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Road Trip: Black Mountain Chocolate in Winston-Salem, NC

Earlier this summer our friends J&C (aka Ditch Chicken) invited us to head up 1-40 to Winston-Salem, NC for a leisurely Saturday trip.

"Chocolate Factory tour and winery visit. You available?" they asked.

"Yes, please," Scott and I answered.

They picked us up in Charlotte and 90 minutes later wheeled into the parking lot of Black Mountain Chocolate. We killed a little time before our 11am-ish tour and walked around the area near Trade Street.

As a former Statesville, NC resident during my high school years, Winston-Salem was a larger city that often lured my friends and I there for shopping and restaurants. Sadly most of this occurred not in W-S's now bustling downtown but the Hanes Mall. Yes, I was a "mall rat," buying way too many cargo jeans and oversize flannel shirts and logo sweatshirts at Old Navy and the Gap (Hey, it was the mid to late '90s.) I also knew W-S from annual trips to Old Salem for Christmas shopping, a ritual with my mothe…
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You've Been Replaced

My favorite milk glass windowsill vases have been kicked to the side. They had such a good run early in the summer, holding herbs and flowers from our yard. 


Instead, today we visited our community garden plots and HELLO LOVELIES.

Our first two Brandywine tomatoes are nearly ripe and we found nearly 2 pounds of San Marzanos ready and waiting. 
The windowsill is crammed today with these fruits. Yes, a tomato is a fruit.
Tomorrow I'll find a small batch recipe for tomato sauce for the Marzanos. Food in Jars is typically a resource for that. This will be my first rodeo making sauce to can, so if anyone has tips, please share!

Green is Good

Garden hobby-ing aside, I'm trying to eat more plant-based meals these days.

After taking on a six-week fitness challenge earlier this year that included a vegetable and protein-heavy meal plan,  I'm working vegetables into my diet in ways that I never did prior.

Example: this alien-colored smoothie. 


A recipe from McKel Hill's Nutrition Stripped, the Creamy Ginger Green Smoothie has a few unpredictable ingredients. Sure, bananas are common. But throw in an avocado, spinach, ginger, lemon, dates and this curveball - tahini, usually reserved in the Adams household for batches of hummus -- and this ain't your average blended beverage.
I didn't have dates so I swapped it for a few dashes of stevia for sweetness. I also included some extra grated ginger, as I am a ginger freak. We bought a whole root of ginger from the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market from a vendor selling primarily Asian produce. I've frozen it and just take it out and grate it on my Micropl…

Adventures in Gardening

We're back with another edition of "Hey, we used to be bloggers." I am not so sure who reads blogs much anymore (hi Moms!) but hell, if e-newsletters are in again and the '90s "flatform" shoe is making a comeback, maybe we have a shot.

As I nurse a gin and tonic made of nothing but the finest (here's to you, cheap Chek tonic cans from the Mount Pleasant, SC Bi-Lo - sometimes you just buy things to get the job done, especially when you're en route to Vacation Weekend after a slight detour to fix a flat tire on I-26...), I'm mulling over what's happening so far in our garden plots. 
We went Tomato Crazy this year, planting 6+ mixed varieties in our raised beds that kinda-sorta get sufficient sunlight in our backyard, and 8 seedlings in one of our two Winterfield Community Garden plots. Hopefully we'll soon pick beautiful Red Delicious, San Marzano, Black Krim, Blue Gold Cherry, Brandywine, and a few "mystery" tomatoes, and I can …

Take Comfort

Little did I know when I made dinner on Election Day that I'd be serving up comfort in a time when right now we're all scratching our heads and wondering what's next.

I just thought I was being savvy making a batch of stew in a Crock-Pot, saving some time for a night when I worked a late shift. Of all my kitchen appliances, this Crock-Pot gets the least amount of skin in the game. I use it maybe 3 or 4 times per year. But when I saw this Slow Cooker Beef & Barley Stew in Cooking Light, I figured since I had most of the ingredients on hand, I should give it a shot. 
Maybe my slow cooker is reaaaaaaally slow, but after six of the eight hour cooking time on the low setting, the carrots were still crisp. So I bumped the cooker up to "high" and two hours later, the carrots were mostly tender. 
The night before I made roasted chicken, and I popped in three beets while the oven was on. With those beets I made a salad with greens and crumbles of pungent and rich bleu…

Tea Time

Fall finally decided to show up here in Charlotte, NC this week.

Hoodies and sweaters were pulled out of closets, socks and slippers donned for the first time in months, and denim could be worn comfortably.

Oh denim. I've never understood people who wear jeans in Southern humidity. They're like sweaty straightjackets for your legs and torso. Skin was meant to breathe, y'all.

So with a chill in the air, one must make certain adjustments in all areas of life, from the closet to the kitchen. Gin & tonics are replaced with red wine. We buy apples and dried fruit for cereal instead of berries. And I trade daily cold drinks of seltzer for my favorite comfort of the cooler seasons - tea.

Scott & I share an affinity for tea, and we have our rituals. "Tea and Books and Bed" is a totally innocent affair that involves piling up with reading material and decaffeinated brews. You do have to watch Scott with tea - one drowsy moment can result in a messy spill, turning …

Hot Dogs and Cold Drinks in the Southern Summer

As I type, there's a very warm and furry canine snuggled to my left (she claims she can proofread) and an icy Campari and soda to my right.

Oh, the contrast.

Every summer we say "No more" to the Southern humidity, but here we are again, sweatin' and cussin' as we take turns watering the community garden plots in the mornings, and ducking in and out of the evening heat, the back screen door slamming, to take things on and off the grill.

Scott is especially drawn to the west coast this time of year, or at the very least the high country areas of Western North Carolina, where the temps are 10+ degrees cooler than down here in the flatlands.  I wouldn't mind a little mountain getaway for this time of year. Normally Scott is the more sensitive one, but this weekend I nearly had a meltdown in all kinds of ways at the Charlotte Regional Farmers
Market. Too many people + 90 degrees by 10 am = one escalation of a situation for this crazed lady. Let's just say I put…