When eating seasonally, the first crop of any new thing is always a treat. But this week, the CSA delivered on one of the best tastes of summer.
The entire haul was a bunch of carrots (with greens attached), rainbow chard, new onions, purple scallions, dill, two heads of lettuce, poblano peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans and a basket of peaches.
Out of the whole bunch, the only thing that really needed to be used up on day one was the corn. Oh, fresh summer corn. It’s as good as it’s ever going to get the moment it is picked. And from there on out, it only goes downhill.
Today’s preparation was a bit more violent than what I’ve done in the past.
Last summer when I was visiting my aunt in East Hampton, I was dismayed at what I found in her pantry. It was so overloaded with magnificent foodstuffs that she didn’t even know what was in there. In particular, I found a sealed tube of imported anchovy paste that had been there so long that it was well past its expiration date.
Stuff like this happens to everyone. The proof is in your spice cabinet. How many jars do you have in your possession that are over a year old? Two years old? Five years old? More?
Over the past year and change, I’ve been doing a lot of streamlining in the kitchen. Mrs. Fussy probably would laugh to hear it. But dammit, it’s true. Old spices have been tossed. A few have been replaced or replenished.
The problem, however, goes far beyond spices. The solution is fairly straightforward and begins with a simple mantra, “Food is for eating.”
Don’t forget, tonight is the night. From eight o’clock to nine thirty, I’m hoping that you will join me at the 16 Handles in Glenmont. They have generously given the FLB their party room and extended a 15% discount to anyone who shows up for the affair.
There aren’t going to be any gifts or any grand festivities. Just a bunch of food lovers hanging out, talking about food, and eating some FroYo. Besides the Euro Tart (and their highly praised mochi) I’m also looking forward to figuring out what their “all-natural artisanal” flavors are about.
A handful of folks have already gotten back to me and I’m quite excited to catch up with everyone in person. To that end, I’ve also been trying to get back out into the local food world and check in on some of my favorite places. Usually, where I go is dictated by some other errand that’s related to the relocation. It’s frustrating. I still have yet to make it over the river to Troy. And I had hoped to get up to Saratoga Springs before track season started. Oops.
In the past few days, here’s what I’ve found.
This isn’t Fussy’s Fuzzy Navel. The trick for that would be to find a great brand of peach schnapps. Maybe one exists, but I can’t say I’ve been in much of a rush to find one. I suppose the closest I might come would be squeezing and straining some Florida oranges into a glass and mixing it with Harvest Spirits’ Peach Jack.
But that’s a far cry from the original low-alcohol refresher.
Bastardizations of cocktails abound. Some are worse than others. The crimes that have been perpetrated against the simple and elegant Martini are uncountable. Mojitos aren’t far behind. Folks can’t seem to understand that a Dark and Stormy can only be Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Barritt’s Ginger Beer (there is no lime). And now people are starting to tinker with the venerable Negroni. Where will it end?
Still, there is something bothering me more than those who would take something as tropical and refreshing as the mojito and fill it with sweet and sticky liqueurs. It bothers me more than the vodka aisle in the liquor store starting to look like a candy shop. Salted caramel vodka? Does anyone over 21 buy that stuff besides Albany Jane?
No, the thing that is keeping me up at night are the bastardizations that I find acceptable.
It’s been over a month since my last reconciliation. That means I’ve been in New Jersey, New York (including a visit to Flushing), Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania (twice). On top of all the travel, I’ve loaded and unloaded a truck filled with my family’s worldly possessions (twice).
Later today it’s Hoffman’s Playland. Before you know it I’ll be in a cabin by a lake in the Poconos. Then it’s some time on the farm, my cousin’s wedding weekend in New Hampshire, and with any luck I’ll be able to find some time for a few days in East Hampton.
Summer is fun, but it’s crazy busy.
No wonder there hasn’t been time to answer all of your questions. And there have been a lot. But I am committed to answering every question that is asked in the comments section of the FLB, just so long as it uses proper punctuation. So without any further ado, let’s get to it.
That crappy gas grill I bought last week? It’s still in the box.
Not because I’m not excited to give it a whirl. I’m kind of looking forward to charring some vegetables on the fire. But for starters, I’ve been busy. Also, it’s also been raining. Plus, there’s the sticky issue of having no vegetables to cook.
Sure, I could just run out to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Honest Weight, or any of the local farmers markets. Or I could arrange a Field Goods account, place an order with Farmie Market, or simply just walk to the Barber’s Farm truck that is a regular fixture around my neighborhood. Not to mention the Price Chopper, Shop Rite, Hannaford, or Walmart produce sections which are all only a few minutes away.
But no. Instead I was just sitting around a barren kitchen bemoaning the fact that this would be the second year in a row that I missed signing up for a CSA share with my favorite local farm. Incredibly, my salvation came from a reader named Sarah.
I’m beginning to see the light. This calls for a song.
It also calls for a get together. You can call it a meet-up, or maybe a social if you prefer. But whatever word you use, I’d love to try and get a few of you out of your homes and away from your screens for a few minutes next week to join me in enjoying something cold and sweet.
Sure, I still have stuff in boxes. But progress is being made. Things are being put away. Meals are being cooked in the kitchen. Bills are being paid. Broken things are being fixed or replaced. But there is a lot of food stuff to catch up on from my sabbatical.
For example, I missed three tours. The last cider donut tour happened without me. I was absent for the Troy edition of the Tour de Buffalo wing. And I had to read about the Tour de FroYo from New Jersey.
Turns out that I wasn’t the only one who read about the Tour de FroYo. One of the more promising runner-ups reached out and wanted to do a little something special for readers of the FLB. So, here is what we’re going to do.