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Full disclosure, we are not big TV watching people.  We have a tendency to turn on the tunes before we reach for the remote to the boob tube.  All that said, because we were not one of the millions of fans that were watching and rooting for Josh and Brent who won The Amazing Race on CBS….Otherwise known as, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys”.

When we heard that they were two guys “who bought a farm and are sharing their experiment in living better lives, season by season, neighbor by neighbor.”  We became  fast fans.  The farm is right here in the Hudson Valley….so not much of a stretch to file this posting under Woodstock Wednesday.

Today is an overcast day and it just seems like a perfect day to make this smoky tea!

Here’s a step-by-step photo guide to how we make African Smoky Milk Tea at home. (Full recipe at bottom of post.)

Obviously…be very careful when doing anything involving an open flame. And it’s probably not a good idea to let small children make this themselves. Unless you have a ready escape route and good insurance.

First you’ll need a heavy-duty thermos with tight lid, as well as a 1-2 inch thick stick of wood (We used applewood, since we are certain that there are no toxic compounds. But research online for other non-toxic woods if applewood isn’t available to you.) It’s important that the stick can completely fit inside the thermos, and the lid can bed screwed on with it inside.



First, add about ½ cup of room temperature water to the thermos. Next, insert the stick into the hot embers of a fire.


Once about 3 inches of the stick are flaming and glowing, remove from the fire and immediately drop – lit end down – into the water in the thermos.


Cap it quick! Swirl the thermos around for about a minute.


Once you remove the cap, smoke and stem will escape. Don’t do this directly under a smoke alarm.


Using a fine wire sieve lined with either a coffee filter or paper towel, pour the “smoky” water into a heavy saucepan. The filter will trap bits of soot and burned wood.

Add another cup of water to the smoky water, along with the tea and spices, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 4 minutes.


Add the milk and sugar, and bring to a simmer, just below boiling.


Once warm, strain through a fine wire sieve directly into mugs.


African Smoky Milk Tea


Prep time: 15 Min
Cook time: 10 Min
Total time: 25 Min


  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 2 bags of black tea (not herbal,) or 1 ½ tablespoons of loose black tea.
  • 8 crushed cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 6 whole cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 inch segment of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup sugar or honey


Follow instructions above for making “smoky” water. Heat the water in a heavy saucepan with tea, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns & ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer over low heat for four minutes.

Add milk and sugar (or honey.) Bring back to simmer (not boil) while stirring over low heat.

Strain directly into mugs and serve immediately. (Strained mixture can also be chilled and served over ice.)

Music Monday – Newport Folk Festival

by SirLady on March 10, 2014



Folk music has been a presence in Newport since 1959, when the Newport Folk Festival was founded by George Wein. Backed by board members Pete Seeger, Theodore Bikel, Oscar Brand, and Albert Grossman, the Festival became renowned for introducing a number of performers who went on to become major stars, most notably Joan Baez (who appeared as an unannounced guest of Bob Gibson in 1959), and Bob Dylan, whose first Newport appearance, as a guest of Joan Baez in 1963, is generally regarded as his premiere national performance.

Always a step ahead, the Festival cultivated a broad range of folk music, and continues to stretch the boundaries to this day. In the 1960s, there were famous performances by Johnny Cash and Howlin’ Wolf, artists usually described as representing country music and blues respectively. The festival was associated with the 1960s Blues Revival, where artists “lost” since the 1940s (e.g. Delta blues singers) were “rediscovered”. And in the 80′s and 90′s, the festival brought in reggae, rock, and indie artists to broaden the Americana landscape.

Much of the history of the Newport Folk Festival has been preserved through a rich source of recordings. Murray Lerner directed the 1967 film Festival based on the 1963-1965 festivals, and there are 15 recorded albums of the festival from 1959 through 1990. Most recently, NPR has been on site to capture live broadcasts and streaming performances from the web.

Since 1959, we have been serving true musical omnivores, fans who crave innovation but appreciate tradition. Newport Jazz and Newport Folk are the grandparents of the modern-day festival, and have left an indelible mark on the landscape of music history. A 53 year road has led us to the 2012 festival – a year that promises to expand on the recent successes of the festival, and promises to for years to come as a non-profit. To learn more about the Newport Festival Foundation, visit newportfestivalsfoundation.org. Not only are we preserving the legacy of the Folk Festival, we are also continuing the traditions of music education and collaboration for years to come.

Foodie Friday – SXSW Travel Guide

by SirLady on March 7, 2014

So your headed to Austin for South by SouthWest…..SirLady travel guide suggests …..


Champagne and Fried Chicken, “Why the hell not” says Max’s Wine Dive.

Got the craving for some good ‘ole Texas BBQ?  Well then, your going to have to get up and out early (like 10AM) to wait on line at Franklin Barbecue.

Your in Texas and you gotta have some TexMex, yeah?!  La Cocina de Consuelo is the move.

Late night nosh, Las Trancas is the taco trailer serving up low-key grub. 1210 E. Cesar Chaves St.

Justine’s Brasserie is the best place to eat and party.

If you have an expense account, we suggest power brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel.


A classic hotel located on Austin’s famous Sixth Street, The Driskill.

The pool scene at the W Hotel may make you think that your in L.A.  Be sure to rent a cabana at this rooftop pool and you’ll close the deal. (cabanas all sold out, ask concierge to direct you to Barton Springs.  Best au natural swimming hole).


Stag is a really cool, hip store that isn’t trying too hard; it just is what it is…cool.

Congress Avenue, 2ND Street District,


The city that tags itself “the live music capital of the world”, your going to want to do your research and make sure it lives up to the hype.  Try these places:

Austin City Limits Live. Arguably one of the best (and most popular) music venues in town.

Strange Brew is a 24 hour coffee shop that hosts the most ecclectic range of music and musicians: Blues, Jazz, Funk, singer-songwriters to gospel bands.

The Elephant Room.  Live jazz and poetry.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is our kind of movie theatre!  Great food and beer/wine are served during previews.


It may be hard to believe, but Mountain Jam is right around the corner (June 5-8).

Pull yourself out of the winter blues, get your tickets and count down to the jam!

Music Monday – The Oscars

by SirLady on March 3, 2014

It was a big night for music and musicians alike at the 86th Academy Awards last night.

Films about musicians swept the documentary categories, Morgan Neville’s “20 Feet From Stardom” winning for feature and Malcolm Clarke’s “The Lady in Number 6” winning for a short.  “20 Feet From Stardom”  premiered at Sundance in 2013, which chronicled the careers of background singers on rock and soul records of the 20th century.   “The Lady in Number 6” told the story of Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz Sommer, a pianist who talks about the importance of music and optimism in the film. She died Feb. 23 at the age of 110.  It is the second time music-oriented documentaries have won in back-to-back years: “Woodstock” won in 1969 and “Arthur Rubenstein – The Love of Life,” about the classical pianist, received the statue a year later.

Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, won the Best Song Oscar Sunday for “Let it Go,” the hit single from Disney’s animated feature “Frozen.” Steven Price won the Oscar for score for his work on “Gravity.” Both were considered favorites in their categories.

Then there were the performances.  Things kicked off with in a very “Happy” mood as  Pharrell Williams rocked out to at the Oscars on Sunday, during which he went into the audience to shimmy — literally — with Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in the front row.

Karen O took the stage with special guest Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig accompanying on guitar for their performance of Oscar-nominated original song from Her, “The Moon Song.”

Bono and U2 gave an emotional performance during the Academy Awards where they sang the original song, “Ordinary Love,” from the biopic, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. “

Pink had a memorable Oscar debut, paying tribute to the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz.”   The singer took the stage  to perform one of Judy Garland’s most memorable songs, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” from the 1939 Oscar-winning film.

Following the always-emotional “In Memoriam” segment, Bette Midler performed the always-emotional “Wind Beneath My Wings.
For all things Oscars including music downloads of the performances, visit the official website 

Foodie Friday – Cassoulet

by SirLady on February 28, 2014


With yet another snow storm in the forecast and freezing temperatures at night, this weekend calls for a hearty meal – Cassoulet!

 First off, let’s define what cassoulet is, perhaps not everyone is familiar.  For lack of a better term, cassoulet is a stew that originated in the South of France.  A peasant dish from the Languedoc region, made from whatever leftover meat (duck, mutton) combined with sausages and beans and cooked for hours.  Just like Americans have many variety of chili recipes, that same rational applies to cassoulet.

Recipes for cassoulet differ region by region and household by household.

For the purist/traditionalist we direct you to Julia Child’s recipe for the beloved dish of Toulouse.  Julia notes in her recipe, that this dish requires 22 ingredients that are hard to source, like duck confit.   A great shortcut is to call up your local restaurant serving confit and get it to go (locally that would be Le Canard or The Bear Cafe).

Otherwise, our go-to source for all things gourmet and French is D’artagnan.

For the beginner gourmet, we suggest trying the Amateur Gourmet’s version.

There is Thomas Keller (French Laundry/Per Se) recipe, Food & Wine’s take on the classic, and Saveur’s preference.

If your a Mark Bittman fan (New York Times) he devoted a whole article on “How To Conquer the Cassoulet”.

Whichever version speaks to you…..take the weekend to enjoy making and eating this beloved dish.  Oh!  Don’t forget to swing by your favorite wine shop and ask their suggestion for the perfect pairing.  We feel cassoulet pairs well with a forward red such as Côtes du Rhône or other Syrah-based wine.

Bon Appetit!

Woodstock Wednesday – Things to do in the Winter

by SirLady on February 19, 2014

Whoa! What a Winter we are having in the Catskill Mountains!  We’ve heard our fair share of people complaining about the snow.  The way to get through a tough winter, is to become one with the winter!  Learn to embrace it, not detest it by:

Take a stroll in town and visit some of the wonderful shops; Clouds Gallery ,  Candlestock, Timbuktu and all the other lovely boutiques.

Grab the best cup of coffee or tea in town at Oriole 9.

Pick up a great book at The Golden Notebook or the best spiritual bookstore on the planet, Mirabai and  and curl up in front of the fireplace.

Take a stroll through the Woodstock Artist Museum.  Stop in the VARGA gallery and shop for some art with the gallernia, Christina Varga.

Stop in Woodstock Hardware and buy a sled, and take it for a spin down sled hill!

Book a massage at River Rock Spa

Snow shoe up Overlook Mountain, if you chicken out, go for a meditation at the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Tibetan Buddhist Monastery.

Go alpine skiing at Hunter or Windham mountains, or both!  Cross country is magical right now….great trails and overnight specials at Emerson Resort.

Take a yoga class 

Get gorgeous hair with a blow dry or cut/color with Lisa Vianello.

Make a dinner reservation at one of our favorite spots: New World Home cooking, Red Onion or The Bear Cafe.

Take in some live music at The Bearsville Theatre.



Music Monday – The Music of the Olympics

by SirLady on February 17, 2014

If you have watched the Olympics, than you are very familiar with a musical composition called  “Bugler’s Dream”.   The sonic signature of the Olympic Games can be summed up in seven notes in E-flat major, a soaring BUM—BUM—ba-ba-ba-BAH-BAH that fades in and out of the competitions.

It is a very stately piece, beginning with a timpani cadence that is joined by a distinctive theme in brass.  Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t composed by John Williams, the creative genius behind the familiar themes to Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark and many more memorable movie scores.

The composer, Leo Arnaud, was a French-American composer of film scores but it is this Olympic tune that is his best known work.  Arnaud’s composition is based  on David Buhl’s “Salut aux étendards”, a typical cavalry trumpet’s call, composed during Napoleon’s Consulat.

Arnaud studied composition at conservatories in Lyon and Paris with Maurice Ravel and Vincent d’Indy.  After playing as a jazz trombonist in France using the name Leo Vauchant and arranging for the Jack Hylton band in England from 1928 to 1930, he immigrated to the United States in 1931. He worked in Hollywood as an arranger for Fred Waring before joining Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) as an arranger, composer, and orchestrator from 1936 to 1966.

To most Americans, The fanfare of brass and percussion, has come to represent the Olympics almost as much as a torch or five-rings— we think Arnaud deserves a medal (preferably in Gold).









Foodie Friday – Valentine’s Day Recipes for Two

by SirLady on February 14, 2014




Happy Valentine’s Day!  As much as we love going out to restaurants, we think Valentine’s Day is best celebrated at home.

Here are some wonderful dinner ideas for deux:

Skillet Pork Chops with Warm Escarole Caesar

Burrata with Speck, Peas and Mint

Rack of Lamb with Mustard-Shallot Sauce

Boston Lettuce Salad with Herbs

Scallops with Brussels Sprouts

Escarole-Stuffed Seared Trout

Soba Noodles with Dashi, Poached Egg and Scallions

Fried Tofu with Spicy Ginger-Sesame Sauce


Almost 1.5K likes and 1193 people talking about the new catalogue in just ten days! As a sincere thank you, here’s a cool new song to give your ‘Baby Doll’ this Valentine’s.