II love sweets. l’ll pretty much eat anything sweet that’s put in front of me and while this wasn’t a problem during my younger days, now that I’m on the downward slide to 50, things are changing fast and as much as it pains me to admit, It’s time for me to cut out some of the things which simply aren’t good for me, like white flour and maybe I need to consider adding some fiber to my diets.
l’ll pretty much eat anything sweet that’s put in front of me and while this wasn’t a problem during my younger days, now that I’m on the downward slide to 50, things are changing fast.
When I was young, one of my favorite sweets to eat was my grandmas blueberry muffins. I’d spend weekends with her and grandpa and be awakened nearly every morning to the most intoxicating aroma wafting up the stairs from the kitchen and tickling my little nose.
I’d began thinking alot about grandma lately after learning July 11th was National Blueberry Muffin Day (ever notice there seems to be a National Day of something just about everyday) and so I decided to take to the internet and find a healthy bran muffin recipe where I could get my sinful, yet healthy muffin fix.
That’s when I stumbled upon the benefits of something called Branaflax muffin mix, which appeared to be the Holy Grail of muffin mix for health enthusiast’s and stay-at-home moms who as we all know take their nutrition serious.
The Branaflax muffin mix recipe was developed by its current CEO, Adrienne Dubarry, who I assumed from her website picture, was a former fashion model turned domestic goddess, like Martha Stewart whose only purpose in life then was to stare back from the pages of Vogue or Harpers and make already insecure women even more so, but who now lives to make them feel like throwing themselves off a bridge because they don’t churn their own butter, or has them all convinced they’re going to hell for not carving museum worthy Jack-a-lanterns at Halloween.
Although Adrienne did seem to posess a more wholesome, non threatening, Donna Reed kind of look, one in which if I were a woman I could maybe be friends with her, and whats more, she didn’t look like she’d beat me into unconsciousness (like Martha would) for screwing up one her recipes or worse, kill me for making a mess in her kitchen, no Adrienne was more suited to grace the covers of Good Housekeeping or Womans Day.
I decided to give Branaflax a try and ordered some online, the recipes looked rediculously easy and as it said on the website just by adding a few simple ingredients, I could customize my muffins for any taste I wanted, one mix – many possibilities.
Now I’ve never been one of those guys, you know the type who have way too much time on their hands and they’ll sit down and write a letter to some conglomerate whose product they tried once and had to tell them about it. But damn if that isn’t just what I went and did, prompting Adrienne to call and invite me to come out and bake with her at her test kitchen in La Quinta, California.
To say I was flabbergasted would be an understatement, but after talking with her for some time she was serious and since I had an upcoming trip to the desert anyway, I decided to take her up on the offer, find out the secret to her success, what it takes to become a muffin mogul and if she truly is as home-spun as she appears to be in that apron she’s wearing on her website
Wow! Adrienne thank you for inviting me to come out here to spend time with you in your kitchen; its such an honor to meet you and I gotta tell ya, your muffin mix made the tastiest blueberry muffins I’ve ever had, other then the ones my Grandmother made of course, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you a lot of my reason for coming, was to see if you were as genuinely nice and wholesome in person as you appear to be on your website. Thank you Gary. It is an honor for me to share my kitchen with you today. I was born in Louisiana and I guess that is what you call “southern hospitality.” I always had fun cooking in the kitchen with my grandma when I was growing up. She taught me a lot and of course to be kind and respectful was a big lesson.
or those readers out there like myself, who may not be familiar with flax and its health benefits, can you tell me a little bit about it?Is your flax grown in America, have you personally visited with the farmers who are growing it? I was buying direct from a grower in N. Dakota, but the shipping was very expensive. When I start producing higher quantities I will start buying from them again. Right now the flax I get is from Canada. I buy it from a distributor I am taking a trip to North Dakota to meet with a company that I used to buy from this summer. I would love to work with them and keep it in the US.
There’s been a mini-explosion in bakeries featuring cupcakes, is there a possibility of the same for your muffins? I sell more to the markets rather than the bakeries. I am the only one that offers a mix with bran and flaxseed in a dry mix. I sell the dry mix that you have to add milk, eggs, and oil, but there are bakeries that are interested in carrying my mix. I have several different recipes on my web site.
Have you approached any of the fast food chains to make a breakfast sandwich from your muffin mix? No, I am not ready to approach that market yet.
What are some of the major challenges of getting a new food product to major food distributors? When you are just starting out there are many obstacles. It is kind of like what came first the chicken or the egg. The markets want the distributor to carry your product and the distributor wants to make sure that the markets are going to buy.
Is your muffin mix endorsed by AARP, the American Cancer Society, The Diabetes Association? No, not yet. I am working with a couple of dietitians and getting endorsements so that I can show them.
You can find Branaflax muffin mix online at www.branaflax.com or while in the desert at Lifestyles Nutrition Center 78321 Highway 111 La Quinta, CA 92253-2064 760.564.5569 or 73563 Highway 111 Palm Desert, CA 92260 760.568.6522 and at Kitchen Kitchen 74-945 Highway 111 Indian Wells, CA 92210 760.773.9464
Karen & Tony Barone were both born in Chicago – Chicago is where they met, fell in love, married, achieved their first successes and established themselves as a creative force. Leaving Chicago, they took a non sequitur route moving their high voltage creativity to the California desert. They “got their stripes” in New York City’s Soho; then moved west & worked from a hillside studio on their horse farm in East Tennessee.
They moved west again, this time to Los Angeles, where they became a powerful artistic presence while working out of their massive canal-side studio in the artist community of Venice Beach.
I recently sat down with the renowned wife & husband artist couple at their studio compound in Rancho Mirage, California to talk with them about their Art Adoption Dalmatian Nation Initiative, the fabrication of their sculpture pieces and other projects currently underway.
We facilitate this through a funding concept we’ve created called “ArtAdoption.” Under our “ArtAdoption” program, the artwork is a GIFT to the community and is paid for by the sponsorship of private citizens or through the corporate and business sector. “ArtAdoption” projects give art enthusiasts and community-minded businesses an opportunity to acquire an extraordinary & significant work of art and GIFT it for the public good & enrichment. The municipality receives the GIFT for placement at a suitable public site and achieves the lofty goal of supporting the arts within the community without using funds raised through taxation.
With reference to your question about our Dalmatian Nation initiative, “R. HERO” is a series of 6′-2″ tall all aluminum Dalmatian puppy dog sculptures to honor firefighters. In a world that has become exceedingly dangerous and where war has no boundaries – we rely on our heroic firefighters more than ever. Each Dalmatian is executed in a different brightly colored iridescent painted finish with signature black Dalmatian spots and the name “R. HERO” on its shiny silver collar.
We have created this unique series of sculptures to be installed at public sites (parks, museums, municipal buildings, fire stations, hospitals, schools, and other not-for-profits) as a means of honoring and bringing recognition to our valiant firefighters who save and rescue humans and animals alike.
Through the creative & instructive expression of art, the “R. Hero” sculptures serve as a reminder of their indefatigable heroism. In addition to honoring firefighters, this project allows us the opportunity of achieving a personal goal to create large scale public art that will enhance the quality of life for individuals living in, working in and visiting a city. Also, the visually child-friendly “R. Hero”, draws attention to the powerful and beneficial relationship of animals to people.
The Dalmatian sculptures executed in different colors allows for a citywide campaign that places different colored “R. HERO” sculptures at multiple site selections – We are passionate about making our “R. HERO” sculptures available to communities across America – creating a “Dalmatian Nation”.
We know from last weeks Desert Sun that Palm Desert was the first city in the Coachella Valley to receive an “R. Hero”. Yes, a purple “R. Hero” was installed in the median strip on El Paseo directly across from the Historical Society of Palm Desert- the city’s first fire station. It was sponsored by Jo Ann & Alan Horwitz, Esq., Contour Dermatoloy, and Orbit In Hotel, of Palm Springs. Where is the second dalmatian slated to be installed: Funny you should ask that question, in fact the very next day (the Palm Desert dalmatian was installed) a green “R. Hero” went in front of the Children’s Discovery Museum in Rancho Mirage, it was sponsored by Bunni & Rick Benaron.
It’s such a pleasure to be sitting here in paradise with you both at this beautiful studio. So tell me about the Art Adoption program you’ve just initiated? We have a vision for our artwork. It is to enrich public spaces by placing large-scale sculptures in communities across the United States.
Note: Karen & Tony Barone have “mandated” the purchase of “R. HERO” to only those acquiring the work for donation for the “public good” and installation at an art-in-public-places site.
Tell me about the current paintings you are working on: We have been working on a series of paintingsunder the masthead “The Queen’s Pudding”. They were inspired by a Victorian English tale which told of a pudding so delicious that when it was served to the Queen she decreed a piece of this fine pudding be brought forward in the making of each pudding thereafter. Therefore, in effect, the pudding served today to the current Queen is the same original pudding.
Like the Victorian Queen’s pudding, each successive canvas in the 54 foot painting titled “The Queen’s Pudding” contains background colors from the previous canvas. The backgrounds shift, start and stop without acknowledging the boundaries of each of the six 8-foot sections and one 6-foot section. Each canvas is part of the whole; however, each canvas is a completed work in itself – it can stand alone, much like a slice or two of bread remains a complete entity when cut away from a loaf. “The Queen’s Pudding” is intended to be exhibited (or acquired) as a single entity and purchased as such or purchased individually or you could acquire 2, 3, 4, etc. whatever is appropriate for the situation. However, because each of the 8′ X 4′ and 6’ X 4’ canvases which make up the 54 foot long work has its own subject and title, they may be hung individually or as a diptych or a triptych, etc. – we even envision the canvases stacked, one above the other, creating an 8 foot by 8 foot painting.
What additional sculptures are in the works: We currently are in different phases of completion on a cat sculpture “Abyssinian Queen”, a purple toy poodle “Monsieur Royalty”, a red Dalmatian “R. Hero”, and a Scotty.
I’ve heard rumors you will be the curators for UCR Palm Desert Campus for the 2012/2013 season: Yes – that is correct. Based on the success of last year’s opening show at the University where we were co-curators, we were asked to now curate the entire coming season. We were honored by the request and have agreed to commit ourselves for 3 diverse and hopefully exciting exhibitions.
When do you two sleep? Sleep! No time for that – only time for performing our art and enjoying fabulous meals with a lot of talk and laughter together. We consider ourselves the luckiest two people – who think and act as one – on earth.