Foraging Walk with Dina Falconi

This weekend I went on a foraging walk with Dina Falconi. She is the author of the beautiful book, Foraging & Feasting. The walk was a 2-hour introduction to the process of identifying plants. We learned about looking at the macrocosm (the environment) before looking at the microcosm (the plant). We learned about identifying characteristics, leaf and stem patterns, textures, size, and of course the flower. Dina showed us how to crush a leaf and smell it. She showed us how to carefully taste it, if we are not sure.

We spent most of our time with a few edible weeds we found growing at the perimeter of the Berkshire Botanic Garden… garlic mustard (which I was recently introduced to), Gill-over-the ground (eating this helps to draw out heavy metals from the body), and dandelions (the petals! I have to eat the yellow petals).

It was a wonderful morning. And I’m hungry for more.

foraging walk

Hawthorne Valley Farm

For the fall issue of Edible Hudson Valley, I visited the Hawthorne Valley Farm. This is one of the good places in the world. Here, bread is baked from grain grown on the surrounding fields. Sauerkraut ferments naturally in a cellar. Cheese is made by hand using milk from cows that live on the farm. To spend an afternoon speaking with Martin Ping is to feel inspired for a great future.

photos at Hawthorne Valley Farmindustrious workers at Hawthorne Valley Farmphotos of flour at Hawthorne Valley Farmcheese making photo at Hawthorne Valley Farm photo by Jennifer May

Prison Food

For a recent issue of Edible Hudson Valley, writer Lee Bernstein and I visited New York’s medium security Fishkill Correctional Facility for a tour of the kitchen, messhall, and food storage rooms. No food is actually cooked on the premises – it is prepared off-site, trucked in, and the packaged contents are heated in large stainless steel tubs and served by inmate staff. Meal names are often glamorized (“creamy chicken dinner” consists of bagged chunks of soy protein mixed with bagged white powder, plus water). For the full story see the Summer 2010 issue of Edible Hudson Valley.

Left, an officer makes sure each utensil is accounted for. Right, an inmate who works with the special dietary meals.
In the locked utensil room: Utensils are kept on a shadow board, to keep track of them.
An inmate cook prepares hot dogs for lunch. Hot dogs are one of the more popular items - along with pizza and chicken.
An inmate maintenance porter fills a kettle with boiling water, which will be emptied into buckets and used for mopping the messhall after lunch.
Signage in the hallway
A kosher meal, pre-heating
Left, tables and stools in one of the large messhalls, moments before inmates arrived for lunch. Right, creamy chicken dinner, before it is prepared for serving.

Mint

At Mint Premium Foods in Tarrytown, NY you may trip when reaching for an obscure food product on the haphazardly stacked shelves, but it might be worth the risk for all the fine cheese you will sample while tending your bruise. Shot for the Spring 2010 issue of Edible Hudson Valley.

Owner Hassan Jarane used to be a photographer in Manhattan, until he got tired of lugging gear around
Maria and the rotisserie filled with spiced chickens
Shelf stable
Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May