Local Arizona honey sold at Farmers Markets

Mesquite Honey

Absolutely Delightful Mesquite Honey available at the Roadrunner Park Farmers Market on Saturdays (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Desert Wild Flower Honey

Absolutely Delightful Desert Wild Flower Honey available at the Roadrunner Park Farmers Market on Saturdays (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

The desert southwest is certainly the last place some people would think of as a place that produces honey.  The National Honey Board says, “The color and flavor of honey differ depending on the bees’ nectar source (the blossoms).  In fact, there are more than 300 unique kinds of honey in the United States, originating from such diverse floral sources as Clover, Eucalyptus and Orange Blossoms.  In general, lighter colored honeys are mild in flavor, while darker honeys are usually more robust in flavor.”  There are some distinct pollen sources in Arizona.  One company called Absolutely Delightful Honey offers, “Uniquely delicious, natural flavors to include orange blossom, alfalfa, mesquite, desert wild flower, Flagstaff wild flower, catsclaw and camelthorn. From time to time we get small batches of rare honeys like prickly pear or staghorn (cholla) cactus honey.”  They are found at four Phoenix-area farmers markets throughout the week.  The Benefits of Honey website says, “Honey is a great natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies. Honey is known for its effectiveness in instantly boosting the performance, endurance and reduce muscle fatigue of athletes.” One way to incorporate this energy booster into a diet is to use it as a substitute for sugar.  It could be added to teas to make them sweeter and to pastries for a great unique flavor.

Clover Honey

Clover Honey available at any health food store like Sprouts or Whole Foods Market (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Alfalfa Blossom Honey

Alfalfa Blossom Honey available at any health food store like Sprouts or Whole Foods Market (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Honey is a great product for everyone to eat.  Just make sure if someone is allergic to bees, not to include the honeycomb in their honey.  The desert southwest has honey distinctive to the area, but so does honey that is produced in other parts of the country and around the world.  It is like people can go on adventures just by tasting honey.

Absolutely Delightful Logo

Absolutely Delightful Local Arizona Honey available at four Phoenix-area farmers markets over the week (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).


Share Button

Luau makes a splash for kids and adults a like

Water Slide

Young boy running up one of four blow-up water slides at the City of Chandler luau celebration (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).

Kona Truck

The Kona Ice Truck was very popular at the Chandler event with their Hawaiian sno cones (Photo by: Christina Thompson)

This past Saturday in downtown Chandler, Arizona, there was a luau put on by the City of Chandler and the San Tan Brewing Company.  Outside in the town square, there were gelato, ice cream, and Kona Ice booths, along with giant blow up water slides, where kids could slide down and cool off from the blazing hot Arizona sun.  Many adults headed indoors to the San Tan Brewing Company restaurant, where they could enjoy one of the company’s seven year-round and six seasonal microbrews.  The seasonal microbrew available during the luau, was Mr. Pineapple, a brew specifically made for the annual event.  Mary DeBiase out of Corona, California, made a special trip to the event with her niece.  “My niece really likes pineapple and she likes to drink beer.  She told me about this event and asked me to join her and would not shut up about this beer,” Mary said.  “It is pretty tasty and the pineapple that is attached to the glass really brings out the pineapple flavor.”  There was roast pig and coconut haupia for dessert.

ice cream

This lady was scooping her company’s ice cream out to a luau event go-er, who was eagerly awaiting the cold treat on the hot day (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).


The City of Chandler firemen were hanging out by their truck talking to people and at the event in case an emergency arose (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).

The City of Chandler Fire Department, Radio Disney, and other food vendors were there too, but everyone was at the restaurant and playing on the slides.  “The slides for kids was a great touch to make it family friendly,” Mary said.  “Family food events are always better.”


The luau pig roasting on the spit at the San Tan Brewing Company restaurant waiting to be eaten by guests (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).

Age Demographic

Share Button

Pets need natural, organic food as much as humans

Primal Dog Treats

“These are Primal Dog Treats available at Pet Planets in Arizona and Canada” (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).

People are starting to have better diets consisting of holistic, natural, organic foods and it is improving their health.  Why shouldn’t pets have the same opportunity?  Plenty of pet food companies have risen to this new movement in pet food.  Horizon Pet Nutrition out of Canada has four sub-companies and believes, “…in having locally sourced ingredients, being environmentally sustainable, and being a globally trusted company.”  Another company out of Canada, Champion Pet Foods, also has two sub-companies (Acana and Orijen), and they believe, “Quality is never outsourced and to nourish as nature intended.”  A US company called Petropics makes wet food diets for cats and dogs called, “Tiki Cat and Tiki Dog.”  There is a page on the company’s website that describes the illnesses that the food helps to alleviate including, “…diabetes, obesity, cancer, urinary tract infections…”

Neve cat

“This is Peggy Thompson’s cat, Neve (Italian for snow) at her home in Cincinnati, Ohio” (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).

The illnesses listed above seem to be the top four biggest maladies that have accompanied the poor diets being brought on by poor quality pet food.  “My daughter and I have three cats,” said cat owner, Peggy Thompson.  “We used to have four, but our poor little Neve died suddenly last month due to cancer and poor nutrition from commercial pet food for many years.  Our veterinarian recommended we put the other three on a natural, organic diet so we can keep them healthy.”

Tiki Dog Food

“This is all-natural Tiki Dog wet food available at Pet Planets in Arizona and Canada” (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).

Where do you find healthy pet food?

small mammal food

“This is some natural rabbit and guinea pig food that is available at Pet Planet stores in Arizona and Canada” (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).

In the Phoenix area and in Canada, there is a store called Pet Planet that is delivering a variety of natural, organic pet food products to people daily.   Kristin Jensen of Pet Planet said, “Although we mainly offer only natural, organic cat and dog food, we have natural food for pet birds, small mammals, and reptiles.”  Another place to find healthy pet food is Whole Foods Marketlocated across the US, Canada, and even the UK.

People seem to be caring about what their pets eat as much as what they eat.  The trend will hopefully continue for companion pets and extend to small mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish.  People want their pets to be happy and healthy and now the right pet foods are being manufactured to accomplish that.

Arcana dog food

“These are just two of the flavors of Arcana dog food available at Pet Planet stores” (Photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).


Share Button

Hydroponic gardens are great for foodies and chefs alike


Hydroponically grown basil at AZ Growing store in Scottsdale, Arizona (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).


This small hydroponic system is a great beginner kit for people wanting to try hydroponic gardening available through AZ Growing (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Many people in this world are turning to hydroponic gardens to grow their fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  In a recent article published in Maximum Yield Magazine, author Dr. Lynette Morgan says, “Fortunately, flavor in fruits and vegetables is something that can be manipulated to various degrees by the grower—and in hydroponics we have far greater control over growth factors than we do with outdoor crops—so there’s no reason for our homegrown flavors not to be fantastic…” Restaurant owner, Homaro Cantu, recently made an aeroponics(a type of hydroponic gardening) garden in the basement of one of his restaurants because he realized the value of taste that comes from growing hydroponically.


High yielding cherry tomato plants being grown indoors with lights and hydroponics at AZ Growing in Scottsdale, Arizona (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Chefs are not the only ones talking about hydroponics.  A cast of hydroponic garden hobbyists created a podcast called “Heavy T’s Grow Show”, where listeners can call and ask questions, listen to interviews, and receive prizes just for calling in.  With the influx of people turning to hydroponics, especially in more arid desert regions like Phoenix, Arizona, it must be an easy way to grow plants, right?  Aaron Heimes of AZ Growing located in Scottsdale, Arizona says, “You need to pick up a book.  The book that I read and helped me get started is How-to Hydroponicsby Keith Roberto.”  Reading about hydroponics and the do-it-yourself techniques will teach anyone how to make their food taste better.


Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA) being used for a hydroponic growing medium at the AZ Growing store (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

hydroponic system

Hydroponic systems can also be very intricate like this one at the AZ Growing store (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).


Share Button

Yogi Chef changes career path yet again

chef and cat

This is a self-portrait that Chef Margaret took of her and her cat a few months ago at her home in Cincinnati, Ohio before she left for Arizona (Photo Courtesy of Chef Margaret Thompson 2012).

A couple of months ago, an article was written about Executive Chef Margaret Thompson and her illustrious career as a Yogi Chef.  She has since packed up her cat, Annabell Lee and moved from her home in Cincinnati, Ohio to Scottsdale, Arizona to pursue a career as a Floral Manager for Fry’sgrocery stores.  “Of all the jobs I ever had, flowers and Floral Design is what I love to do the most,” said Chef Margaret Thompson.

orchid arrangement

This is an arrangement that was made by Chef Margaret using orchids bought at Hausermann's Orchid Open House in Elmhurst, Illinois (Photo by Christina Thompson 2011).

sugar flowers

Even at the French Culinary Institute in New York City, New York, Chef Margaret still had her heart filled with flowers when she created this pulled-sugar show piece (Photo Courtesy of Chef Margaret Thompson 2006.)

flower lady painting

Chef Margaret's painting entitled "Rock Pose" from her gallery opening in Louisville, Kentucky in February of 2009 (Photo by Christina Thompson 2009).

Before she went back to school for her degree in Pastry Arts, she was the Outside Lawn and Garden Manager for Lowe’s Home Improvementstores.  Flowers have always been on this woman’s mind.  “When she was in her high school art class, she created a stain-glass window of poppies we have hanging in our dining room window,” said her father, Raymond DeBiase.  This is not the only artistic creation that she has done with flowers.  Chef Margaret said, “I had a gallery opening for my paintings a few years ago and plenty of my paintings from the heart have flowers in them.  I guess my heart has always known what makes it happy…flowers.”

homemade ice cream

Ice cream and sorbet made by Chef Margaret for her family in Arizona to try for the first time (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Chef Margaret is not giving up on her culinary degrees entirely.  She will cook and bake for her entire family, who live in Arizona along with her.  “I still want to use my degrees in Culinary and Pastry Arts.  Arizona is a prime place to be an instructor at one of many cooking schools,” said Chef Margaret.  “Food and flowers are the two things I love and they seem to be the things that always make people happy.”




Share Button

TV and Economy changes the Wedding Industry

Recently, television shows and networks have changed the way people conceptualize their weddings.  They have cut back on food costs and quality in order to be able to invite more guests. Many couples opt for themed weddings like pirates, Halloween, “Winter Wonderland”, etc. for their weddings, instead of a more traditional fair of church and banquet hall/country club.  Most weddings of the past took place in the spring and early summer months of May and June, but trends in the industry put the new wedding months at the fall months of September and October.  Besides networks and shows changing the way weddings are done, Martha Stewart Weddings, a magazine put out by Martha Stewart, is also following the Do-It-Yourself trend.  There are businesses in the Cincinnati, Ohio area being affected by this and they are Creative Cake Designs, LLC, owned by Sheryl Eichelberger, who has been in the wedding cake design business for 30 years and Raffel’s Catering, LLC., which has been in business since 1973.  Flower companies are also getting less business from weddings too because brides have found out that silk flowers are a cheaper alternative to the real natural flowers that have been used in the past.   There is hope that current trends in the wedding industry will give way to the traditions of the past, but only time will tell.

Share Button

Travels to Metamora,Indiana

Departing from Grand Central Station in Connersville, Indiana, is the scenic Whitewater Valley Railroad.  It travels along the Whitewater River and Canals to a town called Metamora, Indiana and it only does this once on Saturday and once on Sunday, so the trip is sure to be special.  Once in Metamora, there is plenty to see and do.  One place to stop and eat is called, The Smelly Gourmet, where samples of family grown popcorn is given to patrons while they wait for one of many homemade Panini sandwiches and pita chips.  They are also known for their coffee bar.  Tasty dessert places can also be found around town like Mr. Fudge’s Confectionary that features an antique soda fountain and Grannie’s Cookie Jars and Ice Cream Parlor where over 2400 different cookie jars are on display and ice cream is scooped into homemade waffle cones.  Throughout the year, Metamora also has food related festivals.  The first weekend of June, they have the Strawberry Daze festival.  In October, they have the ever-popular Canal Days event where vendors of all kinds come to celebrate the town with the canal.  Finally, in November, they have a Chili cook-off.  Metamora, Indiana is a town for people who love antiques, trains, history, haunted houses, and most importantly, great homemade food.



Share Button

Dairy Queen is for ice cream lovers and summer treats

With summer arriving a little early in Cincinnati, people are flocking to their nearest ice cream parlor.  Whether it is a local favorite like Graeter’s or United Dairy Farmers or a national/international chain like Dairy Queen, people want their ice cream treats.  The International Dairy Food Association says that ice cream and related frozen desserts are consumed by more than 90 percent of households in the United States.  The IFDA also says that the total U.S. exports of ice cream reached more than 59,500 metric tons in 2009 – worth about $63 million.  A site called Funding Universe, gives us a look at some of Dairy Queen’s statistics like some of its principal competitors are A & W Restaurants, Inc.; Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc.; Burger King Corporation; Friendly Ice Cream Corporation; and TCBY Enterprises, Inc. and it had a sales revenue of $460 million in the year 2000.

Share Button

Cinco de Flying Pig

People from all across the Tri-State area come to Cincinnati for the Flying Pig Marathon and what better way to combine the festivities of Cinco de Mayo and the Flying Pig than to have a giant party on Fountain Square. There were drinks, food, live entertainment, and pig décor for people to enjoy. There was even a giant pig piñata that was going to be hoisted up for people to take a whack at it!

Share Button

Farmers’ Markets

Share Button

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: