Holiday Roadtrip, Part 2: Savannah


We made our way to Savannah, Georgia for the night and stayed in the Historical Downtown District. Although we were only there less than 24 hours, I had a blast shopping. There are blocks upon blocks of shopping downtown. I’m really picky about my “downtowns” and always have high hopes, and Savannah certainly delivered. Besides shopping, there’s some serious historical sites in Savannah. Many of the buildings date back to the 1700s, including the brick-paved roads that were reused from ships from all over the world. We didn’t make time for any historical tours but heard high reviews of the “hearse ghost tours” and Paula Deen’s historical tours.


And of course we stopped by her restaurant, Lady and Sons. We didn’t eat there (I obviously would be allergic to everything they serve) though we wouldn’t have made it through the line anyway. Looks like they’ve redone the setup a bit because it appeared to be by reservation only, filtering through their gift shop.


There were several boutiques I would recommend–so many that I can’t write about them all. I was good and didn’t buy much, but our favorite place was the Savannah Bee Company. Seriously, it was like we were in a trance from the moment we walked it. The store was setup to make it simple for you to choose some honey of your liking. They had a bar featuring sample honeys, beverages like a honey latte, and best of all a cool dude that was talking about the honey. It was weird because such a large group had gathered watching him talk and move around, and everyone was silent and glued to him like under some spell. He broke out a honey comb, sliced up a fresh green apple, and explained how traditionally the honey comb is best-eaten sandwiched between two apple slices. Then we got to taste. Yummy! Everyone was buying honey combs, including us, and after we walked out of the store I asked my husband how much it cost. When he told me $23 I couldn’t believe that he did it, and neither could he! I guess we were under some kind of honey spell.


Our Savannah fun didn’t end there. Although we went to healthier places to eat, they were still our favorite meals from our whole trip. We drove a little ways to Kasey’s Gourmet Grille, where I had read that they’re friendly to us folks with allergies. They didn’t really have many items clearly labeled as gluten-free, but all we had to do was ask our waiter. He went above and beyond helping me to eat dairy-free and gluten free, but it was because the chef was whipping up special concoctions based on menu items. I felt bad but the waiter simply said, “He’s got nothing better to do.” Ha ha, I guess a true chef enjoys creating a special masterpiece for his guests.


I had the almond-crusted goat cheese served with a cranberry chutney and garlic aioli. I ate the plate clean. Then I had some chipotle shrimp that was the best in my whole life. Wish I could remake it! I also had a salad, but it didn’t compare to the other plates.


We also went to Kayak Kafe for lunch the next day. Again, they’re menu isn’t clearly labeled for food allergies but it was easy to avoid them. I order the tilapia tacos and could’t believe how good they were. They were made with fresh masa corn tortillas and yummy veggies. I tried to remake them our first night home, and didn’t do to bad. I followed this recipe for the tilapia, threw in some fresh veggies and avocado, steamed some corn tortillas and called it a night.




Cupcake Decorating Party


We had a Cupcake Decorating Party today. Thought it would be a good creative outlet while socializing (and it let me finally use my new Martha Stewart Cake Decorating Kit). We had about 15 gals show up to decorate.


I jazzed up the house by decorating with a cupcake theme. I covered existing hangings with cupcake art I made using scrapbook paper. I made a festive curtain using matching fabric scraps and tied cupcake ornaments to it.


My family helped me bake a bajillion cupcakes ahead of time as well as icing. We laid them out on the tables along with sprinkles so we could get down to business.


You didn’t have to tell this bunch of girls twice to get started!


This is like coloring for adults. Everyone really got into it and enjoyed playing around with different tips.


There was even an attempt at a tie dye cupcake. Pretty neat if you ask me.


Even the kids got involved. I made sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free cupcakes from scratch for them. We even made the icing sugar-free and dairy-free by using Ideal xylitol and Earth’s Balance.


Guests took home cupcakes in these cute carriers I found at Big Lots. In the end I think it was kind of therapuetic and a fresh twist on the holiday cookie decorating. Nothing’s better than spending an afternoon with friends than adding cupcakes to the mix!



Sugar-free, Dairy-free, Gluten-free Peppermint Hot Chocolate


In attempt to fight off a sore throat, I stopped and bought some peppermint tea on my way home. I’m not a big fan of teas, even one as plain as peppermint tea, so I started thinking of a way to doctor it up.

Since I’m also on a no-sugar no-dairy no-gluten fast right now, it requires being content with simple ingredients in order to enjoy something indulgent. Well, this one really hit the spot!

I created this peppermint hot chocolate by adding unsweetened cocoa to the steeped peppermint tea. Then I added a fair amount of agave nectar to taste. I topped off with a splash of unsweetened soy milk. Okay, I have to admit that the marshmallows aren’t sugar free but if it makes it any better, I didn’t eat them!!

To others I’m sure this drink would be bland in comparison to Starbuck’s, but for me and my special diet, it was yummo!


Indiana Yellow Summer Salad



Yeaaah! I think this is my first official original recipe. Inspired by local roadside produce stands and Chef Daniel Orr who emphasizes Indiana produce, I present to you Indiana Yellow Summer Salad. All the produce came from roadside stands and grown in Indiana. I noticed the produce included  colors other than the norm, mainly yellow. I’ve never had the yellow version of these veggies, so I bought them all and created this dish. The “green” beans tasted the same, but the yellow tomatoes were the best ones I’ve ever had in my whole life. The herbs came from my (and my mother’s) backyard. We shared the dish at a lake party on Saturday. Yummo!

Recipe for Indiana Yellow Summer Salad  

– 4 ears fresh sweet corn
– 1 quart yellow wax beans, ends snapped
– 1 quart yellow tomatoes (use slightly less than whole quart), halved
– 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
– 1/2 yellow-green chile pepper, thinly sliced

– 1/3C fresh basil, chopped

– 1/4C fresh oregano, chopped

– 1/2 TBS fresh dill, chopped

– 2 TBS red wine vinegar

– 2 TBS white balsamic vinegar
– 1 TSP agave nectar
– 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

– Pinch of sea salt & fresh-cracked pepper

  1. Heat up grill. Peel back husks of corn but don’t tear off. Remove silk, rub with EVOO and salt & pepper to season. Tightly re-wrap husks, and wrap whole ear in aluminum foil. Repeat with all four husks.
  2. Grill ears of corn for about 20 minutes total, rotating every 5 minutes or until there’s slight grill marks on all sides of the corn.
  3. Let corn cool, then slice off kernels with a knife. I like to leave in chunky pieces so that you can tell it was fresh off the cob. Place in large bowl.
  4. Meanwhile, cook snapped yellow green beans in boiling water for 3 minutes. Move to ice bath to stop cooking.
  5. Place chilled yellow green beans in bowl with corn. Add tomatoes, onion, pepper, and herbs.
  6. In a separate dish, mix salt & pepper, red wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, and agave nectar. Whisk together ingredients while pouring in EVOO.
  7. Pour mixture on top of veggies and toss. Serve at room temperature. To save time, grill corn the night before with your dinner.

There it is, an original by Jenny Erb–Backyard Chef.


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Locally Grown Produce Shop Opening this Weekend


I can’t wait for Double Oak Farm to open this Saturday, at their new location 1120 Washington St., Columbus, Ind. I volunteered there yesterday, helping them paint the new store. They only stock locally-grown produce within a 100 mile radius. They draw from friends and family, largely from the Amish community. And since many of then are in southern Indiana, they get a lot of produce two weeks earlier that other vendors.


They also are the only CSA program in this area. By paying upfront to cover growing costs, you get a vegetable box each week featuring their best produce at the time. Soooo cool.


Count on seeing me there Saturday!


Flax Seed Pillows with Herbs


For Christmas, I made flax pillows out of Anna Maria Horner’s Folksy Flannels collection. This was no easy task, mainly because I put in way too much effort. The eye pillows were easy to make, but I also made neck wraps, sinus pillows, and one wrist wrap. Each pillow had unique herbal contents. For the eye pillows, I added:

  • Lavender
  • Rose oil
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Marjoram

For the sinus pillows, I added:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Marjoram

For the neck wraps and wrist wrap, I added:

  • PureHerbs Five Oils (eucalyptus, cajeput, mullein, peppermint, wintergreen – This is great for muscle reliefs as well as opening congested sinuses.)
  • Yarrow
  • Capsicum

The tips I can offer are to make sure that there are more flax seeds to other ingredients.  I accidentally put too much lavender in my first pillow, causing it to be too light in weight. Also, I started by mixing any oils with the flax in a plastic bag a few days before sewing. Each day I would give it a shake and check the potency. Lastly, I would go the extra mile of making the herbal blends unique to your needs. I used healing herbs in the neck and wrist pillows based on the ailments of the individuals using them.


I ordered the lavender, flax seed, and dried herbs in bulk from Ameriherbs. Their prices and quality are great, but I ordered way too many ingredients. Their products come in 1lb increments, and I often only used a couple tablespoons of some of the herbs. Also, some of the herbs I ordered were to potent to use, such as the valerian root. That stuff did not smell very well! It’s a shame, because it really relaxes you and would have been good in the eye pillows. Of course, I finished the pillows with handmade labels that included instructions for freezing, heating, and use.


Next, I’m going to make myself one that is stomach-shaped for menstrual cramps with a  sash to tie around my waste. Subtle, no. But convenient? Definitely! And so stinkin’ cute in the folksy flannels!