Butternuts, Hen, & Grains Week in NYC

This has been such a mild November that I’m still harvesting raspberries and herbs in the garden. I also found some hen (hen of the woods a.k.a. maitake mushroom) in Prospect Park a week and a half ago, along with some oysters (oyster mushrooms). There was way more of the Grifola frondosa (hen) than I could carry home, so I was happy to share the location with Ellen.


I froze some of my haul. Unlike other mushrooms that should be sauteed in butter or oil before freezing, hen of the woods can be simply chopped up and frozen raw. But my freezer is overstuffed at this time of year, so I dried most of the mushrooms.

Fall is one of my busiest times of year, but fortunately it’s also when I’ve got the most home-preserved foods on hand. That makes being an urban locavore much easier. Most of my meals make use of at least one pantry ingredient. On the mornings when I have to be out the door by 7:30 a.m., I usually eat breakfast on the train. Recently I’ve been grabbing some of my dried apples


to go with the butternuts I finally got around to shelling last week. The butternuts were a foraging find last month. This is what they look like when they are hulled but not yet shelled. Note the distinctive pointy “beak,” which is part of the ID for butternut:


But today I had a little more time, so I made a quesadilla with Ronnybrook cheese, a few of the chile peppers I preserved in vinegar,

pickledpepperscilantro from the garden, and Hot Bread Kitchen‘s tortillas made from locally grown corn. Yum!


Speaking of locally grown grain, this is Greenmarket Grains Week in NYC. As of this year, Greenmarket vendors selling baked goods are required to use at least 15% locally grown flour in their products. Neat, right? Though I’d like it if the percentage became even higher. There are interesting regional grain-related events and cooking demos going on through this coming Sunday 21st.

The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes

On Facebook and Twitter

End of the Season & Almost Stocked Up for Winter

This week was the last of our weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) distributions for 2010. Here’s a fellow member picking up her share, csa10and here I am on Site Coordinator duty. I’m hauling the pole we hook the hanging scale on.csapole

Just two days after picking up my CSA share, I went to a potluck thrown by Brooklyn Food Coalition members. I brought agrodulce Delicata squash (a nice potluck dish because it’s just as good at room temperature as warm). Entertainment was provided by the son of one of the members. Here is Benjamin treating us to the Blues:

benjaminAt the BFC potluck, there was a fundraising table set up by the Bed-Stuy Farm Share. Their farmer’s barn burned down a couple of weeks ago to the tune of thousands of dollars in damages. So the farm share members were trying to raise a little money to help the farmer by selling some of the leftover produce from their distribution the day before. Having recently picked up my CSA share, I really didn’t need any more fruits or vegetables. But I wanted to help out, so I bought the equivalent of a week’s share. I’ll be doing a lot of food preservation projects this weekend to make sure none of it goes to waste!

My “pantry” is almost as full as I want it to be before winter hits. I’m still harvesting and drying herbs from the garden and oyster mushrooms from the park. I found some butternuts out on Long Island, and gingko nut season is in full swing (tip: do not bring the putrid-smelling orange pulp home with you. Squish that off on the spot–wearing plastic gloves or a plastic bag over your hands–and just bring home the seed kernel).

But the harvest season is winding down, no question about it.


I’ve been enjoying the fall foliage, both on the street trees and up at The New York Botanical Garden where I was teaching last week. Besides the glorious trees, at NYBG there were also some massive pumpkins being carved into fantastic faces and figures:

giantjackMy last Food Preservation class for 2010 is next Saturday 13th at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The class is almost sold out, but you may be able to register for the couple of remaining spots here.

Hope you’re enjoying Fall and the tail end of the harvest season as much as I am!ffoliagesm

The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes

Leda on Facebook and Twitter