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Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Every now and then I like to organize a MMT – A Magical Mystery Tour with my husband and sometimes with friends too.  Last week I surprised Peter and our two friends, Rosemarie and Murray with an early morning adventure outside of the City.  We left a 8:00AM, with my husband repeating dire warnings about rush hour traffic.  I told him we were headed across the George Washington Bridge and that’s when they knew we were leaving the island ( you know New Yorker’s).

There was lots of guessing along the way and as the signs for the Delaware Water Gap grew more frequent, everyone was really wondering just how far were we going?  It took us about an hour and a half and we were in Columbia, NJ.  Our directions took us up a steep hill and into some very rural woodsy area – we arrived at the Lakata Wolf Preserve. 

Timber Wolves

Timber Wolves

We were fortunate that the day was chilly and was drizzling on and off because there were only 8 of us scheduled for the morning tour and that made it like our very own private experience.  We were shuttled up into the huge preserve area where 4 packs of wolves reside, each in their own 10 acre compound. 

Jim, who runs the preserve with his wife Becky, was our guide.  He told us SO MANY interesting details about the wolves both in general as a species but also with anecdotes about many of his “kids”.  The wolves there have all been raised in captivity and believe it or not, they come running as he calls out their names.  Of course that fact that they know he has dog treats on him doesn’t hurt because wolves can scent for 2 miles!  The wolves are beautiful; There are Timber Wolves, Arctic Wolves and British Colombian Black Wolves.  Their luminous yellow eyes capture your attention as they study you while you’re admiring them.  The Arctic Wolves have beautiful white coats (although better not to be seen my dear) and are the least social of the packs.  They kept their distance for the most part only coming to the fence for a treat.

And they howl!! Peter and Murray attempted a wolf howl to see if any of the packs would respond but they weren’t fooled.  Jim gave out one long howl and one by one each pack began to howl.  That was AMAZING to hear!  Wolves do not howl at the moon – they do point their noses up in the air so that their howl will travel further and louder.  Howling is used for many different reasons and in different voices.  If you were a wolf you’d know whether or not the howl was meant to signal you to come and join me or if it was meant to scare you off and make the pack sound like there were more of them than you thought or should attempt to take on!

Wolf packs are structured with an Alpha male and a Beta male and as with most animal species it is the most fit that survive.  The alpha male always eats first and wolves will eat all they can at any time because they don’t know where their next meal is coming from;  hence they are on the move all the time looking for game.  These wolves are well-fed mostly with deer meat.  Jim tosses in big chunks of frozen deer meat for each one of the wolves.  By having it frozen when it lands in their den area, the alpha will take his and by the time he makes any headway into it, the others have had a chance to grab their portion and each retreats to their own corner to chow down.

I could go on and on about all the super facts and information I learned on this visit but I would rather you experience it yourself.  The link to their website is http://www.lakotawolf.com/.  There is also a store, which is as you would expect, exceptional.  Artifacts and highly unusual items fill this place and it feels like you are in a movie set for a Trading Post.  The women who run it are delightful. 

Murray Head took all of the photos in this blog.  He had a wonderful time doing so, only lamenting that the wire fence was messing up his shots!

Serious Staring

Serious Staring

Arctic Wolf

Arctic Wolf

Poised To Catch A Treat

Poised To Catch A Treat

“Can You Hear Me Now”

Oh My What Big Teeth You Have

Oh My What Big Teeth You Have

Stretching

Stretching

Nuzzling

Nuzzling

“Begging” for a treat

Guarding

Guarding

A Wolf At Rest

A Wolf At Rest

Beautiful To Behold

Beautiful To Behold

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TUSCANY

TUSCANY

It’s Tasty Tidbits Tuesday!  You know I love to cook on the weekend, especially at the shore because the kitchen is bigger although the stove is smaller as is the oven.  The real reason I love cooking in New Jersey is the accessibility to several marvelous grocery stores and two magnificent fruit and vegetable stands.  Believe they don’t call New Jersey the Garden State for nothing! Unabashedly, Wegman’s is my favorite grocery store and I love making the recipes in their seasonal MENU magazine.  This recipe for Tuscan Baked Beans is in the latest edition.   I don’t know if it was meant to be a main dish but it certainly would satisfy a vegetarian or vegan.

1 pkg dry Great Northern Beans OR 4 cans of Great Northern Beans undrained.

9 cups of water* (only needed it you use the dry beans)

24 leaves of fresh sage OR 20 if you are NOT using dry beans

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, OR 1 if you are NOT using dry beans

1/2 cup of Extra Virgin olive oil, divided

1  1/2 pkgs of chopped onions.  (12 oz)

4 cloves of garlic, finely diced

8 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 TBS salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 cup basting oil (olive oil with Italian herbs in it)

2 cups of Panko bread crumbs

You’ll need a stockpot* and a braising pan

** indicates usage with the dry beans

*Place sorted and rinsed beans in stockpot.  Cover with about 2 inches of water, tilt cover to vent and soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain the beans.  Put the beans and 9 cups of fresh water in the stockpot. Heat on HIGH uncovered, until boiling.  Skim off as much foam as possible.  Add 4 leaves and 1 sprig of rosemary to the pot.  Reduce to MEDIUM.  Cover, tilting to allow steam to vent.  Cook one hour, do not stir.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in braising pan on MEDIUM.  Add onions and garlic, cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Chop 20 sage leaves and sprig of rosemary, add to onion mixture.  Cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

Check beans for tenderness. If not quite tender, cover completely and cook an additional 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Add beans and liquid to the onion mixture in braising pan.  Stir to combine. Drizzle remaining olive oil and bake for 60 minutes.  Beans will be done when liquid is syrupy and bubbly.  Carefully remove from oven, season with salt and pepper.

Mix basting oil and panko crumbs in small bowl.  Place mixture over beans and return to oven, bake 20-30 minutes until topping is brown and crisp.

This makes enough beans to feed 8 people. It tastes great, REALLY!!

Recipe from Wegman’s MENU magazine 

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I LOVE peanut butter and I LOVE tomatoes.  Of course if you are a regular reader of this blog you already know that.  The blog is a testimony to Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, my favorite, my kids favorite and now my adorable granddaughter, Finley’s favorite.

 Tomatoes, especially Jersey Tomatoes are a passion of mine.  I eat them all summer long and as far into fall as I can.  Once there are no locally grown tomatoes, I literally STOP eating fresh tomatoes!  I have vintage tomato salt and pepper shakers, a tomato-shaped tea pot, tomato sugar and creamer, tomato cookbooks, a collection of cans of Italian tomatoes and best of all, a tomato tattoo.  Well now that’s out there to the world.  I was born in New Jersey and I often describe myself (to my husband) as “one hot Jersey tomato” – that’s me.

And as if Big Boy, Beefsteak, Arkansas Traveler,Bella Rosa, Brandymaster Pink, Charger and hundreds more varieties weren’t enough to tantalize your taste buds, add Heirloom Tomatoes!  You’ve seen them with their bulbous, knobby, colorful shapes.  Sometimes they look weird, misshapen and in a palette of colors not necessarily in the red family!  They don’t always look appetizing, however, they are sweet and flavorful.   They come in a variety of sizes and add great interest to your summer salads.  But don’t let their use just end up in a wooden salad bowl – here are two Heirloom tomato recipes you will love to make and serve.

Heirloom Tomato Pesto Pizza

Heirloom Tomato Pesto Pizza

GRILLED HEIRLOOM TOMATO AND PESTO PIZZA

1 lb pizza dough

flour for dusting

4 tsp olive oil

1/2 cup basil pesto

1 lb Heirloom tomatoes thinly-sliced

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat grill to medium heat.

Divide dough into 4 balls, dust work surface with flour and roll each ball into a 9″ circle.  Brush both sides of the circles with olive oil,  place on baking sheet. Working with one circle at a time, place on grill rack and with tongs rotate the crust so it cooks evenly, browned on the bottom and air bubbles on top, 3-4 minutes.

Transfer pizza to baking sheet browned side up. Spread 2 TBS of basil pesto on crust and top with sliced tomatoes. Don’t cover entire pizza or it will be soggy.  Season with salt and pepper and dot with the cheese.  Slide pizza back onto the grill, close the cover and rotate pizza so it cooks evenly and cheese begins to melt – about 3 minutes.  Lift back onto baking sheet. Repeat with each pizza.

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Butter

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Butter

ROASTED HEIRLOOM BUTTER WITH THYME

1 very large or 2 medium-sized red Heirloom tomatoes

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1TBS chopped thyme or oregano

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the tomatoes cut side down onto the paper. Roast until the skins are wrinkled and blistered, and the tomatoes are very soft, 30-35 minutes depending on the size. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Place the tomatoes and any juices in the bowl of a foodprocessor. Process until very smooth and no seeds or large pieces of skin are visible, 2-3 minutes; stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently.

Add the butter, salt, and pepper, and process until blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, 2-3 minutes. Then, stir in the thyme and scrape into a small bowl and cover. (Or, make a log of butter by spooning it onto a sheet of waxed paper, folding the paper over the butter and rolling it gently until you have a sausage shape; twist the ends to seal.)

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 4 days. You can also wrap the log in foil and freeze for up to 3 months; thaw it in the refrigerator.

**Melt this concentrated compound butter over grilled steaks, toss it with flame-kissed vegetables, or freeze some for a burst of summer flavor in the winter months. Use very ripe, very red tomatoes for best color and flavor.

Thanks to Gail for sending me the article on Heirloom tomatoes!

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NYC Subway 6 Train

NYC Subway 6 Train Otherwise Known As The Green Line.

 

Oy has it been a crazy past couple of days.  I left the shore on Sunday (a glorious sunny day I might add) to return to New York City by train so I could conduct an open house at one of my listings.  I gave myself just enough time with a very narrow margin for error but that wasn’t because I like to live on the edge, rather, I was dependent on the NJ Transit system to get home.

 

I made it to the train on time in New Jersey and as I sped away from the station, I reached into my handbag for my cell phone and uh oh it was still at the shore.  I decided not to panic, well there was nothing to be done anyway.  My concerns were not phone calls as much as possible emails and texts from brokers trying to register customers or worse from my seller who would not know why I was incommunicado at this time.

 

Things were moving along nicely;  the connecting train at Long Branch was there and so we took off on time.  I had my Kindle with me and not much else since the plan was that Peter and our grandson return sometime on Monday.  In the meantime, Cash’s mom arrived in NJ to spend some beach time with her father and son.  They got the sun and the sand and I got the Open House   😦Just outside of Secaucus the train stopped and I started to fidget.  THIS is exactly what I was afraid of!  What if? I don’t even have a cell phone to contact either the seller or a colleague to pinch hit for me. And since we are all now SO DEPENDENT on our electronic devices, I don’t even know what time it is because I don’t have a watch on!

 

The train eventually got moving and we slid into the tunnel of Penn Station and I prayed I would be able to find a rest room quickly and get on the subway to head uptown.  Oh but I forgot to tell you, I didn’t have my Metro card;  No, that was still in my apartment!  After a quick trip to the ladies’ room and boy did I ever luck out!  The line coming in as I was leaving would have given me the figurative heart attack.

 

I headed for the red line – Peter hates it when I refer to the subway lines by their color dots;  he sometimes refers to the IRT, whatever that is lol lol.  Really, I’m from Connecticut, to me the colors make sense.  Anyway, in order to get on the subway I had to buy a Metro card because I left mine in my apartment (like I somehow forgot I planned on taking the train back on Sunday). The line to the ticket booth was about 20 deep.  There were two lines to the two machines and each was LONG and filled with tourists.  I figure they were tourists because three quarters of the line did NOT know how to use the machine.  I tried to practice some form of total Zen zoning and not tap my foot too much.  When finally it was my turn at the screen don’t you know the cursed hunk of no good metal and electronics would not let me purchase a Single Ride.  Ever mindful of the crowd behind me I just said, “what the f__?” and bought a $10.00 card.  I have a senior citizen discount Metro card and am totally annoyed that I had to buy this card so I could get home and work.

 

I thought I should take a cab across town on 86th St but since everything else was going  askew and downhill, of cou

 

English: An Old sign for the IRT at the Wall S...

 An Old sign for the IRT at the Wall Street 2/3 stop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

rse there were no cabs.  I wondered if they were on strike.  A bus came along and I hopped on and at least had the gratification and satisfaction of getting a transfer for my $10.00 splurge.  The bus made pretty good time or so I thought because as you know, I had no watch or phone.  I dashed across the street and flew into my building only to come face to face with the seller who was as surprised to see me as I was her.   “Did I get her text?”  Uh no, and I have to explain how I left my phone in NJ.  And by the way, please excuse me I have to run upstairs, change my clothes, brush my hair and teeth and get to your apartment if you please.

 

Peter on the other hand and in the other state had his daughter and grandson to entertain.  He’s not really used to being a solo host.  Well, at least they had great weather and spent two days at the beach.  They were supposed to come home on Monday which turned into Monday night and then he called to ask what did I think about them spending another night at the cottage and he would return during the day on Tuesday.  I had appointments to show my listing on Tuesday but our cat, Nicky also had an appointment at the Vet’s on Tuesday.  It was going to be grueling round trip to bring guests back to NYC, take the cat to the veterinarian and when I finished doing the laundry he brought back, we would return to NJ.  In between appointments and his return I even managed to go to Starbucks and get a pedicure.  He looked like he had been doing battle for two days.

 

Back and forth, up and down and around and around we go.

 

 

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What a city this is!! New York speaks loud and clear and in many language, it’s just one ginormous kaleidoscope of humanity.  You just never know what or who you’re going to come across in an afternoon.

green market, cyclists, backpack

Green Market Greenies
ice skater, Bryant Park, Central Park

Practice, practice, practice

central park

Two Tourists in Central Park

ICONIC Still Life-A girl, a dog and two birds

stretching, warm up,

Cirque du Soleil here I come!

Friends

central park, squirrel

Burying A Nut

A Nuthatch Seeking Insects

All photos courtesy of Murray Head

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Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people think of Thanksgiving dinner as the ultimate American meal.  After all, wasn’t it first celebrated with Native Americans and the Pilgrims?  Well that’s what I was told in grammar (age-related term) school.

However, this country is a melting pot, a diverse population made up of so many different ethnicities, I wouldn’t begin to try to number them.  I grew up in an Italian family (more about the German side later).  My first husband was also from an Italian family so for the first half of my life, Thanksgiving was tweaked to keep all the paisans happy.  When we celebrated Thanksgiving with my grandparents, the cry at the table was, “When do we eat the turkey”?   I wonder how many of you had to eat your way through several courses BEFORE the turkey made it to the table?  When you walk into most homes on Thanksgiving Day, the savory odor of roasting turkey greets you, or the sweet aroma of an apple pie baking in the oven.  When you entered my grandmother’s apartment, it was the rich simmering smell of tomato sauce that assaulted your nose.  The meal started with Baccala, a dried codfish served with greens.  I think it was served like a salad.  Then we had ravioli; big fat pasta puffs filled with cheese and a bowl of meatballs and sausages on the side.  I guess at some point the turkey came out but I really don’t remember it much.  

Once I was married, the Italian Thanksgiving took on another level of ethnicity.  Now there were side dishes that only would appear on an Italian table.  The stuffing was heavily flavored with grated Parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic.  We had stuffed mushrooms and stuffed artichokes right along with candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and salad with Italian dressing!  

Then came the period in my life where I spent Thanksgiving with my Aunt Marian and my cousins in New Jersey.  Aunt Marian was married to Uncle Henny who was German and so Red Cabbage was always a side dish on Thanksgiving.  The creamed onions, turnips and candied sweets were there and because my cousins and myself were all adults, we made culinary contributions.  Peter insisted on a green vegetable and in those days, the only green vegetable he acknowledged was broccoli so I always steamed or sautéed some.  My cousin Marian liked to bring a lentil salad, cousin Janet baked pies.  I have five girl cousins, all with spouses and some with children.  Thanksgiving dinner was a BIG deal at Aunt Marian’s with about 20 people!

I’m actually half Italian and half German so I fit in wherever we went!  As for my own Thanksgiving meals, I often went for something different, whether it be various stuffings or the  year I tried brining the bird.  I’ve made seasonal soups and  lots of sides.  Earlier today I posted one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and decided that for the count down to turkey day, I’d post a recipe a day.  I hope you enjoy them and would love it if my readers would send in comments about their favorite Thanksgiving side dish or dessert or ethnic accompaniment.  

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voting day in a small town

voting day in a small town (Photo credit: Muffet)

It has been a long time coming, 18 months to be exact.  18 months, about 77.5 weeks and approximately 542.5 days AND 13,020 hours!!!! That’s how long we’ve been listening to ads on the radio, reading columns in the newspaper, watching tv commercials, accosted by pamphlet-bearing party workers on the sidewalks, harassed  by  repeated robo calls, invited to rallies and fund-raisers, bombarded by daily emails from political organizations, and lastly not to mention the postcards, newsletters and solicitation fund-raising letters – ALL in the name of democracy, all in the pursuit of the most powerful office in the country.  Oh yeah, I was only referring to the presidential campaign you can quadruple the intensity when you factor in the local representatives, state senators, sheriffs and on infinitum.

And tonight it will FINALLY  be over – or will it?  Ohhhh,  I think the results of this year’s election will be immediately called into question!  Accusations of voter fraud are just waiting behind the curtain, recounts ordered and then further analyzed.  Absentee ballots scrutinized and possibly discarded;  Remember the hanging chads in Florida!  This year a secondary campaign was waged, to disenfranchise thousands of voters and prevent them from exercising their constitutional right.  In New Jersey, a state crippled by Hurricane Sandy, throwing the means to conduct proper voting in to chaos and confusion has instituted (can you believe this?) voting by fax!  Where states like Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and Georgia passed highly restrictive voter ID laws, New Jersey went all out in trying to encourage voter participation where their residents lacking heat, electricity and water are understandably  disheartened  and dissuaded from making the effort to get out and vote.  This puts another nuance on the state’s unofficial slogan “Jersey Strong”.

Personally, I will be beyond thrilled to have it over.  I hope, I pray my man wins because I don’t like the person I’ve become when the other guy is on TV.  The defaming, the libel, the lies, the slander, it has got to STOP.  Fact-checkers be damned?  Are you kidding me?  I’m living in a world where the word Christian has taken on a new meaning and certainly not one that I care for or can espouse.  Let it be over please!

The polls close in my state at 9:00 – I hope everyone gets to vote. I waited about an hour and a half this morning – they said the scanners weren’t working.  I really liked the old voting machines and wish they would bring them back. If you haven’t voted yet – PLEASE DO SO NOW!

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