Sally’s Birdy Botanicals

One of our pals, Sally, who also works at one of our Castro favorite eateries;  La Mediterranee– we come to find out also runs this cool skin care products line called Birdy Bot

anicals.  Her focus offers a local, organic and fresh take on skin care – so had to check her stuff out at one of the gift shows this year.

After sniffing around a bit and a sample here and there – I opted to grab the Three-in-one Hydrating Lotion Jelly with a concentrate of aloe and cucumber- it was recommended good not only for face and head (in my case – having no head hair) she also mentioned it worked nicely on beards.  We also grabbed the Milk and Papaya Enzyme Face scrub with its added kick of pineapple enzymes. The simple design and ingredients, not to mention fresh scents made these easy sales. I also grabbed a Sarsaparilla Lip Butter – just because!

The Enzyme Face scrub is thicker than I expected and for folks who like a supple feel afterwards – you will really like it. For me, the after-use feel of my skin made me think it might be too heavy a product. But guests here at the house say they liked it for the same reason. On the other hand the Hydrating Lotion Jelly, with its slightly gooey cool feel, goes on and after moment or two simply absorbs in. Even the fresh bright smell while subtle enough to begin, gradually disappears. I do like the way my face and beard feel with it – it reminds me of using aloe gel after-sun type products but with a nicer, rounder finish. As for the lip butter – well if you are a fan of “birch beer” soda then you will love it .

The lotion runs about $16, the butters around $6 and the enzyme scrub a bit more expensive at $22, but it goes a long way and seems well worth the cost.

FYI – I be these would make a Valentines basket filler!

Birdy Botanical Natural Body Care | 1630 North Main St., Suite 300, Walnut Creek, CA. 94596 | 415.515.8433

About Birdy Botanicals according Sally’s website;


Birdy Botanicals founder Sally Waters started making skincare products to solve her own skin problems. While working as a model maker for movies like Planet of the Apes and James and the Giant Peach, Sally was exposed to a lot of harsh chemicals involved in the production of props. Harsh chemicals in the work environment irritated her skin and allergies.

Vowing to reduce the toxins in her life, she started experimenting with natural body care ingredients and cleaning products. After sharing extras with friends and family, it became clear that the gentle approach worked for other people, too. A business was born.

Our Philosophy

Skincare products should be a pleasure to use. They should look pretty, smell pretty, and feel good.

Reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and allergens by using products with high quality, natural ingredients. Natural scents, essential oils. Your skin is your body’s largest organ. If you read the label and can’t pronounce the ingredients, it’s probably not the best product for you or your face.

A streamlined routine will fit better into most lifestyles. You don’t need to spend a long time on your skincare routine to get good results. Products with multiple uses are a good value, and simplify your daily skincare routine. You’ll save money and time by using products that have multiple uses.

You shouldn’t have to spend a ton of money for beautiful skin. If it doesn’t work for you, you should be able to return a product. All of our products are 100% guaranteed. If you don’t like it, we’ll refund your money.

Step gently upon the planet. Birdy Botanicals is better for you and the earth. Products are made without harsh chemicals and sulfates and unnecessary packaging has been eliminated.

Our products are 100% vegetarian, and are never tested on animals.

Nutritional “Crack” – as addictive, just better for you

When I travel – I tend to eat regionally. My Sister turned me on to these folks a few years back when I was out in Provincetown for  a summer trip. The Fairway Resturant and The Hole In One in Eastham has an incredible group of granola mixes that I think is some of the best I have had. It essentially is nutritional “crack”. I like it so much I tend to order it and have it shipped all year round. Located on Route 6 in North Eastham, this 20 year old, family run shop, specializes in fresh, hand-cut donuts and warm, friendly service and a way about granola that is dangerous..

They have a “know how” with  chocolate and peanut butter in a way that makes it addictive and not just “tossed in” for those that are attracted it it. The two that I tend to eat the most is Midnight and Muddy Beach Nut but truth be told – they are all great. So good that I eat them out of the bag like cookies, on ice cream and even on occasion as cereal…

Really – you have to try it! you can find the website  here,  online Facebook or located in two spots;

The Hole in One Restaurant
98 Cranberry Highway
Orleans, MA 02653Phone: 508-255-3740

The Hole in One Donut Shop4295 US-6
Eastham, MA 02642
Phone: 508-255-9446

How do you manage to collect and have all that party stuff handy?

One of the recent readers of BiteTheRoad asked me how I managed to always have the right “stuff” at each of the parties they have been at my places. Well it took me a minute to figure out what that meant – then it dawned on me. Similar to my post on “Getting a Party On” – its stuff I do that I don’t think about that they were asking.

So – to respond I have a few tips;

Post xmas table runners and nakins

Post xmas table runners and nakins

  • Think ahead. I am always shopping post holidays for things that I know I will need “next time”. Many folks can barely fathom thinking about a celebration or holiday in the days that follow it – but I find that when I get the deals which allow me to stock pile for future events. For instance –  these  “themed” runners such as the ones from I find tend to work nice all year round. The sueded tan  and the paisley runners were discounted to less than $15.00 each and the set of 4 napkins down to less than $7 at Pottery Barn this week.
  • Think creative. Just because that “caldron” punch bowl (Mine is from – you guessed it –  Pottery Barn) was the hot seller for Ocotober – doesn’t mean it won’t double at another holiday or even in the summer with fruit or flowers in it as a centerpiece or tucked up in front of the empty fireplace.

    Oct’s Caldron is Springs flower display

  • Think Space. If you don’t have a lot of it – then you need to figure out the once place you can store it all. In my case I have a garage and invested in the moisture proof plastic crates for storage
  • Shop Second Hand. Many of the table covers come from flea market and second hand thrift stores. Especially ones that I use for the tables with food on them as they tend to get the dirtiest and stain. If they have small stains – plan strategically to cover them with food  – but even thinner throw blankets or scrapes of fabric work well. Hint:  I am also always checking out the “curtain & drape” bins. Single panels make perfect quick table covers.


    This almost neutral runner washes well and holds up to heavy use

  • Be Consistent. If you use it, put it back. When I take something out of my “Party Go Pack” as soon as its clean – it goes back.
  • Think Duplicates. If you like something for everyday use – and you can get a deal on it – but two. Keep one for casual use and a set in the Party Go Pack box – this even goes for utensils and services trays.
  • Consider Plastic vs Metal. Disposable isn’t always the best. I find that for some things its easy and cheaper in the long run to go with the real stuff and not go with toss out stuff like silver wear, plates, etc.

oh.. and don’t lend it out – unless you are truly sure that if it doesn’t come back it won’t be missed!

Russian River Get-A-Way Weekend; Mom’s Apple Pie


We decided on a quick visit to Guerneville, Ca this weekend and made a call up to the former Russian River Resort, now rebranded and open as the R3 to see what kind of openings they had. The website it pretty clear and easy to navigate which is a good thing – as when calling to get into – you pretty much are directed back to it to check which rooms are available and to make a reservation. The place it pretty much in keeping with its past – but the rooms are clean and the beds soft. (More on staying at the R3 here)

But I digress. Along the way up to the river after an easy start to our day,, on recommendations from our pal Joe G. (owner of my personal local Barbershop of choice;  Joes Barbershop here in San Francisco), Paul suggested we stop off at Mom’s Apple Pie shop in Sebastapol for “lunch”.

Moms logo

Look for Moms!

Mom’s Crew at Mom’s Apple Pie

Now – not being someone who is a “gotta have pie” kind of guy – I wasn’t expecting much. On walking in – I was thinking sandwiches first, then maybe a slice.

Well, boy was my attention diverted with being greeted by a showcase full of freshly baked pies many of them looking every good as they smelt.  The folks working were lovely to chat with and “Mom” even poked her head out briefly to say hello.

Mom's showcase of pleasure

Mom’s showcase of pleasure

Being a fan of cherry – I opted for the cherry pie and Paul debated a moment or two longer and ended up with the blueberry, then just to be sure – we order a mini apple pie to take with us for later.  Gotta’ love a place that serves the pie simple and unadorned, warm and waiting before the sandwiches arrive. So you know the order of the day was going to be sample first then the protein.

More from Mom

More from Mom

Three things stood out for me; 1) The fruit tasted like fruit! Just the right balance of sweet and tart. I kind of think after tasting his, that the blueberry might have edged out the cherry some on flavor,  2) The crust was flaky and rich, just thick enough with out feeling like it was overwhelming the dish,  an last – it was warm and size right served in recycled tin pie plates.

While not a fancy place – they serve it up right. We also noticed that they now offer gluten free pies. Well worth a trip if you are in the area!


Mom’s Apple Pie is located; 4550 Gravenstein Hwy. North • Sebastopol, CA 95472 • 707-823-8330,

Mom’s Apple Pie


Getting this party on!

Now that the Openhouse is over, the place is cleaned up I have a few moments to answer some of the questions that folks asked.

1) How did I manage to get so much done while working?

There isn’t any answer that I can offer that doesn’t sound original. Ultimately I am just anal-retentive enough with project management balanced with it being a cultural norm for me. Growing up group meals were just part of life so some of the things I do to plan and prepare come naturally.

That being said here is my top 10 tips;

1) I make lots of lists.  From the concept to the menu to the items needed to the timeline. I am also a big believer in “crossing photoout” once an item is done. Even if its for the moment, say in the stage of purchase,  prep then cook, then adding it back on as an action item.

2) Have a menu that has no more than 2 new recipes. The dishes I can depend on means I am more willing to take a gamble with new ones. In this case that was the Crockpot bbq Meatballs and the Honey Baked Spiral Ham

3) Plan the shopping in several small trips over a few days, instead of a huge trip. I find it overwhelms me less to shop in the


order that I prepare and then gives me “space” to think (or take advantage of the sales)

4) Invest in “post-it’s”! Actually I do love my post-it notes. They help to make the process clear. I essentially storyboard myparty.


From the menu items  to the preparation steps, to the cooking order & times and lasting, and here is where my anal-retentive stuff comes in – I use post-its to indicate where I want the dishes to sit on the table.


5) Revise the plan as needed. Never get so wedded to the timeline you can’t adjust, but know the constants. How long certain things need to cook, etc. Since I tend to start with the dishes that need to be prepared before cooking or can keep – I start that the day or two before. Then I make sure to mark them what they are and what then go into. This also makes cleaning up so much easier. For instance while prepping the peppers, onions and herbs for the Turkey (link), I also minced up the herbs, onions, tomatoes and peppers for the bean salad. Then simply package them in either containers or plastic baggie for storage until I am ready. I have done the same with baked products – if I know for instance I want to make a drop biscuit or muffin. I will pre-measure and combine all the dry ingredients earlier in the week, then label with what liquid needs to be added, and cook time and temp. This means less mess and measuring on the cooking time. I have been known to then place the baggie of mix on the intended serving platter on the space it will go on the table (if the table is up already) and use it as a 3d-visual timeline of activities. Works well as a way to get a quick status.

6) What Can I Bring? Now while I like casual and sit down meals, for a crowd the buffet works best. When guests ask when can they bring, I find that for me, its appreciated but stresses me out since I can’t control when they plan to attend etc.. If its an all day type thing and people have a start time – that’s one thing, but I have had more than one openhouse type event where folks came with a hot dish mid way through.

My a stock reply, when asked is  – “Thank you for asking! So far I have the main foods covered but you are welcome to bring whole fresh fruit, any favorite or preferred beverages or some kind of sweet treat to add to the line up”  In those cases when someone is insistent or in fact makes something I know would be perfect – when I do accept, I follow with asking when they will plan to arrive or will they want to drop it by before it starts.

7) Can I help? When I was younger, I tended to just want to do it all myself – but now I am eager to say “yes of course”. But I know I need to have specific activities in mind, and also know that once I turn it over, I must let go of it being “my way” and instead focus on the pleasure of the doing with someone. This is another reason of the lists – much easier to show folks what still has to be done and gets then engaged without feeling like they have to wait to be told. Sometimes I will label activities with folks names so everyone knows who is on what, and they can share if help is needed.

8. Don’t add anything! Try as I might – I will sometimes get an itch and decide to add something last minute. I find this is usually not worth it and in the end it’s not needed.

9. Have a “Plan B” – for instance when I do a SAMSUNG CSCbaked pasta type dish,  I double the amount of cooked pasta. Then I keep ½ in a large ziplock bag to have on hand if I need more. It’s easy to reheat and I can make it super quick by mixing the pasta with some microwave “back up sauce” and toss on grated cheese.  Now if it’s not needed, the next day I make up another baked pasta since I have all the ingredients, and freeze it for another time.

10. Enlist a clean up crew. I know for me – somewhere about an hour after the last guest leaves, I finally hit the wall. Experience tells me that – its been a great asset to have folks who are more than happy to help with the minimal clean up. Since most of everything is cleaned before the party starts  – the after clean up is really doable with a few folks. So if someone asks what they can help with – tell them!

SOAPs with a bang!

This year we happen to hit both the KPFA Craft Fair   and the Renegade Craft Show. Now these are not your mother’s craft shows. These days they are filled with artisan chocolates, vinegar’s, candy, soaps, lotions, jewelry and more. What is kind of cool – is as “hipster chic” has taken hold – more of the vendors are guys catering products to guys. So you can find products for those of us with beards, or fragrances that work for guys.

Bay Rum by Laughing Devil

One of my favorites this season was a Bay Rum fragranced soap and I tend to not like most things that have fragrance.  This all natural soap was great and coming from a company with a name like “Laughing Devil Designs” I mean really! How could I not have stopped.  You can find them online at and use the site’s blog to let you know where they vend. At $6.50 a large bar – it was worth it. Other ones of note were the seasonal Cranberry Spice and limited run Mistletoe

Fyi the other alternative if you prefer your soaps more professional packaged  is to check out the “Kiss My Face” product line  – Rough Thyme is great smells good but not over powering. A Body worker pal turned me on to this. While not cheap – I find buying locally at smaller shops you can get a deal or I have gotten good deals at Amazon for it.

Rough Thyme a clean scent that gets you clean

“Castro” Meat Pie

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in a cookbook from the 80’s that my mom sent me for christmas Brazillian Meat pie2from her collected volumes. The original recipe was called Brazilian Meat Pies and can be found in the Cook’s Color Treasury, by Norma McMillian (This cookbook is still around –I found some other copies on amazon.)

Brazillian Meat pie24The original recipe looked good and tasted ok  – but it needed to be updated with more robust flavors and rounded out for my tastes. It’s easily adapted to your tastes – the key reminder is not to let it the filling get too wet or greasy.


Brazillian Meat pie31

For the “Pie”

  • ½ lb – 1lb Frozen puff pastry, Philo dough or even store bought pizza dough.
  • 1 raw egg
  • Parchment paper

For the Mixture:

  • 1 diced Onion (white or red – or 5 green onions whites and greens parts)
  • 1 diced green, red or yellow pepper (for the version pictures, I used a combination – since I have leftovers already chopped)
  • ½ lb bacon slices ( or pancetta will work if you like it less smoky)
  • 2-3 tbsp Butter
  • 1 lb ground beef (or other meat combination– meatloaf mix will work fine too)
  • 4 xl Hard boiled eggs
  • 8 oz Diced Mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley or a handful of fresh chopped parsley (or Cilantro)
  • The original recipe use pitted chopped green olives and raisins – but since not everyone in my house likes them – I omitted the olives, swapped in dried apricots and added the mushrooms.

For the seasoning

  • 8 dried Apricots (more if you prefer)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp ground or powdered garlic
  • ½ tbsp. Paprika
  • 2 pinches of fresh ground clove ( pre-ground is fine if you have it)


  • This recipe will take 50 – 60 minutes – depending if you take the time to do each of the steps or have some prepped already because of left overs. If using frozen puff pastry or dough – it will need to be thawed. Before starting, remove to thaw. If using dough – you will want it room temperature to work with.
  • Because the end result of this mixture is a meant as a filling – you will want to prep all the ingredients by chopping in a small dice/chop. Feel free to add more or less as you go along.

Make the filling – Part 1Brazillian Meat pie01

  • In large skillet or heavy bottom pan, add 2 tbsp of the butter, the diced bacon, peppers and onion.
  • Cook on medium – medium/high heat until bacon renders and the Brazillian Meat pie04onionsbegin to get soften. Stir frequently and add more butter if needed.Brazillian Meat pie13
  • Add ground meat tir frequently to evenly cook the meat off.Brazillian Meat pie18
  • Add dried parsley, (if using fresh – add it later with thespices), stir
  • Once the mixture is well cooked, browned and the bacon has become mini crispy nuggets.
  • Remove from the heat and stain, reserving 1 tbsp of the dripping in the pan. Once drained – add to a large bowl.Brazillian Meat pie20

While this is happening – put eggs on to boil.

Make the filling – Part 2

  • Put the reserved drippings into the skillet.
  • Add the chopped mushrooms to the skillet and cook over medium/high heat .Brazillian Meat pie10
  • Note: do not over crowd or cover the pan – you want the mushrooms the cook and brown not steam. Do in two batches is needed.
  • Once the mushrooms have cooked down, remove from the heat and strain.
  • Add the mushrooms to the bowl with the meat mixture.

To the completed mixture:

  • Cool and peal the eggs and do a rough chop and fold into the mixture.
  • Add spices, herbs, salt and pepper to taste (put the parsley or cilantro in here if using fresh.)
  • Taste the mixture. What’s missing to you? Spice? Salt? Bite? Some quick fixes here can include adding more seasonings or even a dash or two of Worcester sauce, hot sauce or even honey or maple syrup.

Lay out the pastry (or roll out your dough)  – place the mixture in the center of the dough or pastry and using the lightly beaten raw egg as “glue”, seal the edges.

Brazillian Meat pie26

Note: Since I used puff pastry – I did a double flip roll. Putting the mixture in the center, cover one side, some egg wash and then flipped the other side on it.

Gently move the completed “pie” to the parchment covered sheet pan.

Brazillian Meat pie28

Note: For a crisper finish if you are using dough – use a pre-heated pizza stone.

Brush the top with the egg wash. Top with a sprinkle of paprika

Bake 25 – 35 minutes until golden brown.


Food Finds; More local granola with a gluten free twist from NanaJoes

When I cook for friends and need a stuffing, it always made me a bit stressed as to how to work with some of the prepackaged GF stuffing cubes.  Then one Thanksgiving I came across the handmade granola from Nana Joes here in San Francisco.  Mixed with spinach, nutmeg, chestnuts, eggs-  this made a great stuffing – so good no one felt shorted.

I came across them at our local farmers market here in the Castro and immediately connected with the Orange, Cardamom, Walnut as a possible solution. This local find is available at stores and at many of the farmers markets.

Gluten free granola with a punch

Gluten free granola with a punch