A lot has happened over the past two weeks. Here is a brief rundown: I was dumped, then I assessed my seemingly shattered existence, picked up the pieces, considered moving back upstate, changed my mind, moved out of the apartment in Greenpoint, moved into an apartment in Park Slope, and finally find myself settled in (Update on 9/22: I also got a full time job offer!). I don’t want to dwell on the situation (this is a food blog after all), however I have to say I’m lucky to have such wonderful friends and family—they kept me from going off the deep end and made this transition much easier than I thought it would be.

Now, on to the present. I’ve been living in Park Slope for just over a week, and while I miss my place in Greenpoint, I can now buy cupcakes, have my nails done, go to the movies, go out to dinner, or get on the subway within three blocks of my apartment. It’s the way I imagined New York would be during my high school daydreams, just with a lot more puppies and strollers. The toddlers are hip and neighborhood block parties have both bouncy houses and pony rides. Also, my roommates are great (and love to cook) and my new room is large enough to accommodate a reading nook, complete with an armchair, lamp, and ottoman.

The Park Slope food scene is also vibrant. There are hundreds of restaurants, cafes, specialty shops, and bakeries in the neighborhood and I look forward to exploring them in the coming months. In fact, I started exploring on my first morning here when I woke up early and walked up to the farmers’ market in Grand Army Plaza, where rows of small stalls are set up in the shadow of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch.


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Urban Gardening

Herb garden

I have tried to start an apartment garden a number of times and have always been met with failure. The first plants died during an ill-timed vacation, the next (pictured above) wilted for reasons unknown, and my beautiful basil plants became infested with whiteflies. I can keep my non-edible houseplants alive, but when it comes to plants that can help me cook and save me money, I might as well be watering them with Roundup Weed Spray. It’s for this reason that I’m envious of Brooklynites that are not only succeeding with their urban gardens, they’re thriving.

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is exactly what it sounds like: a 6,000 square foot farm on a warehouse roof in Greenpoint where you can find organic produce being grown. It’s a fantastic concept and from what I’ve been reading, it’s working. Local restaurants have started using the produce (delivered the day it’s harvested by bicycle) and the public can come buy fresh produce, learn about farming, and even pick their own vegetables on the roof on certain days. Check our their official site for full details.



Farmers’ Market Pick: Acorn Squash

When the temperature dips below 60° for the first time after the summer months, I get a serious craving for roasted acorn squash. I picked up two of the most perfect acorn squash I’ve ever seen at the farmers’ market two weekends ago, still coated in dirt from the farm.

The following recipe is incredibly easy once you get past the cutting of the squash in half. I recommend a sharp knife, patience, and great care not to cut yourself. You may want to have a buddy spot you or have someone on call to ensure you make it through the process with all fingers intact.

I’d also like to take a moment and acknowledge the fact I roast a whole lot of vegetables. I know the majority of my Farmers’ Market Picks have lead to roasting recipes, but I find that it allows the pure flavors of the vegetables to shine through. I promise to have some non-roasting recipes in the near future.

Roasted Acorn Squash
Makes 4 servings
2 acorn squash
-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
-4 tablespoons brown sugar or real maple syrup
-Salt to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 400°

2. Cut acorn squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Save the seeds for roasting later if desired.

3. Place the squash halves skin side down in a large ridged baking pan.

4. Rub butter on the squash flesh and sprinkle lightly with salt. Then, place 1 tablespoon of butter in the center of each squash half. Add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup to each squash half (add more if you want it to be extra-sweet).

5. Roast for 1 hour or until tender.



Farmers’ Market Pick: Fingerling Potatoes

I picked up a pound of Rose Finn Apple Fingerling Potatoes at the farmers’ market this weekend. These fast-roasting potatoes are often more moist and flavorful than the standard Russet baking potatoes, making them an easy side dish. Here’s a quick recipe:

Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
-1 pound fingerling potatoes, rinsed and dried
-Olive oil
-3 cloves minced garlic
-2 tsp dried rosemary
-Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 500°

2. Place potatoes on in a square baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Toss until all potatoes are fully coated and then add rosemary, garlic, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Toss again.

3. Roast until tender, approx. 20 minutes.



Farmers’ Market Pick: Heirloom Tomatoes

I’m sad to say the first time I had a true heirloom tomato was only a month ago. I’d been hearing all of the buzz about them, but it wasn’t until my birthday dinner at Dressler that I finally had a chance to try a stack of heirloom slices with my halibut entree. So, is the hype true? Do heirloom tomatoes really put their standard supermarket brethren to shame? I say absolutely. Not only do they have a superior taste and texture, they look fabulous, with a variety of colors ranging from green with zebra-like stripes to deep purple.

There are hundreds of varieties, but they can all be defined by a few key factors: they aren’t genetically modified in any way, no hybrids, they are the result of open-pollination (natural pollination), and the seeds have been passed down for decades, some saying at least 50 years, while some define heirlooms at 100 years.

I picked up a pint of small heirlooms last weekend at the Union Square Greenmarket from Tim Stark’s stand, however the photos above are from this week’s late day remains from another stand. Recipe-wise, they can be used in all of the ways your standard tomato can, but I think any recipe that overpowers their unique flavors is kind of a waste. I like chopping them into 1/2″ by 1/2″ cubes, tossing with a bit of olive oil and small bits of basil, sprinkling with a pinch of salt, and serving alongside any meat or veggie entree that could use a kick of acidity.
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