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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Canterbury and Teddy

When we travel, at our destination we love finding out of the way places that locals love and frequent.

While we try to do a little on-line research before the trip to find locations to visit or eat, we have always found the best places through recommendations from residents - mostly from people who work in the local shops. Do you find that to be true, too?

Canterbury's Historic Oyster Bar and Grill in Nassau County, Long Island New York, was one of those places recommended by three locals we chatted with. With three referrals, it sounded like a good bet that it'd be just what we were looking for!

We arrived at lunch, just as the place opened. What personality (there was a Teddy Roosevelt thing going on :)! But while we do love great ambiance, we love good food more. Was the food going to be as good?! We hoped so!

The menu had a ton of delectable looking selections. We didn't order huge meals since we were planning to meet up with family later that evening for a grand, home cooked dinner (and I like to leave a lot of stomach real estate open for good, home cooked food).

We split the fried calamari, rustic field and grain vegetable platter, and Canterbury pastrami sandwich. Really delicious! Calamari was meaty and crunchy, and served with a yummy red sauce. The veggie's were cooked just right - still crunchy, and the hummus was garlicky and creamy. The pastrami is a Canterbury specialty, and it was piled high with meat and loaded with sauerkraut, spicy Dijon, and sharp melted Swiss. YUM.

So, so good! We might have to go back with friends on our next NY visit.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Amy's Garden

A few weekends ago on a post rainy, cloudy summer morning I visited Amy's Garden in Charles City.

I was so incredibly drawn to this beautiful place for a couple of reasons.

I believe in what Amy is doing. I believe that good, wholesome food is important and I love that she is working so hard to bring it to our community. Amy and her family farm 10 acres of organic food and flowers and deliver everything to farmer's markets and grocery stores.

Being there also brought back fond memories I have of summer visits with my grandfather. There, he lived on acres and acres of land and grew almost all of his own food and raised pigs and cows. I can still remember the high "mystery" surrounding the slaughter of a hog (I wasn't allowed to actually witness that part) and later seeing its severed head plopped up on a barrel next to the barn. Even then I realized that what I was seeing was sustenance for family for the next month. No worries. Besides, I'm a meat eater from way back. That was good looking bacon to me.

I was a young kid then who's normal life consisted of cement sidewalks, city traffic, and frequent short walks through the urban jungle to get to the corner grocery story. So these visits to "the wilderness" every summer were exotic, hypnotic…breathtaking, to me.

I'd run around the fields surrounding his modest home and play from morning until night barely stopping to eat except for the three squares that my grandmother called us in for. Snacks between those meals were likely pulled from a nearby fruit tree or bush. I can still remember plucking handfuls of berries from prolific blueberry bushes until I was ready to burst! These are some of my favorite summer memories!

Good times.

And on our next trip to the grocery store, Amy was there!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sage Cocktail

To help celebrate Jul 4, we made the best cocktail. I couldn't help but duplicate decorating the glass with the suggested garnish just like the recipe. The whole blackberry was good to eat after the drink went down. This would be a great drink to serve at Christmas not only for the colors, but for the warm and earthly flavor that would surely take the chill out of the bones on a cold night.

What caught my eye about this cocktail recipe was the simple syrup made from fresh sage, sugar, and water (and you probably know, we have a TON of fresh sage). And of course fresh blackberries as an ingredient reeled me in.

The recipe made a lot more syrup than we needed for two drinks. I put the rest of it in the fridge and now am trying to find other recipes where it can be used. No doubt that cocktail will be made a couple more times :).  The syrup keeps in the fridge for up to 30 days.

Today I added it to iced tea - surprisingly, it was so rich, earthy and good!! I wasn't sure if sage tea would be my "cup of tea", but it was spot on. It had a subtle sage flavor, and was really different.

I'd love to add it to a baked good of some kind if I had the time to figure out how to substitute it for other ingredients. The syrup would need to replace some liquid in the recipe, as well as any sweetener.

So I'm hooked on simple syrups because it's another way I can use my herbs. I'll make a few different syrups with some of our abundant mint or lemon verbena (or maybe basil?), which I think will be terrific in either cold or hot tea.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Edible in Bed 32

When we started "gardening", a few of our friends couldn't understand why we'd want to go through all the trouble. After all, for the sake of simplicity, we moved from a too-big-house in the 'burbs to a just-right-size condo near the city closer to both of our jobs and closer to where we spend most of our time.

And guess what? That simplicity, our change (drastic change) in lifestyle, has given us more time to do what we love. More time to do what matters in all kinds of ways. 

Planting a modest herb bed is one of those ways. And we it love because it is so good for us - we get super fresh herbs (farm-to-table is always healthier), it's less expensive (we bought a lot of herbs at the ridiculous price of $2-$3 a package), and we meet the nicest people who are tending their own little beds and talk smack about the advantages of hardwood mulch vs pine bark mulch or of composting vs store bought fertilizers.

And, goodness gracious, we're reaping the fruits of our labor from Bed 32!!

Tons of basil, mint, sage, thyme, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, peppery nasturtium flowers (for salads - yum) and everything else in between.

The other day I was pulling weeds (10 minutes a week if I keep it up) and took a few iPhone snaps.

All of these plants were no more than a few delicate leaves sticking out of the ground not that long ago!

We're using the herbs in creative ways - ways we never would have considered if buying from the store. Some of our salads are composed of nearly all herbs - so good!