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The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the gospels and the Jesus of history – between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan was given to me to read by a Jewish friend, who told me “you have to read this book.” He had recently attended a gathering where the keynote speaker was Reza Aslan – an American-Iranian writer and academic in religious studies and creative writing – and was mesmerized by both the author and the book. Read more »


Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolate

Five years ago, a visitor to Santa Barbara, California would have thought that the seaside town had nearly everything: great weather, lovely beaches, perfect sunsets, a creative vibe, aromatic coffee shops, artisan grocery stores, and a fabulous farmer’s market but one thing was missing: a bean-to-bar chocolate maker.

It’s not that visitors couldn’t buy chocolate in Santa Barbara – a wide variety of chocolate could be purchased at various retail stores including Chocolate Maya; instead, the town lacked a hometown chocolate maker who was willing to take on the monumental time-consuming task of making chocolate from fresh cacao beans. Read more »


Chick Pea Salad with Avocado and Apples

Chick peas are chock full of protein ( 7 grams per half a cup of cooked peas) and although they can taste a bit bland on their own, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt brings out the flavor of the beans. Add chunks of creamy avocado, crispy apple and celery pieces along with sweet red onion and dill, and a delicious chick pea salad emerges. For those who prefer a less sweet salad, leave out the apple pieces.

Super easy to make, Chick Pea Salad with Avocado and Apples can be scooped onto a bed of lettuce and served with fresh tomato slices with a sprinkle of chives on top or piled in between two pieces of whole grain toast with lettuce, tomato and sprouts for a delicious crunchy sandwich. Read more »


The CORE Meal

Core Foods – based out of Oakland, California – was established by Corey Rennell, a self-confessed adventurer who traveled the world and learned two lessons along the way:  eat mainly whole fresh fruit and vegetables, and treat others the way you want to be treated. Sounds simple, but as we all know, the day-to-day demands of life often keep us from eating healthy and forgetting about the people we interact with each and every day. Read more »


Nairn’s Scottish Oatcakes

Oats. A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.         ~Samuel Johnson

The world has both changed and stayed the same since Samuel Johnson (a writer famous for publishing “A Dictionary of the English Dictionary” in 1755) graced us with his wit and talent. Although England has since embraced oats in their diet, the Scots have continued to revel the grain that is well suited to Scotland’s  short, wet growing season. Read more »


Günter Grass: 1927-2015

Günter Grass, the German novelist, poet, playwright, artist, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature died yesterday at the age of 87.  Last month,  a story was posted about Gunter Grass and one of his most controversial poems:  What Must Be Said, which is reprinted below:

Grass is best known for his novels including The Tin Drum (1959), Cat and Mouse (1963), Dog Years (1965), and his memoirs: Peeling the Onion (2007), The Box (2010), and Grimm’s Words: A Declaration of Love (2010) but he is also known as the author of the controversial poem What Must Be Said (2012) – which reveals the hypocrisy of the German military when they decided to sell and deliver a submarine that could be used to launch nuclear warheads against Iran. Read more »


The Vanilla Queen’s Vanilla Extract

Flavorful. Sustainable. Simply the best.                                                                           ~The Vanilla Queen

Years ago, an article in Cooks Illustrated convinced me to do a taste test between real and artificial vanilla extracts. The conclusion: always choose pure vanilla extract over artificial vanilla extract because of the flavor difference. Real vanilla extract (and there are many types – each with its own nuanced flavor) is rich and a bit creamy, smooth, slightly sweet, fruity, and cherry-like with a floral fragrance whereas the imitation lacks these qualities. Read more »


For the Shakespeare Inspired

Buying just the right card for that special someone usually involves a trip to Hallmark, Target, CVS or the supermarket where the selection includes the humorous (which seems to be subjective) or cards filled with flowery language that simply say too much. Simplicity in a card is almost always the best choice but finding a card that has just the right message is challenging (and nearly impossible) at the last-minute unless a supply of Bard’s Cards is on hand. Read more »


Whose Your Daddio?

If aluminum is good then anodized aluminum is perfection.

Natural aluminum bakeware has been the standard for commercial bakeries for decades because of its strength and durability. By reflecting heat rather than absorbing heat, aluminum reaches baking temperatures faster and cools quicker (dark steel or heavy weight metal bakeware retains heat and continues baking long after the pan has been removed from the oven). However, aluminum is porous and will absorb fats, sugar, oil, dish soap, and detergents. The solution? Anodized aluminum. Read more »


The St. James Nautical Breton Shirt

What is more French than La Mariniére?

Saint-James, France – a small town in the Normandy region of France established by William the Conquerer in the 11th century – is where the iconic St. James Nautical Breton Shirt has been manufactured for more than 140 years.

Originally developed as a sweater for the sailors in the French navy who hailed from Brittany (hence the name “Breton”), the original La Mariniére (“the French sailor shirt”) had three distinguishing features: a boat neck, long sleeves, and navy stripes that were perfectly aligned from front to back (making it easier to see sailors who fell overboard) – and 21 of them (reported to signify Napoleon’s naval fleet victories over the British). Read more »