Good, Good for You (and others) and Low Cal Gift Idea

I find this is the time of year when I suddenly take my nose off the grindstone for a second to realize that I’m mid-stream in holiday mode and, well, a bit behind in my gift-making, acquiring, wrapping, shipping and giving enterprises.  I'll give to yours if you give to mine.

Just now, on a board of directors call for Mouse.org, I was reminded by a great idea one of my fellow board members suggested last year:  The Charity Swap.

I know I am not alone among friends and colleagues in my lack of need for a) additional calories in the form of yummy, decadent gifts or b) additional ‘stuff,’ no matter how well-meaning or useful or pretty.  What is important, at least to me, this time of year, is remembering what life’s all about.  It’s time to slow down, reconnect with friends and family.  It’s time to direct generosity towards others who might really, really, REALLY need stuff.  Like a good education or a warm bed or nutritious food or a research funds for a cancer cure or a prothesis for a challenged athlete.

Again, this year, I’m asking friends and family to hold the chocolate, perfume and bling and instead, consider giving to a charity I care about.  In addition to mouse.org, I’m also involved with The Grammy Foundation, which among other things, makes sure talented students have resources to develop as artists, at a time when many public schools have had to drastically cut back on arts education.

In return, I’m delighted to make a donation to causes that are near and dear to friends and family.

Why not try it?  If you’re not ready to go cold turkey (and let’s face it, I would not refuse certain beautifully wrapped parcels and their contents), try it in lieu of your office secret santa, or stocking stuffers, or your book club.

Here.  I’ll make it really easy for you, and save you a trip to Barney’s.

Donate to The Grammy Foundation here.

Donate to Mouse.org here.

Also, check out this site for other ideas about causes that might resonate.

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A Happy Thanksgiving Playlist

Back by popular demand, my 2011 In-the-Kitchen Thanksgiving playlist, chock fulla turkey, cranberries, pumpkins and even football…

New for 2011, the Spotify version.  Or if you prefer, here’s the iTunes version.  You can also search for it on iTunes as “Jeanne’s Thanksgiving in the kitchen mix.”
The turkey’s brining, the silver’s polished, the cranberries are done, but I’ll be listening to this as I chop, mince, blend, whip and roast up Thanksgiving dinner.

Enjoy!

Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Here It Begins
Massive Attack – Be Thankful For What You’ve Got
The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
Daft Punk – Burnin’ / Too Long
Wilco – Heavy metal drummer
Dido – Thank You
Hank Williams – Hey Good Looking
The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
Smashing Pumpkins – Today
Sia – Sweet Potato
The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight [Long Version]
James Taylor – Sweet Potato Pie
Robert Johnson – Come On In My Kitchen
The Cranberries – Dreams
Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Simmer Down
Sufjan Stevens – All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
Wilco – Heavy metal drummer
Norah Jones – Creepin’ In (feat. Dolly Parton)
Sound Masters – University of Missouri (Missouri Fight Song)
Fred Astaire – The Yam
Ohio Players – Jive Turkey
Johnny Cash – Thanks a Lot
Daft Punk – Burnin’ / Too Long
Bing Crosby with Jimmie Grier and His Orchestra – Thanks
The Plastic Ono Band – Cold Turkey (Live)
Booker T. & The MG’s – Green Onions
X – Soul Kitchen
Oasis – Champagne Supernova
Ike & Tina Turner – Come Together
Blur – Coffee And TV
Belle And Sebastian – I Don’t Want To Play Football
Darius Rucker – Kick Off
Iggy Pop – I’m Bored
Hot Chip – Hold On
Seu Jorge – Queen Bitch
Elton John – Tiny Dancer
Tom Waits – Chocolate Jesus
Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant Massacre
Waring’s Pennsylvanians – Let’s Have Another Cup Of Coffee
Don McLean – American Pie
Wilco – The Thanks I Get
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Give Thanks & Praises

Irene Spared Plenty: How I Played This Week’s Veg-n-Fruit Roulette

Meant to post this last week!  Hurricane Irene had plenty of real bluster, and unfortunately, she hammered the main farm that supplies all of the veg and some of the fruit in my organic farm share (aka the Williamsburg Greenpoint CSA).  But the fine folks at Garden of Eve out in Long Island managed to salvage quite a bit.  I think the tomato plants got hit hard, but this week’s Wednesday night haul included more gorgeous baby eggplant, peppers, jalapenos, sweet corn, kale, squash, red onion and the seasons’s first potatos.  Amazing fresh eggs and a batch of cheery gerber daisies rounded things out.

Here’s what this week’s haul rendered:

A kale chicken caesar, corn salsa, a great fennel and pear salad, hard boiled eggs filled with hummus, eggplant marinated with mirin and soy and then sauteed, roasted rosemary potatoes, and the peppers and jalapenos became acoutrements for fish tacos.  Thought about making some sort of crumble or upside-down cake with the plums or peaches, but they were so good on their own they didn’t need embellishment.

Recipe for Kale Chicken Caesar – -hastily improvised.

One large or two small head of kale, with large stems cut out of the center, washed and spun very very dry and cut, chiffonade-style, into 1/2″ strips.

Homemade croutons (cubed day old baguette, sauteed in 1 tabls olive oil and garlic at medium high heat til golden brown, drained on paper towels)

1/2 C grated parmesan

Dressing:  using immersion blender or food processor, combine 2 gloves garlic, 6-9 anchovy filets, 1/2 c olive oil, juice of 1 lemon and blend.

1 cooked chicken breast, skin removed, shredded

Assemble kale, parmesan, chicken, croutons in a big (preferably wooden) bowl.

Just before serving, coddle 2 eggs (put whole shelled eggs in boiling water for about 90-120 seconds),

Dress the salad and crack the coddled eggs over the greens.  Wash your hands really well and then toss everything with your hands.

makes 2 main course portions or 4 appetizer portions.

The All Clear


Gorgeous day in NYC. Thoughts go out to those north of us who are flooded or dealing with home damage.

NYC to Irene: We’re Not Scared of You!

Irene was coming.  Saturday was my birthday, and one I wouldn’t soon forget.  Friday, I weathered Armeggedon-like lines and chaos at Whole Foods to stock up on water, produce and other comustables for a potential long weekend shut indoors.  The mood of the crowd there was panicky and grumpy.  

Saturday, various businesses started boarding up, as patrons kept streaming in and out.  No more Smartwater, flashlights or duct tape to be had.   Tarps werehard to come by.   Bread?  forget it.  Sold out.  I had to visit 3 different Williamsburg liquor stores before I found one with *any* bourbon or tequilla.

We were gonna greet Irene in style, with steely resolve.

I was all set to celebrate with duct tape, booze, batteries, and a headlamp.  Both the BF and I were in Zone B — across the street from the “you must evacuate” Zone A areas.  Since the BF’s building has been flooding with recent heavy rains, we elected to ride out Irene at his place in Greenpoint, so we could monitor the effectiveness of the sandbags, tarps and drains in his flood-prone basement.

The blender got busy with some Patron Reposada, fresh lime juice, splash of oj and crushed ice.  Ay yi yi!

We hunkered down, prerused interactive maps, watched local news, listened to the howling winds, followed by eerie silence.  The sandbags held up.  We napped but didn’t really sleep.  I opened presents;)

And then…morning.  The high tide was due at around 8 a.m., when storm surges were expected.  Anxiety.  Silence.  The storm surge wasn’t that bad.  Another was to hit in about an hour so we took the dog out for a walk. All, it seemed, appeared to be clear.  One deli had stayed open.

We got through it.

And Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm.  Let’s face it, much of NY was disappointed as much as they were relieved.

C’mon, Irene! A Pre-Hurricane Playlist

So Hurricane Irene’s on her way, just in time for my birthday tomorrow.   This weekend will be all about stocking up and hunkering down since NYC’s in her path and mass transit’s gonna be shut down.  My Miami bro advises that we fill up the bathtub and buckets with water (for flushing of course, when the power goes).

And any activity needs a menu and a playlist, right?  I’ll be doin’ up some fish tacos (with red snapper and mango/avocado salsa, a bit of radish, crema made from 0% greek yogurt and cilantro, with plenty of lime).  I’ll skip the Pat O’Briens’ style hurricane and stick with fresh lime juice, tequilla and maybe a shot of OJ.  Or maybe see what the Vitamix is made of and do a version of my mom’s lime/mint sherbert (if the freezer and indeed, electricity are working).

My “C’mon, Irene!” Playlist is below.  It’s also on Spotify here.  Enjoy!

Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan – Hurricane
Hoodoo Gurus – Like Wow/Wipeout
PJ Harvey – Down By The Water
Irene Cara – What A Feeling
Smash Mouth – Do It Again – Me, Myself & Irene / Soundtrack Version
Lenny Kravitz – Bring It On
Johnny Cash – Bridge Over Troubled Water
Dr. John – Goodnight Irene
Neil Young – Like A Hurricane
The Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Brooklyn
Herbie Hancock – The Eye Of The Hurricane (Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
The Doors – Riders On The Storm – New Stereo Mix Advanced Resolution
Flying Burrito Bros. – Eye of the Hurricane
The Kooks – Stormy Weather
Echo & The Bunnymen – Stormy Weather
The Meters – Stormy
Leadbelly – Goodnight Irene
Joni Mitchell – Stormy Weather
Judy Garland – Stormy Weather (Live)
Santana – Stormy
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
Scorpions – Rock You Like A Hurricane
Public Enemy – Bring The Noise
Beastie Boys – Sabotage
Electric OM – Chameleon

This week’s CSA Haul: Producetopia!

Serious haul this week from the Greenpoint-Williamsburg CSA.  ‘Tis the producetopia weekend! 1/2 dozen eggs laid that day will become a frittata.  These eggs transcend all others in general flavor and freshness.  I’m thinking it would be divine with some of the organic cherry tomatos, a little sauteed kale, some thyme and dotted on top with chevre.

The week's haul from my Williamsburg-Greenpoint CSA

With all the peppers, red onion, cukes and tomatoes, it’s time for some proper Gazpacho.  I riffed off my brother’s recipe, which involves blending up two cups breadcrumbs with 6 (yep, 6) cloves of garlic.  Set that mixture aside.  Then, dice up 6-7 tomatoes, red onion, a seeded/peeled cuke, red pepper, green pepper, 2 jalapenos or serano chiles, and then puree half those diced veg with 3-4 cups of tomato juice or clamato juice, and reserve the other half of diced veg. Mix the puree, garlic bread crumbs, and diced veg.  Refrigerate and let those flavors marry.  You might want to add chopped avocado, shrimp or herbs when served.

In case we have to skip town on account of Hurricane Irene, I’m gonna whip up some picnic-y stuff that might travel well in the event of an evacuation (I have to stop checking weather.com and watching The Weather Channel — it would make anyone neurotic right now).  I’ll roasting the eggplant (pierce with fork, add garlic, wrap in foil and put on the grill until softened/charred) for a babaganoush to go with some sort of Morrocan chicken or lamb tagine I’m whipping up this weekend.  I might use Quinoa instead of couscous.

There were gorgeous donut shaped peaches and nectarines.  Those are begging to be eaten, unadorned.  Took home a mini watermelon.  Can’t wait to crack that baby open.  Might do some pickled watermelon rind a la David Chang/Momofuko.

And topped it all off with some sunflowers. The CSA pick up is a happy time of the week and sets the stage for the week’s menu’s (or freezable goodies).

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Pineapple + Basil = Refreshment

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I’m enjoying a serious obsession with my new VitaMix.  This almighty device can  pulverize a giant head of kale into a drinkable (and when mixed with other ingredients, delicious) form in a split second.  I christened the ‘Mix with a … Continue reading

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Vegetable Roulette: Greenpoint-Williamsburg CSA

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Especially for us urban dwellers, getting involved with a CSA (community supported agriculture) is just a no-brainer.  For the uninitiated, it’s essentially like buying stock, but instead of buying shares in a public company, you’re buying a stake in an organic … Continue reading

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Ironman Lake Placid: an IronMaiden No More

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It was such an epic event, doing my first Ironman, that I’m still composing an EPIC race report.  But completing my first 140.6  was quite a thrill.  I felt well-prepared.  All the stars aligned on the weather and general lack … Continue reading