Baked Rice With White Beans, Leeks and Lemon

I have said this before; the NYTimes food app is a superior product. This recipe came across my phone, and it sounded good. You could do different beans, toss in different cheeses, use mushrooms and other vegetables, or use certain herbs to skew towards a certain region. This might be a solid recipe to experiment with this summer.

  • 4 leeks (about 2 pounds), trimmed, white and pale green parts sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup sliced raw almonds
  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of white beans (such as cannellini or great northern), rinsed
  • 2 ½ cups boiling water
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced or chopped basil, chives, mint or fennel fronds, plus more for serving

Preheat the oven to 400. Rinse the leeks really well, pat them dry, and slice. Peel 1-inch lemon strips off an entire lemon. Keep the lemon for later.

Toss the leeks, lemon strips, red pepper flakes, almonds, and olive oil in a 9×13 roasting pan. Season with ample salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until you see the leeks begin to caramelize.

Please take out the lemon strips and finally chop them, then return to the pan. Sprinkle the rice evenly over the rice, pour the beans evenly over the rice, season again with a bit of salt. Finally, pour the boiling water over the rice, seal with tin foil. Bake for another 20-22 minutes.

Take the pan out. Let it stay covered for about 5 minutes. Take off the tin foil, add the parmesan cheese, toss and then toss mixed chopped herbs over the top or mix in.

If I made this again, I’d do 2 cans of the beans and more cheese. It would just be a bit heartier. Again, maybe feta next time?

Seed Crackers

I am obsessed with seed crackers. There are multiple recipes out there. I decided to experiment with my own recipe and make some pea dip on the side. I read David Lebovitz’s recipe and had ordered furikake in advance. That is a worthy ingredient—a wasabi rice seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 300.

In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup flax seeds, 1/2 cup chia seeds, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup sesame seeds, 1 tsp. red chili flakes, 3 tbsp. Furikake, 2 tsp. sea salt and 3/4 cup cold water. Mix and let sit about 3 minutes or more

Cover a baking tray with parchment paper. Put the mixture on top and then cover with another piece of parchment paper. Using any item, you have to flatten the seeds evenly to bake. I used a flour scraper. Then peel off the top piece of parchment paper. Put in the oven for 45 minutes until the large cracker is crispy and even a little browned.

Take it out of the oven. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting the pieces up. It is a big win. We will be seeing a lot of this over the summer.

As for the peas, total ad hoc boiled a bag of frozen English peas. About 3 cups. I took 2 of the cups, put them in a Cuisinart with about 1/2 cup of the water I used to boil the peas and pureed. Then I added a handful of mint, 1/4 cup of sliced almonds (I was out of pine nuts), and 1 cup of parmesan cheese, pureed again. I needed a bit more water, so I added more to make it smoother. Then put it in a bowl, took the rest of the whole peas, and mixed in.

Perfect with the crackers!

Stay Out Of Jail Please

Violence is slowly escalating. Crime escalates for multiple reasons, but the biggest one has to be jobs. If you don’t have cash, even good people do crazy things. I fear that crime is going to become a huge issue for the next mayor. The choices they make will have generational repercussions. We have seen crime escalate in our city before and are now witnessing a generation lost to the streets because of our policies.

There are plenty of people in our city who could fill the available jobs. There are available jobs, and there would be even more if all the jobs were filled because of the ability to grow. The city should be spending money on programs training people for the available jobs. Don’t just give them the job; first, have the city train them in short three-month programs to understand the labor force. Then keep them up. Have a support system to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks to help their mental psyche. We should spend the money truly needed on support systems. Anyone who is a first-time offender goes through this course. We can also make this course available to the under-served community, so there isn’t a first-time offense.

You have to believe that if we stop dribbling money at these problems and change the entire path we have been on, then our cities would all be better off. This bleeds out to the neighborhoods surrounding cities. It is good for everyone. Pour money into a new program that creates a positive outcome. As nothing ever does, it won’t work for everyone, but we have to have new ideas. The old ones didn’t work so well.

Sisters on Track

Without a lot of fanfare, the Tribeca Film festival turned 20 this year.  They spread across the boroughs this year, but the marketing was so minimal many didn’t even know it was happening.

We had the luck of going to see Corinne van der Borch’s documentary Sisters On Track outside at Metrotech.  It reminded me it is good in the world.  It is a coming-of-age story that follows three sisters, Tai, Rainn, Brooke Shepperd, their mother, Tonia Hardy, and their track coach, Joan Bell, over a 5 year period.  Three sisters end up on the cover of kids Sports Illustrated for their accolades in track while living in a homeless shelter.   The tough love of their track coach, the hardships of a caring mother who is working hard to be a Mom and get out of her financial situation.  They are rewarded with rent paid for two years in a furnished apartment by Tyler Perry.  It is game-changing.  These young women, who are now 16, 17, and 14, are on a completely different path, and it could have turned out otherwise.

 Netflix loved Corrine’s concept and backed the film.  A worthy watch when it rolls out.

 

After we headed to Frankie’s for some pizza, and a few other treats.  

I can’t say enough about these wine-poached prunes over marscapone.  The manager told us, it is what you want a cinnamon bagel to be.  It sounds crazy but spot on

That evening we made our way to EN Brasserie, which was at one point in our lives in heavy rotation.   It was as good as I remember.  Sitting in those comfy low mid-century brown leather chairs is extremely relaxing.  
More to come in the weeks ahead before we pull out of town for the summer.  Right now, it’s feeling insanely good to be in NYC. 

Discover 3 Years Ago

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-25,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

If you have Google photos, every day, they foist a montage of past photos at you. Sometimes I push the button, but most days, I ignore it. This past week I went on a trip down memory lane every day. Three years ago we were in Paris. Perhaps the trauma of Covid filled me with some desire to look at those pictures of a different time.

We had dinner with friends this weekend, and one of them recalled that the only time in our history where life took on such epic proportions of daily fear was Britain, 1945. One day a bomb could destroy your entire neighborhood while you quickly went out for provisions. Britain was bankrupt. Fear permeated through the streets daily as havoc, and daily uncertainty became routine. Different than Covid but similar too. Covid is silent; one could say it has been worse.

The world has been traumatized. The US has fared better than most as I am watching our city come back to life. Others around the globe are not so lucky. So much has changed, and much is changing but much seems like an odd return to normalcy.

Our conversation was positive yet cynical. We all understood the trauma we have been through, the silver linings of friendships, and the acknowledgment of mental health issues, but where does this go? If you look at major historical events, we can point to changes that took place over time. Nothing happens overnight, but when you look back, you always realize how much has actually changed.

The summer will prove to be a breath of fresh air with people just busting out, hopefully responsibly. Yet the financial divide has been amplified, many have lost family members, systemic racism has been prevalent in our country from day one, and now it is finally shining brightly around every kitchen table. Businesses will struggle for a while to figure out new models. Younger generations have lived through one of the strangest social experiments per se in everyone’s lives, and pets are everywhere. Where’s fashion going as it always reflects history, what will restaurants become and, our living spaces have become even more important. DIY continues to grow, and returning to our basic needs, such as baking bread, growing plants, and slowing down, amplifies.

Bottom line, all of this will reverberate for years to come. The question that looms is what will it feel like in the years to come?

Will We Always be Fixing?

Twenty years ago, Fred and I were invited to an intimate gathering of tech founders and senators. It was memorable for many reasons, but the one that has always stuck with me is our Government’s inability to break glass, be bold and make game-changing decisions. These days it seems to infuriate me more.

There were just as many tech founders at this particular event as there were senators, and that alone changed the conversation. Bill and Hillary Clinton were there too. Schumer ran the event. We each talked about issues that were near and dear to our hearts. At the time, I was chairing MOUSE, an organization that empowers students with technology.

My question was simple. Why don’t we spend the money it takes and fix the problems from kids going home without access to the internet (aka the digital divide) and put the money needed into public schools, getting rid of all the fat? God forbid that should happen. Why? Pure and simple, politics. I don’t want to upset anybody. And most important, how can we do just enough to change the directions, make some impact, and at the same time stay in power, make everyone feel good, and get re-elected. If they had made some bold decisions 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

Covid forced education to change and wake up. Where we will go in the post-pandemic world, unclear but forcing education to move into the future was fueled by Covid. Private industry around education was ready, willing, and able. Let’s see what comes next.

If we went to that same event right now, I would be asking different questions. Public housing is celebrated in other countries. It should be celebrated here too. There is a physical structure to help those in need live inside our cities. Their jobs are the backbone of many parts of our city. Why shouldn’t their housing also have solar power, wireless access points everywhere, washers and dryers in the basements, split HVAC systems and just feel wonderful? Data has proven that when people live and study in positive feeling environments, the impact is felt.

Why don’t we take city-owned land across the boroughs and build enough buildings to house every person from the old buildings? Engage the community in the conversations about what they want their buildings to be. It should be a community process. Create beautiful, forward-thinking housing where there are parks, social systems built-in, bodegas that carry products the community wants, and carbon-neutral buildings and can produce money with solar power. Then once they are in perfect working order, let every person who currently lives in public housing take a look, so they are thrilled and help them move in. Then take the old buildings and implode them. After that, rebuild more public housing in that space from the ground-up with the same future program.

It wouldn’t cost $40B, the number it takes to fix the buildings at large but $200B. If anyone does the math, they will see quite clearly that the extra $160B will save us money in the long run, and the positive impact of everyone living in those buildings and on our city will be tremendous.

There is a saying when you build projects; cheap is expensive. We have to stop running this country year to year but decades to decades.

Open Source

Open-source software grants users the rights to use, study, change and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose. Take the concept and apply it to anything. What it can do is great better efficiencies. When it comes to non-profits, they should spend more timing thinking about the concept of open source.

I have heard from a handful of non-profit organizations who want to build an internship program for underserved teens this summer. Just note, countless organizations have built these programs. Some excellent and of course some not so much. They are, of course, all competing against each other for these seats. On top of that, there are 12 NY city Government agencies running non-profits. Why?

If all the internship programs went through one efficient, well-oiled non-profit that placed kids around the boroughs from each area into summer jobs, it would clearly make more sense. There is a lot of people that care, but there is so much damn waste.

Non-profits don’t need to do what they aren’t good at. If you run a park, then run a park with park programs. If you run an organization that helps incarcerated people re-enter society with job training, then do that. If you are an organization that helps families in need who need food, then do that.

It is time for more non-profit organizations to build on top of each other and make a larger impact. We need to stop stretching the dollars thin and better impact our communities that need the help. It will only get harder to raise funds needed for each organization—time to band together.

A few days at the Mayflower Inn

Our friends suggested that we go away for a few days for her bday. Six couples. We had all gone to Berlin together a few years ago and had an incredible time. This weekend was just as much fun. Note to self, do these things more often.

We went to the Mayflower Inn. Fred and I used to go there to recharge our batteries when our kids were young. There have been some upgrades since then, and the spa is beautiful. It felt more magical back then, but perhaps it was my frame of mind.

The weather wasn’t cooperating for a hike, so we went into the towns and did a little shopping, a little eating, and walking around. No masks if you have been vaccinated. We all were giggling and obviously buying! Blueprint is an insanely well-curated kitchen store—incredible savory products, linen napkins, pots and pans, and so much more. The owner carries socially conscious products and supports local women. This was a mother/son store.

The mother told us to check out her son’s new store, Louis CT. And so we did. The gift of curation runs deep in the genes. You can go in there, pick up some vintage furniture, art and perhaps recover your couch. We loved the place.

This waterfall sits behind the stores in New Preston. Blink your eyes and you will miss the town.

Off to lunch at White Horse, a country pub. The size of each portion was crazy! This pot pie is for one.

A little rest and relaxation before heading to CT for dinner. This is obviously the place. A beautiful warm glow hits you the second you walk in the door. We could have easily been in the middle of a European farm town. Modern with a good aura. We even bumped into people we know there! The best part is I knew the owner. I didn’t realize it until we walked in. The pea hummus and crackers were outstanding!

Joann Makovitzky is the managing partner at Community Table. She was in the restaurant business forever with her former husband. Got divorced, moved to New Preston, started a new life, bought a house, and boom, there she is. I even got the chance to stop by her house the next day for a lost item. Her house is charming, with incredible backyard views and an open kitchen. Great to see her and even greater to see what she has accomplished.

The next day we pulled out, went home, and vowed to curb our food and alcohol intake for a few days, at least. One of my favorite activities was sitting around the fire, sipping amaro, and making s’mores. Looking forward to more of that this summer!

The Cannabis Race

“We’re adjusting our drug testing policy.

In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course.

We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use.

We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use.

And because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon, our public policy team will be actively supporting The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act).

Federal legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities. We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law.”

— Dave Clark, CEO, Worldwide Consumer @Amazon

I have been diving deep into the cannabis world. It is fascinating watching our government build an industry from scratch, especially since the industry has been illegal, although that has never stopped the cannabis business.

Cannabis has destroyed generations of mostly Black families through incarceration. Now we can go into a dispensary and buy our favorite weed product. The laws differ state by state. Some states are having quite a time moving things forward, while others seem to control the process. NY State is just beginning. The first thing was legalizing cannabis, the second was a get out of jail free card for those in jail for just cannabis, and that’s about it. That is about to change. There is a committee being formed to decide how to distribute licenses for dispensaries and products.

There are huge companies in the cannabis space including, publicly traded companies and licenses only for certain parts of the business, and I could go on and on. The piece that hasn’t been figured out is crossing state lines and banking. Banking is key, and that has to come from the federal level. Right now, there is a huge divide. The federal government is aware of this but continues to kick the can down the road.

Last week’s most interesting piece of news is that Amazon will no longer test their workers for THC. This is huge. Amazon employs over 1 million people. By doing this, Amazon is acknowledging that smoking weed is legal. They don’t test for alcohol, so why should they test for cannabis. Changing their drug policy sends a huge shout-out to Washington.

Once again, politics or maybe Jeff Bezos is thinking about getting into the cannabis business.

Treating Autism, Joan Fallon, Podcast # 152

Joan Fallon is a doctor, an academic, and the entrepreneur behind Curemark, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing novel therapies to treat serious neurological diseases for which there are no or limited treatment options. We got together over zoom to discuss her unusual take on medicine and her path to entrepreneurship.

You can also listen to it on iTunes here and Soundcloud here.

To learn more about Curemark, you can visit the website
Our next guest on PGG will be Malene Barnet, the artist, activist, and founder of Black Artists + Designers Guild.