Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Chick-Fil-A!

Well, actually it's for YUM. I just wanted to get your attention. 

We stopped at Chick-Fil-A today after running other errands and got something to eat since neither of us had eaten yet. I discovered that they have a spicy chicken sandwich. I'll eat their chicken, but because it is sweeter than most fast food chicken I can buy, it's not generally my favorite. However, I do love the spicy chicken sandwiches sold at Wendy's and Checker's, so I decided to get this one, too. I got the plain jane version without pickles and added my own ketchup and mayonnaise, but I was really quite pleased with what I got. Maybe next time I'll get the one with lettuce and tomato, but I wanted to test drive it first.

I loved the crunch factor which remained even though I didn't start eating it until we got home. The bun had steamed itself inside the wrapper, but there was still crunch to the coating on the chicken. I also like their chicken salad sandwich, but I have to add salt and pepper because whatever it is they do to make their chicken sweet comes through really strong in the salad.

I'm not a fan of their waffle fries, but I didn't feel like swapping them out today. I also ordered their Chicken Tortilla Soup. It wasn't bad, but it was thicker than any tortilla soup I've ever had before. The spice was actually just right. You knew it was there, but it didn't overwhelm the flavor of the food. I'd just rather that particular soup was more brothy than stew-like. 

Do you like Chick-Fil-A? Why or why not?

X is eXtremely Hard to Write About

Other than Xanthan gum, there is no food that I'm aware of that starts with an X. I mean, I could write about that, but I wrote about that during last year's A-Z Challenge. 

I could write about Xylophones or Xrays, too, but really, do you want to know any of that? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Nothing X-rated is appropriate for my blog (nor would I be comfortable if it were), so there goes another X topic down the drain. It's time for a bit of creativity, I guess.

I'm sure there are eXcellent topics out there that fit this letter of the alphabet, but eXactly what they are is a mystery to me. I don't eXcel in knowing words that begin with X. I'm sure I could eXamine a dictionary to gain some knowledge of other X words, but it's not likely I'll ever really use the vast majority of the ones that eXist.

Therefore, I will stand on my creativity and eXit with my head held high and my blog challenge remaining without blemish. I hope your eXperience here has been satisfactory and that my eXplanation is to your liking.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Working on Keeping Up

Well, hello. As you can see, I'm almost late with this post. Today is "W", right? Considering I thought it was Friday this morning when it's actually Thursday, I could be totally wrong (another W word).

I fell behind while I was beginning the healing process of the abscessed tooth that sent me to the ER in severe pain. Now I'm catching up. So, please bear with me while I stumble forward seemingly aimlessly.

My daughter and I just got home from going out to eat. I was supposed to go out to eat with Tom's brother, but when he learned I was bringing my daughter, he left us and went home. *sigh* He is such a puss. (I'm being kind.) So, we went took ourselves out to eat.

We first went to La Esperanza Mexican restaurant in Gibbsboro, but they had already closed, so we headed north to Mount Laurel to go to On The Border, a chain restaurant owned by the same people who own Macaroni Grill. 

On The Border Grill & Cantina in Novi, Michigan
Deb hadn't been there before and it had been several years since I was there, but I do like them. She got a beef chimichanga with beans and rice and I got a combo meal with a chile relleno and a carnitas (pulled pork) enchilada, also with beans and rice. She barely ate half of her chimichanga and I only ate the enchilada. We brought the rest home. But, neither of us could eat the salsa they served with the chips. OMG, it was so hot that our tongues were on fire!!! The kind of hot that hits long before any flavor does. Not pleasant. So, I guess I won't be enjoying their salsa in the future unless they have a milder version one can request. Even with sour cream added, that salsa was powerful enough to strip paint off your bureau!! Since I wanted the chance to enjoy my food, I stopped trying to eat it and finished off an entire glass of iced tea in order to get my tongue back to normal. 

Anyway, we both enjoyed our meals and plan to enjoy our leftovers tomorrow. Both meals were under $10, so it's not bad when you have enough food to get two meals.

That's about it for today. I'll try to post tomorrow's "X" earlier than I did this. I also owe several reads of others' posts. I'll get there, I promise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vegetables in Hamburger Helper

We like Hamburger Helper in our house. We REALLY like it. My daughter LOVES it. She's made it twice just this week. But, we also add vegetables to it. It's not just meat, sauce and noodles for us. 

First Deb made Beef Noodle Helper to which she added French-style green beans. It was delicious. Today she made Philly Cheesesteak Helper and added whole kernel corn and peas. I might have liked it better without the peas, but it's still good. It's not that I don't like peas, but they added a "sweet" to it that I'd have rather not had in something called Philly Cheesesteak.

Adding vegetables allows Hamburger Helper to be a one pan meal instead of having to dirty another pan to cook a vegetable separately.

Do you make Hamburger Helper (or something similar)? When you do, do you change it up in any way?

U is for Unexpected Health Issues

People who don't think toothaches are a health issue haven't read much about them. I was one of them. I had no idea that a toothache could lead to abscess which could lead to an infection entering the brain and causing multiple problems up to and including death. Quite the wake-up call, I have to say.

My tooth began aching Friday night (on the weekend, of course). By Sunday, it was showing no signs of diminishing and I felt like the right side of my face was swollen. When I looked in the mirror, I could see it, but when I put my hands on my face, I could feel it. And, it was so tender to the touch. Any movement of my mouth and tongue practically made the top of my head explode. No pain I've experienced before matched this. 

Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, so after making my promised appearance at my friend's Tupperware party, I drove myself to the ER where I was examined by one of the ER physicians who diagnosed an abscess. When he told me to open my mouth so he could examine my tooth, I almost cried. I literally had to pull my chin down to make my mouth open wider for him to examine me. Holy cow, I was in pain.

While I was there, they gave me a shot for pain and a double dose of antibiotics to kick start healing. I also left with two prescriptions for the same. I only filled the antibiotic because I have no insurance and couldn't afford to pay full price for two prescriptions. But, the nurse had advised that I could get an OTC pain reliever and take the prescription dose of that as needed and that's what I did. I feel much better now.

My jaw still hurts and I still have limited movement (even eating a banana was hard to do!), but can finally chew things without wishing someone would punch my jaw and knock me (and my tooth) out. It was a seriously painful thing that I never EVER want to experience again.

So, I'd like to say to all, please don't ignore your teeth! They don't just make it easier to swallow and digest foods, but they also can transmit infection directly to your brain if they are not treated properly. I'm still enjoying the headache that this brought with it, but it's not as bad as it was the first couple of days. I don't wish this on anyone!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tupperware - A Place For Food

Well, it's Monday and loads of things took place yesterday while you were gone. The biggest thing was that I ended up going to the ER because of my toothache. I just couldn't take the pain anymore. Turns out I have an abscess on my back molar, so they gave me a very painful shot of pain reliever and a double dose of antibiotic with two prescriptions for the same plus a list of places I can go.

But, the second thing I did yesterday, actually the first thing on the timeline, was attend a Tupperware Open House at my friend's house. She and her daughter have begun selling Tupperware and I haven't seen her in a long time. My daughter wanted to go, too, so we both headed on down.

Boy, have things changed with Tupperware!! So many pretty colors, so much versatility, and the new items they have! Some aren't even Tupperware-ish. Like the ice cream scoop, the knives and the can opener. They reminded me of the ones Pampered Chef sells. Still, it makes sense, since they're food related, to offer them with food containment items. 

Smooth Chopper
Personally, I fell in love with their new Smooth Chopper. Personally, I don't think it's worth the full price they're charging. But, my friend advised that it would be going on sale for $20 less in a week, so I ordered it. The selling point for me, besides helping her out in this business venture, was Tupperware's lifetime guarantee. It's like having a mini-food processor, but without electricity. I doubt it will chop up meats, which I like about a processor, but it sure did a number on the baby carrots she used to show me! And, it has paddles for whipping and blending. 

Crystalwave Soup Mugs
I also ordered a pair of CrystalWave soup mugs for my daughter's up-coming birthday. She just loves them. She uses the one we have all the time. I was able to split the order, paying half now and having the other half pay in two weeks. I normally wouldn't spend much on Tupperware, but it helps a friend and I actually had some available funds that I don't normally have. 

Twistable Peeler
They even still have the hour-glass shaped salt and pepper shakers that I grew up with. I plan on getting those, too, at some point. My daughter fell for their Twistable Peeler. I prefer the old style, but she likes the new kind that you can use lengthwise.

Anyway, other than the pain my tooth was causing me, I was glad to see my friend and to see all the new and colorful items Tupperware is selling these days.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Shopping and Sonic

I just got home from taking my daughter to work, her first day scheduled in weeks. Her car's in the shop (at last) and I still have my friend's car to use. I noticed as we took the turn to the reception center where she valets that a new Bottom Dollar grocery store had opened across the street. I needed to do some shopping anyway, so I went there after letting her off.

I don't know if they're a nationwide chain, but they are growing fast in our area. The prices are fantastic. Three-lb chubs of ground beef were $.99/lb with a limit of two chubs per customer. Yes, it's only 73% lean, but for $.99, I can drain the fat. I NEVER see ground beef that cheap anymore.

Hot dog and hamburger buns were $.99 each. Campbell's canned condensed soups were $.48 each. Their brand of crispy raisin bran was $1.79 as was their version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Brand name cereals were $2.50. Large eggs - $.99. I've had the raisin bran before and it is as good as Kellogg's.

You bag your own groceries there, either buying your own bags, bringing your own bags or using the empty product boxes they provide. I brought home three boxes full of groceries, a large bag of cat litter and two 2-liter bottles of soda that were $.59 each. I spent less than $60.00.

From the grocery store, I stopped at the new Sonic down the road because I hadn't eaten yet and was hungry. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish my sandwich because I have a raging toothache. Just the movement of my mouth and tongue make it hurt so bad, so I'll have to save the sandwich to eat later, cut up into little pieces, I guess. I did eat the tater tots and got a 44 oz. ice tea. The Sonic near us went out of business a few months ago and the one I stopped at today just opened. Not sure why ours closed, but I do like them. I wish this new one well. It's on a very heavily traveled highway.

So, I'd better put the food away - everything that needs to stay cold before it isn't cold any more. I had to sit down after carrying it all in because my back was aching. Of course, the cats are super curious and cat-scanning each and every thing they can touch their noses to. I bought food for them, too. Gotta keep the furry kids happy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Roast Beef

I wish I could say I'm having this very thing tonight, but I'm not. We do love our roast beef. The last one we had was a few weeks ago and was the first time I'd ever cooked a chuck roast. I've always cooked bottom round roasts like my  mother used to do. They don't fall apart as readily as the chuck roast does, but can be cooked until they do if you like them that way. 

Roast Beef with parsnips, carrots, onions & rutabega
Mom used to cook them on top of the stove (I don't remember any roast ever going in the oven) and they were so flavorful and tender. On occasion, she'd cook them until they fell apart and then add barbecue sauce to them for BBQ beef sandwiches. I've cooked them until they fell apart and had hot roast beef sandwiches with the shredded meat. This last time, though, we ate the beef and broth over mashed potatoes and it was wonderful!

Although I don't have any roast in the freezer (except for a small portion of that chuck), I was thinking of putting several steaks in the crockpot and cooking them like I would a roast until they are fork tender. Since we like it shredded anyway, the end result should be the same, don't you think?

I usually add onion soup mix and a bit of water to the pot for flavor and moisture. The last roast I made I used beef broth instead of water. I don't always have any on hand. If I use a full-sized crock, I'll also add carrots and potatoes. I love how the flavors blend in the broth for the gravy.

I've even made German Beef Rouladen which is not unlike bracciole in appearance, but the flavor is tart because of the beef rolls being stuffed with pickles. The gravy you get on this dish is wonderful!

What seasoning do you like to use for your roasts? Do you brown them first? Do you cook them in a crock, on the stove or in the oven? Do you do anything unique to yours that's worth sharing?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quiche - I love Quiche!

I've already described how much I enjoy scrambled eggs. As far as I'm concerned, quiche falls into that category since it is a custardized scrambled egg meal. It is so delicious, I think I could eat it every day - yet, I haven't had any in so long. Supposedly, it's fairly easy to make, yet I've never tried making it. What the heck is wrong with me??

It's funny because I've been mulling the letter "Q" over off and on all day trying to decide what the topic should be. While going through my recipe subscription emails, I came upon this one and was checking it out, still not realizing I was looking at the perfect topic. It didn't hit me until I posted it to my Pinterest board of recipes I want to make that the answer was just about to knock me off my chair. How could I look at something for so long without taking note of that "Q" staring me straight in the eye?

Anyway, the recipe I was checking out is a Ham and Gruyere Quiche. I know the traditional quiches are made with Swiss, but really, eggs and cheese - how many different varieties there could be!! I will post an image of that particular quiche here and it will link to the blog where the recipe is in case it appeals to you as much as it appealed to me. 

I think it's long past time for me to make one, though. Maybe while I'm out picking up my prescriptions I'll also pick up some pie crust, cheese, milk and more eggs. It just sounds too easy and too delicious to wait any longer to make one. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Peas and Personal-sized Mac-n-Cheese

Peas - those little green balls of goodness that kids (and some dogs) avoid eating all too often. I've always eaten peas. It was one of those vegetables I was willing to eat as a child. I loved them nestled in my mashed potatoes - I'd make a small nest in which to place them and then cover it all with gravy. I also liked the peas and carrots that came in frozen TV dinners.

I still eat them with mashed potatoes and gravy and still enjoy the peas found in frozen dinners, but I also now enjoy fresh peas on salad. Although I tend to drown them with salad dressing, I enjoy biting into their little burst of sweetness as I'm eating my salad.

My mother would grind them with leftover roast beef and gravy into a meat mixture that she'd use as the base for Shepherd's Pie. The leftover mashed potatoes would go on top. You could never see what vegetables were in there and their taste didn't stand out, but their goodness permeated the entire dish.

Do you like peas? How do you enjoy them most?

Personal-sized macaroni and cheese came out a few years back. Just add water and cook the pasta in the microwave and add the powdered cheese and in less than five minutes you have a single-serve of cheesy macaroni. I'd never tried them before, but I did recently buy a four-pack of a generic brand to have for work. Now, I love mac-n-cheese, so I thought this would be perfect. And, it was - in a way. It was easy to make and had pretty good flavor (if you're a Kraft blue box fan, that is), but it wasn't very substantial. I just had another one and added a bit of shredded cheese at the same time as the powdered cheese and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm about to make another one. Considering it's 3PM and that's the only thing I've eaten today, I think one more isn't going to hurt.

Are you a Kraft Mac-n-Cheese fan? Even if you prefer homemade, do you ever enjoy that Blue Box treat?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Ordering KFC

Yeah, it's a stretch, I know. But, my thinker wasn't willing to think beyond the immediate and at the moment I'm waiting for my daughter to get back with some tasty KFC. I don't know why, but I've really been enjoying either KFC or Popeye's lately. Then there was that Spicy Chicken at Wendy's the other day and I'm just really craving chicken. 

The other thing I was in the mood for was their biscuit. The all time best biscuit I've had at a chicken place is the ones I've gotten from Popeye's. They aren't very big, but I love their taste! KFC's aren't bad, either, so I'm looking forward to getting it. 

I'm also getting two sides - mashed potatoes and green beans. My stomach is growling and I think I'm going to enjoy every bite. My daughter used to get the mashed potato bowls, but now she's into the Double Down (the two chicken filets with bacon and cheese in between). I'm sure it's pretty tasty, and I know it smells wonderful, but it just hasn't appealed to me enough to try it. She also loves their potato wedges. I have to admit they are good, but I'd rather have the mashed.

Anyway, she's here and I'm hungry, so it's off to din-din land!

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nonsense and Nothing Much to Say

Well, it was the only "N" word I could think of at the moment. And, I do often talk about nonsensical topics, so I figured I'd work with it for today's A to Z Challenge letter.

First of all - HURRAH!!! We have Internet again!!! We finally got someone to pick up the line at Comcast and they helped get us going again here at home. First the Internet came back on and then they had to do a bit more to get the phone working again. We still don't know what happened, but I am so happy that I can have my Internet again!! Yay!!

Was able to get a double payment from the trust so that I could help Deb get her car fixed. We went out and transferred the money into her account so she can pay for the repairs. It's hard to find a job in an area where public transportation isn't overly convenient if you don't have a car. So, we're hoping that it won't be super expensive and that there will be enough money left to put some on the rent as well.

I got a Spicy Chicken sandwich from Wendy's today. Haven't had one of them in at least a year. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I wasn't as thrilled with the fries. It was tender and moist with loads of flavor. McDonald's still has the best fries of the drive-thru places. Burger King has the best tasting burgers. Popeye's has tasty chicken and shrimp (as well as alligator bites once a year) and KFC also "do(es) chicken right", but they've lost some of the flavor they used to have. I don't believe their gravy is nearly as flavorful as it used to be unless I'm losing my sense of taste. I hope not. But, I do like their green beans - they're spicy hot, but I have no idea with what. Yet, they're really good. I'd have never considered spicing up green beans. Guess I'm just going to have to go ala carte one of these days in the Blackwood area and stop at all of them to create my own platter!! Oh, and then either a gallon of ice tea from Popeye's or a large iced tea from Dunkin. Perfect!! LOL

Sunday, April 15, 2012

M is for Must Find a Job

Well, Sunday was my last day of work for this tax season. Even though there are two more days left for filers, I wasn't scheduled for either one. I now have to get started finding work to continue on through the year. I have an appointment scheduled with a temp agency tomorrow, but I'm going to have to change it because I was unable to get the testing done with our internet being down.

Money is another M word that is important here - the reason for the need to find a job. With two of us out of work and already being behind on rent, it is an absolute necessity to find a paying job so we don't lose our home. 

Monday, the next M word, is when I'll be going to get the money I offered to share with my daughter so she can get her engine fixed in her car. It's all I have, but we need a vehicle desperately. With hers having blown a rod when she was only one payment away from paying it off and only a couple of weeks after she lost her job, it has made for a very frustrating and depressing time for her. She's always been someone for whom things work out. Although I know they will work out eventually, she's not used to not having something come through right away for her. She's never been on unemployment before, so it's an entirely new scene for her.

Anyway, this is another foodless post as I play A to Z Challenge catch up by using my friend's computer. We're hoping for some kind of normalcy to return to our lives this next week. Otherwise, it might just get pretty hairy in the near future. 

L is for Longing for Internet Access

I am addicted to the Internet. Right  now, I don't have any. I hate it!!! Even though our bill is paid, Comcast has shut off our phone and Internet while still allowing us to view television. We've called, but sitting on the phone for over an hour and a half without anyone ever picking up is almost not worth the effort - besides draining the cell phone battery.

Another L would be how much I LOVE the access to information the Internet gives. I can find answers to virtually any question at any time as long as I can get online. Yeah, I have a "smart phone", but there are things for which it is barely usable, such as this blog. I cannot play Facebook games on my cell phone because my "device isn't compatible" - despite the fact that it is supposed to be. 

L is also for the Limited satisfaction I do get from my cell phone because I can check email and post statuses on Facebook, check Twitter if I'm of a mind to or take photos and upload them to Facebook to show off whatever it is I want to share.

But, right now, LONGING is the strongest L I'm facing. I'm at a friend's house at the moment and stealing just a bit of time to post this entry. Earlier, I posted my K from work. That was something I could only do once.

How important is the Internet to you? Is it just for games and such, or do you also love all the other benefits such as shopping, blogging, making travel plans and the myriad of other services available?

K is for Killing Time at Work

Well, here I am sitting at my desk waiting for the tax procrastinators to show up for us to do their taxes. My coworker actually gave me this idea because I was bemoaning that I can't get online at home and finish this challenge. She said, then do it here!! WOW! I actually never considered it - I was showing her my blogs because she didn't know what a blog was (she's 30 - who'd have guessed??) when the subject came up. Thought I'd give it a try because I wasn't considering it before.

Hopefully, I won't get into trouble because I'm not trying to make money using my employer's assets and I'm not taking anything out of the office that doesn't belong to me. I'm not doing anything to knowingly to hurt the business in any way, although there are differences of opinion about the mere use of the Internet while at work. For the most part, though, I'm aware of which sites are safe and which aren't and I don't plan to expose this or any other computer to a malware site.

Anyway, I do have my K-Day post written. I might try doing L in a little while. As far as food is concerned, though, it doesn't look like this one will have much food topic in it. Other than I might go to the pizza place and grab something to eat. ;-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Just Desserts

I don't come from a dessert eating family - at least, not in the sense that we had dessert after every supper. But, my mother loved to bake and both parents loved ice cream (Dad always had Hershey's syrup on hand for that and for chocolate milk), so some sort of dessert-like sweet treat was usually available. Not to mention all the treats Mom would bring home from the bakery when she was there until closing.

Even when I go out, having something sweet at the end of the meal isn't the norm. Personally, I love finishing off with a dinner roll as much as others like something sweet. But, that doesn't mean there aren't sweet treats I don't like or wouldn't want to try. I'm just not the baker my mother was, so it's unlikely I'll be making them.

To that end, I have a Pinterest pin board dedicated to "Desserts to Drool Over". I have several subscriptions to recipe blogs, so I receive recipes or meal ideas every single day. When I find one I particularly like the looks of, whether it is dinner or dessert, I'll pin it on one of my several food boards. (My main board is "Main Courses That Make You Go mmmmmmm".)

Feel free to check it out and go to any of the recipes the images are linked to if you are interested in making any of them. Mainly, I just look at them and savor the image.  

Are you a dessert lover or just a dessert collector like me?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Income Taxes - Not Always Appetizing

It's that time of year here in the US. The deadline for filing and paying income taxes is a week from today. Did you know that we are considered the only country that has voluntary income tax? I didn't, either. But, that's what we were told during training when I started working for the IRS in 1983.

Since I don't really know how taxation works in other countries, I can only assume that they mean that they leave the ultimate declaration of income received to us, the taxpayers. Yet, if we don't make that declaration, two years down the road they will run reports showing who received income compared to who reported income. At that point, it will no longer be voluntary. So, even though I enjoyed my years with that organization, I'm still at a loss how mandatory taxation is voluntary.

But, I'm actually working with a tax preparation company this year. I'm enjoying it, although some aspects of the more complicated returns can be extremely confusing. It's a challenge. The simple returns are fun to do because they're quick, but those long form returns - wow! There's so many twists and turns that are just so easy to miss. I can definitely understand the appeal of a flat tax.

So, this post is a food-free post, I'm afraid. Besides, isn't the mere idea of doing your taxes enough to lose your appetite??

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Holiday Meals

Yesterday was Easter for many of us. Passover began Friday evening through this coming Saturday for others. In the midst of all this are the celebratory (or memorial) meals that have become traditions throughout the world.

Although the Spring holidays don't have the same food impact as the Fall and Winter holidays do, food still plays a prominent role. Whether it is Easter ham, Seder brisket, Holy Thursday pancakes or fish on Fridays during Lent, food is center stage during these holidays. 

I had the opportunity to enjoy a ham dinner yesterday. I love ham, but my daughter doesn't, so I don't get to eat it much at home. I did bring her a platter, but it was filled with everything but ham. I can understand why some people don't eat ham (or pork), but I can't imagine how someone doesn't like ham after they've had the chance to try it. Unfortunately, I have no leftovers to munch on, so I'll be making myself a hamburger once I post this. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Greasy Food

You know, there once was a time when I simply loved greasy food. And, once in a while, I still do. But, I have found that as I get older, I don't enjoy these things like I used to. That's not a bad thing, mind you. But, I didn't stop eating it because it was bad - just because I stopped finding pleasure in it.

Fried Seafood Platter
I don't eat some fried foods like I used to. I do still like my seafood fried, but I don't eat fried chicken like I used to. And, if it's particularly greasy, I am prone to avoid it. I think it's a combination of the flavor too much grease imparts and the fact that the grease gets everywhere! 

I grew up where Wise potato chips began as a regional chip and my favorites were the ones that stayed in the fat longer than the rest. You know which ones - they were glossy and still looked wet. I felt the same way about fries - extra greasy, please, with lots of crunch. While I no longer care much for greasy chips, I do still pick out the greasiest fries to eat first. However, I can't eat many because I just don't digest potatoes as well as I used to.

Pizza still in the pan of grease
I used to love Pizza Hut pizza. I couldn't figure out what it was about it that I liked so much. Then, I didn't have it for several years and went back once looking forward to enjoying it again. I was actually grossed out by how greasy it was - I realized that they basically deep-fry their pizza by putting the dough in a deep dish full of oil and then baking it. The last time I had some, it seemed less greasy, so maybe they've cut back on that. But, I was surprised that I no longer liked it like I used to. My tastes had changed.

Bacon in a buffet pan
Bacon is greasy, but I love it - but don't give me bacon that has been sitting in its own grease, please. Yes, I love bacon, but when the fat melts and then you place the cooked slice on a paper towel to absorb the excess, it's not really so bad. However, in a buffet setting, they make mass quantities of bacon and pile them in the pan awaiting customers. They're really great when you get the top pieces, but as you get closer to the bottom, all the grease that has dripped off the upper layers now coats the bacon on the bottom. Thanks, but I'll avoid that.

This isn't really all that informative, but I know most will understand what I'm talking about. We do need fat in our diets because fat soluble vitamins require it. But, I do think that our bodies sometimes tell us what's good and what isn't, so if we're listening, we might just learn what to cut back on without actually eliminating it. Yet, despite all this, a hamburger just isn't worth eating if it's not at least a little greasy. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Food is my Friend

Yes, food is my friend. Obviously, that is a requirement for any foodie, but I'm talking more about food being used to "cure what ails ya". Where comfort food becomes more of a security blanket than sustenance.

Crazy cat lady
For years, I suffered from clinical depression. I was a nervous Nelly, scared of my own shadow, insecure, afraid to speak in public, feeling responsible for every mistake that I ever made and was slowly becoming the neighborhood crazy cat lady. Besides my cats, I relied on food to calm my nerves, to keep me company, to give myself praise when no one else would.

Cinnamon buns
I was raised by carb-happy parents. It wasn't unusual to find from four to five different kinds of bread in use at the same time, not to mention the goodies brought home from the bakery when Mom got done work or the cakes Mom would bake because she enjoyed making them. Mom loved spaghetti and mac-n-cheese, but Dad had a serious dislike for pasta, so we'd pretty much have those when he was working shift work. Cinnamon buns (aka sticky buns) were a favorite breakfast. When they began to get stale, Mom would slice them in half, butter and pan fry them to renew their freshness and get an entirely new taste sensation.

Chicken potpie was also a very popular meal, particularly in winter. Now, this isn't something that has a crust. This is strips of dough cooked in boiling chicken stock. To give you an idea how much got made each time, Mom used 9 cups of flour to make the dough for just the three of us! She'd make an entire canning pot full of potpie (something similar in the South is called dumplin's) that we would enjoy for days. Pure carbs served with cranberry sauce and chicken on the side (that didn't always get eaten because it was the dough we were after). A dish born out of necessity when times were hard became the ultimate comfort food. I still love it!

At any rate, although I'm no longer clinically depressed, it does still make the occasional visit as does anxiety, so I will find myself falling back on those old days of self-medication through food. I have to be careful since I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes a few years back, but I do allow myself those days since they are fewer and farther between than they ever used to be.

It's interesting that the foods I turned to most frequently when upset or sad also tended to be high in carbs. Potpie, mac-n-cheese, pizza, cheesecake, pretzels, potato chips (don't eat these much any more) are all on the list. I find these days that tortilla chips and salsa are almost as satisfying as the more carb-laden foods but without the same negative ramifications.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Eggs

My daughter and I went to Golden Corral on Saturday for their breakfast buffet. I've been wanting to go for a while and we were right behind them at America's Best Eyewear for Deb's appointment. 

Scrambled Eggs
The only way I will eat eggs is scrambled (I count quiche as a type of scrambled), but I especially love how eggs taste when they're made in mass quantities like they are at Golden Corral and other breakfast buffets. I don't know what it is about them - maybe because they cook them moist to allow them to sit on the buffet longer. I don't like dried out eggs or even ones that are overly browned. But, when they're shiny and wet (not raw), I'm totally all about them. 

SOS - I can eat it like this, too.
They also had cream dried beef (SOS) on the buffet table. I just love that stuff! They also had hash browns, so that's what I put my gravy on. I'll eat it on toast, but I'd rather have it on potatoes. And, Golden Corral has Texas toast, which isn't my favorite. But, their biscuits were surprisingly good - tender and flaky. Oh, and a tray stacked full of super crispy bacon. Wow, we'd been craving bacon all week. Deb wants to participate in a bacon eating contest if she can find one. We both enjoyed bacon. And, they had grits! Happy days!!

Fried eggs - a lot like home.
My kids like fried eggs. They got that from their dad because I won't touch the things. I know how to cook them, but I will never eat them. Deb likes hers over medium, which in our area means the whites are set, but the yolks are mostly runny. When she's in Utah, she orders over easy, which means she'll get them the same way. Funny how cooking terms mean different things regionally.

But, I do like scrambled eggs - I just wish I could make them at home like those in the steam pan at Golden Corral. Then I could make myself some egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches on toast. (Oops - I think I'm getting hungry. I'd better go to sleep before I decide to cook.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Diner!

Angelo's Diner in Glassboro, NJ
Diners are among the most popular eating destinations in New Jersey (as well as around Philadelphia). From breakfast to dinner to homemade desserts and handmade shakes, diners offer a variety of choices unmatched by any specialty restaurant. They even offer night owls sustenance during cram sessions, after late nights out on the town, when the shift is done or after the bar closes. Diners are a commercialized "Mom's kitchen".

The 24-hr Club Diner in Bellmawr, NJ
Admittedly, there aren't quite as many round the clock diners as there used to be, but nostalgia is causing new ones to pop up where they weren't before. And, they are being styled in a glitzier version of the original. Shiny steel exteriors and neon lights harken back to their origins, but many have added bars and dance floors to steer the former bar crowds their way.

Phily Diner in Runnemede, NJ
Those of us who grew up with diners have learned over time which foods are best not ordered in a diner. Hoagies are popular in our area of New Jersey because of our proximity to Philadelphia, but diners just can't pull them off the way a hoagie shop can. However, because of increasing Greek ownership, the quality and variety of dinner options is amazing. And, breakfast all day long can't be beat! As my daughter says, it's hard to ruin bacon and eggs.

My favorite local diner
An example of portions. Eggplant Parm.
The Black Horse Diner, Mt. Ephraim, NJ

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Cheesecake (See? I told you there'd be food!)

I do so love cheesecake. It's probably one of the last things I should have in any great quantity, but it is so amazingly good - especially when it's extremely rich and loaded with cream cheese.

I absolutely love (there is no superlative that's really adequate here) White Chocolate Raspberry cheesecake made by Cheesecake Factory. Not that I go there to get it - they sell it at the pizzeria next to where I work, which is where I've really gone overboard. I buy a slice a week and it's just so decadent and rich and buttery. And, the chocolate crust is unbelievably wonderful with little chunks of dark chocolate in it. Shaved white chocolate on top and raspberry swirls throughout - it's heavenly!!

Then my friend Tom bought a cheesecake on Friday to treat me to for doing him a favor. Not nearly as good as the previously described cheesecake, but I could still eat a good lot of it if left to my own devices.

Thankfully, my daughter loves cheesecake, too, so when I bring some home, I know I won't be able to eat it all since she'll be eating it with me. Also thankfully, I don't buy it often because I WILL eat it. I've only been buying it because of its close proximity to me, so I've started taking my lunch. That way I won't be able to stand by the display case where the cheesecake's siren call beckons me until I crash my ship upon the rocks of its shores in order to reach it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Backwards and Blouses

I'm scheduled to work today through Wednesday. I was sure my schedule was 9-5 for three days. I got myself up, washed, dressed, and left for work - late, unfortunately because I couldn't find the keys right away. My daughter had put them in her purse and neither of us remembered that. So, being the diligent person I try to be (I'm not always successful), I called the office when I was two miles away to let them know I was on my way. 

When I was about a mile away, the office called me back to tell me I wasn't scheduled 9-5. What? That can't be, I have the schedule here in the car with me. So, I pulled over to check. 

OMG! I had read 5-9 as 9-5!!! When did I become dyslexic??? I mean, I just got new glasses last week! I then realized being backwards was the perfect B Day topic.

How do blouses fit into this? Well, I just got the mail and there on the porch was a box addressed to me. In it were two really nice blouses that my friend in Virginia had seen and thought of me by buying and mailing them to me. So, I started the day out feeling like a complete idiot, but was able to be here when something really nice happened. Kismet? Who knows, but it gave me another B to talk about!! LOL

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fool's Day! - Beginning of the 2012 A-Z Blog Challenge

As soon as I came upon this challenge, I knew I had to take it. It would be what I needed to get back into blogging. I haven't been as diligent as I should be, so I hope this makes a difference.

For 26 days in April, I (and those others who have taken the challenge) will be posting short blog entries. They will run in alphabetic order, A - Z, every day but Sunday.

Now, their instructions do say that we will start on April 1st, but they also acknowledge that April 1st is a Sunday. Since it is April Fool's Day as well, I had assumed that they'd actually begin on April 2nd, but true to the day, the joke is on me. So, this April Fool's post is my first.

My themes are generally food related. Whether I'm talking about something I made, something I ate, a recipe I found or a restaurant, I will have a food connection. I hope we all have fun this year! I'm looking forward to seeing what is being said.

Please visit the blogs of other participants found below!