How Old Do You Have to Be to Be a Maker?

My buddy Petey Rojas is four years old, and he is already a maker. He goes to a school where they bake every week and over time he has become something of a pint-sized celebrity baker on his mom's site, Inhabitots. This is his video on how to make vegan red velvet cupcakes. His family is vegan, so that's how he cooks.

You may think from watching the video that Petey is getting coached. Not really. He gets some help with the order of things since he is not yet a reader, but the hosting job and mastering the actual process, that's all him. He does look off camera to his mom to make sure he's doing a good job, or just to be sure his audience is with him.

How old do you have to be to be a maker? Kids have a natural creativity that flourishes if we cultivate it, or just make room for it to flourish. Who knows how it aids them as they get older? A maker is a creator, but also a problem-solver, an imaginer, someone who can think up a few ways to get around an obstacle, valuable skills to have all through life.

Bread in the shape of an "S" for Susan. The dough was made by Inhabitots Patissier, four-year old Petey Rojas.

I was recently at Petey's house when he was baking bread. He had a little trouble understanding the concept of why yeast takes time to make the dough rise, but saw how it worked and got it in the end. While his mom molded her bread into the first letter of the recipient's name, Petey made all  his pieces into "goggles," which he later referred to as glasses. Not sure why he thought bread in the shape of eyewear was the thing to do, but I'm still not entirely clear why Duchamp argued that a toilet bowl was art. That's the prerogative of the maker, or artist. The picture above is the piece of S bread I took home; we ate Petey's goggles while they were still warm, with honey or olive oil, straight from the oven.




In Season Recipe: Balsamic Strawberries with Arugula

A recipe?
What does that have to do with crafting, or business owning, or the New York Etsy Team?

Well last week, I wrote about joining a CSA as a way of incorporating a green and sustainable practice in your every day life.  I also discussed the benefits of supporting your local farmers and buying in season fruit and vegetables not just for you and your family, but for the community.

In the spirit of keeping with that idea, I've decided to share some good recipes during the summer and early fall months for you to use with seasonal produce, if you are a CSA member, farmer market shopper, supermarket shopper, or just want to whip up some good food for yourself, family and/or friends.

The requirement is that you love food. Really. That's it!

In a few weeks, I'll share composting (the scraps from your food preparation) tips for city dwellers, but I'll make sure to add in tips that don't require worms for anyone to use, too.

A bit of background before I share today's recipe:
About four years ago, I decided to try vegetarianism. I am not a vegetarian now, in fact, I love hamburgers, but I find myself eating vegetarian meals more and more.  It's been a natural progression and has easily been inspired by my environmental education.

Please know I am not expressing one way over another. I believe everyone should eat what they want and as they want. This is just my story.

When I made the decision four years ago, I purchased a cook book by Mark Bittman called "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian" and it changed my life. It is a monster of a book, heavy and large, but it covers everything you could possibly imagine of cooking vegetables and fruit for every meal.  It has been a life saver since joining my CSA, as there have been countless Wednesdays where I'm staring a bunch of vegetables down, chewing my lip, trying to determine what to do with them.

And so last week, after first distribution, I was staring down a ton of vegetables with no clue what to do with my arugula and strawberries.

Yes, I could have eaten both individually, but should I whip up pesto? Should I make strawberry shortcake? What ingredients in my cupboards could I use to make deliciousness? 

That's where Mark stepped in.

I grabbed my copy of "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian" looked up arugula and found a recipe for "Balsamic Strawberries with Arugula". I can not express just how delicious it is. The arugula was fresh, the berries were the perfect combination of tart and sweet and were the right size (not the jumbo kind you see these days).

I'm pretty sure that I had too many berries to the bunch of arugula, and I definitely added a bit more balsamic vinegar than the recipe calls for, 3 Tbps, I believe, but it was perfect; the best fresh and light salad to kick off the strawberry season!

I also added optional goat cheese (at the bottom of the recipe), because I ate this as a meal with a small piece of baguette and called it a night.

Balsamic Strawberries with Arugula
by Mark Bittman
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 15 minutes

3 cups strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups arugula leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Toss the strawberries with the vinegar and black pepper in a large salad bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Add the arugula, sprinkle with salt, and toss again. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently one last time. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Balsamic Strawberries with Arugula and Goat Cheese. Before the final toss in Step 2, crumble 4 ounces of goat cheese over the salad.

Happy eating!  If you make the recipe, let me know below. If you have a recipe you want to share or me to include, let me know.  Cooking is a sharing art.

S2 Stationery and Design

How-To: Beer Bread

Beer bread is one of those comfort breads that needs to be eaten while still warm out of the oven and works well with soups, stews, or any other hearty warming winter meal. It doesn’t take long at all as it doesn’t require any time to rise. The origins are not exactly known, but my grandmother made it, as does my mother and myself. A loaf of beer bread never lasts more than a day at most. Enjoy!

3 cups of flour

4 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

3 T sugar

1 - 12 oz can of beer (room temp is best) Cheap beer works just as well, if not better than some of the more expensive brands. When I say cheap, I mean of the “Schlitz” variety. This recipe comes from a woman that lived in Milwaukee after all. Feel free to experiment with the various ales and microbrews that are available now though.
Mix well.

Bake in greased loaf pan for 45 min to 1 hour at 350 degrees.


Felt It


KnitKnit's Spice Cookies

I especially love baking in the winter months, as I'm guessing the rest of you probably do too. Baking breaks in between crafting are a must for my sanity. It's so warming and pleasing to the senses - sweet smell, sweet taste, sweet life! I had a hankerin' for some cookies, and came up with this recipe with what I had in my pantry. My baking buddy came over later in the day and ate 5 cookies in a row!

2 cups white spelt or all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. curry powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup ghee (or 1 stick butter), softened
1 cup coconut oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts

Mix the dry ingredients together, add the ghee (or butter) and coconut oil, crack in the eggs and fold in the oats, chocolate chips, and walnuts. Plop tablespoon sized balls on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 min. Makes 3 dozen!!!

I hope you enjoy my experimental baking!


Vampire Slayer Chili

Everyone knows that the best way to keep vampires at bay is with a healthy dose of garlic. This easy recipe for a subtly spicy turkey chili employs an entire bulb - about 15 cloves - and should handle the most determined of throat suckers.

You will need:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 10 oz chopped white mushrooms
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomotes in their juice
  • 1 10 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 bulb of garlic, separated and peeled
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • canola oil spray
  • 4 tbs Greek yogurt (optional topping)
1. Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. In the meantime, separate and peel that garlic. (I've had great luck with the back-of-the-hand smashing technique. The papery skin pops right off.) Let the peeled garlic simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Spray a skillet with canola oil spray. Brown the turkey for five minutes, stirring constantly to break it into small pieces.

3. Transfer the turkey, garlic, and all the other ingredients except the yogurt to a slow cooker*. Give it a good stir and cook on low for eight hours.

4. Divide into four bowls and top each with a tablespoon of Greek yogurt. Serve with a side of tortilla chips and wear some silver jewelry just to hedge your bets!

* I make this in a slow cooker, but it can be made on the stove in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Simply adjust the cook time to 1 1/2 hours over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Serves four.

-MaryAnne LoVerme

Recipe - Vegan Chocolate Cake

I'd done a decent amount of baking in my life before I was blessed with two children with food allergies to eggs and nuts. Thanks to the internet I've been able to find and modify some recipes so they wouldn't be deprived of childhood's staple goodies. This is a fast and simple recipe for egg-free chocolate cake.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix together until smooth.

Pour into baking cups for cupcakes or greased cake pans. Cook 15 minutes for the former and around 45 minutes for the latter. Remove from oven when a toothpick goes in and comes out clean, and allow to cool. Makes 24 cupcakes , two 9x5 inch loaf pans or two large round cake layers.

Not being dietary vegans, we frost with chocolate ganache.

Cocolat's Ganache

1 quart heavy whipping cream
1 lb. dark chocolate

Grind up the dark chocolate very fine in the food processor.

Heat cream over medium heat in metal mixing bowl on top of the stove. Watch carefully or it will boil over.

Stir in ground chocolate, and continue to heat over lowest heat setting and stir occasionally until bits of chocolate are really melted in.

Chill mixture in the refrigerator for several hours. Take out and whip with a mixer until just stiff enough to hold it's shape. Use for frosting cakes or just enjoying by itself. YUM!


Fresh Berry Crumble

The best part about Summer is the fantastic fresh fruit available. Sure, you can pretty much get anything all year round in your typical supermarket, but nothing beats fresh fruit that is in season, and even better, that is local.

A couple of months ago, I was visiting a farmer's market and came across a nice gentleman selling some raspberry/apple crumble. It was simply delicious, and left me wanting more. I went back to the same market a couple of weeks later, and could not find the same vendor.

I was crushed, and still craving this delicious dessert. Frustrated and seriously upset, I went to my fave recipe spot: and found a great recipe so I could make my own fruit crumble!

I settled on a recipe that called for 3 berries, but I decided to use blueberries and strawberries. I also loved this particular recipe because it was made with crumble on the top and bottom....yum!

So without further ado, here is the recipe (w/a few tweaks.)


2 pints of strawberries (sliced)
2 pints of blueberries
1 cup of flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg
1 stick of butter


1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. melt butter in a saucepan, remove from the stove & mix in the rest of the ingredients except for the fruit
3. press 1/2 the oat mixture into the bottom of a small cakepan (8" or 9" square,) top with the fruit, then cover with the remaining crumble
4. bake in the oven for 30-40 mins, or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
5. spoon into small bowls and enjoy (also tastes great w/ice cream!)

ok, a few notes/variations....

1. you can add a few tbsp of regular sugar (or splenda) to the fruit depending on the tartness
2. you can sub peaches, apples, raspberries, or whatever fruit you like best (keep in mind, apples may need a bit longer in the oven)
3. this recipe is really easy to double...just make sure to use a larger pan.
4. be careful, this crumble is a bit addictive. I have bags of fruit in my freezer just waiting for the next opportunity to make some more!

Nordea's Soaperie
Nordea's Soaperie (on etsy)



Recently, I spent one hot and humid week in Paris. During the trip, two Spanish traditions became part of my routine. First, I took siesta during the afternoon's peak. Second, my daily lunch consisted of a bowl of gazpacho, a cold soup from Andalusia, just perfect for the hot summer days. I grew to enjoy it and decided to make my own upon return.

It is easy to make. A sharp knife, fresh vegetables and a blender are all you need.


6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 purple onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper (or green) seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Cayenne Sauce to taste


Combine all ingredients. Blend slightly, to desired consistency. Place in non-metal, non-reactive storage container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight, allowing flavors to blend.

Serves 8

Basic Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes. I added cilantro, replaced the Tabasco sauce with Cayenne Sauce, and omitted the Worcestershire sauce and Tomato juice.


Fresh from the Garden

I know it's more the exception than the rule, but I've managed to cultivate a bit of a garden out in Brooklyn, and this time of summer is always my favorite because of all the things that come in from my summer garden.

My favorite recipe that is almost completely made from things harvested from my own garden is a type of Eggplant Pasta.

I start with either 1 large or 2 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced vertically into long slices. Lay them out on a wire rack and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt(any coarse grind salt is OK). This helps suck out the extra moisture from the eggplant, and with as much rain as we had this early summer, it's probably a necessary step! Let the eggplant sit for about 30 minutes, while the salt draws out the excess moisture, before you blot the slices with paper towels to remove whatever salt and liquid is on the surface.

Then, it's just a matter of slicing the eggplant into thin, pasta-like strips. That's right, the eggplant is your pasta in this dish!

Coat a medium saute pan with either 2-3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or 2 tbsp EVOO + 1tbsp butter (no margarine!)

Once it gets to medium heat, toss in the eggplant pasta and saute until it just starts to turn translucent around the edges.

Now here is where you start the sauce. I grow cherry or grape tomatoes in my own garden, because they tend to do better -- both in producing and flavor -- in my tiny backyard with only partial sunlight. Gather however many tomatoes from the vines that you can, cut them in half, and toss them into the pan with the eggplant. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes.

I also like to get fresh basil from the garden, cut it into a chiffonade (you can do this by stacking the leaves on top of each other and then rolling them up really tight, then just slicing the roll really thin.) and toss it with the eggplant and tomato as well.

In the end, just add salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and Parmesan cheese to taste. Serve hot and scarf down! From the garden, to your belly, in roughly 30 minutes or less!


Izile's Oddities

A {NewNew} Flavor of Ice Cream

A few months ago, I was invited by a friend to participate in a head-to-head Iron Chef-style ice cream challenge. The curve ball was the secret ingredient: Wine. Naturally this required a fair amount of drinking as I had to get the flavors correct, of course.

Eventually I figured out that the key is to boil off the alcohol, which also intensifies the flavor as the wine is reduced. I was a little worried that it might become grape-y, so I added a little spice -- a few cinnamon sticks, some pepper, and vanilla. Weird, right?

And yet it worked! (And my house smelled great while it was simmering).

I'm so excited about how this came out. It actually tastes like wine, but with a depth of flavor that makes you pause as it melts over your tongue. You know it's wine, but it's also ice cream, and then there are all these other subtle fruit and spice flavors dancing on the margins. A very sophisticated dish and perfect for a grown-up summer party.

Here's the recipe:
2 bottles cabernet sauvignon (though I imagine a shiraz would also be really good)
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
(you may also want to add other mulling spices like cardamon and clove)
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups sugar
9 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Pour wine into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add cinnamon sticks and peppercorns (plus other spices -- but the wine should be the main flavor, otherwise the ice cream, while still good, becomes less about the wine and more about the spice). Simmer until the wine is reduced to 1 cup, anywhere from 1 - 2 hours.

Depending on how fast your wine is reducing, about half-way into the reduction, bring the milk, cream and half of the sugar to a boil in a large pan and turn off heat.

In a bowl, whisk together yolks and remaining sugar. Temper the yolks into the boiling milk by gradually whisking about 1 cup of warm milk into the yolks and adding this slowly back into the pot with the remaining milk. Stir in the salt and the vanilla. Whisk in the reduced wine. Set pan over a bowl full of ice to cool.

Pour the chilled ice cream liquid through a fine mesh strainer and then into an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Freeze at least 2 hours before serving.

Yes, technically I "won" the challenge (the vote was 5-2 in favor of my dish, just in case you were wondering). But really, doesn't everyone win when there's ice cream involved?