Cleaning Up The Crumbs of the #TallyBurgerTrail

By the time I tuned in to this summer’s Tallahassee Burger Trail event, I was behind.

My first official stop on “the trail” was Vertigo Burgers and Fries on July 18. I had until July 31 to fit in as much burgerliciousness as possible. Was I up to the challenge?

Vertigo Burgers and Fries

I mounted the burger trail horse at Vertigo Burgers and Fries for lunch on Saturday, July 18.

Cleaning Up The Crumbs of the #TallyBurgerTrail

This was my first visit EVER to Vertigo Burger. The Burger Trail special was the Red Hills Burger: A 50/50 mix of in-house ground beef chuck and Bradley’s sausage, Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill cheese, cornmeal fried okra, bacon-braised collard greens, creole rémoulade.

The Standout Feature(s): The sweet potato fries were delicious. I enjoyed my burger (especially the okra!). My friend loved her “Dizzy Duck,” especially the cherry sauce. I loved spending time with a friend I met through the blog, when I wrote this.

The Tin Cow

A friend wanted to talk about some personal challenges, so I figured he could spill his angst while I checked off another Burger Trail stop. That’s how I ended up at The Tin Cow on Friday, July 24.

Cleaning Up The Crumbs of the #TallyBurgerTrail

The Burger Trail special was “The Classic”: A half pound of Angus on a kaiser bun with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup, mustard, and mayo.

The Standout Feature(s): Well, it’s not a “feature,” but anyone who knows our family knows how much time we spent at AJ Sports, which previously inhabited this space. It was so weird to walk into the Tin Cow and be in someone else’s business!  Anyway, I thought this burger got the most points for presentation. So pretty with the ketchup and mustard; someone paid attention to presentation. I just wish a) my friend has less angst (sigh) and b) it had not been lunchtime on a weekday because the spiked shakes (or at least a brandy soaked cherry) sounded so good!

Up in Smoke

The July 31 “end of the trail” was looming closer and closer, so I redoubled my efforts to check off a few more stops. That is how my friend Sandy and I ended up at Up in Smoke on Tuesday, July 28.

Cleaning Up The Crumbs of the #TallyBurgerTrail

The Burger Trail special was the Up in Smoke: a 1/2 pound burger topped with blue cheese crumbles, caramelized onions, crisp bacon, lettuce and tomatoes, topped with onion rings. Served with a side of blue cheese and bacon hand cut fries.

The Standout Feature(s): This burger was REALLY tasty. Something about the sauce just had that “zing.” My friend and I enjoyed chatting with the owner, also. Sandy and I have not had time to sit and chat one on one EVER so this was really a treat!


The week of July 26 was Stick a Fork in Cancer week, so my friend Rachel and I killed two birds (cows?) with one stone by visiting 101 for a Burger Trail AND Stick a Fork in Cancer stop!

Cleaning Up The Crumbs of the #TallyBurgerTrail

The Burger Trail special was the Black Avocado Surf and Turf: This 100% Angus ground beef is made up of black avocado, Cajun aioli, and topped with fresh shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico on a flaky croissant bun!

The Standout Feature(s): I loved the fact that I could check off a Burger Trail stop AND help the American Cancer Society at the same time. The shrimp were definitely a unique addition to my burger. These homemade chips were SO DELICIOUS.

Canopy Road Cafe

Sunset was starting to fall on the Tallahassee Burger Trail as I determined to mooooooove toward fitting in a few more burgers. That is how I found myself at Canopy Road Cafe with my awesome friend Lynne.

Cleaning Up The Crumbs of the #TallyBurgerTrail

The Burger Trail special was the Breakfast Burger: 8 oz. Black Angus beef covered in melted cheddar, grilled honey ham, pecan smoked bacon and an over easy egg.

The Standout Feature(s): I was leery of the “egg on a burger” idea but I have to admit it was really tasty! And time with a friend I rarely see IRL was a special treat.

Madison Social

In all honesty, I did have a MadSo burger during the Tallahassee Burger Trail summer promotion, but I did not take a picture, so I am not sure it counted! To be sure, I consumed one. more. burger. on Friday night, July 31, at one of my favorite places. I was way over fries by that point, though, hence the green beans!

Cleaning Up The Crumbs of the #TallyBurgerTrail

The Burger Trail special was the MadSo Burger: Fried avocado, peppered maple bacon, aged cheddar, Jameson caramelized onion, house aioli, on a brioche bun.

The Standout Feature(s): I am not a HUGE avocado fan, so that was a bit of a “take it or leave it” for me. And by this point I could not look at another fry again. NO MORE FRIES! But I loved the ability to squeeze in one more burger trail stop at a place which has been so good to me and the causes I love, so I made the MadSo burger my finale.

As The Dust From The Trail Settles…

Six (huge) burgers (with fries, usually) in 13 days is definitely out of the norm for me. But I love a good hashtag (#tallyburgertrail) and I love a great way to connect with our fun social media community in Tallahassee.

Next year: an earlier start so I can spread the decadence out a little bit better (and make all the tops)

When it is up to me, I am pretty basic in my burger preferences. Usually by the end of eating one of these special burgers, I had deconstructed it and was consuming the components separately (like the okra at Vertigo – yum!).

I also had read somewhere that restaurants look down on people who order their beef medium well, but I am still sort of squeamish about burgers that are pinkish. I think some of the burgers I had would have been better medium than medium well. Maybe next year I’ll have the guts.

The Burger Trail forced me to organize myself in order to visit establishments I had not made time for previously (like Vertigo).

Most importantly, the Burger Trail forced me to sit down and enjoy time with people for whom I care a great deal. And THAT beefed up my morale considerably. The people in my life are so affirming, it could have been peanut butter and jelly for all I care — the point was spending time with them. It was a bonus that I got to enjoy these delicious creations and support some of Tallahassee’s finest restaurants at the same time!

Cleaning Up The Crumbs of the #TallyBurgerTrail

NOTE: Even though the June 1 – July 31 “window” for winning prizes has ended, the Burger Trail intends to keep serving up the burgers! Check out their website, choose a restaurant, and saddle up for a burger adventure! Tell them The Big Green Pen sent you!

Breaking Free of the Hunger Cocoon (A Feeding South Africa Post)



Do cocoons make you curious about what’s inside? What color will the butterfly be when it emerges? Where will the winds and its wings take it? Will it bring someone joy?

For children in South Africa, hunger threatens to keep them in the “cocoon” of hunger.

65% of all South African children live in poverty. Receiving food encourages these children to stay in school and obtain their education.

When children are unable to stay in school and obtain an education, it is unlikely they will emerge from the cocoon of hunger.

Nearly 20% of all children in South Africa are orphans, with approximately 1.9 Million of those children orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS.

In addition to the absence of parental support, these orphans are more likely to remain trapped in the cocoon of hunger.

Lack of food can diminish concentration, erode willpower, and strip away a child’s potential. The conservative estimate of the number of children in South Africa living below the poverty line is 12 million.

Although government programs assist approximately 8 million of these children, 4 million children still need help to emerge from the cocoon of hunger.

African Basket

African Basket

Although my teenagers no longer want my input or involvement in their lunch choices, I remember well the challenge of finding something nutritious, novel, and affordable for their lunches. We bloggers participating in this campaign are each contributing a recipe. Mine comes from Ellie Krieger of the Food Network. It’s colorful, tasty, and affordable (and it has a great name!).

Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad


8 ounces bow tie pasta, preferably whole grain

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen

1 cup shelled edamame, thawed if frozen

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

2 medium carrots, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)


cropped ingredients


Cook the pasta as the label directs. Drain and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to prevent sticking; let cool.

In a large bowl, toss the cooled pasta with the corn, edamame, bell pepper and carrots. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Add the parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss again and season to taste.

plated pasta

Besides thinking about sending rainbows and butterflies in your child’s lunch (or yours, as I’ll be doing this week!), what can you and I do about the 4 million children in South Africa for whom a “colorful pasta salad” would truly be a luxury?

Lunchbox Fund Photo 3

We can help The Lunchbox Fund meet its goal of raising $5,000, which will provide 100 South African school children a daily meal for one year. (The meals are provided at school, which reinforces the likelihood that the children will go to school.) But $5,000 sounds *BIG* doesn’t it? I gave $10; if 499 more people do the same, we’ll be there! For me it was giving up the $10 I would have spent on yoga today and doing yoga at home instead. A small sacrifice in the long run.

To donate, click this link.

There’s no reason that those of us who have so much can come together to help children who need the basic gift of food and help them fly free from poverty.


 *Note: The factual information in italics was provided by The Giving Table.

Wordless Wednesday (Salty Pimp Edition)

I am not proud to admit that I had forgotten that address numbers get larger the closer you get to the East River in New York City, but once a security officer pointed me in the right direction, I stopped walking around in circles and found my destination, the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village. I wanted to experience for myself what all the tweets from @biggayicecream had tempted me with for months.

A fun place…..

With fun toys…..

And fun boys…

Watched over by a glittery unicorn….

I got the Salty Pimp after asking, “if I only get to come here once, what should I get?” My mobile phone picture doesn’t really do it justice…

 But theirs will make your mouth water:

Photo Credit: Big Gay Ice Cream

And that is how I ended up wandering the streets of New York City licking a salty pimp at midnight. A combination almost as rare as a unicorn!

Wordless Wednesday Hop

Wordless Wednesday (Toloache Edition)

During last month’s trip to New York City, my friend and I followed a local’s tip and ended up at Toloache, a Mexican restaurant.

We were watched over by her:

While my friend ate this (Camarones Toloache):

 And I chose to pass on the Chapulines (Dried Grasshoppers!) and enjoy the pork tacos:

With a side of fried brussels sprouts with queso fresco (yum)!!!:

While I hydrated with this:

Thank you, Toloache, for delicious food and lasting memories.

Gracias, Toloache, por la deliciosa comida y recuerdos duraderos.

Wordless Wednesday Hop

Wordless Wednesday (Lunch in Bryant Park Edition)

 Delicious memories from a recent lunch in Bryant Park, NYC!

Come to think of it, why are French Fries French?

 Vegan Forbidden Rice and Black Eyed Pea Salad with With Grilled

Asparagus and Garden Vegetables.

Photos taken at the Bryant Park Grill Cafe.

Wordless Wednesday Hop

Wordless Wednesday (Sweet Cravings Edition)

I walked into a Cracker Barrel Restaurant today for a business-trip lunch stop.

And there was this…..

which led to this……

which transported me back 30 years to my grandmother’s Sunday “Dinner” table.

The memories were worth the calories……

Wordless Wednesday (Summer Pops Edition)

It’s nice to give kids a few extra treats in the summertime,

But……when mom needs a summer treat for herself, she can…
Add lime zest:

And some summer spirit(s) in the form of tequila and orange liqueur, to get…

Mom Treats!

The recipe for Margarita Pops came from Family Circle Magazine.
A few more images of my “Margarita Pop Fun” session:

Here’s the recipe (click on it to enlarge):

I am linking this Wordless Wednesday post up to the Crazy Days of Summer Photo Challenge sponsored by Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud and Alicia of Project Alicia. This week’s theme is “summer treats”! Next week’s theme is “fun with friends.”
Crazy Days of Summer

A Bitter Ending (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This post will put the nail in the coffin of any hopes I had of being a spokesblogger for the citrus industry.
The Mama Kat prompt that “gave” me this week was number four, “describe a food you abhor.”
Now, I love food, and “abhor” is a strong word even for foods I dislike. But when my daughter determined recently that she was sure she would love grapefruit, and that we should buy a 3 pound bag (instead of just one), I am sure I gave her that “skeptical mom” look she detests so much.
She was drawn in, I think, by some image she had seen in a magazine or on tv of someone delicately slipping their spoon into a half grapefruit, retrieving the sparkly effervescent flesh, and devouring it with a smile, destined for a day of citrus infused health and happiness.
She didn’t know that wresting the actual food out of a grapefruit is the equivalent of releasing a car accident victim with the jaws of life!
Being the wonderful (read: pushover) mom that I am, I gave in to the plea and we ended up with a 3 lb bag of grapefruit in our pantry.
Next vision: a half grapefruit in the fridge, looking all shriveled up and distinctly not eaten/enjoyed.
Daughter’s response? It was so hard to eat.
For me, the issue is the bitter taste. And after a young adulthood of crazy diets, I have had lots of experience adding things, chemical and natural, to grapefruit to try to make it more palatable. I had the special spoon. Grapefruit (fresh, broiled, squeezed) never grew on me.
Whenever my friends who take medication that is contra-indicated along with grapefruit, like Synthroid (I think) talk about the contra-indication, I think a) why risk it? and b) doesn’t the fact that it could kill you tell you something?
As with many other of my daughter’s passing food fancies, we ended up with a tally of one half-eaten shriveled grapefruit in the fridge and a bag full of potential science experiments in the pantry.
A bitter ending.
(Photo Credit: