Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Short List of Cool Gifts under $25

 The Yum Diary Short List of excellent gifts under $25, just in time for the week before Xmas!

1. A gift certificate to your local independent health food store. Healthy food (often a luxury for many) can be 'spensive!

Encourage your loved ones to eat well and support those local businesses in the meanwhile. Yum!

2. A metal water bottle. I love my Sigg brand bottles because I have put them in the dishwasher a frillion times and they're doing swell! Plus, they are pretty. Quench Steel Works has lovely designs (hand wash only) and I really like Earthlust's designs as well.

I take a full 1L bottle with me whenever I go out in the car (or the half-liter size for walking trips) so I don't dehydrate and start craving french fries. Great for hydrating during movies, yoga class, cocktail parties, game nights, etc. Those 1 liter bottles are the joint, but the half-size ones are useful for quick hikes and jaunts.

3. A flock of geese, chicks, or ducks -- or even a whole goat or cow -- to a needy family in your gift recipient's name from Heifer International. For example, a family in Africa, the Caribbean, or Asia that receives your gift of a flock of chicks can eat and sell chicken eggs, breed more chickens, and support themselves in a way that was previously impossible.

Heifer International is one of the most well-regarded global charities out there, and the idea is superb. Shutterfly partnered w/Heifer to offer really cute gift cards -- Heifer gives you a 20% discount plus free cards at Shutterfly. Gift levels range from $10 and $20 to $10,000 and beyond!

4. A Moleskine brand planner, journal, or notebook. These are the o.g. well-made notebooks. I've been using a Moleskine weekly planner since...2003? 2004? I wouldn't be without one. The elastic strap keeps it closed and doesn't wear out; the little braided placeholder ribbon keeps me straight; the rear pocket holds my postage stamps and a photo or two; and the removable address book in the back transfers to the next year's planner with ease!

This year I splurged and ordered the red twin-set weekly planner from a local stationery store (Jot in Columbia, SC -- thanks for the referral, Lady Shop Tart!), in the interest of giving my $ to a local business instead of Barnes and Noble. It comes in today or tomorrow. Can't wait!

5. The Snuggie! I got one at my Bunko group's white elephant/dirty santa party and it was the talk of the party. I look like a Smurf wearing it. Terrible quality, super-thin fleece, but to liven up a family gift-giving gathering with laughter and a Snuggie fashion show, $14.95 at Target is a nominal fee, no? (Thanks Kirkland, for the brilliant Snuggie idea!)

6. Movie tickets or a gift certificate to your local art house / independent movie/ nonprofit theater (like the Nickelodeon in Columbia, SC or the Castro, Roxie, or Red Vic in San Francisco). Support the arts, yo!

7. Envirosax or Chico reusable shopping bags. I am addicted to my ultra-lightweight Envirosax bags and their pretty designs. They also happen to be incredibly durable.

And how about Envirosax's idea to wrap all your gifts in eco-friendly shopping bags instead of wrapping paper? GENIUS.

 Loving the new Chico bag designs and shapes, including the Sling, the Messenger, and the Daypack. Cool! The little Chico bags are only $5. Hello stocking stuffers.

(Although they're a lil too small for me. The Vita and Vintage styles, $7 and $9 I think, are much roomier and more useful. Bigger armholes, etc.)

Other great gifts (under and over $25): really good cheeses, fancy salt, pro-quality chef's knives and cookware, spa or independent massage therapist gift certificates, zoo memberships, mixed CDs, MP3 players pre-loaded with lots of music, gift certificates to independent bookstores, buzzworthy cookbooks, etc.

What are your hot lil gift ideas? Comment below!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Free Talk by My Rad Nutrition Coach this Thursday!

So it's almost 6 weeks now* on this all-organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free** food plan, and I'm loving it! Lost 10 lbs, much less puffy-looking in general (you know the feeling), good energy. Woot!

My nutrition coach is speaking again this Thursday (and serving her delicious food) in Columbia, SC. 'Tis free, so check it out!

(Roxanne's Halibut + Napa Cabbage Roulade)


Special Presentation of
Weight Loss Intensive Series

Village at Sand Hills Shopping Center, The Residences
487 Town Center Place #208, Columbia, SC 29229

Thursday, December 17, 2009 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm


The Food WisdomRx program teaches food structures you can use to reach your personal health goals. These are college-level courses in food & cooking!

We combine evidence-based, organic ingredients with traditional gourmet and macrobiotic cooking techniques to produce the healthiest and tastiest outcomes for you. Food WisdomRx is not a diet… Food WisdomRx is a lifestyle.

-  What is Gluten Free?  Why is this important to you?
-  What do you eat to lose weight?
-  What foods reduce cholesterol quickly?
-  What foods help kill cancer?


-    Sample nutritious whole foods, and discover the latest gluten-free foods available in local grocery stores.
-  Speak with local Food Wisdom participants who have won their challenge with cancer; lost weight; lowered their blood pressure; reduced insulin levels; and eliminated acid reflux.
-   Opportunity to register for Special January Intensive: Weight Loss 

We anticipate a large audience. Please reserve your space today so that we can be sure to bring plenty of food to sample!!

R.S.V.P.:  828-551-8603 or visit:


*I cheat once in a while, yes. My brother and I toasted our dearly departed mother on Friday night (the 1-year anniversary) with some sustainably raised N.Y. strip steaks, grilled scallops, and fried risotto balls at Rosso, one of Columbia's best new restaurants gotta say. They were all FANTASTIC.

**OMG I am in love with Luna and Larry's Coconut Bliss ice cream.

It is totally non-dairy, no soy, no gluten, very few ingredients, all-natural, sweetened with blue agave nectar (the low-glycemic, awesome alternative to sugar), and holy lord it is freaking delicious. JFYI.

And if you put it back in the fridge instead of the freezer like I did the other day (doh!), it doesn't get soupy. It maintains structural integrity and is like the loftiest fro yo ever or some such. Refreezes just fine too.

This is how I feel. Yes, I am about to shout in caps:


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Browned Baja Shrimp Taco Wraps to Make Your Head Spin

Oh friends, I am stoked. I just made something so delicious I am a little bit freaking out about it*.

It's a Browned Baja-style shrimp taco wrap thinger, with spicy chipotle vegan mayonnaise and fresh napa cabbage. Yum!

And oh, yes, per my excellent new hippie diet (4.5 weeks now!), it's totally gluten-free and dairy-free!

And low-calorie. And low-glycemic. And sugar-free. Did I mention that it is also MAD DELICIOUS?

I know, it sounds like it would be a pain in the tuckis to make. But I just made this one in 5 minutes! I am not even lying! OK, maybe it was 7 minutes. And if your local health food store doesn't sell pre-made vegan chipotle mayonnaise in their deli case like Rosewood does, it'll take you 8 minutes.

But seriously. Fast.

You'll need:
  • 6 Large wild shrimp per wrap (peeled + sprinkled with ground coriander, rosemary, + white pepper, and ideally, sustainably, locally caught like mine from Wild Carolina Seafood on Wadmalaw Island, SC!)
  • Veganaise (a.k.a. Nayonaise or any ole vegan mayonnaise, at 35 calories per serving compared to 100+ for mayo!)
  • Canned chipotle peppers (or just get Rosewood's spicy vegan mayo!)
  • Fresh, organic napa cabbage, julienned (but regular cabbage'll do, I *guess*)
  • Lemon and/or white wine (just a skosh of each)
  • Earth Balance (It's the tastiest organic butter substitute spread -- good and buttery, with none of those bad fats you read about in Newsweek. Butter's ok, but why not be healthy if EB tastes just as fantastic?)
and...your new secret weapon:

Sure. You could substitute some other tortilla or wrap thinger, but here's why you should try and find *these* wrap/tortilla thingers in your health food store fridge or freezer, or online:

As the Sami's Bakery lavash browns in your frying pan, its garlicky, oregano yumminess fills the kitchen with the smell of wood oven pizza. I shiz you not. (And it is wheat gluten-free, and only 112 calories each -- not too bad!)

Browned Baja-style Shrimp Taco Wraps with Spicy Chipotle Veganaise and Napa Cabbage
Read through this before cooking; my recipes aren't the most chronological in the world. (You'll see.)

1. Shrimp!
  • Peel, wash, pat dry 5-6 large shrimp per wrap. (Or strips of firm white fish, a vegan pinch...tofu.)
  • Sprinkle with freshly ground coriander, rosemary, white pepper and a smidge of sea salt. 
  • Fry in hot skillet with 1 TBSP Earth Balance per half dozen shrimp. (Let the EB melt and brown a tiny bit before you put the shrimp in.) Cook on med-high for a few minutes.
  • When almost done, squeeze half a fresh lemon per half dozen shrimp, and throw in a TBSP of dry white wine. Reserve shrimp and the lil bit of browned up, lemony, buttery-good sauce you've created.

2. Lavash!
  • In another skillet, simultaneously, melt another TBSP of Earth Balance on medium. (I didn't say this dish is low fat! Ha!)
  • Trust me, use the full tablespoon. You'll make up for the cal's by using vegan mayo below, and EB is only 80 calories anyway.
  • Brown lavash on both sides but NOT for so long that the lavash gets too crispy to roll! Rice flours dry out more quickly than gluten flours so you gotta watch out. Still, it'll brown up real nice and still be rollable. OMG so yummy.
3. Chipotle Mayo!
  • OK, this was prepped already, ideally (this is one of those chronological inconsistencies). Either you buy it, or you puree about 1 chipotle pepper (canned, in adobo) per cup of veganaise in a food processor. Done!
4. Napa Cabbage!
  • Slice it thin. I julienne one big leaf per taco. It's so lacy and delicate, I don't know what I was doing all these years not cooking with napa cabbage. Doh!

5. Assemblage of the Awesomeness!
  • Smear a tablespoon or two of spicy mayo on your hot, browned, "buttery" lavash. 
  • Plop the shrimps and their teensy bit of sauce on there.
  • Scatter the whole thing with that julienned leaf of napa cabbage. I sprinkled a little gomasio (roasted sesame seeds + sea salt) on mine, too.

I am so excited. I am excited for me, because I have a new favorite recipe, and all the stuff to make it is currently in my fridge.

I am also extra excited for me, because this recipe is so freaking good I think you're going to hug me next time you see me (after you've had a chance to make it of course), and I love hugs.

And, duh, I am also so totes excited for you!

Get that Sami's millet + flax spinach lavash! I am not kidding! It is magic**.

*In my mind, I'm envisioning my friend Ari C. in SF saying that bit, "so delicious I am a little bit freaking out about it," in her awesome, low-toned excited voice. Y'all ever do that? Talk to yourself in your head but in the voice of a fave friend? (If you know Ari you know the voice I am talking about!)

**Totally caught myself accidentally picking up the asterisk method of footnoting from my buddy The Shop Tart. When she does this, it is usually pretty funny stuff. I can only aspire. Thanks, Anne!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crispy Hot Mochi, a Most Crush-Worthy Snack

I have a crush.

On mochi.

Mochi are hot little crispy puffs of goodness, with chewy gooey-ness and toasty roasty-ness.

Oh, and they are vegan, dairy free, gluten free, and sugar free. And vegetarian, low-calorie, organic and all that jazz.

Word up, mochi! You are awesome!

Grainaissance brand Raisin + Cinnamon Mochi are my fave, because Rosewood Market sells 'em and that's where I shop for all my happy healthy hippie food. (They sell the plain flavor, too.)

Each 1" square is only 30 calories, and the only ingredients are organic sweet brown rice, filtered water, raisins, cinnamon, + sea salt. WORD UP!!!

They're quite easy to make. 

Simply cut the mochi into one-inch squares and pop in a 450-degree oven for 7-8 minutes on an ungreased pan.

A toaster oven does the trick nicely!

While baking, the mochi will sploosh out of one side of each square to make a gooey-chewy yum tunnel, an annex to the crispy, hollow puff of tastiness at its center, just like in the photo. See?

Just don't bite into your mochi while it's super duper hot, because, like I did recently, you might burn the roof of your mouth.

And that chewy gooey part will not just burn you -- it will literally stick to the roof of your mouth if it's super hot, and then your burn will be extra gnarly. Like mine! (Which is finally healed, like two weeks later. Doh!)

Thank you Kate O., my old SF roomie who turned me on to macro snacks years ago! You are a lovely bird. (And a lovely bride-to-be!)

photos: TB

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How to Make Collards Elegant (It's Easy!)

I love it when my sweetie chops the collards his way.

Remove ribs and chop those separately, then roll collards into a big cigar. Slice into thin roulades (julienne, chiffonade, ribbons, what-have-you). Steam atop a softened-to-caramelized mirepoix-type situation of onions + carrots (I leave out the celery here), salt, pepper, a sprinkle of coriander, all deglazed with a skosh of veggie stock to create the steaming liquid.  Yum!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
photo: TB

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Found it! Organic, Vegan, Un-sweet Coffee Creamer. Yum!

Remember when I was whining about not being able to find an organic, liquid, non-dairy creamer that actually tastes good and isn't sugared up beyond belief?

Found it! (thank you, Nora, my old pal from my college days as a po-mo dance major!)

"So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer" by Turtle Mountain is my new best friend. S'creamy.

It doesn't destroy my coffee with beany, sugary ick (um, mucho-controversial Silk "Original" soy creamer, I am talking to you), and it's completely vegan, lactose free, dairy free, gluten-free, you name it. And it's made with organic coconut!

Like the Silk creamer, there is 1g of organic evaporated cane juice per serving (10 calories), but (unlike the Silk product) the sweetness is undetectable by taste. I hate sweet coffee. I love this creamer!

Lets my coffee do its thing. 


Monday, November 23, 2009

SF! Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ, Delivered to Your Door, Yo.

Hey San Francisco!

You heard about Sneaky's Carolina BBQ delivery service yet?

Totally underground, cottage-industry style; backyard smoker; Carolina mustard-based, pulled pork barbecue; run by nice, cute, hip local musician guys. Delivery area: San Francisco, CA!

Fun fact: I grew up down the street from one of the founders in Columbia, S.C.! His dad was my elementary school principal. Mr. Wachter called us "Sweat-hogs" after that 1970's John Travolta TV show. We were truly entranced by being called, collectively, Sweat-hogs. Dang, what was that show called? Welcome Back Kotter? Woo hoo! BBQ!

Reposted from

Sneaky's BBQ Menu

Sneaky's uses 100% hormone- and antibiotic-free pork. See for more information on our supplier. Our chickens are free-range Rocky Jr. birds.

1 pint of pulled pork - $11
1 rack of baby-back ribs - $22 (1/2 rack - $11.50)
BBQ Chicken - $17 (1/2 - $9)
1 pint of Sneaky's macaroni & cheese - $5
1 pint of cole slaw - $5
1 pint of collard greens - $7
Sneaky's Sauce - $3 (half pint)
Sneaky's SPICY Sauce - $4 (half-pint)

To order Sneaky's BBQ or receive Sneaky's weekly email, please email

PLEASE NOTE: All food is delivered chilled, unless we are specially catering an event and we've arranged to serve the food warm. We recommend popping the food in the microwave for a minute or two (just how long is up to you and the power of your microwave), though any method of heating will work just fine.

Serving the Bay Area since 2008

Sneaky's BBQ
The best BBQ in the Bay Area, delivered to your door. Sneaky's specializes in Carolina-style pulled pork, secret-recipe ribs, and simple, delicious sides. Whether it's for an office lunch, a big game, or a lazy night at home, Sneaky's is the source for authentic, slow-smoked BBQ. No order is too big or too small, and we welcome catering and event orders. 

I love it when my Carolina peeps do good in the big city.
photos reposted from Sneaky's BBQ on Facebook

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hand Off Your Pain to Death Bear

This has absolutely nothing to do with food, unless you live in Brooklyn and need to get rid of your ex's stockpot*.

"We all have someone or something we would rather just forget. Things fall apart. Love hurts. Dreams die. But when you summon Death Bear to your door, you can rest assured that help has come.

At first you may be intimidated by his stature and color (7 feet tall with a hard, black bear head, black jumpsuit, and black boots), but absorbing the memories of others is a dark art, and Death Bear must present himself appropriately for this solemn duty.

Death Bear will take things from you that trigger painful memories and stow them away in his cave where they will remain forever allowing you to move on with your life.

Give him an ex's clothes, old photos, mementos, letters, etc. Death Bear is here to assist you in your time of tragedy, heartbreak, and loss. Let Death Bear help you, and absorb your pain into his cave.

Saturday, November 21st, 2009
and Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
Serving all Brooklyn only
Text 347-742-2293 for an appointment

Death Bear is a member of Club Animals, a pop-performance art group in New York City founded in 2008. We are best known for the Free Bouncy Rides, Candy Crack Delivery Service, and Bunny Butterfly Kisses."

Dear readers, do treat yourself to a visit to the Club Animals blog, from whence this bit is reposted. Thanks for the tip, Tonya Glanz (whose new 2-min video, Bad A*s Mama, is a better-than-SNL-digital-short weekend treat! She's the one with the blonde bob and the stink eye)!

OK, off to the all-local farmer's market to get at some of Robbie + Eric McClam's awesome new City Roots urban farm produce before it sells out like always!

Your food nerd friend who is also a conceptual art nerd,
*Actually, my cousin O. is looking for a giant stockpot, if anyone is tired of their crab boil pot taking up space in the garage. I'd tell you why, but you'd probably just get grossed out**.

**Wait, it's not my job to spare you the details. You like details. That's why we're here together on the intarwebs today. He's going to boil some deer skulls. He shot them with his bow and arrow on a family friend's forest land, part of deer population control down here in South Carolina. I'm no hunter and yes the tiny little proto-vegan fairy in me cries for Bambi, but I have to say, hunting with a bow + arrow in these gun-crazy modern times is pretty bada*s.

***Like, 2+ weeks on this Roxanne diet (you know, the 120-day macro/sugar-free/dairy-free/gluten-free/organic/lotsa vitamins and teas and stuff detox thing), and all is well.

For breakfast today I had quinoa spaghetti with kale, onions, and a pistachio-basil pesto**** I made from our garden and froze last month. Dang! I have a crush on my breakfast! That quinoa spaghetti is seriously better than regular spaghetti. Ancient Harvest brand quinoa "Pasta" is what to look for at the health nerd store.

Don't get the Ancient Harvest "Spaghetti" though! Because it has wheat in it. I hate whole wheat pasta. Grainy and disgusting. (Also glutinous and therefore verboten.) Why they have that branding problem I don't know. Hey Ancient Harvest! Your branding is weird! But your quinoa-corn "Pasta" is SO GOOD!

****I know! I am cheating! Parmesan cheese is not dairy-free. But it's my first dairy cheat in 2+ weeks since starting this new eating strategy, and I put arame seaweed in it and sprinkled gomasio on top to "make up for it."

So there.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why OCA is Calling for a Boycott of Silk Soymilk (Wha???)

Anyone know a great, unsweetened non-dairy coffee creamer (organic, please?) that actually approximates the creamy excellence of half and half? I don't. I want.

I just started using Silk coffee creamer 2 wks ago for my big 120-day detox.

And I kindof hate Silk creamer, actually, b/c it is a tiny bit sweetened with cane juice, and I hate sweet coffee. I'm not even supposed to have sugar! Or coffee for that matter. But I gave up wheat, dairy, all other sugars, and booze, and went fully organic w/a frillion vitamins + Japanese teas. Sue me.

Looking online to see if Silk makes an unsweetened creamer (they don't), I found this post at the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) site. Creepy!

Why OCA is Calling for a Boycott of Silk Soymilk
An excerpt from Cornucopia Institute Co-Director Mark Kastel's June 11, 2009 post:

[Silk/Dean Foods] Company Structure:
  1. Silk used to be owned by White Wave, an independent company and a pioneer in the organic industry.  When it was still independent, White Wave used 100% organic soybeans in their Silk products.
  2. Today, the Silk brand is owned by Dean Foods and the brand is mostly conventional, not organic.  Dean Foods is an $11 billion agribusiness giant and the largest milk processor in the United States.  They own over 50 milk labels around the country, including Horizon Organic, a brand that heavily depends on factory farms each milking thousands of cows.

[Silk/Dean Foods] Commitment to Organics and Sustainability:
  1. Recently, Dean Foods reformulated their Silk product line converting almost all their products to "natural" (conventional) soybeans.  They did this, quietly, without telling retailers or changing the UPC code numbers on the products.  Many retailers have reported to us that they didn't find out about the change until their customers noticed and complained.
  2. To add insult to injury, not only did the price of Silk products not go down when they switched to cheaper conventional soybeans, but they now reintroduced three products with organic soybeans and raised the price on those...

Huh. Dang.

What do y'all think? Here's a link to a November 2009 article on (CBS subsidiary) about the "Silk Soy Milk 'Bait-and-Switch'":

And seriously, any leads on an organic, non-dairy creamer that doesn't s*ck?

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Favorite Macro Recipe So Far: French Lentil Stew

Dear Lentils,

I never really appreciated you until recently. Sorry for the diss! You guys are excellent. No hard feelings, k? Great. See you soon!

p.s. Somehow I lost 10lbs without even meaning to after 9 days on a gluten-free, booze-free, sugar-free, dairy-free diet, and I haven't felt hungry or deprived. What up?! Hoot hoot!!

Here's how to make an elegant, healthy (and tasty! and easy!) lentil stew that's totally vegan, vegetarian, low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie, and mostly macrobiotic. 

Use organic everything, since pesticide-free is good for you, and your organic grocery dollar is a concrete vote towards sustainable agriculture!

(Note: See that yellowish oil around the edges of the stew? It's delicious, delicious flax oil, packed with omega fatty acids, great for detox and digestion. Don't cook with flaxseed oil over heat, but garnish with it as you will. I am kind of addicted.)

My Favorite Macro Recipe So Far: French Lentil Stew
This is my personalized version of chef/consultant Roxanne Koteles-Smith's even healthier, more macro recipe for lentils. Her butternut squash inclusion is inspired! She includes kombu in bean dishes for digestive happiness. She is smart.

Oh, and unless you are living in a remote mountain hideaway with no access to French green lentils, don't substitute! Regular lentils don't hold a candle to these smooth, less starchy delights. BUT this recipe can be used with pretty much any dry bean (I've done mung beans + adzuki beans this way too). Just lengthen the simmer time according to the type of bean.

Lovely French Lentil Stew
You'll need:
  • 2 cups mirepoix (my version is 3/4c diced carrot, 3/4c diced yellow onion, 1/2c diced celery, incl. celery leaves)
  • 1 cup French green lentils (dried, soaked for a few hours w/the strip of kombu noted below -- see it sticking out there in the photo?)
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1 quart organic vegetable stock
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 1/2 crumbled bay leaf
  • a strip of dried kombu seaweed
  • sea salt + pepper
  • good olive oil
1. Soften your mirepoix in 2 TBSP olive oil on low heat and...sure, why not...take it to a caramelized place. (Mirepoix is the famous flavor-maker for many French dishes. Not trying to sound all pretentious with the French terminology! Promise!)
2. Throw in the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, butternut squash, and lentils, big old strip of kombu included. Add a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Crank the heat up to high for a minute, til you hear sizzling.
3. Cover generously with vegetable stock; heck, throw in the whole quart. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30-50 minutes.

Why such a time variable? Because this is a loosey-goosey recipe. When the lentils are nice and tender, it's done. There should still be some liquid, but if not just add a little water.

Serve with yummy garnishes and congratulate yourself for being so healthy!

Macrobiotic Garnishes:
1-2 TBSP flax oil/umeboshi vinegar vinaigrette (2/5 ume vin, 3/5 flax oil, shaken)
Toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
Fresh chopped Italian parsley
and if you need more oomph, 
Gomasio (toasted sesame seeds + sea salt, pulverized, delicious!)

Crazy, over-the-top non-macro garnishes:
A fried egg over easy with hot sauce or Mexican chile sauce
Grated parmesan, chopped parsley, + really good olive oil

OH SNAP, that dish is delicious!
photos: TB

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hit the Tamale Trail with the Southern Foodways Alliance

I just posted at Slow Food Columbia on this groovy org in Mississippi that traces Tamale Trails, Gumbo Trails, etc. through the South:


"Heard of the Southern Foodways Alliance? They've just won a 2009 Travel + Leisure Global Vision Award.

Per T + L:
'An exuberant champion of Southern food culture—from its barbecue pit masters and bourbon distilleries to its butterscotch-pie breakfasts and deviled-eggs competitions—the Southern Foodways Alliance celebrates and records the region’s diverse gastronomic landscape through documentary films, books, and not-for-the-calorie-shy field trips and events.

'The Alliance’s food-trails program, which has mapped a Tamale Trail through the Mississippi Delta, a Barbecue Trail in the Southeast, and Boudin and Gumbo Trails across Louisiana, introduces travelers to the small-scale producers and off-the-beaten path restaurants that are the soul of Southern cuisine."

Click here to read more!

p.s. Hipsters love Argentina because it's cheap, and hip. LGBTQ folks love Argentina because lots of other cultured LGBTQs vacation/relocate there because it's cheap, and it's hip. And as you all now know, the governor of SC likes him some Argentina, too. If you're in Columbia, my good friend John Dawkins and the umbrella group The SC Progressive Network are tapping into the zeitgeist love affair with Argentina this Friday...

• • • • •
Bid on this original oil painting by Alejandro Garcia in our silent auction.

An Argentine Affair

a celebration + awards ceremony
to benefit the SC Progressive Network 
Nov. 14  •  7–9pm
The Big Apple
corner of Park and Hampton, Columbia

Enjoy the wines and music of Argentina
and heavy hors d’oeuvres
while helping us honor three outstanding SC activists.

Winners of this year’s Thunder + Lightning Awards:
Tom Clements, Rev. Neal Jones, Ruth Thomas

For details on the honorees, click here. $25 single/$40 couple. Call 803.808.3384 for reservations

Photo reprinted, some rights reserved, from the Southern Foodways Alliance Flickr page.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Getting Twiggy with It: A Toasty Love Affair

Turns out my cat is just as bonkers for twig tea as I am.

As of last week, I am making (and drinking) a pitcher of twig tea each day for a 45-day detox (see below).

It's actually completely delicious! (For reals.)

I drink it unsweetened, hot or cold. It has a toasty, earthy, nutty flavor. YUM.

So, about my cat and the twig tea.

She loves drinking water out of human glasses. You really can't leave a water glass where she can get to it, or you'll have not only cat tongue but cat paw in your water. (Seriously, sometimes she drinks by dipping her paw and then licking it. Never fails to make me laugh.)

The other day, she starts sniffing at my glass of chilled twig tea and then, indicating true interest, almost pops her paw in there!

So I poured her a little monkey dish of twig tea to keep her grubby mitts out of my beverage.

Japanese kukicha twigs are the roasted stems of the green tea plant, camellia senensis. The caffeine is super low, 7mg or so compared to 150-200mg for coffee.

It's full of antioxidants and is a great cleansing agent and digestive aid.

Sure enough, after a good tea sniffing, in went the paw.


Twig tea is easy to make. I used to make it in college but basically forgot about it til now. You ever do that? Just forget about good things?

Skip the tea bags and buy the kukicha twigs in bulk, because the twigs should be simmered (not boiled!) in a pot of water for 20 min, not merely steeped. 2 TBSP for 8 cups of water does the trick.

I love it when she does this. Hilarious.

The twig tea is a small part of this 45-day total body detox I've been tweeting about (which is part of a 120-day reprogramming), led by my new medical nutrition coach, Cancer Cookbook author Roxanne Koteles-Smith of Asheville.

And she reaches in for more.

So yeah, um, as of last week, I've gone macrobiotic, gluten-free (wheat-free), meat-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free. Oh, and booze free, too. Yikes!

But strangely, it's actually not so bad, since there are so many great newfangled health food alternatives out there and Roxanne, a former Ritz Carlton SF chef, has set me up with all of these excellent menus and recipes*, customized for my health issues.

Basically, I'm eating a lot of veggies and whole grains and health food elixirs like umeboshi plum vinegar and flaxseed oil -- typical healthy stuff that I've been wanting to get into for years.

I'll let you know how it's going here and there, mainly when I come across something particularly "foodie delicious" beyond the oft compromise-ridden scope of "health food delicious."

Well, a few paws' worth was all she was in for before she looked up at me like, "Hey, um, this is okay, but where are the cat treats, yo?"

So I gave her some cat treats and poured out the dish of cat paw tea.

 Me? I had some more twig tea and a piece of shockingly good, soy-buttered millet-flax toast and went about my business.

Dang, that toast is good. Sami's Bakery makes it; you can order it online but I get it in the fridge at Rosewood Market. I'll bet Rainbow in SF has it, or something like it. Organic millet flour and brown rice flour are two great tastes that go great together!

Surprisingly low calorie at 76 cals per slice, compared to 110-150 for normal bread, and the difference is indistinguishable! Booya.

I have this feeling that after a couple months on this crazypants diet, I'm going to look and feel as healthy as a freakin' yoga teacher.

I guess I should probably get off the computer and do some yoga, in that case.

*Roxanne's coming to Columbia this Thursday, Nov 12 to give a free seminar w/free samples of her yummy, chef-prepared, vegan food (Pasta with Greens; Tempeh Stew; Pressed Salad with Bok Choy, Wakame and Dried Cranberries, and Peanut Butter Mousse). She'll discuss her cooking classes, custom nutrition consultations for people with cancer, lupus, allergies, chronic pain, etc., and fresh prepared foods she makes for NC, SC and AL health food stores.

It's 6:30-8pm out at Sandhill Shopping Center, 487 Town Center, Apt. 208 in Northeast...I'll be there for sure! If you want to come, drop Roxanne a line and RSVP by Monday evening to 828-367-0671 or Roxanne [[at]]
photos: TB

Friday, October 30, 2009

Vegan Sushi w/Green Tomatoes, Yams + Mexican Hot Sauce; My Last Burger(?!?!); and a Macrobiotic Chef to Know

Seaweed is ridiculously good for you. Used with soy, it's proven to kill cancer cells, for one thing (and sugar grows them! who knew?), it's mineral rich, and it's the most nutritious vegetable on earth. 

"Good Health" = An Excuse to Eat More Sushi
When I decide to eat more seaweed for general good health, I'm thinking homemade vegan* sushi.

'Cause sushi is ridiculously delicious, and I'm in the mood to make up some crazy things.

This photo, btw, is of the amazing disappearing asparagus-avocado-green tomato-pickled jalapeno hand roll.

(*I'm  so  not vegan. I ate a giant hamburger last week. See? [Scroll 3/4 down page.] The best part is that I ate the giant (cheese, actually)burger after attending a vegan cooking lecture. Ha!

The lecture was a presentation by vegan macrobiotic nutrition consultant Roxanne Koteles-Smith, who cooked at the Ritz Carlton SF under celeb chef Sylvain Portay and trained at both the New England Culinary Institute [NECI] and the Kushi Institute. Woman has chops.

I know her how? Using a custom dietary regimen and supplements, she recently shepherded my elder cousin into complete breast cancer remission with no pain during chemo [an astounding achievement according to all of my cousin's doctors and nurses].

Seeing my very Southern cousin convert so gracefully to an all-organic/local, gluten-free, sugar-free, and cow/dairy-free diet was mega inspiring. [She turned me on to amazing treats like melty, tasty goat brie, too. YUM.]

Sooooooo, after hemming and hawing about changing in my fabulously eclectic diet for a more healthful one, I am going to start seeing her for consultations and I'm going to get healthy as cr*p. I figured I'd better squeeze in one last slab of cow!)

That said...

Vegan Homemade Sushi Is Tight!
Because you don't have to mess around with raw fish, and it's way cheaper

(After the initial investment, of course, in good wasabia japonica powder, nori seaweed sheets, brown rice vinegar, brown rice syrup [a smart substitute for sugar], mirin [rice wine], bamboo sushi rolling mats, good organic white short grain sushi rice [Lundberg!], good tamari [fancy wheat-free soy sauce], chopsticks, blah blah blah, pickled ginger [overkill if you ask me].)

Basically, if you go bonkers with the avocado and the spicy things, your rolls are going to rock, kindof no matter what.

Getting creative with veggies and condiments is the fun part. See that little monkey dish of yellow business up in the left corner of the photo above? Shaved Meyer lemon! Rind and all. Floral, sweet, lemony snicket.

Fun Times with Goofy Vegetables
We threw some green tomatoes in the Benriner mandoline slicer and marinated them in umeboshi plum vinegar. Oh, SNAP.

I baked a Mahon yam and sliced it into strips. Creamy.

Hit the cucumbers and the carrots with the Benriner too; my sweetie made us some swanky matchsticks!

Pickle Me This, Batman.
Sliced up some garlicky pickled jalapeno that I pickled myself! I used Karen Solomon's new book, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, as my guide.

(See those peppers? My stepmom and stepsister grew them thangs organically out of holes dug in haystacks, and fertilized 'em with cricket poop tea. Affectionately branded "Kricket Krap." Ahem. They are goooood!)

Anyway, Karen's pickle recipe is awesome! I highly recommend the book, reviewed this summer on Eat Me Daily.

And look, it is so attractive. Christmas gifting, yo! Check it out here.

Gather Ye Sesame Oils While Ye May
Even though our sesame oil's been in the fridge, it hasn't been touched in a year. It ain't rancid, but it's completely lost its yum, so the "sesame oil steamed spinach" trick I had planned wasn't really a hit, even with delicious homemade gomasio (pulverized roasted sesame seeds and salt -- also kept in fridge). Dang!

I was pretty pumped to make a spicy asparagus roll, all the same.

This one includes avocado, asparagus, slivered Meyer lemon, and carrots, with gomasio and a generous swath of specialness**.

Mexican Hot Sauce = Sushi Coup de Grace
We don't have any Sriracha or other Asian hot sauce in the frigo (yet), but I was kindof stoked to try my fave creamy-consistency Mexican hot sauces that I brought back with me from California.

**Salsa Huichol, you are my friend. Smooth, creamy, super warm spiciness from Tepic, Nayarit, MX. I heart you.

Oh, hi there, dark, rich, creamy, spicy Valentina Tamazula, made in Guadalajara, MX! You're my favorite. Don't tell Huichol.

Warm, Sweet, Vinegared Rice. Yum.
My friend Anne, a.k.a. The Shop Tart (if you haven't visited her on the world wide internet web, treat yourself) loaned me some mirin (rice wine) and her sushi cookbook, Sushi Made Easy, mainly for the rice recipe, but also for the rolling techniques, how-to photos, etc.

I like borrowing things from good friends; it creates an excuse to casually hang out when you give back whatever random thing you borrowed.

Oh and that rice recipe ROCKS! I will tell it to you if you ask, but the main bits are thus:
Rinse and drain your rice, like, 20 times til the water runs clear (ha!), drain it for an hour, bring to a boil w/2 1/2 cups water pound of rice, cover, simmer 5 min, simmer on super low for another 15 min, then let it sit steaming off heat, in pot, pot lid replaced by a tea towel for another 15 min. IS GOOD.

Ah, the finished product. Creamy, crunchy, spicy, savory. Dang!!

A sushi roll with steamed spinach, baked sweet yam, avocado, gomasio, hot sauce and carrot really does not hurt my feelings at all.

And for the record, there really is a difference between commercial wasabi powder (tinted horseradish + mustard powder) and the real stuff, made of harder-to-grow wasabia japonica.

It is subtle, vegetal, and sublime!

All I have to say is thank f-ing g-d for hand rolls. YUM.

Who even needs dessert with a hot little cone like that?

photos: TB