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).
Yesterday was glorious, and I made all sorts of spring cleaning-y progress in the garden, including spreading some leftover compost on a few beds and doing some early planting. This year is a late one—some beds still have frozen soil—but for the most part it’s all workable and good to go. Last year’s parsnips are as sweet as bananas, especially with some of the homemade maple syrup; the last batch went a bit long on the stove and became a surpassingly splendid burnt caramel with many possible applications. I’ll have a post or two elaborating on that combination at some point soon.
This bowl is the third in the new set; it’s an almost disaster that I salvaged into a candy dish sort of thing with a flat bottom. My limited skill on the wheel is greatly enhanced by my post-wheel surgical chops and willingness both to coax things back from the brink and celebrate their lopsided uniqueness. I suspect that after I throw a hundred more I will be a lot less precious about the process. In any case, this duck confit made a worthy passenger for the bowl’s maiden voyage.