How to Eat More Sustainably in 2015

January 13, 2015

I teamed up with Oakland artist Maria Schoettler, to give you fifteen tips to eat sustainably in 2015. Keep this as your desktop background, print it off and tape it to your fridge and let these be a gentle reminder that you too can eat healthy, delicious AND sustainable food.

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  1. Eat Less Meat – try out Meatless Mondays or cut out meat on the weekends. By starting small, you’re making a huge impact on the planet as animal farming is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases. There are plenty of delicious vegetarian options out there, which will get you more creative in the kitchen!
  2. Buy Local - Try shopping at your local farmers markets or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share with a local farm. Local food ensures that your local farmer stays in business, promotes plant diversity and is the freshest possible option.
  3. Buy Organic – If you have the means, always choose organic! By doing so, you’re not paying into a system that mistreats the planet with harsh chemicals. If you’re strapped for cash, stick to the clean 15 and avoid the dirty dozen. These are the fruits and veggies that are most worth the money for organic based on pesticide use.
  4. Sustainable Seafood – If you eat fish look for wild caught and sustainably raised seafood. If you live in the Bay area check out my friend Beck’s company, Small Boat Seafood!
  5. Eat less processed foods – aside from generally being harmful to your body, processed foods rely heavily on highly-subsidized corn (in the form of high fructose corn syrup) and doesn’t encourage a diverse food system.
  6. Grow Your Own- have a window sill? Pot up some herbs like basil or mint to add to your salads. Have a backyard? Try your hand at growing leafy greens and radishes, which generally take less time to grow than root vegetables. Gardening is awesome, and growing your food can be extremely rewarding.
  7. Compost – If you have the space, you can get buy a pre-made composter or build one yourself. No backyard? No problem! You can buy or make your own worm composting bin that can live in your kitchen. If you keep your worms fed regularly, there shouldn’t be any bad smells coming from there. By composting, your diverting your food waste from a landfill and turning it into nutrient-dense soil for your garden or potted plants (see #6!)
  8. Preserve the Harvest – all the berry picking you do in the summer would make delicious jam in the fall or winter. Same goes for fall apple picking- you can enjoy apple sauce anytime of the year. With a little bit of planning, your can preserve lots of food.
  9. Cook! – The easiest and most straightforward way to eat more healthy and more sustainably is to take some time to cook every week. I love Tamar Adler’s approach of doing all your roasting and baking on a Sunday to have it feed you for the whole week. Check out this video for some serious inspiration.
  10. Buy in Bulk and reduce food packaging – ever tried shopping in the bulk section of your grocery store? It’s a great place to save money and packaging for things like grains, flours, nuts and lentils.
  11. Buy Fair Trade or Direct Trade coffee and chocolate – the coffee and chocolate industries have had a long history of paying low wages for workers. By cutting out the middleman, and working directly with farmers, you’re supporting fair-wage practices for cocoa and coffee farmers across the globe. Plus it’s delicious.
  12. Invest in reusable kitchen ware like bamboo cutlery, textiles and even mason jars. This is a great way to reduce waste in the kitchen.
  13. Stop buying bottled water! Buy a cute water bottle and fill it up at the tap. If you’re concerned about tap water in your region, you can always buy a water purifier. You’ll be saving money in the long run and reducing all that plastic.
  14. Ask Questions- whenever you’re out buying groceries or at a restaurant ask questions. This skit made the questions go over the top, but it never hurts to ask! You may be pleasantly surprised with the answer you get.
  15. Enjoy it! Good, healthy, sustainable food is meant to be shared with close friends and family. Consider having weekly potlucks or a rotating dinner schedule with neighbors. This will take some time off your hands, get you to try new foods, and celebrate in the beauty of local food!

If you have any questions about the above information – please let us know in the comments! Happy 2015 everyone! 

Interview with Maria Schoettler + A Giveaway!

January 2, 2015

Happy 2015 Bellpeppers! We’re starting off the year right by connecting to California makers and celebrating their awesome work. Last week we featured Stephanie Bernstein from To Go Ware and today I have a special treat for you with an interview and giveaway with Maria Schoettler.

maria schoettler, 2015 calendar, local food calendar

You may have seen Maria’s beautiful watercolor paintings and seasonal calendars around stores in San Francisco such as the General Store, Bi Rite or The Gardener. I got to talk to Maria one gray morning in the San Francisco Ferry Building about how she started her art career, the beauty of connecting to local food and some exciting plans for the new year. Read on for a chance to win one of her stunning 2015 eat local produce calendars! 

Tell us about your art background:

I studied art in college, (oil painting) and I was interested in portraits. My work started getting abstract, but I relied heavily on using models. When I moved to Oakland I stumbled across a studio that happened to have live models, and I did that for a while. But I realized I was creating work only for myself, and that’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want to be in the gallery world, and be a fine artist that only the wealthy had access to. I wanted something more democratic. I stopped doing art for a time and just worked at a preschool and was getting my footing in being a young adult. I wanted to be working in food somehow, I had a trial day at one of Alice Water’s cafes and it was terrible (laughs). I just failed miserably, I didn’t enjoy it.

maria schoettler, local, calendar, watercolor

How did you get interested in local food?

At the time I was very inspired by Alice Waters and I equated being a self-sufficient adult with being able to cook really good food for myself. I wanted to eat the food that I grew up with, which was Italian but was also focused on eating good food together with family. I always associated food with a sense of home and comfort, and being in the Bay Area really inspired me to be a part of the local food movement.The Temescal farmers market is really close to my house, and I became a diehard farmers market goer. I would go every Sunday and just got excited about it.

How did the idea for your calendars come about?

I made a calendar of what was in season for myself and it was just one-page- a representation of what it means to eat locally in the Bay. I got a lot of good feedback from friends and family and realized that people might be interested in them and that I could potentially sell them.

A friend and I set up a table at the farmers market one day with a local calendars sign. The programs director of 18 Reasons came to the table and was like, “I don’t know what this is but I want to help you.” She to this day is kind of the person who made it happen, she introduced me to Sam from Bi-Rite, who was my first real account.

From there I just hit the floor and started trying to sell to more stores, some people completely blew me off and others were totally receptive. Each year its just grown and grown and its been a great way to meet new people and collaborate with people who have been passionate about the same things.

maria schoettler, local food, calendars, watercolor, 2015 calendar

Tell us about some of your recent collaborations

The one thing I don’t like about being an artist is that its super solitary, so collaboration has been my saving grace. And the kind of art that I make really lends itself to collaboration. A good friend of mine Molly, has a company called Ambatalia, and she’s all about textiles for a non-disposable life, which ties into my interests. She connected me to a lot of awesome people as well.

local food calendar

Any big plans for 2015?

I’m looking to do less products and more illustrations, and just branching out. I have a show at The Mill in February and doing mostly northern California landscape paintings which I’ve never done before. I thought I’d just try it out and I’m having a lot of fun with it!

How do you explain the importance of eating locally to someone new to the concept?

There’s something really beautiful about the specimens, which is an undeniable quality of what I’m doing. Even if you cant appreciate eating locally, then you can at least recognize the beauty in an apple, which ties back to the whole process. Its beautiful because its heirloom and fresh and grown 15 miles from here.

Food can also be fun: you can turn the practice of going to the grocery store more pleasurable if you go to a famers market and build community around it.  And you can make meals more fun- it’s such an amazing source of connection. No ones going to say no if you invite them over for dinner, you know? Eating is such a pleasurable activity that we all need to do.

maria schoettler, local food calendar, interview

What’s something you wish people knew about your work? 

I wish people knew that I’m not doing this out of some sort of trend, but rather out of a labor of love and commitment to eating well and shopping at farmer’s markets. That’s how it started. As a lifestyle.

What’s your favorite meal to cook?

I love making pizza, either in my oven or on the barbecue. It’s such a social and collaborative food to cook and eat, I love how playful it is and how many endless possibilities there are for topping innovation!

local food calendar, 2015, maria schoettler

What are 5 things you can’t live without?

I could not live without coffee. A community of like-minded friends. Access to good food is crucial to my well being. Weather warm enough to be outside. Colorful things.

Thank you Maria for sharing your story with us! And now for all you lovely bellpeppers, I’m giving away one of Maria’s 2015 local food calendars- enter below! 

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California Road Trip

December 31, 2014

It’s good to be back on the blog today! In a week I’ll be moving across the country from sunny San Diego to the frost of Boston. I’m really excited to make the move, but I’ll admit it’s definitely bittersweet. I’ve had a beautiful community of genuine, interesting and motivated people for the past 15 months. Weekly potlucks, a shared community garden, interesting events and lectures, and the freedom to create meaningful work and projects. I’ll definitely miss it.

As I say goodbye to California (for now) I decided the proper way to celebrate would be a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. Here are some of the photos from our stops along the way- enjoy!

venice, california, road tripvenice, california, beach, sunset

venice, california, sunset

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Brussels Sprouts Farro Salad with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette

December 26, 2014

As I make my way across California in my last goodbye to this great state, Emily from TrueFood is here to share a warming Farro and brussels sprouts salad recipe. Take it away Emily! 

farro, brussels sprouts, lemon, thyme

Roasting brussels sprouts is my favorite way to prepare them. The caramelization brings out their sweet and nutty flavor. Together with crispy leeks, good quality parmesan, and a super lemony vinaigrette this farro salad will absolutely hit the spot. You can make this dish vegan by adding chopped, roasted almonds instead of cheese.

I usually buy about a pound of farro in bulk, it cooks rather quickly and it’s a useful staple to have in your pantry. It’s a great source of fiber and protein, too. You might also want to keep some cooked farro in your fridge, you can easily mix it with a few vegetables for a last minute healthy lunch during the week.

Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette

The lemon-thyme vinaigrette is what brings this dish together, prepare it first so the herb has time to release it’s flavors. I often double the recipe so I have extra for weeknight salads.

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (should be about 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (use less if dried), finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well, until the oil and lemon juice emulsify. Set aside at room temperature until needed for the farro salad. Shake well before using.

farro, brussels sprouts, lemon, thyme

Brussels Sprouts Farro Salad

The amount of vegetables will vary depending on their original size, so when it comes time you’ll probably want to mix everything together in a few stages. This way you’ll create the ratio you prefer. I like my salad to be about 50% farro and 50% vegetables… with lots of cheese! (serves 4-6)

  • 1 1/2 cups dried farro
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered (keep the loose leaves that fall off when trimming, they crisp up nicely when roasted)
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, sliced (the very tough dark green parts can be saved for stock or composted)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup good quality parmesan, coarsely grated or crumbled.
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan combine the farro with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cover. Allow the farro to simmer for about 30 minutes, until nearly all the water is evaporated. When it’s al dente to the bite, it’s done. Drain off any remaining water and transfer to a bowl. Season with a pinch or two of salt.
  2. While the farro is cooking preheat the oven to 400˚F. Toss the leeks and brussels sprouts with olive oil, a few good pinches of salt, and cracked black pepper. Spread the mixture evenly onto a large, rimmed baking sheet. Place on the upper rack of the oven and roast, undisturbed for 10-15 minutes. Stir the mixture and rotate the pan, roast for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Remove when brussels sprouts are fork tender and lightly browned on the edges. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Mix the farro with the roasted vegetables, cheese, and prepared vinaigrette. Enjoy the salad warm, room temperature, or even chilled for lunch.

Have you ever had farro before? What’s your favorite farro recipe?

A huge thank you to Emily for contributing this delicious recipe! Go check out her beautiful blog Truefood where she posts about sustainable, healthy and downright delicious food!

Interview with To-Go Ware + A Giveaway!

December 24, 2014

Today we have a really exciting interview with Stephanie Bernstein, founder of To-Go Ware. You may have seen these adorable packaged bamboo utensil sets in Whole Foods or REI, today we get the full scoop! I love meeting people who are making a difference in the sustainable food system, and while it’s not food, To-Go Ware is definitely making a difference. I got to chat with Stephanie on a rare rainy morning in San Diego about her inspiration for the company and how they’ve grown over the years. Stephanie is a mover and shaker in the natural products world and also happens to be my neighbor. Read on for an amazing story and a chance to win one of her utensil sets for yourself!

to-go ware, bamboo

Tell us where the idea for To-Go Ware Came From

When I was a student at University of Michigan, I went out to ice cream with my sister and they gave us the ice cream in plastic. I asked my sister, did we say to-go? I didn’t understand why we were getting our food in plastic when we were eating in. It was 1997, just when disposables got more prevalent. On campus we had these coffee mugs that we would carry around and get a discount, and I thought – why don’t we carry everything, everywhere and call it To-Go ware? I thought about that idea for seven years. It was a strong lightning bolt moment at the time, but I was a theater major and just had other things going on at the time.

to-go ware, bamboo

How did you go from Theater Major to Business Owner?

After college I moved to New York to pursue acting and also started paying a lot of attention to food and wellness. It was a strong intuitive thing. I did a yoga teacher training, I was a raw foodist for a while, I went to Maui to study- I was really enveloped in that. I met the founders of the yerba mate company (Guayaki) who quickly became mentors to me and led me into the natural products world. At that time I was eating organic and thinking a lot about whole foods, but I wanted to extend the idea of sustainability beyond food.

I moved to San Francisco to have a more balanced life, taught yoga there and wound up running a café that served all natural products, called Urban Forage. It helped me connect with the environmental community, as well as the natural businesses in the area. At the time PLA plastics (a biodegradable plant-based plastic) came into the market, which was annoying me because it was a step, but it wasn’t solving the problem. I kept thinking about To-Go Ware.

I accidently started my business by finding things piece-meal. The original utensil holders were made by a Burmese women’s co-operative that I found at a festival. I started selling them at some festivals, food co-ops and out of the back of my car. I wound up gaining a lot of experience and insight by working for a fair-trade import company, called World of Good, for a couple years in Boulder as I was growing my own business. The company was high-growth, mission-driven and the woman who ran the company was a genius and very inspiring. I learned a lot from doing that and ended up launching the business full time in 2007 when I moved back to San Francisco.

bamboo, to-go ware, disposable

Any amazing surprises along the way?

In 2009 we were featured on Oprah, which was insane. We were one of the featured products on their zero-waste Earth Day show. They had a ton of products on a table, barely said the name of any product, but at the end of the show they announced that To-Go Ware was offering a discount- and from that we got orders for months. We couldn’t even keep the website up, it was a crazy awesome thing. We were buried. It was amazing.

Any upcoming exciting projects?

We just launched a kids-version of our utensils and bamboo plates. We’re also trying to partner with more cause-based organizations like Teens Turning Green, Heifer International and Women’s Earth Alliance. One thing we love about the utensil sets is that they’re a very tangible concept for someone trying to offset their carbon footprint. Especially as a student you eat out a lot, so it’s an easy way to make a difference.

What would tell someone who’s trying to be more sustainable?

One of my favorite quotes is: “The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago. The next best time is now.” People think that we’re screwed. Just start. Just pick one thing. People get overwhelmed with what to do because it’s such a big problem. But just start with something, it doesn’t have to be everything. Start with the things you do every day- is it taking a shorter shower, is it going meatless on Monday, just doing things that have direct impact, because even small things have a direct impact. Also make it your routine and be constantly aware, develop a consciousness around it. Where did this come from? What is my impact? Those are two great questions that will ruin your life and also enhance it in a million ways.

What’s your favorite meal to cook?

I love cooking. I make these big Asian vegetable stews that I’m a big fan of. That or either some sort of raw treat with cashews and fruits.

5 things you cant live without?

My kids. A fine mesh strainer is really important to me. NPR. A bathtub. My yoga mat.

to-go ware, bamboo, utensil set

Looking to incorporate some more sustainable practices to your eating habits? Enter below for a chance to win a To-Go Ware bamboo utensil set!
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Food Photography Workshop with Honest Films

December 8, 2014

There are certain events in my life that come together so perfectly, that it’s only until later that I get to reflect on what a dream it all is. Yesterday’s food photography workshop with husband-wife duo of Honest Films, was one of those events.


I met Erin at the Creative Connections San Diego meet up event a couple months back, and immediately knew I wanted to collaborate with her and Chris. Shortly after we met up at Bird Rock cafe in La Jolla and started to dream together about what a farm to table food photography workshop could look like. Together with Hazon San Diego and the Leichtag Foundation, we were able to create a day filled with delicious local and organic food, a natural light photography workshop and gather some awesome local bloggers and writers.

The first half of the workshop was composed of going over the basics of composition including leading lines, balance, the rule of thirds, golden mean, symmetry and cropping. A lot of the things we discussed I had heard before, but Chris gave examples for each subject matter, which was really helpful in making the connections.

Photography has been an interest of mine since I was a kid, using up dozens of disposable cameras on pictures of my neighborhood. My favorites were cloud shots. I think I’ve come a long way since those kodak disposables, but I’m still learning new techniques everyday, and trying to sharpen my photographer’s eye.

We got to practice the basics of composition on a dessert table that my co-host Gabi and I styled. It was so fun creating this indoor dessert scene – there was lots of pink, lots of candy and also some gorgeous pomegranates against the dark wood table. Everyone took turns around the table and we got some awesome action shots as well (check out #honestworkshop on Instagram for all the blogger submissions).




The second half of the workshop, we talked about color, light and editing software. I finally learned the difference between Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, and officially want new editing software! We discussed contrasting colors, the amazing power of VSCO cam, and the fun community of photographers that exist on Instagram and other social media platforms.

We also talked about different tools you can use to enhance your photos and adjust for white balance. I think the hardest thing about shooting food is getting the lighting just right, and finding the perfect place in your apartment to set everything up. This is definitely something I want to focus on in the coming weeks.

Afterwards, we went outside to the second table scene where we ended the workshop by eating all the delicious food. Gabi and I styled the table exactly as we envisioned it in our planning phases. A ton of beautiful food, with lots of pops of color, gorgeous settings and small fun details for interesting shots. I think we succeeded.





I had such an amazing day yesterday – a huge thank you to Chris and Erin for their patience with all our questions and for being amazing teachers, and of course to the Leichtag Foundation for letting us make our dream of a farm to table photography workshop happen on the Ranch!

For more photos from the event, take a peek at Instagram with the hashtag #honestworkshop. 

Autumn Persimmon Smoothie + A Beaming Giveaway!

December 5, 2014


I’ve never been a huge fan of medicine. As a kid I would run out of the house just at the sight of the bright pink syrupy liquid that was going to rid me of my cold. I’ve carried this mentality into adulthood, often preferring drinking orange juice when I needed more Vitamin C, drinking ginger-honey tea when I feel cold coming, or just eating straight ginger in dire situations.

The thing about food is, well, it’s incredibly healing. Ask anyone who practices Eastern medicine – fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and herbs all have amazing healing properties.

When I first came across Beaming, the huge sign in the shop that read “Let food by thy medicine” is what really caught my eye. I love that with a little bit of planning and care we can take care of ourselves.

In celebration of the fall equinox, a drop in temperature and the holiday season, I teamed up with Beaming to showcase their exclusive fall menu and let you all get in on some of the Beaming love.

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Currently: November

December 4, 2014


Reading Brain on Fire, a memoir about a woman who goes from working at a newspaper to being strapped to a bed in a hospital with no recollection of how she got there.

Obsessed with my goodies from Black Friday Sales.

Grateful for the little rain we’ve seen in San Diego.

Wondering about new adventures waiting for me in Boston!

Creating partnerships with brands, bloggers and artists. It’s so nice to connect with creative individuals who all care about local, nutritious food.

Watching Food Chains. This film came out last week, and if you care about local food, then definitely check out this movie which depicts the struggles of farm workers.

Loving the venue Mish and I decided on for the wedding! You’ll just have to wait and see!

Currently: October

November 19, 2014

PicMonkey Collage

Enjoying time spent with friends and family on the East Coast for my engagement party!

Reading Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. Next up on my list is Amy Poehler’s Yes Please- have you read either of these books? Lena Dunham’s book was laugh out loud funny, and I imagine Yes Please is going to induce some fits of laughter too, I can’t wait.

Obsessed with Instagram. Actually though, I’m happily addicted.

Grateful for such an incredible past 15 months on my fellowship. Things around here are winding down and come January, I head to Boston! Going to miss living with and being inspired by six incredible food justice warriors.

Wondering how I’m going to cope with going from a 75 degree December, to a 32 degree January. Can humans go into hibernation too?

Exploring Northern California and Pie Ranch with my girlfriends. A weekend filled with pie, barn parties, ocean-time and kittens. It was perfect. Also, Idyllwild Camping Grounds this weekend. Excited for hiking, campfires, starry nights and time away from computer screens.

Creating an awesome food-photography workshop! Details coming soon!

Watching Gilmore Girls. Can’t. Stop.

Loving my new blog! The amazing logo and illustrations were created by the sweet and talented Maggie Waller, of Type and Title. Homegirl knows her stuff. If you need branding, wedding design, calligraphy – I can’t recommend her enough! Seriously, go check out her website!

James Beard Food Conference 2014 Recap

October 28, 2014

Hi friends! I’m writing today from New York, where I’ve spent the past day and a half learning about food and public health at the annual James Beard Food Conference. I’ve met some of my favorite food heroes, connected with amazing folks in the food movement, and thought a lot about how we can make the American food system healthier and more equitable.

sam kass, michael pollan, james beard

photo credit: james beard foundation (Left to Right: Jane Black, Michael Pollan, Sam Kass)

There were so many amazing panelists and speakers crammed into the past 36 hours, that I’m honestly a little overwhelmed at where to begin. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been feverishly live tweeting, while taking healthy doses of time to just sit and listen. Check out my tweets from the conference here!

A large portion of yesterday’s line up focused on the health issues related to sugar consumption. We watched clips from the new film Fed Up, and discussed sugar consumption in relation to obesity and diabetes with Laurie David, executive producer of the film, Dr. Robert Lustig, who is a prominent researcher of this issue, as well as Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and NYU Professor and Corby Kummer, Senior Editor of the Atlantic. I told you it was an all-star cast, right?

What surprised me the most about the conference, in a good way, was that the James Beard Foundation was honest and transparent about all of their initiatives, and their funding and sponsorships were in line with what they preach. Good, healthy food for people and for the planet. Unlike the last food conference I attended in D.C. where the corporate sponsors were Walmart and Monsanto.

The conference also surprised me in the multi-faceted approaches to food and health, the inclusion of diverse communities as well as a strong emphasis on equity in the food system. My introduction to the food movement has always come from a place of justice and equity since working with issues of urban farming and food access. The food system is f’d up because we can’t feed our communities healthy and affordable food. I’m really happy that conversation was pushed to the forefront of the dialogue, instead of as an after-thought.

mark bittman, james beard foundation

photo credit: james beard foundation (Left to Right: Mitchell, VP of JBF and Mark Bittman)

We heard from Architectural designers from Harvard, who are re-inventing the way we think about space and food, we heard from the big shots like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, we also got to hear a whole lot from doctors, who are often missing from the conversation. Doctors of all kinds spoke out at the James Beard conference, and wanted to partner with food folks. I would be remiss to not mention the recent launch of Tulane University’s culinary program specifically designed for medical students. So go check that out.

I think what I’m getting at is that the James Beard Food Conference really went above and beyond my expectations. I’ve always revered the Foundation for their recognition of chefs and good food, but JBF really proved themselves a leader in the food movement.

I’m going to share a couple more posts from the conference in the coming days, but I wanted to check in and let you know where I’ve been. Next stop is Sacramento to visit U.C. Davis Agriculture Program, and then a lovely Halloween weekend with my girlfriends in the Bay Area!

Thanks so much to the James Beard Foundation for a wonderful and thought provoking conference!