Farmers Markets… Improving the Way We Enjoy Our Produce

August 5th -11th is National Farmers’ Market Week!

When I think of summer I think of heat, the shore, and fresh produce.  All of which I can attribute to growing up in Vineland, NJ – the largest city in New Jersey by square miles and a big farming city (see map below if you’ve never heard of it).

That’s right, I grew up on a farm.  My family grew and sold produce at a little stand at the end of my grandparents’ driveway.  We rode on tractors (and loved it), picked bugs off the plants, and ate fresh food right off the vine. I’m a produce-a-holic, eating more in a day than most eat in a week. I’m grateful I live here, because nothing beats Jersey produce and that’s a statement I’ll take to the grave!

After my grandparents passed, the extra land was sold and the farm became a memory, but one that I’ll always remember because it made me appreciate the closest thing I have to those memories… Farmers Markets.

Each summer I eagerly anticipate their openings.

From fruits and vegetables to meats and cheeses, you can find almost anything you’re looking for at a reasonable price and absolutely fresh.  You meet the farmer and his/her family who’ve taken the time to ensure you a quality product.

Not only are they delivering a product and service, but they are also helping build up the agricultural community, which faltered once big grocery stores popped up everywhere.  Convenience and mass production took the place of quality and that can be seen in the countless health issues plaguing people today (but that’s a whole topic on its own).

So, now I ask – do you buy at your local Farmers Market?  If so, where is your favorite? With the responses I receive, I’ll compile a list of favorites and include them in a new post.

By: Lauren Scarpa

August Events in the Yankee Doodle Tap Room

Stop by the Yankee Doodle Tap Room in August!  From Meet the Brewers to the Olympics, excitement is brewing and you won’t want to miss it!

CJ Barna Performs Every Thursday Night
7-9pm
Have You Heard CJ Barna Perform? If you’ve stopped by the Yankee Doodle Tap Room Patio on a Thursday night, the answer to that question would be yes. If you haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing.

If you’re in the Princeton area on Thursday nights and are looking for some excellent entertainment, look no further than the Yankee Doodle Tap Room – CJ Barna will take it from there.

Meet the BrewerMeet The Brewers Summer Series Continues!
Saranac
7/31/12
6-8pm

Lagunitas
8/16/12
5:30-8pm

Olympic Specials
Now that the Olympics are underway, don’t forget to stop by the Yankee Doodle Tap Room (your Olympic headquarters!) to watch the games and partake in some great specials (ends August 12th)!

Specials
Specials Running Until August 11!

$2.00 Coors Light Silver Bullet pint cans
$6.00 pork sliders and French fries

Closing Ceremonies Day (August 12)
$2.00 Bud bottles
$2.00 Hot Dogs with sauerkraut, onions and chili

Books on Tap Group – Princeton Public Library
Bring your library card to get $2 and $3 selected beer specials and a 10% discount on any appetizer from the menu.

August 28, 2012
7 – 9pm

For questions on any of these events, please call 609.921.7500.

Going for Gold – The 2012 Summer Olympics!

Oh the Olympics… where the best of the best from more than 200 nations compete, push their bodies to their limits, and aim for top honors.  Here were are about to kick off the 2012 Olympic Games in London and I can’t wait!   USA!! – USA!!

For me growing up, women’s gymnastics was the only event that existed – Mary Lou Retton (first Olympic gold for USA in women’s gymnastics!), Shannon Miller, Kerri Strug (the ankle injury on the vault!), Dominique Moceanu (the Devil Went Down to Georgia, anyone?), and Dominique Dawes captivated my attention and had me cheering for their victories!

1996 Olympics - Women's Gymnastics - USA Gold!

As I got older, men’s swimming won me over – Hello Michael Phelps! (I can’t leave out the Winter Games either – Hello Shaun White!)

(l-r) Michael Phelps, Shaun White

Watching these competitors, these athletes, these Olympians perform in ways that are unimaginable and extraordinary has me, and millions of other Olympic enthusiasts, anticipating what we’ll see this year!  Will Michael Phelps take all again?

With the start of the games and the Opening Ceremonies tonight, (you can access the event lineup and schedule here), I’ll be watching more than just gymnastics and swimming – I promise!

Question: What are your favorite Olympic memories and what events are you excited to see?  Lets reminisce!

Where will you be watching the games? The Yankee Doodle Tap Room is Olympic Headquarters with specials galore! 

Bonus!  Olympic FUN Facts:
Do you know what the Olympic Rings signify?

The five intertwined rings and represents the unity of the five inhabited continents (America, Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe). The colored version of the rings—blue, yellow, black, green, and red—were chosen because every nation had at least one of them on its national flag.

Do you know what the Olympic Motto is?

Citius, Altius, Fortius, a Latin expression meaning “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

Question:  Do you have any Fun Facts about the Olympics?  

By: Lauren Scarpa

 

Behind the Red Door: Sneak Peek – The Prince William Ballroom

Red Door - Sneak Peek

As of our last update in May, we’ve made some great progress on construction that we wanted to share with you, specifically, The Prince William Ballroom (coming back in September!).

Ballroom

Prince William Ballroom - May 2012

As of July:

The New Windows are In and the Wood Trim is Up!

Wiring is in progress!

Ceiling is almost complete!

An additional shot – The Assembly Area!

There’s your sneak peek – we’re almost there and really excited!  Construction will be complete and the Prince William Ballroom will be ready by early September for its first booked special event!

We still have a few things we’re keeping under wraps, but those will be unveiled later.

Stay tuned for additional updates!

Question: What are you most excited to see at the Nassau Inn once construction is complete? 

By: Lauren Scarpa
Photos By: Mike Bonotto

 

Beat the Heat, Princeton!

98, 101, 105… do you recognize these numbers?  You should, they’ve been the temperatures Princeton’s been facing this summer.  In what’s been deemed the scorcher, people around town have been looking for ways to stay cool and beat the heat.

If it’s one thing I know, it’s how to keep cool when things get warm!

Fresh Food! 
I don’t know about you, but when the weather gets hot, the last thing I want to eat is something heavy and greasy.  Light, flavorful, and satisfying is the name of the game!

Yankee Doodle Tap Room
Now, I may be partial to the Tap Room, but since Chef Nino unveiled the new menus, there are so many fun fresh choices!  (My favorite are the Mixed Fruit and Shrimp Salad and the Fish Tacos!)

Tico’s Eatery & Juice Bar
One of the most talked about places (and another one of my favorites) in Princeton is Tico’s.  Known for their delicious food (nothing is fried), fresh juices (juiced right in front of you), and amazing owners, put this on your list of must tries!

Anyone else drooling over this picture?

Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt! – PSSSSST!  July 15th is National Ice Cream Day!!!!
Creamy, cool, decadent, delicious… those are the words that come to my mind when I think about ice cream.  When I need to indulge, here are a few of the places on the Square I head to!

Halo Pub
Made from milk and cream from their dairy farm. They offer more than 45 flavors of all natural ice creams … at half the price!

Bent Spoon
Specializing in artisan ice creams and sorbets in unimaginable flavors, you’re sure to find something original and appealing!  Flavors change based on the season too!

Iced Coffee! 
Nothing screams summer more than iced coffee.  Although an acquired taste, when you find that one perfect brew, it’s incredible!  Starbucks and Small World Coffee are located near the Square and happen to serve a few varieties of iced coffees made to your liking!

 

Pools!
Did you know Princeton is chock full of pools? Me either, but lucky for us, it is!

The Princeton Community Pool
Located off Witherspoon Street, the Community pool is open to all residents.  Offers swim lessons, recreational water sports, swim teams, lap and general public swim.

Broadmead Swim Club
Located on Broadmead Street close to Princeton University, this swim club offers a 20 meter swimming pool and a baby pool for the younger kids. Soak up some sun on the open lawn, or cool off in the shaded picnic area.

Nassau Swim Club
Surrounded by woods on Lower Springdale Road, The Nassau Swim Club gives its guests a few different swimming options. They have a six-lane Olympic style pool, a 13.5 foot deep diving pool, and a kiddie pool. Free swim lessons are available.

Willows Swim Club
The Willows is located off Main Street in nearby Lawrenceville. Along with a large pool equipped with diving board, the club includes changing areas, showers, grills, a playground, and a volleyball court. The Willows prides itself on its “backyard” feel, inviting guests to mingle and have fun in a friendly and comfortable setting.

West Windsor Waterworks
Located in West Windsor Community Park on Princeton/Hightstown Road, Waterworks has everything your family needs to cool off, relax, and have fun this summer. A leisure pool, wading pool, lap pool, two story waterslide, concession stands, and recreation area with basketball courts are all available with memberships, which are discounted for local residents.

The Quarry Swim Club
“The Old Swimming Hole Since 1928″ provides a unique swimming experience. Surrounded by natural rock cliffs is a 55 foot deep spring-fed lake, containing various floats and dive boards. There is also a large swimming pool, sand volleyball, and a picnic area with grills. A perfect spot to host parties or get-togethers while re-living those lazy summer days of the past.

What’s better on a hot summers day than sipping an iced cold beverage or digging into some ice cream?  Other than sitting by a pool or in an air conditioned home, I can’t think of too many!  But alas, we can’t stay inside all summer so let’s venture out, have some fun, and remain cool, shall we?

Tell me, how are you keeping cool in the summer?

By: Lauren Scarpa

 

 

 

 

Fourth of July Celebrations – Where are YOU Celebrating America’s Independence?

Ahhh, the 4th of July – a day designated to barbeque, head down the shore, and see some fireworks!  But how many of us lose sight as to the true meaning of Independence Day? In 1776, 56 men (who if caught, could have been executed for treason) signed a document declaring America’s independence from Great Britain.  236 years later, America still stands strong and free.

In remembrance of those 56 men and countless others who built the foundation of our great nation, lets celebrate!!

If you’re going to be in the Philadelphia Area (you know, the place where it all happened!), they began celebrating June 25th.  Yep, 10 days of events culminating with the huge fireworks display on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway – coming from a South Jersey native, if you haven’t seen those fireworks, you’re missing out!

For those who are staying local, or want to stay in New Jersey, never fear, I’ve found your 2012 Jersey Fireworks Guide!  You can search by region or date!

Additionally, if you’re going to the Trenton Thunder game that night, there will be a fireworks display for all after the game!

So, wherever you decide to celebrate, promise me one thing… remember the reason we’re celebrating.  What are your plans?

 

By: Lauren Scarpa

Tap Room July Events – Meet the Brewers, Olympics, and more!

Stop by the Tap Room in July.  From Meet the Brewers to the Olympics, excitement is brewing and you won’t want to miss it!

Meet The Brewer Summer Series

Weyerbacher
July 12, 2012
6 – 8:30pm

 Lagunitas 
July 18, 2012
5:30 – 8pm

Saranac
July 31, 2012
6 – 8pm

2012 Olympic Specials!

Make the Yankee Doodle Tap Room your Olympic Headquarters from July 27- August 12!

Books on Tap Group
Princeton Public Library

Bring your library card to get $2 and $3 selected beer specials and a 10 percent discount on any appetizer from the menu.

July 31, 2012
7 – 9pm

August 28, 2012
7 – 9pm

Edgar Palmer – The Visionary of Palmer Square

Mr. Edgar Palmer

If you have ever been to Princeton or the surrounding areas, you may have heard of Palmer Square. Named after its visionary and developer, Mr. Edgar Palmer, the Square “boasts a unique collection of shopping and dining right in the heart of downtown.”

As mentioned in our previous post about its history, Palmer Square is currently celebrating its 75th Anniversary. And as we learned about the history and design, it made us wonder about the man behind the Square. Who was Edgar Palmer? And why did he envision Palmer Square?

A beloved husband and father, Mr. Palmer was a doting family man.  He thrived on community, close-knit ties, and pride.  Professionally, his business skills were unparalleled. A graduate of Princeton University (class of 1903), and then a charter trustee, Mr. Palmer inherited the New Jersey Zinc Company where he was President until 1943. During his prosperous career, he proved to be a generous philanthropist.  He donated much to Princeton, a town he lived in and loved, as well as our country during World Wars I and II. Palmer House and Palmer Stadium were two renowned donations.

Picture courtesy of Princeton University

Palmer House, which is located on Princeton University campus, was Mr. Palmer’s residence and donated by his wife after his death.  Palmer Stadium, which was named after and dedicated to his father Stephen Palmer, was another donation to the University. During World War I and II, Mr. Palmer gave his first and second schooners, both named Guinevere, to the US Navy.  Always willing to help fellow sea mates, Mr. Palmer was a well-known yachtsman and served as Commodore of American Yacht Club in Rye, NY. 

So what brought this man, a doting family man, the heir to a company, and humanitarian, to design the central hub of Palmer Square that we all know and love? Simply put…it was a dream.

Mr. Palmer envisioned an area that would offer residents a home above or near shops and within Construction began on his dream in 1936.  At the time of his death in 1943, Mr. Palmer got to see about half of his vision completed.  Princeton embraced what Mr. Palmer planned and continued the project in his honor – eventually naming the square after him.

The Residences at Palmer Square

While construction on the shops of Palmer Square finished long ago, Mr. Palmer’s dream is still being refined. In 2010, construction began on the Residence at Palmer Square, the final piece to complete his dream to live, shop, dine, and stay in an urban up-scale setting.

Even we here at the Nassau Inn are dusting ourselves off and undergoing a rejuvenation, which will be finished by 2013.

We are happy to uphold his legacy (in part with our own) within the community and we encourage those to enjoy Edgar Palmer’s dream first hand.  Looking to take a vacation? Stay at the Nassau Inn!  Looking to live in Princeton? Consider the Residences at Palmer Square!  Come experience the Square and all it has to offer.

By: Stephanie Piccarillo and Lauren Scarpa

Father’s Day – A Day for Memories and Appreciation!

Have you ever noticed that Mother’s Day gets so much attention (very much deserved!), but Father’s Day (while still acknowledged) gets left out in the cold?  Not this year dads, I’m coming to your rescue!

With all the hard work you put in day in and day out, you deserve some recognition!

Fathers, whether we realize it or not, build the framework to family life.  Oftentimes the disciplinarian, the voice of reason, or the problem solver, fathers provide a complimentary balance to our mothers.

The father/child bond may not be recognized when you’re growing up, but it most certainly is when you’re an adult and reminisce.

Think back to all those nights you spent learning how to ride a bike with dad holding onto the back so you wouldn’t fall, or him teaching you how to throw a ball in the back yard.

Those day trips to the shore where he taught you how to swim or to the bay where you went fishing and he told you stories to keep you from being bored.


How about as you got older?  Think back to your dad walking you down the aisle at your wedding, helping you buy your first car or supporting you as you bought your first house or holding their grandchildren.  

I’m sure you could create a list of memories and fun times you had with your dad, and I bet you appreciate them more now, right?

Memories are better than any gift, and really, how many tool kits, BBQ utensils, and golf balls can a man receive? Show dad how much he means to you this Sunday.

As you plan what you’re doing this Father’s Day, pick activities to help create more memories – A Beef & Beer at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, perhaps? Maybe a Wine Tasting for Dad?  How about a Run for Dad? There are a ton of fun options out there!

Giveaway Alert!
Leave a comment below saying what you are planning for dad this Father’s Day or one of your best memories - Best comment will receive a FREE appetizer in the Yankee Doodle Tap Room!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!!

By: Lauren Scarpa

A Cake of Memories

Guest post by Faith Bahadurian

My family, all of us born in Princeton, has enjoyed many meals at the Nassau Inn over the years, including a couple of memorable late 1980s Christmas Eve dinners at the old Palmer’s restaurant that used to be upstairs.  One time, after dinner, my father’s London Fog coat, one of those really common tan ones with a warm lining, had gone missing from the coat rack near the entrance.  Someone – possibly a little too full of holiday “cheer”? – had apparently taken his by accident, because the similar coat that was still there was much too small for Dad.   We had a good laugh wondering how it was that whoever took it didn’t realize his coat was suddenly too big!   And that person didn’t return it, so the Inn shortly replaced my father’s coat.

Between Palmers and the more casual Green House restaurant that looked out on the Square (a must for out of town guests), I don’t remember having carrot cake at the Inn.  But that was the attribution on the well-worn recipe card I found in my father’s files after he died earlier this spring.  I suspect he came by the recipe during the years I lived in Colorado (I moved back to Princeton in 1985), and I just never heard the story. He loved that cake and made it often.

Original recipe card owned by Faith's father

It was a surprise to me that no one at the Inn remembered a signature carrot cake on the menu, either!  I just knew I wanted to write about this for my bi-weekly In The Kitchen recipe column for the Princeton Packet and of course suggested that the Inn try out the recipe.

Chef Nino proudly displaying his version of the carrot cake with Lori Rabon, Nassau Inn's General Manager

I love the photo they took of Executive Chef Nino LoCascio and General Manager Lori Rabon, with Nino proudly holding his cake (pictured right). Of course, being a pro, Nino did it up right, with two cake layers, cream cheese frosting, and chopped nuts pressed into the sides.  Gorgeous!

My own effort…well, I am not a professional chef, much less baker, so my cake definitely has that “loving hands at home” appearance!

I took the easy route and used a 9 x 13-inch pan.  I bought shredded carrots at the supermarket and used those. But I have a trick – those shreds are often long and rather thick, not like grated carrots.  So I emptied the bag into a bowl, and used my kitchen shears to chop, chop, chop at them until they were shorter lengths.  Perfect!

I didn’t have quite enough walnuts on hand, so mixed them with some pecans. The can of crushed pineapple is important, so I’d made a point of buying that.  I did cut back on the sugar about 1/3 cup from the 2 cups called for.  I used almost the full 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil – I might cut that down a tad next time, too.

Faith's carrot cake creation

I baked the cake one morning, and couldn’t resist having a piece (or two) right out of the pan mid-afternoon.  Later on I went out to dinner, and when I came home I made the cream cheese frosting. I’d left the butter out to soften, so it was quickly blended with my Neufchatel (lower fat) cream cheese.  I only made a half batch of frosting, since I only had half a box of confectioners’ sugar.  But it’s been so long since I made cream cheese frosting that I completely forgot I should have sifted the sugar, so my “loving hands at home” frosting is dotted with tiny lumps you can plainly see here in the photo.  I carefully frosted the rest of my cake and promptly had a piece for dessert.  What can I say, don’t postpone joy!

Maybe next time, I’ll just go to the Inn for my carrot cake fix.  I wonder if they’ll be calling it “Sam’s Carrot Cake”?

Faith Bahadurian blogs at www.packetinsider.com/ blog/njspice (also www.twitter.com/njspice).