John Muir —
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.
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photos by gluttonforlife

4.13.17 Born Again

Since the last time I wrote, just a few weeks ago, spring has arrived. Even now, a plague of iridescent grackles is strutting about the yard, two robins are colliding mid-air in a mating dance and the forsythia at the end of the drive is about to burst forth in a cloud of screaming yellow flowers. At night the racket made by the frogs is barely audible above the whoosh of rushing water, as every creek, brook and stream overflows from the snow melt and recent rains. Like the fiddleheads in their papery skins, I, too, am beginning to unfold and turn my face toward the sun. From the searching introspection of my darkest winter days has come a bright vision of the future. I have renewed optimism and my energies are focused on a new idea: The Outside Institute. I'm excited to share with you this fledgling venture that seems to be taking on momentum as the weather warms and the days grow longer.


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SPECIAL EVENT —
Join me this Saturday 3/18, 1-4pm, for a tasting at The Alchemist's Kitchen in NYC, 21 East 1st St!
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photo by gluttonforlife

3.16.17 Tea Time

Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be joining my friend Nini Ordoubadi of Tay Tea at The Alchemist's Kitchen in New York City this Saturday for a free tasting of her marvelous green teas. She's invited me to use them to create a couple of special non-alcoholic elixirs, so I'll be bringing some of my homemade ingredients, like wild rose petal syrup, pickled cherries and foraged chaga tincture. I would so love to see you there!

 

Stop by on Saturday, 3/18, from 1 to 4pm, at The Alchemist's Kitchen, 21 East 1st Street. 


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Susan Orlean —
A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky—unbidden—and seems like a thing of wonder.
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photos by gluttonforlife

3.14.17 Spring to Mind

As I write this, I can hear the steady thud of logs being stacked in our screened-in porch. We're expecting a major snowstorm in these parts and that requires preparation. With a fire in the hearth and soup on the stove, coziness is assured. G does firewood; I do soup. Between us, we get it done. A few warmer days last week and, despite an ensuing freeze, the butterburs emerged from beneath their blanket of pine needles. These common plants, known as petasites, belong to a genus of the sunflower family that also includes coltsfoots. Perennials with thick, creeping underground rhizomes, they spread over the years and their large, rhubarb-like leaves are fodder for slugs in the summer. But their beautiful, cold-hardy buds are a late-winter/early-spring delicacy in Japan, where Petasites japonicus, also known as fuki, grows like a weed. I was lucky enough to receive some of these plants a few years ago from my Japanese friend Tomo and they have adapted well to my garden (lots of shade and pine). 


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Filipino proverb —
Imitate the rice stalk: the more grains it bears, the lower it bows.
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photos by gluttonforlife

3.7.17 Rice Crispies

I'm not sure where I got the idea for this addictively crispy spiced rice. Did I read about it? Eat it somewhere? Was it an offshoot of my savory granola? All I know is that it satisfies my need for a crunchy garnish, which comes up surprisingly often. For soups. For salads. For yogurt parfaits. For casseroles. Croutons are out for the most part (husband is gluten-intolerant) and toasted nuts can be a bit rich. So this puffed rice—puffed millet works well, too—tossed with fat and spices and then crisped in the oven is a simple and delicious solution. I don't know about you, but I crave a mix of textures and flavors in my mouth. Something smooth and creamy cries out for a punch of acid, a contrasting crunch. My arsenal of condiments and garnishes is always stocked with chutneys, pickles, syrups, oils, hot sauces and salts to add punctuation notes to my food.  


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Jean LeCarré —
Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.
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"moonlight" on the water

2.23.17 Film Noir

The 89th Academy Awards show airs this Sunday. My husband tried to ban more than half an hour of the red carpet (he says it sours him on the whole thing), but I can assure you I will be parked in front of our enormous television to watch it in all its alarming, cringe-worthy glory. Last year it was fascinating to see how many actresses were determined not to talk about who had designed their dresses—for the first time EVER! And I confess that I'm always interested to see which of them has had surgery. I know, not very sisterly, but I'm only human.

 

The last couple of years, there has been a growing protest against the under-representation of black people in Hollywood and this year's nominations seem to reflect an attempt to address that. All of the major categories include at least one black nominee, which I gather is unprecedented. It affirms the idea that change is possible, though we all see how vigilant we have to be to protect any progress that is made.

 

"Moonlight," directed by Barry Jenkins from a screenplay he wrote with Tarell Alvin McCraney, and starring Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali, is perhaps one of the most poignant and moving films I have ever seen, brimming with moments of grace. It's also beautifully shot and directed. For more about it, I recommend Tony Scott's review in the New York Times and this insightful interview with Jenkins and McCraney on Fresh Air.


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