F Is For Food, T Is For Tuna

When I have nothing else to do, I think about food. I always think about food. Some would say that its my downfall but others who know me well would say its my savior. I love food, all types and even though I used to be scared to try new foods I am getting so much better except for icky textural issues.

I will not eat raw oysters and slurp them down my throat. The mere thought of doing that makes me want to gag so no, I stick tight to being inflexible. I would say “Not for a million dollars” but to me, a million dollars is a lot of money so I could be bribed, potentially. Sushi, raw, same reaction, it’s the slippery texture that I can’t seem to get by though I have tasted it in tiny bits a few times. Not my style, at all. Chicken teriyaki and rice please, I am not ashamed.

raw oysters @ Sway

raw oysters @ Sway (Photo credit: dionhinchcliffe)

I am proud to say I do eat mild fish now which was a big leap of faith for me, I never ate any fish except tuna fish that came out of a can (which to me was totally unrelated to real tuna.)  Yes, I did have a real disconnect but it worked for all the years I didn’t put it together. Tuna and tuna were very different, one was for a sandwich with mayo and the other one was disgusting. I know, I know. I’m a little slow.

I know I am fussy and crazy but I have tuna-approved places like the diner in the next town where I regularly order it. It’s perfect, not too mushy, not chunky at all, the right amount of mayo. It is a tuna-approved lunch place. If it looks, smells or resembles dark cat food it is not for me. That is why I have

7dd_3176208-tuna-the-cat

7dd_3176208-tuna-the-cat (Photo credit: Wolfgang Lonien)

friends and family to order things first and I will taste it and decide later if it is okay to order next time. (Except for Sarah my bff who will not share her food, not even a bite but that’s okay.)

Another place in town sells “Spa Tuna” with apples and raisins and just a hint of mayo that is wonderful as well. I will not eat tuna in an unknown diner or restaurant, I stick with safe foods like scrambled eggs or a ham and cheese sandwich or soup. An adventurer I am not.

Beverages, to me, have to fit the food. For example: a tuna sandwich goes well with either a Diet Coke or Coke or hot chocolate. Period. Never would I drink orange juice or water with it, it needs the sweet balance. Likewise, I have to force myself to drink plain water to keep hydrated, so my kidneys don’t flop and fail on me instantaneously. I add lemon or lime juice to the water to pretend it isn’t water at all. Epic fail.

Growing up we never drank water. It was Hawaiian Punch or Lemonade or Grape Juice or other sweet beverages. But, water? Never. Luckily, my daughter drinks a lot of water but not my son. He also doesn’t drink enough water either but he does drink organic fruit juice which is better than nothing.

When you have no control over anything in your life you either lose control or you need to have control over something. For me, it’s food. In the beginning I wanted to lose weight and I did, I also kept it off. After that, I got into a major dessert phase where I needed a good, yummy dessert every single night.

Phish Food

Phish Food (Photo credit: Vanessa (EY))

I am trying to pull back from that now because I feel I am getting hooked ( HA HA I know I’m hooked) on sugar. So I am down-sizing my dessert (sigh) and will only have them intermittently. I will miss you jelly doughnuts, Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food, and Starbucks’ Iced Lemon Cake. Not to mention you my darling Orange Hostess Cupcakes…I have a whole blog post just about you!

I’m not making promises on how much I can deny myself dessert. I will try having less. I made banana bread yesterday with raisins, funny how that does not appeal to me at all. I will try, that’s all I’m saying…

 

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What Should I Eat?

One Bad Egg

One Bad Egg (Photo credit: fordsbasement)

I LOVE TO EAT, JUST GENERALLY NOT MY OWN FOOD

It’s 8:30 PM and the only thing I’ve had to eat today was the rest of my OCD Banana Smoothie from last night. I think I might be getting bored with them finally, so tonight I’ll take a break. I’m really not that hungry but I do know that once I start, it will be hard to stop. I don’t actually have to “cook” seeing that my husband had “cold pizza” but that was his choice.

We have eggs, always an easy dinner, with toast and some strawberry jam. We’ve had leftovers all week, we haven’t gone out to dinner AT ALL. Trying to save money and not go out. What else can I think of? Greek yogurt is a staple in our house, we do have that and of course more bananas, cheese, bread, over-ripe avocados and bitter chocolate cookies (don’t look at me that’s ALL my husband and daughter.) My son and I tend to like milk chocolate but I’m not saying that this is a meal; this would definitely be a treat. Right.

I usually know exactly what I want to eat, where to buy it and how to make it but storm SANDY has been getting in the way of just about everything. I went to the supermarket once and the shelves were bare, and this was before the storm hit. Now, I am one of those “doubting debbies” and I need to know if the shipment (if there is one) is fresh. Who on earth will tell me “actually ma’am it isn’t fresh at all.” I’m suspicious. Very suspicious.

That brings us down to safe food that I have at home. I’m so sick of tuna, maybe cereal if the milk is still good-the double sniff test is in order. Maybe my daughter’s old stand-by, a grilled cheese. Now, that’s sounding more and more comforting every second. Bread is good, cheese is fine, it’s easy and there is something to be said about plain food when you feel you need it but….boring.

I’m heading down to the kitchen in my pajamas, slippers and bathrobe, with my dog, always hopeful, by my side.  I’ll find something, I always do. It will be comforting and safe and if not nourishing, I will feel nourished and warmed by food I trust. We all have our own comfort foods, mine is usually scrambled eggs with toast, butter and JAM (sorry friends, I know you hate this) but that is without a doubt a strong contender.

I’m padding down to the kitchen now. I won’t end this post until I’ve eaten, I’m sure you want to know. Be back in a few.

****

Yeah, about that. I’m back. It was a combination gone very wrong: multi-grain bread (too hungry to toast it), two fried eggs (big mistake, they should have been scrambled) two pieces of American Cheese (another mistake) flipped over and the whole thing looked like vomit. I did dip it, however, in strawberry jam. Let’s just say it was NOT a success. Even for me. Even my small milk chocolate heart couldn’t make up for it. There’s always tomorrow……

Plinky Prompt: Describe an Epic Sandwich

  • Epic Sandwich
  • Yummm, With Great Pleasure…
    Big sandwichTwo thickly sliced (no-pre-sliced bread) Crunchy, peasant bread with sesame seeds
    A layer of mayonnaise Hellmann’s (not Miracle Whip) and Whole Grain mustard.
    Two thick slices of home roasted turkey (not the slimy deli kind)
    One thick slice of Virginia ham (Boar’s Head)
    Two thick slices of Munster Cheese
    One slice of Swiss cheese
    Slices of ripe avocado (don’t you hate it when it’s underripe?)
    Broccoli Sprouts (so you feel really healthy)
    Lettuce and Ripe Summer tomatoes
    Sweet mini-gherkins near or on the sandwich
    Cut the sandwich in half on the diagonal
    Healthy (HA!) Potato Chips on the side
    Diet Root Beer for your beverage
    For Dessert: Two Oreos( double stuffed), dipped in milk, and a piece of dark chocolate

My Father’s Famous Sandwiches

A club sandwich (Chicken, bacon, salad, etc), ...

A club sandwich (Chicken, bacon, salad, etc), photo taken in Preston, UK — Ein Club-Sandwich, Foto aufgenommen in Preston, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was growing up, my dad never cooked a thing. Ever. It was my mom’s “role” and we never questioned it, nor did she. Once in a while, however, he would “prepare” lunch and it would take a lot of time (A LOT OF TIME) making each one of us the perfect sandwich.

Layers of ham, turkey, cheese, washed and dried crispy iceberg lettuce, pickles. Sometimes he would serve them on trays, with flowers on the side and a few cookies for dessert. It may have taken a while before we could eat and we probably complained (which in retrospect was not very nice) but what we received was so special, each one made according to the individual’s preferences. He paid special attention to little details, everything had to be perfect. They were large, hard to eat sandwiches but they were so tasty and beautiful to look at.

My mother invited my sister to lunch today and my sister said she would bring sandwiches. Our mother’s idea of a sandwich is slapping a piece of turkey between two slices of bread. She never cared about presentation or food but Dad really did.

It’s surprising what you remember when those you love have passed, I haven’t thought of my dad’s famous sandwiches in years. I’d give anything though, to have just one more bite. It may have taken him hours to make us a sandwich but he always made them with love, great, big, love. I miss you, Dad.

Larry And Lola (A Comfort Food Blog)

The Gerber baby, who appears on the packaging ...

Image via Wikipedia

I have a weird relationship with food; in addition to just adoring it I name it.  Apparently, I started really young giving names to food based on the person I ate the food with or the person who introduced me to it. First, there was Larry. I was friends with a little boy named Larry when I was about 18 months. Larry consists of peach baby food (I have advanced to pears and fruit delight) and cottage cheese. Not mixed together. Ever. Eating Larry consists of a ritual dipping of a teaspoon into cottage cheese and then dipping it into Gerber and only Gerber peach baby food. (I honestly feel that I began to love babies because of the Gerber baby picture on all the jars.) Not only did I eat this when I was very young but still eat it on occasion. For freshness and sanitary sake, I now put the cottage cheese in a separate little bowl but eat the baby food right out of the cute, little, smiling baby jar. After all, nobody eats the baby food except for me. My children, when they were growing up did not have the same fondness for Larry as I did.

Lola. Lola is my mother’s best friend. She made a salad (of sorts) that I thought was absolutely delicious when I was a girl and now make it for myself (because no one else will eat it.) I don’t know why but when Lola served Lola everyone seemed to love it. Must have been her charm and charisma.  I made my mother ask for the “recipe” and then made it myself. First, buy a small jar of peas and carrots (go for the brand name, not the generic), drain the juice (or liquid as they say in America), and add mayonnaise (Hellman’s only) to the remaining peas and carrots. Stir. This is Lola and believe it or not Lola saved my life while I was on vacation in Spain because Lola, known as a Russian Salad in Spain, saved me from eating a lot of raw, wiggly fish that I couldn’t stand. In addition I attended a lovely Russian wedding last year and again, we were served a Russian salad that made me squeal with delight when I saw it;  it was, in fact, Lola with hard-boiled eggs. Imagine that. I don’t think Lola knows about Lola. I remember giving an old friend the recipe to make Lola and she burst out laughing uncontrollably when I got to the “drain the juice” part. Apparently she was guffawing because she said “as if anyone else would eat this.” I found that a little insensitive but we are all entitled to our own opinion. For someone whose comfort food was a plain hamburger, I say nothing.

My all time comfort food are soft-boiled eggs (peeled very carefully-this is critcal) in a dish with a teaspoon or more of butter and two slices of toast torn apart and mixed in. All you need to add is a little salt and there it is: ultimate comfort, it really doesn’t get better than that. My back up comfort food is always an American cheese sandwich on bread with butter. Scrambled eggs with Welch’s grape jelly or grape jam (depending on what consistency I want) and another comfort item called banana mush- mush, a dessert item, which is mashed up bananas (use a fork) with sour cream ( now plain fat-free yogurt) with sugar or sugar substitute.

I’ve taken a little survey and some responses to my question “what is your favorite comfort food?” are as follows: a black and white milkshake, brown sugar on bread with butter (rolled like a jelly roll,) buttered Saltine crackers with slices of kosher dill pickles on top, (the originality winner in my book), oatmeal with sugar and cinnamon, Swanson’s chicken à la king (on toast), Campbell’s tomato soup with (Kraft) American cheese and crumbled up Saltines, Yodels (peeled or unpeeled) AND… french fries dipped into an ice cream sundae. The last dish, definitely gets props in terms of combining sweet and salt.  Thanks guys for your help. I’m off to the grocery store now to see if there are new products to buy or to perhaps buy a new comfort food, borrowed from a friend.

My Idea of Perfect Weather

Is this a flickr cliché?

Image by hufse via Flickr

Sun, Sugar And My Soul

Perfect weather: a bright blue sky with shiny puffs of cotton-candy shaped clouds, the sun warming my hair and no rain in sight. It’s a day where I sit outside in an old green lawn chair and watch the red cardinals and finches and funny birds with yellow mohawk haircuts visiting and eating from the bird feeder. I don’t chase the squirrels away, they eat the sprinkled food I leave on the ground for them. I laugh as they play and chase each other around always looking glassy-eyed and shocked. I love to see the bright yellow dandelions popping up amongst the green grass. I stare at the brightness of the yellow flower and the puffy, soft bristles that we blew in the wind when we were innocent children, making wishes, believing they would come true.

I would have a picnic outside with family and friends because we all know that everything tastes so much better if you eat it outdoors. Sandwiches on rye bread, thick with cheese and ham or cucumbers, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on French bread with a drizzle of light green olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper and pungent oregano. Art in a sandwich. We would drink home-made lemonade, sweet with sugar and the juice of many yellow, spongy lemons. There would be a variety of sugar cookies, spicy ginger snaps, chocolate chip brownies and my famous banana bread moist, rich with plump raisins and a dusting of brown sugar. Sunshine, sugar, sweetness, the essence of my soul; while these magical days don’t come often, we appreciate them more when they do appear, like a gift from the sky.

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Unusual Food Combination Plinky Prompt

A slice of pizza from Piazza Pizza

Image via Wikipedia

  • An Unlikely Delicacy
  • Sweet and Salty: Don’t Judge Until You Have Tried It !
    Grape 

    Pizza and grape jelly, so easy. I discovered it in college when the pizza was dry and I had packets of grape jelly. Instant combination! Salty and sweet at the same time, what more could you want? Also, scrambled eggs with American cheese and strawberry jam, cheddar cheese on toast with butter and honey. Yum. I can see my friends and family groaning but it’s true, I do eat these food items frequently. Once, just once, I ate a tuna fish with peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was pretty good but I’m in no rush to eat it again.

  • Previous Answer

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.

When Stress Takes My Hand And Leads Me To The Refrigerator

 

day 75

Image by kygp via Flickr

 

I could say that eating unabashedly after dinner is not my fault. I could say that my hormones take over and I just go blindly to the kitchen without thought or reason. That’s partially true. It’s 10:00pm, “do you know where your children are?” asks  Channel 5 (or what I refer to as the “murder channel.”) Yes, I know where my children are but do they know where I am? Probably. They hear my not-so-lightly-padded- feet in the kitchen, the sound of the refrigerator opening and closing, cabinets flung open and the sound of crackling from aluminum packages. When there is something stressful going on in my life I get extraordinarly hungry. No, not at meal times. Not for breakfast or lunch or dinner. I’m doing a days worth of snacking after dinner and while I know its wrong, I still do it. What leads me to the refrigerator at night, is pure and simple, stress. When I am anxious, I eat. I eat, therefore I am. Food comforts me and even thought it’s not a popular thing to say or an easy one to admit, it’s true.

While I grab and choose food there’s usually something that prompts me: a commercial on television, a friend’s description of her lunch or I just need sweet than salty, sweet than salty and  yes, sweet AND salty. Sigh. It’s a vicious circle and I can’t blame anyone except myself or my evil twin as I like to call her. An example of my choices: pretzels dipped in Boursin cheese, Yoo-Hoo, my beverage of choice, vanilla cake, Oreo cookies, Munster cheese spread with strawberry jam, left over pizza with salt, Yodels, rice with ketchup, chips with salsa and guacamole, 100 calorie packs (because they don’t count!), chocolate covered cherries and baked Lays potato chips (because I am watching my weight) GRIN.

Full disclosure: I have been known (infrequently) to have a sample of all of the above when I am not stressed (or don’t know I am stressed) and just hungry. I know it’s bad when I don’t think about what I want to eat, I just grab and stuff. If you ask me if I feel guilty about it, I would have to say, in all honesty, no. While I am eating I don’t think about it, the day after is another story. I am able to forgive myself quickly and at least try to eat healthy food the next  day. Luckily, this bingeing doesn’t last more than a few hours at a time. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t do drugs, my vice, when stressed or just hungry is simple: food. I am a foodie and my idea of a lovely evening is going out with my husband or friends to a delicious meal. It’s gluttony, it’s enjoyment and it’s food. I take full responsibility for my actions, stressful or starving, I’m ready to order.

The Homestead (A Foodie Blog)

In the town I grew up in there was an amazing European deli (now it would be called a gourmet shop) that had the most wonderful things. For my birthday every year my parents would buy me an Americanized version of Sacher Torte, a Viennese chocolate cake separated by layers of apricot jam ( or raspberry jam in my case). There was only one place this special cake could be found and that was in The Homestead Gourmet Shop in Kew Gardens.

If you mention The Homestead to people who grew up in and around Queens ( esp. Kew Gardens and Forest Hills), you will hear  audible groans, sighs of pleasure and individual memories sprouting up like wild daffodils. Some remember the two different kinds of potato salad (one German, the other with mayo), others the enormous pieces of Polish Rye bread, thickly sliced and a bit sour. For our family we usually ordered different taste sensations: chicken and shrimp salad (1/4 lb. each) the tiny mini-gherkins, sweet and tart in one bite and of course, roast beef and freshly baked turkey sandwiches..  They had home-made apple, cherry  and cheese strudels, the delicate, buttery flakes of crust, the fruit oozing out. There were imported cheeses, breads of all kind, and imaginative sandwich combinations which were unheard of 45 years ago. A favorite of my sister’s was turkey, ham, cheddar cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing. It became a family favorite. Going to the Homestead was practically a religious experience, and it never disappointed us. You could practically meet half the town there on Sunday afternoons, neighbors talked and we stood in line like good soldiers eagerly awaiting our turn. When you first opened the door to the Homestead, you would smell wonderful, different smells and then your salivary glands would start in over-time.

These sandwiches were so important to us that when friends visited my sister and I from the city once, we hid the sandwich. We would not share our Homestead sandwich, we would not part with even a bite. That’s how good they were and how embarrassingly shameful and selfish we were. Let them eat packaged cookies, we thought. No one is having this sandwich except us!  I remember it was a Roast Beef sandwich on Rye with Russian dressing, or in our code, an R with R  on R. Apparently sharing was not in our vocabulary at the time. They also had small individual aluminum cups of chocolate pudding and egg custard. How the egg custard shimmied, the chocolate pudding with its cooked skin draping over the cup. There were bins of imported cookies and candies, and delicacies from far away.

The Homestead was run by a man named Teddy who really was a superstar in our town. When he acknowledged us we felt special. The best deal my sister had was when she became friends with Teddy’s daughter, Barbara. They went behind to the back and made the glorious sandwiches themselves which they took to the beach. We were all jealous of her and she knew it.

To this day, if we visit our old neighborhood, a stop at the Homestead is required.  German potato salad, famous at the Homestead has been known to have been brought to others by car, train and plane. We still talk about this amazing deli and sometimes when the longing is too great, we head for Kew Gardens for a trip back to the old days. And we eat. A lot.