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Molasses Cookies

Well, I’ve been back from South Carolina for over two months now. I took a bit of an unpredictable blogging break. My sweet 94-year- old grandfather at the beginning of August, was rushed to the hospital and passed away shortly after I returned from my trip. I am so thankful that I had lots of opportunities to spend time with him during the month of July. I can’t really think of any person that had more of an impact on me than this man and hope I can carry on his gentle kindness and sweet spirit. Blessed are the memories of my grandpa. He was a member of the “Greatest Generation” to which we owe so much.

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As a tribute to my grandfather, I would like to share a cookie recipe that his mother, my great grandmother, used to make. I never got to meet my great grandmother but I enjoy the thought of continuing on her recipes. My grandpa sure did like her molasses cookies. I remember one time I was baking gingersnap cookies for the holidays, and my Dad said they reminded him of these molasses cookies his grandmother used to make. I gave the cookies to my grandfather the following day, and he said that the smell of them reminded him of the cookies his mother used to make.  Shortly after my grandfather’s memorial service, I asked my great Aunt if she had the recipe, and she kindly sent it to me.

Gladys’ Molasses Cookies

As recorded by Eleanor Wall

Ingredients:

¾ c. sugar

½ c. shortening

1 egg

¼ c. molasses

1 ½ c. flour

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

½ c. coconut (optional)

½ c. chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

In a bowl blend shortening and sugar. Add 1 egg and molasses a little at a time.

In another bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Preheat oven to 375°.

Add dry ingredient s to wet ingredients, blending thoroughly.

Add ½ c. coconut and ½ c. chopped nuts to the batter.

On a greased cookie sheet, drop rounded teaspoons of batter and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Carry On Bag Essentials

I’m heading south to Charleston, SC tomorrow!

I love to travel! Although I have a quick flight tomorrow, I want to share “must have” items that I always fly with–no matter what the distance:

1. Longchamp Bag 2. Sunglasses 3. Tea Bags 4. Larabars and snacks

5. Passport case 6. Toiletries 7. Life Factory water bottle 8. iPad and case

 9. Scarf  10. Wallet 11. iPhone & earbuds 12. Magazines

13. Small carry on luggage with anything you need in case your luggage gets lost.

14. Throw 15. Travel journal & pen 16. Travel pillow 17. Coffee travel mug

How does everything fit? Very carefully.

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I just returned from a short trip to Pittsburgh to visit my former college roommate and her husband. They were fantastic hosts, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to catch up with great friends and explore a fun city.

Pittsburgh has a history of ketchup, badly dressed sports fans, and steel. I was pleased to see how “green and clean” this rust belt city has become and that this pictured sandwich is not your only food choice:

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Pittsburgh has quite an emerging foodie scene, and I was pleasantly surprised by the raw, vegetarian, and vegan food options.

Where to Eat:

Quiet Storm Quiet Storm, set a bit off the vegan path in the Friendship/Garfield neighborhood, is a cozy hipster café. We brunched in the mismatched retro décor, enjoying coffee and the Saturday all-star menu dishes. Voted one of the best meat-free brunch spots, Quiet Storm has very creative vegan and vegetarian dishes made with fresh ingredients.  I just love brunches that don’t make your stomach feel heavy afterwards.

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Eden One of my first nights in Pittsburgh I had the privilege of meeting up with my blend Kasey, the blogger behind Powercakes. Back in the early spring I met Kasey and some other wonderful bloggers at the Plant Power meet-up. I mentioned to Kasey that I would be visiting her neck of the woods over the summer, and she very graciously offered to have a meal with me. Kasey introduced me to a great restaurant called Eden. We had a wonderful evening of juice, delicious food, and conversation.

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Thin Man Sandwich Shop I had a delicious, made-to-order goat milk marinated organic chicken breast, avocado, alfalfa, lemon pickled green onion sandwich on a multigrain baguette with a house-made cucumber-basil infused seltzer. If this sandwich became well-known, I am sure Pittsburgh’s sandwiches with fries would be extinct!

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Crazy Mocha I had a great cup of coffee several mornings at this Pittsburgh coffee chain and caught up with the news.

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Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery Located in the borough of Millvale, Lindsay and I had a fun adventure sampling Parisian macaroons. This place was simply amazing. Our favorite was the chocolate– until we tried the chocolate Nutella macaroon.

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Where to Explored and Visit:

Andy Warhol Museum On Friday night, Lindsay and I dropped into the Andy Warhol museum. If you are into pop art and don’t mind paying a steep admission price, why not? We went in the evening and got a student rate. I enjoyed Andy Warhol’s works but thought the museum could have done a better job displaying Warhol’s works and creating a timeline of his life.

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Monongahela Incline Take the Monongahela Incline up to Mount Washington to admire the Pittsburgh skyline and the bridges along the river. Reward yourself at the top with some ice cream. Unfortunately, we were so hot that we ate our delicious swirl ice cream cones so quickly that we forgot to take a picture!  

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Of course, it was a great treat to stay in a beautiful three level townhouse over a hotel in a historic neighborhood. I enjoyed the luxury of waking up and making oatmeal for Lindsay and me in a full kitchen. We had fun making dinner on the grille a few nights and creating fabulous ice-cream sandwiches with homemade chocolate chip Toll House Cookies!  Hope Lindsay and Keegan will visit Rhode Island soon.

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I enjoyed my trip to Québec City. As I mentioned in my previous post, when it comes to travel, you don’t have to twist my arm–I will jump on any excuse to not let my passport get dusty. You probably are waiting for me to say that Québec City is the Paris of North America without jet lag. Well, sorry to get your hopes up, but I don’t exactly agree with that statement. If you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway outside the US, sure, enjoy Québec City. But having been to Paris—PARIS, Québec doesn’t compare to the sights, food, and culture of Paris. But what about the Parisian macaroons? Sure. You can find them in Paris and now just about anywhere in the US. I suggest you drop into Laudree in NYC. I will agree with travel experts that Québec City is a more cost effective option than Europe right now. None the less, Québec is a fun city to visit, a doable weekend adventure. I had a fun weekend city exploring and using a little French to order coffee and a croissant.

Where we Wined & Dined

Casse-Crêpe Breton While wandering the streets of Old Québec, we stopped to fill our hungry bellies at this great crepe restaurant. The David’s tea staff recommended Casse-Crêpe Breton over another place up the road. There was a wide variety of crepes, from savory to sweet. The restaurant has a cute atmosphere, the wait staff is dressed in costume and you can watch your crepes being prepared. Adam was manly and adventurous and ordered wild boar. I stuck with strawberries, maple syrup, chocolate and ice cream. This delicacy did not disappoint. I also ordered a delicious cheese fondue which came with the cutest, most delicious side salad.

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Brûlerie Saint-Jean Brûlerie Saint-Jean was absolutely one of my favorite places, and I found it by chance! The first rainy windy morning we were in Quebec City, I wandered around looking for a great espresso. I simply went out the back door of our hotel and stumbled upon this place on the corner. I could smell the fresh roasted coffee from down the street. There was even a boulangerie on the same block. Win, win! I went every morning to both places. The espresso drinks reminded me of those in Europe. I would spend a lot of time and money in Brûlerie Saint-Jean if I lived in Quebec City.

Le Café Du Clocher Penché One night Adam stayed behind with Anthony. Ellynn, Melissa, and I went for a girls’ night out. I had been reading yelp reviews of restaurants all evening before our excursion. I couldn’t decide where to go, so I using my little French I asked our concierge for her recommendations from my top three choices. She told us to dine at Du Clocher Penché, a farm to fork locavore bistro which we walked to a few blocks from our hotel. We saw a lot of Quebecois dining and wining. Since we didn’t make a reservation, we sat at the bar which put us at a great spot to watch everything, meals made to order coming out of the kitchen and the cocktails being expertly prepared. This place was so great I am still thinking about the food. Good luck getting a table if you don’t have a reservation. The menu changes weekly due to the local produce and seasonal selections. This restaurant has high ratings but still allowed us to get a bit away from the touristy neighborhoods and dine with the local foodie crowd. Every meal was created by people who appreciate quality food. My kind of place! Du Clocher Penché made my night.

One of my favorite things to do when I am traveling is to visit markets so after dinner I strolled into a cute little grocery store/market. I found some imported European Swiss chocolate and maple cookies which we all munched on for dessert back at our hotel. Yum!

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Pillard Bakery We stopped into Pillard Cafe and Boulangerie for some sweet treats and coffee. This is a great place for a quick croissant and coffee. They also have quick meal choices such as sandwiches and pizza.

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Canadian Maple Delights Canadian Maple Delights is the place to pick up all your overpriced maple souvenirs and sample everything maple. On the second floor there is a free museum that educates you on the history of maple syrup. You can even have coffee sweetened with maple syrup. I had maple syrup taffy pop which is traditionally made by rolling maple syrup in the snow or ice, as in this café.

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Where we Explored and Toured

Old City Quebec City is located in the St. Lawrence Valley, and this capital city runs along the beautiful St. Lawrence River. We explored and shopped in the historical Old City. Fun history fact (I promise this is not going to be a UNESCO World Heritage type post): The Old City is surrounded by walls because the English were trying to protect it back in the late 1700s from the Americans; Quebec City is the only walled city in North America. We had fun walking on the cobblestone streets and visiting little shops.

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The Château Frontenac The Château Frontenac is a popular honeymoon hotel and probably one of the most photographed hotels in the world. I think if I were honeymooning in this region, I would like to a bit outside of the city, from a rental property that might be found on flipkey or airbnb—my two newest travel search sites!

Just for fun 

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Have you visited Québec City?

Do you have any fun trips planned this summer? Where is the next place you are traveling to?

I just returned from a trip to Quebec and Vermont.  My housemates were kind enough to invite me on their family vacation which coincidentally fell on the week of my birthday. I can never say no to an opportunity to use my passport so I was up for the road trip and getaway.

For those of you that think Vermont is just a state with Ben and Jerry’s (where we had to stop) and those controversial green leaves, you are terribly mistaken.  Growing up in New England, I passed through Vermont a handful of times in my youth, but I don’t think I really gave the state enough credit until this past week!

I have fallen in love with Vermont. Now don’t freak out, I’m not jumping ship on Rhode Island (just yet), but I am planning on visiting VT more regularly. From the classic inns to the maple syrup, the covered bridges, mountain views, local fresh foods from the farmers and the dairy treats, the list of Vermont treasures goes on and on. You could seriously spend your whole time just admiring the scenery of Vermont!

Where we wined and dined:

King Arthur Bakery, Cafe, and Shop

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I love this place! We had lunch which included freshly baked treats, hot from the oven. I paired my salad with some delicious coffee from the café. I then spent about an hour perusing the shop which has every ingredient, kitchen tool, mix, flours, and pan you can imagine. I also poked around the baking education center and watched the bakers at work! Adam, Ellynn, and Anthony were so kind and gave me a gift card which I used to buy a cute retro kitchen timer, some King Arthur Flour to bake delicious treats, and a cute purple bake t-shirt!

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American Flat Bread

This is a must stop if you visit Vermont and love wood fired earthen oven pizza!

Each pizza is prepared with the finest all natural, local ingredients. I love the founder, George Schenk’s philosophy which is reflected in every part of the menu: “Food is important. What we eat and how it is grown intimately affects our health and the well-being of the world.”

My travel companions and I shared a bunch of delicious pizzas. My favorite pizza included strawberries, Belgian endive, dates, and scapes.

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Edelweiss Mountain Deli

We ate the best deli sandwiches at Edelweiss after a hike. Edelweiss has homemade baked goods, including cookies and pies, and a huge deli where your sandwich is prepared right in front of you with the freshest local ingredients. On the other side of the store is a market with many local gems and a large selection of beverages. I enjoyed my maple turkey sandwich with Joe’s Peach lemonade. Boy, did that hit the spot after a 3 mile hike!

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Harvest Market

I happened to find this market while I was running one lovely morning. I am ready to move in. I love everything about this market– the decor, the staff, and of course the food! I enjoyed talking with the staff, sipping coffee and pairing some delicious treats with my morning espresso.

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Green Goddess Café

What a charming little place for breakfast and lunch! Well, since I couldn’t go to Wildflour or Garden Grille while I was away, this café definitely was a wonderful fix. The menu has a large selection of sandwiches, salads, juices, and scrambles with some interesting twists. I had difficulty deciding what to order! I ended up doing a build your own salad bowl with fresh beet, ginger, kale, and carrot juice.

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I.C Scoops

Order a maple creamy. “Creamy” is what Vermont calls soft serve. Delicious. I think maple creamy is giving my coffee soft serve some competition.

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Where we went & the sights we took in:

Von Trapp Family Lodge

We visited the Von Trapp Lodge and signed up for a Von Trapp History Tour of the grounds. The tour featured a hike and the chapel built by the Trapp family sons on their return home after World War II. Yummy maple syrup tasting!

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Where we visited & toured:

Ben and Jerry’s 

We had a tour that included samples of a blueberry chocolate chip flavored ice cream. Delightful and the perfect size. We stopped into the Ben and Jerry’s flavor graveyard. What a trip down memory lane!

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Lake Champlain Chocolate Store and Café

I enjoyed purchasing some of the “seconds”. They were first in my book!

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Blogger Appropriate!

Cabot Annex Store

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Samples of the entire Cabot Cheese collection

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

This visit was complete with free apple cider tasting. I tried an apple cider doughnut for $0.50. Life changing doughnut!

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Green Mountain Coffee

Melissa found a coupon for a free mug in the cute little Inn where we stayed. When I presented the coupon, the nice employees at the counter told me I could have any iced or hot drink for free in it! I chose ice coffee. Delicious.

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What I want to visit & experience when I return to VT:

Have you been to Vermont?

What are your favorite places and eats?

Summer has officially arrived and to say that I am happy is an understatement. I recently wrapped up my school year and am officially on summer vacation! I am excited for the beach, lobster bakes, sunshine and all the other fun summer brings! When it comes to summer, no matter where I am living in the world, I am a 100% New England girl! My ancestors were apparently not thinking about clean eating. I’m not even going to pretend that there are health alternatives to my favorite summertime eats. Where are the veggies?

Lobster

lobster

Clam Chowder

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Summer Ale

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Blueberry Pancakes

blueberry pancakes

Let’s not forget coffee Oreo ice-cream if you want to really indulge.

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Okay, before I lose all my favorite healthy living readers–I am running a few 5Ks this fall and have plans to increase my mileage to help offset the cream, carbs, and sugar. Happy summer!

What are your favorite summer eats? Are they healthy? Tell me your summer plans!

I was honored to be invited to the Friends and Family Night at The Grange, Providence’s newest and freshest restaurant on Wednesday evening. The Grange and I shared a connection even before the door opened. The Grange was opened, designed, and born by the same great “plant power” owner of my other favorite PVD restaurant and bakery. I knew The Grange was going to be good, but it may have just moved to first place as my favorite restaurant in Rhode Island. It is beautiful how your life brings you together with different types of people. Heather Waxman, my Wildflour and Garden Grille soul sister, emailed me last week inviting me to the event. Heather goes to Wildflour as much as I do, or maybe more, because it is basically her office–the luxury of being an independent mover and shaker in the world.

Where do I begin to describe this amazing experience?

Meet Blake. He took wonderful care of us all evening.

Blake

Blake

Drinks. I don’t do this often, but I started with PIMMS. I knew that The Grange’s cocktails were created “in house” with the freshest local ingredients, so I had to celebrate. The PIMMS cocktail even had the traditional cucumber! The Grange has quite a great selection of spirits and beers, something for everyone.IMG_0380

Appetizers. We began with the Korean BBQ Tacos and Chinese Black Bean and Squash Pancakes. Every bite was “farm fresh” in your mouth! The flavors in the dishes went together so well. Heather and I loved the pancakes so much that we couldn’t keep them just to ourselves and shared with foodie friends Rachel and her husband at the next table. The evening was off to a beautiful start. Our conversations flowed seamlessly, and it seemed like we had known each other forever.

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Chinese Black Bean and Squash Pancakes

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Korean BBQ Tacos

Larger Plates: For our main entrees we each ordered something different so we could try as many amazing menu dishes as possible.

I ordered Sweet Potato Gnocchi which was on a bed of house made mascarpone with a side of sweet potatoes and sage. Each dish is a piece of art both in presentation and in taste! It seemed like every bite of food was a point of meditation to my soul.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Jen ordered the Mushrooms with Hominy, Bamboo Shoots, Winter Squash and Hoisin. I wish I could describe the taste, but these dishes are unlike anything you have ever had. You just have to go and experience them for yourself.

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Mushrooms with Hominy, Bamboo Shoots, Winter Squash and Hoisin

Heather chose the Tofu which is probably the best tofu I have ever had. I love tofu, but so many times I am disappointed by the flavors.

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Tofu

Matty ordered Po’Boy, Chicken Fried Oyster Mushrooms, Cabbage Slaw Pickles, and Remoulade on Pretzel Baguette. This may have been the winning dish of the evening because of the amazing Pretzel Bread from the local Foremost Baking Co, owned by three guys who buy locally to produce amazing breads!!

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Po’Boy

Let’s pause for a second before dessert! I love the space. I think this restaurant will fit seamlessly in with other amazing Westside restaurants including Julians, Broadway Bistro, The Avery, and North. Every detail has been intricately designed, right down to the plants. The space has the feel of a farmhouse with a European patio, featuring an inviting swing. Your dishes are the produce that you saw at that day’s farmer’s market.
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Dessert. I saved the best for last. Well, the finale. How can one choose between the Apple Galette with Coconut Ice Cream and the Chocolate Selection (a vegan chocolate mousse with a vegan chocolate cake served with coffee ice-cream and an orange zest)? You don’t choose! You order both with four spoons and share. The Chocolate Selection was a nice spin on the traditional espresso and lemon twist. Pair either dessert with a cup of The Grange’s Stumptown Espresso. Ecstasy!

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Chocolate Selection

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Apple Galette

Words are sweet, but they never take the place of {LOCAL} food. ~Nigerian Proverb

 I highly recommend The Grange. I will be returning soon. Look for me sipping an espresso on the porch swing!
Photo courtesy of Heather Waxman.

Photo courtesy of Heather Waxman.

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