Archive for May 2010

NYC Recap   1 comment

A couple of you have asked about the trip to NYC to see Dan Zanes. Here’s a lovely recap written by my husband to his friend Jeff. I’ve stolen almost the entire email, but not out of laziness. As usual, Jim has perfectly captured the essential elements.

NYC was really great. The Zanes show was amazing. All the kids were up and dancing the entire time, right along the front edge of the stage, with their moms or dads sitting or kneeling next to them. After the show, Zanes stayed on stage until he talked personally to every single child or parent that wanted to talk to him. Very Bruce-esque in that way –open-hearted, accessible. We were literally the last people to leave the place — Mimi was the last person to say thanks to him before Zanes started to help with the load-out.

We ate two glorious breakfasts at the famous Sarabeth’s, including
Mother’s Day morning — this was just around the corner from the hotel on Amsterdam. Fri dinner at next-big-thing Lupa in the
Village, and Sat pizza at a new Brooklyn place that’s supposed to be the best pie-of-the-moment in NYC: Motorino. Wow. I can still taste it. Our visits to all these places orchestrated by Sharyn — all superbly
chosen, all child-friendly (especially Sarabeth’s).

Watched the boats in the Central Park lagoon and the pooches in the dog park on the Museum of Natural History grounds, climbed Belevedere Castle off Central Park West for the view of the park, had a magical couple of hours Sunday morning early at the Museum of Natural History looking at the dioramas and the huge looming dino-bone skeletons.

(They’ve expanded the museum to make it more “interactive” and
competitive with other kid-oriented museums of its ilk. Big mistake.
It’s much more spectacular, but much less magic. It’s lost its peace,
its contemplative quality. By definition in Catcher in the Rye, it was
beautiful because the dioramas were the only things that never changed in a world whose only constant otherwise *was* change. Now… it’s all changed. But they still have the grand central hall and adjoining corridors that are exactly as they were, when I was last there in, what, 82? It’s much more aquatic, with a huge and exquisitely designed post-Spacelab astral component as well. They just shouldn’t have fecked with the original museum footprint and contents. It should’ve become a museum museum within the larger museum. Basically, I hate renovation. I’m for reveteration. I’m an inveterate reveterate.)

Mimi had a ball, and was very good the entire time, save the moments mom and dad let her down by postponing snacks and rest.

It always strikes me how friendly New Yorkers are. We met like a dozen people in various random places, all courteous, polite, and interested, and actually had fairly long, genuine, and personal conversations with them. A young latino boy with shades and tattoos gave Mimi and Sharyn his seat on the subway. At the urging of his perspicacious on-the-case girlfriend. A hip young guy going through a divorce was moved to tears talking to Mimi on the subway down to Brooklyn, replacing his unnecessary subterranean shades. A doubtless extravagantly wealthy man wearing a “What I Really Want To Do Is Direct” t-shirt walking his dogs at 7:15 a.m. down the sidewalk of 79th St a block from the park stopped to let Mimi pet his gentle animals, chatting with her (and, indirectly, me) for a full 10 minutes.

That about covers it. I’ll post some photos soon.

Sorry about the strange spacing in this post. I’m not sure what happened, but I cannot seem to correct it.

Posted May 29, 2010 by snpulling in NYC, Travel

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More Than Plenty   2 comments

Perhaps it’s a bit late in the season for a post on strawberries, but as a person who grew up in a town that used to bill itself as “The Strawberry Capital of the World,” I’m pretty much obligated to make note of their appearance. We’ve enjoyed plenty of strawberries at my house this year; one might say that we’ve enjoyed more than plenty. Between my frequent visits to The Market at Blooming Colors to purchase gallons at a time and the steady supply coming each week from our C.S.A., we’ve had strawberries in the refrigerator consistently since early May. I made a few small batches of jam, but mostly we’ve eaten them at out of hand.

Is there a better way, I wonder? Well … maybe.

Strawberry season in Ponchatoula has always a big deal. To accommodate the kids who lived on strawberry farms, my highschool’s spring break lasted for nearly a month, meaning that we attended classes well into June to make up for the lost days. This continued until 1985, the year I graduated, when a new school was built to accommodate the increasing numbers of students.

Less prosaically, William Faulkner refers to the town’s strawberries in The Wild Palms. Walker Percy, who lived for a time in nearby Covington, mentions it in one of his novels, but I can’t remember which one.

A flat of “Ponchatoula strawberries” used to be considered a delicacy, something truly special. Years ago, farmers used to truck their berries into New Orleans to sell flats on Canal Street for astronomical sums. To cheat the system, my grandmother made more frequent visits to our home during berry season on the pretense of “visiting her grandchildren.” She fooled no one; the back seat of her car sometimes contained as many as three flats of berries. One went to her boss, one she shared with her coworkers, the other she ate by herself, sometimes in the car on the way home.

Ponchatoula berries are still special, but there are far fewer of them these days. Many of the farms are residential subdivisions now; my mother lives in one of them. The city lost the right to proclaim itself the “Strawberry Capital of the World” when farmers on the West coast began growing strawberries on an industrial scale in the early-90s and priced Ponchatoula berries out of the market. These days, the town somehow makes do with “America’s Antique Capital.”

I miss the strawberries.

UPDATE:  My mother has insisted that I let everyone know that this year’s Strawberry Festival attracted a crowd of over 100,000 people.

RUSTIC STRAWBERRY GALETTE

On those rare occasions when you find yourself with plenty of strawberries — more than you can eat out of hand — this galette makes a delicious Summer dessert. It’s fancy enough for company, but won’t keep you in the hot kitchen for very long at all. Blackberries and blueberries make fine substitutes — just make sure to use the appropriate flavor of jam.

The dough is adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 8

Ingredients:
Dough:
13⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1⁄4 cup coarse whole grain cornmeal
1⁄4 tsp salt
1⁄2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk

Filling:
1/3 cup strawberry jam
1⁄2 cup finely crumbled shortbread cookies
3 to 4 cups fresh strawberries
1 Tbs. granulated white sugar
1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated lemon zest

For the top:
1 large egg white
1 Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. turbinado sugar

Preparation:
Dough: In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cornmeal and salt; pulse 3-4 times. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle buttermilk into the crumbs. Process until dough comes together to form a ball.
Remove dough from processor and form ball, incorporating any stray crumbs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Galette: Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove dough from refrigerator and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Roll out dough into a 14 to 15-inch wide roundish circle. You can use a pot lot as a guide, but don’t worry too much about perfection.
Spread jam on top of the dough, leaving about a 11⁄2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle cookie crumbs on top jam. Scatter berries on top of crumbs. You should have enough berries for two layers. Mix sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest together and lightly sprinkle this mixture over the berries.
Gently fold edges of dough back over the strawberries.
Whisk egg white and milk in a small bowl. Brush edges of dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack for about 30 minutes. If you want to be fancy, serve the cooled galette with a spoonful of whipped cream or along side a bowl vanilla ice cream.

And, one more thing.

Love Tastes Like Strawberry ~ Miriam Makeba

Love is fast like fingers flying
Love is soft like years of crying
While the spices interlace
Love' s got a fresh strawberry taste

****
And when the peddler cries strawberries
That' s when my heart replies, strawberries
Love tastes like strawberries

****

Met my love in the market place
My heart stopped when I saw his face
The very man said won' t you try this
We looked, we bought, we stole a kiss

****

The berries are gone and spring has pass
But I know my love will always last
For rain has gone with a sudden haste
Love' s got a fresh strawberry taste

Posted May 22, 2010 by snpulling in Strawberries

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Mimi Takes Manhattan   Leave a comment

Tomorrow morning we leave for a brief weekend visit to NYC. We’re taking Mimi to see the magnificent Dan Zanes perform at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — it’s her first concert! We’re also planning to eat dinners at Lupa in the Village and Mororino in Brooklyn. And, in accordance with family tradition, we’ll pay too much money for bagels at Zabar’s.

Everything except the bathroom breaks are scheduled on this trip.

Look for some post-trip reflections next week. Until then~

Posted May 6, 2010 by snpulling in NYC, Travel, Uncategorized

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