Textured Vegetable Protein

Textured or texturized vegetable protein (TVP), also known as textured soy protein (TSP), soy meat, or soya meat is a meat analogue or nutritious meat extender made from defatted soy flour, a by-product of extracting soybean oil. It is quick to cook, with a protein content equal to that of the meat it is replacing, and contains no fat. It can be used as a meat substitute. It is extremely cheap and lasts forever. It is super lightweight and takes the flavor of whatever you cook it in. (Taco Bell’s ground beef is actually TVP.)

Steve is hiking the Appalachian Trail after he graduates from GA Tech (B.S. Mathematics) in May. He introduced me to TVP, as he is using it in an innumerable amount of meals that he will have along the trail.

Bavaria Grande Salt & Pepper Mills by Olde Thompson

Glass salt and pepper mills with brushed stainless steel tops. Ceramic grinding mechanism in the salt mill and carbon steel in the pepper mill, both are fully adjustable from a coarse to a fine grind. Comes filled with Salt Crystals and Malabar Peppercorns and lifetime guarantees. I searched for the perfect mills. Williams-Sonoma was my first stop, but they were lackluster. I found these at Target for about $15 each.

Allium – Cafe & Bar

Owned and operated by the guys at German Town Cafe. Located at the corner of 5th and Main. I had, quite possibly, the best Caesar Salad of my life. Fantastic service. Decadent desserts, including a chocolate mousse cake and a Bailey’s butterscotch cheesecake. Reasonable prices. Review at the Nashville Scene. More info and their menu at Allium Nashville.

Nuvo Burrito

The food is fantastic with reasonable prices. The guys that own it, Sean and Tom, are great. Check out their menu and other cool stuff at Nuvo Burrito. Great review at Nashville Restaurants.

Direct Designs’ Stainless Steel Notebook Grill

An A+R EXCLUSIVE! Call it the 2.0 Notebook. The super-slim, portable charcoal grill that A+R pals made an overnight phenomenon last summer is now available in a stainless steel finish and with a larger cooking surface. Cook, say, six burgers instead of 4. There’s a 250-square-inch cooking surface on a stainless steel grate. Like its black counterpart, this new version is lightweight, weighing in at less than 9 lbs. The cut-out handles make it a cinch to carry, and the stainless steel surface has a waterproof finish. As a cooker or a gift, it’s a hit at any party. $61 at A+R.

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea – Ambrosia Plum

Zhena's Gypsy Tea

The sub-tropical valleys of the Assam region of Northeast India is the inspiration for this exotic and alluring blend of rare white Assam and Indian green tea, punctuated with the taste of ripe, luscious plums and delectable strawberry leaves. Hand-picked rose petals round out the sweet fullness of this bright, delicious cup. Ingredients: Green and white Indian tea, organic strawberry leaf, Bulgarian rose petals, organic Stevia leaf*, natural plum extract (*dietary supplement). Embossed recyclable air tight tin containing 22 sachets of certified 100% fair trade and organic tea. Check out the other fine teas at Got mine for about $7 at Kroger’s.

Ceramic Chef Knife

Ceramic Chef Knife

Made from zirconium carbide, which turns black when fired, black ceramic knives are more resistant to damage from misuse. Packed in a hand crafted bamboo box for easy and safe storage this 8” black on black Ceramic Chef’s Knife is a beautiful addition to any kitchen. This 8” ceramic knife is a pleasure to use for all types of foods and will probably be one of your most used kitchen knives. You can’t tell by this image, but the blade is solid black. $150 at Keramiko’s Kitchen.

101 Cookie Cutter Set

101 Cookie Cutter Set

With this set, you’re covered! Make cookies featuring popular holiday and theme shapes like sports, flowers, animals and more. Or use the complete alphabet and numeral collections included to create the perfect cookie message. Only $15 from

Altoids Smalls

Altoids Smalls

Sugar free (Isomalt, Sorbitol, Sucralose/Splenda) with 50 mints in a tin. 33% fewer calories than a normal size Altoids mint! Each mint is about a 1/4-inch square. Usually around $1. I am a peppermint fiend, and these are how I usually get my fix.


Lobel’s Meat Bible

Lobel’s Meat Bible

So you’re about to throw the barbecue of the summer, yet you’re not sure what the difference is between short ribs and baby-back ribs – fear not: Lobel’s Meat Bible is the answer to grill-masters and carnivore fans everywhere! Whether you’re a novice chef in your own kitchen, searching for unique gift ideas, or simply love to bone up on your favorite culinary trivia, this is definitely one barbecue book you’ll want to pick up this season!
Lobel’s Meat Bible is among the best cookbooks out there, and with good reason: covering virtually every type of edible flesh you can fathom – beef, pork, veal, poultry, game and more – the Lobel family extensive knowledge of all that is meat will have you up to speed in no time. From cuts of meat to varying flavors, tastes and cuts, this cooking book is literally the encyclopedia of every meat-related fact you’ve ever wondered about and then some – the meat book of choice, it’s a veritable wealth of information, mouth-watering recipes, bbq tips, butchering techniques and beyond! With a last name that’s synonymous in the culinary world with meat gourmands, the Lobel family shares generations of knowledge that has made them the authority of meat, hands-down. $40 at Lobel’ or $25 at Amazon.