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Cacao Prieto

Chocolate makers – meticulous aficionados who choose to start with cacao beans to create their chocolates – are the rock stars of an industry that celebrates the subtle flavor differences of the cacao bean. Bars are now notable for the characteristics of the beans – the variety and where it was cultivated which are influenced by rainfall, sunshine, temperature, and the type of soil in which the bean was grown – and the multi-step process by which the chocolate maker takes large colorful cacao beans and turns them into a mouth-watering sensation. Read more »


“Tell Everyone I Said Hi”

A taste of honey is worse than none at all.                                 ~Lionel Richie from I Second that Emotion

There are people who love a quick fix whether it be a piece of dark chocolate, a cup of espresso, or a short story that can be read in its entirety in ten minutes or less. Not that a whole chocolate bar, a mug of coffee or a 600 page novel aren’t fantastic – they certainly are – but there are times when a “hit” just makes your day a little happier and more satisfying. If you happen to agree, then Tell Everyone I Said Hi  is the book for you. Read more »


App-less in an Appy World

On a recent trip, my husband and I were sitting in the Des Moines airport when we started discussing our boarding passes. I had two hard copies while he flashed his phone in front of me displaying a boarding pass on the screen. “It’s a Delta app” he said and proceed to show me all the information he had at his fingertips, none of which I really saw the importance of because I was in the habit of going to airline websites to make a flight reservation, check-in, change a ticket, or get a boarding pass. After all, if I didn’t check in, I would probably forget I was going somewhere. Read more »


Broccoli Salad

When cole slaw doesn’t create as much excitement around the dinner table halfway through the summer as it did over July 4th, its time to mix things up a bit and serve fresh Broccoli Salad, a colorful and refreshing alternative to the traditional summer salads. Choosing flavors and textures that complement each other in both taste and presentation is the key here while keeping it simple with four ingredients. Think earthy, sweet, crunchy, and tangy.  Read more »


10 Reasons to Love Vancouver

There are many reasons to love Vancouver and I suspect the longer one stays in Vancouver, the more there is to love but from an outsider who recently spent four days in a city that strikes me as a cross between Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Portland, Oregon, there are ten very strong reasons to love this west coast seaport in British Columbia: Read more »


The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg

Anybody want a peanut?           ~Fezzik

There are thousands of types of peanuts but only four major groups: Runner, Spanish, Valencia, and Virginia. These nuts (actually legumes, but that’s another story) differ in flavor, size, shape, and oil content and are therefore used differently. Most peanut butters are made with either the disease-resistant Runner or the Spanish (higher oil content)  peanut while the Valencia is preferred for a southern favorite – boiled peanuts. Virginia peanuts – known for their large size and exquisite flavor – are generally sold in shell or roasted and salted. Read more »


“What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures”

A lot of my process is informed by the notion that two mildly good stories put together sometimes equal one really good story.

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell was published in 2009, although the 19 non-fiction essays included in the book were originally published in The New Yorker magazine where the author has been a staff writer since 1996.

Divided into three parts with three themes: obsessives, theories (ways of organizing experience), and the predictions we make about people, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures is one of the most interesting contemporary collections of stories that anyone over the age of 40 can relate to without having to refer to Wikipedia for an explanation of events, characters, products, and businesses. Read more »


The Millennials are Leading the Way….

A few years ago – well, 17 to be exact, Tom Brokaw published The Greatest Generation – a book which described the people born in the early part of the 20th century who grew up during the Depression of the 1930’s and went on to fight in World War II because it was “the right thing to do.” From his perspective, this generation was the greatest ever produced because they were raised in deprivation and yet, selflessly contributed to a war effort to stop aggression and genocide. No doubt their perseverance was a testament to their extraordinary character. Read more »


Ziploc Bags – Who Changed the Formula?

Get more out of it!   ~Ziploc®

There are 5 products I always buy from Costco: Bounty Paper Towels, Vanity Fair Elegant Dinner Napkins, Kleenex Tissues, Charmin Toilet Paper and Ziploc® Plastic Freezer and Storage Bags. The harmony of my home relies on the availability of these products (well, not really but they help) and although I try to reduce our reliance on paper and plastic, I still count these products as essential…up until recently. Over the past few weeks, I’ve thrown away dozens of quart and gallon freezer and storage bags by Ziploc® because the bags split down the side no matter how gentle I am. Read more »


Organic Bean Pastas

What is it with guys and protein? If my husband sees or hears “25 mg of protein” his face lights up. And, it seems that whenever I have a discussion with someone about being a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy products, the topic of conversation immediately turns to an inquiry of where I get my protein – because people have been brainwashed to think the best source of protein is from animals when in fact, plant-based foods are an excellent source of protein. Read more »