Glowing, radiant health is the new black. Our Green Table is serving it up, for the whole body! Healthy recipes and tips, the latest on eco-friendly food and "skin food"products and a head's up on ingredient safety are all woven into family-centered stories and discoveries. Bring informed, aware and empowered looks good on everyone!

Abrazos! xox Penny

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Good, Good Pig

Some of you have shared that you are having trouble going meatless. Yes, you know the information...both the horrors of factory farming and slaughterhouse "processing", as well as the good things, the benefits for your health and for the future of a healthy environment. You've watched the movies and read some of the books...although I know one of you out there..shhh...mum's the word, only reads 1/3 of the way through your books.

You know but you just cannot do.

On this Meatless Monday, I thought I would offer you another approach. The Good, Good Pig is a book I picked up at our library...a staff pick. It is a memoir and so know straight up, there will be tears. However, even for a deep mourner like me who cries at the thought of losing my beloved pals and still, at times, at the memory of those lost, I only went through two Kleenexes.

I had not heard of this book before and it is one of the most tenderly written "love stories" ever.

It is a book about what is possible.

Maybe it is possible for you, too, to read it. Maybe it is possible for you to start with pork and just say "no". 

Maybe it is both possible and doable. That would be a good, good start.

Here is a lovely breakfast from Dr. Neal Barnard to start your day. Have a good, good one.

Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup canned pumpkin (or leftover baked sweet potato)
2 tablespoons agave nectar (honey if you prefer)
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients with 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until liquid is absorbed and oatmeal is creamy. You may also want to toss in some toasted nuts. Your kitchen will smell divine. Life will be good.  Serves 4.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Do I smell chocolate?

Yesterday, I smelled it...right in my mailbox. I was like a pig rooting out truffles. A box of chocolates that I had ordered from my son's friend and now my friend, Josh, had arrived. I had first tasted these rich, dark, silky, spicy organic chocolates at Christian and Resh's during Christmas. Oh Absolutely fabulous!! Then Josh and I became Facebook pals and mailbox became a treasure chest.

So what that it is 9 in the morning!! Like those who say the starting bell of 5:00 for cocktails is always ringing somewhere, same is so for chocolate. Any time is chocolate time...especially when they are Josh's!

Here is the link to order up some yourself. Gee, I'd like to share mine, but...

Order your box of “A Fire In My Belly” Organic Spiced Chocolates today. Each box contains 6 "small cupcake" sized delights!  The perfect Valentine's gift or what the heck..."to me from me" gift! $10 for a box of 6. Order by contacting Josh at

In addition to luscious chocolate, I also I love beans. And cupcakes, too. You do remember that I have a whole cupcake walking tour of NYC, right? Here, at tour needed. Cupcakes on Kavanaugh is the bomb. However, I still have dinner to cook later today and found this fabulous recipe. I read it and couldn't believe it. Had my name all over it. I am so excited that I get to eat this tonight!! No need to guess what dessert is...more chocolate!! And, I may toss some into the beans. Nope..think I will take another bite.

Look at the delicious-ness tucked inside!

Red Velvet Black Beans (adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, another Brooklyn culinary genius)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon anise seeds
5 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 16-ounce can tomatoes
1 cup veggie broth
1/4 cup golden raisins (or regular ones)
1/4 cup crushed tortilla chips (great use for end of the bag crumbs!)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon almond or peanut butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar, maple syrup or honey
1 24-ounce can of black beans

Saute onion in the olive oil until it is transparent. Add garlic, herbs and spices. Saute for about a minute to "heat activate" the spices. (Come to my Spices 101 cooking classes for more on this!) Add veggie broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add in raisins, tortilla chips, chocolate powder and nut butter. Simmer for 15 minutes. Your kitchen will smell divine! 

Pour contents into a blender (or use an immersion one if you have it) and blend into a sauce. Return to pan, add beans and agave nectar. Heat to warm and let flavors "marry" for at least 15 minutes. Taste again for seasonings, adding "heat" from extra chili powder if you like. Here is a picture of my chocolate-y, chili-y, bean-y wedding...

Serve with rice and something fruity and a little sweet, maybe some mango salsa, grilled pineapple or sauteed plantains. Oh, and of course, one more of Josh's chocolates! Serves 4.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Raise a Glass

Yesterday was the last day Mark Bittman's column "The Minimalist" ran in The New York Times.  

I felt excited for his new opportunities with the paper but I will dearly miss his column. I like how he thinks and how he cooks. It has been so much fun to read his recipes and see how, like me, he has moved from eating animals to eating plants. For his farewell column, click here:

In that piece you will see today's beverage recipe plucked right from their celebration! Champagne toasts are always fun, whether you are toasting Mark, Thirsty Thursday, the end of this really cold and snowy January, the love of your life or the BF in your mirror.

Pour yourself a beautiful glass and raise it high! Cheers!

Mark Bittman's Champagne Cocktail

3/4 teaspoon bitters
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce maple syrup
6 ounces Champagne
Twist of lemon

Stir the bitters, juice and syrup in a flute. When combined, add the Champagne. Squeeze the lemon twist over the top, wipe the rim with it and discard.
Yield: 1 drink.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If Avon is calling, I am not home, unless...

One of the great things about a blog is whatever comes to mind, I can write about. My ideas on what to share on Wednesdays are always over-flowing my brain. It is hard for me to pick just one topic! Last week I promised to share the response a pal got from Avon. In essence, their response went like this, "Avon has a formal review process to evaluate the safety and integrity of all cosmetic ingredients and products. Every ingredient must undergo a thorough review of all available safety information by our toxicologists before it can be considered for use in a product formulation, and the safety of every product must be substantiated prior to product introduction." 

In an unregulated industry where only 8 chemicals are banned for use in cosmetic and personal care products in the United States (Europe bans over 1300), that comment sent chills down my spine, primarily because they are using internal, industry-only checks and balances.

The value to understanding the Environmental Working Group's website is huge. This is the same wonderful organization that reviewed bottled water safety recently and that also tells us which veggies to buy organic, which are OK to buy conventionally. Their "industry" is personal and environmental safety. And their toxicity evaluations are factual, not subjective. They use the cosmetic industry's safety panel's own Cosmetic Ingredient Review Compendium as a guide!!!

First, you can look up actual ingredients for the individual toxicity scores which range from 0 (non-toxic) to 10 (run). Then, you can look up actual products for their scores. Next, companies for their scores. Last night for The Hair Affair, I looked up Proctor and Gamble and found 72 pages...72...on the ingredients they use. Blew me away.

Perhaps the most important piece of the database is whether the company has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. That is key. If they are non-signers, what products may appear in the database for toxicity review could be old formulas and therefore the scores might not be true for current products. There could also be no products that appear at all!! Also, by not signing, they are not willing to be held publicly accountable by a third party, a non "industry insider" for the human and environmental safety of their ingredients.

It is not enough to not test on animals. Mother Nature and all of us should not be guinea pigs. Actually, in some cases, we would be better protected if we were. That is where we as women (primary consumers for almost everything) get smoked. "Well, the label says it is pure and safe!" And, if you read last week's Wednesday post, that is how this "chemical soup" gets served. With over 3000 wonderful companies that have signed this compact for public accountability, it seems very risky to support those that haven't. 

(Just so you know, too, the Compact for Safe Cosmetics was developed by several groups, including those who life's work is to eradicate cancer. Please read "Not Just a Pretty Face" listed under our store tab for a complete look at the who, why and how of this group or visit the website. Of particular interest to this post is the chapter "Tricks of the Trade". Also, watch the "Story of Cosmetics" video in the sidebar of this blog.

Please don't believe what a label shout-out or company trademark tell you. Be wary of companies, all non-signers, that say they have their own internal review board or only use a review board representing the cosmetic, toiletry and fragrance industry.  It is particularly sad that Avon falls into that category. They have such an opportunity to do incredible things for women and still lace their products with potential harm. Don't take my word for it either. Here is the link:

We gals are eager shoppers and it appears we pay only with our money. Not so...we pay first with our bodies, our loved ones future and the very skin off Mother Earth's back!

Our store tab lists a line that has scores of "0" and if you are ready to commit to safety that's truly and beautifully accountable, let me help you. We can always make a party of this information, too. Practicing "safe suds" is good, clean fun!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cutting the Mustard

But, before I do...hope to see some of you tonight at The Green Earth Pharmacy from 6-7 for our Hair Affair! Fun...we will be sipping on organic wine and playing in "safe suds" and, no worries, you will be home in plenty of time for the State of the Union watch parties and address.

RWF newsflash 2 p.m....this just in...looks like I have a fresh food partner for the project at the Foodbank which was last week's Red White and Food post!!! exciting...will keep you posted!!

Now, on to today...

This Red, White and Food is a shout out to that ballgame fave (hmmm...think I am hooked?), mustard. I cleaned out my fridge the other day and found several different varieties: 2 types of dry powdered mustard, yellow and brown mustard seeds, 2 Dijons and an organic yellow. All yummy. Mustard is a fabulous condiment and actually, pretty good for you, high in lots of vitamins and calcium. Mustard also helps purify the blood, increases circulation, calms the mind and boosts intelligence according to several sources I found. Slather it on! 

Given that I don't encourage hot dogs unless they are the delicious veggie kind, here is a basic vinaigrette that everyone can enjoy. It is good as a marinade, drizzled on veggie dogs, as a dressing for cooked veggies as well as salads. It is Julia Child's finest take on mustard... 

Oil and Lemon Dressing with Dijon Mustard

2 strips fresh lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup "fine fresh oil" ...Julia's words
freshly ground black pepper

Mince lemon peel and mash together with the sea salt forming a paste. Beat in mustard and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. When thoroughly blended, start whisking in oil and then remaining lemon juice. Taste for salt, adding more if desired and also adding in freshly ground black pepper. This can be done with a mixer or the true DIY way, in a Mason jar, shaking well to emulsify. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tasty Bi-lingualism

If I fudge my abilities some, I may be tri-lingual. I can speak a good amount of Spanish, but only in the present tense and with a combination of dialects. And so, I am just going to declare expertise in two languages: English and Pittsburghese. Yep...the latter is a full-blown language.

Surprising myself, I watched the football game last Saturday between Pittsburgh and Baltimore and what a thriller. Given that I feel P-burgh will go on to the Super Bowl (I is dreadful that they playoff against the Jets...I like them, too!), I decided to brush up on my Pittsburgh lingo and thought, if a Steelers fan, you'd like to as well.

Here is a fun link you can use for a do-at-home study guide and it's a lot cheaper than the Rosetta Stone course. No kidding...this is a language well worth acquiring! The link has some great quickies: easy-to-use conversational phrases, free translator...your language to Pittsburghese, instantly! And, even calisthentics to get you warmed up, "Yinz gotta be loose to rilly speak Pittsburghese."

Yizzel be a Yinzer in no time! Check it out:

(Now, don't get me wrong, with New York as my second city, I am quite a Jets fan, too, and if they win, I will still be happy. Fine tuning my New Yawk-ese will be the next step. Hey...does that mean I am nearly quad-lingual? And, no, I am not declaring "Southern" as one of my languages. Apparently, I am fooling no one about my background. Soon as I open my mouth I get, "You aren't from here are you?"...even after 25 years. Oh well.)

During my Pittsburgh days, my mom used to make a lot of Stouffer's Mac and Cheese. Thinking about that comfort food...the color is right. Could qualify as a perfect game day dish. However, in the interest of health, I am sharing a variation of Bob Harper's (The Biggest Loser) fave Mac recipe. It is cheese-less, but you can add cheese to your heart's desire if your cholesterol can handle it. I was amazed by how flavorful and comforting this dish tasted. And, how easy it is to make. The nutritional yeast may be exotic for some of you, but others have asked for recipes using it. Omit it if you decide to go with some cheese. I also added in some black olives for true "Stillers kellers" (Steelers colors!) Go Stillers!!!

Bob Harper's Mac

8 ounces elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
1/2 onion
1 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces roasted red peppers (I used a little over half of a 7-ounce jar),
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Cook pasta until al dente, about 6 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.

Saute diced onion in a little olive oil until the onion is transparent.  Add into blender along with cashews, lemon juice, sea salt and water. Pulse to blend well. Add in peppers, onion and garlic powders, nutritional yeast. Pulse until a well-blended sauce. Pour sauce over pasta and mix well.

Put into a casserole and bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until browned.

I also sauteed up some mushrooms and added them in along with the sliced black olives 

and served with a big side of sauteed veggies...

in Jets colors. Shhhh....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Consider the Source

I have been to two beautiful and intense movies recently, downed two large bags of popcorn and I do believe I am over it for a while. The Rabbit Hole is not playing in Little Rock, which at this point, may be a good thing for my body. I soooo want to see Nicole Kidman in this. I saw the play last year and the part she has is so complex. I guess I will have to wait for it to come to Redbox.

I can't even wrap my mind around the glop that is in movie popcorn. I have the info somewhere in my files but's Thursday which means beverage day and so, let's go there. I have a plan.

Here is a great recipe that even not-a-mixed-drink gal like me would enjoy. So appropriate when you consider the source! I may need two.


1 1/2 cups sake
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup filtered water
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup coarse crystal date sugar

Combine all the ingredients except the date sugar in a bowl or other container and mix to thoroughly combine. Place the date sugar in a shallow bowl or small plate. Wet the rims of the martini glasses and dip them into the date sugar, as you would if you were salting the rims of glasses for a traditional margarita.

Shake the liquid over ice in a martini shaker and pour into the martini glasses.

Happy Thirsty Thursday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hair Affair...Practice Safe Suds!

These signs are from a fun salon on the LES in New York. However, there is more to hair than just good (or naw-tee!) looks.

Did you see the news last week? There was a feature on CBS about a doctor in San Franscisco who ran toxicology tests on her pregnant patients. What she discovered was that 99% (!!) had at least 43 hazardous chemicals in their systems...

University of California San Francisco:

Researchers found pregnant women are literally walking around in what they call a "chemical soup," they're contaminated by dozens of potentially dangerous chemicals.
 Dr. Tracy Woodruff of UCSF says they found pthalates, DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls. Her team, analyzed blood and urine samples from hundreds of pregnant women across the country, looking for chemicals ranging from pesticides to heavy metals.
According to Woodruff 43 of these chemicals were found in virtually all the women. And that could mean repeated exposures for a developing baby. Another added concern is the mix of so many different chemicals at once.

Other tests have indicated that newborns arrive into this world, pre-polluted, sometimes with close to 300 chemicals embedded in their new bodies. That to me is absolutely stunning, but no surprise.

The doctor featured gives her patients this advice: watch your food, watch your personal care products...that is how the "chemical soup" is coming into your body...

and that is what Our Green Table focuses on cleaning up! I consider everything going in or on your

And so, let's get busy cleaning up...from your head to your toes. Safe suds only.
Whether your hair is straight

or curly, practice safe suds!

I will be a guest at Green Earth Pharmacy on Tuesday, January 25th showing off the free from harmful chemicals shampoo and conditioner that I love and feature here. Multi-use, "head to toe" safe products, I have found they are also make a great shower wash and after-shower lotion. Please join us from 6-7 to check these out...everyone who orders will receive a free $14 product and I am also having a drawing. In addition to the haircare products, I will be serving organic wine. Bring a pal...and be thinking about those friends with kids, are pregnant or have health challenges! Let me know if you plan to come so I know how much organic wine to bring. You can email me:

Here is what some clients are saying: "I LOVE LOVE this line and am so thankful that you introduced it to me!"

"My husband and I both love the new shampoo and conditioner! Thanks!"

Here is a link to the event:

If you really cannot come, let me bring a "Practice Safe Suds" (hair and skin) party to you! Email me. Long problem!

Next week, I am sharing a response a reader got after writing Avon...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fighting Hunger and a Big Misconception with Chili

One day, months ago, I started talking back to the television.

I was watching the news and a report came on that hunger relief agencies felt a squeeze due to the lack of meat available to give the needy. Well, by now, you know me, right? Naturally, I shouted out, "Hey, you don't need meat!" I called The Arkansas Foodbank Network and told them I had a plan with a recipe that would feed and nourish their clients deliciously...without meat. Yesterday, we started bagging up that project for delivery right before Valentine's Day. 

I want to use this Red White and Food post to thank all that have helped so far and to welcome others who would like to! First, many thanks to Kisha and now Leighanne and Samantha at The Arkansas Foodbank for embracing this project. A special thanks to the wonderfully artistic young women at Mount St. Mary who wrote out the recipe cards for me...they are so colorful, fun and from the heart. Take a look...

Next, I want to thank Melinda at the Department of Public Works for picking up the phone Friday (right before dashing to a photo shoot) and saying, "Why sure, we'd love to help...come on down!" She has done such a great job making recycling a city-wide priority...Look at these gorgeous bags she gave us to load up our goodies...

Then, I would like to thank Hilary for asking a great group of her classmates from The Clinton School of Public Service to muscle up and load up these bags with the food. They are a terrific! Yesterday, we packed up the non-perishables and assessed the quantities of perishables (onions, celery, garlic, carrots, green and red peppers) to gather up to finish this project for delivery. If any of you have access to these perishables or have any ideas for helping get them, please let me know!!

This project is a pilot... a beginning. And, we are able to have 700 servings of nutritious, plant-strong, health-strong food come from this start. Next year, I hope to bust through to 3000-4000 servings. A BIG thank you to everyone for helping. I will keep you posted on the progress to the finished Bountiful Chili Kits. xoxoxoxoxox

Monday, January 17, 2011

Making Peace with

Spam for one thing. No, not the Spam in the grocery store which could be a whole post of its own, but the Inbox "Spam". All of a sudden I am getting bombarded by this one: "Save on your new forklift purchase".  I mean, some days, I do try to move mountains, but really? Exactly what is the fit; what was the trigger there for that...forks??? Go figure. Anyway...kind of amusing except they are coming in 10 at a time!! Great thing about Spam, though, is that tomorrow, it will be hitting on something else...oh, and with a little luck, maybe on someone else!

Anyway, what is a fit today is more on words, especially words that create peace...peace of mind, peace of health. Peace period. Today is Martin Luther King Jr's Day. I think his "I have a Dream" speech is one of the most magnificent speeches ever.

I am so lucky that I get to spend part of this day in service at the Arkansas Foodbank working with several students from The Clinton School of Public Service. We are doing the first step of my food project today, taking it from dream to reality, and I am so appreciative of their help. Their words backed by actions of encouragement have meant a lot.

There are soooo many wonderful quotes from MLK...this one is especially fitting for today...

Make a career of humanity...and you will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in. -MLK

Still on words, I went to see movieThe King's Speech. It is amazing, and like "they" say, soaring. As a former stutterer (and also former leftie...that was an interesting tidbit in the movie), hearing others stutter is particularly moving. I shed more than a few tears. I do feel the pain. One of the most difficult letters for me was "P"...very unfortunate given that letter starts off my name and the word "peace".

One of the most difficult things for me to get right in the kitchen also starts with a "P"...pasta. I do love it, eat too much when served (like movie popcorn) but I haven't shared a lot of pasta recipes here. I am not crazy about white flour pasta which could be part of the problem and many whole grain pastas taste, well, cardboard-like and leave me feeling like I do need a forklift to get up from the table. Heavy stuff.

I found this recipe in a new cookbook and decided, what the heck...let's get the water boiling and do this. Time to make peace with pasta. It is a de-lish dish for Meatless Monday and the perfect dish with "peace of plate" to eat as I again listen to these words: or read them

And, as an interesting side note that makes this dish even more appropriate, Dexter Scott King (son of MLK) is a plant-based eater and Coretta Scott King, his widow, was as well the last 15 years of her life. Happy birthday, Dr. King! 

Linguine with Edamame Pesto

(I used spinach linguine here. Expect a quite different pasta experience...light, freshly flavorful and packed with protein...about 20 grams per serving!)

8 ounces linguine of choice
splash of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 -1 red onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms of choice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or Italian herb blend)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Add a splash of olive oil to large skillet and toss in onion. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add in mushrooms, garlic, thyme and salt. Cover and cook about 5 more minutes.
Add drained pasta and pesto to skillet and toss thoroughly to coat pasta. Let heat through and add a little pasta cooking water or veggie broth if it looks too thick. Taste for salt.

Edamame Pesto

1-10 ounce bag frozen edamame, thawed
2 cloves garlic
1 cup packed with fresh basil leaves (save a few out for a garnish)
1/2 cup veggie broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (and zested rind)
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Mix all in a blender. Add more veggie broth if the pesto seems too thick. I did not have any cheese or nutritional yeast and so I topped my creation with a combo of toasted walnuts and hazelnuts. Serves 3-4.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Abuse of Power

Say it fast and it is the abusive power. The same day as the heart-wrenching but inspirational memorial service in Tuscon there was a lot of other talk about "words" being spoken on the airways and I got an email that I will share.

There was a vocabulary primer that I remember from grade school called "Words are Important". Indeed they are. Here is the email which came originally from content in Self magazine:

The Power Of Words

It’s true, they are only words. But the problem lies in the fact that words have been proven to be extremely powerful tools in creating strong feelings that can lead to immense joy or profound sadness. For many, the continual, even jesting use of negative phrases can have the same effect as an abusive parent, spouse, friend or boss telling you repeatedly that you are stupid and worthless. Soon enough, you begin to feel that way, and what was once just a word can lead to a perceived reality. And that can lead to depression, anxiety, apathy, and an inability to achieve our goals. 

If you’re rolling your eyes right now, consider that the power of positive thinking is backed up by actual science. Just ask Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory (a.k.a. PEP Lab) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also the author of Positivity, a book about the science behind how positive emotions affect not only our general happiness, but also our health and ability to achieve goals that we may have previously thought impossible.

“Positivity doesn’t just change the contents of your mind—It widens the span of possibilities that you see,” says Fredrickson. 
As many emotions start with thoughts, and thoughts are mostly made up of words, it makes sense that we actually have the power to change our emotions and beliefs about who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing. We can do this by simply taking the time to consciously change our words and phrases from negative to positive." 

The article goes on to state that these words can be what you say to yourself as well as what is said to you. And so, here is the thought for the weekend...avoid a smackdown, of any kind, from anyone, unless it is an uplifting one involving food and Bobby Flay.

Here is a recipe of his that looks comforting and positively delicious! Have a great weekend!

Bobby Flay's Chipotle Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

2 cups heavy cream
1 heaping tablespoon chipotle pepper puree
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 1/8-inch thick
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk together cream and chipotle puree until smooth. In a 9 by 9-inch casserole dish, arrange the potatoes in even layers. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the cream mixture and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, cream, and salt and pepper to form 10 layers.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes, remove cover and continue baking for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cream has been absorbed and the potatoes are cooked through and the top is browned.  Serves 4-6.

Not-so-photogenic sweet taters awaiting their Bobby Flay transformation!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Message in a Bottle

Who needs to wait for the bottle to land on the beach when you can have a message with every cup of tea? One of my pals on Shelter Island said she saves the sayings attached to her tea bag. Got me reading them. They are great...nice, thought-provoking. Yogi teas have the best! I love tea and find it comforting. Needed a big warm mugful after last night's memorial service in Tuscon.

These are the bagged teas I love (except I am out of kukicha, a Japanese twig tea) and below is an especially appropriate message from a cup yesterday.

Pretty timely and profound, right?

If you are also a tea drinker, please read the post from December 16th, Cracking through My Comfort Zone. I try to buy teas that support the small farmers. My favorite brand is Organic India. I love the tulsi base of every tea but what really thrills me is that on every box there is a story about the family raising the tea and how Organic India works to help sustain family farms and heritage teas. Lovely.

There are also lots of fabulous loose teas I sayings attached, but with the deep, aromatic flavors they have, I create my own, most starting with "Ahhh..."!

And, drinking needn't be the end point for tea. Green tea is great to put in a spray bottle and spritz your face with and many teas are great to cook with instead of using just plain water. I use them often in my morning shake, too. Here is a new one I just made from the Vitamix cookbook...really good for your skin from the inside out!

Orient Express Smoothie

1 cup hot green tea
1/2-1 teaspoon fresh ginger
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups frozen mango chunks (or mix of frozen berries and mango)
2 cups ice

Place all in blender and blend away. Serves 1.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Inside those Toe Shoes

I went to see Black Swan over the weekend and I am still in a spin over it. What a magnificent performance by Natalie Portman...truly exquisite...and the story is as psychologically grueling as the reviews have claimed.  It didn't help my emotional state that I was downing handfuls of chemically-soused popcorn for two hours either. I am weak near movie popcorn. Wretched stuff but I love it and wear it for days. I feel that, now mentally better prepared, I need to see this movie again...just as soon as I lose this popcorn weight. Call me if you want to go.

Anyway, one of the scenes prompted me to share a present I got from my DIL Reshma for Christmas...another line of healthier nail polish, RGB, that I had been eyeing for months. She gave me two is Sea, a beautiful, deep, truly sea-colored emerald that sparkles like the perfect wave and the other Scarlet...for when I want to kick it up a little. Cruelty-free and free from harmful chemicals...just my kind of glam. Look for this line online at or in select shops. (I have seen the line here in Little Rock and at Woodley and Bunny in Brooklyn.)

Next week I am sharing a Hair Affair and a gift Lissa gave me. Fun, healthy, pretty, glam-y Women and Wednesdays.

Also, because Sous Chef Annie opted out of all the snow photos, I thought you would love to see her in her preferred setting. She is quite proud of her nails...lovely, long and dark. Oh dear...feel myself drifting back to Black Swan....

Lounge Princess Annie with Lilly on the ready at Bark Central
A Stretch and Sentry Change

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thoughts in Flight

 May comfort and healing wing their way to the families in Arizona.