Monday, September 21, 2020

Hen-of-the-Woods #1

 This is a photo of me at the moment I found my first hen-of-the-woods.  It was sitting at the base of an old oak tree at a bend in the trail, staring right at me.  It wanted to be found.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Mushrooms of Northwestern Massachusetts

We went on a long, easy hike in the Mt. Greylock area last weekend on a cool morning a few days after some rainfall.  We filled our packs with some choice edible mushrooms.

King Boletes:

Honey Mushrooms:

  These Birch Polypores aren't for the table, but they were extremely beautiful:

We also visited a trusty Chicken-of-the-Woods spot and found a nice bunch.  I got too excited though and forgot to take a photo!  Until next time...

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Peperonata for Breakfast

It's late summer and peppers are abundant at the market.  A few sweet specimens, sliced with an onion and cooked slowly in olive oil, made a delicious breakfast with a few fried eggs this morning.  I added some fresh oregano and a small plum tomato for a lark.

2-3 sweet peppers (preferably a combination of yellow, red, and orange), thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 plum tomato, chopped
chili flakes
olive oil
3 eggs

Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the peppers and onion and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until softened, then lower the heat to medium-low.  You don't want to create much if any browning--just slowly cook the peppers and onions to coax all of the sweetness out of them, for about 20 minutes.  Stop here if you wish, or add garlic, chili flakes, and a pinch of fresh oregano, stir for a minute, and then add the chopped tomato and another pinch of salt.  Raise the heat to medium and cook for another 10 minutes or so until the tomato has softened.  Top with a few fried eggs!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Harriman State Park / Cinnabar Chanterelles

 What a beautiful morning in Harriman State Park yesterday!  There was a distinct whisper of Fall in the air, especially along this ridgeline:

I wish I had gotten a photo of this cluster of cinnabar chanterelles before we excitedly picked them--they were so vibrant popping up out of the soil.  These will find their way into some scrambled eggs tomorrow morning:

Friday, August 21, 2020

Hake with Peppers & Onions


This recipe was adapted from Melissa Clark via the NYTimes:

I used hake, but this would work well with any thin filet of white flaky fish.  The cooking method is very straightforward, quick and clean.  Great for a weeknight and great for this time of year when there are a variety of delicious sweet peppers available at the market.  For this recipe I used Carmens and Jimmy Nardellos.

1lb hake
3-4 sweet peppers, sliced thinly
1 medium onion
Handful of black olives, chopped
Handful of sungold tomatoes
A few thyme sprigs
Parsley, chopped
Basil, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Pinch of chile flakes
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400.  Rub the fish with a little olive oil, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with thyme leaves.

Thinly slice peppers & onion, toss with olive oil, salt & pepper, and place on a sheet pan.  Top with thyme sprigs.  Roast for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven up to 500.  Move the peppers & onions to the perimeter of the sheet pan and place the fish in the center.  Top with the olives & sungolds and a drizzle of olive oil and salt.  Roast for about 10 minutes or until the fish is firm and opaque.

Meanwhile, make a pesto--chop the parsley, basil, and garlic clove finely.  Add olive oil and a splash of apple cider vinegar.  Add sea salt, some black pepper, and a pinch of chile flakes.  You should strive to create a nice drizzle-able consistency. 

Remove the sheet pan from the oven.  Discard the thyme stems.  Serve, spooning the pesto over the fish & peppers.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Views from the White Mountains

 From the summit of Mt. Osceola in the clouds:

From the Welch-Dickey Loop:

Crawford Notch from the summit of Mt. Willard:

George Howell La Encenada Medium


Method: Pour-over (Bee House dripper)

Ratio: 23g coffee/380g water

This Guatemalan coffee comes from a group of 11 farmers sharing terroir--the beans are blended and roasted together.  This coffee is at the darker end of a medium roast.  Lots of chocolate with a little cherry juice.  Really nice fruity aroma..  I like it.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Friday, July 31, 2020

Frittata of the Day #15

Plum tomato, broccoli, parsley, parmesan.

Curry Braised Chicken Legs

This recipe was adapted from the River Cottage Every Day cookbook.  It's warming and delicious, and will serve two people for 3 nights straight.

1tbsp cumin seeds
1tbsp coriander seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
1tbsp turmeric
1tbsp fenugreek
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green chile, chopped
3" knob of ginger, chopped
3-4tbsp coconut oil
6 chicken legs
14oz can diced tomatoes
14oz can coconut milk

Toast the seeds, grind them, combine with the other spices and set aside.
Combine the onion, garlic, chile and ginger in a food processor with a little water and blend to form a rough paste.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Add some of the oil to a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the chicken legs in batches, on all sides, seasoning with salt & pepper.  You want a nice dark golden-brown.  Set the legs aside and pour off some of the fat.

Turn the heat down to medium, add more coconut oil if necessary, and add the onion paste, seasoning with salt & pepper, and cook down until most of the water in the paste has evaporated.  When it starts to stick a bit, it's done.  Add the spices and toast for a minute or two.

Add about half the cans of tomatoes and coconut milk and stir to blend.  Arrange the chicken legs in the dutch oven in one layer, adding more tomato & coconut milk as needed to bring the liquid up 2/3 to the top of the chicken legs.  You don't want them fully submerged. 

Bring the liquid up to a nice bubble, then bake uncovered for about 1 hour or until the chicken is fully cooked and beautifully browned.

Serve with collard greens or curried kale, perhaps, with some of the sauce spooned over the chicken.

Monday, July 13, 2020


I spent 4th of July in Northwestern Massachusetts.  Spotted these Chicken-of-the-Woods on a long hike up Mt. Greylock:

These were the first mushrooms I've ever foraged.  I took enough to share--they were delicious on the grill!

Frittata of the Day #12

Eggplant, zucchini, paneer, basil.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Beef Chili

2lbs ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, diced
3 chilis, green or red, fresh or dried, or a mix--diced
1tbsp chili powder
1tbsp cumin seed, toasted & ground
1tbsp dried oregano
1tsp cocoa powder (optional)
14oz can diced tomatoes or 4 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
3 cups beef stock
olive oil
small bunch of cilantro, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
sour cream (optional)
shredded cheese (optional)
avocado (optional)

First, brown the beef.  Add 1tbsp olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven and heat to medium-high.  Add the beef in batches, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Season it with salt and pepper.  Once the beef is browned, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan as needed, lower the heat to medium, and add the onions.  If you're using fresh chilis, add them here.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are soft and golden.  Lower the heat a bit, and add the garlic, spices, and dried chilis (if using).  Stir to coat for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, more salt and pepper, and raise the heat back to medium.  Cook for a few minutes to let everything meld, and then add the beef back to the pot.  Stir, and add beef stock to cover.  You may or may not need the entire 3 cups.  Reserve what you don't need.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then partially cover and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for at least an hour and a half, topping off with more beef stock if necessary.  Stir in the cilantro, adjust the seasoning, and serve, topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, a squeeze of lime, and more cilantro.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Frittata of the Day #11

Zoodles, summer squash, parmesan.

Barefoot Hiking Boots

My feet have been way happier on long hikes since I made the switch to barefoot boots.  These are Xero Xcursions--zero drop, waterproof, nice & wide toe box.  They have enough of a sole to hold up on rocky terrain but you can still feel the earth beneath your feet--very nice walking on the soft floor of a pine forest.

Xero Shoes

Friday, June 26, 2020

Blistered Shishito Peppers

This is one of my favorite treats of summer.  Simply: heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the shishitos, toss with sea salt, and sautee until they start to blacken and deflate a little, about 5-8 minutes.  You may have to remove some of the smaller peppers first as they will blister a bit faster.  That's it, now eat them seeds and all (just don't eat the stems).  About 1 in 10 of these will be pretty spicy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Bacon, Onions & Olives

I borrowed this recipe from Canal House Cooking Vol. 3 (Winter & Spring).  It's been kind of a staple around here lately, especially when the fridge is on the emptier side.  The sesame seeds are my own addition.  This recipe will work with boneless chicken thighs but it won't be as good!

4 Chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on!
3-4 strips of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 cup of green olives, pitted and chopped
2 tbsps olive oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Splash of vinegar of your choice 

Season chicken thighs with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and let them come up to room temperature while you get everything else ready. 

Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the bacon and let the fat render for a few minutes.  Add the onion and season with salt & pepper.  Let the onion soften but don't let it quite brown--it's going to cook a little more as the recipe continues.  Add the garlic clove and stir.

Move the onion, garlic, and bacon to the outer edges of the pan to make room for the chicken thighs, then place the thighs skin-side down in the center of the pan.  Make sure the skin is getting good contact with the pan.  Cook undisturbed (very important) for 20 minutes or until the skin is crispy and dark golden brown.  Turn the heat down a little if necessary to avoid burning. 

Flip the chicken thighs, spoon the onions, garlic, and bacon over the thighs, add the olives to the pile, and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until done.  Finish with a splash of vinegar and some toasted sesame seeds.

Frittata of the Day #7

Zucchini & summer squash, basil, ricotta, mozzarella.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Friday, May 29, 2020

Morning Walks

I've taken to going for walks fairly early in the morning, before 7am, when the streets are quiet(er).  It's just me, early dogwalkers, and garbagemen.  A jogger or two.  I'll make a cup of coffee, throw some weight (20# or so) in a backpack and head out.  Call it rucking if you like. 

I'm grateful to live in a neighborhood lush with foliage.  There are lots of houses with beautiful front gardens, and this Spring it's been incredible to simply watch things grow and bloom.  I notice something new every time I go out.

Sidenote: the iNaturalist app has been helpful for identifying the things I'm seeing--putting a name to a face.  This nice yellow flower, for example, is called "Creeping Buttercup".

Here are some more:

I've found it very useful to track my daily step count during these times, to try and match my activity level pre-pandemic (7000 steps per day).  I work in the restaurant industry, and I've been unemployed since things really shut down.  I noticed old aches and pains coming back with a vengeance after a couple weeks of simply taking it easy, and just the small act of making sure I get those 7000 steps in goes a long way (with or without a weighted pack).  I've realized how important walking is--it definitely meets the criterion for the "80/20" rule (80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts--walking is absolutely part of that 20%).  When I think back to periods of my life when I felt particularly limber and pain-free, I notice that, hmmm...yep, I was walking a lot at that point.

So much of life is steeped in convenience at this point.  It would be entirely possible to sustain life from the couch--ordering delivery (and even cocktails--absurd) and binge-watching Netflix all day, waiting for the world to open back up.  But our bodies are efficient, and if you don't use it, you lose it.  We actually have to intentionally introduce challenge ("load") to our lives if we want to stay strong, limber, and youthful.  This means getting outside (wear a mask), cooking your food (after walking to the farmer's market to buy your produce, perhaps), installing a pull-up bar in your home and hanging from it throughout the day--anything you can do to undermine the convenience that is seemingly always there, offering to do it for us.

Hen-of-the-Woods #1

 This is a photo of me at the moment I found my first hen-of-the-woods.  It was sitting at the base of an old oak tree at a bend in the trai...