Apart from a couple of gloriously warm days, winter’s death throes have been pretty assertively shitty. On Monday, the first day of sugaring, the sun felt warm enough that I was able to work outside for a few hours as I tended the fire and kept an eye on the sap’s progress so Danny could mix a record inside. The fire needs stoking every twenty minutes to maintain a rolling boil; that’s not a long enough interval for him to sink into his magic studio reverie, but it’s easy for me to get up from the laptop and throw a few logs in between sentences. And I obviously have my author photo taken care of, so there’s that.
Despite the fact that it looks fairly glacial around these parts, signs of the impending thaw can be seen everywhere. Actual bare ground is visible at the edges of roads, where the plow scraped wide and the sun-warmed asphalt shares the love with a slightly broader margin every day. Even a winter as mighty as this one can’t fight the light; it’s reaching spots that haven’t felt it since around Columbus Day. The upside to these arctic days we’ve been saddled with has been the cleanest, clearest air on the planet: cloudless, endless azure framing a sun that gets higher and warmer every day.
The new issue of Edible Hudson Valley is out, and it includes a piece I wrote and photographed about Coppersea distillery. This one was quite a while in the making; after my first visit, we decided to push the piece because of all the local press that attended their debut. Then, I insisted that we wait longer still so that their new 75-acre farm would be available for gratuitous sunset pictures like the one above. As a result, I ended up stopping by four or five times over the course of two years and developing a pretty good sense of the people and the product line, as well as the ways in which they all have evolved since the business began.
The Fish & Game fall newsletter is out today. I spent a pretty rewarding October on several short trips to gather images and information for this, and by extension for the book: a short flight up the river to Hudson at between 500 and 1500 feet for some foliage shots, an overnight jaunt to Ithaca for the grain piece, and a lovely three days in Portland, Maine meeting and photographing some shellfish farmers and the wholesaler who provides the restaurant with such sterling seafood.
The container of bones, a more or less permanent denizen of the fridge, was particularly full recently; I had grilled a couple of chickens on a lovely afternoon when some friends came over and there were also two beef bones from a decadent ribeye dinner a few evenings prior. There aren’t a lot of bones that make better stock than grilled chicken, and the addition of some deep beefiness to that flavor was too tempting to resist. I needed to make ramen.
While the garden is just beginning—tiny sprouts popping up over the last couple of days in the early beds—the lawn is nobly stepping up to shoulder the verdant burden of providing actual green things with which to adorn our dinner these days. The chervil deserves mention, since it always bounces back from winter faster than anything else, and provides great garnishes right out of the gate, but the wild garlic takes the prize for the most useful wild plant in both early spring and late fall (and winter, really, as long as there’s not so much snow that it can’t be seen).