Monday, April 29, 2013

Fun Things to Look Forward to in May

May starts in a few days and here are some great events coming up that you definitely won't want to miss! 

Wednesday, May 1st, 6pm-9pm
Beginner Farm Series-Suburban Organic Homesteading!
An exciting new program for those interested in farming or implementing farming techniques on their residential property. Monroe, NJ location disclosed upon registration.
-Register at 732-398-5262

Friday, May 3rd, 11am-5pm
Farmer's Market
Rutgers Gardens at 112 Ryders Lane, East Brunswick, NJ 
Weekly farmers market providing locally grown and made products such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, breads, and meats 

Saturday, May 4th, 10am-4pm
Master Gardeners Garden Question & Answer Day
4-H Youth Center, 645 Cranbury Rd., East Brunswick, NJ 
Gardeners can learn about the best gardening and landscaping practices. Visit with our Master Gardeners and take home some great quality plants. An enormous variety of vegetables, flowering vines, annuals, and perennials will be available!

Saturday, May 11th, 9am-12pm
Beginner Beekeeping
Earth Center in Davidson's Mill Pond Park at 42 Riva Ave. North Brunswick, NJ
Have you ever wanted to become an amateur apiarist? Try this introduction! Learn the basics on establishing a hive on your own property. Weather permitting there will be a brief walk outside
Register by May 8 at (732) 398-5262 

Saturday, May 11th, 8am-2pm 
4-H Yard Sale
645 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, NJ 
Looking for some good bargains? Join 4-H for this sale. (Rain date: May 12th)

Saturday, May 18th, 10am-12pm
Organic Lawn & Land Care for Your Home
Earth Center in Davidson's Mill Pond Park at 42 Riva Ave. North Brunswick, NJ
We will present surefire ways to have a beautiful lawn without pesticides. Dress for some outside demonstrations. 
Register by May 15 at (732) 398-5262

Saturday, May 25th, 1pm-4pm
Container Gardening Workshop
130 Log Cabin Road, New Brunswick, NJ (on Cook Campus)
Explore a variety of appropriate containers, soil mixes, and watering and fertilization practices. Bring a container--soil and a number of fun and unusual annuals will be available for students to decorate their own containers at the end of class!

Let us know if you know of any other fun events coming up soon! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ingredient of the Week

Asparagus (Asparagus Officinalis)

When is it in season?  Look for asparagus as early as this week, however, asparagus is readily harvested during the month of May according to the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture Jersey Fresh:

Is it locally grown?  Yes!  New Jersey ranks 4th in U.S. production, so you can definitely buy your asparagus from a local farmer.  California, Michigan, and Washington come in as the top three states that grow asparagus.

How is it grown?  It is grown in 8" of sandy soil about 18" apart by a diligent farmer who keeps ensures a weed free environment.  Asparagus comes in green, white, and purple spears.  White is really green asparagus that is continuously covered with soil to block the sun while the stems grow.  Purple is native to Europe, is tender, and has 20% more sugar than green asparagus.  Asparagus takes three seasons to fully establish its root system.  Spears are cut after the third year, however, asparagus reaches its prime in six to eight years.  Asparagus is also labor intensive to harvest as it is cut by hand, which lends its high cost. 

Tips:  Look for firm spears with closed tips that are large in diameter.  Wider stems provide a more tender and crisp bite.  Asparagus is delicious when it is freshly picked and may be eaten raw.  Why wait?  If you prefer to cook your stems then remember to not step away from the kitchen as steaming or sauteing only takes 5 minutes. Wait for the stems to turn a vibrant green then remove from the heat.  Blanch in cold water if you are not eating the asparagus right away. The goal is to avoid turning it into a limp mucky-green vegetable by overcooking.

Bit O' History:  P. Garnham (2012) notes that asparagus is native to Europe and Asia and has been grown since 4,000 B.C.  Asparagus is part of the lily family and is akin to leeks and onions.  The Greeks purported it to be a cure for various ailments, while the Romans claimed asparagus was an aphrodisiac.

Fun Facts:  Rutgers University produces the varieties: "Jersey Knight," "Jersey Giant," and "Jersey Supreme."

Asparagus is high in vitamins A, B6, C, and thiamine.  It is also high in fiber and acts as a diuretic.

What's that smell?  Eating asparagus affects the odor of urine due to violatile sulphurs created in digestion.  Genetics lead to a proportion of people who produce a "skunky" odor and a proportion of people who can smell it.  While research varies over the chemical culprits, but the bottom line comes down to sulphur compounds.  McDonald (2011) notes in his research that White (1975) identified S-methyl thioesters, and Allison and McWhirter (1956) claimed methanethiol was the cause, whereas, Waring (1987) noted that methanethiol, dimethyl sulphide, dimethyl disulphide, dimethyl sulphoxide, and dimethyl sulphone were the causes. 

Garnham, P. (2012, July/August).  Asparagus.  Horticulture, Vol. 109 (4), 14-19. 
McDonald, J.H. (2011).  Asparagus Urine Smell: The Myth Myths of Human Genetics.  
     Baltimore, Maryland:  Sparky House Publishing, 8-13.  Retrieved from  
Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board. (2000).  Questions about Asparagus.  Retrieved 
     April 20, 2013 from
Toussaint-Samat, M. (2009).  A History of Food (2nd ed.).  West Sussex, United
     Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.
United States Department of Agriculture Economics, Statistics, and Market Information:  
     U.S.  Asparagus Statistics. (2008).  Table01.xls: Census number of farms with asparagus,
     area harvested, 1974-2007.  Retrieved from

Monday, April 22, 2013

Did you know that you could keep bees in New Brunswick?

Cause we sure didn't!

Come out tomorrow night to the New Brunswick Public Library at 6:00pm to learn about keeping bees in the New Brunswick area.

Bring a vegetarian dish if you'd like and be prepared to eat some delicious food and learn a thing or two!

Friday, April 12, 2013


Boscov's Gala Preview for a Good Cause
Friday, August 9,2013 10AM to 9PM
Be the first to see the new Boscov's Department Store at the Woodbridge Center Mall, Woodbridge, NJ and help Who Is My Neighbor Inc and A Better World Cafe at the same time! Tickets for entry into the preview gala are $5 and your entire $5 donation benefits The Café and Who Is My Neighbor.  The gala event includes refreshments, entertainment and a FREE GIFT (valued at $10)!  Purchase your tickets at A Better World Café.  Have a fun day shopping and support a great cause.

Eat Local, Meet Local - Pot Luck Dinner

On Friday, May 3,2013 Elijah's Promise, A Better World Cafe and Slow Food Central New Jersey would like to invite you for an evening of good food and good talk about strengthening our Central Jersey food community.  Come and meet local farmers, restaurateurs, chefs, entrepreneurs, gardeners and other food enthusiasts. All you need to do is to bring a dish to share, featuring your favorite local foods. Get ready to share ideas, make new friends, have fun and change the way we eat.

Bring a dish to share (preferably local). Donations will be appreciated.  Meeting at Promise Culinary School, 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick.
Register Now!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Guest Indian chefs on Friday, April 19,2013

Come and join us on Friday, April 19th,2013.  Guest chefs from the community, Nazneen and Michelle will be making authentic Indian dishes for our guests. Nazneen has been doing a social work internship for Who Is My Neighbor? Inc., which is a partner with Better World Café. Michelle recently moved to Highland Park from India, she often volunteers here at a Better World Cafe.

Nazneen's two dishes will be:

Indian Cabbage:
"Although she is not a vegetarian, my mom loves vegetarian food the most," Nazneen explained. "This particular dish was my favorite growing up. It always seems to convert people, including my husband. This is my husband's favorite dish, just my luck it happens to be the simplest."

Chicken Korma:
Nazneen told us, "My dad is the executive check in our family home. He was taught the basics by my grandmother and from there he has experimented his way into perfection. This is his signature dish and the first dish he taught me how to cook. When I cook this dish, it reminds me of waking up to a Dad starting dinner at 6 am."

Chef Michelle will be making basmati rice pulao, which is Indian style rice pilaf with vegetables and exotic spices.

We invite you come and dine with us !!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ingredient of the Week

Portabella Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) 

What is it?  It is a mature version of the edible white button mushroom.  What about the cremini located next to the white button mushrooms in the grocery store, you ask?  Well, a cremini is the middle child of this fungi family.  

How is it grown?   Portabellas are cultivated year round, inside or outside, and in darkness or light as mushrooms get their energy from the wood or compost on which they are grown rather than from photosynthesis. 

Is it locally grown?   Kennett Square, Pennsylvania leads in U.S. production, however, there are several local New Jersey farms growing mushrooms too.  

Tips:  Buy portabellas that have light color caps and gills.  Dark brown, soft, shriveled, or wet mushrooms do not make for a good eating experience.  Store mushrooms in paper bags, or an open plastic bag as the food needs ventilation.  Plus, make sure to clean mushrooms before you eat them; remember what they are grown in.  

Cooking:  Be adventurous!  Grill a cap along with Fontina or Brie cheese, top with garlicky spinach, and place on seasoned ciabatta or focaccia.  Sauté diced mushrooms with onions to the caramelized stage and top a poached egg for breakfast.  Rather yet, bake in a broccoli rice casserole, roast with red peppers and zucchini, stir-fry with tofu, or stew into a thick gravy to drizzle over egg noodles.  Whichever way you choose, these wonderfully “meaty” textured and deep flavored mushrooms will offer a satisfyingly hearty meal. 

Agaricus bisporus (n.d.).  In Wikipedia.  Retrieved March 2, 2013 from

Knife Skills:  How to Prepare Portabella Mushrooms (n,d).  In Serious Eats.  Retrieved March 2, 2012 from

López, J. Kenji (2009, January 14).  What are Cremini Mushrooms?  A Few Mushroom Facts.  In theKitchn.  Retrieved March 2, 2013 from