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If you go to a farmers market in New York State, chances are the produce is coming from my home town or any of the towns around it in Orange County, New York.  This is my favorite time of year to escape NYC and visit my parents upstate. I retreat to the farmland where I grew up and leave the stress and heat of the city behind (although I usually have an accordion folder full of legal work and my blackberry in tow).  When I’m upstate I like to get back to the basics. In the summer, I feel like you have to. With the earth fleetingly yielding its bounty and the sun generously sending us its rays, I’ve been trying to seize the moment. We are going camping with my brother soon, I’ve been catching crayfish in the lake, watching minor league baseball in Brooklyn on the boardwalk with my grandma, using seasonal vegetables and spending as much time outside as we can before the earth tilts just a little further and brings us into another glorious season, beautiful in its own right, but leaving me speaking in past perfect tense about the things that I have done.

Something about the summer is magical in that when one summer ends and you greet the next one, it’s like visiting an old friend. You just picked up where you left off, but each of you is just slightly different now, both having weathered one winter more, learned, grown, persisted. Because of the fleeting and giving nature of this old friend, I’ve been cooking from the basics when I can. It’s easier that way, it’s using nature’s gift and it allows me the time to get out of the apartment and spend time with this ephemeral, yet loyal friend.

When visiting my parents, I buy the corn and onions from the farmer on the side of his farm (see my post on Warwick’s magical black dirt here), the ice cream from the creamery, the apples from the orchard, the wine from the vineyard, the fruit off the vine or field. Very few places I’ve seen have all of this in one town, but Warwick does.

This post is a simple recipe for couscous that my mom makes, but really it’s an excuse to post pics of where I grew up and where I load up on produce when I can. My mom serves this couscous with everything and there is never any left over. I’ve got some great recipes coming up using the veggies I bought from the farmers and I can’t wait to share them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt to taste

Directions:

In a medium-sized pot boil two cups of water. Add couscous. When all the water is absorbed, about ten minutes, remove from stove. Move to a large bowl. Combine couscous in large bowl with dried cranberries, dried apricots, parsley and salt. Serve hot or cold.

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Warwick corn

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Bellvale Creamery

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Demarest Winery

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Glenmere Lake

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Pine Island black dirt and its produce

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Tiger Lilies, seen everywhere in upstate NY on the side of the road

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Pine Island onions. More than 90% of NY’s onions come from Pine Island

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Corn fields

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Pine Island black dirt

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Bellvale Farm

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Appalachian Trail – Cascade Lake

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My parents’ hammock

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Me as the sun sets, uncomfortable with having the camera turned on me.

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