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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Beacon Bits -- Good, Better, Best

Earlier this summer, a good friend in Beacon was becoming a US citizen. I thought it would be great to surprise her with something evocative of being American, so my mind went to apple pie, which led me to the Beacon Pie Company.
I had seen the "piecycle" across from the Beacon Theatre many times and had previously spoken to Heidi Bernhart, the owner, in June at the Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park. 
I made contact with her by email ( and ordered the Classic Apple pie to be picked up the next day; it was delivered fresh from the oven! Other than the timely service and the flexibility to make an apple pie a bit ahead of apple season, it was a pleasure to see another women testing out her culinary and entrepreneurial skills for all the foodies in town! Sweet pies are 9" and savory pies come in personal size (5") as well as the standard 9" size. All ingredients are fresh and you can tell each pie has heaping tablespoons of love and pride in the hand-crafted method that was passed down from women across generations. [In fact, I had my own fond memories of The Pie Lady & Son in Nyack when she first started her business in 1996 from her home.] 

Beacon Pie Company is a very good edition to the food scene on Main Street. Can't wait to order the Veggie Curry Pot Pie and the Salted Honey Butter, which always seems to be sold out! In addition to contacting Heidi directly by email or catching her or her partner, Christ, at the piecycle, pies can be purchased at Barb's Butchery and Tito Santana's in Beacon and other locations. I am sure Heidi will be getting very busy for the upcoming fall season, so it's time to sample the variety and begin thinking about holiday orders to place.

Speaking of 'very good', I visited Drink More Good for a BeaconArts meet-up last week and found the cupboards to be filled with teas, spices and herbs and hand-crafted soda syrups and bitters being produced in-house with an ample supply of over 50+ flavors available for purchase. While the syrups are billed as the basic ingredients for making your own soda and cocktail drinks, my own 'foodie' mind went to the other possibilities that eliminate the need to make one's own simple syrup from scratch, which is not always so simple given the exact temperatures for producing the condensed sweetener for many basic recipes. (see recipe below.)

In addition to redefining soda with his local business, Jason Schuler has global interests in mind as he partners with to donate at least $4000 per year in order to supply sustainable water systems where needed by generating funds through two annual fundraisers in town. I learned that More Good products are available in Whole Foods; who knew? And that the production area is available as an 'incubator' kitchen for those who are in need of a professional kitchen approved for food distribution. Local Beaconites can continue to drop into the store during hours and take a seat to drink in the ambiance of yet another success story since the venue opened in 2012 and relocated to its larger space in the last year. The products will make great gifts for friends who can then re-stock their cupboards by ordering online. It is a win-win all around with this social entrepreneurship!

Food for thought:  Doing good is better than being the best. But when all the ingredients line up -- as they do for our local food craftsmen who creatively apply their skills and talents to make something deliciously good for others, it can make you better---perhaps, the best. This trifecta of looking for the good to be better is purpose-driven and goal-directed. It gives meaning to the mundane existence we all face in our daily chores, routines and habits. It reminds me of another trifecta quote  that I came across years ago, which reminds us that to establish a good life, we all need 'something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for'. Two out of three isn't bad, but the search for all the ingredients is the best recipe for 'more good' living!

Simple Gingered Peaches
Slice 4-6 peaches, that have been blanched, cooled with skins and pit removed. Place into a small 'bell jar' and add a generous amount of "More Good Ginger Ale Syrup". Refrigerate. The marinated peaches will be ready to add to vanilla ice cream or for a topping on pound cake with whipped cream for dessert on a summer's day.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Beacon Bits - The Growing Season

It's been another long hiatus from blogging, but I've been busy having fun this summer, both in and away from Beacon. I've attended a high school reunion with friends traveling to the Hudson Valley and a joy-filled wedding; I've been to a knitting retreat sponsored by The Ethelridge Road Knitting Salon in the Berkshires where I was challenged to learn new woven stitches and finishing techniques; and I've been to NYC to two Mostly Mozart Festival concerts, a throwback to a time when I had more frequent trips to Lincoln Center. Now I just have to remember it is not that far away from home and always such an 'extraordinary' experience; I'm looking forward to next year's 50th anniversary of the festival! Where does the time go??
In between writing puppy reports and attending a graduation ceremony for Puppies Behind Bars, I've also been able to go to the three productions offered by Hudson Valley Shakespeare under the tent at Boscobel and attend two concerts at the Towne Crier Cafe
-- to see a touchstone performance by Peter Yarrow and a bittersweet farewell to the dynamic female trio, Red Molly, who will be taking an indefinite break from performing.

While in Beacon, I've been busy picking up my Obercreek Farm shares every other week, including a new fruit share offered this year. Lately, the growing season has created the need to make lots of ratatouille, and the juicy peaches have offered opportunities for peach crumble and a peach chutney (see recipe below.) It's amazing to have such wonderful local farmers who grow our food when we may not have the time or space to do it ourselves!
My Obercreek Ratatouille=olive oil, garlic, onion, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes,cooking sherry, salt/pepper/basil/oregano
I always make time to stop at Zora Dora, whose season is short, but Steve's 'crops' are always delicious and bountiful. Two favorites in the last week have been 'blueberry pie' and 'watermelon-lemon-basil'. I think I've decided that the Zora Dora Meter starts at 10 on the usual 1 to 10 scale (with 10 being the best), so in my estimation, the milk-based blueberry pie registers '14' and the sorbet-style, watermelon-lemon-basil registers a '19'. Remembering that Steve usually closes up around Halloween is incentive to make more frequent stops at this gourmet hot spot for visitors and townies alike.
Another venture this summer has been helping with establishing Second Saturday events called 'Art in the Sanctuary' held at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. The inaugural event in July featured the Tiffany stained glass windows in the church and a retrospective art show featuring T.Hugo Williams, the father of the Vicar, Father John Williams. The August event focused on the posthumous showing of art by local Beaconite, Earl Teachey, and to further honor his life, the African drummer Maxwell Kofi Donkor and his drumming group Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble performed west African beats to a large crowd. The September event (9/12/15) will feature a recital by piano and organ student, Sarah Johnson, who studies at Vassar College, followed by a welcoming reception for the community.
So while I've missed Beacon's first Jazz Festival and the annual Corn Festival, I look forward to the Pumpkin Festival (Sunday, 10/18/15) and the Spirit of Beacon Day (Sunday, 9/27.) But I especially am looking forward to seeing more of Mary Fris, proprietor of Flora-Garden & Home, a new venue in town located at 197 Main Street that will be growing all kinds of greenery, pottery, gardening tools, and offering classes about plant care. Mary is not contrary at all, so you can ask her 'how does your garden grow' and get informed responses to questions about ferns, orchids, amaryllis, English and Italian pots and what is in store for this new Beacon gem. Here is to a long and fruitful growing season for Flora, located next to Beacon Bread Company, Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, Zora Dora and across the from the fauna of Beacon Barkery---a garden of friendly neighbors to have close by.

Food for Thought: Just when you think you have your routines down pat, surprises can come your way and take you in new directions, which offer unique adventures and satisfying activities. It is good to be reminded to enjoy the 'life that is happening when you are busy making plans'. Summer is a wonderful season to meander and blaze new trails rather than just following old paths. There's still time left before the autumn equinox steers us toward an inner journey of reflection on the harvest that we reap after yet another personal growing season ends and the growing season for Beacon, which is flourishing, continues to move us all forward.
The Holstee Manifesto

Surprise Peach Chutney

10 local peaches, blanched in boiling water
Allow the peaches to cool. Rub off skin, cut in half, remove pit, slice and chop.

1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper,  diced
Saute the above ingredients in a pan that has 1-2 tbs. melted butter.

Place peaches into the pan and saute until peaches totally soften and blend with savories.

Add 1/4 cup organic sugar, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, and 2 tbs. cognac. 
Add salt and pepper to season.
Continue cooking until liquids begin to thicken.
Cool and spoon into mason jars and place in the refrigerator.
Nadine's Surprise Peach Chutney