Sweet-Tart Homemade Lemonade (made entirely by the kids)

21 Aug 2015-08-15 19.43.41 lemonade

My son and niece (8 and 11 respectively) had made some sugar syrup* for me last week – they are pretty good with the stove these days and eager to see how things are done.

I actually used most of it for adult beverages (mango-chile mojitos and passionfruit mojitos), but in return for their help, I promised I would show them how to make lemonade. In fact, while they were squeezing the lemons, I was taking a shower, then we just measured and mixed and that was it.

It was extremely tasty and refreshing and very easy (especially for me, because they did all the work) and looked so pretty in a special bottle! We’ll be doing it again very, very soon!

So easy, why would you buy?

So easy, why would you buy?


½ Cup sugar syrup*

½ Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 Cups cold water

Mix together and pour over ice

Makes 3 Cups

* sugar syrup: 1 Cup sugar, 1 Cup water, heated on the stovetop till clear and liquid, then cooled. Keeps in the fridge for a month.

Mango Mojitos With Ancho Chili Salt

15 Aug Farmer Dan keeps it sustainable with a reusable glass!

It was another summer Friday in the neighborhood and that called for another festive cocktail. Riding high on the success of last session’s passionfruit mojitos, I decided to make mango mojitos. The drink itself followed much the same construction, but the mango was decidedly sweeter than the passionfruit, so I decided that it needed a spike of heat and salt for proper balance.

Assembly line for summer

Assembly line for summer

Ancho chile salt on the rim provided just the right touch.Your lips get hot, your tongue gets salty, then the potent sweetness of the mango and rum drenches your mouth in happiness!

Friday night in the hood

Friday night in the hood

I made enough to take to a Spuyten Duyvil concert at the farm two days later. Once again, big hit (except for the bit about the plastic cups…it is not good form to use one-time use cups in our world, but sometimes it happens; mea culpa)!

Spuyten Duyvil rocking the farm

Spuyten Duyvil rocking the farm

Mango Mojitos with Ancho Chile

3 parts rum

2-3 parts mango nectar or juice

1 part simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water heated until clear and liquid and cooled)

Ancho chile salt

1 Tbs ancho chile powder

1 Tbs table salt or salt crystals

Limes quartered

Mint leaves


Club soda or seltzer

Mix rum, juice and syrup together and place in a container until you are ready to use.

Mix salt and ancho chile powder thoroughly and pour onto a small plate. Rub the rim of your empty glass with lime then twirl the rim in the salt until coated.

Add two or three lime quarters, three leaves mint and muddle thoroughly so you have lime juice in the glass. Add ice, pour the mango mix in and top with a bit of club soda or seltzer.

Savory Spicy Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

3 Aug 2015-07-31 11.40.59 chicken slow cooker

It is too hot for cooking, but the family’s gotta eat, so cook I must.

2015-07-31 11.40.23 slow cooker chickenSo I have employed the slow cooker; it makes for tasty and tender meals and doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Here is my interpretation of Moroccan Chicken; it was a big success with everyone in the house (the spiciness is pretty mild, just enough to keep things interesting) and took almost no effort on my part!

2015-07-31 11.40.51 slow cooker chickenSlow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

1 large onion, peeled and sliced into rounds (1-2 Cups)

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias (1/2 inch slices, about 1 Cup)

3 large scallions, cleaned and sliced into rounds

Your preferred poultry seasoning or salt and pepper

1 4-5 lb whole chicken, cut into large pieces, or bone-in chicken parts, skin removed

1 Tbs cumin powder

1 Tbs oregano, dry

1 tsp harissa paste

1 8oz can of tomato puree (or Latin style tomato sauce with green pepper)

¼ Cup dry red wine

1 Tbs garlic, chopped

1-2 sprigs thyme

2 15oz cans chick peas, drained

Lay onion, carrots and scallions on the bottom of a large slow cooker. Season chicken pieces thoroughly and add to pot. Whisk together cumin, oregano, harissa, tomato puree, wine, and garlic and pour over chicken. Add thyme and chick peas. Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours, then finish on low for another hour or two. Serve with couscous or rice. May be frozen, but remove bones before freezing.

Passionfruit Mojitos by the Pitcher or Glass

27 Jul 2015-07-24 17.55.04 mojito pasion

Summer evenings in the neighborhood can be wonderful. Occasionally on a Friday some of us neighbors bring out folding chairs and sit together in one front yard for a bit of happy hour while the kids go mental on someone else’s lawn. It’s pretty much BYO, but we do mix up a pitcher of experimental cocktails sometimes. Or at least I do.

2015-07-24 17.23.34 mojitoThese Passionfruit Mojitos (which I call “Monrojitos” after our street) were very pretty and tasty. I brought over a cooler with the rum mix, lime wedges, mint and ice, and we muddled each drink individually, which made it festive, somehow. Individuals can adjust lime if they want it a bit more tart.

2015-07-24 17.54.47 mojito passionPassionfruit Mojitos

(This recipe gives general proportions. For a pitcher, measure by the Cup; for individual servings use ounces)

3 parts white rum

2 parts passionfruit juice or nectar (nectar will be sweeter)

1 part sugar syrup (put equal parts water and white sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until slightly thickened; 1 Cup of sugar and one of water will yield about 1.5 Cups of syrup)


1 part agave syrup

Mint leaves (you’ll need at least three per glass)                                                                             

Limes, quartered (at least two quarters per glass)


Club soda or seltzer

 Mix rum, juice and syrup in a pitcher or bottle you can close tightly and keep chilled. When you are ready to serve, place mint and lime in each glass and muddle (squeeze and press so tha the juices come out). Add ice, pour desired amount of rum mixture and top with a bit of club soda.

Cinnamon Sugar Toast by and for Kids

26 Jul 2015-07-23 11.04.13 cinnamon sugar

Yet another easy summer hack, this time one that will let your kid practice measuring and keep him or her busy for a hot minute.

This one is cinnamon sugar. All you need is one tablespoon of ground cinnamon and three tablespoons of granulated sugar (use white; brown is too crumbly-sticky) Mix thoroughly in a clean container with a lid.

The sugar can be sprinkled on buttered toast, muffins, French toast or pancakes, or apple slices that need a bit of help. It’ll keep in the pantry and that’s that!

2015-07-23 11.04.40 cinnamon sugar

Beat the Heat with an Electric Kettle

20 Jul Electric kettles shut off automatically when the water boils, so they are safer than stovetop boiling!

It’s just a tiny help, but when it is really hot, like today in Downstate New York, and you’ve spent the whole day driving home from Upstate New York (we’re talking about nine hours with stops and traffic) so that even your eight-year-old agrees it’s too hot to cook and almost too hot to eat, well,  macaroni and cheese from a box (nominally organic, but I cannot fool even myself on how stupid that it is to think it is any better than Kraft) is a good option.

However boiling water is a hot operation, so I use the electric kettle to boil the water then transfer the water to a pot on the stove. Electric kettles are common in England (my dear friend and kitchen co-conspirator, Kate, turned me on to them) for tea and such and they generate a lot less heat than a stovetop kettle or pot. I also love that they turn off automatically when the water boils; in my current life full of distractions I often forget I’ve put water to boil, so it is much safer!


Electric kettles shut off automatically when the water boils, so they are safer than stovetop boiling!

Electric kettles shut off automatically when the water boils, so they are safer than stovetop boiling!



Setting the Global Table: NCC lecture series on food

20 Apr Zarela

Here’s what I’ve been doing while I have been away from you: organizing a speaker series on global food issues as co-chair of the International Education Committee’s Spring Speaker Series subcommittee at Nassau Community College. Which is to say, I have been super-busy and having loads of fun (but getting a bit anxious too).

The series is in full swing now, so here is the schedule (I’m afraid you missed the first day, but there are two more days of events). Featured speakers are my dear friend, Zarela Martinez, whose eponymous restaurant, PBS shows and excellent cookbooks have made her a James Beard Who’s Who honoree, and sustainable food activist and social entrepreneur Ellen Gustafson, who pioneered fashion to benefit the hungry with FEED bags, an idea she made successful with Lauren Bush. Ellen is a veteran TED lecturer…I am so excited!!!

ZarelaAcademic Senate’s International Education Committee

Spring Speaker Series

Setting the Global Table

April 20, 21 and 23, 2015

Subcommittee Co-Chairs:  Natalia de Cuba and Maryanne Kildare (LINCC)


Monday, April 20, 2015 – Tower 11


Can the Sweet Potato Save the World?
One million hectares of land worldwide are planted with potato varieties developed by or obtained through the International Potato Center whose mission is to work with partners to achieve food security, well-being, and gender equity for poor people in root and tuber farming and food systems in the developing world. Joel Ranck, head of the Communications and Public Affairs Department at the Peru-based International Potato Center will Skype in to the college to explain the role of his not-for-profit agency in defeating poverty and world hunger and answer questions on how scientific and genetic research can further these goals.
Moderated by Natalia de Cuba Romero (LINCC)
The Effects of Climate Change on Food: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Professor Carolyn Monastra will be using photographs and stories from her project The WItness Tree in a discussion about the effects of climate change on global food production. The negative impacts of extreme storms, sea level rise, drought, water rights, and global land grabs will be discussed along with positive solutions like permaculture, WOOFING, CSAs, and food-coops.
Presented by Carolyn Monastra (Art)


Tuesday, April 21, 2015 – CCB 252-53
What We Eat and What It Means: The Global Food Traditions of NCC students (Plus: LINCC students share their top picks for the Long Island and NYC restaurants which serve their national cuisine)
LINCC Student panel, coordinated and moderated by Maryanne Kildare (LINCC)


Zarela Martinez Talks Mexican Food and Culture: The James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage honoree, PBS food personality, cookbook author, historian and restaurateur who pioneered real Mexican cuisine in New York discusses her career, her journeys and her varied national cuisine.
Zarela Martinez’ appearance is sponsored by The NCC Foundation and The Latin American Studies Project



Zarela Martinez returns to discuss Latino-Americans: Re-branding Ourselves in the New U.S. Landscape, covering career and business outlooks for Latino entrepreneurs and those who want to understand the growing Latino market.
Zarela Martinez’ appearance is sponsored by The NCC Foundation and The Latin American Studies Project
The Sacred Morsel: Sanctity and Ritual in Cultural Foodways
NCC students present their exploration and research into the many ways different cultures and religions find spiritual nourishment through food.
Panel coordinated and moderated by Linda Hittleman (Hospitality)



Thursday, April 23, 2015 – Tower 11

Obesity and World Hunger: Two Sides of the Same Global Problem
Ellen Gustafson is a sustainable food system activist, author, innovator and social entrepreneur. Her first book, “We the Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World” was published by Rodale Press in May 2014. She is the Co-Founder of Food Tank: the Food Think Tank, with Danielle Nierenberg. She is also founder of a small sustainable home goods company called the Apron Project. Before the launch of Food Tank, Ellen founded the 30 Project, a campaign that has helped to change the conversation about the global food system by connecting hunger and obesity. She is also the creator of the ChangeDinner campaign and HealthClass2.0, which are helping individuals change the food system at dinner tables and in schools.
This lecture is sponsored by the Student Activities Office
Global Agriculture – Challenges and Visions
The top problems for humanity for the next 50 years will be energy, water and food. Professor Birgit Woelker says agriculture and the way we produce food provides hope for a clean and sustainable future.
Presented by Birgit Woelker (Biology)


Social Entrepreneurship
Ellen Gustafson, veteran of three TED lectures and founder, with Lauren Bush, of the FEED bag project, returns in the afternoon for a second lecture, this time on Social Entrepreneurship.
This lecture is sponsored by the Student Activities Office
All programs are free and open to the public

Sweet Pea and Leek Soup

13 Apr 2015-04-05 15.08.12 pea soup

It’s been a busy Spring at our house and although I have been rather out of touch, there HAVE been delicious things going on in my little kitchen. This was our soup for our Easter meal and since it is lovely and simple and seasonal, I knew I would eventually get to sharing it with you! It is almost like a bisque, because the texture is that creamy, but there is no cream or milk!

This was a delightful starter for our Spring meal!

This was a delightful starter for our Spring meal!

Enjoy, and happy Spring!

Sweet Pea and Leek Soup

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs butter

2 Cups leeks cleaned and sliced, white part only

1 Tbs fresh thyme

1 Cup frozen peas plus ¼ Cup set aside

1 quart good vegetable stock

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black or white pepper, fresh cracked

In a soup pot heat the oil and butter at medium high. When the foaming subsides, add leeks, stir to coat and lower heat to medium. Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until very soft, adding the thyme after about 5 minutes.

Add the peas (setting aside that extra ¼ Cup) stock and nutmeg, Bring to a steady simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the peas are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add the remaining peas, salt and pepper and serve with croutons, if desired, or a dollop of plain yogurt.

Easter Meal – Shellfish, Lamb Chops, Asparagus, Brusssels Sprouts and More

5 Apr

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Fast forward to 2015 and our Easter menu is very, very similar to this one from a couple of years ago….Happy Easter to all!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

While it is not set in stone, this is what we will most likely be eating tomorrow for the big Easter meal. We’ll start with shellfish (and Sauvignon Blanc for the growns, flavored seltzer for the kid), then simple lamb and vegetables (probably some couscous with pesto made by the little man as an additional side). We are off to the farm today, so I’ve run out of time…Happy Easter to all, if I don’t see you before then….lamb

Light Mediterranean-style clams

I like the way they turn frilly under the broiler!I like the way they turn frilly under the broiler!

 Crispy Beer-Battered Oysters

Fantastically crisp beer battered oysters Fantastically crisp beer battered oysters

Simple and Perfect Roasted Baby Lamb Chops

Beautiful (and fun for kids to grab and tear into)Beautiful (and fun for kids to grab and tear into)

Roasted Asparagus and Sweet Red Pepper Dipping Sauce


Brussels Sprouts – Sauteed and Sassy

brussels sprouts

 Grilled Potato Disks (Like Fries, but grilled!)

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside! Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside!

View original

Two New Natural Easter Egg Colors

1 Apr 2015-03-31 08.58.45 easter eggs

New colors for naturally dyed Easter eggs!

2015-03-30 20.56.53 easter eggsA couple of years ago we started coloring Easter eggs the natural way, with vegetable and spice colorings that can be teased out in a few minutes of boiling, steeping and straining. Our first colors were beet-derived pink, turmeric yellow, and blueberry purple-blue.

This year we added two more to our palette: red onion, which gives you a sort of earthy khaki color, and yellow onion, which tints the eggs a marvelous glowy yellow orange.

2015-03-31 08.57.32 easter eggsHere’s how:

Save the papery bits of red onion and yellow onion until you have a generous handful (the papery skins of a two-pound bag of onions should do it). Place each color in its own saucepan with 2.5 Cups water and a teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a lively simmer for 10 minutes. Strain into your dipping container, stir in 2 Tbs white vinegar and you are ready to dip! (For perfect hard-boiled eggs, click here)

And in case you missed it, here are the original three:

Three pots, each filled with 2 Cups water

HOT PINK – 1 large beet, chopped (peel can stay on)

YELLOW 4 Tbs turmeric

VIOLET BLUE – 12 oz frozen blueberries

2 Tbs white vinegar per color

crayons or wax pencils

Put one coloring ingredient in each pot. Bring to a boil, turn off and let steep five minutes. Strain into three separate bowls (removing chunky bits*). Add 2 Tbs vinegar to each bowl. Start blending, dipping and cross-dipping until you achieve the colors you like. Dry in the egg carton and add any decorations you see fit.



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