Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Eating

Attending all of the parties this time of year and seeing all of the Christmas specials on the Food Network, I'm reminded just how many unique foods there are this time of year. To be quite honest, I never think of Christmas as being a time of particularly wonderful food, but I am now thinking of it as a time of great nostalgic food. This time of year presents so many great food memories for me. Many of them revolve around desserts of course. Sugar cookies and Buckeyes are my favorite remembered foods. Although, some other greats that my mom used to make include, Hungarian Horns, Candy Cane Cookies, and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies. Even though Buckeyes are a real pain to make, having to individually roll these sticky peanut butter concoctions by hand, and later hand-dip each ball in chocolate, the taste of the chocolate/peanut butter combination is well worth the effort. Simple things like fudge and sugar cookies are exciting this time of year. These tastes take me back many years to the excitement of the pending day. I love the memories these foods create and hope you are enjoying creating your own for years to come.

Friday, November 28, 2008


So this is the big eating day. We're supposed to feast on tons of food. All people do is talk about how much they ate and how they are stuffed. I ask this though, is this the best we got? I am very unimpressed with the food at Thanksgiving. In fact, I can't ever remember liking much of what's on the table. I can't get excited about turkey. Maybe it's because I have never had it prepared in an interesting way. Sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole? Not our best effort. Sweet potatoes are too sweet for dinner. Stuffing is usually too dry or too salty. Cranberry sauce is just a horrible idea. Green bean casserole contains no natural ingredients. The entire dish can be created from cans. I find myself not stuffing myself silly. To me, this food is not anything to get worked up about. I propose something new for Thanksgiving. In the spirit of the holiday, we should make food that we are thankful for. What food do you really enjoy? What food are you thankful for and would like to share with others?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I've been fighting bronchitis, so it's been a while since my last post. Being sick sucks. Aside from the aspect of being tired and feeling like crap, your appetite gets ruined. I didn't feel like eating anything for quite a while and nothing appealed. It was rough to know I should eat, but not feel like eating. I didn't have a craving for a nice meal at a restaurant or even a greasy hamburger from a dive. I'm still barely back to normal. I want to want food again. You ever have that sore throat or nasty stomachache that forces you to eat applesauce or Saltines? It's rough to drink tons of water and eat popsicles. My normal diet has been disturbed. Stomach issues are the worst because you're limited to eating things that only taste okay coming back up.
As for Thanksgiving food, I'm not worried about missing anything. I get no excitement for any of the food offered on this upcoming holiday. Mashed potatoes are about the only thing that excite me, and I won't be eating them this year. What are your Thanksgiving food musts?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Rants

Sorry, for the time since my last post, I have been under the weather. I have issues with fast food commercials and Olive Garden commercials. Must we be bombarded with horrible ads featuring morons wanting something more exciting than a burger? How about a wave of water soaks you and you're left with some nasty old shrimp and questionable white fish? That's right, try Long John Silvers!! Has this place killed any people like Jack-n-the-Box? If they haven't, I'm shocked. I am so scared of the food they serve. I would rather eat a boring burger than some random mix of chum that a shark rejected. Oh, and congratulations to the people that decided to combine Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. Now, rather than having to avoid all 3 of them, I can avoid one building with all three. It's like a food court where every choice is a losing one. KenTacoHut. How about a Gordita with cheese stuffed crust and some biscuits?
Now for Olive Garden. Really? You send your chefs to a cooking school in Italy? How many things are wrong with that sentence? First, they are not chefs. Chefs go to a school, chefs have a lot of skill. Cooks perform menial tasks, they combine ingredients, they follow orders. Second, what affiliation would Olive Garden have with Italy? Clearly, their food has no affiliation with anything in Italy. Yes, they do use Italian words to describe their food, but that's about it. I have not been to a restaurant in Italy that serves endless bread sticks or salad. Also, their commercials are nauseating. "I bring my Italian grandmother to Olive Garden every time she comes here." Why? Do you hate your grandmother? Do you want her to see how far behind in cooking we are? Who is buying this?
I'm done. . . for now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Place

"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name." I have always wanted to have my restaurant that I always frequent. You know, the type of place where you know all of the waiters, they recognize you by name. Maybe they even know what dishes you prefer. It would kind of be like my own Cheers. Perhaps many of us want this type of place. I remember that throughout college my roommates and I looked for a coffee shop (despite the fact that none of us liked coffee) similar to that in Seinfeld. We wanted a place where we could all meet. Somewhere we could say, "Hey, meet me at the coffee shop." We thought we found the place, we went there once, and no one liked it. I'm sure it's harder when you live out in the suburbs and there is a high turnover in staff, but I really hope to find that place. If I were to open a restaurant, I would want to know my customers on a first-name basis. The closest thing I have right now is a barber who knows my name, and that feels pretty good. Perhaps, it's really simple on my part. I just want recognition, but I know I'm not alone. I think many of us want this place. That place where we feel like old friends catching up again. That place where it's like hanging out in the neighborhood. Maybe we've watched Norm one too many times and wanted our own Frasier to listen to our problems.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Routine

It's Pork Chop Day!! Well, it's not that routine at our house, but we get caught up in eating the same thing each week. It's partially laziness and partially a lack of creativity. Salmon is in our weekly rotation, some type of pasta, some type of pork, and perhaps a beef product. Our goal is to become more creative with what we make each week. Sure, we can eat salmon once a week, but we shouldn't prepare it the same way. It can be difficult when you're running low on time or just don't have the energy to think of something new. Let's get creative. Take two hours one day and plan out your week. Unfortunately, it feels like a chore to think of a menu. You start to feel like you're a chef planning the opening of your restaurant. It shouldn't scare us. Your challenge and mine? To create a menu for the week. Plan out the meals. I think we'll enjoy dinner time more.
On a separate note, I finally made it to Rodney's. They have pre-designed burgers or you can build your own. There's a large supply of free toppings and some premium toppings like, guacamole, bacon, and avocado. They have buffalo, beef, and maybe chicken. There are three types of fries, pencil-thin, steak fries, and sweet potato fries. It was very well made burger. Not too greasy, but not too lean. I recommend it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mikey Likes It!!

I briefly wrote in a previous post about hating being called a "picky eater." My reason for this is because of picky eaters. I don't understand them. I do understand being a vegetarian or a vegan or having religious prohibitions or allergies, but I don't understand turning your nose up against a wide variety of things. My dad always preached to try something first before saying you don't like it. While this sometimes takes courage, it can frequently prove rewarding. Some of the best foods I have tasted were items I felt hesitant to try.
I believe there are various categories (for lack of a better word) of picky eaters. There is my personal favorite, the "no seafood" people. Really? You don't want to eat something from the ocean? I frequently wonder if these people have ever tried seafood or have tried something better than tuna in a can. Seafood produces many different flavors. To simply exclude seafood, misses out on great things like sushi, fried shrimp, sauteed scallops, mussels, grilled salmon or trout, raw oysters, or lobster. If you would you try a few things, ah forget it.
How about the "super cheap eaters?" Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with saving money except when you never spend a little extra for the better product. Some cuts of beef cost more, and believe me, they are worth it. Fresh produce might cost more than some of the awful produce
WalMart tries to peddle, and it's worth it. Using fresh herbs versus dried, powdery herbs will produce a better quality taste. Many quality ingredients cost more and sometimes it's worth the splurge. Don't look down your noses at people who spend more money on food.
The "fast foodies" are another good one. Del Taco is all they need. "Chili's makes the best fajitas ever!" "I think the pasta at Olive Garden is Amazing!" They think homemade pasta is a joke. Making your own fajitas, why? Fast foodies and super
cheaps will turn the tables on you. They will make you seem picky because Chili's doesn't do it for you or because you found a better restaurant than Olive Garden.
My last category is the "traditionalists." Apparently they decided what foods they would eat at age nine and haven't changed since. Nothing new has hit their mouth since that time. "Sushi? Sounds weird." "Gross, spinach." "
Guacamole looks like baby puke." "Pepperoni only on my pizza, thank you." These people cannot branch out because it scares them too much. Generally, if it doesn't look good or sound good, they're gone. They'll probably look for hamburgers on the menu at a French restaurant or ask for a cheese quesadilla at a Mexican restaurant.
I'd love to hear anyone's suggestions for additional categories. I'm sure there are more out there. If you're a picky eater and I've offended you, I'm not sorry. Become adventurous. Try something new this week. Guess what? You just might like it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Foodie

I have to vent first before I get into some other details. Being a foodie/food snob isn't always easy. I don't really like being called a food snob, but I can understand why I might be perceived this way. I do, however, have serious issues with being called picky. Just because one does not get excited to go to Chili's or frequent Taco Bell, does not make one picky. I don't discriminate against any type of meat or exclude shellfish from my diet. The only really common ingredient I can do without is onions, but I am not going to throw a temper tantrum if they're included. Being picky is not being open to different types of foods. Do any of you other foodies run into this or is it just me?
Now on to some other things. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had made some pizza, and I want to encourage all of you to try this if you haven't. Making pizza dough is extremely easy. After that, it's just up to you in deciding what kind of toppings you want to put on. Pizza Margherita is a great place to start. It's simply mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. I love the addition of a high quality extra virgin olive oil and an aged balsamic vinegar. O & Co has some of the best choices of olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the world. Trust me on how amazing they are. They vary in tastes just like wines .
Another good dish I tried this week was a spinach and penne pasta. You take spinach, garlic, goat cheese, cream cheese, salt, and pepper, and you puree it in a food processor. Next, you pour it over the cooked penne and serve over a bed of wilted spinach. It was awesome and relatively easy. I added some chopped chicken to this just to have some meat.

What are you making?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Recents & Rants

Some recent food I've enjoyed. I made some pizza on Saturday, one was a caprese pizza, fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, fresh basil, topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The second was goat cheese and roasted red pepper, topped with fig-infused balsamic vinegar. I was skeptical of the fig at first, but after I tasted it, I was sold. The goat cheese combination is very good. Also, went to Wahoo's on Sunday and got a shrimp burrito. I was very disappointed. It tasted of dirty bell peppers and onions. I ended up spitting out a lot of the ingredients. It's sad when it comes to that. I knew I liked the shrimp tacos, I always get the shrimp tacos, and yet I got the burrito. Why do we do things like that? You know something is going to be good, you're looking forward to it, but at the last moment you change your mind. It's like what they say with multiple choice tests, go with your first instinct. I've been craving hamburgers all week, since I made a poor buffalo burger on Monday. I mixed in goat cheese with the ground buffalo, but I guess I grilled it too long. Any recommendations? Anyway, I'm craving Rodney's Hamburgers. I've never been there, but I'm hearing great things about the sweet potato fries.

Now on to my rants. This will be a frequent section. They opened up a Jack-in-the-Box near our house, and the line for the drive-thru had been a mile long for more than a week. It didn't matter what time of day it was, the line was always long. This place killed people back in the 80's, and now people are spending hours in the drive-thru just for a chance to tempt death. Really? I have never eaten here, and I don't plan on ever eating there. I don't hold any contempt for fast food, as I occasionally crave a double cheeseburger from Burger King; however, can't we develop some taste buds, maybe a little bit of class? Get out of your car, march yourself into that disease-ridden place, and punch that Styrofoam smiley face right in the carrot nose. Say no to Jack!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Food Effect

You might say to yourself. I dont really care about food all that much. As long as something tastes good, thats all that matters. Maybe you don’t analyze flavors or complain about the lack of seasonings or blacklist certain restaurants, but you do care. Of course you do, food does something to you. It excites you or disappoints you. It gives you something to look forward to or something to dread. It provides conversation and brings people together. This is the Food Effect. Havent heard of the Food Effect? That is probably because I just made it up.
The Food Effect is how we are affected by food. Still shaking your head?
Think about this for a moment. Have you ever been walking outside and smelled a neighbors grill and thought about what might be cooking? Did it make your mouth water for a juicy ribeye or some authentic BBQ? Or maybe you remember your mom telling you when you were little that you got to choose the restaurant for your birthday. You got to pick that favorite restaurant and your favorite thing to eat. Perhaps a friend invited you over to their house for dinner and you wondered what was sitting on the plate in front of you. The look and smell and taste were all unappetizing and you longed for something familiar. Did you spend time in a foreign country or maybe another part of the country and long for something from home? No matter who you are, you can identify with one of these. We all care about food, on one level or another. Some of us dive more into it than others. I challenge you to dive deeper and let the Food Effect take over. Make your own top ten list of favorite foods and go out to eat them this week. Know what affects you and go after it. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so enjoy it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

It Begins

What's my story? What do I hope to accomplish here?

To put it simply, I like food. Food is good, but you already knew that. It's sad how often we eat boring crap and don't appreciate all the different tastes. Having spent some time in Europe, I've seen their passion for food and desire for freshness. There aren't a large supply of supermarkets all over the place, but there is a large supply of actual markets. Markets where fresh food is abundant. Where people pick up produce and smell it, where they talk to the fisherman about yesterday's catch, and where farmers flaunt some strong smelling cheeses.
Unfortunately, we now have WalMart and stores like it. Now I have nothing against these stores right to low prices and cheap products. The problem I have is that people try to find the cheapest deal on food with little regard for quality. We frequently don't look for the freshest product, but the cheapest. With a lack of concern for freshness, you miss out on taste. Many people don't know how much better something can taste when it hasn't been packaged and had additives injected into it. I want this blog to be an opportunity to share with you my passion for food. A chance to share restaurants I've been to, food I've eaten and made, and for you to share back. Let this be the beginning.