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, December 31, 2012

Little Bites

of art and technology illuminating the way to the New Year...

I probably should call this post "Movie Madness". We had no power for a few days due to an ice storm followed by a "thunder-snow" and after huddling in a 40 degree house, opted to go to a really warm movie theater and see both "Lincoln" and "Les Miserables". They are fabulous...exquisitely acted and emotionally engaging.

So much so that one thing led to another and from these movies, especially "Lincoln", I learned volumes about my own family...people and places I had never heard of before. There were some truly stunning discoveries.

My family is fortunate to know a lot about many. While there have been some avid geneologists, they missed a huge part of one branch of the family that I unearthed.

I learned that the state where I have been living for over 27 years and thinking there was no familial connection at all, has hundreds of relatives who have been here since the early 1800's. I learned that this line goes back to a Dutch merchant who arrived in the New World in 1624 and was one of the first land owners in "New Amsterdam", now my beloved New York City. I learned, sadly, my family had slaves until the late 1700's, maybe beyond. Because some stayed in the North and some came South, they most likely fought against each other in The Civil War. I learned my great-grandfather's grandfather was one of Napoleon's grenadiers and his personal bodyguard. And there is so much more...all because of art and technology: the movies, an old family lithograph, an inquisitiveness about any possible ties to Lincoln and the incredible access to information on the little bite after another.

All this has given me pause and thoughts for the New Year. There was a beautiful interview that aired on Christmas with CBS's Scott Pelley and Nazi death camp survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel. Technology allows me to hear these poignant words whenever I want to and need have a reminder, to illuminate the way. When asked how to create peace, Mr. Wiesel said start with ending humiliation and taking small daily steps...little bites of peace, one at a time.

Getting ready to welcome in 2013 and all of its discoveries, here are my New Year's little bites...

May peace be with you and your families this coming year and always!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas!

"I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take Peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy. Take Joy.

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away."

A.D. 1513 Fra Giovanni

To you and yours...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Welcoming the Old Man

I love Winter. I find its unique beauty lovely and the comforting flavors of Winter's citrus fruits, root vegetables and greens irresistible. Although it is not really cold yet here, I am hopeful I will see some real snow this year. I found this gorgeous picture on the Internet and mentally, at least, am so there...

I also found this picture and with the first day of Winter here today, thought a toast to Old Man Winter would be a festive season opener. And, the mittens in the picture? Pure magic! 'Tis the season!

There are two suggestions for filling up that cup of warming cheer.

First, warm Ginger Carrot Juice or Soup. So easy to make: Grind up 2-3 carrots with half a peeled orange, a good (1/4 inch) thick slice of peeled ginger, a little water and 3-4 ice cubes. Really blend it until the pulp is super smooth and the consistency you like (add more water or ice) or strain it. I think, in a pinch, adding a good shot of freshly grated ginger to store bought carrot juice would work just fine. Heat to warm and sip. A cinnamon stick for stirring would be nice, too.

Then, I found this recipe and it sounds wonderful...crisp as a Winter's day and mellow as a fire in the fireplace. More than a little robust, it is just the perfect spirited toast for the day!

Welcome, Old Man! Happy Winter!

Winter's Spirited Bourbon

1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 tablespoons real fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemons would be fabulous here!)
Pinch of fine sea salt

Add all to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain and serve chilled in a frosty glass or strain and warm slightly and serve in a heat resistant glass. Serves 1.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Voices of Light

It is Monday, December 17, 2012.

Maybe like you, I have sat stunned and tearful since the news on Friday. I had a few fleeting moments where I thought, "What's wrong with people?" Then I had to correct myself. There was plenty wrong with that one young man and plenty right with most everyone else.

I have never thought of kindness as a random act. I believe it is an intention and I also believe most people have chosen to live kindly. We don't share often enough or loudly enough the stories of kind deeds. I think they define us so much more than horrific acts. And so, here are three stories I would like to share. What are yours? Please share and help me turn up the volume on these voices of light.

The first story is about a woman I met in the parking lot of a shopping center where I was musing over what to do next. It was a Sunday and as she discovered me, it was starting to get dark. My car had somehow locked itself...seriously, a short of some kind, and being a Sunday, I couldn't get ahold of a locksmith. She asked me how she could help me and I mean, she meant it. She rattled off all kinds of ways she could ease my situation and none of it was superficial or perfunctory. Her concern and kindness were deep and comforting. It is hard to describe exactly and so I will just leave it at that.

The second story concerns my mom's first caregiver, a lovely, generous woman who annually uses her own time and money to cook up several turkeys with dressing for Thanksgiving. Then, she takes them to a local church where people have an open invitation to bring a dish and join in a delicious community dinner. The church is packed every year. Not being able to own her home, she has paid rent for years. This Christmas will be her first as a homeowner. The family that was her landlord has mirrored her generosity and kindness and gifted her a home of her own.

The third happened at the farmers' market, not just this weekend, but many weekends...the extra head of lettuce, bag of kale, pound of butter that my market friends have slipped into my bag.

I like to think that there are all kinds of these stories out there and they are so prevalent that we just don't notice. But I am going to notice these more and give the attention to all those who intentionally live a compassionate, kind life. These are the voices of light that can help make kindness so big and bright that darkness has only slivers of shadows left, way too small to hide in and too silent to be heard.

This gorgeous picture from The Giving Room shows light of a new day about to fill up every nook and cranny of the bay. Let it shine peace, kindness and comfort.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Choy toys

My refrigerator is becoming a toy chest. If this keeps up, I am going to need a spare. Mine will be stuffed to the gills after tomorrow's trip to the market. Stuffed with greens that is. So stuffed, there will hardly be room for anything else. Look at what I brought home from a tree lighting ceremony last night...

This is tatsoi and this absolutely gorgeous bunch is about as big as a wreath. I almost hate to eat it, it's so pretty, but I am sure it will all soon be history, destined for the chopping block or wok like it's cousin bok choy below...

These greens are really fun to play with and they are so flavorful that "simple" does it. A quick little sauté and they are done and ready to eat. You can chop 'em up or leave the leaves whole. I made a favorite Pad Thai the other night and a nice big scoop of sautéed bok choy as a side just hit the spot. Have you played with these greens yet? Any favorite way you prepare them?

Sesame Bok Choy

Wash and slice at least one bunch of bok choy per person. Heat a splash of oil in a sauté pan or wok (use any oil you like...olive, sesame or coconut) and sauté a little sliced garlic and fresh ginger to flavor the oil. Add in black sesame seeds and let them sauté in the oil for a few minutes, too. Toss in bok choy and cook only until wilted, about 3 minutes. I like the stems still a little crunchy. Season to taste with soy sauce (I used a mushroom one...yum!) or with rice vinegar. Some many like to add a shake of red pepper flakes or fresh black pepper.

Obviously so set "rules" here. It's your toy! Just experiment and have fun!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dirt Candy

Is the name of one of my favorite restaurants in New York ( and last week I was thrilled to read its glowing review in The New York Times. It got two stars!! The first veggie restaurant in 17 years to get such high praise. Dirt Candy is like a candy store for veggies and each dish is a playful mix of delicious tastes and textures. Just from a diner's point of view, in addition to the incredible flavors, Dirt Candy's real gift is its sense of food being all-out fun and, vegetables especially, being an adventure in humor and joy.

Genius-Chef Amanda Cohen presents her veggie dishes as a cast of A-listers: "Tomatoes!", "Carrots!", "Cabbage!" and so with that in mind, I approached the farmers' market with a little different eye. I bought a box of humble turnips and decided to turn them into "Turnips!". Quite a playful challenge as I bet I have only eaten a couple of turnips in my life, much less cooked them, and now I was looking at a whole box.

Then, right after the market I had to go to the grocery store and, oddly enough, the man ahead of me in the checkout line was singing the praises of all things...turnips! Some things are just meant to be. Game on!

And so, that is the thought for today...what sparks your sense of "play" and makes you feel like a kid in a candy store? Who inspires you?

For my own version of Candyland, I played three "games" with my box of turnips. The first, a traditional roasting. Once cooled, I sliced them up and used them as an earthy addition to a salad.

The second, mashed with fresh horseradish and scallions. Seriously, I couldn't even wait to plate them. A spoon in the pot made it a party.

The last game I tried was turnip "fries"...a real stretch for me as I am not crazy about fries in general but this was the recipe the man in the grocery store shared. Who needs candy canes when you can eat these instead? Oh my!

Here's how to make them...

Turnip Fries

Wash and peel 2 fresh, medium-sized turnips and slice into "fries". Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs, sea salt and pepper. He used Italian herbs; I used Herbs de Provence. Bake at 350-375 about 30 to 40 minutes, turning once during baking. Because turnips are more watery than potatoes, they will be a moister kind of fry. No worries...gobble 'em up!

I served mine with veggie chili...

Get your hands on some "dirt candy" and have a happy play day!