I’m not sure about you but I count down the days to peach season each year. Something about these sweet, yet tart fruits just screams summertime. So at the first chance I get, I head over D’Amico’s Farm Stand in Closter, New Jersey and buy some fresh peaches. What I love about D’Amico’s is the fact that the owner of this 60-year family-run business, John D’Amico, only sources from small farms within a 200-mile radius of Closter. That means, most of his delicious, freshly picked fruits and vegetables come from south Jersey, which is at the heart of the Garden State. D’Amico’s has clingstone fruit until the summer reaches its apex of heat and then begins offering freestone. So, what’s the difference?
At first glance, there is no difference between a clingstone and freestone peach, both fuzzy and reddish-pink on the outside. On the inside, however, is where the difference lies. The best way to figure out if your peaches are clingstone or freestone is by slicing the peach down the middle and pulling it apart. If the pit falls out easily, it is freestone. If not, clingstone.
Clingstone peaches are those that when opened, the pit sticks to the pulpy flesh of the fruit. According to goodhousekeeping.com, these peaches are rarely sold in stores but are used mostly in canned fruit. Depending on the location of the peach farm, harvest season for clingstones can range from mid-May to early August. But use them as long as you can! Their large and juicy peach-ness can be used to make great jellies, jams, purees and fantastic summer dishes.
Freestone peaches, on the other hand, separate easily from the fruit. Although larger and less juicy in texture, they are still undeniably sweet. Again, depending on the grower, freestones can be harvested from mid-June to early October. Generally freestone peaches last later into the season than clingstone peaches. They are perfect for cooking because they slice easily and uniformly, making them well-suited to great pie recipes that will leave your guests’ mouths watering.
One of the best things about summer is the availability of fresh peaches. So whether you enjoy peaches in purees or in pies, these yummy fruits are the perfect means for sweetening up your summer.
Summer is nearly here and what better way to cool down than an icy cold, fruity, refreshing cocktail? Bibi’z Restaurant and Lounge invited us in to try two new summer cocktails that scored high in terms of taste, refresh-factor and smoothness. This restaurant continues to stick to its tradition of unusual, thoughtfully-crafted dishes and cocktails, emphasizing local, seasonal fare.
Ida Martin, founder of Bibi’z, gave us a demonstration of the new cocktails recently. Her new margarita, Good Karma, is a subtle combination of refreshing orange slices which is complemented by fresh basil leaves. Ida slightly muddles up the two ingredients before adding a touch of Karma tequila, a splash of lime juice as well as a splash of triple sec topped off with sour soda. After shaking everything up, Ida adds a final touch of orange juice. This colorful drink is a delicious concoction with a lovely balance of flavor and subtle sweetness.
Ida also introduced us to her revisited SummerLemonade made with pineapple vodka and an infusion of watermelon and cucumber. The drink consists, on one hand, of a splash of sour soda, a fair amount of lemonade, topped with pineapple vodka. Ida then muddles up on the side the watermelon and the cucumber before adding the mix to the rest of the drink along with ice. The cocktail is a surprising marriage of flavors that together are the tastes of summer with a little bite. This elegant cocktail keeps its promise of offering a refreshing delight.
It always seems to be happy hour at Bibi’z – although it’s officially offered six days a week from 3.00PM to 6.30PM. But these cocktails are recommended equally for a relaxing brunch, lunch or dinner as they offer sexy sipping that is equal parts summer and refreshing.
Bibi’z Restaurant | Lounge
Fri-Sat 12p-11p (Bar until 12a) Sun Brunch 11a-3p | Dinner 3p-9p
284 Center Avenue
Westwood, New Jersey 07675
OCT 8: Wine’down Wednesday at 6:30 pm featuring delicious peach and raspberry infused prosecco courtesy of Fabellini Wines. The event is free of cover charge and ALL wine is 25% off without dinner.
OCT 22: The Opera is coming to Bibi’z on Wednesday at 6:30 pm. The event will feature a night of fab food and operatic pleasure to benefit Peace4Paws. Tickets are $55 per person including tax and gratuity. Peace4paws is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit public charity based in Northern New Jersey. Since 2007, it has been dedicated to supporting sanctuary and forever homes for the animals retired from work in research and related fields through our foster & adoption program, fundraising events involving music, yoga, animal friendly events & more plus student outreach to kids from kindergarten through college.
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
Like most mothers, I want Mother’s Day to be about family, appreciation, tranquility, a clean house and some pampering. Not necessarily in that order. I can count on my husband to get the kids to sign cards and know a lovely arrangement of flowers will be presented. I love that. What I really want though is pampering, from my stressed head to my commuting toes. In case my husband or someone else’s husband is reading this, here are details on pampering that would make a woman feel loved, acknowledged and soothed Mother’s Day or any day you want to present a lovely gift.
I recently spoke with Jean Macer, licensed and certified massage therapist who operates out of Spectrum Wellness in Old Tappan, about massage being a necessary part of our lives. Jean believes that being touched regularly is essential for well-being and that massage is an integral part of our emotional and physical health. Her gentle prices ($60 for an hour long massage, $40 if you are a patient in Spectrum’s physical therapy programs and $30 if you are a senior 62+) make regular massage treatments more enticing. Macer is running a Mother’s Day special on all massages purchased through the end of May and used within six months for $40 for an hour.
“A weekly massage is not just for pampering,” said Macer. “Weekly massage is about letting go, experiencing deep relaxation and helping the body remove stress that accumulates in muscles and joints during the week. Massage does a body and mind good.” Macer’s technique emphasizes initial breathing and visualization. “Breathing helps bring oxygen to muscles to help them relax and receive the full benefits of the treatment. Visualization helps people use their mind to relax by imagining parts of the body softening. If your mind cannot relax and visualize muscles easing and releasing tightness, muscles can’t relax. My goal is to bring the body and mind into a place of deep relaxation to allow the full benefits of massage to take place.”
Let’s start with the neck. This is the place where so many of us store tension. That tension builds and creeps into other parts of the body, impacting our gait as we walk and can lead to stiffness and pain up and down the back along with strain during the head. Macer begins massages with neck work, loosening up stubborn knots from the base of the head to the top of the spine in gentle kneading motions. During my treatment with Macer, she encouraged me to let my head become heavy in her hands as she cradled it with one hand and worked her magic on the back of my neck with the other. Breathing deeply and exhaling slowly allows Macer’s treatment to evolve at a pace and intensity that mimics the recipient’s relaxation. This was certainly my experience as I found Macer’s voice soothing and my mind’s eye clearly focused on the muscle groups she was working on, imagining the tissue and knots expanding, loosening and growing soft. The more I relaxed, the more pliable my muscles became. By 15 minutes into the treatment, the weight of my body was at once heavy on the table and floating. This dreamlike state is my favorite part of bodywork treatments and what I find so restorative about them.
“Most therapists start massage clients on their backs and begin work on this large area, but I find that the neck is where the majority of stress is held,” Macer explained. “I start with the neck and feel the muscles relax through the back and into the limbs, creating a flowing relaxation that allows me to really provide therapeutic massage.” Macer’s gentle demeanor and intuitive sense of how a client is embracing the treatment helps her guide the process smoothly. “It’s easier for some people to relax than others. And if the massage therapist isn’t comfortable, the recipient won’t be either,” she explained. “I am a 16-year instructor of neuro-muscular therapy and bio-mechanics at Healing Hands Institute. Knowing how to move during massage and keep my own body properly positioned makes me a happier massage therapist and gives my clients better quality treatment.”
To optimize the benefits of a massage, Macer suggests:
1. Don’t feel obligated to chat with your therapist during treatment. Let them know what is ailing you, provide feedback on pressure and relax, There’s no need to praise or banter. This is your time to completely unwind. Good therapists can tell when a client is fully relaxed and that (along with a gratuity) let’s them know their efforts are appreciated.
2. Drink at least 8 ounces of water immediately after the treatment and more in the hours to follow. Toxins are released during massage and water helps remove them from the system.
3. Go home and take a bath with Epsom salts. A long, warm soak with Epsom salts will also pull toxins from your body out through the pores.
4. Create the ideal environment to invite deep, restorative sleep. Avoid technology and things that make the mind busy. Allow yourself to ease into slumber. As you sleep, the longer effects of massage can be enjoyed by your body.
Macer’s practice is limited to women only. Massage gift certificates and bookings are available by calling 201-768-2000.
Sukha Arts, located in Harrington Park, NJ, is currently offering a six-week series of Capoeira classes courtesy of master instructor Alex of Arts United Capoeira in Jersey City. If you’re thinking, “I have no idea what Capoeira is or even how to pronounce it,” here’s some quick background information:
Capoeira (pronounced cap-oh-air-uh) is a form of martial arts that originated in Brazil but was heavily influenced by African dance styles. It seamlessly combines elements of music, dance, acrobatics, and fighting in a rhythmic series of quick, complex movements. Although the exact origins of Capoeira is debated, there is evidence of its existence beginning in the 16th century. It was practiced by slaves in Brazil but was disguised as a dance in order to protect those who practiced the martial art from punishment by their captors. Capoeira is most often set to traditional Brazilian berimbau music.
The Capoeira classes at Sukha Arts are held every Thursday evening from 8:00 – 9:30PM. Thursday, March 6 will be the third class. The classes are intimate and geared to the beginner. Alex adeptly conveys the essence of capoeira within the confines of the 90-minute session and tailors the instruction to the participants’ skill levels. I found him engaging, warm and supportive – pushing people to their edge yet keeping the class fun. He welcomes questions about the rich history of Capoeira and answers them with intricate detail. Traditional Capoeira music accompanies the classes, which involve individual and paired movement. It’s an intense, rewarding physical experience and one that combines skill, grace, strength and agility. (Haven’t tried doing a cart wheel since you were ten? No worries. You will be doing them before the end of the class, even if you are taking baby steps to get to a modified version.) The videos below capture portions of the class.
This class was the second class for these female students.
To sign up for the remaining classes, call Sukha at 201.768.2455. The studio, run by the infectiously joyful dance and yoga instructor Christine Chan, is located in Harrington Park at 76 Schraalenburgh Road.
Trevlig Helg! (Happy Holidays in Swedish!) On Friday, December 13, 2013 Ikea in Paramus, NJ will host a traditional Swedish Christmas Julbord, an all-you-can-eat-buffet at two seatings – 4:30pm-6:00pm or 7:00pm – 8:30pm.
IKEA FAMILY Members
Adult tickets $9.99; Children 12 & under $2.49
Adult tickets $12.99; Children 12 & under $4.99
Ikea is also one of my favorite places to pick up stocking stuffers and gifts for friends who enjoy cooking and baking. Here are some inexpensive and nifty finds for those young and old on your lists, particularly those who are fans of organizing. From wooden toys to art supplies and soft goods for children to decorative accessories for teens and all types of reasonably priced goodies, jams and kitchen organizers for adults, Ikea has some clever options for last-minute gift giving.
If you look at the statistics it appears that the days of the American small farmer are numbered. In 1935, there were just short of seven million farms dotting our nation’s fertile landscape. Today, that number has dropped to a mere two million.That decrease doesn’t correspond with a decline in overall food production – on the contrary, we’re churning out more grains, meat, and produce than ever before to feed our growing population.The difference is that in the past small farmers were the kings of agriculture but now they struggle to compete with the massive enterprises (aka factory farms) that dominate the modern agribusiness scene.
When a small farmer is quashed, we lose a lot more than just a vital fixture in the local community. We lose access to fresh, locally grown, nourishing and flavorful food. That farmer’s disappearance is linked to not only loss of economic stimulus to a local community, but has devastating consequences for insects that cohabitate with crops, namely the important honey bee. And without honey bees, our nation’s entire agri system is deeply and irrevocably impacted.
Take the Local, a start-up in Long Valley, NJ has some ambitious plans to support the Garden State’s dwindling farmer population and the communities it serves. Created by Anthony and Jonelle Hemsey, the couple drew much of their inspiration from Jonelle’s multi-generational roots in Alberta, Canada cattle ranching. Jonelle witnessed firsthand just how desperate the struggle has become for small farmers to stay afloat and with Anthony organized Take the Local to support their shared passion for preserving local agri-culture. Take The Local strives to be more than just a company – they want to encourage a movement to “create innovative, healthy and sustainable business opportunities around local farm economies.”
In speaking with their founder and director Anthony Hemsey (who happens to be a former ad executive at Deutsch and more recently an EVP at a global software firm), I learned that the Take the Local team view themselves as “half technologists and half foodies.” Take The Local wants to use modern technologies to connect local farmers with restaurateurs and individual consumers in innovative ways. The company is exploring several different avenues in pursuit of this goal, one of which involves using digital and mobile technology.
An example of this techie approach to food solutions is their FARMventory which is basically a LinkedIn-like platform designed with farmers in mind. Farmers can use this platform to list and track their inventories in real time as well as highlight the farming practice(s) they employ on their farm. It’s all in an effort to make the process streamlined, transparent, and easier for distributors, restaurants, and general consumers to see what’s available at the point of purchase. Take the Local is also working on something called AisleEatRight, an interactive food shopping platform geared towards people with special dietary needs or restrictions. Both programs are slated to launch in Q2 2014.
Take the Local also hosts Supper Clubs which are traveling dinner parties featuring local chefs who create menus using locally sourced food. These Supper Clubs are all about bringing farmers, chefs, and the community closer together. Take the Local Winter Supper Club featuring Chef Jessica Geanoules will take place on January 18, 2014 from 8:00PM to 11:00PM in Washington Township, NJ ($100/ticket). Guests will enjoy an intimate, three course meal of local seasonal fare as well as wine pairing served in a rustic setting (former lumber yard). Proceeds from the Winter Supper Club will be donated to Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
Take the Local is also gearing up to launch a limited line of first run frozen food developed specifically for kids. This line has a unique tech spin, featuring packaging iconography that is scannable by smartphones that includes information on the partner farms, interviews/videos, as well as detailed dietary information for concerned consumers.
Take The Local’s model may be just the ticket for the paradigm shift that needs to take place in order to ensure a healthy and sustainable future. Retail buyers can connect with the Take The Local team by emailing email@example.com.