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Sylvia's Table | Great Performances


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Sylvia’s Table
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About the Book:

Every year children flock to the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm in upstate New York to learn firsthand about where fresh food comes from, —how to grow it, how to harvest it, and how to use it to prepare great-tasting meals. Now Sylvia’'s Table brings these lessons and recipes straight from the farm to your kitchen in a deliciously unique cookbook for families. From Hudson Valley Corn Bisque to Butternut Squash Bread Pudding and from Grain-Stuffed Peppers to Cilantro-Chile-Spiked Cod Burgers to Shakshuka, here are almost 200 recipes that you and your family will enjoy. Featuring recipes from “the friends of Katchkie Farm”—, chefs like Michael Romano of Union Square Cafe and Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto; culinary experts including Food & Wine’s Dana Cowin; cookbook authors Giuliano Bugialli, Rozanne Gold, Deborah Madison, and, Sara Moulton; and many others, —this is a family cookbook guaranteed to be loved by cooks (and kids) of all ages.

A Sneak Peek of Liz's Favorite Recipes!

Vegetable Lasagna
Grain-Stuffed Peppers
Hudson Valley Corn Bisque


“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

“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 

Press Highlights:

New York Times
"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."

"Getting kids into the kitchen to learn about food and cooking is one of the best ways to teach young people that little tiny essential life skill, being able to feed yourself well. Giving kids first-hand experience in the gardens and farms where their foods are grown is just as important, and just as much fun."

Real Simple
"This lovely book features recipes from a New York State farm with a social cause: to instill a love for cooking and food in children. Expect vegetable-centric seasonal recipes to please every eater."

The Jewish Week
"Liz Neumark realizes that she may not be able to change the world. But she’d like to change the next meal for people who don’t yet understand the links between farm and table, between a carrot that’s just been pulled out of the ground and an unforgettably flavorful dinner."

The Kitchn
"This feeling of discovery supports the sense that this cookbook is a kind of classroom. You're not meant to go through it linearly; instead, you find a recipe or an ingredient that draws you in and that becomes the starting place for lessons in ingredient sourcing, cooking techniques, and even basic math and science skills."

WAMC Radio

Q&A with Liz:

Q: What inspired you to start Great Performances in 1979?
 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?
 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?
 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?
 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?
 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?
 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?
 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?
 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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