Sunday, January 29, 2017

An Abundant Life - Red Hot Passion

Sufia Hossain is a gorgeous powerhouse of energy. A creative force this full of goodness is a blessing on any day, and when it comes to hot sauce, I'd have to say it's a double blessing. My father and I used to have competitions about who could eat the hottest food and also who could make the best hot food - I began my love of hot and spicy food by learning everything I could know from him. My father was also an inquisitive connoisseur of cultural fine foods - wherever he went he'd make friends with the restaurant owners and chefs and somehow find a way to get into the kitchen with them to learn their craft. Over the years I've discovered that I've inherited this side of him, and now when I go anywhere I'm always trying to find out how to make what the chef is making. I ask in stores and restaurants and people's homes, finding out about spices and herbs and techniques. And when it comes to hot and spicy, though my father isn't around anymore to compete with, I still like my spicy foods hotter than hot. It's a bit of a joke with my friends who have eaten spicy food with me - what has everyone else crying has me asking if there is any more hot sauce. I make a thick paste with my wasabi and soy sauce and then ask for another serving, and I buy my chili peppers in bulk. And once when I bought a bag of poblano peppers at one of my favorite produce markets by accident, I cooked them over pasta the way I'd cook any pepper. I'd thought I'd wait and make chili rellenos, a dish that my father was a master of, but then I tried them a few times over the pasta and decided to go ahead and keep on eating them that way.

When I first started hearing about Silly Chilly Hot Sauce, I was intrigued. I thought the name was great, and it was hot sauce which I always love, and then I met Sufia Hossain and I was hooked. She's lovely and fun and charming, but also deeply passionate about world issues and community life. A philanthropist who involves herself with hands on charitable projects and a perfectionist who taught herself how to make hot sauce in her Hoboken kitchen, she's also a jewelry designer and a professional business woman with a strong background in the fashion industry. There are so many levels to Sufia that I can only touch on the surface here, but before I share some photographs with you, I'll add that she believes in creating local industry artisanal jobs and working with local farmers and growers to support sustainable and healthy food choice. And if you like it hot, when you try her hot sauce you'll fall in love - I've cooked with it and dashed it over my lunches and dinners, and added it to vegetables, meats and cheeses and fish, and each time as I discover the new flavors unfolding, I remember the different people and places over the years where I have learned the beauty and pure deliciousness of spicy hot food, and savor the flavor of truly delectable hot and spicy sauce.

Sufia Hossain, Founder And CEO
Silly Chilly Hot Sauce
Instagram/Facebook: SillyChillyHotSauce
Pictured Here At Baking Mama Bakeshop & Cafe
Hoboken, New Jersey

Sustainable Packaging Using Locally Sourced Products
And Art By Local Designers
(Photograph Courtesy Of Sufia Hossain)
(Photograph by Rex Romero)

Gracing My Table

Gracing The Farms
(Photographs Courtesy of Sufia Hossain)


Jannie Susan

Sunday, January 22, 2017

An Abundant Life - True Vision

There is a whole world of information around diamonds that I do not understand. I find them fascinating from a scientific point of view as well as because they are simply beautiful in a way that is indescribable. The most precious of stones has a quality that we perceive as having no color at all, and yet it is this absence of color that ultimately creates the prismatic effect that we see when a diamond is cut by an expert hand into the final product that is set into a piece of fine jewelry. Similarly, the precious metals that are used to create those final products start by looking like nothing very interesting at all. A simple band that will create the most beautiful of wedding rings starts out looking like a washer that would be used to repair a leaky faucet. It is only through the work of a master craftsman that the metal and stones can be refined and shaped and polished and set in ways that turn things that look like nothing in particular at all into a stunning work of art.

Reynold at Hoboken Gold and Diamonds is a true craftsman, with the vision and integrity that only the finest of jewelers has. He can tell by simply looking at something what the quality actually is, but he also knows how to do the work of his trade to confirm what his expert eye tells him at first sight. He also has creative vision, understanding the ways to work with precious metals and stones to create custom pieces that are some of the finest imaginable. If there is something that you have been dreaming of, visit with Reynold and begin to make that dream a reality. You can also learn from him too - sharing his wealth of knowledge and information is something that will not only help you to decide on that perfect piece for yourself or special gift to be given, but you  will walk out more with more knowledge than when you walked in, something that will enrich your experience of the world of fine jewelry for years to come.

Hoboken Gold and Diamonds
Owner Anthony
Reynold, Manager and Jeweler
115 Washington Street
Hoboken, New Jersey
(201) 659-0486
A True Craftsman And Artisan With A Wealth Of Knowledge


Jannie Susan

Sunday, January 15, 2017

An Abundant Life - A Piece Of Heaven

On the day of the first snowfall of the year, I went to visit Tulema Pizzeria and Restaurant. I had planned the trip earlier in the week, and when I saw the snow start falling thicker and thicker that day, I thought about rescheduling, but I somehow felt that it would be worth the trip and that if I could get myself going on the way I'd be happy that I did. I knew the food would be good - the owner and chef had worked at one of the best Italian restaurants in the area and this area knows how to make wonderful Italian food - but I didn't know that I would find myself in a place that was serving five star meals in a local, relaxed and family friendly setting.

The first thing I wanted to try was the Pizza - the word is in the name of the restaurant, and I am a Pizza lover, but I'm also a Pizza snob who grew up in Massachusetts, one of the best Pizza making places on earth. I also make it myself, and though I'll eat just about any kind of Pizza, I wanted to see if Tulema made a good one. I knew after the first bite that I'd be dreaming about it, and that I had found a truly special place. When I told them how delicious it was, I was introduced to Jose who everyone said is the Pizza mastermind - though the chef as I later found out knows how to make the best of the best of everything he makes, Jose know his Pizza so well that he's been given full charge over that area. That's just one of the many things that make Tulema so special - everyone working there is so nice and friendly, you feel like you're in someone's home, and they treat each other with equal respect and care as they do their customers, so that everyone working there is happy and comfortable doing what they do best.

I had looked over the menu, which has some of my favorite dishes on it, but after trying the Pizza and experiencing its delicious perfection, I asked if there was something special the owner would like me to try. Every chef has their signature dish, and while I was sure by that point that everything on the menu is outstanding, I wanted to taste what the chef wanted to share with me. The dishes he decided on were Meatballs served as an appetizer, and Chicken Saltimboca, two things that are favorites of mine, but as with the Pizza, they are things I am very picky about. They were done to perfection and served so beautifully that when the chef came out to ask me how they were, all I could do was rave and say where did you learn to cook like this? He told me he had learned from the grandmother at the restaurant he had worked at before, something that I know from my own experience never happens unless that grandmother knows you have a true love and skill for creating delicious food. It's not everyone who the grandmothers of the world let into their secrets, and in speaking with the chef I could see that he was one of those special ones, the foodies of the world who love to learn and listen and try and refine - with them it's not just a job but an adventure. I know because I am one of them too, and usually when I eat at a restaurant I can figure out what the chef has done and recreate it at home, but that afternoon at Tulema, all I could do was savor and enjoy - I have no idea how he does what he does, but Chef Manuel Nolasco has a new and permanent fan. And if you're lucky enough to visit when his wife Xenia is there, she is as lovely and charming as the food is delicious, and will welcome you to your table with grace. Oh, and did I say that they make their own bread and serve it fresh from the oven? On that snowy blizzard day I found myself in Heaven.

Tulema Pizzeria And Restaurant
Owners Manuel Nolasco And Tuti Bloise
218 48th Street
Union City, New Jersey
(201) 758-5943

Perfect Pizza Perfected By Jose

Perfect Service From The Lovely Shantal

Manuel Nolasco's Amazing Creations


Jannie Susan

Sunday, January 8, 2017

An Abundant Life - The Journey Of A Thousand Miles

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is the author of a proverb that in translation has come to be understood as "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." The original talks about a distance of 1,000 li, a measure of distance that is actually much larger than one thousand miles, and the literal translation is "The journey of a thousand li starts under your feet." I studied Lao Tzu with one of the foremost experts on Chinese philosophy, but I don't remember learning about this particular proverb. What I do remember is that although he was considered a cultural deity and was claimed in the lineage of the Emperors of the Tang dynasty, Lao Tzu was what we would consider today to be a man of the people, and the things that he spoke about were both filled with wisdom and easy to understand. His writings were enjoyable and enlightening, and easy to be put into every day practice. Most well known as the writer of the Tao Te Ching, though he lived by some accounts in the 6th century and by others even earlier, the concepts he shared are the basis of not only a religion but an entire way of living a healthy life.

Every week I travel by two different buses to work with a performing artist in Rockland County. The first bus I take is a local hop on and hop off kind of minivan, and though many people take it for only a few stops, I travel twelve miles through different townships. There are many of these buses that travel up and down the route each day through Jersey City, Bergenline, North Bergen, Union City, Cliffside Park, Fairview and Fort Lee, and though I've had some excellent drivers and enjoyable adventures, each trip for the most part is pretty much the same. Last week I had an experience that was different in a way that is hard to describe, but it made me think of Lao Tzu and how there are times we begin a new part of our journey just by changing the way we think and taking a step in a new way.

The conversation that I had with the driver that day made the rainy day brighter, and the usually long trip flew by. It started simply enough - it was the Monday after January 1, and though some of us were working, some people were not. There was that strange almost holiday feel, though the holidays were officially over, and because of the weather it seemed as if some people on the roads were having a hard time getting going. The driver started talking to me because I responded to his apology for the stop and go caused by drivers who seemed unaware that some of us needed to be somewhere - I try to time my trip to make sure I can make the schedule of the bus at the end of my road, and though I wasn't complaining, the driver apologized for the people stopping their cars in the middle of the street and unloading and loading passengers and packages. We started to talk about his job and mine, and he shared his dreams and goals. On that rainy day in that small space, I learned something about another person that enriched my day and will continue to ever after. His job is not an easy one, but he tries to do it the best that he can and to help people travel where they need to go on time and safely. And although he has a vision of a completely different life, his commitment to doing his current job with excellence makes his passengers' journeys easier.

Julio Garcia Makes A Rainy Day Brighter


Jannie Susan

Sunday, January 1, 2017

An Abundant Life - Patterns

"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast," the verse from Congreve goes. It's an often misquoted phrase, and though I'm a literature buff I had to look it up to make sure I had it right. It's a true thought - how often does music help us through rough times and even enlighten good times too. And when the music is great and the lyrics are fun, when the band is live and lively and witty, the combination of great playing and singing and tongue twisting creativity can bring us to a higher plane. That was the case the other night when I was invited by a wonderful friend to see the band Washboard Jungle at Dixon Place. The invitation described them as being a "post-modern jug band," and though that sounded entertaining, I wasn't prepared for the great time I had. I'm not sure how many instruments they used on stage that night - according to the Wikipedia listing, "they've used up to 40 musical instruments and household utensils in their live shows, including washboards, spoons, bongos, pennywhistle, melodica, a potato masher, a carrot grater, a toy hammer, a vacuum cleaner, water glasses and digital samplers." Except for the vacuum cleaner and digital samplers - though they may very well have been there - I saw most of those various things that night plus many more, all played with skill, vigor, verve and exuberance that I haven't seen matched anywhere. Follow them on Facebook and watch for their next show - it's an experience that is not to be missed and will be remembered with joy ever after.

Washboard Jungle: Sunnyland!
Henry Hample On Fiddle
Stuart Cameron Vance On Guitar
Bob Goldberg On Keyboards
McPaul Smith On Bass
Live At Dixon Place
161A Christie Street, New York City
Facebook Washboard Jungle


Jannie Susan