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Monday, June 29, 2009

Road Trip: Hudson Valley - Fresh, Local, Organic, Strawberries, Citizen Cope



Full-on Summer is here.   With the warm weather, vacation time, barbecues, family reunions, yoga retreats, me time and the list goes on, lots of people are taking a Road Trip across the country.

Cruising down the highway getting from point A to B, often fits us with blinders.  We forget to take time to soak in the local scenery, take a peek at local the community.   So this summer as you jump off for your Road Trip, slow down, have a look, stop even at a roadside stand or little town.   Whether it's the Hamptons, The Eastern Shore of Virginia or a stretch of blacktop out West, there are abundant farmers, ranchers, watermen, fresh produce and local products.  Some places will have signs shouting organic; but, the real point is you are getting the food close to the source. It's always fresher, better, less handled.

Just outside of the town of Hudson, NY, stopped at a roadside stand adjacent to a farm.  Man, the minute you stepped out of the car, the air was was filled with the sweet smell of strawberries and the earthy scent of swiss chard, damp soil still clutching its roots.  We picked up fresh from the field strawberries and sugarsnap peas.  The French call sugarsnap peas, mangetout, which means eat all because with these peas the pod is edible. 

Here's an easy dessert/condiment/treat for summer.

Strawberries with Lemon and Cinnamon
2 pints of strawberries washed and trimmed.
1 Lemon
1 cup of sugar (brown, white or's your choice)

Slice the strawberries (halves, quarters, however it's your choice).  Place sliced berries in a bowl. 

Wash the lemon well to remove the wax or drop the lemon in some boiling water for a second or two before wiping away the wax.  Use a zester or paring knife to remove the bright yellow rind (get as little of the bitter white pith as possible). Mince the zest so you have about a tablespoon. Slice and juice the lemon.

Add a 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the lemon juice.  Stir well.

Mix the lemon zest with the strawberries.   Pour the lemon juice and cinnamon over the strawberries.  Mix.  Add the sugar.  Mix well.  Now refrigerate in a covered bowl for at least 2 hours.  That's it.

Use as a filling for dessert cups with some fresh whipped cream, top off pancakes or waffles with the berries instead of syrup (let strawberries stand and reach room temperature in advance or gently warm) or just enjoy as a snack. 

Found this online from USA Today "Winemaking roots go deep into the Hudson Valley soil", after seeing a sign for Duchess Wine Trail pointing to vineyards.   Another indication that there is so much to discover on the quiet two lane roads ribboning quaint towns and the countryside. Detour! (we did not.wish we had.); have an adventure; taste something new.

Citizen Cope is Clarence Greenwood.   I started hearing about him in the late 90's back in Washington, DC and saw him perform at Joe's Pub in New York City a few years ago.  

While on the Hudson Valley Road Trip, a mixed CD of Citizen Cope tracks was popped in and suddenly we were joy riding, bobbing our heads, gleaning glimpses of orchards zipping by and taking in deep breaths of country air.  

Ironically days later, a friend turned me on to a Citizen Cope disc, "The Clarence Greenwood Recordings" ;and I found myself rediscovering this artist.

Citizen Cope has a new single, "Keep Askin" released for download on June 14, 2009 from the upcoming "The Rainwater LP" out Feb 2010.

Citizen Cope's music is rock, jam, blues, soul and the beyond category.  But one thing is for sure these days, many of us are citizens coping.  Music soothes.  Sharing Citizen Cope on a long drive will ease you on down the road.

Enjoy summer.  Feast on the bounty of the season.  Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

And remember, whenever possible buy from local, regional farmers and purveyors.  Support small businesses.

photo: K. Beall iPhone
all other photos: wbj

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