09/05/2009 (11:35 am)

A traditional country luau

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Tiki 1Tiki 2

Well, two of Mark Brandhofer’s hand-crafted tiki creations are posted in front of the Bywater Bistro right now – I spotted them on my daily anti blood-clot walk – and that can only mean one thing: that possible luau he mentioned to me is a go.

I checked it out on the Bywater site, and yes, it’s so. From 5 pm on, there will be Hawaiian food, maitais and hula hooping. Sounds like a fun end-of-summer party. If I hadn’t just had a few major organs removed by a robot, I’d go…

08/30/2009 (8:25 am)

Rosendale in the New York Times this weekend.

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John Masters NY Times

There was an article in Friday’s Times about organic hair guru John Masters and his home in Rosendale. It’s written by a former editor of mine, Beth Greenfield. Check it out.

08/25/2009 (6:01 am)

Sixth borough?

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more brooklyn

Seen on the counter at Market Market. I can’t decide whether Rosendale is becoming NYC’s unofficial sixth borough, or an annex of Brooklyn. Actually, probably neither. It’s its own unique thing. But interesting to fall upon an issue of The Brooklyn Rail in these parts.

08/20/2009 (2:35 pm)

The official sandwich of Rosendale Ramblings

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Bahn Mi

In case you were wondering, the official sandwich of Rosendale Ramblings (every blog needs an official sandwich, right?) is the tofu Vietnamese banh mi from Market Market. I get mine “Sari style,” which means open-faced on wheat-free bread. They are kind enough there to carry wheat-free bread for me, and to have unofficially named this permutation of their sandwiches after me. I get my sandwiches there open-faced because that wheat-free bread is so dense, two slices is too heavy, and it would detract from the taste of whatever’s in the middle.

This sandwich – of tofu, jalapenos, shredded cabbage, carrots and cilantro with a special sauce – is juicy and spicy and tangy, not to mention both chewy and crunchy. And good for you. I am not a vegetarian, although I subscribe to Michael Pollan’s philosophy of eating mostly plant matter for our sakes and for that of the planet. In a given week, I will eat mostly vegetarian meals, but I will also get in some chicken, fish, and maybe even beef and bacon.

Anyway, I eat the banh mi at Market Market so often, it’s almost embarrassing. There are plenty of other great things to get there. I will often order the fresh tacos – especially when they’re shredded chicken or pork. Now and then I’ll go for the tempeh reuben (“Sari style,” of course), which used to be the object of my obsession before they introduced the banh mi. The local-beef burger with kimchee is another favorite. And the turkey BLT with bacon. And the lox platter. And…and…

All of those things are great. But I’ll confess that now and then, I order them instead of the banh mi just so the staff won’t think, “What’s wrong with her? She had that yesterday and the day before.”

I hear it’s also really good in its intended form, on hero bread baguette.

08/20/2009 (9:05 am)

On the radio

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Picture 2

An essay of mine aired today on WAMC’s Roundtable. It’s called “Clinging to 646 in the land of 845,” and is about how the prospect of giving up the NYC area code on my cell phone – something I’ve now come to see as a critical component of my DNA – nearly kept me from getting an iPhone. Of course, we got all New York-y and figured a way around that.

I need to work on my delivery. It’s just a start.

08/18/2009 (6:21 pm)

Get to Know a Rosendalian: Bill Brooks

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He’s a barber. He’s a contractor. He’s a photographer. He’s the founder, with his wife, Cathy, of the Rosendale Pickle Festival. He is, most will agree, the unofficial mayor of Rosendale. Meet Bill Brooks, proprietor on Main Street since 1968, and resident of Rosendale since 1981.


Chances are, if you’ve been in Rosendale for an hour or two two, you’ve already met him. You can find Bill four mornings a week at what most people refer to as “Bill Brooks’ Shop,” which is part barber shop, part general store, part historical society and curiosity shop.


There, he cuts hair from 9 – 12:30, something he’s been doing since 1963, after studying at barber school in Schenectady. “The week after I got my certificate, the Beatles landed in America, and suddenly everyone was growing their hair,” he recalls. “But I didn’t let that stop me.” He’s still charging 1963 prices – just $11 for a haircut.

When he’s not busy barbering, he’ll sell you whatever he’s got – candy, key chains, books of old pictures from the town’s past, grooming products, Rosendale Cement bags and tee shirts, and of course, shirts from the annual Rosendale International Pickle Festival, all haphazardly displayed. What can’t you get at Bill Brooks’ Shop?


Bill and Cathy founded the pickle festival by accident. A Japanese couple they were friendly with invited dignitaries from their homeland to visit Rosendale. One their way to visit Japan, they asked the Brookses to put together a reception for the dignitaries for when they returned. “As they were leaving for the plane to Tokyo, they said to us, ‘Oh, by the way – they like pickles,'” he remembers. “I had no idea what they would be expecting. So I put together a party with pickles. And 1,000 people showed up. That was the first pickle festival.”

Now the event draws 6,000 to 7,000 attendees a year, and vendors of all manner of fermented cucumbers and other veggies. They run the gamut from simple garlic dills, to foodie favorite brands like Rick’s Picks.

I asked Bill why he thought Rosendale has never completely taken off. He blamed it partly on parking issues. “It was better when we had parking on both sides of Main Street,” he said. “When they took the parking off the west-bound side, you could see people driving through who wanted to stop, but they’d look around and not know where to park.”

The key to success here? “Diversify,” he suggests. “You have to be able to have a few things going so that if one stops working, you’ve got something to fall back on. If it’s a slow day cutting hair, I’ll just go out and fix somebody’s roof.”

And when things are really slow, he’ll take a vacation. Bill and Cathy – and his camera – have traveled extensively. “I’ve traveled all over the world,” he says. “But I keep coming back to Rosendale.”

08/16/2009 (8:38 am)

Kaddish for a raccoon

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Well, our latest guest in the Have-a-Heart trap was a raccoon. His final meal appears to have been our melons and maybe some of the new broccoli shoots. Rocky, you met your match. R.I.P. (We should have buried him with Gideon’s bible…)

08/15/2009 (3:10 pm)

Rt. 32 bridge closed Monday to Weds…but then construction’s almost over!

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32 bridge
Per a Facebook post by Rosendale Town Supervisor Patrick McDonough:

The bad news: The Route 32 bridge will be closed Monday 8/17 through Weds, 8/19.

The good news: they’ll be pouring the concrete for the second side, and construction is almost over.

After nearly 18 months, I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to have more than one lane open at a time, and not wait eons for the light to change. This comes not a moment too soon: Today, we had to stop a woman from going against the light, into oncoming traffic.

08/14/2009 (1:20 pm)


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Photo 26Photo 28

The rail trail is one 12-mile-long mudpit right now. I rode my bike there this morning and wiped out trying to get around a big, deep puddle. I am all kinds of scraped up and bruised.

I would like to report, however, that I did not cry.

08/02/2009 (6:51 am)

Recipe: gluten-free pesto lasagna (with veggies from your rain-flooded garden)

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1. Come up with idea.

2. Go out to garden to pick broccoli and cauliflower. Notice that much of the broccoli was eaten by groundhogs. Notice, too, that the cauliflower is sparse, and most of what remains is brown and rotted from all the flooding. Pick what little bit is not completely gross, and try to figure out how to rescue the veggie lasagna without having to make another trip to the store. Especially since your town doesn’t have a store.

3. Vaguely remember that there are probably still some chopped vegetables from last year’s garden in the freezer. Go to freezer. Sure enough, there they are – pole beans, carrots, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash. So what if there’s some snowy-looking ice in with the vegetables, and evidence of freezer burn?

4. Realize that last year’s frozen veggies smell like a combination of the plastic bags they were in and the freezer itself, with notes of everything bagels and half-eaten loaves of gluten-free bread. Say to self, encouragingly, “That’s nothing sauteing with fresh onion from the garden can’t cure!”

5. Go out in rain (of course it’s raining now) to pick a fresh onion from the garden.

6. Steam the fresh and frozen veggies together.

7. Saute onion in olive oil, then add all the veggies. Hope for the best.

8. Pick loads of basil, which has been growing out of control, thanks to 2009 Summer of Rain. Fill a whole colander with it.

9. Chop basil in food processor with indeterminate amounts of olive oil, pine nuts, and grated Parmesan cheese. Keep adjusting till it looks and tastes something like Buddha Pesto.

10. Try to remember the lasagna recipe your step-mother gave you in college. Something about mixing a quart of ricotta cheese with two ounces of shredded mozzarella and some amount of grated parmesan. And was it one or two beaten eggs to hold the mixture together as it cooks?

11. Oops. Out of eggs.

12. Oh, well. Combine the cheeses and hope they hold. Then, mix A LOT of the pesto in with it. Go ahead – add some more. One more heaping spoonful to make it a little greener? So people will KNOW it’s a pesto lasagna and not some unidentifiable or moldy thing? Sure, why not.

13. Add the veggies to the ricotta mixture.

14. Put a dash of oil into bottom of lasagna pan and spread it around.

15. Cover the bottom of the pan with boiled and cooled Tinkyada gluten-free brown rice lasagna noodles. Then add a layer of the mixture. Top that with thinly sliced squares of mozzarella cheese.

16. Do two more layers.

17. Bake for – what did step-mother’s recipe say? Well, try 45 minutes at 375. Keep checking on it. You’re smart. You’ll know if it needs more or less.

18. Wonder whether there could have been less guess work if you’d found a recipe online. Discover that, why, yes, there could have. And that you were not the first person to “invent” pesto lasagna.

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