Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Word for Wednesday


an inadequate supply; scarcity

As in:
Last night's episode of Glee, when Kurt says to his fellow Glee Club members: "It has become clear that our group, the New Directions, has a dearth of direction." Once again, if you have not seen Glee, you must.

image via here

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday's Thinking of Food

Happy Earth Day! I will be attending EdVenture's Girls Night Out this evening, and am excited about the yummy food that surely awaits--Mr. Friendly's, Solstice, Cellar on Greene, and Cupcake--yum!

Your food 4-1-1 for the week:

Clockwise, from top left, David Rocco of “Dolce Vita”; the chef Joshua Sharkey being filmed for “Unique Eats”; Laura Calder of “French Food at Home”; Roger Mooking of “Everyday Exotic”; Bal Arneson of “Spice Goddess”; and Darryl Robinson of “Drink Up.”
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*There is a new Food Network spin-off channel, (and I am a FN junkie, so I couldn't be more excited!). "Called the Cooking Channel, it is lining up low-key programs targeted at a hipper crowd interested in the grass roots of food culture," Allen Salkin of NT Times reports. Mo Rocca will be hosting a show on the channel called "Foodography," and they will air an hour a day of vintage episodes of Julia Child's "The Galloping Gourmet." Yes, please.

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*Lay off the Salt! And another tidbit from the NY Times, this time the food blog, Diner's Journal: the FDA is planning a 10-year initiative to bring down sodium levels in processed foods. Processed foods account for 77 percent of the sodium Americans consume...(just went to check the Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chicken Quesadilla meal that an office mate has in the freezer--620 grams of sodium--and this is by definition a "diet meal.")

*Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution will wrap up this Friday on ABC at 9 PM...if you haven't watched it yet, it's not too late to tune in. I have loved the show, and I feel like he's really made some changes in the West Virginia community where he's been preaching and teaching about less processed food, more fresh food, and just eating more sensibly. It has to start at the school level too--so many children get their only substantive meals at school and when the schools are serving crap, it's just not right. If you haven't signed the Food Revolution petition, click the logo at the left sidebar of my blog to do so.

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*And speaking of affecting change when it comes to school lunches, click here to become a healthy school lunch advocate. "The Healthy School Lunch Campaign, sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), is dedicated to improving the food served to children in schools by educating government and school officials, food service workers, parents, and others about the food choices best able to promote children’s current and long-term health." The site has practical things we all can do to advocate for healthy school lunches, click here for the 5 things you can do now, including contacting your congressmen and women and asking them to support The Healthy School Meals Act of 2010 (H.R. 4870).

Please, share your foodie facts/experiences of the week...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Word for Wednesday


having or showing pluck or courage; brave

As in: Katie Armour, The NEO-Traditionalist's, series Plucky Pioneers. Ms. Armour is a blogger friend who, along with her friend Jane Lily Warren of Lox Papers, interviews and highlights a new creative talent weekly to spotlight creative, entrepreneurial women on the design frontier. Plucky Pioneer interviews are published on Monday mornings followed by their corresponding Cheat Sheets (the pioneer’s top picks for art, fashion, film and more) on Tuesdays.

The Cheat Sheets are oh-so-fun, see below...

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Now, if only I could be so plucky as to quit my day-job and start a site as cool as Katie Armour Home...or move back to San Francisco, as Katie and her husband-to-be will be doing in a few short weeks...

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Graffiti, Being Green, and of Course Wine and Tacos...

Looking for something cool to do tonight for FREE?

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The Columbia Museum of Art is hosting a Community Gallery Reception for Post-Graffiti from 6-8 pm. Featuring Columbia’s street artists and their artwork, this show highlights the growing popularity of contemporary street art in the Southeast. Cash bar provided by The Whig. And afterward, you could walk to The Whig and eat amazing homemade tacos for only $.50 each.

You could also hit up Gervais & Vine or Rosso tonight with your "I Voted" sticker and get a FREE glass of wine. (If your precinct doesn't give out stickers, like mine, then just promise your server that you voted--they'll believe you!) Go vote in the Mayoral run-off!

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Thursday night, in honor of Earth Day, you can catch a FREE showing of No Impact Man at 7 pm at The USC Green Quad. Click here to read more about the 2009 documentary film.

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And then Friday, check out Runaway Runway: A Recycled Fashion Show at 701 Whaley, presented by the Columbia Design League. Doors open at 6 pm and the event starts at 7:30; seated admission $20, general admission $10. A diverse panel of judges and a text-voting audience determine the winners. Spirits provided by 360, the "Eco Friendly Vodka" and wine by Fetzer, "The Earth Friendly Winery."

How are you going to celebrate Earth Day?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Randomness

Hope everyone had a great weekend--my Saturday started off with Disney on Ice with my nephew and sister, (never underestimate the fun of dancing in your seat to Disney tunes at 11 am with a 2 1/2 year old), then moved on to a Croquet-themed birthday party, (mint juleps, dahling), then on to the last half of the South Carolina baseball game, (which we won!), and ended with another birthday party at Carolina Ale House/Kelly's. It was a long day, but really fun.

I had my final weigh-in and team challenge last night for the Biggest Loser-- I have lost a total of 24.2 lbs and 24 inches! For the team challenge we had to run a 2-mile loop, the last 1/2 mile of which is a pretty steep hill...I finished 7th out of the entire group with a time of 17:55. I am thrilled with the outcome of the 12-week challenge, and hoping I can continue on my healthy path.

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Remember when I posted that I wanted to see the movie Fish Tank? Well, it's here--it's playing at The Nickelodeon April 19th- April 22nd. I will be attending tomorrow night's 8 pm showing; I'll let you know how it is.

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Tonight, after my 2nd-to-last class of the semester, I will be attending a private "soft-opening" party at Pearlz Oyster Bar--the newest restaurant in the Vista. Not sure when they are opening to the public, but I'll find out tonight and share the info. Click here to see their menu.

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And, also this week I have Book Club on Wednesday night and then Thursday night is EdVenture's 8th Annual Girls Night Out fashion show. Proceeds will benefit the EdVenture Children's Museum, and in addition to the fashion show, there will be margaritas by Cantina 76, hors d'ouevres from Mr. Friendly's, Solstice, and Cellar on Greene and sweets from Cupcake, as well as goodie bags for all guests! Tickets are $35 in advance or $45 at the door. I will be in attendance with my sister and mom--should be a fun evening. Click here to purchase tickets.

What else is on the docket for this week?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday's Thinking of Food

Happy Thursday everyone! I don't know about you, but I am sooo ready for the weekend--this has been a really busy week at work. AND-this is my last week in the HHAC Biggest Loser competition! We have our final all-team weigh-in and challenge this Sunday. The challenge is to run a 2-mile loop around the gym, with the last 1/2 mile being a long, pretty steep hill up to the finish line--wish me luck!

Ready for some food facts and opportunities for action?
Here you go:

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*First, for all of you Columbians, the next Slow Food Columbia meeting will be held Monday, April 19th at 6:30 pm at City Roots. Slow Food is a national movement that seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system by reconnecting Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils, and waters that produce our food. Sounds good, right? I can't make the meeting this month, but hope to next month; they meet every 3rd Monday. Click here to check out the Slow Food Columbia blog.

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*I received my Humane Society Legislative Fund newsletter, Humane Activist, in the mail this week. (As a teacher of Social Policy, I do take policy issues very seriously and tend to think that all citizens should..I used to be one of those people who said "politics is just not my bag," but I think it's our duty as Americans to make it "our bag." Not only for ourselves, but for those who can't advocate for themselves). [cue soap box dismount].

Anyway- on the back of the newsletter they have a section called AYES & NAYS, where they applaud groups and legislators for taking action in the interest of animal well-being, and reveal unsavory practices by others. An exciting "AYE" this month states that "Wal-Mart has confirmed that all of its private label eggs in the US, sold under the Great Value brand are cage-free. And Hellman's has announced that its Light Mayonnaise product in North America will contain 100 percent cage-free eggs--and that it aspires to switch over all its mayonnaise once cage-free eggs become more available." A small step, but bravo for big companies taking any step towards more humane treatment of animals!

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*zpizza was voted the winner of the 2010 Libby Award from peta2 for the Most Vegan Friendly Restaurant! If you haven't tried zpizza, you should. They have so many healthy options-gluten-free, vegan, organic, vegetarian, whole wheat...and they have meat for meat-lovers as well. Columbia's zpizza, located on Gervais St., runs specials all week long; become a Fan on Facebook to get all the latest offers.

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*Don't let big food control what you eat! CREDO Action urges us to do something: "America's supermarket bounty is deceiving. Of those hundreds of brands on grocery store shelves, the vast majority are owned by a handful of industrial food companies like Kraft, Conagra and General Mills. But there was nothing inevitable about this kind of corporate control of our food. Decades of deregulation and governmental inattention to industrial consolidation brought us our broken food system, one that features non-stop food safety recalls, an obesity epidemic and the hollowing out of rural America as family farmers are forced to sell out to corporate interests."

Click here to find out more about the initiative to rethink food in America and sign a thank-you letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretary Vilsack for taking seriously the concerns of family farmers, rural advocates and consumers by holding workshops that address the lack of competition and excessive market concentration in our food and agricultural sectors.

Not convinced?-- watch Food, Inc. Or, click here to read First Lady Michelle Obama's call to "entirely rethink the products that you're offering, the information that you provide about these products and how you market those products to our children."

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*And finally, Earth Fare in Columbia has just announced that as of April 22, 2010 they are eliminating all plastic bags from their store. And, the first 200 people through the door on April 22nd receive a free reusable market tote! Click here to read the Top 5 Reasons Earth Fare is kicking the plastic bag habit.

And that, my friends, is my Thursday's Thinking of Food. Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Word for Wednesday


bad beyond correction or reform; impervious to punishment; not easily changed

Many of the words I have highlighted during this A Word for Wednesday series have been words that I liked, but seldom or never used...(and in many cases, still don't, but I'm trying!). However, today's word is a word I use often; most often when speaking to or about my 8-year-old mutt, Peach.

Peach is a rescue dog, discovered as a puppy at The Animal Mission. His "story" was that he had been found locked on the front porch of an abandoned house. They told us that he was a mix between yellow lab and German shepherd, but over the years I have become more and more convinced that Peach is a dingo. (And yes, he is a boy named Peach--named for Ty Cobb, "The Georgia Peach"). Peach also loves to swim and is an avid barker, and the best and most unique thing about him is that he smiles. For real, when you walk in the door and he is excited to see you, his lips pull up and you can see his teeth and he actually smiles. So sweet.

However, Peach has a sense of entitlement when it comes to our furniture, and a simple "no, Peach," or "off" does not usually dissuade him from trying and trying again to climb on the couch with you. This is when I usually break down, let him on the sofa, and say aloud "Peach, you are incorrigible."

Peach, (middle), on the sofa with Abby, (left), and Fat Albert, (right)

But so cute, don't you think?

Definition via
Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Quickie

Hi loves--I am up to my eyeballs in grants right now, so this is gonna be quick. A few things going on this week:

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Wednesday: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to benefit Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. There will be men literally walking a mile in high-heels for this worthy cause, with an after-party at Village Idiot 5 Points. 6 pm, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. Click here for a flyer with more info.

Thursday: Still undecided for the Mayoral Run-Off? Central Carolina Community Foundation is hosting 1 final debate between the final 2--Benjamin and Finlay. It is open to the public: 7 pm at SCETV; it will also be streamed live at See the Facebook invitation here.

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Saturday: Take your pick, there's lots to do...Bark to the Park to benefit Project Pet. Admission is $10 per person and dogs are welcome! 11 am- 4 pm, Finlay Park. Click here for a full schedule of events.

Or, go to the Friends of Richland County Public Library Spring Book Sale. 9 am -3 pm at the RCPL Operations center. Click here for a map.

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Check out the Indie GRITS Film festival, (there are events Wednesday- Sunday). at the Fox Theatre on Main Street as well as The Nickelodeon. Click here to see Saturday's schedule.

What else is going on in Columbia, and what are your plans?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Hill Garden 2010

Newly tilled, not yet planted

Just a few pictures from last Friday--I had the day off, and James and I spent the morning planting seeds, cleaning up the yard and shed, and sifting through the compost in preparation for using our very own compost as fertilizer for our garden for the first time! Wow--how's that for sustainability and green growing practices! Interested in composting? Click here for an easy how-to.

Here's the run-down of what we planted: corn, salsa peppers, red onions, strawberries, tomatoes, chives, cilantro, mixed lettuces, arugula, spinach, carrots, maybe more I don't remember...

We also bought a very small lime tree--I am so hoping we can keep this alive! I would love to be able to walk to my back yard to pick a lime for margaritas.

Our sweet babies, Peach & Abby,
who have nothing to fear in our garden since we use organic pesticide and organic compost fertilizer

If you have a garden and pets, click here to get some safety tips for having pets around flower and veggie gardens.

Anyone else out there growing spring flowers/veggies?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday's Thinking of Food Continued...

These two things came to my attention after I posted today's Thinking of Food, but I thought they were really cool, so here's the continuation:

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*Food & Think, a Smithsonian blog that I newly follow, and love, posted What's Your Beef? Grass-Fed and Other Beef Terminology. The post gives some insight, from an insider, as to what questions we as consumers should be asking to really find out the nitty-gritty about what the meat we're about to eat ate before it was killed, and possibly more importantly, what it didn't eat.
April's In Our Own Words e-mail
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*Just received my monthly e-mail from Anthropologie, In Our Own Words. April's edition is all about gardening and the plans some of the Anthro stores have for Earth Day. Awesome quote from the e-mail: "Gardens are a form of autobiography," says writer and NY Botanical Garden instructor, Sydney Eddison.

So true.

Thursday's Thinking of Food

Well, I have a couple interesting food-related stories for you, as well as a book recommendation and a link to a cookbook dig in!

*I read this post on hunger on's Poverty in America blog, which then linked me to these amazing photographs and stories of hunger by Michael Nye. His new exhibit "About Hunger and Resilience" is on display at San Antonio's Witte Museum. Click here to see/hear his interview with NPR. Did you know that in 2008, 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households? Go to Feeding America for more facts about hunger and ways you can help.

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*This past Sunday I prepared 2 very healthy and delicious, (if I do say so myself), spinach lasagnas to feed my students when they came to eat dinner at my house Monday night. The recipe I used is from the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Camille Kingsolver & Steven L. Hopp. I have yet to read the entire book, but it is on my short-list.

Here's the recipe, with my tweaks:
1 lb. whole grain lasagna noodles-Prepare according to package directions
4 cups chopped spinach (I used fresh spinach, and didn't steam it--worked fine)
Steam for 2-3 minutes, let excess water drain
16 oz. tomato sauce (I used an Earth Fare brand organic pasta sauce)
2 cups fresh ricotta (I used reduced fat)
2 cups mozzarella

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a large casserole. Cover surface with a layer of noodles, ½ of the ricotta, ½ of the spinach, 1/3 of the remaining sauce and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Lay down another layer of noodles, the rest of the ricotta, the rest of the spinach, 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Spread a final layer of noodles, the remainder of the sauce and mozzarella, bake uncovered at 350 for 40 minutes. (I found the top layer of noodles got a bit crispy cooking it uncovered, so if you don't want a crispy top-layer, cook it covered for most of the 40 minutes)

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*Sarah McColl of Pink of Perfection--one of the first blogs I ever started reading, years ago--gave me the go-ahead to include a link to her awesome giveaway-- In the Green Kitchen by Alice Waters. I would looove to have this book, and I am seriously diminishing my chances of winning it by sharing the giveaway with all of you, but I'm selfless like that. :) Leave a comment describing your favorite thing about Spring cooking on this post by 12 midnight tomorrow, Friday, April 9th to be entered to win.

*And, for those of you who say you have no room for a veggie garden, or those who live in an apartment or big city--here's your answer: window-farming. This is a fast-catching-on fad apparently; there is even a website that explains more about the project and can help you set up your own window farm. Watch the video above. I first read about it on NPR, here.

And speaking of farming...I promise to post about our veggie garden this weekend. Anyone else planting a garden this year? I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wine, Music, Wings, and Pets

Here's my quick run-down of things to do in Columbia this weekend (and early next week):

Project Pet logo
via here

Thursday, April 8th: Print out and take this Project Pet newsletter to Cellar on Greene between 5 and 7 pm to participate in a wine tasting for only $5. (The tasting is typically $10, but with the newsletter you get the discount and proceeds go to Project Pet). Love drinking for a cause :) And tell the folks at Cellar you read about it on Au Courant Columbia!

After the wine tasting you can head to 5 Points to hear Coolie G with Joal Rush & the Wares, Remedy at the 5 after 5 concert. Starts at 6:30. (Or, if you'd rather, head to The Vista to hear The Shakers at Vista After 5; starts at 5 pm).

Town Mountain, featuring Columbia's own Barrett Smith
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Sunday, April 11th: Skip down to Main Street for the 2nd annual Capital City Music & Wing Fling. Tickets are $5 in advance and there will be tons of awesome music and wings; gates open at noon and event lasts until 7 pm. Town Mountain (swoon!) is playing at 2:55 pm, and there will also be music inside The White Mule. Wing vendors include Village Idiot, Wings & Ale, Sly Fox and many more.
Monday, April 12th: Go eat at Carolina Ale House in Harbison between 6-9 pm, and print and take this card with you to give to your server. 10% of your meal cost will go to help the SC Humane Society.

Tuesday, April 13th: And, if you would like to take the animal thing a step further and actually dine with your dog, then make a reservation for you and your pooch at Solstice for Tuesday night at 7 pm. You order from Solstice's awesome menu, and your dog gets a gourmet 3-course meal from Pupcakes. Call (803)461-0236 to make a reservation. Cost is $12 for your dog.

What are your weekend plans?

A Word (and a Pineapple) for Wednesday


is a family of monocot flowering plants of around 3,170 species native mainly to the tropical Americas.

Pineapples are the only bromeliad fruit in widespread cultivation.

And speaking of pineapples, click here to get your printable coupon to receive a FREE whole or cored pineapple with $5 purchase at Earth Fare. Offer valid 4/7- 4/13/2010.

image via here

Definition via wikipedia.
Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Do Your Civic Duty

Go vote in the City of Columbia election tomorrow...we have a responsibility to be involved in our political process...or else don't complain about it!

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And, if you do vote, and get an "I Voted" sticker, here are two opportunities to drink for FREE tomorrow night:

1) Go to El Burrito for "Aaron & Grant's Victory Party." Click here for the Facebook invitation. An "I Voted" sticker entitles you to FREE beer for the evening! Chris Wenner will be DJing.

2) Go to either Rosso or Gervais & Vine with your sticker, and receive a FREE glass of wine.

It pays to be patriotic!

Cellar Hunter Cupcake

No, that's not some new form of NATO alphabet, it's two of my favorite local restaurants with the sweetest little cupcake store thrown in because it was my sister's birthday.

A couple Thursday's ago I partook of the amazing 2 pizzas and bottle of wine for $25 deal at Cellar on Greene--they offer this EVERY Thursday, y'all--you're missing out if you haven't tried it. Kaitlin, (of The Wine Snob), recommended some great wine accompaniments, including Alamos Malbec, and I sipped a glass of the Clara Prosecco.

cheese pizza with fresh basil and local tomato marinara

We also ordered the basil-dill hummus appetizer, which comes with warm pita, marinated artichokes, and olives. Our dining companions* had the cheese plate--always a winner in my book.

*One of those dining companions, Jaime Evermann, just started a blog of her own, Non Sequitur Routine. Check it out.

So, then last Friday I went to Hunter Gatherer for lunch for my sister's birthday. HG is now open for lunch, in case you didn't know...

Below is what I got, and for those keeping up with things like that, yes--it has meat on it. And no, I haven't eaten meat in almost 3 months, but I was seriously craving some that day. I said a little prayer for the pig who died to give the prosciutto for my sandwich, hoped that he had a good life and a humane death, and then ate it with reckless abandon. It was good, and I haven't thought about meat since.

Prosciutto, goat cheese and fig sandwich on ciabatta

My mom got the famous Ginny's Bleu Cheese Salad, which is always a winner.

And James got a H-G burger with horseradish cheddar cheese and hashbrowns. They cook a mean burger.
And, I also went to Cupcake in the Vista last Friday--to grab some cupcakes for my sister's b-day. The last time I mentioned Cupcake in a post, I also admitted that I had not been there. I have now visited twice in as many weeks, and have still yet to eat an entire cupcake, (due to the damn Biggest Loser diet), but the place itself is a treat to walk into--very olde-soda-shoppe-feeling. In my visits I have purchased the following cupcake flavors: Key Lime, Turtle, Red Velvet, Mint Chocolate, Black & White, and Double Chocolate--all equally pretty and delicious-looking.

In short, all of these local spots have amazing food to offer, not to mention fun and different atmospheres.
I love a Cellar Hunter Cupcake kind of week--what kind of week will you have?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Glee is Coming!

I admit it, I am a total Gleek...

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The cover of the new Rolling Stone magazine, featuring the cast of Glee

Season premiere of Glee, Tuesday, April 13th at 9:30 on Fox.

Am I the only one who loves this show?

Thursday's Thinking of Food

Happy beautiful Thursday everyone! I hope everyone gets some sunshine and family time this Easter weekend--I am looking forward to a 3-day weekend, working in our vegetable garden, and sunning's supposed to be in the 80's and sunny all weekend in Columbia!

And here's your round-up of interesting food news this week:

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I opened up my April Bon Appetit to find local rice producer Anson Mills--who sells their products at the All Local Farmers' Market every Saturday-- within the pages. Their Carolina Gold Rice is listed in Bon Appetit's top 5 exotic rices list. Kudos to them! The magazine describes the Carolina Gold Rice as a "true standout, with a plump, fluffy texture and a roasted aroma. Carolina Gold offers hauntingly buttery flavor..." Now that is a glowing review!

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A friend who lives in Athens, GA sent me a link to the Athens Local Farmers' Market blog, and this post about accepting EBT cards--how forward-thinking and awesome of them! The Athens Farmers Market will now accept EBT cards on Tuesdays and Saturdays. (For those who may not know, the EBT card is the form of payment used by people who receive SNAP benefits, or modern-day "food stamps.") Great job on increasing access to healthy food. And thanks, Tiffany, for sharing the information.
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High fructose corn syrup has been shown to be more addictive than sucrose, (regular table sugar), and cause higher incidences of obesity, a Princeton research study shows. There has already been criticism and speculation about the merits of the study by numerous sources, but read it and decide for yourself... Here's a Washington Post article about it from 2 days ago, and here's a blog post about it from the LA Times Health blog, Booster Shots.

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And more news about junk food that you could probably's addictive. "Junk Food Jones is Wired in the Brain," as reported on NPR's Health blog, Shots. According to a Scripps Research Institute study done on rats, junk food is as addictive as drugs. So, this Easter weekend, lay off the HoHo's and chocolate bunnies...or you'll be fiending for more soon enough.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone!