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PostHeaderIcon Ever had a Frickle?

I’ve always thought pickles got a pretty bad wrap.

As a woman, saying you are craving a pickle often leaves people wondering...pregnant? Using the phrase “I’m in pickle” is never for good news, and telling a person he  is "pickled" often means he's had one too many. What's worse, if you've ever seen the big, fat, floating dill pickles in their murky pickle juice in giant glass jars in convenience stores, they don’t look too appetizing.

So, today we present different way to eat a pickle --- deep fried. It's callled a frickle.

Wikipedia tells me that a fried pickle is a "snack item found commonly in the American South and made by deep-frying a sliced battered dill pickle."

“The Fried Dill Pickle was popularized by Bernell "Fatman" Austin in 1963 at the Duchess Drive In located in Atkins, Arkansas,’’ the Web site says. “The Fatman's recipe is only known to his family and used once each year at the annual Picklefest in Atkins, held each May.”

But you don’t have to go to Arkansas to try a frickle. Here is a list of places where you can crunch into one: (Did I mention they are served with Ranch dressing?)

Barclay's Restaurant & Pub, 5940 College Ave. in Oakland.

Smokin Okie's BBQ Joint, 1941 Oak Park Blvd. in Pleasant Hill.

Hooters, 7944 Dublin Blvd. in Dublin.

The Counter Palo Alto, 369 California Ave. in Palo Alto.

The Counter Walnut Creek, 1699 North California Blvd. in Walnut Creek.--KB


PostHeaderIcon Ukulele Sensation is No Don Ho

The Bay Area is in for a real treat this month when musician Jake Shimabukuro performs his amazing ukulele show at three local venues.

The 33-year-old Hawaiian sensation brings his one-man act to the stage at The Bankhead Theater in Livermore this Wed. Mar 17; the Napa Valley Opera House on Mar. 19; and two shows at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on Mar. 20 and 21.

Shimabukuro (pronounced she-ma-BOO-koo-row) is recognized by music critics and music lovers alike as one of the most exciting and innovative ukulele players and composers in the world today. His concerts world-wide have sold out and his viral videos on YouTube.com have made him a household name.

Jake’s newest album "Live" is his first since the best-selling 2006 CD "Gently Weeps," where he does a dazzling performance of the Beatles classic. And if you haven’t caught his ukulele performance of Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody" then you are missing one of the most mesmerizing performances you may ever see.

With lighting-fast fingers and a revolutionary technique, Jake will move you with his ability to create sounds and melodies from what has traditionally been a Hawaiian regional instrument. Defying our pre conceived notions of what the ukulele can do, he plays jazz, blues, funk, classical, show tunes and rock. His personal mission is to show the world what the ukulele is capable of. This is not your Father’s Don Ho luau show. Can you imagine hearing Michael Jackson’s Thriller this way? Unbelievable. He will forever change your perception of what this instrument can do.

Starting out in his native Hawaii, Jake has performed all over the world, including Sweden, Finland, France, Spain and Brazil. He performs regularly with musical legend Jimmy Buffet and had the once-in-a-life time opportunity to share the stage with Bette Midler in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen at a fund-raising concert in Blackpool, England last December.

A humanitarian as well as a consummate musician, Shimabukuro visits schools to talk and play for the children of Hawaii. He is the key spokesman for "Music is Good Medicine" an organization promoting a healthy life and mind through music.

Jake is funny, infectious, brilliant and puts on a show you won’t soon forget. Catch this remarkable and talented man at one of his three Bay Area shows this coming week. You won’t forget it. Here he is at San Francisco’s KFOG Radio station. Jake Shimabukuro performs Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on KFOG Radio.--SEW

For more information about the three upcoming shows, go to:

Bankhead Theater in Livermore –www. livermoreperformingarts.org

Napa Valley Opera House – www.napavalleyoperahouse.org

Yoshi’s – www.yoshis.com


PostHeaderIcon Drink Something Green!


It's thick, it's green and it's back once again!

Between now and April 1, 2011 Bay Area McDonald's restaurant owners will give .25 cents from every Shamrock Shake sold at their eateries to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bay Area, McDonald's officials said.

The Shamrock Shake only comes around for St. Patrick’s Day--March 17--but the proceeds generated from shake sales will help families of seriously ill children all year round. Through the Ronald McDonald Houses, parents and relatives will have a home away from home while their child or children are receiving medical treatment at nearby hospitals.

This year, the fundraiser is part of the local McDonald's owners pledge to donate $2 million over three years to help build two new Ronald McDonald Houses in the Bay Area and to support the Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco and Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.  Since making this commitment in January 2010, local McDonald's owners have already donated $1 million towards the effort.

The Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco and the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford Hospital and Clinics in Palo Alto currently serve more than 650 families annually. The Ronald McDonald House in Palo Alto was built in 1979 and has since been expanded to include 47 guestrooms and private baths, according to information on the Ronald McDonald House Web site.

Families get free breakfast pastries from Starbucks, and several times a week restaurants or volunteer groups make supper for families. Rooms vary in size and cost $10 a night to stay if a child is receiving treatment at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital or Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

The houses have a communal kitchen, common dining and living rooms and laundry areas. Families must live at least 50 miles away from a house to stay there, though the distance requirement is sometimes flexible. For more information on the Ronald McDonald Houses of the Bay Area, go to www.rmhcbayarea.com. Happy St. Patrick's Day.


PostHeaderIcon March Designer's Log-- Countertops

Editor's note: This is the third installment of the Designer's Log by Danville designer Steve Wallace. Look for Wallace's column once a month, usually the first Thursday of the month and feel free to email him ideas.

Conserving natural resources is an important consideration for us all, and interior design is no exception. So, the challenge becomes how does one combine style with a nod to the environment?

We can start right here in the East Bay. Vetrazzo®, started in Berkeley, uses recycled glass to create colorful, unique countertops.

Back in 1996, a glass scientist teamed up with a Bay Area architect and started making small custom-made recycled glass countertops for local use. This new and innovative material was soon being used in major hotels such as the Ritz Carlton in South Beach, Florida.  Word spread fast among the design community. The company outgrew many spaces and 10 years ago took recycling to a new level by installing a state of the art facility in the abandoned Ford auto plant on the bay in Richmond.

Most of the glass used in Vetrazzo comes from curbside recycling programs. Glass also comes from windows, dinnerware, stemware, windshields, stained glass, laboratory glass, and reclaimed glass from building demolition, traffic lights and other unusual sources. Every Vetrazzo surface has its own history. After your purchase and registration, the company provides you with a Certificate of Transformation that tells you where the glass in your Vetrazzo came from.

The color palette is constantly evolving as their designers discover new sources of discarded glass. When you think about it, the possibilities are endless. The current palette consists of 19 colors, from Hollywood Sage (for that hip modern look) to Bistro Green (think of a Parisian café) to Alehouse Amber (no, it’s not a barmaid).

A Vetrazzo surface lets you express both your individual style and your respect for our planet without compromise.  The end product is 85 percent glass and their whole manufacturing plant is green; with such innovation as using daylight for working, negative-pressure dust booths and by recycling the water they use. They are a Certified Bay Area Green Business and a winner of the U.S. EPA Environmental Award.

Vetrazzo’s artful countertops are incredibly strong, beautiful, timeless and a joy to live with. An extremely durable and easy-to-maintain surface, it's comparable to granite in strength, scratch resistance, heat resistance, durability, and care & maintenance. Vetrazzo is less porous than marble, concrete or limestone. 
But you do have to care for it. Since 85 percent of the surface is glass, it’s impervious to most staining. However, acids (like red wine, lemon juice and vinegar) will etch the matrix of the surface (the concrete area between the glass) if not cleaned up right away. And staining agents (like coffee and tea) will leave a trace if allowed to remain on the surface.  Luckily, like aged butcher block, marble, and concrete, signs of living can actually enhance the character of the surface. If you clean messes up quickly, your Vetrazzo will remain unchanged.

If you prefer a more carefree lifestyle, you will appreciate the natural patina that can develop over time. Keep it clean with soap and water, (avoiding harsh abrasives). When the mood strikes you, buff it with a wax a few times a year and reseal it once every year or two. 

Dwell magazine calls Vetrazzo surfaces “a superhero of the countertop world” and you will, too. After years of granite, it’s refreshing to find a new material that is so easy to maintain, so colorful and so much fun to enjoy every day.  It’s also a great feeling personally to be using a truly green product and investing in our local economy. Your home is a reflection of your style and your values.  Sustainable materials are the only way to go today.  We must think about cutting down on mining non-renewable resources like virgin stone.  

Vetrazzo can be seen at many East Bay kitchen design studios.  I am currently specifying it for a client. You can also find out more by going to their Web site at www.vetrazzo.com.
An interior designer for more than 20 years, Wallace's work has been featured in Palm Springs Life and he is completing a book about design for publication soon. Contact him at www.stevewallacedesign.com or call 925.915.1005.


PostHeaderIcon Just a Click for Cookies

Finding your local Girls Scout cookie booth is now at your fingertips.

Starting Friday, March 5 you can snap up your Samoras and track down your Thin Mints using the new "Cookie Locator" on the Internet. Simply click on www.ILoveCookies.org, type in a zip code and you’ll find spots selling cookies. Cookies will be for sale for $4 a box through March 21.

At cookie booths, you’ll find old favorites, such as Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs, plus some new editions, such as Thank U Berry Munch, a treat loaded with cranberries and white chocolate chips, and the Dulce de Leche cookie, a bite-sized treat chocked full of caramel chips.

Girl Scout cookies have 0 grams of trans fat, and four of the eight cookie varieties --- Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos, Lemon Chalet Cremes and Thank U Berry Munch -- have no trans-fats or hydrogenated oils.

 Founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts' membership has grown from 18 members to 3.4 million members throughout the United States, including U.S. territories, and in more than 90 countries through USA Girl Scouts Overseas, according to the Girl Scouts.

Girls started selling cookies in 1917 and typically about 200 million boxes of cookies are sold each year, according to the Girl Scouts.

Cookie sales are a big part of fundraisers for the scouts and proceeds help fund service projects, learning programs, and fees for camps and memberships. Local money remains in the local programs.
And after nearly 100 years, they seem to be doing something right.
“No university has produced as many female business leaders as has the Girl Scout Cookie Program,” said Marina H. Park, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern California in a statement.

If one or two boxes of cookies won’t do it for you, check out the Cookie Bundles’ at the cookie booths. The bundles are three boxes for $12 and five boxes for $20 and include the I Love Chocolate Bundle (1  box of Samoas, 1 box of Thin Mints, and 1 box of Tagalongs), the Timeless Classics Bundle (1 box of Trefoils, 1 box of Thin Mints, and 1 box of Samoas), and the trans-fat-free Café Companions Bundle (1 box of Thank U Berry Munch, 1 box of Lemon Chalet Cremes, and 1 box of Trefoils).

In addition, the Girl Scouts of Northern California offers the Gift of Caring program, where people can buy cookies that are donated to local food banks, the American Red Cross, and military troops.

In addition to the “cookie locator” you can find fun cookie facts from a What’s Your Favorite Cookie online poll to recipes for dessert and entrees like Thin Mint Brownies, Trefoils Cheesecake, a Tagalongs Shake, and even Samoas Coconut Shrimp at http://www.littlebrowniebakers.com/cookies/cookies_recipes.html. --KB


PostHeaderIcon Stop the Potty Talk

How many swear words do you say each day?

I took a very unscientific poll (posed the question to my Facebook network) and found some amusing and candid answers. "In my head? At least 200," one friend said. "Under my breath? Maybe 100. Muttered? About a dozen. Spoken at full volume? Probably fewer than three. But that's on a good day."

Wikipedia tells me that "tape-recorded conversations found that roughly 80–90 spoken words each day are swear words." That might sound like a lot of taboo words but most people speak between 15,000 and 16,000 words a daily, field studies show.

Another friend said she swore a lot more when she was watching "The Wire" and "The Sopranos" on  TV. Good thing she wasn’t tuning into the show "Deadwood,’’ which had an abundance of potty-mouthed pioneers.

A couple other people who were polled said the number of swear words they utter each day depends on if they are driving, working or watching sports.

Most people said they believe they cuss about 20 to 40 times a day

If you’ve tried to forget the f-bombs and win the battle against bad words, this is the week to do it.

California lawmakers recently passed a resolution making this week officially "No Cussing Week." The idea to swear off swear words came in part from California Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, who co-wrote a measure to promote "harmony and good manners" among his colleagues. 

The swear police won't be on duty around the state Capitol but lawmakers do plan to put money into a kitty for charity if they use a swear word.

Lawmakers didn’t come up with this idea on their own. Three years ago, a South Pasadena teen named McKay Hatch, then 14, launched a No Cussing Club at his junior high school. The club took off and now there are more than 100 clubs with 35,000 online members in every state in the union, according to statistics on the No Cussing Web site.

If you plan to give No Cussing  Week a try, shoot me an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and let me know how it goes. Have a great friggin week-KB.

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