dirty rice with garden leftovers

July 22, 2014 § Leave a comment


Each season I find myself in a routine, and I like that, even in the summer. In the morning kids go swimming, I teach, lunches are late. The summer nights are long and the sunsets beautiful over the garden. We spend a lot of time growing, harvesting, and making food together and I really love that. My husband makes great salads, the children run around eating raw veggies. I make sure bread, rice, beans, yogurt are ready to go.


But there are the garden leftovers that does not get put away or preserved.  I just do not like to toss food, so I keep a bag of older veggies, steams, and once in a while I make a big pot of dirty rice. For tonight’s dinner I used onions, a couple of garlic scapes, yellowed onion greens, chard steams and a handful of snow peas. I fried the rice until golden and cooked with broth and garlic. After the rice is ready, I mix to sauteed vegetables. One night last week when I was cooking with our church members at Camp Hunt in Hubbardsville, New York, there was a handful of celery, cabbage, half onion and some lentil sprouts and it become dirty rice for the staff snack.

Happy Summer eating!

how to make dirty rice


Black and Latino Farmers Immersion at Soul Fire Farm

July 11, 2014 § Leave a comment


I had the privilege to join the first Black and Latino Farmers Immersion at Soul Fire Farm the first week of July.  I must say it was truly a journey for me as I planned a menu with Leah and Jonah. I am thankful they let me join the group. I was reminded about our deep need to connect with the land. We got food donation from Honest Weight Food Co-op that made it possible for me to cook several Brazilian dishes for the Immersion.  I cooked foods that I have never made for and with others outside my home. When I share foods that are full of meaning to me, I long to share a story too. My goal was to cook with little waste as possible, using the whole vegetable as well produce that was not “perfect.” As I cooked black beans this time, it was not the recipe I would have made called Feijoada, the national dish of Brazil, with meats; not even the vegetarian version. I read that Feijoada may be just a romantic story I learned as a child. I reflected on the legend of how the slaves may have cooked it, by simmering black beans with leftover meats from the big house, so we added what we had at hand, careful not to waste precious produce.  My hope is that these conversations and skill sharing opportunities teach us not only how to cook but are reminders of how much waste goes into the waste goes into landfills while so many experience food insecurity.


What was different at the Immersion’s table, was that this was the most welcoming group. They listened and tried everything I cooked with an open heart. Soul Fire Farm is a safe place and we ate food made with love, from each others’ hands, and tasted the terroir of amazing food grown from under our feet. We ate with gratitude and intention. We ate wholesome foods! Special thank you to Leah Penniman for allowing me to publish her essay to this post as she poetically reflects on the week.

Black and Latino Farmers Immersion was a little peek into what is possible in a mended world.

Following her essay are the menu and recipes. Thank you to Capers Rumph for sharing some of her beautiful photos.

Reflections on the Inaugural Black & Latino Farmer Immersion at Soul Fire Farm
by Leah Penniman

“Land is the only real wealth in this country and if we don’t own any we’ll be out of the picture.”

Ralph Paige, Federation of Southern Cooperatives

 We are an uprooted people. Our ancestors were stolen from land in West Africa, forced off of land in Mexico by NAFTA, driven off of land to take up the Trail of Tears. Some of us re-rooted. For 400+ years we tilled the red earth of the American South and we joined the ranks of “foreign-born” agricultural workers building the foundation for this country’s wealth and power. We knew the land and belonged to the land, but the land did not belong to us. Brutal racism – maiming, lynching, burning, deportation, economic violence, legal violence – ensured that our roots would not spread deeply and securely. In 1910, the height of Black land ownership, 15 million acres (14%) of farmland was owned and cultivated in our community. Now, less than 1% of farms are Black-owned. Our ancestors were forced, tricked, and scared off of land and joined the 6.5 million Black people in the greatest migration in American history, the migration to the urban North.

We were a land based agrarian people from Africa. We were uprooted from Africa and we spent 200 years developing our culture as black Americans and then we left the South. We uprooted ourselves and attempted to transplant this culture to the pavements of the industrialized North. It was a transplant that didn’t take. I think if we had stayed in the South we would have been a stronger people and because the connection between the

South of the 20s, 30s, and 40s has been broken, it’s very difficult to understand who we are.”

August Wilson, playwright

The Black and Latino Farmers Immersion at Soul Fire Farm is a humble attempt to rewrite part of this story, to reclaim our ancestral right to both belong to land and have land belong to us. The knowledge of the earth is written into our DNA. The trendy skills of sustainable living – canning, work parties, urban chickens, natural building – are not at all new. Monica White’s book “Freedom Farmers” explains how Black Southern farmers cooperatives kept alive these ancestral ways of knowing and honed them into a specific art. This past week at BLFI, we did our part to revive this knowing.

Aspiring growers joined us from local Troy and Albany and as far as California and Florida. Each person placed incredible trust in us and the process, many camping for the first time, eating whole-food version of Diasporic cuisine, working hard in hot sun and dreary rain, and engaging in deep personal reflection that allowed uncomfortable and new feelings to surface. It was, as one participant put it, “the best thing that ever happened to me.”

After an orientation where community agreements were established (e.g. do not make assumptions, show up fully…) we established a routine that married flexibility with clarity, grit with introspection. Each day, beginning at 6:30 AM we got our hands on the land. There were 3 hands-on blocks per day, ranging from 1-3 hours – a gentle introduction to the corporeal rigors of farm life. We took time to explain the how and why of each task and shared a great variety of experiences – harvesting, CSA packing, chicken care and rotation, mulching, tool weeding, hand weeding, bed preparation, tomato pruning, pest management, direct seeding, and transplanting. Anticipating the emotional fatigue of the group heading out to weed for the 3rd day in a row, I reminded us of the difference between earth’s economy and capitalism. In contrast to the linear nature of capitalism, a life bound to the earth is cyclical. We pick the weeds and they grow again and so we pick them again, on an on, for all our days. And we find beauty and presence in the picking.

There were still learning spaces as well. During the longest work block we would break for a field class. During this time, we addressed natural building, orchard planning, tractor basics, and herb cultivation. Jonah did a beautiful job balancing times when it was correct for him, as a white person, to step forward and share knowledge (e.g. tractor class) and when to let others share their wisdom and expertise. During some of these blocks he led conversations with the other white allies, Lyssa and Capers, about their role in ending racism. We also had wonderful contributions for guest facilitators, including Naima and Adaku’s midday movement break where we shared yoga, improvisational dance, and Thai massage. I offered an afternoon class on farming theory, which included crop planning, Black land history, and soil fertility management. Finally, as the sun waned, we held space for deep personal reflection. Beatrice led us in sitting and walking meditation. Adaku brought us lovingly through a forest labyrinth wherein we were prompted to engage with our senses and our hearts. Tonya led us in a healing hum circle that dissolved into giggles and I offered a ritual herbal bath with a meditation on the beauty and completeness of our unadorned selves. The forest and pond provided our temple and kissed us with rain mist.

Abundant, whole-foods meals punctuated the day, prepared by rotating groups of participants with resident and guest chefs and featuring items from our respective homelands – Dominican Republic, Haiti, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Nigeria… We packed tightly around two tables and held the space with rousing, percussive gratitude songs and mildly chaotic passing of plates and food. Guest Brazilian chef Ellie Markovitch magnetized us to the kitchen with her deep reverence for food and the stories it holds. She also taught a class on whole foods preparation, during which, even the children Neshima and Emet were taking eager notes.

Throughout it all, there was a magic that cannot be captured in words. At one gratitude circle, Emet stammered, struggling to offer his thanks precisely and settled for, “I just feel so intertwined with you all.” It is true. During soils class, one participant offered a metaphor to help me explain cation exchange capacity, which compared Wu Tang Clan (high CEC) and Mos Def (low CEC) and the knowing, appreciative laughter said it all. “I see you.” The sense of family was so safe and palpable that Jonah found himself reading the speech he wrote for his brother’s wedding, which compared mulch to love. It was such that when Adaku and Lissa had to leave early, the entire group surrounding them, singing Stevie Wonder in harmony, collapsing into an “everyone hug.” It was such that, even as rain soaked bedding and cell phones, folks did not flinch – choosing love and joy over stress. It was such that the tears flowed freely at the final close and even waiting for the bus in the parking lot, we could not help but to dance.

Black and Latino Farmers Immersion was a little peek into what is possible in a mended world. Our people were once traumatized and confused, I believe. We mixed up the oppression of racism and named it the Land herself and strove to divorce ourselves from Her in an effort to get Free. But, without the land we cannot be free. Henry Kissinger said, “Control oil and control the nations; control the food and control the people.” When we get together in our dignity and power, own our means of survival, make decisions about the food system, learn to grow the food that nourishes us, cook for one another, and heal with one another – we return to wholeness.

 “Grab this land! Take it, hold it…dig it, plow it, seed it, reap it, rent it, buy it, sell it, own it, build it, multiply it, and pass it on!”

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Blessings for your week

Jonah, Leah, Neshima, & Emet


Photo by Capers Rumph

Crysbel “Mariposa” Tejada, left, cooking radishes and garlic scapes with coconut milk while Ellie makes feijao refogado com alho (refried beans with garlic) seasoned with cumin and olive oil, photo bellow. Served with pao de queijo, rice, salad



Brown rice was cooked with the cobs of corn to make extra tasty and tossed with sauteed radishes and garlic scapes


but the corn we ate raw in a corn/parsley salad


Photo by Capers Rumph

Watermelon Gazpacho

One large seeded watermelon
Half watermelon (8 to 10 cups chopped) seeded and blended with the other half watermelon (8 to 10 cups of mashed)
2 cups melon, diced, or other fruit, we used apples
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cucumber, sliced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Juice of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons fresh mint, minced.
In a blender, puree half of the watermelon until smooth and freeze it. In a large bowl, combine the frozen watermelon puree, the other half of the watermelon mashed or chopped, diced cucumber, melon, salt, lemon juice. Serve with fresh mint. 


Photo by Capers Rumph

making Virado, which translate “Turned”.  Cook bananas in oil or butter, add whisked eggs, continue turning until cooked, add grated cheese, turn until melted. When the dish comes out of the sides, finish with toasted Yucca flour to taste–serve hot


Photo by Capers Rumph

Molho Maionese  da Celeste sem ovo (Eggless Mayonnaise)

1 potato, cooked and chopped
1 carrot, cooked and chopped (gives the yellow color above)
1/2 cup cold milk (or soy or water from veggies)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 TBSP of vinegar
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of black pepper
spices to taste for variation (celery, mustard, etc)
½ cup of olive oil

Blend together the potatoes, carrots, liquid, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and black pepper until smooth. Stirring constantly, add the oil slowly, until you get the consistency of mayonnaise. Sprinkle paprika to serve.


1 lb hominy (yellow or white cracked dried corn)

1 quart milk or coconut milk

1 cup grated coconut

1 cup roasted, crushed peanuts

raw sugar or maple syrup to taste

1 pinch of salt

1 cinnamon stick


Wash and drain dried corn and soak in cold water overnight.

Cook in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes according to your pot instructions or until tender or slow cook crock pot low for 8 hours.

Add strained cooked corn to coconut milk or milk, grated coconut, roasted peanuts, maple syrup, pinch of salt and cinnamon. Serve hot or cold



May 31, 2014 § 2 Comments

Thank you Deanna Fox and photographer Cindy Schultz / Times Union for capturing the essence of our family food journey and sharing one of my black beans recipe with your readers. 

Here the link to the article online:




{Eggs} Two Recipes: Three Ingredients

May 28, 2014 § Leave a comment


thank you FSC for sharing my egg share post and recipes.

Featured Image -- 2120


Whole Wheat Sponge Cake

1 cup of whole wheat stone-ground pastry flour, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 3 eggs

1 cup of whole wheat stone ground pastry flour, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 3 eggs

1. Pre-heat oven 350F

Beat eggs until it triples in volume, about 7 minutes.   Incorporate maple syrup slowly, beating for another 2 minutes

2. Beat eggs until it triples in volume, about 7 minutes

3. Incorporate maple syrup, beating for another 2 minutes

4. Stir in flour being careful not to break all the bubbles

Stir in flour being careful not to break all the bubbles.   Bake in a oiled and floured 8 1/2 inch cast iron pan for 23 to 25 minutes

5. Bake in a oiled and floured 8 1/2 inch cast iron pan for 23 to 25 minutes

Whole Wheat Sponge Cake


3 eggs, a bunch of foraged dandelion greens and wild chives

3 eggs, a bunch of foraged dandelion greens and wild chives

Foraged Fritatta

  1. Set oven to broil to preheat
  2. In an oven safe pan (I used a 8 1/2 inch cast iron), add olive oil to coat the pan and cook the greens until just wilted.
  3. Add 3 beaten eggs to the cooked greens
  4. Place the oven safe pan under broiler in the middle rack of the oven, for about 5 minutes until golden and eggs cooked. Check around 3 minutes as ovens may vary in temperature.

Originally posted on FROM SCRATCH CLUB:

This Spring we were able to make arrangements again for an egg share. Every two weeks we get 2 dozen eggs from Soul Fire Farm. The eggs are priced on a sliding scale $4-6 per dozen.  This experience is the next best thing to having chickens. We have been fostering 3 baby chicks as we contemplate a chicken coop.

Some people argue that they do not like the taste of eggs and work on masking them in their food. I do not like the taste of “factory farm” eggs. Eggs are a large source of protein for our family. What I do want to taste in my eggs is the terroir (some translate as a sense of place).

I want to taste the farm’s soil and chicken forage. I want to see the orange color yolk and hold those blue eggs as I crack the shells.

I do have a…

View original 189 more words


May 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

For today’s cooking demonstration at The Friendship Garden of the Delaware school in Albany, I wanted to work with rice. I have been thinking a lot about my relationship with the land and how it connects to my family history. I have been nurturing these memories and thoughts in preparation for Black and Latino Farmers Immersion at Soul Fire Farm. (Can’t wait!)

Rice was the first food I learned to cook. It was also one of the first food stories my mother told me about my grandmother, her mother. Vovó Antonia farmed rice on borrowed land. She kept half of what she grew to feed her 9 children. There was not enough money to raise all the children so she had to send her children to live with relatives. My mother went with her godmother “Mãe Dinda” (Mother Dinda). When we traveled to visit my grandmother’s home town for the first time, I saw in her pantry bags of grains and thought of the toll it had taken on her and the family. She was older and no longer worked the fields, but there was rice, roasted yucca, and yucca starch. After I shared my story, fourth grader Ma Aye thought of a “connection”. What wonderful bunch of kids guided by a very special teacher–Susan Fowler.

I have a lot of fun childhood memories of cooking and eating rice. One of my favorites were eating rice balls with my hands. My mom would make rice balls for my brother and I. Just about anything could go into those balls kept together by sticky white rice. While we cooked at the garden, kids reflected on their favorite memories.

brown rice salad

Brown Rice Salad

3 cups of cooked brown rice (water, salt and 2 Tbsp coconut oil)

2 cups of grated carrots (yellow and orange)

2 cups of sweet bell peppers (red and green)

herbs the kids picked from The Friendship Garden

1 cup of almonds (crushed using mortar and pestle)

3 cups of red grapes, sliced in quarters

juice of one lemon, olive oil and cinnamon to taste

brown rice

brown rice veggies and grapes


Ellie’s photo by Susan Fowler


white bean parsnip soup

May 15, 2014 § 2 Comments


We were all really exited to visit the Tybush Mountain Alpaca Farm to learn more about their animals and family farm. Thank you John and Elva so much for hosting! After such long winter, we appreciate even more a beautiful Spring day. For this event, I cooked with what I had at home to make lunch for the Honest Weight Food Co-op and Agricultural Stewardship Association visit.  I wanted to bring a hearty warm taste. I always have beans, so I started with 3 pounds of  navy beans = soup for 30 people. I am very appreciative some of these recipes are shared — thank you Daniel Berman!


White Bean Parsnip Soup

3 pounds of dried white beans, I used navy beans

6 parsnips, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch rounds

1 large onion, chopped

1 head of garlic, minced

2 bay leaves


salt and black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons of olive oil, stirred in the end

1/4 cup lemon juice, stirred in the end

Cook beans and vegetables together in the pressure cooker according to manufacture directions for 15 minutes.  Open the pot and check beans and vegetables are tender. Purée the soup with olive oil and lemon juice. Adjust salt and pepper. This soup could also be made by soaking the beans overnight and either cooking on crock pot on low for 8 hours or on high for 6 hours.


We served the soup with Amy Ellis’ Ramp Pesto and baguette

1 bunch of ramps, cleaned and roughly chopped; I used all of it – no waste

1/2 cup pine nuts (toasted); although Walnuts will also work nicely and less expensive

1/3 cup(give or take) olive oil (I used evoo)

1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Dash of sea salt and pepper

a squirt of lemon

Place ramps and pine nuts in the food processor. Pulse a few times. Add cheese, salt, pepper and lemon, pulse again. While processing slowly add the Olive Oil until smooth or the consistency you like.

Oakwood Community Center Soul Cafe

April 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

April 2014 cooks

I had the privilege to cook the April dinner at Oakwood Community Center Soul Cafe in Troy, NY. Thank you OCC director Linda O’Malley for the countless hours of work and support you give! Here a photo of us in action:  Dan Mcbain, from left,  Michelle Rogat, Shanna Goldman, Ellie Markovitch, Kizzianne Casale and Jillian Naveh, We could not have done without all the help from many food loving and community supporting friends: Nancy Webber, Capital District Community Garden, Honest Weight Food Co-op, Troy Farmer’s Market and Slack Hollow Farm.

I started by putting out some calls and asked folks to save any produce that could be used for the dinner. I got jalapenos and mushrooms the week before, that I roasted and froze until ready to use. That is one of my favorite ways of cooking — “rescuing” an ingredient and creating  delicious and wholesome food.

So the real excitement started when I stopped at CDCG and got 2 large boxes of culled carrots! Yes, they needed some love but what a wonderful rescue it was! So much food goes to waste. We were able to make 120 serving of stir fry and other delicious sides and broth with produce that were about to get discard. Amy Halloran had a similar experience with green beans recently and she wrote so beautifully and also in depth for The Metroland.

“Food waste occurs at every point on the path from farm to table, and while there are more organizations than ever working to enhance food recovery, they can’t reach into your kitchen: It is estimated that American households throw out 25 percent of their food purchases. The waste occurs when we buy too much food, store it incorrectly, cook too much, and throw out leftovers.”

I often check  www.wastedfood.com and there are some great resources and ideas on this site. This recent video “Food Wastage Footprint2″ give us a recent picture the costs of global food waste.

Now back to the dinner, on this photo bellow, we can see the process of cleaning and sorting. We also chopped and froze an extra gallon of carrots for a later use.

cleaning carrots

And we made spring rolls



and Dan made curries


and we were also excited to use kohlrabi. I roasted some with coconut oil and Dan made a pickling mixture he used to build the Spring Rolls. It was delicious!


Dan’s kohlrabi pickling mixture: 50% cider vinegar, 25% cider/maple syrup and the least 25% a mixture of sugarcane vinegar and soy sauce/rice wine with some Thai-bird chilli. Refrigerate overnight. “The kohlrabi had an indecipherable flavor but a wonderful texture. That’s what made it a perfect subject for pickling,” he said.

thank you April dinner
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