February 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Whether or not you’re planning a big day, you definitely should take a look at Celebrate‘s first ever weddings special issue! Our whole team worked hard on this. We love a challenge, and I think this issue shows it.
You can pick this issue up on newsstands, or you can order it here! (Hey, it’s at a special price right now!)
October 5, 2012 § 7 Comments
The winner of the my two-part giveaway with Belle Chevre is…
Carrie Allen Tipton! Thanks for entering and sharing the giveaway, Carrie. I’ll pass your name onto Belle Chevre, and they’ll pick a final name after October 14. I hope you win!
Thank you ALL so much for entering! It was very exciting to participate in the virtual potluck and giveaway with an amazing company that makes awesome chevre.
As I told you yesterday, I’ve had the opportunity of participating in a virtual potluck with Belle Chevre to celebrate the release of Tasia’s Table, Tasia Malakasis’s new cookbook. (Did you miss my entry? See it here!) Now you have a chance to win your own signed copy of the cookbook!
This is a beautiful book with tons of tantalizing photos and creative recipes. If you’re a goat cheese lover like me, you’ll probably be ooing and ahhing over all the new and exciting ways to incorporate chevre into everyday dishes.
I’m offering four possible ways to enter:
1. Subscribe to cactus & kudzu by email. (Make sure you’re on the home page, and find the text box on the right side where you can enter your email address. If you’re already subscribed, leave a comment letting me know.)
2. Leave a comment below answering this question: What’s your favorite kind of cheese?
3. Share this entry or my potluck entry on Facebook. (Be sure to either tag me on Facebook or leave a comment letting me know you’ve shared it.)
4. Share this entry or my potluck entry on Twitter (handle name is @brettjaillet—be sure to include it!).
I will choose one winner, and submit it to Belle Chevre (each potluck participant will do so) and then Belle Chevre will choose a winner from all the blogs’ submissions. My segment of the giveaway closes at 8 pm central time on Monday, October 8.
But hey, if you just can’t wait, order a copy of the book here!
September 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
August 7, 2012 § 2 Comments
Hopefully you’ve heard about Freshfully by now, but if you haven’t, that’s ok! It’s a local-food store that exists both as a market in the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham and as a website. Founders Jen Barnett and Sam Brasseale started the site in November 2011, and the store opened its doors just a year ago (they celebrated its 1-year-old birthday August 3 and 4). I love this place!
I recently got to ask Jen a few questions about who they are and what they do. And she gave some great answers. And in return, they’ve shared something with me—a special deal for my readers. So stay tuned to the bottom of this post to find out what it is!
c&k: Why start Freshfully? Why did Birmingham need this?
jen: Sam and I started Freshfully because we wanted to eat more local food, and we just couldn’t seem to find much. We had experience building large websites that listed businesses, included blogs, and sold products, and we thought we could apply that to local food to make it easier to shop and buy. I was inspired to start the business here after hearing Shaun Chavis, Wade Kwon, and Michael Nolan each speak about food at Ignite Birmingham. Out of 12 speakers at the event, three were speaking passionately about food and its importance to the community and our health. It made me want to turn our idea of Freshfully into a reality.
c&k: Can you explain how your website and brick-and-mortar location work together?
jen: Basically, the store and website are two separate entities with the same goal—making local food more available. On the site, you can order local food to be picked up around town or shipped to you. But not all food lends itself to being picked up in boxes or shipped in the mail. After we launched the site, we started meeting farmers who just didn’t have a way to physically get food to customers. Our little office park HQ became an impromptu pick-up point where we shuffled shrimp, beef, and heirloom seedlings from farmer to consumer. We built the market to address these needs and give people a simple way to buy local food every day.
c&k: What is your approach to selecting produce and goods to sell in your store?
There are times when we have to make decisions. For example, there’s no poultry in Alabama that’s both free-range and USDA inspected. For now, we’re selling Georgia chicken, and we’re looking for ways to make USDA processing more available and affordable for Alabama farmers.
c&k: Why is it important to eat and buy locally?
jen: We think there are five reasons most people seem to buy local food:
1. It’s patriotic. You’re giving your neighbor a hand and keeping your money in the community. You show local pride when you eat local food.
2. It’s more sustainable. The average bite of food travels 1,500 miles. Most of the food at Freshfully travels less than 60. You can learn first hand the growing methods farmers use, and make decisions about which methods you want to support.
3. It’s hip. I remember in the ’70s and ’80s when the fanciest restaurants in town were steakhouses and Italian eateries. Field peas and bacon and red, ripe tomatoes were everyday foods. Now, fine dining revolves around those simple, local ingredients.
4. It’s healthier. Most of the local foods we sell are fruits and veggies, lean meats and fish, and fresh dairy. Not to say we don’t enjoy the occasional Buffalo Rock ginger ale or Just Julia’s pound cake, which leads me to…
5. It just tastes better! Tomatoes that have ripened on the vine, not in a truck. Free-range farm eggs with bright orange yolks. Tender greens still covered in local soil. These are the foods of the gods, and we grow them all right here in our home state.
c&k: Why are you passionate about what you do?
jen: I’ve struggled with my weight since the first grade. Like lots of women, I’ve been on hundreds of diets and obsessed over food. I’ve wondered why it was so hard to lose weight and why obesity was so much more prevalent here in the South. When I was studying economics in business school, I had a theory that the law of supply and demand was at play—that people weighed more when food was cheaper. Human are natural economists—we want to get the most for our money. In studying this theory, I found that economics were indeed involved, but that there were so many more factors—from food subsidies to brand marketing—that encouraged us all to eat just a little bit more. Within 100 years, we’ve gone from a era of scarcity to a era of surplus, and it’s faster than our bodies can keep up. I began to believe that ditching processed food and embracing fresh, local food was the answer for me. Since creating Freshfully, I’ve lost 30 pounds, but more importantly, I’ve gained so much from knowing this community of farmers and eating the foods they raise nearby.
And now, here’s the special deal for all cactus & kudzu readers:
Freshfully is offering a 10 percent discount at the Avondale market during the entire month of August when you ask “Who’s Your Farmer?” or wear a “Who’s Your Farmer?” T-shirt in the store (Psst… buy yours here!).
I hope you head over to Freshfully soon! Thanks, Jen and Sam, for sharing your story!
July 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Go vote! It’s fun to contemplate your absolute favs. The results for both of these will appear in the September 2012 issue of Birmingham Magazine and the fall issue of Tuscaloosa magazine. Click here (or on the image below) for Best of B’ham and here for Best of Tuscaloosa to fill out your answers. And hey, there’s a little spot for a favorite local blogger on the Best of B’ham. Maybe consider listing yours truly??
May 22, 2012 § 2 Comments
Not too far from the house my parents rented wedding week is a field of trees and clover. And as dusk set in, lightning bugs made their appearance, and danced along the clover and flashed their lights at one another. It was beautiful. I love the South.
October 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
On April 27, 2011, I woke up after getting only a few hours of sleep. I couldn’t sleep the night before.
I blindly threw clothes on, probably didn’t shower, and planned on grabbing coffee at work. I started my morning commute on Highway 280 only to be stuck in a traffic standstill. I had heard there was a storm last night on the radio. So traffic lights must be out, I thought.
Not only were traffic lights out, but trees that rivaled the height of the skyscrapers downtown had fallen flat and completely blocked the highway. I tried taking different routes to work, only to find myself in neighborhoods with roofs torn off, trees fallen down, windows blown out. Then I heard there was no power at our work building, so I turned around and went home.
I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I went on a walk. Then I went to Saw’s for lunch as a treat to myself during my off day. An encore to the early morning storm was coming through, so I shut myself in for the afternoon and started cleaning my room. I had received Tweets on my phone all afternoon about possible tornado warnings here and there. But that was just normal for this time of year.
Then I got the Tweet from the Tuscaloosa News: TORNADO EMERGENCY IN TUSCALOOSA.
I don’t think I had even heard the expression “Tornado Emergency.” It had always been “Warning” or “Watch.”
I ran to the TV, turned it on, and I saw it: the most massive thing I have seen in my life. I couldn’t get over it. What the hell was that? How dangerous was that? And where was my sister right now? And my boyfriend? First, I called Brynn. She was hiding out on the first floor of her dorm with all her friends. Then I called James; he didn’t answer.
Then I called my mom. “Now…. don’t panic,” I said in a borderline smartass tone as I anticipated her possibly freaking out, which goes to show that I truly didn’t understand the magnitude of what I was seeing on TV. “But there’s a tornado in Tuscaloosa. Brynn is fine. She’s in her dorm. Don’t worry—I’m just informing you.”
I called James again. Still no answer. I texted his brother, who was safe in his dorm. He said James was at his house in Northport about 10 miles away. I was relieved.
The tornado was approaching Downtown Tuscaloosa, heading toward campus, they said. I was holding my breath just thinking about my sister. I thought to myself, “Man, there are going to be a lot of blown out windows and fallen trees after this. It’ll look just like what I saw this morning.”
Never, ever did I realize what would result.
I prayed and I prayed, and I watched it sidestep campus and head out of town.
I started getting more Tweets from the Tuscaloosa News. Descriptions I received were, “It smells like natural gas,” or “It looks like a bomb just went off.” Al.com wrote a story with an image and Tweets from one of my friends who had rushed to 15th Street and McFarland. Full Moon Barbecue was gone. Milo’s was gone. Chevron was gone. All had been reduced to piles of rubble.
Videos were being posted online. In one that I watched, the videographer was standing in front of McDonalds on 15th, and from where he was standing, I could see Home Depot. Before that wasn’t possible—there were too many buildings and trees blocking it. But I could see it plainly. Then I started to really get it.
Dozens of people lost their lives. And when I think about that, it’s hard to write much more.
I volunteered. I helped clean up. I helped organize warehouses of donations. I saw the devastation, and I couldn’t believe the Lord had chosen to spare my loved ones. I couldn’t believe I still had a place to sleep, clothes to wear, I still had power in my apartment, while other people had so very little. They had lost everything. They had lost their people.
To be honest, I try to avoid that intersection. Sometimes I do go by it, and, even six months later, it shocks me. I drive by and everything is just so open and desolate. Trees are gone, buildings are gone. And it pains me to think about people who were in this intersection. How many lives were lost right here? What was going through their minds? And this isn’t even the worst of the damage. Some neighborhoods in the twister’s path had been completely leveled.
I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful my sister made it and all my friends made it. I remember thinking during those first few days that followed April 27, “I just want these days to fast forward. I just want to get to a point of acceptance rather than continue to ask myself these questions over and over: ‘How can this be real? How can this have happened to this little city that I love so much?’”
The Lord does bring all things together for good, and that is what I must remember. I am grateful for his mercy. And I am grateful we are able to rebuild.
Here is what ran in today’s Tuscaloosa News: Six months later, residents try to put the pieces back together; Your stories from the April 27 tornado
October 21, 2011 § 2 Comments
Words cannot express how thrilled I am. Click here to take a look at the agenda.
What’s even better—I’m able to go with the financial help of Hoffman Media! The Lord is good.
So this is doesn’t occur until January, but here are the three things I’m hoping to get out of attending:
1. Celebrate is developing a website (see what we currently have now), and with that new website will come a new blog. The goal is not only to sell subscriptions to our magazine, but also to bring in an audience of web users who will return to our site again and again. And with the addition of a blog, we hope to attract a unique readership of bloggers. So the skills I learn at this conference and the connections I make will hopefully give me great insight to contribute effectively to this project. We hope to have it up within the next couple of months.
2. I also manage the newsletter The Cottage Journal for Hoffman Media (click here to subscribe!). This newsletter focuses on all things cottage—whether it’s home decorating, comforting recipes, entertaining, and all the other joys that come with cozying up in a delightfully cute cottage. This is an exciting newsletter to be apart of, as one of our newest Special Interest Publications, The Cottage Journal Seasons, starts to take shape and gather more subscribers. So this conference can definitely help me come up with new and exciting topics and develop my planning skills with each newsletter I put out.
3. And, of course, I want to hone my blogging skills to make Cactus & Kudzu an all-the-more enjoyable experience for my readers. I am dying to learn everything I can possibly absorb about food photography, recipe developing, restaurant reviewing, being a great story teller, and writing what’s interesting and relevant to all of you who regularly visit my blog. And might I take this opportunity to tell you: THANK YOU!
Like I said, the Lord is so good! I am completely over-the-top excited.
October 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
I can’t help sharing this.
I love the way Rick Bragg writes. How can such beautiful imagery come from one person’s brain? That’s how I feel when I read good writing—simply in awe.
Anyways, you must read this piece on the po’boy. It ran in the most recent issue of Garden & Gun. I can literally taste the sweetness of the baguette, the crunch of the fried (insert shellfish-of-choice here), the spice of the remoulade, and the tang of the pickles. A po’boy is truly a beautiful thing.
Click here to read. Enjoy!
October 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
Loving this so far. Plus Dianne Jacob will be speaking at Food Blog South 2012. I really want to go!