Fall 2016

Escaping Time in Chatham, New York

When you walk down the main street of Chatham, New York today, you can almost imagine the daily life of its Dutch and Quaker settlers.  

Once the epicenter of interstate railways, It is a place of history that is in no way lost in time.

Today it boasts the membership-driven, independent Crandell Theatre which opened its doors as a 30cent per show vaudeville house on Christmas Day in 1936.  Across the street is the beautiful and similarly independent Chatham Bookshop which also houses an art supply shop and gallery. 

Bimi's Cheese is a delightful stop for cheese and all its accoutrements—chocolate, jam, bread. (Join the grilled cheese club to reward yourself for every visit to Bimi's grilled cheese bar.) 

Down the street in James Knight's shop Something's Gotta Give where he beautifully curates word work by local artisans—including many pieces by woodworkers Martin Zelonsky and Frank Grusauskas and the ceramics of Kathy Wismar.

Take a stroll past the brewery, liquor shop, clothing and shoe store, Belgian linen shop, yarn store and more up and down the main street of this beautiful Columbia County town. 

 

The Fly-in Pancake Breakfast

More than a dozen years ago, we were tooling around the back roads of the Hudson Valley in an MG Midget when an experimental aircraft buzzed over head. It looked like a lawn mower with wings - not much bigger than our car. A week later we saw the contraption being pulled behind a truck and followed it to a grassy airstrip. As my husband fearlessly took a ride—climbing a thousand feet above the Hudson River—I chatted up one of the pilot's students with feet firmly planted on the ground. 

He introduced us to Chapter 146  of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) which hosts a bi-annual—Spring and Fall—fly-in pancake breakfast at the Kline Kill Airport (NY1) in West Ghent, New York. 

Year after year the event grows bigger and bigger. Dozens of planes—from a shiny silver Cessna to a lipstick red Stinson Flying Station Wagon— line both sides of the green, grassy-lined air strip. 

Sitting across from a total stranger at communal tables eating plates heaped with buttermilk pancakes, eggs, and bacon, it's not uncommon to hear someone ask "what did you folks fly-in this morning?". Alas our MG has not sprouted wings.

Dungeons & Dragons circa 1800

In my elementary school, my son and his friends invented a card game called 'Pocket Fighters' re-dubbed 'Creature Capture', making their own hand-drawn playing cards which they stuffed in their pockets, battling and trading on the playground. They played for years, sometimes just trading stories about the characters while walking home from school—until they discovered Pokémon. Years later, in middle school, my son has discovered Dungeons and Dragons (a game totally off my radar in the 70s). As with the earlier card games,  what he loves about it is creating characters, fabricating stories. And I was so touched to see his interest come full circle the weekend he insisted on pulling out quill pens he'd made with found feathers with his father (yes, they're that creative) to hand draw a map together. We invented territories, clans, obstacles, bodies of water and then our characters before combining our strengths to achieve our collective mission.

Lounging @porchesinnmassmoca

The galleries of MASS MOCA —once home to light manufacturers, a textile mill, and electronics plant—look past the Hoosic River  to the long, continuous porch of the 19th Century Victorian row houses that make up the Porches Inn.

While we come to North Adams, Massachusetts for the art—including the Tadao Ando-designed museum, The Clark, in neighboring Williamstown—we stay for The Porches. It never disappoints—from the beautifully appointed rooms, to the 24/7 year-round outdoor pool, to the s'mores kits for the fire pit up the hill and the generous breakfast. 

The Inn is charmingly designed with liberal use of wainscoting, a modern take on Shaker chair rails, simple window dressings, claw foot tubs, painted wood floors and walls decorated with mismatched plates and found paintings.

North Adams offers a few nice restaurants. As does nearby Williamstown which also boasts a 100-year-old independent, single-screen film theater

Apple Lemon Clafoutis

In a traditional clafoutis, black cherries of the LImousin region of France are put into a dish — pits and stems intact—then covered with a flan-like batter and baked. The pits themselves lend an almond-like flavor to the dish. Eduoard de Pomaine's delightful 1930 French Cooking in Ten Minutes: Adapting to the Rhythm of Modern Life includes the classic recipe.

In this apple lemon clafoutis—apples, spices and brown sugar are topped with custard, baked in a jelly roll pan, and then doused with fresh lemon juice.

Embracing the spirit of de Pomaine, we've been experimenting wildly - baking a banana clafoutis baked in a Spanish cazuela. For dramatic effect, you can bake the clafoutis without fruit, watch it dramatically expand like a soufflé and serve topped with fresh berries, lemon juice, and a few teaspoons of sugar.

Apple Lemon Clafoutis

Preheat oven to 450F

Slice four apples

Blend together:

  • six eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups milk

Put jelly roll pan with 8 Tbs unsalted butter into preheating oven. Once butter is melted, layer apple slices on pan, sprinkle with roughly 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons mixture of cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg.

Pour batter on top of fruit. Bake in oven 20 minutes or until the sides pouf up.

Add juice of one lemon to the top of the finished clafoutis (and a sprinkling of sugar if you like). 

 

The Millefleurs - Thousand Flower Garden at Met Cloisters

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Met Cloisters" is perched on four acres in Fort Tryon Park overlooking the Hudson River. The four 12th Century French cloisters house 2,000 pieces of Romanesque and Gothic arts and architecture. Part of the collection are four beautifully curated courtyard gardens—all a joyful foil to the cold austerity the Medieval interiors.

In the past year, the Trie Garden was completely restored. This garden was originally designed to mimic the gardens of the Cloisters' prized Medieval Unicorn Tapestries' own millefleurs (thousand flour) garden. Now the courtyard garden has been redesigned for "four-season-interest". In mid-September, the blooming flowers and contrasting foliage are spectacular.

Met Cloisters' Managing Horticulturist, Caleb Leech, explains in great detail how his team used the garden as a canvas of their own in a recent blog post. He explains: "The inclusion of our wild garden in the midst of a cloister adds a particular joy for gardeners. The enameled mead, or flowering meadow, which is thought to be a modern trend in gardens, was clearly beloved by those in the Middle Ages. In yet another way, gardens and plants bring us closer to our predecessors." 

The Cloisters is open seven days a week except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's days. A contribution is suggested but, ultimately, MET museums allow you to pay what you can. And a ticket to the Cloisters will grant you same-day admission to The MET Fifth Avenue and the contemporary collection at the MET Breuer.

99 Margaret Corbin Drive
Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040Phone: 212-923-3700

Open Seven Days a Week
March–October: 10 am–5:15 pm
November–February: 10 am–4:45 pm

Charting growth

A child's growth is measured by so many increments—first words, first steps, first foods. First day of school, first scrape on the knee. And along the way we're compelled to mark their height on doorways, window moldings, kitchen cabinets. When in early labor with my son I was stretching and looking out a french glass door at the gravel rock garden beyond. And I saw a tuft of pine tree—no more than three inches tall. I chose that door to chart his growth (two inches while off at sleep-away-camp this summer, five inches in the past five months!). The tree continues to grow (too close to the house), eclipsing him in height. I don't have the courage to move it, just like I'll never have the courage to wash those measurements from the wall. He'll have to do it someday—and perhaps he'll appreciate that his growth in that home was far more than physical. That he learned values to instill in his own children he'll measure in similar increments.

Foraging the Union Square Green Market

New York City's Green Markets started out as an experiment in 1977.  John McPhee's New Yorker article "Giving Good Weight" describes the then twelve-month-old experiment in exquisite detail.

Today the Union Square Market alone brings fresh produce to the city from dozens of farms four days a week. In one week, our urban 'foraging' might result in:

  • a breakfast of sunny-side-up eggs with olive oil and thyme, sliced baguette with butter and fresh strawberries
  • a lunch of garlic cheddar cheese, pesto & ripe tomato sandwiches on a baguette  with cucumber spears and a peach

  • a dinner of tri-colored pasta, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese

  • a dessert of greek yogurt with strawberries and honey

It is entirely possible to stock your home entirely from the Union Square Greenmarket which operates four days a week (and where you can compost your kitchen scraps). Some favorite purveyors include:

 

 

The ever toothsome bucatini with artichokes and capers

Bucatini's long, hollow, toothsome noodles are so satisfying. They make a great spaghetti aglio, olio, e peperoncino (Italy's answer to chicken soup).

Another favorite is a one-skillet Bucatini tossed with olive oil, garlic, capers, and artichokes straight from the jar. 

In a large, deep skillet, bring the following to a boil over medium-high heat-stirring occasionally for eight minutes until the sauce thickens:

  • five cups water
  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sprig of lemon thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Stir in the juice and zest of one small lemon, two eight-ounce jars of artichoke hearts (drained) and 3 tablespoons salt-packed capers (drained and rinsed).

Serve immediate with more red-pepper flakes, freshly grated parmesan and bread crumbs (if you are carb loading).