#homemade labneh project was a success!
I like cooking experiments. I like them so much that sometimes when I’m looking for something to eat, I realize I’ve spent my time in the kitchen on projects that peaked my interest that week, rather than cooking a sensible meal. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the urban homesteading trend just as much as any Brooklynite. I really like learning to make jam, baking treats, and pickling. This can lead to a strange mix of things to eat when you’re hungry, but I also kind of enjoy the mad-scientist look of the contents of my fridge at times. I think of it as just one of the perks of being an grown-up kid, along with eating dessert before (and after) dinner. Recently, when considering my next DIY cooking project, I decided to attempt one that was simple, and not readily available, as opposed to butter or something. After my trip to Israel, I’d become obsessed with labneh – eating it for breakfast, and using it to compose simple open-face sandwiches in lieu of a proper dinner. As I was getting tired of trips to the mega-kosher grocery near my Grandma’s house in Queens to find labneh, I learned to make my own. It’s easy, it’s super adaptable, and the waiting period is much less painful than a 45-minute subway ride to suburban Queens on an otherwise perfectly good weekend day.

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Peach salad
I don’t use this blog to write critical reviews of restaurants. Owning a restaurant is tough enough that I never felt the desire to attack someone else’s hard-earned livelihood. However, I see no reason not to sing the praises of the places that I feel are doing a good job, and that I’d like to support, especially when they ask me to help promote their use of local foods. One recent day, I was sitting at my desk eating lunch – a salad from Chop’t, like I often do. Seriously. I’m eating, and scrolling through personal emails, and there it is in my inbox, an email from Chop’t asking if I’d want to contribute salad ideas for their seasonal offerings of local peaches from New Jersey. I looked down at my desk at my half-eaten bowl of salad, and burst out laughing. I guess they had the right person for the job.

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2013-05-17 15.11.35
This Spring I took my first trip to Israel to visit my cousin who had moved there. She had been telling me all about how much I was going to love it for years, so I finally decided to get over my politics and go. We spent weeks planning where we’d go and what we’d see. The necessary tourist stops, the famous religious sites, and of course where we’d eat. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I kept picking up the the Jerusalem cookbook in anticipation. I was ecstatic when I saw Gabriella Gershenson’s beautiful piece in Saveur the month before on the Northern region of the country, and attempted to re-work my plans to include her recommendations. I found a NY Times article on Yotam Ottolenghi’s favorite spots near the food market in Jerusalem. I had my trusty guidebook (basically because I like having an actual book of info that doesn’t involve an internet connection) and all of those recommendations, along with the list my cousin had compiled. Top of the culinary itinerary was all matter of baked goods. I was excited to taste all the Arab sweets I’d never tried, and see if the Israeli versions of my favorite Jewish ones – rugelach, babka, and cheesecake were different. I was visiting during Shavuot, a holiday where it’s customary to eat cheese products in celebration. I never knew about that tradition, but it’s a good one. Unless you’re lactose-intolerant, like my cousin. Poor thing. As I diligently plowed through cheesecake, burekas, frozen yogurts, and fluffy pitas stuffed with labneh and za’atar she tried to keep up, and suffered for it. She clearly went beyond the call of a gracious host.

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Cafe Beaujolais Coffee Cake
I bake for lots of reasons, but one of them is to give thank-you gifts. My Grandma is generally the most frequent recipient of such things, as she is often the one I find myself needing to thank. I’ve gotten in the habit of baking for her whenever she dog-sits, if she patiently and selflessly hangs on the phone allowing to me to vent about the day, or at times because she’s coming over for lunch. It also helps that baking is my cure-all. I bake when I’m sad, when I’m happy and when I’m procrastinating – three states I fluctuate between. This week, just back from a trip to Israel, I found myself feeling like I was on a merry-go-round of all three emotions. I was sad to leave my little cousin, happy to be back in my own home, and definitely procrastinating from facing a few big decisions ahead of me. Maybe I just wanted a reason to bake, so I found one  - a coffee cake for a belated Mother’s Day. I quickly planned an impromptu lunch date.

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Food Bloggers Against Hunger

April 8, 2013

The minute I saw Nicole’s tweet about TheGivingTable’s campaign to get food bloggers to raise awareness for hunger in America, I signed up.  I’m well aware that our food laws essentially work against the goal of keeping healthy food affordable. I first read about it in The Omnivore’s Dilemna when Michael Pollan explained it in detail. […]

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Pink grapefruit to keep your cheeks rosy

February 19, 2013

It’s that time of year when an extra dose of Vitamin C is needed. Flu epidemics, coughing, sneezing people on crowded subways, and bleak weather are just some of the facts of life during February in New York City. That, and the beautiful yellow-green undertone in my face. I need sunny things, bright colors, and bracing flavors but not another roasted root […]

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What I ate in 2012

November 26, 2012

It’s been almost a whole year since I’ve logged in to create a new post on this site. That is not to say that I haven’t been cooking, eating and of course, sharing my food photos. I’ve been posting to my Tumblr fairly regularly, since it’s a quick way to share Instagram pics and easy to […]

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New Amsterdam Market trip

December 17, 2011

One of the most unique food markets around is the New Amsterdam Market, downtown where the old Fulton Fish Market used to be in Lower Manhattan. Besides the history of food markets in this area, this isn’t really your standard farmer’s market (there are only a few produce stands) but more of a local food […]

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Give Back Friday

November 25, 2011

I have two traditions that I keep year after year on Thanksgiving weekend. One is baking a homemade pumpkin pie, and eating it for days after the holiday. And the second is making sure to donate to a hunger-related charity at some point during a holiday weekend in honor of food. I know that many people […]

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Chicken chili for cold days

November 5, 2011

It’s suddenly feels cold. Real cold. Not, like “Ooh, it’s such a beautiful Fall day” cold, but more like, “It’s too cold to get out of bed” cold. Once all my extremities are freezing, everything I crave is in the form of warm food. That’s why I can finally tell you about this chicken chili. […]

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