April 21, 2021

Oprah’s “O Magazine” Print Version Calling It Quits After 20 Years

It was with sadness I learned of “O Magazine’s” decision to end its 20-year regular print run. The December 2020 issue will be its last featuring its beloved holiday tradition of choosing Oprah’s “Favorite Things.”

I have enjoyed “O’s” articles on food, fashion, health, psychology and impressive women, but the magazine was also a compendium of great books, clothing, make-up and services. In short, the publication encouraged women to “live your best life.”

Oprah has been on every single cover of the magazine, albeit sometimes sharing a photo with other humans or animals. This final issue has Oprah in a Volkswagen Beetle festooned with red wrapped presents.

Oprah assures readers they will still be able to get recommendations for all good things under the sun from OprahMag.com
Let me remind you that Harpo Studios and Discovery Inc. co-own the TV service, OWN (Oprah Winfrey’s Network) so you can commune with the Oprah brand via tv and streaming. You can also expect Oprah to print special magazine issues. Let’s hope she continues “Favorite Things” in some form for years to come. The December 2020 “O Magazine” issue is still available at newsstands.

Watermelon Seed Butter from 88 Acres

Suddenly my Whole Foods grocery shelf has started featuring more than just peanut and almond butters. Cashew, walnut, sunflower seed and tahini have been some of the fat and protein sources I have tried, but some new additions took me by surprise.

Did you know the black seeds we discard from our whole watermelons can be made into a nutritious and delicious butter? I purchased a tub of 88 Acres’ Roasted Watermelon Seed Butter at Whole Foods. I was not happy to see both powdered and cane sugar in the ingredients, but I was still curious about its taste. In short, watermelon seed butter tastes like tahini (which is toasted and ground sesame seeds.) It was delicious on toast, but I may go for the unsweetened version next time so I can use it to make hummus or other dips.

You may want to check out the 88 Acres site because they feature other products featuring sunflower, pumpkin and watermelon seeds, sweetened and unsweetened, with added flavors like chocolate, maple and vanilla-spiced.

They also carry granolas, protein bars and dressings using these powerhouse nutrition seeds.

One final note: the tub’s label makes for amusing reading. Some of the phrases include “Making More From Less,” and “Just Good Nutrition” – and that subtly sweet roasted watermelon seed – to sprout a more in with the new kinda day. “Naturally, Nicole & the 88 Acres Family.”

I am getting my shopping list ready to purchase more organic products from 88 Acres, The Seed Company.


The Spice House

Did you exhaust your spice rack this Thanksgiving? Sage for your turkey dressing? Ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg for your pumpkin pie? Oregano, Tarragon, Dill, Basil or Thyme for vegetable dishes? The Spice House to the rescue if you need refills.

I last wrote about The Spice House in April 2015. The family-owned operation has always done a brisk business by mail, but the pandemic pushed that even further with online sales. Their periodic emails have recipes, gift ideas and blog posts.

Their spice bottles have beautiful new labels. I continue to keep single spices, as well as the spice blends on hand. A friend gifted me with “Lake Shore Drive Seasoning” with salt, shallots, garlic, onion, chives, ground green peppercorns and scallions. Yum! I myself regularly buy their fine selection of salt-free seasonings. The finely ground Telicherry Pepper (black) is my new favorite condiment along with their Egyptian Basil.

The Spice House is having a Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale. Use discount code BFCMSALE through Cyber Monday to save up to 20% on your order. That discount code will automatically increase the savings based upon the amount you choose to spend. Spend $150 and save 20%. Spend $100 and save 15%. Spend $50 and save 10%.

Their gift boxes of four to eight ingredients make the BEST gifts. Get your orders in pronto if you want your giftees to receive items before Christmas. This is not Amazon with two-day delivery, so you need to allow two weeks for shipping which is free with orders over $49.


Here is a link to my original 2015 article on The Spice House.


“Great British Menu” on Amazon Prime

I still have more cooking show recommendations to check out, but “The Great British Menu” series caught my eye on Amazon Prime. British chefs compete by region in Great Britain to win the opportunity to cook for a celebratory dinner at the end of the season.

Previous chef winners judge three chefs per region in their bid to represent Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other areas of England. Two of the three contestants win the right to present four courses to three esteemed food experts (one of whom is Prue Leith, a current judge on “The Great British Baking Show”). The culinary victor goes on to compete against other regional winners.

Outside of the competitive twists, the viewer is exposed to British dishes and regional food items. We see the contestants meet the suppliers who provide the meat, fish, produce, dairy and beverages in their respective locales. Chefs are given points for sourcing locally.

I watched “The Great British Menu,” Season 5 from 2010 where Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, preside over a dinner honoring food purveyors from British National Trust properties.
“The Great British Menu” has 15 seasons with 45 episodes each, so one could have months of viewing ahead, if cooking competitions are your thing.

Persimmon: the Unicorn of Fruits

In my local grocery store a few years back, I spotted dark orange pieces of fruit resembling miniature pumpkins in the exotic produce section. The sign said “Persimmons.” And they were $3 a piece which is fairly pricey for one small piece of fruit.

With a spirit of adventure, I opted for one that was plump, shiny and hard. I cut it open at home and was met with the worst chalky taste in my mouth. I spit out the fruit flesh with a “yecch” to punctuate my revulsion.

A friend who is much savvier than me about unusual food stuffs let me know that persimmons need to be so ripe that they look and feel like water balloons.

Back to the store I went and found one persimmon that was nigh on bursting with ripeness. As instructed, I pulled off the leaves on top and spooned the fruit out of the bottom part. What a delightful experience. The taste was sweet, but not cloying and the consistency was that of pudding. I had inadvertently found my favorite fall treat. This uncommon fruit is only available in autumn to early winter and only in select stores.

Unfortunately, many produce workers throw out what appears to be over-ripe persimmons. I literally bird-dog purveyors in hopes of catching staff before they discard this orange beauty. If you buy an unripe persimmon, it frequently never gets soft enough to eat without that awful chalky, bitter taste.

I have only found two varieties of persimmons in Whole Foods and Mariano’s (Kroger’s) stores: Fuyu and my preferred Hachiya, but I am still on the look-out for Sheng and Saijo types. Some refer to persimmons as the “apples of Asia.”

Besides eating persimmons by themselves, one can find recipes that use them in oatmeal dishes, persimmon chia pudding, persimmon bars and scones, cranberry persimmon salsa (Thanksgiving perhaps?), persimmon prosciutto grilled cheese sandwiches, persimmon chicken, kale persimmon salad, persimmon arugula pasta, sorbets, tarts, upside down cakes, puddings and persimmon corn bread.

Hurry before the all-too-brief persimmon season is over. A very ripe Hachiya persimmon is indeed the unicorn in the produce department.

20 recipes with persimmons:


Netflix Raising Its Prices – Is It Worth It?

Netflix is raising its monthly fees this fall 2020. The basic fee (one device at a time) stays the same at $8.99; the standard package (two devices at once) goes up to $13.99 per month, and the premium package (four devices, HDR image quality, 4K resolution) up to $17.99. The powers-that-be insist they need the money for increased programming costs.

Hmm…. Let me see. Although I have recently written about other notable Netflix shows, I am adding a few more to the roster.

It was with bittersweet emotions that I watched the sixth and last season of “Schitt’s Creek,” culminating in the wedding of David Rose and Patrick Brewer, with mother Moira Rose acting as officiant in bizarre white religious garb. I wasn’t always in the mood for the show’s strange humor, but I kept coming back for all 89 episodes.

The show made history by garnering seven comedy awards at the 2020 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing, Outstanding Directing (Dan Levy, Eugene Levy’s son) plus Lead Actress, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress. It was definitely a family Levy affair with not only Eugene and Dan playing father and son Roses, but daughter Sarah Levy also getting in the act portraying Twyla Sands, the local diner waitress. The thing I will miss the most is seeing Moira Rose’s (Catherine O’Hara) wacky black and white fashion choices and her endless supply of amusing wigs.

“The Great British Baking Show” has been back on my radar as Netflix started rolling out new episodes every Friday. Contestants, judges and hosts supposedly have to quarantine for the duration of the show. Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall in the GBBS mess hall when they aren’t filming?

Netflix is carrying several versions of this popular British reality show: “The Beginnings,” “Master Class” and “Holidays,” as well as the regular seasons of “The Great British Baking Show.” I’m currently limiting my sugar and gluten consumption, so this show allows me to live vicariously indeed.

A brief mention of the Danish show “Borgen” which Netflix had the wisdom to acquire. If you want to see a bang-up dramatic series about Denmark’s first fictitious female prime minister, you may want to check out “Borgen’s” three seasons (30 episodes total). Politics is tricky business everywhere.

Another charming import, in English, is “Last Tango In Halifax” with the first three seasons streamable on Netflix. Celia and Allan (thespians Anne Reid and Derek Jacoby) rekindle romance after a 60-year hiatus. A quirky ensemble of family and friends adds to the humor and drama. (The current four episodes of Season Five are available on PBS Passport.)

In short, if Netflix keeps up a good mix of original programming, foreign shows, light reality fare and American hits both old and new, I am sticking with the service.