On Porches and Stoops: We’re Together

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A modern urban townhouse design.   No stoops.

Travis, our son who lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, bicycled over to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, the other day to deliver some of his home-made sour dough bread to friends.  Without his even knowing that I had planned a blog on stoops and porches, Travis described the amazing scene to me – people of all ethnicities and ages sitting outside on that warm summer day, chatting up a storm, while easily maintaining social distance – on their Brooklyn stoops.

If you’ve re-watched Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing recently, as we did (it’s sadly relevant to 2020), you’re familiar with Brooklyn’s stoops. (note: it must have been a cold, wintry day when the photo below was taken.  That has to explain why the stoops are bare! 🙂

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Bed-Stuy Brooklyn Stoops – in bad weather 🙂

Not all Brooklyn has stoops.  A great, brief watch is the recent documentary which focuses on the “5 PM Porch Concerts” which happened daily in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, during the first 82 days of the coronavirus outbreak.

Even if you don’t live in an urban environment like Brooklyn, maybe your neighborhood has porches.  And maybe you’ve found they promote a sense of community.  In an old All Things Considered series on porches, Michele Norris, the host, remarks “Porches, debate and democracy go together.”

Though today there’s a slight uptick in U.S. homes being built with porches, stoop and porch-sitting suffered a serious setback with the introduction of A/C and televisions.  No need to be outside to cool off; entertainment is inside…AND, if you’re in the ‘burbs, there’s a backyard – with PRIVACY!

Mending Wall,” Robert Frost’s poem about privacy and neighborliness, made Andy think about fences – in today’s Andy’s Corner.

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Welcoming flowers on the front porch of our family’s Shields Street home in Fort Collins, Colorado – and Marcus, our first Aussie; probably around 1970.

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More welcoming flowers – and another favorite porch of ours in “Old Town West,” Fort Collins, Colorado.  Go CSU Rams!

Margaret Rozga, the current Poet Laureate of Wisconsin, wrote a lovely poem about porches and stoops. Our friend, Terry, a native of the Badger state, has attended talks by Rozga and years ago marched in protests with Rozga’s husband, James Groppi, demanding Fair Housing in Milwaukee.  Terry reports that, sadly, Milwaukee still has quite a ways to go in that regard…which probably sets the background for Rozga’s poem:

Cake and Lemonade for Neighbors by Margaret Rozga

Where I want to live
neighbors gather
on front porches, watch
their children play
across multiple front yards, laugh
in Spanish, Arabic, Burmese, English, talk
about back-in-the-day, share
sweet and savory snacks, lend
each other a cup of sugar or flour, borrow
hedge trimmers, a shovel, or rake, help
with chores when need be, apologize
when need be, offer
a word of advice (not more), drum,
strum guitars, and pluck banjos, make
a little noise sometimes, sometimes bring
out a kitchen chair so everyone finds
a comfortable place to sit
on the unscreened
wide or narrow porch
or on the stoop. Some-
times just enjoy all
black brown white
golden quiet together

In the spirit of “Cake and Lemonade for Neighbors,” here’s our version of cake and lemonade – a Persian Love Cake and a Mexican recipe for both Limonada and Naranjada.

Here’s to togetherness…and sitting out front again.

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Naranjada con Soda

Limonada and Naranjada con Soda

If you want to kick these up a notch, add 1-2 oz vodka. Adapted from MexicoInMyKitchen.com

Syrup (refrigerate the extra for another day)

  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c water

Lime or Lemon Flavor

  • 1/2 c ice cubes
  • 2 T syrup
  • 2 T lime juice (or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 c sparkling mineral water or club soda
  • 1/2 of a thin slice of lemon or lime to top it off (optional)

Orange Flavor

  • 1/2 c ice cubes
  • 2 T syrup
  • 1/4 c freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 c of sparkling mineral water or club soda
  • mint leaf or two (optional)
First, to make the syrup, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and stir until it dissolves. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer for 5 minutes to form a very uniform syrup. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Once the syrup has cooled, place the ice in the glasses, pour the juice (either lime/lemon or orange), then add 2 tablespoons of syrup.  Stir.
Pour the mineral water into it, stir again, add the mint leaf or citrus slice on top, and serve.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Persian Love Cake

Persian Love Cake

Adapted from BakedAmbrosia.com
  • 4 c almond flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c light brown sugar
  • 13 T butter, room temperature (yes, you read it right.  13 Tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c full-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon (or substitute 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c shelled raw pistachios, chopped
  • dried rose petals (no spray), for decorating (optional)
  • extra Greek yogurt and pistachios for serving (or substitute whipping cream)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

Combine the almond flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until crumbly. Press about half of the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan.

Add the eggs, Greek yogurt, cardamon, and vanilla extract, to the remaining mixture. Beat on medium high speed until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture is slightly fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Pour the mixture over the bottom “crust” and sprinkle pistachios around the edges.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Once the cake has cooled, carefully remove it from the pan.

Before serving, top the cake with dried rose petals and serve with extra Greek yogurt and pistachios.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

3 Comments

  1. sara deseran says:

    Aw, I loved this blog and that poem! It’s why I still live in a city. Even if we don’t have much in the way of stoops here in SF.

    Like

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