Post #667 Lifetime Favorites

August 25, 2019 at 10:43 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

I don’t spend the bulk of my time thinking about food although it would seem that way given my blog and my hobbies.  I typically only think about food just about the time my stomach reminds me it’s time.  And then, just like most people, I’m thinking about what I want, what sounds good, what sounds easy, and what sounds quick.  I have a few stand bys that never fail to work for me.

PBJ:  Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I’ve been eating them for as long as I’ve been alive.  I’ve even taken them on backpacking trips lasting several days.  My mom believed that as long as we were eating PBJ and playing in the sun, all us kids were going to be okay.  When I was a kid, any jelly would do, but I would only eat creamy peanut butter, never crunchy.  Still will only ever eat creamy and it’s been over sixty years.  For a long time, I would only eat grape jam and it had to be ice cold.  Nowadays, I’ll branch out into other jams and use raspberry and blueberry.  I’m a wild man.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich:  There are so many variations on this theme, but it all boils down to cheese melted between pieces of toasted bread.  My ex-wife was a master at making these.  Recently, I was home from work not feeling well.  I nursed my symptoms for a few hours then decided it was time to eat something.  I went directly to grilled cheese cuz that’s what I wanted.  So good.  Hot toasty bread, hot melty cheese.  It’s good for what ails you.  Quesadillas are just grilled cheese using flour tortillas and some extra spiciness.  Bruschetta is just an open faced grilled cheese with tomatoes.  Heck, even fondue is another form of it.

Messy’s Bacon Egg and Cheese on a Croissant:  When we lived in Rhode Island, just down the road from us was a diner called Messy’s.  It wasn’t messy at all, and it had the most glorious food.  My total favorite was their breakfast sandwich, and it was the only thing I’d order.  They had tons of other things, but I didn’t care.  They’d see me coming and start making one immediately.  They sliced a fresh croissant lengthways and grill it in butter.  While it was grilling, they cooked an egg so the yolk was hard, but didn’t scramble it so the yolk and whites were separate.  A slice of cheese was melted on top and two large strips of bacon were added.  The whole thing was set inside the grilled croissant and served hot.  I’ve found a place here in Vermont that makes something similar.  It is so GOOD!

Texas de Brazil:  This is a chain restaurant specializing in Brazilian churrascaria.  It’s a dining experience not be missed, and since I’ve blogged about it before, I won’t go into extreme detail.  But the method of cooking results in the most flavorful meats I’ve ever had.  The various cuts are skewered on thin swords and crushed salt is ground into the meat.  It’s then leaned over an open flame so the outside sears.  Once that’s done, the meat is brought out and sliced at the diner’s plate until they reach the raw part and the process is repeated.  I’ve managed to come close to the same thing on a gas grill with steak and kosher salt.  If you ever have a chance to try authentic churrascaria, take it.  It can be pricey, but you’ll never forget it.  The two major chains in the US is Fogo de Chao and Texas de Brazil.

Poutine:  This is one of my new favorites, but it boils down to crispy French fries smothered in savory beef gravy and cheese.  It’s a Canadian dish, and I’m told it’s only authentic in Canada.  But the samples I’ve had here taste pretty damn good.

Tacos:  Nuff said, right?  One of my coworkers and her family have taken Taco Tuesday to an art form.  Tuesday night is always, always tacos.  Nothing else.  They invite friends over to stuff themselves with tacos.  Their fillings vary with whatever is on hand.  Last week was venison.  We have tacos at least once a week.  One time while in Virginia, I had tacos three times one day.  In Tucson, near the University, there was a chain restaurant called Los Betos whose rolled tacos, or taquitos, were amazing.  We’d buy three dozen and take them to parties.  Corn tortillas filled with spicy beef and rolled tightly pencil thin then crisp fried and lightly salted.  Dunk one end into salsa and bite.  So good.  I’m drooling now.

Bone in Pork Chops:  My mom used to buy the thin cut chops and fry them till they were leather.  I must have been in my twenties before I tasted how pork chops were supposed to be cooked.  Fried till done, but still juicy, lightly salted and that’s all.  No apple sauce, no pepper, just tender juicy pork flavor filling your mouth.  I’ve never said no to a pork chop.  Years ago, my ex-wife and I would go to dinner with her parents to their favorite place and they had pork chops on the menu.  Her mom and I would nearly always order that.  The first time we did, her mom got to the bone-gnawing part before I did and apologized as she picked it up and started tearing the meat of the bone with her teeth.  Before anyone could admonish her, I followed suit and said, “I’m right with you.”

Brownies:  I can throw a pan of brownies together in next to no time.  One time I was at a friend’s house and she didn’t have dessert to serve for a dinner she hosting that night.  I popped a pan of brownies into her oven before she could say anything.  They got rave reviews.  They’re so chocolatey, gooey, and good.  One of the easiest chocolate desserts to make, and one of the tastiest.

Plain Buttered Toast:  I love toast with a slather of butter on top.

Caramel Creams:  This is a candy I used to eat as a kid, and got reintroduced to just recently.  I don’t know if it’s a regional thing or not, but I haven’t seen this particular one for a long time.  Soft caramel shaped into a roll around a soft vanilla cream center (not a swirl like I’m used to seeing) then sliced thin and wrapped.  When you bite into it that burnt sugar caramel flavor with the sweet vanilla cream is over the moon.

Spaghetti:  What’s not to like about pasta, meat, and tomato sauce?  Throw some parmesan cheese on top and eat it.

Pizza:  Pizza is so good, and can be so healthy if you do it right.  But the crust has to be right, the sauce has to be right, the cheese has to be right, and the cooking method has to be right.  Or it can be spectacularly wrong.

Burgers:  Yeah, I’m a sucker for a ground beef patty that’s been fried till done.  I like them in about a zillion different ways.  Maybe I’ll blog about ’em soon.

So, that’s my trip down memory lane and sharing my total favorites and stand bys with you.  What are yours?  Feel free to share the post far and wide.

As always,


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  1. It’s funny, I still can’t wrap my head around the love of PB&Js with most people. The smell alone makes me nauseous even after all these years.
    Now, give me a good grilled Reuben and I’m a happy guy !
    An odd snack I really like though ? Cottage cheese with chick peas in it. Sounds weird but it really works for me.

    • I’m not a huge fan of Reubens tho I love sauerkraut. I prefer patty melts for the rye bread. Toasty rye with melted cheese and grilled onions and a burger are just about the best. The way you feel about PBJs is the way I feel about cottage cheese. It goes back to hating anything white and fluffy.

  2. My go tos are always breakfast, no matter the time of day.

    Spaghetti is always welcomed onto my plate. When all 4 boys were at home, and time was often in a squeeze, I’d make meat squares rather than balls. Make the meatball mix as usual, then flatten out onto a rimmed sheet pan, score into squares and bake. Unconventional, but it worked! I’ve since fallen in love with Japanese Spaghetti Napolitan, I use ham instead of small sausages.

    Baked potato with lashings of sour cream…..yummmmmy!

    Soup, whatever I have on hand that can be turned into soup. I have a special fondness for hamburger soup made with diced potatoes.

    Fried rice. Man do I adore carbs and rice is the best everything tastes good on top of rice!

    Dessert? Quick? Ice cream, if time isn’t important then fruit pie.

    • I LOVE that idea for meat squares!! I may experiment and blog these if you don’t mind. It’s always the simplest things that are the innovations. Baked potatoes are popular in my house, though they didn’t used to be. I grew up with that Irish mom so potatoes were on the menu every single night, and baked were every other night. I didn’t like potatoes in general and the two worst were baked and mashed. I’ve grown out of that and now our favorite is baked with gravy and cheese curds, sort of a mock poutine. So good.

      • Experiment away! I want good food, but didn’t have loads of time to waste on the details, and this was one of my time hacks. Thicker is better than thinner on the squares, you don’t want them to get crispy. And after they are baked, dump into the sauce and let them sit and absorb while the pasta is cooking. I had a child who couldn’t handle dairy, so I never did the milk squeezed bread per the usual instructions for meat balls, but only used oatmeal in the meat squares.

      • the bread and milk concoction is called a panade (pan-odd) and is supposed to add moisture and tenderness to the ground meat. We don’t do it either because it alters the flavor in a way we don’t care for. But I like the idea of adding oatmeal. Sounds like a good work around.

      • And while I’m not a big cheese fan, I do adore french fries with a good flavorful gravy ladled on.

        You might like to give this gravy a whirl. I read about it years ago in a cookbook, but here’s a copy on It’s super simple and delicious! Thankfully dairy intolerant child didn’t like gravy….

  3. I love Thai food, and could eat it just about every day, except for Pad Thai and just about anything to do with noodles, which I now cannot have. It will be interesting to try Thai food with zoodles, though. In fact, once I’m in my new place, I may start experimenting with zoodles in dishes that I formerly use noodles in.

    I also like tacos, but none better than the ones I make at home. If I’m using pork, then I usually spice it with my usual combination of salt, pepper, dried garlic, dried onion powder, oregano, and turmeric. The smell is incredible! Once I braise the meat, and it’s been tenderized enough, I chop/pull it into teeny tiny little pieces that are just right for crunchy tacos.

    if I’m using ground beef, then it’s usually salt, pepper, dried onion and garlic, human, and maybe just a dash of oregano.

    I also end up making a really good pork roast, with red-skinned potatoes, carrots, and gravy made with whatever drippings are leftover, using cornstarch as a thickener. Sometimes I’ll throw a little cooking wine on it, other times just use water and natural meat juice
    from cooking.

    I also have a really good recipe for Tabbouleh made with quinoa, instead of bulgur wheat, which I now cannot eat. It’s made me want to try to make California rolls using quinoa instead of the rice that I now also cannot have. But that will probably be for the bigger, more well-lit kitchen in the new house.

    • LOL… Meant cumin, not human! No long pork here!

      • I knew that! When you’re making your beef tacos try adding a small dash of chile pepper. Just a small dash will add a kick that I think you’ll appreciate. Take care!

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