To Jesse with Love

So many of us are mourning the loss of Jesse Lyons. He suddenly passed away on April 18, 2022. At first, I felt  my column wouldn’t be the appropriate forum to share about this. But then I thought, one of my main topics in this column is community. And Jesse was the embodiment of our Rockaway community. He was a local activist, a uniter, a force, a friend, a giver, a dancer, a skater, a beach lover. He was so much to so many in Rockaway and beyond.

Jesse Lyons Rockaway Beach

Jesse invented “the hand hug”. He came up with the idea the first summer after the pandemic. He’s hugging my hand in this picture.

Last Sunday night a vigil on Beach 89th was organized by his close friends. Many people shared their feelings and memories of Jesse under the stars. It was a beautiful tribute to his life.

Beach vigil. Photo by Evan Wagner

My friend Will Lowe got up in front of the bonfire and shared his poem, spoken with conviction and love. I’ve been having a hard time putting my own thoughts into words about this great loss. So I wanted to publish Will’s poem, because it says so much of what I also feel.

To Jesse with Love
A Poem By Will Lowe

There were little times that you let us in.

Like the water’s edge.

Creeping before you.

But wide and shiny and ostentatious.

There were times that you let me in.

Into your world, your galaxy, your peace.

Into the shine of your blue eyes.

There were times.

Times when I got annoyed.

Times that I didn’t understand that you were teaching me that we were from the same soul tribe, that we had arrived on this earth many moons ago, and that we were walking out this scripted life.

Whether your vehicle was your roller skates or your skateboard or your surfboard or your bike or your feet, your vehicle was in motion.

It moved, transcended, doubled back, made sure that you were okay.

There were times that you let us in like the jetties that they’re building in replacement of you, meaning the physical.

For I saw you in the birds, I saw you in a lit candle, I saw you in the way that someone laughed.

You’re still here. Roaming these shores, making sure the surf is right.

There were times that you let us in and this time that you let out, let out of your earth suit, the thing that held you bound to this plain.

Thank you.

For the times that you let me, we and us into your Jupiter Planet.

Jesse Michael Lyons, March 17, 2021-April 18, 2022


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Shop The Swellife For Mother’s Day Gifts And Spring Must-haves

A few weeks ago I attended the sip n’ snack spring shopping event at The Swellife. The get together was an opportunity for owner Katie Long to showcase her new spring jewelry collection.

The Swellife Rockaway Beach
New spring jewelry collection designed by Katie Long.

The earrings, bracelets and necklaces are delicate yet have presence. I asked Katie what her vision was in creating these pieces. She explained, “I love color and texture. And I create patterns and play with bead size and shape. I have a few special ladies in mind when I’m creating, always thinking how they would wear my pieces and what they would like.”

The jewelry is beautiful and seasonally perfect for spring and summer with a bright pop of color and fun vibe. The Swellife carries many products similar in style. And a good deal of the items have a charitable aspect or are environmentally sourced. The clothing, beach bags, purses and hats shout Rockaway summer is here again!

Katie Long and her family moved to Rockaway 7 years ago and as a creative maker, she dreamed of opening up her own boutique. Two years later she did just that. I asked Katie about her thoughts on being a local business owner in Rockaway, she shared, “Moving to Rockaway has been truly life changing. The relationships I have made in our close knit community have been so special. My very first goal of opening a brick and mortar was to make it not only a year round shopping destination but a space for the community and I really feel like I’ve achieved that. Days where friends stop by and have lunch with me, or having my regular shoppers come in to just say hi, reminds me why I chose to open my shop. I have future goals and dreams for The Swellife where I could offer even more, all in due time.”

The Swellife Rockaway Beach Store
Being inside The Swellife is an experience. It’s curated thoughtfully with design and sentiment. You can see, touch and smell beauty.

Mother’s Day is next week, May 8th!  As a Mom herself, Katie suggests selfcare items for the women in your life that you love: aromatic candles, natural body oils and rich lotions are her recs. Find them all in-store at The Swellife, located at 91-08 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Check out the online store too and follow The Swellife on Instagram (@the_swellife) to learn of  in store happenings and new products.



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Roasted Cabbage with Parmesan, Walnuts, and Anchovies

I was a bit skeptical when I saw the word “anchovies” hit my inbox from NY Times Cooking. But this is one of the few newsletters I actually read and trust… so I clicked. What interested me about this recipe was the cabbage and parmesan – it’s an unlikely combination. Also, cabbage has basically zero calories. I thought this would be a healthy, unique one to try.

These days, I flip flop from pescatarian to vegetarian. For this reason, I don’t make bolognese. My secret though –  to get that richness in a red sauce we all crave – anchovies. It works like a charm. But I’ll admit, I’ve been apprehensive to use anchovies in other contexts.

Why are we so weirded out by anchovies? Maybe it’s that most of us associate this fish as the slimy things on top of Greek salad that look like they have little hairs on them. But how is this grosser than sausage? I dare you to google “How is sausage made…”

Don’t be afraid of anchovies!

My intention with this cabbage recipe was to omit the anchovies. But as I’m preparing the meal, I keep getting this feeling that I should try the recipe in its true form. I remembered I had a random tin of anchovies in the cat food draw. I popped it open.

I decided a little experiment was in order. I used the chopped anchovies on only half of the cabbage wedges. This way I could taste test and compare. The cabbage without was good. The cabbage with anchovies was absolutely incredible. The salty, rich punch alongside the warm, earthy walnuts and parmesan was delicious. And the cabbage topped with herbs gave the dish a fresh dynamic – I’m talkin’ restaurant quality, folks. Please put your anchovy apprehension aside and give this recipe a worthy try.


Roasted Cabbage with Parmesan, Walnuts, and Anchovies

1 medium head green cabbage
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
¾ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
6 anchovy filets, minced
4 large garlic cloves minced
1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
⅔ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Step 1: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the cabbage in quarters lengthwise through the core, then cut out the cores and stem. Slice the quarters lengthwise into 1 1/2-inch-thick wedges.

Step 2: Place wedges on a rimmed sheet pan, flat sides down. It’s ok if the pan seems crowded; the wedges will shrink as they roast, but try not to overlap.  Lightly drizzle them with oil and season with salt.

Step 3: In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, anchovies, garlic, thyme and black pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup oil to make a loose paste. Massage the paste into each cabbage wedge, stuffing the mixture in between the leaves.

Step 4: Lightly drizzle cabbage with a little more oil. Roast until cabbage is lightly browned and a little crispy – 25 to 30 minutes.

Step 5: Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle walnuts over the top of the cabbage. Roast for another 5 minutes until the cabbage is tender and caramelized and the walnuts are golden.

Step 6: Sprinkle cabbage with dill and more Parmesan and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Follow me for the day-to-day in the kitchen on Instagram @theglorifiedtomato.

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Banana Walnut Bread

I’m a big banana person. The mild taste with a hit of honey rum flavor is so, so good. The soft texture is unlike most fruit –  pretty unique when you think about it. They’re easy to eat, which makes them a great, healthy grab-and-go snack. Bananas are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. And they’re only about 105 calories and quite filling.

Last week I had a craving for banana bread. I haven’t made this in a long while but you know… It’s like riding a bike. I only had one banana in the bowl, so I walked over to Key Food. As I feared, the bananas there were green. This presented a problem of course. I needed very ripe bananas for the bread. It was a funny conundrum because most times we all have overripe bananas and we can’t eat them fast enough.

Banana Walnut Bread 3

I had an idea though… I thought if I put the bananas on the radiator they would ripen faster. And you know what… it worked! It’s the opposite principle of putting food in the refrigerator so it lasts longer. And this is important, If you want to ripen, keep the bundle together. If you want bananas to last longer, detach each stem for one another. Like many fruits, bananas emit ethylene gas. This gas naturally is produced in the stem. Breaking up the bunch slows the gas production which is the cause of ripening.

Banana Walnut Bread 1

I tweeted about this and someone responded that putting fruit in a brown paper bag also expedites ripening, good to know (especially for those late-season green tomatoes). I wondered why this worked… I googled and learned it’s a similar principle as I mentioned above… the ethylene gets trapped in the bag, speeding up the process.

After three days on the heater, I was ready to use the bananas. My craving was REAL at this point. This recipe is rich, not too sweet (which I prefer), and most importantly very moist. I like adding nuts to the bread. It gives a crunch and texture that complements the soft loaf.

Banana Walnut Bread

Paula’s Banana Walnut Bread

1 stick unsalted butter (soft at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs (beaten)
3 ripe bananas
1⁄4 cup half & half
2 cups flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350. Loosely chop the walnuts. Slice the bananas. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand with a wooden spoon or a mixer.

Grease a 9×5 inch bread pan and pour the mixture into it. Cook uncovered for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Ovens heat differently, so I suggest checking the bread at 1 hour with a toothpick. Let the bread cool for 15 minutes. Slice and serve. Use butter if you like but this recipe doesn’t even need it, its that good. Keep the bread up to a week. Wrap it well to lock in the moisture.

For more recipes,  follow me in the kitchen on instagram – @theglorifiedtomato.

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