One of the perks of being a food blogger, is getting to really know my camera, and over the years my photography has steadily improved. Once you understand the basic principles of photography, you can take pictures anywhere, and of anything. I only shoot in manual mode and my favorite thing to shoot is MY KIDS. Every time the season changes, it’s like a whole new backdrop to take beautiful family photos. Here are some summer scenes for 2015.
This post may be dedicated to family but we still gotta eat, even at the beach! So, here’s a little roundup of the best BIB pack-and-go recipes, great for family trips to the beach, the park or anywhere on-the-go!
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed where I ended up for Passover…Aspen, Colorado. I’m still pinching myself as I unpack my suitcases.
It was a week before Pesach, my upstairs was cleaned, and I was stressed. I’ve never made Pesach in my life. The kids were off of school, I had to shop for everything, and I had to tackle the kitchen and playroom. Dear G-d. I was kvetching to my mom, who was headed for Aspen as one of the guest speakers on the Prime Experience Program. Lets just say, a couple of hours later, she had pulled some strings and my family and I were headed to ski country! We booked our tickets faster than you can say “I have no idea how to ski!” and the rest is history!
I can never thank my mom enough for the unbelievable experience of Pesach in Aspen. We had the most amazing time relaxing, making new friends, taking in the most beautiful scenery and enjoying delicious Kosher for Passover food. The elaborate smorgasbords of salads, fruits, crudities, cheese, charcuterie and pastries spanned breakfast, lunch and dinner for a full 10 days. It’s no wonder I’ve hopped on the South Beach Diet train the minute I got back! I’ve never eaten so much in my life!
Luckily, there was a lot to take in around the city, so we explored the beautiful views on foot. Hiking the Rio Grande Trail, visiting Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and going 11,212 feet up on Aspen Mountain. And no, I did NOT go skiing. I’ve got four kids and I’d rather not hit a tree head on while I speed down a mountain uncontrollably (ok, I’m a chicken, I admit it!).
This was my first time on a Passover program, and I totally get the hype. You get to send your kids to daycamp, chill by the pool (I’ve never sat by a pool with evergreens and snow in view!), and enjoy lavish meals that someone else prepared. What can be wrong with that?! Well, to be honest, I have to say, that while the program was the vacation of my dreams, it wasn’t the beautiful family-oriented Passover of my youth. It was fun, relaxing and delicious but it lacked soul. Even with all the hard work and prep, there is so much beauty in a homemade Passover, and I look forward to giving it to my kids one day.
That’s not to say that if I have the opportunity to head to an exotic island for the holiday, I won’t take it up. Are you hearing me KMR, Kosherica, Prime, VIP Ram??? I won’t say no if you invite me!!
I love to travel, and if I ever have the opportunity to visit a place I’ve never been to, I jump on it. When I walked around Aspen, I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous view, and everywhere I went, I just kept drinking it all in. I can’t believe that I’ve lived in the U.S.A. my entire life and I never knew that such a beautiful place existed just a couple of hours (planeride) away. Forget Europe and The Islands, we’ve got a goldmine right here in this country! It really made me realize that I’ve got to start exploring more of the States. Maybe even drive cross country in a mobile home (I’m pushing it now, aren’t I?).
Now that I’ve learned to take semi-professional pictures, I love to put together a family photoshoot with the beautiful surroundings. I took the most incredible photos of my kids with the most breathtaking scenery that I will treasure for a lifetime. I mean, how can you beat this?
I thought I’d seen it all until we hiked the Rio Grande Trail. O.M.G. Can I go back now?!
Photos along The John Denver Sanctuary, with poetry inscribed in the rocks….
And the drive along the Colorado River to Denver, wow! The red mountains, the beautiful land at every turn, it was beyond!
I’m so very thankful to have enjoyed Passover in Aspen. I have a newfound appreciation for this country and I can’t wait to explore more of it (hey hubby, are you listening?!)!
Have you ever been to a Passover program? How did you like it? Share with me in the comments below!
And don’t you worry, BIB is back next week with lots of new healthy and exciting recipes!
While many people in my community go upstate for the summer, I usually spend my summers in the city. I relish the quiet streets, Sunday farmer’s markets and the plethora of parking spaces that are suddenly available around the hood. I’ve done the country thing once or twice, and maybe I’ll do it again – but for now, I’m more than happy to spend time enjoying my neighborhood – especially with a mild summer like this.
To break up the summer, we usually take a few trips to some of our favorite places, like Hershey Park, Governor’s Island, and Kelder’s Farm. This year, we headed up to the Poconos to load up on the sweet smell of grass – something we don’t get to experience much living in Brooklyn.
We stayed at The Villas at Tree Tops, an oasis of beautiful trees and greenery as far as the eye can see. The vacation village is packed with every imaginable activity – from ziplining to tubing and bumper boats, mini (and regular) golfing to horseback riding, as well as several indoor and outdoor pools and an activity center.
Just minutes away from The Villas, is Bushkill Falls, the Niagra of Pennsylvania. We’d never gone hiking with our kids before, so we were excited to take a walk high in the uplands of the Pocono Mountains, surrounded by streams of crystal waters and primeval rock.
We hiked along the “yellow” path, a popular route that takes 45 minutes roundtrip. There were lots of steps, but my kids trudged along like real troopers, basking in the beautiful greenery surrounding them.
The yellow path gave us severeal views of the waterfalls including the Main Falls, as well as Lower Gorge Falls, Laurel Glen and Upper Canyon.
After hiking, we ate lunch along the beautiful lake, and moved on to the playground. We visited the gift shops, checked out the mini golf course, and went paddle boating. We attempted to do the Mining Maze but the kids were spent!
With so many activities, Bushkill Falls can easily be a whole day trip – just be sure to pack along lunch and lots of water. If you don’t keep kosher, there are plenty of food options there, so come hungry!
For those who do keep kosher, Bushkills Falls and it’s neighboring area, do not have any kosher restaurants. The local supermarkets, like PriceChopper, have lots of kosher options, including a gluten free section with some great snacks. However, if you plan on staying for a day or two, you need to plan for breakfast, lunch and dinners.
Although The Villas included a nonkosher kitchen, which I could have koshered, I preferred to bring along my crockpot so I could spend the day outside, not having to worry about making dinner later on. Each evening, we entered our villa to the delicious smell of a hot supper, simmering away in the crockpot. My kids gobbled up their hot meals, and my husband decided it’s time for a slow cooker ebook!
Yes, my crockpot dinners, were THAT good, and I’m including them all here for you to enjoy! There’s just a short time left to relish the joy of summer, so go ahead and put up a slow cooked meal, and spend the day basking in the sunshine!
Sweet & Sour Meatballs
2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup matza meal
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 jar marinara sauce
1 can cranberry sauce
1 can pineapple tidbits
In a bowl, combine the ground beef, matza meal, eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the marinara, cranberry sauce and pineapple to the crockpot and stir to combine. Form balls with the meat and add to the crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with rice or pasta.
4-6 chicken bottoms, skin on
1 onion, peeled and sliced into rings
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into thick slices
4 russet potatoes, cut into thick slices
paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil, for drizzling
Place the sliced onions on the bottom of the crockpot and top with sliced potatoes and sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with spices and top with chicken, skin-side-down. Sprinkle the chicken with spices and drizzle with olive oil. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Easy BBQ Pulled Beef
1 2-3 lb. roast (I used chuck, almost any cut will work – preferably a fattier one)
1 jar of bone suckin’ sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce
1 onion, sliced into half rings
Place sliced onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Top with roast and pour sauce over it. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Using 2 forks, pull the meat apart into shreds and mix into the sauce. Serve in a bun, or over rice or mashed potatoes.
It’s been a while since my last post about a fun family getaway. In fact, I haven’t shared anything with you since last year’s post on Kelder’s Farm (which I still highly recommend!)
On a recent Sunday in Brooklyn, my family and I decided to head over to Governor’s Island for a day of family fun. We had been there previously, so we knew just what to expect – interesting exhibits, fun activities and great time for the whole family. I grabbed my SLR so I could snap and share photos of my experience with you.
Governor’s Island, a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbor, was once home to the US army and coast guard. Many of it’s historic houses and buildings have remained intact since the 19th century. Just 400 yards from the Brooklyn waterfront, the island is accessible via ferry from Pier 6 (at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Columbia Street.)
After a fun ride on the ferry, you’ll arrive at the the Island where you can pick up a map and a schedule of the day’s activities from the information center.
A quick look at the map will show you that most of Governor’s Island is actually under construction, with amazing things in the works. You can read more about that here.
Still, there is still so much to do! At the Island’s center is Nolan park, a hub of fun activity for kids of all ages.
My kids couldn’t wait to climb the adorable hand-painted tree house, with little hiding spaces, and a slide. Doesn’t every little kid dream about having their own little tree house?
Your kids can also enjoy a game of mini golf, with an amazing artist-designed golf course. Each golf hole is another unique experience with imaginative and innovative design.
Here’s just one example of the colorful and fun designs incorporated into each and every hole.
Your kids will probably be hungry by now, so it’s a great idea to pack a picnic basket full of goodies, which is just what we did! On our menu: fresh pita or whole grain rolls with tuna or hummus, sliced peppers and grape tomatoes. For dessert: fresh fruit, homemade smores cookies and mini bags of popcorn. Don’t forget to stay hyrdrated! We brought along lots of water bottles and juice boxes.
After lunch, it’s time to explore some of the unique structures in Nolan park like this interesting “tunnel” or cloud.
If you look closely, you’ll see that it’s actually made up of recycled milk jugs and water bottles!
There are lots of other fun and interesting projects to see, designed by FIGMENT.
Like these stationary bouncing ball. They were one of my kids favorite areas, I couldn’t get them away!
And of course there’s the natural beauty, like this blackberry tree that stood humbly among the brightly colored fixtures all around.
After an exciting time at Nolan park, it’s time to experience some more of the Island on a family bike!
You can also stop by one of the many exhibits held in yellow colonial houses. The exhibits are constantly changing. You can view Governor’s Island’s calendar here for the current ones.
If you’re ready for a snack, there’s always a line-up of food trucks on the Island with an array of interesting food and drink.
Thanks for joining me on my tour of Governor’s Island. It’s a great place to get Busy In Brooklyn!
Governor’s Island is open from 10 AM – 7 PM every Saturday, Sunday and Holiday Monday (Memorial Day and Labor Day) through September 29.
I can’t say enough about Kelder’s Farm. This place makes me want to live in the country. And on a farm. And grow my own vegetables. There is so much to do in this place, it’s a whole day affair. We happened to be upstate for the weekend, but in my humble opinion, it’s worth the drive from anywhere!
Kelder’s Farm is a 200 year old family farm in the scenic Rondout Valley. In operation since 1836, the farm offers educational tours, homegrown produce, hayrides, and so much more. It houses a petting zoo, greenhouse, Farmer’s Market, as well as many other fun and exciting activities for kids and adults alike.
THE PETTING ZOO
At the Kelder’s Farm petting zoo, you’ll find cows, goats, sheeps, pigs, chickens, as well as a donkey and an alpaca. You can purchase bags of food to feed the animals or learn to milk a cow. The petting zoo is my husband’s favorite part of the farm. He loves to feed and pet the animals while my kids watch in amazement. The goat actually grabbed the entire bag of feed and ate the paper bag!
Always remember to wash your hands after feeding or touching the animals (the farm has a large sink and soap dispenser near the petting zoo).
There are loads of fun activities for the kids to enjoy, not to mention great photo opportunities! My kids love to hop aboard the tractors and train, but you can also go for a hay ride, play mini golf, jump on a huge jumping pillow, or run through corn mazes.
Kelder’s Farm boasts an amazing market with gourmet products like jams, honey, cake mixes, spices and sauces of all kinds. They even make their own bug spray. If you don’t want to pick your own produce, you can buy it all at the market too. They also carry an assortment of kosher products including candies, drinks and ice creams. Animal feed and supplies are also available at the market.
Not only does the market carry delicious gourmet food items, it also houses an assortment of antique appliances and supplies. Every corner is filled with another unique and interesting item to look at and admire.
The farm grows an array of beautiful flowers which you can pick yourselves. My kids had lots of fun choosing their favorites and cutting them from the ground!
Obviously my favorite part about Kelder’s Farm is the U-Pick fields where you can pick your own seasonal fruits and vegetables. There is nothing like eating something you have picked from the ground with your own hands. It gives you a whole new appreciation for the food that you eat.
We picked blueberries, red currants, beets, swiss chard, and peas. Unfortunately, the corn was not ready for picking, but they brought in some from a nearby farm so we bought some too. I can’t wait to share with you all the great recipes I came up with using my farm fresh ingredients.
Also on premises at Kelder’s Farm is a picnic area and restrooms. These are my only gripes about the place. The picnic area oversees some beautiful lush greenery, however, your meal will be disturbed by tons of flies all over your food! The “restrooms” are portable toilets but it is a farm after all, so chalk it up and let it be part of the adventure!