Harvest-Time Cookies

I was on a fall-inspired baking spree this weekend – our farmers market is bursting at the seams with pumpkins and hot apple cider; there are even a few leaves on the sidewalk here in Brooklyn. To celebrate the season, I made a tray of pumpkin-spiced salted-caramel bark (which I’m mailing to a few new moms in my life) and these Harvest-Time Cookies. They have that fall-weather feel, with rich, dark maple syrup, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Best eaten with a steaming cup of hot apple cider or spiced hot chocolate.

Harvest-Time Cookies
Makes 16 cookies


8 tbsp. (1 stick) of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. of milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup broken pretzel pieces


1. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. With a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until well blended. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, milk and egg.
3. In a separate medium bowl, sift together and mix the baking soda, flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Fold dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Mix until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.
4. Fold in the chocolate chips and pretzels. Form the dough into ping-pong sized balls and flatten slighty with the back of a spoon.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy!


Dirty Girls – Meet the Urban Women Farmers of New York City

Women farmers have hit the big time – the BUSTy, feminist, big time. I can barely believe it, but if you pick-up the Ocotober/November issue of BUST magazine you’ll see my humble name in the table of contents! “Dirty Girls: Resourceful urban farmers are giving new meaning to the term asphalt jungle. By Stephanie Fisher” Over the summer I spent a month running around Brooklyn interviewing women farmers – from bees to sub-irrigated planters to organic vegetables, all of these seven women are doing their part to bring a little bit of nature into this hectic gotham. The women also gave us some farm-centric projects that you can do at home, like a low tunnel cold frame and beet infused vodka. Check out the issue (it’s the eco issue, so there’s tons of good stuff) and meet a few of the beautiful women farmers of New York City.

Craft Fairs, Honey Festivals, and the Nation Magazine – Oh My!

Ok, so that wasn’t the best play on the famous Wizard of Oz mantra, but I tried. This weekend is choc-full-of exciting events here in New York. Saturday and Sunday is the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. Be prepared for reclaimed disaster relief housing, vertical gardens, and robots that teach you things. I’m nerding out over the whole event, but I’m easily most pumped for BUST Magazine’s sub-section Craftacular! (Also, keep an eye out for the Oct/Nov issue of BUST! Yours truly wrote the feature story on urban farm women in NYC!)

Craftacular is BUST Magazine’s outdoor shopping village featuring 50+ vendors, deals, and demos. Check-out hand weaving, mozzarella making, and more!

Purchase tickets to Craftacular and the Maker Faire here. See you there!

Do you like honey? Do you like the beach? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then let me propose this: what are you doing tomorrow, Saturday September 17th beginning at 10AM? It’s the premier of the NYC Honey Festival at Rockaway Beach, sponsored by rooftop farm Brooklyn Grange, and featuring one of the women I interviewed for my BUST Magazine article, the wonderful Meg Paska of Brooklyn Homesteader.

So what can you expect: beekeeping demos, food raffles, cooking demos with the folks at Brooklyn Kitchen, honey-beer brewing with the guys at Sixpoint, honey mustard pickles from Horman’s Best Pickles, and a honey-themed dinner on the boardwalk after dark. Pack some sunscreen, a bathing suit, and your beekeeping veil and head down to the Rockaways for a new twist on a day at the beach. For more information, visit http://www.nychoneyfest.com.

In other food news, the Nation magazine premiered its annual food issue. This is an important one for the food world, as it carries pieces on food economics, crisis, and the environment. The 2011 issue features a roster of a who’s who in food systems celebrity, including articles by the likes of Michael Pollan, change-maker Vandana Shiva, Raj Patel, Frances Moore Lappe, Anna Lappe, Eric Schlosser, Daniel Imhoff, and Civil Eats editor Paula Crossfield. Check-out the full list of articles here, and be sure to pick-up your copy on newsstands today.

Real Food Challenge – Gearing Up for The Year Ahead

Have you heard about Real Food Challenge? It’s a non-profit supported by a network of student leaders across the country who are working toward shifting 1 billion dollars in campus dining money to “real food” by 2020. Isn’t that amazing? I’ve been working with them since July on a few projects, and I am perpetually impressed by the enthusiasm and passion of this network. As we’re gearing up for an uber-busy year ahead, I wrote a piece for the Real Food Challenge blog in reaction to the USDA’s bail-out of the chicken industry to remind us of why we work.

{Originally posted on the Real Food Challenge blog on August 31, 2011.}

Throughout August and September, the Real Food Challenge is hosting regional summer trainings for student leaders all across the country. Student leaders will be participating in intensive, four-day trainings as they prepare for a jam-packed year ahead of them. Come September, they’ll embark on a year filled with campaigning and strategizing on their campuses. The leaders are working towards the Real Food Challenge’s long term goal of shifting $1 billion of campus dining funds away from industrial food and agriculture to more sustainable, community-oriented farms and processors – or ‘real food’ – by 2020.

These regional trainings couldn’t come at a more relevant time. Last Monday, the USDA purchased $40 million in chicken products in a move to bail out the chicken industry. (Thankfully, they’ve pledged to donate the food to soup kitchens and families in need.) The chicken industry (read: industrial agricultural conglomerates) cited the rising cost of production and the apparent struggle to turn a profit as reasons for the bail out. We can’t help but wonder where these funds are actually going to end up, and something tells us that it won’t be in the farmers’ wallets. Some argue that the bail out was necessary, but this is just another example of the government supporting the industrial producers who are “too big to fail” as the smaller, real food farmers are left in the dust.

This is why we need passionate student leaders and people like you – because real food farmers, those who are farming for our environment, our animals, and our communities, don’t have the USDA to bail them out when times get tough. They instead depend on a network of people who believe in shifting power away from the industrial conglomerates that abuse the environment, laborers, and animals, and into the hands of real food farmers.

The USDA transferred $40 million into the chicken industry, but Real Food Challenge hopes to shift $1 billion of campus dining funds to real food farmers and processors over the next nine years. Imagine what kind of change $1 billion affords: increased access to markets, higher wages for laborers, improved farm infrastructure, just to name a few. The prospect of that change is exciting, and should empower our student leaders, grassroots leaders, field organizers, and anyone passionate about transforming our food system as we continue working toward our goal.

Don’t forget to check out this inspiring video of the 2011 Northeast Regional Summit! It captures the importance and influence of the Real Food Challenge’s radical regional student summits:

Hurricane Ginger-Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

As you may have heard, there was a hurricane this past weekend. Maybe you had no idea, but here in Brooklyn things were tense. The subway shut-down and we found ourselves stranded in Bushwick watching as our neighbors taped their windows and pulled in their garbage cans or left the neighborhood all together. After all the hourly storm tracking and filling our bathtub full of water (I don’t know, someone suggested it…) we slept through the whole thing and woke up Sunday morning to a mere 4 inches of water on our balcony due to a clogged drain – nothing a broom couldn’t fix.

Being stuck inside all weekend is not necessarily a bad thing. We caught up on movies, old magazines, and even managed to brew 5 gallons of chocolate stout. And of course, I made cookies. We had some Taza chocolate discs lying around our apartment, so I decided to add a little twist to classic chocolate chip cookies.

Taza is a pretty cool company. On top of having delicious chocolate, they use only organic ingredients and ensure that coco-bean laborers receive a fair wage. I used their Ginger-Chocolate discs, which have the perfect amount of gingery-bite. Their Chipotle-Chili Chocolate would also make a great cookie.

{Original recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen}

Hurricane Ginger-Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
makes 18 cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg (or egg replacer)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 discs of Taza Ginger-Dark Chocolate chopped into chunks
1 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat sugars and butter until creamy and smooth. Mix in egg or egg replacer, vanilla, and baking soda.
3. Add flour and salt. Mix in chocolate chunks and chips.
4. Scoop out two-tbls rounds, nine to a sheet, about two inches apart. Bake for 16 minutes or until just slightly browned around the edges.

No Goat Left Behind

{image courtesy of Heritage Foods USA}

Goat cheese is delicious – creamy and tangy, it’s perfect in an omelette, on a salad, or with some roasted beets. And goats themselves are the funniest little creatures. They have dynamic personalities and, as pack animals, they’re incredibly social. I spent some time with a herd of goats during my farm women research up at Cross Island Farms on the Thousand Islands. That fall day, the herd was checking out two new additions to their family:

As the women were trying to size-up their new sisters, the billies were off in a neighboring field mowing down some unruly brush. Dani chose to keep her billies to use as future agri-tourism for the farm. She envisioned them pulling wagons, accompanying children on farm tours, and aiding in the upkeep of their fields.

However, most dairy farms don’t have the capacity to keep their billies, so the males are culled at birth. Heritage Foods USA has a solution to the problem of billies on dairies that would not only give dairy farmers a fair price for their male goats, but it would also extend the market for undervalued goat meat. Check out the video below with the wonderful Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers here in NYC as she introduces “No Goat Left Behind,” Heritage Foods’ cleverly named goat program which begins in Goatober.

Summer Green Tomato and Tomatillo Fresh Salsa

Summer is lazily winding down, and yesterday’s rain over Brooklyn was a refreshing break from the heavy, sweaty days of August. But before we begin trading in our beach towels, there’s still time to appreciate the bounty of summer’s harvest at your local farmers market. Our market here in Bushwick was teeming with exciting produce this past weekend: mini bitter melons, okra, and a few varieties of eggplant, just to name a few.

My favorite veggies of the moment, however, are the tangy tomatillos and green tomatoes. Tomatillos are funky little guys: they look a bit like tiny onions, taste like sour tomatoes, and are actually members of the nightshade family (shared with potatoes!). Green tomatoes are simply under-ripe tomatoes, but they’re prized for their tangy, fresh flavor.

On their own, these guys have a bit of a punch, but throw in some salt, fresh garlic, and vinegar and you’ve got a delicious, fresh and flavorful summer salsa, which tastes great on some toasted, buttered leftover baguettes.

Green Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa

1 pound tomatillos
2 medium green tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel the outer skin off the tomatillos, and rinse to remove the sticky film.
2. Roughly chop both the tomatillos and tomatoes. Place them in a medium bowl, add salt and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
3. Mince the garlic and mix into the salsa. Add the vinegar.
4. Eat it with tortilla chips or on toasted bread like bruschetta!