Cooking together is a wonderful shared activity, which this month’s highlighted community member, cookbook author and food equity advocate Juila Turshen, mentioned at her recent online Oblong Books event with Dorie Greenspan. She said that in her experience, working in the kitchen with others is a great way to connect on a deeper level—and we couldn’t agree more. Julia often marries cooking and community with activism, which is a winning recipe in my opinion (pardon the pun).
And speaking of activism, And North recently launched a new searchable lodging directory, Stay North, in which all properties listed have signed an Ally Pledge to guarantee they will not tolerate hate or racism of any kind from their staff or customers. This is a trusted resource when seeking Upstate lodgingsthat have unique style and incredible warmth. Plus, there are a handful of new Town Guides up on their site that will have you wanting to explore—or rediscover—some fun locales.
If you’re looking for ways to get involved in the Upstate community, take a look at the Anti-Racist Catskills calendar. Their resources page lists some great reads and movies too.
Lastly, please consider attending "Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty" on March 18, a virtual event hosted by the Kingston Food Co-op with Leah Penniman, Soul Fire Farm’s Co-Founder and Farm Manager, to learn more about what we can do to create a more just and equitable food system. You can register here.
Thanks to everyone in our community who is working to make our area safe and welcoming for all. Here’s to looking ahead, and continuing these conversations.
There have been many blessings to opening our studio in Kingston’s midtown district. The biggest bonus to date: our proximity to an urban farm run by the YMCA Farm Project, and more so, the exceptional youth who care for it.
The crew, ages 14 to 18, works year-round under the tutelage of its two highly-dedicated directors, KayCee Wimbish and Susan Hereth. In addition to running their winter farm stand, planting spring seedlings, and growing an array of organic vegetables, the kids partake in preparing meals for those in need and exploring antiracist work among many other meaningful actions.
This winter the youth crew embarked on a very special project with Julia Turshen, who has co-authored numerous cookbooks and written three of her own, including the newest, Simply Julia, which just launched March 2nd! (Congrats Julia!).
While Julia continues to prolifically share delicious, comforting recipes with the world, she gives in a multitude of other ways—one being a commitment to expanding inclusivity in food media. Notoriously known for being white-centric, both in the workplace and its content, the publishing industry is getting a much needed wake-up call. In response to this need, Julia proactively founded Equity at the Table (EATT), a database for food industry professionals that focuses on women, primarily people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. And in the true Julia spirit, this invaluable resource is open for all to use at no cost.
Julia also contributes on a local level in Ulster County, where she and her wife, Grace, live. They volunteer regularly at Angel Food East, and it was Julia’s work with the Y Farm kids that gave me the chance to experience her thoughtful, caring manner firsthand. The youth crew was using our studio to test recipes for their upcoming cookbook, which Julia was spearheading. As she guided them through the cookbook process, her insightful questions challenged the kids and nurtured valuable feedback on their dishes.
To quote Julia again from the Oblong Books event, she says food and cooking have given her a way to give to others— and it seems she just keeps giving. Thanks for inviting us to your table Julia!
It was nearly ten years ago in his New York Times’ food column when Mark Bittman introduced us to a squash-ricotta toast from ABC Kitchen that had him swooning. I can’t say for sure if Jean-Georges was the OG ricotta toastmaker, but he is to me, and his original squash version is one of my favorites. Since then, I’ve riffed on it countless times. You can pair most any vegetable, whether it be pureed, roasted, or fresh, with a thick layer of creamy whey cheese and you’ll find success. As of late, I’ve been placing thin slices of ravishingly pink watermelon radish atop my toasts. Another favorite is roasted beets. Sometimes I sauté spinach, or even mash up an avocado (double fat = doubly creamy!).
Though most any vegetable will do, not all bread will. To ensure a luscious pairing, I almost always choose a sourdough variety, and mostly whole wheat. A chewy, robust crumb is a nice complement to the smooth cheese and can hold up to a crunchy vegetable if that’s the case.
And lastly, the MVP. When it comes to ricotta, not all types are created equal. If you're feeling ambitious, you can make your own (which our resident baker Frida likes to do! check out the recipe in our online journal). It's actually really fun, you simply separate milk curds from the whey by heating the liquid with a splash of lemon or vinegar to make it curdle. It's like a science experiment. When you're looking for something more economic on time yet equally delicious, look for a whole milk fresh ricotta as opposed to the mass-produced options found in the dairy section. The soft cheese often comes piled high in a small metal container bound by plastic wrap. You can usually find it locally in the Adam's Fairacre Farms cheese department.
I don’t like to even call this a recipe, it’s more a pairing suggestion than a mandate. Play around with seasonings, toppings, and like I said, most any vegetable will do very nicely! Enjoy.