The Liberal Traveler Rotating Header Image


A Visit to Crown Maple and Madava Farms

Last weekend my partner-in-crime and I went over to Madava Farms in Dover Plains, New York with a few friends. Madava, named after the owner’s daughters Maddie and Ava, is a maple syrup manufacturer located on a beautiful 800 acres of farmland. Despite a sprinkling of rain and a few clouds, it was a beautiful time of year to go, probably the best weekend to see the fall foliage had it not been overcast.




After being greeted at the entrance-way, our tour guide took us around the factory teaching us about its history, which is still in its infancy, and describing the maple syrup making process in pretty good detail. The owner purchased a house on the property in 2007, and when he realized, with the help of a friend, that he was surrounded by acres and acres of maple syrup trees, he started purchasing the surrounding land. By 2010 a state-of-the-art factory was up and running and currently as of 2014 the company has over 40,000 trees tapped, 30 employees, and yields over 18,000 gallons of syrup a year.

Our tour, which only cost $10 per person, ended in the Tasting Room where we got to try Medium, Dark, and Extra Dark Amber syrups, one aged in bourbon barrels (which was delicious!), as well as maple syrup sugar. My personal favorites are the Dark Amber and Bourbon ones. They’re absolutely fantastic.



After our tasting we ordered lunch at their cafe, which obviously infused maple syrup into almost everything, followed by enjoying some ice cream (with maple syrup) and coffee (with maple syrup ;) ) while sitting outside on the patio which included a very nice size fire-pit. Overall it was a great trip and one I highly recommend taking if you live in the area or are passing through.

You can view an album of pictures here.


Pregnant Peppers?

A few days ago I was making my favorite Sausage Gumbo and ran into this when slicing a Bell Pepper:

Inside Pepper1

Inside Pepper2

A baby pepper growing inside a mature one. Creepy but cool. After looking into it on the internet I found this, and this:

“During normal pepper development, seeds develop from fertilized structures known as ovules. Peppers have many ovules, which turn into lots of tiny, obnoxious seeds. Occasionally, a pepper ovule will go rogue and start developing into a so-called “internal proliferation” …that looks much more like a tiny pepper than a seed.”

and lastly:

“Understanding what gives rise to these strange baby peppers could actually help us figure out how to make seedless (parthenocarpic) pepper varieties. You can already thank parthenocarpy for the lack of big, nasty seeds in bananas and several types of oranges. Maybe seedless peppers will be next!”

Who knew bananas used to have big nasty seeds?

For a cool MRI scan of a pregnant bell pepper (and other food) check this out.


Are Mrs. Green’s Fruit, Nut, & Bean Dispensers Worth the Price?

Last weekend my Partner in Crime and I stopped at a Mrs. Green’s supermarket in Connecticut. The store looks brand new, and is huge compared to the smaller ones I live near. This location in Connecticut had installed Organic Fruit, Nut, and Grain dispensers on the right-hand side wall as you walk in. I was intrigued by the prices they had, wondering if they were a good deal compared to the organic kinds in bags or containers sold from other companies. Here are a few of my findings through a random sample:

Chia and Flax



Mrs. Green’s Dispenser White Chia Seeds : $9.99 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged White Chia Seeds : $1.25 / oz     ($20 per pound)

Mrs. Green’s Dispenser White Quinoa : $5.99 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged White Quinoa :  $.50 / oz         ($8 per pound)

Mrs. Green’s Dispenser Brown Flax Seeds : $1.49 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged Brown Flax Seeds : $.31 / oz     ($4.96 per pound)

Seems like it’s worth it to me!

You may be thinking that the non-organic variety in the major supermarket chains are less, but that’s not necessarily the case. It really depends on which item you’re talking about. Mrs. Green’s sells organic pinto beans for $1.99 / lb whereas the Goya pinto beans in the A&P are $2.49 / lb!

Either way, my goal here is to eat healthier and remove as many toxic chemicals and pesticides as possible.


Real Food Pledge – Day 10 of 10

Well, this is it! Day 10! I made it. Kay was awesome enough to make a strip steak for dinner, with a simple but good marinade. I’m pretty beat so I’ll write a more elaborate overview of my 10 day experience later. Goodnight.

DAY 10

Smoothie : 330 calories

Morning Snack:
Almonds : 139 calories

Ham and Cheese Sandwhich : 450 calories

Afternoon Snack :
Larabar : 220 calories

Strip Steak : 400 calories
Quinoa Side : 340 calories

Calories Eaten :  1879
Calories Burned: 2195


Real Food Pledge – Day 9 of 10

Today I tried a really strange recipe for dinner: Nacho Cheese Chicken Soup. Because one of the ingredients was “nacho cheese soup” from a can, which is against the rules, I tried melting cheese and throwing it in the crockpot anyway. Didn’t work too well. I did take the soup out, place it in a bowl, and slice up Colby Jack Cheese and throw it over the chicken. It melted right onto the chicken and tasted decent. Overall I probably wouldn’t try this again though. Only one more day left!


Smoothie : 330 calories

Pasta : 271 calories

Afternoon Snack :
Dried Apple : 96 calories

Cheese Chicken Soup : 1,122 calories

Calories Eaten : 1819
Calories Burned: 2232


Real Food Pledge – Day 8 of 10

Nothing exciting here. Reheated a burger for lunch and made some pasta for dinner.

Oh, scratch that. Exciting news: The pickles came out REALLY good!! I made a few batches:

Batch 1 : With red pepper flakes and peppercorn.
Batch 2 : Only with red pepper flakes.
Batch 3 : Only with peppercorn.
Batch 4 : With neither

Batch 1 came out with a kick. I think I actually like Batch 4 the best while Kay likes Batch 3. Considering this recipe took less than 10 minutes to make and is done after 24 hours, I think I’ll definitely do this more often. It was incredibly simple and they came out really good! You can find the recipe here.


Smoothie : 330 calories
Banana : 90 calories

Morning Snack :
Larabar : 200 calories

Burger : 377 calories
Fries : 308 calories

Afternoon Snack :
larabar: 200 calories
larabar: 210 calories

Pasta (2 servings) : 271 calories

Calories Eaten :  1846
Calories Burned: 2245


Real Food Pledge – Day 7 of 10

Today I had off and Kay didn’t. As punishment for that I had to cook dinner, to which Kay chose Home-Made Burgers, Home-Made Pickles, Home-Made Cheese Fries, and worst of all Home-Made Buns. That was a challenge. It wasn’t the act of doing it that was the problem, it was the constant Do-This-Then-Wait that was annoying. The buns came out pretty good though, you can find the recipe here. I’m really excited to try the pickles.

I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of the whole meal, but here’s a shot of my buns in the oven (no pun intended ;).



Nothing. :(

Beef Stew : 575 calories
Larabar: 220 calories

Buns : 178 calories
Ground Beef : 259 calories
Cheese Fries: 616 calories

Calories Eaten = 1848
Calories Burned = 2337


Real Food Pledge – Day 6 of 10

Today was pretty bad. I woke up late, basically had no breakfast, and I just reheated my stew up for lunch. Kay came over and we had a Filet Mignon for dinner. She made a really good Butternut Squash though!


Nothing? :(

Beef Stew : 575 calories

Filet Mignon : 450 calories
Butternut Squash : 176 calories
String Beans: 77 calories
Wine : 256 calories

Calories Eaten : 1534
Calories Burned: 2320

Steak and Squash


Real Food Pledge – Day 5 of 10

Pizza PrepDay Five was pretty fun. My partner in crime and I decided to shake things up a bit and make some home-made pizza. (I gotta give her all the credit though, it was her idea.) She found this great website on how to create “clean” Whole Wheat Pizza, including dough. It wasn’t that tough, and since it made two nice size pies we each got to choose our own toppings. It actually came out really delicious. She made one topped with tomatoes, spinach, and garlic, whereas I did all ham with half including the spinach and garlic as well. Since we also made wings, we each only ate a quarter of the pie. It tasted just as great for lunch the next day though!



Egg Sandwich : 488 calories

Beef Stew : 575 calories

Home made Pizzas : 2113 calories per pie (528 per quarter)
Flaxseed : 120 calories
Dry Active Yeast: 295 calories
Mozzarella : 1920 calories
Marinera Sauce : 350 calories
Whole Wheat Flower: 1200 calories
Spinach : 20 calories
Ham : 65 calories
Garlic: 16 calories
Olive Oil : 240 calories

Amaretto Drink : 350 calories
Wings : 740 calories

Calories Eaten : 2681
Calories Burned: 2585

Her Pizza

His Pizza


Real Food Pledge – Day 4 of 10

StewToday I woke up feeling fine. By 9:30 I was starving though, a big change from a year ago where I could make it to work at 10:30 and just then feel hungry. My clients are mostly in California so I catch a later train and get to Manhattan around 10. I used to wait to eat breakfast till I got to the office but now I think I’d like to start on the train somehow. I’m sure my body would appreciate that.



Fruit in Smoothie = 70 calories
Flax Seed = 60 calories
Greek Yogurt = 200 calories

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich = 480 calories

Salad = 123 calories
Wings = 370 calories

Afternoon Snack:
Larabar: 190 calories

Beef Stew : 1237 calories
Wine : 256 calories

Calories Eaten : 2986
Calories Burned: 2096