The other day I got an alarming series of texts from my friend Camille. She had just baked a batch of muffins, cooled them, and set them on the countertop in ziploc bags while she stepped out to run some errands. Upon returning home, she entered her kitchen and glanced around. Something was wrong. Granola crumbs littered the floor. She heard a rustling, and surveyed the room. It was then that she locked eyes with her intruder— a fat squirrel, having entered through the open window, now huddled under the kitchen table, seemingly trying to calculate the probability of successfully dragging a Ziploc baggy full of muffins and a package of sprouted chia-goji berry granola out the window without being eaten/killed/captured and/or losing his loot.
Ah oui…mussels and fries, moules frites as les sophisticates call ‘em. This classic combo just might be my dream meal. I nearly always order them if they’re on the menu, and, when inspired, I make them myself at home. You know why? Because it’s seriously simple to make delicious mussels (assuming you got a nice, fresh, living, breathing batch of these bivalves to work with). And if you get over to the Green Market this Saturday, then you too can pick up a bag of these briny black beauties from your neighborhood fishmonger, which is just what I did last weekend. Chop some herbs and vegetables, throw it all in a pot with some beer (nothing too fancy required) and in about 20 minutes you’ve cooked a really delightful (and very nearly gourmet) meal. Continue reading
Halloween may be long over, but those little decorative pumpkins, the sugar pie variety, are still gracing the table tops and window sills of homes and shops around the neighborhood. You could send your leftover pumpkins to Teddy the talking porcupine, or you could throw them in your oven and transform them into something delicious. On a recent visit to Brouwerij Lane, after extolling my love of squash and shamelessly touting my cooking skills, I was granted 4 little pumpkins from their personal stash of decorative vegetation. I brought them home, set them on the couch and stared at them. Four pumpkins. They stared back. Four pumpkins. They weren’t talking. Tell me what to do with you. Silence. No clues. I decided I’d just roast them all and create something new and pumpkin-y each day.
Nothing is easy. Especially not figuring out what to make for dinner, which can actually feel like sort of a chore if you cook a lot. Having said that, I’ll admit that few things make me as happy as cooking…so I ought to stop complaining and celebrate the fact that last week I received a gift of somewhere around 30 bulbs of fresh garlic from the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival! Weehoo! What to do with such a generous harvest? Well, there is one thing in cooking that IS easy AND satisfying. Two words: roasted garlic. I learned how to roast these lovely alliums over a decade ago and still it’s totally magic to me how a little heat and a drizzle of olive oil can turn something so pungent and crisp as raw garlic into something this mellow, sweet, and smooth. Continue reading
Growing up, I lived a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. Nearly every day during the summer I’d go to the beach, but on the hottest afternoons, I stayed indoors. On these lazy days, I’d grab a fistful of freshly peeled carrots (this was before the ubiquity of packaged “baby carrots”) and a stack of picture books, and disappear for a while to my hiding spot— above a floor vent, under a sunny window, behind a big, blue chair.
Brooklyn’s been squawking a lot about chickens lately, but you hear more about the trend of raising backyard birds than you do about foraging for the fungal variety. Chicken of the Woods, also known by its less tantalizing name Laetiporus sulphureus (or Sulphur Shelf…yum!), is also worth clucking about, as it’s in season now in your local forest, park, or maybe even your own backyard. And if you find a good one, young and tender (they get more brittle as they age), throw it into your knapsack and take it back to your kitchen. When I first saw this mushroom I assumed the name came from its appearance, with feathery edges reminiscent of the tawny-colored Buff Orpington poultry breed. But after trying a bite of the cooked mushroom, I was blown away by how much it tasted like chicken! Earthy, faintly-lemony flavor and meaty, almost muscle-y, texture make this a great meat alternative in a main course or simply an interesting seasonal side dish.
Since this posting I have investigated further and believe that the bird pictured is in fact an American Kestrel – which are just as bad ass birds of prey. In fact their call sounds like they are saying Killy-Killy-Killy!A reader sent us this awesome shot of a Peregrine Falcon spotted on McGuinness Blvd and Huron St! These badass birds are bird eaters – watch out pigeons – and they can reach speeds of over 200mph during their notorious a high speed dive to kill prey – making it the fastest animal! And it’s right here in Greenpoint!
Man, I wish I didn’t have to go to dumb work or I’d be checking out birds on the Maspeth Creek (49th St & Maspeth Ave), tomorrow Friday April 26th, 2013 at 1pm hosted by Newtown Creek Alliance and Department of Environmental Conservation.
During the wildlife viewing announcements will be about the release of New York Wildlife Viewing Guide, Newtown Creek Alliance Bird Guide and the 2013 Birdwatching Canoe Trip Season with North Brooklyn Boat Club.
Bring your own binoculars!
Audubon’s 113th Christmas bird count is taking place through January 5th. Jon and I were honored to be among the participants counting birds this past Saturday in Floyd Bennett Field.
Not only were we in the company of renowned New York birders, like Rob from City Birder, and saw birds we’d never imagined to visit Brooklyn, we were taking part in a very important action for wildlife conservation in our own great city.
According to the Audubon website:
Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action.
We definitely weren’t braving any extreme weather, it was a perfect sunny day in the wide open fields, but we did overcome our fear of being the bottom men, in my case, the only lady, on the totem pole.
“Are you sure they want us? I mean – we don’t know anything!” I kept asking Jon the week before. But by the end of the day, we’d learned a lot and I hope that in 40 years I have the stamina, patience and a hat with my name on it, like our trip leader Ron, who soldiered us through the day with an endless supply of information and energy. This will not be our first and only bird count.
It was confusing at first, the quick identifications in the cricket field, where we were looking for a flock of Horned Lark made my head spin. I kept elbowing Jon, “what are we looking at?” Bird names shouted, binoculars flew and just as I’d focus, the bird had flown away and the team had moved on.
Jon and I have been slacking on our bird watching. But today we saw three amazing birds in our Greenpoint backyard. The most beautiful of which was a Baltimore Oriole. Up until now, I believed the most gorgeous bird to be the Cardinal, but the Oriole wins this beauty contest hands down. I have never in my life seen such a striking shade of orange. The damn bird gave me goose bumps. It was such a stunner.
We also were lucky enough to spot a Yellow Warbler (left) and an American Red Start (right), all while we were eating lasagna for breakfast!
Keep your eyes open for lots of cool birds visiting Brooklyn as their migrations begin.
Have you seen any unusual birds in Brooklyn? What is your favorite bird?
We actually took our own photos which you can check out on our neglected Brooklyn Early Birds blog.