Sunday, January 31, 2010

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1900 block Park Avenue, Lafayette Park Neighborhood . . .

This block of converted row houses in historic Lafeyette Park is one of the oldest neighborhoods in St. Louis (designated "official historic landmark" in 1972). These "shotgun" buildings today feature restaurants, bars, shops, businesses and apartments, including Ricardo's Italian Restaurant, 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar, Arcelia's Mexican Restaurant, Marble's Yoga Studio, Bailey's Chocolate Bar, Park Avenue Coffee (featuring their own gooey butter coffee cakes, 33 flavors!), and the original Steps Alano Club upstairs (now moved) . . . and this is all in ONE BLOCK.

Lots going on in Lafayette Park these days and definitely worth a visit if you haven't been down in a while.

Have a glimpse of St. Louis 100 years ago.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

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GOOD NEWS orchid lovers . . .

the 92nd annual Orchid Show opens TODAY at Missouri Botanical Garden.

The theme this year is very Parisian, a stroll through the Rue de Jardin . . . over 700 species of orchids on display, each perfectly in bloom. You won't believe your eyes. The Garden has one of the largest collection of orchid species in the U.S.

Opening weekend (Saturday and Sunday) the St. Louis Orchid Society has a separate room of rare orchids for sale, with experts on hand to help you select a beautiful specimen for your home. So bring your camera, and your wallet!

You'll forget it's winter at this year's Orchid Show.

Friday, January 29, 2010

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Driving around Kirkwood . . . IN MY NEW VEHICLE ! ! !

Just a few things to remember these cold January days:

1. Warm gloves.

2. Warm hat and ear covers.

3. Watch out for opening car doors!

(Great mileage, low payments, easy to park.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

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Big flakes. Big clumps of flakes. The kind of snow where you can see the design of each flake.

Big snow, but not for long.

Pretty though. Really beautiful.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

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Here's a creative, fun dessert idea for your next party . . .

FROZEN CARBONATED GRAPES ! ! ! Your guests will be amazed. YOU will be amazed.

Frozen grapes are easy, right? How about making them effervescent too?

Here's the trick . . .

You'll need to get some dry ice (check the yellow pages) . . . and some grapes, of course. Red grapes work best. Cut some small clumps of red grapes (serving size) and place them around a chunk of dry ice. (BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS STUFF -- NEVER DIRECTLY TOUCH DRY ICE. Use newspaper or gloves.) Place the dry ice and grapes in a burp-able container, e.g. Tupperware . . . overwrap the container in plastic wrap. Dry ice gives off carbon dioxide and will pressurize your container. (DO NOT USE A CONTAINER THAT SEALS COMPLETELY. REPEATING -- NO SCREW CAPS OR TIGHTLY SEALING CONTAINERS. No bomb making, ok?)

The grapes will freeze solid, and the CO2 released by the dry ice will carbonate your grapes.

It works. Tastes great too. It takes a couple of hours for the transformation to occur. Serve with dark chocolate and chilled grappa.

NOTE: Eat the grapes while they're frozen. Don't allow them to thaw -- they get mushy. Chewing on these frozen grapes is like eating bubbly grape sorbet. Great with dark chocolate.

Don't let the kids do this one. And no touching the dry ice. Safely dispose of the left over dry ice -- in the garage (or your neighbor's pool!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

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Here's one tree that needs room . . . . LOTS AND LOTS OF ROOM.

The Banyan Tree is fouind 'round the world . . . South America, North America, China, Australia, India, Southern Asia and too many tropical islands to name. Different forms of the Banyan, known as the "strangling fig", thrive where ever the climate is warm, there's sufficient rainfall and lots of room.

Once mature, every version of this tree sends out aerial prop roots which strangle surrounding vegetation and take over the neighborhood. Harvey Firestone visited Thomas Edison at his winter home in Ft. Myers, Florida, in 1925 . . . and brought the inventor a small Banyan seedling he had collected in India. Today, you can visit the Edison Home in Ft. Myers and see that exact tree . . . which now covers 500 sq. feet (and growing).

Not a good candidate for house plant!

Monday, January 25, 2010

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You can't "beet" this colorful baked chip . . .

Here's a tasty hors d'oeuvre for your next party . . . easy to make, and full of color and nutrition:


Get some fresh beets from your grocer -- yellow ones work great. (Yes, they come in decorator colors besides the popular crimson shade.) Trim the stems, and peel several globes. Then slice into thin circles (a "mandolin" food slicer makes this job easy.) Spread onto cookie sheets. (Silicon "Silpat" nonstick sheet liners keep them from sticking, but you can also use a light spray of cooking oil.) Bake at 350-degrees for 15-20 minutes; turn once until crisp and golden brown. (HINT: Cover with another pan to keep beet chips flat if you're going to top with chevre and herbs.)

These gorgeous chips will show off the striped colors of your beets.

Great party chips. Can't be beet!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

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"Magic Chef Range, Morning Kitchen Window"

-- Meramec River Cabin, Cuba, Missouri

Still cookin' with gas on this 1950 Magic Chef Range. My favorite kitchen window view, moss covered rocks. Good night's sleep, listening to the river, time to make coffee.

Nothing like a Magic Chef gas range! Did you know Magic Chef was a St. Louis headquartered company? . . . and by 1940, half of all stoves sold in America were Magic Chef stoves?

Made to last, and still working . . .

Saturday, January 23, 2010

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Thinking you'd rather be in Arizona?

Consider this . . . in the Sonoran Desert (where I shot this incredible saguaro cactus), at about 3,000-feet elevation, today's weather is almost exactly the same as here in St. Louis . . . cloudy, day time highs in the 40s, down to 34 degrees at night, maybe a little light rain.

If you're ever near Tucson, go visit nearby Saguaro Cactus National Park. These mighty cacti grow only in the Sonora Desert . . . reach heights of up to 50 feet, sprout mighty arms and efficiently store water to survive. Rain or not, they're able to flower each Spring, usually in May. (It's the Arizona state flower.)

Just don't bump into one of these big boys while you're hiking (ouch!), and don't ask me how to officially pronounce its name.

Friday, January 22, 2010

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The mighty pumpkin! More than a pie, more than a jack-0-lantern . . . now it's the source of one of the top 3 nutritional oils . . . and it's delicious to boot!

Of course, pumpkin is a great low-fat, high fiber nutritional food, high in beta-kerotene and vitamin C. Now there's great, recent news of the benefits of pumpkin seed oil, especially from the variety known as Styrian pumpkins. This delicious oil is high in anti-oxidants, unsaturated fats, omega-3 oil and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, E and K (whew!) . . . as well as beneficial for urinary tract and prostate health.

Try this delicious salad dressing for a refreshing, healthful change:

2 tbsp. pumpkin seed oil

4 tbsp. virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Shake and pour on your favorite salad greens. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on top & enjoy.

That's a GREAT PUMPKIN salad full of health. Yum!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

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Visibility near zero!
Foggy morning in Kirkwood (and the rest of St. Louis) . . .

View of Kirkwood Train Station. Looking west, looking east. Either way, better look both ways before crossing!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

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Imagine yourself, your family . . . no shelter, no food, no water, no electricity . . . chaos and death all around . . .

That's Haiti right now. Desperation. Frustration. Helplessness. Fear.

Aid is getting there, slowly but surely . . . thanks to organizations like the American Red Cross.

Won't you take a moment, log on to to learn how your contribution can make a difference . . . and get to the survivors who are hanging on for dear life.

God bless.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

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The healing flavors of ginger root have long been used in winter months . . .

for Indian and Asian cooking (delicious in stir fry dishes and soups), but also a long known folk remedy for sore throats and the common cold.

Select a fresh plump ginger root in the produce section (it keeps in your fridge for weeks). Peel and slice, and add some zest to your next soup, stew or stir fry.

And here's a great hot tea tonic when January's got you down:
Steep some fresh peeled slices in a cup of boiling water; add orange peel and a tablespoon of honey. Delicious and good for what ails you . . .

Take a ginger break.

Friday, January 15, 2010

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This blogger is soon to be a GrandPa ! ! !

Enjoyed a relaxing visit to Missouri Botanical Garden with my very pregnant daughter. We had the garden to ourselves . . . perfect walking weather.
The camelias were in bloom . . . the Climatron like visiting a rain forest.

Soon we'll be pushing a stroller through the gardedn with our new member of the family. Can't wait to meet her.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

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Attention: Fresh squeezed orange juice lovers . . . .


The good news -- Despite last week's deep freeze temperatures in Florida (especially in the Indian River citrus groves), Florida orange growers were able to contain a potential devastating loss through freeze protective water spraying. Some of the crop was lost, an estimated 15-20% . . . but much of the sweet orange crop was saved, especially the juicy Valencia and Honey Bell varieties. We can continue enjoying fresh squeezed Florida orange juice throughout the winter months, but . . .

Now for the bad news -- Prices for fresh squeezable Florida oranges will be UP substantially at your local grocery store. Expect the price jump as early as next week.

P.S. There's no substitute for the taste of fresh squeezed OJ, compared to those pasteurized cartons in the dairy case. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

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You can hear it in the gutters . . . that dripping sound means the snow is melting, the temperature is on the rise.

We're coming out of the deep freeze, and it feels sooooo good.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

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Sledding down Art Hill . . . a St. Louis tradition!

This past week has been great sledding at Art Hill, Forest Park, for "kids" of all ages. The bon fires at the top of the hill are especially appreciated between runs.

At the front door of our St. Louis Art Museum, Art Hill is aptly named. But did you know the hill was terraced to be a natural amphitheater as the central meeting place during the 1904 World's Fair? Before there was an Art Museum, the grounds and hill were surrounded by temporary buildings, lakes and fountains . . . all designed to be demolished after the fair.

Before the grounds were cleared (and as luck would have it), there was a grand snow fall in late 1904. Residents flocked to this landmark World's Fair hill that year to christen it as St. Louis' favorite sledding spot.

The water basin and fountain have been much improved since then, and so the tradition continues!

Monday, January 11, 2010

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Van Gogh like you've never seen him . . .

If you want to see the paintings of Van Gogh up close (and very BIG), then head to the OMNIMAX Theater at Saint Louis Science Center to see . . .

VAN GOGH: BRUSH WITH GENIUS . . . a beautiful new film on the super surround OMNIMAX screen which explores Van Gogh's life and love affair with painting the countryside of southern France. You've never been this close to his fabulous art. You see each brush stroke. You smell the oil paints, feel the colors and textures on each canvass.

This is a monumental film on the life and art of this great impressionist.
Over 400 paintings to his name, and to think Vincent sold only one work in his lifetime. Worth a trip to Saint Louis Science Center this month.

C'est magnifique!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

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Enough snow, enough ice, enough cold, enough already . . .


Today's visual distraction comes from San Andres, Colombia, and that incredible turquoise blue water.

Imagine being on that tiny island, out on the horizon. Sunny, peaceful, warm. Not a care in the world.

Hold that thought.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

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The snow is really loud today ! ! !

Ever notice how snow squeaks when you walk on it, especially when it gets REAL COLD
(like today)?

Here's why . . .

When the air and snow are only slightly below freezing, pressure from walking compresses and partially melts the snow crystals underfoot. Lubricated by a thin film of water, the snow can flow and little sound is made.

But when it gets colder and colder, foot pressure is not sufficient to melt the snow. Instead, when you step down, the individual ice crystals crash into each other, rubbing and crashing, with that familiar cold-weather creaking sound.

In fact . . .


Listen to your next walk in the snow. And happy crunching!

Friday, January 8, 2010

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Our first beautiful snow . . . .

It didn't end up burying St. Louis (like the rest of the country).
Just enough to dress things up and keep the kids home. (Happy sledding!)

Drive slow. Dress warm.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

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Our first good snow . . .

shot before the morning rush and plows.

Somehow snow belongs to the night, when it's quiet. And each star in the sky falls
and melts on my face.

Snow is beautiful. (But not too much.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

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The most incredible Colombian coffee has just arrived ! ! !

If you love truly amazing, small farm, rare Colombian coffees -- hand roasted here in St. Louis -- and award winning to boot, then your ship has come in.

Each year, in the village of Monserrate, in the Huila region of southern Colombia, local coffee farmers bring their best beans to the local co-op Cupping Competition.
These small farmers are very proud of their hand picked, high altitude select beans, as the top winners are able to command the best prices for their crop.

Kaldi's Coffee was on hand to bid, win and purchase the entire lot of LO MEJOR DE MONSERRATE, the #1 First Place 2009 Cupping Competition winner -- the coffee which judges declared to be the best of the best. Kaldi's is exclusive roaster of this sublime and flavorful coffee, and it is now available for sale STARTING TODAY.

So run (don't walk)to your nearest Kaldi's Coffee to try the best from Monserrate, Colombia . . . the beans grown and harvested by Oscar Fernando Medina.

(No, I don't work for Kaldi's. But yes, I lived in Colombia and have photographed the coffee farms in Huila, Colombia, and tasted these beautiful, amazing coffees.
For my cup, the best there is to drink.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

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When pastry becomes art, Sicilian style . . .

My good friend, John, drove to Chicago to stock up for the holidays, and spent $500 in and along Harlem Avenue (famous for its Italian shops and restaurants) for groceries, espresso coffee and Sicilian delicacies.
(After all, he was born in Palermo!)

Fortunately he brought back a CASSATA SICILIANA, a luscious almond pastry adorned with candied fruits, from the famous Palermo Bakery to share with his non-Italian friends.

As delicious to eat as beautiful to behold. MOLTO BELLA.
Thank you, John.

Monday, January 4, 2010

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Need a break from this cold weather? Visit the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Here's two warm ideas when you get there . . .

It's CAMELLIA time at the Linnean House. They're just coming into bloom inside the oldest continually operated greenhouse west of the Mississippi (built in 1882 by Henry Shaw.)

And while you're there, you'll forget how cold it is outside, when you're inside the world famous Climatron with its warm, tropical climate and lush jungle foliage. (Makes your skin feel so good.)

You'll forget it's January in St. Louis (at least until you leave Missouri Botanical Garden.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

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We don't "deserve big portions." We don't want "big gulps."
Just the opposite! Why do restaurants and marketers keep trying to super-size our menu items?

The key to a healthy diet and managing our weight is PORTION CONTROL.
The concept is easy: if you eat less, you consume fewer calories. But in a world where "bigger is better" and restaurants promote overflowing plates and giant servings, it's tough figuring out what a "normal" portion is.

Here's some tips to help you visualize a healthy portion size:

Cereal, grains, rice, pasta . . . . Your fist
Fruits and vegetables . . . . . . . A baseball
3 oz. meats, poultry, fish . . . . Deck of cards

Put half your meal serving in a doggie bag, to go.
Split dessert with a friend.
Eat slowly, eat just enough and ENJOY YOUR FOOD.

You deserve smaller, healthy portions. You deserve a healthier 2010.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

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This bumpersticker says it all . . .

A great resolution for the New Year!

Pass it on. (Tag, you're it.)