Vinegar Braised Chicken


For a couple of years I’ve been making my own red wine vinegar. But, since my SO prefers apple cider vinegar, I’m always searching for recipes that help me to use up all my very tasty, homemade vinegar.  It goes in my bbq sauce, my mustard, and now in this go-to braised chicken recipe from Bon Appétit.

This dinner almost cooks itself. It had to. I was outside gardening on May Day. (Where else would one be on May 1?) And rather than follow the recipe as written, which would mean shopping for ingredients I didn’t have, I substituted what I did have.  Turns out, it is a very forgiving recipe.


You can follow the link above to read the whole recipe. This is just what I changed.

Instead of 4 chicken legs I used a whole 4 lb chicken, quartered.

Instead of 4 medium shallots I used one large onion.

Instead of 8 dried shiitake mushrooms I used 8 oz of fresh white mushrooms.

Instead of 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks I used ½ tsp cinnamon.

Instead of 1 red chile I used a jalapeño.

Instead of 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth I used the whole 14.5 oz can.

The other 8 ingredients I had.

Then, of course, I also altered the directions for 2 reasons: I’m lazy and I didn’t want to eat all that fat. That meant using only one pan and separating the liquid. So I browned the chicken in the Dutch oven and simmered it with the herbs and spices in the vinegary broth as they said to do. While the chicken cooked I simmered a multi-grain rice mix so both were done at the same time. I set the rice to warm while I rested the chicken on a plate, separating out the solids from the broth and removing the fat. Putting the chicken back in the Dutch oven I crisped and browned it under the broiler. Then the chicken was back on its plate in the now warm oven while I reduced the defatted braising liquid.


The bowls for the chicken & rice were warmed in the oven, too, while the plates had a small salad built on them. To serve – place the hot bowls on the room temperature salad plates, put the rice in the bowl, add a piece of chicken and a large serving of the reserved solids and pour a generous amount of broth over them.

Cooking & prep was about 2 hours, most of it unattended. The vinegar braised chicken looked good, smelled great and tasted fantastic! Thank you Bon Appétit!



Posted in Culinary, food, recipe, slow cooker recipes, soup, recipe, smoked food, stew, stew, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Torta del Casar – Cheese of the Gods


At first glance I thought this cheese of the Extremadura region of Spain was the cheese of Caesar. With its creamy dippable interior barely contained in the bulging low walls, the rich flavor seemed clearly meant for the most exalted leader. That’s what happens when I let my eyes and my mouth translate. It is, in fact, the cake or loaf (of cheese) from the Caceres area, along Spain’s border with Portugal; a sheep’s milk cheese from the shepherds, using vegetable (thistle) rennet and traditional cheese-making processes to create a most flavorful ivory-colored runny cheese.

I first encountered this at the international food show Salon del Gourmet in Madrid in 2005, with the top removed from a low, round wheel of cheese inviting bread to be dipped in for tasting. Delicious! And so unusual! Instead of the usual hunks of cheese I was served a smear resembling melted cheese in consistency, but not heated at all, merely kept at room temperature. It was like having a Swiss raclette or a fondue without the need for a heat source to melt the cheese. It was heavenly!

At the Eat Spain Up! event in October in New York I had another encounter with Torta del Casar, unfortunately not an edible one. I was flipping through a copy of the cookbook Extremadura – Cuatro Estaciones, and landed on a page dedicated to the region’s best cheese. Now, at least, I know where it comes from. But finding the cheese in local cheese shops, even good ones, is unlikely. La Tienda, here I come!

In Spain, a PDO is a Protected Designation of Origin, meaning specific criteria must be met to use that designation – sources, aging, processing and appearance are all controlled. This is true for cheeses, hams, olive oil, breeds of animals and agricultural products. Torta del Casar is one of many products so protected in Extremadura and throughout Spain. When traveling in Spain, seek out these local foods, the unique PDO flavors that brand the culinary heart of the place, and you’ll taste the terroir along with the flavors of centuries of tradition.

Posted in cheese, Farm to Table, food, Spain, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Slow cooker Smoked Turkey & White Bean Stew


This is a riff on a Basque dish I was served in Spain. The original uses the great local smoked sausages found throughout the region. I’ve replaced them here with smoked turkey so all my friends could enjoy the dinner. I cook a watered down version of this as a soup using kale instead of Napa cabbage at Hudson Valley Dessert Company. This is a richer, thicker version of that soup.
1 lb white beans overnight in water
Roast @ 350 for 1 hr
1 whole head of garlic, top cut off, drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in aluminum foil. cool
Put in a 5 qt slow cooker
1 smoked turkey leg
1 med onion diced
Soaked white beans drained & rinsed
1 stalk celery diced
2 medium carrots diced
¼ head napa cabbage chopped
1 Tbl smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper to taste (I used 1/8 tsp)
1 head of roasted garlic (squeeze out of skins)
1 qt chicken stock plus enough water to cover (or one 14 oz low sodium can chicken stock plus two cans of water)
Start on high for 1 hour, turn to low for 8 hrs.
After 7.5 hours carefully remove turkey leg, de-bone and skin. Return shredded meat to stew. Adjust seasonings and serve with fresh homemade bread.

Alternately, four 14 oz cans of white beans with liquid could be substituted for soaked beans. Adjust chicken stock and salt to compensate when using canned products (canned foods contain sodium already) and only add liquid to cover.

Posted in Farm to Table, food, free lance writer, recipe, slow cooker recipes, soup, recipe, smoked food, stew, Spain, stew, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Buffett Rule

Warren Buffett is asking each reader to copy and paste this into an email and send it to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.


Here’s where the cuts in the Federal Budget should be made!

Salary of retired US Presidents .. . . . .. . . . . .. . $180,000 FOR LIFE.

Salary of House/Senate members .. . . . .. . . . $174,000 FOR LIFE. This is stupid

Salary of Speaker of the House .. . . . .. . . . . $223,500 FOR LIFE. This is really stupid

Salary of Majority / Minority Leaders . . .. . . . . $193,400 FOR LIFE. Stupid

Not here:

Average Salary of a teacher . . .. . . . .. . . . . .. .$40,065

Average Salary of a deployed Soldier . . .. . . .. $38,000

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

“I could end the deficit in five minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election”.

The 26th Amendment ( granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds ) took only three months and eight days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.

Congressional Reform Act of 2017

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman / woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.

2. Congress (past, present, & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 3/1/17. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.

Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and go back to work.


If you agree, pass it on.

Posted in congress, Political Reform, Politics, Uncategorized, Warren Buffett | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Arzak – Back of the House


I spent an unprecedented amount of time touring Arzak, the 3 Michelin Star Basque Restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain, Veuve Clicquot calls one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and interviewing Elena Arzak, which they call the 2012 World’s Best Female Chef, before I wrote an 1800 word article about it.


Vacations Magazine bought and published 900+ words of it, all the front of the house stuff, and the rest languished. Here’s the dope on how a world class restaurant is set up and run that I picked up during the 20 course meal and the 90 minute interview with the chef.

The misnamed wine cellar is on a floor above the restaurant. It is a massive zinc-walled repository for 2300 wines from around the world, with room for 100,000 bottles and her father’s cigar collection, kept at 80% humidity with a temperature of 16 degrees (centigrade) and cool, non-damaging LED lighting.

The test kitchen, located on the top floor, was created in 2000 and redesigned in 2015. It has three chefs, a nutritionist, a resident culinary student using their research library for his studies, a wall of 1000 described spices and flavors, a dehydrator & a freeze dryer (because both processes create different flavors), a futuristic looking rotating orb on a glass tube in a machine that captures the essence of a substance, a computerized database of flavors, plus all the high and low tech devices necessary to cook their creations.

The fact that the test kitchen works ahead of the seasons to be ready for seasonal menu changes means they have to start with hard-to-find ingredients that will be plentiful when they are on the menu . Then when the ingredients are in season, they have to deal with fluctuations of quality as the season waxes and wanes.

Of all their technical work Elena said “Machines can help you to get a result, but taste is not important to a machine. If we don’t like the taste we throw it away. What we keep, we design into a meal, then draw a schematic to let other chefs know how to cook each dish, and finally let our customers taste and comment, adjusting and correcting as they do until the recipe is finished.”

Elena describes their food as “signature cuisine, Basque, research-based, evolving to cutting edge. We cook for today.” Of women in Basque society she says, “The Basque people are matriarchal. I grew up with no concept of limits to women. I have opportunities here that men have elsewhere.”

Elena said that she likes to travel, and that “wherever she cooks she brings her ideas and Basque sensibility to the local ingredients.”  Except for garlic and parsley, “I don’t know how to cook without them.”

Of her clientele, ”We serve people from all over the world. About 60% are locals (within 200 km), the rest are foreigners.”

About her employees, “We look for motivation and imagination in the kitchen staff – someone who likes food. Not all are young or culinary school graduates; we have all ages and backgrounds working here -90% are Basque. When someone leaves they usually recommend their replacement.”

“There is no budget for research and development, rather it is all part of the whole restaurant budget. R&D is an expense, but it is not expensive because without it you will not change.”

About specialty foods she said, “We do not have the room to bake our own bread here.” The test kitchen chefs “developed a bread recipe that a local bakery bakes and delivers each day 20 minutes before we serve dinner.”  In that vein Elena also said, “We have our own wine label, Arzak, a white rioja, bottled especially for the restaurant.”

Now you can appreciate the level of detail and thought that goes into running Arzak. What was the most fun was eating there.  From clever and wacky food presentations to incredible taste combinations, my meal was beautiful, delicious and probably the best I’ve ever eaten. Vacations Magazine  ran that part of the story with my photographs. I hope you like it.

FUNNY STORY – a few year’s back I was in Madrid attending the Salon Del Gourmet, an international Food Show. My base at the show was a popup restaurant run by Elena’s father. Great food even there, and wonderful hospitality. We are pictured below.


Posted in food, Spain, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to fix Windows 10 error message: “invalid IP configuration”

When Windows 10  could not get me connected to the internet the other day, troubleshooting showed me this reason: “Ethernet does not have a valid IP configuration” That really ticked me off! I erroneously thought that when Time Warner switched to become Spectrum they changed the IP settings. I was wrong. My computer screwed up all on its own, and I had to fix it. Here’s how I did it:

I went to my gurus (I’m fortunate to have great ones) – The Computer Guys – on Main Street in Saugerties, and told them the message. They immediately knew about this glitch with Windows 10. They gave me a printout of the steps to fix it.

So – when you run into this problem you’ll know what to do even if your gurus aren’t as smart as mine are.  It means being familiar with command prompts and some DOS to use the netsh.exe program, but – even without any knowledge of DOS – you can just follow these instructions and you’ll do fine. Note: the quotation marks are not typed, I used them to show you what you would see on the screen.

#1 – In the lower left corner of your screen click on the windows icon and scroll down to “Windows System”. Right click on “Command Prompt” then left click on “more” and finally on “Run as Administrator”.

#2 – at the C prompt “C:\WINDOWS\system32>” type:

netsh winsock reset catalog

and press (keyboard) ENTER

You’ll get “Successfully reset the winsock catalog. You must restart the computer in order to complete the task.” And another prompt – type:

netsh int ipv4 reset reset.log

and press (keyboard) ENTER

You’ll get a whole list of resettings (not all will work) and another restart the computer message before a final prompt.

#3 – Close that box and restart your computer

That’s all there is to it. Be sure to use correct spelling and spacing and you’ll do fine.

I was connected to the internet as soon as the computer came back on.

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I write Cruise Port Excursions

Outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain – photo by author

Among many other hats, I wear that of a freelance writer and editor. One of my clients sends me 300-400 cruise Port Excursions a year to write/rewrite. You know, you’re taking a cruise and at each stop there are tours you can take. I’m hired to make the descriptions of those tours desirable – punch them up, so to speak – and make needed corrections. Here’s an example I just finished on a port I’d visited several times and knew intimately – Bilbao, Spain.

First – this is what they sent me:

Bilbao, the industrial and financial capital of the Basque Country, is situated between two ranges of hills and on both sides of the River Nervion. The iron ore mines near the city were discovered by the Romans, who paved the way for the numerous foundries later built on both banks of the river. Today, the city is undergoing a spectacular transformation: factories and port installations are being renovated into spectacular urban projects such as the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum.

On your exclusive shore event today enjoy a sampling of historic buildings and the opportunity to explore the city’s main attraction, the Guggenheim Museum on this half-day excursion of Bilbao which also includes a chance to discover the famous local gastronomy.

Depart the pier for the scenic drive through the outskirts of Bilbao and continue down the city’s main thoroughfare, the Gran Via, which reflects Bilbao’s 19th century mining and industrial prosperity.

Enjoy a guided visit around the outside of the hugely popular Guggenheim Museum which opened to international acclaim in October 1997.  The building is the work of architect Frank O. Gehry and is an architectural masterpiece in its own right.  Covered with a dazzling 30,000 sheets of titanium, this monumental masterpiece became Bilbao’s main attraction overnight. The great titanium, stone and glass sculpture houses nineteen galleries of modern and contemporary art collections supplemented by works from the Solomon R. Guggenheim. Museum of New York.

Following your outside explanation enter the museum to visit the exhibitions. The enormous atrium, more than 150 feet high, is connected to the nineteen galleries by a system of suspended metal walkways and glass elevators. After your guided tour, some free time is provided to explore the museum at your leisure.

Continue to Bilbao’s Old Quarter with its famous ‘Seven Streets’, interesting architecture and medieval heart. The heart of this industrial, port city is the Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are lined with Renaissance, Baroque and Modernist buildings.  Here you can discover the Basque Country’s gastronomy. In the Seven Street’s area pause at one of the various Tapas Bars and sample some of the popular local specialities – the pintxos – like “finger food“, a type of “tapas”, served on a slice of bread, usually cold, which makes them much like canapés, and are known as the “miniature“ cuisine. Following your refreshments rejoin your coach for the return transfer to the ship.

Notes: Basque is not a “Country”, “today” is not 20 years ago, and Bilbao has no “Tapas Bars.” Plus, the repetitive writing had to be cleaned, converted to American spelling and reduced from 395 words to 300-350

This is what I returned:

Bilbao, once the industrial and financial capital of the Basque region of Spain, is now a culinary and cultural destination featuring the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum, arguably the most visited museum in the world. Bilbao is in a “bowl” on a bend of the River Nervion between two ranges of hills. With iron ore mines famous since Roman times, Bilbao grew into a ship-building capital and busy industrial port. Today, the port is moved downstream and the cleaned up river is a boating and recreational asset to the city.

Your (company name here) begins with a scenic drive through the outskirts of Bilbao upriver to the city’s main thoroughfare, the Gran Via, which reflects Bilbao’s 19th century mining and industrial prosperity.

Your first stop, the Guggenheim Museum, which opened to international acclaim in October 1997, begins with a tour of the magnificent exterior.  Architect Frank O. Gehry created this architectural masterpiece of stone and glass covered with 30,000 dazzling sheets of undulating titanium. It is surrounded by fountains and reflecting pools dominated by Louise Bourgeois’ gigantic “Spider” sculpture guarding the beautiful Nervion riverside walk. Streetside, the massive topiary by Jeff Koons called “Puppy” patiently sits by the entrance.

Inside, the enormous atrium, more than 150 feet high, is connected to the nineteen galleries by a system of glass elevators and suspended metal walkways, one of which offers the best view of Richard Serra’s sculpture collection called “The Matter of Time” – massive steel ellipses housed in a room built for them. After your guided tour, some free time is provided to explore the museum at your leisure.

Your next stop is the Old Quarter, Bilbao’s medieval heart located further around the bend in the river. The pedestrian-only narrow streets are lined with Renaissance, Baroque and Modernist buildings. Here you’ll visit one of the many small bars for the Basque version of tapas called “pintxos” and a local beverage. Following your refreshments, you’ll rejoin your coach for the scenic return to your ship.

There – now you know what I do. What do you think? Which version do you like better? Which would make you buy the tour?  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. It will help me with my work.

Posted in Cruise, Culinary, destinations, food, free lance writer, journalism, Spain, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heather Ridge Farm Harvest Fair Oct 22

How would you like to help raise funds for the Regional Food Bank of the Northeastern New York which supports and supplies all the food pantries of the region while enjoying a Catskill Mountain Harvest Fair? What a crazy question! Everyone wants to enjoy a pleasant afternoon of good family fun while helping to feed hungry members of our community.  Join your friends and neighbors this Saturday (Oct 22) at Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow, NY, for a fun-filled day of good food and family activities.


Farmer John Harrison will show you how to press your own apples

Come celebrate the season’s bounty with local farmers, artisans, musicians, craftspeople, and more, from 11am-3pm.  Renowned children’s book author/illustrator Hudson Talbott will be signing copies of his award winning books throughout the day. Meet Wes Laraway and The Birds of Prey of the New York Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, as featured on National Geographic TV, to learn more about everything owls, hawks, and falcons. There will be sample tastings of 1857 Spirits, the new potato vodka from Barbers Farm Distillery.

Bring your own apples and Farmer John Harrison will show you how to press them on the farm’s cider press. Enjoy live music by Hilary Schrauf and Daniel Pearse. Peruse local vendors including I.U. Tripp Antiques, Cluckin’ A Critter Farm, Smyth-Cid Pottery, Cotton Hill Creamery, and The Cheese and Dairy Society of NYS. Enjoy fresh, farm made treats like apple cider doughnuts and maple bacon popcorn.

Visit the Root Beer Social tent for glasses of Patent Root Beer and root beer floats with farm-made ice cream. All proceeds from the sale of the root beer drinks will be donated to the Food Bank.

Patent Root Beer is created by Chef Rob Handel of the Bees Knees Café, on the farm, and consists of 19 natural ingredients to make an outstanding soda.  It is the new house drink of the Bees Knees Café. Admission is free for everyone.  In addition to the Root Beer Social tent with drinks and food, The Bees Knees Café will also open and be serving food from 11am-3pm.

For more information about the Harvest Fair at Heather Ridge Farm visit their website at or call 518-239-6234.  The Harvest Fair will be from 11am-3pm, on the farm at 989 Broome Center Road, Preston Hollow.

Posted in Entertainment, Farm to Table, Festivals and Fairs, food, Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, music, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Summer Hiking in Minnewaska State Park Preserve

The Shawangunk Ridge runs roughly north and south from Stone Ridge to Ellenville on the west side of the Hudson River. It is most dramatically viewed from New Paltz, looking to the west at the tall rock cliffs rising up from the Wallkill Valley flood plain.  The area is an international destination for people seeking luxury accommodations, world class rock climbing, and the natural, pristine environment the thousands of ridge-top acres provide.


photo by Sam Lewit

Originally where Esopus Mill Stones were quarried, and where some of the best huckleberries were found, the Shawangunk Ridge was largely owned by the twin Smiley brothers, Albert and Alfred, who had the Mohonk Mountain House at the north end of the ridge on Lake Mohonk. In 1878 Alfred left Mohonk  to develop a similar resort hotel on Lake Minnewaska in the middle of the ridge.

The Mohonk Resort continues today as a luxurious National Historic Register Hotel & Spa surrounded by 1000s of acres of nature preserve. Alfred’s holdings were the kernel of what eventually became the more than 21,000 acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve which opened in 1993. It has 3 lakes, miles of gravel carriage trails, hiking trails, and extensive day-use facilities. There is no overnight camping.

The southern portion of the ridge was the Ellenville watershed, where the Town’s reservoir is still located. Now called Sam’s Point Preserve, it has the Ice Caves and extensive dwarf evergreen forests. A network of well-maintained carriage roads and trails connect all the properties, but they are most accessible to the public off Route 44-55 at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

For the most enjoyable walk along the 35 miles of carriage roads, or hike along the 25 miles of trails, it is best to park in the Awosting Parking lot just west of the main entrance. There is a fee for parking. Maps and trail descriptions are available online and for purchase  at the booth. (Parking fees and swimming hours are adjusted daily and seasonally.) Remember to pack a picnic lunch, plenty of water and your bathing suit and you’ll be ready to explore miles of groomed trails. Minnewaska State Park Preserve is a “carry in – carry out” property with no camping or fires allowed, and no water, food or garbage pickup available.

Provisions for bicyclists, hikers, strollers, rock climbers and even horseback riders allow access and recreation for all manner of motor-less locomotion throughout the park, with some trails all-inclusive and others restricted to the peripatetic enjoyments. Swimming areas at both Minnewaska (follow link to see warnings)  and Awosting Lakes, replete with changing booths, composting toilets and life guards, make walks on even the hottest days bearable. Clearly marked trails, maps at intersections with handy “you are here” indicators and frequent places to enjoy the panoramic vistas over the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains  make for a pleasurable day of hiking the level and gently-sloped gravel lanes.

Located a mere 90 minute drive from New York City, the Minnewaska State Park Preserve entrance is on top of the ridge, on the south side of Route 44/55, about ten miles west of New Paltz, NY, exit 18 on the New York State Thruway.

Posted in free lance writer, Hiking, historic preservation, Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fields of Interest

Even though Oxford University Press referred to me as “a most notable food expert” and I’m commonly referred to as a “culinary travel writer”,  my recent articles are all over the place – from subject matter to placement. In the last month alone I have two food articles and two general travel articles published on the #30 top travel website in the world:

a ship building/nautical history article on

a cruise destination article and a wine article below on this blog, a fashion article coming out (that’s funny!) on EDGE, the largest lgbt network in the world, a horticulture article ready to place and a forestry/hiking article coming out in Wild Northeast Magazine’s fall edition.

In the past I’ve written about architecture, urban planning, adventure travel, politics, regional history, military history and historic preservation.That ladies and gentlemen is diversity! Is it any wonder that I bristle when an editor tries to categorize me? (Are you listening New York Journal of Books?)

Words to live by: “Don’t limit yourself and don’t let anyone limit you.”

Posted in Adventure/Sports, book review, Canada, Cruise, Culinary, destinations, diversity, food, free lance writer, gay, historic preservation, Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, journalism, LGBT, military, New York History Books, Railroads, Spain, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment