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.


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:


Newman’s Own Cauliflower Gluten-Free Pizza

I have tried to walk the gluten-free path for a while now so I was thrilled to see that Newman’s Own (started by actor/philanthropist/car-racer Paul Newman) has come up with a Thin & Crispy Cheese pizza featuring a cauliflower crust that tastes delicious. Wheat and gluten have been supplanted with white rice, brown rice flour, tapioca and corn starches, plus cauliflower and cheese.

The crust hits a good balance of crispiness around the edges and gooey goodness in the center.

I bought the Margherita version with tomatoes, herbs and cheese and then added more vegetables. Whole Foods and Mariano’s are listed as Chicago purveyors of this specialty product. For now, one can buy the cauliflower crust pizza with either plain cheese or a Margherita version.

At the Newman’s Own web site, the company proudly notes they have donated over $550 million since 1982. What a wonderful legacy for a man who was not only a superlative actor, but a humanitarian as well.

Please note that milk, egg and parmesan cheese are ingredients in Newman’s Own Thin & Crispy Cheese Pizza, so this is not a product for vegans. Well, ya’ just can’t please everybody, can ya’?


Moso Bag For Odor-free Air

While researching air purifiers online, I was reminded that my sister gave me a Moso bag a while back. What is a Moso bag, you may ask? In short, it is a no-tech cloth bag filled with bamboo charcoal that naturally absorbs odors and freshens the air.

The seller recommends rejuvenating the bag once a month by simply placing it in sunlight. The UV rays naturally clear the pores of the bamboo so your Moso bag can continue cleaning the air for up to two years.

You can place the bag in closets, cars, bathrooms, pet areas, utility rooms or basements. The Moso bag, made of natural linen, is unscented and chemical-free. After two years, you can empty the charcoal bamboo into your garden.

There’s an Amazon Choice deal for 4 Moso bags for $30.95 with free shipping if you are a Prime member.

Related to this cleansing of air through natural means, I would like to hear about any electronic products you have purchased that may be able to zap COVID viruses and other bacteria. Have you found any devices that use UVC light, ozone or HEPA filters to inactivate airborne matter? Please send me any personal anecdotes regarding your research or purchases. I am all ears.