Finding Your Zen Anytime, Anywhere

Living in the suburbs, nothing makes me happier than falling asleep to the sound of crickets outside my window. The summer sounds of birds chirping and rain falling on the roof bring peace and a sense of oneness with nature that is unique to the summer season. These relaxing sounds are soothing any time of day and I am sharing some useful apps that deliver that relaxation in the most unlikely places, thanks to the convenience of technology.  I have found that great meditation and noise simulator apps can help me achieve the same level of relaxation whether I’m commuting to work or at the office in need of a 10-minute psychic refuel.

 

Relax Melodies

Relax melodies is one of my favorite apps to listen to when I am trying to unwind after a long day. It contains a large library full of relaxing sounds to help you fall asleep at night and meditation guides to help you regain clarity after a frazzling day with kids and work. This is the largest library I have ever seen in an app. If you find raucous traffic soothing, they have it. If the sound of the planet Jupiter relaxes you? They have it!

What is so unique about this app is that you can really tailor every sound bite to your personal preferences. You can adjust the volume of each piece so the next time you open it up the settings are automatically to your liking, as well as combine multiple sound bites that make the experience extremely personal. You can set the noise on a timer so the app will automatically close after a certain period of time so you need not worry about wasting battery while you sleep.

It is not necessary to pay the $9.99 for access to the full library but if you do, you will not regret it. The app is compatible with smartphones and Apple Watch so you can use it on-the-go.

relax_by_annamarieimages

Headspace

If you are trying meditation out for the first time, Headspace is a free app to consider. Headspace, a guided meditation and mindfulness app makes meditation simple. The opening menu provides an array of meditation guides focusing on health, relationships, performance, foundation etc. Each session lasts around 10 minutes and you can track your progress to keep you on the path to relaxation.

And if you find yourself on the verge of a mini-meltdown — because everybody gets them — the app has an “SOS” feature that can help you calm down, rationalize the situation and provide clarity.

I would recommend this to any parent trying to maintain some semblance of sanity during the day and teens who sometimes need that reassurance that they can do whatever they put their minds to.

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In my opinion, there is no reason why summer relaxation levels can not be achieved any time of year in any location. Check out these apps to keep deep relaxation within reach and part of your daily restoration regimen.

 

-Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Hoboken Farms: Small Town Sauce, Big Town Flavor

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Hoboken Farms Big Basil tomato basil sauce

Store-bought sauce can be a pretty contentious subject for fans of sauces with that just-made fresh flavor. I was one of those snobs, always stressing to squish San Marzano tomatoes in the can as a pot of salted water cooked pasta. I’d pull out the woody stems and toss the broken down tomato meat with fresh smashed garlic cloves sizzling in olive oil. That simmering concoction would meld as it cooked, was seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with torn fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of EVOO.

My work-life balance wasn’t in sync enough for homemade sauces to be on the menu and I always kept a few jarred options to resort to when the kids were lobbying for lasagna, pasta and a protein or chicken parm. I’d get complaints when I hadn’t sufficiently labored at the stove and produced a luxurious sauce that had flavor rich with the taste and aroma of freshly made tomato and basil sauce with the wonderful texture of those hand-swished tomato chunks. 

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Hoboken Farms sauce comes in three varieties (L to R): Big Red, Big Boss and Big Basil

When the folks at Hoboken Farms asked me to sample their three sauces–Big Red, their marinara sauce; Big Boss, their vodka sauce; and Big Basil, their tomato basil sauce– I agreed without expecting much. I had read the reviews and readied myself to see what all the fuss was about. 

I popped off the lid of the Big Basil sauce and took stock: wonderfully fresh aroma; great texture thanks to meaty tomato chunks; beautifully seasoned and full of fresh taste. These sauces are the real deal. They have the taste you’d expect from a chef that perfected marina, tomato basil and vodka sauces by simply relying on excellent quality ingredients prepared classically with minimal fuss.

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Big Basil sauce served over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne

Here’s how I enjoyed Big Basil over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne: talk about elevating the natural flavor of pasta! Hoboken Farms defies you to sauce your pasta  modestly the way you’d be served them in Italy. I flunked, happily and greedily over-saucing and enjoying every spoonful. 

Other ways I’d serve Hoboken Farms Big Basil or Big Red sauces:

– Spooned over a layer of pesto atop a grilled slice of sourdough or ciabatta

– Layered with plain Greek yogurt for a savory parfait that’s topped with minced celery and parsley for crunch 

– Spooned over zucchini noodles or baked potato

– Blended with summer veggies like squash and kale for a refreshing smoothie or chilled soup

– Stir a cup or more into bean or vegetable soup

– Baked on top of seasoned chicken cutlets or fillets of fish like char

You are only limited by your creativity with Hoboken Farms, a pantry essential for uncompromising sauce enthusiasts. 

Contributions made by Samantha (Sam) Donsky

Greenfield Ice Cream Company: Tuxedo, NY Hand Crafted Ice Cream and Sorbet

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Greenfield Ice Cream pints stocked in Fairway Market freezers.

Tuxedo, NY- based Greenfield Ice Cream Company is a small batch maker of delicate yet intensely flavored ice cream and sorbets. The line is made using local dairy, eggs, herbs and flavorings from Ghirardelli, Mountain Rose Herbs, Hudson Valley Fresh, Country Life Natural Foods, Abma’s Farm, Crown Maple, Blooming Hill Farm and Harney and Sons Fine Tea. The line is free of gums and stabilizers.

Each pint lists the ingredients used to make flavors ranging from Salted Caramel, PB ‘n Chip, Mint Chip, Cinnamon to Cookie Dough, which are part of the Greenfield Ice Cream Signature Collection. The signature line is available year round, although seasonal flavors like Vanilla Honey Crumble, Toasted Coconut, Green Tea, Pumpkin and Boozy Eggnog, are only available for a short time while ingredients are in season. The entire line spans roughly 20 flavors with eight comprising the signature line and the rest making up the seasonal line. Our favorite flavor in the signature line is the Mint Chip, which relies on freshly steeped mint leaves to create a subtle minty flavor and Ghirardelli chips to provide a sophisticated chocolaty crunch.

After experimenting in their own home and receiving positive feedback from their friends, co-founders Tinka Shaw, Courtney Vasseghi and Denise Tavani certified their company as a New York State Certified Dairy Plant and began selling their pint-sized ice cream in select supermarkets. The line is available at Fairway Market for about $7 a pint and select Whole Foods. The Ice cream can also be bought online at www.greenfieldicecream.com.

Co-Owner of Greenfield Ice Cream Company Tinka Shaw speaks with Redhead With A Fork

Greenfield Ice Cream Company

198 Route 17N, Tuxedo, NY

http://www.greenfieldicecream.com/

Summer Delights From Fairway

Fairway Market has introduced new products to make summer a little cooler. Starting with a new line of ready-to- eat, single serving chicken breast meals with themes like  Moroccan Chicken with Spiced Lentils, Lemon Chicken with French Couscous and Balsamic Chicken with Tuscan White Beans. Inspired by flavors of the Mediterranean, these new chicken dinners are handy for a light, healthy lunch or dinner. Fairway’s Mediterranean-inspired chicken dinners are sold for $5.99 each at ALL Fairway Market locations.chicken pictureFairway ice creams by High Road Craft, a new line of artisanal, hand crafted, super creamy (thanks to high fat content) frozen deserts, are competing head-on against Häagen-Dazs with flavors like Fig & Saba, Fairway to Heaven Coffee, Frutti di Bosco and Stracciatella, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Our favorite was the Burnt Sugar, which had a creme brulee familiarity and lovely carmel notes. High Road Craft ice cream is available in all NYC Fairway Market locations. The four custom Fairway flavors and the other four signature High Road flavors retail for $5.99.

Fairway Frozen Foods Manager Robert Toro spoke to us about the ice cream line.

 

IMG_0779Fairway Market of Paramus’s Frozen Foods Manager Robert Toro with the new Fairway by High Road Craft ice creams.

IMG_0776Fairway by High Road Craft collection

Atlanta-based Chef Keith Schroeder dreamed up High Road Craft Ice Cream in his MBA program. In addition to Fairway carrying four of the over 90 flavors available in High Road’s ice cream collections, Schroeder created the four original flavors using some favorite exclusive Fairway Market products as ingredients.  Chef Schroeder began High Road as a high-end ice cream product for fellow chefs, but High Road was too good to keep a secret among chefs, and the word of mouth buzz spread within a year of launching to food service. High Road’s distribution has been growing at a remarkable pace of 300% this past year; the company will be moving into a new 25,000 square-foot facility to accommodate growth, which will also house a unique ice cream visitor’s center and offer tours. Chef Schroeder is part food scientist, part food anthropologist, and 100% ice cream lover.

Fairway Market’s Director of Trade and Product Development, Lori Levy, whose tireless passion for discovering fine foods for her customers, led her to an “aha” moment when she tasted High Road. Chef Schroeder’s talent and like-minded pursuit of quality led her to the idea of using Fairway foods as ingredients in new ice cream flavors. Fairway Market’s in-house expert Steve Jenkins, who pioneered the specialty food movement, and in particular, that of fine olive oil, introduced the kind of challenge that Schroeder thrives on: make [us] an olive oil ice cream as well.

 

Fairway Market

Paramus, New Jersey

(210) 444-5455

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Endangered Species Chocolate: Indulge in a Cause with Natural, Dairy Free Filled Bars

Endangered Species Chocolate - an indulgence that does good
Endangered Species Chocolate – an indulgence that does good

Chocolate, in its many delectable forms, is often labeled a guilty pleasure – something that we try to enjoy in limited quantities when what we really want to do is devour it by the pound. Fortunately for chocoholics everywhere, there’s a way to mitigate some of that guilt.

Endangered Species Chocolate, founded in 1993, is a company that blends a passion for making delicious chocolate with its desire to make an impact on the ever-growing number of animal species that are facing the threat of extinction.  Every year, Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of its net profits to environmental NGOs focused on wildlife conservation and habitat protection.  So basically you can indulge in your favorite cocoa confections and do something good for the planet at the same time.  Yes, please.

Dairy free, gluten free, guilt free
Dairy free, gluten free, guilt free

Endangered Species Chocolate has just launched a brand new product line which consists of premium chocolate bars filled with natural, dairy free and gluten free crème. Currently available varieties include almond butter crème, blueberry vanilla crème, coconut crème, lavender mint crème, raspberry orange crème, and sea salt and lime crème, all surrounded by decadent 72% dark chocolate. All are quite delicious, with my favorite being the lavender mint combination – at once herbal and sweet with a wee bit of bitterness to balance the flavors. Thanks to Endangered Species’ PR folks, I received an assortment of all the new flavors.

These are the very first chocolate bars in the industry to incorporate 100% natural, dairy free and gluten free filling.  These new additions complement the company’s already impressive selection of milk and dark chocolate bars, pouches, and bites.  Each chocolate comes with a wrapper insert that gives details on an endangered species that your purchase helps protect. Cute animals and creamy chocolate – this is clearly a win/win situation. The line’s available at better markets and specialty natural foods/gourmet retailers around the country.

Browse the selection and order chocolate at:  http://bit.ly/1m7Z7D8 

D’Amico’s Flower Farm, Closter, NJ: Farm Fresh Produce Sourced From 200 Mile Radius

Cheese pumpkins and other beautiful squash, starting at $5 - cheese pumpkins are ideal for baking
Cheese pumpkins and other beautiful squash, starting at $5 – cheese pumpkins are ideal for baking

Ask John D’Amico of D’Amico’s Flower Farm which apple is ideal for baking and you will get an answer as well as an in-depth explanation of how the texture of different varieties are impacted by weather. Traveling up to 200 miles multiple times each week to local farmers for what he considers the best in seasonal produce, eggs, cheese, cider (Melick’s non-preserved only from Hunterdon County), John groups these edibles along with plants and herbs under the modestly sized stand his family has managed for generations. On these darker, colder days of fall, I recently found a beautiful bounty of 12″ broccoli heads and cauliflower, just begging to be turned into pureed soups:

Jumbo heads of broccoli, $4 - a steal
Jumbo heads of broccoli, $4 – a steal
Equally reasonable heads of cauliflower - perfect for a quick saute and adding to pasta
Equally reasonable heads of cauliflower – perfect for a quick saute and adding to pasta

One of my favorite ways to serve cauliflower is to steam it until fork tender and add a splash of chicken stock, plenty of butter and grated parmigiano reggiano, then blend with an immersion hand blender.

Giant brussel sprouts, $3 per stalk
Giant brussel sprouts, $3 per stalk

Check out these massive brussel sprouts that look like they were just harvested. At $3.50/stalk, they offer another great buy from this small family farm stand. I love them roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper or steamed and sauced with lemon, butter and Worcestershire, a la New Orleans kitchens. These flavorful cabbage cousins are at peak season now and can even be julianned in salads.

Celeriac, either steamed and pureed or sliced matchstick style into salads or slaw
Celeriac, try either steamed and pureed or sliced matchstick style into salads or slaw

These gnarly celeriac knobs are beautiful and also competitively priced. A little patience and creativity goes a long way with these flavorful tubers.

Parsnip and rutabega not first on your shopping list? Great for an alternative to plain mashed white potatoes and loaded with vitamins.

Parnsip and rutabega
Parnsip and rutabega
Jersey tomatoes
Jersey tomatoes

I continue to buy these (sometimes in baskets half price when a bit bruised) to turn into soups, sauces and slicing into salads and sandwiches until John has no more.

Bosc pears
Bosc pears

Bosc pears are flavorful, hearty pears that remain unscathed in my kids’ lunch boxes since their skin is a bit firmer. They are juicy and full of sweetness. If we don’t eat them quickly enough and they soften and get mushy, they get tossed into a pot of steaming bruised apples (the more varieties the better), a couple inches of cinnamon stick and a half inch of water for apple sauce making. If I don’t have the good fortune of fresh or frozen cranberries on hand, I’ll throw in a handful of dried cranberries for their beautiful pink radiance and tang. But look what John just happened to get in!

NJ Cranberries
NJ Cranberries

I will use about four boxes of these beauties to make my Thanksgiving cranberry relish which is 100% raw. RAW!  I wash the cranberries and toss in my food processor fit with the steel blade, then puree with the peel of a washed navel orange, its juice, a small knob of fresh ginger, along with Vermont maple syrup to taste. This chunky relish is beautiful and delicious, not to mention packed with vitamin C.

Plenty of squash
Plenty of squash

No shortage of hard-fleshed squash at D’Amico’s.  At under $1/pound, it’s also well-priced with butternut and other varieties available through December 1.

and these decorative varieties, perfect for strewing about on buffet tables or down the center of your holiday table punctuated by tea candles
I love these decorative varieties, perfect for strewing about on buffet tables or down the center of your holiday table punctuated by tea candles
apples galore
apples galore

Bins of apples at D’Amico’s rotate multiple times weekly, so new varieties are always being added. Great pricing on wine sap and honey crisp and my favorite, pink lady. Not certified organic, but not sprayed.  John’s quite picky about how produce is grown.  Ask him about this.

What’s not shown in this post are shelves groaning with honey, preserves, chutneys and mustard as well as two large refrigerator cases filled with at least two varieties of mushrooms, kale, celery, herbs, baby arugula, beets (John won’t take them when they grow over a certain size) and carrots.  His offerings change on a daily basis.  Fresh Melick’s cider is available, along with fresh mozzarella, freshly ground horseradish, white potatoes, red bliss potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes, onions, leeks and much more.

Patronizing small business is what drives our economy and keeps families surviving economically from one generation to the next. This is one business worth patronizing not merely for the pristine quality of its offerings and the knowledge and passion of its owner, but also because it is a local business supporting local farmers. Through Thanksgiving, the Flower Farm will offer produce, plants (poinsettias soon) and then Christmas trees, wreaths and holiday plants after December 1.

November hours: 10:30AM-5:30PM 7 days, call for special orders, flower baskets and hours in December
460 Demarest Ave, Closter, NJ 07624
Phone:  (201) 767-1009

Cow Wow: Bottom-of-the-Cereal-Bowl Flavored Milk

Cow Wow comes in Chocolate Chip Cathy and Fruity Trudy

Cow Wow is an organic flavored 1% milk box that captures that intensely flavored milk left at the bottom of the cereal bowl.   While quite sweet (six grams of added cane sugars), the product has nine essential nutrients like calcium, protein and potassium, and is convenient in that it doesn’t require refrigeration; it’s shelf stable for up to one year.   Sold in single servings in two flavors –Chocolate Chip Cathy and Fruity Trudy, the company will soon offer Cow Wow in Peanut Butter Bessie and Cinny Minny.  My five year old niece and other kid testers enjoyed the product although mothers questioned whether adding already sweetened milk to already sweetened cereal wasn’t unnecessary.  The compromise:  add the product to unsweetened cereals, hot or cold, for moderate sweetness or add a splash to yogurt and fresh fruit for a sweeter smoothie.

Check out Cow Wow at www.cowwownow.com.  We were sent a sample of the product for review.

The Other Macaroon: NJ Bakery Brings a Bakery Fresh Favorite to Your Freezer

The Other Macaroon is their creative take on the delicious French pastry

The Northern Valley Baking Company got its sweet start in 1986 when pastry chef Tricia Vanech and her business partners, Elyse Pressner and Eve Megerle founded their first pastry shop in Jersey City.  Their first venture was a hit, and they launched La Petite Patisserie in Dumont, NJ in 1993.  Tricia, Elyse and Eve proved they were much more than another cookie-cutter pastry shop.  They made hand-crafted treats with the best ingredients and a meticulous eye for detail.  The trio have recently perfected another popular dessert—the macaroon.

The Othe Macaroon is a bakery fresh cookie you can keep in your freezer!

Inspired by the French cookie, The Other Macaroon is a frozen variety that has a lovely, chewy texture and the right amount of almond essence.  And, now that the Northern Valley Baking Company has began manufacturing their products for national reach, The Other Macaroon can be shipped right to your door.  In addition to the traditional almond flavor, The Other Macaroon is available in mocha, lemon, orange and raspberry.  The Other Macaroon can be purchased in bulk and kept in your freezer for a perfect bite-size treat to satisfy your sweet tooth at any time.  Whole Foods Market now carries the line in its frozen section.

The Other Macaroon (T.O.M.)

For more on The Other Macaroon and the story behind it at Northern Valley Baking Company, visit www.nvbaking.com.

Post by Jodi Kovacs