Category Archives: Mom

i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing Chicken

i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenSan Franciscan-born and bred Erika Lenkert is the creator and editor in chief of GFF (Gluten Free Forever) Magazine. She is also a bon vivant, a traveler, a culinary writer, a single mother, and –  importantly – a lover of great food. She says, “I’ve always been a food person. Growing up as a child of a single mother, my mother would take me everywhere to eat, but I also needed to fend for myself in the kitchen. When I was in junior high and high school, I was working as a receptionist, and then cold-calling at another job, but with the money (I earned), I would take myself out to eat.” Even more prescient of her future undertakings, as a child, Lenkert would gather her friends together and they would play how to create a magazine, creating subscription cards along with feature stories

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in English Literature, Lenkert began a career as a freelance writer – and never looked back.  For twenty years, she’s been a food writer for both San Francisco and Los Angeles Magazines and penned prolifically for Food & Wine, InStyle, San Francisco Chronicle, Elle, Travel & Leisure, and numerous other outlets with an approachable but knowledgeable voice. Furthermore, she’s written several books, including Party Girl Primer, Raw with Chef Juliano Brotman,  and The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy.

Beet-Hummus - from i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing Chicken
Beet Hummus

 In 2014, Lenkert, who has been gluten intolerant since 2001, originated a Kickstarter campaign, raising close to $100,00 for a new culinary book about cooking without gluten; hence, GFF Magazine was born. “Starting a magazine was a crazy idea,” she says. “I feel like I bit off more than I could chew. I’ve always been more of a barter type of person but I found that I had to ask for what I needed without the possibility of giving it back.” At that time, she states, it was the most difficult in her life as she was going through a divorce, starting GFF, and found herself sick for the first time in her adult life with erythema infectiosum, commonly called the “fifth disease.” However, she never gave up her lifelong mission of creating a quality culinary magazine along the lines of Gourmet, except for the new health-oriented generation. “The food always has to be the star,” she says.

In March 2016, Lenkert partnered her second baby – she has another with two legs — with Meredith Corporation, who currently publishes well-read titles devoted to food and wellness such as Eating Well, Shape, and Better Homes & Gardens. Essentially, the relationship moves Lenkert’s quarterly publication from 12,000 issues to 250,000, with a newsstand price of $9.99 under their specialty titles. In today’s publishing world – with journals dropping like flies – it’s nothing short of a miracle. Truth be told, the deal was probably sealed with Lenkert’s infectious enthusiasm for her work in creating a culinary periodical. She – a runaway train knowing its’ true and right destination – states, “The name of the magazine might be GFF, but I want people to have the opportunity to cook and eat well. I want to give people happy food.” (Readers of i8tonite can receive a special price with the promo code: SPRING16. Sign-up via

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust)

i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenWhat is your favorite food to cook at home? The “Best Effing Chicken”—a stupidly simple, over-the-top delicious boneless roasted chicken recipe taught to me by SF chef Daniel Patterson. It uses two ingredients and takes two minutes of prep, and it’s seriously fabulous.  Or caramelized broccoli – I regularly make a meal out of it.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Califia Farms vanilla almond milk, butter, eggs, and peanut butter.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? A penchant for skipping the small talk and getting right into the frank, honest conversation.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Resistance to sharing food.

Frittata. From i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenBeer, wine, or cocktail? Depends. GF beer after a long day, wine at a dinner party, and a Manhattan out with friends.

Your favorite cookbook author? I don’t have time to read or cook from cookbooks. With 45 or more recipes in each issue of GFF, whenever I finish one, I’m off recipe developing, testing, and writing for the next.

Your favorite kitchen tool? A good knife. I’m not a gadget girl (less is more for me), but I do like my microplane, too.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Favorite? Japanese. Most common? Italian or “Californian” (i.e., a bunch of fresh stuff thrown together).

Acai Bowl with Fruit. From i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenBeef, chicken, pork, or tofu? Chicken, though I’m leaning more and more toward a vegetarian diet.

Favorite vegetable? Broccoli

Chef you most admire? Hiro Sone. He makes such beautiful food. Literally and figuratively.

Food you like the most to eat? Sushi. And French fries. 🙂

Food you dislike the most? I’m not a hater.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do? Travel, though that always includes food exploration.

Spread. From i8tonite: with Erika Lenkert, Creator, EIC of GFF Magazine & Her Best Effing ChickenWhere is your favorite place to eat? Anywhere there’s good company. Or good food. Or fun bar-dining. Or all three.

What is your favorite restaurant? I don’t have one. But Nopa is my San Francisco fallback—because it has the aforementioned elements that make up my “favorite place to eat.”

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? My skin is unadulterated—except for the sun damage from iodine-baby oil sun-tanning in the ‘80s and living on Maui in my 20s.

Recipe: Best Effing Chicken

Get the butcher to debone 1 large whole chicken (they’ll do it at Whole Foods). Salt it with 1 teaspoon of salt 1 to 3 hours prior to cooking and reserve in the refrigerator until 10 minutes before cooking. Lay the chicken flat, skin-side up, on a rimmed sheet pan and broil it about 3 inches from the heat, or until the skin is very crispy and brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 250°F and cook for 25 minutes. Cut the chicken into entrée-size pieces, transfer to a platter, and prepare to be blown away.


– The End. Go Eat. –



i8tonite: A Road Trip with My Mother, Baked Sweet Potatoes for Thanksgiving

As I do every year, I picked my mother up for Thanksgiving from her San Bernardino home. She will stay with us for a couple of days but instead of Los Angeles, the drive is from Phoenix, a round-trip excursion through the Sonoran desert. We will laugh, and I will tease her about her hearing as she’s asked me the same question three times, which I’ve answered three times.

I will finally state:  “I think we need to get batteries for your hearing aids.”

She’ll roll her eyes in amusement and swat at me, laughing in annoyance, “Brian! You know I don’t wear hearing aids.”

I respond, “Exactly.”

She’s aging and frankly, so am I; these car journeys won’t be happening forever. My mother gave me a love of road trips. We took them often from Duarte, California, where I was born to wherever she wanted to go. Disneyland. Pasadena. San Diego. Santa Monica. The best voyage was when my parents divorced. She wanted her maternal family closer – they lived in South Carolina — and her best friend lived in Baltimore. The ink was barely dry on the papers, and she packed up the red Pontiac Firebird with the vinyl top.  It was game on, a car trip through the southern half of the United States – East Coast bound.

She drove that car – a single woman and a kid — through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas (two days), all the way to South Carolina in the early seventies. The AM radio was blaring Helen Reddy, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Vicki Lawrence, and The Carpenters. Wolfman Jack’s raspy baritone kept the truckers company and single family station wagons happy on long stretches of nothing. I recall a preacher man who drove his van around the dusty highways, solely to assist stranded drivers with broken cars. After fixing our ruined timing belt, his payment was joining him in prayer. My mother’s not a religious woman, but she believes in God. She was incredibly grateful for his help, so we held hands on the side of the two-lane desert highway and prayed.

This time, as we crossed the Colorado River, the border between California and Arizona, I was driving. She was the passenger, and the music was coming from an iTouch playing singalong Cher, Dusty Springfield, America and maybe Florence and The Machine. I threw in Elvis for my mom. The road has expanded from one car in each direction to a six-lane thoroughfare, at times almost eight – half going east, the others going west.  I’ve rented a car, so I don’t have to worry about breaking down. I will call the rental company and be on the road in no-time.

Yes, it will be a good holiday.

Baked Sweet Potatoes (No recipe) (“It’s not Thanksgiving without them,” my mother’s declares)

Find the largest sweet potatoes you can grab. Wash and then dry thoroughly. Determine where the top of the tuber is and poke a line along the length of the skin. Then do the same with the center width (You should have a cross.) Rub with vegetable oil, wrapping in aluminum foil. Bake for about an hour or until done. Serve with crème fraiche (my favorite) or butter (my mother’s favorite). Throw some chives and serve.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The End. Go Eat.