Tuesday, June 28, 2016


from left to right (as closely as possible):

Flushing Town Hall Chinese Cultural Committee member Minwen Yang, Chinese Theatre Works’ co-artistic director Kuang-Yu Fong, NY Epicurean Events Vice President Joe DiStefano, Yumcha Yoga Founder Dr. Yen Yen Woo, Skip LaPlante, Bobby Gonzalez,  Chinese Theatre Works’ co-artistic director Stephen Kaplin, Flushing Town Hall Executive & Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek, Flushing Town Hall Teaching Artist April Armstrong, Mario Sprouse,  Korean Traditional Performing Arts Association's Senior Artist  Song-Hee Lee,  Napoleon Revels-Bey, and  Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts Teaching Artist Steve Palermo.

Drumming under the moon, a “puppet slam” and a fine arts workshop are just a few of the events still to come in an exciting lineup of summer events at Flushing Town Hall.
“The hallmark of our programming at Flushing Town Hall is to present a cross-cultural focus,” said Flushing Town Hall’s executive and artistic director, Ellen Kodadek, at the announcement of the summer’s remaining events last week. There will be “works of art coming from different disciplines sometimes coming from different cultures.”
Here are some of the highlights. Beginning July 9, Queens artist Steve Palermo will be giving a Saturday morning five-week workshop on painting and collage. This series is for those who either want to renew their love of art or just have a desire to bring out their creativity. This program culminates by having the artwork made by the students displayed in the Visual Arts members’ exhibition, “World Within a World”, opening on Aug. 7. The course’s final session is Aug. 9. Cost is $160/$125 for members and includes all materials.
On Aug. 12, Yuhan Su Jazz Quintet will be taking the stage. “Yuhan Su is a native of Taiwan and a New York-based vibraphonist who has written a new series of compositions inspired by a Chinese mythology known as Kua Fu, who I learned is a giant who decided to chase and catch the sun,” Kodadek said. “Yuhan will be bringing both her Taiwanese experiences as well as influences of American jazz.”
You can celebrate the full moon at a drumming workshop in the garden July 19 with Korean drumming and another that features Chinese drumming Aug. 18. Song-Hee Lee, senior artist at the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Association, and Nan Bao, director of the East Wind Percussion Music Academy, will jam with the entire group at both events. Drums are provided and all are welcome.
The ancient art form of shadow puppetry will be on display in a first-ever in New York City event as Chinese Theatre Works Co-artist Directors Kuang Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin present a Shadow Puppet Slam. Multiple puppeteers will bring together luminous and shady digital images. The July 30 show is meant for adult audiences.
Also on July 30 is a show aimed at kids—“The Cat Came Back: Stories and Songs with a Jazz Twist.” Teaching artist and singer April Armstrong presents music and storytelling with her friends Mario Sprouse on piano and Napoleon Revels-Bey on the drums.
Create your own musical wind chimes from found objects on Aug. 14. Wind Chime artist Skip LaPlante, Con Edison/Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts Composer-in-Residence, will provide the materials. Participants are encouraged to bring something special from home to attach to their individual wind chimes.
In addition, audiences at Flushing Town Hall will be able to share their memories of Queens, as family photos get digitized at no cost. This event is part of an initiative by the Queens Public Library system called “Queens Memory.” Bring your photos, postcards and other memorabilia on July 19 and Aug. 6, 7 and 18.
For further information on these events, as well as other programs scheduled for the rest of the summer, go to www.flushingtownhall.org.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Dee Dee has had quite a few visitors over the past few days now that school is out. She is doing really well getting socialized with people. She loves to come up and check them out and occasionally she allows them to love on her. She will get much better as we continue to socialize her. We are going to be attending the Rockwood Ice Cream Festival this weekend and we will be taking a few alpacas along with us. We will likely take Dee Dee with us on one of the days just to reinforce her training. She is always a hit since she is so adorable. I'll try to get a few shots of her at the festival and send to you. 

Here's how Dee Dee spent the afternoon on the first day of summer!

Hi Merle,

We took Dee Dee to the Rockwood Ice Cream Festival in Wilmington DE this past Saturday. It was beautiful weather and Dee Dee was definitely the star!

Here is Dee Dee welcoming Ashley McBrien to our farm. Ashley and Dee Dee hit it off and are now good buddies!


Sunday, June 12, 2016


I tend to expect restaurants in the Rockaways to have the same basic cuisines that would fit people who spend much time at the beach.  A few years back I discovered Thai Rock. Searching for another more unusual cuisine I came upon Uma’s located at 92-07 Rockaway Beach Blvd.  Rather than a rack for bicycles, this one is for surf boards.  The cuisine is a different “Asian” as it centers on the country of Uzbekistan.  

Conrad Karl and his wife Umida (known as Uma) are the owners.  Uma is the executive chef who holds the recipes for some of most savory dishes.  Conrad grew up in Philly, while Uma in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.  Thus, the cuisine.

The d├ęcor does not suggest fine dining but rather one of this urban beach area.  In fact, you will find a surfboard in one corner belonging to Karl’s 10-year-old daughter Maya, who had taken a win in her surfing division.  There is a portrait of Duke Kahanamoku, an Hawaiian who begat the sport of surfing. Entering at about 5 p.m. on a weekday there were people enjoying refreshments at the bar. I was satisfied with an imported non-alcoholic ginger beer. The bar photo was taken after they left.

Uzbek is noted for their grain farming, thus the use of noodles and bread products.  Squash, eggplant and tomatoes are significant and black cumin seeds, imported from Uzbekistan, are a dominant spice as it has a much stronger and sweeter flavor than the white ilk. 

My tasting began with Samsa, a baked pastry much like as if you were enjoying the crusty dough of a pot pie.  Stuffed with ground beef, onions and Uzbek spices, it is served with a tiny pitcher of a spicy tomato sauce.  

You won’t find “greens” in Uma’s salad.  Chunks of fried eggplant are highlighted with roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and dill. Already creating the great mouth flavors, it is topped with a julienned mild domestic feta cheese. It is all too perfect for a meal opener.   

Rather than having Borscht, I opted for the Lagman Soup, a meal in itself.  Thick homespun stretched noodles are the highlight.  Chunks of tender, slow-cooked beef with onions, sweet peppers, carrots, in a savory beef stock.  I could taste both the cumin and dill.  There is very little salt and served with a tiny amount of chili paste as well as a jar containing garlic floating in vinegar.    

Manti are large steamed dumplings.  I opted for a vegetarian version of which this one uses butternut squash, onions and cumin.  The thin skinned dumplings themselves are tasty enough but topping them with an onion sauce and serving with a dill garlic yogurt sauce, just oozes “savory”, a combination of spicy and sweet.  

Plov is the national dish of Uzbekistan.  Uma uses those wonderfully tender chunks of lamb along with julienned carrots, chick peas, rice and red Uzbek raisins.  Adding the spices enhanced the already great flavors, thus I did not add the hot sauce that came along with it.  
That's a shot of Uma.

Since the chunks of beef were so delicious, I wanted to sample the Shish Kabob.  The choices are: seasonal vegetables, chicken, lamb, lula (ground beef), filet mignon, and salmon.  This seems to be the only menu options regarding protein except for chalkboard specials.  I went for the seasoned lamb which did not have any gamey flavor at all.  FYI there are a number of vegetarian options on both the bill of fare and chalkboard. 

“Choyhona” (Teahouse) is a cornerstone of the Uzbek society.  Green tea is noted to be the tea of hospitality.   I did enjoy it but next time I will try the iced version with mint and lemon. 

Somehow I had a speck of room for dessert when I read, “Halva Ice Cream” on the chalkboard. For those who have not had halva, it is considered to be a “confection” rather than candy as it is made from ground sesame seeds and sweetened. I love those bars of Joyva halvah but not partial to any other.  I was not prepared for the taste and texture of this.  Uma makes her own ice creams.  It tasted exactly like a halvah bar except creamy and nothing to chew.  It is topped with some black sesame seeds.  I have suggested that it be topped with chocolate shavings. 


Saturday, June 11, 2016


I'm back at the Green Market in Forest Hills.  I want to make an iced box cake using those chocolate wafers and whipped cream.  It's tough getting the chocolate wafers these days.  Ronnybrook farms can provide me with the heavy cream.  I decide to get the creme fraiche as well.  The season is in for fruit such as strawberries. 

I was finally able to make my absolute favorite Ice Box Cake. Ronnybrook has heavy cream. I found the Nabisco chocolate wafers at Shop Rite. Didn't have powdered sugar so I put sugar into my spice grinder.  Whipped up cream until it thickened somewhat and then added sugar and just a touch of vanilla extract (Next time I'm thinking use instant coffee instead).  Continued whipping up. Layered cookies and cream on a plate and through it in the freezer. OMG!!! 

Green Market with Grow NYC, that promotes local food growers and farms.  The prices may be a bit higher than your supermarket, but you can't get it fresher than when it is trucked in from the source.

Terhune Orchards in Duchess County brought in a assortment of apples.  I decided to buy one of each to test out on a taste of each and combining a group to make apples juice....which will really be apple cider as it won't be strained.  I am particularly fond of fuji and gala apples as they are both crunchy and sweet.  

I couldn't pass up the apple cider and a small apple muffin cake.  You have to get to the markets early as in this case, there were very little strawberries left.  Oh, yeah....they have strawberries.

I was pretty good at picking out the fuji and gala when I got home. I could usually pick out a delicious apple as well.  I randomly chose three apples (one was a delicious) to make an apple sauce. Peeled the apples and sliced away the core. Put apples in a chopper then transferred into a pot adding some water and a bit of sugar (I like a sweet apple sauce)and cooked the heck out of it. Cooked up a pork chop to make the Brady Bunch joke of pork chops and apple sauce. Great. Still had a lot of apple sauce left. Great to nosh on. Good breakfast idea is to have the apples sauce with bacon adding just a touch of cinnamon. 

I then went over to Goodale Farms for some veggies.  Kale, a huge head of lettuce, tomatoes, green and yellow squash and garlic scapes.  They are stalks that grow from the bulb.