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Three cool points to those of you who guess where I went this weekend...

(photo Paperhand Puppet Intervention)

Yep, you guessed it, the Paperhand Puppet Show. It was AMAZING, as usual. The artistry, the music, the grace of the performers, the sheer spectacle of the production reawakened the magic of childhood for me. I would guess that it has that effect on a few others too, since the Forest Theater was packed with over 1000 people on Friday night! We got there just before the show started. Not a good idea, since 987 of those 1000 people were already there and there wasn't much room to sit. I found us a spot on one of the side walls, just in front of the sound guy.

I didn't occur to me until the

show started that this spot was

also just behind the

music pit. Brilliant! Being a singer and keenly interested in how things sound the way they sound, I was in awe of these multi-instrumentalists. There were several occasions where I had to tear my open-mouthed, wide-eyed face away from the pit and turn it back to the stage to see what the puppets were doing. I totally want to do what they (photo Paperhand Puppet Intervention ) (Both. In case you are wondering - the musicians and the puppeteers) do when I grow up.

Then last night I had the good fortune to attend a wonderful, dance drama about the pastimes of Lord Krishna. It was expertly performed by a local dance school, Natyarpana Durham. The music was gorgeous, and the presentation overflowing with devotion. I was in a true artistic ecstasy this weekend. #Lifeissogood. (I (photo Natyarpana) don't really know how to use hashtags; I just thought it might make me look cool.)

This Week's Menu:

Entree #1 - Punjabi Urad & Chana Dal

This is a hearty and protein-packed dal from the North Indian state of Punjab, home of the Sikhs. Reminiscent of the meals that would be served at the Gurudwars or Sikh temples, this dal uses simple spicing - just tomatoes, ginger, green chili, cumin and garam masala - thus allowing the sweet, nutty flavor of the dal beans to shine through. GF, soy-free


Entree #2 - Vegetable Lasagna Soup

I was poking around on, one of my lesser frequented (until now) resources, when I saw this soup. OMG! Yes! I just recently catered a wedding with lasagna as the main dish. And I have to say that the craving for lasagna is still in my system... so to have lasagna ingredients in this tomato soupy form, seemed just perfect (and less fattening). How can you go wrong with mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, white beans, marinara-y tomato base, and gluten-free lasagna noodles? Be aware, it is BYO cheese on this one. GF, soy-free


Entree #3 - Summer Veggie Gumbo

The theme for this week's menu may not look like a theme, but there is one - to use as many summer veggies as possible. I was originally going with another one of Susan's recipes, Southern Succotash Stew. However, I wasn't crazy about the photo. Her blog auto-suggested this similar recipe. I immediately loved the photo and checked it out. It was a hard choice - gumbo or succotash, succotash or gumbo? They both have okra, beans, tomatoes, etc. I had on had on hand more of the spices for this recipe, so it won out in the end. No worries, we will give the succotash a whirl a little later in the year. GF, soy-free


Side Dishes:

Brown Rice - $1/serving (1 cup)

Jeera (Cumin) Rice - $3/serving (1 cup)

Brown Rice Pilaf

flavored with cumin seeds and

other exotic Indian spices. Will

compliment especially well with

the dal. GF, soy-free


Elote (Mexican Street Corn) - $2.50/ea. or 2 for $4. Here in the Piedmont of NC, there is a substantial (ie. LARGE) Hispanic population. There is a flea market about 10 minutes from where I live, that is a fantastic place to buy cheap close-out socks, fruits & veggies, and Mexican speicalties like frozen mangoes, spiced with cayenne, and served on a popsicle stick. The flea market is also the first place where I came in contact with Elote, grilled corn on the cob, slathered with butter, mayonaise, cheese, and of course lime and cayenne. This vegan version is a variation on the one linked here. It calls for Nayonaise, almond milk, and nutritional yeast for the base of the dressing. Spiced with lime and chipotle, this dressing makes a simple veggie simply irresistible! GF


Chocolate Chip Cookies - $2/ea. or 2 for $3. Made with applesauce, walnuts, molasses, and of course, chocolate chips, these cookies make it hard to stick to your no-dessert vow (ok, well maybe your one-dessert vow). The last time I made these, I had forgotten to get brown sugar (which the recipe calls for). I used sugar mixed with molasses instead. OMG! Of course if you are squeamish about the taste of molasses, this wouldn't work for you, but for those of us who like its earthy taste, this substitution makes the cookies soooo tasty! My first batch became a little too dark because I forgot to check on them. They were too dark to sell, so I performed the selfless act of finishing off many of those lonely cookies by myself... What I wouldn't do for you people, right? GF, soy-free


We look forward to serving you!

Tastefully yours,

Rangadevi Hernandez

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