Hudson Valley potluck

Hudson- red barns

It doesn’t take long to leave New York City behind and find red barns, green fields, sprawling farms, and far more relaxed people.

Welcome to the Hudson Valley.

Hudson- Brook farm

We drove and drove, from Bowmansville, PA to the Hudson Valley. It was a long drive, but I won’t say it was too long a drive, since we cherish the memory of that time in Amish country. And it’s a beautiful drive. (New Jersey, you get such a bum rap. That is a lush green state.) Still, by the time we arrived in the Hudson Valley, we needed the sight of scenic small towns, front porches, brick and stone buildings, and creeks running under bridges.

The Hudson Valley is farm country.

And as many folks at the Hudson Valley potluck explained to us, the Hudson Valley is the breadbasket of New York City. It used to be that all the produce went down to the greenmarkets in Union Square, to feed people in high-end restaurants and other places. Now, there’s a sense of something different. “Why don’t we keep more of it right here?”

As someone told us, “It’s really quite possible to eat an entirely local diet here, most of the year.”

Hudson- the spread

If the Amish country was about tradition and ritual. this area seemed it was filled with wild innovation. Those lamb meatballs with spicy harissa yogurt sauce, for example. The meat was raised and butchered in an old traditional fashion but that harissa sauce certainly wasn’t being served in the Hudson Valley 100 years ago. (And oh my, was it delicious.) The kids didn’t touch the sauce, but as Lucy said the next day, “We kids must have eaten 100 meatballs!”

Hudson- pies and crisps

These pies and crisps were not-traditional, of course, since they were made with gluten-free oats, flours, and non-typical sweeteners. But they were adapted from the recipes of Dana’s grandmother, filled with apples she picked from her backyard trees, and made with Hudson Valley cheddar cheese.

Also, they were delicious.

Hudson- Lu signing book

The Hudson Valley has always been a refuge for artists, musicians, and writers. As someone at the potluck said, “It’s a blessed area. It just draws interesting people.”

This is how Lucy happened to meet Jacky Davis-Sonam, who wrote some of her most favorite books in the world, the Ladybug Girl series. These books are like bibles in our house. Lulu’s spunky, intrepid nature, matched with her compassion, has been a model for our Lulu for years now. Danny and I were blown away to meet Jacky, who is lovelier than I imagined. Lucy was excited too, but she took it all in stride. We happen to know so many writers, artists, musicians, and painters that she thinks almost everyone does something creative.

I imagine that’s the experience of kids growing up in the Hudson Valley too.

Hudson- Elizabeth

We owe so much of the joy of that lovely evening to this wonderful, generous woman, Elizabeth Mitchell. Thank you, thank you, Liz. If you don’t know Elizabeth’s music with her husband Daniel and their daughter, Storey, please go give a listen. For many of us, her music is the soundtrack of our children’s lives.

Lucy was so excited to see Storey, who is a model for her in this crazy vagabond life we have. Plus, she played all evening with Arlo, the son of one of my favorite people, Lisa Moussalli. We have been Flickr friends since 2005. I saw her wedding photos, her growing belly, and Arlo growing older via every social media. To be in the same room was startling at first, then completely natural. Just like all this touring feels now.

Hudson- Fleishers

The next day, after the potluck, we took a trip to Fleishers, a grassfed and organic meats shop. Jessica attended our potluck the night before —- she made those delicious lamb meatballs —— and talked about the impetus for beginning the butcher shop. Jessica and Josh have a fascinating story but better yet they are still there every day, working to make sure they can find the highest quality meat for everyone in the area. They only sell pastured meats from animals raised on small, local, sustainable farms. Just seeing the lard/offal/pork chili freezer case made me want to live in Kingston. Danny bought one of their t-shirts: bacon gives me a lardon. I had to buy bacon: the gateway meat.

Seriously, I think I could live in the Hudson Valley for Fleishers alone.

Hudson- front porch

The Hudson Valley is the kind of slow-paced place where you just want to sit on a front porch with friends for awhile, eating good food and talking about life.

Hudson- Lu walking at the farm

Danny and I both feel so blessed, meeting all these people and having the chance to take our daughter to these places.

Thank you, Hudson Valley.


We’re on the road for the next 10 days. New England, we can’t wait to meet you.

We want to send out a huge thank you and acknowledgment of the good companies that have come forward to sponsor this American Road Trip Potluck Tour for us all. 

Jovial Foods makes incredible gluten-free pastas, organic tomatoes, and some of the best olive oil we have ever tasted. They make simply great food. 

Attune Foods makes some of our favorite foods in the world, including their new quinoa-chia cereal, which we will be debuting on this tour. They do things right. 

Bakery on Main makes great gluten-free foods, including good granolas and bars. We’ll definitely take some of their instant oatmeal packets with us, for a good breakfast on the road.  

KitchenAid makes some of our most essential kitchen appliances. They are giving away one Diamond blender at every potluck we are holding!

Thank you to these three companies, as well as the companies that might be joining us, for their sponsorship of this tour. 

15 comments on “Hudson Valley potluck

  1. Peggy (from Florida)

    When I saw the picture of the red barn I started to cry.
    My husbands Grandparents came over from Germany and settled in PA
    We have spent many many days in the Lancaster Area.
    We lived most of our married life in NY State near West Point and made many
    trips to the New England Area as well as exploring NY State.
    I will always miss it !!!!!!

  2. Angie

    Question totally not about food–where did you find that dress you’re wearing? It (and you!) looks great!

  3. sylvia

    Oh Shauna, please share with us the potluck dishes you’ve made for each stop! Other people’s cooking sounds good but I want to see what delicious dishes you’ve made from your awesome cookbook.

  4. kate

    They don’t call New Jersey The Garden State for nothing 🙂 Too bad you won’t be in Massachusetts, at all. SOOOO many historic towns, the ocean, the Birkshires (Tanglewood), oh, man, there are just so many quintessential “New England” scenes to take in and tons of organic farmers plugging away here!

  5. Joanne Armenio

    Beautiful photos and beautiful writing – feels like I’m there with you. If only we could taste through FB. Thank you for sharing your experiences .

  6. Margit Van Schaick

    Love your up-dates–please take even more photos, if possible. I wish you could stay longer and visit more places. Shauna, did you get your dress in Italy? It’s really lovely. Wishing you all the best for the rest of your journey.

  7. Seefa

    just a couple of questions about the MA potluck. I want to bring a dish that is most decidedly not gluten free. Is the bakery going to allow that? It’s clearly a dedicated facility and I don’t want to worry anyone about cross contamination. Also I was considering assembling a lovely tasting flight of local beers, but as you’re no doubt aware, MA has such strict liquor laws. Does Glutenus Minimus have an on premises liquor license?

    1. shauna

      Seefa, I checked with the woman who runs the bakery about this issue before we announced it. She is fine with it. We’re going to keep all the gluten in one area and clean it afterwards. I wouldn’t imagine the beers would work but you can call her directly!

      1. Kate

        And for those of you wondering ‘why all the precautions, and wonderings…” we are RULES and REGS Massachusetts. In this case, it’s for health reasons, so good on you for asking beforehand. Go into NH and it’s all “Don’t Tread On Me……..or tell me what to do :))” Ah, MA I love my second home state, but you do go overboard with rules.

  8. Seefa

    The actual regs are if there’s food served and people are standing, you can consume 2 ounces of liquor or less. Thats why wine shops have those little tasting stations. Do we buy a raffle ticket to win the blender? or is it like a door prize if you bring the best food?

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