Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dining With Fall Ingredients

Fall Cooking Ingredients- ApplesFall is a great time of year to consider new fresh food options that are available as the season changes. Fresh food offerings that you will find during this time of year include apples, pumpkin, sweet potato, pears and squash. These wonderful foods paired with spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla or allspice will leave your mouth watering for more! Read more on Epicurious for seasonal cooking tips.

As the air turns crisp, food choices will heat up and become  heartier. Honestly, what is better than coming in from a day of play in the Fall leaves to sit down at your favorite restaurant with family and friends to enjoy the fabulous foods of this season. Many fine dining establishments will offer entire menus based around one or more of the foods that can be harvested fresh this time of year. Let's explore all of the delightful foods and drinks that can be found at this time of the year.

Autumnal Delights

With the Fall season upon us, restaurants have begun to change from the Summer fair of late to delectable fresh harvested foods. Menu choices now include delicious entrees such as casseroles, stews, soups and baked dishes. At the top of the list, are wonderful desserts such as apple pies and cobblers followed by pumpkin pies and pumpkin breads as the Fall season matures. We certainly can't forget sweet potato casserole which secretly disguises as a vegetable to make us all feel more healthy, yet has such sweetness, that even the greatest sweet tooth is satisfied.

Fall is also the season for meatier dishes such as chili, beef stew and pot pies which can be paired with cornbread. These hearty dishes taste so wonderful as the air begins to crisp. Many casseroles become top choice to entrees this season. Some Fall favorites are pork chops with cheesy, hash-browned potatoes, shepherd's pie made with sweet potatoes, squash gratin, roasted acorn squash, and butternut squash posole. All of these dishes will warm you up from the inside out and leave you feeling nourished yet satisfied.

Fall Food Pork With ApplesOne can also begin to find the delicious apple included in the main entree as it is paired with pork dishes as either an apple glaze or applesauce. Apples are often used in everything from stuffing to cakes and breads during the Fall. The pear is also used this time of year to make pear sauce, pear cake and even combined with apples to make a delightful apple-pear pie which is guaranteed to please dessert lovers alike. Pears can also be combined with parsnips and ginger to make the perfect side dish.

Other wonderful offerings include mashed sweet potatoes which can be made with butter-pecans or sweet potatoes stuffed with sausage and apples. Sweet potatoes can be used in place of white or yellow potatoes in many recipes for a welcome twist. The sweet potato has so many delightful ways  it can be prepared that it truly is a versatile food.

The Dessert & Drinks Menu

Apples ciders as well as pumpkin spiced lattes have now been added to menus as the weather  gets cooler and cold bodies yearn for warmth. Many enjoy these drinks as starters to a good, hot meal as well as light desserts at the end. Pairing a warm mug of cider with pear cake will definitely bring a smile to your face.

One thing is for certain, Fall is definitely one of the best seasons to enjoy fresh harvest at local establishments. The best dishes will be those that include many of the ingredients that have been discussed. No matter what your favorite season is, everyone will find a dish or drink that they love in the Fall.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Macaroons VS Macarons, A Delicious Conundrum

It's a rare treat when you are faced with two such yummy choices. Do you enjoy a delicious chewy coconut macaroon or indulge in a light and flaky macaron? Or both? And just why do the have such a similar name for two such different treats? It is a story that unfolded over centuries.


Born In Italy

The earliest macaroons were made in Italy. These flour-less and unleavened treats were made with a mixture of almond paste, egg whites and sugar. While these cookies eventually became known as amaretti in their native Italy, the soon to be modern macaroon began to evolve in several places.
Some chefs had begun to swap the almond paste for finely shredded coconut. These very sweet and chewy cookies became a hit at many Passover meals. They were sweet, easy to make, and unleavened, a perfect dessert. This version became the modern macaroon.

The macaron has a slightly different story. When Catherine de Medici was wed to the French King she brought along a number of servants and chefs from her native Italy to remind her of home. Those chefs taught the French to make their almond based version of a macaroon. Over time the French refined it and gave it a special twist. It became known as the French macaron, a light, flaky, and often chocolate-iced dessert.


Very Similar But Oh So Different

The recipe for each cookie has remained remarkably similar over the years. Both are simple; comprised of just egg whites, sugar and ground almonds or shredded coconut with very few additions. Even the baking technique is similar. Both remain primarily drop cookies cooked quickly in a hot oven.


Which Is Better?

It is the ground almond that makes the French version so light and airy. The European Jewish coconut version is heavier but richly flavored. Each has a dedicated following, enough that this is one cookie that even has its own day of celebration in some countries. May 31st is considered to be National Macaroon Day, the perfect excuse to enjoy both cookies for what they are, a delicious and even historically interesting addition to any meal.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Broad Street Ministries of Philadelphia

 From time to time I come across nonprofit organizations doing tremendous work in their communities. I recently found out about Broad Street Ministries in Philadelphia and wanted to mention the amazing work they are doing there to feed the homeless.

Broad Street Ministries is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing 'radical hospitality to all'. This broad mission statement works toward a society in which each individual is a valued member of an interconnected society. To this end, the Broad Street Ministry works with the homeless, providing food, care items and much more. Click here for their vision.

A Problem Too Big For One
Philadelphia is home to roughly 4,000 people who live without a settled abode. Some ten percent of those people are forced to live rough, on the street. This is the poorest large city in the United States, with at least 28.4% of its residents surviving on less then 23,550 dollars a year.
Many of the homeless are Veterans. Others suffer from chronic illnesses, mental or physical disabilities and addiction. Women on the streets have often faced severe physical or sexual abuse. These are people who live at the fringes with no support systems to speak of. Read here for a full scope on homelessness.

Working to Ease Suffering
Breaking Bread, offered four or five times a week, gives more than just a hot and nutritious meal. During these events Broad Street Ministry offers a full range of serviced aiming to help the under-served populace. People are able to access Veterans resources, a secure mail service, clean warm clothing and personal care needs. People are able repair there existing clothing or take part in a therapeutic art session.

The food is worth mentioning. It is prepared by a professional chef for nutrition and taste. It is then served restaurant style instead of in lines. Participants report that just this little detail helps to normalize, in some same way, their daily existence.

Working with Partners
Poverty is a work that cannot be approached alone. Broad Street Ministry works with many other groups to provide other services to the needy. There is housing counseling through the Bethesda Project, medical services which include general health care as well as more specialized services with the help of PHMC, Bebashi and Council for Relationships. This work is succeeding. In 2013 alone some 23,600 meals were served, 360 Veterans found assistance, over eight thousand garments were handed out or repaired and nearly 400 people received medical care. Here is the full report on their impact:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Is Ebola?

With all the heartbreaking news about Ebola at the moment, I though to take a moment and write about what Ebola is. This simple word is enough to plant fear in our hearts and turn our stomach into knots. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the deadly virus that is raging out of control in West Africa and has claimed over 1,000 deaths, with many more expected in the coming months (click here for article) But is Ebola really as bad as it seems to be? Unfortunately, a lot of fiction has been mixed in with the truth, and much of what the layman knows about the disease is not exactly correct. Here are some facts on the virus.

Facts On The Virus

1. Ebola is a virus that can be found naturally among certain species of bats and birds in certain parts of Africa. It was first diagnosed in humans in 1976 and since then has appeared 18 different times throughout several African countries.

2. There are five different types of Ebola, all with different mortality rates. The current epidemic is caused by the Ebola-Zaire virus, one of the most virulent types with a 90% mortality rate, although it is currently only causing the death of approximately 55% of those infected. More here.

3. The Ebola virus can only be transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of those who have the disease and are presenting symptoms. It is not contagious during the incubation period, which can last anywhere from 2 to 21 days, which is why those with a higher risk of becoming ill are health workers who are in close contact with the patients, those who prepare the bodies of the infected deceased for burial, and family members who help care for them.

4. Ebola is not an airborne virus. Even though a 2012 study shows Ebola can be airborne between birds and pigs, it does not survive well outside the body, so it can't cover large distances in this manner and does not present a high risk of contagion at this time.

5. Some of the first symptoms of Ebola are a sudden onset of fever, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle pain, hiccups, skin rashes and internal and external hemorrhages.

While the Ebola virus has caused great concern among medical professionals, scientists are working around the clock at finding a cure and a vaccine that can help fend off what seems to be trying to become a pandemic of abnormal proportions.Latest reports, report a vaccine will be ready by 2015. For now, staying away from countries in which Ebola has been detected seems to be the best choice for those who may be at risk.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ira Riklis - A Short History Of The Life of Mr. Riklis

Introduction by Ira Riklis

Ira Riklis
Ira Riklis
Hi, My name is Ira Riklis. This blog post is to tell you a little about me, my background and my interests. You can also visit my LinkedIn profile (Ira Riklis) for a short summary of my professional background, and feel free to visit my Google + page where I share many posts and interesting tidbits!

Background Of Ira Riklis

Educational Background & The Early Years

Ira Riklis was born in the United States to Meshulam Riklis and Judith Stern. Ira attended the Wharton School of business for an undergraduate degree in Economics and Entrepreneurship from 1973 to 1976. He continued on to complete a post-graduate program at the Wharton School of Business in 1977 where he received an MBA in Mergers and Acquisitions.

Work Experience

After graduation Ira decided to jump straight into entrepreneurship and put his education to work! He opened Ice Cream Ira's Inc. in 1979 which he lead until 1985. From 1999 to 2001 Ira Riklis was the driving force behind Investor BusTV. In 2004, Mr. Riklis was elevated to the C-Suite where he became CEO of Matrix Security. Ira teamed up with his cousin in his love for the arts to produce the move: "The Lemon Tree" in 2007. You can see the movie database here.

In 1988, Ira became a partner in Charter Sports. Charter Sports was a luxury ski rental shop. Mr. Riklis pioneered programs that catered to celebrities and lead the company to be the only Ski store listed in Travel & Leisure Magazine each year. Mr. Riklis enjoyed a 22 year career at Charter Sports.

Ira Riklis - The Investor

From Ira's deep roots in entrepreneurship, it wasn't long before he became an investor and mentor to several companies. Here is a small list of some public investments:
  • BuyerLeverage - 2001-2010
  • Asset Alliance - 2002-2010
  • Seguin Partners, LLC - 2008-2011
 Mr. Riklis is also the President of Sutherland Capital Management, Inc. which is a private investment fund. Mr. Riklis is currently the President of the company.

Ira Riklis - The CEO

Ira Riklis became the CEO of SNiP Telecommunications in 2007. SNiP provided high quality data, telecommunication and application services. Mr. Riklis concluded his term with SNiP in 2010.

Another CEO role held by Mr. Riklis, and one he currently holds today is CEO of Lydia Security Monitoring Inc., which is better known for its name: C.O.P.S. Monitoring. Mr. Riklis has lead the company to become one of the largest security monitoring companies in the world.

Board Memberships & Charitable Work

The Wall Street Journal recently covered Mr. Riklis in a story about his views on charity and his charitable background. The article was titled: "Ira Riklis Gives Early and Often". Mr. Riklis also dedicates his time to charities through various boards that he sits on.

From 1990 to 2010, Ira sat on the American Committee for the Tel Aviv Foundation. Ira is also a fan of promoting 501(c)3 charities around the United States by featuring them on one of his many hobby blogs! The blog is called the "Charity Blog By Ira Riklis".

Ira Riklis Hobby Blogs

For those who know Ira, he is an avid blogger! Mr. Riklis loves to maintain an active presence on the web and tries to share his experiences and interests with others. As part of this interest Ira has developed almost a brand of different hobby blogs! Here is a full list of the blogs and you can access each one by clicking on the link below: