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I’m not sure if I will rate more or less of that once this gets posted. In my refrigerator when I first wrote this were way too many house made Sour Watermelon  Gummy Bears. I had very little to do with the making of them and even less to do with the eating of them, but apparently I was the inspiration for them. My husband swore (well after Valentine’s Day had come and gone) that the ingredients for them (including the romantic container of grass-fed gelatin) and the gummy bear mold were purchased as my Valentine’s present. The fact that I eat gummy bears only at miles 16-26 of a marathon run (and I’ve run only one marathon and will likely leave it at that) didn’t come into play in his present planning.

Appetizing

Appetizing

My participation included buying a small watermelon and laughing at his time-consuming preparations. Also tweeting about it. And now this.

Gum yum?

Gum yum?

There’s something wrong about using my baking mold that spells out chocolate for the overflow of this abomination. They actually had very little taste–probably due to the out-of-season tasteless watermelon we employed. Luckily our daughter was in mile 9 of her student teaching marathon so she actually appreciated the gummy delivery and the knowledge that her father is still sweet–in a sour watermelon, grass-fed gelatin sort of way.

I found the fountain of youth last month, but I’m not interested in partaking of it again. It was at a Catholic church here in town during Advent. Almost as soon as I walked in the door with my 81-year-old mother,  I felt transported back to adolescence–all snark and muttering to myself and rolling my eyes and looking around at people wondering how they can put up with this. Feeling young again might have felt liberating if it hadn’t felt so stifling.

The only clue that I wasn’t an adolescent was that I used my time in the pew to do my Kegel exercises. Before things got started, I read a notice about proper behavior in church that an usher had handed out and hoped for some decent Christmas music. Imagine my surprise when the priest began the festivities by saying that one young lady in one of the front two rows who answered his question wins a prize. Don’t remember that from the old days. Don’t remember the question either, but the prize, which he pulled from his robes (memo to priests everywhere: Don’t ever pull anything from your robe!) was a tin of Virginia Peanuts. Of course. Famous church marketing 101. Jack up sales of peanuts by talking about them at the outset of Mass. Crass was more like it.

I appreciated his antics even more (or less) when he began his homily by commenting on the sacredness of what goes on in church, lamenting his parishioners bad behavior and instructing us to read the notice in the pews about the solemnness of church and how we are to conduct ourselves in it. I do not like being told what to do–especially when I’d already done it and didn’t need to do it to know how to behave. The instructions were all about not eating or texting or talking while in church. How handy for him that they hadn’t included playing Jeopardy and hawking peanuts in front of the congregation as what not to do. From all my church-going and Catholic school-going years, I seem to remember something about Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the Temple. On my next visit to church, I think I’ll institute clandestine pew yoga to help me find some peace. Otherwise I might have to stand up and say something. Want to come watch?! I’m guessing I’m the one who’d get thrown out of there.

Damned good list! To continue the consolidation of my Real Richmond Food Tours Twitter Holiday Guide for Richmond ( part 1  )that is only just barely self-serving:

#14  Gift certificates for Discover the James Bald Eagle tours on the James River!

#15  Cards, mugs and kitchen fun w/ a Richmond touch at Rostov’s Coffee & Tear in the Fan.

Poe Poe Poe

Poe Poe Poe

#16: Tix to  Lewis Ginter Gardenfest of Lights + something whimsical from their gift shop.

#17: Case of the month at J. Emerson will make people toast your good health all year long!

#18 Fall Line Farms membership makes buying local pastured meats, eggs+more goodies so easy!

#19: Gift certificates from Flames 231, Bottoms Up and Pizza Tonight +tix to our  Jan. 25th  all pizza tour .

#20: Peanut Butter Pups from Gearharts RVA Made w/ Reginald’s Homemade  PB + a portion helps Veterans. 

#21: Get their butts on bikes at  Boho Cycle Studio    to work off calories of #RVAdine gift certs!

#22: Tickets to Hollywood Costume at VMFA, lunch at Amuse, see one of 60films/60 days + a show The Byrd Here’s the Info

#23 Stuff stockings with Olli Salumeria from EllwoodsBelmontButchery, J Emerson Wine and Little House Green Grocery.

#24 When time is running out, there’s still time to snag a gift certificate to one of our food tours around town!

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I write a lot of  140 character bursts for my small biz, Real Richmond Food Tours, and though it makes sense that food comes up often, as it does on part 1 of my Holiday Gift Guide for Richmond, art and nature are other themes that show up. Makes sense, since those are some of Richmond’s strengths and what is such a pleasure to tout on our tours and on Twitter. Here’s #1-13 for 2013.

#1 Art abides: a membership to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best gifts (and best deals) in #RVA.

#2 Gift baskets from Little House Green Grocery full of Hispania Bakery , Blanchard’s Coffee & more treats!

#3: Tix to Virginia Rep’s Fiddler on the Roof! For Hannukah or Christmas +pairs w/ #rvadine meal. (Ok, so it’s late for Hannukah now!)

#4- Fun food-related utensils and books at Quirk Gallery.

#5  Create burger heaven w/ gift certificates to Station 2, Burger Bach & Belmont Butchery. #diditlastyear

#6  Blue Bee Cider will put a shine on somebody’s apple! I’m a fan of Aragon + the Reserve!

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#7 Help Cucina achieve world soup domination by buying Mulligatawny or Chorizo Black Bean soups at St. Stephen’s Farmers’ Market Saturday, 9-12.

#8 From the warmth of your home, get someone James River Park System license plates! Support an #RVA park.

#9: Beard Foundation Dinner tickets  Jan. 18th at Lemaire with chefs Bundy, Reitzer, Gregory, Alley and Sparatta!

#10: Animal masks from Big Secret  atBizarre Market upstairs in Chop Suey Books!

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#11: Bacon Bender– Housemade from Belmont Butchery ties  at Fountain Bookstore, mug from Rostov’s Coffee & Tea.

#12: Pick up some local art and food at Art & Food at Huguenot Springs Sat. 10-4 w/ @Manakintowne 

#13  Something your heart/art desires at Handmade Holiday at Dogtown Dance Saturday, 11-5 + Bainbridge Art Center Sat. & Sun.

It’s the time of year when people focus even more than usual on food. Grocery stores are stocked with holiday must-haves. Time to bake and shop and simmer. Yet the week before Thanksgiving I was stewing over what I was going to drink with a bottle of Mirilax to get me through a follow-up colonoscopy. Timing is everything.  So with the aisles stuffed with  Thanksgiving necessities, I wandered through the store looking at coconut water and naturally sweetened Vitamin Water and Steaz and Metromint. I had water on the brain. I was thinking about quaffing and quenching even though I knew damned well thirst wouldn’t be involved.  I did three preps last year within 6 weeks, courtesy of a malignant polyp that cost me several inches of my colon, so I have plenty of experience with the ups and downs and rebounds of my gastrointestinal tract. Here’s what I wrote in Richmond Magazine earlier this year about that much fun.

To jazz up what doesn’t sit well with my stomach, this time I thought I’d try  to suck down the prep with less sugary flavored waters from Brazil and Indonesia and Thailand. As much as I like to eat, my gut isn’t a fan of drinking a lot of anything. I’m not a coffee drinker, not a beer drinker, not even a soda drinker anymore (though in a bid to make myself happy during the liquid diet portion of the proceedings I did take a few swigs of Dr. Pepper to see if that transported me back to happy land days of yore). I don’t mean to make too much of what’s one day and night of unpleasantness since I was  lucky to have the opportunity, certainly. And given that too many of my friends are facing radiation and/or chemo after breast cancer surgery, what’s a day of intestinal fortitude anyway? I couldn’t help but hum She’s Got the Whole World in her Bowels except that the coconut water never made it much past my esophagus.  And the chocolate mint-flavored water is a mistake as well. But you knew that already.

2013-11-16 13.03.10

Happy Valentine’s Day to all and to all some dark chocolate! I am not a traditionalist, so there will be no red roses today.

An orchid for Emily

Orchids are lovely. Sadly the pot is empty now. My bad.

 

 

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I made it myself only in the sense that my sister Mary Eileen wove the basket and my daughter made the heart magnet. I did purchase the Pantone postcards and put them in here though!

A chocolate for my thoughts?

A chocolate or 16 from Gearharts? Sadly these are not in my possession.

Heart be still.

Heart be still. It’s a beef heart from my heart throb. 

BaconHeart

BaconHeart

Whoopie!

Make some Whoopie!

impressive, no?

impressive, no?

that's all she wrote

that’s all she wrote

 

So here’s the second installment of my Real Richmond gift guide from my Twitter feed. It’s a damned good list, if I do say so myself. I think it’s a good thing my children don’t follow me on any social media platforms.

Holiday Gift Guide #8 Gift certificate to a lovely #RVA B & B! Museum District B & B is near @VMFA. Maury Place &@gracemanorinn have pools!

Holiday Gift Guide #9 A membership in @falllinefarms for local-loving folks on your list. Year-round access to excess! http://ow.ly/fKTHB

Holiday Gift Guide #10 James River Park license plates for park-lovers on your list! #noDMVlinehttp://ow.ly/i/1bEls  http://ow.ly/fIa1y

Holiday Gift Guide #11 Burger bunch! Get gift certificates to@BelmontButchery @station2rva & @burgerbach for meat-lovers!

Holiday Gift Guide #12 Introduce someone to @relayfoods and give them the gift of local food & more time to themselves! http://ow.ly/fN2Tq

Holiday Gift Guide #13 French wine from @jemersonwine @Ellwoods@barrelthief + pass to French Film Festival @thebyrdrva http://ow.ly/fOAa8

Holiday Gift Guide #14 Nick’s on Broad sells the olive oil@StellasRichmond uses! Get chorizo and feta and other delicacies!

Holiday Gift Guide #15 Jewelry from Lynalise or Julia Dent at@bizarremarket at Chop Suey Books 

Holiday Gift Guide #16 #RVA =international! Gift certificates from  La Grotta Europa Stellas, Bistro Bobette, La Parisienne, etc. 

Holiday Gift Guide #17 @station2rva Get a Growler w/ purchase of $30 gift certificate. You don’t HAVE to give it away!

Holiday Gift Guide #18 Membership to @LewisGinter +tix to Gardenfest of Lights will put a shine to the whole year! #RVAhttp://ow.ly/gaHri

Holiday Gift Guide #19: beautiful baubles, pottery and other local#RVA delights at 43rd St. Gallery in Forest Hill.pic.twitter.com/3IXwWYMq

This is called cheating and I do it with a clean conscience since it is also multi-platform blah blah blah.

Here’s week 1 of my Holiday Gift Guide from my Real Richmond Twitter feed

It makes it awfully easy to participate in the Retail Merchants Association Think. Shop. Buy Local promo Saturday Dec. 8th, don’t you think? If you fill out the form at a participating retailer, you could win a $500 gift card from one of the afore-not-mentioned retailers.

Have fun and keep your sanity and your dollars in our community!

A recap of our gift guide:

Day 1 Holiday Gift Guide #1: #RVA books from @FountainBkstore or Chop Suey: First House; Come August, Come Freedom; Oregon Hill; Built by Blacks +

Day 2  Anything from @GearhartsRVA for the chocolate lover in your life! Caramels are my fave! #RVA

Day 3  #RVA ornaments (white or mirrored) from@modartifactsrva will glam up any tree! http://ow.ly/i/1b6HT 

 

Day 4 Chihuly tix from @VMFA (and treat yourself to a @wpabakery treat from Best Cafe!) #RVA #holiday

Day 5  Eliza Askin’s 2013 calendar. It’s a classic with some of our favorite spots in #RVA Find it @FountainBkstore

Day 6  Cool recycled bike gear even if you don’t bike! In @VMFA gift shop. Perfect for @richmond2015 http://ow.ly/i/1b6W9 

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Day 7  Holiday Gift Guide #7 Tix to #RVA theater! @firehouserva@henleystreetrva @virginiarep @richmondshakes From Madeline to Max, Will to Willy!

It will keep coming every day until Dec. 24th on Twitter.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!  My heart is cold–or rather the beef heart in my freezer is. Back in the day, some of my friends thought Cold as Ice should have been my theme song. Oh, they didn’t know me and of course neither did I. Today, though, I am fairly accused of being cold-hearted at least towards the animal whose heart was just on my kitchen table so I could take this photo.  Either that or being in on the  nose-to-tail cookery bandwagon or the Paleo schtick or whatever other trend goes with hunks of organs in one’s house. I can assume vegetarians and many meat-eaters alike might not appreciate this photo of a beef heart, purchased by my husband, thankfully not as my Valentine’s present from Deer Run Farm of Amelia at a Farmer’s Market here in town. It was not purchased with a photo shoot in mind. He wants to eat more organ meat, or at least have it in the freezer. FYI, the liver didn’t want to be a part of the photo shoot. Chicken, I guess. Ha! It is impressively heart-shaped, I have to admit.

Heart be still.

My life has evolved in the last couple of years to the point where Sunday night I was at The Virginia Historical Society for the inaugural Elby’s, Richmond Magazine’s very fun bash to honor the cuisine scene in town, and had the chance to hear Caleb Shriver, chef at Aziza’s and winner of Rising Culinary Star and Tim Bereika, acclaimed chef at Secco Wine Bar which won the Wine Program award, talk about pizza crusts and how to cook the beef heart that has been sitting in our freezer for a bit. Would not have guessed I’d been in on that conversation two years ago, gotta say. And just so you know, they both said to “corn it,” as in spice it and slow cook it like corned beef.  In my heart of hearts, I might be able to stomach that. I’ll let you know.

 

 

a misnomer based on my reading of it...

It wasn’t supposed to go this way, but I’ve found a really crappy way to start the new year. I started reading Home Comforts, the old Cheryl Mendelson heavy-duty how-to about everything I don’t do that I picked up for a song at Chop Suey Books pre-Christmas thinking it would at the very least give me fodder for more RHOME columns forever and ever. Maybe even make me make my bed and make my home office less frightening to the other inhabitants of my home. I paired that with plowing through Joan Didion’s Blue Nights. The result is feeling instantly and utterly inadequate, inconsiderate, possibly even inhuman (because I could barely stand Didion’s book–even accounting for her rotten situation and even though I had been moved and awed by The Year of Magical Thinking), and certainly unclean.

Nowhere to go but up this year? Perhaps that was my strategy all along.

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