Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Monday, December 28, 2009

Much Awaited Milestone: One Tooth Gone...

Though this is already old news it has to be documented before the next one comes out!

Izzy was the last of his friends to finally lose a tooth. It happened December 14th, after days of anticipation. For what seemed like weeks on end, he wiggled and jiggled it with his tongue, showing off its looseness to all who could stomach it. His Papa couldn't bear the sight of the tooth and would run off in horror, whereas I was reminded of the enjoyable days of my own tooth wiggling.

It was only after a Chinese dinner with D. the dentist (his new pal) that the tooth began to hang by a thread. The following morning, a crust of toast did the trick and the tooth landed on Izzy's breakfast plate.

That night, the Tooth Fairy came with two dollars but Izzy insisted he knew it was me. No fooling him.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Storm = Snow Frolic? Not so much...

In a perfect world, Izzy would have awakened to the quiet snow white wonderland surrounding us, eagerly awaiting his moment to escape and frolic in the powdery yard. Instead he awoke to the sounds of our neighbors shoveling. In fact he bounded in to announce that five of our neighbors (not yet 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, mind you) were already out shoveling their sidewalks.

Meanwhile I was roused by the same sounds and the dread of having to join them. It's not that I particularly mind shoveling snow but I am not especially good at it and for some reason, my shovel never seems to work as well as theirs (maybe I ought to do some shovel research....). In any case, Izzy agreed to postpone breakfast (an extremely rare occurrence) in order to join me. And that was the worst part. Poor Izzy did not have snow boots, having outgrown his pair from last year, all he had to wear were some spring rain boots or a pair of sneakers. I opted for the boots with double socks and we bundled up and went outside. We shoveled until Izzy managed to fill his knee high boots with snow. I sent him inside to watch from the window and after repeated pleas to come in for breakfast, I gave up and joined him. It felt so nice to be inside, sipping tea and feasting on eggs, beans and toast, our Sunday ritual.

Later that morning, we had to go outside again to visit my friend's cats and since his rain boots were now soaked, he had no choice but to wear his sneakers. Along the way, we happened upon a woman ( heretofore unknown to me) shoveling the sidewalk down the block. She asked him where his boots were and I (already annoyed that the poor thing had to go outside in sneakers), nastily replied that he didn't have any. She added this helpful tidbit which made me want to throttle her, "This is the North East. He needs snow boots." I thanked her ever so kindly(if kindness is seething that is) for that advice and we went on our way. Fact was, we had gone out Saturday in search of snow boots but the Newport Mall was of no use and we came home empty-handed.

Our day may not have begun on exactly the note I had imagined but all was not lost in the end, for the rain boots dried up from our morning shovel. Izzy put them on once again for a late afternoon romp in our backyard snowdrifts while I plotted a jaunt to NYC to buy new snow boots, first thing Monday morning.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What Has Izzy Been Eating? Indeed !

After a long and unintended hiatus, I finally found myself at the Wednesday Union Square Market last week. So nice to be back amongst the local fruits, vegetables and cheese, whether I can eat them or not. I made my way over to 3-Corner Field Farm where I was heartily greeted by the sheep lady who noted my absence. I explained that I hadn't been feeling well and hadn't been cooking or eating much lately. She immediately asked about Izzy and what he had been eating. "What about your blog? Have you been posting, "Izzy eats nothing?" My quick reply, much to her dismay, was that we had been eating takeout. She would be relieved to hear that when I stopped to think about it more, I realized we haven't been eating it much more than usual.

Furthermore, Izzy has been eating and lots. I just haven't been posting. Weeks of meals and tidbits have vanished without a written trace. But others do live on in memories, photographic and otherwise.

There was a homemade soup with Udon noodles, a warm and comforting treat made by a friend...

And there was the excitement of trying something new...Izzy was the perfect Raclette participant. I love it myself but could merely nibble...

There was also a memorable take-out meal. City Bakery take-out that is. Macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, accompanied by a spinach salad I made at home.

And then there were many many potato latkes, which I churned out for Izzy's class at school, with the kind assistance of D., another mom. That day I was surrounded by an oily halo and the odor remained in my house for days. No Hanukkah party at home this year but at least I managed to make the latkes.

And so it goes...despite my eating woes, trying to get back into the blogging and cooking mode. There were other milestones and other recipes which are deserving of their own posts and I hope to get to those promptly!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Encourage Healthy Eating: Jump With Jill!

Looking for ways to inspire your child to crave healthier foods? Jump with Jill does just that. Jill is a locally based "rockstar nutritionist" whose catchy lyrics will have your child bopping to tunes that foster healthy eating habits. Izzy and I saw her at Made With Love Organics several months ago and he has been bouncing to her music ever since.

Jump With Jill will be at Made With Love this afternoon, from 4:30 - 6:30. Even though healthy eating begins at home, it's always helpful to get some outside inspiration which Jill can certainly provide!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What's On Your Plate? Brooklyn Kitchen's Kids' Day

In search of a food activity geared toward kids? Check out Brooklyn Kitchen's very first Kids' Day. This Saturday, December 5, they will be showing a screening of the film, "What's on Your Plate?" A film for and about kids, as the learn about where food comes from. Snacks will be on hand and a discussion will follow, along with a talk with the butcher about where hot dogs really come from.

Perhaps Izzy and I will see you there!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Behold The Batter Bowl

If ever there were a reason to rush off and make pancakes, this bowl is it. It is a "batter bowl" so named I gather, for its spout which makes for easy pouring. I have no idea if these are common but I only just happened upon them the other day, at my next door neighbor's house.

You see my next door neighbor, J. is a potter and quite an accomplished one at that. I knew of his profession but had seen only a few samples of his work in the backyard and I had not an inkling of what lay within. Last weekend I discovered that his yearly pottery event which I had always just thought was a private viewing, was actually a sale, open to those in the know. So Izzy and I made an appearance and it was there that I came upon this gorgeous bowl and two floors of extensive pottery offerings. You can check out more of his work here and next year try to make it to his sale.

So inspired by our new bowl, the morning after its purchase, Izzy and I made some raspberry pancakes ( I just added frozen raspberries to the original recipe) and I was thrilled to be able to pour them straight from the bowl.

Thanksgiving Vows: One Broken, One Kept

Four years ago, we made a vow never to travel very far on Thanksgiving (and other holidays). This came following a less than stellar taxi ride to my dad's house and our difficulties locating a taxi for the return trip home during a torrential downpour. The following year, in keeping with our plans, we held Thanksgiving at our house. My overambitious menu left me exhausted and stressed. That year, I vowed to keep future meals simpler. Last year, I kept to both vows. We took the train to my friend L's house for the holiday, where I simply contributed a few dishes to the meal, making for probably the calmest Thanksgiving ever. Perhaps it was because we didn't have to worry about anything like this.

This year, I had every intention of making Thanksgiving chez moi but as the day drew nearer, and I grew sicker, my certitude turned to indecision. Even though I dragged my cold-infested self over to the New Amsterdam market, last Sunday, in hopes of still procuring a turkey, I was only slightly disappointed when I didn't find one. Fate had spoken. I was not meant to make Thanksgiving this year. My potential guest list was quite short and friends convinced me my health was more important. I did not need to be roaming the streets in search of the perfect heritage bird, even if I did get better by Tuesday ( I did not).

And so I did break the vow of Thanksgiving travel, though this time with Zipcar. We went to my dad's for a brief spell, enough time to sample the birds, deep-fried and roasted. Yes, my stepmother L. manages to put two birds on the table wherein I have enough trouble getting one bird on time. Her secret? Preparing all of the side dishes the day before; something I hope to try next year. And as for the birds? I can't give an adequate comparison as my sense of taste is on hiatus. All I noted was that the roasted one was saltier.

Along with the birds there were the usual sides, potatoes, sweet and mashed, stuffing, Brussels sprouts and such. Izzy made the cranberry mold which we brought along and I made some cookies which I will post soon. The highlight of Izzy's day was raiding the basement, as there is a closet full of all of my sister C.'s old toys. Each time we go, Izzy makes a new discovery. This time he left with a crystal-making kit. Turned out to be exactly what he needed for entertainment today as my nagging sickness just won't go away.

And so, in my post-Thanksgiving daze, I am thankful that we managed to get home by 8:30, just in time for Izzy to go to bed. I am thankful for the friends who kept me from cooking and my stepmother for doing all the work instead.

I have already clipped a few new recipes for next year, and hope to test them out soon so I can keep both vows when the time comes (unless of course we forgo the feast for the parade and dinner out!).

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Gift of Food: A Squash Surprise

There is nothing more heart-warming then the offer of food from a friend, especially when one is feeling sickly, as I have been. Stuffed nose, achy head, green boogers and the like have been plaguing me for the last few days, a nasty bug that Izzy passed on to me. I sat home today bemoaning my fate when the offer of a friend brightened my day.

My friend C. , was not only kind enough to pick up some cat food for me but also she brought along some of her roasted vegetables for me to nibble. I must let you know that C. seems to roast a never-ending supply of vegetables, as she is always offering to bring some over. I have marveled at her prolific vegetable-roasting talents and wondered why I never get around to all of that roasting myself. At the same time, I have also marveled over C.'s general health. She is rarely sick. She attributes part of her sturdy constitution to all of her vegetable eating (hence all of that roasting)...

Today I discovered C.'s secrets..

Secret #1. Vegetable Roasting Proclivity

I opened the small container of roasted squash chunks and stuck a forkful in my mouth, only to be met with unwieldy outer skin. I crunched down a bit and then decided to take a closer look.. I noted that the chunks had been roasted with the skin. It all became clear. C. was able to go around roasting squashes like there was no tomorrow, because she didn't go through the painstaking work of peeling them, something I am none to keen on doing. What I wondered was if she then cut around the skin before eating it or indeed did eat the entire chunk, skin and all. I had to find out.

Secret # 2: Exceptional Good Health

I sent C. a message innocently asking if she ate the skin on that particular variety of squash (Hubbard ). I was stunned to learn that not only did she purposely eat the skin of that squash but of all others as well!!! Now the only edible winter squash skin I have ever heard of is the delicata variety. The others are far too tough and chewy for my tastes. To each his own they say. Why does my friend C. enjoy veggies with their skins on? Who can say but I do know that eating vegetable skins must be C.'s secret to good health. After all, they do say that most of the vitamins in many vegetables are found in the skin. C. also mentioned eating other skins, like those of sweet potatoes (which I do eat myself). And come to think of it, my grandfather was a big believer in eating the skins of his potatoes too so perhaps that is one of the secrets to his longevity.

Now I am not sure what to make of all of this skin eating but I do know this.
As much as I envy C.'s good health, I am not sure I am willing to eat a bunch of squash skins to achieve it. Instead I will try her recommendation of a multi-vitamin and fish oil and see if that does the trick.

Meanwhile C. wonders if there are any other squash skin eaters out there....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

They Coined A Name For MY Job: Hunter-Gatheress

In reality, the term was recently used to describe Annie Myers' job. She is the official forager for the Spotted Pig. A friend who read the article, immediately thought of me and said, "I found the perfect job for you."

An enviable job indeed! One that that I already do. In my position, I work for my family and friends, instead of restaurants. I develop relationships with farmers and food purveyors, continually on the lookout for what is new and noteworthy. I bring my finds back to our table instead of back to the chef.

The key difference? She gets paid and has to be at the Union Square Market at 7:30 a.m., whereas I have an unpaid gig and am just awaking at that hour.

Still and all, I wouldn't mind getting paid for my work so if any other restaurant is seeking a Hunter-Gatheress, look no further. I have all the experience required!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Apple For Izzy's Teacher?

No. Instead Ms. B. got a TKO. For those of you not in the know (that was me until the other day), a TKO is a Thomas Keller Oreo, sold at Bouchon Bakery. Even better than my homemade oreos because of the white chocolate ganache filling.

And the reason for the cookie you ask? Was it to butter up Ms. B.? No not at all. Today was her birthday.

I only knew it was Ms. B's birthday because last night, at bedtime, Izzy revealed the birthday wishes he had expressed in the card he had made for her...

Happy Birthday
"I hope you turn into a germ."

Suppressing a giggle I had to ask why he had written that. His reply?

"If she were a germ she would be sick and not at school and then I wouldn't have to do the hard math problems she gives me."

Of course I let Izzy know that those were not the kindest birthday wishes and I suggested perhaps we give her a little something (hence the cookie) as well. But it doesn't end there.

Today, after I gave Ms. B. the cookie, Izzy explained that he had changed the birthday card, which now read,

"I hope you turn into a gem".

Apparently the card also features a rendering of Ms. B. as a robot, along with some other "scientific" scribblings. Whatever the case may be, I hope Ms. B. enjoyed her TKO and "germ" or "gem", had a lovely birthday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trotter Terrine and Porchetta With My Partner In Pig: A Visit To Dickson's Farmstand at Chelsea Market

Since our visit to Marlow and Daughters awhile back, my partner in pig, Y., and I have been craving more house-made pate. She even went back to Williamsburg , hoping to obtain an entire pound but came back empty-handed. She was told that they just don't make the stuff on a regular basis. We tried calling. We tried special ordering. To no avail.

We had no choice but to search elsewhere for a porky fix. This time, we found it much closer to home, at Dickson's Farmstand in the Chelsea Market. Not only that but a trip to Chelsea Market opens up an entire realm of shopping. Not only would we have pate, but many other fixings for dinner and beyond.

Dickson's is set up as a butcher shop and offers up an exciting selection of grass-fed, farm-raised meats and poultry. We entered the shop, looked around but didn't see any pate in sight. When I inquired they told us there was no pate on hand. We were crestfallen until they mentioned they did have Trotter Terrine. I jumped on the chance to sample but Y. hung back, seemingly not interested. She didn't realize what she was passing up but I quickly set her straight. This distinctly herbaceous terrine was made with long cooked pigs' trotters, a fine substitute for pate to be sure. We immediately purchased some hefty slices and moved on to some other important shopping.

The old standbys like Amy's Bread and Buon Italia are still there and I stopped at both for some great bread and a completely superfluous slice of porchetta (thanks to Y. for whom pate is not enough pork). Notably new are a Jacques Torres Chocolate outpost, where I purchased two amazing chocolate chip cookies, clear contenders for some of the best in the city and Lucy's Whey, a tiny cheese purveyor carrying some premier local, artisanal cheeses.

Purchases in hand, we even found time to stop at the Ronnybrook Farm store/diner for a brief lunch. My egg in the hole with Grafton Cheddar and Egg Cream beverage were just what I needed for energy before we left for home.

So next time you crave a bit of something porky and beyond, get thee to Chelsea Market for something porcine and beyond.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Keeping It Simple: On Unexpected Guests, Singed Hair, and Truffled Popcorn

Wednesday Evening...

Clothed in ratty pajamas, sitting amidst a mess of papers, books and other paraphernalia, I settled in for a cozy evening of writing at home. My solitude was interrupted by a thumping on my stoop door. I was slightly worried since my friends never knock at the stoop door and wondered who could possibly be knocking. I assumed it was someone who had found themselves at the wrong house. I immediately went to the window to see and I saw a woman with an unfamiliar face leaning over the railing. I shook my head at her and said, "Wrong house." She glanced at me quizzically and then a man appeared in front of my window. Again I looked at him and repeated, "Wrong house." He looked baffled and then asked, "Isn't this the house of A. ( my husband)?

At once I realized who these strangers were, A.'s foreign colleagues in town for a visit. But A. was working and had given no notification of their arrival. I had no idea why they were at our doorstep. Despite my shabby dress, I had no choice but to open the door. They explained that A. had told them to come by to meet him at 8:30. I told them there must be some terrible mistake because there was no way he would be home at 8:30 and he hadn't mentioned a word about it. Still, I asked them in , apologizing for my pajamas and the attendant mess that greeted them.

It turned out that S. and S., had spoken with A., who in his overworked confusion, had somehow led them to believe that he would meet them. After about an our of laughing over the absurdity of it all we agreed to meet again when A. was available, my house was in better order and I was appropriately dressed, which turned out to be Friday night.

Friday Evening...

I invited S. and S. for drinks, that evening on our way out to dinner. I intended to put out a few snacks for us and I thought truffled popcorn would be just the thing. As the hour drew near, I began to think that popcorn was not enough and contemplated a bowl of roasted chickpeas. I turned up the oven to 450 F. to reheat and went about my business for a few minutes before realizing that I hadn't heard the gas ignite. Instead of turning off the oven and starting over, I opened the door, only to hear the burst of gas and see the giant blue flame leap out at me, as Izzy looked on.

I shut the door in horror, only then smelling the odor of burnt hair. I assumed I had just gotten a strand or two until the smell lingered and I went to the mirror where I found a substantial clump of hairs were singed and frizzled. Considering I had just had my hair cut that day I was rather distraught. I combed out the frizzle and tried to calm down enough to at least make some popcorn. Before I could, the guests arrived.

I ushered them in and then set to work on my popcorn, fearing that more bad luck would come my way. S. and S. are from Germany and although they said they eat popcorn, they had never seen anyone do it my way. They watched in the kitchen while I heated olive oil with a few test kernels, allowed them to pop and then added the rest. When all of the kernels had popped I dumped the popcorn into a bowl and melted a couple of tablespoons of
D'Artagnan Black Truffle Butter (thanks D.) in the hot pot. I drizzled the butter over the warm popcorn and then sprinkled with salt.

This popcorn, which is horribly addictive, was quite a success. We drank red wine while S. and S. munched happily away, awaiting A.'s arrival. And I of frizzled hair, wondered why I thought that I needed anything more. Truffled popcorn was all the excitement we needed.

So once more I am reminded of the importance of keeping things simple, so as to avoid singed hair and other unpleasantness.

P.S. A. arrived on time that evening and we all went out into to the stormy windy night, for dinner. In the interest of keeping it simple, we went to a nearby restaurant and the food was mediocre at best. Would our evening have been that much better, had we traipsed further from home and endured the storm? Probably not.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Your Moose Is In The Mail...Part I


Having a blog does have its perks I suppose. And this week has been a banner week. From discovering local honey to Alaskan moose meat, I simply can't complain.

It happened like this. Last year, I received an unexpected email from B., probably my only blog fan in Wasilla, Alaska. We continued to correspond sporadically and she mentioned her penchant for moose meat. She also expressed her desire to share this staple of her diet with me, the next time she had a moose on hand. I was intrigued yet frightened by the offer and nothing ever came of it.

Until a few weeks ago, when I received yet another message from B. once again offering up some moose meat. I was more intrigued than ever but worried that it would be prohibitively expensive to ship and raised my concerns. The following was B.'s reply:

But of course I am serious about the Moose. This years moose is the best. I will send you some burger and pot roast. You can't get better burger. And Moose stew.... where would we be without moose stew? (Really, where would we be!!!)

This was most definitely an offer I couldn't refuse so I sent along our address and wondered if it would actually happen. This morning I awoke to a message, the essence of which was, " Be on the lookout. Your moose will be arriving today, before 3 p.m."

I actually had the moose delivered to our p.o. box so off I went at 2 p.m., ready to hunt down my moose which was patiently awaiting my arrival inside a white USPS box, still miraculously frozen, even without dry ice. Once opened I found three packages of chopped meat and a small roast. It is now resting safely in my freezer, its next fate, as yet unknown.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hyped Up On Honey: The Secret Beekeeper Of Jersey City

Always on the lookout for things local and organic, I was intrigued by a post on a Jersey City website, offering local honey from Jersey City bees. I immediately emailed an inquiry, hoping to get my hands on some local honey. Andrew's Honey at the Greenmarket has supplied my habit, along with various other honey vendors but I loved the idea of having a source closer to home, what better way to feed my increasing honey habit. Not only that but perhaps this uber-local honey would be instrumental in alleviating my seasonal allergies next spring. More importantly, I was hyped up on the notion of meeting and supporting a local beekeeper.

M. (the honey man), contacted me and we set up a time for a clandestine meeting at a nearby park. Apparently beekeeping has to been done on the down-low, so as to avoid drawing too much attention to the bees and all their attendant charms. How could I be sure that he was really a beekeeper and not a kook? I guess I couldn't but I forged ahead, willing to take the risk for what could be some exceptional honey.

Izzy joined me on the adventure and we went out to play at the park. Izzy played while I sat on a bench awaiting the honey man. He arrived bearing a few jars of the dark amber liquid, in 8 oz. bottles bearing an artsy black and white label. M. and I chatted a long while about all things honey-related and then he came over to see my garden. We also had some tea, served of course with ample doses of the dark amber liquid. This honey seems more complex than the lighter honey I am used to. M. explained that the honey was a mixture of spring and autumn honey allowed to mingle together in the hive before collection.

The honey was better than I had imagined and I became so smitten with it and the whole notion of urban beekeeping that I offered to assist him with spreading the honey word around JC and beyond. He brought over several jars of his "Liberty City" limited edition, small batch artisanal honey. I wished I could keep them all for myself but promised I would do my best to find buyers. At 7$ a jar, this honey is a bargain, considering that New York City Rooftop honey sells for $15. If you moved to JC for more affordable housing, you can also benefit from the lower honey prices too! If you are interested, send me an email soon and some honey could be yours. Once you try it you will be longing for a hive in your own backyard. I sure am!

This honey is so local that the bees probably feasted on flowers from my very own garden, perhaps yours as well!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just A Few Oranges...

Are all Izzy needs to make his own orange juice in the morning. Well, that and a Wearever vintage juicer, courtesy of my stepmother, who gave it to me ages ago.

Time was, I drank orange juice every morning. As a child, I was given the orange juice that was made from concentrate and later on graduated to the pasteurized variety. I simply had to have orange juice every morning or my breakfast wasn't complete. I have since kicked that habit, often having grapefruit juice or just tea instead. Although Izzy doesn't drink juice throughout the day, I started him on the same morning juice habit and he now expects some kind of juice with his breakfast.

Lately though, I have be rethinking this morning juice habit. I can't drink it myself anymore, for health reasons. So I have decided to take a break from buying orange juice, as the pasteurized, vitamin-fortified variety is a poor substitute for the real thing. In fact, not only is the flavor less appealing, it has hidden ingredients. I would rather that Izzy have something fresher, but what?

Home-squeezed juice was the obvious answer. Izzy only needs two oranges for an adequate amount of juice and he squeezes it while I make his breakfast. He looks forward to doing it every morning and revels in the taste difference.

Now I just have to make sure to keep an ample supply of oranges in the house, which hasn't been as easy as I thought. First I bought a bag from Trader Joe's and they were perfect. Next we tried some navel oranges from Whole Foods (which I realize are not juicing oranges but that was all they had). The former produced a beautifully vibrant colored orange juice while the later produced a paler less intense juice. As orange season approaches, it should get easier to find good juicing oranges. If not, I'll be seeking an on-line source.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beware Superlatives: Eggs Benedict At Elysian Cafe

This do look gorgeous, don't they?

But to label them the best I'd ever eaten would be bordering on the extreme. Indeed they were a fine example of the genre, barring the fact that they were lukewarm and the English muffin could have benefited from being crisper on the outside and chewier on the inside.

Yet I had read that they were"the best", forgetting that the best of Hoboken is a superlative that has little meaning if few places actually prepare a particular dish and the area in question is rather small. That being said, if you live not far from Cafe Elysian, they do offer a decent brunch option at affordable prices.

Izzy cleared his plate of the French Toast and everyone else was reasonably happy with their food too. So do go, and keep in mind that if you don't expect "the best", you will probably be satisfied with your meal.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Airing My Dirty Pantry...

I would imagine that many people who have a pantry that resembles mine would rather shut the door and turn away. I have opted for the opposite, to exhibit mine to for all to see. I do so in hopes of somehow finding a way to change it.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am seeking a cure for what ails my pantry and I am counting on the thousands of readers who follow The Kitchen to chime in with some advice. I haven't advanced beyond Step #1 of The Cure because I feel that the first part is not yet done.

Meanwhile, the notes for steps 2 and 3 are languishing in my in-box. I suppose I would be happy simply curing my pantry, although I will certainly make an attempt to tackle the other areas of my kitchen too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A New Way Of Looking At Chicken: Head - On

Our foray into local foodstuffs at the New Amsterdam Market, also led us to the Bo Bo Chicken vendor. I examined their fowl offerings and I was intrigued by the promise of a chicken with more dark meat, since that is what we all prefer.

The chicken came wrapped up inside a plastic bag, with its head tucked neatly on the side, enabling me to promptly forget about exactly what I was in for later. When the time came to cut open the bag and prepare the chicken for dinner, I called Izzy into the kitchen to partake of the experience.

As Izzy looked on, I carefully cut the plastic bag open with a pair of kitchen scissors, allowing the blood to drip down into the sink. Izzy took one look at the bird and pronounced it, "Dead as a dumpling" (not sure what that means but you get the idea). I was far more traumatized by the sight of the sleeping bird than he, yet still I pressed on with my task of preparing it for dinner.

Part of my discomfort in looking the bird square in the face is the fact that we are so unaccustomed to doing so. Izzy, on the other hand, hasn't seen enough dead chickens to have formed a clear opinion. In fact, for him the sight of headless chickens may be more upsetting. (Recently, he was so disturbed by a scene of dancing headless chickens in the abominable movie, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, we had to walk out.)

Back to the chicken in question, I was faced with what to do with the head. I pondered cooking it with the head on, duck-style or simply cutting it off, which is what I ended up doing. I tossed it out, which was probably a mistake but I didn't have time to contemplate other ideas. I roasted the bird like this and we were pleased with the moist results.

Some might recoil in horror at the fact that I exposed Izzy to a chicken head but I would much prefer he recognizes a chicken as a chicken, rather than eat mysterious nuggets that masquerade as chicken. Food experiences such as this one, help him gain a greater understanding of what we eat and why.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

To give, To Get, To Give Away: Willy Wonka and The Switch Witch on Halloween

To give: "Wonka Bars" and Yummy Earth organic lollipops, small bags of homemade popcorn and meringue ghosts.

To get: All manner of sticky, sugary, dyed treats; the usual chocolate suspects (m&m's, nestle crunch, mounds, etc.) lollipops in many colors, pretzels and surprisingly, no candy corn.

Does Izzy really need to accumulate other candy? That lollipop (the perfect accessory to his Willy Wonka costume) from Papabubble should last him until at least the age of 20!

To give away: Over 3/4 of his loot.

Izzy was quite the competitive trick-or-treater, racing in front of his friends to be the first to grab handfuls of whatever they had on offer, whether he would eat it or not. Odd considering what happened after he brought all of his loot home.

Like last year, he dumped it all out and sorted it into categories. It was then I brought up the "Switch Witch" a most clever way to help diminish overflowing Halloween candy bags and save your kids from sugary meltdowns. I had planted the idea of the "Switch Witch" in his head the other day so the idea was not new to him. In my version, a witch would come and take some of his candy, in exchange for books. He was certainly intrigued. Today I mentioned that she might bring his favorite books and asked how much candy he would be willing to give up. He said, "All of it." I told him that he could keep a small amount and that the Switch Witch would take the rest. He happily bagged it up and even double tied the bag!!! Any takers for the leftovers?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Haute Ho-Ho: Bouchon Bakery

Could you resist an haute Ho-Ho?? I sure couldn't. When I came face to face with one at Bouchon Bakery I had to have it, never mind my recent resolve to cut down on baked goods and chocolate, the Ho-Ho was calling. I must confess to never having eaten an actual Ho-Ho but having been a Yodel girl, the Ho-Ho seemed like a close enough relative.

I brought it home, along with two types of French macarons and a chocolate-almond croissant. The Ho-Ho was wrapped up in its own elegant box and I immediately set it out to admire. I envisioned sharing it with Izzy but one bite and I was overtaken by gourmandise. In moments, the entire Ho-Ho was gone.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to go back and get a few more and share them with Izzy next time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Like A Kid In A Candy Store: A Visit To Papabubble

If you know me you know I am the last one to ply my child with sugary candy. But I do make exceptions and Papabubble definitely warrants one. This Soho candy shop (part of a Spanish chain) provides a glimpse into the world of candy-making, as the candy makers prepare the lollipops directly behind the counter.

It is fascinating for children and adults alike to watch as they mold and shape the warm, sweet sugary substance, handing over tastes along the way. The shop walls are lined with jars full of sugar candies, in a myriad of flavors. Our favorites were mango, pear and raspberry, and there were many others on display.

Izzy and I made a special trip there in search of some accessories for his Halloween costume.

Choosing amongst the different flavors and colors wasn't easy but since one giant lollipop will last him a lifetime, (if he even manages to finish it), I wanted to make sure it was a flavor he liked.

A visit to this shop is a great way to share the art of candy making with your children. However I must advise that although these candies are certainly lovely to behold, their one downside is that they are made with artificial dyes. I ordinarily do not allow Izzy to eat anything with dyes (especially red, as the allergist has advised against it) so he will have to savor this special treat for a long time to come.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Market To Market To Buy Plenty Of Pig: A Sunday At The New Amsterdam Market

The New Amsterdam Market is a celebration of locally produced, artisanal foods. My plans to visit this market had been foiled on a few occasions but this time I was determined to get there and make sure I had ample time to shop, and shop I did!

We arrived at the South Street Seaport in search of great food and what we found far exceeded my expectations. The stalls offered up generous samples of all kinds. I couldn't think of a better way to spend this breezy autumnal day then sampling cheeses and pig products galore.

Izzy and I, along with our friend Y., made our way methodically past all of the stalls, examining the goodies at each stand along the way. We lingered at The Piggery, where after tasting the Rustic pate, had to bring home a slab to serve for dinner with salad and hearty bread.

Along the way, we nibbled on pork rillettes, smoked duck breast and grass-fed beef chili. We had a taste of sour cream from Hudson Valley Fresh and instantly grabbed a container. Cubes of grassy cheeses, tiny dollops of fresh ricotta were only a smidgen of the other samples calling out.

There was a sweet highlight that will definitely be added to our repertoire, Liddabit Sweets. I couldn't resist their barley tea/honey lollipops, a bit pricey but worth it, along with the sea salt caramels. They have many other tempting treats as well, but decided to save those for next time.

So many notable stops I must go on... The Porchetta stand, where I finally had a taste of the greasy, porky goodness I had heard so much about. Still need to make it to the East Village for the rest of their menu.

Then there was Edward Behr's table, with an eye-catching display of his noteworthy publication, The Art of Eating. He and his wife made it down from far off Vermont to make their presence known. And good thing since hopefully they will attract all of the Gourmet subscribers looking for a new food read.

And on it goes...In the two hours or so we were there, I still left having meant to try or buy something else. The biggest surprise there was The Bent Spoon from Princeton, an artisanal ice cream shop I had only dreamed of visiting. I hope that they were their testing the New York market. Their dark chocolate rosemary flavor is an incredible experience, one I am glad I didn't miss. And on that note...

The next New Amsterdam Market will be held on Sunday, November 22. Don't shop for a week before you go so your fridge is empty! Hope to see you there.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is There A Cure For This??? My Pantry, Exposed...

My pantry doth overflow. Cans, bottles, jars and all manner of other foodstuffs spill from its shelves. I organize it and then just days later, it falls back into an awful state of disarray. Of late, I have simply given up and each time I open the door I am met with a tumble and crash, as something lands upon my feet.

But help may be on the way, in the form of The Kitchen Cure. I have signed up for an opportunity to clean and organize my kitchen, along with 2300 others. We receive weekly assignments with instructions for cleaning each section of the kitchen. The first week I focused on the pantry and the freezer (fridge was okay).

I removed everything from the pantry and my kitchen table looked like this:

I tried to weed out items that I don't use or don't need but they were few and far between. One of the main issues with my pantry is that I use it for things other than food. I store cleaning products and Izzy's art supplies which both take up far too much space. I decided to remove the art supplies and keep the cleaning supplies until they find a new home.

After several hours of work, I returned what I could to the pantry and now it looks like this:

It may be somewhat improved but it still needs work. I am counting on the folks from The Kitchen Cure to help me out. Next up, decluttering cabinets and paring down appliances.

Toilet Paper Madness: A Birthday To Remember

Sure there were other activities, food and cake too, but the toilet paper was the highlight of this 7th birthday party. Izzy couldn't stop talking about it after we had gone home.

As a spectator I'd have to say that Izzy and his friends were most delighted when the toilet paper swirled and whirled around them

After the silliness came to an end, dinner was served. Pizza for the kids, Indian food for the grown-ups (and Izzy, who had his heart set on it before we even got to the party). I guess he knows we can have pizza any old time but homemade Indian food is a special treat. And it was!

And then there was cake...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Banana- Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake: The Definitive Recipe

This heavenly cake is apparently old news on the internet but for me is brand-new yet slightly familiar. The recipe is remarkably similar to my favorite Chocolate-Banana Cake; However in this version, the smooth banana flavor is highlighted with a light sprinkling of chocolate chips rather than vice versa.

I adapted Dorie Greenspan's recipe, by way of The Food Librarian.

Classic Banana Bundt Cake
Page 190, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Ingredients: Makes 1 Bundt Cake (24 small servings, perfect for school snack!)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
About 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (you should have 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mini-chocolate chips
confectioner's sugar for dusting

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. (If you use a silicone Bundt pan there’s no need to butter it.) Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet - you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

3. Mash bananas with one cup sour cream.

4. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the 1/3 of the banana mixture. Alternate with dry ingredients, then wet, until both incorporated into batter. Scrape the batter into the pan, rap the pan on the counter to debubble the batter and smooth the top.

5. Stir in chocolate chips.

6. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes (depending upon oven, you may need an additional 10 minutes) or until a thin chopstick, inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after about 30 minutes - if it is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool to room temperature. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

This cake is good cooled and will also keep well for a few days.

You can wrap individual slices in plastic and freeze. Perfect to take along as a snack!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Secret Fruit Bars: Snack #2

Unlike Jessica Seinfeld, I prefer to call a carrot, a carrot, rather than hide it inside a brownie and pretend it doesn't exist. I have always wanted Izzy to recognize that vegetables are healthy and flavorful (unless they were prepared by my first stepmother). There are no secret fruits or vegetables around here. We eat them right out in the open, imagine that.

As for these "Secret" Fruit bars, they hail from one of my favorite children's cookbooks, The Baby Bistro Cookbook. This book is full of recipes, vegetables included, that you would want to cook, with child or without.

These bars are full of fiber and make for an ideal snack. Not sure why the ingredients in this recipe need to be kept under wraps. The filling, encased within a sweet oaty crust, is packed with apples, carrots, dried fruits and berries. I brought them in for snack and decided to use their name to create a mystery. The kids could guess the ingredients. Not sure if they could or did, even adults have a hard time identifying each fruit and most can't discern the carrots. But at least they ate them.

As for the recipe, I won't be keeping any secrets...

Secret Fruit Bars

2 apples, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
1 cup fresh or frozen thawed blueberries, cranberries or strawberries
1/2 cup water
4 cups quick-cooking oats (I used old-fashioned which worked fine)
2 cups all purose flour (half whole wheat works well)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter

1.Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 13" x 9" baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the fruits, carrots and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until apples are soft. Remove from heat and cool.

3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or mixer, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse brumbs.

4.Evenly press the half of the oat mxture on the bottom of the pan. Spread fruit over the top. Cover the fruit with remaining oat mixture and gently press.

5. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden. Cool completely and cut as desired (I usually cut about 28 squares).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Turning Snack And My Kitchen Upside Down: Kale and Seaweed Chips, Popcorn On The Side

Early this morning, my husband poked his head into the kitchen and a look of horror washed over his face as he surveyed the scene... Cabinets flung open, cats on the table, dirty dishes strewn about and the loud sound of popcorn popping. He turned on his heels and fled...

"Snack Mom" had taken over the kitchen. Yes, I even set my alarm for 7:15 a.m. which is early for me, so that I could make sure the Kale and Seaweed Chips would be ready, along with two enormous vats of popcorn. I was inspired by The Yummy Mummy, who prepared kale chips as a snack for her daughter's preschool class. She outdid me by awakening at 5:30 a.m., an hour too ungodly for me to even consider, to prepare her snacks. I compromised by getting up slightly early, figuring I would somehow manage to get the three snacks ready, shower, make Izzy's breakfast and lunch and still get him to school on time.

Well with little time to spare, all notions of organization immediately flew out the window and chaos reigned. Olive oil was spilling, sesame seeds were flying and the cats were underfoot but somehow I did manage to get it all done.

The kale chips are a must try. This preparation turns a chewy, weedy vegetable into a feather-light delight (just make sure not to under cook them. I can attest to the fact that the undercooked version is a tad too chewy).

The recipe is super simple: Break kale into bite-sized pieces, rinse and dry. Place in a bowl and massage with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt. Spread on a cookie sheet so that the pieces do not overlap, and bake at 350 F. for 10-15 minutes or until darkened and crisp, at which point they practically dissolve in your mouth.

As if those weren't enough (actually they weren't, children cannot live on weeds alone, can they?) I also prepared seaweed chips which had been calling me from the pages of The New York Times. Definitely a fun project to do with kids but this morning there wasn't much time for that.
All you need are sheets of Nori, water, salt and sesame seeds. Watch the video link for more precise instructions.

But the morning prep was not over yet...

While those were baking I started on the popcorn and Izzy's morning pancakes. As the kernels flew, his pancake bubbled. All was going according to plan. Izzy assisted as I dumped the steaming vat of popcorn into a brown paper bag and began a second batch. When all was said and done, we carted it all over to school and set it out. Would the Kindergartners and First-Graders even touch the odd vegetable chips? Only Pick-Up time would tell.

At 3 p.m., I popped into Izzy's classroom and found an empty tin of Seaweed Chips ( I hadn't made that many) and a few fistfuls of Kale Chips left. There was still popcorn in the bag but I had made vast amounts of it so that didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was the snack tally on the blackboard. Izzy's teacher, Miss C., had inspired some of the children to try the snack by finding out which snack each child preferred. Kale was the winner, although that doesn't mean they actually liked it. Still and all, they tried it which is progress, right?

It thrills me when Izzy's teachers are proactive in getting the children involved with what they are eating. Teachers can certainly have an influence on eating habits so I look forward to bringing in other healthful foods for his class to try.

p.s. The following morning, when I arrived at school bearing another snack, a little girl looked over at me, not knowing what I had brought in and announced, "I am allergic to all of that." I looked at her and asked, "What are you allergic to exactly?" and she replied, "What's in there. I don't like it." I assume that she thought there were more Kale Chips within and she had decided that she was "allergic" to vegetables!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Wonderful Concert and An Offal Meal: They Might Be Giants and DBGB

I don't know about you but I can live without most kid bands, with their grating tunes and annoying lyrics. They Might Be Giants are a rare exception. They are one of the chosen few that Izzy and I both adore. They started out as a grown-up band and still are but since Izzy was little they have been doing kid stuff as well, which I admit I love just as much. Their concert today, at the Skirball Center at NYU was as joyous and engaging as the one we attended last year. If you haven't heard the new CD, check it out here. It is edutainment at its very best. I might have done better in science class if my teachers had used it to teach the periodic table.

At today's concert, we unexpectedly found ourselves in second row seats (at the urging of ushers who told us to move forward to empties in the front) which made the concert that much more thrilling for all of us. Unlike last year,this time Izzy danced uninhibitedly in the aisles. The confetti machines were an added bonus, causing Izzy to race around excitedly, collecting heaps of it to take home. The concert, just a bit over an hour, was just the right length for antsy kids.

Izzy definitely worked up an appetite from all of his wiggling during the show so he was eager to continue on with the next part of our outing. Afterward we hopped into a cab and sped over to DBGB where we met my dad and stepmother for dinner. DBGB is Daniel Boulud's new, gentler priced restaurant on the Bowery, specializing in all manner of sausages. Also offering seafood platters and an enticing selection of offal. The menu is full of so many gems, choosing was not so easy for some of us. For Izzy, however, it was a breeze. He read over the menu and promptly selected the octopus appetizer and veal tongue for his main course.

I chose the Duck Egg Bourguignon (an unusual preparation with a panko-coated egg served atop a portabello mushroom, accompanied by salad with duck cracklins) and the Crispy Pig's Foot (having somehow forgotten my Parisian pig foot experience). We were a table of tasters so even though I could not order everything on the menu, I managed to take in a decent sampling. As for my "Pied de Cochon" it was world's tastier and meatier than the one I had eaten in France. Even my dad, who was reluctant to taste it, had to admit it was a succulent morsel.

Just look at that trotter in all of its crusty splendor. Glad I didn't remember my past experience or I wouldn't have ordered it. Even so, I only managed to eat half of it, as I was trying to keep to my new way of eating and the the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

With all of our sampling and the late hour, it's a wonder Izzy and I still had room for dessert but he had his heart set on some chocolate sorbet with whipped cream and I agreed to give it a try. At least it arrived quickly and our waiter offered it to us on the house, along with a sundae, as compensation for enduring an unusually long wait for our food. The restaurant was most likely overwhelmed after the wonderful review in the Times the other day, well-deserved to be sure.

Despite the dreary weather, our rare family excursion was a success. We will be looking out for the next TMBG concert in the NYC area. As for DBGB? There were so many dishes left to try I need to go back soon.. Tripe anyone?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cramming It All In: Part I... The Vermin

Over a month has flown by since I abruptly stopped blogging. I am trying to recapture my blogging spirit, both for me and for Izzy, since part of the reason I started this blog was for him. It was the easiest way for me to chronicle his life, through my own, food-oriented lens. So much has transpired that I must back-track and fill-in, before continuing forward.

By now many of you know the main reason my keyboard has been silent but what you don't know is that there were other issues that interfered with my desire to cook, eat or write. The troubles were such that I began to think that we were being cursed with our own version of the Ten Plagues.

First there were VERMIN

Lice to be precise. On September 25th, I received a call from Izzy's school, explaining that one student from his class had a lice problem and that they feared Izzy was afflicted as well. The call came on a morning when I thought I might finally start to get my life back in order.

Orderliness of any kind went out the window as I ran over to his school to inspect. The evidence was clear and I escorted Izzy home, trying, unsuccessfully, not to freak out. As I had never dealt with lice before, not as a child* nor as a teacher, I felt ill-equipped to deal with it on my own. In the far recesses of my mind, I recalled an article in the New Yorker about the "Lice Lady". With 15 children of her own, she was clearly the nit-picker who would save the day. I searched for information about her and realized that Shabbat was coming which might make an appointment difficult and I couldn't imagine schlepping Izzy all the way to Borough Park Brooklyn. In my haste to find an adequate solution, I selected a company that offered at-home services. They were willing to dispatch a technician within an hour who would supposedly rid us of our itchy problem. The red flag should have arisen with their hourly rate of $125.00 but they assured me it would take around two hours.

When the technician arrived, she set to work on Izzy, first applying a treatment shampoo, followed by a painstakingly long comb out with baking soda and Pantene conditioner. The entire procedure took in inordinately long amount of time and there were globs of goop all over my floor. I suspected that I had lice as well, which she confirmed, so I needed to be combed out too. The entire process lasted about 4 hours and with products cost over $600!!! I felt taken advantage of but reasoned that it would all be fine if we remained lice free. I continued to treat both of us with products and comb outs for several days and can happily report that we are both lice-free.

Our lice issues occupied my mind for several days, as I continued our treatments. A friend discovered that she was afflicted and I assisted with her comb-out as well. With laundering, combing and obsessing, little time was left for much else.

I have since realized that had I acted more calmly, I could have saved a bundle. I am now far more lice savvy and have even considered offering my own nit-picking service.

Meanwhile, another affliction was brewing, an ailment that has severely curtailed my eating...

* As a little girl, I would sometimes scratch my head and whenever my grandpa saw me he would say, laughingly, "What's the matter? Do you have "loiselach"..According to one of my brothers, my grandfather told them that he and his brothers always had lice when they were kids. I wonder why, since I know they didn't bathe much back in 1916 and lice prefer clean hair.

Cramming It All In: Part II... My Ailment

Plague Two: Sickness

Starting back in August, while my grandfather was sick, I began to feel sickly myself. My throat felt funny and I was often hoarse. I had various symptoms but the doctor was unable to figure out what ailed me. She concluded that I suffered from allergies and sent me to an allergist where I was treated unsuccessfully, given medication that sent me to the emergency room and left to wonder what ailed me. I went back to my doctor and insisted I needed to see an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. She sent me to a wonderful woman, Dr. Sezelle Gereau, who quickly pinpointed the problem. She stuck a tube through my nose and peered down into my throat. There she discovered that I had irritation due to GERD. In my case, Silent Reflux.

When she gave me this diagnosis (about which I knew nothing), I quickly explained that I did not wish to be treated with medication. As it turned out, the doctor was trained to offer alternative treatments and she gave me a list of life-style and dietary changes to make, along with supplements that would help.

The most devastating aspect of all of this, is that my love for food, coupled with anxiety has been causing some of my troubles. Immediately following this diagnosis, I became especially careful about my eating and was less-inclined to cook. I was also rather worried. What would life be like if I couldn't savor every bite with abandon?

My preoccupations with my grandfather, my ailment and lice may have kept me from writing but at the same time, life went on. Rosh Hashanah was celebrated, Izzy's first day of First Grade took place and countless other food-worthy moments occurred.
I will elaborate in Part Three.

Cramming It All In: Part III...Life Goes On

Awaiting the Rosh Hashanah Feast

Without much fanfare, Izzy began First Grade on September 2, 2009. As he was continuing at the same school, it didn't have the same significance it may have had, had he started at a new one. He had new teachers but many of his old friends were along with him so he was comfortable and calm, excited to just be back at school. The main difference would be that he was now part of a new room, the Earth Room, which unfortunately was not ready. Consequently, during the first month of school, he and his classmates were shuttled about from one room to another. Despite that glitch, for the most part, all was well and knowing Izzy was safe at school made it easier for me to go off and visit my grandpa on a daily basis.

Rosh Hashanah arrived on September 18 (before the bad news) and we went to my dad's house for dinner. Most years past, I cook for the holiday but this time all I could muster were the Rugelach and some Challah. When I asked my stepmother what she was preparing, she mentioned a brisket. I told her about a succulent recipe I had clipped a year ago and quickly sent it off to her, just in case she changed her mind. This recipe for Flanken with Pomegranate struck me as being an instant success and I longed to make it. Much to my surprise, L. made it and it was the star of the table, already laden with many other luscious holiday dishes. It may just reappear at my Hanukkah meal this year, just wait and see.

With the Jewish holidays upon us, it was also time to consider synagogue and Hebrew School for Izzy. For the moment Izzy is a Hebrew school dropout, as I search for a new way to continue Izzy's Jewish education. Which brings me to the Pickle Festival and Sukkot.

What better way to celebrate our Jewish heritage than to attend a Pickle Festival on the Lower East Side and then visit a Sukkah in the West Village? On October 4 (A's birthday but he was out of town), Izzy and I set out to sample pickles and who should we run into but my sister C., hawking wares at the Brooklyn Kitchen stand. Izzy and I made our rounds, toting home some Moroccan Green Beans from Brooklyn Brine and some Holy Chevre from the Adamah Dairy.

Our next stop was The New Shul in the West Village. I loved, loved, loved the vibe at their Sukkot gathering, met some lovely synagogue members, Hebrew school teachers and the rabbi. To top it off, Izzy and I thoroughly enjoyed the 100 mile meal that was created for the occasion. A synagogue that celebrates local, organic produce?? What more could I ask for!! On the downside, Izzy is not too keen on Hebrew school given his less than stellar experience last year so we may just have to wait and continue to attend events at the Shul whenever we can.

Meanwhile, Izzy's class has finally been granted their very own Earth Room. To celebrate, some other moms and I planned an "Earth-Warming Party" where the kids planted herbs and we brought in some goodies to celebrate. There were bags of homemade popcorn and I baked some incredible Banana-Chocolate Chip Cake, along with two kinds of scones. More on those soon.

Oh and somewhere in between these occasions were simpler ones. A lovely meal spent with friends on a rooftop. Check out the grand Jersey City view!

Also of now is Izzy's leaps and bounds in reading. He is now immersed in Chapter Books! It is sometimes difficult to tear him away from the couch.

And this is only the half of it, as other milestones occurred, deserving of a separate post. For now I will leave you with a link to a recipe for some of the moistest, crustiest finger-licking spare-ribs you could ever imagine, from the now sadly defunct Gourmet Magazine (R.I.P.).