Today, I have no news, science, or advice to share. All I want to do is rave about the sustainable paradise I’ve been in these last two weeks, so pardon this post if you don’t like reading personal blogs.

editDSC006092I’ve been living with a German couple, longtime family friends, for the last couple of weeks in a small village near Frankfurt. Don’t let the word ‘village’ fool you: it’s not a rustic, technology-barren settlement of self-reliant farmers. It’s just one of several small, suburb-type towns peppering the Hesse countryside. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, with vast crop fields and pastures surrounding the towns and the highway stretches between them. Everything is quaint and simple but not lacking modern luxuries like gyms, convenience stores, restaurants, etc. The best part, though, is the food.

My hosts are all about sustainable and healthy food. Their garden is currently full of tomatoes, blackberries, currants, apples, and pears, and I can tell from their massive supply of homemade preserves and jams that they grow many other fruits throughout the year as well. They store most of their food in the refrigerator and freezer to extend its shelf life, and they buy bread in just the right quantities so that they can keep the loaf at room temperature and still finish it before it starts molding. My host-dad also boasts about how much locally-produced food he can buy at the store, namely honey and cheese, and insists on only buying meat or fish that is certified ‘bio’ – organic. He even shares my aversion to added sugars! Instead of buying sugary granola mixes and flavored yogurts, we make our breakfasts using unsweetened bio yogurt and mixing spelt, flaxseeds, chopped nuts, homegrown fruit, and other flavorful additions like coconut shavings. Oh, and anything inedible is composted, not thrown in the garbage.DSC00664

Yes, this is the life I want! Buying and eating locally and organically as much as possible, minimizing processed food in my diet, and preventing waste. My hosts don’t eat nose to tail, but they don’t eat that much meat, either, and at least that which they do eat is sustainably raised. This has been a wonderful way to conclude my summer and segue into my next adventure: being in Spain for the semester!

I’ll make sure not to neglect my blog duties, no worries.


Midweek Delicacy Time: Zucchini Cornbread

Zucchini Cornbread


Lately, every time I turn around, someone is giving me zucchini from there garden. There are so many recipes I can make with zucchini, but to use it up quickly requires some ingenuity. This recipe uses up one whole zucchini and one whole ear of corn. It is hearty, filling, and a delicious fun side to any summer cookout or just fun to have anytime.

I’ve been in a baking mood lately and have a new iron skillet I keep making excuses to use getting it well seasoned. I like the crispness it gives the cornbread. For this recipe it is not necessary to use an iron skillet, an oven-safe 10-inch skillet can be used in its place. Alternatively, you can use a 9-inch cake pan. Happy eating friends!


IngredientsZucchini Cornbread Ingredients

Serves 6 to 8

1 1/3 cups ground Cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose Flour
6 tablespoons unsalted Butter, cut into 6 pieces – melt 5 pieces & bring back to room temperature, reserve 1 tablespoon at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons Baking Powder
1/4 tablespoons Baking Soda
3 tablespoons Brown Sugar, divided
1 1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Ear Corn, Kernels cut from cob
1 medium Zucchini
1 cup Buttermilk (can be swapped with organic whole milk – use a local one that still contains the fat)
2 large Eggs


  1. Trim the ends off the zucchini & thinly slice 3 to 5 rounds from one end & reserve for garnish. Shred the remaining zucchini. In a medium bowl add the shredded zucchini and fresh corn kernels, toss with 1 tablespoon of sugar and place in colander. Allow to drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water before using.Zucchini Cornbread
  2. While the zucchini and corn is draining move the oven rack to the middle position and heat to 400º. In large bowl whisk cornmeal, flour, remaining sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.Zucchini Cornbread
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, melted butter, and eggs.
  4. Gently stir in zucchini and corn mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently fold together until no traces of flour remain.Zucchini Cornbread
  5. Prepare skillet or baking dish by coating with 1 tablespoon of softened butter. Zucchini Cornbread
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and top with the reserved zucchini slices.IMG_2373
  7. Bake until the bread is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool in the skillet for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. The bread can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.IMG_2377

Midweek Delicacy Time: Creamy Green Pea Soup

Creamy Green Pea Soup

Creamy Green Pea SoupWhile taking a turn at a farmers market, I encountered sweet peas and was reminded of the best sweet pea soup I ever had in England. They had put mint in the soup and blended it well with cream. Since then I have tried my own variations until I came with this savory slightly spicy creamy green pea soup. Adding yogurt cools it and gives it a nice tangy twist.

Happy eating friends!


IngredientsCreamy Pea Soup Ingredients

Serves 4

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 large Leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 medium Shallot, minced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 cans Garden Peas, rinsed (substitute with 1lb fresh peas)
2 medium Red Potatoes, chopped
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon Dill
1 Lemon, juiced
8 cups Chicken or Vegetable broth
1 cup Yogurt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper flakes


  1. In large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, shallots, and leeks. Sauté for 3 more minutes.Creamy Green Pea Soup
  2. Add broth, bay leaf, lemon juice, potatoes, and peas, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.Creamy Green Pea Soup
  3. Working in 2 batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot and add dill. Heat mixture over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; serve immediately. Serve with 2 tablespoons of yogurt and bread.IMG_2284

Nose to Tail Eating: Showing Appreciation and Preventing Waste


As my sister and I were strolling through a food and drink festival in Germany, we started talking about how weird it is that Westerners find it quite normal to eat some animals – pigs, cows, birds, sheep, deer, goats, fish – but not reptiles, insects, or mammals such as dogs or cats. This turned into a conversation about what parts of animals are most commonly eaten and what each of us would be willing to eat. Naturally, I ended up mentioning my support for nose-to-tail eating.

nosetail cutsNose-to-tail refers to the practice of eating as much of an animal as possible to minimize waste. Yes, that includes things like bones, genitalia, and heads. That may repulse some people, but the ethical implications are worth considering. If an animal is already going to die for the sole sake of human consumption, isn’t it only fair to use its body for all its worth, rather than cut out a few slabs and then dump the rest of the carcass? Not only is that a waste of a lot of potential food, but, in my opinion, it is extremely disrespectful to the animal.

In my experience, people typically prefer to eat animal flesh and fat over entrails and organs – known as offal in the culinary world – because that is what they have been raised to consider ‘acceptable’ meat. Of course, there are many logical reasons to be squeamish eating certain body parts. Mine is primarily a gastronomic concern: brains, eyeballs, and many other organs just seem like they would be a highly unpleasant texture to eat, regardless of their actual flavor. That might sound heartless*, but it’s true. Hygiene can also be a large cause for worry when it comes to eating, say, bladders or kidneys, which have held bodily excretions. However, most people just find it gross or morally wrong to eat a creature’s hearts, brains, or eyes; perhaps because they represent the animal’s soul or the windows thereto.

meat grocery storeFor a subsistence farmer, I think trying to eat nose to tail would be a pretty logical decision solely for the economic reason of making the most of what you have. For the average grocery store shopper, though, it just depends on your personal comfort zone. Since we buy individual cuts of meat, not whole animals, we can afford to be selective. Still, as more butchers and chefs embrace the nose-to-tail idea to encourage sustainability, it is worth experimenting a little. After all, fewer animals would have to be killed if people were willing to substitute some traditional cuts of meat in their weekly diets with less-conventional parts. As a starting point for the inexperienced, oxtail, beef cheek, and pig’s ears are probably easier to swallow* than, say, haggis, a traditional Scottish entrée that involves stuffing a sheep’s stomach with a mixture of offal, oatmeal, and suet, or Rocky Mountain Oysters, which, despite the name, consist of deep fried cattle or sheep testicles.

meat funnyDue to our society’s obsession with convenience, I doubt that buying a whole or half of an entire animal for food will ever be the norm. It requires a lot of time and culinary know-how to be able to prepare all the different kinds of flesh and offal that a beast has to offer. Still, hopefully the nose-to-tail movement will keep gaining ground and bringing us closer to a point where as little as possible from each animal is wasted.


PS: here is an excellent segment on meat and the nose-to-tail movement from National Public Radio’s Kojo Nnamdi Show.

Bite sized wisdom: hacks for taste & freshness

Dear Friends,

Have you ever found that sometimes food doesn’t taste as fresh even though you just bought it?

The trick to fixing this is by learning the likes of each fruit and veggie. Instead of throwing everything into the fridge after a grocery run take time to separate items that shouldn’t be put together (such as potatoes and onions), and don’t refrigerate items that enjoy being in room temperature.

Below you’ll find three tips that will give you an immediate taste difference with recently bought tomatoes, cheese and bananas. (There are many more items, but to those we’ll get to in our later posts.)

1. Let the cheese sit after being refrigerated cheese is made mostly of fat you want to make sure its molecules have time to warm up after being pulled out of the fridge. In the cold the fat molecules contract, hiding with it delicious texture and taste. It’s recommended to take out cheese 1.5 hours before eating it (even 45 or 30 minutes is better than none). Softer cheese such as brie should sit out for even longer. Fresh cheese can be an exception and can be eaten faster, but be sure to keep all the cheese in their packaging before opening them to eat.

2. Don’t chill your tomatoes like to be in room temperature, and since ‘room temperature‘ varies greatly the approximate degree ranges between 60-70F. These temperatures may vary in the summer time, but the general idea is that the linoleic acid in tomatoes turns into a Z-3 hexenel compound and gives the tomato fruit its taste. Cold weather impedes this process leading to a loss of flavor.  Our tip: be realistic about your situation. If you plan to eat your tomatoes in a day or two after purchasing it’s best to keep them in at room temperature. However, if you won’t get to them for couple of days, put them in the fridge so that they don’t ripen too quickly and begin to rot.

3. Wrap plastic over your banana are delicious! They are filled with potassium, are a perfect ingredient on top of a peanut butter sandwich, a morning smoothie and can even be eaten for dessert when mixed in with greek yogurt. When you buy them though, you usually buy a bunch of bananas, which can go bad quickly in warm temperature. A good way to prevent them from browning is by wrapping some plastic around the ‘crown’ of these yellow goods. This technique can give you an extra 3-4 days of freshness, not bad for all the bucks you spend at the grocery store.

All these tips are new to me and I’m excited to share them with you. Are there other tips you guys are aware of that we should post on the website? If so, drop a line and share your knowledge!

Happy Friday guys!


Midweek Delicacy Time: Mangú (Boiled Green Plantains)


ManguThis past weekend the Dominican Day parade took place in NYC. During my stay here in Queens I got to see many Dominicans out celebrating and was reminded of the food from my childhood. Many of the authentic Dominican dishes I know how to make, take a while to cook, and some of the ingredients can be hard to find. Mangú however, is made out of boiled green plantains, which can be found anywhere. It is a side dish often served at breakfast with fried eggs and an onion garnish.

This a quick delicious dish that adds potassium, vitamin C, B-complex, and vitamin A to your meal. Shake up your breakfast and bring the tropics home.

Happy eating friends!



Serves 4

4 unripe Plantains
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup Water at room temperature (reserve the water from boiling the plantains)
2 Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon Cilantro, finely chopped

ManguOnion Garnish

1 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red Vinegar


  1. Under running cold water peel the plantains. Once peeled cut the plantains in half then again in half lengthwise. Half once more lengthwise.Mangu
  2. In a deep skillet put in enough water to cover the plantains with about an inch to spare. Salt the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add in the plantains and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.IMG_2224
  3. Remove the plantains from the water and in a medium sized bowl, mash the plantains with a fork until they are very smooth with little to no lumps.Mangu
  4. In a small pan quickly sauté mashed garlic until golden. Mix in garlic, olive oil, and reserved water with plantains. Continue to mix until it turns into a smooth puree.
  5. In a small pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil over low heat. Add onions stirring lightly until they become transparent, about 3 minutes. Pour in vinegar and salt to taste. Cook for another minute.IMG_2229
  6. Garnish mangú with onions, cilantro and serve with sunny side-up eggs.

Midweek Delicacy Time: Mediterranean Pan-Roasted Chicken

Middle Eastern Pan-Roasted Chicken

Middle Eastern Pan-Roasted ChickenThis weeks recipe was inspired by the neighborhood I’m staying in, Astoria Queens, NY. The smells and flavors from Greek restaurants drew me in, that and a walk through the local Greek grocery store. I had started off wanting to create a full dish in an oven proof skillet. Working with bone in chicken that still has its skin on can be difficult to cook through on the stove top alone. I wanted my chicken to have crispy skin, moist meat, and be quick and flavorful. This method proved a great combination to layer the mediterranean flavors I wanted to create and achieve the crispy moist chicken.

Happy eating friends!


IngredientsPan Roasted Ingredients

Serves 4

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Chicken Thighs, skin on, bone in
4 Chicken Legs, skin on, bone in
1 small Onion, cut into thin rings
2 tablespoons of Tomato paste
2 15oz cans Chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup Chicken broth
1 teaspoon Hot Paprika
1 teaspoon Cumin
2 cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh Turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (powdered turmeric can also be used)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup pitted Olives
1/4 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
1 cup Feta Cheese, cubed
1 Lemon, cut into wedges


  1. Make the spice paste: In a mortar and pestle smash the garlic, with the salt and turmeric. In a small ball, mix together the garlic and turmeric paste with paprika and cumin. Coat chicken with mixture, cover and let marinate for 1 hour. IMG_2144
  2. Pre-heat oven to 425°. Heat oil in skillet. Working in 2 batches, cook chicken until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.Middle Eastern Pan-Roasted Chicken
  3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of drippings from pan. Add onions; cook stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring until beginning to darken, about 1 minute. Add chickpeas and broth; bring to a simmer.IMG_2160
  4. Nestle chicken, skin side up in chickpeas; transfer skillet to oven. Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Top with parsley, olives and cheese. Serve with lemon wedges and rice.Middle Eastern Pan-Roasted Chicken

Massive Menu Madness


Take a look at the appetizers available at your typical American casual restaurant chain, and you will probably find some variety of chicken, breads, cheesy baked dips, stuffed or fried vegetables, mozzarella sticks, quesadillas, nachos, egg rolls, and potstickers,. The first few items may sound ‘All-American,’ and even Tex-Mex food like nachos has been adapted enough to qualify as an American standard – but egg rolls? Although the United States is known as a melting pot of ethnic cultures, it strikes me as a little wrong to have heavily Italian-, Mexican-, and Asian-inspired dishes on the same menu. Rather than being impressed by the variety that the restaurant has to offer, I’m skeptical of the quality of each of these dishes. I would prefer to eat somewhere that specializes in making certain kinds of dishes really well over a place that makes a bunch of mediocre crowd-pleasers. Furthermore, large menus really generate waste.

Let’s start with restaurant management. The more expansive a menu is, the more ingredients are needed to make the wide variety of dishes. While most foods can fortunately be found in various cuisines – for instance, pretty much any vegetables used in stir fry can be roasted as a side dish or served in a salad – some specialty ingredients like bean sprouts have a limited range of use. Even if a restaurant takes this into account and makes an effort to only work with versatile ingredients or specialize in a certain cuisine, a huge menu means the kitchen needs to be stocked with a large quantity of fresh foods in order to be ready to prepare anything. In our freshness-paranoid society, that means that a lot of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and who knows what else gets tossed out at the end of the day to make room for a new ingredients shipment the next morning.


Then there’s us, the consumers confronted with a dauntingly long list of food offerings. Unless you have a specific craving or are a very picky eater, chances are that you will have trouble deciding what to order. In addition to being stressful, possibly to the point of causing so-called menu anxiety, the pressure to quickly settle on a meal encourages rash, irrational decision-making. For some people, the bad decision is foregoing their diets because the small salad section has been undermined by long lists of burgers, pastas, and/or other hearty entrees. In other cases, though, it means ordering multiple dishes so as to avoid choosing between two enticing options. Splitting or sampling is all well and good if you’re with at least one other person willing to share, but often it just results in several unfinished plates. In over 50% of cases, restaurant leftovers such as these are not taken home by the diner, which usually means they end up in the garbage. Why someone would allow a meal that they found so irresistible go to waste is a rant for another time.

As much as I love ordering something different every time I come to a restaurant, many of today’s menus are simply overwhelming. One consequence of being inundated with choices is wastefulness. By sticking to what they know instead of trying to satisfy every taste, restaurants save money on ingredients and prevent needless waste. The overall dining experience is also more pleasant for patrons when they don’t find themselves vacillating between five scrumptious-sounding options. Rather than worrying, “What if that other dish was better?” diners can are more likely to be satisfied by their orders, hopefully happy enough to finish them or take leftovers home.

If you find yourself in eating somewhere with a huge menu, take a moment to not look at it and think about what kind of food you’re really in the mood for. Find that section of the menu and try not to let your eyes wander. On the other hand, if you want to peruse everything, just keep in mind a) how much you want to eat, b) whether you can take leftovers home (and will have a chance to eat them), and c) whether you can come back some other time to try something else.

Make eating an enjoyable experience, not a stressful one!


Bite sized wisdom: keep the garden growing

Dear Friends,

The heart of summer is already behind us and August is here, bringing us closer to a change in season and weather.

My garden, which started out small and green, has grown, bore fruit and is now withering away in the heat.

I am guilty of not giving it enough attention, or adapting quickly to the hot weather by increasing the portions of water I share with my green friends. But, everything in life is a lesson and the biggest trick is to learn from what comes our way.

Here are three life lessons my humble garden taught me in the past few days:

1. Lost fruits of love favorite plant in the garden was the strawberry bush. It always bore sweet red fruits for me to indulge in. When life became busy, the weather got hotter and my attention span shorter I forgot to water the plant more. Slowly the leaves turned brown and the red fruits, still waiting on the branches to be picked, simply dried up. The plant had no incentive to keep flowering as what it was offering was no longer appreciated, so it withered away. In life we have a lot of moments and sources of positivity that we take for granted. Then, one day that source decides not to supply us with any more gifts of love, but it is too late to turn back time and the only choice we have is to wait for another chance to treat it better. Next summer I plan to be wiser and more loving with my strawberry bush and the rest of the plants in the garden.

2.  Go towards opportunity the more fragile plants were lost in the heat of the summer, other plants took the opportunity to bask in the sun and grow stronger. My other lovely plant, which gives me round cherry tomatoes to snack on is still green and sharing its treasures with me. When looking at the brown hues of my once green garden, this red fruit is a sign of hope and potential and so I don’t get sad. Instead of worrying about the state of the garden at the moment, I’m focusing on the powerful message that this “insignificant” tomato is sending me – ‘everything’s gonna be alright’. And that’s the case with life, no matter how bad things may be for you now, if you simply focus your attention on the good and the possibility of tomorrow then you’ll be happier and will still get to enjoy red fruits, even if they’re of a different kind.

3. Start planning for tomorrow today thing I learned this summer is that weather and time move quickly. If we are not prepared for the upcoming seasons and the changes they bring we are unable to address the challenges and take care of what we want to protect. So in the next few weeks I will be cleaning out my garden and planning what to plant next for the cooler weather. Luckily the list is long and I’ve got a lot to pick from, including onions, squash, carrots and so much more. To enjoy all of them, though, I need to prepare my garden and my self today. After all, what you reap you sow, and it’s never too early to plan for things you’re excited about!

Nature inspires me, motivates me, feeds me and nourishes my soul. My little garden is just a tiny shadow of what the world around us holds and all the wisdom it can share with us. The trick is to simply slow down, listen and pay attention to the lessons.

I hope these bite sized wisdom posts are helping you as much as they are helping me.

Happy living to all!

Midweek Delicacy Time: Miso Glazed Salmon en Papillote

Miso Glazed Salmon en Papillote

Miso Glazed Salmon en PapilloteEn Papillote is a make shift bag made out of parchment paper. Making food in a bag is probably one of the healthiest ways you can prepare food. Your food will come out moist, tender with little fuss. The parchment packet allows the fish and vegetables to cook in their own juices.

My favorite part about using this method is you can throw a few ingredients into the parcels and all the work is done for you. You can prep these ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  Other than being pretty effortless, they look quite impressive when serving.

Serve with a ginger rice. Just add julienne-cut ginger when you add your rice to the boiling water. When I made my rice I was feeling especially adventurous and threw in some lemongrass as well. The combo with the fish was quite tasty.

Happy eating friends!


IngredientsMiso Glazed Salmon

Serves 4

1/4 cup Mirin
1/4 cup Sake
3 tablespoon White/Yellow Miso paste
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Honey
2 teaspoons dark Sesame Oil
4 Salmon fillets, about 6oz each
1 Bokchoy, sliced in bite size pieces, include the leaves
8 Snap Peas, cleaned whole
4 Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
1.5 tablespoon Ginger, peeled and julienne-cut
2 Scallion, thinly sliced


  1. Miso Glaze MarinadeIn a small bowl combine mirin, sake, miso paste, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil.
  2. Pat the fish fillets dry and place in baking dish skin side up. Spoon marinade over fish and turn them over a few times in the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Tip: Do not go over an hour as miso is very salty.
  3. Miso Glazed Salmon en PapilloteWhile fish is marinating prep all of the vegetables.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450º.
  5. Cut 4 (15 x 24-inch) pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half crosswise. Draw a large heart half on each piece, with the fold of the paper along the center of the heart. Cut out the heart, and open.
  6. IMG_2105Place one fillet near fold of each parchment heart. Top each fillet with 1/4 of the vegetables and ginger.  Tip: Let the excess marinade drip off the fish before placing on the parchment. The fish will release plenty of the marinade as it cooks to flavor the dish.
  7. Fold the parchment over vegetables and fish. Starting at the top of the heart begin tightly folding the open edge of the parchment, sealing edges with narrow folds. Twist the end tip to secure tightly. IMG_2113Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Place on plates; cut open. Top salmon with thinly sliced scallions. Serve immediately.

Tip: If you wish a tighter seal, brush the edges of the paper with beaten egg white.