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The Salted Pig: BBQ Meets Southern Cuisine

TSP logo

How do you attract the Jewish crowd to a new restaurant called “The Salted Pig” when the name has nothing to do with koshering?

Well, first you offer outstanding food, generous portions, decent prices, a fun atmosphere, good service, and a convenient location. Then, you offer an infusion of flavors that tempts the customers’ taste buds with something out of the ordinary, such as award-winning barbecue and Nouvelle Southern cuisine that makes you want to come back again and again to try something new each time. Finally, you throw in the famous Del Pietro name for good measure.

TSP cake

Bacon cake served at The Salted Pig Grand Opening,
March 28, 2014

“We wanted to come up with a name that hasn’t been used before, which is hard to do because there are so many restaurants in St Louis,” explains Co-Owner Michael Del Pietro, whose successful line of Italian eateries includes Sugo’s, Babbos, Tavolo V, and Via Vino Enoteca. “We chose ‘The Salted Pig’ even though there’s so much more on our menu than pork chops and pulled pork.”
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Passover: “Let My Son Go!”

seder plate

As the eight-day festival of Passover comes to an end, I’m feeling kind of melancholy. Maybe its the matzo. Actually, it’s the last Passover before my son embarks on his Exodus from home to college.

As I reflect over the years of his childhood, I can’t help but wonder if I made the most of building his Jewish identity. Did I do a good job planting seeds of his heritage so that he’ll want to continue to nourish his spiritual self as a young adult, maybe even attend a few functions at the Hillel on campus with his peers? Did I make enough of an impact that he wants to continue the lessons from his ancestors of thousands of years with his own children? After all, that’s what keeps Judaism alive.

To be honest, I would be fooling myself (it’s April Fools Day) if I thought that I indeed succeeded in my job to teach him as best I can about his religion by celebrating every holiday—from Sukkot to Yom Kippur—in its full splendor.

I could have done more.

Sure, we acted out the 10 plagues during the seder, including ping pong balls for hail, red food coloring for blood, sunglasses for blindness, and we asked the four questions in English and Hebrew. But now it seems like everyone at the table wants to rush through the story, and the Haggadah is read halfway through.

I could have done more.

Sure, we lit the candles on Hanukkah, fried potato pancakes, and played dreidel, but it was the overabundance of presents that he probably remembers the most. We also celebrated with a stocking on Christmas morning—gasp!

I could have done more.

One year he helped us build a sukkah in the backyard, hammering the  lattice wall into the wood beams. We hung fruit and waved the lulav, but not every year. Baseball and soccer tournaments got in the way.

I could have done more.

On Shabbat, especially when he was younger, I made dinner, we said the blessings, and ate challah, but most Friday nights we didn’t because we had other plans or I was too tired to cook at the end of the week.

I could have done more.

And even though I would have liked him to experience Jewish summer camp and youth group, it wasn’t his thing, although he enjoyed playing baseball in Maccabi with other Jewish athletes from around the country.

I could have done more.

On the high holidays, he stayed home from school and got dressed in his button down shirt, pants, and uncomfortable loafers, so that we could attend services together as a family. Then high school came around, and it got harder to miss important assignments and tests.

I could have done more.

I missed the times we used to go to a neighborhood lake and throw breadcrumbs in the water on Rosh Hashanah to practice the ritual of tashlich. We set goals for the New Year, but didn’t get to cross them all off our list.

I could have done more.

He went to Jewish preschool, met Jewish friends, attended Sunday school, learned Hebrew, mastered his Torah portion, became a bar mitzvah, and even got confirmed. He loved chanting the Hebrew prayers and was so proud of himself. But like any language, if you don’t use it, eventually you lose it.

I could have done more.

At least he wants to go to Israel one day and experience what his homeland is all about. Maybe he will connect with his culture and make new Jewish friends. Maybe he will learn to like falafel. Maybe not.

Even though I could have done more, I couldn’t be more proud of my son and the young man he is today. As he wraps up his senior year, he is so ready to leave home and tackle his new life in college.

Of course, I could have done more when it comes to his Jewish upbringing. But maybe I did enough.

He knows he always has a place to call home. He knows his family loves him.

And I promised him that next year if he comes home for Spring break, I will make him his favorite dishes. Charoset and chocolate matzo. Talk about Jewish guilt…

choco matzo



We Are What We Eat

I usually don’t answer chain letters, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this one with my readers. Not sure of the source of this message, but it’s food for thought.

It’s been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh. He made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish…. All before making a human.

God made and provided what we needed before we were born. He intended Mother Nature to be a pharmacy and left us clues as to what foods benefit our bodies, especially when eaten raw and natural.

For example:

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye. And YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Avocadoes, eggplant and pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female – they look just like these organs. Today’s research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are more than 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well to overcome male sterility.

Sweet potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like the body’s cells. Today’s research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears, which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.

Share this post, and keep the chain going…or at least eat more fruits and vegetables.



Fun Things To Do In “The Lou” (With Teenagers)

Let’s make one thing clear: Teenagers don’t like to hang out with their parents in public places, especially if there’s any risk of them running into their friends. However, when you bribe hormonal and hungry adolescents with food, you have a better chance of turning a family outing into something memorable. My hometown St. Louis, also known as “The Lou,” is a great place to raise a family and visit because this metropolitan city/small town offers so many free concerts, festivals, museums, and cultural events that are far more entertaining than hanging out at the mall or playing video games in the basement. Again, it’s all about your kids and what’s in it for them, and that means the more food and less togetherness in the car the better. Thankfully, in St. Louis, you can get anywhere in 15 to 20 minutes.

If your kid is a baseball fan or likes nachos drenched in melted processed cheese with jalapenos, there’s no better place to be than Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, 2011 World Series champions, thank you very much. This beautiful ballpark also has a full bar and serves sangria, I’m just sayin’.


In 2011, the Cardinals drew three million fans, with 27 sellout games – ranking seventh in MLB in attendance. With the Cards in the playoffs again this year, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a party anywhere you go. If your family is really into baseball, check out the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum, which is the largest team-held collection in Major League Baseball and is second only to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in terms of size with more than 16,000 memorabilia items and 80,000 archival photographs. You can even take a tour of Busch Stadium  and maybe run into our friendly-feathered mascot Fredbird.

Afterwards, treat everyone to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, a St. Louis favorite since 1931. You’ll probably have to wait in line in the parking lot, but it goes fast, and trust me, the rich and creamy frozen stuff is worth it. The custard is so thick, in fact, they serve it upside down, which is part of the shtick. Just don’t try that trick with the Cardinal Sin, a concrete or sundae smothered in tart cherries and hot fudge, especially on a hot summer day.

If you’re looking for an activity so that you can work up an appetite to eat again, head over to Forest Park,  which is located in the heart of St. Louis and covers 1,371 acres—that’s bigger than New York’s Central Park. I pinkie swear, unless your kids have an attitude that day, which is not uncommon for adolescents, they won’t be bored here.

Home of the 1904 World’s Fair, Forest Park has something for everyone and a variety of attractions, including the St. Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, and The Muny, which is America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre. And if that’s too cultural, your family can ride bikes, rent a paddleboat, play tennis, ice skate outside in the winter, and, of course, eat a lot of great food. I recommend the Boathouse, a casual restaurant located on a picturesque lake. In the summer, you can enjoy patio dining and live music, and in colder weather, snuggle inside by the large stone wood burning fireplace and sip hot chocolate.

In the winter, kids like to sled down Art Hill, which is in front of the art museum.

Another fun destination is downtown City Museum, which really isn’t a museum but a 600,000 square-foot playhouse located in the former International Shoe Company and features an eclectic mixture of a children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects. The brainchild of internationally acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly, a classically trained sculptor and serial entrepreneur, the museum opened for visitors of all ages in 1997. Caution: wear kneepads if you want to crawl after your kids in the tunnels, mazes, and pipes.

Not to worry, City Museum offers plenty of concessions to satisfy your hungry explorers, including freshly made sandwiches on handcrafted bread, fruit smoothies, brick oven pizza, barbecue ribs, and warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven. Parents, wash it all down with an espresso or cocktail.

And one more neighborhood hotspot sure to please is The Loop in University City, named “One of the 10 great streets in America” by the American Planning Association. In addition to the St. Louis Walk of Fame, The Loop offers lots of vintage clothing stores, ethnic restaurants, and a record store called Vintage Vinyl that has the largest inventory of vinyl and CDs with every type of music genre. The best burger in town is down the street at Blueberry Hill, a nationally renowned restaurant and music club filled with pop culture memorabilia where the great Chuck Berry plays the last Wednesday night of every month. You can play pool and shuffle board here, too. Over at Fitz’s Root Beer, you can eat dessert and watch how the workers brew and bottle all the frothy beverages. Afterwards, catch a flick at the restored Tivoli Movie Theatre, which offers patrons the chance to view contemporary independent films in a historic cinema house. And if you like to bowl, don’t miss the Pin-Up Bowl, a nostalgic bowling alley and martini lounge; kids are welcome here before 6 p.m. A full kitchen serves up an assortment of tasty foods, with everything from Campbell’s soups to freshly baked pizzas and even Pop-Tarts.

Finally, Demolition Ball, in St. Charles Countyl, is a favorite hangout with teens—no wonder so many bar/bat mitzvah parties are here. This crazy sport involves supercharged bumper cars with two five-player teams who shoot a whiffle ball through a 16-inch circular goal using a track ball scoop. I can’t figure out why grownups like this game so much, especially when whiplash is the prize. That’s why I recommend using a heating pad, while your kids run around Adrenaline Zone, a multi-level laser tag arena, located in the same building. Better yet, pop a couple ibuprofen while sipping on a strawberry daiquiri. You’re gonna need it; this place is loud and wild.

So, there’s plenty to do in “The Lou” with your teenagers. Just keep feeding them.


Feeding the Soul on Yom Kippur

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Tops 10 Excuses for Not Making Dinner Tonight

1. It’s summertime. I’m on vacation.
2. The dog ate the brisket.
3. I’m cleaning the oven.
4. The freezer is frostbit.
5. Consuming two pockets of sunflower seeds in the dugout at the baseball game is sufficient protein. Plus, dirt provides daily requirement of minerals.
6. Everyone ends up eating a bowl of Captain Crunch anyway, so why bother?
7. I ate a late lunch, and I’m still full.
8. I was so busy looking for new chicken recipes on Pintrest that I lost track of time.
9. Leftover pizza.
10. There’s always Shabbat.

A Mother’s Day Recipe To Remember

The last time that I remember being truly pampered was in 2008. That’s the year I had gallbladder surgery. I was incapacitated for five days with nothing better to do than lay on the couch, sip lemon lime soda through a straw, eat peanut butter crackers, catch up on People magazine, and watch television all day. Not that I’m complaining. I really enjoyed those drug-induced hallucinatory power naps.

This Mother’s Day I want to relax, only without the anesthesia. Continue reading

Chocolate Makes Everyday Sweeter

When it comes to Valentines Day, if I had to choose, I’d rather my husband give me chocolate than long stemmed red roses, unless the flowers are the edible kind. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but chocolate is her secret lover. Continue reading

Jewish Book Clubs Offer Good Reads and Eats

Eating and reading are my two favorite things to do,” boasts Wendy Pace, a gourmet cook and avid reader who blends her culinary and literary passions into every aspect of her life. It’s only natural then that this 38-year-old Kirkwood mom of two, who is a local food broker and the wife of the director of the St. Louis County Library, coordinates a unique Jewish reading group called “Cook and Book,” which heats up regularly at Congregation Shaare Emeth in Ladue. Continue reading

Canned Food Drive Reaches New Heights in CANstruction Contest

Canned food drives are plentiful these days. Everywhere you go—at school, temple, grocery store, post office, library, retirement center, shopping mall, movie theatre, and even the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra—a barrel devours your donation of black bean soup or beef stew like an empty belly starved for nourishment. In desperation to fill the sparse food pantries and ease the burden on government support, a can of tuna is as valuable as gold these days. Continue reading