Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fruits & Cheese ~ After Dark Miniatures

Do Purple Tomatoes Prevent Cancer?

My very close friend just went through a phase of breast cancer treatment, and this led me to research some options myself, just so one could prevent yourself from falling victim to the threat of this deadly disease. You must have heard about Purple Tomatoes - a new breed of specially engineered tomatoes that are supposed to be very high in antioxidants, thereby helping to prevent cancer. Since past few days, it has been a topic of extreme research and speculation. Medicine has always tried to find something to fight the war against cancer, and if edible foods like Tomatoes can help prevent it, or at least slow down its harmful effects, I think its worth a serious thought! So what are Purple Tomatoes, and can they really Prevent Cancer? [Image Credit: John Innes Centre]

The Experiments
As quoted in a recent article in WebMD, "Scientists in Europe transferred certain genes of snapdragons to tomatoes, creating a tomato with a dark purple color and loads of antioxidants. The purple color is due to injection of "anthocyanins", which belong to the flavonoid class of antioxidants. Researchers tested the tomatoes on cancer-prone mice; they found that a diet supplemented by purple tomato powder increased the life span of the mice compared to mice eating a standard diet or a diet supplemented with red tomato powder." The results of this study, conducted by Eugenio Butelli of the John Innes Centre in England and colleagues from Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, were published in Nature Biotechnology.

For the research experiments, there were three groups of mutant mice, all prone to cancer. These mice typically get tumors and die young. The first group ate a standard diet. The second group ate a powder taken from freeze-dried regular, red tomatoes. The third group ate powder from freeze-dried dark purple tomatoes.

The dark purple tomato group lived an average of 182 days, compared to 142 for the standard diet group and 146 days for the red tomato group. The maximum life span of mice who ate the standard diet was 211 days; the maximum life span of mice with the diet supplemented with purple tomato was 260 days.

Why the Difference in Results?
The engineered tomatoes were richer in anthocyanins, which are pigments produced by plants. They are common in grapes, blackberries, blueberries, and other fruits, all rich in antioxidants. As per a recent BBC News article, "Research has suggested that anthocyanins are potent antioxidants and may provide a variety of health benefits - have been shown to help significantly slow the growth of colon cancer cells. They are also thought to offer protection against cardiovascular disease and age-related degenerative diseases, and there is also evidence that the pigments have anti-inflammatory properties, help boost eyesight, and may help stave off obesity and diabetes."

The Doubts
As quoted by Professor Martin at the research center, "This is one of the first examples of metabolic engineering that offers the potential to promote health through diet by reducing the impact of chronic disease." However, these tests have only been conducted on mice, however, it would be wrong to assume the effects seen in mice would necessarily occur in humans too! So the next step would be to try these tests on humans, and see the reactions and effects. And so, doubts prevail whether this can be a sure-shot way to prevent the boon of cancer. "It is too early to say whether anthocyanins obtained through diet could help to reduce the risk of cancer", says Dr Lara Bennett, from the Cancer Research UK.

The Conclusion
From all that I have read via various sources, I can conclude that though the results have been optimistic on mice, same cannot be said for humans. The researchers have clarified that this is merely a "Pilot-Test", "a preliminary study useful to validate the hypothesis of obtaining health benefits from diet supplementation with modified food. Although mice's lifespan has significantly increased once fed on purple tomatoes we still don't know how it works. It is not likely everything can be explained on antioxidants basis alone. Moreover, we have to consider that in this study we have not taken into account any possible toxicity so I shall say we're far from considering a human trial".

But I think this is indeed a first step in the right direction. The technology offers great scope for altering colors of fruits and vegetables, and their content of potentially health-protective compounds by using Genetic Enginnering. It helps to Go Organic most of the times, but if a simple mutation helps accentuate the good contained in natural foods, it is a path that we should definitely explore! As long as we remember that the war against Cancer and Diseases is a long one, and there's miles to go before we achieve something that is safe and effective!

Have you heard about this? What do you think? Do you support it, or are you against it? Please share your thoughts about Purple Tomatoes & Cancer with our readers, as the more information we have, the better decisions we can take!

Related Articles:
Is Red Wine Good for Health?
10 Superfoods for the Vegetarians
Natural Fruit Facials for Healthy Skin

Budding blogger: Prathima

Meet Prathima from Prats Corner in the Budding blogger series...

Here is what Prathima has to say ...

Hello to all! I`m Prathima from Mangalore. Welcome to ' Prats Corner '.I am a MBA grad, quit my job recently and now exploring the world of cooking under Amma`s guidance. I am absolutely passionate about cooking! Amma is an expert cook and has vast recipe collection - old and new. The two of us together make a great team - trying out a wide variety of dishes. One thing I have learnt from Amma is that the main ingredient for a perfect dish is 'passion for cooking'.

As I have a lot of free time now, I keep browsing the net for recipes and came across a number of blogs featuring wonderful recipes and that is when I got the idea of blogging and posting Amma`s recipe collection. My blog has been in the making for quite sometime now and finally here it is - Prats Corner.

Every meal we eat defines our mood and energy to carry on our day-to-day activities. Healthy eating is not depriving yourself of the food you love (of course one can occasionally reward oneself too!). It is about looking healthy and feeling energetic. At 'Prats Corner' you will find various healthy & tasty recipes, recipes from India and from around the world, recipes for entertaining etc. Also, soon to be introduced are various home remedies, skin and hair care tips, health tips etc etc. Do drop in to my blog and post your valuable comments and be a follower.

And remember, for a less stressful life, wake up every morning with a positive thought and you will be amazed too see how smoothly the day progresses. When having a meal, enjoy what you are eating instead of simply complaining about day`s events. A healthy mind can lead the way to a healthy body!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fruits ~ Kimmie Lou

For more minis by Kimmie Lou, visit:

Homemade Baby Food Recipes - Stage 1 (4-6 months)

Recently, I have received several emails from my blogger friends and readers about posting some Baby Food Recipes online. For those who don't know, I have an 11-month old, who's been eating Solid since 5 months, and unlike most kids, is NOT a picky eater! Thank Heavens for that! I always knew I would make my own baby food, maybe this feeling is ingrained in the Indian culture, or maybe its just because that's how our parents fed us, and the influence carries on. Please remember that I have nothing against feeding ready-made baby food - in fact, I did start with a bottle of Gerber puree, but my little one just did not like the taste. Maybe she guessed her Mommy was a great cook, and she wanted a taste of my culinary skills too!:)

Anyways, I ended up making baby food at home and freezing it in ice-trays, so you just have to pop it in the microwave before feeding it to her. We love this arrangement, it gives me the satisfaction that I am feeding her food that's free of any preservatives, and also I know precisely what goes into each meal. And it also gives me a chance to experiment with several flavors at a time - I mix a variety of foods and she's been enjoying it all quite well. Contrary to what some may think, making Homemade baby Food is simple, easy and not as time-consuming as you might think! So here I share my most favorite baby food recipes with you. I'll divide it in Stage1, Stage2 and Toddler foods, just so we can target the correct age group. A part of the information provided below comes from 2 of my favorite Baby Food sites called Wholesome Baby Food and Homemade Baby Food Recipes. They have great information about the topic, and I'm sure you'll find an answer to many of your questions in these two places. Now, over to the recipes.

Stage 1 Baby Foods (6-8 Months)
Stage 1 Baby Food is a term that applies to baby foods that are highly pureed and strained. These foods are appropriate for babies who are just being introduced to solid foods. The foods in this range are targeted to babies who are between the ages of (4) 6 to 8 months old. Baby cereal and soft cooked thinly pureed fruits and veggies should be baby's first solid food experiences. Single ingredients only and at a space of 4 days apart with introducing each new food. You may skip the cereal and begin with a fruit like avocado or begin with a veggie like butternut squash or sweet potato as your ideal first solid food. Here are some commonly used fruits and veggies that are deemed safe enough for an infant's growing digestive system.

Apples | Avocados | Apricots | Bananas | Mangoes | Peaches | Papaya | Pears | Plums | Prunes | Pumpkin

Green Beans | Carrots | Peas | Sweet Potato | Squash

Rice | Oatmeal | Barley

You can use any of the above ingredients by peeling them, boiling/steaming them as appropriate, and pureeing them in a blender with a little bit of water. I usually freeze the purees in ice-cube trays. Then transfer the cubes to a zip-lock bag and freeze them. remove one cube, as needed, microwave it for about 10 seconds, more if needed, but in sets of 10 seconds each. Then mix some water or breastmilk before feeding to the baby. Allow it to come to room temperature so you don't burn your baby's mouth!

Important: Follow the 4-day Rule while introducing new foods to your baby - means give him a new food, then wait for 4 days to introduce any other new ingredient, and watch for allergies or signs of discomfort to know if this suits your baby's body or not. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call your Ped's office right away:) Also, do not use any dditives like Sugar, Salt, Spices for the Stage 1 foods.

Here are 5 of my favorite Stage1 Recipes:

1. Avocado Delight
Peel Avocados and remove just the meat/flesh, taking care not to scrape the ones too close to the skin. Then blend it with a little bit of water and make avocado Puree. For a fruity version, you can blend Avocado with any choice of fruit - pear, peach or banana. Make a smooth puree and freeze in ice cube trays.
Note: Do not mix 2 types of foods unless you have fed them separately to your baby and he has taken to them without any allergies.

2. AppleSauce/PlumSauce
Peel and boil Apples or Plums - you could even steam them in the microwave, then blend them with a little bit of water to form fresh fruit sauce. Both Plums and Apples have high fiber content which will help your baby stay away from constipation.

3. Peas Puree
Fresh or frozen peas that are washed and steam cooked are great finger foods for your baby. However, its advisable to puree them for the first feeding. T enhance flavor, you can add a pinch of nutmeg or some fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley or mint to your green peas puree.

4. Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup
This is one of my personal favorites - Sweet potatoes have a lovely sweet flavor, and are quite healthier than the regular potatoes. After you have tried feeding sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots to your baby individually, you can combine them to make this delicious soup. Peel and boil the vegetables - add a pinch of nutmeg, cilantro and one fresh tomato to the mixture and bring to a boil. Then blend it all together, strain the puree to remove tomato seeds, and freeze as directed. This tasty soup will help your baby get accustomed to different flavors and the concept of mixed meals.

5. Butternut Squash & Oatmeal
Last but not the least, we take to a healthy puree made from Butternut squash. it has a fleshy texture and a sweeter taste. Boil the squash and blend it with water to make a puree. Freeze the cubes. When ready to serve, defrost the cube, add some water to it, then mix in some baby oatmeal and serve to your baby for a filling meal.

Introducing Solids to your baby is exciting, and should be fun for both you and your baby. Don't rush into the process, wait at least until 5-6 months before giving him his first taste of Cereal, definitely not before he can sit unassisted in his high-chair - then try these simple but delicious homemade recipes and you'll have your little one licking the bowl and the spoon in no time!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Tomorrow I will be heading to one of my favorite places in the world for a birthday celebration/vacation, Hawaii. It also just happens to be one of my favorite dining destinations. In addition to eating, swimming, exploring and shopping at my favorite island farmer's market, on this trip I am looking forward to attending an Obon festival and finally meeting my favorite Hawaiian food blogger.


Since this is my vacation, I will not be blogging from the beach. If you have any hot tips or favorite restaurants on Oahu, please feel free to leave a comment. In the meantime you can check out my Honolulu Dining Guide below.

I will surely be adding to it when I return...

Until next week,



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Budding blogger : Srivandhya

Meet Srivandhya of Vegetarian Zest blog in the Budding blogger series

Here is what she has to share with all ..

Hi readers,

The Vegetarian Zest is written by me, Srivandya Anand. I have degrees in Economics, Education, and Information Technology. Don't ask how that came about - it just happened. After slogging in many IT organisations as a content writer, I decided to quit and became a freelancer. Husband’s work brought us to Johannesburg, South Africa and since then I’m enjoying my life being at home.

I’m obsessed with food. Not so much with eating but more with cooking. Both my parents love cooking and seeing them I started cooking at a very young age. Mom always encouraged me to make my own sandwiches when hungry. Even today if my dad comes up with a yummy experiment, he shares it with me.

Apart from cooking, I like to check new food stores, go grocery shopping, buy storage containers, and check new recipes on internet. Also, I love to host dinner parties for dear friends and family.

‘Vegetarian Zest’ was born as a food journal and for learning food photography. I’m still in the latter phase. In each post you’ll find a story. I prefer to tell you where and how the recipe came or who passed it down rather than the techniques behind.

The recipes you find on my blog are put together with care and lot of passion. I usually get my recipes from my parents, magazines, internet or friends. Some are even found accidentally. All the recipes are tweaked or modified to suit my taste. As the name suggests, this is a vegetarian blog so you’ll not find any meat or chicken preparations. I make sure that my family eats healthy and fresh and in that spirit I buy high quality ingredients, fresh produce of veggies, and organic products… even if I have to spend extra.

Long story short, please do come by every now and then to check on new posts – I would love to see you around. Your feedbacks and comments are always very much appreciated, I can also be contacted via vandya.foodie[at] gmail [dot] com.

Bon Appetit !!

Archway Cookies: A Nostalgic Review

When I was growing up we didn't have soda or candy in the house, or junk food like Twinkies, but we did have cookies. Sometimes my mom made cookies from scratch, and sometimes she bought them. The thing is, some cookies need to be fresh and homemade, like chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal cookies. They just don't taste right to me if they aren't. But then there are some commercially produced cookies that are just fine and dandy.

When I was growing up I can almost guarantee you would have found pecan sandies, lemon coolers, raisin biscuits, or almond windmills in the cookie jar. Oddly enough most of those cookies are not so easy to find these days. Pecan sandies are a kind of shortbread cookie, flecked with bits of nuts and are the only cookie I still routinely see in the supermarket (though reviews seem to say they aren't as good as they used to be). Lemon coolers were very tangy cookies coated in powdered sugar. Raisin biscuits were affectionately known as "fly biscuits" in my family. They were thin layers of cookie, filled with raisins. They came in long strips that were perforated. Almond windmills later became just "windmills", as the amount of slivered almonds was drastically reduced. Windmills are based on a spiced Dutch cookie called speculaas.

Recently I got an email informing me that Archway was launching an iced lemonade cookie. Was I interested in trying some samples? Little did I know I would receive 13 packages of cookies in the mail. 13. Packages. Of cookies. So for you, my dear readers, I opened virtually every package and tried them. Call it professional responsibility. Somebody has got to try all those cookies and it might as well be me! Not every cookie made the cut, but a few varieties rose above the rest. Here are the ones I think are particularly noteworthy:

molasses cookies
Molasses Cookies
These are soft big cookies with a lingering molasses flavor and a bit of crunch from the decorative sugar crystals. Perfect with a mug of black tea and milk.

ginger snaps
Ginger Snaps
I like these a lot. They really have a good bite of ginger in them and are not too sweet. They would also be great in desserts. I'd use ginger snap crumbs in place of graham crackers to make a press in type of crust or to top an apple or pear crisp.

iced molasses
Iced Molasses
You have to like molasses to appreciate these chewy little gems, but I enjoyed them even more than the larger soft molasses version.They are really good and strong like a bracing cup of black coffee.

iced lemonade
Iced Lemonade
These are not my beloved lemon coolers, but I like them. They are tangy, not too sweet even though they are frosted. Actually I think most of the lemon flavor comes from the glaze. They are small and very crunchy.

windmill cookies
These are practically as I remember them, just light on almonds. From the photo it's impossible to see any almond flakes, but they are in there. The primary flavor is cinnamon but there are other sweet spices too. Windmills are hard cookies, but not as hard as the ginger snaps. They have an almost melting sandy texture. Are they that delicious or am I just being nostalgic? Hard to say. But I am enjoying them immensely.

You will find these cookies in various supermarkets.

What store bought cookies do you love or miss?

Friday, June 18, 2010

America Turns To Green Coffee Suppliers For Their Weight Loss Needs


After a long reign of assumed weight-loss benefits, Green tea is now finding competition in the weight-loss field to its counterpart, aptly called Green Coffee. The makers of a new green coffee (Coffee Shape) that contains a blend of unroasted coffee and roasted Arabica beans claim it could help users lose 4.45lb in a month without any other dietary changes. Drunk every morning before breakfast, each 3g sachet of Coffee Shape contains six to ten per cent of chlorogenic acid, a natural plant compound in green coffee that acts
as a slimming and health promoting substance.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that chlorogenic acid from green coffee causes significant levels of weight loss by reducing sugar absorption from the gut and speeding up the rate at which fat is burned in the body. In a four-week trial assessing Coffee Shape, those who drank one cup a day lost 3.5lb in two weeks, and 4.45lb in a month. How does this work? Well, it is reported that Green coffee seems to have three times the amount of antioxidants as green tea. If the unroasted green coffee beans are used in conjunction with a healthy diet it can decrease fat absorption and turn it into energy, which you can burn, instead of depositing it as layers of fat.They help you get rid of the right type of weight, which is fat and not body mass.

You will find several Green Coffee Suppliers that provide a blend of green bean coffee with normal coffee beans, just so the taste is not altered. HOwever, Sweet Maria's is the one who introduced Green Coffee Beans to the US, and you can find lots of information about buying or growing your own beans, as well as roasting them at home on their website.

So, at a top glance, looks like Green Coffee could be your answer to a faster metabolic rate, and definitely an alternative to Green tea, but like any other weight-loss gimmick, this only works for a short time. If you want to stay fit and healthy for your life, you have to stick to a balanced diet and an exercise routine. Otherwise none of these so-called weight-loss charmers will work!

Budding blogger : Sanjeeta

Meet Sanjeeta from Lite Bite..

She says ....

Hello everyone! I am Sanjeeta KK, mom of two kids, who carries a bucketful of dreams day & night, in spite of finding less time to make happen. Optimist by nature and a lover of all forms of creativity, I yearn to learn something about everything under the sun.

I like to read, cook, travel and write. Writing on food and healthy-living are a few joys of my life. Sharing it with you all will certainly increase it to manifolds. With a Masters’ degree in Economics & Business management, I am currently managing the intricacies & economies of my home.

Food, which is simple to cook and saves on time but not on health is my favorite. That is how my site Lite Bite was born. Lite recipes for right health!

Since dietary habits play a crucial role in deciding how fast one age, cooking our daily meal with a little nutritional knowledge gives an extra edge to health. Lite bite thus tries to incorporate articles on health, eating right and foods that heal, alongside many healthy-recipes.

Born in rustic Rajasthan and married in traditional Tamil Nadu of India, gives me the authority on the cuisines of these states. And in case you have time in abundance, just peep into my collection of delicious recipes from Rajasthan and many other regions to satisfy food cravings and win hearts. Browse through ( Do keep connected

Cheers!! Be happy and stay away from negative thoughts, “a light heart makes for an easy life”. Welcome to Lite bite! Hope this journey of learning and yearning about food & health prove to be rewarding for all.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Free Healthy Recipes!

How would you like to receive 50 free "brain healthy" recipes? Food bloggers from around the world contributed to a special recipe collection called ThinkFood, put together by Posit Science, a leader in brain training interactive software programs, designed to help users think faster, focus better and remember more. Posit Science takes an integrated approach to brain health that includes brain training and now brain healthy eating.

Visit the website to sign up for a recipe of the week. After signing up you'll be able to see the recipe online as well. This week the recipe is for Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and includes brain healthy ingredients such as chocolate, banana, flax, and walnuts. It's from food blogger Tina Haupert of Carrots 'n Cake and it looks great! On the web site you'll get the recipe, cooking tips, meet the food blogger and learn about brain healthy ingredients.

You will also be able to purchase a copy of the hard cover book when it is available in July. I'll let you know when my recipe is available in August.

Here is the complete list of sites that contributed recipes:

Ambitious DeliciousnessAnne’s FoodApples and ButterThe Arugula FilesBest Fruit NowBrown Eyed BakerCarrots ‘N’ CakeChocolate ShavingsCloset CookingCooking with AmyDaily Unadventures in CookingDash and BellaDine & DishDixie CaviarEclectic RecipeseCurryFake Food FreeFood BloggaFood Loves WritingFor the Love of CookingGourmet FuryGreedy GourmetHangry PantsHealthy EverythingtarianHerbivoraciousKatiecakesLa Note RestaurantLaurel On Health FoodThe Leftover QueenLisa’s KitchenLocal AppetiteThe Lunchbox BunchMake Life SweeterMy Cooking HutMy Sweet VeganNapa Farm House 1885 O-CookiesOff the BroilerOff the (Meat)HookPink BitesProject FoodieSassy RadishSeriously GoodShelterifficA Southern FairytaleStone SoupSugar BarSuper Healthy KidsTastes Like HomeWild Yeast

Monday, June 14, 2010

Magic Bullet To Go - Contest & Giveaway


If you are someone who likes to cook, I'm sure you know about Magic Bullet - the lovely food processor ensemble which can make your life in the kitchen a tad bit easier by taking away the load of cutting, chopping, grinding, blending and more! And now, the readers of Fun and Food Cafe have a chance to win a free Magic Bullet Express! All you have to do is send in your favorite snack recipe, and you can enter the contest to win this coveted MB Express.

For more details, please visit the event announcement at:

Asparagus Hot Brown Recipe

Asparagus Hot Brown
When I was in Louisville Kentucky a couple of weeks ago I tried the famous Hot Brown sandwich at the Brown Hotel. It's a rich combination of dreamy Mornay sauce, hearty turkey, a couple of tomato wedges and crisp bacon on top. Broiling the sandwich makes the tomatoes and sauce even tastier. But it's a monster! I really don't know how anyone can finish it. If you go to Louisville, by all means do try it. If you don't have an enormous appetite, you can order a smaller portion of the Hot Brown. It's not on the menu but it is available upon request.

All over Kentucky you will find different versions of the Hot Brown. Some have ham instead of turkey or a combination of both, or seafood and no turkey or ham. When I got home I decided I would try my hand at making a slightly lighter version of this delectable sandwich. But I figured why not try it with asparagus? After all, asparagus and cheese sauce is already pretty tasty. While I love Mornay sauce, I rarely have heavy cream on hand so I made a simpler cheese sauce. I kept the bacon because I think the salty, smoky flavor and crunch really are important in this mostly soft fork-and-knife style sandwich. I also like the juicy tomatoes so I kept them in the mix.

The Hot Brown was created as a late night snack for dancing, partying Louisvillians who craved something other than a midnight breakfast. But actually I think it makes a great breakfast or lunch. I know my other half would it eat it for breakfast if I put a fried egg on it! Then again, he would eat just about anything with a fried egg on it. A sandwich smothered in cheese sauce is a yummy thing indeed and I think there are probably endless variations...

Asparagus Hot Brown
Serves 4

3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt to taste

4 thick slices white bread, such as Pullman or Texas toast, crusts trimmed, bread lightly toasted

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and steamed
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan
1 -2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 8 wedges

8 slices bacon, cooked

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

For the sauce:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and quickly whisk in milk and cheese. Return pan to heat. Cook sauce, whisking constantly, until smooth and creamy, 1–2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and season sauce with salt to taste.

Preheat broiler. Trim the asparagus spears in half, so they are no more than 4 inches long and cut the toast into triangles. Put 2 pieces of toast in each dish, and cover with 1/4 of the asparagus and spoon 1/2 cup of sauce over it. Sprinkle a teaspoon of cheese over each portion. Garnish each dish with two tomato wedges, tucked next to the sandwich. Broil sandwiches until sauce is browned, about 1-2 minutes. Put 2 pieces bacon on each sandwich and sprinkle with parsley before serving.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mi Pueblo Supermarket

Mi Pueblo
Have I mentioned how much I truly enjoy grocery shopping? I might not even buy anything but no matter where I go, home or away, I am fascinated to see what is on offer. As my friend Joe Kowalke says, "Grocery shopping is my baseball." And I am an equal opportunity shopper. I like everything from fancy shops like Dean & Deluca that carry artisanal products, to Asian, Middle Eastern and Russian grocery stores and even supermarkets. I like discovering spices, produce, cheeses, sausages, prepared foods, baked goods, even packaged food I've never seen before and noticing what people are buying.

My latest shopping discovery comes courtesy of my dad, who shares my love of grocery shopping. It's Mi Pueblo, a supermarket that serves the local community in the Canal District of San Rafael. It's the first Latino supermarket I've ever visited and I loved it! There were so many interesting things to see like yards of chorizo, aisles of packaged flan, exotic spiky vegetables and piles of piioncillo sugar. There's even a taqueria and a panaderia right inside the store.

The prices for fresh produce were very reasonable and they carry many unusual things like fresh garbanzo beans and all types of crema that I can't easily find elsewhere, so I know I will be back again. The chickens roasting over mesquite smelled amazing and the guy out front selling oysters in shell was doing a bustling business. I probably won't be buying margaritas in a can or Peruvian soy sauce, but I now know where to find both under one roof!

Get the flash player here:

See the slide show of my visit to Mi Pueblo.

More posts and stories on Mi Pueblo:

Julie's Update
Silicon Valley Moms
Marin Retail Buzz
Marin Independent Journal

Fruit Tarts ~ Mo Tipton

For more minis by Mo Tipton, visit:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Activity - Having Fun with Bonsai

bonsai hibiscus

For someone who loves gardening, I have never really pursued growing bonsai plants before. However, when I received an email from Jake of ProFlowers to review a version of Bonsai Hibiscus for them, there was no way I could deny the offer! I love Hibiscus, and have several varieties in my garden. Owning one of the Bonsai varieties helped me understand the philosophy behind this wonderful array of Bonsai plants, and I discovered that it could not only add an element of beauty to your indoor/outdoor garden, but could also be a fun Summer activity to pursue.

A Japanese art of growing miniature container-grown trees, bonsai actually originated from China and spread to Japan and Korea. The art of Japanese Bonsai is centered on the principle that the tree must give a picture of "heaven and earth in one container". Contrary to what people believe, Bonsai is cultivated, not grown so genetically - it is actually a normal tree that is kept small by continued root pruning and regular re-potting.

The roots of these plants are very thin, like grass blades, because they don't have room to grow and are confined to a small pot. However, they do need more water and fertilizing, as the roots can't suck any nutrients from the limited soil in the pot.

Bonsai Hibiscus, just like its regular counterpart, needs a lot of sunlight. Make sure you put it outdoors with plenty of sun, and yet water it abundantly. There are several tutorials online to help people like us, I'm sure. I have just embarked on having fun with Bonsai, and I have a lot to learn! But I am enjoying every bit of this new activity, thanks to They have several other products for plant-lovers, so take a moment to check out their website, if you like.

Till next time, wish you all a Happy Summer!

Fruit Tarts ~ Vesi Koleva

For more minis by Vesi Koleva, visit:

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Icing On The Cupcake - Romance Mystery & Cupcakes??


Romance Mystery Revenge & Cupcakes??? It all sounds confusing, right? But that's precisely how it all comes together in Jennifer Ross's latest cookbook The Icing on the Cupcakes. Yes, I am talking about an actual cookbook about cupcakes, complete with tonnes of beautiful and unique cupcake recipes that will win your heart over. But rather than creating yet another cupcake cookbook that lists page after page of recipes, Jennifer Ross takes cookbook writing to an altogether new platform, by presenting it in the form of a Novel!

In this delectable novel, which also features delicious cupcake recipes, intertwined with the story of a young woman, Jennifer introduces us to someone who takes upon the challenge of being successful and fulfilling her dreams, one delicious cupcake at a time.

This is a story about Ansley Waller, who is a typical Southern belle from Dallas, with the ultimate goal of getting married to a rich and loving husband, raising his kids, and gracing parties and banquets in Southern style. But when her fiance unceremoniously kicks her to the curb and cancels their upcoming wedding, Ansley's world is all topsy-turvy, and she decides to head to New York City to live with her recently widowed and wealthy grandmother, Vivian, so she could forget her sorrow and get rid of ugly memories. But in turn, Vivian gives Ansley a no-nonsense ultimatum: Rather than wallow in misery, either get a job or go back home.

Then begins Ansley's journey to gather her nerves, put her MBA coursework to practice, and find a place for herself in this world. She decides to open a Cupcake shop with an endearing wish to bake the most exquisite cupcakes that any New Yorker has ever had! But unfortunately for her, New York is not a safe haven as Dallas - everything here is different, and Ansley has to go through her fair share of hard work, misery and sleepless nights before she can fulfill her dream, not to mention the fact that someone might be trying to sabotage her business, even before it opened!

Amidst this chaos, Ansley also has to find out why her grandmother had estranged her daughter, Ansley's mother at the tender age of 5, and never came back for her! Vivian is a great baker too, and Baking helps the two women to come closer and forge the bond that they never knew existed. What's the dark secret of Vivian's past? Who's trying to ruin Ansley's life? Was Ansley able to open her cupcake shop? You'd have to read this book to find out the answers.

All I can say is, Ross does a beautiful job of developing her characters and creating suspense in this book, finding space to end each chapter with an appropriate cupcake recipe. Plus, read the pages carefully and you'll also be able to find some serious baking tips that could turn a novice baker into a chiseled one!
The Icing on the Cupcakes is a lovely book that marries drama and cooking in an enticing way. For a small price tag of 11 bucks, this is one book that you'd love to add to your cookbook/novel collection.

About the Author: Jennifer Ross is a former Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News reporter, and the co-founder of the movie production company Brick House. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, children, and her two Papillions, Navette and Ruby. You can find more about her on her website, or check her out on Twitter

Watermelon Granité ~ Emmaflam & Miniman

Keep your minifolk cool with a refreshing watermelon granité (like a slushie) topped with red currants and decorated with a cocktail umbrella! Served with a pair of butter cookies on a porcelain saucer with a spoon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Food and Wine

Food and Wine
Wine goes with food. I know this sounds obvious, but not that long ago I got into a disagreement with a wine blogger about this very subject. Her point was that not all wine needs to be paired with food, some people enjoy wine without food. Well not me. If I want something to sip after dinner on it's own, I might choose a luxurious and sweet dessert wine such as Sauternes, Tokaji, Port or Madeira. As an aperitif I prefer something crisp and sparkling, Champagne perhaps. Or a cocktail.

There is a segment of the wine drinking public that has taken to drinking wine as if it were a cocktail. They want their wine big, bold, with little acid, plenty of tannin, and don't seem to mind if it's tremendously alcoholic (I mean over 14.5% alcohol). Again, not me. In Old World wine-producing countries there is a culture of drinking wine with meals. But in the New World that isn't always the way everyone is introduced to the pleasures of wine. So some people end up favoring wines that compete with sherry in terms of alcohol. Don't even get me started on the astronomical prices of some of these wines. By the bottle or the glass, I want wine I can actually afford to buy.

I remember once being told that in ballet the ballerina is the picture and her partner is the frame. I'd say the same thing is true about food and wine. Food is the picture, wine is the frame. A good frame can compliment a picture, but on it's own, it's just a frame. I used to attend a lot of wine tastings but I found I was comparing one wine to another and the wines I liked the best in tastings rarely impressed me as much when I tried them with food. So I stopped going to so many wine tastings. You might say I'm not sophisticated enough to appreciate wines on their own, but in my opinion, no wine can ever compete with the perfect pairing of food and wine.

While I don't entirely agree with experts and bloggers like Alder of Vinography who say that food and wine pairing is a scam, I do agree that "there are no right answers" and that ultimately you should drink what you like with whatever food you choose. I also believe there are pairings that are pure magic. Notice I said pairings, there is never just one good pair. The excellent guide book What to Drink with What You Eat shows many great pairs and is a constant source of inspiration for me, because finding those matches is something I strive for each and every time I open a bottle. For me the highest compliment I can pay a wine is that I find it "food friendly." But really, that is what every wine should be.

Tropical Tiki Cocktails ~ Michele Kelly

Beat the summer heat with Michele Kelly's Tropical Tiki Cocktails: Banana Daiquri, Mandarin Crush, Mai Tai, Piña Colada, Blue Hawaiian, Lava Flow ...

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