Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Central Park Walk and a Sweet Potato Twist from Cleo Coyle

Pop Quiz: Where was the above photo taken?

A. New Hampshire

B. Vermont 

C. Central Park

If you guessed C., you would be correct. Okay, so my post title gave it away, but (honestly) could you have guessed otherwise? I took the photo this past Sunday, during a lovely rainy-day walk in Central Park with my husband. 

Cleo Coyle, whose husband
is also her partner in
crime-writing, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries.
This was Marc's first long day out after some major surgery last month. He's recovering very well, which  is why this walk was more than just a walk for us: It was a happy day of thanksgiving for his continued recovery...

And, speaking of Thanksgiving, if any of you are coming to the city for the parade or shopping, consider a walk in Central Park. It's a wonderful experience...

The red marker in the photo shows the location of the Delacorte Theater.
This is where you would go to see a Shakespeare in the Park performance,
and it marks the general area of our Sunday walk.
So what's in Central Park? 

250 acres of lawns, 24,000 trees,
150 acres of lakes and streams, 
80 acres of woodlands, 9,000 benches, 
26 ball fields, 21 playgrounds,

and a partridge in a pear tree...
(but only during the holiday season). 

Actually, the park is one of the
top bird-watching spots in the USA
with over 200 species moving through
during migration months.

Below is my photo of the empty Delacorte Theater 
from a hawk's vantage point. "Hawk watchers"
with binoculars can be seen up here on occasion.

Two life-size sculptures stand at the front of the theater, celebrating
two of Shakespeare's plays. One of them was inspired by
The Tempest. The other is below. Can you guess it without looking
at the pedestal?

Click the photo to enlarge it.

We then walked through "The Ramble," one of the oldest parts of the park, 37 acres of hilly woodlands with secluded arches, ponds, benches, and bridges like the one below...

Two mallards float near a rowboat on the park's 18-acre lake.
Oak Bridge stands in the background.
(Click the photo to enlarge and see the other duck!)

Below you'll find another view of the Central Park Lake.
For the first time on our walk, we can see that we're in a city!
What are the two towers rising in the background?
Scroll down to the caption...

The two towers rising in the background are part of a famous
apartment building called the San Remo (built around 1930).
It sits along Central Park West's Historic District and,
over the years, has had a few tenants you may
have heard of: Steven Spielberg, Steve Martin, Dustin Hoffman,
Tiger Woods, Stephen Sondheim, Glenn Close, Demi Moore,
and Aaron Spelling. (And, no, we did not see any
of them on our walk. :))

The cast-iron details of the "Ladies Pavilion" makes in a notable
example of 19th century American decorative arts. It sits prettily
on the Central Park Lake, which was once used for ice skating in the
winter months. After 1950, the city moved the skaters to a rink
to allow the wildlife's former residents to return.
(Click on the photo to enlarge.)

When we emerged from the park, we saw this sight:
bleachers on Central Park West. Why?
The city is already getting ready for next week's
Thanksgiving Day Parade!

And speaking of Thanksgiving,
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen will be celebrating
a week of Thanksgiving recipes,
kicking off this Thursday and ending
on Thanksgiving next Thursday.

Be sure to stop by every day for a new recipe
If you missed my recipe from last week,
(pictured below) be sure to check it out. 



So what's the twist?
On my facebook page last week, 
a few people mentioned that they might try
my holiday appetizer recipe (pictured above)
using sweet potatoes instead of
butternut squash.

I think that is a fabulous idea,
and if you have a few extra 
sweet potatoes
after your Thanksgiving menu is made, 
this is a tasty way to make use of them!

To see my above recipe for
"Nuts on Horseback,"

I'll have a new recipe for you next week.
In the meantime...

Marc and I wish you
Happy Trails!

Coming from us
December 3rd...

A Coffeehouse Mystery
by Cleo Coyle 

(Marc and I collaborate as "Cleo")

"Top Pick"
RT Book Reviews

A Mystery Guild
Featured Alternate Selection

"...a highly satisfying mystery."
~ Publishers Weekly

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
13 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.


  1. Cleo, those photos are GORGEOUS! they make me yearn for a visit to New York City! And I'm so glad Mark is feeling better--there is not much worse than having your dear one in the sick bay. xoxox to both of you!

    1. Lucy/Roberta - Thank you kindly! Marc is getting lots of chicken soup with TLC from "Nurse Alice" --- no RN but I do drive a tough hospital. "No donuts for breakfast--yogurt and walnuts! Time for your pills...not later. Now!" (I think he's getting better just to shut me up.)

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. What a lovely post, Cleo! Central Park is magnificent and my own hubby and I have enjoyed visiting it whenever we are in NYC. I am so glad that Marc is feeling better. You look terrific together. And now, to try that recipe with sweet potatoes as well.



    1. Hugs to you, too, MJ. The park truly is magnificent in the fall. The Central Park Conservancy does a miraculous job keeping it up, considering the endless stream of visitors.

      So many places in the park have histories that include sad chapters where things were allowed to deteriorate—before new leadership stepped in to restore what was almost lost. Marc and I hope New York’s residents and its leaders never stop striving to keep the city from slipping back to those bad old days…

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Such a lovely place for a stroll. I've not explored much of Central Park, so thank you for the virtual tour, Cleo. And best wishes to Marc, for continued better health.

    Just wanted to let you know that I made Nuts on Horseback last night for a party, using the butternut squash, and they were a big hit. Instead of maple syrup I used some shagbark hickory syrup made locally, and it was delicious. Planning to use sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, too, so thank you!

    1. Karen (in Ohio) - I'm thrilled to learn that you enjoyed the Nuts on Horseback recipe! I also appreciate your introducing me to "shagbark hickory syrup."

      I was born and raised in Western PA (Ohio Valley) but I never heard of this, and I'm always interested in new foods. Looking into this, I see that hickory syrup is like maple syrup but less sweet with a strong smoky flavor. I also see some places online where I can order it and have it sent--and I'll be doing that. Thank you so much for the foodie find!

      My warmest wishes to you and your family for a very...

      Happy Thanksgiving!
      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

    2. So glad to introduce you to a new treat, especially after I've so enjoyed the recipes in your Coffeehouse Mysteries. You'll love the hickory syrup.

      And a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, as well.

  4. You have a fantastic eye for photos. I will have the TV on to the parade while I'm slaving in the kitchen. Just immediate family will be 27 people and kids. My partner and I haven't been to Central Park in ages so thanks for putting it back on my personal map. Maybe we will have to take a hike there before the snow hits the city.

    I guess I can try making the sweet potato thing but I'll be using Facon (tm) instead of bacon. LOL

    1. NoraA - Only 27 for dinner, eh? (Yikes!) If ever I want to open a small restaurant, I'll be calling you. :) "Facon" will work just as well as bacon and it's a great way to pretty up ye olde sweet potato for fancy-schmancy appetizers (or as Marc and I call them "amuse-bites").

      Have a happy holiday and may you, your partner, and your entire family...

      Eat with joy!
      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Marvelous pictures! When we lived in NYC (in the Village) we made regular trips to Central Park to get a dose of nature. I'd lie face down on the grass and have the sun recharge me through my back. It is an amazing place.
    Glad to hear Marc is on the mend. Keep up the good work.
    And the Nuts on Horseback are delicious.

    1. Libby - Thanks for the kind words, and I'm tickled that you found inspiration in last week's butternut squash recipe (the "Nut" of the Nuts on Horseback). What a sweet memory to share of Central Park, too, I can almost feel the sun on my own back. And now that you mention it, I think it's the combination of seclusion and togetherness that makes CP such an amazing place. It's a joy to see others enjoying the park. No one we saw wasn't having a wonderful time--and all that positive energy certainly cancels the negative junk we often get from living in a crowded city. They sure knew what they were doing when they built that park at New York's heart--and *kept* it there.

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  6. Wow. Central Park is amazing! I had no idea what it would look like in the fall. Thanks for sharing your fantastic photos. And you and Marc look so cute together!

    1. Wendy – Fall is such a nice time for city-dwellers to get out to parks and the countryside. It was a pleasure to share the photos, and I’m truly happy to hear that you enjoyed them.

      BTW - Huge thanks for the wonderful tweet support. You're a tweet-heart! Hey, no groaning. Puns were once considered the highest form of humor. And, anyway, Hitchcock loved them. So okay he loved a delicious murder, too. (Then again, so do I…bwa-ha-haa!)

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Beautiful. I definitely miss the changing of the leaves living out in California.

    Daryl / Avery

    1. Daryl/Avery - It's true, the leaves are beautiful here in the fall--but in another month or so we'll wish we were with you in CA (no freezing rain or bone-chilling winds of winter)!

      Thanks for dropping in today, Daryl; Marc and I hope you and your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. Cleo, thanks for taking us on your walk with you. The photographs are lovely. And they're parts of NYC that I usually don't see when I'm there.


    1. Krista - Thank you for dropping in today, and (truth be told) we hadn't been there in a few years and thought it was about time to remedy that!

      One of the Central Park Conservancy workers we spoke with commented that many New Yorkers seldom take a walk in the park--too busy, did it years ago, etc...or they limit its use to a brisk run or bicycle workout. But Central Park is so much more--an amazing partnership between human ingenuity and natural beauty. It's definitely worth exploring, and Marc and I hope to be doing more of it in the future.

      Have a great week, Krista, and a wonderful Thanksgiving!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter