Ocean Mist Farm

July 30th, 2018 § 1 comment § permalink

Always love to dine with BSK’s sister, Noel, and her husband Yossi, at their Ocean Mist Farm on south Prince Edward Island (near Panmure Island). The pleasure starts when HG/BSK arrive and are overwhelmed by the beauty of their verdant paradise. Every conceivable fruit and berry (yes, there’s even a type of Kiwi) grows in abundance. Agriculturist Yossi (trained on an Israeli kibbutz) cultivates a variety of vegetables and herbs. Among them are tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuces, peppers, beans, radishes, etc. The stars of his farm are tiny, mineral flavored potatoes, the best spuds ever. Noel and Yossi also raise pigs and lambs. And, there’s a horse, of course (the couple are noted equestrians). Last night, HG/BSK were greeted by Sophie, the friendly family dog (aging, alas). Dinner started with zaatar-dusted pita and two cheeses: A local sage cheddar and BSK’s fiery Holy Chipotle (goat cheese blended with Mexican chipotle sauce). HG sipped his usual vodka on the rocks. BSK and Yossi had modest glasses of white wine. No alcohol for Noel. The meal (except for a dessert of tapioca pudding) was all sourced from the farm (self sustaining, indeed). Barbecued pork chops, Yossi’s potatoes drenched in butter and dusted with chopped parsley. Lettuce salad. The pork chops were a bit tough (though there were juicy bits around the bone). Culinary experts HG/BSK suggested that pork chops be brined in water, salt and garlic. Then dusted with Goya Adobo seasoning. Cooked very quickly (if the chops are thin) in a super heated cast iron pan.. The chops will be pink and juicy. Barbecue doesn’t work so well for thin chops. HG achieved dinner table solace by eating a ton of the magical spuds and drinking chilled rose wine. Managed three helpings of tapioca. Another joyous night.

How Did We Do It?

July 29th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG refers to HG/BSK’s summers in Fire Island, the fabled barrier beach that stretches for miles separated from the south shore of Long Island by Great South Bay. HG/BSK and kids, Lesley and Jeremy, were on the beach for about eight hours (or slightly more) every day. Blazing sun. Temperature in the 90’s. Besides an hour of sun bathing, HG/BSK were in perpetual motion. Long walks to gather beach glass. Frisbee games. Kadima paddle ball. Volley ball. Tossing and catching a football. All of this under hot sun with no sun block. Yes, there were cooling swims and body surfing in the Atlantic Ocean (Even with a large tummy, pregnant BSK was an expert body surfer. Onlookers were shocked). The kids were super active, of course. Little SJ pranced about in a nude state and was a favorite of many nubile young women. HG/BSK and family turned the color of reddish mahogany. HG thought about those days on the beach yesterday at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home. Hot, hot day. HG did some refreshing swimming (water is warming up). BSK waded. Though protected with hats and sun block, three hours of beach fun was enough. Fingers are crossed. Melanoma hasn’t struck. Yet.

Some Jews Drink

July 27th, 2018 § 1 comment § permalink

After dinner and until bedtime, HG sips happily Canadian whiskey and Scotch whisky. One semi large shot glass is enough. The Canadian booze is J.B. Wiser and Crown Royal. Glenfiddich is the scotch. When BSK’s worldly grandmother learned that BSK was marrying a Jew, she consoled BSK about the intermarriage preventing country club membership. “Jews make good husbands. They’re good with money. They never hit their wives. They don’t drink.” Well, Sharon is batting .666. Obviously canny granny didn’t realize that alcohol was part of HG’s heritage and always present when HG was growing up. For many decades in Belorussia, HG’s paternal ancestors operated a flour mill and distilled vodka. HG’s late father’s youthful chore was driving the horse and wagon with threshed wheat. The young guy (nicknamed “Grisha”) also delivered vodka to taverns. (During World War Two the mill was destroyed and HG’s family was among the hundreds of thousands of Jews murdered by the Germans and Ukrainians). Growing up in The Bronx, HG recalls his father coming home from work and drinking a shot of rye whisky (Park & Tilford was a favorite) followed my a munch of pumpernickel or rye bread with “schmaltz” (chicken fat) and coarse salt. Little HG always joined Father in the ritual with a few drops of the booze. Father home brewed “visniak” (cherry brandy). Powerful stuff. Only drunk with friends or relatives and accompanied by cake or cookies. A byproduct was tasty, sweet, alcoholic cherries. (Little HG HG stole some at one dinner and at age seven experienced a mini-drunk). Mom and Father were socialists and did not keep a kosher home. Nevertheless, they observed Jewish high holy days and HG had a Bar Mitzvah. In the basement of Kingsbridge Heights Jewish Center on Eames Place in The Bronx, HG received Bar Mitzvah instructions. In order to leave the synagogue, HG had to pass through a room where old, white bearded Jewish men studied the Talmud (and disputed with each other). On the study table was a platter of salty herring, sliced onions and pumpernickel bread. Plus bottles of rye whiskey. The old guys invited the Bar Mitzvah “bucher” (young boy) to join them in “ah brumfen” (shot of booze) and a snack. HG enjoyed this and when finished, said “nuch ah mul” (again). With merry shouts of “shikker” (drunkard) the Talmudists complied. HG arrived home for dinner in a happy,woozy condition. Since those days, HG, a devoted vodka drinker, has mused why HG’s father never drank vodka. No vodka on the Talmudist table. Possibly, vodka carried unhappy connotations of pogroms and tragic memories of “the old country”.

Tiny Turnips

July 25th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Small, white round turnips are a treat. Rarely found in supermarkets, they are a staple at the farmers markets in Santa Fe and Charlottetown, PEI. Happily, BSK makes good use of them when resident at either HG/BSK’s oceanfront paradise or their New Mexico oasis. The little turnips are versatile. They can be braised with butter and cream for a rich dish. Roasted with garlic and herbs. Boiled and then smashed with potatoes, chicken stock and scallions. (BSK also does this with cauliflower and spuds). In many Paris bistros, sliced sauteed turnips are served with roast duck. An HG favorite is BSK’s chopped salad. BSK chops the turnips with fennel, scallions, peppers, celery, cucumbers, onions, parsley, basil and cherry tomatoes. Dresses it with fruity olive oil or an assertive mustard vinaigrette. Good with everything: Fish, meat, chicken or pasta. A nice lunch is sardines with chopped salad.

Good News. Bad News

July 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The good news is that HG/BSK have discovered another use of a favorite vegetable, fennel. Last night, BSK cooked (on the stove top) thin slices of fennel with garlic, lemon and olive oil. Sizzled for about 12 minutes until softened and browned. Meanwhile, HG cooked black seppie ink pasta. Pasta water was added to the fennel to make a sauce. Now comes the bad part. Supermarket squid was cut into rings, dried. Cooked briefly over high heat with garlic, oil, pepper and salt. The result: Rubber bands. The squid (inedible) was intended to be mixed with the sauce. Unfortunately, HG froze the squid after purchase. This meant the squid had been frozen and thawed twice. Unfortunate. However, the fennel was a great stand alone pasta sauce. BSK intends to make it agin with the addition of onions, anchovies, capers and cherry tomatoes. Can be topped with steamed fish filets if BSK chooses. Will wait upon return to New Mexico to use squid. Whole Foods squid is excellent, nice mix of tubes and tentacles. Incidentally, the black seppie ink pasta looks ominous but is delicious.

Handsome Gerald

July 23rd, 2018 § 7 comments § permalink

Admit it. The photo proves it. HG is a handsome old (very old) guy. Will be (not for some time, HG hopes) an attractive corpse. Photo is of a nicely groomed HG after a haircut by talented Charlottetown, PEI, stylist Samantha Singleton and a beard trim by the incomparable BSK. Except for a brief period in the 60’s and early 70’s when HG was a fashion victim with long hair and bell bottom trousers, HG has always favored short hair styles. In post-World War Two America, HG (like many young men with literary or artistic pretensions) sported an “Oppy”, a short cut emulating the renowned Los Alamos atomic bomb director, J. Robert Oppenheimer (probably the only time an intellectual and scientist inspired fashion). When HG gave up long hair, HG visited a fashionable hair cutter, Antonio. HG was given a “Caesar” cut: Short hair cut straight down to the forehead and the sides shaped by deft use of the scissors. This remains (to the amusement of HG’s children) favorite style (despite growing baldness). Antonio was responsible for one of two hair disasters experienced by HG. Antonio noted that HG’s white hair had a tendency to yellow. He suggested a “steel” rinse. HG agreed. When HG arrived home after the treatment, BSK looked and shouted: “What happened to you? You’ve got blue hair like an old lady!!” Other disaster during a Rockaway summer when HG was 14 years old. Asked the local barber for a “crew cut.” An error. Barber shaved HG’s head making HG an unattractive skinhead. However, HG’s then blonde hair grew back quickly. When very young, HG would get the full Bronx barber shop treatment. Hair cut with a straight part on the left side of the head. Generous application of hair tonic (“Vitalis”?) which dried and stiffened the style for many days. Hot towel to refresh the face. Dusting of talcum powder on back of neck. A lot of service for 25 cents.

Avgolemono Soup

July 22nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Avgolemono soup (or sauce when thickened) is a Greek delight. A mix of egg, lemon juice and chicken broth, the soup is thickened with rice and topped with chopped parsley or mint (a sprinkle of Spanish Pimenton is optional). When used as a sauce it is versatile. Greeks use it as a topping for roast chicken, dolmades and grilled lamb. (BSK uses it on butterflied and barbecued leg of lamb, a sublime dish). Last night, BSK poached a filet of fresh halibut in the soup. The result was sea ecstasy, the perfect blend of the Aegean and Atlantic waters. Though simple, Avgolemono demands precise timing. BSK followed the late Michael Field’s recipe from “All Manner of Food.” (Field was the best writer of foolproof recipes). BSK was trying to replicate the soup BSK first tasted years ago at the late Leon Lianidis restaurant, The Coach House, on Waverley Place in Greenwich Village. BSK scored a bullseye. Avgolemono soup was a favorite of young HG at inexpensive New York Greek restaurants like Pantheon on 8th Avenue. The Pantheon sometimes added a scoop of orzo to the soup to create a hearty and filling mix. HG did the same last night (purist BSK observed with scorn). In any case, Avgolemono (soup or sauce) is sprightly with light elements of Hollandaise. HG suggests you make it part of your culinary arsenal.

Logan Pearsall Smith

July 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Now, that’s a resounding triple tier name (even though the “Smith” is a bit of an anti climax after the first two names). Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) was born in New Jersey to a wealthy and intellectual Quaker family. He lived in Great Britain for most of his life and eventually became a British citizen. He had two sisters. Both married prominent men (philosopher Bertrand Russell and art historian Bernard Berenson among them). Smith wrote more than 40 books but is best remembered for “Trivia” and “More Trivia”, collections of aphorisms and thoughts (know in French as “pensees”). His life was dedicated to writing perfect, balanced sentences. His writing is often sardonic; also wise, funny and elegant. HG finds “Trivia” and “More Trivia” splendid bedtime reading. HG likes Smith’s thoughts about old age. “Growing old is no gradual decline, but a series of tumbles, full of sorrow, from one ledge to another. Yet when we pick ourselves up we find that our bones are not broken; while not unpleasing is the new terrace which lies unexplored before us. And far below we may pluck from the Tree of Life its mellowest fruit, the joy of Survival, which can only ripen there.” Two weeks before his death he was asked if he found any meaning in life. He replied: “There is a meaning, at least for me, there is one thing that matters—to set a chime of words tinkling in the minds of a few fastidious people.” A stylish and characteristic response.

More Mussels

July 18th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG has written much about mussels. However, there’s more to say. HG has the good fortune to summer in the world capital of mussels: Prince Edward Island. The best are harvested in St. Peter’s Bay (about three miles from HG/BSK’s oceanfront home. Can’t get much fresher than that). HG has learned that, like wine, mussel quality can vary by vintage. The 2016 mussels were tiny and tasteless. They got better in 2017. Splendid in 2018. (Witness the BSK photo of the lush pot of mussels BSK cooked last night). BSK always starts with a sofrito of olive oil, onions, garlic and parsley. Adds white wine and clam juice. Then there are variations: Saffron. Fennel. Celery. Cherry tomatoes. Sometimes pops in a few clams for a bivalve mating. Always gives the mussels a dusting of hot pepper flakes. There are many ethnic variations to these mussels. Thai and Indian curry. Coconut milk. Chinese fermented black beans. BSK ignores these variations and sticks to her classic methods (much to HG’s pleasure). Yes, there are some good mussel dishes beside BSK’s steamed wonders. HG recalls tasty stuffed mussels at Au Pied de Cochon in Paris and an amuse gueule (amuse bouche) of shucked mussel in mustard sauce at the venerable Veau d’ Or bistro in New York. Raw Spanish mussels are often served as part of a plateau de fruits de mer in Paris. This is a bad idea. Nasty. Mussels have many virtues. Among them is price. On PEI, they sell for $1.40 a pound (US). Economical feasting.

Senior Annoyances

July 17th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Dramatic sunset and an afterglow of wonderful colors illuminating the sea and skies. Sipping J.B. Wiser Canadian Whiskey and contemplating age and life after another delightful dinner. First, there were some Malpeque oysters with buttered whole wheat toast (local farmers’ market product). BSK sipped some white wine and HG had his usual extra large Bloody Mary enhanced by Blue Lobster, prize winning Nova Scotia vodka. Main dish was an HG/BSK version of a Vietnamese chicken noodle salad. HG sliced white meat chicken left over from last night’s roast spatchcocked bird. BSK chopped radishes, onions, scallions, cucumbers and a multitude of herbs. Tore lettuce leaves into edible shapes. HG cooked wide Vietnamese noodles to the proper firm consistency. All of this was tossed in a BSK dressing of sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and lemon juice. Nice eating. Yes, life is good at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront paradise. So, what were HG’s apres dinner whiskey thoughts? The late Philip Roth said old age isn’t a battle. It’s a massacre. In the midst of advanced old fogeyism, HG doesn’t share the grim Roth view. But, there are senior annoyances. Arthritis is one. Mainly it hits HG’s right hand. When eating, this makes it impossible to maneuver a fork. Reading a large heavy book is tough when arthritis arrives. Walking is slow going for HG. Better at sea level PEI than lofty Santa Fe. Hearing has deteriorated. Only watches movies that have subtitles. And, gentle voiced BSK has (sometimes to her chagrin) to repeat every verbal communication. Cancer surgery 26 years ago cut some nerves making it hard for HG to lift HG’s arms above HG’s head. HG needs help to reach items on high shelves. Breakfast is no longer a treat since HG has to swallow some 18 vitamins and medications. And, in common with almost all seniors, there is a need for very frequent urinations. Tedious and inconvenient. COPD makes three daily ten-minute inhalation treatments necessary. A blessing is that HG’s mind remains functional. HG’s love for BSK is a constant. Conclusion: Hungry Gerald is Lucky Gerald.