Jewish goat cheese

From December 9 to 12, I attended the Hazon Food Conference – East Coast at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut. Here is a piece I wrote for The Jew and the Carrot about one “culturally” enlightening session. Photo by moi.

Goat feta

Can Cheese Be Jewish?

“Goats are the Jews of the animal kingdom,” Aitan Mizrahi told a group at the Hazon Food Conference on Friday morning. The workshop participants, gathered in the warm, cream-scented air of a small industrial kitchen at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, immediately picked up on the tongue-in-cheek theme: They wander, they are intelligent, and they are stiff-necked, they said. And, Mizrahi pointed out, “They enjoy to be in a minyan and they also enjoy to go off on their own and shmooze.”

So the gentle and friendly milk-producers make a perfect fit for Freedman, an eco-conscious retreat space in the Berkshires.

Read more on The Jew and the Carrot.

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Columbia Heights marketplace opens

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The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace opened Saturday, June 5, with a kickoff that hit more than a few hallmarks of a community event. The market, which debuted its regular time of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in its home at 14th Street and Park Road NW, brought together individuals of different political stripes, shoppers of varied tastes, and members of several generations.

Eight sellers offered everything from strawberries and garlic scapes to bratwurst and blue cheese, with some sunflowers, wine vinegar, garden-ready plants, and French pastries as well. Not only did mayoral race foes Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray stand on the same stage, but nearly the whole City Council (as well as the Ward One representative to the school board, Dotti Wade Love) turned up to make an appearance or sent volunteers to collect signatures get them on the ballot. A gravely-voiced resident who had lived on Kenyon Street for 55 years stood yards away from a pint-sized poet who had barely been walking for five. Dance and music, from performers of every age in between, rounded out the entertainment.

Click over to the full article, including video and a photo slide show.

D.C. Vegetarian Cooking Group to hold farmers market brunch

brunch spread

The D.C. Vegetarian Cooking Group has announced that it will put local fare at the center of its June event. Jack Zahora, who heads the group that meets once a month for a pot luck meal or restaurant outing, is encouraging the members to shop at an area farmers market the weekend of June 5, whip up dishes based on the ingredients they purchase, and show them off at a brunch on June 6. The event will take place at the grill-equipped Columbia Heights home of one of the members.

This event comes at an opportune time, as the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace is slated to open that weekend, and the home-hosted brunch is becoming all the rage  in D.C.

Zahora, a D.C.-based journalist, has given a preview of the spread. He plans to make a vegetable frittata, baked mostachioli, mimosas, and grilled tomato sandwiches. Other items on the menu include vegan quinoa salad with vegetables, Belgian waffles, and sorbet.

D.C. Vegetarian Cooking Group Farmers Market Brunch

June 6, 1 p.m.

Columbia Heights

For more information, go to the group’s website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. To join the group and find out the particulars of the brunch location, email Jack Zahora.

Michelle Obama highlights familiar tools in the battle against obesity

(This is cross-posted from my Examiner.com site. But in this one, photo credit goes to moi.)

Michelle Obama announces Let's Move - cropped

On Tuesday, sixth grader Tammy Nguyen brought down the White House with her thoughts on produce. Leading up to a much-anticipated announcement in the State Dining Room, Nguyen described how she helped grow a rainbow of vegetables in a kitchen garden on the “first lawn.” “My friends and I have learned a lot about change, about eating healthy food, and making the right choices,” the former Bancroft Elementary School student explained. “My classmates and I plan to keep that color on the plate–and I don’t mean M&Ms,” she said.

Nguyen then introduced First Lady Michelle Obama, who summoned all hands on deck to bring the Bancroft students’ experience to every American child to promote better health. She outlined a detailed initiative, called Let’s Move, to curb the startling rate of childhood obesity (about one in three children is overweight or obese, she said), and save the nation’s kids from preventable diseases. Such an initiative can also create jobs and help fish the budget out of a deficit. That can only happen, Obama said, if many sectors work together and the action starts immediately. Continue reading

Valentine’s Day film fest loves local foods

Nora Pouillon selects veggies at a farmers market.

Washington D.C.’s FRESHFARM Markets’ new year started with good news: A mini documentary about the organization would be part of Yachad‘s Our City Film Festival slated for February 14 at D.C.’s Goethe Institute. Not only that, but the film would appear alongside “Nora!” featuring a restaurateur who embraces local and organic food.

“I’m thrilled to have a film about FRESHFARM Markets and to document in some way how the markets were created and what vision was behind it,” said FRESHFARM co-director and co-founder Ann Yonkers.

Yachad, which mobilizes the Washington-area Jewish community to repair and rebuild lower-income neighborhoods, selected 14 films for the third annual festival and divided them into four categories—Our Body, Our Mind, Our Heart, and Our Soul. “FRESHFARM Markets” will appear in the body category and is, of course, about FRESHFARM and its nine producer-only markets in the D.C. area. Their markets include such favorites as the Dupont Circle farmers market and the farmers market at the White House.

Read the whole story…

What would Moses drive?

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What would Moses drive? This was the title of a session on climate change at the Hazon Food Conference, held December 24 to 27 in Pacific Grove, Calif. Indeed, this is a question for the ages. Or for right now.

…that’s the opening of a post I wrote for Jewcy.com. I was thrilled to write for them, and to share thoughts on the intersection of Judaism and climate change action. Read the whole post at Jewcy.

Updated: A face of the New Jewish Food Movement

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This is Susan Slesinger. Susan has four Jewish environmental bike rides under her Pearl Izumi waistband, the most recent on a tandem bike with partner Marvin Fields. Susan plays and teaches music and does fiber arts. She resides in Seal Beach, Calif. In this moment, she is standing outside of Merrill Hall at Asilomar Conference Grounds near Monterey. Behind her, a bustling shuk (market) selling cookbooks, local honey, kosher muffins, blown glass, and organic clothing is closing out the Hazon Food Conference. Continue reading

Heading west in search of food

On December 24, I will say goodbye to the contents of my one-person refrigerator and head to a table for more than 600. Yes, I’m off to the Hazon Food Conference in Pacific Grove, CA. According to the Twitter buzz, the conference promises to draw the largest gathering of the New Jewish Food Movement ever!

Not that we will all sit down and nod our heads together. Indeed, as the debate about meat at the conference shows, you can expect a few disagreements. I look forward to observing and perhaps taking part in some of these discussions (I already jumped into the meat comment combat — in defense of the stuff, believe it or not!).

If you’re curious what this is all about, check out the website and the schedule. Then try not to salivate too much!

I look forward to writing about this experience and guiding you to other accounts in word and image.

Farmers markets for Thanksgiving

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Squash: a great local food for Thanksgiving. Photo by me.

This is a cross-post from my Examiner.com page. Hope it’s helpful!

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Several area farmers markets have announced they will close out the season this weekend, meaning it’s the last chance to stock up for Thanksgiving and for the year. Others will have special opportunities to fill your holiday table. Continue reading

Disastrously Delicious: Food Writers Get Together and Shake Things Up

The following is cross-posted from The Jew & the Carrot

Ratatouille

A group of Jewish food lovers, a spread of delectable dishes, and milkshakes made of laughter. If it were possible for one afternoon to be too good, this is where it would start.

A group of Jew & the Carrot writers, editors, and friends faced the risk—overflowing goodness and all—this past Sunday. Of course, it all started with the food. I arrived at host Avigail’s Clinton Hill, Brooklyn apartment to find hand-layered ratatouille swirling from the center of a clay baking dish, crusty homemade beer bread, a cake topped with the purple velvet of baked plums, aromatic rosemary bread, peach-basil salad, and made-from-scratch yogurt. That alone nearly tipped the scales to the side of the too good. Did I mention that we washed this down with homemade sparkling ginger-grapefruit juice? Spiked with gin? Continue reading