Credit: Kysha Harris photo

I hope Mother’s Day was stupendous and you got to connect with your children, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and mother figures in your life. Like all of us, they have been through a lot in the last year, especially those with school-age children. I salute you all.

I recently got a chance to take my first fully vaccinated spring trip out of town to my (vaccinated) childhood friends and couple’s home in the Catskills. Thank you Marya and Nick. To NOT be in my home with my fur-sons side-eyeing at me in judgement for a couple of days was just what the doctor ordered.

I packed up the car and headed on the two-hour journey on a sunny Monday and I continue to be floored at our beautiful New York State. The foliage, the undulating hills and quaint small towns makes me wonder why I am not out in it more—that is aside from a worldwide pandemic. I took it all in.

When we arrived, the dogs exploded out of the car in joy which is, quietly, what my sanity did too. It did not take long to unpack and get right in the (non)flow. The boon is Marya loves cooking and food so we got right to it and she regaled me throughout the week with the most simple and delicious food.

Marya’s milestone 50th birthday was the day after we arrived. One of the things I love about Marya is that her self-worth and joy is governed by her. She planned a fantastic al fresco birthday celebration with friends that began with some outstanding 10-hour braised short ribs she started over morning coffee. Served over rich cheesy polenta with her friend’s delicious jalapeño-forward braised kale. Amazing!

I am grateful there were short rib leftovers on the next day because I threw together a gourmet grilled cheese for the ages. Let’s talk about it…gorgeous rye bread smeared with Dijon mustard on one side and fig preserves on the other, topped with copious amounts of pepper jack cheese.

Then the star of the sandwich, the leftover short ribs, braised so long even the off-parts could be used. I chopped it, the olives and mirepoix up well and added to one side and topped that with dressed arugula before closing the sandwich and toasting in a heavily buttered cast iron pan.

The result was a moment especially with Marya’s simple bean and walnut, and beet salads. Sweet, savory, salty, crunchy, spicy…I LIVE!

Listen, this was just the first two days. I need to tell you about my first time dining out in Livingston Manor. Come back next week to find out about a beer that starts like a stout and ends like a pilsner. Intrigued?

Happy eating, stay safe and thanks for reading.

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 18 years. She is the new Food Editor at www.TheSpruceEats.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPnyc, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc.

Questions, comments, requests, feedback, invitations! Email us at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD,