May 20, 2011

Family Photo Friday

Something a little different this week, since we're off our regular posting schedule.


Enjoying a dinner of some broccoli soup, good bread, garden asparagus, and foraged morels.

May 4, 2011

Sign of Spring - Fiddleheads

Foraged spring greens are always a delight, but I especially like learning to identify new plants.

Fiddleheads are a new one for me, and with the help of The Forager's Harvest, my new favorite wild edibles guide, Dan and I were able to correctly identify, harvest and prepare them.

We were also on the lookout for ramps (wild leeks) but did not find any on our hike today, so will continue looking next time out. The window for fiddleheads is so short, we'll likely go out again in the next couple of days to get more for fresh eating as well as freezing.

April 22, 2011

Photo Friday

 A mother-daughter project.

We both post a photo every Friday - no description, just a moment from the week we want to capture and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama's {this moment} and 3191 (blog and book).


April 19, 2011

P.S. On Eating Skate -- and an Impressively Quick Reply

Wanted to add this...because by the time I finished writing and posting the previous entry, this response was in my inbox. Incredible!

Dear Ms. Heller:
     Thank you for your inquiry regarding skate fish.  This is the response I received from our Director of Purchasing. "We source Winter Skate, not one of the species mentioned...this species is not endangered and is fished by permit only with a quotable catch to ensure its sustainability."
     We appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback.
Denise Fiore
Office Manager
Restaurant Education & Operations
The Culinary Institute of America
1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY  12538
Phone:  845.451.1547
Fax:  845.451.1094
Web Site:
Food is Life
Create and Savor Yours.™

Eating A Skate May Be A Mistake

I had a lovely time with my friend Susan touring around the Mid-Hudson Valley last weekend.
We walked the trail around the Vanderbilt Mansion and got to sit out on the rocks by the Hudson River during the few cool but sunny hours. Later, when it rained, we toured the insides of the Mansion as well as the home of FDR. Susan and I also met up with my college roommate Barbara who lives in the area.

But the main attraction of the weekend was the time that Susan and I spent at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park. We had dinner at one of the CIA restaurants, American Bounty, and took a Gourmet Meals in Minutes cooking class.

I was going to write more about both the dining and class experience. But when I googled to find an image of what I ate on Friday night, I didn't find a good photo to post but instead found some disturbing information. This is what I wrote to the CIA just now on a comment form on their website:

When I was at American Bounty last Friday, I ordered the skate fish. I had talked generally with our servers about local and sustainable foods but did not ask a specific question about this only fish on the menu. Although I had seen skates on beaches, I had never eaten one nor knew about them as edible (I have since seen the 1980 Julia Child video on cooking skate).When I returned home, I googled Skate and was dismayed to find that:
 "In 2010, Greenpeace International has added the barndoor skate, bottlenose skate, spotback skate, and maltese skate to its seafood red list. "The Greenpeace International seafood red list is a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world, and which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries." wikipedia
Could you please tell me what kind of skate was served and where and how it was caught? Any other comments about why it was chosen to be on the menu would be appreciated.
Will the CIA respond?
Have you ever eaten skate?

Next time I'll share more about the wonderful cooking class...
And dear readers -- just click on this link if you would like to view Julia Child's Skate cooking demonstration:


April 13, 2011

On Absolutism

I recently ate lunch at one of the Chinese buffets in town. When I told a new acquaintance where I was going to eat, he was extremely surprised.

I write, think, and talk a lot about sustainability and living my beliefs. I have worked hard to reduce the negative impact I have on our planet, and to increase the positive impact I have in my own community. I am working on growing and preserving more of my own food, and I buy a lot of local, bulk, and organic foods. And like everyone, I am also human.

 A mostly local breakfast with a kiwi from California

When I was vegan, people often said to me "I would be vegan if it weren't for ________," where the blank was cheese or ice cream or even bacon. I hear people make similar statements about other things "I would do x, if it weren't for y exception."

My response is always "So go for it." There are always going to be exceptions and shades of gray. If we wait until circumstances are perfect, chances are we'll never do anything. I do think commitment and follow through are important, but getting started is more important, and many people need that gradual easing in or the occasional exception.  

That's OK. Give yourself permission to not be absolute about everything, to not be perfect, to allow yourself exceptions without having to feel guilty. I enjoyed my Chinese buffet lunch, and that's OK. Those exceptions and shades of gray are all OK, as long as you are moving in the direction you want to be going. So get started. NOW.

April 11, 2011

Has Spring Sprung?

Maple syruping is done -- great season. Over 7 gallons. The lilacs are budding and the crocuses are out. The stone house is surviving. Spring is in the air.