Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm wearing jeans at last & eating Fall veggies

As I write this I'm listening to weather reports about how Hurricane Sandy & other events are about to combine & become FRANKENSTORM along the east coast of the US. My kids, family & friends live along that coast. Abby, my daughter, lives in Manhattan and may be safely above flood level in her 15th floor apartment. By coincidence, my Brooklyn son Rob is out of harm's way because he's on a shoot in Transylvania, Romania for the Discovery Channel. He only has to worry about vampires & rivers of blood...YIKES!! To the people I love in "the zone", stay safely inside, take a relaxing bubble bath, open the other bubbly and "toast" the idiots who refuse to acknowledge the reality of  GLOBAL WEATHER CHANGES.

Here in bucolic Bradenton, where once again we've been blessed with a quiet Hurricane season, I'm embracing the beginning of our new growing season by eating young vegetables from the farm. Yesterday at  Geraldson's Sunday Farmer's Market, Ryan brought out a bushel of bright crisp yellow zucchini (that's right, have a look) and it made me smile. 

Geraldson Farm's fabulous Yellow available

Last year I tried them for the first time and loved the sweet gentle taste. I'm planning to enjoy lightly breaded "coins", pan fred quickly in olive oil then dipped in garlic aioli (garlicky mayonaise). To do that I had to roast a few heads of raw garlic, so I decided to roast some other veggies at the same time.

A roasted head of garlic, ready to have its yumminess squeezed out

Prepare each head of garlic by cutting off the pointy top to expose the individual cloves within. Put each head on a small piece of aluminum foil, sprinkle with two grinds of course black pepper and a dollop of olive oil. Crunch the foil to seal the head within. Place a few heads on a cookie sheet to bake in the oven.

Split zucchini, eggplant slices, sweet potato & cauliflower florets

I sliced baby zucchini in half lengthwise; peeled eggplant & cut thick slices; broke cauliflower florets into small chunks; peeled sweet potatoes & cut them into uniform chunks. Most "hard" vegetables can be roasted in this manner. Place a non-stick liner (like Silpat, parchment or aluminum foil) on a cookie sheet(s), then place veggie pieces on it without touching (which may prevent browning). Sprinkle a little salt, pepper & olive oil over sweet potatoes with brown sugar. To roast beets, wash them, leave a little of top stem on and trim the root off. Rub each with a little olive oil then seal them together in a foil pouch. I baked the garlic & beets on the same cookie sheet. 

Baked veggies:  zucchini, eggplant, beets, cauliflower & sweet potatoes

Slide cookie sheets with veggies & garlic into a 375• F oven and bake for 30-60 minutes until done. Each item takes a different amount of time to cook through, depending on size & thickness. Use a thin skewer or sharp knife to pierce the surface & assure the flesh inside is soft, while the outside is browned. Remove the cooked ones and leave the others to cook longer until done. Once cooked, let foil wrapped beets & garlic cool to the touch.

Separate the garlic cloves, squeezing the nutty gentle flavored contents of each clove into a small bowl. You can freeze it as is, or add some olive oil & mix to make the paste more liquid (like in the little bowls below). This wonderful garlic flavor can be added to soup, stew, salad dressing, mayo for aioli or any recipe where you want a warm undertone of garlic without the bite of fresh.

Puree of roasted garlic can be frozen, well wrapped, in small amounts

The beets, once cool enough to handle, need to be peeled while still warm. The skins will just slip off, but red beets can stain your hands, so this is a good time to use thin disposable gloves. Once peeled, cut them any way you want to use cold in salads, warm with butter, as the base for Harvard Beets, etc.

After barely an hour I was surrounded by a delightful array. Roasted veggies can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days and put atop a salad, pizza, wrap or panini, or eaten as a "side". Roasted garlic is something I always keep on hand, or in the freezer, because it adds that depth of flavor to things, including pasta sauce. Have fun.

THIS WEEK I'M BAKING BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS using organic bananas from Geraldson's. I love these muffins because they are moist, incredibly flavorful, deliciously filling and make me feel sinful (ok, I guess it's the amount of chocolate chips I put in).  Sorry, no picture, because they were devoured before I could wash the crumbs off my hands & use the camera.

I'm also baking my  BREAKFAST MUFFINSwhich join stone-ground corn, crisp bacon, sharp Cheddar & sauteed scallions into a hand-held breakfast for just $2. Wrapped to freeze if you can't each a dozen at a sitting.

When I think of my fellow New Yorkers, who will be riding out this storm, I want to honor them in the best way I know

They're tough outside but gentle inside; smart & cool yet warm & tender; embrace the differences each culture brings to the, mix yet are proud to admit: 


To me, the taste of New York City is RUGELACH

My homemade Rugelach embraces the essence of my Brooklyn childhood

It crosses all divides and produces smiles; so that's what I'm bringing to this celebration of surviving the storm that would tear us apart. I'M BAKING RUGELACH...that Jewish favorite, filled with my homemade jam, nuts & raisins. 

Say a prayer, but just in case, eat some rugelach  8oz/$6

You can order anything from my menu listed at the side of this blog posting by Wed at 5pm via email or calling me at (941)746-6647. Or visit me at Geraldson's Sunday Farmer's Market from 10-2 in NW Bradenton.

You can also see the menu at Orders can be picked up at my TreeHouse home in the Village of the Arts on Friday & Saturday or Geraldson's Farm on Sunday.
See directions & info at

This weekend is the Village of the Arts ArtWalk, where we're celebrating Dia de los Muertos -- Festival of the Skeletons on Fri & Sat  See for details.

Hugs & warm blankets to those in harm's way,
Bonni & Twinkie (who is willing to share dog cookies)

Bonni Bakes
in the Village of the Arts
932 12th Street West
Bradenton, FL  34204

(941) 746-6647

Monday, October 22, 2012

Yes, it's definitely cooler outside

and the last mango is off the tree. That means that instead of picking up over-ripe mangoes thrown down by the resident squirrel, the ground is rapidly being covered by yellowed leaves. Ah Fall, I welcome you with open arms...and a rake.

We've got three types of tomatoes & peppers growing in Earth Boxes

It's only been a few weeks since we planted seedlings in the Earth Boxes and they've already set fruit & almost reached the top of the support system. Almost time to get the salt shaker ready.

Yesterday at Geraldson's Organic Farmer's Market folks were buying the beautiful young greens, zucchini, squash, breakfast radishes, stunning lettuce and lots of Kirby cucumbers. I brought a quart of my homemade Refrigerator Kosher Dill Pickles to sample & share. In the end there wasn't a bit left to taste; all free recipe cards were taken, and almost a bushel of those crispy green gems were purchased. 

Cukes packed in the jar, ready to go into the refrigerator for a week

Several people asked me about the classic lidded "pickle jar". You can use any sterilized jar with a cover, but the bulbous shape of this one makes filling it with spears very easy. I have a few of these jars available for $3 each. I'll bring more pickle samples this Sunday. The NEW HOURS for the Sunday Farmer's Market are 10am-2pm. For info about the farm, how to get there or buy a seasonal share, go to

I hope you were able to be at the opening of the Riverwalk last week. It was amazing to see how the thousands of people who were there populated the various options in the park. Whether it was skateboarders, beach volleyball players, kids giggling in the water playground, graceful tai chi participants, relaxing folks under trees on outdoor couches, there was one thing in common. The smile on their faces. Now that the park is open, stop by and enjoy. 

The Village of the Arts will be at Riverwalk this coming Thursday Oct 25, alongside a free concert by the Sarasota Pops. Artists & artisans will have samples of their work for sale in the white tents. The concert starts at 5pm. The schedule of upcoming events is available at

I'll be sharing a tent with Zoe Von Avercamp, owner of Divine Excess, the folk art gallery. I'll have lots of my Yummy Stuff available, including cookies, muffins, breadstix and of course, Chocolate Orgasms. You can pre-order something this week and pick it up at the concert if you'd like.

In celebration of The Village of the Art's 7th annual celebration of Dia de los Muertos -- Festival of the Skeletons,  a limited number of hand-screened t-shirts are available. Both are black 100% cotton heavy weight tees, with your choice of two designs (see above). They're only $12 each adult size S, M, L, XL or $15 for 2X. We'll have them at the tent on Thursday. This is a fundraiser for The Village.

Join us for this special Village ArtWalk on Friday Nov 2 from 6-9:30pm and the following Saturday 11-4pm. The galleries will feature individual altars & decorations to join in the spirit of this holiday, which joyously celebrates the lives of departed loved ones. Don't miss the authentic Mexican food, community altar honoring Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and this year's new event: Frida Kahlo Look Alike Contest. Find  details at under "Events". 

Oh, right, what special items am I baking this week? Since we're so close to Halloween, I have to make Pumpkin Date Nut Muffins. And to honor of my Dad, I'll be baking the classic Onion Pletzl...a semi flatbread covered with sauteed onions & poppy seed. Easy to share, just break off a piece. Crisp in the center, chewy on the edge. Good by itself, but heavenly slathered with butter or cream cheese as Daddy did. 

Sunday in Brooklyn was never complete without Onion Pletzl (aka Onion Board)

Check the MENU LISTING next to this blog entry to see what's available for ordering this week. You need to phone or email me with your order by 5pm on Wed 10/24. It can be available for pickup at the concert Thursday afternoon; at my TreeHouse home in The Village of the Arts on Friday or Sat or at the Geraldson Sunday Farmer's Market 10-2. Cash or local check made out to "Bonni Brown".

Questions? You can reach me at or (941) 746-6647.

Hugs from my kitchen,

in the Village of the Arts
932 12th Street West
Bradenton, FL  34205

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BAKING, it's much more fun for me than reporting my Identity Theft to the FTC

Someone recently said to me, after hearing my news, "identity theft is awful". I understood the simpatico feelings they were trying to convey. However to me, a cancer survivor, a recurrence would be awful...identity theft is just downright damn annoying.

Winner, Artsy Undies Breast Cancer Fundraiser at Bonni Bakes

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I think I know why. Most of the breast cancer patients I've  known were diagnosed this month. It's after summer vacation, kids are back in school and life takes on a more orderly pace. That's when you have a chance to schedule your annual mammogram. In my case that routine test saved my life through early detection. I'm incredibly grateful to be celebrating my 15th year of survivorship! Please make sure every woman you love, and men who might worry about a sudden lump in their chest, get tested. The odds are on their side these days.

Breakfast Corn Muffin chock full of crisp bacon, Cheddar & chives

One morning a few months ago I was in a hurry, but hungry beyond my usual cup of coffee. I wanted something interesting, filling and not too sweet. Couldn't find it and had to settle for the coffee, but decided I needed to fill that void. After a lot of experimenting, I've been proud to share my Breakfast Corn Muffin. It's a delicate non-greasy corn muffin loaded with crisp cooked bacon, lots of Cheddar cheese and sauteed fresh scallions. Great by itself; even better toasted with butter or jam. A hand-held meal any time of the day. I'll be baking them this weekend.

Cranberry Orange Muffin 

Along with a batch of my classic Cranberry Orange Muffins too. Some things are always timely. The great thing about both of these muffins is that they're already packaged to pop in the freezer, in case your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

Today the weather was beautiful. Maybe it was the subtle cloud cover, but there was a cool wave that I thought was saying "goodbye" to summer. A girl can dream, can't she? I'm hoping we've seen the last of the 90's until next year...probably January. Anyway, it made me think about Fall, that season where you embrace something crisp...the air, an apple, the crease in your pants. For me, it played out in food. No surprise there. I'm baking mini loaves of Sweet Potato Cranberry Pecan Bread. Oh yeah, a little seasonal loaf perfect for sharing, but not too big to become an unwelcome visitor. Try one for just $4 each.

Because I'm spending MOST OF MY WEEK explaining that I am a victim of identity fraud to federal agencies, credit recording groups, banks and anyone who has my private info (that apparently is no longer private), I don't have time to make anything available for pick-up at my TreeHouse home on Fri & Sat. If you'd like to order & pick-up at the Geraldson Farmer's Market on Sunday from 11-3pm, I can have it for you. Email or phone me at or (941) 746-6647. Or just stop by.

My Refrigerator Kosher Dill Pickles made with organic Kirby cukes from the farm

Last week I bought 5 organic Kirby cucumbers for $1 on Sunday. They were so beautiful & fresh I knew I had to make a jar of Refrigerator Kosher Dill Pickles. They only take a week to make. Stop by this Sunday and have a taste. I'll give you the recipe and you too can buy the cucumbers right there at the farm. In addition to the fabulous organic produce & vendors with local goat products, honey, vegan treats, etc. you might come nose to nose with a Silky Chicken and her newborn brood.

Silky Chicken Mom with her young brood at Geraldson Sunday Farmer's Market

Find out a more about Geraldson's Organic CSA farm, or buy a share for the season, at

Tomorrow, Thursday Oct 18th from 4:30-7pm there's only one place you need to be. It's the incredible opening of Bradenton's Riverwalk. The 1 1/2 mile renovation of the waterfront from the Green Bridge to that other bridge near the hospital (that I can never remember the name of), and beyond. During the 13 years I've lived here I've heard a lot of proposals for this waterfront, seen a lot of plans rise & disappear and spent a few years on several City task forces hopefully moving the process forward.


Click on this wonderful collection of photos from Realize Bradenton that will give you a taste of what you'll see tomorrow.

Visit Village of the Arts Nov ArtWalk Nov 2 & 3 "Dia de los Muertos - Festival of the Skeletons"

Save the date for the upcoming Village of the Arts November ArtWalk when we celebrate the 7th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival of the Skeletons on Fri Nov 2 from 6-9:30pm and Sat Nov 3 from 11-4pm. This year we are honoring FRIDA KAHLO with our Community Altar, as well as a FRIDA LOOK ALIKE CONTEST. It's a wonderful family night & day filled with Mexican food, music, art and remembrance of  of our loved ones with a joyful spirit. Find all of the information at the Village's website under "Events" at or ask me on Sunday.

Hugs from my TreeHouse kitchen,

Village of the Arts
932 12th Street West
Bradenton  FL  34205

(941) 746-6647

Monday, October 15, 2012

SORRY, no pick-up in the Village this week

The day after electronically filing my Federal Tax Return, I was advised that someone else had already filed it...several months ago. It took a few moments to absorb that I am a victim of identity fraud and didn't even suspect it. Tampa seems to be the epi-center of this particular type of fraud, and the Bradenton Police told me I was the third person today reporting it. Here's how it goes.

The Plan:  defraud the US Govt by stealing someone's identity & filing a fake tax return

The Action:  steal or buy a list of valid social security numbers with addresses and dates of birth; buy a $20 pre-paid debit card at a local store; create a fake W-2 (with a big refund due) and submit the phony tax return electronically

The Re-Action:  the IRS receives & processes the return without verifying the information; your tax refund appears as a credit on the debit card

The Result:  the thief collects the refund by cashing out the card while "the mark" (that would be me) doesn't know their identity has been stolen until they legally file their taxes, followed by a sad call from the IRS

As a result of this, I'm spending a lot of time this week away from the kitchen. After filing the local police report I have to call the FTC, plus all three credit reporting agencies. Then comes the fun task of reviewing any financial accounts linked with my social security number. I'll probably never find out how & when my information was stolen, let alone who. Physical rape is not the only way of feeling incredibly violated. I hope you never find yourself in this place, but I have to agree with W.C. Fields that "all things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

I've posted a tentative list of which goodies I'll be bringing to Geraldson's Farmer's Market this Sunday from 11-3. If  you'd like to be notified each time there is a new blog post, either send your email address to me at or click on the "FOLLOW BY EMAIL" button located on the right side of this page under this week's menu.

Hugs from my kitchen & damnation to the thief,

Monday, October 8, 2012


The other night I knew I was being watched. You know that uneasy state where you can feel someone's eyes burning into your back. I looked out of all the windows but saw nothing. Then I noticed a fist sized dark blob covering a large portion of one pane. It was too dark to make it out, so I took a picture with my camera using flash. Look who was there? Ribbet...ribbet.

Not exactly Jack The Ripper, so I continued making Farmer Cheese. This was the first time I've attempted cheesemaking and it was easy, quick and ultimately delicious. It's the cheese used as filling in Jewish pastries and dishes like blintzes. Farmer Cheese is a semi-dry fresh cow's milk cheese, similar to ricotta but firmer.

You bring whole milk and buttermilk to a specific temperature then add a small amount of acid, white vinegar in this case. That causes the milk to separate into curds & whey. The same power breakfast that Litte Miss Muffit favored. Drained a bit, the curds are wrapped in cheesecloth (see above) then drained some more. Add a bit of salt, mix and you're done. If you'd like the recipe send me an email.

Yesterday Mike (who you probably remember from Bonni Bakes Bakery/Cafe) & I had an extraordinary Taste Test. This one was almost 3 years in the making. My very amusing kids, Abby & Rob, sent me a Miracle Plant for my birthday back then. It's a tropical bush that produces red berries with an amazing property. Once you chew and eat one, anything else you taste for 30 minutes is incredibly sweet. My little bush hasn't been very productive but finally we had a ripe berry, which my dog Twinkie agreed to guard with her life. Look carefully at the lowest bunch of leaves. The lone berry is in line with the bottom of the wood. Not easy to spy.

A close-up gives you a better idea of what this fruit, the size of a cannellini bean looks like.

We were amazed at the Miracle Berry effect. Lemon wedges tasted like lemon drops; wine passed for sweet non-carbonated soda; herring was a dead ringer for gummy bears; grainy mustard became a sweet sauce. The less appealing were blue cheese which was down right yucky and American cheese tasted like plastic. Radish was so-so and sweet pickles were really sweet. Lots of fun and surprises. I've told Rob the next berry will be his. 

The Village of the Arts October ArtWalk this past weekend was a joyful explosion of energy, art and food as music and delighted people filled the streets. Remember Village businesses are open all month, with each setting their own hours. Gallery  information and details of upcoming events can be found at

You're all invited to the Riverwalk Grand Opening along the Manatee River downtown. The waterfront has been transformed with the addition of a skateboard park, beach volleyball, shaded seating, bathrooms, kiddie splash park, fishing pier, free day dock for visiting boats and tons more. The celebration is Oct 18th, starting at 4:30. Click on this link to read all about it, and see the enormous list of events happening there during October.

Wondering what I'm making in the kitchen this week? I thought you'd never ask. The momentary cool Fall breeze I felt whispered "Onion Roll" to me. It's the perfect embrace for any sandwich filling including just butter; has a distinct texture & personality, plus the honest flavor that factory made rolls can't even imagine. If you grew up in New York City, and you're spoiled like me, you'll appreciate the real deal. I'm only capable of making a limited number, so if you want some order early. Half dozen/$4.50

Geraldson's Sunday Farmer's Market begins this weekend, Oct 14 from 11-3. Located in NW Bradenton across the street from Robinson Preserve, they sell extra organic produce from the farm alongside vendors like me selling their locally made food & crafts. If you want a larger amount of produce every week, there is like still time to buy a seasonal share from this organic CSA farm. Find all of the details plus  sign-up information at Visit the farm and watch your food grow. It doesn't get more local than this! 

Here are some of the things I'll have at the Market this Sunday.

Homemade Jam, Chutney & Sauce
Mango Strawberry Cardamom, Mango Daiquiri, Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper, French Strawberry, Mango Chutney, Mango Sauce (new), and Mango Butter (new).

Rosemary Parmigiano, Roasted Garlic Blue Cheese

Breakfast (bacon, corn & Cheddar), Cranberry Orange

Chocolate Orgasm Cookies
Mostly Belgium Dark Chocolate, chocolate chips & almonds

Belgium Dark Chocolate Orange Walnut, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, Belgium Dark Chocolate Lemon (no nuts), Classic Chocolate Chip (no nuts) 

Order must be received by 5pm Wed
Call me at (941) 746-6647 or email

Pick-up at my house in The Village of the Arts
Friday or Saturday from 2-5 (or by appt)
Sunday at Geraldson's Farmer's Mkt 11-3

Cash or local check made out to "Bonni Brown"

932 12th Street West
down the driveway, thru the white iron gate, to the house in back

Hugs from my kitchen,

        Bonni Brown