Post # 159 Very Short Hiatus

August 26, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 159 Very Short Hiatus

Circumstances beyond my control have led me to take a very short break from the blog.  Nothing to worry about.  I’ll be back next Monday, Sept 1.  Don’t forget about me!

In the meantime, here’s some food funnies to enjoy!

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Post # 158 Dinner Last Night

August 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Okay, so most of you who might read this blog know that I’m a writer.  If I wasn’t, this blog wouldn’t exist.  That being said, writing is a lonely business, and I tend to sit at my computer looking at the screen wondering what the hell I’m doing.  I should be out in the “real world” earning a “real” living to help my partner/spouse pay bills, put food on the table, gas in the cars, etc.  That’s what I was raised to do.  Instead, I sit here at my desk for hours at a time, looking at the computer screen wondering what the hell I think I’m trying to accomplish.  Get’s very depressing sometimes.

Once in a while, a night like last night comes along.

Father in Law (FiL) loves baseball.  I like it a whole lot too.  I don’t want to go to a baseball game with him, though.  I spend all day, every day with him in the house with me.  I see more of him than I see of his son, my partner/spouse.  I’m not complaining.  I love my partner/spouse, and by extension, I love his father.  But I don’t want to go to a baseball game with him.  Even though I really like baseball.

So partner/spouse got greatly reduced tickets to a local baseball game through work.  He bought four ($20) so FiL would be able to take friends.  I have wonderful family and friends and I thank the gods daily that they brought us back here to reconnect with them.  FiL has a built in network of friends who don’t have to deal with him on a daily basis so are more than happy to take him to a baseball game.  That’s what happened last night.  FiL had four tickets to a baseball game.  That meant that my sister, my partner/spouse, and me got to have a rare evening for just us to bond.  MOVIE NIGHT!!!!!

Say it again, just to enjoy the sound of it.  MOVIE NIGHT!!!!!

You cannot have movie night without food.  Just goes without saying.  We started planning this two weeks ago.  We figured out the movies/shows, and the menu and bought all the proper ingredients and disks so when tonight happened, all would be perfect.

For the movies, we chose UP by Disney/Pixar.  If you haven’t seen it, watch it!!!!  Squirrel!  And we also chose Rick Steve’s Europe series for Ireland.  The menu could not have been simpler.  Since I was doing the cooking, we opted for things grilled or fresh.  Those are my favorites.  We had Steakhouse Style Steak Tips (Post #66), roasted garlic, homemade toasted bruschetta rounds, French onion dip, hummus, Dubliner cheese, fresh salsa, and tortilla chips.  My sis added fresh chopped vegetables, and olives cuz she really likes olives.  I think it’s the brine.

I started the steak tips at noon.  I put together the marinade as shown in Post 66, but added lime juice for an extra level of flavor.  I chopped the tips into their proper shapes and put it all in a large zip lock baggie and put it in the fridge to marinade all afternoon.  I started the bread toasting at 4, then put the garlic on at 5.  At 5:30, I turned on the grill, and put the steak tips on.  I pulled the garlic out at 6 and started it cooling.  By 6:15, all the steak tips were done.  Everyone in the world likes beef at medium rare except my sister’s mother in law (MiL).  So I made a few pieces very well done.  While things were cooling and resting, I took over the movies and foods that were room temp and let her start setting up.

Well!  Doncha just know that the best laid plans go astray!  FiL wasn’t feeling good, so he sat out the ball game.  Partner/spouse wasn’t feeling good, so he sat out the entire evening.  That left sister’s spouse and best friend alone for the game.  MiL was with us, but sort of ancillary to the whole thing.  Eventually, all things were cooked; all things were prepped; all things were delivered to the house two door down.

When I told my sister’s hubby and best friend what was on the menu, they were tempted to forego the ball game.  They went to game, but only after a taste of the steak tips.

Before I left my house, I had made a small plate for partner/spouse of roasted garlic (he LOVES garlic.  It’s a vampire fetish I think.) and steak tips.  FiL wasn’t interested in eating at all.

So, we got the table set up and all the food ready.  I turned to set up the movie only to realize that I had left my reading glasses at my house.  Just a word about those glasses.  I’ve had perfect vision my whole life, while everyone else in my family has needed glasses.  I struggled mightily against glasses for years, before finally yielding to the inevitable in 2009.  For some reason, it bothers me that I have to wear glasses to perform the one task that I enjoy most in life.  So anyway, when I returned to my house to grab a pair of reading glasses, I noted that partner/spouse wasn’t satisfied with what I’d prepared, and had taken the roasted garlic and spread it on bread rounds.  They were grilling in the oven.  Seems no matter what I do, he wants something different.  That’s okay.  He’s a chef, too and we don’t have the same tastes.  And it’s interesting to see what he comes up with using the same ingredients I do.

So, I went back to my sister’s house, set up the movie, double checked the food, felt like it was in control and turned to my sister.

“Where’s the wine?” I asked.

Her best friend answered.  “You don’t think she’d let you do all this without having some kind of libation for you, do you?”

They left for the ball game after sampling everything.  Sis and I prepared plates for ourselves and MiL, started the movie and sat back to enjoy a wonderful funny story about love, age, dogs, and flexibility.  Then we watched an entire disc of Rick Steves talking about Ireland.  We ate till we were full.  We killed two bottles of wine.

It was a fun evening.  It was a Thursday.  We shared stories about traveling.  We laughed.  We enjoyed good food prepared with love and care.  We wished everyone could have been with us.  We gloried in the fact that we were together.

It made a difference.

Evenings like last night are rare.  It’s what we should all be aspiring to.  In Europe, and in most parts of the world, the evening meal is an event to be cherished because you’re sharing it with those you truly love.  Last night, I felt European.

When was the last time you felt that way?

Post # 157 Hunger Doesn’t Take a Holiday

August 21, 2013 at 4:19 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 157 Hunger Doesn’t Take a Holiday

Summer is coming to an end, and kids are heading back to school.  By the end of this month, practically every child enrolled in school will be back within those hallowed walls.  They will be excited to be sitting at a new desk, meeting new friends, facing new challenges.  An extraordinarily high number of them will be happy to get regular meals again.

The school breakfast/lunch program in our country feeds over 20 million kids who might otherwise not have anything to eat.  It’s hard to believe in a country that leads the world in income and property that even one child could be hungry.  I was watching Chopped on Food Network the other day.  Occasionally, they do themed shows.  I love the themed shows because they raise an already crazy show to a higher level of crazy.  This was a repeat theme and featured “lunch ladies”, those under-rated school cooks who are in charge of feeding armies of hungry kids ranging in age from 4 to 18.  They typically have a non-existent budget and have to find ways to stretch their menus to provide healthy meals.  One of the ladies brought me to tears (and by the end of the show every single judge, contestant, host, and technical engineer, not to mention anyone watching was in tears) when she said that many of “her kids” give her a hug when they leave the cafeteria, thanking her for feeding them since they will have nothing when they get home.

Nothing from noon today until breakfast tomorrow.

You do that once.  Please.

Or better still, do that for a week, and don’t eat anything much on the weekend.  And try to study and learn and play and sleep.

I can’t stand the thought of anyone being hungry.  I have to maintain a “professional distance” from the problem or it overwhelms me.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing what I can.  I make certain that everyone who falls within my sphere of living has something to eat.  We donate to area food banks, and buy canned goods to give to donation sites all year long.  We buy those “feed the hungry” coupons when we’re at the register.

At the end of last May, I wrote post #122 and told you about  It’s a simple program and doesn’t cost anything.  You buy products that you would ordinarily buy anyway, but look for the ones that have a red push pin printed on them.  When you get home, look for the 8 digit code on the product, go the web site, and enter the code.  Just entering the code guarantees one meal for one child.  I’ve entered 90 since end of May, by my calculations.

There’s another program that’s even easier.  Have you heard of Dine Out for No Kid Hungry?  Go to the No Kid Hungry web site and look for the pledge for the Dine Out program.  Once you sign up (and it also gives you an opportunity to donate directly) it will give you a list of restaurants in your area who participate in the No Kid Hungry program.  Each restaurant has different promotions during the month of September, some donating part or all of a particular evenings sales, some allowing their patrons to add money to their bill to donate to No Kids Hungry.  I was at a restaurant in Virginia once whose wait staff donated all their tips for the day to No Kids Hungry.  Where we live now, one of our favorite restaurants is part of the program so I’m hoping we get to go at least three times to help out.

Childhood hunger is not going to end in our lifetime, and likely not ever going to end.  However there are things we can do to minimize it and its impact in the children of our country.

Thanks for letting me rant at you about this.

Oh, and as a BTW – on the Chopped episode, the winner won $10,000.  But Food Network felt so strongly about the work these ladies are doing they gave each contestant $5000.  For a large television network, it’s just a drop in the bucket.  For those lunch ladies, it was a huge surprise and a great gesture.

Post # 156 Garlic and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breast

August 19, 2013 at 2:48 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 156 Garlic and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breast

Gotta say OOOOPPS!!  I started this post last Thursday night.  On Friday, when I was supposed to post this, my brain told me that I’d already done it so I didn’t do it so there was no Friday post.  I didn’t realize it until later Friday evening.  So I just said, heck with it.  I’ll post it Monday.  That being said, here it is!


Ha Ha Ha!  I said “breast”!   Hee Hee Hee!

Okay, now that that’s over.

Yesterday, I made a wonderful recipe that I’ve made before and actually talked about on my “other” food blog.  Don’t bother looking for it; I closed it long before I started this one.  But, you know me, I can’t leave anything alone.  Since I first posted it, I’ve played with it and refined it and turned it into a “different but the same” recipe.

Have you ever noticed how many foods “tastes just like chicken”?  I won’t go into a long list, but it always seems like when people can’t describe what they’re tasting, it always comes out “tastes just like chicken!”  Then just eat chicken!  Leave the frog’s legs, crocodile tails, and other stuff to me.

Chicken is great stuff.  It’s one of the most versatile foods around.  It seems that no matter what chicken is cooked with, it takes on the flavors surrounding it while keeping its own unique flavor profile.  It can be cooked in a number of ways, and still be recognizably chicken.  It can be used in every single stage of its life cycle, from embryonic through old tough senior.  And it’s not terribly bad for you as long as you cook it right and don’t eat the really bad stuff.  The two healthiest ways to cook chicken is to grill it or bake it.  In either case, leave the skin on.  There’s been debate about this since the skin is one of those bad things on the chicken.  Here’s the trick.  Don’t eat the skin.  Cook with the skin on; it keeps the chicken moist and flavorful.  Then don’t eat the skin.  There are ways to season the bird so when the skin is removed the flavor stays.  One way is to put the herbs and spices under the skin and rub it in.  Another way is this one:

Garlic and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breast

  • Three large chicken breast, bone in and skin on
  • Three tablespoons softened butter
  • Three cloves garlic, minced
  • Three tablespoons fresh basil cut in chiffonade  *OR*
  • Three teaspoons dried basil
  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Heat your oven to 350.  Using a sharp knife, cut into the thickest part of the chicken breast creating a large pocket.  Spread on tablespoon softened butter inside cavity.  Put minced garlic and cut basil on top of butter.  Repeat with all chicken breasts.  Place in an oven safe baking dish.  Brush the tops and sides of the chicken with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Bake uncovered until inner temperature reaches 170.  Serve with salad.  It’s wonderful stuff!

Post # 155 Peanut Butter Cookies for the Kids!

August 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 155 Peanut Butter Cookies for the Kids!

I love kids.  Other people’s kids.  Never wanted to have any of my own, but I always seem to relate better to kids.  When I go to parties and I don’t know anyone, I typically end up being drawn into the crowd of kids, if there are any.  I’ve even written articles and stories for kids that have been published in magazines, albeit a very long time ago.

One time at a Christmas party, the hosts had put a the biggest box of assorted chocolates I had ever seen.  I was studying it, trying to decide which handful I was going to take when several of the kids at the party wandered over and started discussing which ones were which.

“You know how to figure that out, don’t you?” I asked.  They looked at me expectantly, so I continued.  “You pick one up and turn it over and poke your finger in the bottom.  You can see what’s in the center and decide if you want it.  If you don’t, you put it back and no one knows anything since the bottom is in the box and the top looks perfect.”

They were horrified.  But, we all did it and found the chocolates we wanted.  And laughed like crazy.

One of the things I’ve always tried to encourage with kids is cooking skills.  I never got a chance to start my niece and nephew along that track, but I have with many other kids over the years.  One things I’ve found out is that you have to start with a recipe that isn’t complicated.  You also have to have double the amount of flour in the recipe in patience.  Two cups of flour equals four cups of patience.  Nothing is happening fast.  All the moms who are reading this will verify that.  It also helps if you’re teaching them to make something sweet.

I’ve taught kids how to make mac and cheese from scratch; how to make cakes; how to chop a salad; how to make a cheeseburger.  My most popular is peanut butter cookies.  For some reason, kids flip over these.  I always ask the parents first in case there are any allergies.  It’s one of the simplest recipes ever.

First, heat your oven to 350 and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray so the cookies don’t stick.  In a fairly large bowl (helps prevent spills), use a wooden spoon to mix together a cup of sugar and a half cup of peanut butter.  I seldom measure the peanut exactly.  More peanut butter just gives it a better flavor.  You can use either creamy or crunchy peanut butter, but if you use crunchy it adds another texture to the cookie.  Once the sugar and peanut butter are combined, crack an egg into it and stir until mixed.  Scoop out a tablespoon of batter and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball in sugar, and put it on the cookie sheet.  Flatten the ball with a fork or the bottom of a glass.  There should be enough batter for twelve cookies.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until brown on top.  Cool for a few minutes, then remove from the cookie sheet.  Eat warm.  Or hot.

Sometimes I mix it up a little.  Once I put chocolate chips in the batter and called them candy bar cookies.  Another time, I added a little flour (a half cup) and they rose higher.  You can let the kids be creative with these and let them learn from their mistakes.

The most important thing I teach the kids, while the cookies are baking, is to clean as you go.  No job is done until the cleaning is finished.  I’ve never seen it fail, the kids love this.  Most of the time, I have to provide the recipe for the parents.


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