Friday, November 30, 2012

Tomorrow Is December 1st ~ It's Take Your Kids To A Bookstore Day!

Best American Book Ever : Ezra Jack Keats The Snowy Day, Available At Watchung Booksellers This nationwide event is being celebrated at bookstores everywhere tomorrow.

Check your local independent bookstore for details about special events planned for the day.

Locally, Montclair residents are in for a treat as Watchung Booksellers hosts children's author Patty Lovell who will be reading her book, "Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon" at the 10:30am Story Time. Watchung  Booksellers is located in Watchung Plaza in Montclair NJ. Visit Watchung Booksellers  for details on this and other events.

  (so why on earth am I showing Ezra Jack Keat's The Snowy Day? well, because its the first book I ever borrowed from the library, Peter has a Dachshund called Willy (I had one called "Trudy" at the time, and it's the greatest American Piece of Literature ever written!)

The Family Bed At The Montclair Animal Shelter

The Family Bed At The Montclair Animal Shelter

One of the cool features of the Montclair Animal Shelter is his large playhouse with a mattress that many cats use for their afternoon siesta.

 Sure there are individual beds around the sides but this one big bed attracts several cats who all seemed to pile in and snooze.

The Montclair Township Animal Shelter is where I found my herd - have I mentioned how much I love that place? Of course not everyone can take in one of these wonderful creatures, but donations of time, talent, and treasure are always welcome. (here's a neat idea : you know how you keep meaning to start walking more often? why not make it a resolution for the New Year and volunteer to be a dog walker at the shelter!
To learn more about the Montclair Township Animal Shelter visit the website.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gift Books : "Walks With Farley" / A Journey Of Loss, Love, And Lotsa Tail Wagging

From the author :

"Walks with Farley" is the book version of a Facebook photo album that documents the daily walks taken with my Jack Russell Terrier, Farley, who came to live with me in New Jersey after the death of my son, Maurice Mannion-Vanover. The book took shape after friends requested a permanent form for the photos and comments that accompany them, all written on my Blackberry (and later, Droid) while actually out walking. All profits from the purchase of the book will be donated to my son's high school, Shepard Academy, in Morristown, NJ, and his summer camp, Camp Henry at Lake Logan, near Asheville, NC. Thank you for your support, love, and encouragement!

Those Walks With Farley Are RealTimothy J. Mannion grew up in Torrington, Connecticut, and graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He has worked in human resource information systems at The World Bank Group, Ernst & Young, LLP, and Citigroup as a business analyst. An adoptive father of two sons, Kindoo and Maurice, an amateur photographer, singer, organist, music arranger, and author. Upon the unexpected death of his younger son Maurice in Canada in early 2011, he was adopted by a Jack Russell Terrier named Farley, who contributed to his healing from Maurice's loss. While taking "Walks with Farley", he captured fleeting moments of natural beauty, the type that would usually be missed by others, and posted them to a Facebook photo album along with descriptive and sometimes poignant commentary. This volume gathers together a selection of those photographs and comments, all composed while on the sidewalks while walking with Farley. He and Farley live in Montclair, New Jersey.

To share this gift with others, orders for "Walks With Farley"  can be placed here:

Of course if you want to preview the book (just in case you cannot decide if you want to order 1, 2, or 5 copies to share, preview Walks With Farley here (preview).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bloomfield's Francesco Palmieri of the @OrangeSquirrel on CBS2 New York

One of the best things about being a contributor to Hot From The Kettle  is meeting some of the best restauranteurs on the East Coast. This morning good friend of Hot From The Kettle, and featured chef of the Montclair Food and Wine Festival   Francesco Palmieri of Bloomfield's Orange Squirrel was on CBS 2 New York this morning sharing what is sure to be a favourite recipe : King Salmon Pinwheels.

As a part of the local station's Superfood Series, Chef Palmieri included Salmon as the featured superfood, and added Spinach, Garlic and Pomegranates. (who ever knew that eating good could taste so good!) The salmon pinwheels are served over a spinach cream and dressed with wilted spinach. (I'm kvelling, I'm already seeing the opportunity to turn that spinach cream into a creamy spinach soup, as well as a vegan soup, but that's a later post for Meatless Monday, let's get back to the recipes!

King Salmon Pinwheels (Serves 4)
2 lbs. of wild salmon (center cut) Slice salmon thinly (against the grain) with sharp clean knife, roll into pinwheels and tie off with butchers twine, season with salt and pepper Melt 1 tbsp. of butter in a non-stick skillet with a whole smashed garlic clove and sprig of thyme. Sear salmon – cook three minutes each side, remove from pan and remove twine. Serve over spinach cream and wilted spinach (see wilted spinach and spinach cream recipes below).

Wilted Spinach: Serves 4 1 bag of cleaned baby spinach (2/3 for wilted spinach) (1/3 for spinach cream) 1 shallot divided – 1 tablespoon grated with microplane and slice the rest for spinach cream ½ tbsp. of garlic puree – place 1 whole head garlic with top cut to expose cloves in foil, add extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and roast till golden brown. Squeeze out garlic cloves and process in a blender adding approximately ¼ cup ice cold water and ¼ cup blended oil (olive & canola) until smooth. 1 tsp. lemon juice (squeeze lemon and strain to remove pulp/seeds) In a stainless steel mixing bowl add baby spinach, shallots, garlic puree, lemon juice, salt and ground white pepper. Put mixing bowl over low heat, mix with tongs or spoon over until lightly wilted. Be careful not to overcook.

Spinach Cream:
In saucepan heat 1 tbsp. butter and add sliced shallots, cook until soft. Add cleaned baby spinach. Add one pint heavy cream, lightly season with salt and pepper bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from stove and put in blender, add one bunch of cleaned parsley, mix on high. Cool over ice and reserve. This can be reheated in a small pot and poured onto plate under wilted spinach and salmon. To see the video clip of this morning's segement visit CBS 2 New York at 2 In The Kitchen : King Salmon Pinwheels

After having tickled your tastebuds with this sensation, be sure to check out  The Orange Squirrel

Coming This Christmas ~ The #DrWho Christmas Special

Like Sticky Toffee Pudding and Christmas Crackers all great holiday traditions on this side of the Atlantic start in the UK years before they are adopted stateside. And so that tradition continued in this second decade of the 21st Century with the Doctor Who Christmas Specials.

Since the revival of the Doctor Who series on BBCone in 2005, Christmas Specials have been a part of the merry making of the holiday. Sadly in the US we had to wait months before those specials were shown in the US. Starting in 2010 with the sixth Dr Who Who Christmas Special "A Christmas Carol" everything changed : it was the first special that was shown in the US the same day it was shown in the UK.

The tradition continues in 2012 with the eighth Christmas Special "The Snowmen" that will be shown on BBCone in the Uk and on BBCAmerica several hours later in the US on Christmas Day. Matt Smith returns as the 11th Doctor and introduces us to Jenna-Louise Coleman as the Doctor's new companion, Clara. Charles Dickens pretty much wrote the rule that the best Christmas stories are set in Victorian England, this episode is no different being set in 1892. Now if we could only start driving on the proper side of the road all would be good in America.

Hard To Get More Local Than This : Montclair Embroidered Pillows at @JafaJems

Hard To Get More Local Than This ~ @JafaJems Montclair JafaJems on Valley Road Upper Montclair is a place to discover. Featuring handcrafted items from around the world there is something here for everyone. Being a foodie I'm partial to the serveware, but the beaded animals from South East Asia do tickle my wanderlust. The collection of whimsical "Twelve Days of Christmas" Tea Towels are a great hostess gift but are also great to "cover the dough with a damp tea and allow to rise" (give me a minute or three and I'll find a foodie angle to everything here!

JafaJems is located at 622 Valley Road in Upper Montclair (in the old Olympic Building)
 or visit them online at

Monday, November 26, 2012

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen

This single lone rose, or what's left of it, made an appearance in the garden this week just as temperatures started to dance with the freezing mark. With advent fast approaching, the 16th Century Carol comes to mind : Es ist ein Ros entsprungen

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen

In English, the hymn is:

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung.
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow'ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When halfspent was the night

Miss This? Mini Food Truck Rally In Upper Montclair

Black Friday Mini Food Truck RallyThe Big Surprise in Upper Montclair on Black Friday was the Mini Food Truck Rally.

Three of the areas most popular trucks parked on Bellevue Avenue to the delight of local shoppers.

Each truck has its own unique following, and each group of followers not only discovered the other trucks but discovered the unique locally owned shops in the village. While running around doing my own shopping on Black Friday locally, I heard several shopkeepers talk about the rally with praise for the way it made walking Upper Montclair a great experience for the shoppers. Many new faces were seen, perhaps a few will be back spending even more money in Upper Montclair in the coming months.

There's A Rumer It's #MusicMonday , Here She Is With Alfie

There's a new Rumer in town! Who is she?

She's a Pakistan-born, 31-year-old singer/songrwriter who has spent the better part of the last decade trying to land a record deal. Now she has one and she looks set for massive global success.

Her music: Her drowsy, sobbing contralto spookily conjures up the late Karen Carpenter without the sense of tragedy.

Her sound is pure Sunday afternoon Bacharach, all lazy horns and languid atmosphere. Think The Carpenters' "Close To You" meets Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love." Lush!

Her breakthrough: Bacharach reportedly flew Rumer out to California to hear her perform

Here she is with "Alfie" :

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pumpkin Vinaigrette ~ A New Fall Classic #Recipe

Spinach, Apples, and Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving is a memory and sadly for most people anything pumpkin will not be considered again until sometime next October. Pish! Pumpkin isn't just for Pie, as I proved in my class "Perfectly Pumpkin" - it's for the entire season.

This recipe, created by VeggieGirl Dianne Wenz, uses Pumpkin Puree to create a vinaigrette that is similar in consistency to that wonderful Gingered-Miso dressing we all love at the Japanese Restaurants.

Here's one of the great things about Pumpkin Puree : that wonderful orange stuff from the can is freezable, so if you are only planning to use a bit of it to make this recipe, portion out the rest in freezer bags and reserve for later use.

Pumpkin Vinaigrette:

◦1/2 cup pumpkin puree
 ◦1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
 ◦1/2 cup olive oil
 ◦3 or 4 fresh sage leaves, minced
 ◦1 garlic clove, minced
 ◦1/2 teaspoon sea salt
 ◦1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a blender, or use an immersion blender, or whisk like crazy, and viola! A vinagrette that will impress all winter long. It's great on spinach with apples, mushrooms, and of course toasted pumpkin seeds.
Be sure to visit VeggieGirl for great Vegetarian Recipes that are so good, you (and your guests) will not realize you are eating vegetarian unless someone let's them in the secret!

Save The Date : A Festival Of Lessons and Carols 16 December at St Luke's Montclair

Downton Abbey Revisited : Tonite On Masterpiece #downtonpbs

Can't catch it tonight? Downton Revisited will be shown again Wednesday 28 November at 9:30pm on many PBS stations. Check P B S for times on your PBS station.

Season 2 of Downton Abbey will be shown again on Masterpiece starting on 2 December 2012, Season Three of Downton Abbey returns to PBS 6 January 2013.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Red Maple Putting On A Fiery Show

The Red Maple Putting On A Fiery Show

On #SmallBiz Saturday I Decided To #ShopLocal Montclair

My journey took me to JafaJems and Fancy That in the former Olympic Building on Valley Road Upper Montclair. The Banyan Tree on Bellevue Ave, Watchung Booksellers in Watchung Plaza. Sir Issac Bike and Board on Bellevue and Montclair Bikery on Valley Road were also on the list. And seriously, do you think I would miss out on a chance to stop at Olive That and More? Picked up some Blood Orange Olive Oil to include in my Blood Orange and Cranberry Focaccia. (yeah, I really do make my stuffing from scratch, and don't limit it to just Thanksgiving)

Royal Icing - The Stuff That Makes Christmas Cookies Look So Good

Royal Icing is that sweet colorful piped icing that dries hard and makes sugar cookies look so good. The original Royal Icing was made with egg whites and powdered (confectioners) sugar however with so many cases of crazy illnesses being attributed to raw eggs using meringue powder is the best way to go. Meringue Powder can sometimes be found in grocery stores during "cookie baking season" and its almost always in foodie oriented stores such as Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods. Craft stores with a cake decorating section often sell meringue powder as well.


4 Cups Confectioners Sugar (this is usually one box)

3 Tablespoons Meringue Powder

6 Tablespoons Water

Method :

The easiest way to prepare royal icing is to combine all of the ingredients in a stand mixer at the lowest speed using a padle attachment.

I have found that adding the sugar and merignue powder first, allowing those dry ingredients to combine and distribute works best. Add the water a little at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time.

This will produce a sweet but fairly flavorless white icing that is ready to be piped.

Vanilla essense (extract) or any other flavoring can be added. Its often a nice surprise to add some peppermint extract to the royal icing that will be used to decorate candy cane shaped cookies.

Food coloring can be added as well.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Red Mini Clubman Celebrates Christmas : Priceless

Red Mini Cooper Clubman ~ Priceless

OMG ! Mini Food Truck Rally In Upper Montclair !

Can this day get any better! There's a Mini Food Truck Rally going on right now on Bellevue Ave Montclair!

  Hunger Construction is here with those incredible stuffed baked potatoes called "Cement Mixers"; Jay is representing WhoDat nation with the French Quarter Food Truck (yup, I fancy me some Jambalaya), and fresh from feeding the volunteers who are rebuilding the Jersey Shore, Elefans can rejoice : the Thai Food Truck is here too! I'm just a little obsessed with the Food Trucks.

 Here's a photo slideshow of the trucks compiled over the last several times I've visited them:

Building New Holiday Traditions at Olive That And More In Upper Montclair

Building New Holiday Traditions at Olive That and More Montclair As the newest store in Upper Montclair, Olive That and More is sure to start a new tradition among the locals as a gift giving source, but did you know that many of your favourite holiday treats can be made with Olive Oil?

Brownies, cookies and other treats can all be made with Olive Oil and based on the mini taste tests conducted in the store they're a hit.

I'll be conducting a Holiday Sweets and Treats demo-class at Olive That and More Wednesday evening December 12 at 7pm, but why wait, stop in Olive That this weekend as a part of #shoplocal weekend and #smallbiz Saturday to discover how traditional Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar can start new tradtions in your family this holiday season.

First Light at Watchung Booksellers on Black Friday

First Light on Black Friday at Watchung Booksellers By now everyone knows that I have several obsessions including Nutella, Dr Who, and the Padres. Watchung Booksellers in Watchung Plaza in Montclair feeds two of those obsessions : Cookbooks and Supporting Small Business. It's Festivus at Watchung Booksellers so how could I resist but to pillage the shelves and put together my list of five favourite gift books (but no one has to know who is getting which book!)

#5. Leon : Naturally Fast Food. Naturally Fast Food is a book of two halves. The first half is Fast Food, which contains recipes for every occasion that take a maximum of 20 minutes to prepare: from a work day breakfast and children's meals to simple suppers and party food. The second half is Slow Fast Food which contains things that can be made in advance when you have time, to enjoy when you don't have time. With more than 200 recipes there is plenty in both halves for the experienced cook as well as the culinary adventurer in search of inspiration.

#4. Mark Bittman : The Mini Minimalist. This boxed set contains over 160 recipes ideal for the harried chef who is still interested in serving delicious meals. Mark Bittman, renowned for the quick and easy recipes featured in his weekly New York Times food column, prunes his collection in order to minimize the effort and ingredients required for each dish featured in this anthology. The ideal size and packaging for gift giving, this small slipcase set of cookbooks makes a thoughtful housewarming or holiday gift for the everyday gourmand or novice chef.

#3. Deb Pereman : The Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman loves to cook. She isn’t a chef or a restaurant owner—she’s never even waitressed. Cooking in her tiny Manhattan kitchen was, at least at first, for special occasions—and, too often, an unnecessarily daunting venture. Deb found herself overwhelmed by the number of recipes available to her. Have you ever searched for the perfect birthday cake on Google? You’ll get more than three million results. Where do you start? What if you pick a recipe that’s downright bad? So Deb founded her award-winning blog, Smitten Kitchen, on the premise that cooking should be a pleasure, and that the results of your labor can—and should—be delicious . . . every time. Deb is a firm believer that there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes. She has dedicated herself to creating and finding the best of the best and adapting the recipes for the everyday cook.

#2. Stanley Tucci : The Tucci Cookbook. There is some truth to the old adage “Most of the world eats to live, but Italians live to eat.” What is it about a good Italian supper that feels like home, no matter where you’re from? Heaping plates of steaming pasta . . . crisp fresh vegetables . . . simple hearty soups . . . sumptuous stuffed meats . . . all punctuated with luscious, warm confections. For acclaimed actor Stanley Tucci, teasing our taste buds in classic foodie films such as Big Night and Julie & Julia was a logical progression from a childhood filled with innovative homemade Italian meals: decadent Venetian Seafood Salad; rich and gratifying Lasagna Made with Polenta and Gorgonzola Cheese; spicy Spaghetti with Tomato and Tuna; delicate Pork Tenderloin with Fennel and Rosemary; fruity Roast Duck with Fresh Figs; flavorful Baked Whole Fish in an Aromatic Salt Crust; savory Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Potatoes; buttery Plum and Polenta Cake; and yes, of course, the legendary Timpano. and drum roll please ~ no real surprise here ~ my favourite cookbook ever is also my top gift choice

#34 @Beekman1802Boys Cookbook #photo365#1. The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook: Heirloom fruits and vegetables, and more than 100 heritage recipes to inspire every generation Welcome to Beekman 1802, in Sharon Springs, NY--the historic home of The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge. Josh and Brent star in the popular show on Cooking Channel, and they have built a worldwide reputation for their goat's milk soaps and superb, artisanal Blaak cheese. Together, Josh and Brent have created a gorgeous cookbook that is “heirloom” in every sense of the word: they showcase heirloom fruits and vegetables; offer delicious heirloom recipes from farm, family, and friends; and include a section in the back of each chapter so you can personalize the book with your own treasured recipes--and create a unique keepsake to hand down to your family. From springtime pea pod risotto and summery strawberry shortcake to quick braised collards in autumn and yummy chicken 'n' dumplings for a snowy winter's day, this is simple yet luscious farm-fresh fare that everyone will love.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Time At Lambert Castle, Paterson NJ

Ubiquitous in the freezer case this time of year, the turkey roams freely in much of the US. Recently a small group of wild turkeys was spotted on the lawn at Lambert Castle in Paterson NJ.
Benjamin Franklin proposed that the turkey should be the national bird of the new nation, the eagle eventually earned that title. Like the swift flying eagle, these turkeys can move.

Trying to capture them, in frame, without a lot of background noise, was nearly impossible. Those birds move! And they are big. And not afraid of people.

But at the end of the day the cool thing is knowing that wildlife is grabbing a foothold in the most densely populated state in the United States. And for that I am thankful.

Gobble Gobble at Montclair Bread Company

Gobble Gobble at Montclair Bread Company Look who I found hiding in the bread case at Montclair Bread Company at about 7 this morning! Have you been to the (new) Montclair Bread Company on Walnut St yet - OMG - it's incredible.

I've heard some people compare the shop to the great bread stores "in the city," not sure about that, I was thinking more like the great bread shops in Paris.

Happy Turkey Day !

I am not exactly why Americans keep wishing each other "Happy Turkey Day" but since Turkey is one of America's most important allies I extend my wishes for a Happy Turkey Day to everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another Look At The Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Pumpkin Ginger Soup A hit at my "Perfectly Pumpkin" Class at Kings, a repeat hit at the Hot From The Kettle Williams Sonoma "Thanksgiving Sides and Soups" demo, and a pot luck favorite this soup of super easy (souper easy?) requiring very little work at all.
Check out the recipe on Hot From The Kettle   (and don't tell anyone - it's vegan!)

Tulip Leaves In Brookdale Park

Tulip LeavesThe Tulip Tree, native to the Eastern United States, has leaves that are distiquished by their similar appearance to a profile line drawing of the flower tulip. Take a look at the green leaf in the center of the photograph - see the tulip now?

Another distiguishing feature of the Tulip Tree is their height: some trees can grow as tall as 170 or even 180 feet tall, allowing them to tower above Oaks and Maples in Eastern forests. The broad trunks of these trees made them suitable for use as dugout canoes by Native Americans, earning this tree the nickname of "canoewood."

For me, its all about the leaves, the fascinating shape, the multiple hues in autumn all make the Tulip one of the things I have come to enjoy about New Jersey.

This photgraph was taken in Brookdale Park in Montclair New Jersey.

A Peak Into The Cookbook Review Process : Olive Oil Desserts

Olive Oil, Chocolate, and Brownies No, its not "oh that looks good, hmmm, great picture, I think I like this book." The review process, for me at least, involves from real work, and of course taste testing.

While working on the review of "Olive Oil Desserts" by Micki Sannar the process was a little more intense as the subject is little different than most things to which people are accustomed.

Most recipes in the book were tried (and loved) then tried again and shared. These brownies are one of the many surprises. Of course after killing myself working through this book I discovered that many people I know actually think Hostess Cupcakes taste good. So perhaps all that work was for naught.

Regardless, Olive Oil Desserts is serving as the basis for the next culianry demonstration at Olive That And More    on 12 December 2012 in Upper Montclair. A formal review will also be shared on Hot From The Kettle   

 In the mean time, it's almost Small Business Saturday. I'm throwing my money at Watchung Booksellers, Olive That and More, JafaJems, and Banyan Tree in Montclair. See you around town.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Save The Date : Festivus at @Watchungbooksellers Friday 23 November 2012

Bike And Books In Montclair NJ Friday only, November 23rd,

They lost the power of light and heat but saw the power of community spirit and support. To thank everyone for sticking by, Watchung Booksellers would like to make Festivus Friday an annual tradition. Festivus
for the Rest of Us

store-wide sale at
Watchung Booksellers.
 Get 20% off your total purchase (yes, that includes the incredible, curated selection of books, quirky gifts, cards for every occasion, and games) when you come in and give them the secret password at checkout

Feeding My Cookbook AddictionOh, and, don't worry... "membership" around here is easy.
If you get the e-newsletter, you are already a member.
If not, just sign up for the Watchung Bookseller newsletter NOW!

Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your neighbors... See you Friday!

PS ~ The Cookbook Section Rocks

#musicmonday ~ Adele ~ Set Fire To The Rain #downtonpbs

Images from the previous two seasons of Downton Abbey accompany Adele's Set Fire To The Rain
Downton Abbey returns to Masterpiece PBS on 6 January 2013 on most PBS Stations

A Peak Into JafaJems on Valley Road in Upper Montclair

A Peek Into JafaJems Montclair

Help Montclair's Itchy Pay For Medical Bills

Itchy Dressed For The Block Party
I met Itchy at the Montclair Animal Shelter's Block Party in 2011. A favourite of the kids who volunteer at the shelter, Itchy won me over too. (but there are too many best friends in my herd so as much as I would have loved to take Itchy home I could not.

Itchy was eventually adopted from the Montclair Township Animal Shelter by two good friends of the shelter but sadly is very ill with kidney issues.

Janet & Lou, Itchy's people are great wonderful souls and shelter volunteers. Lou works at the shelter part-time and Janet is a special ed teacher.

 Please help these compassionate and amazing folks pay for the vet care for this wonderful dog. Donate to the Chip-In Page to help Itchy.

Help Itchy's Medical Bills Here

(Oh yeah, so you're wondering about the name "Itchy" ~ it was given to him by one of the first children to meet him. It's a good thing he was scratching himself when she first met him, there's no telling what his name would have been if he was doing something else)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Six Hay Bales Fit In A Mini Clubman

I am always amazed at how much stuff can fit into Olivia.

 I got some puzzled looks when I replaced my Accord with a Mini Clubman but I never would have been able to get six haybales in the Honda. The hay bales will be used in the garden. Pretty cool huh?

Nutley's "Mudhole" ~ November Morning

Nutley's "Mudhole" ~ November Morning

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Compostable : Thanksgiving Edition

Thanksgiving provides us with a bountiful feast to be enjoyed by friends and family, but it also produces some of the largest trash days of the year and with landfills reaching capacity across the nation. With municipal budgets stretched to the breaking point, why not talk trash this Thanksgiving!
After recently discovering that a large portion of the trash from New York City travels to Virginia to be landfilled, I started to think not only of the environmental impact of trash itself, but of the costs and effects associated with transporting trash and saw an opportunity.

Okay, okay, I hear the murmurs already, how will people in New York compost if they are in apartment buildings ... well, for the record many of the boroughs have townhouse akin to the Cosby House with a real back yard, plus there are all those community gardens in the city. But the real wake up call for me was not the New York part, it was the transporting part that holds true for suburbs around the country. How many of us can afford a trip from New York to Viriginia once a month, let alone three or four times a week? So spend our money on sending our trash on that journey?

If you don't already compost yet, Thanksgiving Dinner, combined with all those falling autumn leaves, presents a great opportunity to start going green and get ready for next season's garden. So here's what I've discovered is compostable at Thanksgiving:

1. Butternut Squash Soup : If you are a purist and make yours from scratch, the peelings from the squash are compostable. Save the seeds to toss into your feeder mix for the birds in winter. If you have leftover soup, and it doesn't keep, it will break down rather quickly in the compost - its a much greener alternative to dumping it down the drain or toilet.

2. Mashed Potatoes. Potato peels are the perfect addition to compost, and since they are so thin they break down rather qucikly as well.

3. Stuffing. Seriously, if you have leftover stuffing, you've done something wrong! But as long as your stuffing isn't a sausage or oyster style (just bread, fruit, and vegetables) it's compostable.

4. Turkey. The turkey itself is not compostable - at least you don't want meat products in your compost, WAY too much trouble of all sorts of varieties, but there are things from the turkey preparation that you can compost. If you are one of those people who toss quartered onions and fruit into the cavity of the bird for extra flavorful drippings, those items can be tossed into the compost (the traces of turkey drippings will be negligible in comparison to the rest of your compost). If you are a fresh herb person, all those sage and parsley stems are were cut away during preparation are compatable too.

5. Cranberry relish. The only way to go with this is to buy the bags of fresh carnberries and make your own. Of course there are always some old maids in there that are turning bad. Don't toss them out - compost them.

6. Sweet potato pie. Yup, peelings. Lots and lots of peelings.

7. Pecan pie. If you are making pie from complete scratch, meaning you crack the nuts, toss those shells into the compost mix. They'll take longer to break down than other things but eventually will return to the earth from which they came.

8. Cocktails and cranberry juice. At the end of any good party there are always some things left in the drink glasses. Since compost bacteria need moisture to thrive and break things down, and I'm running with the assumption that you'll have a lot of dry leaves in your composter, those leftover drinks not only provide moisture, but the sugars just make those little bacteria guys party like crazy!

9. Green bean casserole. Making it from scratch, with fresh green beans? All those ends of beans you cut off are idea green matter for the garden.

10. Corn On The Cob. The cobs do take a long time to fully break down, sometimes I find that everything but the cobs are broken down when it's time to empty and use the compost, but that's okay, what's not fully broker down gets tossed in the next batch of compost. (So toss those corn cobs in there too!)

11. Bread, rolls, and pie crust. Why not take all those half eaten things and toss them into the compost too (or break them up and toss them out for the birds)

There no doubt are many, many more things from Thanksgiving that are compostable, and I am sure that each and every reader will have more. As we bask in the glory of giving thanks, it's kinda neat that we can enjoy the fruits of our labors, without placing an extra burden on Creation.

Hunger Construction Is At The Montclair Farmer's Market Today #foodtruck

The Park Street at @HungerConstruct

The Hunger Construction Food Truck is at the Montclair Farmers' Market today from 8:00 am until 2 pm (or whenever the spuds run out.

I'm just a little obsessed with their Original Cement Mixers : check out the mini slideshow of Hunger Construction below:
Can't make it to the Farmers' Market today?
 Follow the Hunger Construction Food Truck on twitter at @hungerconstruct for the next location.

Super Easy Gingered Pumpkin Soup #Recipe

Pumpkin Pine
Pumpkin Ginger Soup
3 cups pumpkin puree
 2 cups Vegetable Stock
¾ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  In a cast iron pot (Le Creuset) heat a wee bit of olive oil, add pumpkin puree, cook just until there are some brown edges and it gets a little “roasty.” Add stock and coconut milk and whisk until smooth. Whisk in in lemon juice and ginger.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
So simple! This recipe can even be made in advance and reheated as a part of a great make-ahead Thanksgiving.

Here's A Secret : Citrus will really bring out the flavor of all squash, not enough for anyone to really distinguish its presence, just a little bit. A squeeze of lemon into butternut soup or even on courgettes will wake up their flavours incredibly.

Friday, November 16, 2012

An Artifact Called A "Typewriter" at Watchung Books Montclair

An Artifact Called A "Typewriter" at Watchung Books Montclair

On the shelf above the register, one can find an archaic device called a "typewriter" perched on a shelf. In addition there is also a pillow (which is for sale) featuring a print of the "typewriter's" keys. Upon closer examination, I discovered that the "typewriter" has keys that are aligned in the exact same way as on my phone, so why use a device like that when everyone has a phone? Sometimes things are so confusing.

Brookdale Park Scoreboard ~ And The Winner Is ...

Brookdale Park Scoreboard : November 2010
And the winner is : us! for having such a great park in which to escape the trevails of suburbia.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fantastic Focaccia ~ #Recipe From The First Course at @Olive_That

Focaccia is an Italian Bread that is similar to pizza but much thicker, akin to Sicilian Style pizza. Focaccia is often topped with herbs, a bit of meat or cheese, or even fresh vegetables that 'roast' on top as the bread bakes. It is often cut into long slices similar to bread sticks or sliced on the horizon to make incredible paninnis.

At the first culinary demonstration at Olive That And More in Upper Montclair, the theme of the evening was Focaccia. Using a basic recipe, we made a plain Focaccia as well as varietals switching out the traditional Olive Oil for some of the flavor infused varieties the store offers. Details of the variations appear after the basic recipe.
Basic Focaccia Recipe
2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water 
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour

1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting


 In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise over a gas pilot light on the stovetop or other warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes.
Lemon Focaccia : Using Lakoniko Lemon Olive Oil instead of tradtional gave the bread a light, fresh lemony taste. So comforting and pairs well with Brie.
Tuscan Herb Focaccia : Using Tuscan Herb infused olive oil we created a a somewhat traditional focaccia. Pretty much everyone in attendence agreed, when cubed this variation would be a great base for a holiday stuffing or dressing. (It's also great just to dip in Olive Oil)
Toppers : If using a traditional EVOO, consider topping the focaccia with carmelized shallots, halved grape tomatoes, or even shredded Parmesan just before baking.
The next culinary demonstration at Olive That and More  is "Holiday Sweets and Treats" on Wednesday 12 December at 7pm. Call the store at 973-744-7175 to reserve a spot at this free event. (Of course everything we do that evening will incorporated Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, or Sea Salt in ways you never thought possible) 

Looking Up At Walnut Street Montclair's Skyline

Looking Up On Walnut St Monclair

Save The Date : June 1 & 2, 2013 Montclair Food & Wine Festival @MtcFoodAndWine

Great news about the long-awaited Montclair Food & Wine Festival: the exciting two-day event is now confirmed for June 1st and 2nd, 2013 at the historic Woman's Club of Upper Montclair. This landmark charitable festival will mark the inauguration of what is anticipated to be an annual event.

A non-profit organization powered by a volunteer core that believes in giving back to the community, the Montclair Food & Wine Festival (MFWF) will be establishing a scholarship fund for a local student who exhibits merit and financial need to further their culinary education. The MFWF will also be donating a portion of the proceeds from the event to the St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Center for Feeding and Swallowing and to the Partners in Health Foundation.

MFWF creator Melody Kettle, "Montclair has long been considered the 'unofficial' food capital of New Jersey, so we're thrilled that lovers of food, wine and spirits from all over the state will be able to gather here for two days of exceptional food and wine tasting experiences."

On the evening of June 1st, guests will gather for the Grand Tasting, where they will sample the culinary offerings of many of the state's finest restaurants. Gary's Wine & Marketplace (Bernardsville, Madison, Wayne) will be presenting wines from around the world and Halcyon's Seafood Brasserie will be offering outstanding spirits

On day two -- June 2nd, 2013 -- guests will experience a tour-de-force of collaborative culinary wizardry: Michael Carrino of Pig & Prince in Lackawanna Plaza; Ariane Duarte of CulinAriane; Ryan DePersio of Fascino, Bar Cara and NICO Kitchen + Bar; Mitchell Altholz of Highlawn Pavilion; Francesco Palmieri of the Orange Squirrel; and Zod Arifai of Blu, Next Door, and daryl, will all join forces on an extraordinary dinner for attendees. Montclair's Amanti Vino will be pairing/coordinating the wines and proprietor Sharon Sevrens will give explanations on the particular wines paired.
For details and tickets visit : The 2013 Montclair Food & Wine Festival

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Feast : Green Bean Casserole #Recipe

The original Green Bean Casserole recipe was created by an employee of the Campbell Soup Company called Dorcas Reilly in 1955. The recipe consisted of Canned Green Beans, Canned Cream of Mushroom Soup, and Canned Fried Onions. What foodies like me often forget is that the era of the New Frontier celebrated convenience and new technology; it was a period where doing without (as was the case with the Depression and the War) was in the past. World War II, and in particular the need to feed troops in two theatres of war, resulted in some technological breakthroughs in the culinary world. One of them was the mass production, and subsequent consumption, of anything canned. The post war 1950's was a period of doing things the new modern American way! And the results were poodle skirts, the Edsel, and green bean casserole. The original recipe for Green Bean Casserole now has a place of honor in the National Inventors Hall Of Fame in Akron Ohio. (anyone for a roadtrip?)

Inspired by that original recipe, this twist of the original features fresh ingredients and is made from scratch. This recipe can either be made straight through, or it can be started the day before and finished in the oven on the day of the holiday.

Ingredients :

1 1/2 - 2 pounds frozen cut green beans (use fresh trimmed green beans when in season)
2 Tbs unsalted butter
10 oz sliced baby bella (the little portobella) mushrooms (see variation below)
3 Tbs minced shallots (if shallots are not available, finely diced onion works well)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half (using milk produces a less creamy, but equally delicious result)
1 cup chicken stock (see variation below)
1 tsp soy sauce


Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2 quart baking dish. (If going the “make ahead” route skip this step.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. (Using a larger pot meant less of a temperature drop of the water when the frozen beans where added). Drain and rinse under cold water; allow excess water to drain off in a colander or pat dry with paper towels. Yes, the beans are being blanched. Skipping this step results in a final product in which the beans that are more of a camouflage color rather than green.

Green Bean Casserole 1
Digging In We See Green Beans, Mushroom Slices, And Of Course Those Onions We All Love
In a saucepan over medium heat melt about half of the unsalted butter. Add the sliced mushrooms until they are nicely browned and start to give off their juices. Stir in the minced shallots and cook until softened. Add the rest of the butter now (this butter, along with the juices from the mushrooms and shallots forms the basis for the sauce.) Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir well. (tossing all the flour in at one spot will create lumps, so sprinkle, I'd even go as far as calling this step "dusting")
Slowly stir in the half-and-half, stock and soy sauce. While stirring often, bring the mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the green beans. Season to taste (each time I made the dish I seasoned with only pepper and everyone loved it). Pour the entire mixture into the baking dish.

(Up to this point the entire dish can be prepared the day ahead and stored, covered in the refrigerator)
Bake the dish in the preheated 350F oven until the liquid is bubbling, about 20 minutes if going right into the oven, about 30 minutes if you made ahead and its coming from the refrigerator
In honor of Dorcas Reilly sprinkle the top with canned French Fried Onions. They were always the best part of the original recipe and making small onion rings from scratch is too much trouble for Thanksgiving.

Variations : If Baby Bellas are not available, substitute common white champignons (yes, button mushrooms have a cool name).

To really switch things up try a dried mushroom mixture instead of fresh; rehydrate the mushrooms reserving any remaining liquid to replace some of the chicken stock. This variation is uber mushroomy.

Oops Alert! It's a good idea to remove the gills from the mushrooms for appearance purposes. Having made this recipe several times, leaving the gills does add lots of flavor, but give the dish a grey appearance.