mulchfest 2013

It’s always much more fun to put up the Xmas tree than take it down. It is one of those January chores that I tend to put off. This year I had an official excuse to extend the stay of our beautiful Xmas tree until last weekend when the city held its annual Mulchfest. Xmas trees are collected in parks and chippers are brought in. The trees are churned into mulch for the parks. They also hand out bags of mulch to New Yorkers for their gardens and window boxes and the street trees that so many folks tend to.

heading to the park

heading to the park

Oona’s friend Jackson helped me out with this January project and we walked our tree over to Tompkins Square Park. The smell of Xmas trees engulfed the park and wafted out to the avenues. What a happy smell! We were also treated to a sighting of the resident red-tailed hawk swooping in and around the ancient trees.

rsz_tompkinssqparkmulchfest

the chipper and the trees

the chipper and the trees

fragrant pine mulch

fragrant pine mulch

I picked this forlorn little street tree for our mulch.

I hope it helps

I hope it helps

chilling and ice grilling

We said hello to 2013 at our off-the grid getaway in New York’s Schoharie Valley. We arrived to over a foot of newly fallen snow and a clear starry night illuminated by the full moon. Ice crystals sparkled like diamonds in the moonlit blue snow. The silhouette of tall pines and naked hardwood trees were black against the blue ice.

rsz_snowfront

rsz_3bottlesnow

It was warming and invigorating to shovel the heavy snow into a lacework of paths that allowed us to access the firewood pile for heat and the hand pump well for water. Since I’d left the charcoal grill out from last summer, I decided to use it to cook our New Year’s Eve dinner. I made a little path all around it, pushed the snow off the picnic table with my shovel and got ready to grill.

rsz_squash

rsz_wintergrilling

Marinated and Grilled Filet Mignon

4 pieces of filet mignon
¼ cup of olive oil
¼ cup of red wine
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika – I like the Chiquilin brand.
1 tsp Dominican or Mexican dried oregano (or fresh oregano or thyme is great too)
salt & black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and marinate the meat for at least 2 hours. Grill it to your desired doneness.

I also made grilled garlicky zucchini that reminded us of summer.

Garlicky grilled summer squash

Slice the squash length-wise as thinly as possible. Add finely chopped garlic, salt & black pepper and enough olive oil that the pieces of squash are coated all around. Let them sit while you fire up the grill to absorb the seasoning. Grill them until they are soft and have grill marks.

Franklinton Vly, Schoharie County, New York

Franklinton Vly, Schoharie County, New York