Word and Image

Food

Food of the year

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I’ve had this discussion before. The first was mozzarella sticks way back in 1982. We had them in Hawaii. Good stuff. Old hat…very old hat. Kale? Nope! Never! I never saw it till it crossed my path in 2014 in a green smoothie Jules ate in California. Thick as sludge, so, I think she ate it. And now in Annapolis – fried kale. Annapolis? It went mainstream “food of the year” right under my nose. Chicago – specialty food store – Mariano’s – carried it – as well as Whole Foods. Kale chips – they are thick and crumble easily. The leaves are very delicate. Deep fried and dolloped with mustard mayo, garnished with onion, pepper and so forth, the dish is sublimely seductive. Yeah! Anything this good is bad for you and I can readily attest. We stopped in this restaurant and made special trips to go there. Nuts! Deep fried kale is dead simple to make. After we deconstructed the dish and made some, it’s no longer the draw and attraction.

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My current “go to” is sweet potato chips. “Food of the year” comes and goes. It is food trend that often is not obvious at first. Kale remains a curiosity. I will not be drinking a kale smoothie any time soon in my “Vitamix.”


Mushroom Thing

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It’s what I called it. Everyone else calls it that now too. Huh? Well, I’m sure there’s a more appetizing official name I could think of. But it’s kind of cute. There’s a lot of flash and bang for your (visual) buck in this concoction. I first had it at a friend’s house. I think it was Nannette. She was pretty creative. I didn’t work with a recipe. Hey! It ain’t baking. I just gather the general ingredients and then wing it. It’s phyllo wrapped around mushrooms, onions, and feta cheese. Go figure. It’s a big hit every time out. We still call it the “mushroom thing” and so far the name sticks.

 


New Castle

Here’s a place we ate in the same day as I saw the sushi place. It’s a tavern in an old 1764 building. The fare is American. So, I had the meat loaf. Boring? But you don’t order meat loaf in a sushi place either? The town is New Castle. It’s old and it’s got cobblestone streets.

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It’s quaint and well worth a visit. Sometimes there is time to smell the roses. I’ve been busy lately. So, taking a break is a nice thing. The beer menu is a large library size book. I don’t drink. The food is solid. I lost my appetite there.


Good Luck

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Well, we started the New Year with a bit of good luck. To celebrate it is customary in the South to eat black eyed peas and pork. And in the North it is lucky to eat cabbage – sauerkraut. I got to eat both.Yes, it’s a strange menu.

Who knew? I’m not in Jeddah anymore. We were making a black eyed pea pie. Yeah, it doesn’t sound so great. But it was. Great! Lots of folks wanted the recipe. It very much resembles pecan pie. Sorry, no picture. It was so good we ate it. Maybe it was the whipped cream on top but I kind of think it was just a good pie. Anyway, the recipe calls for eggs. We got a double yolk. That’s lucky too! Here’s hoping….


Less Is More

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After houses and decorations, there was not much interest in decorating a few dozen cookies. So…. One two three… Done. They are not burnt. The dark ones are gingerbread to contrast the butter cookies. My kids would do works of art in Christmas’s past. But I was abandoned and tasked with a few dozen unadorned cookies…..And less sugar actually is better sometimes. It’s still yum.


Gingerbread Houses

Professional? Yeah. It’s not hard to tell the difference. But when kids make ‘em it’s a unique experience with loud squeals and a whole lot of sugar icing all over the place. You can do a “kit.” It goes together fast and looks great. But it’s not the same as individual personal construction. Icing dries slowly and I don’t have patience.

So I used a foam board construction underneath and built the thing one two three. (That would be – construct a foam board house underneath all the ginger bread walls.) Licorice sticks hide a multitude of sin. Of course, I am not responsible for the decoration. There is a time when too many cooks… There is only one rule: no blanks space should be devoid of confection.


Dutch Baby

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I did this! It’s dead simple. I failed in my first attempt. (Note to self: “Read the freakin’ instructions.) … as in I did not turn up the oven to the right temp. It was good to eat but it looks much more impressive if you follow the instructions. It’s called a Dutch baby. I don’t know why. It was a hit both time I made it. That’s all you need to know.


Burnt

I’ve struggled to open and peel chestnuts for decades. Yup, decades! It’s not a hard task. It takes time and patience. My current technique – about five at a time one minute in the microwave. Don’t forget to make a slit. Otherwise your chestnut could explode. This year it all worked like a charm. No complaints! For a few stubborn chestnuts an extra 40 seconds did the trick.

I was distracted… I looked up to see the microwave smoking! The lone chestnut inside was aflame. I mean it was on fire! The smoke was thick and rose to the kitchen ceiling along with the awful smell of burnt chestnut. It was charcoal! I mean it was black charcoal. I realize the pics are not great. Just concentrate on the story and have a fine laugh on me. Oh! The smoke? Vacuum cleaner! Yeah! That worked. Thanks Ginny.


Chips

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I love junk food. It’s a secret sin of mine. Sorry, it’s not a confessional. I’m just someone who loves crunchy snacks. Lately, I discovered deep fried chips can be had for pennies. The chips are largely intact. No crumbs! Really! The idea was in a cookbook for simple party appetizers. The issue is how to get the slices thin enough for the purpose. I used a potato peeler effectively. But a mandolin is far more efficient. So far I have managed to slice fingers with both tools. Ouch! And yes, blood! Sweet potatoes and white potatoes work well. Beets do not. I’ve done kale too. But with kale there was a bit too much splatter. I also like neat food. Simple snacks, bad for you, made easy, and low budget too. Mmmm…


Change

Life’s short. I was not gonna return. But we were in Wilmington again. One more try and one more disappointment, don’t go back. It must be a slow day for posting. Romano’s Macaroni Grill – don’t do it. The cooks are tired. On Broadway they change the cast to refresh the show from time to time. Someone needs to do it here. I had a wonderful meal in Jeddah. But two tries in Delaware were overwhelmingly disappointing. The chicken was a bit better – flatter. But it was not good. And it was definitely not worth the try and for sure not worth another glance. Go somewhere else. I will.