Spring is here, and in New York City that means a lot. It means no more heavy coats, gloves, scarves, thermal underwear, layering several articles of clothing, runny noses, or simply running to the subway to get out of the cold. We spend on the average, six months bundled up and hustling to where we are headed. Every year winter seems to be longer and longer, while Spring seems to get shorter.
With the warmer seasons going by in a New York minute, we New Yorkers are slowing down. The leaves are returning to a bright green, blossoms are blooming with white, pink, yellow and purple flowers. Tulips and Daffodils are taking over every sidewalk garden. Pansies can be spotted in window boxes and we are stopping to smell the roses — well, the Dogwoods and all the many other fragrant flowers and trees in bloom.
Some people think New York is harsh, cold, abrasive and down right mean. I am talking about winter, not the people. But one thing all New Yorker’s can agree on is that Spring is one of, if not the best, seasons in this city. It’s when everything is new and the possibilities are endless. To some New Years Day is the start of a new year, but here, Spring is a celebration, our New Year. We live and breathe for it. It triggers a sense of accomplishment, a certain knowing that we all made it and will live to see the beauty that is starting to unfold. It means newness, a freshness and a big sigh of release. We come together and smile more, say hello more and treat each other like neighbors, not just another person trying to get somewhere.
Spring also means taking the longer way home from work or walking to do that errand or two. It means eating in back gardens, front restaurant patios, hitting happy hour before the sun sets or as it sets, especially if you can find a rooftop; finding a small garden by accident and taking it in while tourists buzz by in their must see everything confusion. We look forward to nighttime strolls by the rivers, accidentally meeting a friend on the street and taking the time to get a quick drink or bite, or just catching up.
We know we live in a great city. But in order to really appreciate it you must live through a winter and come out the other end. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes we New Yorkers rise from winter and with total abandon and glee we go running into the colorful world of Spring. Hello neighbor.
It’s official. Camping season is here! Well almost. But that didn’t stop us from heading into the woods on this semi warm (21 degrees) winter weekend. Yes some might call us crazy, and this would be one of those times. But when you feel the need to escape you can’t deny it. So we hit the trains and trails of Harriman Park and set up camp at our favorite spot, Lake Skenonto. We only went for in quick trip this time so we only prepped one meal. Beef stew. We wanted something hardy and quick to heat up, as time and day light would be short when we arrived at our campsite. After trudging through two feet of snow we hit camp and started to prep. Jason worked on getting a space cleared for a fire and I went hunting for wood. I came back with very little so we swapped chores and Jason hit the mother load! I found a log under the snow that we could sit on while our fire roared and I also set up the tent. After all that work and we rewarded ourselves with a shot of whiskey. With our fire ablaze we started dinner and enjoyed the serine quiet and beauty of the wilderness. After dinner and whiskey with a little snow to mellow it out we enjoyed the fire for a while and then headed into the tent to watch a movie.
The next day we woke to a couple of eagles singing a song, made some coffee and breakfast. After a little leisure time in our winter wonderland we decided to pack it in and slowly made our way back to the train. We didn’t have time for our usual Chinese farewell meal but that was ok. After walking through all that snow both ways, just getting home was reward enough. With our packs off our backs and a congratulatory glass of white wine we are melted into our coach and are dreaming of hitting the trails in spring.
As you all know we are now making hot sauces. What started out as Christmas gifts has blown up to be a part time business. Hopefully this year we can make it a full time job. But in the meantime people keep asking us what we use our hot sauce for? Well we like to put it on anything that will stand still. But not everyone is like us, so here are a few of our favorite things…
Who doesn’t love deviled eggs??? What we do is instead of mustard we add a little hot sauce in the mayonnaise and egg yolk mixture to give it a little kick and a drop on top for decoration.
The Super Bowl favorite or an Oscar guilty pleasure. If you’ve made hot wings at home you can just imagine what out hot sauce will do to those little bits of mouth watering chickadees. Yum!
Just like the deviled eggs, add a little to your potato salad for a nice punch and an unexpected heat that your guests will love and wonder how you did it.
This is one of my favorites. I mix this with chicken, mayonnaise, a dash of mustard, celery, carrots and red onions, sometimes a little cilantro, and presto you have the beginning of a great salad or wrap or sandwich.
There are so many things you can do with our hot sauces. Treat them like an ingredient in your kitchen arsenal. Let your imagination go wild. That’s what we do! We hope you like the tips and will use them and create your own fun dishes. Till next time, spicy love to all!!
Another trip to the wonderful Dollywood. This was a true whirl wind tour. We arrived in Tennessee at 10:30 am on Saturday (via Chicago) and then drove to Pigeon Forge, stopping at a few thrift stores along the way. Our first night we found Old Smokey Moonshine and after a nice dinner, we had a moonshine tasting. That’s all I need to say. Next morning was Dollywood! Thankfully the weather was on our side and during the day we hit one of our usual spots, the Grist Mill for some giant cinnamon loaf, did some pre scouting for souvenirs and in between we hit the roller coasters. We had planned on actually eating a real meal, but as the day went on it was all about the snacks, like a giant corn dog big enough for two. By night time anything that stands still is covered in lights. There’s even a Christmas themed light show. After riding the roller coasters multiple times(Wild Eagle our favorite), a special Christmas show with a hologram Dolly as the ghost of Christmas past, and a few other attractions we hadn’t seen before, it was time to get our shopping on. As usual it was a mad dash before the park closed, and as usual we still didn’t see it all! On Monday morning with our Dollywood hangovers, we managed to make it to quite a few thrift stores. Not all were gems, but then again, we only made it through half our list and as far as Knoxville. With our bags overflowing from souvenirs and thrift store finds, we flew back home dreaming, and a little spinning, thanks to the multiple cocktails our wonderful stewardess bestowed upon us, of our next Dollywood trip.
Canning is a tradition that has been going on for centuries. People have preserved everything they could from salting meat and fish, to veggies and fruit, even burying them in the ground for months on end. It’s a way to preserve the harvest, or it was. Most people don’t need to can or ferment vegetables or salt there meats to last on long boat rides to foreign lands or the harsh winter months. We started a couple years ago when I bought Jason some canning books for Christmas. We had been making beer and I felt it was the natural progression. So we filled our cupboards with all kinds of canned food. After a couple years and the renovation of the kitchen/Lab earlier this year, we noticed we still had a lot of left over and started to use our canned goods as appetizers and side dishes. Soon we were running out of our supply. And like our hot sauce people wanted to take some home. So this fall we have been canning freaks. Also the local CSA has helped us with more food then we can eat. We’ve canned everything from apples, pestos, soups, made preserves and our very popular chile peppers. The latest is dilly string beans and yellow beets. Come February and March we will gorging on our hard work this fall. Hopefully we can save some for summer BBQ’s!
This year Jason decided to get our local CSA so we could have farm fresh food. We have been getting our fresh veggies, dairy and meat since early summer, and we have been loving it! So have our friends. We’ve been having what I call CSA BBQ’s and CSA dinner parties. One thing about getting all this fresh food is, it really is a lot. So you have to be very creative and eat a lot! Having friends willing to help is a blessing. One thing we’ve been getting is greens. Lots and lots of greens. We eat them for breakfast with fried or poached eggs on top, lunch and dinner. But one of my favorite things we have been doing is taking our arugula, cilantro and parsley and making pesto out of them. Not only do we use all of these tasty greens, we get to enjoy them at our leisure. You can use them as spreads, in pasta, as pizza sauce or add to soups, even rub on a chicken and roast it! The pesto will keep in the fridge for about two weeks or you can freeze it, which is great way to to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.
Drizzle a small amount of oil on bottom of blender
Add arugula, Parmesan, pine nuts, half of lemon juice, salt and pepper
Start blending and slowly add oil
Blend till you get a good consistency
Taste and add more salt, pepper and rest of the lemon juice if needed.
I love garlic that's why I added so much. But if that is too much use one clove. For cilantro parsley pesto you just need to switch out a few ingredients 1 cup packed cilantro leaves 1 cup packed parsley 2 tablespoons almonds(some say blanched almonds but I don't think it's necessary) And continue as normal.
Pumpkin and Potato Soup - based on Mum's yellow potatoes
1 small sugar pumpkin (3.5 - 4lbs)
4-5 medium potatoes
½ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons of butter
½ cup vegetable stock
House of Zeta Homewrecker Hot Sauce (or similar earthy smoked hot sauce)
Salt and pepper
Cut pumpkin in quarters and de-seed
Cut pumpkins one more time in half
Peel potatoes and cut into chunks
Steam both separately
When done drain and let cool
Scrape pumpkin into bowl
Add potatoes, cream, butter.
Mash together adding some salt and pepper
Place mash mix in blender add stock and blend until smooth
Add two or three dashes of the hot sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste of needed
Reheat and serve.
Ratio of pumpkin to potato should be ⅔ pumpkin to ⅓ potato. Keep this in mind when making soup.
Is Pumpkin and Potato soup your new staple for this fall and winter? We think so, and here’s why. Jason and I received an invite to our friends annual pumpkin party this last weekend and were told to make something with pumpkin. It was requested that I make Paula Deens pumpkin gooey cake. No problem. I love it and it’s become a staple in our Thanksgiving meals. It even replaces the pumpkin pie! But we also wanted to bring a savory dish as well. Our first thought was pumpkin and potato mash. A side dish Jason grew up with. But as we cooked every thing and started to put it together we noticed that it was looking and tasting like a great soup. So we added some vegetable stock to thin it out a bit and next thing you know we had an amazing soup! Jason also added a bit of our Home Wrecker hot sauce for a little surprise. At the party people were practically licking their bowls, or was that just us?! We recreated the recipe here. It’s easy and very un-fussy. The hardest part is cutting up the pumpkin. But it’s worth it as you get to roast the seeds! With fall and winter settling in remember your new best friend, pumpkin and potato soup. It’s the perfect starter or side dish with a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich.
Our first fall camping trip got off to a slow start, we accidentally boarded the wrong train! But luckily it was a happy accident. By the time we made it to Tuxedo and Harrimon Park the slight rain that was plaguing us all morning had stopped. We bought our final supplies and headed to the trail, arriving just in time to collect firewood, make camp and start dinner before sunset. Steak, baked potatoes and cilantro pesto corn were the evening meal and a lovely moon to gaze at. Later with the fire and moon in full force we just sat back and took it all in, before heading of to sleep.
The next day we awoke to a beautiful misty fog rolling over the hills and exposing Lake Skenonto in all its fall foliage beauty. The birds sang hello while we made coffee and breakfast. The sky cleared up and it was a glorious fall day to be in the woods. So naturally we pulled out the ukuleles and serenaded the animals with our songs. After some more quiet time it was time to head back to the city. So we packed up, said goodbye to our animal friends and headed for the train and Chinese food. This may have been our first fall camping trip but it won’t be our last.
We are excited to announce our hot sauce of the month club! Every month we will post a new hot sauce or salsa. Join our facebook page to get your monthly reminder and tips on what we are using our sauces with. If you want one for yourself or a friend just like the sauce of the month and we will contact you and get it out right away. Of course you can always write us here and we will be glad to help. Happy saucing!!!
One of the easiest things to make for camping is vegetarian chili. You just chuck everything in a pot, let it simmer for a while and tah dah! It’s done. I’ve made this so many times that I don’t measure anymore. Who am I kidding a never measure! Ok so I’ve gotten better at measuring thanks to writing about what we cook. You can keep it vegetarian or add meat it’s all up to you. We usually are out for a couple days so keeping it meat free is best. I also freeze it so it becomes part of the ice we use to keep everything fresh. I like to add as many fresh ingredients as possible, like tomatoes, corn, carrots, onions, bell peppers and sometimes zucchini. This is a great dish to experiment with and have fun.
1-2 6oz cans of tomato paste( depending on how thick you want it)
1 med onion
1 med green bell pepper
1 med red or yellow or orange bell pepper(your choice)
2 carrots(3 if small)
1 med zucchini
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of oregano
¼ teaspoon of cumin
2 tablespoons of chili powder
¼ teaspoon of ancho chile powder
1 large or two medium bay leaves
½ tablespoon of salt
½ tablespoon of pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Peel and chop onion
Peel and chop carrots
Chop bell peppers and zucchini into cubes
Cut kernels off corn
Peel and rough chop garlic
In large sauce pan add some olive oil and onion
A sprinkle of salt and pepper
Sauté for a few minutes
Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes till tomatoes start falling apart
Add remaining vegetables, garlic and cans of tomatoes, sauce and paste
Rinse beans and add them to the pot
Add spices and herbs, salt and pepper
Simmer for about 20 minutes
let cool and put in freezer bags and freeze.
If you aren't a camper that's ok, this is a great meal anytime. They say to let chili sit overnight that way it incorporates all the flavors. I usually can't wait, but if you can, let the pot cool off, refrigerate and reheat the next day. Don't for get the hot sauce, cheese and sour cream for the ultimate bowl of chili!