TOTES, TREATS — Royal Oak nonprofit AShirtBag has organized 15 artists to create inventive shopping bags out of old shirts. Eco-friendly shoppers have the chance to own one of these creations by way of ongoing silent auction. Funds raised will help the nonprofit to provide an environmental conservation program for young students in the metro area. And what better setting than Royal Oak's finest vegetarian eatery? Organic refreshments 7-9 p.m., bidding ends at 8 p.m., at the Inn Season Cafe, 500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-547-7916.
REC-ROOM CHIC — There's a new show up at Cass Cafe, this one called Occupied by Chris Samuels and Ian Swanson (aka Debt Collective). Instead of "art that hangs," they've given the café an "extreme makeover." The front of the space is given over to artfully arranged gutter pipe, and in the back they've used Astroturf and wood paneling to create something like your grandparents' basement, only grander! Runs through March 7, at 4620 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1400; casscafe.com.
EAT THE PAGE
For a fine introduction to a complex cuisine, try The Food of India: A Journey for Food Lovers by Priya Wickramasinghe and Carol Selva Rajah (Murdoch Books, $35). The recipes are detailed, and the accompanying color photographs of the finished dishes guide the home cook in presenting foods from different regions of India. Novices and experienced cooks of Indian cuisine will appreciate the variety of 100-odd recipes, many vegetarian, which have assertive — though not necessarily hot — seasoning.
A TASTY BEVERAGE
Not all coffee is created equal. A local small-batch micro-roaster of certified, specialty grade coffees, Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company claims to be purist in their approach. This means that they roast each type of bean differently, from Brazil to Yirgacheffe, so that it reaches its fullest taste potential. We purchased a pound of their Corktown Blend one Saturday at Eastern Market's Shed 3. Roasted only two days earlier, it produced one of the finest cups we have ever tasted. Find out where to buy your own at www.greatlakescoffee.com.
It's difficult to find flavorful fresh tomatoes in the winter. But Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes are a great substitute. Of course, when most people think of fire-roasted vegetables, red peppers typically come to mind. But fire-roasting gives Muir Glen's organic tomatoes an intense taste, turning them deep red with a char similar to that of the pepper. From sauces — try a garlicky marinara — to soups and stews, they really kick up the flavor. Visit muirglen.com for recipes and info on the variety of products.