farm sanctuary

a few years back, i learned about Farm Sanctuary and their awesome, pioneering work in the field of protecting animals. i remember one time, while hanging with family, i mentioned how i really admired the efforts of this non-profit group. i asked my cousin if he had ever heard of it before and, in reply, he remarked “farm sanctuary? that sounds like an oxymoron.” for some reason that response stuck with me because it was candid and sadly, for the majority of commercial farms in this country, a farm that’s a sanctuary truly is an oxymoron. we simply do not protect and respect farmed animals like we once felt called and entrusted to do. and whether you eat animals or animal products or not, i think there’s a common ground that can be established when it comes to animal protection… to be sure, there is and will be a spectrum of opinions when it comes to animal rights legislation, but still, the idea that living creatures deserve to be treated humanely and with respect is something that i believe (or hope) most people can find themselves in agreement. despite this, the unsustainable demands on the market for farmed animals and a movement away from traditional agricultural and husbandry practices make farms anything but a haven for the animals that live there.


two years ago, husband and i, along with my parents and our dog Bo, participated in the Walk for Farm Animals in princeton. it was a great experience, getting to know other like-minded people who are concerned about animal welfare and hoping to spread a message of compassion. in just one week (it really snuck up on us!), we will be participating in the Walk once again, in an effort to help Farm Sanctuary raise awareness about the realities of factory farming. we hope, as always, that the Walk will incite change in the way society views and treats farm animals. it should be another fantastic, inspiring event – and will be one of dozens of such walks that take place across the country this fall.

if you want to get involved, it would mean so much to me (and to us!) if you would make a pledge of support for farm animals in need by making a donation for my participation in the 2012 Walk for Farm Animals! …or if you are feeling up for some light exercise and activism, and want to come out and join the Walk on saturday, october 27 in philadelphia then that’s awesome, too! either way, thank you for taking the time to read this and for considering the welfare of farm animals everywhere.

to make a donation, visit my fundraising page here.

to sign up for the walk, register here.

[photos from the 2010 Walk for Farm Animals – that’s my mom and dad getting ready for the Walk.]


going against the grain

“If you go against the grain of the universe you get splinters.”
– H. H. Farmer

[found this inspiring quote via twitter]

the night market

so, last night we walked just a few blocks over to Philly’s annual Chinatown night market. as we approached, i could smell all the great food – both from popular food trucks and restaurants around the city that had come to set up shop in the streets. we started the night off right by scoring some pumpkin habanero BBQ sauce from Square Peg (they were selling fried chicken, but graciously hooked us up with their sauce and we enjoyed it with tempura veggies). it was delicious! i would love to try my hand at recreating that. later, we had an excellent lentil-kale soup from Good Spoon – who we see at our farmer’s market at Headhouse Square every sunday. the feast didn’t end there… we also had an amazing trio of dishes from the Birds of Paradise food truck: “Paradise” salad with mango, pineapple, & fresh coconut; black jollof rice; and a smoky baba ganoush. then, we grabbed a “double” from The Mini Trini truck – Trinidadian street food made with split-pea dough bread and filled with curried chickpeas, pumpkin, & mango. and the night ended at Jimmies Cupcake Company. with one of the best cupcakes i’ve ever had: banana with vanilla cream frosting and cute sprinkles. the base tasted just like delicious banana bread. perfect density and crumb. i’ve had a lot of vegan cupcakes… many of which are excellent, but this was definitely in the “best of” category. all around, it was a super fun night with lots of great local food and community-building. looking forward to next year!


thanks to The Food Trust and Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation

[all photos from my instagram]

what is a garlic clove? (and other downfalls of a long commute to culinary school)

 so…how do i begin? well, let’s just say that i had some other posts planned to come before this one, but after last night’s debacle i felt i needed to divulge the darker side of commuting to culinary school (from Philadelphia to New York). in the summer, while still living in the garden state (in Princeton), i took the NJ transit train into the city. it took about 1.5 hours, with 10 minutes to walk to school once in manhattan. sometimes, after class, i would have to wait around a while for the next train, but in general the commute was fine. nothing to write home about. (actually the only part to write home about was getting to decompress and talk food and life with ann marie… that part was good.) sometimes i felt there were too many stops along the northeast corridor. and there was no wi-fi. and not so comfy seats. and sometimes crowded trains. but overall, i got to class on time and that was what mattered.

jump to living in Philly: i start taking the (Bolt) bus. i love it. the seats are comfy. there is wi-fi. the walk from the drop-off in NYC to school is more or less the same (about 2 blocks more actually), but it usually gets in earlier than anticipated, which always feels good. but then, in the last few weeks, i start noticing changes – the honeymoon period was ending. the wi-fi started getting spotty. the bus no longer arriving ahead of schedule. until finally…. last night happened.

i arrive for a 3 o’clock departure and there is no sign of the bus. i stand around with restless passengers. 15 minutes go by. then 30. finally a bus appears. we don’t push off until 35 minutes behind schedule. then, no wi-fi, so my productivity immediately diminishes (and the risk of overloading my data plan increases). we start hitting traffic far too early in the commute – not even out of Philly yet – and i panic. the bus driver must be panicking, too. he knows he has already blown it by being late to work (although technically, even with his delay, i could have still arrived on time for class). so, being concerned about traffic, the driver takes us on a route i’ve never seen before. and i’ve been through the Lincoln tunnel many times. but the driver goes his unusual way, and instead of avoiding traffic, he drives right into even more congestion.

long story short, what should have been a 2 hour bus ride (or less) becomes a 3 hour 40 minute disaster. and at this point, i’m already late enough for class that i am considered “absent.” fortunately, i arrive in time to partake in all the cooking (and i have the option of making up the class if i want), but i’m so frazzled and disappointed to be arriving late for the first time, and for one of my favorite chef instructors. [while on the bus in traffic, contacting classmates about my late arrival, my face literally fell when i heard the news of who was teaching and knew that i would be late. ann marie and susan (my classmates) knew my disappointment before i even said anything.]

and then, this is where the really painful part happens… i enter the classroom. frazzled. ready to work. ready to make up for my late entrance. i realize that my neon pink shirt is completely visible through my white chef’s jacket and i didn’t have time to change it. ugh… fail. and i don’t even say “fail” but seriously… fail. i start working with my team to figure out who is making which sauce, and as i read my ingredient list and go up to grab the produce, i pick up a bunch of scallions and in a befuddled way start to say, “this is…” and, before i finish, the chef says “scallions.” right. of course. i knew that. “so….. what are…..[my eyes scan the bowls of produce]…..garlic cloves?” i can’t believe the words have come out of my mouth. she picks up the garlic and starts to point to a clove, most likely as confused as i am about the question, but generously she doesn’t reveal what is running through her mind. i’m so ridiculously embarrassed and baffled by my own question – i think i even touched the chef’s hand apologetically as i explained that, of course, i’m completely and totally 100% clear on what garlic cloves are and that she needn’t worry about my garlic competency. i slink away to my table with my garlic.

i later asked my teammate if “any other onions were being used” when i meant to say “ovens” – so clearly something was going on with my brain. [i mean… i don’t remember ever playing on a football team… and i don’t think i was concussed on the bus ride… ?] all that to say, the night definitely could have gone better. but many of the sauces turned out really well. and i enjoyed working with my group (thanks lee, jennifer, trinette!), and really appreciated their patience. i noticed ann marie and susan going out of their way to make me feel better, too. (thanks for cleaning the blender and for covertly snagging me some burn cream!) oh yeah, i burned my hand a bit. that happened, too. but all that to say, there will be bad nights with anything. just like there will be bad dishes or meals or social situations, and you always have to make the most of them. and in this case, i still got to enjoy three hours of cooking with a chef that i admire, and with classmates whom i am grateful for and really respect. thanks guys. NGI wouldn’t be the same without CTP 215.

until next week… and here’s hoping for better bus fortune from now on. [and the pictures above are from some nicer moments on my commute: sunrise over Philly from the Bolt bus; and morning light on the US Postal Service building in NYC.]