Friday, July 27, 2018

Amuse Gallery Art Show Hours


Mary Nelen Season Snaps featured at Amuse Gallery, 9 Railroad Ave. Chatham NY

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

You say Pesto, the French say Pistou

Photo by Mary A. Nelen

It was a cry for help.

Desperation was on the menu that day. My friend had a confession. 

Too much basil; basil in salads, basil pesto, basil pesto cubes in ice
trays and after a month of green, stuff fell apart. Her menus, like
the cuticles of her nails, were stained bright green. If you're
witnessing an unseemly dependence on basil, its time to break the
stranglehold of single herb syndrome and look to Provence.

True Proven├žal folks will stir pistou—which is similar to pesto, but
lighter with a variety of herbs and made without nuts—into the soup until it’s completely dispersed.

I like to add a dollop to the middle and gently let it spread so I can
still taste the pistou, which makes a nice contrast to the vegetables
and broth. Plus it’s traditional to pound a small tomato into the pistou.

The Soupe au Pistou, vegetable soup from Provence, is made when herbs hurry to flower and small tomatoes say "put me in coach...."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bone Broth Question and Answer

Bone Broth with Chicken Feet (photo by Mary Nelen)

Those masterful images because complete

Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

W. B. Yeats, “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” from 

Interview with Tamara Sheen, a wellness cook living in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

What is Bone Broth?

Broth made from the bones of any animal. Vegetables such as onion, celery, carrot as well as pepper and bay leaf are added for flavor.  It’s the base of soup or any dish if you’re a home or restaurant cook. Broth can be used to make soup or to braise.

Why is it so popular?

Health benefits. Every culture has some form of broth. Back in the day when nose to tale dining was the norm, you had to do something with the bones. Besides, every grandmother knew the healing power of broth

Which bones, all of them?

Knuckle bones have cartilage which is where the collagen lives. Collagen makes the nutrients more accessible to your body. Marrow bones also. When you boil the bones and the collagen is extracted, the body gets natural amino acids. Stock can be made from any animal bones: chicken, lamb, beef, goat, venison, buffalo and fish.

Where do you get bones?

Go visit a farmer whose animals are grazing on grass or check out a butcher and ask for bones with knuckles and marrow. Chicken feet are good because they provide a lot of collagen and gelatin.

How do you make bone broth?

Put bones in a stock pot of water. Add vinegar or wine to help pull out the nutrients. If you are making beef broth, roast the beef bones for at least 20 minutes before putting in the stock pot.

How long to cook?

Stock should cook for at least three hours in order to take full advantage of all the nutrients. My grandmother boiled the Christmas Turkey carcass all night long. I simmer with the lid on. Some schools of thought say 12 hours minimum.  

Friday, July 6, 2018

When you hear a noise, do something....

photo by rhubarbi st. germaine

Strawberries: When You Hear a Noise, Do Something

The first time I made this, it was after a session at a pick your own place. In the rows up at a place in a town called Gill, I stooped to pick a tiny strawberry, bit its little head off and heard a growl somewhere near my person. I jumped up from my crouched position and toppled my entire wooden carton of fresh strawberries. When I looked at the carton, it was stained red, the color of blood if strawberries had blood. There was only sky around, no other pickers, and in the distance, a truck with the farm's U-Pick logo and a guy sitting up high in the bed of the truck like a lifeguard. If there was an animal around, even a bobcat, it was gone. There was silence except for birdsong at which point I remembered my first taste of strawberry on a farm with a pig in a pen who snorted and growled at anyone who happened by to eat a little bit of fruit. To celebrate the lack of pig in the equation of this strawberry picking session, I bought a gallon of raw milk up the road and went home to make ricotta to go with the fresh fruit. It requires only patience and a reverence for the fruit, the farmer and the fact that pigs can make an indelible mark.

RECIPE: Ricotta Cheese

1 gallon whole milk. Raw milk is better if you have it.

1 t citric acid (available in cheese-making kits and some hardware stores)

1 piece cheese cloth

1 cooking thermometer that goes to 200 degrees.

Dissolve citric acid in ¼ C cool water

Pour in large stock pot along with a gallon of raw whole milk

Heat to 185 to 195 stirring all the while to prevent scotching

Try not to let it boil. Really don't let it boil. It is a chemistry thing.

When the whey separates from the curds, take off heat and let sit for 10 minutes

Remove curds CAREFULLY from  the whey into the cheese cloth that is lining a colander.

Let the curds sit in the cheese cloth for from 20 minutes to a couple of hours depending on how creamy you like your ricotta. I would say if you are serving it with fresh strawberries, serve it creamy and as close to them time you have made it as possible. Otherwise it can be refrigerated for up to two weeks

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A new farmers' market, free-standing and open for business...

Grand Opening, Walnut Street Farm Stand, Springfield MA

This Farmers’ Market is a little bit different. This farmers' market is not a market but a farm stand. Located in an urban neighborhood and powered by solar panels. This farm stand is open three days a week instead of just one and offers locally grown organic produce, cooking classes and provides membership in a weekly farm share. 

If you've never heard of Gardening the Community of Springfield, its time you did. Gardening the Community (GTC) is a food justice organization based in Springfield, engaged in youth development, urban agriculture, and sustainable living.  

The organization broke ground on the Walnut Street Farm Stand in the Mason Square last year with funding from area business. Last year, GTC youth grew and harvested 4,000 pounds of pesticide free vegetables working with local farms to provide 24,000 additional pounds of locally grown food to Springfield neighbors. 

"I’m proud to be part of the journey. It’s powerful,” stated Exavier Lopez, a 2017 graduate of GTC’s youth program.  

“We have a real presence here now that we own this land. It echoes our voices."

The Walnut Street Farm Stand is located at 200 Walnut St. Farm stand hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 11 am to 7 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm. 

GTC EATS shares will be available for pick-up on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 3 and 6 pm at the Walnut Street Farm.  

For more information visit

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Goodbye Anthony Bourdain

left to right, Jim Harrison, Anthony Bourdain  
So distraught was I of Anthony Bourdain's death that I threw my phone in with a bag of old newspapers and off it went into a dumpster. 

Maybe less time spent trolling imagery or words and more time lying in the grass staring at the sky is the answer. 

A final helping from Bourdain's Tumblr account offers a sweet little after dinner mint of refreshing, melt-in-your-mouth, goodness.

You may be the most cynical, born and bred, citified lefty like me — instinctively skeptical of big concepts like “patriotism”, relatively foreign to hunting culture, unused to wide open spaces, but spend any length of time traveling around Montana and you will understand what all that “purple mountains majesty” is all about, you’ll soon be wrapping yourself in the flag and yelling, “America, fuck yeah!” with an absolute and non-ironic sincerity that will take you by surprise. You will understand why and what people fought and died for — or at least perceived themselves to be fighting and dying for when, either defending Native American hunting grounds against Custer, or “defending America” against foreign aggressors — and you will be stunned, stunned and silenced by the breathtaking, magnificent beauty of Montana’s wide open spaces.

Even in Butte, a place as scarred, poisoned and denuded by rapacious capitalist excesses as a place could be, you will see things, beautiful, noble even — a testament to generations of hard work, innovation and the aspirations of generations of people from all over the world who traveled to Montana to tunnel deep into the earth in search of gold and then copper, a better life for themselves and their families. Even the hard men, the copper barons who sent them down into the ground, you will find yourself begrudgingly admiring their determination, their outsized dreams, their unwavering belief in themselves and the earths ability to provide limitless wealth.
And when you look up at the night skies over Montana, it’s hard not to think that we can’t be alone on this rock, that there isn’t something else out there or up there, in charge of this whole crazy ass enterprise.
Or at least, that’s what I was thinking, after a long day of pheasant hunting, perhaps a bit too much bourbon, and Joe Rogan demonstrating an Imanari choke from omoplata (he damn near cranked my head off). I flopped onto my back, stared up at the universe and thought, as I always do in Montana, “damn! I had no idea the sky was so big!”
We show you a lot of beautiful spaces and very nice people in this episode, but its beating heart, and the principal reason I’ve always come to Montana is Jim Harrison, the poet, author and great American-a hero of mine — and millions of others around the world.
Shortly after the filming of this episode, Jim passed away, only a few months after the death of his beloved wife of many years, Linda.
It is very likely that this is the last footage taken of him.

To the very end, ate like a champion, smoked like a chimney, lusted (at least in his heart) after nearly every woman he saw, drank wine in quantities that would be considered injudicious in a man half his age, and most importantly, got up and wrote each and every day — brilliant, incisive, thrilling sentences and verses that will live forever. He died, I am told, with pen in hand.
There were none like him while he lived. There will be none like him now that he’s gone. He was a hero to me, an inspiration, a man I was honored and grateful to have known and spent time with. And I am proud that we were able to capture his voice, his words, for you.
I leave you with a poem Jim wrote. We use it in the episode, but I want to reprint it here. It seems kind of perfect now that Jim’s finally slipped his chain.
The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Springtime in the Berkshires

Ghent Alterpiece, Hubert and Jan van Eyck 1432

Springtime in the Berkshires

We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers,
There are trillions ahead and trillions ahead of them –

--Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

To taste the creamy center of Camembert in spring is to taste the essence of the season of rebirth. In young cheeses, the grassy meadow fed upon by grazing livestock can be tasted. And lamb in spring, spring lamb, to be specific, takes the journey.

In South Egremont at John Andrews Farmhouse this coming Tuesday on May 15, a six course wine dinner with ingredients inexhaustible pedigree will feature such a cheese. Local spring lamb, succulent and surrounded by accolades in the form of fish, fowl, greens and dairy will be at the center of the feast.

With the exception of diver scallops, trout, duck, California wines and a cheese that must travel south from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, it can be said that this meal is as local as the weather can be glorious at this time of year.

Spring lamb is lamb of a diminutive stature, the lamb in question, about 30 pounds. This main course marks a fifteen-year relationship between livestock farmer Lila Wilde Berle, and chef Dan Smith. Lila grew up on the land where cows pasturing at Highland Farm in Lee Massachusetts will provide the milk for cream used a ragu served with the main course, grilled lamb and braised lamb belly with sun chokes from chef’s kitchen garden.

Other farms bringing food to the table are Rock City Farm, Ghent, NY, which is providing oyster mushrooms for the pasta course. Trout smoked on the premises will be served with fresh baby greens coaxed into this world by the indefatigable Ted Dobson of Equinox Farm.

The aforementioned Camembert, a goat’s milk Bloomy rind cheese from Miracle Spring Farm in Gallatin NY will make up the cheese course along with a raw cow's milk cheese with a washed rind called Berelberg of Berle Farm's in Hoosick, NY, and a Bayley Hazen Blue, gentle in its veiny sumptuousness and caved at Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. Finally, a jam made of caramelized black mission figs will sound a redolent yawp of sweetness to end the meal.

Somerston Wine Dinner
Tuesday, May 15th 2018

John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant
224 Hillsdale Road (Route 23)
South Egremont, MA 01258
(413) 528-3469

For more information and to make a reservation: 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

RECIPE: Feeding the Beast

Hat Trick from Hungry Ghost in Northampton MA

Hungry Ghost's Hatrick Bread of three ingredients, two that are local: Malted Barley, Bolted Wheat*, Oats....

Make it yourself with clear intent and a well-fed starter.

Day 1 Wake up, feed starter, wait a day..
Day 2 Wake up, feed starter, wait a day
Day 3 Wake up, feed starter, wait a day
Day 4 Wake up, stir up starter, begin ....

*Bolted Wheat means some of the bran is removed to give the gluten room to move. The germ and other nutrients remain.