Jun 30, 2016
Celebrating July 4th: Good Eats Edition

Fourth of July celebrations typically include some form of picnic, parade, and pyrotechnics. The three-day weekend allows for the opportunity to return to tried-and-true traditions with loved ones, or to branch out and try something new. A few members of the Haven’s Kitchen team shared their way of celebrating Independence Day below.




Culinary Director David Mawhinney has one go-to July 4th recipe that allows him to stay cool in the summer heat and is sure to be a hit at any party.

“I always carve up my watermelon and make a lime and mint mix in my blender and pour it back into the watermelon. Then I take it to the park. You can add mezcal to it to make it adult. It's easy to make and my kids help carve the outside of it.”

Watermelon and Mint Cooler

1 watermelon
¼ cup lime juice
4 to 5 sprigs of mint

Using a serrated knife, trim a small amount off of the bottom of the watermelon so that it can stand upright. Then, with a paring knife, cut a five-inch diameter hole at the top, angling your knife toward the center of the hole to prevent the top from falling in. Using a large spoon, scoop all of the pulp into a blender. Blend until smooth. The juice should total about 2-3 quarts. Add ¼ cup lime juice and a few sprigs of mint leaves to the watermelon juice. Again, blend until smooth. Work in batches if necessary. Pour all back into watermelon. Refrigerate for three hours before serving.

• • •

Events Director Halle Heyman celebrates July 4th by taking to the grill and sipping on a local brew.

“Any opportunity to grill chicken is a good one, and if I find myself near a grill in some suburban oasis, I bring my poultry shears to spatchcock a chicken. This technique allows for a faster cooking time, while providing full on flavor. However, this Fourth of July, I'll be enjoying a Great Lakes Brewing Pilsner alongside some BBQ chicken with bowls upon bowls of one of my hometown Ohio-proud favorites, Jeni’s ice cream.”

• • •

Founder and owner Ali Cayne is taking this three-day weekend to rest, relax and recharge without a worry in the world.

“I am planning on doing nothing. Actively and consciously nothing. All of my kids are on their summer programs and it's the first weekend in a year I can just sit on my stoop and read Hana Yanagihara’s A Little Life. At some point, I'll  pop by Lupe's East LA Kitchen and drink some tequila and eat a taco.”

• • • 

Barista Samuel Flax is celebrating Independence Day on the waters this year, taking in the ocean breeze while enjoying great family recipes and even better company.

“I will see the Fourth from the middle of the Long Island Sound. I will carry aboard my mother’s secret recipe for potato salad—sliced almonds, halved fresh grapes, curry powder. The meal I look forward to the most? Cool rosé in a can.”

Aug 27, 2014
Jam on it. An exercise in following the rules.

What I like about cooking is the freedom of it. I like playing with ingredients and making things up as I go along. I love the art. But I can’t say I love the science so much. Recipes and I haven’t traditionally jived all that well. I tend to look a recipe over once then shut the book and do my own thing. Which is all probably why I’m more of a "cooker" than a baker. And with all the directions and instructions, I am definitely not a jam-maker.




But last week I looked at the calendar and I realized that I haven’t done a lot of learning this summer. It’s okay, but I have more free time than usual and I would really like to be able to say that I learned something new by the time Labor Day rolls around. So, inspired by all of the gorgeous, juicy fruit at the market these days, I decided task number one is making jam. And jam I did.

I woke up last Saturday bright and early and bought ten pounds of peaches (mostly not quite ripe! That’s a counterintuitive trick I learned!), brought them over to Haven’s Kitchen with a dozen Ball jars and got to work. The night before, I did my research: I looked at maybe fifteen website and three cookbooks and then picked the one I could handle the most. It’s called Taste of the South and the recipe was in a piece called "How to Can Peach Jam Without Preserves." It’s a step-by-step with photos to illustrate each step. Perfect for me. I followed the directions as closely as I could bear, and spent five hours, boiling, near-boiling and fighting my desire to flee.

In the end, I must say, my jam was pretty damn good. I did riff on the recipe. I added a touch less sugar than it calls for, added a bit of vanilla, a lot of fresh ground ginger and a bouquet garni of cardamom and star anise.

Ginger Peach Jam 
adapted from Taste of the South

4 pounds of peaches, underripe
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon ginger, fresh and minced 
2 whole star anise
4 whole cardamom pods

Rinse the peaches under cool running water.

Place whole fresh peaches in a pot of boiling water for two minutes. Remove and place in a sink with cold ice water. Peel peaches, remove the pit, slice in half, then into quarters. Slice each quarter into 2 or 3 chunks. Place cut peaches in bowl and toss with lemon juice. Place in food processor and pulse into small bits but do not liquefy.
Place a sauce pot on stove, set to medium heat.

Add water, then sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add peach pulp, ginger, cardamom and star anise and continue to stir until it thickens. As it thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning.

When done, ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, add lid and band. Finger tighten. For more information about canning, please refer to Taste of the South.

– Alison Cayne

Oct 15, 2012
Sustainability 101: Ten Principles

When people ask what Haven's Kitchen or sustainability is, I'm learning that they want a few sentences, not the endless stream of information I tend to launch into. Regardless of my tendency to wax poetic, sustainability truly is a behemoth of a concept even for the most precise speaker.

On top of that, creating the short answer with a tidy bow can be difficult when discussing a project and a movement that I, myself, have been thinking about for years. When I began teaching cooking classes, I recognized how much my students appreciated having two beautiful olive oils, as opposed to one for every day of the week. My students reminded me of the importance and allure of simplicity. I'll try to be concise about it.

The best description I've come across is the one used in the 1987 UN Report entitled “Our Common Future.” It defines sustainability as development that meets the needs of our generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Which begs the question – Can we create a food system that can feed all of us on the planet today that won't hurt future generations? 

I, along with countless supporters of the sustainable food movement, believe that we can. It's time to get into gear, undo some damage, re-allocate our talents, investments, and land, and open ourselves up to the possibility of change.

The father of organic farming, Sir Albert Howard, advocated for an understanding of the "law of return." He saw that the planet renewed itself indefinitely by cycling nutrients and energy from animals to soil to sea and so on. He believed that the responsibility of humans should be no different – Whatever we take from the earth must somehow be put back into the earth. This is the closest definition of sustainability that I can think of. 


Based on this definition, Haven's Kitchen is committed to practicing and teaching ten core principles of sustainability that reflect not only our mission as a business, but also our dedication to creating a more sustainable food system.

Respect the earth, its limits, its natural diversity, and all of its life forms

Regard nature as a model, teacher and source of knowledge, livelihood, and life

Prevent harm to our environment, including citizens, animals, resources, and natural processes

Minimize unnecessary waste by consuming thoughtfully, efficiently, and locally

Support farmers, producers, communities, businesses, and policies that protect the land

Educate others regarding the safety and value of sustainable agriculture

Prepare our earth and society so that future generations may live responsibly and thrive

Value social and economic benefit as highly as financial profit

Inspire one another with integrity, dedication, and passion

Act as stewards of the earth: We are all caretakers of our environment, our economy and our community

We are building Haven's Kitchen on this foundation and hope to educate and inspire our guests to keep these tenets in mind as they shop, cook, and eat. These are heavy ideals, and a shift in priorities might be in order — but hopefully by keeping them in our minds, we can reestablish our connection to the land, each other, and the food that sustains us. As always, we are happy and willing to discuss ideas and share our enthusiasm along this journey.

Jan 19, 2012
All Agriculture is Urban


Urban Agriculture has become a very popular topic lately. In the past few years, we've witnessed amazing people planting farms on massive rooftopsgrowing vegetables in schools with hydroponicseducating city folk about ecology — all in New York City. We're seeing gardens bloom in abandoned lots, and bee hives thrive next to water tanks.

A lot of beautiful things are happening here. 

But despite all the progress we've made with the genuine and determined efforts of our growers and teachers, most Manhattanites still don't truly connect the food we eat with the people that produce it. Or the ground that is needed to grow it. Or the bees that are needed to pollinate it. Most of us are so removed from agriculture that we've forgotten that it pertains to us at all. When we do refer to agriculture, we call it a "sector" of the economy — or in esoteric language that's more intellectual than visceral.

Urban Agriculture is exciting in that there is food growing in non-traditional spaces — spaces that may actually be more conducive to growing good food than farm land that has been polluted by years of chemicals and monoculture. However, until every rooftop  and empty lot in NYC is productively growing food, rural agriculture will be feeding us, all of us, and those of us who live in the City need to start considering that rural agriculture is also ours. It is our life source, our privilege, and our responsibility to support properly as well.

As with all things man-made, there comes a time when the systems we've created no longer function well and need repairing. We created our current food system to match our needs, real and perceived, after the World Wars. Human hands were replaced with chemicals and machines and animals were replaced with tractors. This produced an unprecedented amount of food, opportunity for wealth, and upward mobility for many of our citizens.

It also created a dependence on fossil fuel and the toxins associated, soil erosion, and loss of biodiversity. It could be argued that it also created destructive monopolies, dependence on credit, decline of communities, and a society that values money and stuff more than it values people and tangible work.

No matter how you look at it, the industrial food system needs a good hard tweaking — we created the system based on conditions that no longer exist, and the consequences have turned out to be quite dangerous to the economy, environment and society.


As New Yorkers, we have access to an amazing array of opportunities and benefits that only a high density metropolis can provide. We are also we're literally living on an island with the assumption that that there will always be farms somewhere. It can be easy to forget that these farms may be up the Hudson or they may be across the globe. 

The moment we stop to think about where our food comes from is the moment we realize that we are dependent on those people up the river and across the country, or around the globe. We need them to survive, and we must value them and what they do, not as a separate entity, but as fundamental to our survival.

Urban centers across the globe rely on agriculture in the same ways. Why shouldn't they be connected to agriculture that is nearby when possible?

We need smaller scale agriculture that is supported by people buying as much locally as possible — this goes for all urban centers across the globe. We need to train and pay our farmers well. We need to free ourselves from the vice grip of chemical agriculture and unnecessary long-distance transport of food that can be locally produced.

How? It's not easy reversing damage. It's going to take a lot of good economic and policy work and a lot of soil repair, along with the generosity of people who know how to grow, and the foresight of those of us used to eating food for a lot less than it's actually worth. It will also require us to change our palates and our expectations the availability of foreign produce and products.

But I always return to the same answer — buy whatever you can from a local farmer, even if it isn't as pretty or convenient. Learn about the Farm Bill and tell our government that you care about agriculture. Support businesses that promote sustainability and organic farming. Join a CSA.

Find a way to participate in and help create a new, more sustainable and vibrant food system. The first step is recognizing problem, followed by discovering the beauty of the solution.