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

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Friday, July 31, 2009

R.'s Incredible Food Adventure

My friend R. and I were in the same program together at Teachers College, Columbia University. After the program, I taught for 6 years, until two weeks before Izzy was born. I have been home since, concerning myself with culinary matters close to my home and heart. She has continued teaching, concerning herself with the culinary matters of her students. This has led her on a most exciting journey...

While working as a teacher and assistant principal in NYC, she wrote a grant (which she received) to go to Mexico to study the cuisines of Oaxaca, Puebla and the Yucatan. Follow her investigations of the taco and beyond on her new blog: CoMexico. If only she could bring home some samples.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In The Garden: Tangle Of Tomatoes

Does it really matter if our tomato plants are a tangled mess?

Perhaps planting three varieties of tomatoes in a row in a small raised planter was not making the most of our space but no matter, we are growing a nice crop of heirloom beauties.

These are Red Fig tomatoes. Not yet ripe enough to eat but they do look gorgeous.

This is the second year now that our tomato plants might be in need of pruning. A. seems to think it essential. Other gardeners have told me to just leave the plants be. Our tomato plants may have been overgrown last year, but that certainly didn't stop them with providing us a bumper crop.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pizza In The Yard: Last Supper With Our British Friends

Pizza would not have been my dinner of choice as a proper farewell meal for our British friends, but given the unchilled existence that we are currently leading, it was all I could muster up on such a steaming hot day.

The sad truth is that they won't be eating American pizza anytime soon so it turns out it wasn't such a bad choice after all. I had mused over rice and beans because they are a staple of Izzy's friend I.'s diet but the heat-induced lethargy prevented me from actually making them.

In the end, it really didn't matter at all what we ate, as long as we were eating together, for who knows when it will happen again. After spending many years in Jersey City, they board the Queen Mary for England tomorrow. A new chapter of their lives begins while the last chapter here ends. Life for Izzy and me will not be the same without them.

Wishing them "Bon Voyage" and hoping to visit London in the not too distant future.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Dog Days Of Summer: Cooking And The Un-Chilled Life

It is refreshing to see that we are not the only ones who live a fairly "UnChilled" existence. According to the NY Times, people across the country are beginning to learn to live without air conditioning. We lived without air conditioning for 10 years in NYC and then for a couple of years in Jersey City. I finally broke down and bought a three window units when Izzy was two, for those 5 unbearable days each summer when it seems downright nutty not to have one. I immediately put one in the kitchen, for without it, I am loathe to get near the oven or stove and it is so sad for me to allow a summer to go by, without baking

This summer, we have kept our air conditioners in the basement. It hasn't been difficult as the summer has been kind to us. Until now. These last few days have marked the arrival of high humidity coupled with high temperatures. The thought of doing ordinary chores is exhausting enough. The thought of cooking is unimaginable. Luckily it is salad season so lunch and dinner can certainly be prepared without the use of oven or stove. Those meals aren't the issue. It is my baking repertoire that suffers.

The gorgeous fruits of summer beckon. Blueberries beg to be cobbled and peaches plead to be baked into a crumble. The red-hued plums sitting in a bowl on the counter long to baked into a cake. Each day I struggle. Do I overheat myself and the kitchen for the sake of dessert? Do we just eat the fruit out of hand and await the cooler days of autumn?

What do other UnChilled bakers do? Is there a secret to baking without a/c and still keeping your cool?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Farm Excursion: Last Minute Trip To Bobolink Dairy

Late Saturday night an email arrived in my inbox: Did I want to go visit a farm? Did I ever!

I will jump at the chance to visit any farm but especially when one of the choices was Bobolink Dairy, a place I have been itching to visit, particularly since we missed our chance at Passover time. Sunday morning Izzy and I piled into the car with our friends T. and L. The trip to Vernon, N.J. was a long though scenic one and luckily the boys entertained one another in the back seat.

We arrived at the farm just in time to witness what I think of as a quintessential farm experience. As I reached for my camera, I was asked not to share what we had seen with the internet world. Admittedly, I was crushed as I would have loved to have documented it all, including Izzy's expression. So do ask me about it when you get the chance.

Later on, we wandered amongst the farm residents which included a mother duck and her ducklings, assorted roosters crowing, a parade of bulls and cows and Izzy's favorite, the grunting, stinking piggies.

Since we didn't elect to take the farm tour we only had a brief look around before our visit to the farm store, the main reason the moms had chosen this outing! There, we were able to sample the cheeses and also take a peek at the cheese-making going on in the same building. The highlight was the rustic, oven-fresh breads, especially the cranberry-walnut sticks which appeared straight from the oven. We immediately them smeared with buttery rich Jean-Louis cheese and that became our lunch. I also snagged the last carton of eggs, extra-special in that each egg was of a different hue, reminiscent of the lovely eggs I purchased last summer from Upper Meadows Farm.

Our adventure continued at a nearby small farm upon a hill, where we found some maple syrup and more eggs, along with a small assortment of organically grown vegetables.

Our last stop was the Bellvale Creamery in Warwick, recommended by my friend L., who eats their frequently.

There you will find ample portions of homemade ice cream, plain and simple. We stuck with basic flavors, Choc, Van, Straw and I even indulged Izzy in a sundae.
The picnic benches outside off a splendid vista of the valley below, replete with barns and silos.

Our belies full of ice cream and cheese, it was time for us to head for home, wondering when and if we would make the trip back.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

And Then There Were Two: Of Kittens, Cannoli and A Homeless Woman


How many kitten adoption events need we go to before all of the Fang sisters find homes?

I had to ask myself this question this morning, knowing that Izzy and I were going to devote yet another gorgeous day to trying to find loving homes for our sweet girls. We were late getting started and I almost turned back before convincing myself that we had to press on. If all went well, at least we might even have time to stop for cannoli on the way home.

And so it was we found ourselves, pulling our red wagon packed with kittens, signs and snacks, on the Light Rail to Hoboken. Though late, we were the first to arrive on the scene, in front of Gotham Realty on 1st Street. As fate would have it, a lovely couple, in search of a kitten, made a bee-line towards our set up. They were determined to bring home a kitty and once they held Checker and Pokey, they fell in love. Our two girls charmed them and the dilemma turned into how many to adopt! They ultimately decided upon the two of them!!


While J. ran home to get the carrier, T. cuddled the kittens. Though sad to see the girls go, we were as lucky with this adoption, as we were with our first one. Still we had one more who needed a home so we remained at our post, wondering if we would see Rabutnitcha go also.


There was some interest but in the end we put her back into the carrier and took her back home, along with Occhi who will definitely remain with us.

Occhi and Rabutnitcha

With Occhi and Rabutnitcha in tow, we began to make our way back home. It wasn't that easy. Not only were we waylaid by passersby eager to have a look at the girls but I also suffered a brief bout of hypochondria, wherein my throat felt as if it were closing up. I stopped on a nearby bench to regroup and contemplated a trip to the emergency room but a phone call to my stepmother L. led me to believe that a trip to the drugstore might help and so I carried on.

We made it over to Carlo's Bakery for the aforementioned cannoli. As we approached, I noticed a mob crowding the doorway which I realized were probably drawn in as a result of the bakery's new found fame from the T.V. reality show based there, Cake Boss.

Thinking death was imminent, I was in no mood to brave the line snaking out the door. How was I to die eating a cannoli if I couldn't even get to one? The red wagon would have to wait outside, and Izzy with it. In spite of myself, I waited, and when my dad called to see if I was feeling okay, I told him that in case anything happened to me, it would be cheering to know that I died in a bakery, in a quest for something good to eat.

Cannoli finally in hand, Izzy and continued toward home. He nibbling cannoli, me dragging the red wagon. As we stopped to adjust something in the wagon, a woman sitting on the steps of a nearby bank approached us. She came over to peer at the kittens and looked at them longingly. She then told me that she had lost her own cat two weeks ago. I assumed that she meant that the cat had died and I said I was sorry. Then she broke down in tears, pouring out her tale of woe to Izzy and me. She had left an abusive boyfriend and came back to find the locks changed and her things on the street, including her cat. She has since been living on the streets, no place for her or a cat. She called the Newark Humane Society to pick up the cat as she realized she could not care for it. She wondered aloud what had become of her cat. As she stood before us, teary-eyed over her cat, Izzy called out for another cannoli. I opened the box and handed one to him and another to the woman, at a loss for how else to comfort her.

She took the cannoli and began to eat. Through her tears, she smiled, marveling at the cannoli. She said something like, " I can see why he wanted another. I have never had this before but it sure is good." I asked her where she was staying and she told me she sleeps by the river in Hoboken. I suggested she try one of the shelters in Jersey City but she said they were too dangerous for her. We talked some more about other possibilities and she thanked me for talking to her and said she felt better. I gave her a bit of money and wished her the best and we took leave of her.

On the slow meander home, I wondered as to the best way to help someone like her and do truly hope that she finds her way one day soon, to her own home with cat and cannoli.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Not My Father's Tuna

My dad is not from the cooks and one of the few memories I have of him cooking is when he made us lunch on the weekends. It was then he would prepare regular old tuna sandwiches on toast. This meant Bumble Bee White Albacore, with celery and Hellmann's Mayonnaise.

Back in the Seventies, tuna was a mainstay of our diets. I am sure we ate it at least once a week, if not more. In fact it was part of one of my all time favorite dishes, tuna casserole, but that story is for another day.

I recall those innocent tuna days of yesteryear since now I rarely eat it. Which is a shame since I really love tuna but feel a tremendous guilt about eating it. I certainly don't want to play a part in depleting the wild tuna population, nor do I wish to regularly ingest mercury during mealtime (or anytime). And so I save tuna for rare occasions. Today was one of them.

Izzy and I shared a can of "Wild Pole- Caught Tuna" (supposedly less toxic than others) for lunch. I prepared it with chopped baby celery from my csa share, orange zest, a few squeezes of orange juice, mayo and salt and pepper.

I highly recommend adding citrus zest and juice to canned tuna. It refreshes the fish, something mayonnaise alone, cannot do. The sandwich I made may not have been my father's tuna but it reminded me of those tuna days anyway.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All Eats and No Play

Would make Izzy an unhappy boy. Play, as food, is an all important part of our day. Unfortunately, recent park issues have turned playtime into a source of worry...

With the official closing of Hamilton Park on April 30, finding a place to play has become more of a challenge. We have been using the nearby water park but the social scene is not quite the same as it was at Hamilton Park. So we were eagerly awaiting the opening of the temporary playground at Hamilton Square. When it finally opened a few weeks ago we were thrilled. We went over on market day and spread ourselves out on the green sod. I watched happily as Izzy ran off to the jungle gym, ready to romp.

The children were immediately drawn to the dark-brown mulch covering the surface beneath and surrounding the jungle gym, which they began tossing over the entire play structure and down the slide. Moms with younger children admonished Izzy for sprinkling the mulch chips around and I walked over to assess the situation. I immediately noted the suspicious-looking faux mulch. My first thought was, "Great, we have a new playground but it is full of an unhealthy substance." I examined it, noting its rubbery consistency, and brought it home for further inspection.

My internet research has led me to a variety of articles on the topic, most of which have increased my concerns. This article, from 2007, indicates that rubber playground surfaces leach a plethora of carcinogenic compounds into the air.

A more recent article in the Boston Globe is also discouraging. Although not targeting rubber mulch specifically, it outlines issues with other potentially toxic rubber playground surface materials.

Each time I return to the temporary playground I watch as Izzy and other neighborhood kids play amidst the mulch, inhaling potentially harmful toxins and fumes. The odor alone is signal enough that it cannot be healthy for our children. All the organic food I feed Izzy will not counteract the effects of an hour of play in that mulch. And expecting the children not to touch the mulch is virtually impossible.

On our last visit to the playground, the mulch was embedded in Izzy's hair and he sneezed many times following the visit, although he did not have a cold. I couldn't help but wonder if it was somehow related.

There must be a better alternative to using this potentially toxic mulch. Just because it might be okay for the Obamas to use doesn't mean that it is right for us.

The question now remains...

What should be done about this new playground surface? Do we want to continue to expose our children to uncertain risks? Although this is a temporary playground, it is uncertain how long it will be in use. What are the plans for the surface of the new playground in Hamilton Park? If we raise our concerns now we can avoid a similar situation in the permanent playground.

If anyone has any other insights into this matter or would like to join me in raising our concerns, please contact me.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good-Bye Tiger: The First Kitten Leaves

I was thrilled two weeks ago when we found a wonderful family to adopt Tiger but I wasn't prepared for how emotional it would be, especially for Izzy. We had to keep Tiger until she was spayed so the actual adoption did not occur until today.

We have cared for the Fang Sisters for nearly two months now. Their care and feeding has become an integral part of our days. Even though there are four sisters left, it was still hard to see Tiger go. We took the adoptive family up to the kitten room where Izzy managed to get in some last wistful pets.

B. and her son S., took Tiger, wrapped in a towel and we followed them outside. S. seems delighted with his new pet. We couldn't have asked for a better adoptive family, and as a bonus, they live around the corner so we can always visit. Nonetheless, I was sad to see Tiger go and for Izzy it was worse. As soon as they walked out of sight, Izzy burst into tears. I consoled him with Occhi, our current favorite kitty who we brought outside to keep us company.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Leftovers From My CSA - circa 2008 (or How To Shock The Farmer)

Last week, while sorting vegetables with Farmer Rich, I suddenly came to the realization that one item from last year's delivery, still remained, tucked way in the back of my fridge. Each time I cleaned the fridge, I left it there, wondering how long I could keep it and if it would still be okay to eat.

When I turned to him and shamefully admitted to having something leftover from last year's deliveries, he couldn't disguise his horror, his eyes popping, wondering at the disgusting possibilities. He was quite relieved to hear that it was simply a bag of wheat berries and not a festering squash or other unimaginably rotted vegetable.

And, lo and behold, the wheat berries are still fine to eat. In fact he said they last for quite a while. He recommended soaking them for several days and sauteing them with olive oil.. Hope to tell you about it soon!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Governor's Island: Easy Weekend Jaunt

Hop the free ferry along with the goats and sheep (next to the Staten Island Ferry) and you will discover a new realm of New York City, with views of the Statue of Liberty, plenty of shade and excellent roads for biking and scooting. This is a place to have a picnic and spend the day. There are even a couple of food carts and place to have burgers near a small sandy "beach".

I chose to go there today because I was lured in by this article in the New York Times. Today's event was water-themed but somehow included a chance to use an old-fashioned apple press to make cider, something I could not pass up.

Little did I know we would also happen upon a food cart culinary bonanza. There were several acclaimed food carts in attendance, including the Arepa Lady and the NY City Dosa Cart. We sampled both for lunch. We also meant to try some desserts but never got to them.

I followed Izzy as he scooted around the island, wishing I had brought my scooter as well. We barely had a chance to investigate all that the island has to offer as we were pulled in by all of the special activities of the day. No matter, all the more reason for us to return.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Izzy Makes The News..

A photographer from the Jersey Journal, captured his image for posterity, with a forbidden lollipop in his mouth! They were giving them out at the Kitten Adoption Bonanza Event and I didn't have the wherewithal to say no since he had been such a trooper all day. Candy seems to show up in the unlikeliest of places. I usually try to have a replacement on hand but not so since I never associated kittens with candy...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

R.I.P. Ox: October 16, 2007- July 12, 2009

The rumors have been swirling that Ox Restaurant was either closed for vacation or closed for good. Izzy and decided to walk by this morning and see for ourselves.

What we found were signs, posted by the owners, thanking diners for their patronage and employees for their loyalty. Ox Restaurant is indeed closing for good. We will certainly mourn its demise and hope to see a resurrection in the near future.

Meanwhile we will savor our fond memories of meals past.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Chinese Food Picnic? Messy But Successful

When I think picnic, my mind immediately turns to chicken, roasted or fried, potato salad, corn on the cob, cookies and a fruity dessert. To complete the picture, a red-checkered tablecloth, glasses of lemonade and a bottle of rose.

This vision was overturned when we got together with some friends for a picnic by the water.
The last thing I expected to find was this...

A great spread of Chinese food. Noodles, sauces, rice, dumplings and all manner of dishes covered the blankets. My friend G. had organized everything, hauling blankets, cutlery, beverages and more, along with ordering up everything off of the menu from Confucius. Although it wasn't the picnic I envisioned, it turned out to be just right.

Turns out that my G., harbors the same picnic fantasy that I do but she opted to go the simple route, which turned out to be perfect when there is far too much else to do.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sharing The Farmer's Woes: Part and Parcel Of Belonging To A CSA

Joining a CSA can be somewhat of a gamble. I discovered that the first year I joined a local CSA that didn't quite deliver. Each week I held out hope that there would be something other than Swiss Chard or Tomatoes and then, each week I left feeling vaguely disappointed but still hopeful, as I wandered home with my measly bounty. When the end of the season arrived, I was committed to the concept of a CSA but decided I needed to find a different one.

And so I sought out Farmer Rich and decided to host one from my home. Over the past few years, he has delivered on his promise of providing members with a variety of vegetables and fruit in peak form. Yet Farmer Rich cannot control the sun, moon and stars or the weather so occasionally something does go awry, as it did this week. Apparently our large heads of Romaine lettuce, lovely bunches of beautiful Swiss Chard and mint (oh I do mourn the loss of that), met a sad fate in a cooler, where they were frozen to the core.

I had trouble envisioning how it was that a cooler froze greens as I had imagined an extremely large traveling cooler, instead of what the farmer actually uses. Apparently it is a cooler with a thermostat (Why is that not called a refrigerator? I have no idea!). The story goes that the cooler malfunctioned and the farmer was unable to salvage anything.

On the bright side, not all of the pickings were in that cooler so we still received some freshly dug potatoes, garlic curls, fava beans and zucchini.

And here's looking forward to a the usual overflowing bags of produce next week!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kitten Adoption Bonanza: And then there were four..

So while my friend J. was off pressing organic apples into cider (something I'd sure love to do), somewhere off in sunny California,Izzy and I were stuck in front of City Hall, in sunny downtown Jersey City, attempting to find kind souls to adopt our kittens.

I crammed the Fang sisters into their cage which seems to be shrinking, plopped them onto Izzy's red wagon, and rolled them over to the event, meowing all the way.

We set up the cage, awaiting a larger one from the shelter and spent most of the day petting our kittens. There were 30 adorable kittens available. I think that the poor Fang sisters were over-looked by those attracted to some of the fancy-schmancy looking felines. As much as we love our Fang Sisters, they don't look pedigreed. But as I told Izzy, it's personality that matters most!

In the end, Tiger was adopted by a lovely neighborhood family and I will be happy to see her go to their home, where I know she will be well-cared for. Meanwhile, we are still seeking three more homes for her sisters.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Farewell Dinner: Of Rain, Dry Tuna, and Homemade Oreos

Jersey City is a miserable place to live if one hates good-byes (which I most certainly do). Over the five and a half years that we have lived here, Izzy and I have been bidding farewell to far too many of our friends, many of whom have up and left here for greener pastures. Most are in search of better schools, more affordable housing and cleaner living.

The latest ones to abandon our fine city are Izzy's friend T and her family. They are off to Portland, Oregon. June 30 was their last dinner in J.C. and I invited them to our house for a bbq. The first bbq they had with us, turned into an un-bbq, since we ran out of propane. I had hopes that this one would be better.

My original plan was to prepare grilled tofu and brown rice, grass-fed beef sliders, tomato/mozzarella/basil salad, grilled corn, and yellow beans vinaigrette. But during the day, S. called to say she would be bringing along fish. She wanted to bring tuna. I should have warned her against it but how could I say no? What a mistake that was. With so many other things cooking, I overcooked the tuna until it was dry and unpalatable, one reason (besides the mercury factor) I steer clear of tuna in the first place.

Other than the tuna incident, it rained and we had to stay inside, which is not at all what I had in mind. The rain did not keep me from firing up the bbq but it wasn't ideal for our rambunctious children - who did manage to get in some last precious minutes of frolicking, nonetheless. It would be their last opportunity to play together for a long time and they did make the most of it (despite the squeals from T.'s Mama).

Dessert was homemade oreos and fresh berries with whipped cream. I sent them off with extra oreos for their plane trip. From the brief correspondence we have received, all is well in Portland but Izzy and I are missing them here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Snacks in the Park and a B. Day...(Chatting With The British)

So there we were, sitting in the icky little water park, not far from our house. Izzy and friends were munching on chunks of cheese, blueberries and cherries. The kids were running in the animals squirting water. Izzy's friend I. was standing on top of a seal or some other animal, as it spouted water up her derriere.

Her mom glanced in her direction and said, "I. is having a B. day. Not sure if B. days are for cleaning your feet or your bum. But long ago people had B. days for washing. I guess the B. day is for bums." Meanwhile I am wondering how B. days differ from A. days or C. days and wondering if a different part got washed depending on the letter. As I sat reflecting upon what this all meant, H. finally said something to clue me in, not sure what it was but all of a sudden a bell rang and I burst out laughing.

"Do you mean a bidet?" I asked. She looked perplexed. "A what?" "A bidet. Something people have in their bathrooms to keep their bottoms clean." "Yes," she replied. "But I never heard it pronounced that way. I only know that old people seem to have them and never use them."

"Those Brits are an odd bunch, aren't they?"
I thought.
I then explained to her that I grew up with a bidet in my house and that I don't remember anyone using it either. However when I went to Paris I came to rely on my trusty bidet, especially when staying in small hotels that didn't have showers in the room. It is a surprisingly useful bathroom fixture. I managed to somehow bathe in it, while washing my hair in the sink. Eventually I moved into an apartment with a bidet and I miss it still.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Izzy's First Beer...

Root Beer, that is. As a matter of fact, I guess it qualifies as his first soda too.

A new taste sensation.

A gleeful experience.

At bedtime he informed we that it was the highlight of his day. He then asked, "Mama, are you going to tell Papa that I drank beer?" Even though I explained that it wasn't real beer, he still harbored the misconception that he was drinking beer like his Papa does.

Alas, that was not what I had in mind. I just remember drinking Birch Beer when I was a kid and wanted to share a similar experience. I thought that Fitz's Root Beer might not be as sweet as other brands. I haven't drunk Root Beer in ages but it seemed far too sweet to me. Still and all, Izzy got a kick out of it. He better not think it is going to happen again any time soon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

High Hopes For Lunch: A 28 Year Reunion

The Facebook world, while frequently irritating and mundane, also holds great potential. For me it is the promise of reconnecting with a great friend from my past. Several months ago, my friend J., who was my summer camp best friend during those delicate teenaged years of 15 and 16, found me on Facebook and we had a brief correspondence. We both shared fond memories of our time together at camp and pondered over why we hadn't remained in touch.

Recently when he posted that he would be visiting the New York area, I suggested that we meet. He offered to come to Jersey City for lunch. We both secretly thought it would be strange but something compelled us to give it a go. He wondered why I would allow "a strange man" into my house, and I wondered over the general oddness of it all. What did I really know about his grown-up self, aside from the fact that he had once dyed his hair black ( I forgot to tell him that I had done the same at one time) and had taken up ballet (forgot to ask if he still does it). Would I know him? How would time have changed the adorably sweet teenaged boy with whom I had frittered away the days playing backgammon and endless blabbing.

And then there was the issue of lunch. I had planned to make lunch for him. I imagined Heirloom Pea Pancakes with a side of Brebis Blanche cheese and a tossed salad. I even envisioned dessert. Alas my plans were far too ambitious.

When morning came, I became caught up with all of the above ponderings and couldn't settle down enough to actually cook. The very concept of seeing such a long lost friend made it too difficult to concentrate on cooking. Despite the fact that I had a fridge bursting with things to be eaten, I decided that easiest would be best.

When J. finally arrived I ushered him into the kitchen and we began to catch up on all of the long lost years. I had food on the table and eventually got around to creating a few sandwiches with Pecararo bread, fresh mozzarella, avocados and basil from the garden. The food was clearly secondary to the conversation as the day would not have been long enough for us to fit in all of those lost years. Our conversation was just as easy as it had been, so many summers ago. Snippets of our lives were pieced together, memories shared and the afternoon floated away, with a brief pause to pick Izzy up from the camp bus stop. J. came along and once back home we looked at pictures.

Izzy was surprised to see how we looked way back when. Below we are in our usual poses, lounging in J's room, chatting the night away.

L.B. Camp White Oaks: circa 1980

J. A.: Camp White Oaks: circa 1980

We finally took a break to take Izzy (and ourselves) to get gelato. Here we are, post-gelato.

We each may have had a few reservations about meeting but they were quickly put to rest. It is plain see that our reunion was a success. Here's hoping that I don't have to wait another 28 years for the next one. And next time I promise to prepare a better lunch!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Is A Pound Of Scallops Enough For Two Adults and One Child?

Apparently more than enough, with leftovers for a cat or two.

For the second week in a row, I was tempted by the lovely seafood at the Grove Street market (Mondays only). The vendor is from Long Beach Island, N.J.

Izzy kept circling the fish stand on his bicycle, pleading for seafood which I am always reluctant to purchase. I gave in since the scallops proved to be a simple dinner last week. I bought them again so that A. could try some too.

I grilled the scallops a placed them atop a bed of couscous with fresh corn/shallot/basil saute. The scallops were tossed with olive oil and garlic before grilling and then balsamic vinegar was drizzled on top. I was pleased with the results but Izzy only ate two of his and his dad only ate about seven. The excuses:

Izzy: I am not a big fan of scallops (odd as you begged for them)
A.: Scallops are full of preservatives. Best not to eat too many (Have you heard about this? Where does he come up with these facts anyway??)

As for the cats, Splat just sniffs them and walks away but the gutter cats have good taste. At least Mama and her daughter Miss Fang have a hankering for scallops.

Cherry Man

Cherry Man, Cherry Man,
eating cherries whenever he can.
on his face and on his pants
cherry man does a cherry dance..
(to the tune of Particle Man)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Miss Fang And Her Spawn..An Update

Over a month has past since we captured Miss Fang and her daughters. We released Miss Fang but she is still in our lives...

She continues to meow pitifully at the back door but we can't be sure why. Is she still longing for her kittens or is she courting our Splat who peers at her through the screen door?

I feed her almost daily, or whenever she makes an appearance. She is rather fussy and sniffs at the dry food we offer her. Meanwhile, the meowing persists...

Upstairs, in the far reaches of our house, her kittens are blossoming. In the beginning, we kept them in a crate, allowing them out for feeding, petting and cleaning. They have recently graduated to having the run of the room. This has mellowed them even further and they greet us affectionately each time we enter.

They should be ready for adoption by the end of this week, after their final shots and spay. We are torn as to which ones to keep. Each one is special in her own way. Perhaps their fate will be determined when I take them to the Kitten Adoption Bonanza at City Hall on July 12th, from 12-4 p.m. More pictures soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bounty Of New Jersey: Purple and Orange Cauliflower

Look at these gorgeous vegetables. Only $1.75 for fresh, local vegetables. Grown right here in New Jersey and available at Jersey City Farmers' Markets several days a week, thanks to Stony Hill Farm in Chester, N.J.

I used them to make one of our favorite pasta dishes: Pasta with Cauliflower, Garlic and Anchovies, from Marcella Hazan's book, More Classic Italian Cooking.

Pasta With Cauliflower, Garlic and Anchovies (don't be put off by the anchovies, they dissolve in the sauce and leave behind a pleasing brininess).

1 lb. pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 anchovies, chopped
1 small cauliflower, cooked in boiling, salted water about 20 minutes or until tender.
1/4 cup minced parsley
pinch or two of hot pepper

1. Heat oil gently with garlic and anchovies. Stir until anchovies are dissolved, about 3 minutes.
2. Add cauliflower and break up into small pieces. Add hot pepper to taste, then salt and pepper. Toss with minced parsley. Set aside.
3. Prepare pasta and mix with cauliflower sauce. Serve immediately.