Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Notable in New York

Just to put this up front, I'm pretty much a recipe blogger, not a product blogger. When I write about a product it's because I genuinely like it and want to share the awesomeness. If there's a product I'm asked to sample, I'll let you know who sent me the sample.

I've always been straight-up about this kind of thing, but apparently there are enough issues out there that the FTC is writing laws about this stuff now.

SO... now that all that's out of the way, here are three new-ish food products out here in Gotham City that make me proud to be a New Yorker. Not only am I quite fond of each of them, but either I or my fella purchased everything here at full price with our very own hard-earned cash.

Mother In Law's Kimchi

1. Mother In Law's Kimchi

I love kimchi. Love it. My sweetheart greatly prefers sauerkraut, but because he is, indeed, sweet, he brought me a jar of this delicious kimchi.

Mother In Law's Kimchi is a newcomer on the north side of the Essex Street Market, and proprietor Lauryn Chun was on hand this weekend to proffer sample bites.

Well-balanced and not too spicy, this formula seems to have a meaty richness. Although (as I mentioned), J is not typically wild about kimchi, he says this is "an excellent example." And since I've already eaten my way through half the jar, I think it's pretty clear how I feel about it.

Goober Peas

2. Boiled in Brooklyn Goober Peas

A couple of architects, a bunch of raw peanuts and a dream...

Potato chips I can take or leave, but I'm a huge fan of fresh-boiled peanuts as a snack food. Sadly, I haven't really had a local source since the Queen's Hideaway in Greenpoint shuttered.

If you've never had the pleasure, boiled peanuts are a Southern thing. Tender, earthy, rich and very much like cooked beans. They're generally simmered in a very flavorful brine. I'm frankly a little surprised they're not a standard bar snack, because I personally think they're killer with beer and cocktails.

With four flavor varieties and cold iced tea on hand, Boiled in Brooklyn will be one of my new go-to stops at the Dumbo Brooklyn Flea.

Connecticut-Style Lobster Roll
3. Red Hook Lobster Pound "Connecticut Style" Lobster Rolls

I believe plenty has already been said about Red Hook Lobster Pound as a source for good, reasonably priced seafood. I'd like to put in a good word for the "Connecticut Style" Lobster Roll they sell at the Sunday Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo.

Composed of nothing more than lobster meat that's quick-sauteed in butter, then sprinkled with scallions and paprika and nestled into a buttery toasted bun, the Connecticut is a simple, flavorful seaside fare — a nice break from the mayo-based Maine variety (although RHLP sells that, too).

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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10.11.2009

Best. Amateur Cookbook. Ever.

"I think I need more," she said, with only the slightest trace of sheepish guilt in her expression. "If I give you money, can you see if they have more?"

Tomorrow is my CSA pick-up day.

But today, my coworker, a fellow local food devotee, is hitting me up. She's shoving money in my hands. For vegetables? Nah. For fruit? Nope. She wants cookbooks. Cookbooks produced by CSA volunteers, no less.

Well Seasoned Cookbook

Honestly, I bought one out of obligation. Sight unseen, I plunked down my $20 and expected I'd receive in return some homely little packet of jumbled text.

I expected an amateur effort that I'd push into my bookshelf and never, ever reach for (except to drag it from living space to living space throughout the course of my life). That's how these things work.

Well Seasoned Vegetable Guide

But lo! The cover was actually pretty nice. The pages were attractive. The photography was certifiably gorgeous. The interstitial artwork was tasteful. The recipes looked genuinely tasty. Indeed, it appeared this might be the first amateur cookbook I'd put into regular use in my kitchen.

My coworker saw it the next day and immediately wanted one. So at the next week's pick-up, I bought one for her and an extra copy for myself.

This week, I'm going back for more. I'm buying these cookbooks not out of some idea about nurturing the community, but out of a need for more of these great cookbooks that I can give as gifts.

Well Seasoned Side Dish Pages

Keep in mind, this was a very small-run book. You probably won't ever actually see one. (You can cook my two contributions — Summer Succotash and Divine Brine for Ramps, Scallions or Onions — from the recipes here.) But you may someday be involved in creating a community cookbook yourself. After all, thousands of these things are published on small press runs every year.

If and when that happens, you might be interested in doing what the Williamsburg-Greenpoint CSA is doing, because clearly, they're getting a few things right.

Well Seasoned Chapter Pages

Making Your Community Cookbook ROCK (Learnings from the GWCSA Cookbook)
1. Know the Readers. (CSA members, in this case.)
The folks who put this book together were very selective about which recipes would be most useful to their audience. They didn't use every recipe that came to the desk. And I think they chose well. A recipe like Zucchini & Caramelized Kohlrabi Quesadillas might not be right for every cookbook, but that page is bound to be a great relief to someone faced with a bunch of kohlrabi and no ideas. (That'll be me next month.)

2. Keep it Focused.
The Well Seasoned cookbook has a real sense of place. In addition to recipes from GWCSA members, the editors include recipes from beloved local restaurants. I'm looking forward to cooking Enid's Sweet & Hot Collard Greens and making Taco Chulo's Escabeche this summer.

3. Include relevant extras.
The front of the book begins with a guide to identifying and cooking all the major CSA vegetables we see throughout the season. The back of the book features a conversion guide, cooking terms, cook's notes and a nicely organized index. There are sidebars on Home Composting, Cooking for Pets and Preserving Summer's Bounty (canning, pickling and drying).

4. Use gorgeous photography.
So many small-run cookbooks neglect the mouthwatering beauty that color photographs provide, and that's a shame. I know it involves extra cost in the printing, but nothing inspires and motivates a cookbook reader like visions of tastiness dancing in the head.

5. Pay attention to detail.
The book printed on recycled, chlorine-free paper using wind power (see point #1). Each recipe includes servings/yield and the approximate preparation time. Vegan recipes are noted with a symbol beside the recipe name. All the food photography notes the recipe name and its page number. The book is spiral-bound to make it easy to use in the kitchen. There's a consistent recipe style used throughout. Attention to this kind of minutia might seem fussy, but it's essential when you actually want to prepare the recipes, as opposed to using the piece as a coffee table book.


The truth of the matter is this: my CSA, the GWCSA, is populated by very talented professionals. This amateur cookbook isn't strictly amateur. I note that the editor of this volume has years of experience in publishing, the art director/illustrator works for Saveur and the lead photographer seems to know her way around a food shot.

That said, I think anyone doing their own small-run cookbook can heed five simple hints from the pros (know the reader, keep it focused, provide extras, use color photography, mind the details) and polish a rough-hewn booklet into a useful and appealing little gem that'll keep people (like my swooning coworker) coming back for more.

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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6.30.2009

A Beautiful Bean Salad at the Brooklyn Food Conference

The call went out. And the foodies poured in.

The people who pickle and the people who vend kitchenware. The people who grow community gardens and the people who grow kombucha. The Slow Food people and the Just Food people. The vegans and the grass-fed meat vendors.

They came, they spoke and they distributed their recycled paper brochures.

Brooklyn Food Conference Expo

Disappointingly, the workshop I really wanted to attend (Permaculture: an introduction to ecological design systems fro sustainability) was stuffed to the walls with folks pouring out into the hallways of John Jay High School.

But the good news is, the lunch was delicious. The finest cafeteria food I've ever eaten in a high school cafeteria. (I realize that's faint praise, but it really is intended with the highest regard.)

Cafeteria Food at the Brooklyn Food Conference

Here you can see the tender mushroom quiche I couldn't keep my paws off (it was very much like the ones I make, actually) and the delightful bean salad. It had sauteed red onions and a savory sesame dressing. Simple and lovely, with a crunchy shout-out to spring.

You'll note that cafeteria serving tray is compostable sugar cane and the fork is fashioned of some kind of biodegradable corn plastic. Both went into the conference compost bins, although the napkin I used had to hit the trash can, for inexplicable reasons.

Though I can't share much of the food conference with you, I'll try to recreate that tasty salad for you here, dear reader. It seems like it'd be just the thing for a spring picnic: inexpensive to make and no worries of mayonnaise poisoning on a hot day.
Sesame Three-Bean Salad (Makes about 4 cups)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced
1 cup fiddlehead ferns (or asparagus cut in 1" pieces)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 1/2 cups cooked beans (ideally, a mix of black, pinto and navy)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized skillet. Add the red onions and fiddlehead ferns (or asparagus, if using), and sauté, moving constantly in the pan for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Remove from heat.
2. In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce and vinegar. Whisk in sesame oil slowly to incorporate.
3. Mix the onion mixture with the beans and sliced tomatoes. Toss to coat with the sesame vinaigrette. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning with a little more soy sauce or cider vinegar, to your taste.
4. Allow the flavors to mellow for several hours in the fridge before serving.

Thanks to the Brooklyn Food Conference for sponsoring the event, and even more thanks to whomever cooked lunch. You, anonymous anonymous kitchen worker(s), made my day.

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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5.03.2009

The Unsinkable Miss Molly

This week, Miss Molly Del Monte is all over the New York press for heading up the newly renovated kitchen at Vutura, the restaurant at Williamsburg's Rose Live Music.

But we knew her back in the day. Just a couple of years ago, this blog followed Miss Molly's zany adventures in Italy as a young cook struggling with everything from snarky kitchen politics to the quest for a well-formed strudel.

Miss Molly, with strudel

Miss Molly poses in the Montali kitchen with her very own strudel

Though it would have made for great reality TV, ours was old-school documentation: letters and pictures.

If you missed it the first time around, you can read the whole set below or just cruise through looking at the pretty pictures. I've organized them from her giddy first steps off the plane to the inevitable teary goodbyes.

Missives from Miss Molly:
The Culinary Adventures of a Young American Cook in Italy

Chapter 1: A Far-Flung Cook Lands
Chapter 2: The Daily (Espresso) Grind
Chapter 3: Hot Kitchen, Hard Times
Chapter 4: Siestas & Salty Snacks
Chapter 5: Dreams of Pulled Pork
Chapter 6: High Drama & Lasagna
Chapter 7: Lost in Translation
Chapter 8: A Taste of Traditional Tuscany
Chapter 9: 20 Questions & Limoncello
Chapter 10: Last Call at Montali

Hearty congratulations (and fat, juicy good luck wishes!) to the indefatigable Miss Molly!

Cheers,
Miss Ginsu

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3.26.2009

A Run on the Food Bank

Riddle me this, reader... It's never taken me more than 10 minutes to complete my annual Community Supported Agriculture program signup. So why did I just return from a CSA signup session that took TWO HOURS?

What's the sudden public obsession with local vegetables? Should I blame Michael Pollan? Mark Bittman? Alice Waters? The recession? The FDA peanut recall? All or none of the above?

Maybe this is the year in which investments in financial markets feel more risky than investments farmers' markets.

Springtime CSA Box

Whatever the reason, I'll tell you this: interest in farm-to-city produce in my neighborhood has skyrocketed this year.

I strolled into my local church basement not long after the doors opened, only to discover a robust room. I was already 48th on the list.

One of the volunteers told me that virtually everyone she'd spoken with tonight had been a signing up as a first-time CSA member.

CSA Lettuces

And maybe I should've been forewarned.

A coworker of mine has belonged to a different Brooklyn CSA for several years, and she told me she was a little late in sending in her signup form this year. Usually that's not a problem.

But her CSA filled up before January. Interest was huge, and she missed the boat. Now she's just a sad, veggie-free name on a long waiting list.

With that kind of tragedy in mind, I should just be grateful to have had options to buy stock in vegetable futures.

But if you're wondering what to do with the veggies of the present... hearty greens like chard, kale and collards and should be your friends right now.

Luckily, our nutritionist at work just gave me an easy, delicious recipe for kale. And since it's from the nutritionist, so you know it can't be bad for you, no?

In any case, I'm sure she wouldn't mind if I share...
Eileen's Crispy Greens (Serves 4)
1 bunch kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Sea salt, to taste

1. Wash the kale well. Strip the leaves away from the stems (save the stems for stock) and cut the leaves into 2" to 3" pieces.
2. In a mixing bowl, toss the pieces with olive oil to coat.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F and spread the prepared leaves across a baking sheet.
4. Sprinkle the leaves with the cider vinegar, then place in the middle of the oven. 5. After 10 minutes, shift the leaves in the pan to help them brown more evenly. Continue roasting until the kale pieces are crisp like potato chips and lightly browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with sea salt and serve hot.

So then, what have we learned today?

1. The early bird gets the local vegetables.
2. Even nutritionists know that everything tastes delicious when it's roasted and salted.

Yours in food worship,
Miss Ginsu

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2.17.2009

Pizza on a Flat-Bed Trailer

I cooked with Dave Sclarow at Tabla back in the day. He was always a pretty handy guy and a solid cook (he's now running the kitchen at Lunetta in Brooklyn), but he recently got in the NY Times and various other publications for what essentially amounts to a novelty act: he built a wood-fired pizza oven on a flat-bed trailer.

Voila! It's porta-pizza!

Dave Sclarow and his Pizza Oven

Pizza Moto

Dave Sclarow and his Pizza Oven

Now you can catch him at the Brooklyn Flea on Sundays. Mom and I were there for the first pie outta the oven a couple of weekends ago. Here's the quick and dirty how-to video:



I swear I'll someday feature something other than cheese-based foods in my food videos.

Cheers!
Miss Ginsu

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11.20.2008

The Real Ricotta Makes the Real Cannoli

[to Rocco who has killed Paulie in the car]
Miss Ginsu: Leave the cannoli. Take the gun.

Oh yes... let me add my voice to the massive city-wide swoon over the brilliant new Brooklyn Flea. Part craft fair, part food festival, part reliquary of the bizarre, the Flea is my new favorite Brooklyn tradition.

grrr

Cool bric a brac

Enormous Clock

From pulp fiction to papusas, the Flea offers something for just about everyone. The roomie and I spotted a black leather analyst's couch, the jawbone of some large mammal (a horse?), 30's-era vintage fans and an enormous two-piece interlocking yin-yang couch (doesn't every rec room need an interlocking yin-yang couch?), among the host of treasures.

Salvatore Bklyn cannoli

Despite a huge lot filled with crazy wonders, my biggest find was undoubtedly the cannoli from Salvatore Bklyn. Ohhh, heavenly. Freshly piped into the crisp cookie shell, the smooth, creamy ricotta carries a hint of marsala and flakes of dark chocolate. Really nice stuff.

I was so impressed, I made a short video of the filling process:



I'd first encountered Salvatore's divine ricotta at Ms. Anne's Essex Street cheese outpost. While I've never been a big ricotta fan, this was the stuff of revelation: buttery-smooth, rich and creamy. In other words, nothing like the grainy grocery-variety ricotta I'd always known. J tells me the Salvatore ricotta is very much like the ricotta he's eaten in Italy. What a lovely addition to the Brooklyn landscape!

Sadly, the roomie and I had just dined on a lovely little brunch at iCi before we stopped by the Flea, but on my next visit, I'll arrive hungry and try out the tasty-looking wares at Wafels & Dinges and Choice Market.

If you're in the neighborhood, find your way to the Flea and get thee to a cannoli. If you're friendly, you can score yourself an iced coffee sample from the sweet kids at Crop to Cup in the booth next door. And yes, quality cannoli and quality coffee really do create one of those "So Happy Together" moments.

The Brownstoner's Brooklyn Flea
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School
Lafayette Ave. (btwn Clermont & Vanderbilt Ave.)
Fort Greene, Brooklyn

BTW: I took about a dozen Brooklyn Flea shots, so if you're interested, you can see the full set at flickr.

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6.03.2008

The Donut Wars

I will preface this piece by letting you know this: I'm not a donut person, per se. That said, I will also tell you this: I love donuts in concept.

I love the way donuts are round. I love the way they curve in the palm of the hand. I love the hole in the center. I love that you can sometimes peek through that hole in the center and peer at the someone with whom you're sharing donuts. Maybe you also make a face or a silly noise at that moment. Donuts can be funny. But donuts also show up at wakes and church socials. Donuts can be somber.

Tres Leches Donut
The delightful Tres Leches Donut from the Donut Plant

What I love best about donuts is the idea of donuts and coffee. There's something so classically Americana about donuts and coffee.

The donut of my platonic ideal is the fresh-outta-the-fryer, crisp and steaming cake donut handed to me on a paper towel by an elderly someone who warns me that it's hot, and that I should be very careful not to burn my mouth. Said elderly someone has imbued this donut with his or her old-fashioned care, affection and pride. Needless to say, those donuts are rare as hen's teeth.

Donut Plant Dozen
A recent Donut Plant Dozen... Top left, clockwise: Pomegranate, Ginger, Coconut, Classic Glazed, Valrhona Chocolate, Rose Petal. In the back, Tres Leches, Blackout and another Valrhona.

My next-favorite donut is much more accessible. It's down at the Donut Plant and the cherubic counter man will sell it to you for a dear, but ultimately quite fair, price. Donut Plant donuts will not arrive hot from the fryer, but they are made with old-fashioned care, affection and pride as well as inspiring seasonal ingredients. Donut Plant donuts are taste adventures, and I like that in my food.

My boss liked Donut Plant donuts when I brought a tasting into work recently. He especially liked the Tres Leches donut. But what he REALLY likes are donuts from Peter Pan Bakery on Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint.

After inhaling his first sampling of Peter Pan donuts just recently, he returned the next day. And the next. He demanded to know why I'd been holding back valuable Peter Pan donut insights for so long. It's not like I was plotting against his happiness. It's just that I'm not a donut person and because Peter Pan donuts were not my first-choice or second-choice donut, their little jellied and powdered gems made a much smaller blip on my personal radar.

One fateful day last week, my boss brought a stack of boxes into work. Boxes filled with donuts. Chocolate Glazed, Powder-Dusted. Some filled with berry jam. Some filled with Bavarian Cream. Cinnamon-Apple Cake Donuts. Strusel-Topped Donuts. Coconut-Flake Donuts.

A Mountain of Donuts from Peter Pan
A Mountain of Donuts from Peter Pan... Top left, clockwise: Chocolate-Glazed Eclaire, Cream-Filled Coconut, another filled eclaire, two custard-stuffed creampuffs, a Glazed Donut and a Strusel-Topped Donut

My coworkers went into a Peter Pan donut frenzy. They yelped. They swooned. They gorged. They ran to their phones and texted significant others with messages like: "OMG!!! We're getting up early Sat 4 DONUTS!" One coworker claimed that these were the long-lost donuts of her childhood, the like of which she hadn't seen in decades. She wrote to her mother about them.

And, yes... They're great donuts. Everyone says so. They're actually much closer to iconic American donuts, raised and glazed, fried fresh every day with good-quality fillings and (presumably) good-quality dough ingredients. (And they're dead cheap. This is Greenpoint, after all.)

The Peter Pan donut is probably very similar to the goods that the very first Dunkin' Donuts shop made waaaay back before they went corporate and started using cheaper fillers, cheaper sweeteners, cheaper fats and mass manufacture. The Peter Pan donut may not be available at every corner, but it really is the pastry of the people.

Admittedly, I felt crushed that my beloved Donut Plant donuts had so quickly rolled to the wayside in favor of a mighty Peter Pan onslaught. It was immediately clear that most people weren't really interested in pomegranate donuts, rose-petal donuts, Valrona chocolate donuts, ginger donuts, coconut-cream donuts or peanut butter and jelly donuts. They didn't want experimental donuts. They wanted donut donuts. They wanted tradition and comfort and sugary cream fillings.

So it seems the traditionalists won the war for the (clogged) hearts of my coworkers.

Down in the trenches, covered in a dusting of powdered sugar and sweating off the sugar-crash shakes, I reflect and find I've learned a few things.

I have strong donut opinions. I may have a delicate donut ego. And I guess I just happen to have a slightly off-the-mainstream donut perspective. And if I have all that, well... hell. Maybe I really am a donut person after all.

Peter Pan Doughnuts & Pastries
Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop on Urbanspoon
727 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn, NY
718.389.3676

Donut Plant
Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon
379 Grand St
New York, NY
212.505.3700

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3.06.2008

Dear Miss Ginsu: Williamsburg eating suggestions

To: Miss Ginsu
Subject: W'berg suggestions...

So I just read some scathing reviews of Black Betty's – rude service, dirty, etc. I've only ever had a beer in the bar, so I'm not sure how spot-on the reviews are. Have you ever been? Do you have any other suggestions for fast, simple food my family and I can chow on pre-show?

Thanks!

-T.

Draught Pulls at Fette Sau
Menacing draught pulls at Fette Sau

To: T.
Subject: Re: W'berg suggestions...

Fast and simple dining in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Well, I feel that Betty's spotty these days. She used to be good, but I've also gone in and seen her put out really lame food.

Instead, you may wish to consider...

Bozu is very tasty, with fun decor and playful maki rolls and Japanese apps, but it's not terribly cheap.

I like Diner and its cousins down the way, Marlow & Sons, which has nice wine and oysters and the good, simple Mexican fare at Bonita.

You might consider M. Shanghai Bistro. They can accommodate a group.

I really like Dumont and Dumont Burger. Dumont Burger is more of a bar. Dumont is more of a bistro.

I highly recommend Fette Sau for smoky BBQ, great beer and a warm group seating, though you're going to drop some dollars there, and you'll want to show up at opening time to ensure yourself some table space, especially on inclement days when the outdoor seating is a no-go.

For simple French fare, Fada is very nice. (Particularly in the summer when the tall windows open and one has a glass of wine in hand...)

Falafel Chula and its little friend Taco Chulo are tasty and very casual, so if kids are involved, Taco Chulo might work especially well.

You can get Southern U.S. at Lodge and now Egg does evening menus (also Southern-ish).

I've loved the dingy Paris cafe vibe, the music and the panini at Moto (and the atmospheric J/M/Z train running overhead) but some of the servers have been a bit aloof.

Northeast a bit (in Greenpoint), I like The Queen's Hideaway, which is fun and tasty, but it's not so quick. It's more a sit down, eat and chat spot than a pause, eat and run place. But keep it in mind if you happen to be in the 'Point.

Bottom line: I like all of these places better than I like Betty. Betty's for drinkin' and dancin' these days...

Happy dining!

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3.04.2008

The Seeds of Hope Within Dank January

Ever circle a toy in a catalog with a marker and imagine your future self loving and enjoying it? I imagine a lot of kids have done something like that. Of course, these days they probably just make Amazon wishlists or send out URLs of their favorite things prior to the holidays.

Here I'll file for the "weird kid on the block" title once again. For most of my life, the end of January has always created great anticipation of the season of seed catalogs.

Marker in hand, I'd circle pages and pages of tomato seeds, lettuce seeds, peapod packs, squashes, sunflowers and mystery flower envelopes. I'd puzzle over whether bicolor, yellow or Indian corn would look better growing up along our garage wall. I'd ponder their packs of live ladybugs and mantises. I'd grid the garden and feed the compost pit with starry-eyed anticipation.

I wonder now if seeds helped those ancient generations of pioneers survive cold northern winters prior to the age of reliable heat, merino wool and internet access. I imagine them looking at their seeds, dreaming about their summer gardens and filling up with hope, even during long months passed with nothing more than grandma's root vegetables and one unending game of gin rummy.

I know some of my darkest, dankest, most hopeless days of winter were annually made colorful and vivacious with pages of plantable potential. After all, hope is really what seed catalogs are all about.

Tragically, my Brooklyn apartment does not come equipped with a garden, and my Januaries tick-tick-tick along without those life-restoring seed catalogs.

CSA lettuces
Beginning of the CSA summer season

But lo! There's still joyful options for sad, cold city dwellers lacking access to both personal and community gardens. For me, hope arrives now in the form of my CSA, which I'm happy to report, I signed up for this very evening.

For any who don't know, a CSA is a community supported agriculture group, which essentially works like buying stock in a farm at the beginning of the growing season. CSA members (the investors) pony up some cash and determine their terms. The farmers return dividends over the course of the season in veggies and also sometimes (if the farmer/s have relationships with other nearby farms) fruit, farm-fresh eggs or meat and flowers.

Like the stock market, the vegetable market is variable and returns are not guaranteed. Sometimes there's nothing but lettuce. Sometimes the lettuce gets washed away and it's all kale and kohlrabi. It helps to have a good attitude about adventurous eating before joining a CSA.

Different CSAs are run differently, of course, but as half-share member of the amazingly well-organized Greenpoint-Williamsburg CSA for this season, I'll pick up my goodies once every other week from mid-June through mid-November at the appointed location and I'll volunteer for a distribution shift at some point during the season.

There's also the option of going on a field trip to the farm that's supplying my veggies, and there's apparently some other social occasions (Kohlrabi fest?) during the year.


Close of the CSA summer season

No, I won't be paging through seed catalogs this year, and I won't be plotting out my garden patch. I won't be puzzling over how to keep my beneficial insects from flying over into the neighbor's garden instead of eating the fat little aphids in my garden.

Chris and Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht will be doing all that. But I'm still supporting a sustainable, certified organic business and enjoying very competitively priced local fruit and veggies picked fresh off the farm. I'll pick up 12 nifty shipments filled up with color and flavor and life. And actually, I get nearly the same happy tingle of late-January hope just thinking about that.

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1.30.2008

The Hipster/Domesticity Link


Enid's (2nd Annual) Apple Pie Contest

I imagine being a hipster must be so trying. I mean, the trend-spotting, look-innovating, show-hopping (so you can be the first to be bored by any given up-and-coming band), cheap-beer drinking and “I’m so done with all the mainstream bullshit” attitude maintenance must be exhausting.

That same cool-factor fatigue must account for the packed house last night at Enid’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (oh-so close to nearly-played-out Williamsburg) for their 2nd Annual Apple Pie Contest. Enid’s, home of cheap beer, satisfying Southern-style brunches, old-school arcade games and hipsters aplenty.

I brought a pie, thinking the competition would be easy pickin’s. I mean, please… I live food and couldn’t imagine the Enid’s population in my neighborhood producing much more than frozen pies and limp little tarts on a random Tuesday night.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Through that double-door poured pies. All kinds of pies. Guys with bushy beards and tight cardigan sweaters carrying pies. Girls with dresses over jeans (yeah, I know you hate that look, K…) carrying pies. Cute little gay boys with their boyfriends carrying pies. At least twenty pies and a half-dozen judges. Everything from a cream-topped apple-peanut butter pie to a domed dessert with a Halloween-pumpkin style face (that one took top honors… damn good!).
Flat pies with crumble tops, one in a casserole dish, and an apple-pizza pie with olives and sausage (surprisingly nice).

The judges tasted. They tested. They rated. They raved. They convened, argued, re-tasted and reconvened. My own humble pie was among the group of re-tastings. The roomie squealed in delight as they picked at the crust and sampled an apple chunk.

I analyzed the judges with a fellow pie-maker, Mason (co-father of the PB-Apple pie), who observed, “It seems like hipsters are really into domesticity lately. Everyone I know is knitting or crocheting and baking. I mean, look around.” Indeed. The place was chock-full of the hip. They circled the pie table like sharks with plastic forks, waiting impatiently to dive in for the kill.

My pie (Granny Smith and Macintosh apples, standard crust, pastry vines and berries with an egg-wash and sprinkled turbinado sugar on top) garnered the “prettiest pie” prize… a title with honor, a T-shirt and two drink tickets.

The winner, one of those bushy-bearded lanky guys in Mason’s posse, looked dizzy with excitement. He gripped his recycled bowling trophy and free brunch tickets. He grinned like a child. And lucky for me, he happily spilled his pie-making secrets with all the passion of a hipster who’s found the coolest new thing.

All I can say is: I’m ready for next year.

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10.26.2004