No Kid Hungry: 14 Days, 14 Ways

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Every time I see or read a news clip, post or tweet about what’s happening in the Philippines, one of the first thoughts to pop up is, “How are these organizations doing it?” I think about the recent refugee crisis in Syria, and wonder how the world’s relief agencies are going to be able to meet the nutritional needs of all the Filipinos who barely survived. It’s an unfathomable burden that requires “a village” — aka you and me.

Because along with the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons across the globe, we have many, many hungry families here in our own country, who are having equal difficulties obtaining food. Hunger continues to be one of the world’s most pressing issues. It’s hard to make sense of it, or to visualize an end. But in a country where food is practically recreation, it feels unacceptable that so many go without. If you’re not fully aware of what the real story is regarding hunger, particularly in kids, a visit to NoKidHungry.org will open your eyes. My fellow Pennsylvanians can also get a local perspective via Coalition Against Hunger. Skimming this PDF addressing the state of hunger in PA, it’s hard to overlook the big numbers…

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I don’t expect all of us to share the same passion for the myriad issues on the world’s plate, but as a No Kid Hungry blogger—and someone whose motto has always been, “I love everything about food, except that too many people don’t have enough,”—it is my duty to get information to you that might inspire action.

No Kid Hungry needs you, and the families who won’t be worrying about the turkey being too dry, the cranberries too runny, the wine not pairing up just right… they need you too. Hopefully, somewhere in these links, you’ll discover a reason to join the conversation. Ready, set, go. You’ve got 14 days to #bethechange, and now you also have 14 Ways:

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1.   Learn about  The Problem

2.   Watch and share the Story of Hungry video with your friends and family — #changethestory

3.   Arouse your emotions: Read this year’s Go Orange for No Kid Hungry winning essay

4.  Arouse your tastebuds: Download Cooking Matters free (healthy) recipe app, follow @CookingMatters on Twitter and share recipes with friends and family

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Get the app… via Apple

5.   If you’re a business owner, find out if your company meets the criteria to join Share our Strength’s Cause Marketing Partner Program

6.   Join the Hunger Core, No Kid Hungry’s Monthly Giving Club

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7.   Inspire giving by reading and sharing No Kid Hungry success stories

8.   Get Social: Follow No Kid Hungry on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

9.   Make A Memorial Or Honor Gift In A Loved One’s Name

10. Watch “A Place at the Table”, a documentary about the state of hunger in the US., featuring Billy Shore and Jeff Bridges

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11. Give through your workplace

12. Find out how your local school serves breakfast

13. Save the Date for NKH’s Holiday Give-a-Thon, December 3 (in conjunction with #givingtuesday)

14. Start your own fundraiser

NKH take the pledge

The best holiday tradition: Simplicity

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The word “tradition” flies around as frequently as falling leaves this time of year, with more than half the universe assuming that “traditions” are the norm. They are for some, but there are plenty of people out there who never really grew up with holiday rituals. It’s a great excuse for adults to poke fun at their own parents, but also causes a bit of anxiety when years later, they’re put in charge of bringing special occasions and holidays to life.

Here’s the thing: traditions don’t have to be a big deal. And, they can be updated each year to fit in with your family’s changing size, ages, marital, financial or health situations. (Sorry to sound bleak, but hey, life happens.) And if you haven’t yet started a family (or don’t want to ,) ), you can still do all the things mentioned here, just with half the mess and half the noise.

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Your family’s tradition can be as simple as everyone piling into Mom and Dad’s bed with crayons and colored pencils, books, magazines, even tablets, and engaging in conversation about what’s happening in the world that morning, what kinds of foods the kids would rather eat than turkey and cranberries—and drawing a picture of said preferred meal; reading stories or poems aloud, or looking up new words (hence, the tablet); playing Go Fish, cribbage, gin rummy or backgammon; drafting a letter to Santa, making place cards for the table, or just snuggling and tickling and watching the Macy’s parade (or better yet, Sponge Bob) with breakfast popcorn (a mix of cereal and popcorn) and hot cocoa with marshmallows. This is especially wonderful when you’re not hosting or rushing out the door to get anywhere.

Other cheap, easy and fun ways to get in the holiday spirit, is to write a thank you letter to another family member (everyone can pull a name out of a cup and then big sisters/brothers and moms and dads can help the younger ones write to their drawn recipient). The letters can also be used as place cards, dressed up with a doodle or drawing of a turkey. (Thumbprints are perfect for making a turkey’s body.)

If you’re cool with getting a little messy, having the kids find rocks outside (they do need to run around a bit or they’ll drive you bonkers), and set out some washable paint so they can create colorful place markers that can be saved and used all year long.

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Older kids can design an official menu, then incorporate that into the festive tablescape you’ll put them in charge of laying out. While they’re looking for rocks, they can pick up twigs, feathers, acorns, leaves and anything else they fancy. With your help, they can decorate the table making them feel a part of the special celebration. If you’re bringing out any family heirlooms, now is the time to share stories about their history (the objects and the person who gave it to you).

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Jazz up each place setting with mini pumpkins, bundles of twigs and feathers (you can buy these at the craft store) tied with twine or raffia, clementines embellished with whole cloves (it’s a Martha Stewart rip-off that I can’t take credit for, but do every year because they make the house smell amazing). My kids also

always loved making baked apples or apple rings, and this is something they can do while your working on the turkey and trimmings.

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Speaking of turkey, one of the most coveted to-dos for kids as they get older (after they turn 14/15, the magic ends), is timing the turkey. They get to watch the clock, set the timer, help you baste the bird and get a lot of the credit when it is pulled out of the oven in all its juicy, mahogany glory. Designating someone as “candle lighter” always went over big at our house as well.

Less original, but requisite, is writing down what we are each thankful for and putting into a bowl, then everyone picking a slip of paper and reading it, guessing who wrote it. (Handwriting is usually a giveaway, but that doesn’t take away the fun.) We’ve also been known to go around the table and talk about what we weren’t thankful for that year, which is actually a positive and subtle way to encourage behavior change, tolerance, empathy, forgiveness and compassion.

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click image for recipe; photo is from the recipe’s mastermind: Cooking with Chopin

Last but not least is family movie night—or afternoon, while the turkey roasts—everyone votes on what to watch, someone makes the admission tickets and someone grabs the blankets. After all, this isn’t just a movie; it’s snug time.

And when all hell breaks loose, and everyone starts fighting, there’s only one more tradition to uphold: outside with a basketball or off for a walk. Mom gets to stay in and get a few minutes peace.

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Home(made) for the Holidays: Teachers’ Gifts

This post is dedicated to my daughter Nicole, who as a teenager said to me, “Remember when you used to be crafty?” 

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Many moons ago, when social media wasn’t invented, and I was in full-on childbearing mode (aka the decade of pregnancy), and it actually snowed for consecutive days, I was into all kinds of creative activities. Whether for the home or a gift, my hands were always busy sewing, baking, cooking, painting, gluing, decoupaging, measuring, sketching, and occasionally, melting (chocolate, crayons).

During the holidays, especially, I would go slightly overboard, baking individual gingerbread shapes (with copper wire hooks embedded at the top), decorating with royal icing and silver dragées, and then stringing with twine to make garland. I only used Martha Stewart’s gingerbread house-making recipe (reliable for making sturdy, large houses) and painstakingly knotted each hook so the “ornaments” wouldn’t slide, before wrapping them in holiday gingham tissue paper and cellophane bags.

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At that time, three of my children were in nursery  school and Pre-K, and there were no rules about teachers’ gifts or any organized collections taking place. It seemed logical to have my kids help (that being a relative word back then) with the gift-making.

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Probably the easiest craft for them to tackle was pinecone bird feeders. And, since we live in the Northeast, with lots of trees—and birds—this fell into the “practical” gift category. And, low-budget; something to consider when giving out presents to several teachers and school administrators.

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Chocolate-covered pretzel sticks, rolled in Almond Roca crumbles, coconut, crushed chocolate-covered coffee beans and ultra-mini m&ms, were also easy for the kids to make. Just don’t have them do it on an empty stomach or before an activity where they’re supposed to sit quietly. I love this updated version.

Though it looks to be for Valentine’s Day, I can easily envision a Christmas or Hanukah version with mini dreidels or green and red m&ms, silver and gold spray-painted acorns or miniature pine cones or rocks to prop up the pretzels; and pretzels dipped in white chocolate as well as dark or milk, and rolled in appropriately colored ingredients. You can get small-sized cylindrical vases at the craft store, and keep the pretzel count to 3 or 5 to maximize your effort.

pretzel flower arrangment

Hand-painting one (or a trio) of terracotta pots, filled with potting soil sealed in a baggie, and glass vials of seeds also proved to be a successful endeavor that the kids enjoyed helping with and the teachers enjoyed receiving. While the kids painted the pots, I divvied up the seeds and soil. Had Pinterest been around then, I would have logged all of these ideas in step-by-step photos, but at that point, I am not even sure we had a computer in the house!

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One year, we made picture frames, using paper or wood frames purchased at AC Moore, a store I barely step into these days. The kids would draw patterns (or some semblance of) on the frames, paint them with tiny paintbrushes, then add glitter, rhinestones, scrapbooking icons or tiny flowers, depending upon who they were for. We did not put photos in them, because we figured that when the teachers were at home, they didn’t need to be reminded of their students—no matter how adorable they were.

Last but not least, and always a fan-favorite, were the homemade cookies, beautifully packaged in boxes layered with colored tissue paper (first wrapped as 2-3 cookie bundles in plastic baggies for freshness) or vintage cookie tins that I’d collect throughout the year. We’d do mini chocolate-chip sugar cookies cut into holiday shapes, regular sugar cookies adorned with red and green sprinkles, half-dipped in white or dark chocolate first… peanut butter cookies filled with mini m&ms and piped with dark chocolate zigzags, white chocolate-cranberry-almond oatmeal cookies diagonally dipped into white chocolate, and of course, old-fashioned gingerbread boys piped with royal icing.

No matter how much the teachers moaned and groaned each year that they’d gained 10 pounds during the holidays, each year they asked if we were making cookies again for the holidays.

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OS_RC_1143_WD(Cranberry cookie courtesy of ocean spray; p-nut butter courtesy of Crisco. Click through to recipes.)

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More than the taste, I think their heartfelt anticipation reflected an appreciation for the time and effort we, and other families, dedicated to making them feel special. I think this is something we all need to remember, especially when budgets are tight. Homemade gifts aren’t cheap or “junky,” and have the power to make a much more lasting and meaningful impression than something picked up thoughtlessly amidst the rest of your holiday shopping.

Eventually, the schools swayed the class moms to collect donations for a larger, more sophisticated non-teacheresque gift such as dinner out on the town or a gift certificate to a boutique, and our crafty days began to wane. (OK, I admit there were A LOT of reasons our zeal for crafty endeavors died down.) And now of course, there’s Pinterest, so I am all about DIY’ing it up. I may be short on time these days, but since I am down to two kids at home and one heading to college next fall, I think I’ll have no problem jumping back into the creative zone. No doubt there will a zillion Pinterest boards to keep me busy during those “where did my kids go?” days. Leave a comment if you want some actual instructions. I’m a pro at making gingerbread houses.

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NKH Bake Sale Inspiration

This recipe is an extension of DEW’s post RE: Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry.

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Get your Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry started with this sumptuous cake, courtesy of The Brown Betty Cookbook: Modern Vintage Desserts and Stories from Philadelphia’s Best Bakery with a few Baker’s Note’s from Jennifer Gutmaker Morgan.

(serves 20 people)

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray with flour (*Jen’s note: Pam Baking spray is what I prefer)
  • 4-½ cups all-purpose flour (*Jen’s note: I used White Lily soft wheat flour and converted it to all-purpose measurements because I prefer the texture of this brand)
  • 1 teaspoon regular salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 sticks (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups superfine sugar (*Jen’s note: I didn’t have caster sugar in my pantry, so I took granulated sugar and ground it in the food processor for about 2 minutes. It’s a more cost effective method too, as you can buy granulated sugar in bulk).
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature (*Jen’s note: you can quickly bring eggs to room temp by placing them in a large bowl filled with hot water for about 10 minutes)
  • 1-½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract (*Jen’s note: I like the Nielson-Massey brand)
  • 1-½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 1-¼ cups buttermilk
  • 1 recipe Lemon Buttercream frosting (*Jen’s note: I skipped this and used a friend’s vanilla buttercream recipe instead, although I added some lemon extract)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Coat a 10-inch angel food cake pan with nonstick cooking spray (*Jen’s note: I substituted three 9-inch round cake pans to make a layer cake).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy and then add the sugar on low speed until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until blended and scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat in the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon extract.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, and buttermilk, ¼ cup at a time, to the butter mixture, mixing until well incorporated.

5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake until golden brown on top and a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean, 60 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely (*Jen’s note, I used three 9-inch cake pans lined with a parchment circle and nonstick spray with flour. I baked the cakes in a convection oven and reduced the baking time by about 10 minutes).

6. To frost the cake, turn it bottom-side up onto a cake plate. Using an offset spatula spread the frosting all over the cake (*Jen’s note: I opted to tort the cake to make a multi-layer cake. I sliced each of the three individual cakes in half to make six layers. I alternated filling each layer with lemon curd, lemon-vanilla buttercream, and raspberry preserves. In the interest of time, I used Trader Joe’s brand lemon curd for the filling, which tastes fairly close to my homemade lemon curd using the Barefoot Contessa recipe).

Tip: The cake does not have a strong lemon flavor, so if you prefer a more tart/lemony cake, you can either increase the amount of lemon extract used in the batter, or you can frost the cake with a lemon flavored frosting.

Sweet Smell of (hunger advocacy) Success

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In the better late than never category, I’d like to send out a not-so-gentle reminder on behalf of No Kid Hungry and Share our Strength.

…In just 10 days, this in-constant-action organization will wrap up its October initiative, spurred by two very generous “sugar daddies,” Domino Sugar and C&H Sugar.

Of course, I mean this is in the most positive interpretation of the colloquialism, because these two food industry superpowers have offered a dollar-for-dollar match on October’s Bake Sale No Kid Hungry proceeds.

If  you’ve been itching to get your baking on, NOW is the time to grease those pans, melt that butter and cover the counter in flour. (It’s a good excuse for your kids to make a mess without being scolded too!)

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Want to make a stand against hunger? A neighborhood or community bake sale is an effective—and tasty—way to get involved and make a positive impact.

The No Kid Hungry team is happy to receive your Bake Sale contributions all year long, but the promise of matching funds is irresistible—apparently to bakers across the country, who have raised $75,000-plus since October 1. Talk about “sweetening the pot;” at minimum now, a total value of $150,000. This is a big deal at a time when families are facing SNAP cuts along with a generally unstable economic foundation.

Whipping up a bake sale is easier than you think: With one weekend between now and October 31, and plenty of football, soccer and fall ball games happening at parks and schools across the country, you’ve got a captive audience. And, who wouldn’t want to bite into one (or three) of these tasty cupcakes (or these and these!). Click here for a gluten-free option. 

Spreading the word and showing support for food-challenged families through an old-fashioned bake sale is an affordable and fun way to get your community talking about hunger. Having that time and effort rewarded with a matching gift, is the icing on the cake.

Happy Baking!

do it: Heritage Farm Fare

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Cool things are happening in Philly next week, among them the Heritage Farm Fare, a celebration of food, nutrition and community. If you’ve never heard of Heritage Farm, you’re not alone; it was only recently that I discovered this wonderful farm, tucked into the campus of Methodist Home for Children, a former orphanage that’s evolved into a hub for community activities and outreach.

As a year-round organic farm, Heritage is able to impact families by providing fresh, seasonal produce—three acres full. Children are able to walk around the farm, and meander up and down rows of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit, and temporarily forget about concrete buildings, convenience stores and fast food.

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Workshops focus on food preparation, nutrition and sustainable, urban farming, and families are encouraged to dig in all with their hands and their taste buds. The bonus, is agricultural training, as well as critical thinking, planning, time (and occasionally, crisis) management, and problem solving. Learning how to resuscitate a dehydrated plant, rid a crop of pesky insects, irrigate during a drought and other on-the-farm issues, offer children unique opportunities from those experienced at school or on the playground. And though we all promote teamwork within our children, working side by side in what for the moment, IS a life or death (of plants/crops) situation, strengthens relationships and leadership skills.

This “bumper crop” of benefits for our community’s youth, is the best reason to come out and join the celebration. Saying, “Yes” to an invitation came easy for me; food and kids in one place is a win-win in my book, especially as mine are maturing way too fast. Events such as this, that unite families through the bounty of Mother Nature and an appreciation for the magic of a fresh-plucked tomato, carrot, blue/raspberry or handful of lettuce and fresh herbs, offer a special type of bonding, different from socializing over drinks or at a ball game.

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By now you’re wondering what’s on the menu. As you can see from this collection of logos, this is no sandwiches and chips affair (though I wouldn’t object to that), with adventurous preparations both on the plate and in the glass. You’ll see a lot of familiar chefs, all who have actively been supporting Heritage and other farms in our region for a number of years. The side dish, if you will, is a pot full of donated funds designated to help offset the costs of operating the farm. This, of course, being the cost of your ticket. Providing the evening’s soundtrack, is Doc Gibbs, former band leader on the Emeril Lagasse show.

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All of the details are on the website, including location—Belmont Mansion Lawn—and those seeking additional information can contact Christine Moore at (215) 877-1925 ext.104 or heritagefarm@methodistservices.org. And, don’t forget to follow along on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Heritage Farm at Methodist Home for Children is located at 4300 Monument Road, Philadelphia PA 19131

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Photos courtesy of Nina Lea Photography  

 

ShopMoxie Meets Philly

(this post is part of ShopMoxie’s “Best of the U.S. by Local Bloggers” series launched 9.12.13)

ShopMoxie Feature:
Best of Philadelphia

aka The City of Brotherly (in this case, sisterly) Love

So, about this gig… I recently decided that life wasn’t busy enough, or maybe it was just that I wasn’t writing enough… Anyway, I started a new blog (you’ll find a link buried somewhere in here) and in establishing myself as an independent blogger outside of my PR/Marketing biz, answered a query for ShopMoxie bloggers. I was very happy when I received a thoughtful email from founder Tom Tovar, who actually took the time to review my writing history, and my fledgling blog, inviting me to be a part of a Best of the U.S. by Local Bloggers series. As we exchanged emails, and learned more about each other (take it from me, this guy is interesting!), he really took me by surprise and offered me the opportunity to kick off ShopMoxie’s “Best of the U.S.” guest post series. Having spent many years writing such copy for Main Line Today magazine, I was instantly game. My only disclaimer, is that Philadelphia is full of wonderful businesses to frequent, as I am certain every city across the country is. Our collective picks are not meant to slight any of these businesses. If we had the time and the space, we’d cover all of our favorite haunts. However, what you are getting today, and in the coming days, is the tip of the old iceberg… places we know and love and feel strongly that you will too. So with no further ado, I present a handful of picks for my hometown, Philadelphia, U.S.A. Forget what you’ve heard about us in the news; we love our city. And, we really love our food.

Sophisticated night on, er in, the town: Presidential Suite, Hotel Palomar

Presidential Suite | Best of Philadelphia | read.eat.DEW.write.

We’re starting our Best of the U.S. Series at the top, literally, in the Presidential Suite.

The next time someone asks me for a suggestion on where to celebrate a special anniversary, birthday or momentous life event, I will definitely be pointing them to Hotel Palomar (117 South 17th St. at Sansom, Philadelphia; 215-563-5006) This past February, I had the good fortune of being part of a milestone birthday overnighter. Before you go judging my budget-consciousness, a little full disclosure: other than dinner and drinks, this was on a free ride. Now, I don’t have many swanky suite stays under my belt, but even with limited comparisons, it’s hard to deny the Presidential Suite’s fabulousness. Stylishly dressed up in traditional with a contemporary twist furnishings, each room is comfortable without being cold; decadent without feeling pretentious; it is clearly a Best of Philadelphia. If you’re into bathrooms, the lavish glass enclosed tub/shower with intricate mosaic floor tiling and Carrera marble will have you swooning.

Presidential Suite | Best of Philadelphia | read.eat.DEW.write.

We agree, a great bathroom does make all the difference in a hotel room.

Push aside the luxurious stretches of fabric separating you from the rest of civilization, and you’ll be rewarded with an interesting perspective on the city. In my case, that was a black and blue sky, dark clouds and scattered bursts of white and yellow lights…very much like a charcoal drawing. Any plans you had to go bouncing around the city, will likely fade away once you get a taste of the Presidential. Especially during the colder winter months, I recommend booking Square 1682‘s private dining room.

Sqaure's Mama's Squeeze Box Low | Best of Philadelphia | read.eat.DEW.write.

Signature cocktails are always enjoyable, when they’re perfectly made and we trust you when you say these are best.

Our meal did not disappoint, nor did our gracious server, who not only knew his food and drink, but also how to dole The Lady Treatment. You’ll be tempted to run back upstairs to the comforts of Kimpton—and the luxe tiger and zebra patterned robes that await—but take it from me: suck up the full, tired feeling that comes with a delicious meal, and hunker down at the bar for one (or three) of the restaurant’s signature, and delectable, high-minded cocktails. Great sipping, great people watching. Be there AND be Square. If you’re lucky enough to get two nights in, take advantage of the in-house yoga and bike programs, which will make a handy excuse for taking those extra bites and sips during your stay. Here’s the scoop: Hotel Palomar offers yoga mats in room and an ON DEMAND yoga channel 24/7. If you call down to the front desk, they provide a complimentary roll out service including a delivery of flavored water and trail mix to your room for after your work out. And, there are complimentary bikes on premise for a joy ride around the city.

Worth the drive or the walk in the cold, rain, sleet or snow: Bloody Mary, The Dandelion

Bloody Mary | Best of Philadelphia | read.eat.DEW.write.

Bloody Marys, then afternoon tea, oh my…we love it!

Another favorite haunt in that corner of the city, is The Dandelion (124 S. 18th St., 215-558-2500), a superb weekend brunch/lunch spot that serves up a wicked good Bloody Mary, along with a few other lascivious libations. (Be forewarned, this joint is multilevel and requires strong stair negotiating skills.) The vibe is reminiscent of The Standard Tap, in Northern Liberties, with lots of warm woods and a homey feel that leaves you thinking what a cool house it would make. Afternoon Tea pose a conundrum for patrons, with tea and cocktails available from 3-5pm. I haven’t had a meal there that I didn’t like, but if you need a recommendation, the EVERYTHING is worth the bite. How’s that for Best of Philadelphia?

Perfect Pairings: Couture and Customer Service…Nicole Miller

It is not true that all women love to shop, at least for clothes. However, when a big event is around the corner, and a figure-flattering dress needs to be procured, like, yesterday, my go-to is Nicole Miller in Manayunk (4249 Main St., 215-930-0307). And my favorite reason to go is store manager, Samantha Sciolla, who can read a woman’s body type within seconds. (Yes, better than you men!) Whether you’re looking for formal (charity ball, wedding, graduation), street or contemporary career fashions and accessories, this longstanding Main Street boutique keeps up with the trends without shunning the classics and they know how to combine couture with customer service. (There’s also a store in town, at The Bellevue.)

Couture and Customer Service | Best of Philadelphia | read.eat.DEW.write.

Couture and Customer Service a perfect combination in our book!

My favorite “say yes to the dress” story actually does have to do with my wedding dress. I was shopping solo, carrying on about it being a second wedding, “…still want a gown, has to cover this, hide this…” After being banished to the dressing room, I hear a knock: Samantha hands me two gowns. “This is the one you’re going to buy; this is the one you’ll try on because you feel you have to.” I didn’t even bother zipping the second dress, and I’ve been a born again Nicole Miller customer ever since (there are some sweet sales throughout the year). The wedding dress story is just one of many similar scenarios where Samantha made getting the desired dress, skirt, blouse, boots, etc., possible and guilt-free. If you go, tell her I sent you.

Romantic Dinner with a side of the Best.Foie.Gras.Ever, Bibou

Best Foie Gras | Best of Philadelphia | read.eat.DEW.write.

Give me liberty AND give me foie: Bibou plates up Philly’s finest.

Bibou (1009 South 8th St., Philadelphia; 215-965-8290) is not new (opened in 2009), however it is to me. I finally got a chance to visit this petite byob last spring, for my first wedding anniversary. I’d just met Charlotte Calmels, wife and partner of chef Pierre Calmels, earlier that month. After engaging in a lively conversation about cooking, dining, sharing food experiences with children, and more, I realized how ridiculous it was that I’d not yet dined there. In comes Open Table. Happily, I can report, unlike many hyped experiences, Bibou delivers. Every morsel of the 7-course meal (Chef’s Tasting) had my taste buds doing somersaults. Especially the creamy foie gras that was perfectly seared to a rich mahogany, and so buttery that I was licking my lips all night. Gorgeous stemware and decanters elevated our wine sipping several notches (save your best bottles for Calmels cuisine). Cap that off with attentive, but not overbearing service that left us plenty of time to savor each course (embarrassingly, I think we reveled in the food far more than our first-year memories), and we were in a state of absolute dining bliss. All you need to do for a similar experience is make a reservation.

Just outside the city limits…I Sea-food, I Buy It, Philadelphia Lobster & Fish

Tucked in a corner of Wynnewood, just around the block from the R5 Philadelphia Lobster & Fish (333 E. Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood; 610-642-1082) is a dangerous place for my wallet. Not only will you find a sublime selection of fresh seafood—personally cherry-picked by owner John Shon each morning—this quietly humming fish market stocks its cases and shelves with pristine produce priced far lower than its neighbors.

Seafood | Best of Philadelphia | read.eat.DEW.write.

Knowing where to buy the best and fresh seafood in any city is key. Thanks for sharing this pick!

It’s impossible to go in and not come out with twice as many groceries as you need. It’s practically a ritual for me to wait to the last minute (about 90 minutes before friends are slated to arrive for dinner), to race over and make a flurry of purchases. Upon returning to my kitchen, and within minutes of pulling out the goods, it’s totally plausible that I can have a gorgeous selection of house-made maki, tekkamaki, and shumai dumplings plated; a tuna steak swimming in a wasabi-soy marinade, skate prepped for a brown butter lacing, or thick-cut salmon steaks seasoned with fresh and dried herbs ready STAT—all with time to spare for a quick shower.

Seafood | Best of Philadelphia | read.eat.DEW.write.

Yummmmm – Best of Philadelphia here we come!

Talk about an easy button! When I really want to cheat, there are 15 different prepared entrees and sides available throughout the week, along with $2.99 containers of fresh, peeled garlic cloves, fully-cleaned mixed greens, baby bok choy and Brussels sprouts, sliced zucchini, cut-up mango, pineapple, honeydew, blood oranges and other quick-cook-quick-eat ingredients.

During planting season, you’ll be treated to an impressive curbside display of flowers and herbs, proudly tended to by Shon. Everyone I’ve turned on to this local purveyor agrees: it’s a feel- and taste-good shopping experience every time.

best-of-philadelphia

We love read.eat.Dew.write. and its founder/author. She’s an accomplished food and local scene writer who knows great places in several towns. We look forward to her picks!

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