Where’s Griffy?

Name: Griffon
Nicknames: Griffy, Greedy, Greedence
Breed: Pug
Color: Fawn
Sex: Female
DOB: 10/9/04
Occupation: Office companion and greeter
Personality traits: Laid back and uber cool
Hobbies: Sunbathing, barking, long walks, relaxing in her garden, and hanging out with her friends Florence, Itty Bitty, Gus and Oscar.

Griffon is the fun-loving Pug and pet companion of The Moderns’ President, Janine James. Griffy is like no other dog we have ever seen. What she lacks in stature, she makes up for with tons of personality. She’s the real boss around here, or at least she likes to think so. If you have ever visited The Moderns’ office, more than likely you have met Griffon. She can be seen sitting on the window seat, strolling around the office, or even sitting in on client meetings. When you walk in the door, she makes sure you know she’s here by barking and running full speed towards you, but don’t be alarmed, it’s just her way of welcoming you to her office.

Play ‘Where’s Griffy?’ and see if you can spot her in our campaigns. She has a way of showing up on all of our client projects, including brochures and websites. Check out our portfolio and see how often you can spot her.

Our First Batch of MMM – Moderns and Manhattan Made Kombucha

We are so excited to officially share with you the office-made kombucha tea that we have been brewing at The Moderns these past few months.

Although The Moderns has collectively been drinking kombucha for years and keeping the fridge stocked with it for employees to drink, we have only set out on our office-made kombucha tea journey recently this past Spring.

Kombucha is an effervescent, fermented tea, drunk for medicinal purposes all over the world. It’s truly a miracle drink and to make your own, you need to start with what’s known as a scoby (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). The scoby is usually passed down from someone, much like the starter for bread. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find one to adopt from someone, but this led to us to discovering one of our new favorite companies –Kombucha Brooklyn, and their kombucha starter kit. Their kit comes with everything that you need to brew your first batch, including the large glass container, scoby, organic black tea and organic sugar.

It took about half an hour to get everything set-up, sterilized and properly prepared. We used our Mountain Valley Spring Water to brew the tea with, which is the water in our office ‘water cooler.’ It comes from a natural protected spring source in Arkansas and is constantly monitored and tested to ensure its purity. The water never touches plastic and is shipped and contained in glass jugs. We love it at our office.

During the beginning of the process, we received an important tip from one of our friends, who’s a leading expert in kombucha and probiotics – Ben Goodwin of Zoda. He recommended that we keep the kombucha on a heating pad at 80 degrees and to keep it in the dark and also stationary on the heating pad. This way, not only does the best bacteria grow, but the best flavor also comes out.

About 5 days into the fermentation process, we pulled out a straw and sampled our first batch. It was already delicious and hard to put back into the dark to wait another 7-10 days before bottling. When the tea was ready to bottle is when we added in fruit puree for added flavor. The bottles then sat at room temperature for 3-7 days to carbonate. In total, the brewing process took about 14-28 days, but the longer you let it ferment, the more sugar gets eaten by the yeast and the more healthful and fizzy the drink is.

We’ve brewed several batches since our first one and have experimented with different flavors along the way: strawberry, mixed berry, raspberry, blueberry (to name a few). We bottle the kombucha ourselves in the office and made our own labels. If you’re near the Flatiron District, please stop by for a MMM-Moderns and Manhattan Made Kombucha tea to stay cool this Summer.

Cooking with our Summer interns, Brooke and Cassie

We have been thoroughly enjoying the fresh, organic vegetables from our Prince George-Norwich Meadows Farm Summer CSA. As we get further into the growing season, our shares get bigger and bigger (and also heavier!). Last week’s share contained eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, green beans, basil and parsley (just to name a few). Brooke and Cassie, our amazing Summer interns, made a delicious Eggplant Parmesan dish (pictured above) using the eggplant, basil and parsley from our share last week. They winged it in the kitchen and came up with their own recipe. Time is of the essence in New York, so they used organic tomato sauce, but both recommend making your own if you have the time. We hope you try their recipe and change it up some to make it your own.

Eggplant Parmesan

2-3 medium size eggplants (from CSA)

Sea salt

1 organic free-range egg

1 tbsp water

½ cup breadcrumbs

Olive oil (for sprinkling)

1 jar of organic tomato sauce

Basil (from CSA)

Parsley (from CSA)

Shredded Parmesan cheese (organic)

Shredded Mozzarella cheese (organic)


Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut eggplants into ½ thick slices. Sprinkle sea salt on both sides of the slices and allow them to sit for 30 minutes in a colander in the sink so that the eggplants “sweat” and release any excess moisture (you will be surprised at how much moisture actually comes out). Then rinse thoroughly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Place ½ cup of breadcrumbs into a bowl (add more as you go along if needed). In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg and 1 tbsp of water. Take the eggplant slices and first dip them in the egg mixture then into the breadcrumbs. Place on a greased cookie sheet and sprinkle olive oil on top of slices. Let cook for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Turn oven down to 350°.

In a glass baking dish put a thin layer of tomato sauce then layer eggplant, tomato sauce, basil and parsley, and both cheeses. Use more or less of each ingredient according to what you like. Cook for 20-30 minutes (or until cheese is fully melted and browned on top).

Bon appetite!

Imagine the Next: Vokashi

One of our core founding issues at The Moderns twenty years ago was food justice, and over the years we have gotten involved in this arena in a variety of ways. Of concern globally, and nationally in the U.S. is the quality of our soil. Nutrient rich soil is needed to grow the most nutrient rich food.

Our office is in New York City, which is considered a food desert, because most of our food comes from a great distance. The soil surrounding New York is poor and anyone who’s ever visited New York can tell you another obvious problem of the country’s largest city: piles and piles of garbage.

When Vandra Thorburn, president of Vokashi, founded her company she was already deeply imbedded in the local composting and community garden arena in New York City. She saw clearly the need to match our city’s problem of overflowing food waste with a need for nutrient rich soil for our community gardens and homes.

Vokashi uses the traditional Japanese method of fermentation, called ‘bokashi,’ to ferment food waste through a combination of a special bran mixture (EM-1, molasses, and wheat bran) in an airtight container. Her pick-up and drop-off service in the New York area provides her clients with airtight EcoSmart buckets to leave their food waste in to ferment, which takes about two weeks. Upon collection of the buckets, Vokashi takes the fermented food (which has no decay, odor, bugs or pathogens) to community gardens, where it is mixed directly in to the soil or into worm bins to compost. This method composts the food waste very quickly without decomposing the food, providing extremely rich nutrient soil.

Vandra brought EcoSmart buckets and bran to show us a demonstration. Besides food waste, any biodegradable paper can also be added. The food and paper get layered in the bucket with the bran mixture and once sealed, the fermentation magic starts to happen. She left us with two buckets and bran to do the process in-house and we absolutely love it.

With no decay, hardly any smells, bugs, or pathogens, what’s not to love about giving back to the earth? Thank you Vokashi, for a very inspiring Imagine the Next.

Imagine the Next Friday: Vokashi

with Vandra Thorburn, President of Vokashi

Vokashi is a compost starter that uses Japanese methods of fermentation to compost raw food waste. It’s easier than most composting methods, faster and doesn’t put off as much of an odor. Come to our office for Imagine the Next™ this Friday, July 15th at 12:00 to learn more about this unique composting technique.