the writeous babe project

writing my way through life as a southern fried feminist

My Feminist Fingertips, Vol. 2

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nail Color: Play Date by Essie
How ironic that the nail color I've been wearing most of the month is called Play Date. My feminist fingertips have been hard at work. Play dates have been few and far between.

This month for my B-Metro column I wrote about why natural hair is my feminist fashion statement.

I blogged for Birmingham Restaurant Week 2014.

School started back but declared on this blog that I wouldn't let that stop me from pursuing my writing dreams or spending quality time with family and friend.

At school I organized an hosted a TEDTalk-inspired professional development day for my colleagues. One of my co-workers gave a talk on Sam Seidel's Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education. I was so inspired that I wrote my August column for WBHM on the topic and revamped some of my lesson plans.

And one of the things I am most excited to report is that this month I revamped the See Jane Write website. Check it out and let me know what you think.

What have your feminist fingertips been up to this month? 

5 Things That Made Me a Happy Feminist This Week, Vol. 3

Friday, August 29, 2014


Do I really need to explain why this made me happy?

2. Well, in case you don't get it, read this article from the Ms. Magazine blog. 

In my review of Bey and Jay's On the Run tour, I mentioned that seeing the word FEMINIST was emblazoned on a huge screen at a mainstream music concert was nearly a religious experience for me. And it's an experience I had the chance to relive while watching Beyonce's performance at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night. As Ms. Magazine writer Anita Little explains:  

In being so unapologetic and quietly outspoken, she’s made feminism accessible to young women around the world who otherwise never would have identified with the movement. 
By lifting verses from Adichie’s TED talk on gender equality and using it to inspire her own music, BeyoncĂ© is bridging the gap between academic feminism and everyday feminism. If young women attendees at her On the Run tour can scream out the lyrics to “Flawless” and mean every word, who says they can’t  eventually read Audre Lorde?

3. While we're on the subject of celebrities dropping the f-bomb, Taylor Swift has finally joined the feminist club too! Two years ago I blogged about comments Swift made about feminism in an interview with The Daily Beast. 

When asked whether she was a feminist in a 2012 interview with The Daily Beast, she replied:
I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.
But now she's singing a different tune. In a recent interview with The Guardian Swift had this to say: 

As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means

Why should we care whether or not Swift calls herself a feminist? I think Anita Little, writing for the Ms. Magazine blog, said it best: 

Swift has millions of fans, most of them young women, so for her to gave a tacit endorsement of the feminist  movement could encourage fans to explore the meaning of feminism for themselves.

4. Tamron Hall spoke out on the ridiculous notion that child-free women are somehow less mature and less caring simply because they don't have kids.  "I’m taken aback by the idea that that empathy is bestowed upon you only because you are a parent," Hall said. 

5. Even Playboy understands that catcalls aren't flattering. 

See the full flowchart here

And one thing that pissed me off...

Lifetime's new show Girlfriend Intervention promises to bring out the "strong black woman" trapped inside every white girl. Sadly, I'm not making this up. Read this NPR article for more.

What made you a happy feminist this week? 

BRW 2014: Parish Seafood and Oyster House

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My husband loves seafood. He's originally from Virginia, so he grew up eating fish, shrimp, and crab the way my fellow Alabamians and I grew up eating chicken and ribs. So I knew that during Birmingham Restaurant Week 2014 we'd try at least one seafood place. We decided to visit a restaurant we'd never tried before -- Parish Seafood and Oyster House in Trussville. 

For our starter, my husband and I shared Nikki's Low Country Crab Cake -- a huge homemade crab cake made with lump and claw, blue crab served on a bed of Creole corn and topped with zesty remoulade sauce. 

For dinner I had the Low Country Shrimp and Grits -- creamy three-cheese grits smothered with big, juicy shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, green onion, and applewood bacon. At Parish they aren't stingy with the shrimp, making this a great pick for shellfish lovers. 

My husband had the Deluxe Seafood Platter because he wanted a little bit of everything -- fried catfish, fried shrimp and fried oysters, served with hushpuppies, cole slaw and fries. The shrimp, which I kept swiping from his plate, was seasoned perfectly. But hubster said the succulent catfish was "the star of the meal."

Matt Norman opened Parish Seafood and Oyster House in February of last year with a simple concept. 

"I wanted to open something simple, laid back that everyone could enjoy. I have always loved seafood and loved cooking this style of food," Norman said. "We strive to be that comfortable neighborhood restaurant and bar where friends can come to meet for a drink, enjoy our oyster bar, but you wouldn't think less of it as an option to bring your wife on a date or an anniversary."

Parish certainly has the welcoming atmosphere Norman is striving to achieve. The staff if friendly and goes above and beyond to be helpful. When my husband and I visited on a recent evening after work, the sound of soul music was soaring through the air. Enjoying the music, dinner guests were swaying in their seats and bopping their heads to the beat. 

Parish Seafood and Oyster House also serves live music on some nights. And they host a  jazz brunch on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m., featuring live jazz, $2 mimosas and $5 trips to the "Build Your Own Bloody Mary" bar.

Parish Seafood and Oyster House has a spacious covered patio that's perfect for events (when it's not 100 degrees outside).

"When we started out we were serving po'boys on deli paper and using foam cups and plastic ware," Norman said. "We moved past that. I now bring in a few hundred pounds of fresh gulf fish each week - red snapper, grouper, flounder - all butchered in house." 

Norman went on to say, "We like all kinds of food but most importantly, we love people. They, after all, are the only reason we are in this business and the only reason I am in this business. I want to make them all happy -- every last one that comes through our doors. Period."

And he means that. On the day of my and my husband's visit the temperature outside was hovering just below 100 degrees and so it was pretty hot inside the restaurant, too. Noticing sweat on the brow of some customers, Norman, who's been in the restaurant industry for 20 years, started offering free cocktails and glasses of wine to his guests. 

When asked what he thinks sets Parish apart from other local seafood restaurants, Norman's answer was simple: "Stubbornness," he said. 

"We know we are not always doing it right. We know we have room to improve. We know we aren't perfect. We are not too proud to admit it. However, we strive to be. We start over every day trying to be better." 

BRW 2014: Rusty's Bar-B-Q

Yesterday I was in the mood for a cookout. But it was so hot I felt like my skin was on fire whenever I was outside.  So sitting outside, in the sun, and near a grill was not happening. 

So I decided it would be a great day to try Rusty's Bar-B-Q for Birmingham Restaurant Week 2014

I'm actually not a big ribs eater, but I believe barbecue sauce should be its own food group. Rusty's has plenty of homemade sauces to choose from -- house barbecue sauce, spicy barbecue sauce, sweet, barbecue sauce, and white barbecue sauce. 

I, of course, sampled all four sauces, but the creamy white barbecue sauce was perfect with the delicious chicken dinner, which I had with cole slaw and sweet baked beans. 

Located in Leeds just up the street from the Outlet Shops of Grand River, Rusty's is the perfect place to relax and refuel after a day of shopping. 

I also had a chance to chat with Rusty himself -- Jonathan "Rusty" Tucker. 

"After graduating from Johnson & Wales University with an A.S. in Culinary Arts and a B.S. in Foodservice Management, I did the only logical thing and moved home to Birmingham to open a barbecue joint," said Tucker, who opened Rusty's Bar-B-Q in 2009.  "It was always my dream to own a restaurant; I grew up in the kitchen always experimenting with new recipes and learning from the many great cooks in my family."

Jonathan "Rusty" Tucker

What do you believe sets you apart from all the other barbecue joints in the Birmingham area?

We are a family friendly restaurant that will go above and beyond to meet our customers' needs and exceed their expectations. Most of our food is prepared from family recipes that have been handed down in my family for years. 

What things have you learned as a business owner that you think would be valuable lessons for
any entrepreneur? 

I started my business when I was 23 years old. The lessons that I have learned as a business owner are innumerable. The one that is close to heart at the moment is to make time for yourself and for your family.

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to being located in Leeds? 

Leeds is a great community and there is a great potential for growth here. We have some great attractions to this area within just a few miles of our location - Barber Motorsports Park, Bass Pro Shops, and The Outlet Shops of Grand River are all close at hand.

Why did you choose to be part of Birmingham Restaurant Week? 

I joined Birmingham Restaurant Week three years ago. I saw it as a great opportunity to promote Rusty's Bar-B-Q and hopefully gain some new loyal customers. It is a good opportunity to showcase local restaurants in the greater Birmingham area and celebrate the talent we have in this industry.

What are your hopes for the future of Rusty's BAR-B-Q? 

To leverage what little we have to make a big difference in our community and the lives of others.

Why Melt Is More Than a Food Truck and More Than a Restaurant

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Blogging for Birmingham Restaurant Week 2014 has been great not simply because I'm getting to eat out almost every night and call it work. What I've enjoyed most is getting to know the owners of the restaurants I've been visiting. 

The dream team behind Melt (which is both a food truck and a restaurant in Avondale) consists of co-owners Paget Pizitz and Harriet Reis and head chef Joey Dickerson. 

Pizitz says that one of her goals is for her diner to be inviting and comfortable for everyone. I think she has definitely succeeded. Melt is more thank just a restaurant. It feels a bit like a home away from home because its atmosphere is so welcoming. 

First of all, the concept of Melt is perfect -- a modern twist on the classic American comfort food. "Everyone likes a grilled cheese," Pizitz says. "We also have options for those who are vegan, vegetarian and gluten free."

Eating a salad made me feel less guilty about trying Melt's delicious dessert.

That candy jar was nearly full when we sat down. But despite all the Now & Later chew in his belly,
hubster still devoured the Melt queso and his Flying Hawaiian sandwich. 

Melt is a great place to catch up with friends and it's a great choice for kids -- or those who are still a child at heart. On a recent visit my husband kept dipping into the candy-filled mason jars that sit on the tables. Despite all the Now & Later chews he ate, he was scarfing down the chips and Melt queso that we had for our starter just as quickly as I was. And he cleaned his plate when our server brought out his Flying Hawaiian -- smoked ham, habanero jack cheese, and cajun grilled pineapple on a pretzel bun. This sandwich is my husband's favorite.

Ordering from the Birmingham Restaurant Week menu, I tried for the first time the buffalo chicken sandwich, which is perfect for someone looking for a spicy twist to the grilled cheese sandwich. 

If you have a sweet tooth, you must try the Banana Stand -- Nutella, bananas, powdered sugar and clover honey on Texas toast. 

And if you're looking for good conversation to go with your good food, just have a chat with Paget Pizitz.

The Melt Team 

When you moved back to Birmingham in 2009 you knew you wanted to start a brick and mortar business, but what made you decide on a food truck? 

My business partner Harriet Reis and I knew we wanted to start a restaurant, eventually. We bounced around a couple of ideas and decided that food truck was the best way to dive in. It seemed a perfect fit for Birmingham at the time and gave us a great opportunity to meet different areas of the community. Matilda, as we fondly refer to our truck, has been on the streets about two years. 

How did you know it was time to open a restaurant? 

We knew it would be time when we found a location that spoke to us. Avondale was always appealing and when we found the old Stephens Garage space we just knew. 

How did you and Harriet decide to work together? 

This is a LONG story. In short, I would visit her at Ocean, the restaurant she opened with her ex- husband, when I was in town. I thought she was adorable and I developed an obsession.  Years later, when I moved back to Birmingham, we were reintroduced. I stalked her for about a year and forced her to open a business with me. I am probably to blame for any grey hairs she has but we work very well together and couldn't be happier. Our strengths and weakness are a perfect match. We are partners, friends and family. It's a very special relationship. Especially when we fight and make up all in the same 60 seconds.

What things have you learned as a successful restaurant owner do you think would be valuable lessons for any entrepreneur? 

I could say something cliche like "follow your dreams" but I won't. I've worked in D.C., New York City, Birmingham and Virginia and had lots of jobs I liked but they were all jobs. I always knew what I wanted to do but had a fear of making it happen. Find something that you makes you feel passion. If you are lucky enough to work for yourself, you have the best boss in the world. Harriet and I have no one to let down but ourselves. That motivates me. The people who work with us motivate me. Our guests motivate me. Helping Avondale grow and thrive motivates me. Oh, paying back loans also motivates me. 

What are your hopes for the future of Melt? 

If it was up to me, I would have three more restaurants in the next two years. Harriet might kill me in my sleep when she reads this. I just hope that we continue to grow and maintain what we have now, which is a staff of people who care about the food they make and an environment that is inviting and comfortable for everyone.