Archives for posts with tag: eating

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I pack my lunch almost every day, and even if I buy, I usually eat at my desk. This leaves me open to every single person I work with seeing what I have for lunch, and even worse, seeing me eat it.

Ugh.

I have a few co-workers who are fairly obsessed with what anyone and everyone is eating for lunch. Every day, one of them will come up to me with my food spread before me and ask, “What’cha got there?”

It’s an innocent enough question, but it kind of irks me because I’ve always been a private eater. I don’t like eating in front of people at all. The beauty of my last job was that while the room my office was in was home to several agents, they were almost never there, so I could eat in relative privacy every day.

My office now? I’m surrounded by coworkers at all times, and my desk is small. So, my food has to sit to the left of me (because my mousepad is to the right of me) and is in plain view of every person who walks by. I don’t know why I should find this bothersome, but I do…especially if I’m eating soup.

So I’ve toughened up, and become used to people looking at my food, and looking at me eating said food. It’s a fair price to pay to work at one of the best companies I’ve ever had the to honor to call my 9-5 home.

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Soup

One of my all time favorite foods is soup.

I have loved soup since my childhood. My mother made a killer beef vegetable soup. She would leave a pot of it on the stove along with a bowl of noodles. Our method was to fill your bowl with noodles and ladle the hot broth over the top. After adding copious amounts of black pepper, I was in heaven.

Nowadays, chicken soup is my favorite by far, and I make a giant pot of it at least once a month. I don’t even follow a recipe anymore. I’ve made split pea from my leftover Easter Ham, I make potato leek soup, and my girls really like my mushroom soup – a pot of that doesn’t last too long.

I love having soup for lunch. We have a store up the street from my office that sells containers of soup during the winter months, and I am addicted to their chicken noodle. Yesterday they didn’t have any, so I settled for brisket & butter bean soup, which was also good, but I have to admit I ate it begrudgingly.

We also have a place close by that makes a really good Pho…I try to order it every few weeks. Today for lunch I am trying a Thai beef noodle soup. I hope it’s good. (PostScript it WAAAAASSSSS!)

My one rule for soup is I like it brothy. I don’t mind if a potato soup is on the thick side, but if your spoon doesn’t sink into the soup, it’s not soup…it’s pudding.

I also love how soup is a meal that lasts. It seems to take a long time to polish off a big bowl of soup, and it you want seconds??? Big deal…there are worse things you could be eating.

My next soup move is to branch out from the 4 or so varieties I cook. If anyone has a great recipe, be sure to share a link to it! Anything but seafood…Tracy doesn’t do seafood.

ikuBEGN2Sfe3Oxes0wYv_eggrolls.jpg1Time for another New York City story. I got a million of ’em!

On our rainy Saturday, after tooling around Central Park, we decided to head down to Chinatown for lunch. Brian and Sasha were hankering for some egg rolls – the last time we had been in NY my friend John had ordered us some Chinese for dinner and I had one of the best egg rolls EVER. I think they were banking on a similar experience.

We had no clue where to eat or where to go once we got there, but we found a place that looked promising. It had ducks hanging in the window, so we decided to give it a shot.

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We looked at the menu. No egg rolls. Brian asked the waiter if they had egg rolls, and he said they didn’t. Brian tossed the idea around the table of leaving and finding another place, but it was cold and rainy out, and I’d already started drinking the tea the waiter had brought.

Rather than leave, we decided to order a few small things and then go in search of egg rolls elsewhere. We ordered some fried rice and spare ribs, and once we began eating, I wish we had ordered more food. It was fabulous.

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There was a family of 8 that came in and sat at the table next to us. They ordered about 7 dishes of food, and I sat watching them longingly as they dished them out to one another. We left, still in search of egg rolls.

It had gotten colder and was raining, so we going to find a place fast. A restaurant around the corner had a picture of an egg roll in the window and that’s all I needed to get out of the cold.

They didn’t have egg rolls. They had spring rolls, which would’ve been fine, except they only had vegetable spring rolls, and hubby don’t do veggie spring rolls. But we were already inside, so we ordered some dumplings and chicken skewers.

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Again, the food was killer.

While we were waiting for the food, my daughter looked up the history of the egg roll. We surmised that it was unlikely we were going to find egg rolls in Chinatown. The food here is too authentic – and egg rolls, while yummy, are not authentic Chinese.

I was fine with that. The food we sampled at lunch was something I’ll always remember. It was warm and comforting on a day that was wet and raw.

Then we walked around the corner and got some pastries at an Italian bakery. That was the cherry on the cannoli.

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It’s really funny how as I get older, certain cooking techniques just seem to come more naturally. I don’t know where I gleaned some of the information that I apply to my cooking; quite possibly from Food Network, mainly because it’s the channel I watch the most, by far.

Used to be I couldn’t make macaroni and cheese without a full-blown, step by step recipe. I recall using an Alton Brown recipe that required me to temper an egg into the cheese sauce. After all that trouble, the mac & cheese sucked.

Now I know how make a killer mac & cheese with one hand tied. Ditto with creamed spinach, and now, gravy.

I can remember the first time I had to make gravy. I had just moved to Arkansas to live with a home-town fellow who was stationed at Eaker Air Force Base. We were having a couple over for dinner, and I had no clue how to make gravy.

The wife, a good old southern gal, was kind enough to help me. The final product tasted fine, but was so thick, it didn’t really pour. You sort of had to plop dollops of it onto your plate.

As years passed I stuck to either the canned version,  or the stuff in the envelopes that you mix with water. In most cases it was just easier and a real time saver. I mean, it was just gravy after all.

I’m not sure what clicked in me a year or two ago. Perhaps it was from when my sister cooked Thanksgiving for us, and her gravy rocked. she had left a huge container of pan drippings in my freezer, and one evening I decided to use it to make gravy.

I think this is where all those years of watching “Chopped,” “Barefoot Contessa” and Triple D payed off. I sautéed some onions and celery, made a roux, whisked in the stock/drippings and seasoned to taste. A drop or two of Kitchen Bouquet and viola! I had a really good gravy.

For a while my daughter liked her roasted chicken served with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. But not any longer. She knows mom’s gravy is killer – one that makes a respectable pool in her mashed potatoes.

Thanks to Food Network, I guess I’m actually getting wiser as I get older…

 

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Last week I published a post giving my review of the new Wegman’s grocery store that opened in town. I mentioned how they carried Rao’s pasta sauce, which I never buy because it’s way too expensive. After reading that, my friend John told me in no uncertain terms that I had to try it…that it really is that good.

So I tried it. While at the store, I saw the Rao’s jars on the shelf, saw the sale sign below it ($6.99!) I figured it was meant to be. I decided to pair it with cheese ravioli as opposed to pasta, because cheese ravioli has always been a favorite of mine.

Let me tell you, my friend is no liar. This sauce was GOOD. I mean wipe your plate with a hunk of bread good. I’ve never been a big fan of sweet sauces…brands like Prego and Ragu gross me out. But Rao’s had a flavor that was right up my alley.

In short, my humble bowl of ravioli did not taste like I made it at home. It tasted like something I would have gotten at a restaurant. It was really that good.

Sigh.

How am I ever going to be able to pass a jar of Rao’s by after this? How can I ever grab a jar of Classico again, knowing there is something so much better, and 3 times as expensive, on the shelf to the left?

I guess Rao’s will have to be my special occasion sauce. My “I just got paid” sauce. My Christmas bonus sauce. My “I won the Powerball” sauce.

I’m just so glad I still have 3/4 of a jar left at home.

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Everybody on the planet has made scrambled eggs before…well except my daughter. I must have made them a thousand times, in several different ways. Beaten fine, beaten rough, adding milk, adding water.

I had a cousin in Czechoslovakia who would pour the beaten eggs in to a pot of hot oil…he spun them around with a fork and voila! Very oily scrambled eggs. I didn’t care for that method.

Yesterday, on Pinterest of all places, I was led to a blog post that promised the best scrambled eggs ever. I was curious to see the method behind these superior scrambles, so I watched the video. It was a Gordon Ramsay video…okay, I kind of dig him. I can’t stomach “Hell’s Kitchen” but I love “Master Chef.”

His method, without all the bells and whistles, was as follows:

Crack two eggs in a pot…not a skillet…a pot, along with a nob of butter. Yes, a nob – how cute. Put the heat on high, and with a spatula, stir the eggs over the heat. Then, take them off the heat, but continue to stir. Repeat this on the heat, off the heat cooking, while always stirring, until the eggs are done. Season only after the eggs are done.

Now, here is where I differed from his recipe. I didn’t add creme fraiche because I don’t have any. I also cooked mine a tad longer because I think wet, loose eggs are disgusting. And I didn’t add chives…again, didn’t have any.

Those things aside, I have to tell you…these were the best, most amazing scrambled eggs I ever had. They were actually creamy – almost how eggs are in a quiche. I can’t wait to make them for my family.

My husband should love this method, because it cuts down on dishes. Now I don’t have to use a bowl and a whisk to scramble the eggs before adding them to the pan.

If you’re interested, I’ve posted the video below. Happy scrambling!

Everyone can remember foods they loved as a kid, but can’t stomach the thought of eating now. Fluffernutter sandwiches come to mind, as do tuna fish and baloney. But there are some foods that I was never quite able to shake my love for.

GAOCB.jpgPickles: My mom nicknamed me Pickle Annie when I was a kid because I could tear through most of a jar of dill pickle spears in one sitting, along with drinking half the juice.  I don’t know what it is, but I adore pickles in almost every form except the bread and butter variety. I find a sweet pickle repulsive.

And I like any and all brands. There are times I am more partial to Claussen, and then other times, I need Vlasic or Mt. Olive varieties. But I don’t drink the juice anymore…my youngest daughter does that now!

HashCorned Beef Hash: One of my favorite breakfast choices of all time is Hash. But it’s terrible for you, so I mainly avoid it.

My first memories of hash is having it for dinner. My mom would cut both ends of the can off, push out the hash, cut it into slabs and fry it up. I guess back then two cans of hash was a way to feed a family of six cheaply. To this day I don’t know how she managed to keep the hash in individual patties, but she did.

If we are in a diner for breakfast and hash is on the menu, I will almost always order it. And I have to admit, every now and then I cannot resist reaching up for a can at the grocery store to make for Sunday breakfast. I’ll fry it to within an inch of it’s life and plop an over easy egg on top.

Doritos2000sDoritos: After school my sisters and I would demolish a bag of Doritos along with a two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi. We’d watch General Hospital and Match Game while licking orange dust off our fingers.

If I buy a bag of Doritos for a party or company, I find myself repeatedly reaching into the bowl. And if my kids have a bag open, I manage to find a reason to visit them so I can grab a handful.

I don’t know how Lay’s coined the slogan “you can’t eat just one” because that’s how I feel about Doritos.

spaghettios_sizedSpaghettios with Meatballs: Okay, this one is really embarrassing because there is no way to justify my liking of this food as an adult except for that it’s so utterly comforting for me.

When I was in Kindergarten, I would come home from my half day at school and eat a bowl of Spagettios with Meatballs and watch Underdog. But it had to be the kind with the meatballs because the plain kind had a sauce that was too sweet. For some reason the meatball version had a sauce that was zestier.

But I wouldn’t touch the kind with the little hotdog pieces ’cause that’s just gross.

If I’m in a real rush I will grab a can of Spaghettios with Meatballs for lunch at work…but I bury the can in the garbage and cringe if anyone actually sees me eating it.

28556Salami: We always had a package of Oscar Mayer hard salami in the fridge growing up, and that yellow package was my go-to food after a late night at the bar. I’d peel off 6 or 7 slices, slap them between two pieces of Wonder bread, and watch TV before going to bed.

I stopped buying the Oscar Mayer brand long ago, but I still love getting it cut at the deli counter. I remember one deli guy at the Grand Union supermarket by my house up in Jersey would slice it on the bias, so the slices were oblong rather than round. Mmmmmm – those were the days. I still enjoy a good salami sandwich from time to time…super thin, piled high and dry on rye. For some reason I don’t use any condiments on salami.

What are some foods that you never lost your taste for?

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My doctor at the free clinic suggested to me that I visit their nutritionist. I was hesitant, only because the last nutritionist I visited years ago was a real bitch.

She was the type who no matter how much weight you lost or no matter how improved your numbers were, it just wasn’t good enough. She never rewarded you with a “job well done!” It was always, “you need to do better” or “You’re not out of the woods.”

Not very motivating, to say the least.

Yesterday’s appointment was very different, but not in a good/improved way. It was just weird.

First off, she was fat, which I wasn’t expecting. I’m not saying that fat people can’t know the basics of healthy eating, but if they can’t practice what they preach, it makes you wonder.

She assumed a lot. I mean a lot. At one point she said, “well I know you don’t like fruit” to which I replied, “I actually like a lot of fruits.” I mean what was her thought process? Was it along the lines of, “gee, this broad’s a fat-ass so I’m guessing she doesn’t like fruit.”

She also assumed that when I made chicken soup from scratch that I used rotissere chicken and canned vegetables. WTF? Do I have “hillbilly” stenciled on my forehead?

She also seemed singularly unimpressed with the fact that I’ve walked over 750 miles so far this year. Usually the doctors are like, “wow, that’s impressive!” Maybe she just assumed I logged all the miles at the Chinese Buffet lines.

She also got annoyed with me. She asked what I weighed when I was 25. I told her I couldn’t remember…maybe 130? Not satisfied, she asked me what size my wedding dress was. Who the hell remembers that? Then she mentioned to her assistant that I might be in denial because EVERYONE knows what size their wedding dress was. Sorry honey, that was over 20 years ago…I just know I don’t fit in it now.

I also got lectured for not having been administered a gestational diabetes test when I was pregnant – exsqueezeme? That was 13 years ago!

What a nut!

And her eating advice? I found it to be suspect, to say the least. She wanted me to eat “diet” versions of everything….yogurt, bread…isn’t that stuff supposed to be worse for you? She actually suggested that eating Mrs. Paul’s breaded fish filets was a good choice for dinner. She also mentioned little to nothing about exercise.

The only advice I’m going to heed from her is to cut down my salt intake. The rest of it, I know how to do with one hand tied. I just have a hard time doing it for longer than a few months, especially when you stop seeing results.

I’m still trying to reach my goal of 1,000 miles walked by December 31st, 2015 – but now I’m adding dropping some more lbs into the mix.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry….”

for tomorrow we die. The world is ending tomorrow! Tell us about your last dinner — the food, your dining companions, the setting, the conversation.

THE FOOD

If I can only have one food for my last dinner it would be White Castles. If I can have two foods, I’d set my table with White Castles and Hot Dog’s from Hiram’s. If I can have three foods, I’d add an extra large cheese pizza from Villa Nova.

So why all the junk food?

Simply because these are foods that never let me down. They are good no matter when I get them – each and every time. Have you ever gone to a restaurant, ordered and paid good money for your favorite dish, only to have it just be so-so? This is my last meal! I can’t risk it!

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White Castles: I was weaned on these puppies. Back when I was a wee lass, murder burgers were like 15¢ each – my dad could feed the whole family for a few bucks. Eating these things is primal – almost instictive for me. It’s a part of my DNA.

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Hiram’s Hot Dogs: Another favorite spot from my childhood – dogs that are deep fried – so they rip a little. The only way to eat them for me is with mustard and maybe a little kraut. Add an order of fries and a cold Schlitz on tap. God damn this post is making me hungry.

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Villa Nova Pizza: About 5 or so years ago, a New York Style Pizza joint opened up in a small strip mall near our house. My husband and I, both from northern Jersey, had quite a few times fallen victim to the Virginia version of New York Style Pizza…slightly better than Domino’s but not even close to anything we got up in the Tri-State area.

Then we tried Villa Nova and thought it as good as our old pizza place back in Jersey, Donna’s Pizza. That is saying a lot. Last year we went back up to Jersey and had a slice of Donna’s pizza. You know what?

Villa Nova’s is better. The pizza is super thin, and when you take a bite, the cheese, sauce and spices comingle in my mouth and make a spot in the back of my throat almost tingle.

Yeah, it’s that good.

THE FOLKS

Duh, I’d eat with my family. If it was the last day on earth and teleportation was magically possible, I’d have my WHOLE family there…..brother, sisters, neices and nephews, and Pop and Gabi.

Although if Gabi is there I guess I’d have to add her pork and dumplings to the dinner table.

THE CHATTER

My family? We’d reminisce until the end came. We all grew up in the same hometown – husbands and wives alike, so we all share most of the same memories and experiences. It’s really a great thing.

And my brother and sisters and I would have to sing “The Last Long Mile” on more time with Pop.

THE SETTING

Hands down, we’d have to be at my dad’s house in Florida. Of course we can’t get any of the aforementioned foods in Florida, but if we can all teleport, then I’m sure someone could grab the food.

We’d play volleyball in the pool, look at old slides and then watch one final sunset at Flagler Beach.

Yeah, it would be an okay way to go.

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Last week my girls and I went to lunch at this new place in town called Zinburger. It’s a wine & burger joint, and as we were tired of turning to fast food for lunch, we thought we’d give it a try. It was a little pricey—$10 for a burger that comes with nothing more than a few pickle chips. Any sides were extra, so I could see this bill quickly adding up to be a real wallet buster.

And it was. 1 burger, a bowl of chili, an order of fries and a milkshake came to $40.00 after the tip. I am not accustomed to paying $40.00 for lunch when all I got was a bowl of chili – but, it was good. The food was all super good. My daughter’s burger was one of the best I’ve tasted in recent years, and my chili, although initially rather cold (and had to be sent back), was also very good. The milkshake? Little tiny sips of sin.

So while I worried over why I paid $40 for lunch for the rest of the afternoon, the soothing balm was that at least the food was really good, and somewhat worth the expense.

But I’m finding this to be the exception and not the rule.

Saturday while out shopping hubby decided he wanted to lunch at a local deli called Little John’s. While you can order a turkey on rye they are better known for their sandwich collaborations, my husband’s favorite being the Five Easy Pieces sandwich (ham & turkey breast with 1000 island, herb mayo, home made cole slaw, bacon and melted Muenster cheese on grilled pumpernickel).

I wasn’t too jazzed to go there. The last time I’d been they had really messed up my sandwich, and it literally left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Not only was the bread badly burned, but the sandwich, in a to-go container, became very soggy. A sandwich that is simultaneously wet and burned is disgusting. After one bite I made my husband drive me back so I could return it. But I figured anyone could have one bad day, and they deserved a second chance.

We ordered….2 sandwiches and two soup & half sandwich combos, along with 2 drinks. I got a Reuben thinking that would be pretty hard to mess up. The gal rang us up and the total? $36.78…really? For sandwiches? 

As I glanced at the menu board I realized that each sandwich cost between $7 & $8. For close to the same price Little John’s charges for their very average sized sandwich, we could have gotten giant subs at Jersey Mike’s and had leftovers. When I realize stuff like that I go crazy. But, the money was spent, so we sat down to eat.

I picked up my Reuben and tried to take a bite. The sandwich was soggy. Again. After one bite it began to fall apart. The corned beef was covered in now melted 1000 island dressing, making the sandwich slimy and extremely unappetizing. At this point I would need to eat it with a knife and fork – there was no way to handle this mess of a sandwich.

SammichI glared at hubby, sheepishly enjoying his sandwich, and said, “strike two!” He asked if I wanted them to make me a new one, and I told him to just return it – I’d rather have my $7.95 back. I was mad. I hadn’t wanted to come here, and my sandwich…my expensive sandwich…was disgusting. I went to the ladies room while hubby dealt with the manager.

I heard him talking to the guy. He told him about my previous visit and how this was strike two, but also told the guy how much he loved their food. A little good cop/bad cop. I went back to my seat and stared at the empty table in front of me. At least the iced tea was good.

But that was about it. The girls’ chicken noodle soup was horrible. It had very little broth, which we consider to be the heart of any good soup, and the noodles were thick and mushy. Nobody finished their lunch except hubby.

SoupBut I will say one good thing about Little John’s. The manager cared. Right as we were clearing up and getting ready to leave, he handed me a freshly and very carefully made Reuben. On the house.

And it was good. $7.95 good? No, but I appreciated the effort.

Will I go back? No way. Little John’s has proven to me that they don’t take the time to make a quality sandwich. They throw it together and hope you won’t notice. I expect crap like that from McDonalds…when you get a 79¢ lop-sided burger with mustard oozing out the side you think…well, it’s only a 79¢ burger. But to pay close to $8 for a sandwich that can’t withstand the first bite?

Eff that shit.