Monday, December 28, 2009

Mimi Novak's White House Christmas Story

Mimi Novak's 1996 White House Christmas StockingEvery year in early December, Mimi Novak shares with her Kinnelon first graders her White House Christmas story. It's a marvelous tale. Have you heard it?

She sets the stage for the Kiel School students by reading them A Christmas Tree in the White House about Teddy Roosevelt.

From there, she takes them to 1996.

In August 1996, Mimi received a letter from the White House Christmas confirming that she was one of 150 needlepointers selected out of a membership of 29,000 from The Embroiderers Guild of America to represent New Jersey and create a Christmas stocking for the official 2006 White House Christmas Tree - an 18' 6" Colorado Blue Spruce from the Scheetz Tree Farm in Coshocton, Ohio - which resides in the Blue Room. This in addition to the 200 American Needlepoint Guild members, 100 wood craft artisans, and 300 ballet companies. [See Holidays at the White House 1996.] Can you imagine?

There were constraints.

The stocking had to depict characters or scenes from The Nutcracker.
Emma & Mimi Novak, Fall 2008
It had to match the size of a blank pattern that each embroiderer received along with backing fabric.

The work had to be done using 13-24 needlepoint canvas.

The pattern needed to contrast well against a dark green tree with small white lights.

Each stocking needed to be edged with gold trim with a hanger of gold cord.

And, the entry had to arrive at the White House no later than October 31st!

In other words, Mimi had 45 days in which to conceive, design, create, finish and then deliver a finished Nutcracker themed Christmas stocking to the White House. Yikes!

Her sister, Susan A. Barnett, an artist and photographer, advised on the composition. Over 200+ hours later [i.e., 5 weeks working 40 hours per week], Mimi completed her Christmas stocking which you see in the photo above: three toy soldiers and a drum - on which you notice Mimi's initials "MN" - created using a range of threads that she shows to her students: patent leather, suede, faux fur, metallics, nylon tubular threads in brilliant greens and reds, and satins in a multitude of needlepoint stitches with preposterous names like 'turkey feather.'

I am in awe at the intensity of effort and the brilliance of creation!

In recognition for her contribution, Mimi and her husband were invited to attend the 1996 White House Holiday Open House celebration.

As Mimi ends the card that she sends home to her students for the Holidays: "the White House, as you know, is just the most glorious and historic house - truly the "People's House." I hope that one day you, too, will be able to visit and walk through the White House."

Thank you, Mimi, for sharing your Christmas Story with your students and us.

From the White House Blog, here is the link to a post about Decking the Halls of the White House in 2009 with a wonderful video narrated by Michelle Obama about the People's House this Christmas 2009.

What are some of your favorite Christmas stories?

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays From The Whittemores!

Whittemore Elves 2007
Happy Holidays!

Happy 2010!

From the Whittemore family to yours, we thank you for being part of the Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog.

We look forward to sharing more stories with you in the New Year!

Ted, Christine & Emma

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kinnelon Neighbors In The News

Jen Singer and Kinnelon Neighbors About the Recession

Kinnelon Neighbors on CBS News

Discuss How the Recession Has Affected Their Lives

I missed the CBS News last night, but luckily the piece that matters is available online at CBSNewsVideo online. More specifically, Neighborhood Feels Recession features Jen Singer and three Kinnelon neighbors, the Davins, Shrots and Locascios, all discussing the effects of this recession on their lives.

And what an awesome job each does discussing a sensitive yet hugely relevant subject. I, for one, really appreciate their talking about their lives and how they are adapting to new circumstances. I applaud their decisions and feel encouragement for the decisions I've made.

I love that the Davins are doing more at home and encouraging their children to be personally involved in decisions. I'm impressed that the Schrots have acquired The Teaching Room in Morristown, NJ. I appreciate that the Locascios are focusing on what's important and keeping sight on the bigger picture.

And Jen reminds me of my French grandmother and her 'old Europe' habits of recycling everything, including tissue paper...

2009 has been one of the most tumultuous years in my life.

It has also been one of the most exciting - once I adjusted. I lost my job of almost 16 years in March and have since been establishing my own marketing consultancy, Simple Marketing Now. The process has been intense, filled with soul-searching and rethinking priorities.

It has led to discussions with my daughter about what matters and what doesn't and what we can afford and can't. It's forcing her to think about priorities and place greater value on what she already has.

In many ways this has been a good thing. The past 6 years of my corporate America job were a time in which it became increasingly clear that I wanted and needed to have my own business and be my own boss, but I was too risk-averse to make that leap. So I got pushed off the cliff by circumstances beyond my control! The new venture is just as hard as I thought it would be, maybe harder, but it is what I should be doing and it has put our whole family in touch with our priorities and what is important to us. Reduced circumstances will do that to you!

As Jen says in her comments at the end the segment, the recession may make parenting less competitive. We all get to focus on what's truly important and less on trying to keep up with others.

Watch the video for yourselves [note that you will be forced through an ad]:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

What do you think?

How has the recession affected your life?

Have your circumstances changed?

What steps have you taken to accommodate the new reality?

We invite you to share with us your comments and tell us what you think about this very important and current subject.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Francis S. Kinney's Kinnelon: The End of An Era

Cornie Hubner's Didja Know?Continuing on with the tale of Francis S. Kinney's Kinnelon from Cornie Hubner's Didja Know??? Series comes...

The End of An Era

Mr. Kinney's dream of a self sustaining Manor, unique in the Country, was realized when World War I started. The Swiss Brown Cows, now an extensive herd, were winning top prizes nationally and at state and county fairs while the pure bred bulls were in demand at increasingly higher prices as the English Sheep Dogs, still comparatively rare, were becoming popular. The Stables, never in Madison Square competition, were welcomed at State and County shows and the piggery provided aspirants for prizes at the same exhibitions with an active staff and field organization of almost one hundred, the farm, pastures, orchards and greenhouses were producing in over abundance as the woodlands natural inhabitants thrived undisturbed under the care of the "environmental protection" of dedicated wardens.

For sometime after the start of the War, three years before our entry, it was rumored that like many other Americans of German descent, Mr. Kinney shared some sympathy with the German cause, deriding newspaper reports of "Hun" atrocities and outrages. This story soon lost its credibility when he opened his coach house to what was probably the largest personally supported Red Cross station in the state. The entire household staff, female members of the residence, and outside employees' households and local volunteers, tackled the unlimited stock of wool that he furnished, with their knitting needles. Supervised by Mrs. Warren Kinney with a competent teacher, an endless stream of sweaters, socks, scarves and gloves reached the Allied defenders and in increasing quantities when "our boys" arrived to turn the tide in 1917.

Warren and Morris were now in their mid-twenties. Actively participating in the family business and the management of the Estate, Warren was happily married and the father of two children. Business seemed to have little attraction for Morris who devoted his time to nature, hunting, fishing and fostering area athletics. As the "Gibson Girls" influenced fashion at the time of the Century, the "Arrow Collar Men" were the idols of every male over fourteen, for more than a generation.

Both the Kinneys could have modeled for the colorful ads appearing in every magazine, on billboards and in streets and subway cars. Recent and current cigarette ads have copied the allure, but failed (fortunately) to exert the influence on habit, that the collar ads had on attire. Making one of his first appearances, with his baseball team, the six foot, patent leather black hair Morris caused the Butler fans to gasp at the mature man garbed in what was the first pair of khaki shorts that displayed long coffee brown legs in public. Warren, slightly shorter, was lighter with a blond mustache, "the height of fashion" and was occasionally seen in stores on Main Street and regularly throughout Kinnelon on political and compassionate missions.

When War started, Morris enlisted and was a commissioned pilot when we declared war. He saw active service in France, until attached to the staff of Gen. R. Sherbourne, as what was probably the first Air Force Aide attached to a Field General's staff. The Unit was being transformed from Cavalry to Tanks with the assistance of J. Alden Talbot, a close friend of the Kinneys since boyhood. At the same time the failing health of Mr. Kinney caused an increasing burden of responsibility for Warren in the management of the business and Estate. The War and labor needs of Munition Factories attracted most of the irreplaceable young help reducing farming production and seriously affecting maintenance. He spent most of his time participating in National or State Fund Drives, directing County and Local Benefits, opening the Estate for fund raising, Carnivals, Picnics and Athletic Contests. His personal interest in the families of the Military, the poor and sick and his political efforts this end of Pequannock Township, brought him prominence which would be of local benefit a few years later.

Morris returned immediately after the War to throw himself whole heartedly into restoration of the fields and woodlands. He planted several acres of daffodils in the area surrounding the Inn and on both sides of the road leading to Cotswold. (These covered the area with a solid mass of yellow blooms well into the '50s - some still growing on the side of the private Talbot road.) Resuming his interest in the local baseball team, he recruited outstanding players from Butler and Bloomingdale, to field a team regularly playing local teams and occasionally semi-pro teams from as far away as Paterson for the appreciative fans.

Not to be undone, early "Equal Rights" advocate, Mrs. Warren Kinney, formed a girls' baseball team. She provided the equipment and the girls bought their uniforms. The "Bloomer Girls" played with the same hard ball as the men and frequently drew larger crowds.

Warren, recognizing the limited clout of this remote section of Pequannock Township, canvassed the area to obtain signatures on a petition to form a separate Boro. His efforts were successful in February 1922 when the governor approved "an Act to incorporate the Boro of Kinnelon." Mr. Kinney had graciously transferred the name he had given the Estate, to the town and renamed his 5,000 acres "Smoke Rise," a name that appears on documents of the area in the early 1800s.

Personally know to few, but kindly remembered by all, the "Lord of the Manor," Francis Sherwood Kinney, died in 1923 leaving the Estate to Morris.

With his passing, a forty year dream ended. The staff was disbanded and a unique, rare way of life ceased to exist. Much of the history of the new Boro has been covered in books and articles. Recollections of those who witnessed the waning years of the Estate, hardly of historic significance, might appear, entitled "The Fall and Rise of Smoke Rise," soon.

P.S. The auto in the September 1st column would never be recognized as a "Simple." Some old timers might (?) as the "Simplex."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kinnelon Critter File: Beavers

Beaver at the Frank R. Lautenberg Visitor Center

Kinnelon Beavers

Were you aware that beavers are plentiful in Kinnelon? Particularly around our lakes and ponds.

We had our first live beaver encounter a few weeks ago traveling west on Fayson Lakes Road across the Kakeout Reservoir causeway.

It was 9:30 at night. I was driving and I noticed a large dark critter to my left. It was raccoon-like but larger. It was groundhog-like, too, but larger. Neither made sense given the water on both sides of the road. Furthermore, the critter was wet.

Then we noticed another large shape on the right side of the road, unfortunately dead, and realized that we had encountered our first live beaver, concerned about its mate. You see, beavers mate for life.

National Geographic has a fascinating site on beavers. It includes a 30 second audio clip on how beavers sound and a video [caution: the video forces you through an ad at the beginning and end]. Beavers are large rodents weighing approximately 60 pounds.

beaver activity at beaver dam pond in Kinnelon, NJThe Wikipedia entry on beavers includes a cross-section of beaver lodges and a terrific photo of a beaver tail. Check out the webbed feet, too.

We noticed our first sign of beaver activity on the Beaver Dam And Charlotteburg Road Hike. Not only a dam in the middle of the pond, but also plenty of trees chopped down by the critters as you can see from the photo above.

Lake Kinnelon has seen more beaver activity lately as has Hoot Owl Pond, and trees around both are now protected by mesh.

As plentiful as they may be in our midst, beavers are also elusive. I'm my dreams I can imagine hiking down to the Beaver Dam to catch a glimpse of them before dawn. Reality has me ensconced comfortably in bed instead.

Seeing this beaver was a treat. I now find myself slowing down along the Fayson Lakes causeway, not just to absorb the view, but also in case a beaver is swimming within view.

Do you have beaver stories to share?

PS: If you travel that route at night, I urge caution in case you encounter a beaver in the road.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Sword, The Stone & The Kinnelon Library

The Sword In The Stone stageset

The Sword In The Stone At The Kinnelon Library

This past Friday, Emma and I attended the Traveling Lantern Theater Company production of The Sword In The Stone at the Kinnelon Library.

If you remember, last December Traveling Lantern performed The Christmas Carol which we enjoyed very much.

Galina Adair, Kinnelon LibraryFor those of you not familiar with The Sword In The Stone, it was written in 1938 by T.H. White and tells the tale of Wart, Merlin and a sword that only one person can pull out of a stone.

"Who so Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise King Born of England."

By the end of the production, we learn that Wart is Arthur, King of England.

[Before we got started, Galina Adair from the Kinnelon Children's Library welcomed us and treated us to a few jokes... One was about an egg and an egg beater. I can't exactly remember it, but did find this site filled with egg jokes!]

As with my first Traveling Lantern production, I enjoyed the compact but compelling stage set. Two actors play a multitude of roles which I think really encourages the children to imagine possibilities. Furthermore, the actors involve the children, and then respond to questions about the production, the story, the costumes, the sets.

Here are a few of the photos I took. Above, you'll note the stage set.

The Sword In the Stone production
Here the actors introduced themselves and described the story. The tall actor - Todd - played the roles of Merlin, Kay [Wart's adoptive brother], and a Knight. The other actor - Jenny - played Wart, a Knight, and eventually became King Arthur.

The Sword In the Stone, Traveling Lantern
Here, both actors play old Knights...

The children in The Sword In The Stone
who required the services of young squires played by the children. [Emma really got into the part!]

Again, the children assist in The Sword In The Stone

A favorite was Archimedes, Merlin's owl familiar. You can see him perched atop the screen set [note the white fluff ball]. This prop came from England, especially created for theatrical productions.

We had a blast! I'm partial to Arthurian tales and hope that Emma gets into the story of The Sword In The Stone. She likes that [this from the Wikipedia entry] during his training with Merlin, Wart meets up with Robin Hood whom we've become familiar with first through The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and then from watching Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood...

If you attended the program, what did you like most about it?

What were some of your favorite childhood adventure stories?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2009 Student Art Exhibit at Kinnelon Library

2009 Kinnelon Student Art Exhibit

Time To Be Artistically Inspired By Kinnelon Students

The 2009 Kinnelon Student Art Exhibit is taking place now at the Kinnelon Public Library.

These are the works of students from Sisco, Kiel and Stonybrook schools in Kinnelon, NJ. At Sisco and Kiel, they were inspired once again by Sona Santagato whom Emma and I visited with Friday evening at the opening reception.

What a treat! I urge you not to miss it!

Cats from 2009 Kinnelon Student Art ExhibitThese cats are great fun; they're made from cardboard, oil pastels and glitter. You'll find these on both floors, one set in the lobby display case, along with Day of the Dead figures made from plaster of Paris, paint and fabric, and the other upstairs.

These next two are Emma's [top Still Life]...

Emma's Asian Brush Painting

Still Life
My photos don't do justice to the wealth and breadth of interpretations.

Talk a walk - ideally several- through the Library during the month of December 2009. You'll be amazed. Our kids are talented and their works guaranteed to lift your spirits. They also inspire you to see with fresh eyes.

Related post: Kinnelon Student Art Exhibit - December 2008

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bill Freind's Kinnelon Employment Seminar

What Color Is Your Parachute?

Bill Freind Leads Employment Seminars In Kinnelon

Perhaps you've seen the announcements about an employment seminar led by Bill Freind, longtime Kinnelon, NJ resident. They've appeared in Argus, the Smoke Rise Newsletter, Our Lady of the Magnificat's bulletin and the website news section, and News.

And the response has been strong!

Given the intensity of the program, Bill has capped attendance at 30 people. The original seminar, which took place November 24th and December 1st, 2009 [with individual one-on-one practice interview and counseling sessions scheduled separately], has been so well attended that he decided to hold another session in January 2010.

January 2010 Employment Seminar Session

The classroom dates are January 19 and January 26 at 7pm and take place at Our Lady Of the Magnificat in Kinnelon.

If you are interested in attending, please do check in with Bill Freind.

Bill Freind's Contact information:

+ wfreind [at]
+ tel: 973-838-1154

Must Read Employment Book!

Whether you attend Bill Freind's employment seminar or not, his advice is to absolutely purchase What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard Nelson Bolles. "You can get a step on your job hunt by beginning to read – AND WORK – this excellent book," he says.

Additional Employment Resources

By the way, I discovered a link to the official site for What Color Is Your Parachute: as well as to the author's blog Dick Bolles' Enchanted World.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Saturday 12/5/09: Silas Condict Park Hike

Silas Condict Park Hike

Will you join us? This Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 9am , come hike Silas Condict Park in Kinnelon, NJ for the Hike a Park a Month program. [Read about the November hike in Jonathan Woods, Hog Pen Hike, Denville, NJ] I'm anticipating a hiking experience unlike any I could create on my own!


If you plan on attending, please make contact with Tom Edmunds from the Morris County Park Commission to reserve a spot. His email is tedmunds [at] morrisparks [dot] net. And, if you must cancel last minute, please do let him know, too.

December 5, 2009

MCPC Silas Condict Park in Kinnelon, NJ

9 AM start about 2.5 to 3 hours

Far parking lot opposite picnic shelter and the “casino”. We hope to have access into the casino.

This may be a difficult hike for some as it will require bushwhacking in a few areas and some steep slippery slopes especially if we have snow/ice beforehand. Definitely wear good hiking boots and your favorite walking stick/cane.

Also, no dogs!

I hope to see you on Saturday at Silas Condict!

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kinnelon Information Alerts: Textcaster, Twitter, Nixle

Kinnelon Information AlertsHave you received emails from the Kinnelon Office of Emergency Management [OEM] with information on how to stay abreast of breaking news relevant to Kinnelon, NJ residents? Three digital computer-based tools are now available - Textcaster, Nixle and Twitter - and we are encouraged to sign up.


I mentioned textcaster to you back in May 2009 in Kinnelon's Summer & Fall Recreation Programs, Text Caster, Too. Did you sign up for it?

Here is what Kinnelon OEM writes:

"To our Neighbors, Help us help keep all Kinnelon residents in the know with email and text alerts about important events, road closures, mid to large scale incidents, health alerts and more by telling your friends and neighbors to sign up for Kinnelon Information Alerts via Textcaster.

We have established a one stop website to make the process quick and easy: While they are there they can sign up for school alerts and Recreation dept alerts as well!

Thanks for being a part of our team! We encourage you to forward this email to others in Kinnelon."

The latest email message stated:

"We are slowly but surely spreading the word in Kinnelon about staying connected electronically. To that end, we appreciate everyone passing along the importance of signing up for this email/ textcaster list. The Fire Dept, Police Dept and the Office of Emergency Management will continue to use textcaster in cooperation with the Kinnelon Board of Ed but at the same time are experimenting with other effective ways to communicate with the residents."

" is a secure text/ email/ web based system that will allow you to set up notification preferences, receive alerts based on location, and visit your personal site for alerts and updates on community events as well as emergencies. We encourage you to sign up for the Nixle service.

If you or someone you know is involved in a local organization such as a church or club, please let them know about It's a free service to community organizations."


"Lastly, we have established a twitter account for Kinnelon OEM and may expand it to other borough uses. Follow us at"

I found the textcaster system particularly valuable for obtaining accurate and relevant information about H1N1 vaccinations. Updates go to your email - or your cell as text message if you choose.

I have signed up for all three of these digital services and encourage you to do the same. The first two services are easy to interact with and take very little time to register for.

To follow Kinnelon OEM on Twitter, you will need to set up a Twitter account. If you need guidance on that, let me know. I have written several blogposts on Simple Marketing Blog that might be helpful.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Jonathan Woods, Hog Pen Hike, Denville, NJ

Jonathan Woods, Denville NJ

Hog Pen Hike in Denville NJ's Jonathan Woods

Emma and I had the hike of our lives on 11/14/09 discovering Jonathan Woods and the Hog Pen Hike in Denville, NJ. This hike was part of Morris County Park Commission's Hike A Park A Month program and led by Jim Florance from Protect Our Wetlands, Water & Woods [POWW].

If you remember back to Morris County Hiking Trails in Daily Record, that is when I learned about Hike A Park A Month. I followed up with Russ Nee - listed in the article as contact - and eagerly enlisted for this hike.

Tom Edmunds from MCPC Trails Mapping/GIS welcomed us at the Cedar Lake Community Club House at 9am. That was our starting point, by special permission. For future hikes to Jonathan Woods and Hogs Pen, consider accessing the park from Ford Road where there is parking.

Protect Our Wetlands, Water & Woods - POWWWWe lucked out with the weather: no rain during the hike despite the looming Nor'easter parked by Manhattan. Eighteen fellow hikers took part in our 4.3 miles and 2 hours 38 minutes hike.

As you can see from the photo display above [that Tom Edmunds created], we started off with an overview presentation of the Park area and history of how it came to be. Jim Florance, our hike leader and a member of POWWW, explained the piecing together of parcels of land that POWWW has been extremely active in making happen since 2001.

In addition to the environmental benefits that this park offers, it also has historic meaning. More specifically, Hog Pen is an area where "settlers built stone walls between the two [ridges] that served as a sanctuary for themselves and their livestock during the Revolutionary War's Battle of Springfield in 1780. The land is also an integral part of a trail system which eventually will link Pyramid Mountain through Boonton Township to Wildcat Ridge."

For our trail details, I've included identification of the path we followed:

Trail Details For Hog's Pen Hike, Jonathan Woods, Denville NJ

Map your trip with EveryTrail

On the POWWW site, you can find several links to maps, in addition to the map linked to above showing Jonathan's Woods and parking:

+ The Jonathan Woods trail map
+ The Jonathan Woods topographical map

It also includes listings of upcoming events - such as the 2010 NJ Audubon co-sponsored hike and a wildflower hike - as well as ongoing projects like the deer exclusion fencing project.

Photos Taken During Hog Pen Hike in Jonathan's Woods in Denville, NJ

Instead of affixing all of my photos to the EveryTrail map, I uploaded them to Flickr and share them with you via slideshow.

[Subscribers, click on this link to view the Flickr slideshow of our Jonathan Woods Hogpen Hike in Denville, NJ.]

Next Hike Details - It's In Kinnelon!

Now, the most exciting news of all is that December 2009 hike takes place in our very own Silas Condict Park in Kinnelon, NJ! I hope you will join us.

Here are details. If you plan to attend, please make contact with Tom Edmunds to reserve a spot. His email is tedmunds [at] morrisparks [dot] net. And, if you must cancel last minute, please do let him know, too.

DATE: December 5

PLACE: MCPC Silas Condit Park in Kinnelon, NJ

TIME: 9 AM start about 2.5 to 3 hours

MEETING: Far parking lot opposite picnic shelter and the “casino”. We hope to have access into the casino.

NOTE: This may be a difficult hike for some as it will require bushwhacking in a few areas and some steep slippery slopes especially if we have snow/ice beforehand. Definitely wear good hiking boots and your favorite walking stick/cane.

Many thanks to Tom Edmunds and Jim Florance for this scenic hike. We really enjoyed ourselves, loved learning about the area and appreciated how welcoming the entire group was.

See you in December at Silas Condict!

BTW, look for Morris County and the Park Commission on Facebook; I just became a fan. You can also find them on Twitter.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fall Recipes -- Braised Beef Short Ribs

The ultimate braised beef short ribs

Braised Beef Short Ribs, the ultimate beef stew fall recipe!

It's starting to be that time of year again, when long slowly cooked foods appeal, and the aroma of a hearty stew spreading through the house is just the thing to counter the fall winds and colder temperatures. In keeping with that. I'm going to post one of my favorite recipes, my Braised Short Ribs. For me this is the The Ultimate Beef Stew.

And while I call it my recipe, I am sure it is a collision of several recipes for braised short ribs that I've run into over the years, but I just can't remember what they are!

It's not written in stone, either, so add what you want!

I originally posted this recipe to The Fresh Hot Sauce Blog, 'cause it's so good with the Hot Pepper Sauce I like to make, but it is certainly good without the Hot Sauce, as my wife and daughter tell me.

Braised Beef Short Ribs Recipe

The recipe will make 16 single 3" to 4" rib servings, which in my house translates to 8 or fewer servings. And it makes a lot of honest beef stock gravy, in this case, really, sauce, that is thickened with the natural gelatin from the collagen in the cartilage and bones of the short ribs. After the stock is removed form the meat, you just reduce it until you have the thickness you want.

Do not be tempted to marinate the short ribs before cooking -- it is not necessary -- the short ribs have tremendous flavor and texture all by themselves.

Perfect braised short ribs...This recipe is good with lots of sides, mashed potatoes, noodles, and especially in a shepherd's pie, surrounded by potato.

I cook it in the Slow Cooker after browning the ribs, and I like to let the ribs braise overnight, or about 12 hours on low, strain and de-fat the liquid in the AM, and recombine the sauce and the Short Ribs by dinner time. You do not have to use a slow cooker for this, however, and braised in the oven at 300 for 6 hours or so or on the stove for 6 to 8 hours at low, the dish will be fine. For oven or stovetop, test each hour after 3 hours or so for doneness -- when the meat starts to fall off the bone, it's done.

In the beginning, there were short ribs

Braised Short Ribs with Red or White Wine:

8 lbs of beef short ribs or flanken, preferably with the bone in
1 large sweet onion, rough chop
2 large sweet onions medium dice
3 large carrots, rough chop
3 cups medium dice carrots
4 stalks of celery, rough chop
3 cups medium dice celery
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 to 8 TBS tomato paste
4 bay leaves
Bouquet Garni (small bundle) of fresh herbs -- parsley, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, thyme ...
2 or 3 TSP freshly ground black pepper or pepper mix
3 TSP sea salt
3 to 6 TSP fresh (not old) paprika
1/2 to 1 bottle drinkable cabernet or merlot, not too dry, or sauvignon blanc--full bottle

Braised Beef short ribs developing flavorOptional -- pearl onions, mushrooms ...

Anticipate 3 cooking segments.

The recipe will involve 3 cooking segments -- 1) preparing the ingredients for the slow-cooker, about 30 minutes -- 2) straining and de-fatting the stock, and removing the fat, bones, and rubbery parts from the short ribs, about 30 minutes-- 3) reducing the stock, sauteeing some new veggies and combining the ingredients, about 30 to 45 minutes. The 3 cooking segments are spread out over a 24 hour period, which for me are usually the afternoon of the day before serving, the morning of the day the dish is served, and the evening of the meal.

Part 1:

Braised beef short ribs flavors are coming togetherOn a large sheet pan place the short ribs in a single layer, douse them with olive oil and salt generously, then brown them in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes or longer until well colored.

Transfer to the bottom of a large slow cooker, including juices from the pan.

Add all other ingredients, and then enough water to bring to a level with the top layer of veggies. Slide bundle of herbs (Bouquet Garni) into pot at the side. If you have an unsalted demi-glace or stock (beef or chicken) you could add that in place of the water -- it is not necessary.

At this point you could add some optional spices, like 2 or 3 TSP of ground chipotle pepper, or ancho pepper, 1/2 TSP of liquid smoke, or 2 TSP of cumin, or whatever you think will taste good. Or you could save the modifications for the next time you make this.

So now you set the slow cooker for low heat and 12 hours, the night before, and come back in the AM to an all-pervasive aroma that makes you hungry for dinner before you've even had breakfast. That's what happens to me, anyway.

Part 2:

Delicious braised beef short ribsAfter the slow cooker pot has had a chance to cool a bit, transfer , carefully and gently, all of the short ribs to an appropriate sized dutch oven, with enough room left over to add more sauteed veggies, and all of the stock.

After you've transferred the short ribs, you can slide the rib bones out of the meat and carefully pull or cut off the rubbery membrane that sleeves the bone.

Strain the cooking stock through a chinois or a fine mesh sieve and carefully compress the solid matter against the mesh to extract all that slow-cooked goodness.

Transfer liquid to tall 1 or 2 quart containers with lids and place in freezer until fat has congealed.

Part 3:

Then remove fat from top of the frozen stock containers with a spoon and discard.

Reduce stock by about 1/3 at a simmer.

Saute in 3 TBS neutral oil over medium high heat 3 cups each of medium dice carrots and medium diced celery until just softening about 5 to 8 minutes, and reserve.

Braised beef short ribs platedSaute over medium high heat 4 cups of medium dice sweet onion in 3 TBS olive oil. until well browned but not burned, about 15 to 25 minutes. Nonstick pans are good for this.

Add to stock and simmer for 30 minutes more.

Taste and correct the seasoning with additional sea salt and freshly ground black pepper as required.

Pour stock and onion mixture back into dutch oven with short ribs and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add any optional veggies, such as mushrooms or pearl onions (you can saute them a little first if you like to build flavor and pre-soften them)

Add carrots and celery to dutch oven and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

Correct the seasoning again and serve. Add some Hot Sauce to the pot if all of your customers will approve.

By the way, I purchased the ribs at BJ's for $2.49 per lb, although I've seen them there for as much as, gasp, $2.99 per lb, and the prices I've seen at Pathmark and Stop&Shop range from $3.99 on sale to $4.99 per lb.

And as I said earlier, to my own serving I add my SR Virgin Fresh Red Cayenne-Cherry Pepper Sauce that's made with fresh pepper juice, fresh garlic juice, and fresh onion juice as well as a little sea salt and rice wine vinegar. !!!

Plated braised beef short ribsThis dish gets better and better over the week to 10 days from making it, and you can serve it with different sides each time.

By the way, it freezes very well and keeps in the fridge for quite a while since it's immersed in the solidified gelatin of the sauce.

I'd love to have feedback to hear about what you make.

If you make this recipe, let me know!


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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Celtic Cross by Louis C. Tiffany Studio, Kinnelon's St. Hubert's Chapel

Louis C. Tiffany Celtic Cross, St. Hubert's Chapel

Kinnelon's Magnificent Celtic Cross In St. Hubert's Chapel; from Louis C. Tiffany Studio

If you've participated in one of Tom Kline's guided tours of St. Hubert's Chapel in Smoke Rise, NJ, you've definitely had the glorious opportunity to admire this gem of a stained glass window in the form of a Celtic Cross from the studio of Louis C. Tiffany.

If you haven't, then I share with you here a recent article from the 10/15/09 issue of Smoke Rise News that tells the tale of the Cross' repair and to which I include my photos of the cross.

Saving an Old Rugged Cross

Island Chapel Gets a Face Lift

One brilliant product of the prolific studio of Louis C. Tiffany and Associated Artists was a thick, rustic, stained-glass window in the form of a Celtic Cross that illuminates the tiny baptistery of an intimate chapel on a diminutive island in a small lake in Kinnelon, New Jersey. Tiffany artisans produced the window and other appointments within St. Hubert's Chapel for Francis S. Kinney, a millionaire director of the American Tobacco Company. Kinney erected the medieval-style chapel in the late 1800s and his family used it privately for more than fifty years.

But in 1957, a decade following the death of the last Kinney heir and the subsequent redevelopment of the Kinnelon estate into a community which we call Smoke Rise, five young vandals broke into the chapel, looted its contents, and destroyed much of what they could take.

Fortunately, the window survived with little damage. Today the picturesque building, still accessible only by boat, is watched over by the St. Hubert's Chapel Conservation Committee, a component of the nonprofit Kinnelon Heritage Conservation Society, and the Smoke Rise Security. With a security system now in place the chapel is almost totally restored.

St. Hubert Chapel's Celtic Stained Glass Window CrossIn late 1993, stained glass artisans from Rohlf's Studio in Mount Vernon, New York, removed the Celtic cross window and began its restoration. To correct from warping caused by the weight of the thick glass and the massive leading they divided the window into ten sections and inserted them into an unobtrusive steel frame to protect the window from vandalism and exposure to the elements, then double glazed the frame with plate glass. They reinstalled the window fitting it into a heavy new oak frame. The conservation may have come just in time. Experts feared that if the measures had not been taken soon the Tiffany treasure, which was valued in 1995 at more than $400,000, could have fallen out of its lead framework.

The chapel was rededicated and is open to the public on some occasions, a treasured possession of the Smoke Rise community.

More information on the Celtic Cross and St. Hubert's Chapel is available from the Historic Preservation magazine May/June 1995, or the Stained Glass magazine, Fall 1995. The origin of St. Hubert's Chapel is published by the Kinnelon Heritage Conservation Society.

[The photograph of the Celtic Cross included with this article appears in the Art Glass home page magazine 1995.]

I love stained glass. When I think that this glorious work of art exists in the midst of Kinnelon, I can't help but be reminded of how special this part of New Jersey is!

What do you think? And, what are some of your favorite stained glass windows?

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Butler's NYSC and Sunday Family Swim

Noodles in the Butler NYSC poolDid you know that Butler's New York Sports Club [NYSC] offers members a really smart and practical benefit? Free family swim on Sundays from 4:30 to 6:30pm.

My daughter and I try to take advantage of it every week.

I consider it smart because Sunday afternoons has to be the least trafficked time and day for the gym; if it weren't for family swim, I wouldn't head in. And, not having to pay extra [as some other gyms require] increases the value that I associate with my NYSC membership fee.

It's also a time when my daughter has excess energy to burn, and I've run out of both steam and ideas... So we head off to the pool and both look forward to it.

NYSC has tons of noodles, kick boards, diving rings and assorted other water toys on hand. For kids who need them, life jackets are available. It's a perfect solution.

And, I don't necessarily have to go swimming myself -- although I get major daughter-bonus points when I do...

Having fun at the Butler NYSC pool
New pool rules require a swim cap. I haven't seen the rule strictly enforced. We have several from Girls Scout Camp, so it isn't an onerous requirement. I believe you can purchase one at the NYSC front desk.

During family swim, 2-3 lanes are available for lap swim. The section closest to the stairs tends to attract playful and youthful swimmers.

Water temperature is, in my daughter's words, "medium perfect" which means that it takes me a while to get adjusted and then I need to make sure I'm moving. But, I'm just an adult...

If you haven't already and decide to check out Sunday family swim at the Butler NYSC, perhaps we'll see you there!

And, if you don't, what Sunday afternoon activities do you find most satisfying?

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tripod Rock Hike, Pyramid Mountain, NJ

Tripod Rock Hike trackWhat a great turnout for last week's Tripod Rock Hike in Pyramid Mountain Park! We had approximately 25 hikers [not including two dogs], perfect and unseasonably warm weather and enough trail options that half of the group opted to take another route back to the Visitor's Center.

This was my first visit to Tripod Rock and it truly is a remarkable erratic.

As you can see from the photo, the kids loved hanging out in the cave like space.

Kids under Tripod RockIn terms of the hike itself, we had a vigorous climb early on, to relatively flat and easy terrain, to a steep descent. Given the many slippery leaves, on particularly steep areas, I opted to slide down on my rear rather than try to walk down.

Roundtrip, we covered 2.6 miles in two hours.

I was impressed with how many others were hiking Pyramid Mountain Park that day. I shouldn't have given the gorgeous day, but it dis seem as if we were constantly passing people.

Here is our hike trail map with lots of photos. By the way, Everytrail has improved the trail information that you can glean. You'll notice when you mouse over the graphic a bar at the bottom of the image where you can click to see the elevation profile for the hike.

Warning: I appended too many photos to the trail file. You may want to [x] out of the slideshow....

Tripod Rock Trail

Map your trip with EveryTrail

For those who took alternative routes, which did you take and what did you like most about your choice.

Thank you, Ken Bitz, for organizing us!

Note: the post announcing the Tripod Rock Hike includes several links about Pyramid Mountain Park and Tripod Rock.

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