Butter: Cultured, Bad & Bougie

I recently stumbled upon a 2-pound log of butter made by the Amish. It’s the type of purchase I am ecstatic about, but at the same time mildly ashamed of telling people about. I’m a sucker for local products and anything artisanal. So for $8 bucks, I was the proud recipient of a block of Amish butter.  I whipped up some toast and slathered it on... Amazing? Yes. Life Changing? Yes. In some regards I feel mildly robbed. I just think of all the years I’ve wasted eating shitty butter.

In my house growing up, olive oil trumped butter and it’s no surprise why. The Land O’ Lakes and Great Value we’d all been eating was a mere shadow of what its nutty buttery goodness should be. Over the past few months I have been wandering down the rabbit hole of butter and as you might imagine, it is quite the culinary badass. 

History. Butter has a rich history, pun intended. The oldest reference of butter has been found on a sandstone dated over 4,500 years old. While this is coming from a site dedicated to the Canadian Dairy Industry, I cannot find any reference to this butter art anywhere. Regardless, recently in 2009 a 70-pound case of butter was unearthed in Ireland that dated back 3,000 years. It’s safe to say butter has been around. Most historians attribute the original practice of butter churning to the Arabs and Greeks and ancient butter churning is pretty awesome.


Ancient Butter Churning 101. 

1. Find yourself a goat

2. Slaughter your goat

3. Take great care in skinning in while breaking down the animal

4.  After butchering, take your goat skin and sew it back up. You’ll be looking to make what I like to call a “goat bag.” The only part of said goat that was left open was the left foreleg. Why, you may ask? I have no idea.

5.  Open your goat leg, pour in cream and tie up the “goat bag.”  

6. String up that milky goat to some tent poles and swing that bad boy around until you have some butter. Now, that’s a party! However, this has left me with some serious questions..

When you swing your goat from tent poles does it resemble a pig on a spit or are we talking goat tether ball? 

How does one extract the butter from the goat bag? Playdoh style out the same left leg it came in on or do you split the skin open and make a giant butter ball?

I mean really, how many people does it take to swing a goat filled with heaps of cream? Is it wrong to assume a shit ton? How did people not get sick? While this description of butter churning leaves me with more questions than answers, that last question has got to come down to if your butter is cultured. No im not talking about bougie butter, but bacterial butter.

Cultured vs. Sweet Cream.  Cultured butter is traditionally only found in Europe today, although Vermont and New York are experiencing a small market of creameries embracing the method. Cultured butter is created when cream is cultured by adding live bacteria before churning. If you know anything about yogurt, it’s a similar process. Bacteria is added to milk. The bacteria hangs out, eats sugar and poops acid.  Gross and awesome? Yes. But above and beyond being super tasty, cultured butter means you’re getting happy gut probiotics

I like to say that cultured butter is like wine, you want to ferment your cream like your grapes, slowly, to produce the best aromas. Adding flavoring at the end can recreate some of the sweetness but it will never be like a true cream maturation!
— Adeline Druart of Vermont Creamery

Still wondering about that sexy sounding sweet cream butter? Let me walk you through it. Sweet cream butter is produced by putting fresh milk into a centrifuge. It is then pasteurized by heating milk to kill bacteria and help the butter stay fresh longer. Next the cream is separated off and beaten in a churning cylinder until it thickens into butter. The remaining liquid is pulled off and the solid butter is salted. Here is the quick and dirty break down:


Pros: Not heated, Richer taste, lots of good bacteria, has higher fat content

Cons: Takes longer to make, more expensive, shorter shelf life

Sweet Cream

Pros: Cheaper, longer shelf life

Cons: Tasteless, lower fat content

If you’re Butter, you want to be fat. It’s true. If you have ever worked in a professional kitchen you will notice European butter and how it is prized for its higher fat content. In the US, butter fat content is regulated to 80% or higher; with the standard sweet cream ringing in at 80 % fat, 16% water, and 3% solids. Conversely, European standards mandate a minimum 82% and many as high as the maximum 86% fat. Higher fat content means less moisture and results in a higher smoke point when searing. Also if you’re baking, higher fat yields a more tender crumb/crust and is superior in taste. While I’m officially done arguing the merits of fat, I’d love to talk greens, grass in particular.

Eat Grass. Don't Smoke It. If you have ever unwrapped fresh butter and like me wondered what had gone wrong, chances are you’re eating butter from a grass fed cow. While this is a rarity today, the color of the butter will be most vibrant and almost alarming if you are used to seeing nearly white butter. I was curious to know how grass fed butter sized up to standard butter.  Multiple studies have verified grass fed cow’s milk is significantly higher in fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.  It’s also much higher in conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy immune booster. I’m not here to say grass fed cow butter is a cure all, but if you’re going to eat fat you might as well get some nutrition packed in there.


In the northeast there are various outlets to obtain cultured grass fed butter. Wegmans now has an entire specialty butter section that can be found next to the imported cheese section, separate from the traditional butters. Whole foods and trader Joes are now carrying some great options as well. While the following list is in no way comprehensive or 100% percent grass fed, these are some serious butters. 

Most Accessible: Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (Salted)

I believe this is available in most places and is a solid foray into the cultured butter world. It is mildly yellow, salty, nutty and a bit softer than the rest. So it is super spreadable for those mornings when you only want tea and toast. If your feeling like a die hard, only 96% of the cows diet is grass, though how they come up with such percentages has me lost.

Chefs Choice: Plugra European Salted Butter

While this has a lower fat content at 82% it’s the brand I hear about most in kitchens. Similar to Kerrygold, it a good option and price point for those new to the European style. However, Plugra is not as nutty or robust in flavor.


Bougieist Butter: Beurre d’Echire (sel)

If this butter was readily available, I’d be the #1 brand fan.

1. It comes in a very French basket

2. Its 84% butter fat

3. It’s F&*king Delicious.

If butter could change your life, this would be the guy to do it. I think I just put on a striped shirt, baret, and grabbed a freaking baguette so I can drown it in this basket of butter. Echire Butter is so banging the New York Times just did a special on them...Yep, you heard me right; the New York Times did an article on a Butter manufacture. You may read it here.

Californian Butter: Clover Organic Farms Salted Butter

While everyone and their mother has been about this butter, I’m underwhelmed. The quality is bar none and the farm is fantastic, but the taste is B+. If you are spending 2-3 times that of traditional butter, I want to be wooed. I know Clover does good things but the best I can muster is a very John Oliver-esk....”Cool.


While butter may seem like a lowly ingredient in your kitchen, next time you’re at your grocer; give the butter isle a second glance. In life’s hustle the simple pleasures are often over looked. Grab your self the bougieist bread and a cultured butter you can get your hands on and enjoy the good life.   


Laundry 101

Yesterday was laundry day, *le sigh*. After finishing up the regular mix of towels, sheets, etc., I landed on my hand washables. With a few new additions to the mix, I decided to look at the tags before tossing them in the washer. WTF? When did reading the laundry tag become a process of deciphering hieroglyphics? After flipping over the tag to three more garments it became clear to me I have been blissfully unaware of the changing world we live in. What ever happened to, “Wash Cold. Lay Flat to Dry” or “Machine Wash with Like Colors?”  Apparently, alot.

The Symbols. To Date there are over 35 differing symbols one may find on that shirt tag of yours. If you feel like mentally checking out right about now, hang tight, things are just about to get interesting. If you are looking for a quick and dirty break down, there are only 5 symbols you need to learn and you can figure out the rest later. WASH. BLEACH. DRY. IRON. DRY CLEAN (scroll to the bottom for the picture).

A History.  While the masses were wearing army jackets, burning bras, and smoking the devil’s lettuce the FTC decided in the 1970’s to instate The Care Labeling Rule. This was an act that required clothing manufacturers and importers to attach care instructions to garments. In a time when the world was a bit smaller and fabric choices, washing machines and home life was a bit simpler this system was straight forward with basic directions such as machine wash or hand wash.

1997 marked a monumental change when the FTC allowed manufactures to offer directions to consumers via written directions, symbols or both. With a growing world economy a move to a universal labeling made sense.  My question remained, “how did we get to a label with pictures and who decided on this?” To be precise, the ASTM International is the party responsible for this.

Who. The ASTM International, never heard of them? Me either. The ASTM stands for the American Society for Testing and Materials, yet with all they do to date this can be misleading. In a nut shell, they are an international standards organization that, “develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services.” I had no idea how big this organization is until I stumbled across the website.  According to the site, “…over 12,000 ASTM standards operate globally. Defined and set by us, they improve the lives of millions every day… they enhance performance and help everyone have confidence in the things they buy and use.” Ok that part about having confidence in the things we buy and use, I am going to call bullshit. I am writing this blog because I have no confidence in my ability to read a label. However, these guys are the ones who bring all sects of the world market to the table. They find common language to discuss the verbiage of products and do a pretty great job of creating a world standard of commonality. While there is a lot of corporate mumbo jumbo mixed in there, if you think about it, they are kind of bad asses. While someone may have gotten a little symbol crazy along the line, it does make sense in theory.

Becoming a Laundress or Suds Goddess. While many of these symbols still seem like overkill, peek at this handy dandy graphic the ASTM came up with. Basically, if you know the main 5 you can figure out the rest along the way. If you are feeling real fancy you might even print out this darling printable from Clean Mama and put up in your laundry room. However, if your laundry room in anything like mine, it’s a glorified closet and no one’s hanging anything in there lest it be consumed by lint.

The Wash Icon. It looks a lot like those little dixie cups your grandparents used to keep in the bathroom for mouth wash. If you see that in any variation you can assume its safe to wash in water. If you look at the sign for delicate it has 2 little lines under neath. If your dixie cup is on a pedestal she’s high maintenance and must be handled delicately. Done!

Bleach Triangle. While I wish I had some witty jingle to help you remember the symbol; a good rule of thumb is if it isn’t 100% cotton and white, don’t bleach it. End of story. Or bleach it and be ready to trash it if things go south.

Drying. The least amount of heat is always going to be the best option for longevity of clothing. Unless it has a square with circle in it assume it needs to hang dry. If its particularly delicate keep your eyes peeled for the lay flat to dry. Learn this box with a line through it or that dress will never look the same again. I have learned this the hard way when one very special Free People dress got one very droopy shoulder.

Iron. If you are reading the label to iron, well I’m at a loss for words. You are a better person than I who probably has never melted a pair of her husbands dress pants with too hot of an iron. But really, just start low and keep amping up the heat until you get those wrinkles.

Dry Clean. I call shenanigans. 9 out of 10 times I can wash my dry clean only articles. I always test a small corner and see if it stains when dipped it in water. If it doesn’t stain I wash it on gentle with Woolite and hang dry. If it does stain and is not soiled but only smells. I steam it. Whip out that steamer and give it  and once over, it does a fantastic job of killing odors. If we are talking Brooks Brothers or Armani Suits, don’t be a dip, take those to the dry cleaners.

More Basics:

Delicate Shirts (Lace, silk, or similar)
Bras & Lingerie

Machine wash on gentile cycle, cold with Woolite.

Yes, Woolite is a bit pricier than many detergents but it saves the fabric and will do a much more thorough job at washing in machine on delicate/gentle than you will by hand. This is pretty much how I wash most of my wardrobe. I have washed heaps of dry clean only clothes this way. If you paid a pretty penny for it wash it this way for longevity and for goodness sake turn those jeans inside out so they don’t bleed blue all over. When drying, pull out all the delicate items and hang dry and throw the rest in dryer on tumble dry with no heat.

Gym Clothes
Men’s T-Shirts
Most Men’s Clothing

Machine wash normal cycle on warm with Tide.

This is tricky. If its super stank, you want to use as hot as water as you can muster but many of the breathable engineered fabrics don’t do well with heat. Tide on a normal warm cycle will most often do the trick.  Tumble dry on medium heat and if you have drytech yoga pants or similar pull those out and hang dry. However, full disclosure the hubby gets a special load each week of Tide in Hot Hot Hot water with HOT tumble drying for 60 minutes. This kills off any bad odor causing nasties and if the shirt melts at least it died going for a spin in the shirt sauna.

Happy Washing!


What to Do With All Your Thanksgiving Left Overs?

Growing up we had a neighbor by the name of Ron. He was a retired NYPD officer who is married to a very lovely British woman named Mo. Every year after Thanksgiving had passed and everyone grew tired of turkey sandwiches, Ron & Mo would whip this magical soup up. My family would flock next door and our family adopted a new tradition. It is beyond simple and is that legendary recipe that has never been written down and evolved every year based on the contents of the fridge but that’s what makes it so great!

The essentials.
Bird Carcass
Onion- 1 large (Sweet)
Celery- ½ a bunch
Cranberry fresh or canned (sauce, relish, whatever you got)

Optional Veggie Sides. 
Green Beans
Potatoes of any kind (mashed, sweet, roasted, ect.)

To Start. This is like any soup in that you want to chop your onions and celery. Place a heavy bottom stock pot on your stove and get your pot hot. Next, throw some oil (canola preferably) and toss in your onions and celery. You want to hear a nice sizzle when they go in. Turn heat to medium and let these lil guys sweat. You know they are ready when onions have turned translucent and slightly yellow in color.

Making Stock. Next whip out that bird body. Throw that carcass in with all its left over meaty goodness and if it sticks to the bottom that’s fine. Let it go with the onions and celery for 3-4 minutes, and keep stirring. You do not want anything to burn, but you do want caramelization on the bottom of the pot. If you have roasted your bird the bones have a great depth of flavor. A touch of fat and other meaty goodies will start sticking to the bottom of your pot and we are going to take full advantage of that free flavor. Add 4 cups of water and crank your heat up to get that simmering. Scrape off any stuck-on bits. Fill pot the rest of the way with water. Cover and simmer for 2-4 hours. Of course, longer is better but if all the meat and bones have fallen apart you are there.

Hot Dump. Strain the broth and separate meat and bones. Yes, this soup is hot and at this point you have dumped a whole lot of hot liquid back and forth and been wrist deep in turkey bits. If you make the broth the night ahead, you can save yourself the trouble of singeing off your phalanges and just strain the broth and refrigerate turkey bits separately.

Composition. Dump broth, left-over turkey meat, stuffing and cranberry in the stock pot and bring to a boil. If your feeling wild dump more sides in. Simmer for an hour and enjoy!

Somebody polish off all the turkey? No problem. The seasoning from stuffing and cranberry are the foundation for this soup and make it sing.  All other sides can be omitted or added based on availability.

Vegetarian/ Vegan? Use vegetable stock and proceed with recipe.

*Note. This is an equal opportunity soup, with exception of two sides. Those candies sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Don’t do it, they will ruin everything. Also, salad gets a little weird and if its dressed creates and oil slick on top of the soup.



How to Host an Overnighter: Sofa Surfer or Air Mattress Alike

With the holidays just around the corner it is safe to assume you may have some out of town guests knocking on your door in mere days. Regardless of your space, or lack of it you can host like a pro with a few simple tips.

Sofa Surfers.  Urban dwellers this is for you. Chances are you have about 10 square feet to lend to your guest. If you are bursting at the seams think about pulling out a laundry basket or hamper to place next to the couch. While this may seem odd, it gives your guest a defined space for them to keep all of their belongings together.

If the couch is to be the resting place for the evening, think about giving it a face lift. Many cushion covers can be removed, unzip those and throw them in the wash. More than likely if they zip they can be laundered on cool in the gentile cycle with some woolite. Next, remove all the half eaten chips, splenda packets, and remote controls and vacum that nasty mess. If by chance you own a steamer it would be wise to give the couch a once over. This will remove any lingering chip smell or remnants of lingering Dutch ovens. If you are reading this and going, “my cushions don’t unzip and my couch smells like spilled coffee and spit up,” IT’S OK! Grab some dawn dish soap, hot water and a splash of vinegar. Spot clean any blatant offenders with the mixture. Once dry, grab some borax and sprinkle all over the couch. Let the borax sit for a minimum of 10 minutes to neutralize odors and then vacuum it all up. The borax is key, think of it as couch deodorant or couch dry shampoo. If all else fails, you can always just grab a lint roller and run it around to pick up any lose bits and Febreze the hell out of the specimen. Febreze covers a multitude of sins.

Air Mattresses. My youth would not be complete without the memory of the “Aero Bed.” While the blow up mattress promises to deliver, “comfort, convenience, and reliability so you or your guests will sleep in style,” I have yet to ever feel stylish on the glorified float. Regardless, if you haven’t pulled your blow up out in a while, dust that bad boy off and give it go. Nothing worse than company staring at you as the motor runs and the bed starts flailing like a wacky waving inflatable arm guy as air blows out the seams. All kidding aside, do yourself a solid and inspect for any damage.

At this time of year, I do an extra load of laundry so all the guest bedding is fresh and clean. If you have limited space, pull out that laundry basket again and place all items needed to make up the mattress and place in a corner out of the way. It also doesn’t hurt to throw an extra dryer sheet in the mix to keep things fresh.

Guest Room. If you are lucky enough to have a guest room, you are one lucky duck! Since you are not opting for the davenport (a very fancy term for a couch) or the glorified pool float (cough* Areobed) you have many options of which I am sure you have already scoured Pinterest for décor ideas.

Regardless of your square footage situation, you too can be the hostess with the mostess…

Keep it Clean. Easier said than done if you have tiny humans around. However, if you keep your home relatively tidy much of the stress of drop in guests can be eliminated. As a rule of thumb I like to keep the guest space and living area with in 10 minutes of company. If all you must do is pick up a few loose items and wipe down a few surfaces, you feel much more inclined to welcome visitors. If this sounds like fantasy land, take a peek at solutions to simplify your home and start taking a stab little by little. If you continually have the same mess, you either own too much stuff or it doesn’t have a proper home.

Spare Key. If you are going to have a company for an extended period of time it’s a good idea to have an extra key made. It’s cheap, easy, and makes your guest feel at home. Dig around in your junk drawer (yes, we all have them) or purchase a cute keychain so it can be easily identified.

 Extra Essentials. With the holidays around the corner, stores are bursting with travel sized everything for stocking stuffers. Take advantage of this and pick up a few essentials like a toothbrush, tooth paste, deodorant, and stash away for unexpected visitors. If you have the space, a nice apothecary jar on a bathroom counter lets your company know what is available for them. If space is at a premium, try a small basket or zippered cosmetic case that can be pulled out and placed in the bathroom with a hand written note. Guests don’t come to stay expecting the Waldorf Astoria, they come for the company. Nothing tells your guests they are loved and appreciated like a warm welcome and a stay that is personal. Not everyone has time to bake cookies and offer a welcome reception like that of years past. But a simple note with a few goodies tailored to your guest can really go the mile to make them feel welcome.

 Local Swag. While I have a penchant for kitschy local items, I have moved to a region that has made it challenging to gift anything that is not bizarrely historical or university related. No one wants to receive a miniature of George Washington crossing the Delaware or a Princeton mug. However, if you think local you can always find something unique to your town. We have a great local coffee shop called Small World Coffee that roasts locally and is quintessentially Princeton. Also, there is a great local farm called Turhune Orchards. They make great pies, salsas and wines that are always a nice welcome to an out of towner.

Arcadia publishing in recent years has been publishing books that highlight the history of many American towns and regions. Local historical societies are collaborating with them to create a vast offering of American towns coast to coast. It is great fun to play tour guide when guests are in town. If you visit them just type your town or greater area into the search bar  and see what you can find! You can check them out over at Arcadia Publishing.

 Something Special. If any or all of this seems a bit too ambitious. When in doubt a nice breakfast and some fresh flowers are all that’s needed. A good meal wins over the most grumpy of guests and fresh stems are something that are out of the ordinary. Most of us don’t keep a fresh bouquet in the house on the regular. This simple gesture denotes that this time and space together is special, even sacred. Something to be cherished. I could spend a horrible night in a van down by the river. But if it’s with great company, a nice breakfast and mimosas; that’s something to write home to mom about.

Happy Hosting!



Drowning in Plums? Make Plum Wine

This year Home & Hearth has finally taken shape and one commitment I made was unless I had something really worth sharing I did not want to add to the overly crowded blogosphere. But here is the problem, no one is making Plum Wine or talking about making great Christmas Pudding. Yes, these things fill me with so much excitement I can hardly contain it. Not to share this knowlege and the ease in which these glorious items can be made seems downright criminal. It has become abundantly clear to me that while everyone and their brother is watching Food Network and HGTV, the percentage of people actually cooking is rather low, simply because some of the stuff is so daunting. So without further ado, lets make some plum wine people! Its super simple, you have the stuff at home and if you are anything like me you will have cracked into the first jar well before it ready because its tasty and your excited to drink the fruits of your labor.

While Plum wine may be a rather new concept here in the states, this stuff has been around in Japan for years. Umeshu plum wine is fruit that has been fermented in a distilled spirit. In 1697, the “Honcho-Shokkan” book of Japanese cuisine was written and Umeshu shows up. Most notably described as a, “… medicinal agent that stops the accumulation of phlegm, relieves parched and sore throats, and dissolves poisons,” this beverage was quite the hit. Additionally, in the last 300 + years this elixir has been used to treat cholera, intestinal issues, and various other maladies.

Now that we have had our history lesion and you are all yawning, let’s make some plum wine. Traditional umeshu uses a particular ume plum but since you may have an abundance of plums in season locally, please use those and embrace the variety. I chose to use emperor plums since we were drowning in them at the farmer’s market.

What you will need:

3 Cups of Sugar

3 lbs of Plums

750 ml of a good vodka

  1. Wash and dry those plums. Meanwhile, wash the jars that will be used for the fermentation. Plain 1 Pint Ball canning jars are what I had on hand and I used 5. If your new to the sterilization game, throw those bad boys in the oven for 15-20 minutes or place them in some boiling water and let them go. If you are feeling particularly lazy and will be fermenting in the fridge, throw an ounce of alcohol in the jars, put the lid on and give them a shake then dump out.
  1. Next layer plums and sugar in jars until all are stuffed in. If you use smaller jars (1pts) you will notice fruit and sugar will come to the top of jars.
  1. Fill jars ¾ full with vodka. The plums are going to relax over the next few months and really let themselves go. When they do they are going to get juicy and that needs some room to expand.
  1. Screw those lids on, date the jars, shake until sugar is dissolved, and throw in the fridge. Shake periodically over the next week to incorporate any sugar that has settled. By the end of the first week of fermentation all sugar had dissolved.
  1. Wait a minimum of 3 months preferably a year. Although I say this with a smile. While this truly is something to behold at around year one filled with richness and complexity of flavor. This beverage has this floral quality that’s equally as appealing when mixed with some seltzer at around the 2-month mark. If your feeling wild, live a little and crack open a jar. Hence the beauty of a 5 jar fermentation. If you crack one you don’t disturb the rest.




The Nan Diaries: The Story of 86 Years of Life and Home in America

There is this realization that comes about sometime in your late 20’s or early 30’s in which you realize your parents and grandparents are no longer super heroes, but people. Yeah, it sucks. The foray into adulthood is kind of shit.  But hey, this gives way to a sweet season of conversation and learning in which you get to see these people who are so dear in an entirely new light. With 2017 ushering in news of cancer and challenges ahead, I decided to take a moment and embrace the sweetness of the people I have this very moment. So, I called my grandma; she mothered, cooked and thrived in a time so unlike ours today and I wanted to know what home life was for her.

What was your first home like? Well, it was after the war, I think 1946. I had met daddy (my grandfather) when he came to visit my brother. They had been on the same ship during the war. Of course, we hit it off and ran off and got married. I was a teenager so we came home and didn’t tell anyone, but once you are pregnant it’s hard to hide those things. In that time, you didn’t talk about it. But we were young and dumb and I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground (her words not mine). During that time, there was nothing for veterans and we had no money so we rented a room in an old building that shared a bath with three other families and somehow we made it work. Once we got on our feet, we rented an upper flat that had its own bathroom. We had no furniture but we had a young child so we looked on the bright side, he had room to play. We were able to buy a tricycle for Chris and he rode that thing all over our empty flat and drove the neighbors crazy.

What was the first home you ever purchased? It was in a community specifically developed for families of veterans and was a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home with a basement and a whole kitchen. It was a nice place for us. Your daddy was born when we lived there (baby #2). We would have never been able to afford it but after the war we could get mortgages with no money down and only 4% interest. The house cost us $8,550 and when we sold it in 1954 we made a great profit; $3,000.00.

Tell me about a memory at home… When we finally settled, it was in Allen Park. Daddy would bartend on the weekends for weddings or events to make extra money. When he had an event, we would go over to Canada to buy the liquor since it was cheaper. Our neighbor Bob would often bartend with him. His wife Grace was over and we decided to help out the guys and go down to the docks together and pick up the cases of booze. We got the bright idea when we got home to look through the stash and found a bottle of ouzo. I had never really drank much of anything so we decided to pour ourselves a few glasses before the boys got home from school. Well I was drunk as a skunk in no time. Most of the neighbors had come by and had a drink since all the men were at work, we finished off the bottle and to have a party like this was so out of the ordinary. It was really something. Needless to say the boys came home to us blaring records and doing the twist. Grace, went home to make dinner and thankfully took my kids and fed them as I spent the rest of the night with my head in the toilet. Your grandfather had some choice words for me that evening.

Tell me about a typical weeknight dinner in the 50’s. Oh honey, you are going to laugh at me but I loved to make Spam Roast. You know back then in the winter we didn’t have fresh vegetables but mostly canned. If you were on a budget we would open a can of spam, open a can of sliced pineapple rings and press these into the spam and roast it for 45 minutes. Then you would make any sort of vegetable side like corn, green beans, mashes potatoes during the winter. If it was summer, we would occasionally have salad but it was just a wedge of iceberg lettuce with oil and vinegar. The boys also liked roast chicken and then the next day id pick the bird clean and cook it down with Rice o Roni. I’d chop up some onion, celery and carrots and cook those down with the Rice o Roni and add in some more noodles to make it go further. The left-over meat on the bird was protein and then that was dinner with some vegetables or maybe a piece of fruit.

What was a typical day for you? When the boys were young. I would set an alarm for 5 am and get up smoke, have coffee and read. It was 2 hours of quiet time for me before the chaos started. The boys would get up about 7 and get ready for school and be out the door by 8:00 or 8:15. Most days the best I could do was get carnation instant breakfast in them since they were always rushed but cereal, toast, eggs would all make it to the table depending on the day. On weekends, daddy would love eggs, bacon and potatoes. After everyone was out the door, I’d have another cup of coffee and make all the beds and then sit down to read for a bit or watch some television. Occasionally a neighbor would stop by and we would chat. I never ate breakfast or lunch; it was really more brunch and always cereal or oatmeal. You know they didn’t have instant oatmeal back then so you had to cook it. But then would start all the chores to keep the house up, laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping, prepping meals. It was so different; we just didn’t have all the things we have now.  Dinner was always about 5:00 pm and me and the boys would all eat together and then when Daddy got home around 9:00 he would eat and the boys would be getting ready for bed and picking at left overs.

What was one of your favorite things to do as a couple or a family? We loved going to the movies. It was one of the things we could afford. It was 12 cents for a ticket and we could bring in whatever you wanted to eat or you could buy concessions. You know, now you have to sneak your snacks in and they look like they are going to pat you down… it’s terrible. When we would take the kids, we would pop our own popcorn and bring Kool Aid. If it was me and daddy, he would always bring a pomegranate. Do you know he never soiled his clothes either.

In a time before plastic bags, no one in my family can figure out how he did this. How do you eat a pomegranate in a movie theater?

Grandmas are awesome. They always have snacks and fluffy hair and are sweet and lovely. Occasionally they surprise us. Mine has some choice language; turd and tittie pink top the list, and if you’re really lucky you may even occasionally have them drop knowledge on you. For instance, my grandma told me what a merkin is, mind blown.

Do yourself a favor and stop, carve out some time in your schedule and talk with the people in your life. Really talk. One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is your time and attention, and often what you receive is a gift in itself.

To Grandmas everywhere, you inspire us and are loved beyond measure.

Whole30 Breakfast Bowls

Its February and in a month sprinkled with chocolates and sweet treats, I decided its time to do a food post. The hubs and I recently returned from a short trip back home to Florida and I was thankful for some time to catch up with some dear friends of many years. We lunched, ate popsicles and drank wine pretty much everyday, hence felling bloated. Who ever said “fat and happy” was full of crap, it’s more like bloated and gassy. Sometimes you just need to hit the reset button and give your body a little love. Here is a delicious breakfast that is as delicious as it is nutrient packed and whole 30 approved!

Sweet Potato Brekkie Bowls

What you’ll need.

  • 5 lb bag of Organic purple sweet potatos * (why this matters… well talk about it below.)
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Banana
  • Cashew Butter or any nut butter

To Start. Get your oven nice and toasty at 400-450 Degrees. While it is pre heating, place your potatos in a bowl with some veggie wash (white vinegar will do the trick as well) and soak and scrub those spuds. Once you do this, you will never not wash you vegetables again. Whats left behind is appaling even on the organics. This past summer I had 2 Japanese Beetles hitch a ride home with these sweets. While they are beautiful and iradecent I prefer not to eat them for breakfast.

Dry off potatoes and place directly on top oven rack. Do not pierce your sweets or they will make it their duty to splat sweet potato goo all over the place. Place a sheet pan with parchment or foil underneath to catch any of the roasted sweet potato syrup that rebels and makes it way out. Depending on the shape and size, these will roast anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour and a half. You know they are done if a fork is inserted and it feels tender and squishy (scientifically speaking). For this recipe I err on the side of more done than under done. Once out of the oven, throw them in a bowl and let them cool completely.

Method. You may be wondering why the potatoes are not being wrapped in foil or poked, right? If you get the oven screaming hot and place them directly on the rack, the skin dries out and separates from the flesh. All of the sugars in the potatoes are also caramelized due to extreme heat. Win, win. If you are eating the skin, it is not all soupy and gross. If you are peeling off the skin the flesh will literally just fall away from the skin if fully cooked.

Pamper & Portion Your Potatoes. After they have completely cooled. Slit the skin and squeeze out the flesh. Once all the flesh is in a bowl, take a fork and mash until all fibers are broken down. Do not get to crazy and over mash as they will become gummy. Now is the point in the game where I pull out my pyrex, my yellow scoop and get to portioning. Two (#20) yellow handled scoops are the perfect serving of sweet potatoe and weigh in at 130 calories. You could drag out a scale or eye ball it but I like to know how much im eating these days. If you’re scratching your head, restaurant scoops can be found on Amazon or any restaurant supply store. They are relatively inexpensive and are much higher quality than the crappy imitations you find at Homegoods. I love the brand Vollrath and after working in a kitchen they are my go to.

If you have roasted a five pound bag, it makes enough for 10-12 servings. I individually portion them out and pop them in the fridge for breakfast throughout the week.

Dressing Your Sweets. This is where the fun begins. Essentially, you have created a base of complex carbohydrates that is a sweet blank canvas. Now we need some fiber and antioxidants. Insert your choice of berries.  Raspberries are loaded with fiber and fresh or frozen will do! I love to mix half raspberry and half blueberry. To give this breakfast more staying power I HIGHLY recommend you add some fat in the form of nut butter. If you are feeling really wild you may additionally add chia seeds, cocoa nibs or some crushed nuts. Sticking to one crunchy toper and one fat only is a smart choice if you are trying to keep this calorically in check.

When I first started making these, I thought I would need some syrup, honey or something sweet to make this meld. But if I can encourage you to just try it with no added sugar, I promise it will not disappoint!


*Why Organic? I know, I know, its more expensive and while I may see the value, I’m not here to get all preachy. But if I could encourage you to buy only one organic vegetable for your family it would be potatoes. I think the Huffington Post puts it simply…

“When deciding which foods to buy organic, potatoes are a must. Most conventionally-grown have one of the highest pesticide contents among fruits and veggies. The USDA discovered 81 percent of potatoes tested in 2006 contained pesticides even after being washed and peeled.”

Just a side note, that was a test over 10 years ago. To date the FDA has approved hundreds of new chemicals for use in agriculture and you are eating them all.

** Why Purple Sweets? Commons sense dictates that any vegetable that rich in color is nutrient dense but what about potatoes? They often get a bad wrap for being bland, boring starches. They are the carnations of the vegetable world, “fillers.” But sweets and purple sweets are particularly nutritional!

“The various colors of sweet potatoes also indicate the variety of antioxidants they contain. The orange ones get their color from the beta-carotene, but the purple kind have a different type of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Unlike other anthocyanin-containing foods, like eggplant or blueberries, sweet potatoes have these antioxidants in the flesh as well as the skin, so they’re a much more concentrated source.”

You don’t have purple sweets? Gladly, use what you have on hand and let me know what you come up with in your kitchen!