Monday, November 26, 2007

nutcracker sweets

7 Good Things for the Holidays:

1. Bahlsen's Contessa cookies. Candied orange, ginger spice, almond perfume, chocolate. With a cup of cinnamon-orange Christmas tea, late winter afternoon perfection.

2. Free (if you bring your own skates) ice skating to Glenn Miller swing at the seasonal ice rink in Bryant Park.

3. June Taylor's English Christmas cake. Bring me this luscious brandied fruitcake for Hanukkah, along with a tea table in front of a fireplace so as to enjoy it in the appropriate setting. And perhaps a maid wearing this to serve it.

4. Latkes, latkes, latkes. With sour cream and applesauce, borscht and rye bread and raisin pumpernickel from Orwasser's to make them a meal.

5. Roast chestnuts on the street. Hot-pretzel vendors used to add these to their wares in the winter, sending a distinctive smoky-sweet aroma into the chilly air. You paid a couple of bucks and you got a little paper bag shoveled full of warm roasted chestnuts, their skins half peeled back so you could get into the hot, mealy-sweet nuts without having to take off your gloves. In Bologna, it was common to find little old men roasting chestnuts over drums of coals in any public square during December. Lately, though, they've been all but replaced by those noxious sugary nuts. We're going to look hard on our way to the Bergdorf's windows, though.

6. Clementines.

7. Snow.

post-pie posting

Some pie queen I am, going AWOL right in the midst of prime pie season. Well, I hope you all enjoyed your desserts nonetheless, and no one resorted to those nasty crumbly frozen shells.

K. and I left NYC behind and jetblued it down to Florida for t-day with her many relatives. Luckily my suitcase was searched on the way back, not on the way down, since what would TSA have made of the open container of Flying Pigs Farm rendered leaf lard I was carrying, not to mention the bag of cranberries, the packets of Knox gelatin, the two foil-wrapped cranberry breads and the 5 lbs of New York State Northern Spy and Winesap apples from NettieOchs Orchards. Yes, I was on apple-pie duty, and I brought my own lard and apples, plus fresh cranberries and unflavored gelatin for the very tasty and PQ-traditional cranberry-walnut pie.

Florida was warm and humid and full of Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees. Driving home with the pie and turkey leftovers sliding around in the back of the car, the neighborhood was already in full plastic-snowman display, complete with flying Santas, inflatable chimneys, and yes, those nodding-head reindeer. It was still a little weird to hear "Winter Wonderland" piped out onto the sidewalk as ladies in sparkly flip-flops and skinny-strap tank tops walked by with their fluffy little bug-eyed dogs. On Saturday, since the Zora Neale Hurston museum was closed, we took a canoe down the spring-fed Wikiva river, to wave at the swimming turtles and a great blue heron.

And to Crate & Barrel, this season's Unclear on the Concept/Capitalist Chutzpah Award, for this fine item, a Christmas-tree ornament in the shape of...a dreidel! In the catalog, it's pictured alongside a handful of six-pointed star ornaments, also in blue and silver, which look awfully like Stars of David. Both of which, last time I checked, were, you know, pretty Jewy. You can't blame C & B for trying to make a buck off assimiliation, but somehow, I don't think this is the way towards mixed-marriage harmony in decorating.

Everything Bee Movie says about bees is wrong. Especially the part about the pollen guns! Romance and Cigarettes, however, is hot.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Vegetables aren't free

It's weird to be living back inside. On one hand, a big clawfoot bathtub instead of a single grubby shower shared with 40+ people (and the occasional raccoon): very good! On the other: vegetables cost money! No more ripe figs and avocados straight off the trees, or big boxes of organic Early Girl tomatoes and fancy fingerling potatoes begging to be eaten up. It was sad to go to the Grand Army Plaza farmers market--a place I've always liked--and fight the crowds for carrots and brussels sprouts. The produce had no soul, somehow, even though I did come home with some pretty good apples and my new favorite squash, the sunshine kambocha, which really does taste like chicken--or at least the tasty drippings that puddle around a chicken while it's roasting in the oven. And speaking of something in the oven, Flying Pigs Farm is still selling their fabulous lard at the market, $6 for 8 oz., and mighty tasty pie crust it made. Check out their amazingly good sausage, too, while you're there.

I know I was terribly remiss in blogging about the farm, so here's a little taste of tent living, and the reasons behind it, written for this otherwise
annoyingly smug publication.

What else is up? Taste of the season: organic pumpkin ice cream (served in biodegradable paper cups!) at Boerum Hill's new Blue Marble ice cream shop, where they even have organic sprinkles on your organic cone. Someone out in the blogosphere compared them to ball bearings, though (the sprinkles, not the ice cream), so watch your fillings.