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Eating at Home in Somerville

Feb 16 10:48 am

Bagels at True Grounds

Winter blues getting to you leaving you too down to cook, but short on cash? Check out Community blogger Abbe Cohen Dvornik’s ways to “eat out” without actually “eating out” Somerville style. It just might be what the doctor ordered:

With snow, slush and cold — and a new baby — complicating family trips to a local restaurant, we’re eating at home a lot. Most of the time, this works great for me, since I discovered some time ago that cooking is one of the things that keeps me sane. But even a person who loves to cook can use a break, and that break isn’t always for dinnertime pizza delivery.  We bring all sorts of things home from Somerville restaurants to add to the variety in our meals.

Recently I found some smoked whitefish in the fish section at Market Basket and it ignited a small craving for a bagel with whitefish salad, so I brought it home.  It was easy enough to figure out how to turn it into whitefish salad (mash the fish up with a mix of mayonnaise and sour cream – or Greek yogurt in a pinch) but I wasn’t about to start making bagels from scratch, and I don’t love supermarket bagels.

Fortunately, we live right around the corner from True Grounds, who in addition to their great coffee, offers all kinds of delicious toppings on tasty bagel (theirs come from Bagel Land in Winchester.)  But if you want to stay home, like I did,  maybe you can send out an obliging family member to bring some fresh bagels straight to your dining room table to be topped with the delicious things in your own fridge. Also, if you happen to get lucky, their day old bagels are one of the best bagel bargains in Somerville at $2 for a half a dozen.

Our favorite winter items at Wang’s come delivered right to our door – check out the “soup noodle” section on the back of the menu.  We usual order Peking Meat Sauce Noodles or Da Lu Noodles, but they’re all interesting.   You get a quart of soup with tasty seasonings and plenty of thick rice noodles. One order is easily a meal for two, leaving room for your favorite appetizer.

For sandwiches, there are times we like to get takeout from any of Somerville’s sub shops, and times that we make PB&J or bologna sandwiches at home. But when I get bored of making the same old sandwiches at home,  Sessa’s in Davis Square will slice me up some nice Italian cold cuts – different kinds of salami, capicola, proscuitto, and more. Pair it with some good bread (also available at Sessa’s), a jar of pickles, cheese, and onions and you can have a classic Italian sub at home in less than the time it takes you to call for delivery.

The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Somerville Local First, its board or staff.

Back to School, Somerville-style

Aug 24 2:05 pm

by Abbe Cohen Dvornik

I’ve never gotten completely off of the school year cycle - though I admit that now that I’m not personally heading for class, it sometimes takes me by surprise when I leave the house one day each fall and suddenly the crosswalk around the corner is full of Tufts students on their way to their first day of classes.

Still, my Septembers are always full of transitions, much more than any other month of the year. This year, we will tack on a new baby to the mix in September or October. And my daughter will be heading out to her first day of pre-K at the SMILE program at the Capuano School in East Somerville, and just before then I’ll be making a spiritual fresh start with the Jewish New Year. So, I’ve been thinking about how to get ready for the season in Somerville.

School Supplies

I’ve been a bit stymied by taking a strictly Somerville approach to back to school shopping. When I was a kid, in a suburb far from Somerville, I used to savor the annual trip to the stationers to pore over the decorated folders and three ring binders - but at the moment we don’t have a little store much like that in Somerville. (The one from my childhood in New Jersey is gone, too, replaced by a condo development with restaurants on the first floor.) So at the moment, for the paper supplies, I can either stay in Somerville and go to a drugstore chain or one of a few giant retailers that has a branch in Somerville, or we can head to a small independent store in neighboring Cambridge or Arlington. Fortunately, for pre-K, we won’t need much besides a backpack and a lunchbox, more easily found around town.
Editors Note:  Bob Slate in Porter Square and University Stationary in Central Square are good independent options for this stuff in our sister community in Cambridge.  SLF hasn’t found an Indie Somerville locale…have you?

As for what to put in the lunchbox, I’ve already had practice with that from preschool - and for that, Somerville has everything I need! For a fun twist on PB&J, we like to use round bread (such as Lyndell’s English Muffin Bread, or even regular English Muffins). The sandwich fits perfectly in a flat round container (such as the kind your cole slaw from Redbones might have come in - we save them). Those containers are a great size for many lunch items for kids, and hold a round peanut butter sandwich perfectly! We also like to send plain cheese quesadillas inspired by Anna’s Taqueria - made with the same Cinco de Mayo brand corn tortillas we’ve seen them using, which are for sale at Market Basket - and some cheddar cheese. We heat them in a nonstick pan, melt the cheese on one side, and wrap them up in foil just like they do at Anna’s, and then put them in a Thermosjar to stay warm and soft. Leftover pizza - especially our favorite Sicilian from Mike’s - gets cut into strips, warmed up, and put in a Thermos too. And ta-da, even a picky eater has a few options that aren’t identical every day for lunch.

Baby Stuff

As a second time parent, and a packrat, stocking up on baby stuff is a bit easier. But I’m considering cloth diapering this time around, and I plan to learn all about it and find everything I’ll need at Diaper Lab. Davis squared has all kinds of cute baby accessories and clothing in the windows too!

Jewish Holidays

Apples (mainly early-ripening varieties), and even local honey, can be found at either farmers market weekly. For a holiday meal treat, order a locally raised, grass-fed beef brisket and pick it up at the farmer’s market. In Davis Square, River Rock Farm sells beef including brisket when it’s available, and in Union Square, Stillman’s farm should also be able to bring your request to the market. And for a New-Year-inspired dessert, JP Licks has been known to introduce some wacky Jewish-inspired flavors of the month for the Jewish New Year! The Manischevitz sorbet strikes me as a better idea than the noodle kugel ice cream with bits of noodles in the ice cream.

Right in Somerville, there are a few options for religious services as well - Havurat Shalom is a small community that hold services in the living room of a 2 family house near Tufts, and Temple B’nai Brith, where I’m a member, is in a historic building on Winter Hill with traditional services in the main sanctuary, as well as a special short service downstairs for children to attend together with their families. In Somerville, we do things our own way - both communities are unaffiliated with any major branch of Judaism.

Eating Local Like It’s Hot, When It’s Hot

Jul 28 10:19 am

by Abbe Cohen Dvornik

For much of July, Somerville’s been hotter than usual. Despite the heat, I still like to keep my eating “local” (even local to our fridge and our kitchen, when I can)! Here are a few suggestions for Somerville summer meals to keep cool with when it’s too hot to cook - from the farmers’ markets and your neighborhood independent grocers, to the restaurants around Somerville.

Asian Spring Rolls

Pop into Reliable Market in Union Square for some round rice paper wrappers, a sweet chili or peanut dipping sauce, and some basil. Then, chop up crunchy vegetables into thin strips - cucumber, cabbage, carrots, and lettuce are all good options that you’ll find in season at the farmers’ market. You can also slice up some leftover meat - even plain sliced turkey from the deli counter at McKinnon’s, if you haven’t got leftovers and don’t want to cook!  Tofu cut into little strips works well too, and you can buy locally-made tofu at The Dairy Bar in Davis Square, as well as at Reliable Market.  The only “cooking” to do is the rice paper wrappers, which soak one at a time in a flat pan of hot water for about a minute until they’re soft and translucent.  Our family loves to eat this as a make-your-own dinner; each person can choose what to put in his or her own rolls.

ingredients for asian spring rolls from Reliable Market

Cool Market Suppers

Pick up a loaf of crusty bread and combine it with any of these cool or room temperature options for a simple market supper!  I love to eat caprese salad with farmers’ market tomatoes and basil, and a ball of Somerville-made fresh mozzarella cheese from Fiore di Nonno (also available at the farmers’ market). Stack slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella, add leaves of basil on top, and then drizzle with olive oil and salt - that’s it!

caprese salad made with fresh mozzarella from Fiore di Nonno

Or pick up some prepared foods. At the farmers market in Davis Square, Seta’s Mediterranean Foods (based in Jamaica Plain) has some nice prepared options: hummus, lentil salad, and a lemony potato salad among them. We’re also in love with Naragansett Creamery’s Olive Treasure, a salty olive-flavored feta cheese spread. Or, at Dave’s Fresh Pasta, you should try a container of artichoke and lemon pesto, another great spread on bread. And if you fancy doing a little more of your own cooking, there are lots of simple vegetable and grain dishes that taste delicious served cold. Make them when it’s cool in the morning or late evening, and stick in the fridge for dinner another day.


And of course, when the hot weather is making you more sluggish than that, there’s always takeout, or a trip to a local restaurant’s air conditioned dining room.  In the summertime, I love Indian buffets such as India Palace in Union Square, Yak and Yeti in Ball Square, or Namaskar and Diva in Davis Square.  I make sure to pile my plate high with foods that are eaten cool rather than steaming hot -  fresh vegetables and raita (a refreshing yogurt sauce), pakora (fried vegetable fritters), and tandoori chicken.

And to get dinner to my hot dining room table, I might call up Redbones (bike delivery!), or order chicken fingers and sides from Eat at Jumbo’s, which I can easily let cool a bit and then eat with something green from my fridge.  Or for a fully cold meal, I might choose some sushi rolls from Yoshi’s.

Take your pick, and stay cool!

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Abbe Cohen Dvornik

Jul 18 1:18 pm

Abbe Cohen Dvornik

Abbe Cohen Dvornik is a Somerville mom who enjoys honing Iron-Chef-like skills to combine what’s in the fridge and pantry into a tasty meal on the fly.  She is a longtime fan of local foods and local flavor - her idea of fun includes browsing new grocery stores in or from other places, and finding cool restaurants hiding just around the corner.  She moved to Somerville in 1996, bought a home here in 2000, and has loved living here ever since. Abbe blogs about local food and community supported agriculture at

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