Hey all! I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite philosophy books, Walden or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau. I had always wanted to venture out to Walden Pond in Concord, MA to walk the same trails and take in the scenery as Thoreau did in the 19th century. Keeping a strong connection to nature and removing myself from society on occasion is something I hold to a high esteem. I was determined to get there whether it was with company or alone, so I thought “Why not make a day trip of it?”

I was lucky enough to bring two friends along, a writer and a musician. We hopped in the gas guzzling Jeep at 9 AM and hit the road. As we drove up the Hudson Valley to our destination of Mt. Washington, MA, we took in the rolling hills of the Berkshires and the corn fields for miles..and I mean miles. Before I knew it, we arrived at our first stop.

Bash Bish Falls,

Aka the tallest waterfall in Massachusetts, that also happens to be in New York too. It lies right on the border between the two states! I don’t know about you, but I was pretty fascinated by that fact. Anyway, we unknowingly parked in the Massachusetts lot because that’s where my GPS directed us, but more about that later. We stepped into the woods and embarked on a steep-yet-short descent to the falls. It was very, how you say, Lord of the Rings? Everything was covered in a thick layer of lusciously green moss and there were a number of stream crossings. Under the canopy of the trees, it was a cool sixty-five degrees. After slipping and sliding a few times, we reached the falls. Woohoo! Sixty feet of natural wonder! It’s a gorgeous double waterfall rushing into a pool below, eventually leading into the Hudson. It was a bit populated, but with considerate and nice people offering to take your picture after they see you struggling with your self-timer.

Boy, oh boy. Nature is a real beaut. Oh yeah, I forgot we had to hike up that steep path to get back to the car. Once we got going, there was some huffing and puffing and sweating, but we eventually made it. Totally worth it. Remember when I mentioned the Mass. parking lot? Well there’s a New York one and it doesn’t include a steep ascent on the way back. Woops. It’s exercise, right?

Walden Pond

After a long three hour drive from Mt. Washington, we arrived in Concord! I could barely contain my excitement. As we pull into the parking lot and get ready to pay the $5 parking charge, we are quickly informed that New York cars are required to pay $10. I guess it’s true, MA and NY really are rivals. It was then clarified that all out of state cars have to pay $10…sure. But I digress.

I was surprised to see how many cars had taken over the parking lot. Then I remembered that we were at a pond, and people are probably swimming. Anyway, we made our way over to the gift shop to check out all the Thoreau goodies. I bought myself a Walden Pond patch for my backpack and a shirt that says “What Would Thoreau Do?” because why wouldn’t I?

We visited a replica of HDT’s house which measured roughly 12 x 8 I would estimate. We continued to walk the trail to the site of the real cabin that unfortunately no longer exists. There was a wooden sign that read one of my favorite quotes, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life. And see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Warms the heart. Standing at the sight, Thoreau’s motive behind living in solitude in the woods could not be any more apparent.

We sat on the shores and took in the vastness and foliage and contemplated for a bit. I dipped my feet in and the water was really clear and eighty-five degrees. After ample contemplation, we moved on to our next and final destination.

 Boston

Like any city, Boston has it’s wonders, and parking is a bitch. Be surprised not. My musician friend had gone to BU, so he knew his way around and brought us to all the best spots. Our first stop was In Your Ear!, a record/VHS/8-track/CD/DVD/poster/t-shirt/free stuff store. When I say they have an extensive selection, I mean it.

After perusing records and such, my friend insisted we stopped next door at Blue Slate Coffee to grab some cascara iced tea. I learned that cascara tea is made from the fruit that surrounds the coffee bean, so naturally it’s a bit bitter with fruity notes and enough caffeine to get you through your day. I wanted to bathe in it.

We looked around some more, and then we got to the most important part: food. Most places didn’t cater to a cheaper budget, so we ended up at Max Brenner, a restaurant based around chocolate. I’ll say it again: chocolate. Their menu was small, in a wonderful way. I still ended up being torn between three things. Of course after dinner, I had to peek at their specialty chocolate selection and pick some up for my mom. A full belly and a $40 parking ticket later, it was time to go home so we drove off into the night sky, and without turning around we whispered Massachusetts “Adieu”.

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New York to Boston Hey all! I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite philosophy books, Walden or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau.

Vegetarian Pulled “Pork” With Homemade BBQ Sauce and Chickpea Salad

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When I used to eat meat, I always loved my mom’s pulled pork. When she told me she was making it for dinner yesterday, my heart sank to the pit of my stomach because I knew I couldn’t have it. I was searching the internet for pork alternatives/substitutes all day and I kept seeing canned jack fruit on every website. I have never had jackfruit, and its appearance is less than appetizing. The…

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Click here to read my post about local berry picking.

This summer, I’ve been really into growing fruits and vegetables. I especially love berries; blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, you name it. My tiny strawberry plant has only yielded five fruits. It’s still a young plant, it’s been blazingly hot, and I’m sure some backyard critters are to blame. The price of organic berries in the produce section are usually six plus dollars for a single package which is really absurd. So, I thought to myself, how do I get the berries that I love without the expense? Pick them myself!

I have loved apple picking since the womb, basically, so I don’t know why it took me twenty-two years to figure out that there are other fruits and vegetables available for picking. Yeah, you can go to a local farm stand and buy a pint, but then you don’t get the fun of experience. I’ve been looking for an excuse to drive all the way to Rhinebeck/Red Hook because I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about the area. I’d also been wanting to visit Poets Walk Park located on River Road in Red Hook. Well it just so happens that Greig Farm (223 Pitcher Ln) offers pick-your-own! At the moment, blueberries are in season. Raspberries are typically in season at this time, but it seems that they had just planted some young bushes so they’ll be producing fruit next year.

When you pull into the lot, all you see are trees and bushes for miles. You’re given a huge bucket, and you’re on your way. Of course my friends and I went on one of the hottest days of the summer thus far, but that didn’t stop us. The blueberries were all plump and ripe, good enough to pull off the plant to eat then and there. After realizing how long it takes to accumulate roughly just a pint of fruit, you give a lot of credit to the farmers and harvesters that have to do it every day! In the end, I filled up a cardboard pint basket and it was a mere $3! So what do you do with that many berries? Make a pie, of course.

Believe it or not, I’d never eaten blueberry pie in my entire life. Not even tried it. Why, you ask? I really have no idea, because once I tried it I was almost brought to tears at how delicious it was. I used the Williams-Sonoma recipe for a blueberry crumble. It was so amazing, that I’m now organizing a religion based around a pie.

Williams-Sonoma blueberry crumble pie

Williams-Sonoma blueberry crumble pie

So after having had such a pleasant blueberry picking experience, I couldn’t get fresh fruits and vegetables off the brain. Just two days later, I was awake at 6 AM thinking about food, so I made a trip over to Fishkill Farms at 9 Fishkill Farms Road in, well, Fishkill. What an awesome place! They have such a wide selection of pick-your-own fruits and vegetables that I didn’t even know where to start. Raspberries are my absolutely favorite fruit in the entire world, so naturally I gravitated to them first. They were so easy pick and they were really nicely sweet. I went wild with the red ones, and made my way over the the yellow ones, which are equally delicious. I was planning to pick some plums, but there were some farm workers at the trees harvesting all the ripe ones for their on-site store. I made my way over the the vegetables. I do have a pretty extensive vegetable garden in my backyard full of zucchini, tomatoes, chard, kale and other leafy greens so I was pretty set on those, although they were really beautiful. Then I spotted…pickling cucumbers. I was in heaven! If there’s one thing I love as much as raspberries, it’s pickles. So I got down and dirty and picked a bunch of them, which I then pickled when I got home (I used this great recipe). I am also a huge lover of wildflowers and flowers in general, so I can never resist snatching up a bouquet for my bedroom. I had gotten a full pint of raspberries, a pint of cucumbers (roughly about 8 or so), a beautiful bouquet of pick-your-own flowers and a bottle of water for $19. Not bad! Make sure to check out all the tempting local milk products, vegetables, teas, candles, seeds and more in their shop before you pay. I guarantee you won’t leave empty-handed. Oh, did I mention they have cider donuts too?!

To make a long story short, you owe it to yourself to get your ass out there and take advantage of the local fresh food and fare that our lovely communities have to offer. If you don’t live near these particular farms, just head on over to google pick your own in your area!

 

‘Tis the Season for Berry Picking This summer, I’ve been really into growing fruits and vegetables. I especially love berries; blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, you name it.
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