Garlic! A garden success story (with Easy Roasted Garlic)

Garlic drying on a crate
Garlic drying on a crate

A successful garlic crop in the urban backyard depends on a lot of factors. We tell you what went right this year for us, what we might do differently, and one option for roasting your garlic once it’s harvested.

There’s a line early on in one of those first-generation text computer adventures – Colossal Cave or Zork or Adventure itself, I think – where the game asks you if you’re a wizard and what the secret incantation is, requiring that you’ve played the game already, or you’ve been told the secret by someone else who has (this was way pre-internet, remember, and this wasn’t the sort of information that libraries tended to know). If you do answer that you’re a wizard, and you get the code wrong, the game scoffs at you and tells you you’re a charlatan.

Gardening is a bit like that. Some years you feel like a wizard and some years you feel like a charlatan, like an actual wizard left you in charge of their garden and you’re just randomly throwing things into the ground and seeing what comes up. I wouldn’t say that I have an innate skill by any means, but I do have an immense amount of fun getting things to grow and gradually, slowly, learning by my mistakes and the variations of the growing season. Last year we put up straw bales for the first time, and had great success there with most of our seedlings. At the time, the raised beds that I’d been relying on were retarded by the branches and roots of nearby maples, which I took down at the end of the summer. This year, the raised beds are going gangbusters, but the straw is not so successful. On the one hand, shazam!!!, but on the other hand, ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

Chickens on guard duty!
Chickens on guard duty!

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Raising chicks: We’re All Clucked! A video diary

Beautiful Eggs
Beautiful Eggs

Raising chicks isn’t something we ever thought we’d do, and yet here we are, in our basement with a half-dozen chirping chicks on our hands. Join us to watch the fun!

Hi, woodland chums!

No recipe this week as Emily is busy with photography work, so I thought I’d “entertain” you (rarely was a word used so incorrectly with such flagrant abandon) with a little video diary of us raising chicks. Last September, we got five new chicks, and like any proud parent, I Periscoped the hell out of them for about a month before promptly dropping the whole documentary process.

Our salmon favarolles, AKA Bernie Sanders. Can you guess how she acquired this nickname?

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A lovely day in Cold Spring, NY

Cold Spring General Store
Beautiful teas at Cold Spring General Store.

A couple of weekends ago, Matt and I spent a wonderful afternoon discovering treasures in an absolutely lovely Hudson Valley town, Cold Spring, NY.

“Wait,” says a person with GoogleMaps, “Isn’t Cold Spring literally the next town over from Beacon, where you live and have lived for the last three years.”

Why yes, as it happens, that’s true. Let’s just gloss over that fact for the moment, shall we?

Cold Spring General Store
So many lovely things.

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Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Pork chops marinated in a spice brine, cooked to perfection and served with garlic-sauteed broccoli rabe and an apple-onion sauce. Chops don’t get much better than this. 

One of the things I love about living in Beacon is that it really feels like a community that is growing and changing in an interesting way. For a long time I felt this way about Brooklyn (where I had lived since the early 1990’s) but as wonderful as Brooklyn is, it’s just too damn expensive now for artists and creative people to do anything but hustle every day to make rent.

I know I’m the bazillionth person to complain about how amazing Brooklyn used to be, but I was incredibly lucky to be one of the crazy, hearty few who lived in East Williamsburg back when it was practically deserted. It was a startling, magical, bizarre, occasionally terrifying place back then, and my roommates and I had absolutely no idea what it would become.

In 1995, if you would have told me that one of the hippest restaurants in NYC was going to open two blocks away from my house, I would have laughed loudly enough to startle the poodle-sized rats that lived in the burned-out minivan abandoned outside my front door. All we knew at the time was that you could rent a 3,000 square foot loft for a few hundred dollars, but you had to install your own toilet and either evict or adopt any animals you found on the premises (I love you Special Ed).

So Beacon may not be able to boast quite the same level of grittiness (thankfully), but it does have a bit of that creatively experimental spirit. Case in point, on a rough-looking corner lot, quite a ways off Main Street, has opened one of the coolest new businesses in town, Barb’s Butchery. Run by a former math professor named Barbara Fisher, it’s exactly the kind of butcher shop you dream would open up in your neighborhood. She sources as much as possible directly from local farms and so far, everything we’ve cooked from there has been fantastic.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

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Brunch at The Hop. Finally.

The HopI’m embarrassed to admit it but Matt and I have lived in Beacon for over a year and we just made it to The Hop for the first time. It’s shameful, I know. If you haven’t heard of it,  it’s kind of a craft beer mecca, half store, half gastro-pub. They have a tiny bar with a great selection of seasonal beers on tap as well as 5 (only five!) tables where you can sit, drink and eat. Needless to say, those tables fill up fast. Coming from over-crowded Brooklyn, every time we thought about going, I pictured us standing around, stomachs gurgling, glaring at people in order to frighten them into giving up their table. You know, I seriously think I might have PTSD from years of  Williamsburg Sunday brunch plans.

This was a typical weekend event from about 1995-2002 (can you see my eye twitching as I write this?), you would wake up Sunday morning, a little hungover but quite peckish. You’d call a few friends, “Hey, come meet me at Teddy’s for brunch”, you’d say. “Sure”, they’d say. “It’s 2pm and I’m still in bed but I can be there in 2o minutes”.  You’d imagine sitting at a sunny, window-side table, the steam from your coffee wafting up delicately. Bloody Marys magically refilling themselves as you munch on the perfect poached eggs. In reality, you end up back home 8 hours later, still hungry but now with a limp and a bruise you’re not sure how you got. Twitch, twitch.

Anyway, we finally gathered up our courage and headed over to The Hop last Sunday… and immediately got the last table. Damn, I love it up here. Of course I’d been reading about this place for months so I knew I was going to get the lamb sausage with polenta, poached egg and and kale pesto. Ermahgerd, sogud.

IMG_0568

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Pig Roast at Obercreek Farm

The harvest weeks of late summer, going into early fall, is when the Hudson Valley really struts its stuff . While there are festivals, fairs, and merry socials all year round, the weekends at this time of year become a whirligig of competing events, all worthy of your time. Last weekend, for example, our options … Read more

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