Archive for September, 2010

Kitchen Confidential

September 30, 2010

New York City has recently instated a policy requiring all restaurants to post the letter grade received at their health inspection. An A denotes a score of 0-13 worth of violations, B 14-27 points, and C, 28 points or more. If a restaurant gets a score of 14 or higher, they are re-inspected in two weeks.  They can report the second grade, or post a sign that says, “grade pending”.  A few weeks later, the restaurant’s representative appears before a tribunal, where the grade is arbitrated and finalized.

Henry Alford, a home cook and writer for the New York Times, arranged to have a food inspector come into his immaculate kitchen for a “mock” inspection. The results were surprising, and eye- opening.

Here, are a few key take-aways from the article that are worth keeping in mind at home, (and a couple of my own suggestions too):

Don’t wash your hands or your floor sponges in the kitchen sink; you don’t want to contaminate the sink that is being used for food preparation. Keep liquid soap and paper towels in the bathroom for hand- washing instead.

Keep cutting boards free of nicks and cracks where bacteria can grow. This also holds true for cracks in wood countertops and floors.  Wooden cutting boards can be sanded to eliminate nicks. Plastic cutting boards can be washed in a bleach solution to disinfect them, but should be replaced when deep cuts appear.

Buy a thermometer to insure that your refrigerator temperature stays at 41 degrees or below at all times.

Keep pets off the kitchen counters. Cats tend to climb up on the counters and are often tracking feces from their litter box on the bottom of their feet.

Damp sponges and dishtowels are breeding grounds for germs. Keep towels clean and dry, or use paper towels. The sponge can be microwaved for 8-10 seconds to kill bacteria.

Avoid placing bags and purses on the counter top. The bottom of a handbag is often teaming with harmful bacteria.

Use a scoop to retrieve ice cubes from the freezer instead of your hands. (‘Nuf said)

A safe kitchen is a healthy kitchen.  Use these tips to keep yours clean and germ free.

Bon Appetite!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Shirting The Issue

September 26, 2010

We haven’t even packed up our summer clothes yet, and Spring 2011 fashions have been parading down the runway for the past few weeks.  Being in this business, we always have to think ahead of the curve. Many companies work as much as a year in advance, sourcing fabrics, designing styles and refining their collections.  Sometimes we are tired of it, before we even get a chance to wear it!
This season, one of the biggest trends is the also the easiest to incorporate into your wardrobe NOW!  Hint: it’s something you probably already own, and it is both timely and timeless…the white shirt!
Shown by designers in a myriad of looks, it is one of the must haves of the season.

Tuck it into a skirt, pants or shorts and belt the waist. Roll up your sleeves and unbutton a few buttons. Make sure it’s perfectly pressed, and fitted to a T.

photo: Tommy Hilfiger via

Survey Says: Sedentary!

September 20, 2010

In a recent study of adult activity published by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, only 5% of the over 80,000 people surveyed engaged in vigorous activity.

The numbers are not promising,

Most Americans reported in engaging in sedentary activities, such as eating and drinking (95.6%), followed by watching television and movies (80%) and washing, dressing and grooming (78.9%).

The next most strenuous level of activity reported was food preparation (25.7%).

Only 2.2% of the people surveyed reported using the cardio equipment at the gym, and a mere 1% actually run!!

This is well behind that recommended 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity for basic health maintenance, and the 60-90 minutes suggested for weight loss.

Where do you fit into the equation?

photo: Glasshouse Images

Memories of 9/11

September 11, 2010

It was a beautiful day, much like today, with hardly a cloud in the sky and a clear view straight downtown to where the World Trade Towers once stood.

I was at work, getting ready for a meeting when someone told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  With New York City’s 3 major airports in close proximity, we all assumed it was a plane crash. Minutes later, when news of the second plane hitting the other tower came through, we knew it was somehow much, much worse.

With no phone service, and no public transportation, we all began walking. People were swarming out of all of the buildings in midtown, panicking, and trying to get home.

As we walked I could see the smoke obscuring the skyline that had changed so completely since I set out that morning.  Just past my street, the city had been closed off to everyone but the rescue teams.

I arrived home, eager to make sure that my family was safe. People had gathered in the dining room, glued to the television set, trying to piece together what had happened. The father of one of my husband’s assistants had been in one of the towers, and had walked to our apartment for safety.  Another’s wife had just gotten off the subway at the World Trade Center stop when she followed the swarms of people running uptown, and had taken refuge at our home as well.  My baby daughter, recently adopted from China, sat quietly in her high chair, watching the planes fly into the buildings over and over again.

As the days progressed, the situation became more and more real. People wandered the streets of my neighborhood aimlessly, posting signs and looking for reports of their missing loved ones at St. Vincent’s Hospital, the designated trauma center just a few blocks away.  The streets remained closed and deliveries were suspended in the area, leaving grocery store shelves empty.  The sirens stopped at some point and the city was eerily silent.

Sometimes, if the television stayed off, it was possible to push it all aside.  But when the wind blew, the smoke and the acrid smell of burning buildings, burning aircrafts and burning flesh permeated everything.

While I did not personally know anyone who perished in the towers, it was impossible to live in lower Manhattan and separate oneself from the grief and the fear that gripped us all.

Each year, when September 11 rolls around, I am surprised to see that the memories have not faded. I think of all of the people who lost their lives that day, and the heroes that saved the lives of so many others.

I strongly believe that today should be a day of mourning, and remembering, and not one clouded by protests and acts of hatred.

Nine years later, we are a country at war, with countless innocent lives lost as a result of this horrible incident.  We cannot be a country whose people are so consumed in hatred that we deny others the freedoms we take for granted. The terrorists flying the planes that day showed no prejudice…the people that perished were of all races and religions, including Muslim. Let’s put our personal agendas aside today and honor the memories of those who lost their lives.  It may not be enough to create world peace, but it certainly is a very tiny step in the right direction.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week

September 2, 2010

In Pursuit of the Lettuce-less Salad

Lately, I have grown weary of lettuce.  I tend to eat salad for lunch and dinner and last week I hit the wall. Although I vary the selection of greens, at the end of the day, lettuce is still lettuce.

This week, I have been experimenting with new combinations in the pursuit of the lettuce-less salad. The goal is to find filling, healthy alternatives for the base, and build around that. I try to stay low fat and low carb, while still getting a balance of protein and vegetables.

I have experimented with a base of chopped fresh heirloom tomatoes, mixed with steamed green beans, broccoli florets or roasted zucchini.  The previous night’s dinner often plays a role in my choices. I try to toss in some kind of bean such as cannellini, kidney or garbanzo.  A little low fat cheese, such as feta, goat or even shredded Parmesan adds flavor. I have found that a few chopped Kalamata olives give the salad a salty tang. Roasted red peppers or some corn add color and texture.

If the ingredients are right, a little extra virgin olive oil and lime juice is enough to bring the flavors out without drowning them in dressing and calories. Although anything goes, here is one of my favorites so far:

Chopped mini Heirloom tomatoes in various colors

Green beans, lightly steamed, cooled and cut into bite sized pieces

Cannellini beans, rinsed

Feta cheese, crumbled


Chopped Kalamata olives

Roasted red peppers

Olive oil

Lime juice

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

Sprinkle with olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss.


Note: According to my “Lose It” iphone app, this salad was only 215 calories! Of course, serving size plays a role in this number.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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