Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eating My Words

Because I don't really have any photos, this post will be pretty wordy.  We have gone out to dinner a few times in the last week or two so I'll tell about that, plus  trips to Wegmans and BJ's Wholesale.  
Last Thursday we went to The Hillside Inn, a beautiful old mansion in Wyoming.  We eat there on occasion and always have a good time.  It's vegetarian friendly and they use local, fresh ingredients.  Anyway, this night I ordered the chicken linguine special, hold the chicken. I had seen others eating it and it looked good.  Linguine with veggies and a white wine sauce.  When it arrived it was in a small bowl, not like what I had seen others eating.  It was good but really more like an appetizer portion.  Fail.  I finished that off and still hungry, ordered a side of sweet potato fries.  I've had these before too, as a side with a sandwich and they were plentiful.  This time, there was maybe 6 or 7 on the plate?  Fail #2.  So I was pretty shocked when we got the bill and my 'entree' was $19.99.  WTH.   Maybe I could justify that price with the larger portion, with the chicken and maybe a salad with it? But for the size I got?  No way.  And the small side of fries?  $3!  Sigh.  I really should have said something but we were with some other people and although  both items were disappointingly small, they WERE good.  And I have had other meals there that were great so I just went home and had some pita chips and hummus and was finally full.  Did I mention I was still hungry when I left the restaurant??  And have I mentioned that, because I don't eat meat or dairy, I can eat a LOT?  Anyway, if you are ever in the area, you should definitely check it out.  It's historic and also haunted!
The other night we were down in Chaffee, where I romantically bought my husband a new chain saw for Valentine's Day.   And then he romantically bought me dinner, at The Hearth.  It was our first time there in like a decade, and it was wonderful.  He got the beef on weck.  I wanted to steal the roll it came on, it was heavily encrusted with seeds and salt. Mmm.  I ordered the Pasta Primavera, described on the menu as such... 

"Fresh Garden Vegetables are sauteed and tossed in our own special garlic and oil sauce and served over imported fettuccini"

It came with a  nice side salad.  The pasta dish was huge!  No kidding!  I ate maybe a quarter of it, and brought the rest home where it became lunch and then later, dinner!  I love leftovers!  Anyway, the best part was that it's only $10.99, which is crazy because That I would have gladly paid $19.99 for.  The Hearth also has a great bar area with a fireplace that is pretty popular with snowmobilers, and they also have entertainment.  We'll be back!  It's right down the street from Earl's Diner, which has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, and yet strangely enough does not have its own website. If you Lougle Google it lots of results come up for it though.  We ate there once last summer and it was good, but I have to say that the table "legs" - cowboy jeans and boots - freak me out enough that I'm not in a rush to go back.   Add it to your list, though.  It's worth seeing!

We've been out to Wegmans a few times too.  I love to shop there!  We like to eat at their Market Cafe.  John likes the wings, fingers, and pizza, and I like the Hot Bar.  They always have a few vegan choices.  Yay Wegmans! On times that they don't,  or it's not something I want, I grab a frozen Amy's or something else and heat in up in their microwave.  They have a whole section of vegan/vegetarian/organic/healthy stuff.  I wish we had one closer.

We've also been to BJ's Wholesale club, where I stock up on V8, almond milk, and Hummus.  
And Stacy's pita chips!  Love this flavor!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Tribute To My Brother Dan On His Birthday

Dan and I, circa 1963

Today is my brother Dan's birthday.  He would have been 52. And next week is my birthday. This year, just as it has in other years, it has brought up so many thoughts and emotions for me. Thoughts and emotions that most of the time, I suppress. If I feel them bubbling up, I try and push them back down. After 21 years, they are still too painful to think about.

In January 1990, just two weeks after Christmas, my brother died. My only brother, my only sibling. Leaving me, at 28, an only child. When he died, he took with him all our childhood memories. Who else remembers things the way a s
ibling can? I have no one else to say "Hey remember when'" to. No one else that recalls our childhood. And now, no one else to help me care for our elderly parents. No one to share  the responsibility with.  And God knows, I was never the responsible one.
Dan was in the Navy, and had been stationed in Bahrain, a place that few had heard of at that time.  This was before the Gulf War, and he had been there for some time. Being a Navy incident, we never got many details, and being family isn't enough reason for the military to tell us everything they know. We have had to accept that. All we know is that it started with a phone call, telling us he was dead.  He had been home that year for the Holidays, someth
ing that was very rare, as anyone in the military knows. It was one of the best Christmases we have ever had.
New Year's Eve was awesome too.

Before he was sent to the Middle East, he was stationed in Pensacola Florida. He was a Search And Rescue Instructor, and received many awards for Air Sea Rescues.

Pensacola was where he bought his home, and we loved to go visit him there. He loved it too! My children were very young when he was killed - Steven was only 6 months, Rick was 2 and Patti was 6. So Patti is the one who remembers him best. Dan was really close with her, always taking her for rides in his convertible, buying her HUGE stuffed animals, and he always told her that when he retired, he was going to open a restaurant and call it Hamburger Patti's. Dan never had children of his own, and loved mine, spoiling them and treating them as though they were his own. When my son John Michael died, Dan was right there for me, my big brother who could fix everything except the unbelievable agony and pain of losing a child.

So many memories of Dan are tied up in things in my life, which makes it even more difficult to think about him. Our birthdays were 2 years and one week apart (the 9th and the 16th) and we always celebrated them on the Sunday in between. So even my birthday has a cloud of sadness, celebrating one birthday instead of two.  And this year, as I turn 50, I know he would have teased me unmercifully.  But he would have also gotten me an awesome gift and told me he loved me, despite the Over The Hill jokes I know I would have born the brunt of.

Anyone who has lost a sibling can  understand my pain,  pain I feel both now, and in the future. Because the pain comes and goes, unexpectedly, brought on by a memory, or seeing something, or even a scent.  But all we can do, is the best we can, and go on with our lives without those we love.

I miss my Brother. Love y
ou Dan!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Hav-o Avo-Cado

Don't tell Cali (or they might sic their practically-legal, knife carrying birds on me),  but I've never purchased an avocado before!    I  have no clue what to do with it but it looks pretty, if green's your thang.  There's so many awesome recipes out there that I just can't decide.  
I do know what I'm going to do with this
I'm going to make candied lemon.  The recipe came from here.  Wish me luck.
I also know what I'm going to do with this
Correction - (and a confession) I was going to make that scrumptious looking pie on the front.  But then I read the label and it said "or enjoy right from the package".  And when I opened it, it looked so pudding-like that I just couldn't resist.  OMG.  Do yourself a favor and go out right now and buy this..Just don't bother go to my store.  They won't have any because I claimed it all. And I finally found something that my chicken wing loving husband actually liked!  It's a miracle!
I wanted it for breakfast but I resisted (but just til second breakfast!)
This was first breakfast
Yes orange juice with a side of orange.  And a banana.  For those of you keeping count, that's 3 of the daily 'strive for 5', just at breakfast.  I used to think that having 5 fruits or veggies a day was unattainable, hahahaha.  Quick, how many have you had today?  If you're average, the answer is 1 or 2.  No, french fries don't count.  The pickle and lettuce on your fast food burger don't count.   I'll look the other way if you include the olive in your martini.
My pretty Nemacolin Resorts mug
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is an amazing resort in Pennsylvania that Patti and I went to after we toured Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob.  We had stopped at this little diner for lunch - The Lakeview Diner (where the lake is really a pond and diner is a ummm generous description).  But the owner was great and he told us we needed to go see this resort and we did.  You should definitely go there (but you could should probably skip the diner)
Lunch was soup and a grilled cheese.  Did you catch that last part?  GRILLED CHEESE.
The bread looks kinda pale because I was too excited to wait!  It was so good!  I know you don't believe me but it was like really good, sharp cheddar.
This is the a-mazo- cheese
I've had this in my sights for weeks but was a little afraid to pull the trigger, due to the $4.99 price tag.  Now?  I would gladly pay twice that.  It's that good.  Guilt free cheesey goodness?  Sign me up.
I had cupcakes too!  Specifically, Oatmeal Cookie Cupcakes.
Hidden Mickey anyone?  The recipe is from  I added chocolate chips to some of them.  Next time maybe I'll try raisins.  Anyway, click that link and read Sarah's blog.  I keep telling you that!  Do it!  She frosted hers but mine disappeared too fast.
Okay, sorry to post and run but I'm 2 seasons into Thirtysomething.  Last time I watched this I was twentysomething.  Now I'm fortysomething and still love it.  Do you remember that series?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TGIF, and I Celebrate My Polish Heritage

That's right - Thank God It's February!  I try not to complain (too much) about January but I really hate it. BTW, it took me forever when I was little to add that "R" into FebRuary, both in print and speech.  I still don't say it! And this Febuary is extra special because I turn 50!  I am both amazed and astonished by this.  How did that happen?  Anyway, moving on. I don't really remember breakfast but I'm sure it's not something that was staring at me.
Lunch however, LUNCH I remember!  I had some tofu leftover from the mac and cheeze the other day so I marinated it, then fried it in a skillet with a little Earth Balance til it got nice and crispy.  The marinade I use is the best!  I have had this recipe forever and I actually got it from a ham slice package which makes me feel a little sad now.  
3T maple syrup
1T soy sauce
2T bourbon or whiskey or whatever you have hidden in your nightstand - just not the nyquil
1/2 t minced garlic
1 t fancy mustard with seeds.  Or just plain.  I'm okay with just plain
Shake it up in a little jar and use often!

I drizzled a little extra on it.  I also had some black olives (and strongly resisted the urge to put them on my fingers and run around the house chanting NA NA NA NA)
Some trees
And some yummy smashed potatoes, with  carmelized onions and garlic.  Beyond good!  I just sub out the milk and butter for almond milk and Earth Balance. 
Don't you wish the screen was scratch and sniff?
Look again
Hey get off the table!
In full disclosure I don't eat at this table.  It's in our back room, mud room, family room, the first room you walk into in our house.  So don't be hating on a cat getting her vitamin D!  There was actual sunshine in that spot.  Just be glad it wasn't THIS on the table
Wait she looks small there
Yes that's 18lbs of kitty love.  Tubby Princess is really my Mother's cat but she stays with us in the winter while my parents hide out in Florida.  Cowards!
Dinner is where my Polish roots come into play.  For those of you who are wondering how Griffin + Becker = Cunninghamski, I am adopted.  Plus, I just found out that Father Baker and I have the same birthdate!  See how holy I am?
This is another recipe from One Sweet Vegan.  Just search for Kraut Burgers in her recipes.  I made it pretty much exactly like she did only I couldn't use cabbage from my WINTER GARDEN. Truthfully I don't have a summer garden either but some day I might!  So stop throwing that in my face okay?  They were as good as I hoped, and I'm so glad I have some leftover.  She uses brown gravy over hers but I just dipped mine in some pub mustard. 
Take a look
 With my leftover trees and smashed potatoes from lunch.  The kraut burgers look better on Emily's blog but they were seriously good.  They reminded me of ruebens!
Bottom view (again, hoping that phrase doesn't lead pervs to my blog)
 Middle view.  That looks like hamburger but it's just crumbles. 
Mustard!  I don't have a winter garden but I have mustard!
After dinner I decided to make baklava wontons.  But they somehow morphed into chocolate-peanut butter-walnut wontons. Over the top good!  At first I cut the wrapper into quarters, but that made them way to small
Then I experimented
Too much 'top'. I wanted them to look like crab rangoon.
Top cut off...
 Nope that's not right.
Folded like an envelope...
Still not right
Like a little bundle?  Close but not quite there yet...
 Perfect!  Cute right?
Look inside!
They took a little tweaking but so worth it. 
Tell me, do you really think I miss meat?  Nope

Today I'm making soup.  Comfort food in case we get hit by that storm.
Happy Febuary!