Hey friends, this is Masha. I usually do the photos and editing around here, but I am now venturing into doing some full posts as well. Today I’m excited to share some photos I took this past weekend in magical Woodstock, NY and its surrounding areas, along with a dish my boyfriend and I cooked there from Kristin Donnely’s beautiful new cookbook, Modern Potluck. True to its title, the book offers plenty of original, make-ahead recipes for gatherings, where contribution in the form of food is encouraged, along with useful potluck prep tips. Despite this wonderful theme, however, the recipes are very appealing to make and eat at home just as well. The book is not vegan or vegetarian (perfect for omnivores), but offers plenty of vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options. Some of the recipes that caught our eye include Potato Salad with Fennel and Pickly Things, Miso and Molasses Baked Beans, Samosa-Filling Stuffed Poblanos, Vegetarian Borscht Salad, and Vegan Caprese Salad. All the photography is done by Yossi, who is one of our favorite food photographers in this whole wide world. We are giving away a copy of the book too, so read on for the giveaway details.
I live in NYC, and my man and I have been thinking about getting away from the city to explore Upstate New York for a while. We finally got it together on one of the last weekends of summer and had the most incredible time. Woodstock exceeded all my expectations – I knew it would be nice, but didn’t expect it to be as breathtaking as it was, and now I daydream about one day moving there. The whole town seems to be woven into the woods, and this time of year, the forest is thick with green leaves and sweet summer air, accompanied by bird and cricket songs, scurrying chipmunks, and majestic deer. At night, it’s dark enough to see the Milky Way, of which we are very deprived in the city. We rented this Airbnb – a cottage built by the owner, an artist, and secluded in the woods, right off his main property. The place was amazing, from the layout and tree-filtered light streaming through the windows all day, to all the well-considered, hand-crafted details. The kitchen was very well equipped for all the cooking we did, and there is an outside grill, as well as a fire pit. It’s technically in the town of Saugerties, but very close to the main stretch in Woodstock, The Big Deep and Opus 40.
A popular swimming hole in the area. You leave your car in an unpaved parking lot in the woods and follow a short trail to the water. We were there right around golden hour and I felt like I was in a fairy tale – the water was clear and refreshing, with sunrays streaming through the surrounding tall trees. As we witnessed, it can get crowded at the immediate entrance off the trail, but if you walk away from the main area a bit, you can find plenty of quieter, semi-private spots for taking a dip.
A huge environmental sculpture, built by sculptor Harvey Fite over the course of 37 years in an abandoned bluestone quarry. Fite originally planned out the space as an outdoor sculpture gallery, and had a 40 year plan for finishing it, but died on the 37th year of completion. The structure is composed of curving steps, levels, passageways and water pools, and the entire thing is built without cement, inspired by ancient Mayan building techniques, and using old quarrymen’s tools. Everything about Opus 40 is incredibly impressive, and the whole time, I felt like I was walking around an alien-built playground. It’s also a great spot for eating lunch – there are plenty of places to sit down and enjoy the view.
A 260 ft waterfall, one of the highest in New York. We overheard someone talking about it at a cafe and decided to check it out, and so glad we did. It’s a drive away from Woodstock, around 20 minutes, up a serpentine road and into the Catskills. The amazing thing about this waterfall is that there are trails leading to both the crest of the waterfall, where it first begins to drop, and the bottom, where it makes a nicely-sized pool, and you can swim in both places. As in, you can stand under a waterfall (!) and you can swim in river pools, in water which will be dropping hundreds of feet after it brushes past you. Insane. This was the last thing we did before heading back to the city, and it was the perfect closing to our trip.
Some food-related places we liked:
Kingston Farmer’s Market
There are plenty of farmers markets in the area, but we only got to try out this one. A very nice, medium-sized farmer’s market with a good number of produce stands. The August produce was absolutely beautiful – heirloom tomatoes the size of a baby’s head, jewel-colored eggplants, ground cherries, peaches, shiso leaf (!), purslane, etc, etc. Open Saturdays 9am-2pm.
We buy this company’s bread in NYC and were interested in visiting one of their home stores, since the company originated in the Catskills. This location sells many different varieties of their bread, a ton of pastries, coffee (Irving Farm) and sandwiches. Good for breakfast and lunch.
Good burgers (they do have a brown rice and beet veggie burger for the veggie-inclined) and sandwiches (veggie melt), but I liked the watermelon gazpacho special I got the most. The cocktails are also fun, generously sized, and unique – their booze of choice seems to be soju and sake.
Went here for lunch. A modern deli that bakes its own bread, pickles their own veggies and uses local produce. Lots of interesting sandwich options and a few salads.
Sunflower Natural Foods Market
A very well stocked local health food store.
A local bean to bar chocolate company that offers a variety of chocolate bars for all tastes. They even sell a 100% cacao bar!
Vinnie’s Farm Market
A crazy place we stopped at on the way back from Kaaterskill Falls. A family-owned produce stand and store with a TON of homemade canned goods, from pickles to jams to hot pepper spreads, pastries and bread, homemade butter, farm eggs and milk. The amount of product they have is almost overwhelming, and the whole place feels like a step back in time.
Since the cottage we rented was so cozy, we had no problem staying in for dinner and cooking with all the amazing produce we got at the farmer’s market. I’d been flipping through Modern Potluck the week prior, and was really attracted to the cover recipe for Spice-Roasted Carrots Over Lentils, which seemed perfectly simple, and like a good accompaniment to the grilled pizza we were planning on making in Woodstock. We loved the dish, it was a breeze to make and had all the elements I love in a side dish – substance from lentils and carrots, sweetness from dates, complexity from the spices and a fresh finish from the herbs. I imagine that bringing a platter of these lentils to a potluck would definitely earn you a status of a famous cook among your friends.
Giveaway: For a chance to win a copy of Modern Potluck, leave a comment with your favorite potluck dish and a working email until Wednesday, September 7th, 2016.
- 3 pounds real baby carrots or other small carrots - scrubbed if organic, peeled if not
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup tender fresh herb leaves - cilantro/dill/tarragon/mint/basil - roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup finely sliced pitted medjool dates, dried figs or prunes
- 1 pound dried black beluga or french green lentils
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion - quartered lengthwise, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves - roughly chopped
- plain yogurt or cashew cream for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, toss the carrots with olive oil, coriander, paprika and cumin, and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the carrots out on the baking sheets.
- Roast, rotating the baking sheets halfway through and shaking the carrots, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are nicely browned and tender. Let the carrots cool slightly, then transfer to a large bowl and toss with the herbs and dates.
- In a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with water by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid and season with salt.
- In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and season generously with salt. Cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and reserved cooking liquid, and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and the cilantro.
- Arrange the lentils on a platter and top with the carrots. Garnish with more herb leaves and dollops of yogurt/cashew cream and serve warm or at room temperature.
- The lentils and roasted carrots, without the herbs and dates, can be refrigerated separately, overnight; bring to room temperature before serving. Bring the dish to the potluck already assembled with the vegetables on top of the lentils, then garnish with yogurt/cashew cream and herbs just before serving.