Butternuts, Hen, & Grains Week in NYC
This has been such a mild November that I’m still harvesting raspberries and herbs in the garden. I also found some hen (hen of the woods a.k.a. maitake mushroom) in Prospect Park a week and a half ago, along with some oysters (oyster mushrooms). There was way more of the Grifola frondosa (hen) than I could carry home, so I was happy to share the location with Ellen.
I froze some of my haul. Unlike other mushrooms that should be sauteed in butter or oil before freezing, hen of the woods can be simply chopped up and frozen raw. But my freezer is overstuffed at this time of year, so I dried most of the mushrooms.
Fall is one of my busiest times of year, but fortunately it’s also when I’ve got the most home-preserved foods on hand. That makes being an urban locavore much easier. Most of my meals make use of at least one pantry ingredient. On the mornings when I have to be out the door by 7:30 a.m., I usually eat breakfast on the train. Recently I’ve been grabbing some of my dried apples
to go with the butternuts I finally got around to shelling last week. The butternuts were a foraging find last month. This is what they look like when they are hulled but not yet shelled. Note the distinctive pointy “beak,” which is part of the ID for butternut:
But today I had a little more time, so I made a quesadilla with Ronnybrook cheese, a few of the chile peppers I preserved in vinegar,
cilantro from the garden, and Hot Bread Kitchen‘s tortillas made from locally grown corn. Yum!
Speaking of locally grown grain, this is Greenmarket Grains Week in NYC. As of this year, Greenmarket vendors selling baked goods are required to use at least 15% locally grown flour in their products. Neat, right? Though I’d like it if the percentage became even higher. There are interesting regional grain-related events and cooking demos going on through this coming Sunday 21st.