Great place to have coffee and get some work done?

December 6, 2013

That place is Pushcart Coffee on 9th Avenue and 25th Street!  It’s my new favorite spot to get some tea, meet with writing partners or clients, or get work done on my own.  Nice people, nice vibe, there is tea I like (the green jasmine), they don’t use toxic tea bags, their snacks are great (my son loves the pumpkin bread, and I love the Brooklyn-made Rawpothecary Juices they carry), and their soup is wonderful (thanks for making me try it, Ashley!).  They also have a bunch of fancy ways of making coffee that boggle my tea-drinking mind. There is a community work table, a few individual tables, a comfy corner spot in the back and counter seats and there is free wifi (you have to sign up for it, but it’s free). Go there. You know I know what I’m talking about.

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How much alcohol should I buy for my party?

December 4, 2013

I just saw this info in the back of the Chelsea Wine Vault (which is in Chelsea Market-it’s a great wine shop, btw) 2013 Holiday Gift Guide and I thought it was Stuff You Need To Know:

How much should I buy?

If I am coming to your party, you can buy a maximum of two drinks for me, because I usually only have one (sometimes none), but two is pretty much my max. Just saying.

In NYC, no one drives to a party (no one I know, anyway), so it’s usually not an issue , but if you’re having a party with alcohol where people are driving, you should have really compelling non-alcoholic drinks.  If you end up with too much red wine, you can make Tom Colicchio’s short ribs recipe.  It’s really good and it uses a whole bottle of red wine!  If you’ve got too much vodka left over, you can use it in pie crust, but that doesn’t use up much vodka.


How did you make that burger?

November 11, 2013

Frontier Organic Adobo Seasoning

Frontier Organic Adobo Seasoning

My friend R just asked me this question.  I buy 90% lean grass-fed ground beef, and mix in a few shakes of ground pepper, and 1/2 tsp per pound of meat of Frontier organic adobo seasoning (ingredients are sea salt, organic garlic, organic onion, organic black pepper, organic oregano, organic bay, organic turmeric – note the wonderful lack of preservatives and anti-caking agents!).  They sell this spice at Whole Foods, or you can order it from Amazon (link).  I also use this spice in my chocolate pork rub.

After I mix in in very well, I form the patties (a little thinner in the middle, so they’ll cook through better) and then place them on a rack on a cookie sheet in my refrigerator (uncovered) for a few hours (up to a day) until I’m ready to cook them.  Being in the refrigerator will “dry-age” them, reducing moisture and concentrating the flavor of the meat.  Plus, it saves you time when you’re actually cooking.


Alert: Melvin’s Juice Box Open in Chelsea!

October 21, 2013

Melvin

Melvin, at his new Chelsea location of Melvin’s Juice Box.

There’s a new Melvin’s Juice Box in the Dream Hotel – 355 West 16th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues, closer to 9th).  I was riding my bike past it today and saw Melvin out front.  I have enjoyed Melvin’s juice concoctions for years and am so happy his place is now (relatively) in my neighborhood.  Melvin is a great guy – always friendly and positive, and he really knows his juice!  All juices are 100% organic, and they also serve soups, salad, burgers, sandwiches, entrees, wine, beer, shakes, and shots (wheat grass and ginger).  There is eat-in, take-out and delivery, and it’s open 7 a.m. “until late,” 7 days a week.


Coffee maker?

September 10, 2013

My very good friend W just sent me an email that said

Any recommendations for a coffee maker? I only drink it 3x a week or so (always just 1 cup), so I don’t need any massive device. Something cheap that can be cleaned easily that I can make decent coffee in.   I feel as though you will get carried away and write a 7 page report on this.

I may get carried away on this, because it’s my nature to get carried away, but
  1. I don’t drink coffee, neither does my husband.
  2. I have a Tassimo, which guests seem to love (for some crazy reason the company sent me one for free), but I think is super toxic (don’t put steaming water through plastic – bad things happen).
  3. I did a lot of research on coffee, because I helped a relative try to improve her health.
The best thing for you is to cold brew organic coffee (put grounds in cold water overnight and brew strongly and then add hot water to that strained liquid in the morning – google for exact instuctions, as I’ve never done it).  It will be have around 60% less acidity and you will reduce your toxin level tremendously by going organic (coffee is one of the most pesticide-heavy consumable crops there is – I say “consumable” because cotton is so much worse!).
If you don’t want to brew it yourself, the coffee brand I bought for my relative because I found it to be very high quality was Kickstand coffee, and you might be able to find a coupon online.  It’s organic, it’s cold-pressed, and it comes in a glass bottle.
Ok, you didn’t ask about any of that, you asked about a coffee maker, so I will say this:
I can’t recommend a brand, but go for anything glass (no plastic, no single-use), and if you use a filter, use a stainless steel filter with no plastic, or VERY carefully selected unbleached paper filters.  Most tea bags and coffee filters are highly toxic because of the plastics they use to reinforce the fibers to make them tear-resistant, and because of the plastics and other materials used to seal the sides (if applicable).  Just google “toxic teabag” and “toxic coffee filter” for more info.

Where should we go to eat when none of us can agree on a cuisine?

July 7, 2013

OMG, this is my life!  I feel your pain!  Either go to Whole Foods* or Todd English Food Hall in the basement of the Plaza Hotel.  Look at this TEFH menu and tell me that each of you cannot find something.  C’mon.  I’m not going to tell you that either of them is spectacular or the best food you’ve ever eaten or anything like that, but if you’ve all got conflicting priorities, these two places could do it for you.

* (Whole Foods warning: Chelsea location has nowhere to sit, Columbus Circle is always way too crowded – it’s a complete madhouse, Union Square is nearly always way too crowded, but Tribeca and Houston St have a lot of seating and great selections.)


How do you make yogurt?

June 5, 2013

Yogurt and Granola

Homemade yogurt with Healing Home Foods Honey Citrus Granola.

Those of you who didn’t ask me this question are wondering why the hell would I make my own yogurt.  Here is why.

You’ll need

  • whole milk  – preferably: organic, from pastured cows, low-heat pasteurized or raw, not homogenized
  • yogurt starter (I use this one to be compliant with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) – I believe this starter can also be used for coconut milk yogurt and nut milk yogurt!  Check it out!
  • some jars with lids (I use 5 old 16 oz almond butter jars with lids)
  • a dehydrator (or some way you can keep the yogurt around 100°F for 24 -30 hours)
  • a food thermometer (I use an Oxo Digital Instant Read Thermometer)
  • a ladle (or some way to pour the yogurt into the jars)
  • a pot and stove to heat up the milk (make sure it’s big enough for all the milk, with room left over)
  • a large bowl in which the milk can cool (make sure it’s big enough to fit all the milk you are using!)
  • a slightly larger bowl with ice in it that the bowl above can sit in to cool faster (optional, but really helpful)
  • ice (two ice cube trays full or 40-50 cubes is usually good)
  • 1/4 tsp measuring spoon
  • a whisk to stir in the yogurt starter after the milk is cooled
milk

I always use Grazin’ Angus milk. They’re at the Union Square Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Heat the milk over medium heat until it is 180°F.  Do not let it boil or get hotter than that, because it will very likely boil over the top of the pot and make a huge mess all over your stove.

Heat the Milk

Heat the Milk to 180°F.

While the milk is heating up over medium heat on your stove, sterilize your jars, lids, ladle, milk-cooling bowl, measuring spoon and whisk.  You can do this by dipping them in hot water (= or > 180°F), or steaming them for 3-4 minutes.  [Since the cooling bowl will be big, you might want to just put it in the sink and pour in the sterilizing water and empty it after a few minutes.]

When the milk gets past 175 or so, shut off the stove.  It will go up a few degrees by itself (plus, you don’t want to take the chance it will boil over!).  Get your cooling area ready (preferably in the sink so you can catch spills – as long as nothing will splash in and contaminate your yogurt).  Put the largest bowl in first, with the ice in it, then put the cooling bowl on top of that.  Pour the milk into the cooling bowl.

Cool milk in an ice bath.

Place ice and water in the bottom bowl and sit the “cooling bowl” in that. Pour your hot milk in this cooling bowl. Cover is optional.

When the milk gets down to around 100°F, get out your yogurt starter (it is supposed to be kept in the fridge) and put in the required amount and whisk it through.  For the type of starter I use, and the amount of milk I work with (half gallon), it’s only an 1/8th of a teaspoon!

Tiny amount of starter

Seriously, you don’t need a lot of starter. Read directions carefully!  And make sure that milk is not more than 105°F or you will kill your starter!

Fill your jars with the milk/starter and put the lids on.  Put them in the dehydrator or whatever appliance you have that will maintain the 100°F heat, and let them sit, undisturbed for 24-30 hours.  You want the yogurt to ferment for that length of time so the bacteria eats almost all of the lactose in the milk.

Yogurt

Covered yogurt jars in the dehydrator. 24-30 hours. 100°F.

At the end of the 24-30 hours, take out your yogurt gently (bacteria don’t like to be disturbed), and place it in the fridge.  The delicious fat layer will be on the top.  Mix it in if you want it more homogenous.  The yogurt will be fresh for about 10 – 14 days.  Enjoy!

yogurt

Here’s a spoonful of freshly made yogurt. The rich layer of fat on the top can be mixed in or removed, based on your preference. The fat should be nice and yellow if the milk comes from a pasture-raised cow.


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