Tag Archives: New York

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Photo Friday: Ghost Sign

While in New York (site of last week’s Photo Friday), I became completely entranced with “Ghost Signs”, faded advertising signs painted on the sides of brick buildings. Most of these are from decades ago. Some are faded beyond recognition. Many offer goods and services that have seen more popular times: millinery, lithography, shirtwaists, coatfronts, sewing machines, steam heat, furs and skins, paper and twine.

As I walked around Manhattan’s streets, gazing up and peering around corners for ghost signs, I felt like an urban archeologist. Each sign held a clue to past generations. Each felt like a surprise to discover, as well as a fleeting treat. I knew that the next time I might pass this way, the sign could very well be faded completely, lost to memory — or lost to new construction, as glass and steel might completely cover it up, much the way the tearing down of old buildings to make way for new ones may have led to some of these old ghost signs seeing the light of day once more.

I try to photograph ghost signs wherever I go. I have found New York City and Portland, Oregon, to be especially rich places for them, in addition to forgotten main streets and quiet roads where rural barns advertise tobaccos and colas. Look for an upcoming post that will feature more.

In the meantime, keep observing, wandering, and being open to a surprise or two. Last week reader Alice sent a link to this story on Slow Photography, which is more about the joyful process of taking pictures than it is about the finished result. (Thank you Alice. See Alice’s photos on flickr.)

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Photo Friday: Empire State

Photography is a wonderful activity for the “slow”. When I find myself wandering around with a camera (which is most of the time), I tend to look up and around more than usual, seeking those things which are just out of the ordinary. Senses are heightened, connections are made.

It is in that spirit that I start this Photo Friday feature. I hope you’ll be inspired to share your own photos and observations — any time!

Walking in New York City’s plant district last summer, I was very amused to come upon this extreme juxtaposition of the leafy and the urban. Of course the phrase, “It’s a jungle out there” sprang to mind. I spent a whole free weekend walking, photographing, experiencing and seeing that wonderful city. It gave me complete joy.

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Huffington Post: Rise, Fall & Rise of New York City’s School Gardens

Every now and again, you stumble upon what is simply a great story. Daniel Bowman Simon’s Rise and Fall of School Gardens in New York’s Past Can Guide Us Into the Future traces New York City’s early community gardens, such as the 1902 Children’s School Farm in DeWitt Clinton Park on 54th St. and 12th Ave. in Manhattan, which was planted as much for the civic virtues and love of nature it would instill in its young gardeners as it was for its vegetables and flowers.

A couple of years after its inception, there would be a whole School Farm movement, with an astonishing 80 plots in New York. In 1931, there were 302 school gardens, which accounted for 65 acres.

Over time, the gardens vanished. In most cases, their land was redeveloped. Simon notes that we need to take heed and not let that happen again. He cites some wonderful trends regarding the current uptick in school gardens – namely First Lady Michelle Obama‘s White House Garden and other programs that I’ve written about here, the new school garden at P.S. 29 in Brooklyn that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and celebrity chef Rachael Ray helped promote, and the work of the Children & Nature Movement.

Do yourself a favor and read the article. The graphics are wonderful. And the story turns out to be the writer’s testimony in the recent public hearing held by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, which very recently completed a set of community garden rules designed to strengthen protection for gardens.

White House Photo: Samantha Appleton

Catch a Kid-Friendly Outdoor Screening of World Cup Soccer

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer finals upon us from South Africa, World Cup fever is sky-high around the globe. One great upshot of this is that the World Cup is providing some opportunities for good camaraderie and fun, as many communities are opting to erect giant outdoor screens, so people can enjoy the games for free, often in kid-friendly settings.

In San Francisco, World Cup Soccer will be displayed outdoors at Civic Center Plaza. The city first screened World Cup Soccer outdoors in Dolores Park in 2006, and is offering 10 dates for viewings this year, from June 11-July 11. In addition to the soccer games screening live from South Africa, the event will feature food, games and children’s activities. Read more about San Francisco World Cup screenings.

In Seattle, games will be broadcast on a big screen in Nord Alley, near Pioneer Square, over a whopping 25 dates. Seattle’s International Sustainability Institute is sponsoring the free screenings, at which food will be sold. Nord Alley already has a history of soccer madness — Seattle Sounders fans gather there to celebrate before and after matches. Read more about Seattle World Cup screenings.

Portland, OR’s, Director Park, near Pioneer Courthouse Square, will be the site of two World Cup outdoor screenings, June 12 and July 11. Portland has also had successful outdoor soccer viewing events in the past. Read more about Portland World Cup screenings.

Houston is hosting outdoor viewings, courtesy of the Houston Dynamo team, for all USA and Mexico World Cup matches, as well as for the semifinals on July 6 & 7 and the final on July 11. Events will take at Discovery Green, downtown, and will feature lots of kid-friendly activities and entertainment. Read more about Houston World Cup screenings.

Chicago is hosting a festival and viewing June 12, sponsored by that city’s South African Consulate. Read more about Chicago World Cup screenings.

In New York City, head to Brooklyn for World Cup screenings June 12, 20 and 27, on Vanderbilt Avenue, between Dean Street and Park Place, as part of the second annual Summer Streets on Vanderbilt event. The street will be closed to traffic. In addition to World Cup soccer, people can take in musical entertainment, children’s games, contests, food, and fashion shows. Read more about New York World Cup screenings.

London will be host to multiple viewing events, throughout the month, including the Afro Cup Festival, which celebrates African music, art, culture and more, along with soccer/football viewing. Read more about London World Cup screenings.

Oslo puts most of the rest of the soccer-viewing world to shame: Every single World Cup match — more than 50 of them — will be screened outdoors at Kontraskjæret by Akershus Fortress. The arena opens two hours before the first match of the day, and entry is free. Read more about Oslo World Cup screenings.

Perth is also home to its share of screenings, which will take place new Northbridge Piazza, a great new public space in Northbridge, Perth’s entertainment district. 22 games are scheduled through the finals. Read more about Perth World Cup screenings.

If anyone has any tips on other outdoor screenings, let me know. Happy viewing!

Photo: Fans celebrating the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Audrey & Patrick Scales

Saluting Silver Palate’s Sheila Lukins

SPShelf

The hoopla surrounding the book and movie, Julie and Julia, has been wonderful, of course — for amateur cooks, for foodies, for bloggers. Anything that gets people back into the kitchen after seasons of take-out (if, indeed, that’s where they head post-movie) and certainly anything that makes us stop and truly appreciate the pioneering Julia Child, with her trilling voice, kind demeanor and no-nonsense insistence that any of us, too, could pull off chicken Cordon Bleu, is inherently good. For my mother’s generation, Julia Child and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the guide that perhaps their own parents — in a harder era during which, for many, cooking was an artless enterprise, synonymous with “getting food on the table” — were not.

My own cooking was informed by a different set of guides. So it was with dismay that I learned that Sheila Lukins, co-creator with Julie Rosso of the Silver Palate cookbooks and empire, had died, at just 66, of brain cancer.

When I moved to New York, after college, in 1982, I quickly experienced the personal revelation that was fettuccine Alfredo. “Pasta, Etc.” stores were springing up around Manhattan, with their ready-made sauces and varieties of pasta. Growing up, pasta meant spaghetti, and usually at a restaurant. Home meals tended to revolve around chicken, meat or fish, and were dishes without a lot of variation, week to week, that my working mom could easily prepare and get on the table. (Kitchen leisure was reserved for baking projects and Thanksgiving Day.)

Then I discovered the Silver Palate stores, with their amazing chicken salads and chutneys and raspberry and walnut vinaigrettes. I snapped up the Silver Palate Cookbook and learned to make such staples on my own. The book was such an obvious labor of love — as had been the Moosewood Cookbook before it, which I belatedly found — with its hand-drawings, personal notes, and unique recipes that I could easily replicate. It had clearly been created by people who adored food and combining ingredients in interesting, tasty ways. Their recipes were (to me) informed by global cuisines, which became especially apparent when the pair split forces and Lukins traveled the world to research and create her astonishing Around the World Cookbook, which, along with the Silver Palate Cookbook and the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, I am continually inspired by.

Barely a week goes by when I don’t cook from, or at least reference, one of these books (along with the Silver Palate New Basics Cookbook.) Into my repertoire have gone their Chicken Marbella (which is so popular among my generation of home cooks, especially for dinner parties, that it is mentioned in Lukins’ New York Times obituary.) Four Seasons Pasta, Pasta Putanesca, Game Hens in Raspberry, Seven Vegetable Couscous, Salmon Mousse, and June’s Apple Crisp are just a few of the recipes that I turn to time and again. Just this weekend, my daughter and I made Three-Ginger Cookies from the Good Times cookbook, which, as its name implies, is a fun compendium of recipes and occasions to enjoy them with others.

Sheila, you gave me a lot.

While racking up influences from my early ’80s burgeoning cooking and entertaining life, I would be remiss in not mentioning Martha Stewart’s own first book, Entertaining. It’s hard to remember that, prior to the Martha Stewart many of us know now, this extremely talented, energetic, and comparatively anonymous caterer put together a gorgeous collection of recipes for parties that one could just happen upon in a bookstore. Not a rumaki was to be found within its pages. Like Silver Palate, Entertaining was a revelation as far as food and style — verve, really — and is another book I’ve referred to repeatedly over the years.

I wonder which books will be the touchstones for the cooks who are coming of age now.

gingermix

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow News Day: A Cottage Garden Grows in Brooklyn

I love this story by Anne Raver that appeared in the Home section of Thursday’s New York Times. It’s about a garden that was implausibly imagined and created, and then lovingly tended, in a blighted area at the entrance to the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY.

Its creator, Kirstin Tobiasson, began the project seven years ago, with no gardening experience, but plenty of common sense and a desire to create something of beauty. In the process, she found her green thumb, along with a community of people who find themselves drawn to her project.

In the article, Tobiasson says of her unlikely cottage flowers, “They’re opportunistic” and refers to her garden as “an insurrection on the sidewalk.”

Lovely, colorful photos by Jenn Ackerman accompany the piece as well. Kirstin and her garden’s spirit and cheer made my morning.

Slow News Day: Bike Commuting is Up & So are Folding Bikes

Two million Americans are riding their bikes to work, says the New York City-based Transportation Alternatives, which advocates for biking, walking, and public transportation as healthier, greener alternatives to the car. Bike commuting in New York City grew an astonishing 35 percent from 2007 to 2008.

As someone who once stored a bike in a Manhattan bedroom, I know that New Yorkers, especially, encounter storage issues, among others, when considering biking in the city. Enter the folding bike — and there are some great ones available now, in different weights, configurations and prices.

Transportation Alternatives offers this very complete rundown of folding bikes.

The New York Times also just road-tested the latest folding bikes and offers this slide show.

Still craving more folding-bike info? This British site, The Folding Society, might offer the last word.

If something is holding you back from bike commuting or riding more, this list at Bikecommuters.com dispels some myths.

In wonderful recent San Francisco biking news, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency recently approved a whopping 45 bike network improvement projects as part of the 2009 SF Bicycle Plan. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition web site has complete details and maps.

All of the above may just be reason to stow a split of Champagne in the bike bag.

VanHauwaert

(No argument from Cyrille Van Houwaert, a dominant early rider in the Paris-Roubaix Classic, from 1908-1911.)

Slow News Day: Vermont’s First IHOP to Serve Real VT Maple Syrup

When International House of Pancakes finally opened a franchise in Vermont (the 50th state to get an IHOP), its General Manager, Sam Handy, Jr., successfully petitioned the franchisor to allow the South Burlington shop to serve real maple syrup, instead of the corn syrup blend that is served at the other approximately 1,400 IHOPs in North America. Handy is quoted in the New York Times as saying, “(Vermont is) a small state, and buying local is important.” He also wants to explore buying eggs and dairy items from local farmers.

So, it seems that fast food, in Vermont anyway, just inched a tiny bit slower.

Not to be outdone, New York Senator Chuck Schumer recently proposed to IHOP CEO Julie Stewart that New York State’s IHOPs similarly wean themselves off their mass-produced toppings and onto maple syrup made in New York. This is not the senator’s first foray into the maple. Last year, he introduced legislation designed to — wait for it — tap into his state’s underused maples by providing incentives to landowners for producing syrup. More information on New York’s maple situation is here.

I love maple syrup, and one in particular, which we have been getting delivered (a luxury) since trying it and many like it on a delightful road trip through New England five summers ago. That syrup is from Sugarbush Farm, in Woodstock, VT, where we got to touch the actual maple trees and learn about the entire tapping and production process. We also learned that we generally prefer the robust Grade A dark amber syrup to the lighter Grade A medium amber, or the even lighter “fancy” syrups.

frenchtoast

Lucky me. My daughter and her friend whipped up some French toast for themselves and for me this weekend. We all agreed that it turned out picture-perfect, especially topped with Sugarbush maple syrup and a helping of super-sweet Delta Blue organic blueberries from Stockton, CA., the closest-grown berries we could find.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Rich in Kindness, Poor in Money

allkindfamily

When I was appointed to our local library board, the City Librarian asked me to write a brief piece about my own early library and reading experiences. The moment that I spied the book “All of a Kind Family” in my school library remains so vivid and important to me that I had no trouble responding. The answer had always been there.

I fell permanently in love with books and with libraries on a rainy day in second grade. Already a reader, I became enthralled with the “bigger-kid” paperbacks in the school library that spun on their own gold rack. Something about one book in particular really jumped out. The book was Sydney Taylor’s “All-of-a-Kind Family”. On its cover was a drawing of five similar girls, of various heights, wearing matching pinafores and high-topped boots. I checked the book out and began devouring its tales of family and neighbors on New York’s Lower East Side, in the early 1900s, a group “rich in kindness, though poor in money”. I read about penny candy and Roman candles, pushcart peddlers and the power of imagination in tough times. I went on to read the book’s three equally enthralling sequels and, when my daughter was in second grade, I read “All-of-a-Kind Family” to her. I still have my original copy of this book, which I was given, and which has followed me across the country and back, perching on multiple bookshelves in multiple homes. To this day, I’m rarely without a book to read and I’m still a sucker for the library’s spinning gold rack, even if it happens to look more like the New Fiction shelf.

Most lifelong readers can probably conjure a similar memory. What’s yours?

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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