Food Friday: Grocery Store Reverie

I am back in Palo Alto, California for reunion and I hardly have time to think about food. But, in the course of my travels, I have come across some of the most beautiful grocery stores ever. 

I have never been to Italy. But I have been to France. In these places, people care deeply about food in a way most Americans don't seem to. However, here in Palo Alto, these are my people. I watched in the stores how twenty something men would converse over the quality of fruit. Or how professorial types moved about with one meal's carefully chosen foods in a basket. I saw others asking questions about cheese, and the butcher explaining a fine point or two to some prospective buyers. I saw bakers, hatted in white,  displaying desserts for the evening's customers. Even the checkers would comment on the items in my basket, like a Sommelier complementing my choice of wines. 

I enjoyed this throng of like minded people. The beautiful displays of foods engendered conversations all around the store. Many people had phones to their ears, checking with companions elsewhere about what to purchase. These were not just grocery lists. They were menus that were being executed. Several were doing what I had been doing earlier in the day, holding a phone out in front sending a live video to another who would look over the wares and voice their preferences. 

There were thoughtful conversations here and there, but at the same time, the group had a bit of hustle and bustle as if they all had somewhere to get to. People were expecting them. Within the hour, so many well considered tables would be set. 

This would be my wish for every one on this evening of travel. The food you buy and the place you buy it should mean something. Moreover your dinners should be special in some way.  Finally, do what you can to have special dinners with special people, in a special place.  

Food Friday: Food Inspiration, Part 1 of 4 

I love food. I love healthy food. But sometimes I need food inspiration. I would like to turn to my four big sources of food inspiration: 

  • food websites
  • cookbooks
  • food in literature 
  • food movies 

This week we will touch on food websites. 

First and foremost, there is Pinterest. This is a free online general pinboard where you can create your own page full of albums and “pin” items from anywhere in the internet or from Pinterest itself. It is your all purpose infinite online scrapbook collection. More often than not, it is my first stop when searching for a specific recipe. Sometimes I just need inspiration and will just scroll through my own extensively curated food albums. It takes about 5 minutes for me to go from unmotivated to excited when I check Pinterest. 

Other general resources are,, and Of these, epicurious is my favorite. That is because it is a knowledge rich site. Sure, it has gorgeous  graphic design and photography. Additionally, it is well organized and is geared to someone who truly wants to learn to cook well. There are numerous tips, tricks and educational resources. There is also a free membership, and this enables readers to collect their favorite recipes on the site. Epicurious is a site I have used for years, but apparently it won a Webby award in 2015 for best site in the food and drink category. and get the highest marks for being instructional, but they lack the high style and visual appeal of If you want to understand technique, or the science behind cooking, go here. deserves mention as an old and fascinating resource. The magazine has been one of my favorites for many years. Saveur is distinguished by its philosophy of setting food into it’s cultural and geographic context. Reading Saveur is a good bit of culinary armchair travel. To introduce you, check out their page on the best culinary blogs of 2015:

I should say that there are many beautiful websites and blogs out there which I will not showcase. That is because I am going to try to highlight sites which feature healthier cuisine. Many of these are vegetarian or vegan. I will include them, since current evidence based guidelines recommend we consume more plant based foods. However, I will also feature Paleo sites, which I believe are even better. 

The Paleo movement is amusingly misnamed since it has little to do with what Paleolithic people (cavemen) ate. The Paleo diet is devoid of grains and legumes (beans, soy and the like) , as well as modern processed foods and sometimes even dairy. There are many versions of the Paleo diet. At its worst, it is trendy nonsense. At its best, it is allergen free, and rich in healthy animal proteins, healthy fats, and  nutrients and fiber from fruits and vegetables. 

A new favorite for me is Paleo Magazine. A good place to start is their list of the top 10 Paleo Blogs on the Web:

My favorite on the list is Nom Nom Paleo.

I would also like to mention an important site on Paleo food which goes into a fair amount of medical science. This is

It’s young author Russ Crandall had a life threatening bout with autoimmune disease. The Paleo diet helped in his recovery. He is medically literate and goes to some length in his books to explain the connection, which is that in some people, the Paleo diet can help reduce intestinal hyperpermeability and inflammation. 

I am going to conclude with a couple other specific favorites. First is the “eat" section of Greatist.

Their site is beautiful and evidence based. Finally, there is

For sheer beauty, you should go here.


I hope, from now on, the question “ What should we have for dinner ?" is a pleasure rather than a pain. 


Food Friday: Staple Pantry Goods

As promised, here are my lists of staples for the pantry. You will notice that not everything here is a superfood. That is because there are special occasions like birthdays which require treats. Not only are these events important for family and social life, but it is important to learn how to use restraint and have a small single portion of an indulgent treat made after a healthy meal. Bon appetite ! 


  • Cornmeal for Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Oats for baking and hot cereal


  • short or long grain brown ( preferably basmati)
  • wild rice
  • black forbidden rice
  • sushi rice


  • whole grain and gluten free pasta, i.e. spaghetti or penne
  • Oils and fats
  • Canola, for higher heat cooking
  • olive, extra virgin, for medium heat cooking
  • olive, extra virgin, cold pressed, for dipping.
  • sesame oil for flavor
  • flavored oils
  • coconut oil

Some basic spices and herbs

  • kosher salt
  • pepper, preferably whole peppercorns
  • lemon pepper
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • basil
  • sage
  • chili
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • garlic, fresh and powdered
  • ginger, fresh and powdered
  • cinnamon
  • cloves

 Canned and jarred goods

  • tomato sauce
  • diced or stewed tomatoes
  • tomato paste
  • canned olives
  • canned pineapple for pizza or stir fry
  • various beans, like black, pinto, garbanzo
  • pickles
  • sauces like soy
  • chilis, diced
  • canned salmon
  • coconut milk
  • all the jams, jellies, chutneys, and pickles that you have canned : ) 
  • vinegars like apple cider vinegar, balsamic, rice

Dried things

  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • sun dried tomatoes in oil

Baking Ingredients

  • whole wheat flour, I prefer fine grind for the most protein and the heaviest bread
  • whole wheat pastry for pie crust
  • unbleached flour if you must have it
  • gluten free flour for those who require it
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • cream of tartar
  • cornstartch or tapioca powder for thickening pies
  • sugar, white, brown cubed and powdered
  • chocolate chips
  • bakers chocolate 2 forms, blocks and powder
  • expresso powder
  • sweetened coconut
  • molasses, agave, honey
  • Nuts (see the freezer section in future posts) 


  • a complete selection of chai and coffees, including decaffeinated versions of each
  • teas: black, green, and herbal
  • Soda water, or Perrier or Pellegrino to splurge

Stay tuned for the fridge and freezer sections next week on Food Friday ! 

Food Friday: Food is for Celebrating !

January and February are big birthday months for our family and I'm glad. After the holidays, and with the weather, these months can seem kind of dismal. Don't let this happen. Research from many fields indicated that we are happier and healthier when we connect with others. And, it is an ancient human tradition to connect over food: To break bread with one another, or in our case, cake. 

I generally make most of our gatherings pot luck. This way, everyone can contribute and no one person is overburdened. Plus, you get more variety. Yes, you have to clean and spruce your house and buy a few extra groceries, but it is well worth the fun. You may choose an occasion as a reason to get together, or have none at all. We have done board game nights, movie nights, a mocktail party, and of course gatherings for birthdays and holidays. My friend's son once had a Braveheart party. And about birthdays: don't think anyone is too old for a birthday party. Just do it. 

If you would like to learn more about how social connections are associated with longevity and happiness, let me refer you to the book Thrive, by Dan Buettner. It is not to be missed. It is about the lifestyles of those around the globe who are very long lived. You might be surprised at what you learn. This book is listed in my " Retail therapy" section of the website in my Amazon store. 

Food Friday: Step out !

Home cooked food is always best. But once in a while, it's great to dress up, step out,  and go out to dinner. We were so inspired this evening by our local Culinary Institute of Montana. We couldn't think of a better way to support the college and see the great things they are doing there. We are so fortunate to have this caliber of culinary school in the Flathead Valley.

I must encourage you in the strongest possible terms to save up and splurge by coming to " The Chef's Table" given every Friday night during the term. But I caution you, they sell out quickly. If you live outside of the Flathead Valley and in the type of town which might have a cooking school, it would be worth a phone call or two to see if their students serve to the public. 

And without further ado, I will share with you illuminated ice swans with palate cleansing sorbet, beautifully plated food, flaming crepes suzette, and gilded chocolate strawberries with cream puffs. Inspiration !