Community garden provides refugees with support and comfort through pandemic

A community garden in Seattle, Washington is providing a place for immigrants and refugees to come together and find community while growing food from their home countries.

Once a neglected parking lot, the garden, known as Paradise Parking Plots, is now a place for people to gather and tend to their plants.

Community members bond while growing their own food in the garden. (Hannah Letinich)
Community members bond while growing their own food in the garden. (Hannah Letinich)

“We have de-paved over 50,000 square feet of asphalt and put in garden beds,” said Tahmina Martelly, a program manager for World Relief Seattle, which founded the garden. “We have 44 in-ground beds and six handicap access beds. We have people from 23 countries growing culturally appropriate foods and making friends with each other.”

Martelly, who immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh and has worked in refugee resettlement for more than two decades, said that the space has only become more important amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Signs show the different regions that plants and their growers come from. (Adam Kaufman)
Signs show the different regions that plants and their growers come from. (Adam Kaufman)

“We see gardeners in this garden who are coming in the middle of a pandemic and growing their food,” Martelly said. “Often, I’ll have gardeners tell me, ‘My plants don’t know there’s a pandemic. We expect to have food, because we put the work in.’ Having the power to grow your own food, a virus can’t take that away.”

Gardeners include Prem Adhikari, a Bhutanese refugee who grows mustard greens and long sod beans and has been working in the garden for over three years.

“It’s very difficult to go to market and buy the vegetable … (but) we have a garden, like a life to meet other people,” Adhikari said. “… It’s a lot of fresh, green, without chemical vegetables.”

Immigrants and refugees grow foods from their home countries that might be unavailable in the United States. (Hannah Letinich)
Immigrants and refugees grow foods from their home countries that might be unavailable in the United States. (Hannah Letinich)

In recent years, the garden’s mission has grown. Martelly said the organization now offers a summer academy where children learn about science in the garden. Even amid the pandemic, children have been able to get outside and learn about the world around them. Those classes are taught by interns like Risa Suho, who immigrated from the Philippines in 2008.

“As an immigrant, it’s super important, especially for these younger children, to see someone who kind of looks like them and can relate to their experience,” said Suho, who primarily teachers kindergarten and first grade-age students. “… Not to make my head sound super big, but I think it’s slightly inspirational if kids look up to teachers. They are leaders to kids. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for me if I was younger, if I saw someone who was like me in a leadership position.”

Children learn at a community summer camp in Paradise Parking Plots. (Hannah Letinich)
Children learn at a community summer camp in Paradise Parking Plots. (Hannah Letinich)

Martelly said that the garden is a place for immigrants to form friendships and other close connections.

“Many of these countries are in conflict with each other, and people will say, ‘Our

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Blue Ridge Kitchen combines fine dining with comfort

As the server poured silky gazpacho over a chunk of lobster in the bowl before me, I suddenly realized how much I’ve been missing fine dining. After so many months of take-out meals or eating on casual patios, it was so nice to enjoy the upscale service offered at the new Blue Ridge Kitchen at the Barlow in Sebastopol.

After my first spoonful of the refreshing soup, I knew chef Matt D’Ambrosi is putting a lot of thought into his Cal-Creole-Cajun recipes. The chilled gazpacho is marvelous on its own, in a sweet-tart, peach-colored puree of melon and tomato dotted with radish, a round of chopped avocado and shiny drops of basil oil ($9). With the generous chunk of seafood (add $7) and the elegant tableside presentation, it’s luxurious.

All the details line up so well at this classy spot, which took over the former Zazu Farm + Restaurant space that was vacated in 2018. For now, we eat on the patio, a pretty area set with wood tables and European-style bistro chairs, all shaded by sailcloth and flanked by trees, herb gardens and flowers. I’m looking forward to when we can eat inside, too, and admire the centerpiece cocktail bar and the open kitchen.

D’Ambrosi was known for his creative cooking at Healdsburg’s Spoonbar, Harmon Guest House and Pizzando. Here, he comes up with inventive dishes like carrot cake pancakes. The brunch specialty makes a delicious statement; it’s a sweet but not sugary hybrid of carrot and apple soufflé cakes on a pond of cream cheese-poppy seed glaze and topped with golden raisins, candied pecans and smoked maple syrup ($18).

Overall, though, there’s nothing weird on this expansive, all-day menu. You can get something as simple as a perfect smash burger with secret sauce ($9.50) or as indulgent as a nicely charred New York steak served in a metal pan with grilled asparagus, sauce béarnaise, crispy ham fingerling potatoes, cowboy steak sauce and roasted tomato ($39). The constant theme is the kitchen’s skill, making this my new favorite place to dine.

You can eat affordably, filling up on a first-rate rigatoni sugo dressed with braised pork cheek, San Marzano tomatoes, basil, Parmesan and breadcrumbs ($22). Or you can splurge, with a monster-size Tomahawk steak that feeds several people ($95), embellished with a whole lobster for a surf and turf ($58).

Some items are classics, such as the ahi tartare on a round bed of smashed avocado with cucumber, spicy aioli and big, puffy rice chips that melt in the mouth ($18). Yet an Asian pear coulis adds modern brightness to the dish, crispy quinoa adds crunch and a cute bouquet of daikon sprouts peeking out of the tartare’s middle adds peppery bite.

Another classic, the “raw platter” (daily market price), brings two tiers of iced seafood: a whole Maine lobster tail, sumac-spiced jumbo prawns, ceviche, oysters, horseradish cocktail sauce, smoky apple mignonette and a scoop of refreshing Meyer lemon hibiscus granita. Arranged with sea greens, edible flowers and lemon

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Fall home decor trends: Comfort, flexibility

In recent years, brown anything in a living space was considered by some arbiters of decor as drab and outdated. But this fall the hue is back in favor, in part because of the unsettled, anxious state of the world.

“Brown traditionally makes people feel comfortable and safe, and those are feelings that many of us are looking to our homes to provide,” says interior designer Dawn Hamilton of Oakland Park, Fla.

It’s just one of the trends in decor this season, when the pandemic has made home an even more essential space for living, working, studying and more. Also on the watch list: flexible rooms, indoor and out.

Cozy palette

Hamilton says today’s brown palette is being used in new ways, as a neutral in all kinds of materials, and as an accent color.

“Brown feels very earthy and rich. It’s warm and inviting, and has the same grounding properties as black, although it’s not quite as harsh,” she says.

New York designer Becky Shea also cites brown’s organic versatility: “It’s a tone that works cohesively with neutrals as well as dark, bold tones like navy, graphite and black.”

Eilyn Jimenez of Sire Design in Miami is adding a mocha brown vanity to the guest bathroom of a “minimalist, French chateau-style” home she’s designing. “It adds a layer of depth with a vintage feel,” she says.


Don’t overdo brown, she warns, but blend it with modern materials like marble for beautiful juxtapositions.

“Bringing it in with light woods, leathers and other natural materials can help make a space feel timeless,” Jimenez says.

Melissa Morgan of M Interiors in San Antonio, Texas, thinks brown’s rebirth is “a reaction to years of very light, tonal interiors. Clients are looking for warmth and sanctuary in their homes more than ever.”

Lighter, yellowish browns, like caramel, often works well in leather.

“In upholstery, we consider saddle leather to be a form of brown that’s like a trusty pair of blue jeans — it goes with everything,” says Chicago designer Brynn Olson.

Soft browns and caramels are also appearing in pillows, lamps and drapes. Caning is on trend too, says Amy Leferink of Interior Impressions in Woodbury, Minnesota.

As for furniture, Olson likes the effect of brown stains on walnut and white oak, and says a beautifully stained built-in is timeless. “Natural walnut will always feel fresh, and we love to pair it with bright white decor such as plaster vases, for a sophisticated pairing of textures,” she says.

That brown-and-white combo has been a favorite of decorating icons including Billy Baldwin, says New York City designer Glenn Gissler. Baldwin’s apartment in Manhattan featured a mix of glossy brown walls, white and chartreuse furniture, and brass accents. Inspired, Gissler recently painted a New York loft in a deep, rich brown, with columns and ceilings in crisp white. A long, tuxedo-style sofa in milk-chocolatey velvet anchors the space, along with tonal modern art.

Colors like purples and blues, of any intensity, also complement brown.

Comfort

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Get Your Rainy Day Comfort Food Fix With Colleen’s Kitchen

Posted: Updated:

We’re fortunate in Austin to have so many locally-owned restaurants with delicious food to bring us comfort. Today, we are featuring Colleen’s Kitchen and we’re about to get your mouth watering for some rainy day comfort food! Colleen’s Kitchen is located in the heart of Mueller on Aldrich Street.

Colleen’s Kitchen is a neighborhood go-to spot, family-owned serving southern classics like shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and buttermilk biscuits. Yum! They believe in fresh, local, and real ingredients. Through this, they deliver refined, yet uncomplicated fare and down-home Southern Hospitality.

They’re now offering nightly dinner and Sunday brunch for dine-in and to-go. Lunch is still only available for takeout. Colleen’s Kitchen is committed to paying all staff a living wage to help achieve this we have implemented a 20% service charge for all dine-in guests – this also results in a hands-free transaction!

During these challenging times, the southern restaurant has joined forces with Good Work Austin and is providing meals for AISD caregivers as well as to at-risk homeless to help solve food insecurity as well as supplement much-needed revenue for Colleen’s.

To learn more or to place an order online visit their website for more details.

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There’ll be shrimp ‘n’ grits on Forest Avenue! Sally’s Southern fires up its comfort food kitchen.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — With onion soup au gratin, shrimp ‘n’ grits and a stunning sirloin steak, Sally’s Southern introduced its brand of comfort fare to Forest Avenue. Guests corralled in three outdoor seating areas at a kitchen test-run Tuesday night, allowing the kitchen to work out its kinks. The first official day of business will be Monday, Sept. 28, 2020.

Sally's

Sally’s Southern had a practice night on Sept. 15, 2020 with comfort fare like onion soup, steak and fried chicken.

“The practice night is what we always do before opening to the public,” said Peter Botros. He is co-owner of the corner eatery with Phil Farinacci.

Some of the highlights on the menu include chicken-fried steak, a chicken ‘n’ biscuit sandwich with vinegar-based cole slaw and a beefy burger with toppings like bleu cheese and caramelized onions. The restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner with a Saturday and Sunday brunch. The weekends will include a create-your-own-chicken-‘n’-waffles dish.

Sally's Southern

Clams and oysters on the half shell

Farinacci explained, “You pick the type of chicken. You pick the type of waffle, You pick the type of sauce.”

On the Tuesday night practice dinner for “friends and family”, Botros quipped, “Rather than doing a soft opening, we choose to go for a chaotic stress test.”

He added, “We have all our friends and family come and push the restaurant, kitchen and service staff to learn where our weaknesses are so that we can adjust before opening day.”

Sally's Southern

The tap selections include custom designs by Flagship Brewing Co., Tompkinsville

Staff brought a form sheet for guests to fill out as a critique. Botros and Farinacci combed over the comments on Wednesday.

“We had great feedback about our food and definitely learned a lot about what we need to do in order to help make the kitchen more efficient,” said Botros. The upshot: Botros reckons that the 52-item menu (with sides) might ned to be cut down “to increase speed and timing efficiency in the kitchen.”

Sally's Southern

Onion soup au gratin

The moniker “Sally’s” hails from Farinacci’s late mother who passed away last year from cancer. Ten of her recipes were retrofitted to the menu, which is partially written in script with a font that mimics Sally’s distinct handwriting. In fact, the restaurant’s logo and namesake are presented in her actual style of signature. Also as homage to Sally are Polaroid-style images in the foyer of the restaurant.

Sally's

Waffle fries

Farinacci called the start up to the restaurant an “emotional roller coaster” and complimented Botros on the variety of food, menu, design and build-out of the “shrine” to his mother.

“I still barely can walk by it without tears filling my eyes,” he said.

In a residential-looking home, Sally’s has two levels eventually open to the public with prep areas in the basement. The first floor has a bar and lounge, as well as a dining room with a kitchen at the back. There is a curved section of windows that serves as

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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Atlas Air Worldwide, BMC Stock, Central Garden & Pet Company, Comfort Systems USA and DICK’S Sporting Goods

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – September 17, 2020 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. AAWW, BMC Stock Holdings, Inc. BMCH, Central Garden & Pet Company CENT, Comfort Systems USA, Inc. FIX and DICK’S Sporting Goods, Inc. DKS.

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Wall Street Makes Record Recovery from Coronavirus: 5 Growth Picks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, despite the recent turmoil, has almost recovered all losses suffered during the coronavirus pandemic. The blue-chip index bounced back from the bear market territory in March and is now near its all-time high achieved on Feb 12, 2020.

Similarly, the S&P 500 had plummeted more than 30% within six weeks this spring, marking its fastest descent from record levels into a bear market. But the broader index has been on an uptrend, recording the fifth successive month of rally in August in more than 80 years.

What’s more, the S&P 500’s journey from a record high in February to a bear market in March, and then again to a new record, only took 126 trading days this year, the fastest-ever climb. To put things into perspective, if we go back to 1928, it took the index 1,500 trading sessions to return to record levels after slipping into bear territory.

This year’s stock market rebound has been even more startling, since the year has been plagued by a pandemic that left millions of Americans unemployed, while corporate profits have seen the steepest collapse in a decade. So, what drove the historic rally? Primarily, stimulus from the Fed and the Congress helped the stock market scale north.

The Fed has kept interest rates at near-zero levels and has promised to keep it at that level even if inflation picks up. Fed’s initiative to lend billions across markets also buoyed investors. Moreover, as Fed bought corporate and Treasury bonds, yields tanked, making stocks more alluring.

At the same time, the U.S. government provided more than 150 million in stimulus checks to Americans and nearly half a trillion dollars in loans to small business houses. The encouraging response along with the lessons learned in the financial crisis of 2008 helped the stock market’s rebound.

And let’s admit, many investors still had faith that the U.S. economy will get its mojo back once the pandemic is under control. In fact, factory activity had accelerated in August, and hiring improved for the fourth straight month. Consumer outlays also picked up in August after a substantial drop. To top it, many analysts opine that the skid in corporate profits has likely bottomed, too. Leuthold Group, a research firm, added that many economists now expect annual GDP to improve next year at a rate not seen in the past 70 years.

Talking about individual performers, the tech behemoths in particular have

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