Friday, August 27, 2010

What to do with a lot of ginger

In Chinatown last Saturday, I bought a good-sized chunk of ginger--75 cents worth at $1.30 a pound. I knew that I'd use about an inch of it in the soup I was planning to make the next day--but what to do with the rest of it rather than add it to the pieces of ginger hiding in my freezer.

Then I remembered the wonderful African ginger drink that Allan and Paula and their Malian house guest had made the last weekend. I called Allan to get the recipe; here's what he told me more or less:

African ginger drink

Heat 6 cups of water.

Meanwhile peel and grate enough ginger to make a full cup, put it in a large bowl, add a cup of sugar, about 4-6 cloves and 3/4 sticks of cinammon.

When the water boils, pour it over the ginger mixture, and cover.

Let it stand for at least an hour and a half. Then add 4 cups of tap water, zest from an orange (or maybe 2), juice from 2 oranges, and zest and juice from 1 lemon.

Chill (or not) and serve.


Here are my adjustments:

For the orange juice and zest, I substituted zest from 1 lime, and juice from 2. I kept the lemon.

Instead of sugar, I used about 4 Tb. of agave syrup.

I strained most of the mixture, but left some of the ginger pulp in. (Alan's may have been strained, but he didn't mention this stepp.)

Alan told me that this beverage is popular throughout West Africa, and when I looked it up online, I found many versions, including one spiced with pepper instead of cinnamon and cloves, though most seem to call for beginning with 6 cups of water.

It's tasty, tangy, refreshing, and very easy, though grating the ginger takes a bit of time if you don't use a food processor.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dragon Fruit and Rambutan

Just cut them open and tasted

Both are delicate and elusive, the dragon fruit slightly more flavorful. Needless to say, you don't eat the peels.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tis the season for dragon fruit and rambutan. . .

. . . and longan and papaya and all sorts of other tropical fruits in Chinatown.

Yesterday, biking back from the Brooklyn Bridge, I stopped there, in quest of mangos, bok choy, and snow peas.

Instead I fell for the dragon fruit (the big one in the photo) and rambutan (the little one)--neither of which I'd tasted.

They're so lovely, I'm still waiting to taste them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Charles Ludlam lives. . .

. . . and so do Coney Island, Little Italy, and the Greenwich Village Halloween parade of 30 years ago, in two of Ludlam's brilliant and bizarre films, Museum of Wax, a short, and The Sorrows of Dolores, his only feature.

Both are silent, filmed in black and white, visually dazzling, rich and strange.

Untouched since Ludlam's death from complications of AIDS in 1987, the films were restored last year. Enhanced by scores from composer Peter Golub, who'd written music for many of Ludlam's plays, they debuted at the IFC Center's Queer/Art/Film festival this February.

Ludlam's lover and colleague, actor Everett Quinton, characterized the films as unfinished when introducing them at Anthology Film Archives last night, but I wouldn't want to change a thing about Museum of Wax--to my mind, a masterpiece.

Dolores, on the other hand, could stand some tightening--and I'd love to see the unused footage that Quinton talked about, saying that some of it was really beautiful and he wondered why Ludlam didn't use it.

Maybe because he was racing death to finish it.

Quinton said he'd thought about doing his own version of the The Sorrows of Dolores and--without destroying the original--I hope he does. Or at least screens his selection of outtakes one of these days.

You have two more chances to see Museum of Wax and The Sorrows of Dolores this weekend: 7 pm tonight and tomorrow at

Anthology Film Archives
32 2nd Ave. at 2nd St.

Now I'm wondering whether or where, besides Irma Vep and Galas, which are listed in the New York Public Library catalog, tapes or films of Ludlam's plays exist. . . .

Friday, August 20, 2010

June Roses

. . . isn't like any other movie I've seen.

The first part is a narrative film set in the 1950s, shot, in a style beautifully evocative of that era, more than 20 years ago.

Director Christine Noschese, best known for her documentary Metropolitan Avenue, based the story on the daughter she was then and her mother, a frustrated artist and musician. Released in 1991 at 43 minutes, that version of June Roses was screened at New Directors the following year, and was the basis of a script that was intended to be a feature.

That feature never happened. But years later, Noschese revisited her characters and their story, flashing forward to the 1960s--now shooting in video for a rougher, tougher look--and using the same principal actors. Only recently has she put the earlier and later parts of the film together, and she's still tweaking it.

I had the pleasure of seeing this new version of June Roses over the summer at a screening sponsored by New York Women in Film and Television.

Moving, funny, and deep, it's a true original--on the verge of finding its audience.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Farm Stand at School

When I first discovered PS 11's Wednesday morning farm stand last year, it was nominally open 8 till noon, and I could drop by at 11 and still find terrific fruits and vegetables at great prices.

But word has spread, and now most stuff is gone by 10--some things sell out earlier.

Half the fun of shopping at the stand is being served by 3rd graders, watching them absorbing lessons in customer service along with arithmetic. The kids also learn about their wares--from the certified organic Stoneledge farm in the Catskills--how they're grown and how to cook them.

The stand operates from early June through late September, and this year, the kids have been there every week I've gone, even during vacation.

What I got this week: a bunch of scrumptious summer spinach ($1.50), 3 peaches($1), a cucumber (50 cents), and 2 peppers on their way to red ($1). I still had a patty pan squash from last week, when I bought other summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and a bunch of young leeks.

You'll find the stand in front of the school, at 320 W. 21st St. I understand the chefs show up by 8:00.

For further information about the stand, the farm, and recipes, check out:


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Farm Dinner in NYC

Who'd have guessed that the longest continuously farmed site in New York State is in New York City?

Dating to 1697, its 47 acres now make up the Queens County Farm Museum, which I only found out about one Friday when I bought some scrumptious veggies at their stand at the Union Square greenmarket.

I'm eager to visit the farm itself, but unfortunately won't make their Summer Feast in the Field--that's happening tomorrow, August 11, at 7:00 pm.

Those lucky folks who do will first tour the farm and then dine on farm produce, mostly gathered that day. The chef is Tamara Reynolds, who hosts the Sunday Night Dinner in Astoria and co-wrote Forking Fantastic! Put the Party back in Dinner Party.

Here's her menu:

Kale and Cucumber Salad
Eggplant, Summer Squash, and Lentils with Pomegranate Molasses
Queens Farm Free-Range Chicken bathed in Adobo, wrapped in banana leaves and slow-roasted "Robert Rodriguez Style"
served with
Salt-boiled Potatoes
Collards in Spicy Potlikker with Smoked Pork
Panzanella, made with Heirloom Tomatoes
Turkish Beans, slow-cooked in Olive Oil and Garlic
Stone Fruit in Queens Farm Honey and Rum with Basil Whipped Cream

The dinner is BYOB and costs $75. As of today, tickets are still available.

Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway
Floral Park, New York 11004-1129
(718) 347-3276