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Product Review: Summer Snacking and BBQ Favorites From Traina Home Grown

Traina Brand Images
All Photos By Gail

It’s hard to believe, but we are now half-way through summer. If you aren’t already deeply-immersed in the weekend picnic and backyard BBQ scene, it’s time to step up your game! Traina Foods has just introduced Home Grown;  a new line of healthy dried fruit snacks and gourmet condiments that makes it easy to bring the taste of summer to your table right now!

Snack Size Frutons

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh summer fruits that you can find everywhere — from the grocery store to your local farmer’s market. But, as silly as this may sound to some, there are those who miss out on fresh summer fruits because the time and effort it takes to wash, peel and cut up the fruit is just too daunting. With a plant-forward approach to eating in mind, Traina Home Grown introduces Fruitons, a delicious, convenient way to help you meet your overall healthy diet needs with perfectly portioned snack bags of their naturally sweet California sun-dried fruit. Sun-dried fruit is nutritionally equivalent to fresh fruit, being high in fiber, healthy nutrients, and antioxidants. Good to know!

Traina Dried Apricots
Traina Home Grown Dried Apricots

Not only are Fruitons a tasty, grab-and-go snack, but they can also be a versatile ingredient in creative meal preparation. I’ve been taking Fruitons to the office and adding them to the morning oatmeal I buy in the cafeteria.

Oatmeal with Dried Fruit
Oatmeal With Apricot and Cherry Fruitons Mixed In!

The hot cereal plumps the dried fruit, adding a chewy sweetness, and making a healthy breakfast even more delicious!

Frutons Large Bags

Fruitons also come in larger, resealable 6-once bags, so you can add the taste and nutritional benefits of dried fruit to all of your summer recipes.

Frutons Assorted Mix

Fruitons All American Blend contains a pleasing assortment of dried peaches, cranberries, grapes, apples and blueberries. This selection is ideal for making your own trail mix, sprinkling into salads, mixing into yogurt, and for perking-up the aforementioned hot cereals. Fruitons would also be an excellent substitute for raisins or other dried fruits that are called for in a variety of baking recipes! The creative possibilities are endless.

Frutons Sun Dried Tomatoes

Do you like sun-dried tomatoes? Who doesn’t? You probably already have a few favorite pasta recipes that call for this premium ingredient. Now you can have sweet and savory sun-dried tomatoes on hand all the time!

Traina Sauces
Traina Ketchups

If you’re planning a BBQ any time soon, be sure to pick up a couple of bottles of Traina Home Grown’s new Gourmet Ketchups and BBQ Sauces for all of your grilling needs! These sauces taste great on a variety of meats — burgers, chicken, steaks —  as well as on vegetables, and used in dips. There are four pounds of tomatoes in every bottle of Home Grown Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup, and these ketchups are also gluten free, kosher, vegan and contain no corn syrup.  There is an organic variety of Ketchup as well as two additional specialty favors.  Gourmet Sicilian Ketchup, with its Italian herb blend, is great on fish and chicken, and to add a kick to your meal,  try the spicy Gourmet Sriracha Ketchup! All are made with same care and quality ingredients.

Traina BBQ Sauces

You’re probably not going to find BBQ sauces like these anywhere else, because Traina Home Grown BBQ Sauces are made with real dried fruit, for an extra special taste! Both the Sun Dried Apricot and Sun Dried Plum BBQ Sauces are sweet and spicy, and would taste so amazing on ribs! The Sun Dried Plum variety reminds me very much of Hoisin Sauce. I served it as a dipping condiment with Trader Joe’s Masala Burgers, and it was off the hook!

Find out more about the Traina family of fine products, shop online, get recipes or find out where to shop in your neighborhood for the products in this post, at This Link!

Frutons Assorted Packaging

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Modern Art Monday Presents: Portrait of Jacob Meyer de Haan By Paul Gauguin

Portrait of Jacob Meyer de Haan
Photo By Gail

This portrait from 1889 depicts one of Paul Gauguin’s closest friends, the Dutch painter Jacob Meyer de Haan, in the pose of a thinker. The painting includes two books that reflect Meyer de Haan’s preoccupations with religion and philosophy: John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Thomas Carlysle’s Sartor Resartus. Carlysle’s central character is called Diogenes, after the Greek philosopher who searched by lamplight for an honest man, and the prominent lamp shown here may extend the reference. This work was originally intended to form part of  a decorative panel for the door of an inn at Le Pouldo — a small coastal village in France where both artists stayed — and was to be hung next to a companion self-portrait by Gauguin that is now in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

 

Video Clip of The Week: Live, “Love Lounge”


Something I did not imagine I would ever be doing is posting a new video from alternative rock radio darlings Live in this column – and one featuring all four original members, no less! I admit that, not only because I was pretty sure that Live had broken up in a manner that could only be described as ‘acrimonious,’ but also because I had heard from sources that would know that lead singer Ed Kowalczyk had kind of, well, turned into dick. I guess that Ed must have worked through his issues, because Patrick (Dahlheimer) and the two Chads (Gracey and Taylor) have accepted him back into the fold, and Live is back to making the skull-splittingly-brilliant music that, at one point in the ’90s, made them The Biggest Band in the World — at least if this clip for “Love Lounge” is any indication. Wow. Wonders truly never cease.

If you are fans of old-school Live, you will be blown away by the sonic locomotive that is “Love Lounge.” Holy shit, Ed‘s voice is in top shape, and he is still one of the sexiest, most charismatic front men in rock. You don’t even need me to tell you anything else about this song except that, aurally, Live still have it going on. “Love Lounge” sounds like no time has passed since the glory day of Throwing Copper, except that Live somehow got ever better. Visually, you’ve got a wall of golden skulls, a high roller’s poker game, and a graffiti-covered tunnel as the major back drops that “Love Lounge” plays against. And then, there’s Ed looking like a stone solid rock god. It’s not anything I thought I would see again. And yet, here it is.

Ladies and gentlemen, Live is back. Enjoy!

Live Band 2018
Chad Taylor, Ed Kowalcyck, Chad Gracey and Patrick Dahlheimer are Live

National Mac & Cheese Day Recipe: Creamy Cheddar Mac & Cheese Donuts!

Mac N Cheese Donuts

Holy Mother of Gouda, will you look at that photo? Did you ever imagine that such a thing as a Mac & Cheese Donut even existed? I did not, and yet, there it is. With today (July 14th) being National Mac & Cheese Day, I snagged this recipe for Creamy Cheddar Mac & Cheese Donuts from the website of Three Bridges [www.threebridges.com] — a chef-crafted pasta, sauce, and meal brand that makes clean eating easy. If donuts make you go nuts, this is the dish for you. Breaking the mold, these donuts trade in the sweet for the savory, but don’t be fooled — they’re just as addicting!

Here’s how to make them!

Creamy Cheddar Mac & Cheese Donuts

Ingredients:
1-12oz pkg Three Bridges Creamy Cheddar Mac and Cheese Kit
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp butter
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp flour
sauces, vegetables, or other toppings of your choice
Instructions:
  1. Prepare Three Bridges Creamy Cheddar Mac n Cheese per directions, let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix the panko bread crumbs, one tablespoon of melted butter, and half of the cheddar cheese (1/2 cup). Set aside.
  3. Mix the mac & cheese with the egg and flour and remaining shredded cheddar cheese (1/2 cup).
  4. Use remaining butter to grease donut pan. Spoon the mixture equally into greased donut pan and sprinkle with the panko breadcrumb and cheese mixture.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and donuts feel firm.
  6. Add your favorite toppings to the donuts. Serve & enjoy!

Pink Thing Of The Day: Bag of Pink Pom Poms

Pin Pom Poms In Bag
All Photos By Gail

When I see something like this, a bag of assorted-sized Pink Pom Poms, I want to buy it just to own it, even if I have no practical use for said pop poms — because it’s not like I am person who does crafts, or anything like that.

Pin Pom Poms Detail

Just look at them: so fluffy, pink, so beautiful to behold. It looks like you could string them together and make a necklace, though I do not think that a pom pom necklace is my style, Maybe I’m wrong,

Pin Pom Poms Display

Reasonably priced at just $2.00 per bag, at Flying Tiger Shops everywhere!

Movie Review: Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade

Eight Grade Movie Poster
Photo By Gail

Let’s play a game: would you rather be poked incessantly with sharp objects, or be forced to relive the eighth grade? You might need a minute to think it over. No one wants to be tortured, but eighth grade is a special kind of hell. It only lasts for one year; but what a socially awkward, puberty-riddled, emotionally agonizing year it is. Eighth grade blows, but now you can vicariously cringe your way through the gauntlet that is the last week of middle school for an earnest, 13-year old wallflower in director / writer Bo Burnham’s fantastic debut feature, Eighth Grade. He went back to eight grade, so you don’t have to.

Best known for his hilarious Netflix stand-up comedy specials, Bo Burnham has admitted to this much: that he retired from doing stand-up due to incapacitating stage fright, and that he’s often been referred to as “the comedian for 13 year old girls.” So it’s not so mysterious that this 27-year old man could write a film that completely nails a coming-of-age scenario of an adolescent girl. Because of course he did. Eighth Grade’s sympathetic protagonist is Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher in a career-launching role), who suffers from a merciless case of acne and a crippling shyness that she attempts to combat with a fake-it-til-you-make-it approach to social media-assisted survival. While she has no siblings, and doesn’t appear to have a close circle of friends, Kayla is absolutely dedicated to the “fans” of her YouTube channel, on which she posts frenetic self-help videos, giving advice on how to “just be yourself” and “put yourself out there.” Obviously, she is her own target audience.

There is no huge dramatic arc in Eighth Grade, but rather the film is peppered with many significant moments of the ‘real life drama’ that is puberty, as Kayla and her classmates struggle to define themselves as soon-to-be-high-schoolers when there is so much they feel totally clueless about. This theme of transition and initiation reminded me very much of another film that is set during the final day of school, Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993), which is one of the best movies about authentic teenage behavior ever put to film. If that sounds like high praise, it is.

Eighth Grade Kayla and Dad
Kayla (Elsie Fisher) and her Dad (Josh Hamilton) in a Scene from Eighth Grade

Kayla is being raised by her single dad, Mark (Josh Hamilton in a thoroughly charming performance) who loves her unconditionally enough to disregard her constantly rebuffing his every attempt at meaningful father-daughter conversation, giving her the space and encouragement she needs to figure stuff out on her own. Mark is hilarious as he tries to not ’embarrass’ Kayla merely by existing. It’s easy to imagine that he was once in her shoes: the geeky kid who grew up to be a pretty cool dad. It takes a while for Kayla to figure this out, letting their relationship unfold with great sweetness, and one excruciatingly comedic moment when he walks in on her practicing fellatio on a banana, a fruit he knows she absolutely hates.

Eighth Grade Kayla Pool

The scenes in which Fisher’s performance inarguably earns the label ‘brave’ are those that take place during a coed swim party hosted by the most popular girl in Kayla’s class, Kennedy (Catherine Oliviere) – a one-dimensional “mean girl” caricature who has no issue telling Kayla to her face that she’s only being invited because Kennedy’s mother insisted. I had to watch through my fingers as I recognized the horrifying self-consciousness of being seen by peers in a bathing suit. Kayla wastes no time plunging herself to the bottom of the swimming pool, where she can most easily disappear. When she panics and retreats into the house to play games on her phone, she is interrupted by Aiden (Luke Prael) the cute, popular boy she’s desperately crushing on, who has come to retrieve his own charging phone. Kayla becomes so flustered at being in unexpected close proximity to her dream beau, the most impressive thing she can manage to nervously stammer is, “Sometimes, I charge my phone, too.” Oh my god, I am Kayla.

Over the course of the film, Kayla cracks her shell a bit, building the confidence to take the mic at a Karaoke party, make friends with a cool high school student, tell off the mean girl, and go on a hilarious first date with an adoring nerd-boy classmate Gabe (Jake Ryan) who first flirted with her at the pool party by challenging her to see who could hold their breath the longest underwater. Clearly, they are perfect for each other. Through a brilliant combination of sensitive direction, spot on casting, and authentically awkward dialogue that resonates so deeply, you’ll swear you’re watching a documentary, Eighth Grade is ridiculously successful and a remarkable achievement, especially for a first-time director. The parts that make us the most uncomfortable are also the most hilarious, because we all lived through it. And life is funny.

Except for one tense scene in the back seat of a car — which you will see coming a mile away — Eight Grade never goes Welcome to the Dollhouse-level dark. This film has more in common thematically with sleeper hits like Little Miss Sunshine (2006), and Napoleon Dynamite (2004), in that the protagonist is encouraged to embrace and celebrate her inner geek. Kayla is already the “Coolest Girl in the World.” She just had to figure that out for herself.

Eighth Grade opens in Los Angeles and New York (where it’s playing at the Angelika Film Center on Houston and Mercer) on July 13th, 2018, with Nationwide distribution to follow.

Grade: A

Watch the Trailer Below!

Eye On Design: Million Dollar Sandals By Stuart Weitzman

Million Dollar Sandals
Photos By Gail

What we now refer to as the Red Carpet debuted at the 1922 premiere of Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks, the “First King of Hollywood.” Today, the pre-show parade of stars outside the Academy Awards is arguable as important to the fashion industry as the ceremony itself it to film. For the 2002 Oscars, actress Laura Elena Harring (Mulholland Drive) wore a pair of Stuart Weitzman stilettos ornamented with 464 Kwiat diamonds. While the shoes shown here are a 2012 reproduction, the original Million Dollar Sandals inspired the installation of a shoe-level camera on the red carpet, shifting fashion’s gaze decidedly footward. The designer also issued the famous shoes with a more affordable Swarovski crystals option.

Photographed as Part of Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes, on Exhibit Through October 8th, 2018, at the New York Historical Society, Located at 77th Street and CPW in NYC.

Million Dollar Sandals