulent.  While I've always loved the taste of Chicken of the Woods, I sometimes find the texture a little dry.  Not this time.  It was so soft and plump it made my pulse race.

Sunday morning I preserved the harvest three ways:  large pieces sautéed with chopped onions in olive oil; medium pieces combined with fennel seed and more onions, also in olive oil; and finely chopped stems with garlic, cooked in butter and olive oil, i.e. duxelles.

Chicken of the Woods is best preserved sautéed and frozen, so all three preparations went into the freezer.  Except for a goodly portion of the duxelles which made a very tasty omelette indeed. 

Am I sentimentally inclined to favor the Chicken?  Probably.  It was one of my first foraging finds.  But if it weren't delicious, I wouldn't get so excited every fall when the rains come.