Napoleon Dynamite And Me

Film poster for Napoleon Dynamite - Copyright ...

Film poster for Napoleon Dynamite – Copyright 2004, Fox Searchlight Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My stomach is full, round, bloated, I’m about to burst and I haven’t even eaten anything today. It’s the day BEFORE Thanksgiving and I’m getting worried about my eating capacity. I haven’t even eaten yet because I feel so full. I look five, fine, six months pregnant and statistically I can guarantee you that is just not possible. No way, no how. I’m sure being concerned about my beached whale body isn’t helping either.

I’m lying on my stomach on my bed and I feel the tension and the huge, inflated balloon, that flabby orb that once was my flat stomach three days ago. I only ate one slice of pizza for dinner last night. ( I have to admit it was really, really good.) So, I had a little extra tomato sauce, maybe a bite or two of a meatball, that should not have made me gain two pounds this morning.

The scale is my enemy and for all the naysayers who say ” don’t weigh yourself every day” sorry, no can do. Sure, I realize that there are variations but if I don’t go on the scale one day, all hell could break loose. I should know, it’s happened before more than a few times.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, my thoughts are just imagining the smells of  tomorrow. First, the turkey and stuffing in the oven. The sweet potato and apple casserole (with marshmallows) this year, the freshness and nobility of the salad to undo the damage of the mashed potatoes laden with butter, the rolls, warm, straight from the oven. My husband’s famous stuffing, the best I’ve ever had, and look forward to every single year: Hint: add sliced water chestnuts, chopped apples, raisins.One batch is soft, moist with gravy, the other is drier, great for a sandwich. Not to mention, cranberry sauce 3 ways, apple sauce, green bean vinaigrette.

I have dreamed my way to my favorite part, dessert:  chocolate on chocolate frosted cake, the strawberry-rhubarb pie, the apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream  or “à la mo-day” as we have said ever since we saw the classic cult movie “Napoleon Dynamite.” I have seen the move about ten times.

Later, leftover turkey sandwiches with mayo, yes, Hellman’s only. I’m fine about tomorrow, the problem is tonight. I’m starving, my husband is on call for the Volunteer Ambulance until seven pm, I’ve already had some fresh vegetables.  It is six pm, we are getting hungry, one more hour to go. Time passes so slowly when you want it to go quickly. I’m ordering now. We order too much.

The only thing deemed delicious by the family is take out Asian fusion food from the local store a few blocks away. Yes, I know that there’s fat and sodium and grease. But, it is the best way for us to stretch our stomach even more for tomorrow. Can’t wait.

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“Is That All There Is?” Carry On Tuesday

A black Labrador Retriever.

The Bartender (continued from previous post)

When she awoke the next day, disheveled, smelly and still in her work clothes she couldn’t even remember the past night’s events. Or should she say morning’s events since she did not know what time she had stumbled onto her bed, clothed and reeking of alcohol and various old food smells. She sniffed under her arm and could pick up: cilantro, hummus, bean dip, and something smoky and meaty, like short ribs. She started to remember someone had asked her late into the night if she could make them her famous short ribs and she had, using leftover sauces and serving it with a creamy polenta that was on the night’s special menu. It was the last night of her restaurant, the very last night, tomorrow it would be gone, forever.

Was it really the morning, was she really officially closed? Unemployed? ‘Shit,’ she thought, “Yeah,” she grumbled out loud to her black Lab, Lucy, “Fuck.” she said out loud. The television must have been on all night, there was a commercial on to help people stop smoking by chewing some stupid gum. She reached for her pack of cigarettes and lit one not even bothering to listen to the nicotine sponsor ads on television. “Shut-up” she croaked after she inhaled deeply. She threw her clog at the television but didn’t even have the energy to get near, her clog just landed on a pile of dirty laundry on the floor.

She had one arm around Lucy, her dog, a  black labrador receiver wearing a red bandana, and as she rubbed her own eyes from the smoke, her hangover and from the lack of sleep. She turned to her faithful animal and said, “Lucy, I’ve worked in a kitchen since I was sixteen, I’m now thirty-six with no job and no restaurant. Is that all there is? There’s gotta be something more because this shit is not gonna fly.”  Lucy just looked back at her as old, kind dogs do and licked her face. Dogs are great at unconditional love, of course there was no answer for Lucy to give but she knew that, she knew she would have to make a decision soon….just not now, not yet, she wasn’t ready for any new commitments.

She needed time and space away from everyone she knew in the restaurant business and her family. She tried hard to push people away, because in the past, she had learned, that letting people get too close, was like a personal invitation to heartache and she had had enough of that for a lifetime. She stood up,  head in hand, to the shower, muttering and groaning the whole way. She had no idea what she was going to do with her life; she just knew she had to take a step. One step at a time and give herself time to heal.

Which Would I Give Up? Easter or Halloween Candy?

marshmallow-y rainbow-y, uh, goodness

Image by McBeth via Flickr

Be serious. There is no way I would give up either one, ever. How could one give up Halloween candy, with those miniature size chocolates that we know DON’T count for calories or carbs. They are fun-sized. The choice too, is endless: Whoppers, and 3 Musketeers and candy corn, and Hershey’s nuggets, not to mention Kit Kat bar, Almond Joy, Mounds or Twizzlers. No, these are not going anywhere. Easter candy? You don’t seem to understand that I wait for those Cadbury creme eggs all year-long. I wouldn’t be happy without those yellow peeps either. While I know now that they sell peeps all year round for every different occasion in every color…that doesn’t make me any happier. It’s the thrill of getting them once a year, the fight to find them that made them so very special. Every year, and I admit, I am 54, my mom still gives me 2 Cadbury creme eggs and a box of peeps. I buy them for my own two children. I have introduced people to peeps who (gasp) didn’t know what they were, I have written about Peeps and Cadbury creme eggs. I’m sorry, I can’t play this Plinky game, Easter and Halloween candy are here to stay. If you’re talking giving up spinach or cauliflower, that game I could play. Spinach, out.

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DINERS (A Foodie Blog)

Diner in Colorado Springs.

Image via Wikipedia

There are many reasons to love living in New York but one of  the most important, to me, are diners. I wish I was kidding. We lived in Boston for many years and as adorable as the city is, they lack traditional diners. Huge, flashing signs, mirrors showing off svelte/swelled bodies, booths and knowing you can get whatever you want at any time, day or night, 24/7.

Diners are PERFECT for different taste sensations and choices. You can go to a diner (sometimes called coffee shop) and order pancakes at dinnertime or a gyro at 3am. (Gyro: a Greek dish featuring  lamb or chicken, sliced thinly off of a huge vat with spices stuffed in a big pita pocket and topped with a Greek salad, chunks of sweaty, salty, white feta cheese, hold the olives please, oh and the green peppers.) You want lamb, we have that too, a BLT with cheese, coming right up.

There are easily 300 choices and if you don’t see it on the menu, you either don’t want it or you can ask for it and they will make it for you. You can mix and match and yes, even if you want the fruit cup instead of the french fries and have to add a couple of bucks (some diners are strict) it’s still okay. You want breakfast at midnight? No problem, order the scrambled eggs and bacon or the Belgium waffle, or the pancakes (regular or whole wheat) with chocolate chips or blueberries or both. Feel like something upscale? Eggs Benedict or an egg white omelette with grilled asparagus and red peppers. Your child will only eat grilled cheese and fries? That is always available for the little guys (and the big guys too.)

For an international flare I’ve had spinach burritos stuffed with chopped meat, mozzarella cheese and spices, with rice, avocados and sour cream. Do you miss the comfort of Thanksgiving? Have it on a hot day in July: the open-faced turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce and thick brown gravy served with velvety mashed potatoes. Potato pancakes with applesauce? Sure. Fried clam strips, no problem, eggplant parmigian with roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce served with a Caesar salad? Of course. Falafel and humus, gourmet salads, a wrap, a crêpe, a hard poppy-seed roll, blueberry muffin and…..well I could go on forever but that’s my point. The menus are endless and you get great quality at a cheap price.

Caution: leave room for dessert because diners are also known for their variety of pies: blueberry pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie… and cakes: chocolate mousse cake, vanilla coconut cake, rainbow cookie cake, cheesecake, chocolate layer cake with nuts or without. They also have large cookies as big as salad plates with your choice of sprinkles, sugar, chocolate chips, oatmeal raisin, and black and whites. Your wish is their delight. Most places have three-tiered revolving dessert cases, talk about joy. Standing there watching your mouth-watering favorites spin around slowly.

Ever see the beverage section of a diner? That in itself is special. For me the egg creams (no, sigh, there are no eggs in egg creams, just seltzer, syrup and milk) it’s the amount of each that is so important! They also have milkshakes, malteds, ice cream sodas, regular and diet sodas (free refills at some places) lemonade, iced tea, and a whole page of alcoholic selections with funny, frou-frou names.

Can’t figure out a place where all the family members can agree? The answer, of course, is a diner. Gather some quarters, put them in the music box, listen to the tinny sound of The Beatles or Arrowsmith and have fun. When you go up to pay your bill, be ready to see a free cookie tray or chocolate covered mints to “thank you for coming” as you leave. By the way, the portions are so large that you never need to feel ashamed of asking for a doggie bag; at a diner, it’s delightfully de rigueur.

Mint Chip Ice Cream Does So Taste Like Toothpaste…..( A Crazy Foodie Blog)

Crest MultiCare Whitening toothpaste

Image via Wikipedia

Tonight I had left-over pizza for dinner. It was dry, it had that too- long- in -the- refrigerator smell and the fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil disappeared. I warmed it up but nothing changed. I had to make it taste better, we were out of food so I did what I have done since college (yes, I have witnesses) I put jam on my pizza. We only had Dominoes pizza way back then ( don’t worry, Dominoes, I’m sure your pizza is better now.) I was out of luck,I did not have Welchs’ grape jelly at home. I knew there MUST be something to help me out.  Two minutes later, I saw it gleaming and sitting on the side of the refrigerator door practically winking with a come-hither look.  A jar of peach preserves sat unopened. It gave the pizza the texture it needed and if I closed my eyes it was like eating French bread with jam. Thank you for saving my dinner.

There are questions that are just unanswerable: For example: why is it that I love peanut butter but hate peanuts? I don’t like chick peas but I do like hummus.  Could texture be an issue? Keep me far away from raw oysters, mussels or raw tuna. Tuna from a can mixed with celery and mayo does not count since it was YEARS before I associated the canned tuna with  real fish.

I’m s little fussy with my food, I admit it.  I also have the nose of a foxhound and if milk is even contemplating spoiling I sniff it out immediately and throw it away . “Dear Grocery Store Stocker, don’t think you’ll ever fool because I know not to take the product in the front and I check the expiration dates. I am on alert at all times, always saying  out loud “Did you think you could fool me? Amateur!!!!”  So what if I get a couple of weird looks?

I love eggs in any form but if I detect the tiniest bit of egg-shell in my food, crunching in my mouth it takes enormous self-control not to vomit, especially if I am in a restaurant.  IF I have been brave enough to swish it away in my mouth with juice or soda, ( can’t do it with plain water) there is no way that I would eat anymore. Also, if the egg white is not cooked through I can’t eat it (see texture issue). It’s almost as bad as  finding a hair in my food (again, think restaurant) which I think is also appalling. That is why, I sniff and explore my food before my first bite.  I think of myself as having certain food requirements: no egg-shell, spoiled stuff, hair in food, oh, and dead insects.

The last time I had a Greek salad in my favorite tiny Greek restaurant it was served with a dead bee lying right on top. Is it too much to ask that people look at the food before they serve it? I haven’t been back to that restaurant in two years now. I know about the chances of having it happen again but still….This is why when I go to a restaurant I face away from the kitchen. As you can tell,  I did read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and it both saved my life and ruined my life at the same time. Blame him.

Plinky Prompt: What Do You Do When You Are Snowed In?

Snowed In

Image by caribb via Flickr

SOMETIMES DOING NOTHING IS REALLY, REALLY NICE.

We were snowed in last week and with 20 inches of snow and nowhere to go I entertained myself by listening to music, writing, reading and eating. Maybe food doesn’t count because we always eat but isn’t it such a great excuse when you are snowed in?! I made brownies (excuse: because we are snowed in), I ordered pizza (because we are snowed in), I watched stupid television shows (again, because we are snowed in) and I made some phone calls….(because we are, you know the rest). Being snowed in isn’t really bad at all if it’s just for a day or two. I relaxed in front of our fireplace drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream, I cradled my 8-year-old mutt and didn’t concentrate or worry about anything. How do you spell “snowed in?” I spell it PEACEFUL.

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Chocolate or Vanilla? (Be Serious!)

09 Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream

Chocolate or Vanilla? NO, chocolate AND vanilla, in different forms. I’m an all vanilla girl with cakes, cupcakes, frosting and soft-serve ice cream. IF I had to pick one I would go with vanilla. Is there anything better than a soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles? No, there isn’t, it’s the best combination. Chocolate sprinkles are not even an option, ever. However, at night when the sweet tooth fairy invades my body and soul, I reach for the snack size chocolate candies that are left from Halloween: Almond Joy, 3 Musketeers, Nestle Crunch, M & M’s. I don’t expect that I will have to eliminate one from my world of eating but if I had to eliminate one I would pick chocolate. I’d be “Vanilla Girl” as I have been called in the past, but it would hurt. Deeply.

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My Dream Job

Society Junk Food Platter

Image by GLOWBAL COLLECTION via Flickr

RESERVATIONS FOR 6 AT 6:30 PM, Please.

Antipasto Platter – Yarra Glen Cafe and Store aka Cheesefreaks

I pick up the phone and call four or five of my closest friends. “Are you free Thursday night?” I ask. “Great” I say, “see you there.” I mentally choose my outfit and plan on wearing a scarf that hides some of my face. No, I am not a private investigator; I don’t work for the secret service. What I do, is eat. I am a restaurant critic (only for those foods that we, the common people eat). There is no escargot, snake meat, or goat in my meals. I’m the voice of the people, the regular people, not the elite. I go to restaurants with my husband, with friends, with nice people who I meet and we eat. We eat, we talk, I take bites from every dish and secretly write down notes. Sometimes, I just specialize in dessert. Once home, I type up my notes, drink chilled CVS diet black cherry club soda and head to bed. My stomach is full and I am extraordinarily happy. Goodnight.

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I’m In Love: FoodCrafters (A Foodie Blog)

Aida Mollenkamp Ask Aida TV Host

Image via Wikipedia

Hello Aida Mollenkamp,

You are adorable as the host of this new (to me) show! I just found this delightful show while I was innocently flipping through the channels. How long has this magnificent show been on the air? I accidentally, I mean blessedly, stumbled upon it this very morning. The show is called FoodCrafters on The Cooking Channel. Today’s episode: candy/sweets: serious, beautiful, artisinal candy made by loving, professional, hands. There are no huge, corporate factories on this show.

First up were beautiful candies made at Papabubbles in NY.  Honestly, for a moment I thought that this FoodCrafters segment was featuring an art show, the different colored candies were so incredibly beautiful. They showed us the intricate detail with which they made their  lime candies. Ladies and gentlemen, we are not talking life savers anymore. This is the real thing, I could practically taste the flavor through the television, so intense and vibrant, so beautiful, so artistic. I made need to take the train to get to this amazing store some day.

Next up was a company called Whimsicals in Chicago. Their claim to fame are beautiful nougat, (I so love nougat) chocolate and caramel candies called The La Dee Dahs. It honestly looks like a swirl of perfection. I would be more than happy to try these if you would like me to. Seriously? My day of heaven would consist of being on the Oprah show (or happily sitting in the audience) while eating these delicious treats.  I promise to share…..at least with Oprah and her best friend Gayle.

We are now visiting the Zen baking company for zen cake balls in Dallas, Texas.  This is a southern specialty but could easily become a national specialty if you ask me. Mini bites (balls) of cake are made, covered in  frosting. They are molded by hand and then dipped in frosting. They showed mini bites of red velvet cake. Did you know that red velvet has chocolate in it?  I had no idea, I just know I love it. The red velvet balls are covered with a cream cheese frosting. (I would have preferred vanilla frosting but no one asked me.) Other varieties are the happy birthday cake (this has my name on it), sunshine lemon (ok, this has my name on it too), cookie dough ( I would be happy to try this too) and I think, one other flavor that I can’t remember because I was salivating so much that I started to drool all over the keyboard.

The last segment featured a store in Los Angeles, California called Milk and Krunchies.  My sweet tooth and basically all my teeth were aching for a taste. This segment featured marshmallow treats and not your ordinary, make- at -home krispie treats (so you feel like an ace mother) either. These are gourmet; a new twist on an old favorite. This place (hey, I travel)  makes krispie treats with flavors like:  cookies and cream, a toffee mix, peanut butter and jelly and peanut butter cup among others. This had my mouth watering with nostalgia and it is definitely reason enough to schedule a trip to the West Coast.

If any of the above stores would like to send me samples so I can REALLY review them, I would be happy to provide you with my address. Please, I beg of you. However, if that is not in your budget or if that does not appeal to you I did hear that you can get some of these delicious delights by going to:  cookingchanneltv.com. Excuse me for the short post but in case I don’t get my samples I may need to run and find my credit card to order……now this is what I call quality television. You rock!

Love from your new adoring fan.

Man vs Food #3 (Because You Asked For It)

Subliminal Nachos (Add-A-Note-Festival!)

Image by Lucky Bielka via Flickr

Welcome to Ann Arbor, Michigan home to deli sandwiches, stacked burgers and the University of Michigan. ENORMOUS EATS! That shouldn’t come as a shock since my friend, Adam Richman of Man vs. Food is apparently in town. A stack of greasy burgers is just waiting for him as he tries to bite, gulp, and swallow his way through the massive blimp-style burger. The  burger comes with various toppings, fried eggs, (I kid you not) salami, bacon, cheese, anything that you can think of. But wait, it’s only  1/10 of a lb. of meat so for Adam this must qualify as health food. What? I should have known: in this show you HAVE to stack the burgers. If you didn’t, it would mean you were practically on Weight Watchers! I forgot, It’s Adam’s world, (sounds like Wayne’s World only more gross, grosser?) and there must be a law somewhere about that.  Try bacon, egg and cheese on three burgers (heart attack alert?) Two to five (yes, five) burgers is the general request. However, I believe the record is for 43 patties… I’m sorry I must have misheard. I don’t think I can believe that. There are an enormous amount of burger combinations to keep your imagination alive: grilled items such as bacon and onions, and EVERY kind of cheese. Condiments include: olives, lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup. Keep eating these mountains of hamburgers, it’s guaranteed to increase your cholesterol by a good, say 200-300 points.

Then, there’s the Ann Arbor game day tradition, the Maize and Blue deli, huge, special, triple play Rueben sandwich made with two slices of thick sourdough rye, homemade Russian dressing, sauerkraut ( ugh, the smell) Swiss and Jarlsberg cheeses (as if you really needed that extra bit of Jarlsberg’s nutty flavor). Combine that with four ounces each of pastrami and corned beef and  grill, (because it’s not greasy enough.)   Adam talks with his mouth full, we expect nothing less. Yes, you did see the coleslaw fly out of his chubby mouth as he was eating, no trick photography there! And, to think,  he thought the only great rueben sandwich could be found in NY. Silly boy, as they said in SNL, you “kid the public.” Adam, keep your mind and big mouth open and you will discover all the riches of the gastronomical world, all super-sized.

Right in front of me you can see his swollen, greasy upper lip. The next  competion and challenge? Nachos: I had a small dinner so I was able to watch Man vs Food without actually gagging. I want to know this dude’s cholesterol numbers. Even mine are high and I don’t eat one percent of what this guy eats. This show is the only time I feel that I could possibly turn into a vegetarian, easily.

Next up: a 5 lb nacho challenge. Yes, read my lips, 5 POUNDS of NACHOS at Tio’s Mexican Cafe. Apparently they run on wolverine spirit ( as in school spirit) and eat like wolverines to boot. It’s game time: “Eat Adam, eat!!” At Tio’s mexican cafe, the epic 5 lb. nachos include:  blue cheese, (can he substitute?) coleslaw, pork, beef,  chicken, and cheese, (volcano style )and more cheese. First there is a giant layer of chips, and an elephant portion of refried beans. Refried, as if frying them once was not enough. This is followed by Jack and Cheddar cheese. We’re only on the first floor of the nachos tower so we need to go to the second floor which includes: more chips, beef, chicken, pulled pork, garlic and lavender (lavender? that seems so delicate for this monstrosity, I’m sure they said hamburger. After that another layer of…well everything.  It melts perfectly in the oven and is then served with gushers of sour cream, guacamole, onions, olives, tomatoes, and to top it off (TADA!) a kiddie pool of melted cheese. It looks like the kind you can get in a jar (just saying it looks like it, didn’t say it was), the ultimate in “queso.”  In 45 minutes,  Adam has to try to eat the “whole thing” in order to get into the hall of fame where he could win a T-shirt (I’m guessing extra-large) and his picture on the wall. If he loses (gasp!) he will join others in the  hall of shame. At this point I seriously hope he busts a gut, on camera, up close and personal. Before him sits 5 pounds of nachos, the ultimate challenge (aren’t all his challenges called ultimate?) There are crowds of people cheering this dodo on. Can he do it? Will he make it? Of course he does. I can rest easy tonight knowing that he made it through five lbs. of greasy nachos and came out of it a winner, a champion. Oh Adam….you have done it again. My hero. Not.