Friday, August 28, 2009

NYC Experience

Given I started blogging almost a year ago to share my food experiences in a dairy sort of way, I do try and inject many other things as restaurant reviews, new and exciting foodie knowledge (to me any way), and making friendships along the way in a very informal fashion. This is one of those posts...

I thought about calling this piece 'Pure Food & Wine + Blog Friendship = Priceless', but too long. Four months back a blog I follow Rachel @ Rachel Ramblings and her site Veggie Views put a notice on her site saying she was coming into New York City. She asked for suggestions for things to do, and did anyone want to meet. Hubby and I have lived in Jersey now for four years, and do not get into the city as much as we used to. I believe that happens with everyone. You live somewhere and it all seems to fade into the background of our daily lives. So, I told Rachel we would love to help her out...

As the time approached we discussed what Rachel might want to experience on her two day trek. Open to ideas, she being into photography and time on her own to take in some of the city on her own I suggested we not do the usual tourist stops. I thought it would be nice to take her by car to some of the off kilter sites we have been to. Rachel agreed to my idea. Turns out with the heat; it was a great decision.

I had also asked her about eating out. She informed me she was vegetarian. Hubby and I can deal with that, as we eat vegetarian. That is also when Pure Food & Wine in the Gramercy Park area of New York hit me, and it would be a great experience for foodies of any level. This vegetarian and vegan restaurant opened up in June of 04. Hubby and I had eaten there the year it opened. We were dazzled. We saw celebraties just tables away. Raw food was not a new concept for me, but there were no upscale eateries of this nature outside of our Chez Pannise in San Francisco. Though still not a 'pure' raw or vegetarian food destination, but a good one indeed.

Back to meeting up with Rachel- We arranged to meet her at hubby's sibling’s upper Manhattan home between Lexington and third. She had text me she arrived and was waiting outside. With the heat I told her to sit in the lobby, where the air conditioning and comfortable seating would be a nice relief from walking around central park until our arrival. She and I both agreed we looked just like our blog photos, and laughed. Rachel was a delightful conversationalist. A bit shy at first, but I can hit you like a tornado with my chatter!

After introducing her to the family upstairs we decided to give her a diner experience. Diners have wonderful history in New York, and Jersey, but I had to remember she is not as into the food aspect of blogging as I am. We picked a small place a few blocks down, got seated, and got acquainted. Rachel expressed that drive by site seeing was fine with her, as she had walked quite the distance from her tiny quarters in Harlem to Central Park most of the morning.

We literally drove her to almost every borough New York has to offer. She expressed that one does not realize just how big this city really is. I agreed since once I felt the same overwhelming sensation as hubby took me from one end to the other over the years.

[Queens Museum full scale model of NYC]

After our last stop in Queens visiting the museum in Flushing’s Meadow Corona Park. We decided to take a look at the full scale model of New York City. Rachel got a better sense of just how big the 'Apple' really is. She also got to see the famous landmarks used in the ending scene of 'Men In Black'; where the alien had stashed the flying saucer atop the 1940's world's fair attraction. The parks history told of being built upon what once was a swamp. During our tour of the Queens Museum we laughed about how meeting other blogs might be a scary thought. She told me her mother checked me out. Her daughter was traveling quite a distance to be getting in the car with a complete stranger. Awww Mom, I hope Rachel gave you a good report!

[PF & W lovely patio seating]

Now it was time for dinner. Our conversations that day ranged from talking about the comparisons of restaurants and work ethics of ethnic eateries in her country; to many other things of photography; my love for Indian cuisines, and what her husband thought about eating vegetarian on a regular basis. We were having a good time, but it was time to sit and relax in a nice air conditioned restaurant. Rachel was warned that the first impression of PF&W would be impressive, and to not feel intimidated. You walk down a few steps and if you find a wait, you are greeted by a cute seating area. The posh pink interior would be modern and bold as the menu.

[Plate of Assorted Cultured Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses and Rosemary Crisps- Rachel and I decided middle cheese was the best, but the crisps overwhelmed the rest...$19]

The patio seating would be more impressive. One problem though, seating is tight inside. First thing Rachel and I cannot help but notice after sitting down, very frayed and tattered edges of chairs. People watching can keep you a little distracted though. The menu was the only thing that had changed since my last visit. Seasonal raw and fresh dishes appear each year.

[King Oyster Mushroom Scallops with Hijiki Seaweed- Very tasty and scallop texture]

Several reviews from '07 and '08 still state that this unusual 'haute' cuisine of raw and vegetarianism is a magical lure for our big apple. Hubby and I feel with the big buck prices the menu display they could at least offer a few recession menu items. If you visited the kitchen you would only see blenders, dehydrators, and a lot of dicing, and slicing going on. No stoves, hoods, or gas exist in that kitchen. Portions are small, but according to Rachel American portions are still much larger than her English upbringing. Once finished we all felt satisfied. No dessert was ordered, and not at $14-17 per item.

[Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Spring Onion and Herb Cheese- Would order this again!]

I mentioned 'Recession Dining', and would like to say a few more words... Sure quite the lot of New Yorker's have the money (many reasonable places to eat on a regular basis) to spend on things like $12 candy bars (I admit I bought one for $8.99/bacon and dark chocolate); $32 hamburgers at Daniel Boulud's; $12 for Atlanta’s Dogwood crab cake-fondue, but many top restaurants like this are offering recession menus. Hopefully we will come out of this soon, because I have seen a few of my friends here in the area loose their jobs, because the owners of the restaurants refuse to let go. Even Gordon Ramsey recognizes area competition can take you down.

[Caper Lemon Roasted Chanterelle Mushroom with Truffle Creamed Broccoli- Had these tiny wonderful purple chive flowers garnished about the plate that were peppery in taste!]

After reading many upon many reviews for Pure Food & Wine after returning from NYC; I found the biggest complaint was how pricey the food is; how small the portions are, and most would not go back. Hubby and I discussed it, and have decided it was our last visit; unless we see the prices go down. The food is a piece of art in many ways, but not the best we have had. How expensive can the overhead be to charge what they do for cashew milk and squash blossoms, and come on management get those chairs recovered! (‘Purely’ my opinion)

[Interior of PF & W...maybe I am being too critical, but see the torn corner on the chair below...even Rachel agreed in her posting of this experience...]

We did enjoy the meal, and if you have the extra cash PF&W is worth the food experience (The White Sangria was fabulous). After dinner we offered to take Rachel back to her rental, and took her on one last dusk scenic drive that took us through the Bronx. I felt that overall our visit and tour was successful, even if we almost over heated her with the walk in Brooklyn.

Pure Food & Wine
(212) 477-1010
54 Irving Pl
New York, NY 10003



Casual Attire

Small Interior, but has nice patio seating

Food portions small, but filling

Blog Friendships


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Easy As Pie II

Remember that yummy fresh fruit pie that was made for hubby's birthday a few posts ago? Well my personal chef clients son really loves pie. He runs around saying it to me, with his eyes wide open, "I LOVE PIE". You think he is giving me a big hint? His mom says he begs her to make him pie when I am not around. I ask her why she does not let him loose in the kitchen, but she crinkles her face at me in a "I do not think so" fashion.

The whole pie lesson started three years ago when I mentioned he should get into the kitchen and learn how to cook, like my own son. I feel every child should learn their way around the kitchen.

They are of Asian Indian culture, and he does not like Indian food (I love it!). He wants chicken fingers or McDonald's if he can get away with it. Not from me though. I do make him burritos, tacos, and other healthier versions of American cuisine each week. His mom also does not want him spoiled, so he eats the Indian cuisine that is prepared (like roti with the cabbage and peas, and soya chunk masala below).

Suddenly one day during a pie crust lesson some neighbor kids popped over and found out I was giving him lessons, they wanted in on the class. Now its a summer tradition when the kids are out of school to eat lunch, and then we make pies.

Every now and then he will ask me if I have any new pies ideas to teach him. I told him about the cream cheese and heavy whipping cream pie with fresh fruit on top. I showed him the post and picture, and he decide that is what he wanted to try. He also wanted make a Jersey blueberry pie in the oven.

One of the kids, Rishi; his parents own an Indian restaurant up north, so he is pretty savvy in the kitchen. I instructed them each on what to do, without lifting a finger, and they did pretty good. Crust is a little crooked, but it will be tasty...

My clients son chooses to use strawberries, and blueberries for the fresh fruit topping. The peaches are not so pretty for the topping, so they go into the blueberry pie with a top crust, brown sugar, and honey. They are having company over for dinner, so this would be a good day for pie.

I give them all a chance to slice, dice, roll, and mix. Of course I also teach them about mise, and they help clean up the kitchen!

When I pull out my new hand mixer from William Sonoma they all go nuts wanting their chance to whip the heavy cream.

I love working with kids, and the next day Puneeta told me that there was no pie crumbs left in the baking dishes when the company finished with dessert. The pies were a big hit and they were impressed with the job the kids had done!

They really were so cute waiting by the oven and fridge for the pies to set and cool, but have to eat your dinner first!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Market Finds- A Purist's Week

Most of you probably feel the same way I do in the summer. I love farmers markets. We even visit them while on vacation if we can find one. Could it be appealing because one can walk amongst natures bounty, memorial's welcoming of summer, possibly meeting a neighbor, or a reason to meet friends out and about? Live music, or not plays while you sit and nibble on a few things you purchased. Enjoying it with a loved one like your children can be educational.

I find that once I see what is available my mind begins to reel with ideas for the weeks meals for hubby and I. My creative kitchen juices begin to flow like coffee houses to the student. The draw back is...seasonal choices might be limited, and it all ends around Labor Day. For years now I have been fascinated with purist's I have met while on my own market quest. My own mother (until cheap can good era hit big time) would feed their families for a whole seven days, and with minimal fuzzy science projects making into the trash. The Saturday morning visit to the butcher for a whole hen, and ground beef would also complete her meager purchases for the week.

I remember we would come home from the Dallas Farmers Market with more than a full basket. The ones they used to collect bushels of peaches, or apples. I believe you could either have them, or purchase them for your return visits. Once home we would sit on the kitchen floor, or out on the porch; then we were instructed to shuck corn, snap peas, and eat a peach or two to hold back the hunger before lunch. Back then of course there were miles of farmers and farms lined up across rural America. No matter how much we want those days back, we have to make due with what is offered.

(Local figs that went into a cobbler...)

Lately you may come home with only a few things due to a lack of vendors and farms in your area. From my experience rules do vary in the markets. Our neighborhood market board committee did only allow the actual farmers living in the area to rent space, and there are less than a dozen of them. Which seems only fair, but the public may find such puny offerings of no interest when they can go to a larger grocer and get everything all at once. Ready made foods have not been allowed in the past, like breakfast, and that could be a great draw. If farm yields are low and you happen to come late morning you might find little or no choices from your favorite vendors.

Between the two in our area you are almost always guaranteed to see tomatoes, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, sweet corn, and some kind of fruit or two, or three. Some of the farmers experiment with crops and I have even found leeks. We have one that opens on Saturday, and one on Sunday, so there are more choices. Local artists could add a flair, and increase traffic to the farmers; allowing them to increase sales, and their farms would continue to thrive without a for sale sign being seen off the local routes.

With my work schedule over the years and not having a Saturdays off, hubby has been the one who would go out to the local farmers markets. He loves the local Griggs Town Farm Poussin, and the odd mystery ingredients he finds now and then. As of late my schedule has allowed me to return to the summer market, and I am enjoying it. Non-produce related item shopping has also reduced greatly over the past months in my house. Not because we need to cut back financially, but because I wanted to add a little something extra to my challenge.

August through September do allow for extra abundance as far as produce yields, but can you feed a family the whole week? I had to try the purist way of life.

(Local organic heirloom tomatoes...sorry bad photo, but too late we ate them!)

Buying local can be a challenge without supplementing fruits and vegetables from our regular grocery stores, but I managed to cook the whole week with fruits, vegetables, and meats we bought between the two markets. I baked bread, made my own pasta, and even some refreshing limeade drinks.

(Local zucchini that were stuffed, and then stuffed us...)

I am doing a wine and dinner pairing this Saturday for sixteen, and we intentionally hit Philadelphia this past week so we could visit the Italian Market off 9th and Washington for some choice ingredients (like Wild Game). We made a weekend of it with our friends, Bob and Adrienne. Of course its not all local, organic, or even a purist's paradise, but there are plenty of artisan foods made on the spot. I wanted to see if we could keep up the purist's momentum for my Pinot Noir event, and our own weeks menu.

This would be fun if someone else could do this and let me know how it worked for you...

Farmers Market Roasted Vegetable Medley Salad

2 beets, cleaned and quartered (skins scrubbed well, and left on)
6 small potatoes, cleaned and quartered
1 fennel bulb, cleaned and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 onion, medium slice
1 bunch string beans
1 bunch of wild garlic
fresh chopped herbs of choice

Olive Oil drizzled, and toss
Salt/Pepper to taste

Roast for about 40 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Remove and let cool. Add 2 tablespoons lemon dill vinegar (or vinegar of choice), and place on top of fresh spinach salad.

(Local Sekel Pears that will go into a recipe soon...)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Market Finds- Stuffed Red Savoy Cabbage

Summer is the best time to hit local farmers market to buy produce for cooking endeavors. We support our local growers, and help sustain our areas. I have often thought of going for weeks at a time without buying any produce from the regular market to see how we would survive. My plan is to do this next week, but for now I needed a few items from Whole Foods.

As I arrived I put on my 'Stay Focused on the List' blinders. Unfortunately markets pay high dollar for their strategic store layouts, and we fall prey to all the tasty items that lay ahead. Even if we do not really need anything more than what is on our list. Entering the store my blinders flew from my eyes, and my mind seem to spin from the colors ahead...

*Mental Transportation* Recently finding out that one of my favorite eateries, 7 Hills of Istanbul in an area of Jersey called Highland Park had closed after years of great Turkish and Greek cuisines. I had heard that the owner was actually mostly Polish, but that did not bother me; it actually made for a more interesting mix of flavors on the menu. My favorite dish was their stuffed cabbage leaves. Even though it was on the entrée side of the menu, the plate came out with six medium sized rolls of lamb, rice, and tomato sauce goodness.

*Whole Foods Reality Returns* Seems like the past month I have driven down Route 27 where 7 hills once sat, and I think of how I would have like to have stopped in for a plate of my cabbages, but oh well. Darn the economy! I knew I was beginning to feel the craving for stuffed cabbage, so it was off towards that section in produce. A few extra items will not hurt...

What they had stocked were the usual green, Napa, and Savoy cabbages, but there on the end, and screaming out to me was a beautiful head of a purple and reddish curiosity, and it was organic! Would this be sufficient for my most recent craving (that is until I hit the chocolate section).

Cabbage is an inexpensive ingredient, and had become a common site in Tex-Mex restaurants in the early 90’s as garnish for plates, salads, and in tacos. The prices of regular heads of lettuces and greens skied rocketed due to late frost, so to keep plates from being empty they improvised. Many of us were upset over this replacement, but cabbage is actually just as, or more nutritious than lettuce.

Red Savoy Cabbage Information-

The four varieties of cabbage are green, savoy, red, and Napa; also called celery or Chinese cabbage. The most common is the green cabbage with pale green outer leaves and an almost white center. Two main types of green cabbage are Danish and domestic. Danish cabbage is larger and spicier and is preferred in cooking. The domestic variety is medium-sized, sweeter and is excellent for coleslaw. The savoy is considered to have the best flavor. Napa cabbage is oblong-shaped rather than round with pale green tops on the leaves and a white base. Red cabbage has reddish-purple leaves, more of a purple or a magenta than a red and not as popular. Otherwise its characteristics are the same as the green cabbage. Other leafy vegetables related to the cabbage are turnips, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. Note: Chinese cabbage is not a true cabbage and is also called celery cabbage as its long thin leaves resemble celery stalks. Chinese cabbage is of the B. pekinensis species. Cabbage is a member of the mustard family and is Brassica oleracea, variety capitata.

The signature dish of Alsace, only appropriate, is a plate of "choucroute garnie" which means "garnished sauerkraut". Fresh and sweet, offering a delicious, pleasant tang and flavored with local Riesling wine and juniper berries, this sauerkraut tastes nothing like the sour sauerkraut that comes in bags and cans in the United States

Cabbage is one of the oldest of vegetable plants and is native to Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. The word "cabbage" is an Anglicized form of the French word, caboche, that means "head". The Celts of central and Western Europe are credited with introducing cabbage as a food and were apparently influential for this vegetable's Latin name, Brassica, derived from the Celtic word "bresic" meaning "cabbage". In 1536 in Europe, the true identity of hard-heading cabbage was recorded. At that time and described in this recording, there was also a loose-heading cabbage form called Romanos that was later named chou d'Italie and chou de Savoys for the Italian province. This "Savoy cabbage", a crumpled-leaf type, was favored for its superior qualities and was grown in England in the 1500s. Still a European favorite, the French and Belgians especially prefer Savoy cabbage over all.

Oval-shaped and rather delicate, Savoy cabbage produces crinkled and wrinkled crisp succulent leaves. The color ranges from light green to gray-green to bluish-green and may show a reddish tint. Mellow-flavored, its taste is mild, sweet and deliciously distinctive. So good to the taste buds and palate, in fact, that only a splotch of butter and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper on cooked leaves are needed to delight the mouth. Savoy cabbage and Kale sweeten up before harvesting if left out in a frost.

I grew up associating cabbage with my Irish heritage of ham and sauteed, or German foods, sauerkraut on a brat. Raw or cooked, Italian recipes are also this cabbage's claim to culinary fame. Many europeans do love this vegetable. Alsace, the French region located along the Rhine border, especially adores Savoy cabbage. Driving through Alsace in early September, endless fields of thriving cabbages will be seen. With not a machine in sight, farmers will be hoisting cabbages by the hundreds over their shoulders into open wooden wagons just as their ancestors did.

Prized for its good flavor and considered the most versatile of the cabbages, casseroles, soups, stews and salads love its tasty presence. I will be experimenting with two styles of stuffed cabbage for our meals. In an traditional Milanese county style dish, normally called involtini dicavol I will be using some smoked chipotle chili powder. I learned over time that this cabbage is great with chili powder.

This will be a whole pork loin roast wrapped in bacon, using bread crumbs, fresh whole sage leaves, Parmesan cheese, and seasoned with smoked chipotle power, garlic powder, salt and pepper I rub into the pork loin; served with rice. The only difference is I will not be making individual cabbage rolls for this dish, but I will be wrapping the whole pork loin roast with the redder outer cabbage leaves I have softened in hot water for a few minutes, and very carefully wrapping the larger leaves completely around the pork; covering with foil and baking for forty minutes.

My next stuffed individual cabbage rolls dish is going to be a Ukrainian style. Traditionally called holubtsi; passed to me by one of my senior Ukrainian born clients a few years ago. She had tasted one of my attempts at stuffed cabbage with a tomato sauce and kindly as possible told me it needed bread crumbs or stale bread soaked in broth to make the meat more tender.

She also expressed that it would be great with a sour cream sauce like her grandmother made in the old country. Something she longed for but was no longer allowed in the kitchen, as it was my job now as her personal chef. I seasoned this dishes base of ground pork with organic Jamaican allspice I used in my café and now home cooking, along with black forest bacon*, and onions; then I make a sauce using sour cream, flour, chicken stock, and bread crumbs that are all sauteed together stove top.

The holubtsi, Ukranian cabbage rolls had a nice flavor with the added allspice and sour cream sauce included in the mixture. My rather large wrapped cabbage roll had a spicy kick with the chipotle, but with the bacon, sage, tomato sauce, and other ingredients gave it a nice balance; it is hard to say which was my favorite. They were both very tasty!

*Black Forest Bacon- By tradition, Black Forest ham is a boneless smoked ham who’s technique for curing the pig in a region called Black Forest, Germany; which means that the chef must trim the hind leg of a pig before curing it into Black Forest ham. To make Black Forest ham, chefs start by rubbing the ham in a mixture of salt, garlic, coriander, juniper, pepper, and an assortment of other spices. Each chef/butcher has his/her own spice rub, and or smoking recipes. The ham is allowed to dry cure for two weeks before the salt is scraped off and the ham cures for an additional two weeks. After this, the ham is cold smoked over fir or pine branches. During the smoking process, the ham acquires a rich flavor and a deep red color. After smoking, the Black Forest ham is ready for consumption.

Information provided in this post is taken from various readings and studies from food dictionaries, cookbooks, and my own food history studies through others foodways around the world.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Raw Cacao & Goji Berry Rolls

The Eagle Has Landed! Using the same recipe there were no problems with rising. With more time, and patience I have more dough than pocket change...

I am a little disappointed the picture of the 'Raw Goji Berry Cacao' bag was not in focus. With a busy day yesterday I only took one. Oh well the important part was the the bread turned out fantastic! Hubby could not restrain himself, and ate his fair share of some rolls as soon as they came out of the oven.

Picking this bag up on one of my travels at a health food store I have been trying to decide what to use it for. Angie @ Angies Recipes...Taste of Home has been using Goji Berries in some dishes, and has made me want to try them too. We eat them in salads and in cereal, and they are extremely good.

This raw powder can be used in so many other recipes like raw brownies, smoothies and other desserts, and I have enough to try something else!

Take a closer look and you can see tiny dots of red from the goji berries (top), along with the nice buckwheat color and a few dots of the raw cacao in my hand formed loaf (above). I only added a 1/2 cup of powder per recipe. The cacao was not really dry, but had a small amount of moisture and clumpy; which I found out from a Raw Food friend of mine that it was fresh. Many Raw and Vegans would not have used this above 110 degrees in their cooking, but he said he wanted to try them tonight at the open mic I host.

There was not a lot of sugar added, so it gave the bread a faint chocolate flavor and smell. Perfect as far as I am concerned...with butter of course!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cooking Classes Update

'Pumpkin Seed Yeast Rolls'

Cooking instructions have been going well, and through this I have ventured back into more baking, and pasta making. Something I had no time for in the past, and had outsourced for my catering and cafe.

One student in particular loved getting her hands into the flour, but not so happy with the cleaning up that is inevitable afterward...

Since my students have moved into the new school building in the beginning of summer there has been some restructuring. Administration is working on giving a garden area to use, as well as possibly a cafe for the students to learn, produce, and work. On the job experience is one of the main goals for this program.

Summer has had little attendance, but the larger filled classes begin in September for us.

A few of us have been working on learning to make a simple yeast bread dough...

...and while waiting on the bread to rise we worked on making pasta dough...

Lessons in egg noodles and a Béchamel sauce; that will include cheese, and sour cream. Anyone who has made pasta before with out a pasta machine knows rolling out the dough the artisanal way takes lots of practice!

Plates were piled high, and it was delicious. What student does not love to eat, especially when it is a plate for growing young man; it is hard for me to digest that they do no put vegetables on their plates...

The bread turned out fantastic...lots of yummy loaves to take home...

For the first lesson...things went well, and not to mention the smell that filled the entire place!


2 1/2 c. warm water
2 pkgs. yeast
1/3 c. sugar
3 tbsp. oil
6 c. flour

Mix well, adding flour a cup at a time. Knead on flour surface. Place in buttered bowl and let rise for an hour covered with a cloth. Knead again. Make into rolls and let rise until double (we used muffin tins and small bread tins). You may place pumpkin seeds on top, and then Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter, and serve.

PS Buffalodick is right, they are a little short on dough, but we did not make enough to fill the pans so that everyone could have their share, so we had to make do, but it was tasty!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Easy As Pie

Many people had asked me about this pie they saw on my post a few weeks back, so I am sharing the recipe. This pie was actually made for my hubby's birthday breakfast celebration. I had made ice cream for the night before, but in our house you birthday can last up to a month!

Myself being a self declared sweet'aholic to the core I will admit however that I am somewhat of a picky sweet eater. I could however live on chocolate...

The look on peoples faces when I tell them "No thank you" after they offer me a piece of cherry, blueberry, peach, and often apple pie fresh from the oven; it breaks my heart to tell them I just never liked warm fruit desserts, mainly pie with all that gushy fruit. Refrigerated can be another story if I am jonsin', but still "No" to certain flavors. Imagine I married a fruit pie loving man! I just prefer fresh fruit, or mostly crust and crumbles. I have been know to pick off the crust and leave the interior. I know I can just imagine your expressions right now, so I usually decline before embarrassing myself in that way.

As a young girl my grandmother often made cherry pies that were devoured in minutes right after dinner was eaten, but not by me. I wanted the cake she had made. To this day I prefer cake over most pie. I will pick out the nuts in pecan pie, because I do not like all that gooey syrup, and even developed a mostly pecan praline pie for me and my son (yes, he is the same) for the holidays when the kids were younger. I did bake more back then, and have been revisiting today in my spare time.

Call me crazy, but when I heard we were going to have pie brought in by someone else; which turned out to be this version of a cold fruit pie...well I was disappointed. This meant I had made nothing I might like, so there would be no sweets for me that night.

Once I saw them cut into the cream cheese pie and with lots of nudging I quietly had a bite from someones plate. I was sold, and now I can say I at least now, love 'one' fruit pie that exists.

Okay, the truth is I moved the peaches out of the way, and ate everything else. If I had my way it would have been covered in chocolate and nuts, and it would have been gone in minutes!

This recipe is great for birthdays, pop-in guests, or just for your own indulgence you have to try making this easy no bake pie!

With all the fresh fruit available to us during these next few summer months...this pie will make any room full of sweet lovers happy all around!


1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and cream in separate bowls until smooth and creamy; about 3 minutes; fold whipped cream into cream cheese and sugar mixture. Spread into a baked pie crust. Refrigerate for two hours before placing fresh, frozen, or canned fruit on top. I also had been told to use apple jelly, warm it and brush it on for an extra added glaze for the peaches. The blueberries are not needed.

Refrigeration is a must. Over ripe fruit will not hold up, so only use larger slices of fruit that is on the cusp of ripeness. Going no higher than two layers of peaches (filling is delicate), you fill in the center totally with blueberries, or raspberries if you like!

If I do not get your response posted until Sunday night, well its because I am meeting Rachel @ Rachels Ramblings blog in NYC for a tour, and dinner at one of the hot spots, and staying over at hubby's sister in Manhattan...we will be filling you in on our adventure at a later date!

LiV Spudalicious- From the field to the bottle

Or should I say into my glass...

Perhaps you should pour yourself a glass of something, because this is going to be a long Irish story, ummm I mean post...

Around 1640 when Long Island's North Fork farm land was settled by Puritans, the area became a thriving potato industry. Patches of land were given to city families to farm, but sometime around 1986 with little interest in farming, persisting late blight and bugs, low market prices, and high use of pesticides the land was hardly worthy of the back breaking work that went into growing spuds.

Many fields began to give way to sweet corn, pumpkins, sunflowers, and other crops that benefited migrant workers who's work on a potato farm was only four or five months, and grew to eight or more months each year. Grape harvesting and wine making create even higher paying jobs for workers.

[2] Early Century Potato Farmer Photo courtesy of Water Hill Museum, Suffolk County, NY

Eventually sections of land sold off as high end development becoming horse farms and expensive housing developments. Wineries began to pop up in the 1960's to the 70's, that began producing high yield grape crops, and winning many awards to this day. The area is known for the Hampton's, celebrities, autumn treks, and still thrives on this lure today.

As of 2008 less than 20, 500 acres of land on Long Island still grows potato crops as did in early decades. Most of what does grow keeps the potato chip industry thriving. Eighty of these spud growing acres have been designated to a new pure vodka making concept and distillery on the island. The distillery sits on the front property in a historic barn that was renovated, and the Long Island Spirits Company, or LiV as it reads on the bottle is in its second year of production. The company has added flavored vodkas to their line of products, following the new trend in flavored vodka's in the alcohol industry.

I took a group on a tour recently of the distillery and in the fields in the Riverhead area. The land owner/farmer explained how after harvesting the spuds, rye is planted and LiV is contracted to purchase the spud crops. Being that the distillery is only just a few feet away they are hauled to LIV's back door. LIV built their new home/structure conveniently right off Sound Avenue (Riverhead); which many of the structures in the surrounding area all hold much of the same history and past of its farming community.

We had the opportunity to taste their newest flavor, Orangello, as we stepped out on the balcony where you can view the surrounding land. The new libation was quite good, smooth, and tasty along side of some of the local Long Island Potato Chips sitting on the bar.

How Vodka is made as told to me by LIV employees (the unauthorized version and possibly not approved by management): First you need to peel the potatoes, you will need around 1 kg (around 30 lbs) of potatoes for a liter of vodka.

Next thing is to chop the potatoes into pieces, or run it through their machine that shakes off the dirt and rocks; which also separates and removes blemished potatoes.

Next you will need to use a pressure cooker, or as they do by simply making mash, and the natural heat from the quantity alone will ferment the potatoes. Then you add quite a lot of water, more than enough to cover them.

Please be careful doing this at home, pressure cookers are very dangerous if you do not know how to use one. Now once the potato is dissolved into the water let it cool down and strain the mash leaving loads of potato juice which will become your potato vodka. LIV lets their potatoes sit for up to a month in mash vats before straining off the juice, and placing it into the still.

The next part is to distill the potato juice and get single distilled vodka. Long Island Vodka's distillery is made up of brass plated steel, and holds quite a lot of potato juice.

Not that difficult really, the basic idea is to heat the juice and capture the steam and collect it which forms your potato vodka.

(My thoughts interjected in here for homemade vodka, and I am seriously considering it!) If you decide to make this at home like my polish neighbors mom, you just need a pressure cooker, and to find a big pot, with a lid that connects to a pipe and a container that can collect the vodka. Oh, and don't forget the straw hat, corn cob pipe and overall's. At least when you get hauled in for making illegal mash no one on the news will recognize you!

Once the first distilling is complete, you can do it a few more times using the same process and you will end up with the best and cheapest fall over juice imaginable. There are many ways to produce vodka.

The most popular vodka is from grains, like rye, wheat and corn. Other options include using potatoes, beets or molasses. If using rye or wheat, first the grain must be mixed into water and then heated to create a wort. The heat breaks down the starches into fermentable sugars, which escape the grain and move into the water. Next, the wort is drained and the ensuing liquid becomes the ferment for vodka, also known as the wash. For potatoes the procedure is the same, just mash the potatoes to facilitate the heating and conversion of the starches.

LiV is 100% spudalicious!

Just a little more Vodka History{1}: Russians and Poles will forever argue over who drank it first - and we will leave that argument between them. Let it suffice to agree that this "white drink" originated somewhere in northern/eastern Europe around 1400AD and has, since then, spread its popularity across the globe. Vodka, or more literally, "water" (derived from vodka), was most conveniently discovered in the colder regions of Europe and Asia when burgeoning distillers realized that their fermented wine became more potent after freezing through the cold winter temperatures. With advanced distilling techniques brought over from the west in the 1400s and 1500s, the Slavic peoples were able to refine their vodka and create top-quality alcoholic drinks that would soon become the trademarks of their countries.

Vodka did not become popular in the US until the 1940s. It was introduced into the American market in the late 1800s and early 1900s when importers realized they could target Eastern European immigrants with a nostalgic drink. Also, many Russian distillers, who lost their livelihood when the Bolsheviks confiscated all private distilleries after the Revolution of 1919, escaped to the US and brought with them their trade vodka secrets and dreams to start again. Still, vodka did not find a prominent place on the stage of alcohol for Americans.

Once alcohol rejoined the living with the repeal of the Prohibition Act in 1933, the Russian Vladimir Smirnov (changed to Smirnoff) sold the Smirnoff company to Rudolph Kunnett who in 1939 sold it to the Hublein Company. Several attempts were made at breaking vodka into the American market, but it was not successful until the company began to market it as a cocktail base. This proved to be a great strategy and vodka was on its way to make its mark on the American drinking culture. With its great versatility as a drink mixer it became a favorite at parties and social gatherings. Today you can see many vodka varieties at the liquor stores, among them the most popular being Smirnoff and Absolute.

In a recent 2009 article in the New York Times, dated July 29th; it has been reported that northeastern tomatoes have been hit by the late blight fungus, and potatoes crops could soon follow. Could we expect high prices in the market on both of these crops? Organic farmers are surely suffering from these late cool and rainy conditions we are having.

"LiV is the first vodka ever to be distilled and bottled on Long Island. The artisan distillers that create LiV are fervently focused on creating the finest vodka ever made. In order to achieve this distinction, LiV Vodka is uniquely crafted from 100% Potatoes."

~Information and facts provided in this piece were partially taken from the United States Potato Growers Association articles and archives, Smirnoff pamphlets[1], archives, and food history journals. All provided free online, through snail mail, and for public use. This is not a paid advertisement for Long Island Spirits, or its owners; it is purely for the historical loving geek'ness of the author of this blog, and for her hubby's step-mom's curiosity!

[2]Visit Water Hill Museum in Suffolk County to see the photographs and learn more history on spud farming in eastern Long Island.