Archive for July, 2008

Delicious Weeds, pt. 3: lambsquarter


lambsquarter ( Chenopodium album)

aka Chenopodium album,  tender, nutlike, easy to cook — and of course very easy to grow. All you need to do is stop pulling it up and start harvesting  the tender stems and leaves to sauté in olive oil with garlic, steam in lemony chicken stock, cream just like creamed spinach or make killer lambsquarter quesadillas.

quesadillas made with lambsquarter

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Collecting Wild Mushrooms, part 1 (Morels)

This guest post is  by Bill Bakaitis, founder of the Mid-Hudson Mycological Association, consultant to the New York and New England Poison Control networks, wild mushroom guru for the Culinary Institute of America (and, full disclosure, my husband). Although collecting is over for this year, morel hunting is not. A big part of success next spring is learning to find their haunts now, as Bill describes in:

A Successful Strategy for Finding Morels

by Bill Bakaitis

As seasons go, 2008 was a pretty good one for Morels. I investigated only a small fraction of the potential collecting sites near my home and was able to pick a peck or so at each visit.

collecting basket, morels

A Peck of Morchella esculenta

Others had the same success. The best collector I know, Dennis Aita, wowed Coma members in May with his large flat of pristine fist to corncob sized esculenta collected only hours before the evening’s lecture.

As it happened, several digital images of collections circulated in emails and I soon received calls and questions from curious mushroomers. “Just how do you manage to find all of those Morels?” they wanted to know. “I have looked and looked and still come back empty handed.” Read More…

The Golden Trumpets ( Lilium regale hybrids )

Think of Chet Baker in a mellow mood on a summer night, the music drifting in your direction against a background of insects chirping and the sometmes rumble of trucks on the highway and you’ll get a faint approximation of what it’s like to be in our Hudson Valley house when the trumpet lilies are blooming.

 Golden Splendor trumpet lilies

Their heavy, classic lily fragrance has a distinct undernote of spice, and while a bouquet’s worth of it indoors would be so intoxicating you’d have a hangover in the morning, having it waft in from the bed under the dining room window is just about perfect.

So much pleasure from so little work!

golden splendor trumpet lily closeup in NY

Close up, you can see why they’re called ‘Golden Splendor’. Good As Gold would be appropriate too; this cultivar is one of the most vigorous.

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Eric Larson

Leslie Land - Eric Larson

My friend Eric Larson has been Manager of Yale’s Marsh Botanic Gardens since 2003. Before that he spent 15 years supervising the Arboretum crew at Havorford College and before that he was at Longwood Gardens. He started writing a plant centered newsletter (formal title: Liquid Sunshine), when he went to Havorford and went digital when he went to Yale.

Eric loves music, people, and making corny jokes almost as much as he loves plants. Reading his articles, you will see frequent invitations to parties at Marsh where you can hear him perform with The Peach Pie Band. Worth the journey, as the saying goes, and the gardens aren’t bad either.

Lois Dodd


To most of the world, Lois Dodd is an important realist painter, a founding member of the legendary Tanager Gallery whose work is in museums and major collections all over the country and if you want to know more about that there are bios at Alexandre, her New York Gallery, and Caldbeck,  which shows her work in Maine.

But to me she’s family, the dear friend on whose land I’ve lived and worked since 1973. Her house is right across the field and she is our nearest neighbor in all ways: co-proprietor of the garden, babysitter for the cats, indefatigable fruit tree pruner and major companion for walks, meals, gallery hopping and grousing about politics.

Fittingly, we met over wild mushrooms my very first summer in Maine. Knowing zip at that point, I collected something I thought was a chanterelle and asked sculptor friend Blackie Langlais (my then landlord) if he could identify it. No, he said, Lois is the one who knows mushrooms, “ go ask her.”

The rest, as they say, is history. The earlier parts are recounted in The 3000 Mile Garden. Later parts are and will be recounted here.

Kristi Niedermann

Leslie Land - Kristi

I suppose it’s rubbing it in to brag on having a helper who’s so endlessly willing and competent, but I am extremely fortunate. There’s no way the garden in Maine could exist without Kristi Niedermann.

From early cleanup and first spring planting through summer’s major maintenance to the last of the fall garden-to-bed she’s there with me (and in many cases for me), doing whatever needs to be done, including noticing what that is and reminding me about it.

Kristi took her degree in biology, and apprenticed for a year at the farm and garden at UC Santa Cruz, which means she has more formal training than I do; and she may be the only skilled garden helper in the Northeast who can also solve Apple computer problems.

Plus she loves the cats. And takes terrific flower photos. She’s even a bit on the mouthy side, to provide the necessary flaw in the carpet, and if she ever decides to resume world travel (ask her about Tierra del Fuego) I’ll have to close up shop.

Note: Kristi has read and approved this bio. She’s especially proud of the mouthy part.

Bill Bakaitis

Leslie Land - Bill

Leslie often refers to me as her ‘mushroom expert’, perhaps because we first met at a mushroom conference some twenty years ago where I happened to be delivering one of the keynote addresses, one on ‘Mushroom Toxins and Toxic Mushrooms’. By constantly knowing one or two more Latinate names for fungi than she, I have been able to maintain that fiction ever since. This is pretty easy to do in mycology where names change about as quickly as the score in a basketball game.

But I did come about learning mushrooms at an early age, growing up on my grandparents’ farm in Western Pennsylvania. Both sets of immigrant grandparents collected and ate wild mushrooms, but my father’s Lithuanian family distrusted those collected by my mother’s Italian family, and vice versa. There were, of course, stern warnings and dark tales of mistakes made by the northerners, or southerners, all of which fueled my curiosity with high octane energy. So, as I roamed about, and got lost in, the hills and forests surrounding the farm, I began my own search for the truth of it all. From the perspective of a white haired grandparent, I think I see a pattern.

I am and have the temperament of a first born, have had the advantage of growing up in the protective cloak of a small town with a good public library, easy access to miles of adjacent wild areas, and the good luck to have majored in Agriculture in High School. In Jung’s Typology you might describe me as having an Intuitive, Introspective, Thinking Personality, a mind set which serves one well in an academic career. In my case that has involved Graduate and Post Graduate work in Mycology, including field identification and concepts of species identification.

This work has taken me to The New York State Museum in Albany, Hudsonia at Bard College, and at The Cary Arboretum of The New York Botanical Gardens where I have worked as a Research Associate in Mycology, and also to The Institute of Ecosystems Study, The Culinary Institute of America, most colleges in the Mid-Hudson region, and Mycological Groups throughout the Northeast where I am often called upon to deliver talks or courses. I also serve as a Mycological Consultant to the Poison Control Networks in the Northeast.

More a thinker and not as prolific a writer as Leslie, I have nevertheless been a contributor/editor for Mushroom, The Journal of Wild Mushrooming for over 25 years. Other mushroom articles have been published in the NY State Conservationist, Adirondack Life, Mid-Hudson Magazine, Poughkeepsie Journal and others.

Currently, thanks to Leslie’s lead, I seem to spend much more time publishing in digital format on various web sites.

Oh! And I love being wedded to her weeding, that mindless of states, almost as good as fishing, where ideas get levered and plucked from fertile soil to be cast aside into jumbled piles that generate anew, composting and composing in darkened piles, much like mushrooms do…

Perfect Snap Peas – and a Perfect Harvest Basket

The peas are something I’ve taken for granted for a long time now, because classic Sugar Snaps never seem to fail. Good years and bad, those tall, late-bearing vines always come through with about 6 weeks of perfect snap peas: crisp, juicy and sweet. And twenty feet of double row pretty much guarantees enough. In good years, we give a lot away, and even in poor years like this one we still have plenty. 5 day\'s worth of snap peas How much is plenty? I never measured before, but we just had an opportunity to check it out –  Read More…

One Tough Rose

We’re visiting the New York garden to weed, tie up the tomatoes, harvest the garlic … and get majorly appalled by the Japanese beetles. What a year! They’re everywhere, and they’re especially everywhere on the contorted hazel and hollyhocks and raspberries and of course roses but NOT on Jens Munk,

jens munk rose

once again proving itself to be as trouble free as roses get. Read More…

Chocolate Chip Cookies – to the max, 2 ways

What’s to say? Leigh asked for my chocolate chip cookie recipe, so here it is:  my personal no compromises not suitable for publication in general interest magazines favorite soft center or crisp or both

Extremely High End Chocolate Chip Cookies

high end chocolate chip cookies

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