Glowing, radiant health is the new black. Our Green Table is serving it up, for the whole body! Healthy recipes and tips, the latest on eco-friendly food and "skin food"products and a head's up on ingredient safety are all woven into family-centered stories and discoveries. Bring informed, aware and empowered looks good on everyone!

Abrazos! xox Penny

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chipmunks among us...

See these cheeks? Look exactly like my pockets...just jammed full with cards, phone numbers, flyers. Oh my…if only I could pool them all and open up a lifestyle store!!

Behind every piece of help I have stuffed in my pockets, I have gotten an equal amount just talking with the store owners and staff. So engaged and so excited about sharing what they know. has been amazing. Most of the great places I have dropped in on walks have led me to another. The concept of neighborhood is remarkable. “Oh, I don’t have that but I know someone who does…here is the phone number. Need directions?” Again…a perfect fit for my Share Our Strengths philosophy.

I am also in awe of the many, many instances where I have ended up in a store that only deals in cash and what happens next. Who knew? It happened with Sue and her dry cleaning store, with the shoe repair store, the coffee shop and again this morning. I walked to the bodega on the corner. Their debit card machine was down. The owner smiled reassuringly, packed up my goodies, handed them to me and said, “Just drop by whenever you can and pay me then.” Astounding. I had only been in that store one other time.

A couple of weeks ago, a study came out on longevity and New Yorkers are found to live on average two years longer than the rest of us. I think this somewhat surprising sense of neighborliness contributes to that statistic. Also, all the walking, of course. Rarely is there an overweight person. Even with the astoundingly de-lish bread and baked goods here. My these folks can bake.

Yesterday we had to go back to the hospital for a bit and to sweeten the trip, dropped by for a delectable cookie. Amazing what problem solvers really good cookies are! Here is a gorgeous picture and the recipe for One Girl Cookies' wonderful orange coconut drop cookies...just in case someone in your neighborhood drops on by.

Orange Butter Drops with Shredded Coconut (OGC)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
Grated zest of one orange
2 ½ cups AP flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh oj
1 cup 4x sugar
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Put granulated sugar and orange zest in a medium bowl. Using both hands, rub the sugar into the orange zest. Put the mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and add flour and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.

With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the pieces of butter. When the mixture begins to look like crumbs, add the vanilla. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese. When the dough starts to clump together, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it by hand for a few seconds until it is fully combined.

Scoop out a small round of dough, about 1 ½ tablespoons in size. Roll the scoop onto a ball. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and gently press the ball. Repeat. leaving 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool on a rack.

Prepare the glaze: In a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon cream cheese, the oj and confectioner’s sugar.. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 more minutes. Glaze should be as thick as glue!! Spread coconut on plate. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze, dip into the shredded coconut, and let set for 20 minutes. Makes 36.

Look...there is even a "namesake" cookie!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Biteful of Sugar...


Both new mommas had all their diagnostic tests done at Lenox Hill Hospital…the hospital that has been in the news so much. We were there for tests during the Beyonce-Jay Z-Blue Ivy craziness. However, both times they were ready to deliver, their midwife did not have any back-up available at Lenox Hill and so we all went to another hospital without the reported million dollar renovation! Ha!

For sure, I don’t want to spend another night in a hospital waiting room (luxe or worn) any time soon. Both of our babies came into the world with “difficult” deliveries and some complications that fortunately, turned out fine.

For one of my kiddoes, I was in the labor room assisting for about 8 hours and also spent more than an equal amount of time in the tiny waiting room. There was a family there coping with both a newborn delivered at 26 weeks, before the official “age of viability” (week 28) and a shocked and scared new mom struggling to regain normal blood pressure. Out of town relatives, friends filled the cramped waiting room offering support and solace. I wish I had had something comforting to offer them besides words. Of course, my first food thought was, “Where can I find them a kale salad?”

There is a bakery, One Girl Bakery, near the hospital that is known for its heartwarming cookies. Here is one of their recipes…just in case you have someone who could use a little TLC. For some reason, a biteful of sugar soothes…kale can always come later!

Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers

2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup whole wheat flour
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon table salt
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture and 1/4 cup of water. Mix for 30 seconds. Repeat this step once, then add the remaining flour mixture and mix just to combine.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 10 seconds. Divide the dough in half. Cover one half with plastic wrap and set it aside.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface, put the dough on the parchment, and top with a second sheet of parchment. Roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, peel off both sheets of parchment, and put the dough on a cutting board. Using a square cookie cutter, cut out the dough, rerolling the scraps twice. Put the cookies 
on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of turbinado sugar.

Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, for 20 minutes, or until the cookies are a dark golden color around the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

All good things...

come to those who wait...two good things as a matter of fact. It is interesting that while waiting, I became enamoured with double doors.

Two beautiful ones just opened...

I got to New York December 1. Some of you thought I was cruising Broadway and fine restaurants…where are they again? No, I came here to be a mom, to set up “Support Central”. For most of December and early January, I ran errands…every kind you can imagine and helped out according to my children’s List of the Day! Lots of holiday prep, of course, but mainly prep for what was to come…the wonderful births of two beautiful, healthy babies.

December 30th, 2:20 a.m. the first baby arrived…a beautiful baby granddaughter
January 13th, 9:47 p.m. the second baby arrived...a beautiful baby grandson

For all of you with expectant children, I suggest you watch “The Business of Being Born” so you can also help advocate for healthiest, happiest deliveries possible. My kiddoes made sure I saw it.

While some of the documentary is beyond what they wished to do, the insight is invaluable and helped us all pilot their new arrivals into the world. Most of all, I embraced the premise of the film…birth is a healthy, natural event and that helped us all with The Three C’s: Calmness, Confidence and Coolness. It worked and we all rode out the inevitable ups and downs of delivery and afterbirth. The same midwife coached both births and from my end at least, did an absolutely amazing job. Words and emotions cannot describe the jobs my kiddoes did bringing their precious ones into the world.

And so without further ado, it is time to spill the beans and welcome Plum and Shaine into the world.

These two children are born to parents who will be loving, funny, kind, creative, adventuresome, nurturing and just perfect for these little ones. And born to a grandmother (eeek!) who will follow their lead. The fun has just begun! xoxoxox

Monday, January 16, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Stepping out

While waiting, I have gone on lots of walks between errand runs. A few days ago, I explored a couple of new streets in my 'hood and took some fun pictures...all this to pass the time when really, this is the thought most on my mind...

Thoughts for my wonderful daughter

Anyway, I discovered that one of the industries just down the street is a CBS sound stage where two popular TV shows are filmed. The other night, they shot a scene for The Good Wife that involved a student protest and street scramble. It was fun standing at a distance and hearing , "Cut!"

Then, further up in the heart of "town" is a Polish bakery. Actually, there are tons of bakeries...all yummy. This one I think is where the locals go. During the holidays, folks lined up all the way down the sidewalk to get a goodie. All are as delish as they look...totally yum, especially the poppyseed roll.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012


It is January 11 and so I thought this would be a great day to share this.

On another gorgeous day, I hopped over on the water taxi (LOVE it!) and went to visit the 9/11 Memorial. I know you have seen it on the news but maybe these shots will give you another chance to see this simply moving memorial. The many, many, many security checks are a reminder that something heinous happened here but overall, the memorial and its grounds are very peaceful and serene.

East River Ferry Dock

Freedom Tower

First Responders

Flight 175


Flight 77

Flight 93

World Trade Center

And then, right across the street is this vintage beauty. Beautiful, strong and witness to both great tragedy and great goodness, its endurance adds its own peace, comfort and assuredness…

Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter's Bounties

This Saturday was glorious…full sun, warm wind and spring-like temperatures…in the 50’s in January! I stopped again at the farmers’ market for a quick peak and got an eyeful…lots of apples, winter greens and winter veggies like broccoli, carrots, beets and squash, all kinds of mushrooms, fabulous whole grains and breads, farm eggs, artisanal cheeses and pickles, hormone-free dairy (and even pasture-fed meats.) Quite a bounty for the dead of winter. There are several foods that taste remarkably different here…eggs, carrots and the greens…they are really amazing. Never tasted ones as delicious.

Here is another recipe from the market…adapted from Deborah Madison.

Green Chard and Slivered Carrots

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2-4 small dried red chilies, optional
1 bunch green Swiss chard, about 1 ½ pounds
3 medium carrots (try a mixture of orange, yellow and red)
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
Vinegar or slices of fresh lemon

Warm olive oil with garlic and chili peppers until the garlic is just lightly browned. Remove chili peppers and set aside.

Wash chard, remove thick part of stem and cut leaves into large pieces or ribbons. Wash carrots and slice into diagonal strips. I don’t ever peel them. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and gently blanch chard and carrots, 1-3 minutes or until al dente. Drain well and toss with the garlic-chili infused olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper and serve with vinegar or lemon slices.

After the farmers' market, to help the time pass (yes…still “waiting”), I took a walk and found a street as remarkably "bountiful" as the farmers’market. A beautiful Catholic church heads up a street of wonderful brownstones and two other churches, a Lutheran and a Reform. While brownstones are still flourishing in other parts of Brooklyn, the true ones near me are rare…much less a whole street full. Most streets are full re-do’s: “brickstones” and aluminum-sided rowhouses, like the one my apartment is in.

In addition to being excited about food, I am also excited about “vintage”architecture, especially doors. Let me share some beauties. Of course, my imagination took flight...filling each door with stories, vintage furniture, clothing and even a horse drawn carriage or two!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Branching Out

One of the fun things about being in a new “culture” is learning about and enjoying a new way of doing things. Branching out…trying out a new leaf so to speak.

And so, taking that thought literally...

I have always found there is something very comforting about cabbage. I love it gently stir-fried; I love it in soup. And, stuffed cabbage rolls…yum. I usually buy the green varieties of cabbage and every so often, the red or purple kind. However...I don't do much with red cabbage except eat it raw. Encouraged by my adventure here, I feel the need to branch out, try out that new leaf in a new way.

Last time at the farmers' market, I was quick to grab a recipe flyer hanging by the produce stand. Love new recipes! Enjoy this one. Warm Red Cabbage Salad is very similar to a yummy side I had along with mushroom and sauerkraut pierogies in a Polish restaurant, is chock full of nutritional gems and the vibrant color is just like the gorgeous garnet...the gemstone of January! Enjoy branching out a little this weekend, too!

Warm Red Cabbage Salad

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (about ¼ head)
¾ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 crisp, sweet apple (Gala or Braeburn)
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage, caraway seeds and salt. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add apple, shallot, vinegar, mustard and pepper and stir intil combined. Serve sprinkled with toasted walnuts.
Picture from Internet...great bowl, too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bean Great So Far!

Here is the recipe I nice on New Year's Day along with brown rice (local or from Lundberg) and lots of greens. This combo serves up all the traditional "good luck" foods as well as serves up a clean, healthy start to the year. Beans are golden...absolutely a powerfood in a class by themselves. And, I am a huge fan...Bean Queen as well as Veggie Queen. Sometimes, those grocery store bags are old and the beans are quite bland and starchy. Try to find a store that has bulk beans or better yet, heirloom ones. I used an heirloom red lima that I found in the farmers' market. Wonderful flavor...faintly like chestnuts.

Yes, for you readers who are purists, I know that it is past New Year's Day but what the heck...make today your lucky day!!

New Year's Lima Beans (recipe and  pix from Food and Wine)

3 cups dried giant lima beans or gigantes, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 4 hours and drained
Kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced 
One 16-ounce can whole tomatoes—juices reserved, tomatoes coarsely chopped 
2 tablespoons chopped oregano 
1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese (6 1/2 ounces), for sprinkling 
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons chopped oregano 
2 tablespoons chopped parsley 
1 small garlic clove, minced 
Kosher salt 

In a large saucepan, cover the lima beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the limas are just tender but still al dente, about 2 1/2 hours; add water as needed to keep the limas covered by 2 inches. Season the limas with salt and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Drain the limas, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. 

In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano and the reserved bean cooking liquid and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 1 hour. Season the tomato sauce with salt. 

In a mini food processor, combine the olive oil with the oregano, parsley and garlic and pulse to a coarse puree. Season the oregano pesto with salt. 

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, mix the limas with the tomato sauce and sprinkle the feta on top. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 40 minutes, until the beans are bubbling and the cheese is browned. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Top the beans with the bread crumbs, dollop with the oregano pesto and serve. Each bite brings delicious luck!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Just a quick thought...

New Year's morning over my mom's bay

"The amount of satisfaction you get from life depends largely on your own ingenuity,self-sufficiency, and resourcefulness.

People who wait around for life to supply their satisfaction usually find boredom instead."
                                               William C. Menninger

A friend sent this to me this morning and as the New Year unfolds, they are lovely thoughts to add to so many others. Be ingenious! Be resourceful!

I still hold to the "it takes a village" philosophy and so I might amend Be self-suffient to also include: Share your strengths!

Speaking of sharing, I made a "clean and green" bean dish yesterday that was del-ish and will post soon. Have to recharge my computer! See you a little later! Have a joyous day.

By the way...what are your thoughts for the New Year? Would love to hear them! xoxo