Monday, December 30, 2013


“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life. Feeling good.”   How about a change in your diet for the new year by eating healthier food?  Try going organic for a month or two.   I’m sure there is something you can give up for the extra expense.   

I tend to attach the word “organic” to fresh fruits and vegetables of which is prominent at Fairway Market.  Yes, I was off to the Douglaston store to shop and certainly got in my walking for the day as the organic is not restricted to any one aisle.   There are areas as well as shelves that will have an item that comes in both organic and non-organic such as meats and olive oil (which there is a whole lot of).  

Aisles six and seven are a great start.   Juices, for instance, can be found in two areas, one of which is organic.  Lakewood has a good variety including a pure tart cherry and a super veggie.  Bionature drew me to Peach Nectar that also contained apple juice as a sweetener.   Keep in mind that juices contain a great deal of sugar and less fiber than eating a whole fruit.  That is why there are “juice glasses”.  Add some fruit juice to rooibos tea. 

Since many of us think of juice as part of breakfast, let’s hop over to the organic sections of cereal.   For me, winter means “hot cereal” and I don’t like the instant ilk.   Arrowhead Mills has a seven grain with “high fiber.”  I put salt, butter and a bit of milk in mine, while many people like it sweet.   You can get Brad’s organic maple syrup.  

There are a number of brands of organic “cold” cereals to choose from.  I personally prefer Nature’s Path and do not check the sugar content.  I use a “cereal bowl”.   My favorite is one with flax seed and red berries…to add Fairway’s organic milk.  That brings me over to the organic area of the dairy aisle which also has organic and vegan frozen foods.

An advantage to buying frozen vs fresh produce is being able to portion it out as you eat it and no waste.  Learning how to freeze “fresh” can also be helpful.  Fresh produce should be blanched and dried.  I like to portion out all of my foods by first wrapping in freezer paper or plastic wrap and then placing them in a freezer bag.   You can wash out the freezer bags as well.  

Woodstock is a good brand for both frozen veggies and fruits, along with at least three more brands. I bought the asparagus as that is one fresh vegetable that goes bad before I can eat all of it.  Compare the brands, compare the prices.

You will rarely if never see a frozen dinner in my freezer.   I have the time, energy and just about every “cooking thing”, including both a NuWave oven and NuWave Precision Indoor Cooktop.   Besides, have you ever looked at the additives and preservatives in these?   I decided on some both for being “ethnic” and using organic produce. 

One brand is actually called Ethnic Gourmet.  Artisan Bistro and Amy’s were two others that interested me.  No “a and p”. Calorie count was pretty low on all and portion size was enough to not overdo.   Although one brand did have something with shrimp, chicken seemed to be the only other protein used in these.   I’m guessing that if beef or pork is used then so would preservatives.   Lots of vegan options as well. 

One essential for cooking is broth.   For some reason chicken broth is the most used in cooking, even if you are not preparing fowl.  Brads has an organic without fat.  

Gotta have dessert.  Chatfield cocoa powder is just that.  It is not processed with alkali to modify the color and give a milder taste.   Flavorganics extracts had an almond that uses organic alcohol as well.   Rapunzel organic corn starch.  Fairway organic milk.   Organic sugar.  Combine cocoa powder, sugar, milk and extract in a pot.  Cook and stir.  While it’s cooking make a mixture of corn starch and cold water to make a paste.   Stir into mixture when the liquid is hot to thicken it.   The result is a chocolate-almond pudding.  

One area had organic dried fruit.   What is the difference between plums and prunes?  Nothing, really.  They changed the name to appeal to a younger group that associates prunes with elderly constipation.   I found Made In Nature to have both no added sugar or sulfates. 

After obtaining these items I decided to check out the pet food aisles of which one area had the “special” cat foods.   I wondered if my finicky cats would even care about their food being organic.  Newmans  (Paul is actually a relative of mine) and Castor were two of the brands.   So far my cats do appreciate it.  Then again, I can put just about any cat food in front of them and they will gobble it up.   I’ll stick to my own diet change for now. 

As for the word’s to the song in the beginning…the song is entitled “Feeling Good” from the Broadway show The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd”. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Amidst its eighth annual world tour, Shen Yun Performing Arts will return to Lincoln Center, at the David H. Koch Theater, in January, 2014, for a limited two-week run of performances. Shen Yun has sold out performances at the David H. Koch Theater for the past two seasons.

At the core of Shen Yun’s performance is classical Chinese dance with its explosive techniques, synchronized movements, and expressive powers. China’s numerous ethnic and folk dance styles round out the evening. In a collection of short pieces, audiences travel from the Himalayas to tropical lake-filled regions; from the legends of the culture's creation over 5,000 years ago to contemporary tales of courage; from the highest heavens down to the dusty plateaus of the Middle Kingdom.

The entire performance is accompanied by the Shen Yun Orchestra, which combines two of the world’s greatest classical music traditions, Chinese and Western. Ancient instruments like the soul-stirring erhu and the delicate pipa lead the melody on top of a full Western orchestra.

For me, this is a true experience for the entertainment senses.  It blew my mind!  Like nothing you've ever seen.  There will be only ten performances from  January 10 - 19, 2014, ending just a few weeks prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year.

For thousands of years, China was known as the Divine Land.  But under 60 years of communist rule, authentic Chinese culture, including traditional arts, have been almost lost. That is why you cannot see a performance like Shen Yun in China today.

Based in New York, Shen Yun is entirely non-profit. Its artists have come from around the world to revive this glorious heritage. Since its establishment in 2006, the company has become a global sensation, performing for over a million audience members across five continents around the world.

Featured is Queens resident Ms. Haolan Geng who has began studying music at the age of six, and is a graduate of the music department of the Guangdong Conservatory of Music. She went on to star with the Guangdong Provincial Opera, winning the gold medal (professional division) at the first music competition of the Guangdong Festival of Arts. In 2009, Ms. Geng earned gold medal honors at NTDTV’s third International Chinese Vocal Competition. She is currently a soloist with Shen Yun Performing Arts.

Ticket prices range from $80 to $300 available at

Friday, December 27, 2013


Challah bread, once a staple of the Jewish community, now gets placed at your table at most diners and considered the best for indulging in a great French Toast.   In most cases this sweet bread comes in the form of a traditional braided loaf and given the choices of plain with poppy or sesame seeds covering the top, or with raisins.  

Over at Violet’s pareve kosher bakery the shapes and varieties are more unusual since her son Michael has formed a business within called, Challywood.   You might have heard the name as the ABC show The Chew got word of a particular flavor of apple cinnamon, ventured over to do an interview, and satiated it on air.  It was obvious how much they enjoyed it as most of the hosts were coming up with both breakfast and dessert ideas.

Michael Kahan left his Wall Street career to assist his parents, Violet and Marty, in what seemed to becoming a failing business and in came a TLC (The Learning Channel) program Bakery Boss to “rescue”.   The most important changes were made and Challywood was featured.

“When eating Challah, it is customary to break off small rounded pieces from the braided loaf instead of slicing it. With this in mind, the more modern version of Challah can be found in a rounded version baked in a tin pan. This “Pull-Apart Challah” has gained popularity over the last 2 decades.”
One day, Michael added lemon and found how good it tasted.  That started the idea of the bakery’s expansion and added name of Challywood. 

Having watched the segment on tv, I went over to the location at 189-09 Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows to view both signs of Violet’s Bake Shop and Challywood.   Although Challywood’s address is 189-07, the only entrance at this point is into the bakery. 

I met the family and toured the back where two bakers were at work just tending to some of these “Pull-Aparts”, piping in the “flavors” prior to the baking.   Another employee was focused on making the pastries. 

A bit too early for the “fresh out of the oven” I viewed several of the “bun” ilk already packaged.   Needless to say I had to sample some of them beginning with the apple cinnamon.   This is where challah bread crosses with a Danish but not as sweet nor crusted.

I’ve never had bread made with chocolate.  OMG.  Only dark chocolate is used at a pareve bakery and it suited me just fine.  Cocoa baked in the bread itself and then drizzled with chocolate.  They do have a Chocolate Chip as well. 

Other “sweet-dessert type” flavors include: blueberry splash, cherry, chocolate cherry, chocolate coconut, raspberry, chocolate raspberry and lemon chip. Imagine your own creations of bread puddings. 

Let’s not put aside the more savory flavors such as Southwestern Spice, Garlic and Italian Herb and Everything…superb choices for the dinner table.  Meatballs with pasta anyone? 

Challywood’s website provides further information on the products as well as the ability to shop and have your order delivered.  Think of friends and family from “out of town”.  You may want to call 718-776-1905 before popping in to see if the more special ones are available.