Tag Archives: Edible

Setting the Thanksgiving Mood

I turned to Josh the other day to see him staring into space. “What are you thinking about?” I asked.

“I’m having a hard time getting into a Thanksgiving mood.”

It’s no wonder. What with his work deadlines, the impending arrival of the Sauerpatch Kid, the painfully divided state of our nation, among other things, our minds have been stretched these last few weeks. I also just typed in “Why Be Thankful” to Google. It froze.

But come on people! Being thankful is one of the healthiest choices you can make for yourself. Yes, I said ‘choice.’ Thankfulness is a practice, an attitude to assume, to put on like clothing. In Shawn Achor‘s book, The Happiness Advantage, one of his top recommendations is to write down three things for which we are grateful every day for 21 days, the theory being that 21 days is enough to solidify a habit. The three things do not need to be profound, but the do need to be different every day. They can range from “I am thankful for my spouse” to “I am thankful for the feeling of a cup of hot tea close to my body on a chilly morning.” Whatever floats your thankful boat.

But if your health is not enough incentive to adjust your attitude this Thanksgiving, here are three other things that might help.

  1. Listen to Bing.

2. Step up your game with your Thanksgiving menu this year. Nothing like some kitchen creativity to warm the soul. These are Edible Nashville recommendations this year, but I suggest you poke around the website as there are TONS more where those came from.

tday recipes.PNG

3. Meditate on This: 

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington



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Butterflies, Granola, and Seriously Strong Women

screenshot202016-11-032021-12-32My latest article in Edible Nashville is out at last! Once again I had the delight of writing the “food hero” piece for the issue, this time covering the marvelous women who make up the Blue Monarch recovery center.

Blue Monarch ladies1.jpg

granola-portraitThis center welcomes women who have been trapped in cycles of addiction and abuse to a beautiful farmhouse in Middle Tennessee where they can recuperate with their children. As part of their recuperation, the ladies are invited to work in the onsite industrial kitchen where they make…wait for it…granola! It is through this granola business that these women gain substantive work skills and honest paychecks which amount to, for many of them, completely novel experiences.

As it usually goes with these projects, I collected WAY more information and stories and photos than I could fit into a short article. I often leave these projects feeling like there is so much more I could have done to create awareness for the seriously wonderful work being done. In that spirit, I wanted to share with you the stories of two of the women who had been through the Blue Monarch recovery programming. Their testimonies speak to the radical transformation possible for people who otherwise feel trapped and helpless.

One of the amazing things about these stories is how ready these ladies were to tell them. Their histories are not pretty, to say the least. Their pain is prominent, but they’ve come so far and they take their memories in stride. They have seen how powerful their stories are in inspiring others; they don’t hold back from the messy details. When I arrived, they greeted me warmly with big smiles and immediately launched into stories of rape and overdoses. Those juxtaposed smiles startled me at first, but made much more sense when they got to their happy endings. If you had come that far, you’d be smiling too.

So here are the stories of Brandy and Donaree excerpted from an earlier draft. Enjoy.

“Looking at the stunning Blue Monarch campus, it is hard to imagine a better place to recover. Any visitor would be thrilled merely to relax on that porch. But for residents, Blue Monarch is nothing short of a miracle. Many arrive at Blue Monarch after living in cars or in homes plagued with abuse. Some of them were given the choice of Blue Monarch or a jail cell. Understandably, newcomers often burst into tears at the sight of the beautiful yellow home full of spacious rooms where they can care for their children in safety and rest—a luxury many of them never fathomed.

donaree-masters-1The Blue Monarch difference is especially evident in the ladies’ testimonies. Donaree Masters, a graduate who now runs the granola kitchen, was raised in an alcoholic home where she suffered physical and sexual abuse. In her mid-thirties, she began a twenty-year meth addiction that ended with her arrest. By the grace of God, she says, Blue Monarch accepted her into the program in 2013. Looking at her now, radiant and smiling, the very picture of health, you would never recognize the woman from her mugshot. “Even if I had never had my addiction,” she shares, “I could not be in a better spot than I am in now. The beauty of what happens here, seeing these women growing and learning—being here is a dream come true.”

brandy-granola-prepBrandy Wilson, a current resident soon to graduate, similarly beams with hope and wellness in spite of a childhood riddled with drugs and abuse. Removed by the state from her drug-infested home, Brandy spent her adolescence moving between thirteen different foster parents, some of whom molested her. When she turned eighteen, she moved in with her biological mother and together they would regularly get high on pills. This new ‘normal’ came to a traumatizing halt when Brandy returned from an errand to find her mother dead from an overdose in her car. Adding to her grief, Brandy’s continued drug use lead to many months in prison and losing custody of her daughter. Facing additional jail time after a broken house arrest, Brandy pleaded with the judge for help, for some alternative to falling back into the same patterns. Miraculously, the judge remembered Blue Monarch and allowed her to apply in lieu of further prison. Brandy, who was pregnant at the time, gave birth to her second daughter at Blue Monarch, and made enough progress to regain custody of her elder daughter while in the program. Brandy has since completed her GED, won scholarships to attend a local community college, and been baptized together with her seven-year-old.”


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A New Edible Video!

I recently completed another video project for Edible Nashville Magazine, this time featuring The Grilled Cheeserie’s chef, Crystal De Luna-Bogan as she prepares her favorite way to eat watermelon–with chopped mint and a hibiscus lime granita. This dreamy fruit salad was the perfect treat for a sticky summer Saturday, and I had fun capturing the process on film. Check out EdibleNashville.com/recipes to make it yourself, and enjoy the video!

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My latest in Edible Magazine

The gorgeous new issue of Edible Nashville hits coffee shop shelves this week. Inside is my latest article entitled, “World Class Kitchen.” Woot woot!



This was yet another awesome assignment where I got to learn about some great work being done here in Nashville. Just up the road from where I live, there is a community center called Casa Azafran that serves the immigrant populations of Nashville, offering everything from English Lessons to daycare. One of their coolest programs is Mesa Komal, the shared kitchen space available to food/restaurant start-ups.


Inside Mesa Komal

By sharing kitchen space and its costs, these start-ups are able to start-up faster, as well as create camaraderie among their number through a shared dream. Read all about it!


The Four Food Entrepreneurs of the article

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My Latest from Edible Nashville

The new issue of Edible is still circulating around town, so grab your copy! I was thrilled and honored by my assignment for this issue covering a non-profit called Meals 4 Health and Healing.

These wonderful people prepare and deliver immune-boosting meals to cancer patients here in town. This is a critical service for several reasons:

  1. Cancer patients and their caretakers are exhausted from running between doctors appointments, too tired to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals. M4HH takes care of the research, the shopping, and the cooking.
  2. Many Americans eat the Standard American Diet, or SAD, which is mostly highly processed carbs and meat. The SAD diet does more to cause immune deficiencies than combat them. Simply, SAD diets lead to SAD consequences. M4HH partners with clients to educate them in super food science and how eating well can give our immune systems a fighting chance.
  3. Research shows that patients who eat whole foods during treatments show greatly improved reactions to the treatment and reduced side effects.
  4. These improved responses to treatment lead to greatly reduced healthcare costs, up to 60%, in fact, according to a study from the Ceres Project in California.
  5. Many individuals combatting illness also face isolation as a result of their condition. M4HH makes sure every client knows they are loved and supported.

M4HH is always looking for more volunteers! Find out more at their site. Also, here are some of their top healthy eating tips:


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3 Lessons in Food Photography

Recently I’ve been on a quest to learn more about food photography. Unlike most travel photography, which by nature depends on serendipity, food photography involves more staging and premeditation. Food photographers must ask themselves, “What can I do to this food to make it look irresistibly delicious?” They then use their mysterious powers of manipulation to make me salivate.

But really, what do food photographers do? I spent some time looking at a slew of food photos and made some observations which I would like to share with you. (The photos below come from the magazine, Edible Nashville, for which I have so far written two articles and am working on a third. Check it out!)

  1. White outs.
    I’ve noticed many food photos that overexpose backgrounds purposefully so as to pull all attention onto the food. In the photo below, the pork seems almost haloed by light, making us feel like this glowing scene really does have touches of the divine. It also looks nice and sanitary and safe.

    2a. Color Matters: Complementary Color Pairing 

    I am ashamed I never noticed how critical color is to food photography. On the one hand, the need for color is obvious; we all want our food to look fresh and colorful, so food photography naturally would enhance these characteristics. But my epiphany goes deeper than this. Food photographers make use of color theory, and often pair together sets of complementary colors, meaning colors that sit on the opposite ends of a color wheel (purple and yellow, red and green, blue and orange). These contrasts really make the image pop and prick our curiosity for how those colors must taste.

2b. Color Matters: Analogous color pairings 

Continuing with this color theory epiphany, food photography often exhibits ranges of similar colors, or analogous colors, meaning colors that sit next to each other on a color wheel. In the photo below, see how nicely the frame pulls you in with the color progression from cream to yellow to orange to red.

Photography by Mark Boughton

3. The Power of a Neutral Background 

Another pattern I saw across many food photos is the use of neutral colored backgrounds: creams, browns, and steely grays. These backgrounds make an excellent stage upon which the colors of the food can dance freely.


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I’m in Edible! (and I’m INedible!)

I’m published in Edible Nashville Magazine! The September/October issue, now sweeping the city off its culinary feet, has TWO articles by yours truly. I’m so pleased!

Edible, a national magazine, is published locally in more than 80 different cities around the country. While each city follows a similar focus on its respective local food scene, each publication has its own flavor, and I am very pleased to be a part of the Nashville team. The editor regularly shares a goal for the magazine which I fully support: Get more people cooking. The magazine seeks to increase curiosity about food and where it comes from, and not just among the elites and the foodies, but for anyone who wants to try something new. The magazine strikes a balance between trendy and accessible, high quality and affordable, and does so while always looking beautiful. Since last January when it started, each issue has enticed readers with stories about farmers, chefs, and events, along with intriguing recipes and delectable photography. If you are local, go find a copy! If you live elsewhere, here is a digital version for you to peruse.

As to my articles, I could not have been happier with the subject matter. The first, titled The Home Cook, is a new column in Edible that features a Nashvillian in his or her own kitchen perfecting his or her own recipe of a favorite dish. My assignment for this issue was to divine the ultimate zucchini bread recipe. To do this, I researched many different recipes and baked three very different samples for friends and family to try. From these guinea pigs I collected feedback on what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what they expect out of their zucchini bread. Read the article to see what I learned and to get the recipe for Emily’s Ultimate Zucchini bread.

In some ways, I am even more pleased with my second second article. I was assigned to cover a local farmers market to give it some hype. The story that I got was more than I could have hoped for. I learned that this farmers market got started by just three people wanting to help their community back in 2009. Their group, Hip Donelson, is now going on 20,000 followers and their market welcomes more than 3,500 people a week. As if this story wasn’t nifty enough, one of the gentlemen I interviewed stopped short and ran off to go join a flashmob in the middle of the market. I called the article Radishes and Renaissance. Enjoy!

cherry tomatoes 3


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