Monday, December 19, 2016

Out of The Snow & Into The Kitchen


Here in Northern NY it’s officially Winter!

Which means it’s finally time for that hearty Beef Pot Roast you’ve been dreaming about since July.

And what better way to cook it than by digging out the ol’ crock pot? Slow cooking your roast in a crock pot will ensure tender meat bursting with flavor. It will also produce an enticing, robust scent that will drift through your house all day long, luring humans and animals alike...

Even Bonzo can't resist!

If you’re like me, you may discover a hidden sense of nostalgia behind this scent, awakening fond childhood memories of returning home after playing in the ice and snow, being greeted by the warmth of a fire (or at least the radiator, in my case) and smelling the sweet aroma of carrots and onions cooking in the kitchen. 

Fragrance is a powerful thing.

Now that the snow is falling, It's time to go "back to the future". You will need the following ingredients to do so (yes this is a recipe!) :

Olive Oil2-5 tablespoons
Thyme, 7 sprigs- strip leaves off 3 sprigs, leave the remaining 4 intact 
Parsley, 3 sprigs- strip leaves off 2 sprigs, leave the remaining 1 intact
Garlic, 5 cloves- 3 halved, 2 finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chuck Roast1 (approx. 3lbs)
Red Wine1 cup  (not essential, but adds flavor)
Onion, 1 peeled and roughly chopped
Leek, 1 Cleaned, Prepped, and Chopped (see video here)
Carrots, 5-7, peeled and cut into thirds
Celery Stalks, washed and cut into pieces
Bay Leaf, 1
Portabello Mushroom (optional), 1/2 chopped into small pieces
Fingerling Potatoes, 8-10 halved
Water or Broth
Butter, approx. 1/2 stick
Flour, 1/4 cup 

and a crockpot of course!

Overall cook time is approximately 1 day, as you will need to season the roast at least a day in advance.

Before you begin, remember, nothing tastes better, smells better, feels better, and is better for you than fresh, real food. And that's what this recipe is. The end result is well worth any time and effort spent, as it is both delicious and nutritious, and once cooked, will provide several days' worth of meals, freeing you up to spend more time wrapping xmas gifts or playing outside in the snow ;) But let's not forget all the fun you'll have chopping, dicing, and mixing in the kitchen first!

You will begin by seasoning your chuck roast: 

A) Combine olive oil, leaves of 2 parsley sprigs, leaves of 3 thyme sprigs, salt and pepper.

B) Rub mixture onto chuck roast with fingers, making sure to coat entire roast.

C) Return seasoned roast into fridge to marinate over night or preferably longer.


After your roast has been properly seasoned for a day or two, you are ready to begin!

1) Add the following to your crockpot:

-1 onion
-1 leek
-1 carrot
-2 celery stalks
-3 garlic cloves (halved)
-4 thyme sprigs 
-1 parsley sprig
-1 bay leaf

2) Dig out enough space in center of crockpot to place your roast. Add 1/2 cup wine (optional) and enough water or broth to come almost to the top of the meat. Set crock pot on low heat and cover.

3) After approximately 1 hour: stir veggies and turn meat for even cooking. Continue to turn meat approximately every hour.

4) After 4 to 5 hours, add the following to pan and place over stovetop on medium heat:

-2 tbsp butter
-splash of broth or water (to prevent burning)
-remaining carrots 
-remaining celery
-salt & pepper to taste
-extra herb sprigs if desired

Saute veggies on all sides for 3-5 minutes to add flavor.

5) Remove Veggies from pan and add to crock pot.

***This is where I added my special ingredient: fresh picked, home grown tomatoes. Although the recipe doesn't call for tomatoes, I was fortunate enough to be given them by a generous neighbor of mine who grows her own in the backyard:

Adding kindness never hurts

6) Add remaining wine to crock pot, if desired.

7) Continue to cook on low heat for 3 to 4 more hours, totaling 8 hours approximately. Depending on your particular model of crock pot, your roast may cook faster or slower. Continue to check your roast by cutting off small pieces and tasting. When the meat is very tender and can be cut with ease, your roast is ready. Vegetables should also be soft enough to bite into.

Time to make the gravy! What is a delicious roast without a savory, rich sauce to go with it? 

8) Extract juices from crock pot (there will be plenty). 

9) In a medium-small saucepan, heat juices over medium-low heat. Add mushroom (optional). Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

10) Add flour while mixing vigorously with fork or whisk. Add more juice from crock pot if necessary.

10) Add remaining butter. Salt & pepper to taste.

Gravy should be thick, but if so desired, to thin out simply add more juice from crock pot, milk, or broth.

And voila!

You are ready for an incredibly satisfying supper, complete with what I hope to be some of your fondest childhood memories.

And remember, cooking is just another way we can live in the moment while savoring our past :)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Reduce, Reuse, Rejoice: A Spiritual Guide to Waste Management

Several months back I published a post about the waste we humans produce due to our eating habits (Click Here To Read). A lot of what I learned while writing this piece has stuck with me, influencing the way I think and feel, and consequently, the way I eat. At times I'm overwhelmed by this knowledge; I struggle with guilt brought on in part by my own, and in part by my fellow species, decision to exist in a way not consistent with nature. But as I continue to ponder these decisions, I'm beginning to realize something quite extraordinary.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Eat To Live & Live To Give

Now that I have cable again (uggh!) I've been bombarded with cheery commercials all promising unparalleled holiday joy. As a wise woman once sang, “I am a material girl” and it’s painfully obvious that I am “living in a material world”.

Every year we spend billions “making merry”. As a culture we tend to overdose on materialism. I think it's okay to enjoy the finer things in life, but in moderation. After all, what are we working for if not to be happy, enjoying food and gifts with our loved ones? 

With that being said, I still empathize with those that have grown disenchanted by the holidays, those that look around and see selfish, instant gratification-obsessed, unhappy people. So while I think nothing wrong with the enjoyment of giving and getting the material things in life, it’s no secret that for many people, the holidays have become the least wonderful time of the year.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Berry" Happy in Toronto


Everyone keeps asking me if I had Poutine while in Toronto. The answer is No, I didn’t.

What I had was better.

I know what you're thinking: what could be better than greasy fries smothered with brown gravy and cheese curd? Right?! Unfortunately I've yet to experience that culinary wonder, but I did eat pretty much everything else in Toronto during my two-day trip, some things twice, and others for the first time.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Keep Calm & Compost

With all the bad news this week (I think we all know what I’m referring to) it’s nice to take solace in the simple things, like fresh air, nutritious food, and getting dirty! I am scared of what the future will bring, or take away, but I’m trying to approach these anxieties in a Zen-like manner; this is my mantra: the only moment is the one I’m in, and the most I can do is what I can do with my two hands, right now… which is why it’s time to compost!

Friday, November 4, 2016

First Compost

I know, I know... you are on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear all about my first compost!  Well I am happy to say the wait is over! Here it is! After weeks of researching and saving up my green food waste, I was ready to build my very own makeshift compost bin. Since I wasn’t sure which one to buy (there are several varieties) I decided to keep it simple and use a large, old, wooden planter I found in the backyard. I dug out the old potting soil, and got to work!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

World Food Day 2016: We Are All One

This year, World Food Day focused on Climate Change. A changing climate means changes in our food, both in the agricultural sector and in disposal methods. Towns, cities and countries continue to wait on policy changes enacted by their government, but really, these changes must be made by the individual, by you and by me.

First things first, we need to change how we look at the world. It was recently announced that after 20 million years, the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef in our oceans, has died. There has been debate as to whether or not this is true, but we can be certain that if not dead, it is dying, as are many reefs throughout the seas.

The Great Barrier Reef. Photo from

But why are the reefs dying? And why is this significant?

Monday, October 3, 2016

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

But why would I want to? This fall is like no other. For the first time in my life absolutely nothing is wrong. This is the best fall since the Yankees won their three-peat back in 2000. I’m as happy as I was then, maybe happier… I’m as happy as a puppy with a treat… and maybe that’s because I’ll soon have a puppy of my own. Or it might be that I’ve just relocated to a small town where the days are sunny and I sleep in a tree house beneath a canopy of leaves. But those reasons aren’t the only reasons. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Did Someone Say "BBQ" ?

A certain special friend of mine loves bar-b-que's. He loves them so much we have a running joke that despite his various academic degrees and accolades, all that really goes on inside his head is the word "BBQ" over and over again, at least for the summer months (maybe in winter the word changes to "turkey" or "eggnog").

As you can imagine, we derive many jokes and laughter at this friend's expense, but all joking aside, who doesn't love a BBQ? Summer has always been my favorite season and a big reason for that is the fact that during the warm summer months, more than any other time of year, we treat ordinary days like holidays, which means lots and lots of BBQ's. Yes there are some actual holidays, like the 4th of July,  but even after, all we really need is a day (or afternoon) off from work, sunshine, a few friends, and simple, yet delicious food to throw on the grill.

Many people associate nostalgia with summertime, and for good reason;  most of us spend more time using our senses for pleasurable experience in the summer than in any other season. Think about it, we are outside (which is already a sensory plethora) with the sounds of birds singing, ocean waves crashing and if we're lucky, music and laughter. Now add the scents and tastes of flame grilled corn, melted butter, and a juicy steak smoking over a fire. Who wouldn't be nostalgic?

Cooking over a flame is the essence of cooking. Using fire to create food is how the human species survived and evolved over thousands of years. There is no experience that makes us feel more human, more connected, than the act of cooking with fire, outside, with others. And what else is a BBQ but this act? No wonder my friend can't stop thinking of them.

Last week in the Poconos... I'm really enjoying my Smores!!
Two thirds of summer is already gone, and with it the opportunity to slow down, unwind, and spend much needed time with our friends and family. But there is still some time left and however busy you are, it would be nothing short of tragic to let it slip by un-celebrated or un-enjoyed.

I haven't been writing much (as you can probably tell from the lack of blog posts), but that's because I've been out enjoying life, which I hope is the case for you too. As much as I love writing, I love living more. And so far, I've had a pretty amazing summer! Take a look...

Me, enjoying a lovely afternoon on the beach, back in June

At the Biergarten on the NYC High Line
Surprise! Happy 78 Grandma!!
Does this shot really need a caption?!


Good times with friends "glamping" in the Poconos :)

Finally! ...Meeting my sister for the first time (it only took 13 years!)

Happy 13 Years to this couple!

... I guess 13 is my lucky number ;)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

You May Be What You Eat, But You Live In What You Waste

When I open my fridge I see lots of beauty. Fluffy florets of broccoli, the pale green hue of a ripe grape, the dark and sensuous mousse au chocolat; there, just beyond the white refrigerator door, lies a temperature controlled metropolis bursting with color, scent, and of course, taste. It is a world of sensual delights that makes my world possible. But there is a dark side to this mouthwatering metropolis, a side most of us don't see or think about; like any city, there is sin here too. There is corruption, and in it, a wealth of waste.

Apparently this is a very old work of art once used for a postcard.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Foodlosophy to Fill You Up This Ramadan

Azim Azimzade. Ramadan of the poor people. 1938
Food is tied to everything we do and everything we are. This is true even when we abstain from eating it, as is the case for the millions of Muslims who are currently fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. In addition to the nutrition and enjoyment derived from consumption, food can have an even larger impact when it’s used as a spiritual aid. And by used, I mean not used, or at least withheld for a significant period of time. Sacrificing food and other indulgences can mean strengthening one’s spirit while ensuring a profound appreciation for the nourishment so easily taken for granted.

Photo of family preparing to enjoy Iftar in Bejing, China (Huffington Post). Check out more photos of Iftar from around the globe here: Ramadan Iftars From Around The World
It’s no wonder that food has the power to transform both personally and politically. In the course of his lifetime, Mohandas Gandhi fasted several times. In his fight against political injustice Gandhi called his fast “a god given opportunity” ( In addition to an opportunity, fasting became a powerful tool in the fight for caste equality in India. Furthermore, fasting is a valuable method integral to “passive resistance”, a philosophy that calls for peaceful progression towards achieving goals, often in the face of violent opposition. Of course, not all fasting is done in such dramatic fashion, nor is it solely intended to bring about political change.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Eat to Live (this summer!)

Photo taken from
I absolutely adore Disfunkshion Magazine. They have fabulous stories, artful photos, and best of all, they are all about female empowerment. Yes there is a lot of fashion, but there is also a focus on the dynamic woman: intelligent, strong, complex, beautiful and unique.

Photo taken from
I recently discovered their Eat to Live section and loved it! It's full of enticing recipes sourced from all over the globe; I especially love the focus on nutritional ingredients used in surprising new ways, did someone say frozen-strawberry-kiwi-yogurt-bars?

The photos are pretty amazing too! Check it out here and be prepared for a feast for the eyes:

Photo taken from

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Plea For The Bee

Every morning I wake up, wash my face, brush my teeth and head to the kitchen. I put water on the stove and wait for it to boil. After steeping a tea bag for a minute or two, I stir in a spoonful of clover honey. One spoonful, not much, right?

Maybe not to us. But to a honeybee, who can only produce one-twelfth of a teaspoon in her lifetime, a spoonful of honey is a plethora. Suddenly, honey doesn’t seem so expensive when we consider the fact that “for one pound of honey, the bees visit over two million flowers and fly the equivalent of two-and-half-times around the world” (Salisbury). But honey is expensive, and the true costs are only now becoming clear.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Taste of Transcendence: Feeding the Guru at Punjab's Golden Temple

Thousands of pilgrims outside the Golden Temple in Punjab, India (photo taken from

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about overpopulation and food shortages. What comes up time and time again is the so-called “futility” of trying to feed the 7 Billion+ people that make up our global society. I’ve heard people say that it can’t be done and it’s useless to try, that it’s those people’s faults for producing more mouths to feed. People say that’s life. 

Mostly I hear it spoken of casually, abstractly, as though starvation were something to be accepted and tolerated, like say, losing the game or catching a cold. Sure it sucks, but again, that’s life, says the person with the fully stocked pantry.

Actually that’s not life. That’s death, the absence of life. And while death may be part of life, starvation most certainly shouldn’t be. But is it actually possible to feed every mouth on our planet?