A Locavore’s Holiday Brunch

Every year I host a holiday brunch. In my diminutive apartment, friends perch on stools, garden chairs, my oversized sofa, whatever seating I can pull together. The party always lasts hours past the end time on the e-vite, and this year was no exception.

holiday brunch guests

But this year, because of the 250-Mile Diet, my preparations took a little longer than usual. For example, I had to make the crackers to go with the quince paste and cheese because there isn’t anywhere to buy crackers made from local ingredients. That was kind of fun actually. Now I know how to make crackers.

Here’s what we ate:

holiday brunch spread

Blue Cheese Dip (made with Old Chatham’s Ewe’s Blue) with Watermelon Radishes

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Crackers with Quince Paste and Harpersfield Rosemary Tilsit

Assorted Homemade Pickles (Bread ‘n’ Butter, Cornichons, Pickled Sour Cherries, Spicy Carrot Pickles)
Wild Ginger Cookies


holiday brunch spread continued
Buttermilk Soda Bread
Old Chatham’s Hudson Valley Camembert
Agro Dolce Pumpkin
Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce and Braised Apples
Cherry Clafouti (from frozen CSA cherries)

Local wines included Shinn’s Red, Wolffer’s Chardonnay, and Paumanok’s Riesling.

There are hardly any leftovers, which I take as a compliment. But interestingly, the single most commented on food item in today’s brunch was the watermelon radishes. These are turnip-like and homely on the outside, but cut them open and they are a vivid pink. watermellon radishesThey are only available late fall, early winter, and very early spring. I served slivers of them with the dip and they looked and tasted spectacular. All I had to do was peel and slice. So there it is, folks: a simple, raw vegetable stole the show even when placed alongside much fancier foods. If that’s not an advertisement for local, seasonal eating, I don’t know what is.

holiday brunch guests2

Friends with NYC’s newest locavore, Lola

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules


Four Months In

I started my 250-Mile year four months ago. Summer and autumn in a city with over forty greenmarkets and as many CSAs make easy pickings for a locavore. But now we’ve had our first snow, the little local farmers market up the street has shut down till next year, the weekly CSA pick ups are done for the season, I used up the last of my rice, and, well, the next four months will be interesting.

I’m not worried that I’ll starve: I’ll can buy apples, root vegetables, cabbage and winter squash now through March. Local meat, eggs and dairy are available here year-round. No, the question is have I “put up” enough food to ensure variety, complete nutrition, and deliciousness until the first greens of spring? I think so, but I don’t know. My dehydrator and my pressure canner got used more this year than ever before, that’s for sure.

In this photo, the round white thing behind the sofa is my dehydrator, which I’ve named “R2″. In front of R2 is GT. GT is not on the 250-Mile Diet unless you count the mouse she proudly caught last week.

GT & R2

For now, there are still a few fresh ingredients coming in from the garden: parsley, kale, chervil and chives are cold-hardy enough to bounce back from a light snowfall, and I’m waiting for a slightly warmer day to thaw the soil so that I can dig up my Jerusalem artichokes.

On a different note, The Locavore’s Guide to NYC and Leda’s Urban Homestead were the topics of yesterday’s post at The 100 Mile Diet. And on  Thursday, Dec. 6th I’ll be on French and German TV in a spot about the local food movement in the U.S.. If you live in either of those countries, you can get a glimpse of me foraging in Prospect Park, helping out at my CSA’s distribution, and serving up a 100% local chicken mushroom gumbo to friends in my garden. The program is called TRACKS and the channel is arte. It will be on at 11pm French/German time. (If you get to watch, let me know how it is. I won’t actually get to see it until they send me a DVD sometime after it airs on Thursday).

Stay warm,



Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules