Wednesday, May 27, 2020

19-Day Ordeal in Hostile Environment for Two Nelson (NZ) Trampers

Today we break to share the happy news that two NZ trampers who'd been missing in the wild (and wonderful) region west of Golden Bay, Kahurangi National Park, have been rescued. 

Here's a vid we shot near Anatori, where even the gravel road ends when it runs into Kahurangi National Park. This is where the pair set off. (NZ's vast quantities of unspoiled nature take my breath away, every time.)


O'Connor, a kayak guide, and Reynolds, a chef, had set off to explore the remote, beautiful and unforgiving Anatori area on Golden Bay's remote West Coast.
However, after leaving on May 9, the pair got into trouble early on...
It was believed Reynolds and O'Connor became lost within the first days of their trip due to fog. Read more here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Covid Cafe: Refrigerator Pickles + Eggplant, Feta, and Lemon Tart

This crazy dogwood it setting up buds
(you'll see what I mean by crazy when it blooms)

We are all a hungry bunch, it seems. Are you still eating out there? Send us your snaps with a little info on what you made. No food is too modest! Holly and Rob return today with a really nice refrigerator pickle and an eggplant, feta, and lemon tart.

Brats on the grill

Rob's been busy in his kitchen. He writes: Saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen this morning and thought I would give it a try. (Deb at Smitten Kitchen notes: These are refrigerator pickles; no canning/vacuum seals/sterilized jars needed. You simply keep them in the fridge, where they will last for up to a month.)

Red, yellow, and orange peppers, some radish, carrots, and cabbage.

Into mason jars, ready for the pickling solution.

Pour the solution over and screw the cap on

I’m going to let these babies sit for at least a week in the fridge...

Sing along: Longest Time - Quarantine Edition

Holly had only good things to say about this beauty.

Recipe? Yes of course...

What we're drinking
Since January when we first read about the pandemic we've been sipping hot ginger root tea, made by slicing fresh ginger and boiling it. Now that summer's arrived, I keep it in a Ball jar in the fridge and blend with fizzy water and a little lemon.


The Woodpecker

by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

The woodpecker pecked out a little round hole
And made him a house in the telephone pole.
One day when I watched he poked out his head,
And he had on a hood and a collar of red.
When the streams of rain pour out of the sky,
And the sparkles of lightning go flashing by,
And the big, big wheels of thunder roll,
He can snuggle back in the telephone pole.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Covid Cafe: Memorial Day in Memorium

NYT front page yesterday listing 1000 names of people who died of Covid-19
(1% of the total)
modified to make a point 
source unknown

Neko Case 
This Tornado Loves You


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Covid Cafe: Madoline Practice Continues

Gwen's practicing with her new mandoline, chefs, and she returns today to update us. Just FYI, she did not cut the cedar slabs below...

Gwen writes: My first attempt with my Super Benriner Mandoline was a french-fry cut (apparently a plus as far as my husband was concerned). Unfortunately, the potato did not cut well. But I’m not throwing in the tea towel just yet. I've decided the problem could have been that the potato needed to be cut smaller or in some way differently.

In the meantime, I was able to slice eggplant and beets without a problem. The thin shave, creating a different shape of vegetable, is a nice alternate texture and not something I could have done with a knife.

Dinner was:
--Beef with onion, allspice, olive oil, lemon and garlic
--Grilled eggplant with olive oil, tomato and, feta
--Rice with chickpeas, lemon peel, onion, garlic, parsley and olive oil
--Yogurt with cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, mint and, lemon and...harissa (hot sauce)


Another mandoline success: apples shaved to top a cherry tart and that worked well.
Looking forward to more practice!

(I am standing outside your back door with a dish for leftovers...)

Rob walks Chicago: spring morning

From Chinese poet Li Po 
On Drinking Alone by Moonlight
Here are flowers and here is wine, but where’s a friend with me to join
Hand in hand and heart to heart in one full cup before we part?
Rather than to drink alone I’ll make bold to ask the moon
To condescend to lend her face the hour and the scene to grace.
Lo, she answers, and she brings my shadow on her silver wings;
That makes three, and we shall be, I ween, a merry company.
The modest moon declines the cup, but shadow promptly takes it up,
And when I dance my shadow fleet keeps measure with my flying feet.
But though the moon declines to tipple, she dances in yon shining ripple,
And when I sing, my festive song, the echoes of the moon prolong.
Say, when shall we next meet together? Surely not in cloudy weather,
For you my boon companions dear come only when the sky is clear.

Still planting

The Aurora Australis in Antarctica
Showing a full aurora and the Milky Way simultaneously

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Covid Cafe: Sopa Terra and Pickled Beets

Good day, chefs. I awoke exceedingly early today with a decidedly unseasonable taste for vegetable curry. I use this Mark Bittman chicken curry recipe to start, slicing and sauteing the onions with garlic and fresh ginger before adding double the tomatoes, double the coconut milk, triple the curry powder, and a whole host of chopped vegetables, today cauliflower, carrot, cabbage, and zucchini. No chicken.
Red cabbage makes pink curry

Make what sounds good to you. It's a holiday after all. Today Connie bring us an intriguing soup that you could make with things from a decently-stocked pantry and Rob gives us a quick lesson in pickled beets.

Sopa Terra
Connie writes: Years ago, a friend gave me a recipe for a “brown soup” she called sopa terra. It could easily be converted to suit vegetarians by using vegetable stock, though I can’t imagine it without the bacon topping. Fast and easy yet deeply satisfying.

In food processor, chop onion and garlic. Sauté in saucepan in melted butter until limp. 
Purée tomatoes in same processor (no need to clean it first) and add to onions and garlic, cooking over high heat for about 5 minutes. 
Blend beans with a bit of stock in processor and add to tomato mixture. Cook 5 more minutes. Add remaining broth and chili powder (I like a bit extra) and cook 10-15 minutes longer.  
To serve, place cubed or sliced cheese in bottom of bowl. Add hot soup and top with bacon. The hot soup melts the cheese. I like it with a few tortilla chips. 

(Ed note: and clearly with a lot of bacon!)

Sopa Terra
1 clove garlic
1 onion
3 T butter
2 med tomatoes or one can, partially drained
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp chili powder or more
1/4 pound Munster cheese, sliced or cubed
Bacon pieces

Yesterday I inter-planted these
Bumblebee cherry tomatoes with the greens

Pickled Beets
Rob sent us these pretty pix with a note: 
Fresh out of the steamer, ready to be peeled and assembled.

Beets, orange slices, sprig of rosemary, sweet vermouth, red wine, cloves, and ginger. 
Rob used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, which requires a subscription, but you can find numerous iterations online. 

These beauties are ready for the fridge and will last a month.

The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.
       The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.
       Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots. The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.

Rayando El Sol

Friday, May 22, 2020

Covid Cafe: It's All About The Slaw

How do we celebrate Memorial Day in a pandemic, chefs? Maybe same as we always have, with ribs and chicken, a gin fizz and slaw. Anyone making one of those sheet cakes decorated with fruit like a flag? Or is that fourth of July food? I'm losing track...and for some reason I have a hankering for chocolate pudding. 

Show us what you're making this long weekend...

Fetal beets,
for planting out today

I flat-out love this slaw and it's because of the dressing. Like most slaws, this one is eminently adjustable, but I recommend trying the dressing as written the first time. Our good pal Rob has been making this for 10+ years and we're always delighted to have it on the table.

For the bulk,
cabbage or a variety of chopped veggies

Blackberry Farm’s Sweet and Spicy Foothills Coleslaw (aka Rob's Slaw)

For maximum crunch, this zippy variation on classic coleslaw should be made no more than 2 hours before serving.


  • 3 Tbs. Dijon mustard 
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
  • 3 Tbs. malt vinegar 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. mustard seed oil or very spicy mustard such as English or German 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste 
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 3 cups thinly sliced red cabbage 
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage 
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots 
  • 3/4 cup shredded red onion

In a large bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, malt vinegar, mustard seed oil, the 1 1/2 tsp. salt and the 1/4 tsp. pepper, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the mayonnaise. 

Add the red and green cabbages, the carrots and onion and toss until the vegetables are coated. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Strain the coleslaw (ed note: or just increase the veggies to ten cups so you're not draining). Taste and season it with more salt or pepper if desired. Serves 6.

Adapted from The Blackberry Farm Cookbook, by Sam Beall (Clarkson Potter, 2009).

Well, it’s not all about the slaw. Oven baked spare ribs too. I’m heading out to plant 100 vegetable starts. Thanks for reading today's abbreviated Covid Cafe...