Providence to Newport by Water (with my brother on a very hot day)

Mary:  “How old is this boat?”
Peter:  “35 years”
Mary:  “It’s nice in here. Why don’t you re-do the linoleum in the Captain’s quarters? You know, keep up the boat.”
Peter:  “Arrrgggh! This is a working boat! It stays in the water. Gotta make money!”
Mary:  “Okay. Got it.”

You might remember my brother, Peter and his boat, the Endeavour, from a past blog,
I Wanna Be a Lobsterman. Actually, that blog led to a unique experience when a guy named Steve Trewhella found a lobster trap tag from the Endeavour at Chesil BeEndeavor Tagach, UK on the South coast of England. Steve took a photo and posted it on Facebook, and then a second guy, Tom Pitchford of Florida, US, saw the  photo, googled the Endeavour, found my blog, and sent me Steve’s photo on Facebook at Mary Hartley RD. Crazy!

BTW: Our Endeavor is not to be confused with the HMS Endeavour recently found at the bottom of Newport Harbor. That Endeavour is the boat Captain James Cook sailed around the world when he made first contact with Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.

Anyway, last Friday, an unbearably hot and humid July day, my brother had to move his boat from the Port of Providence where it went for its biennial exterior paint job (sorry, Pete) back to Newport, Rhode Island where it is docked. I went along for the ride. Mmmmm. So breezy steaming down Narragansett Bay.

Check out the photos of the day. Note the huge mobile harbor crane loading the boat into the water at Port of Providence, and at Slide 9, notice the pop-up storm brewing 20 miles to the west in Wickford, RI. We could see the thunder and lightening, but Wickford got all that plus heavy rain and very gusty winds. It blew through suddenly and tipped over stuff!

Comments:  Have you taken this trip?

Tafathalo! Welcome to My Arabic Dinner

This year the Arab American Institute conducted their biyearly poll of American attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims. Favorable attitudes towards Arabs and Muslims are lacking to say the least: 68% of Americans are critical of Arabs and 73% dislike Muslims. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans admit they don’t know enough about Islam, Muslims, and Arab history and people. A narrow-minded bunch are we, which brings me around to my Christmas theme for 2014:

Jesus was an Arab.

He was born in the Middle East, he spoke Aramaic and he probably had dark skin. Look at the desert in the nativity scene. Arabic people can be Jewish because Judaism is a religion, not an ethnicity. Furthermore, every Arab is not Muslim. 

To honor my theme, I hosted a pre-Christmas-eve Arabian dinner. My menu came from the Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos (Gulf States section, mostly.) I got the cloth-bound hard-covered edition from my local library. (Frugality is another one of my themes.)

The Arabic cuisine is mainly a combination of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian food. It has been affected by the mingling of Arab and non-Arabs over the centuries. European cultures such as the Spanish, Italian, French and Greek had impact on Arab cooking. Turkish cuisine impacts the entire Arab world, while Persian and Indian cuisine influences eastern Arabic countries.

Sharing a meal with others is an old honored tradition in the Arabic World and an expression of hospitality. “Tafathalo” means “Do me the honor”. It is an invitation to come to the table. This is what I served:

Starters
Hummus and Khoubiz (Flat Bread) from Sam’s Bakery in Fall River, Massachusetts
Endives with Oranges and Almonds (Spanish/Arabian influence, generously provided by a guest)

Soup
Shaurabat Adas (Red Lentil Soup)

Salad
Fattoush Salad

Entrees
Samak Quwarmah (Fish Curry)
Mushkoul (Rice with Onion)
Kebat Al Batatis Wal Burkul (Bulghul and Potato Cakes with Lamb and Apricot Filling) – (We thought this needed a yogurt sauce.)

Desserts / Beverages
“Sweet Sesame” (a Sam’s Bakery bread made with honey, sugar, cinnamon, and sesame seeds)
Dates
Candy (re-gifted by the teachers at the table)
Decaf coffee/Black tea
Wine
Arak (Now I know to water it down.)

Your thoughts: Do you eat Middle Eastern food? Do you know enough about Arabic culture?

My Grandmother, the Chicken Killer

Ninja Chicken
“Eat only the animals you kill.”
Yesterday, while sitting in a restaurant with my 94-year old aunt, Jean, she told me that her mother, my grandmother, was an exceptionally skilled chicken killer.
(From living in Brooklyn, I know that backyard chickens are all the rage.)

Mary:  Really, did my grandmother raise chickens?
Jean:  No, she killed chickens as a favor to the neighbors.
Mary:  Where did she get the live chickens to kill?
Jean: The man sold live chickens off the truck. Chickens in cages were loaded onto a flatbed truck then driven into the neighborhoods.
Mary: Why didn’t my grandmother buy chicken at the store?
Jean: That was expensive, and she knew these chickens were fresh.
(Mary: FRESH? I guess. She had to kill the damn thing! Nowadays, people won’t even touch a raw chicken, let along MURDER it.)
Mary:  So, what was this skill? How did she actually kill a chicken?
Jean: She would feel around the neck and SNAP it in the right place. It was so fast. She pulled the head away from the body.

Backyard chicken lovers, let’s take this relationship to the next level!
How to kill a chicken*

“The recommended neck dislocation method is to grasp the bird’s legs in one hand (usually the left), holding the legs at about waist level, and the head in the other hand going diagonally across your body down to below your right hip. The beak should protrude between your first two fingers and, gripping tightly, you use the heel of your palm against its upper neck to provide the necessary pivot. In the one movement, you’re supposed to wrench downward (that is, up with the legs, down with the head) and twist the head sharply up and back. There should be an audible click of dislocation; however, a very strong may pull the head right off, which would be rather upsetting. If you practice beforehand (perhaps on an already deceased chicken), you will certainly know what force to use as well as if you possess  the strength to do it.”
*www.backyardpoultry.com

But wait (sorry) there’s more. The bird gets decapitated and eviscerated with the skill of a surgeon. Then the chicken gets dunked in scalding water followed by an ice bath to make feather plucking easier. Finally, the chicken is cooked very quickly before rigor mortis sets in.

Just think, that was only eighty years ago and, still, many, if not most, people around the world kill the meat they eat. At least they know it’s fresh.

Your thoughts? Would you eat meat if you had to kill it first?

The Quinoa Standard

Liza and QuinoaGreetings from the planet we call Brooklyn, where the peeps can’t get enough of healthy (organic, gluten free) food. Look at my daughter, Liza, standing alongside of 130 pounds or so of quinoa. At $10 for a 26-ounce bag no less. A picture says it better than words.

Quinoa, a seed not a grain, is a wonderful source of complete protein, providing all of the essential amino acids. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and a host of other nutrients. It made the Incas thrive. But that’s an awful lot for the USA..

Furthermore, we happen to be in a grocery store in Crown Heights, a once posh residential neighborhood that took a deep dive in the 1960s, but is now coming back. I guess quinoa is an economic indicator. Invest with confidence in a quinoa-forward neighborhood.

Here are some quinoa recipes from Cooking Light: Cooking with Quinoa: 22 Recipes

Your thoughts: Do you eat quinoa?

Hey Brooklyn, What’s in Your Lunch Bag?

brooklynlicious_tote_bagMary:     Why am I doing this? No one begins a TV career at my age.
Brian:    Not so. There’s Judge Judy.
Mary:     Okay. That’s true.

For what it’s worth, that conversation took place on July 10th outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It’s three subway stops from my home.  While the cameraman filmed, I asked regular people on the way to work to let me peek into their lunch bags. It was spontaneous and unrehearsed. You get what you pay for.

“Brian” is Brian Vines (BTW: He drinks half portions of soda at the movies now) of Brooklyn Independent TV. He called to ask what I though about developing a pilot based on what Brooklynites eat for lunch. (Actually, the cameraman’s wife, a Brooklyn foodie, thought the idea would make a good show.) I told Brian to add a few questions to put the lunch choices in context, and suddenly, I was the one asking the questions.

One week later, Amy Sarah Clark from the Prospect Heights Patch posted this on my Mary Hartley RD Facebook timeline:
“I saw your piece at the BRIC media thing today, it was fantastic! Congratulations!”
(Translation: “BRIC media thing” had to do with an event, presentations, and the pilot.)

Really? Sweet! Thanks you! Maybe I should see it. Maybe you should see it too.     

Mary Hartley, RD Asks Brooklyn, “What’s in Your Lunch Bag?”  

Those Brooklynites couldn’t be healthier! Everybody carries produce and no bacon was found. Brooklyn should show the rest of the country how it’s done. As for me, I could be a correspondent, like Ross the Intern. I will even prepare for pay.

Your thoughts:  Do you agree that the lunch idea would make a good show?

One Way to Raise a Great Cook

Little Liza's Cookbook

Liza’s Personal Childhood Cookbook

As I recall, this is the time of year that gave rise to “Cook ‘Til You Drop”, the cookbook my daughter, Liza, made when she was six or seven. I can’t remember. The book,  including title and cover art, was entirely her idea.

Every year, when the raspberries ripened around the first of July, we’d say, “Where’s that Raspberry Cheesecake Parfait recipe?” Since it was the old days, the early ’90s before the Internet, that meant searching through a huge stack of Cooking Light magazines until we found it. Liza, having much less to do than I and forever the Martha Stewart, thought it made sense to preserve her favorite recipes in a self-adhesive photo album. We photocopied only her besties to make Cook ‘Til You Drop.

From that time on, Liza has always kept a personal recipe book. Perhaps it’s a reason why Eliza Hartley in the Kitchenshe is a fabulous cook today.

Here are two summer favorites from Cook ‘Til You Drop:

Your thoughts: Did you cook as a kid? Do you cook with your kids? What do you make?

Got To Do It: Take a Hike!

trail marker for the Appalachian Trail.This past weekend, I went hiking on a bit of the Appalachian Trail in the Delaware Water Gap. (That’s the Delaware River on the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border, not Delaware, the second smallest state.) The A.T. is a marked hiking trail running from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. I decided that I will hike the entire A.T. in sections over the next twenty years. I might have done 20 miles so far. Just 2180 left to go.

Sandee Takes a Hike Sandee Ostwind Hiking in the Delaware Water Gap

This is my friend, Sandee, a 60 year old woman who had not hiked a day in her life until last October. The very idea makes her daughter convulse with laughter. Sandee is still not your typical hiker (“Let’s sit down and take a rest.”); however, she enjoys it immensely. Why? Sandee says, “Hiking has everything – physical, mental, spiritual. I feel great about myself when I finish a hike.”

Mountain LaurelMountain Laurel

Kalmia latifolia, the flowering evergreen shrub, blooms in May and June in the mountainous forests of the Eastern United States. The Mid-Atlantic States are blanketed this week. White flowers in the shade and pink flowers in the sun.

 

Damn You, New York Times!

Circada on a leaf

Little Circada

I’m mad at The New York Times, with their multimedia features and images enlarged 100 times, for scaring me about cicadas. Cicadas are insects that crawl out of the ground every 17 years for a three-to-four-week frenzy of mating before they deposit their nymphs underground and die. We saw cicadas on leaves, and they are cute little critters. First, we heard them (Is that the sound of a broken fan belt? You decide…) and then we saw them on leaves here and there. Their swarming actually takes place 40 feet above in the trees. Not once did a molted carcass fall on my head.

Your thoughts, do you hike? What do you like about it?

Beware of the Ground Turkey Trots

ground-turkey-406x250“Don’t buy the ground turkey,” I said to my nonagenarian aunt at the supermarket. She is just too frail and too old to take that risk.

Consumer Reports’ recently investigated 257 samples of raw ground turkey meat from major supermarkets in the United States. They tested for five bacteria (enterococcus, E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, and campylobacter) that may cause severe foodborne illness and be fatal in some cases. Consumer Reports’ found that 90 percent of the samples tested had  one or more of the five bacteria.  But what’s worse is that nearly 80 percent of the Enterococcus bacteria were resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics, as were more than half of the E. coli and 67 percent of the Salmonella strains. Who can forget the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak of 2011? One person died, 37 were hospitalized and 136 people were officially sickened – from ground turkey. The CDC said the outbreak might have sickened 4,000 more people.

Consumer Reports’ recommends buying ground turkey labeled “no antibiotics” or “organic” because turkeys “raised without antibiotics” contain fewer antibiotic-resistant bacteria – they still harbor bacteria, but they are less likely to be superbugs. Still, just to be safe, IMHO the very young, very old and frail, pregnant, and sick should avoid ground turkey and the risk of getting the turkey trots.

Your thoughts, Do you eat ground turkey meat?

The Cleansing Power of Dayenu

THANXNo, it’s not a laundry detergent. It’s a song I learned at my first Passover Seder two weeks ago, and now I can’t get it out of my head – which is a good thing. Dayenu is a traditional Passover song about being grateful to God for the gifts he gave the Jewish people. For 15 stanzas, the leader says something or other and we, the audience, respond with “Dayenu.” “Dayenu” means one gift would have been enough.
“If he had split the sea for us…It would have been enough for us.”
“If He had led us through on dry land…It would have been enough for us.”
The song is surprisingly upbeat despite its woeful subject matter.

And so It’s All Dayenu All the Time for me. Honestly, the concept that taken over my brain. I lie in bed, wake up, and I think, “I am so comfortable here on this memory foam mattress.…it would have been enough.…my pillow is perfect too….it would have been enough….and the light is so beautiful streaming in through the window.…it would have been enough.… It makes it easy to be thankful for every single thing.

The other day, my friend, the Passover hostess, who lives around the corner said, “Let’s meet on the sidewalk.” I thought to have a friend who lives around the corner…it would have been enough.…to meet on a brand-new sidewalk….it would have been enough….to face a beautiful museum….it would have been enough….on such a sunny day….it would have been enough….

Somehow, I don’t think the Scholars of The Torah had this in mind – but it works for me. Saying Dayenu has a cleansing effect that I can feel. Gratitude changes us on a cellular level. When we feel thankful, our cells transmit chemicals that enhance our nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system – all systems –  that are consistent with good health. The “cleansing” delivers a sense of calm and peacefulness that forms a base for mindful living and healthy eating too.

Your thoughts about attitude, gratitude, and Dayenu….

Adorkable Easter Appetizers

Easter Appetizers Deviled EggsA lot of people ask me, Mary, do you make adorkable appetizers for every holiday? I say, not really, but if I do make anything, I make these. I like my appetizers to be wholesome, easy, attention-getting, and appealing to kids. Besides, my traffic spiked traffic to 10,000 hits a day because of those Strawberry Santas at Christmas. The people have spoken. Adorkable appetizers it is! Click on the links for “how-to” recipe information.

 

Eggy Chicks, Roosters and Bunnies

File these appetizers under “What to Do with the Hard-cooked Eggs.” The deviled Easter egg chicks (above) are my favorite and the no-devil roosters and happy-face chicks are easy enough to make, but the deviled bunnies are scary to me; however, I’ve seen worse. Rachel Ray shows how to make the deviled egg chicks.

Easter no devil Easter roostersEaster Bunny_deviled_eggs_Lg (1)

Raw Vegetables Appetizers Kids will Eat Easter Potted CarrotsEaster Appetizers Smurf Mushrooms

Rule number one: kids love to dip. I love these Potted Carrots and Dip from Toys in the Dryer and the Smurfy Radish Mushrooms from The Paper Pony. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Easter Appetizers Chick Breadeaster_chickbunsEaster Chick Buns

Granted, making bread is a lot harder than boiling an egg, but how sweet are these little chick rolls?  Grandma’s Kitchen shows you how.

 

Scary Bunnies

Tell me if this pear bunny doesn’t look like a rat? The recipe is from my childhood cookbook and it still creeps me out.

Easter Pear Bunny Image_2Easter_ betty_crocker_boys_and_girls-thumb-250x343Easter bunny_salad-thumb-500x671

Your thoughts: Do you see adorkable Easter appies in your near future?