Thursday, December 29, 2011

Travel Insurance

Until the United States passes health care reform, millions of Americans will continue to be uninsured or underinsured. If you like to travel, you may need even more insurance for accidents of unexpected medical conditions. offers a way to cover the gap between Medicare and other health costs. It offers the option of continuing with your own personal doctor to ill the gaps in Medicare policies.

My Medicare offers prescription drug plans and information on preventive health measures, like flu shots.

Vegetarian Thai Food

I have a complicated relationship with Beet, the hip Thai restaurant around the corner from my house.

Brooklyn has no shortage of moderately priced, vegetarian-friendly Thai restaurants. This one also has good cocktails and nice decor. But we had two bad experiences, one where one of my kids found the exo-skeleton of a huge bug in her food. We were at Beet at the time, but the waiter seemed unconcerned and did not offer to replace the dish.

Another time, we picked up and had a huge long straight black hair in one dish. We went back to the restaurant, but again they did not offer to replace the food.

So we avoided the place for a couple of years.

We gave it another try recently and the food was delicious: vegetarian chicken in a basil curry, tofu in massaman curry, seitan in thick glass noodles.

No bugs, no hair.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

London Apartments

When my family and I last took a family trip to London, we decided an apartment rental was the way to go. Our family vacation was for a week, and with a London Apartment we feel like natives.

Turns out London Apartments are a great deal only if rent from the right place. we got ours from a site that no longer exists, and the apartment was extremely cold, with barely working heat and inadequate lights.

But friends who have rented from London Apartments have had much better experiences, with family friendly apartments vetted by a local family.

Still, we had a lovely post-Christmas week, shopping the Harrod’s sale, visiting Kew Gardens, cooking vegetarian curry in our apartment and exploring London’s museums. My kids loved the city view from the London Eye, and making friends with the owner of the local chip shop. We also got half-price tickets to two West End productions, including an all-male version of Swan Lake.

Our apartment, near Portobello Road, offered easy access to the Tube, so we got weekly transit cards and explored every inch of the city.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Patagonia family vacation

On Christmas Day, people drove convertibles around New York City – with the top down.
It is time to see the Patagonia glaciers before global warming melts them away.

Navimag runs multi-day boat trips that take you up close to the Patagonia glaciers. The family friendly adventure trips include a whopping 80% off the trip price for kids under age two. But even families with older kids get to enjoy discounts; 20% off for ages 12 and under, and 10% off for students. Cabins can accommodate up to four people; larger families need a second cabin.

Another bonus for families; low season, with correspondingly lower rates, runs April – October, so families can go over summer break.

The ships, called ferries, are nothing like cruise ships. One ferry take sup to 52 passengers, while the other can accommodate 320. The smaller size means more personal service, though also fewer activities. For kids who love wildlife, the scenery is the main attraction: you can see dolphins, sea lions, wild birds, and whales. There is a game room for down time.

The Chile Patagonia Tours are also great for budding photographers, who can catalogue the fjords, glaciers and snow-capped mountains that they see.

The meals are all inclusive, and vegetarian food is always available.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Family Ski Trip: France

Skiing in Vermont is a no-brainer when you live in New York, but true powder heads fly out west.

Except for the really dedicated, and well-heeled, who go to Europe.

Skiing in France actually makes a lot of sense. You can take a ski train to the Espace Killy ski resort in Tignes, and drink French wine apr├Ęs-ski. Flights to Europe are at one of their lowest points during ski season, which runs from September to May, and you can find Tignes Ski Deals to make your family vacation reasonably priced.

Imagine being able to eat all that delicious French cheese and burning off the calories skiing.

There are many types of Tignes accommodations including
Tignes apartments where you can make your meals and full service Tignes hotels.

For families, ski school starts at age 2 ½ and there is childcare for younger kids. The village has family friendly restaurants, including vegetarian friendly creperies.

Hanukkah latkes – crispy or not?

Like a matzo brei debate, Jews are divided over the issue of latkes. You generally want the latkes your mother made for Hanukkah, either shredding the potatoes by hand or pureeing them in a Cuisinart or blending.

If your mom went the latter route, you got something soft, more like a pancake. This is the kind of latke I am used to. My husband’s mother grated her potatoes, and fried them in more oil, resulting in the traditional crispy latke.

Not to be a heretic, but I actually prefer the crispy latke. And I can cheat when I make this, using the shredding blade on my Cuisinart so I don’t have to lose the skin off my knuckles.

Whatever kind of latkes you eat, they all taste better with homemade applesauce.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Home James

If you’ve lived in a neighborhood for years, you remember the history of its real estate. You may buy your artisanal cheese from a storefront that once sold cell
phones, or buy designer clothing from a spot that once housed a check cashing place.

So it is with the restaurant James, where a bodega once offered convenience for Prospect Heights, Brooklyn residents. Our friends, who lived around the corner, remember buying milk and cigarettes here.

But the gleaming bar, dark wood and reclaimed tin ceiling speak to a different era, one more likely to drink the gin cocktail (with bits of ice, St. Germain, lemon juice and fresh mint) than beer from a paper bag.

ames has a super Sunday Supper deal: appetizer, main course and dessert, for $30. Choices are limited, but twice when I’ve been there, both appetizers and both main courses were vegetarian. You can also order off the regular menu, but it’s nice when vegetarians aren’t marginalized.

Well, ok, we can’t go there on burger night. But any other night is vegetarian-friendly – perfectly composed salads, soups like the parsnip soup topped with Brussels sprouts. Simply divine.

The risotto with wild mushrooms had a hint of truffle oil and was studded with meaty fungi. Buttery skate over broccoli and arctic char over beets elevated the humble vegetables accompanying the fish.

I can’t wait to go back.