Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy-HELP WANTED!

Reposted from Black, Gay and Jewish
When Sandy hit I was scared. We sat in our apartment, watching television just waiting for everything to go dark. I was sure our windows would burst through and wanted to tape them up. We slept with a box of matches and candles next to our bed when we finally went to bed and tried to get some sleep. Throughout the night the gusts of wind rattled our windows and shook the doors in their hinges, but when we opened our eyes and looked around nothing had changed. The wind took down a large branch in front of our apartment and leaves and twigs were scattered along the sidewalk and street but things were fine.
We turned on our TV and still had cable and we watched the round the clock coverage on the news. A day went by and another and we finally decided it was safe to leave our house. We rode our bikes around our neighborhood and witnessed many downed trees,crushing cars and homes, the sidewalks completely disheveled from the power of the tree’s roots. We rode through the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood where it was business as usual-nannies pushing their charges in fancy strollers, people shopping. We rode our bikes over the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan and it hit me.
The River covered in oil-Photo by Erika K. Davis
There is no power in lower Manhattan-no street lights and cops directing traffic. The sound of pumps working to get water out of basements filled the air, the smell of gas is also in the air. We rode down the the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel where the water reached 12 foot high, a mile long from Manhattan to Brooklyn. And today we spent a few hours sorting food donations, making salad, and schlepping boxes of supplies into trucks on their way to the devastated areas of Long Island, the Rockaways, and Coney Island with Occupy Sandy Relief.
NYC IMG Marathon is still on. This is, in my opinion, a terrible decision made by Mayor Bloomberg. They’re operating generators to help out the marathon, yet many people are and have been without power since Monday. Please sign this petition asking that the IMG Marathon be postponed.
UPDATE 5:11 NBC4 is reporting that the Marathon is cancelled. No word on new date of if it’s completely cancelled.
67 people have died in the tri-state area and millions are still going to bed in the dark and cold with expected lows at the freezing point tonight.
The pictures today are my own. If you’re in the NYC area and able to help please do. Here are ways and places looking for help.
It’s been four days since Hurricane Sandy blew through, and Brooklyn is starting to mobilize again. Restaurants are re-opening, the marathon is still on (for now) and the MTA is hobbling along, with full (though slow) bus service restored and almost every train running on modified service (not, the G train, of course, which remains suspended).
That being said, it’s obvious that even though we’re moving forward, things are nowhere near back to normal. And with the weekend coming up (or perhaps, with your giant seven-day weekend now extended to nine days), here are some ways to start plugging in to the community. We’ll be updating this all day, so send any tips to @Brokelyn on twitter or
Area in the Battery where people usually wait to go to Ellis Island-Photo by Erika K. Davis
-Folks looking to help out in Red Hook, one of the first neighborhoods to get hit by the flood, have a number of opportunities that only seem to only grow more plentiful by the day. Many of the efforts have been spearheaded by the Red Hook Initiative, an organization dedicated to empowering communities to create their own social change. Located at 767 Hicks St, RHI is currently good on volunteers but is still looking for donations of pre-prepared food (including food for children), candles, utensils such as spoons and bowls, jugs of water, flashlights, batteries, power strips, toiletries, paper towels, and paper for printing fliers. UPDATE: RHI can currently use toiletries, toothpaste, batteries, toilet paper, soft blankets (fleece, not wool) and clothes. They can be be brought to 610 Henry till 3 PM or directly to the Miccio Center located at 110 W 9th Street.
-Help unload supplies at RHI and the Park Slope Armory starting at 8am today (Friday). This is expected to be a massive, massive effort.
-The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition will be cleaning up on November 3rd & 4th starting at 10am. Extra hands are welcome, especially if those hands are holding portable generators, long extension cords, or work lights. As many people as possible are needed for this effort, RSVP and/or send questions to
-Red Hook Recovers is also organizing resources according to what individuals need, what they have to give, and when they can volunteer.
-For those who want to help provide sustenance but have limited cooking bilities, hands will be needed to distribute free packaged meals and drinking water today at Coffey Park at 85 Richards Street in Red Hook 7:30am-12:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9am-1pm. Bring your own bag to carry food and water.
Brooklyn Battery Tunnel-Photo by Erika K. Davis
-Donations collection again today (Friday) for Rockaways at Dekalb & Fort Greene Park 1-3pm. Warm clothes, canned goods, towels.
-The Meat Hook in Williamsburg is collecting supplies to serve hot meals to those stranded in the Rockaways, some of whom haven’t eaten in days. They’re also facilitating folks to sign up for FEMA relief. Stop by their store at 100 Frost Street to drop off items listed here.
-Union Pool is looking for musicians, artists, and generally creatively-minded people to help put together a benefit for those in the Rockaways. Contact them with ideas at as soon as possible.
-It may not be possible to stress enough how much the Rockaways need resources. El Puente, a community initiative dedicated to the power of self-determination, will be collecting donations today and tomorrow at their CHE headquarters in Williamsburg. Drop food and supplies off on Friday 10am-5pm at 289 Grand St, and Saturday 9:30am-11am at 211 South 4th St. Bring non-perishable food, soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrushes, diapers, formula, baby wipes, warm clothing for people of all ages, and cleaning supplies (shovels, garbage bags, gloves, etc). If you’d like to help sort and box the donations, email stbernadetteconvent@gmail.comHelp raise funds for the families of Rockaway Park.
-The Corcoran is hosting a drive for kids displaced in two of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in the city, Breezy Point and the Rockaways. Clothes, diapers, and food can be dropped off at 125 7th Ave. Donations for kids can also be dropped at Steve Levin’s Office at 410 Atlantic Ave.
-American Legion Post 1404 at 209 Cross Bay Blvd is running out of food VERY quickly, and neither FEMA nor the Red Cross have arrived. If anyone can bring water, pre-cooked, quick heat,etc. food PLEASE do.  (No electricity or running water.)  If you can help, please come.  They also need extra hands to sort clothes.
-If you’ve got toiletries, socks, underwear or sweatshirts, you can drop them off at Good Co. (10 Hope Street, Williamsburg), Pour House (7901 3rd Ave, Bay Ridge), Mullanes, (S. Elliot & Lafayette, Fort Greene) and at 118 Freeman St. b/t Manhattan & Franklin, Greenpoint
Keep reading.
The UJA shared the following volunteer opportunity on their website:
Volunteers needed today to help with clean up and debris removal from Seagate, this was one of the hardest hit areas and needs the most help.
Please go to Abraham Residence at 38-11 Surf Ave or 39-15 Neptune Ave in Brooklyn to our low income housing site to help our seniors clean up their homes. This was the evacuation zone and they need
a lot of man power to get back up and running. It is cold out so please dress warm and bring a flash light (there is no power). If possible please bring water to give out to the seniors.Drivers and cars with gas are also needed. We need help running errands and getting supplies. If you can bring your car please do so and help our seniors get access to food, water and medication.Please feel free to just show up anytime before 3pm and look for Dena. If you have questions you may call Dena at 917-592-2456. The service is spotty so please only call if absolutely necessary and leave a message.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Blacked Peas and Greens for Rosh Hashanah

Black-eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread on January 1st were a staple in my home. My mother, a North Carolinian born in the south, raised in the north and still in the Midwest made sure that we ate a full plate of the beans and stewed greens. She said they'd bring us wealth and luck, her mother told her the same thing and to this day on January 1st I eat black eyed peas an greens.

When my partner, a white Jew from Texas, insisted we buy black eyed peas on January 1st the first year we dated I raised an eye brow (or at least I tried since I can't actually raise one eye brow). What did this white girl know about greens and black eyes for New Year, I thought. Turns out, the tradition isn't a black American tradition, but a southern tradition.

Since I was always the only black girl in school, having a tradition no one else, I assumed it was based on my race. It felt good to know that my sweet Texan Jew also shared this tradition. It was a shock to us both that Syrian Jews (and other non-Ashkenazi Jews) also eat black eyed peas and greens for Rosh Hashanah to insure a healthy and prosperous new year.

I wrote a piece for The Jew and the Carrot that has my mom's recipe towards the end. Enjoy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ethiopian Shabbat Dinner

photo from Healthy Green
The first time I had Ethiopian was memorable. Mir and I had only been dating for a few weeks and she was taking me on a culinary adventure. We walked into the restaurant some where in lower Manhattan and as we sat down I was immediately less than impressed. It was the middle of summer and the restaurant lacked patrons or air conditioning. I didn't know what the menu items were so I let Mir order and sipped on water while we waited for the food. It came out, a large plate of unidentifiable stewed vegetables, meat and beans. I realized that the server had forgotten to give us silverware and called her over. "Could we get some utensils, please" I said in my sweet-not-so-sweet voice. With the same pseudo sweetness and a slight sneer she replied, "You've clearly never had Ethiopian" and stalked off. Mirs turned a deeper shade of pink and whispered, "You eat with your hands!"

That day in the sticky hot restaurant where Mir and I were the only ones silly enough to eat spicy hot food on a warm summer day I fell in love with Ethiopian food. Tonight, I'm going to attempt to make it. I found this recipe for injera, the sour spongy bread that does double duty as both plate and utensil, and hoped that today would yield "grassy" smelling bubbling yeast. Instead I held gagged violently at the smell and purple-blue mold that was growing on my starter. I did a quick Google search and found this quick injera recipe that I'll be using tonight. I'm subbing out the glutenous flours for teff, which is the traditional flour used, and buckwheat.

I'll be making a tofu Doro Wat, Gomen, Misr Wat and Alecha Wat using recipes from Healthy Green KitchenNavy Blue Kitchen, and my own obsession with making curries. I hope to take another stab at authentic injera in the future. Pictures and recipes to follow.

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Millet Bread

Arguably the most depressing part of gluten-free living is the lack of bread (and pasta, and couscous and pasta).  While I haven't attempted homemade pasta yet, I've taken my first stab at gluten-free bread.  I let Google do most of the work and the first appetizing recipe that came up was this yummy bread from Gluten-Free Goddess.  You have to dig a bit on her site to find it, but Google took me directly there.

I kept her recipe basically the same, except the sorghum flour is at my lady's house and all I had was gluten-free all-purpose flour which turned out lovely.  I was juggling two of her recipes on my blackberry and accidentally used 1 1/4 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  It tasted lovely the first day and today, the second day it's great toasted with almond butter and honey, though I'll probably add a bit more salt next time.

I'm excited to make it again this weekend for the lady, a millet bread nut.  This sure beats the frozen stuff from the market.

From Gluten-Free

First- whisk together your dry ingredients and set aside:

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour (aka jowar flour)-I used GF All-purpose flour
1 cup tapioca starch or potato starch (not potato flour!)-I used potato starch left over from Pesach
1/2 cup GF millet flour or GF oat flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/ 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 packet rapid dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey- or raw agave nectar to keep it vegan
1/2 teaspoon mild rice vinegar or lemon juice
2 organic free-range eggs, beaten or 1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 4 tablespoons warm water till frothy
Using one cup of the water, proof the yeast in the warm water (110 to 115ºF) and a teaspoon of the honey/agave (add the yeast to the water and honey stir; allow it to get poofy).

Add the proofed yeast to the dry ingredients; add the olive oil, remaining honey/agave, cider vinegar and mixed egg replacer (or eggs); beat until a smooth batter forms. I use the word batter because gluten-free bread dough is more like smooth sticky muffin batter than wheat based bread dough -- it is not as thin as cake batter, though. Add up to 1/4 cup more water if you need to.

Scrape the dough into a ceramic loaf pan (or use a 7 to 8-inch round cake pan for rustic ciabatta style bread) and smooth evenly (I use wet fingers).

Top with sesame seeds. Place the pan in a warmed oven or draft free spot. Allow the dough to rise until it domes nicely -- from 45 to 50 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

When the oven comes to temperature bake the risen bread until it sounds hollow when thumped -- about 45 minutes to 55 minutes, and even up to 65 minutes if you're at higher altitude. Lower style round pan loaves will bake quicker -- at 30 to 40 minutes, usually.

If you like a crusty loaf, remove the bread from the pan and return it naked to the oven at 350ºF for an additional 10 minutes- keep an eye on it and don't let it get too brown. It should be a light golden color.

Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Millet Bread

I used Gluten-Free Goddess' recipe for Millet bread...with some substitutions.  More tomorrow after I taste it.

Stewed Tomatoes and Asparagus Over Creamy Polenta

Stewed Tomatoes and Asparagus over Creamy Polenta

It's been a bit over a month of df/gf living and I have to say-it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Sure I miss grabbing a croissant with my iced coffee in the morning, it's nice to grab a cookie or other snacks on the run and Shabbat isn't the same without challah. Despite the occasional temptations and the accidental slips it's been a pretty easy month. My eczema hasn't gone crazy in a long time and my stomach issues have subsided substantially.  All-in-all not bad. Except when I got a craving for Italian today.

It's a little bit chilly in NYC today and what sounded delicious wasn't a kale salad or roasted beets. What sounded effing-amazing was a giant bowl of pasta with marinara sauce and garlic bread. Thankfully there is no pasta to be found in my cupboards-they've been gone since Pesach.  What I did have was a jar of polenta, three sad, almost dead tomatoes, lots of garlic and a eggplant/olive dip in the freezer from ordering way too much food for our Seder.

I dug into the great, big, beautiful Italian recipe dictionary in my head and decided I'd make Chicken Caccitore, minus the chicken.

I'm still not measuring anything-so bare with me on this one.
You'll need
 3 medium/large tomatoes roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic diced
1 small eggplant rougly chopped
about a 1/4 cup green olives chopped
a bunch of asparagus cut 1 in long
Nutritional Yeast
Olive oil

Literally, I pulled this one out of my head with the veggies I had laying around my apartment.  I think spinach would be lovely in this as well, kale would also be nice, even broccoli.

I started the polenta before I put in the tomatoes, et al because I used stone-ground corn.  It's course and takes a while to cook, but it's totally worth the waiting and stirring.  I cooked it with plain ole water (I miss you milk) and added a bit of Nature's Balance spread and a splash of Hazelnut milk to get a creamier texture.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  You can use instant polenta, but the stone-ground stuff is amazing.  Once you've added the polenta to salted boiling water (if using stone-ground) start on the tomatoes.

Start with a medium-hot pan and saute the garlic in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil until the garlic just starts to get golden around the edges.  When it gets a little golden add the tomatoes and the juices from the cutting board to the pan and lower the heat to medium.  I had frozen eggplant dip to work with, but if you're using the fresh stuff add the eggplants and olives here as well.  Cover the pan and let time do the rest.  After about 10-15 minutes add the asparagus and stir.  If the veggies stick, add some olive oil about a teaspoon at a time.  Cook the tomatoes until they start to shrivel up, and the skin starts to fall off.  This takes about 20-25 minutes.

If I had any red wine on hand, a splash would be really awesome in this.  Once the tomatoes are finished cooking add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the polenta into a shallow bowl or onto a plate and then spoon the tomatoes and asparagus on top.  Top with a twist of black pepper or some nutritional yeast and enjoy!

Yummy Recipe Facts
This recipe is Gluten and Dairy Free
It's Parve/Kosher
From Super Natural Food "One of the richest sources of folate, a B vitamin critical for healthy pregnancy is Asparagus."
Tomatoes are full of lycopene-a "vigilant protector against cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, testes, adrenal glands and cervix"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gluten Free/Dairy Free-Day Six

That's right.  The girl who hates labels officially has a label-I'm gluten and dairy free-well for the past six days I've been gluten and dairy free.

I've known for the majority of my adult life that certain foods bother my stomach-dairy is the number one culprit.  I've curtailed the issue by taking lactaid before eating cheese, eating cheese in small amounts, and realizing what bothers me (soft cheeses) and what irritates me (everything else) and what I cannot eat-ice cream.  Still, I'd buy fancy cheese at the farmer's market, add half and half to my iced coffee, and eat small bites of ice cream hoping and praying that nothing would happen-and it always would.  I won't get into details, use your imagination.

In the past year or so I've noticed that other items have been effecting my stomach as well.  I'd eat a piece of bread and within twenty minutes I'd be visibly bloated.  I'd attribute it to weight gain, PMS, anything to avoid the fact that the reason I was in pain with a distended stomach had to do with the wheaty, yummy goodness I was putting into my mouth.  I noticed it when I ate breads, crackers or pasta.

In addition to my tummy issues I have eczema-a fun skin rash that has shown itself on my body for my entire life in many variations.  From cracked, bleeding and puss-y fingers in my youth, to outbreaks around my eyes, to outbreaks in the crooks of my arms and behind my knees to this latest outbreak on and around my nipples and breasts.  I know that there are a slew of foods that I cannot eat-citrus fruits, tomatoes, avocados and have either eaten them sparingly or opened my mouth REALLY WIDE to avoid the juices touching my lips-which often didn't work and resulted in eczema on the insides of my lips.  Gross, sure. It's mostly incredibly uncomfortable.

Visit after visit my dermatologist would recommend an allergy test and instead I opted for Vanos-miracle cream extraordinaire. This stuff was amazing-literally upon application my eczema would clear up almost completely.  The cream was great, but as I kept putting the foods that irritate my skin into my body the cream sort of stopped working.  Now I only use it for severe outbreaks and have decided to take a good hard look at the things that I eat and how they effect me.

So I Googled foods that irritate eczema and both wheat and dairy come up-along with soy products, meat, nuts and a host of others.

So what am I going to eat?  That's what we're going to figure out.  I'm back ladies and gents.