White Bean Beef Shank Soup

November 19, 2014 § 4 Comments

We always look forward to the Thanksgiving Holiday. A few days ago our backyard looked more like a Christmas scene with our first snow.


I wanted to share something I am thankful for in my kitchen. If you have been reading recent posts, would you guess I am thankful for beans, a good deal on local food, or my pressure cooker? There is a lot more of course, but as far as a dish, one that is made with all the above makes me one thankful cook. To celebrate my new pressure cooker, a gift from my very dear friend Liz, who moved overseas. I made White Bean Beef Shank Soup. I will be thinking of her every time I use this pot. I promised her to keep it in good condition until she returns. I am already missing her, but I am excited for her new adventure. We have eaten together also in France and Brazil. I can’t wait for our next meal together.

Maybe it is way too early for New Year’s resolutions too, but having a goal could be helpful during this gift giving season. If you are considering cooking healthy tasty meals, in less time, a pressure cooker is a kind of pot that could help. I grew up watching my family in Brazil using it everyday. I use mine all the time. I like this infographic. There is some information for electric pressure cookers, which I have not tried yet.

Please see the recipe in pictures bellow. Our family of 4 ate 2 times. First round we ate with bread and the leftovers we ate with brown rice.

1) I got one beef Shank (1.32 pounds ) for $4.25 from a farm up the road.


2) Sear all sides of the meat using a bit of high heat oil. While doing that, I was chopping carrots, onion and celery.


3) Remove the meat and use 2 cups of veggies to “clean” the pan, sweating the veggies on low heat


4) When the vegetables were soft, return the meat to the pan, add 2 cups of dried white beans, a couple of bay leaves, 1 tsp salt

beef shank3

5) Add enough liquid to cover the contents in the pot by 2 inches. I used water. Most pressure cookers have a fill level line, to guide us not to add too much water.


6) I remembered I had some brussel sprout leaves, so I added them!


7) Close the lead according to manufacturer instructions and when the pot take pressure, set the timer for 15 minutes


8) Open the pot according to manufacturer instructions, adjust seasoning and voilá!


9) My youngest requested and got the bone.

shank plate

We blessed our food, and dinner is served.



November 11, 2014 § 8 Comments

The first frost was on its way and I called a farmer friend Rebekah Rice from 9Mile Farm to check if she could use my help with cooking in exchange for some greens. I told her I will work for food! I spent a few hours there and brought home bags of bok choi, napa cabbage, and mustard leaves and bonus: peppers. At Rebekah’s farm, those leaves were going to feed her chickens, so I appreciate very much her sharing with us and I can’t wait for her to taste some of these ferments. With what I had at hand, I could make kimchi, or simple sea salt vegetable ferment.

At first look, why mess with those outer leaves? Food waste is something that is always on my mind, probably because of the gleaning I did with my family, watching my parents save everything, trying to make ends meet. It was the way of life. And it is what I want for myself and my family now. We are blessed with safe and plentiful food our our table, but it is always on my mind that “40% of good food is thrown away in America while millions are food insecure.” The state of Massachusetts has a commercial food waste ban in place that started last month -  “no food waste hits the landfill”, and that is exciting news. Maybe we will see something happening in the residential waste level soon. I am for using the extra food we produce and that is safe to eat. When I see foods destined to be discarded, I see the potential of transformation into something delicious and nutritious. Not all of us will have the time to process cull, some of us may not know how, but there are things we all can do at home, sometimes as simple as eating our leftovers or labeling our leftovers, freezing them and eating later.


I am more than happy to work the entire weekend sorting, cutting and picking snails off organic leaves. The reward? My mouth waters just thinking about those jars of kimchi in my fridge now. So I will pause here to go eat a bowl, but first I stared proudly of what has become of those precious greens.

The next best thing to eating them, is to share them. I posted this photo of my jars on facebook asking if anyone would want to trade food with me. I am trading kimchi with friends for jam, hot peppers, eggs, dried apples and pancake mix! I also got requests for the recipe, so here it is.

My kimchi inspired ferment recipe is a combination of information from books (wild fermentation), online recipes ( fermentation on wheels) , friends recipes, practice and lots of tasting.  This recipe is fish free and uses few hot peppers, but you could add both. I love to be able to incorporate the fermented veggies to recipes or serve as a side dish for my family.

I started a batch at Rebekah’s kitchen a few weeks back, working with her and her father, Michael, good fun to cook together.

kimchi2 kimchi1

here at home:

Kimchi- my base

makes about 2 QT Jars, about 8 cups


5-6 pounds of  combo of veggies:

Mix and cut about 1 to 2 inches wide:
2lbs Chine Cabbage (Napa, pac, bok choi, mustard, etc
1 Whole daikon radish or other radishes, or other roots
1 to 2 carrots


mix spice paste:
1 head of garlic, 6 tablespoons ginger, onions or leeks, scallions, seaweed, lemongrass, hot peppers, a couple of tablespoons paprika, or Korean red pepper powder for heat and color if desired. (You will use this paste after the overnight soak)


Brine: 4 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of salt, double if necessary to cover veggies overnight or 6hrs or so.
I use a plate to weight it down and keep the veggies covered with light fabric. By the morning there will be plenty of liquid.
Strain veggies and taste, if too salty, rinse, if not enough salt, add more. Save the brine in the fridge if you need to keep the veggies under liquid.


Mix paste with strained veggies, using gloves if working with hot peppers

kimchi12 kimchi11
Pack into jars, make sure vegetables are covered with brine, use the salty water if needed here and a larger leaf as the last layer to keep veggies from floating to the top.

Weight it down. I use covered glass jars filled with water, or a stone. Date the jars.
Ferment 7 to 10 days, watching if the brine starts to dry, press it down and add more brine. Cover with light fabric to keep out dust and flies. Set on a tray. Keep fermenting for a month if desired.
When it taste good to you, take the weight off, remove the top leaf, cover and refrigerate for 6 month to 1 year.

Farms, Food and Photography at Lewis Waite

November 9, 2014 § Leave a comment


October 19 we had an incredible Agricultural Stewardship Association and Arts Center of the Capital Region Farms, Food and Photography class at Lewis Waite Farm. The views at Alan and Nancy Brown’s farm were breathtaking and their hospitality very warm. The photography lesson was on capturing the golden hour, using our long lenses.


After a spectacular fall afternoon walk. It got really cold as we went up the hills to capture the views. On our way back they offered us refuge in their home. We set around their dinning table sampling their smoked beef kielbasa made from their grass-fed beef. We also tasted several local products.



We were all excited to try their meat and the cheese, bread, preserve while enjoying stories and the company. I must also mentioned that Alan had the fire place on at the house where the walls were covered with local bird feathers collected by Nancy and family art. We ate lots of garlic the whole evening. We grow garlic and I feel like we eat a good amount per week, but slices of garlic on bread was just the introduction. We just kept following Alan and Nancy. There were this “garlic shots,” as we decided to call them. A slice of radish, topped with pesto and a slice of raw garlic. Set my month on fire and pleasure all at once. We could not stop eating them. But we were not done, Alan brings a ceramic jar with this golden garlic preserved in honey. The Browns explained that you just pour the honey an the garlic and let it sit out and eat it! It has taken me some time, reading about as I am trying to understand the recipe, why it is probably OK that the garlic sits out in the counter and there is no risk of botulism. So here the recipe I decided to follow:


Yes, just garlic and honey. I am using Unfiltered Buckwheat honey and the garlic we grew.

IMG_1972garlic honey

honey garlic

Update: Keep jars closed and 2x a day “burp” the jars. it is starting to look bubbly in there:

garlic honey2




Caramel Bread Pudding

October 15, 2014 § Leave a comment


A recipe that uses stale bread has a special place in my heart. With fall, I am thinking comfort foods again.  One of my favorites is my mom’s delicious bread pudding with raisins, coconut, and/or fruits she feels like or have at hand. In Brazil, it is called “Pudim de Pão”. Bread Pudding is one of my answers to “what to do with old bread?” Certainly do not compost yet! This recipe is nice because you can freeze the old bread for later; keep it soaking in the fridge for a couple days until you are ready to bake or even freeze the batter or freeze the baked bread pudding and eat within a month. For the Pudim de Pão recipe, I started with my mom’s recipe and modified so I can make for my family of 4 or as I did last month, 100 plus servings for people at events like Story Harvest and Oakwood Community Center Soul Cafe in Troy, NY.  I love the see food being used to build community. Thank you Placid Baker for donating the day old bread to both events. Bread Pudding is one of those recipes that I have tasted while visiting or living in several countries. Historians say Bread Pudding dates back to 11th century . If you have bread, milk and eggs… so please do not toss those old leftover pieces of bread. Do you have a favorite bread pudim recipe?


Mom serving bread pudding during Story Harvest 2014 at the Sanctuary for Independent Media.


To start, caramelize a pan, square or round but one that you can fit inside another pan, to bake in a water bath, “banho maria” like I do for “Pudim

Caramel Bread Pudding, Pudim de Pão

serves 8
8.5 inches oven safe pie plate
12 inches of French or Italian stale bread cut up into cubes (about half baguette)
2 cups of milk (almond milk also works well)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
plus 1 cup of sugar to caramelize the pan (or use 1/2 cup and serve with maple syrup)

Soak break in milk 3 to 4 hours.
Heat oven on broiler. Add 1/2 cup sugar to an oven safe dish you will use to bake the bread pudim. Let is caramelize, sugar will melt and until liquefied and golden in color (about 10 minutes). Watch here as it burns very fast.
Meanwhile, mix  1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, milk and bread in the blender for one minute. Pour mixture into prepared, caramelized dish. Place the pie plate in to the roasting pan and pour hot water into a roasting pan. The water will be around within 1 inch of top of the pie plate.
Bake the bread pudim, in water bath for about 1 hour, test with a knife in the center comes out clean. It will turn golden brown on top and start separating from the sides of the mold. Let it cool, refrigerate at least 4 hours
To serve, run a knife around the pan, carefully invert on serving plate.  Serve hot or cold. Keep leftovers refrigerated.


5th Annual Dinner on Bannerman’s Island

October 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Fifth Annual chef-prepared Farm-To-Table Bannerman’s Island Fundraiser.


It is always a great day to be in an Island cooking local foods with a group of people who really care about connecting people and great food. This year was special for me, I had my mom’s help to make one of our family recipes


I made the salad this year. I used Farm Hub corn to make Brazilian Pamonha (“The name pamonha comes from Old Tupi language pa’muña meaning “sticky”). But my version was baked. I served with Little Seeds Garden arugula and baby ginger, and local apples and red peppers.

Consortium chefs prepare a five course farm-to-table dinner (two seatings) in Helen Bannerman’s garden among the historic ruins of Bannerman’s Castle on Bannerman’s Island Castle on SUNDAY, September 14th, 2014 with locally and regionally sourced ingredients.

Our chefs will include:

Jillian Naveh – Thunder Mountain Curry

Josh Coletto – Local 111

Michael Lapi – SUNY Cobleskill

Ellie Markovitch – Story Cooking

Bob Turner – Omega Institute

Tyler LaCorata and Justin Markham – Devil’s Run Brewing Company


Sweet Corn Cake

August 31, 2014 § 5 Comments

sweet corn cake

I have this delicious sweet corn from Denison’s Farm and a craving for Sweet Corn Cake or “Bolo de Milho Verde.” I have my mom’s recipe, but this is one of those recipes that I make while calling her in Brazil. This recipe does not give me all the details for me to make just like hers. This recipe does not come from a cookbook with exact measurements and I like that because it invites me to dialogue, to create and to embrace the new outcomes.

I did not grew up with cook books. Maybe once in a while I would see a clip from a magazine, the back of a box or a pamphlet with a new food advertisement featuring recipes.  What I did see and had and still do have are notebooks. When I moved away from home, to come to the United States, I copied my mother’s recipes into a new notebook to bring with me. She copied hers from her relatives, friends, and still writes them down when she makes something that turns out really good or she does not want to forget. When her notebooks pages would get too greasy or pages would start to fall off, she would ask me to copy the whole notebook. Those were nice summer projects I did as a kid. The old notebooks were passed down to another cook in training. The recipes have names like Aunt Zilma’s bread, Nelza’s torte or Dad’ Cheese.

I wonder if this is why I have a passion for recipes. For me they are more than just instructions. Recipes are living connections to people and time. I treasure and work towards capturing the stories around them when they are happening and the oral history that does not come printed on a recipe card.

Bolo de Milho Verde is a creamy corn cake, almost like a custard, but with the milk added only if needed. Mom says, make it sweet or salty — use the same recipe. So over the phone she tells me how to “adjust” the recipe I have in my notebook. “If you make it salty, you do not need the baking powder,”  (not on the recipe). “Not only can this be baked, but also fried,” she added. The taste is of Pamonha, (similar recipe that is boiled wrapped in corn husks). In the end and I am very happy it turned out delicious, almost like mom’s! PS: I made the salty versions both ways and the second time I did add 2 tsp of baking powder in the salty version and like the results better.

bolo de milho verde


5 ears of sweet fresh corn, cut off the cob (about 5 cups)


4 eggs

4 tbsp butter

1 cup of sugar (or less, to taste, as this is a very sweet dessert)

1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (instead of Brazilian matured “Curado cheese” farmed cheese)

1 tbsp baking powder

I added 1 tsp of anise seeds

Add all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth, add a few tbsp of milk if needed to keep blending. Bake in rectangle or bunt cake pan.

corn cake

Bake 350 for about 40 minutes and the top of the cake is golden color.

salty sweet corn cake

Salty Sweet Corn Cake — I am calling this a “suflê” !

I used the corn from our garden to make this version and it is more like a souffle.

3 cups of corn, cut off of the cob

2 eggs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 cloves of garlic

2 tsp baking powder.

Add all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Bake in 8 ounce size ramekin containers. Oven 350 for 25 minutes.


2014 Farms, Food and Photography Camp week 2

August 21, 2014 § Leave a comment


I believe the past two weeks of Farms, Food and Photography camp was an enriching experience for all who participated. We left transformed as we explored food systems, from how food is grown to the different ways it reaches our table. We reflected and witnessed how important it is to protect the land. We visited farms and talked with farmers who are excellent stewards of the land.

While having lunch at Longlesson Farm, Blake Oakley was reminded that “there is that saying no farms no food. Now coming to some farms, I really understand people do this for a living and it is amazing — their land and everything they are doing. I like how they have continued a way that is healthy for us and the animals.”

Lauren Evans added: “I think it is a great thing to have so many farms that are protected so we do not have as many developments and pollution in the world and we can have more land.”

After lunch the kids got to watch owner Melanie Mason and her dogs by the pond.

“It is wonderful to see the kids experiencing farm life up close from cows to dogs and water retrieval, and of course the day lilies. It was lovely to see them all here,” said Melanie of Longlesson Farm.


This camp is a partnership between the Arts Center of the Capital Region and  Agricultural Stewardship Association.

“We’re thrilled with this program and partnership,” said Teri Ptacek executive director of the Agricultural Stewardship Association. “The student’s photographs and blogs really demonstrate just how much of an impact the chance to connect directly with agriculture can have and why it’s so important to always be able to have local farms and farmland.”

It was featured in the local paper, the Troy Record.   Students also blogged last week and you can read their entries here.

My sincere thank you to the Arts Center and Agricultural Stewardship Association for your support.

Thank you Farmers Brian and Justine Denison, Bob and Melanie Mason, Bob and Mary Pratt, Urban Farmer Howard Stoner. Thank you  writer Amy Halloran, Tolu Fashoro and Hannah Savio from Capital District Community Garden Produce Project and Amy Ellis from Honest Weight Food Co-op; Joseph Mastroianni, Mr. da Silva and individuals who makes this program possible.

Special thank you to The Review Foundation and ASA’s business sponsors of the “Make a Connection with the Land program” : Healthy Living Market, TD Bank, Capital Tractor Inc., Nolan CPA Services, Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Co., Fronhofer Tool Co. Inc., Stewart’s Shops.

 August 4th, 2014

Hi, this is Blake Oakley writing. Today was really really fun! We talked about cropping our photos and picture story! We also cooked today. We made dirty rice and smoothies. I shelled the peas. Personally the dirty rice was my favorite. It consists of squash, peas, red onions, garlic and of course rice. We used jasmine rice. Ellie taught us that for every hand full of rice counts for a person so you know how much you need to cook. This is Blake telling you have a nice Monday and thanks for reading!

August 5th, 2014

Hello, Syair is speaking and I’m going to tell you readers about what happened today! Now, today we did  a time exposure with our cameras and they were pretty awesome, making silly pics , funny characters and animals. Also, we cooked fettuccine Alfredo, which includes 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 minced shallots, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 cup of heavy cream, salt and freshly ground pepper, 1/4 pound prosciutto, julienned, 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed,1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus more for garnish , 1 pound fresh fettuccine. Then, we watched a demonstration of how to make our own ramen noodles soup in a jar, including putting in some other ingredients. I learned how to make a different kind of Alfredo and it meant a lot to me because, it’s helping me learn how to cook many foods  I’ve never made before. So, have a wonderful day and learn how to cook because it’s fun!


Bellow is the recipe Amy prepared with us.


Here how we made the instant noodle in a jar, recipe from storycooking.com

August 6, 2014


Helloooo Troy, and anywhere else people are reading this, I am Laila Collins. Today we based our meal on Brazilian cooking. Ellie helped us make the most delicious food. We made rice, black beans, collard greens, some sweet potato soup, and cheese balls. It was quick and easy. We had a lot of fun doing this. My favorite part of the meal was the soup. I was surprised, because I don’t like sweet potatoes but the soup was awesome. This meal is vegetarian. So that was good for me because my family and I are doing a no meat challenge for one month and we started August first. This was the second Wednesday of camp and it was even better than the first one!


Cooking grains in the oven.
Brown Rice in the oven. This method works as well for lentils, millet.
Mix 2 cups of brown rice, 28 ounces (3.5 cups) of water ,1 tsp salt, 1tbsp coconut oil and bake 375F on an oven safe dish with a lead for 55 minutes.
Basic Black Beans Slow cooker recipe
2 cups of dried beans, washed and sorted
In a 4­quart slow cooker, add beans and cover with 4 inches of cold water and to soak overnight. In the morning or about 8 hours later, rinse the beans and put it back in the slow cooker, covering them with water by 2­3 inches. Cover the slow cooker with a lead and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4­5 hours.
Season to taste, keep in the fridge for up to one week or freeze 2 to ­3 months.

Couve (Collard Greens)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
8 collard green leaves, cut into chiffonade
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
In a frying pan, sauté onions and garlic for 1 minute then add the collards and sauté until tender and bright green.

“Pão de Queijo” – Cheese Bread
Thanks to my mom Celeste for creating this recipe that adds a little bit of Brazil on our daily lives–miss you!
●  1 cup of sour cream or greek yogurt
●  1 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
●  1 cup plus 2 Tbsp of tapioca starch (Yuca flour) 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make small balls by rolling about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough in the palm of your hand. Use the extra yuca flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 25­30 minutes (Remember no peeking!) Remove from oven and serve immediately piping hot.
August 7, 2014

Hi, this is Elsie and Sofia. Today is day 9 of Farms, Food and Photography camp. We went to Longlesson Farm and visited pigs and cows and saw rare flowers. The owners had four dogs that we played with. Their names are Benjamin, Billy Jean, Coriander, and Tarragon. We saw lots of the flowers and took pictures of them. They were really pretty. We learned about cross pollination, making new flowers. We rode a tractor to an old barn made in the 1870′s. We saw the pigs, most were dark brown but one was brown red. The pigs were really cute, one came towards us and looked right at the cameras. Then we saw some cows and caves near the fence we stood by.  After we saw the cows, we went to the old barn, inside we saw a lot of hay. Some hay was rolled up and some was in squares. I really liked the view from the barn you could see the cows and another farm far away, I thought it was beautiful. After that we went to see more cows under the apple trees. The cows were in a big herd with caves.
We went back the the tractor and rode back to the farmer’s house. When we got back we had lunch by the flowers. Then went to the pond with the dogs. We threw water toys in and they swam to get them; it was so cute! After that the bus arrived and we went back to the Art Center.

At the Art Center we made Agar Agar jello and talked about tomorrow.



Camp Agar Agar Jello
1 cup of grape juice
1 tsp of agar agar powder

Mix the agar agar powder with 1 tablespoon of water to dissolve
In a sauce pan, bring juice to a boil with agar agar powder. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour into silicone molds. Let it cool and refrigerate for faster setting.
If using fruit, let the liquid cool to room temperature. Pour cooled liquid over fruit until set for a couple of hours or in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Agar Agar also called Kanten is a vegetable gelatin and sets at 50F.

August 8, 2014

We visited Capital District Community Garden Produce Project. They were harvesting for the Delmar Farmer’s Market. They gave us a tour and showed us how to harvest herbs, flowers and tomatoes.



Back at the Arts Center, Laila showed us how her family makes hard candy. We spent the last hours editing and saving all our photos. The images will be featured at Art Show at the Arts Center of the Capital District during Troy Night Out August 29, 2014.


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