January Journal

It's January. Things are quite grey and brown here in the city, and grey and white out in the country. The world is asleep, awaiting the sun. 
While doing some spring cleaning, I stumbled upon a small booklet I received from Blue Hill Farm at the C-Cap (Careers through Culinary Arts) event I attended last March. Every month is laid out, about what is going on above and below ground. Periodically, I hope to share some excerpts from this charming little volume. 

From Blue Hill Farm's Field and Pasture: Four Season Journal


Harvesting: baby oak lettuce heads, mokum carrots, claytonia, celtuce, scarlet frills mustard greens, hakurei turnips, swisschard, pea spouts, leek sprouts, chrysanthemum sprouts


Harvesting: berkshire pigs, eggs from the house


Curing firewood


Storing: celeriac, cylindrical beets, carrots, cauliflower, cabbages, sweet potatoes, arcuri garlic, winter squash, panther soybeans, eight row flint corn, shelling beans, honey

Dumplings, Noodles, and Chopsticks

A few weeks ago, I received a beautiful pair of lacquer red chopsticks. Subtle yet bold, I took to them instantly and have been finding opportunities to use them. The gift giver, a haiku poet Ms. Sho Otaka explained that at the end of the year people give chopsticks as part of the traditional gift giving season. This was the first I had heard about this custom, but it strikes me as a good one. Japanese people rely on chopsticks so much that to have a new pair to begin the year off right strikes me as a lovely. 

Coincidentally, the next day a colleague of mine was leaving for China - where she is from - and mentioned that it is tradition to eat dumplings before you depart and noodles upon your arrival home. I did a bit of research into this - apparently it is a custom in northeast China, where my friend is from. There are not clear reasons as to why dumplings and why noodles, but my hunch is that because dumplings are round, it means that you go full circle and return again. And noodles - perhaps for a long life?

Rainy Day in the City


It's a warm, wet, rainy day here in the city. The type of day where dodging puddles is not possible. This is my second day returning down to work in the West Village, and even the the weather was worse than yesterday - it felt good to be returning downtown. 

As you can see, I missed taking the picture of the ginko tree outside my work when it was in its full splendor. Unfortunately, the rain drops got to it first. This will be the scenery here for the next few months. 

I have a nice walk to work - I get to walk by beautiful neighborhoods, festive store fronts, and most particularly a Japanese deli. Uptown in Washington Heights no Asian grocery stores exist, so having one on my way to work helps to make the recipes here possible. 

It's Christmas time here in the wet, soggy, city. 


Plein Air Painting


Sometimes, it's hard to find your fellow artists who live in the neighborhood. That's why, I formed an artist group for upper Manhattan.

Today, we painted and drew outdoors in Fort Tryon Park.  It had been a while since I had forced myself to sit down and draw for an extended period of time without any distractions. At first I was a bit rusty, but once I found the right tree to draw – it became quite easy. With any luck, my sketch will turn into this year's Christmas cards


Spooky rice balls


I volunteer with a non-profit called Table for Two. Its mission is to provide food equity for people the world over. From October 11 - November 11, in honor of World Food Day, for every image of a rice ball (onigiri) that gets posted to social media, they will be able to offer 5 free meals to children in need around the world. You can check it out here. 

I decided to make something rather spooky, in honor of Halloween and the beautiful beets I got a few weeks ago at the farmer's market. What I had hoped to be blood-red rice balls just ended up being rather pink. Still, they came out good and certainly look unique.

Cook rice in your normal way, and then add as much shaved beet as you want. I used maybe 3-4 small ones. I added a bit of extra water to help with the cooking (maybe a bit too much). After the rice had cooled, I emptied it out into a container and fluffed it a bit, allowing it to cool, and seasoning it simply with salt. Topped with black sesame, they look sort of ghoulish, no?

Welcome to the Family

Tableware is just as important as the food - perhaps sometimes even more so. The plates upon which your food rests upon helps to capture a certain emotion, aesthetic, or point in time. While I certainly don't have space (or money) to have as much tableware as I would like, I did realize the need for more. So, one stormy and then brilliantly clear day in October I headed far downtown in search of beauty. This is what I came up with.