Cross posting under Daily Grace and les collines, because the 15-year old engine of this auto ode is so integral to both….
There is something that happens with the light around the time of the equinox, when the angle and distance between sun and earth produce exceptionally stunning, crisp stark reliefs of light and shadow.
A week or so ago, driving north along the glacial ridge that borders this part of New York and Massachusetts, the light ahead of an approaching snow squall caught my breath. To the north, really dark clouds, black, nearly, with bright sunlight from a late afternoon sun bouncing off and illuminating stark tree outlines and bright bleached bark in a lovely chiaroscura.
Light and dark, black and white, no soft edges here as the squall blew in and the gorgeous contrasts were replaced by what seemed early nightfall and whiteout conditions. It was a mini blizzard, ahead of the real one we’d get soon enough.
We love contrast, we crave the black and the white, we want things to be clear. Clarity, clairvoyance, seeing clearly. We would like to walk the world as if our vision were as clear and bright as the pre-equinox sun glancing off the beech and sycamore. But the reality is more like perpetual fog, and the longed for moments when it lifts are all too rare, where we break through, the light hits just, so, and everything seems truly clear.
These moments serve as beacons, when our vision pretty much otherwise ranges from zero to minimal. People, events, moments of grace may offer intense flashes of illumination along the way, showing us the path– just long enough to know have we gotten lost, are we still on it, is there in fact a path?– until the light dims and we are back in the fog.
Soon after the squall episode, the local PBS station was running a special on the making of Hamilton. This was a great piece of television, what of it I caught, about a show I have long wanted to see. At one point, referencing Hamilton’s approach to politics, and perhaps life, someone quotes Obama as saying that the only way stuff gets done is when you hear, see the truth of the person sitting across the table from you. This sounds like a truism, like, right, I know that. But the reality of it, the practice of it, is infinitely delicate, complicated, and labor intensive.
In graduate school, as a 20th-century French scholar working on literature of the post-war period, I spent time tangling with theories of the Other. Following a strong start early on by the Germans in the late 18th and 19th centuries, in the last century the French really took hold in the field, with philosophers, psychoanalysts, and theorists like Derrida, Lévinas, Foucault, Lacan, Kristeva; even Sartre and de Beauvoir.
Outside of the Academy, the connections between literature, literary theory, philosophy and psychoanalysis may seem perplexing at best, but given events of the 20th century we needed every tool at our disposal to simply read and absorb much less decipher and possibly interpret.
My field involved literature of the Holocaust. The horror of the Holocaust was for me just about the most extreme schism between all concepts of self and other, the ultimate otherization; I think to some extent I sought answers in the complex, dense, often puzzle-like language of many theorists, but really only found more questions.
That was ok. The seeking itself is of value, of course, and if nothing else I learned that history is not so teleologic and neither are individual lives. Rather than terrifying, that seems an oddly comforting notion when one is engaged in the day-to-day, hand-to-hand work of living. Doing the very best you can may only lead you back to where you began, but that is ok. It may in fact be all about the journey, after all.
On we go, making our way through the fog. The moments of beautiful illuminating chiaroscura are just behind, or ahead; it’s for us to allow the intermediary beacons to shine on the better angels of our own, and others’, natures.
Faroe Island Salmon with les collines Meyer Lemon Rosemary Jelly
We love the Faroe Island salmon as it is consistently buttery, flavorful, and is cleanly and sustainably farmed in the cold waters off Scotland.
For two pounds of salmon, you will need about 1/4 cup jelly, enough to coat the salmon completely on top and sides about 1/8 inch thick. If cooking individual 8 oz portions, you will want more, 1/2 cup or so.
Oven-soak the cedar plank for about an hour; meanwhile, you can glaze the salmon and allow it to come to room temp.
Preheat the oven to 375; place the oven racks in the middle of the oven, with a sheet of foil on the lower rack to catch any drips.
Heat the plank for 5 minutes; then place the salmon on it; place on the top rack, centered. Bake til carmelized, around 45-60 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before cutting/serving.
Grilling-this method accentuates the cedar smoky flavor. Soak the plank for as long as possible, 24 hours is ideal. Follow the steps above for preparing the salmon, but omit the plank preheat. If using charcoal, use natural wood briquets and bank them. Grill the salmon til carmelized, spritzing the plank as needed.
Equally delicious. Prepare the salmon as above but place on a baking pan or sheet with low sides, use foil or not; bake at 375 til carmelized.
Pork Tenderloin with les collines Sour Cherry Preserve
For two pounds of tenderloin, you will need about 1/2 cup preserve to glaze and more to serve with.
Whisk with a few tablespoons red wine to loosen, if you like, and coat the tenderloin; allow to stand at room temp for 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile preheat the oven or grill.
Preheat to 350. Place the tenderloin in a baking pan and roast til internal temp reaches 140-145. Remove from pan and allow to stand 5-10 minutes before slicing in two-inch diagonal widths. Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup red wine to make a sauce; drizzle over pork, and serve, along with a dish of preserve at table.
Oh March, the weather is ricocheting from -5 to 55 and back again. There is more snow coming, and even those not affected by SAD are beginning to feel light- and warmth- deprived. Really good fresh fruit and vegetables seem like a dream. It is late winter in the Northeast….
Mirroring my query last summer of when is midsummer, actually, same goes for midwinter…in my book of course it is midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, which is right about now, 5th of February. But officially, midwinter is the winter solstice, go figure. It is also a key word in of one of my favorite carols, more proof that it happens around Christmas rather than a month and a half later as I prefer. Alas I am stubborn so for me, it will stay put where I have put it….
This is the life I picked, home to les collines small batch, locally sourced jelly & preserves, and to daily grace, writing and ruminations on the stuff of rural life in Columbia County, NY.
We are always happy to receive feedback on our creations, culinary or literary. Please visit the Contact page to connect. Hope to hear from you!
This is a post I intended to write many months ago– it was on a list of planned topics I sent to someone in November, with the parenthetical comment: non-political! That I finally got to writing it Inauguration weekend is a chance irony. But wow, what a weekend that was….
Hold on to those horses, we have a boatload of ground to cover. Because I never met a metaphor I didn’t like to mix.
Such a year, such an end of year….
October 2017, and les collines can be found in these amazing, local farm- and business- supporting markets in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
We are delighted to be sending les collines rive droite (of the Hudson) again, to the beautiful new Ella’s Mercantile in adorable Halcottsville, to lovely Historic Hudson way down south in Sleepy Hollow, and to Fishkill Farms, a beautiful spot with amazing produce run by the equally amazing Josh Morgenthau, our peer in the 2016-17 HVADC Farm to Food Business Accelerator program. Down in the big apple, find jars at Gather in Brooklyn, and over Massachusetts way at family-owned Domaney’s Fine Wines and at the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington, MA. Stay tuned for additions…
Distant shoppers in need of a jar may visit our online store to place an order!
bold indicates stores new in 2017
Adams Fairacre Farms, Newburgh
Bartlett House, Ghent
Bimi’s Cheese Shop, Chatham
Blueberry Hill Market Cafe, New Lebanon
Clove Kitchen Market, Red Hook
Copake General Store, Copake
Copake-Hillsdale Farmers Market (seasonal, Saturdays May through October)
Ella’s Mercantile, Halcottsville
The Farmer’s Wife, Ancramdale and Millbrook
The Farm Store at Willow Brook, Millerton (seasonal, spring through fall)
Fishkill Farms, Fishkill
Hammertown, Pine Plains and Rhinebeck
Harney & Sons Fine Teas, Millerton
Hawthorne Valley Farm Store, Ghent
Herondale Farm Store, Ancramdale
Hillsdale General Store, Hillsdale
Historic Hudson Valley, Sleepy Hollow
Hudson Valley Farmers Daily Market at Greig Farm, Red Hook
Irving Farm Coffee, Millerton
Liberty Fresh Market, Amsterdam
Old Chatham Country Store, Old Chatham
Olde Hudson, Hudson
The Placid Baker, Troy
Taste NY Long Island Welcome Center, Dix Hills
Taste NY Market at Todd Hill, Lagrangeville
Two For the Pot, Brooklyn
The Jam Shop, Sharon
LaBonne’s Market, Salisbury
The Berkshire Co-op Market, Great Barrington
Bizalion’s Fine Food, Great Barrington
The Chef’s Shop, Great Barrington
Domaney’s, Great Barrington
Dory & Ginger, Pittsfield
Great Barrington Farmers Market, seasonal, May-October
Nejaime’s Wine Cellars, Lenox & Stockbridge
No. Six Depot, West Stockbridge
Pleasant and Main, Housatonic
Lucy’s Kitchen and Market, Princeton
Winter official two days ago, 5:44 a.m. the 21st. Though weather-wise it felt pretty well underway, with serious snow the Sunday before Thanksgiving and some real cold last week.
The local fruit now is all preserved in jars or awaits in the freezer to carry through a good part of the winter months. Sour cherries, Concord grapes, blackberries; rhubarb, strawberries, pears. And a good supply of local ginger will continue to contribute wholeheartedly to Chipped Pears, and soon our new Ginger Preserve.
Two days til Christmas and space to breath at last. Looking forward to writing in the Daily Grace mode soon. Til then, wishing all a good night xo