Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Friends, Old Market

On Sunday I returned to the New Amsterdam Market, in part to purchase a few things I had previously bartered for at the last market. My other reason was a meeting with a young woman currently in a semester-long art program here in NYC, has a blog, and is deeply interested in food and photography. For nearly two hours we discussed options for her future and then headed over to the market.

Yishi Xie, copyright 2013
Yishi's photo of my garlic and a wild mushroom pasta dish made in her dormitory room. 

Yishi loves NYC, but is not a citizen (she's from Chengdu, China), and has to return to a rural western PA college for her final semester. She's thinking of grad school, but after our conversation I encouraged her to find a job or internship here in NYC with a food mag/website or other food business where she can put her photographic and web-design skills to work and gain a sponsor.  She is an excellent photographer, smart, poised, and funny. I wish her the best. See some of her photos and words here.

Despite a nearly cloudless sky, it began to snowflurry. You can hardly make it out, but the white specks in front of the tower is snow.

The market with Yishi was fun and her Canon 5D inspired my iphone to do better. This lady knows way more about eating than I do -her palate is a compass. It was local, hard cider day at New Amsterdam Market, and I was looking for something dry, not sweet, and thought Doc's Pear was best. Yishi aimed for sweet and she nailed it -the Black Bird Cider Works' Red Barn is excellent. We had ours with roast chicken and vegetables last night.

Each about six or seven for the 23 oz bottle. Doc's is easier to get in NYC, but as of now I think there is only one place offering Black Bird -here.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Eat well, give thanks.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bringing It Home

It all started with the machine. From the rear loading dock at the studio, handles lowered, loading it into the van. 

Of course, this beast was intended for 80 foot farm rows, but that got nixed in favor of an ever more local farm. A 1989 Troy-bilt 22-inch wide, rear-tined tiller, 8-inch tilling depth, and 7 HP Kohler Magnum engine. Forward and reverse drive gears, starts on the first pull, but a little fussy about the drive lever. More tiller than a twenty by ten foot plot can handle, turning was an effort, possibly creating more work than hand digging, especially when the tiller dug in. Two plots later; that was Friday's work.

On Saturday I pulled out the trenching shovel and began making rows for walking; squeezing as many beds as possible leaves little room but a foot's width.

Once leveled out, I turned to my prototype wheel dib to pace the planting. The clove still needs to be pushed in, gingerly as possible. New signs, smaller signs, were whipped together. My old signs were scaled for a large space and looked outsized in this little plot.

By late afternoon the planting was done, the blood meal was spread, the planting holes filled, and the beds were raked. Yes, those are the crocus (and winter weeds) at foreground.

At sundown I enjoyed the results of my work and wondered how the hell I worked that acre!

My other plot, the new plot, gee-one has subtle differences in soil than the beach farm plot, eff-twelve. It is softer, way softer, richer too, with fewer stones (and wood chips, sucker!). The tiller work was a little easier here without the boundaries of fencing and so was my trenching thanks to the depth of friable soil.

I didn't plant any of my Amagansett cloves here at the beach farm, but for two heads of Spanish Roja. This Rocambole wasn't replaced with new seed as it is notoriously difficult to grow, but I had two heads that appeared exceptionally healthy from the farm. Once peeled, the cloves skins and inner wrappers were a gorgeous mix of rose and terracotta. I hope they do well and although they were smaller than my seed bought at a high price farm, they were in much better shape than much of my Rocambole seed cloves that were beginning to dehydrate.

By early afternoon the fog began to roll in strong, an unhesitant fog horn carrying over the peninsula. It started to feel a little like Amagansett in June.

My orderly rows a contrast to the chaos of wooden and white plastic lattice, coolers, bins, green mesh fencing, umbrellas, and other garden objects. Finished now, but for one bulb of Artichoke I left at home, still waiting to be planted.  All in all, 1184 cloves of garlic (and 18 French Grey Shallots) planted in two plots, or just over 400 square feet. That's one sixth the quantity of cloves I planted last season on a fifth acre (or 8700 sq. ft.) in Amagansett on only one hundredth an acre at the beach farm. Kapow. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Crocus Minus

Not so much saffron this season. Why? Maybe because I moved them from the farm in Amagansett. I also missed a number of the blooms because I couldn't make it to the beach farm. It's ok, next year.

These threads came from the blooms I was able to harvest. Looking forward to using them, but how?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Last of the Potatoes

I'm boiling the last of my Amagansett grown potatoes and a handful of sweet potatoes given to me by a farmer out at the barn. They'll be softened by the boil, then tossed in a hot pan with olive oil. Towards the end I'll put some butter on and chopped garlic. I've noticed my Artichoke variety garlic has gotten downright buttery raw, now. So good. The one at the top of the bowl is Artichoke. It's important to know how garlic changes as it sits, sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I've nowhere well-lit, particularly on these darker, cloudy mornings to place a vase of flowers for a photograph. The kitchen stove always fares best as a table, and even then on top of a cast iron dutch oven. The light streams in from the window beside, a faint rectangle on the vase.

The leaves of the crimson Salvia elegans blacken at the freezer's edge, so I cut it. But the chrysanthemums, or what are they called these days (when I purchased one it was Chrysanthemum "Sheffield Pink"), are hardly not hardy. They will droop with the sop (that which makes it sopping, no? I will use it anyway), but afterward perk up. I've seen them through several snows. 

The irises, however, are delicate in cold and rain. I went out late last night to cut for the vase and now they glow and perfume our indelicate place.

Monday, November 11, 2013


You probably heard -there might be snow. I brought in some of the delicate. Better pictures come daylight. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Next Year's Flowers

I had asked Marie if she knew of anyone who might want my remaining Crocus sativus, which were aggressively growing flower stems. They needed homes, or soils anyway, as I can't stand to throw away living things. She hooked me up with an energetic woman gardening a site in Greenwood or Windsor Terrace; a site that I long ago had noticed, but until the drop hadn't returned to see in many years.  

The gardener was about to plant several hundred bulbs, but still she was willing to look at my garlic stash in the back of the van. She wanted to plant garlic for its flowers. No you don't, I thought, then said what you want is elephant garlic! What? Yes, elephant garlic, Allium ampeloprasum. The notion took me by surprise, as I had been trying to sell them as food, yet was never fully convinced of their palatability. Suddenly I realized that I had it all wrong.

Out in the farm field everyone commented on the statuesque, otherworldly stem and spathe of the elephant. In the vase the elephant held up for weeks (without much if any scent) in our hot apartment. As food, if you were to cut the scape, that would be elephant's most delicious offering. Fat, juicy, tender, mildly garlic-flavored stems are as good as a garlic scape can be. I'm sure the cloves have some virtue, but I never really had the time to explore.  

So this morning, just before the wind whipped the leaves into a frenzy, I planted at least 20 large cloves around the garden. I put some in the back, as well as the front, as insurance against the pullers and cutters. I am really looking forward to experiencing these in the garden.

I have about 50 of these bulbs left which, when cloved, will become about 250 plants. If you or someone you know is interested, send me an email: and I will sell these to you at a discounted price (plus shipping if needed). And if you need encouragement, check out the images below. When fully opened, they will look like a fireworks display of white or purple.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Local Yocal

For the last year or so I've been buying Woodstock frozen spinach from our local food co-op. It's price was reasonable for organic, and I fictionalized it's origins based on the name -I just imagined this was upstate NY produce smartly frozen for year round use. 

Today, I actually read the bag when I set to cook. I had no idea this company was sourcing its produce from a global network of farms and in this instance, China. I gather it comes down to the price. Woodstock can use BPA free bags, have nice package design, and be organically labeled for under $3 on the backs of low paid farm laborers. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Garlic Planting Stock Still Available

I sold a good amount of seed at last week's New Amsterdam Market, but I still have a good amount left. If anyone is interested in planting garlic over the next few weeks, I have Rocambole Russian Red, Artichoke Lorz and Red Toch, Porcelain Georgian Fire and German Hardy, Purple Stripe Chesnok Red, Marbled Purple Stripe Siberian, and Silverskin Silverwhite and Nootka Rose. Send me an email ( and I can get those out to you. Below are the Siberian bulbs.

garlic planting stock

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Last Moment

I returned one last time to my old field in Amagansett. 

The field had been disced, the soil quite dry. 

I was visited by a young fox; it hardly knew I was there.

Two-thirty now, in Southold, on my last visit to the barn. It's quiet, the air is still.

I offer my curing racks to another farmer, and I receive some heirloom tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and pickled beets in return. I hand off my French shallots too, because this farmer has chef clients and I would like to see these get more attention than I could give them. 

And now the drive west under the long, slow sinking of the late autumn sun, heart just a little heavy. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy November First

It is my second day of moving the studio. Today I'm on my own. It's rainy, windy, and the loading dock is awfully slick. But the chrysanthemum look great.