We spent the weekend in the country with two other couples, and food was a central part of the gathering. We made elaborate dinners and full lunches, it seemed like we were cooking and eating constantly. My friend Holly pulled out some strawberries, shortcake, and balsamic vinegar. I couldn't understand what the balsamic had to do with anything. She cut up the strawberries a few hours before dinner, and marinated them in the balsamic vinegar and a little bit of sugar. After dinner, she spooned the strawberry mixture onto the cakes, and we topped it with some hand-whipped cream with some rum. It was amazing. You could taste the balsamic vinegar, and it perfectly complemented the tart sweetness of the berries. I will definitely make this again.
I was born in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn in New York, and lived there until my parents moved me away to suburban Pennsylvania to get me away from the evils of the city. I spent the next few decades working my way back here. I earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the beautiful little town of Indiana, PA, which used to be a coal mining town. Indiana's about an hour and a half away from Pittsburgh, PA. I've never lived in a more beautiful place in the fall.
I moved to Buffalo to do a master's program in American Studies, with a concentration in Women's Studies. I started out studying labor organizing, and was doing an oral history project on the wives of coal miners and the ways in which they supported their miner-husbands and their communities during labor disputes. I switched my focus half-way in, and completed my master's thesis on women and violence and called it: Women as Survivors: Violence, Resistence, and Rebellion.
I moved to Philadelphia to be close to my best friend and took a job as the coordinator of social services for women who experienced domestic violence in South Philadelphia. It was a time when victim's services agencies were flourishing, and ours was one of the first.
I heard a report on NPR one morning as I was driving into the city from Glenside (along the beautiful Lincoln/Kelly Drive) that would change the course of my career. It was about the underground needle exchange program in Philly, Prevention Point Philadelphia, and one of the founders said that people interested in volunteering could come to an ACT UP meeting. I went, and fell in love with the idea. I couldn't think of a better way to do something positive than actually putting clean syringes into the hands of drug users to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. For the next few years, I immersed myself in the needle exchange, eventually quitting my job with victim's services so that I could devote myself full-time to getting funding for a drop-in center modeled on one I'd visited on the Lower East Side.
After hearing too many drug users tell me that they'd been arrested for carrying syringes, even though syringe exchange was legal at the time in the city, I decided to go to law school. I moved back to Buffalo, and finished my law degree there in 1998.
After sixteen years in Brooklyn as an activist, an agitator, a litigator, a researcher, policy analyst and then assistant legislative director to the New York Civil Liberties Union, I moved to Troy, New York.
My focus in the kitchen is on preparing tasty homemade meals from locally-sourced ingredients. In the spring of 2010, I married a wonderful man who was a professional chef for 20 years, which really made me step up my game. My goal with this blog is to record my thoughts about healthy local eating, celebrating with food, and how I struggle, like all of us, to live a life of both joy and integrity.