Tag Archives: food

Hiding in my room

As a belated birthday gift, Frank’s aunt gave me a box of chocolates from the Czech Republic.  They, as a family in general, make frequent trips back to their mother-land and bring back with them assorted goodies that they can’t get stateside.

I have saved these chocolates and am now eating them while I blog, laying in bed after the kids were put to bed.  I could have eaten them on any other number of occasions in the week since I received them, but then I would have had to share them with little children.  And these are mine, dammit.

It’s funny as a parent the things I find I hide away from my kids.  Red Twizzlers often only come out late at night to keep them away from wee ones determined to get their share.  Most of my covert candy thievery also happens under the cover of dark — Halloween bags and Easter baskets pilfered after their guards have drifted off to sleep.  It makes me wonder what wondrous confections my own mom and dad kept hidden for enjoyment only when my brother and I were out of the house or asleep for the night.

Anyway, these chocolates that I received for my birthday, they are interesting.  Tastewise they are pretty good.  I’d best describe them as milk chocolate with a creamy nutty middle.  They are officially called “Laguna Nutsnougat” which, according to the translations into every European language on the back, translates to “Seafood with Filling”.  No, really.  But rest assured, they are only “seafood” because they are molded into oceanesque shapes, like seashells and starfish.  I’m not quite sure what the culinary Czech genius was thinking when he had his epiphany, but it must have gone something like this:  “Ahoy! [because that’s how they say ‘hello’]  I am thinking… we have a recipe for delicious nougat-filled chocolate bonbons.  Only to make them into straightforward chocolate shapes is so blah, so passe, so expected.  What to do, what to do… A-ha!  I’ve got it!  Let’s make them look like mollusks!  Nothing says ‘sweet confectionary bliss’ like shellfish!”  Seriously, I can’t look at them while I eat them.  Especially the mussels.  Ugh.

The second thing to note about these chocolates is the ingredient list.  In the U.S. here, we have something in many ingredient lists called “Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” which on the surface doesn’t seem all that offensive.   The Europeans, however, do not let their food manufacturers get away with such namby-pamby fru-fru food names.  They have to tell it like it is, it seems, because the second ingredient listed, after sugar, is “hardened vegetable fat”.  Yummy.

Carnival cherry poppage and Chinese food

So…. my series on whether executive experience makes a good president landed me on the History Carnival, which is hosted today at the American Presidents Blog.  Check it out and thanks for the linkage!

Other than that, not too much new.  The in-laws are back from the Czech Republic, we’re getting carpet installed tomorrow in our family room and spare bedroom, I have four or five of the itchiest insect bites on my ankle (hydrocortisone cream is awesome), and I’m eagerly awaiting the debate tonight.

Oh, I can babble a little bit about one thing, which is sort of lame but it has Frank nervous.  I’ve decreed that every time we order Chinese food, we have to order something new.  We perpetually get a quart of something-and-broccoli, and then either beef or chicken lo mein.  Sometimes we go a little crazy and get General Tso’s.  We get quarts because they offer a good value and we can get lunch the next day out of it.  Experimentation of this sort probably would have been wise in college, but it just didn’t happen much.  I guess we were happy to be getting our $4.50 student meal and given the states of our bank accounts, we felt little need to branch out from trusted favorites.  Well, now, we’re trying stuff out.  Chinese food last week (we tend to get it about once a week) included Hunan Chicken, which was AWESOME.  Today it was beef chow mein, which was cool because of the crispy noodles and abundant soupy-sauciness but I wasn’t a huge fan of the veggies.  Frank’s playing hockey tonight so he hasn’t partaken yet but I’m guessing he won’t be raving about it either.    I also ordered orange chicken, which is always yummy.

We live amazing, crazy lives around these parts.

Bad taste has its rewards

I went to Trader Joe’s for the first time in a few weeks this week.  I am always completely enthralled by their candy/snack section, because it’s all so cool and good and somewhat unusual.  I often buy at least one thing, usually intending that I will hide it and be the only one that eats it, but then a child or husband finds it and I rarely claim anything to be MINE in the pantry or refrigerator, so I share, and I am generally happy to do so, and the snack is gone in a day or so.  A household favorite that they sell are chocolate-and-candy-coated sunflower seeds.  Yum.

But this trip, a container of black licorice caught my eye.  A four dollar pound of licorice, all the way from Australia.  I figured, if they’re bringing it all the way from Australia, it has to be good, right?  Luckily my logic was not flawed in the least.  This licorice is decadent.  Soft and creamy and chewy and perfectly flavored.  (For anyone wondering, it is “Australia’s Darrell Lea Traditional Licorice”.)

And the lovely bonus is that nobody else in the house likes black licorice.  Frank abhors it.  Lane has sportingly tried it a couple times, but both times hasn’t gotten past an initial nibble before relinquishing her piece back to me.  So now, four days post-Trader Joe’s trip, I still have at least a third of a pound of licorice.

Thanks for the … wholesomeness?

According to Dictionary.com:

whole·some –adjective

1. conducive to moral or general well-being; salutary; beneficial: wholesome recreation; wholesome environment.
2. conducive to bodily health; healthful; salubrious: wholesome food; wholesome air; wholesome exercise.
3. suggestive of physical or moral health, esp. in appearance.
4. healthy or sound.

This leaves me just a little confused.  You see, in this household we love us some Fla-Vor-Ice.  We buy them by the gross.  (Actually, more than a gross.  By the 200-pack.)  I just went for three of them for an after-breakfast treat for me and the kids and noticed on the box they are “pasteurized for purity and wholesomeness”.  Surely they aren’t trying to imply that these are GOOD for you just because they are pasteurized, since to me (and it seems, Dictionary.com as well) “wholesome” means healthy as it relates to food.  As last I checked, 25 empty calories aren’t doing anything for my well-being.  So perhaps they mean definition #1.  Does eating Fla-Vor-Ice lead to moral well-being?  I really couldn’t say.

And I’m not even going to get started on the purity part of it.

Plum dumplings?

We had dinner at our in-laws’ tonight, because MIL was planning a plum dumpling dinner and talked about it like it was the Best Thing Ever.  I’m not sure if it’s a Czech thing specifically, or maybe a more general eastern European thing.

Has anyone ever had this?

Let me describe:

It seems you take full plums (pits included, though I suppose they aren’t requisite if you were so inclined to remove them), wrap them in some sort of pastry dough, then I’m guessing they were steamed.  You put these on your plate, top them with some sort of shredded semi-soft cheese (I didn’t ask what it was for fear it was made from something ungodly), melted butter, and either granulated or powdered sugar (your choice).

And this is dinner.

They made a modified version for my husband which had jam inside instead of whole plums, because Frank is generally loathe to eat cooked fruit.  He makes an exuberant exception for my apple pie, wise man he is.

Anyway, these people were gaga over it.  Me and the kids, not so much.  I thought it tasted decent enough, but I was sick of eating it before I’d eaten more than a snack’s worth.  We came back to our house and topped it off with dino-chicken nuggets and french fries.

Flying Fishbone

I want to tell you about (me and Frank’s? Frank’s and my?) our date in Aruba.

Nothing too exciting, out to dinner, and then to a casino to play with some comped chips we were given for sitting through a timeshare presentation.

But the dinner itself was quite special.

We went to a restaurant called The Flying Fishbone – you must click the link.  Yes, that is the ocean.  Yes, those are tables right in the water.  Yes, it was every bit as amazing as you might imagine, to sit and take in some fine dining with your feet in the sand (because if you’re smart you wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off – even the waitstaff was all in flip-flops or just barefoot altogether).  We ate there after dark and it was enchanting.  We had the sound of the ocean, the lights of boats sailing by and the glow of Oranjestad in the distance.  A musician meandered among the tables playing smooth-jazz versions of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole songs on a tenor saxophone.  You’re completely outside, not an awning in sight… just the stars and moon as your shelter.  Since Aruba never really gets below like 72 degrees at night, and there’s always a breeze, it was comfortable even at nearly 10 pm when we were paying our bill.

We had some yummy and very alcoholic drinks, shared a delicious crock of creamy corn soup with chunks of crab, then enjoyed our chosen entrees (I had shrimp and lobster, Frank had barracuda) and during the leisurely pace of the whole meal, talked about stuff we simply don’t have the time or energy to talk about on an everyday basis — stuff we might do when we retire, if and when we’ll be adding a third child to the mix, was there any way we could manage to stay on Aruba forever because it is so idyllic.  The food was good – not the best I’ve ever had, to be sure, but very good – yet combined with the amazing, unique, incredible ambiance it made for perhaps the best dining experience of my life.  The total with tip came to like $120, but that was with three drinks, soup, entrees, and a generous tip.  Well worth it, in my humble opinion.

So, two thumbs up.  I hope you’ll get the opportunity to experience it some time!  We left with full bellies, renewed spark, sand between our toes, a lighter pocketbook, and plans to definitely do it again.

Syrup snobbery

I’ve talked previously about my waffle addiction.  To sum up mostly because I’m too lazy to link to past entries, we got a smokin’ new waffle iron for Christmas and it is being used heavily.  Granted we’re having waffles 2-3 days a week now, vs. the 6-7 days a week we were averaging right after Christmas (and sometimes more than once a day) but the waffle addiction continues.

I’m still using the just-add-water waffle batter, since the frequent waffle-making requires a mix that doesn’t otherwise become too labor-intensive.  We are using a giant bag from Costco with much success, making the batter just slightly thicker than the recipe suggests.  In the name of nutrition, I do usually add something to the batter.  Usually it’s wheat germ or flaxseed meal, or when I’m feeling wild and crazy, both.  Often, I run some frozen blueberries through a food mill and add those.  Lane claims she doesn’t like blueberries but she sure seems to love her some blueberry-flavored waffles.  I’ve tried banana pancakes on her and she would have nothing to do with them, which is weird to me because she loves pancakes, and she loves bananas.  Bananas and pancake batter, however, must fuel an as-of-yet-undocumented-by-science chemical reaction, thus rendering the final product completely abhorrent to her taste buds.  I thought they tasted good though.  Regardless, I won’t attempt mashed banana in the waffles for that reason, though I suspect it might taste good and would be a fine way to use up some overripe bananas.  Well, maybe I’ll try it anyway.  I do buy the waffle batter mix for nine cents a hectare at Costco.

When it comes to toppings, we eschew fruits and powdered sugar and whipped cream and go for the traditional butter and syrup approach.

I buy Olivio brand spreadable butter, which is just butter with some olive oil mixed in, because I’m not a fan of tearing apart my waffle (or bread or pancake or English muffin, etc.) just to get a little butter on it.  I suppose if I were more frugal I could create such a simple concoction myself, but I don’t have the patience, and my KITCHENAID STAND MIXER is in storage, without which I would not even attempt such a feat.  Maybe I will once I have it back, when we’re in a house.

As far as syrup… well.  A small part of me wants to be a syrup snob, reveling in real maple syrup and dismissing the stuff that’s not real syrup as sub par.  Alas, try as I have, I simply love me some maple-flavored high fructose corn syrup goodness.  Log Cabin is good, Mrs. Butterworth is to die for.  The super-diet low-cal stuff is always gross, but for me the “lite” syrups are close enough that I can tolerate the minor taste deficiency for half the calories.

That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the real thing.  It’s good, and I’ll use it.  I respect it and revere it for lending its flavor to the artificial stuff.  We gave away little bottles of maple syrup as favors at our wedding.  We had a maple tree that ran sap at our old house, and I considered seeing if I could tap it and make my own syrup, just for fun.  (Yeah, I know, sort of weird… but I also on-and-off entertain the idea of beekeeping as a hobby, and am semi-seriously considering setting up a hive once we’re in a house.)

But given the choice, I will bow at the altar of Mrs. Butterworth every day of the week and twice on Sunday.