Something to chew on

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Sweet Snack

I was skeptical at first. I had seen the bags in the grocery store for a couple of weeks, but was scared to try them and knew Cole wouldn't touch them. Then I was in Target the other day on the edge of shaking from not eating anything for several hours, and I grabbed a bag to try.

"Wild Berry Patch" chips from Flat Earth (a Frito-Lay company I believe). How bad could they be?!? Well, they're purple, and chips aren't supposed to be purple. But they're really good. They taste to me like a cross between an apple and a strawberry, flattened and baked super thin with a sprinkle of sweetness on top. I actually think they'd be great along side a yummy bowl of Gran-gran homemade vanilla ice cream.

If you see them in the store, don't be afraid. They are very good, and they have half a recommended serving of daily fruit in each ounce, or so they say.

The next flavors I hope to try: Apple Cinnamon Grove and Farmland Cheddar. Yummy! Sure beats the Dill Pickle flavor that I see on the aisles these days.

Oh, sidenote: While trying to find their Web site, I found this fun little article from the Onion.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Does Lettuce Really Count?

I was ripping a head of lettuce out of a bag this evening, getting ready to chop it up for a steak fajita salad, when I noticed the "five a day" label on the bag. Does lettuce really count as a vegetable??? Are there nutrients I'm not aware of hiding between the leaves???

According to Dole: "Iceberg lettuce doesn't offer much nutritionally." Darn it. So why do they get to put that label on the bag???


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Plant Food for Thought

Grandad passed away Dec. 2, 1999. He was a proud military man with 27 years in the Navy. Some in our family and on his medical team at the time even felt that his military years might have led to his declining health. He served our country as a lieutenant in the Navy, working as nuclear-weapons tester, inspector and instructor.

Much of his military experience was classified most of my life, just to be declassified a couple of months before his death. I vividly remember how he spoke of the colors in a nuclear cloud. Colors that we don't see every day. Colors not found in a box of crayons.

I remember going to Gran-gran and Grandad's house for Sunday lunch during weekends home from college. He was always the first one finished at lunch and could be found lounging on the couch, cursing at the refs during the afternoon's football game. After packing my car to hit the highway again, I would go into the den to kiss him on the forehead and squeeze his hand. I normally stood up with a $20 bill between my fingers that he had been holding onto just to slip to me for my drive back to school.

For years before his death, he struggled with respiratory problems and aggravations, and I believe that respiratory failure is listed on his death certificate. He spent several days in the ICU before passing, even coming out of it long enough to be moved to a regular hospital room for a few days. He was up and alert, and I was lucky enough to be in the room with him for his last full-on, jovial conversation before his health slipped again. He was gone two days later.

His service and burial were nice. Friends and family from all around sent plants and flowers blooming with condolences. At the end of the service, I took a plant home. It's what I call a closet plant; I'm just not sure of the proper or scientific name for it. It's in our breakfast room.

This plant has grown and prospered and stayed green and healthy for the last seven-plus years. But it has only bloomed a few times: Once just before the 9/11 tragedy; then again just a week before we invaded Iraq; once a few days before Gran-gran was wrongly diagnosed with Alzheimer's; then just days before Cole and I were in a head-on wreck with a rock wall; once just before my cousin's baby (named after Grandad) was put in the hospital with dehydration and bowel problems.

And it bloomed again this week.

So, I beg of you this week... Wear your seatbelt, look both ways before you cross the street, chew your food well before swallowing, don't take candy from strangers, and slow down when chopping your vegetables for dinner.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Request Granted

When we got home this afternoon from running a few errands, we asked each other the constant question: "What's for dinner?"

Cole suggested the mustard-roasted potatoes that I've made a couple of times from Ina Garten's latest book, "Barefoot Contessa at Home." So, we roasted potatoes, grilled steak and sipped wine. Not bad for a quick Saturday-evening dinner.

(If you're looking at the recipe, you'll notice the picture missing the parsley. I didn't have it, so I just didn't use it.)

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Momma Always Said to Eat Your Veggies

I'm happy to say that for dinner I had lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and spinach in or around my ravioli. Then I came home to this headline in my news reader: "Americans Skimping on Fruits, Veggies."

How sad is this sentence: "From coast to coast, no state (or Washington, D.C.) meets the CDC's goals for adult fruit and vegetable consumption." [Bold emphasis is mine.]

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Changing Tires*

*(This is not a food-related or counting-calories entry.)

Cole and I read this story last night after dinner while watching a little bit of TV and relaxing. We're big NASCAR fans, down to even knowing who owns which cars and what many of the wives names are (sad, I know). But there are two words in this story that upset me, so much so that I emailed the author last night, and I still am not really over it this morning.

Quick story if you don't want to read the whole article: Kyle Petty is the driver of the #45 car. The Petty family is equal to NASCAR royalty in many ways. Anyway, this article was basically a profile of a member of the Petty crew who used to play football and how he has transitioned from that sport to this one. This crew member, Rocko Williams, is a front-tire changer for the Petty team (my favorite noise in NASCAR by the way, the airgun that removes the lugnuts, but that doesn't matter). The author felt the need to attribute a quote to "... Williams, an African-American."


This was not a story about the drive to increase diversity in the sport. And nowhere was Petty referred to as "Petty, a white guy" as Megan pointed out when I soapboxed on this story to her this morning. I just don't get it. If you have some insight as to why this would matter, please let me know. I'm still waiting on the author to email me back with his reasoning. We'll see if that actually happens...

**Update. I received an email back from Joe Menzer just a few minutes ago.
You know, the funny thing about that is that I wrote the entire story -- and then went back and put in the African American reference during my editing of it. Perhaps you are right. I wish I could say I believe we've finally reached the time in NASCAR when it is no longer necessary to make that point. But the reason I did it is that NASCAR continues to struggle with placing men of color and various ethnic backgrounds in positions throughout the sport, although it is trying to do better. Rocko, though no longer alone by any stretch when it comes to pit-crew members, is still one of very few African Americans in the sport. That is why, in the end, I decided to mention it. It really was no different than writing a story about Juan Montoya and mentioning that he is Colombian.


I certainly enjoyed talking with Rocko and doing the story on him, and had no intentions whatsoever of offending anyone. In fact, I'm not sure I understand why you appear to be so offended -- but thanks for the e-mail anyway.

I don't think that mentioning nationality (his Montoya reference) and race is the same. Am I wrong here???


Thursday, March 15, 2007

That Was Healthy

After what feels like 10 days of eating out and eating heavy, we had a healthy meal tonight. I'm not stuffed or miserable or feeling guilty, just happy that I had a good food day. I also had a good-food day. Simple, but here it is.

Thin, boneless pork chops seasoned with a sprinkle of kosher salt, course ground pepper, and a mix of dried herbs that I closed my eyes and pulled randomly from the pantry. I just seared the chops in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil for about four minutes on each side. Alongside the chops where alternating slices of Fuji apple and Parmesan cheese. Something about the sweet, juicy apple paired with the dry, sharp cheese is very delicious.

Oh, and a Diet Dr Pepper.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dinner Tonight???

After eating a full buffet which included BBQ, fried corn, pecan pie and margaritas the last few days, I'm having a hard time deciding what to cook for dinner the next couple of nights.

So, inspire me you seven readers, you. What are you having for dinner tonight (or what did you have last night if it's 2 a.m. when you're reading this)???


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

SXSW Was Yummy

SXSW (at least the Interactive portion) ended today. (Rex and Laura have both posted some great wrap-ups of many of the panels that we attended.) Rex flew out first thing this morning, I dropped Laura at the airport in the pouring rain late this afternoon, and Patrick catches a plane at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

After all the dipped-in-sauce, covered-in-gravy, candy-coated-then-fried food that we consumed, this evening we actually ate in a more healthful way than we had in days. We stole Patrick away from work for a couple of hours to wander around Whole Foods and grab a quick bite. I had a chicken teriyaki bowl, and I think my system went into a little bit of shock when I introduced steamed vegetables into my body for the first time in what seems like ages.

I should have purchased some of these beautiful artichokes from Whole Foods. Cole loves artichokes...

Tomorrow, after a trip to my favorite HEB, the diet begins.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

"I Will Probably Salivate"

Once again, my experience at SXSW is being documented in bites and nibbles and crumbs of food. I love being able to take visitors (Rex, his son, Laura and Patrick this time) to Austin-area restaraunts with great atmospheres, interesting histories, oh, and good food. Today for lunch, it was Las Manitas on South Congress. This evening for dinner, it was the Salt Lick out in Driftwood.

But I will offer these few randoms bits from SXSW over the last two days so far. These are only my opinions and observations, and there will be more to come.
  • People should bathe, daily. Your pheromones are not going to make your soulmate magically appear at your feet while at SXSW. Practice good hygiene so that the rest of us can comfortably be in your presence.
  • Women should wear bras.
  • How hard is it to be on time??? I love the fact that panels at SXSW don't start until 10 a.m., and there is a 30-minute break between them. Seriously, how hard is it to be courteous to your fellow participants and to the panelists themselves by simply being on time?!?!
  • I heard someone today refer to the distance from their home to a beach in terms of "how the crow flies." That made me smile.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday at SXSW

I'm too tired to say too much. I want to give a quick recap of the panels I attend today at SXSW, but that will just have to wait until tomorrow sometime.

I will just leave you with this picture from Guero's Taco Bar on South Congress though. Great conversation and good food is always the best way to end a busy day. Anything that comes with a side of melted butter has got to be good...

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Friday, March 09, 2007

How Many Calories in a SXSW Interactive Panel?

Well, Rex, Laura and Patrick are all coming into town this weekend for the Interactive portion of SXSW. I'm so excited that they are. Cole and I love getting to show a little bit of Austin off to them. (Though this will be Patrick's first visit here if I remember correctly.)

This weekend is in a way like Christmas to me. Doesn't the average American gain about five pounds during Christmas??? Well, I do the same during SXSW... HA!!! We always visit a couple (or four) Austin restaurants while they're here, and this visit will be no different.

I'll share a complete food recap, and hopefully pictures, soon.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

When Is a Recipe Yours and Not Stolen?

Each month in our tiny little mailbox we find a copy of a magazine called Texas Co-op Power from our electric company. There are always good articles about Texas travels, characters and food, and a handful of recipes. In the March issue they featured recipes from Texas-based Luby's. There was one that I just couldn't turn the page after reading: the macaroni and cheese.

(Can you tell we've been on a mac 'n cheese kick lately?!)

I had never tried mac 'n cheese from scratch before -- Cole was quick to point out I did not roll out the pasta noodles myself -- but I was ready to give this recipe a try. One problem: I don't keep dry non-fat milk in my pantry. But with Laura's suggestion, I decided to use evaporated milk instead. And with that, I reduced the water in the recipe. And I added breadcrumbs.

I added two ingredients, deleted one and altered the measurement of another. Does that make this recipe mine now, or does Luby's still get credit for it??? Either way, here's the version that came out of our oven this evening. Yummy if I do say so myself.

Mac 'n Cheese
2 cups large elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup evaporated milk
3 cups grated American cheese from deli counter (My deli guy suggested 1/4 pound for each 1 cup I wanted to shred; he was right on.)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, boiling water, butter or margarine, evaporated milk and 1 cup of cheese until smooth. Fold in drained macaroni and 1 more cup of grated cheese. Pour into lightly greased 11x7" casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle last cup of grated cheese over the top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake an additional five minutes.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Snakes and Bras

Two food things on my mind this evening...

Did y'all watch Survivor tonight??? Yes there were fish and coconuts and rice, nothing new about that. But there was one point in the show where a sea snake (at least I believe that black and white striped icky thing was sea snake) regurgitated a polka-dotted snake. I saw it, grabbed my throat making gagging noises and squealing like a little girl. Cole missed it, so of course he had to rewind (isn't DVR super?!) and watch it again, and again, and again. In slow motion. We almost got to see my chicken salad from Chipotle... again. Sometimes technology is a bad thing.

But at least we know that snake eats, which is more that I can say for the girl in the yellow in this ad from Victoria's Secret. (This picture was in my e-mail inbox today. Those Secret Embrace bras are GREAT by the way!!!) Anyway... I have always thought that VS did a good job with their models. Yes, they're models. But Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks have bodies, real bodies. This girl is frightening. I mean, look at her arm!!! I literally shuttered when I saw that in my inbox. Please, VS and Limited Brands, if you're listening to your buyers at all. Thin is fine. Real bodies are even better. But skeletal is just plain scary. Pass that girl a pizza and a beer!!!

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