Wednesday, December 29, 2010
It’s not the first blizzard we’ve had. But to see how well we have dealt, you might be forgiven for thinking so. Our lame mayor, Michael Bloomberg, managed to get elected again, for a third term, despite the 2 term limit. For some reason, many people like the fact that he “runs the city like a corporation.” Whatever.
So maybe they are plowing streets according to how much money they generate? Because even here in Manhattan we are not really plowed. 7th avenue has 2 lanes open. Some side streets are plowed. Some are not.
Now maybe I’m brain addled, but I remember we always had big snow plows. I think they were orange. Where are they now? All I saw are city garbage trucks with dozer fronts attached. And they were plowing sorta near the ground, not actually on it. And they are nowhere to be seen today (wed) or yesterday.
The mayor has said that the reason we are not plowed out is because of ”the parked and abandoned cars.” Well, I think there were cars both parked and abandoned in the past, and we managed to move the snow. He offers this great advice: “Go see a broadway show.”
And the outer boros are even worse shape, but everyone seems to think that only Manhattan is plowed. Well, Manhattan is not plowed, although compared to the outer boros, it’s less terrible. And where in hell are the plows, not the garbage trucks with plows attached, but the actual snow plows? Who did we sell them to?
Watch the YouTube video of NYC Sanitation destroying a Ford Expedition
More sage words from Bloomberg: “it’s supposed to be warm this week; the snow’s gonna melt.” Thanks, genius.
Tom flew in from Cleveland yesterday, on American Airlines, to LaGuardia. It took him 8 hours to get out of the airport. 2 ½ hours on the tarmac, another 1 ½ in a bus (!?) to get to the terminal, then 2 hours to get the carry on luggage, then hours in the taxi line. And the worst of it is there were no airline employees. Everything is now automated to save money so no one is in charge of anything. Oh, and no plows at the airport either, only little rinky dink little ones like you’d plow a driveway with, and only one of those was working anyway. And half of the LaGuardia employees called in sick.
For some reason, Americans are so used to terrible service and no one giving a sh*t, and no one accountable, and no one in charge, that we continue to sink into the quagmire. Airlines are a perfect example. Many Americans still think we have the best airlines and the entire world is in the same state as us and suffering through the same quality of service as we have here. Well, if you have a choice, don’t fly any US based carrier, as they are uniformly abysmal. And internal flights in this country………it’s probably better in Africa. Seriously.
There were also at least 3 flights (Cathy pacific and British Airways) from Hong Kong and London that came in and the passengers had to stay overnight on the planes because there were no gates open and then customs had gone home!
I bet our local government rented our plows out. Supposedly we don’t have any money here in NY. Right. Doesn’t anyone remember our snowplows? What in the hell is it with these garbage trucks and their temporary plows? Where did our plows go?
What a mess.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Last night I went to my friend Joe’s. He had come trotting into Enfleurage a few days ago and showed me some new candy he’d made with essential oils: Ylang Ylang/Jasmine Sambac, Lemon Myrtle/Spearmint, Anise Hyssop. So what could I do?
Joe likes to make things; he harvests blackberries from Central Park every summer, (that’s the actual fruit, not electronics,) and crab apples, Hawthorne berries, rosehips, linden flowers, etc. He cans apples, plums, peaches, from the framer’s markets, and makes sorbets, jams, and cordials. He lives at the north end of Central Park, on the edge of Harlem, just above the treeline, so at night the lights on the buildings abutting the park look like they’re rising out of the jungle mists, as if we are gazing at Mayan temples.
Armed with tiny bottles of essential oils, I arrived last night out of the fresh cool rain.
We set to work.
The first batch was Roman Chamomile and Italian Mandarin; the second batch was Omani Frankincense and Bulgarian Rose otto. The third was German Chamomile and Bulgarian Lavender and the last was……..Gardenia Enfleurage from Colombia.
The first three batches used approximately ¼ teaspoon essential oils and the gardenia took ½. Otherwise the recipe was the same.
Here’s what else you need:
Another person to help
A pot, preferably copper, something that heats evenly and you can pour from.
At least 2 cookie sheets, non-stick ones. Grease one with butter and put plenty of icing sugar on the other one.
Couple knives or a pizza cutter
Icing (powdered) sugar
Essential oils of your choice
Food coloring (it will be cuter.)
Here’s what we did.
In the pot, which in Joe’s house means a copper polenta pot, pour in 2 cups white sugar, ¾ cup karo syrup and ¾ cup water. Turn on heat to medium. Stir a couple of times. Don't forget the water. I forgot to take a picture of it.
Then watch that thermometer like a falcon and as soon as it hits 300F turn it off, add your ¼ teaspoon essential oils (or a little more if you’re doing gardenia) and food coloring. Stir it, whisk it, quickly, and get it off the fire and pour onto the greased cookie sheet.
Do it fast and competently—keep kids and pets away because the molten candy mix at this point is like boiling frankincense or napalm. If it burns you, it’s going to stick to you and keep burning.
It’s going to harden fast.
Once it’s on the cookie sheet, give it a minute or so and then take a couple of knives and start to mess with it, the idea being that you want to move the molten candy to the powdered sugar covered cookie sheets as soon as possible, the hotter the better.
Once you’ve managed this, you’ll need to manipulate it, to flatten it, although not too much, and then cut it into strips using a pizza cutter, or knives, or whatever, and then cut crossways with the scissors you have ready. The strips should retain a “pillowy” shape; if you flatten it too much the edges will be sharp. You’ll see how it is once you do it. All the while you can roll this around in the icing sugar.
The candy will be hardening like crazy the whole time, and it’ll be really hot while you’re working it with your hands, so it’s not a good project for kids because it’s right on the edge of burning you for real.
Once you’ve got the pieces cut and sitting stunned and happily in the powdered sugar, then gather them up, and put them in a strainer if you like, to shake off the excess sugar.
And there you go.
In a nutshell, it’s combining the ingredients to a critical mass where they can all accept each other, then shape them as fast as you can as they cool.
So far, the favorite seems to be the Gardenia although we also have votes for sambac/ylang ylang and anise hyssop. If you are in New York, please do come by to try the candies! And I probably need to say this: We made these using Enfleurage essential oils. Any good essential oils will work, but synthetic oils will not.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
We’ve still got an astounding variety on offer here at the Union Square Greenmarket. Last week I bought all the maple cream I could find, one of America’s nicest natural gifts! It’s ludicriously delicious. You needn’t even put it on something, just a small spoonful out of the jar is completely awesome.
And there are still fresh roses! They don’t smell as lovely as the ones you find in the summer, but they are fresh and lovely locally grown roses, so I’ll just shut the hell up and arrange them on my table, thank you very much. Gorgeous!!
This week I picked up a Christmas wreath made entirely of rosemary and thyme—aromatic and beautiful. And also was pleased to find herbs still available all over the market. You can see the tarragon and thyme in the photograph. I got the tarragon for accompaniment to the yellow potatoes I can’t remember the name of, but which are buttery, rich and flavorful all by themselves, and utterly delectable with tarragon (or savory) butter.
The thyme is already partly gone, along with all the mushrooms, sautéed for my breakfast. They were so fresh, and earthy tasting, like truffles, with that slippery texture mushroom have when they’re very very fresh. Just a little salt and pepper along with the thyme, and a little butter! A dish from heaven! That bread you see on the right is an intense caraway rye, sour and moist, nothing so wonderful as that eastern European bread, dense with rye, assisted with caraway, a bread whose heritage is the Siberian Taiga, the woods of Poland, long cold dark winters, and root vegetable soup taken by the fireside! Believe me, when the temperature is dancing around freezing, you can do worse than these foods!
I got a couple kabocha squash here, and love love love them, as I do every year. This season I am obsessed with baking them with a little water then mashing and roasting with dark rum and maple cream and some caramelized onions on top……You could substitute maple syrup, I would think, if you don’t have maple cream. Serious comfort food!
Siberian kale! Well, I’m one of those people who loves the greenmarket at this time of year. It’s such a pleasure to cook with the late fall vegetables, there is something so intense about it, that the light and pretty summer ones just will never know. And one thing I just love is kale, and not just for its completely superior health benefits. If you are one of those who makes fun of kale, then you are probably buying that tough, gnarly stuff. Try Russian kale, that’s the one with the serrated leaves. It’s much smaller and softer than the traditional huge and tough kale, poor thing, but it’s tender and sweet and you can bake it with hazelnuts or walnuts and parmesan, or whatever you like of course, and you will find yourself standing over the counter eating it right out of the pan as it comes out of the oven. Really, then you will become a kale dork like me.
That cauliflower is destined for great things too. I still have not found a better way of making cauliflower than the same way I’ve been doing for a year or two, and again, it’ll have you eating right out of the pan, so if you make this for company, buy double the amount you’ll need because you may need to bribe yourself with half of it.
Don’t even need to cut it, just pull it apart if you like, doesn’t matter. Put it in a heavy pot with tight fitting lid. This is essential. Very heavy pot. It will come out kind of weird it you use a namby-pamby pot, use anything heavy, like I said.
Add some olive oil, and a few cloves of garlic. You can chop the garlic or not, doesn’t matter. It will turn into sweet brown crispy treats. Doesn’t matter how much, once you do this you will see how it is and then you can adjust the garlic as you like next time. Toss a little salt in there if you care to, and maybe a couple of fresh green chilies or dry red chilies, or a little kashmiri pepper, or whatever hot thing you love, as long as you like it for what it is, and probably not sauce. If you’re not sure, leave it out.
Stick the tightly lidded pot in the oven on a high temperature, like 400 and you will put it higher as it cooks if there is not much browning going on.
So caramelize an onion or two when the cauliflower is roasting in there, and don’t do it over high heat but medium. It takes longer but your cauliflower is in there for at least a half hour so don’t fidget and procrastinate. Use a big frying pan, and non stick is fine although it’s good to pour a little olive oil in there, and slice those onions in as thin a rounds as you can, then let them go until they are medium to dark brown and curling, then add a little sugar (like a teaspoon or so) and stir it up with them and then turn off the heat and those onions will kind of stiffen. You’re going to sprinkle most of the onions in with the cauliflower, and toss a few more on top if it makes it into a serving bowl.
The cauliflower should brown and even caramelize on the bottom, and you can stir it every so often. It will fall apart as you touch it with the spoon, and it’s stupidly good.
maple foods Deep Mountain Maple
bread Hawthorne Valley Farm
nyc greenmarket list of farmers
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
“The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 - May 3 in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press.”
It gets better……
“The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.”
This is from the official Department of State page.
Read the entire press release here.
Breathtaking, isn’t it?
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Wed 03 Jan 2007 : Witnessing
"Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. In a modern economy it is impossible to seal oneself off from injustice.
If we have brains or courage, then we are blessed and called on not to frit these qualities away, standing agape at the ideas of others, winning pissing contests, improving the efficiencies of the neocorporate state, or immersing ourselves in obscuranta, but rather to prove the vigor of our talents against the strongest opponents of love we can find.
If we can only live once, then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers. Let it be with similar types whos hearts and heads we may be proud of. Let our grandchildren delight to find the start of our stories in their ears but the endings all around in their wandering eyes.
The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering. Perhaps as an old man I will take great comfort in pottering around in a lab and gently talking to students in the summer evening and will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them."
To access the archives of iq.org