Discover: Bolani

Bolani from East & West Gourmet Afghan Food on Foodzie

If there is anything that stands between me and a wholly local food existence it is undoubtedly my love of dining out — especially in small, authentic, ethnic atmospheres. That and guacamole. Unfortunately, Michigan weather is not terribly conducive to the growing of avocados.

There is something about walking into a family-run food establishment and being recognized by the person behind the counter; about them knowing your favorite dishes, your family and that you are interested not just in lunch but their life. It is something that feeds not just the body but the soul. And occasionally I find sacrificing some fossil fuel for that satisfaction is entirely worthwhile.

Spinach Bolani from East & West Gourmet Afghan Food on Foodzie

When I first happened across East & West Gourmet Afghan Food, a company that you can find both on Foodzie and on their personal website online, my heart skipped a little beat. Both excited to have found such an awesome product — one not available, to my knowledge, locally — and a bit saddened not to live near enough to meet the staff in person I jotted down their information to share here later. A few weeks ago, when I decided the last week of each month here should be dedicated to the discovery of one cool new producer I knew they had to be the first.

East and West Gourmet Afghan Food is the story of an Afghan woman and her family’s struggle in the search for a better life. Supported by her husband and eldest son they immigrated to the US and founded East and West Gourmet Food.

Originally the companies signature Bolani — a traditional Afghan flatbread stuffed with spinach, potato, pumpkin or lentil filling — was found only in San Francisco Bay area farm markets, but through word of mouth and excellent customer service has grown exponentially in just over five years worth of business.

Billal Sidiq is an “Ambassador of Love” in most of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Farmers’ Markets and even beyond. He represents his company with an inviting face, running mouth, and hands full of samples. Today East and West participates in up to 100 farmers’ markets every week. The product is now also found in Whole Foods markets and Andronico’s.

Bolani and Sauce from East & West Gourmet Afghan Food on Foodzie

Relatively inexpensive, packed with nutrients, low in calories and carbohydrates, East & West’s Bolani has been getting rave reviews from foodies around the country. If you happen to try them out, let me know what you think!

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Malwina
  • Upcycle, recycle, bicycle.
  • Octopus cake
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Discover: Bolani

Interview with Kim Jones of Sugarskull7 Hand Carved Rubber Stamps

I design and create hand-carved rubber stamps. I also dabble in painting, printmaking and other paper crafts, but stamps are my obsession.

How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?

I had a friend with a serious rubber stamp addiction. I loved all the cool things she made with her stamps, but, being an artsy-type person, experienced a weird feeling of guilt using art made by others. One day I was flipping through one of her stamping magazines and found an article on “eraser carving”. Make your OWN stamps?? From ERASERS?? I have erasers!! I can do this! An addiction was born.

Is there a story behind the name of your shop?

I really love Mexican folk art, especially Day of the Dead images like sugar skulls. I also have a strange love of the number 7 (OCD, anyone?), hence the name Sugarskull7.

Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?

I work alone for the most part. Wait, that’s not true – there are almost always four dogs in various positions of slumber in close proximity.

My process is sort of haphazard. I usually spend most of the morning and early afternoon filling orders (my stamps are all made-to-order), but sometimes an idea for a new stamp will hit and I’ll drop everything and draw it up. If I’m happy with the drawing, I’m likely to carve it right then and there. Then I’ll go back to carving and filling orders. Right now this pretty much IS my life, but I do try to force myself to walk away from the drafting table and participate in the world now and then.

Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?

I sell on Etsy, I absolutely LOVE Etsy. My shop address is www.sugarskull7.com . So far I haven’t attempted to sell my work at fairs or in brick and mortar stores because it’s difficult to create enough inventory at one time. I might try my hand at a local indoor craft fair soon, though.

Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers you’d like to recommend?

I have too many favorites to list, but a few are BeanUpTheNoseArt, TerraMaya and PinBackAttack.

What inspires and motivates you?

I’m inspired by things I see around me, things people say, song lyrics, random thoughts – stamp ideas are everywhere. I’m motivated by the memory of working in a cubicle for a large corporation for 17 years and the desire to never, ever do that again. I’m making far less money and far more hours doing what I do now, yet I never really feel like I’m doing a “job”. It’s what I love.

What do you wish I had asked you?

“Do you have any strange hobbies?”

Why yes, I’m teaching myself to hoop dance. Great fun, great exercise, no gym required!

Thanks Kim. And if you would like to be interviewed next, check out DIY Interview.

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • Malwina
  • Upcycle, recycle, bicycle.
  • Octopus cake
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Discover: Bolani