Pura Vida: El Segundo Parte: Chasing Cascadas

Text & Photos by Kimberly Cecchini

Over omelets spiced with gallo pinto at Rancho Colón in Querrada Amarilla, we planned our first adventures. Mateo, our young Tico tour guide, mapped out the first few days in Costa Rica on a napkin at the soda (open-air restaurant). Our first stop was going to be the Bijagual Cascadas in the remote town of Puriscil.

After we turned off the highway, I understood the value of Mateo’s 4×4 manual truck; the long, winding road leading up the mountain was pocked with huge pot holes. As Mateo put it, we were in the “real Costa Rica” and, apparently, their Department of Transportation had too much difficulty scaling the roads to fix them.

Ruts in the Road

 

Perhaps the benefit of being too remote for the DOT was the beauty of the preserved rural area. We enjoyed glorious mountain views, lush foliage, rice paddies and cows and goats grazing on farms. People waved from their tiny homes as Mateo greeted them as we drove past them and fellow drivers beckoned us on when it was safe to pass through a curve.

IMG_5585We bumped and jostled along the road for over an hour before we approached the waterfall. The final stretch of road was flooded. Mateo jumped out of the truck to check the gully’s depth with his barefoot.  Satisfied, he put the truck back into gear and we lurched over it. Mateo parks on the side of the road and before we were ready, he was scrambling up the cliff.

 

Mateo perched himself at the top of the cascading water before stretching over the edge and diving into the pool below. My husband joined him in swimming around the peaceful oasis while I skirted around the edges on the rocks.

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From Station to Gastro Lounge: The Reincarnation of the Historic Lackawanna Station in Montclair

As featured on the cover of Millennium Magazine, June 2014.

 

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Pig & Prince: Restaurant & Gastro Lounge, 1 Lackawanna Plaza, Montclair, NJ 07042

P: 973-233-1006  Twitter:

“Not many chefs look their food in the eyes.  Literally…I know my lambs.  I’ve birthed lambs…I witnessed the birth of this lamb and now I’m going to witness the reason for its existence,” Chef Michael Carrino earnestly speaks about the relationship he has with some of the humanely raised animals that he chooses for Pig & Prince, his second restaurant in Montclair, NJ.

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Chef Carrino developed his predilection for fresh, local food through the ethics of his alma matter, the famed Culinary Institute of America.  He attended the New York campus where he says that a significant amount of ingredients were sourced from farmers in the surrounding Hudson Valley.  Now he proudly supports farmers in and around New Jersey and has trusted the same fish monger every day for the past seven years.  His passion is unmistakeable for what, he says, “our grandparents simply called food”.

Inspiration for the dishes is just as local as many of the ingredients; Pig & Prince is “Jersey” food.  The menu aptly represents the meaning behind the gastropub’s name;  the food may be more casual than the expensive French cuisine he served at his previous venture, but there’s little else that is casual about the Jersey inspired food.   There is an elegance behind the creation and presentation of the dishes.  Each plate is a carefully executed lithograph of the Garden State native’s works of art.

The reincarnation
The reincarnation

 

“Renovation, Resurrection & Reconstruction”

The casual also meets the elegant in the restaurant’s design and atmosphere.  “When we first opened,” Chef Carrino recalls, “I said ‘If I could cook food that is half as pretty or half as enticing and exciting as this space, then we’re going to be fine.”

Sitting in what used to be the epicenter of town, the Montclair Railroad Station of Lackawanna certainly deserves its acknowledgement as a notable architectural treasure on the National Register of Historic Places.

Although the building’s stately charm drew Carrino’s attention and continues to be an allure for new diners, it took a lot of work to recover the splendors of yesteryear under the remnants of fast food and retail.  Since its closing in 1981, the station had been alternately morphed into a Pizza Hut, a diner and a video rental store.

Carrino and his team recovered many elements of the train station and intermixed contemporary designs and souvenirs that are reminiscent of the station’s heyday in the early twentieth century.  They ripped away Hollywood Video’s purple carpets and a layer of linoleum to expose the hand laid tesserae.  The oversized brass chandelier was reinforced and co-opted as a hideaway for the sound system.

IMG_3739Between the entrance and the maître d’ aptly sits a refurbished section of a station bench.  A wall of oversized pop art utensils divides the front room into a minimalistic but cozy lounge area where steel grays are juxtaposed with warm browns and reds.

Once a space of transience where travelers waited to board, they transformed the cavernous central room into a more intimate establishment that now invites guests to linger.  Two sections of a red plush quilted backdrop and a shallow alcove with an oversized sepia hen break up the the brick expanse along the back of the room. Sunlight illuminates the space through a large arched window and, at night, the room is warmly lit in part from the original dome lamps hang from chain links around the perimeter of the room. Reading lamps recovered from the waiting area sit on the handsome bar that was constructed by Carrino’s investment partner.   Along the length of the bar, a railroad tie fittingly serves as a foot rest.

“I spend more time here than in my house.  If you come in here, you come into my home.”  Carrino aspires to have his staff and diners feel the same way.  He may not shy away from excusing a diner if they act inappropriately towards his staff, but besides these exceptions, every guest is very important to him.  The engaging chef wants people to enjoy their experience and is happy to take a break from cooking to chat with diners if they ask for him.

Opening day

Set to commemorate the opening day in 2012, the original station clock is frozen at 8 and 24 on its perch above the dining room. Apparently, tradition dictates that a building needs three incarnations before it is successful.  With Chef Carrino’s passion and creativity, Pig & Prince is likely to celebrate its anniversary many times over.  It is the old Lackawanna’s station fourth incarnation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t throw the best of your produce in the trash

Text by Dr. Nina Radcliff

Stop! That’s not Garbage!

I am not advocating that we eat garbage. What I am advocating for is a plant version of “Nose-to-Tail” cooking. For those reading who have not heard this term before, it comes from the “foodie” classic book by Fergus Hend-erson on how to consume an entire pig. After-all, if you’re going to “pluck the plant,” it seems only polite to use the whole thing.

Because plants are sedentary – they are not hunters or gatherers – they have to make everything they need to grow, protect, and heal themselves. That means the skins, peels, seeds, and inner portions that usually end up in the trash (or compost) are often filled with valuable nutrients that we miss out on.

Here’s Dr. Nina’s what you need to know about the plant version of “Nose-to-Tail” eating:

Lemon Peels: When life hands you lemons, don’t throw away the peels. Citrus limonum, the scientific name for lemon peels, are rich in calcium, potassium, Vitamin C, fiber, and a number of other minerals and enzymes. Eating the lemon peel can help decrease cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It can also improve bone health, oral health, skin conditions, as well as boost metabolism and fight cancer.

So, when life gives you lemons, don’t stop with just making lemonade, go the step further and grate or zest the peels to add to meals, salads, or drinks.

Leafy Green Stems: “Good health stems from leafy greens.” Vegetable stems including kale, collards, parsley and Swiss chard are jam-packed with vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. In fact, they often contain more fiber than the leaves themselves. Fiber is considered a “miracle” food and helps us feel full faster. In doing so, we consume less food and calories. Additionally, fiber aids with decreasing bad cholesterol levels and normalizes bowel movements. But let’s face it, those stems are tough to chow down on. Some suggestions to incorporate it into our diets include sauteing in garlic and olive oil, tossing it into a pot of homemade soup, stir frying, or pureeing them into a smoothie or soup.

Pineapple Core: I love, Love, love eating pineapple on the beach on warm summer days. But, like many, I have been missing out on the numerous benefits of the tough, woody center. Bromelain is a protein enzyme that can decrease inflammation and pain, blood clotting, and tumor growth. The sweet fleshy part of the pineapple contains this enzyme. However, the core, which usually ends up in the trash, contains the highest levels of bromelain. One slick trick to capitalize on this is to blend the core into a smoothie.

Veggie Leaves and Stalks: Don’t ‘leave’ the leaves and stalks behind. Broccoli and celery leaves are superfoods when it comes to Vitamin A. Additionally, broccoli leaves contain more beta-carotene than the rest of the veggie. It sounds like we have been chomping on the wrong part of the veggie this whole time! Consider steaming or sauteing the leaves. Alternatively, the leaves can be finely chopped and used to garnish meats or added to salsa. And let’s not forget about the stalks; they contain more calcium, Vitamin C, and fiber than the flowery bulbs. Stalks are great for dipping into sauces, hummus, or salsa, as well as stir-frying.

Onion and Garlic Skins: Who would have guessed that an onion’s waxy coating is rich in flavonoids, in particular the powerful antioxidant compound, quercetin? In fact, it contains more flavanoids than the onion itself! Quercetin is believed to decrease bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation, as well as fight allergies and enhance muscle growth. Garlic skin also contains a variety of antioxidants. Consider simmering the skins in stocks, soups and stews. They are safe to eat, but you can also discard before eating.

So there you have it, my version of “Root-to-Leaf” eating. And don’t forget about zesting orange peel to add to dishes; leaving cucumber peels when cutting; eating the white rind of watermelon on the slice; adding thinly sliced kiwi peel to salads; and blending banana peels into your smoothies. In addition to being healthy for us, utilizing these extra “parts” is cost-conscious and can help build flavor and add texture to our meals.

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Dr. Nina Radcliff (Photo Credit: Charles Skaar)

Dr Nina Radcliff is a physician anesthesiologist, television medical contributor and textbook author.

For more news on Dr. Radcliff:
Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNinaRadcliff
Follow her on Twitter: @DrNinaRadcliff
Visit her official site, http://www.ninaradcliffmd.com

Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

 

Cambodia-made Clothes Should Make You Feel Guilty

By Joel Mayer of The Capital Press Article originally posted on February 18, 2014 5:38 pm.  All rights reserved by The Capital Press. jeans-650x431 2014 has barely begun, yet protests in Phnom Penh have gotten off to a bloody start.

Since December, thousands of Cambodian garment workers have taken to the streets to voice their discontent over a long-standing, irrelevant two-figure minimum wage. They need the base salary raised to at least $160 a month. But the government would only concede to $100.

Demonstrations raged on, coming to a head on Jan. 3 with the deaths of four and injuries in tens more.

Although the government has since forbidden protests, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know activism will never let up. So long as such conditions square with poverty, blood will water the streets of Phnom Penh.

Apparently, every one of us has blood on our hands.

Wretched pay

Many of our clothes can be traced to Cambodia, a Mecca for offshore garment production. An estimated 600,000 Cambodians, mostly female, are employed as garment workers, whose efforts deck apparel emporiums around the world from H&M to Old Navy.

For their efforts, workers earn only some decimals above $3 a day for a shift as long as 17 hours, six days a week. Many borrow money just to buy food.

Their workplace mirrors the wretched pay. The ventilation is wanting, the noise pollution overwhelming, the toilets unsanitary. Worst, the garments emit toxic fumes, enough to lead to mass fainting.

Most workers come all the way from the rural provinces of Cambodia and are compelled to share the rent in cramped living quarters. Either this—or endure subsistence farming in the countryside.

Asia Floor Wage Alliance, an organisation of labour rights activists and trade unions, recommends $283 monthly as minimum wage for Cambodian garment workers.

But Cambodian workers will not likely transcend poverty pay, at least until Prime Minister Hun Sen ends his decades of rule. His dominant People’s Party counts the owners of garment factories as members.

Rather than adjust wages, owners shift the blame to their outsourcing clients, which include such familiar names as The Gap and Adidas. They also threaten that an increase in labour costs would force these companies to seek more competitively priced workforce elsewhere, robbing Cambodians of a $5 billion industry.

A threat largely unfounded, it is. Outsourcers may never find a better replacement for Cambodian garment manufacturers, especially now that rival China is setting a higher precedent in wages. But too afraid to stir the status quo, workers imagine no other choice than tolerating abuse.

What can you do?

Consumers have a moral obligation to stop the systematic devaluation of the Cambodian worker. You may help in ways big and small.

1. Buy where you are.

Learn to treat “made in Cambodia” as a sign of atrocity more than exoticness. Choose to buy locally made clothes. If you are in Australia, buy Australian-made clothes. If you are in the US, buy American-made clothes. With these goods, you are confident that their producers are lawfully compensated according to a fair local code as you know it.

2. Buy wisely.

Each purchase is a vote to more humane labour practices. Support brands whose supply chains transparently exclude sweatshops, hazardous factories, and underpaid workers. It won’t be easy to know the origins of your clothes, accessories and shoes, but you can start by checking if they carry the Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) label. You can also patronise products that are Fair Trade Certified (FTF).

3. Write and speak.

Try to chat to the manager of the clothes shop. Ask if his or her company ensures the fair treatment and just compensation of workers and suppliers. Almost always, executives of companies are too rarefied to know their supply chains on a more profound level. In any case, tell the manager that you will not stand for unethically produced garments. Then write, call, and email the upper line, if only to tell them that you are switching to their more principled competitors.

4. Socialise.

That is, harness the power of social media to drive home the plight of Cambodian workers. Use Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest to reach the millions still in the dark. Take the opportunity to praise brands that make a quantifiable, evident difference.

5. Support unions.

Workers have every right to assemble unions that bind their employers to globally recognized labour standards. A company that allows union formations tends to uphold workers rights. Thankfully, many brands show a sign on their labels that says they allow unions. You may not join a union, but you can surely support their products with your business. It also helps to participate in petitions and other targeted consumer campaigns to make the establishment cave in. These gestures ensure that the fights of Cambodian workers amount to something.   Views presented in the article are those of the author and may not be of Tonight at Dawn.

YIK YAK Paddy Whack!

By (Anonymous) Guest Author

Views presented in the article are those of the author and may not be of Tonight at Dawn.

So there’s a new(er) app out called YIK YAK, which essentially works like a twitter account, with one small difference —the sender of the message is anonymous.

Using geo-fencing technology on your smartphones, the app works like a “virtual bulletin board” for any 1.5-mile radius, creating small pockets of communities. A couple of things to start off:

What the hell is the point of this thing?!

Anonymous tweeting in a designated area? That doesn’t open the door up for any form of faceless bullying to take place…now does it? (Well, it already has.)

Why would I want to post a message to a community of people, 90% of whom I do not know and will never know?

Does the town of ——— really need to know that “I took a sh– in the Iris Gardens last night” (at least the bowels of the village idiots are running satisfactorily), or “These ho– ain’t loyal” (apparently pimpin’ in “yakville”, just like the rest of the world, ain’t easy). These are actual yik yaks. I would cite them to avoid any plagiarism, but, of course, they are anonymous.

Defenders of the app will say that this was designed for college communities, and has been overrun by high schoolers and other juveniles with healthy excretory systems. To them I refer back to my talking points.

I enjoy social media like anyone else, and I don’t think I’m at that age yet where all these new-fangled devices are flying over my head, but this one seems totally pointless to me, especially in an age where cyber bullying is a large issue for teens. I mean, most of the bullying types weren’t afraid to gang up on a kid on Facebook or Twitter, where their identities were somewhat easily available. I’m sure that this is a territory that they would not dare cross into.

Parents and teachers, be aware.

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Screenshot of a local Yik Yak feed.

Nigerian School Project on the Cover of Millennium Magazine

Featuring Dena Floryczk’s photography; Nigerian School Project article by Tonight at Dawn founder, Kimberly Cecchini, as published in the June 2014 issue of Millennium Magazine (listed on the cover).  Read the article and see more photos! : https://tonightatdawn.com/2014/05/04/the-nigerian-school-project-going-full-circle/Stay tuned for the posting of Cecchini’s other article in the issue, “Pig & Prince: Restaurant & Gastro Lounge”.

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Climate Change: The Present and Future Tenses

Text and Photo by Kimberly Cecchini

“We’ve all proven that we can’t be trusted with the future tense. We’ve all been asked, don’t you want to leave a better Earth for your grandchildren and we all have collectively responded,” John Oliver punctuates our collective insolence with a shrug, “eh, f— ’em”. Human nature is shortsighted; many of our actions and even governmental policies are band-aids for the present at the peril of the future. We can just look at the makings of the Great Recession for examples. Companies collapsed at the behest of insatiable greed and individuals garnered insoluble debts to live out of reach lifestyles. Forget the grandchildren, sometimes I don’t think we can be trusted with next week.

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How can we truly move to meet our environmental challenges if we are still debating the existence of climate change? Probably because our interests lie in the convenience of the moment, many folks are happy to perpetuate these circular debates. The deliberations are a ridiculously clever entanglement from folks who stand to benefit from business as usual (until business can’t be as usual). But, as Oliver points out on his show, Last Week Tonight, debating the existence of climate change is preposterous, “You don’t need people’s opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking which number is bigger; 15 or 5? Or do owls exist? Or are there hats?”

Although people are still trying to contest climate change, it seems that lately there has been the greatest shift to reframe the conversation since the rebranding of “global warming” to “climate change”. There appears to be some trends away from a focus on polar bears to affects on more tangible issues such as health.

On the second of June, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan, a proposal that aims to reduce carbon pollution from our power plants. The EPA claims that the initiative will reduce associated health issues. It projects that this plan will, over the next 15 years, reduce harmful carbon emissions from the plants by 30% below the 2005 numbers and reduce particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by 25%.

In a radio broadcast from a children’s hospital in Washington, D.C. where he visited kids with respiratory problems, President Obama drew a solid line between public health concerns and climate change, “Often these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution—pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change”.

I’m not an expert, but I have long wondered why, when calls to address climate change becomes entangled in debate, public supporters did not often shift to more visible and currently tangible consequences of human behavior. Apparently New York University Medical Center professor of Population Health and Environmental Medicine, Dr. George Thurston, agrees with me-and is certainly more qualified than I to make a case for this shift in the conversation. In a 2001 statement to the United States senate, he communicated about these connections,

“One of the air pollutants most carefully studied in the 1990’s is particulate matter. Fine particles, such as those that result from power plants emissions, can bypass the defensive mechanisms of the lung, and become lodged deep in the lung where they can cause a variety of health problems. Indeed, the latest evidence indicates that short-term exposures can not only cause respiratory damage, but also cardiac effects, including heart attacks. Moreover, long-term exposure to fine particles increases the risk of death, and has been estimated to take years from the life expectancy of people living in the most polluted cities, relative to those living in cleaner cities (Brunekreef, 1997).”

So if we can move past the debate on whether or not climate change and recognize the multifaceted repercussions of human behaviors, then, as Oliver says, we can move on to the real debate: what we should do about it. I cannot say whether it will be enough, but at least we are seeing some action. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy touted the value of the newest large scale initiative in the department’s press release,

“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life. EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source–power plants. By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment–our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs.”

If folks cannot feel the ropes we are tying around our hands in the future tense, perhaps they can take note of the bronchial tubes that are tightening in the present tense.

So, what can we do NOW? Please tell us below.

References

“Ep. 3: Climate Change Debate.” Last Week Tonight. HBO. 11 May 2014. Television.

“EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants/Clean Power Plan Is Flexible Proposal to Ensure a Healthier Environment, Spur Innovation and Strengthen the Economy.” EPA.gov. N.p., 02 June 2014. Web. 15 June 2014.

“The Public Health Consequences of Air Pollution.” Takeaway. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2014.

Thurston, George. “STATEMENT OF DR. GEORGE D. THURSTON, Sc. D. TO THE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE RE: THE HUMAN HEALTH EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION FROM UTILITY POWER PLANTS.” (n.d.): n. pag. Epw.senate.gov. Web. 15 June 2014.