halloween and hurricane sandy

well, it’s been a whirlwind week. literally. hurricane sandy struck – and our hearts and prayers go out to all those people who have been (and still are) affected by this devastating storm. culinary school classes were canceled all week; for me that just means two days missed… but i really hope everyone at NGI is doing okay and that they are safe and sound. my day job – teaching at a community college in NJ – is also taking an extended vacation, as the school has been closed since monday. fortunately, here in philly, things were relatively unaffected. which is shocking, considering how atlantic city was so badly hit as well as other parts of new jersey that aren’t all that far away… and then NYC, too. it’s just so strange how our little neck of the center city woods didn’t really feel the effects. we had a lot of filtered water stocked in our fridge and a bathtub full of water (i can’t remember why…) and to be sure, we had our strong winds and downpour of rain, but we didn’t lose power, and nothing fell on the car. we are extremely grateful for our safety and for our family and friends’ safety – plenty of dear ones are still dealing with the aftermath. 7 5last weekend – which now feels like an eternity ago – was actually filled up with exciting philly events. first with the walk for farm animals (which i mentioned before) and then with our neighborhood’s version of trick-or-treating…  for dogs. they call it howl-o-ween. this hood is seriously obsessed with its dogs. dog parks. free doggie poo pags on every other corner. a giant oil painting of a beagle in the gallery window next door. and now, shops passing out dog treats to all the cute pups in costume. obsessed. and we love it.

{written november 1, 2012… posted ages later.}


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.]

happy fourth of july

hope everyone had a wonderful independence day! the only strange part for me was that this year we missed fireworks. SO strange. i can count the number of July 4th’s sans fireworks on one hand…maybe on two fingers even. actually make that one indented thumb and one regular, because i’m not certain that there have been even two independence days in my twenty-five years without a display of pyrotechnics. i might have to go light a candle. maybe that will compensate a bit.

or maybe tomorrow, after i cross the border into the great state of Pennsylvania where the sale of fireworks is legal (and according to the billboards, quite plentiful), i will pick up a handful of sparklers so we can celebrate fake fourth of July tomorrow night. and by then, the strawberry rhubarb pie that I made with my aunt will be ready to eat. (yep, I started a pie at 7:30 pm… and it needs to cool. so there’s that.)

but, that said, pie-making was my token American activity for the day. other activities included apartment-hunting in Philly. one place we loved but discovered it didn’t allow dogs (which made us sad), but then another favorite appeared just down the street (which made us glad). so, tomorrow, decisions await. and if all goes smoothly, we could be living around the corner from our favorite.pizza.place.ever. (did there need to be a “period” between pizza and place? what’s the proper technique on dramatic period placements? i debated it…)

anyway, more later on pizza, apartments, faux independence day, and the outcome of the pie. (and, to my strawberry-allergic Grandmom: if you were coming over today I would have made raspberry-rhubarb, don’t you worry!). also, note to self and everyone else: there is a darn good reason that you roll collards (and long leafy things) on the horizontal (i.e. along the short side) because otherwise you have long spaghetti-like collards when you chiffonade them. no one likes spaghetti collards. well, we like them well enough, but they hang out of our mouths. but this is what I get for bagging practice collards from other chefs-in-training. yep, i’m a fruit and veggie hoarder. still, i’m not alone in this hoarding subset. i think it’s gaining momentum. truly. at least among the culinary student demographic, so i hear. also, i’m impressed by how many times i just said “collards” in this post; i didn’t see that coming.

and with that, i leave you with a nostalgic photo (above) of fireworks from last summer. i do believe i smell a pie in the oven. happy America. and forever thanks to all the veterans (Grandpop, Pop Pop, and the many others) for their service to this country and commitment to freedom.