Archives for posts with tag: Pelkeys

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“I like to hang out with people who make me forget to look at my phone.”
-quote I heard recently

I’m in the middle of my summer sabbatical. As some of you know, each summer I take time off from my life in New York City and retreat to my on-again off-again childhood home of Vermont. This is the loveliest time of year in one of the loveliest places on earth. (That’s a fact by the way, not some silly opinion; seriously, check wikipedia.) The Champlain Valley of Vermont: the western side of the state, close to Lake Champlain, and not as far north as you can get, but pretty up there. It is where my heart feels most at home, most at ease. My father and stepmother have the good fortune of calling this place home year round. Up here in the summer I can swim in their pond, shower outside under the stars, read in the hammock on the back porch, and this month, play—or attempt to play—with the three new kittens that were born in their garage. We pick chard and kale and cukes and tomatoes and dill and basil from the garden.

It’s been a good summer for me so far but not without its challenges. I have been working harder than almost any other time in the past few years, while also tending to a tender heart. As you may have noticed I have not been too focused on making or writing about food and I miss it. Although I am editing a cookbook this summer and it’s been both a great pleasure and challenge and once I’m done with the manuscript can hopefully share some of the recipes here.

The only hitch in these lovely summer sojourns is that my time in Vermont must come to an end, and as much as I like Brooklyn, I never want to return to my 400-square-foot apartment or riding the subway or meetings or general lack of lakes to swim in.

While up here though, I, on occasion, leave what we call “the compound,” and venture out to swim in the lake, meet friends for dinner at Black Sheep Bistro, get pastries at Vergennes Laundry, shop at the Middlebury Food Coop (where I worked in high school!), eat ice cream at Lulu’s in Bristol (slumdog millionaire ice cream flavor anyone?), or, like I did today, go blueberry picking. Pelkey’s is the go-to place to pick blueberries in this part of the state in August. I’ve been doing it every summer for the last number of years in a row. Here’s a blueberry cobbler recipe on my blog from July 2011 (and an unrelated potato and green bean salad from July 2012, and a summer roundup from Vermont in August 2012).
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I picked six pounds of blueberries today in just under an hour. I would have stayed and picked double that but I was with friends including a one-year-old in need of a nap and it was about 85 degrees and I was without a hat to block the sun. So, what to make with all these blueberries? My friend Emmanuelle gave me a great idea the other day: Nigel Slater’s Cake for Midsummer, a not-too-sweet peach-and-blueberry inflected cake with hints of almond and orange zest. Slater, being from the UK, writes in the metric system of course, but so does the chef I’m working with and so metric to imperial conversions have become a snap for me.

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A Midsummer Cake

adapted from Nigel Slater
serves 8–10

175 grams unsalted butter, room temp (about 1 1/2 sticks)
175 grams sugar (orig. recipe, I reduced to 2/3 cup and used half white half brown sugar)
2 large eggs
175 grams flour (approx. 1 1/4 cup)
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
100 grams ground almonds (scant 1 cup)*
1 tsp grated orange zest + splash of orange juice
a few drops of vanilla extract
200 grams ripe peaches, roughly chopped (1 peach)
150 grams blueberries (approx. 1 cup)

Grease and flour an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius).

Using an electric or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. (Use good butter if you can, it makes a difference here in the flavor.) One by one add the eggs and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and almonds then add, gradually, to the butter and sugar mixture. Add the orange zest, splash of juice, vanilla, and incorporate. Then fold in the chopped peaches and blueberries.

Transfer the mixture to the cake pan and bake for 50 minutes to an hour and ten minutes, depending on the size of your pan. My 9-inch pan required about a 57-minute baking time. An 8-inch pan might take an extra five minutes or so. Stick a toothpick in and it should come out clean. Let the cake cool before sliding it out onto a serving plate. Some unsweetened freshly whipped cream would be a nice accompaniment, as would a strong cup of tea.

*I think a neat substitution would be cornmeal in place of the almonds. Or, buckwheat flour in place of the all-purpose flour.

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And I’m back!

My three-week summer sojourn came to a close this Sunday when I returned to Brooklyn. My travels took me to Vermont; Northampton, Mass.; Woodstock, NY; Philly; and a stop-over in Westchester for a weekend-long Indian-Domincan wedding on the Long Island Sound with lots of teary speeches, delicious dahl, and of course, dancing. Each guest got his or her own mason jar to drink from.

The following day, on our way up to Woodstock for Jivamukti’s annual August yoga retreat, Melony and I got off the Thruway just so I could go to Lagusta’s Luscious, a vegan chocolate shop in New Paltz. I’ve been reading Lagusta’s blog, Resistance is Fertile, for the past year and told myself the next time I pass through NP I’d have to stop by. We pulled in when a downpour began, and picked up the almond and lavender cupcake below—which we ate in the car—in addition to a few chocolate truffles. All vegan and sooo good.

I always love my time in Vermont and this last visit was no exception. With sun gold tomatoes ripening in the garden, swimming holes around every bend in the road, bon fires in the mountains, and a mangy mutt at my side (my sister’s dog Julius), my two weeks in the Champlain Valley were a summer idyll. As much as I love ocean (Fire Island, the North Fork), there’s no place I rather be in the summertime than Vermont and Lake Champlain.

I was lucky to be there for blubbery season, a good two or three weeks earlier than previous years because of the dry, hot summer Vermont’s been having. My sister and I picked seven pounds of blueberries at Pelkey’s in Charlotte, with my friends Aimee and Matt in tow from Brooklyn. Once home, some got frozen, but most got eaten.

One evening my friend Kate came over with lamb from Duclos Sheep Farm in Weybridge. We wanted to grill lamb burgers for dinner, served with a salad of tomatoes, cukes, and corn, all from the garden except the corn which I got up the road.

We prepared the burgers with a generous spoonful of goat cheese in the middle. I chopped up some fresh herbs from the garden (parsley, mint, chives) and blended with the cheese before filling the burgers.

 

You make really thin patties, place a spoonful of the herbed cheese on top of each one, then place another thin patty on top, pinching the edges to make for one seamless burger. When grilled they are delicious — we got rained out on that particular evening so made do with browning them in a cast-iron skillet on the stove then finishing them off in the oven at 400 degrees. We served them on baguettes with pickled tomatoes.

I was more than happy to come home to NYC for Monday night’s concert of The Very Best and Seye at the Gramercy Theatre. Here’s a link to a 30-second video I took at the show, it gives you a sense of how much fun they’re having on stage.

The Very Best is an Afro-Pop duo that has an infectious, joyous, jubilant, bouncy quality to their songs. The front man is Malawian, and his DJ/producer is from Sweden. Seye, a British-Nigerian musician, is along for the tour.

Yesterday began a month-long trial as per my naturopath to get to the bottom of some health stuff. This means, for four weeks, no wheat, dairy, soy, corn, caffeine, refined sugar, eggs, citrus fruits, or seafood. At least I get to take advantage of the best month all year at the farmer’s market. I’ll be eating lots of  greens, peaches, plums, tomatoes, beets, blackberries, eggplant, cabbage, melon, fresh herbs. If I can come up with an enticing enough recipe that excludes all the things on my do-not-eat list I’ll be sure to mention it here. (I’m thinking a peach pie with gluten-free crust, coconut oil instead of dairy, and no sugar…)

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