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Sylvia's Table by Liz Neumark and Carole Lalli
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Sylvia's Table by Liz Neumark and Carole Lalli
Aug 06, 2013 | ISBN 9780307962386

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  • Aug 06, 2013 | ISBN 9780307962386

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“Rarely do we appreciate cooking for what it is: an act of sharing. That’s exactly what Liz Neumark reminds us in this remarkable book. With its generous blend of storytelling and farm-to-table wisdom, Sylvia’s Table is less a cookbook than an invitation—into Liz’s family, her work (as a New York caterer, farm owner and pioneering advocate for children’s health), and most important, her kitchen. It’s a vibrant and inspiring place to be.” 
—Dan Barber, executive chef and co-owner, Blue Hill

“There’s no shortage of seasonal locavore cookbooks out there, but Sylvia’s Table is especially appealing on other counts. Many of the recipes are uncomplicated and use farm-fresh ingredients, and are explained in a way that children can prepare them. . . . Take the book into the kitchen for the shiitake, corn and fava-bean salad; mint pesto for lamb on the grill, and a caramelized peach and ginger crisp. The book is also filled with historic tidbits and basic cooking tips, like making stock. . . . For Budding Locavores.”
—Florence Fabricant, The New York Times

“Liz Neumark is one of the most dynamic women in food—and her food is incredibly delicious to boot! She always knocks it out of the park with the freshest, seasonal and succulent ingredients straight from her farm to your table.”
—Padma Lakshmi, author of Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet
“As a chef and a father with three kids of my own, I think it is so very important to educate kids and parents on healthy eating and to start good eating habits with children right from the start. I’m a huge supporter of what the Sylvia Center is doing and I hope you enjoy this cookbook and cooking with your family as much as I do. Happy cooking always!”
—Chef Todd English 

“[Sylvia’s Table] is filled with beautiful photographs of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, New York, where children from the city go to fetch eggs and harvest eggplant and apples. . . . Almost every recipe has loving instructions for getting kids involved in the kitchen.”
Bloomberg Businessweek
“A beautiful, big collection of recipes and stories, with a tone that inspires the reader to visit a market and turn the harvest into good meals.”
The Montreal Gazette
“Introduce your children to healthy cooking with caterer Liz Neumark’s new cookbook, Sylvia’s Table, which is loaded with recipes that families can make together. . . . Listen up, kids: There’s more to dining than Lunchables.”
New York Daily News
“A cookbook that’s meant to be used—it’s meant to be read out loud with your kids, picked over for recipes, splattered with sauce, and marked with notes. . . . You—and your kids—will discover something new every time you open this book. At first, you might be drawn to the familiar comfort foods like mac n’ cheese and roasted chicken. But as you get comfortable with these, you’ll notice recipes on the adjoining pages for things like sweet potato gnocchi and turkey burgers flavored with tamarind paste. Don’t know how to cook with tamarind? No worries. You’ll find a helpful descriptions for this and other key ingredients located right next to the recipe.”
“Liz takes fresh seasonal ingredients and mixes them up with creative simple recipes.  It is exactly how I like to cook and eat.  Nothing is too complicated and each recipe is better than the next.  I am thinking about how many of them I can make in the next month. . . . Sylvia’s Table celebrates food, family, health and life.  I highly recommend picking up this book.”

“Exuberant. . . . Neumark wants families not just to eat together, but to cook together and gain a real appreciation of what good food is and where it comes from. [Sylvia’s Table is] a book for grownups who can share the hundreds of recipes that come from Neumark’s personal collection. . . . Springing up among the recipes are lots of short essays that inform, entertain and spark your imagination.” 

Author Q&A

Q: What inspired you to start Great Performances in 1979?
A: Great Performances was started as a waitress service for women in the arts, mostly so I could find a way to pursue my love of photography without committing to a full time job.  The idea was that GP would let me have flexibility with work, so I could succeed in developing a photography career.  I fondly call GP my failure!
Q: What prompted you to start Katchkie Farm in 2007?
A: I had always dreamed about having a farm – but what made me finally buy land and actually start a farm was my dream of establishing The Sylvia Center on a farm.  It is a personal journey and I am looking forward to sharing this story.  
Q: What is The Sylvia Center?
A: The Sylvia Center is a culinary based non-profit that ‘inspires children to eat well’. We do this by connecting them to the joys of being with fresh food – picking it, tasting it, cooking together and of course, eating it!  We do this at the farm but also in the city at New York City Housing Authority sites, where we work with children for a six week period.  We connect children to healthy eating – which of course, is very hard in 2013, given the fast food culture, the disconnect from family meals and the challenge of finding healthy options in underserved communities.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories from The Sylvia Center?
A: Any time there are kids at the farm, you just fall in love with all of them.  For most of them, it is the first time they are in a wide open space; the first time they can actually see where their food comes from – that a carrot is dirty because it comes from the ground.  I love snacking, with the kids, on edible flowers, dandelion weeds and other ‘weird’ foods.  It is magical and the most natural fun you can have with children.  It is exploration, discovery, science/magic and joy.
Q: What happens to the produce that grows at Katchkie Farm?
A: Most of it goes to our CSA – we will have over 400 members this year! It also goes to our central commissary for inclusion in our catering meals, or to our co-packer who turns it into our Katchkie Ketchup, Tomato Jam, Salsa, etc.  It appears on menus in our cafes around town as well.
Q: What are some easy ways parents can get their children interested in food/involved in the kitchen?
A: Whatever you are doing in the kitchen, invite your children in.  I think it is parents who set up barriers – children love to experiment with food and flavors.  You need to let go – get messy, take chances, experiment!  
Two easy ‘portals’ are soups (almost foolproof) and baking (chocolate chips, licking bowls, etc!).  In the book, I share recipes for both, but you can follow your own instincts and find something that works for everyone.  One of the ways I started was through making tomato sauce – not a lot of skill needed there.  
What do you like to do – if you start with something that feels good and easy for you, it will speak volumes to your children.  Confidence is contagious, as is joy and fun.
Q: In the book you include “Katchkie Favorites” which you describe as “shorthand recipes that barely require measurements; think of them as rough directions and let the season and the market lead you on”.  How often do you cook this way, rather than from a recipe?
A: I cook this way all the time – in fact, I rarely use recipes!  Sometimes I start by shopping in the Greenmarket – or at the farm – and just bring home produce that looks great – whatever ‘speaks’ to me!  Then I figure out what to do.  It takes a little time, but in the book I include basic guidelines you can start to incorporate that makes it all so easy.  
Q: Where do you hope Katchkie Farm and the Sylvia Center will be in ten years? Twenty years?
A: What a fun question!!  
Katchkie Farm: In ten years – as beautiful as ever.  I guess with time our trees will grow! I planted eight willow trees which will hopefully look substantial by then.  I also want to plant some fruit trees, so ten+ years will mean they are mature and productive.  Twenty years – I will be on the porch, stirring giant pots of tomato sauce which I will give away to local pantries or to anyone who comes and asks!  Maybe we will buy more land by then….you never know!
The Sylvia Center: In ten years, we will be established in the New York City Housing Authority, teaching families and making a wonderful difference in so many lives. Upstate, we will have integrated into the community, reaching parents, grandparents and children.  I anticipate a full crowd at weekend volunteer days – and a groaning buffet of pot luck dinners!
In twenty years, I hope the obesity epidemic will be a memory and that our children’s garden will be a place kids come to connect with nature, learn to love veggies and cooking.   Coming together around food will never go out of style.  We lost that connection in the past 2+ decades  — we are working to restore it — and to protect it for future generations.

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