Archive for the ‘Bright’s 2008 Restaurant Blog’ Category

Chew on This – Weight Watching While Living On The Edge

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Weight watchers, here are a few ideas I have gathered up and tested over the years that you can use at home without spending a bunch of money or energy. Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and these recommendations are not for everyone. If you have special needs, take care…always see your doctor about any dietary changes. These ideas are just my own experiences and I am sharing them based on that fact only.

Anyone visiting certain areas of the Middle East will find that they may be offered a cup of hot mint tea. Mint is a favorite herb
for many culinary uses as well, but the reason I like it is because it chases away those winter blues. I often drink a cup of
peppermint tea, chew a piece of doublemint gum or have a chocolate mint patty…Pearson’s is the famous Made in Minnesota brand.
Wintergreen mints are also a nice uplifting treat. Use mint or a little mint treat instead of candy bars or whatever big calorie item you might use to chase the winter blues away. Note, I only chew about one third of a piece of gum at a time. Also, the dentist told my mom it’s good to chew gum for the gums.

Teas with Chamomile as a base…be sure and read your tea ingredients on the box of tea bags you use. Many teas have a chamomile tea base and that may not be good for dieters because chamomile is an appetite stimulant and acts as a calmative…sometimes the brain thinks the calm is low energy and wants food to fuel activities. it might better to drink tea minus the chamomile when you are watching your weight.

A nice squeeze of fresh lemon, and a dash of honey in a six or eight ounce glass of water between meals or twenty minutes before a meal can really serve to reduce hunger and help make smaller meals more filling. That or an apple may help. Change up with a little bit of pickle or apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. Lemons can be cut up into pieces and frozen for weeks for your convenience.

For several years, I have been using the 400 calorie meal for 4 meals per day (1600 calories per day for moderate activity). I would do three sensible meals and then 400 calories for healthy treats. It has worked well, but I find that now that the habit is firmly established, and I don’t mean to say there weren’t a couple of times per week when I had a full fledged meal with numerous calories to stave off the feeling of being completely denied, I can actually skip a meal here and there when I am actually not feeling hungry.

The good thing about the 4-400 calorie meal plan is that it helps to keep the body’s metabolism up and even throughout the day, given that the food is good quality food and not a lot of empty processed calories. And, if you can get to the point where you feel like skipping a meal two or three times a week, you can save a couple of pounds a month…which I translate into saying you can save four pounds per month, because not only are you loosing two pounds, you are not gaining additional two pounds.

The bad thing about the 4-400 calorie meal plan is that I tried to make your goal even if I wasn’t hungry without realizing it. So now, I don’t do that, and I might loose a few pounds over the winter instead of gaining and then having to really watch it closer int he spring. Learn from my mistakes!

Another great way of watching it, the weight that is, is to change your food up everyday. Here are some examples of how to do this easily.
For your carbs, do rice one day, brown rice another, potatoes another and pasta another and wild rice another. Now remember that not all rice is created equal, you’ll have to read the container. For your protein, eat eggs one time, beans another, red meat another, chicken or fish another. Mix up your veggies, as well. Salad one day, mixed hot veggies another and then throw in a veggie juice or celery soup another. The reason for this is beside getting the recommended variety of foods, your body will not store foods unless it thinks more of the same is coming. Your body will tend to throw off the excess of any new food. Go at least a few days without eating the same food.

When eating pasta, throw in some whole wheat pasta with the regular pasta. It’s tastes great, is better for you, but doesn’t overdo the fiber thing.

I once lost quite a few pounds drinking pomagranite juice for a couple of days in addition to my regular diet. Don’t know why.

I did try the three glasses of milk per day and I did loose belly fat, but I couldn’t keep it up because I am not a big fan of milk.

At home, I try to eat as much high quality food as possible, but I do love my junk food. Avocados, bananas, berries, peas, carrots, fresh greens, potatoes, 12 gran bread, sour dough muffins,fish, chicken and pasta with tomato sauce make up about 80% of what I eat. The other 20% is frozen pizza and hostess cupcakes. I drink water or tea 95% of the time. Then I go for dinner out a couple of times per week, and save half of whatever I eat for the next day.

If you like what I have read, and want to help me back, buy a card from me so I can buy my husband a nice birthday present. And 10% of my card earnings go to Red Cross Disaster Recovery Aid.
go to;

bonus tip, if you have stayed with me so far…and you have…
use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate for your main meals
to fool the eye and stomach that you are getting a full portion…
that way, seconds won’t be so naughty!

good luck!

Salt Talk

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

First of all this has nothing to do with global arms talks of the late 60′s.

This is me blogging about salt in food.  Not the naturally occurring salt, but yeah, maybe that, too. I mean to talk about the evils of table salt. I have been speaking to friends about eating out at restaurants, one of my fav subjects as you may well know.  What I have uncovered is an unwillingness to go out as much as people age.  When I push the issue, I find out that people are concerned about their salt intake.  Many of them, and me, swell up after eating salty foods.  Mostly around the waistline, but in other places, too, like the face, hands, feet, ankles.  Need I say more.  No, I need not.

I do not own a salt shaker.  I use salt to gargle once in awhile.  My palate, taste buds, and brain are all attuned to a salt free, natural flavor of foods.  Even bland potatoes are delicious to me, just as they are.  I am not a super taster, I have fairly normal buds for a person my age.  I love spicy foods, too.  But once the salt is sprinkled or tossed or dumped in, mostly all I taste is salt.  Then, I get thirsty, then my cells swell, and I say, I cannot order that soup, or sauce, or sandwich again, while it’s bathing in salt.

Like many of you, I have watched PBS chefs do their tv thing for years and almost always they put a pinch or a dash or a teaspoon of salt in every dish.  Even ice cream has a ton of salt.  The only thing I really have ever liked salt on once in awhile for fun is cantalope.   That’s it.  Yet, they insist it makes the flavor of the food come out.  Not.  It covers the flavor.  (It acts as a preservative, too.)

If you are a chef, a cook, or a household person who creates exquisite food dishes for your family, friends and self, please heed these words.  Please offer a salt free alternative for every salty dish you serve.  People can put their own salt in dishes at the table.  Please don’t salt us up anymore!

Funny story.  Me and dh went into the old Monte’s and I ordered French fries without salt.  So the waiter brought over my fries, I tasted them, I felt them and they had salt on them.  So,naturally I sent them back.  Please, no salt this time!  Okay, another batch comes to me and I say, hey these STILL have salt on them, taste them yourself.  He did and agreed, yep, salt.  So the third one came.  Still salty I said.  The waiter said, no, I watched the cook.  NO salt.  OMG!  Potatoes are naturally that salty, at least certain varieties from certain unknown grounds!  OMG.

Some food is naturally salty.  Most processed food has salt in it.  So, we should get enough salt without addition.  There was an old time deal where people didn’t get enough iodine for their thyroids, and so salt was a way to get that because it was added commercially.  But nowadays, well, my thyroid is fine, so more should be researched about that, but maybe ask your doctor if you can do without salt because the theory behind all this is that salt swells cells (say that three times real fast) and swollen cells are more susceptible to invasion by stuff you don’t want in your cells.

Also, chefs want to know if they are doing something wrong.  It doesn’t help business if people complain about a restaurant, so I will tell the waitstaff  or the chef directly if something is wrong.  It’s my money and my body.  I take control in a kind way, and make things better for everyone.   I invite you all to join me in this activity whenever necessary.  And your bonus for reading to the end, is that honey is an anit-inflammatory agent.  How far that goes, well I seem to notice the difference after drinking a cup of tea or my homemade lemonade with a tablespoon of honey in it if I’ve gotten an extrra unwanted dose of salt previously.

Soul Food

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I was thinking about the good ol’ days back in Chicago. I was born
downtown, right near the Lake, but I grew up on the South Side,
White Sox, Museum of Science and Industry, U of Chicago territory.
As any good Chicagoan would do, I tried to eat my way across the city
and make sure to check out all the classics…The Berghoff, Morton’s
Steak House, Bowl Mich, The Pump Room, The Pinnacle, Uno’s, Due’s,
Gino’s East, Al’s Italian Beef, Salerno’s, Medici’s, Leona’s, Piccolo
Mundo, Hi Ricky’s, Star of India, and oh, so many more…

Did you know that there are over 8800 restaurants phone book listings for Chicago?

But right now my soul could use a little soul food as may yours, and there’s is one that seems most appropriate to celebrate on Inauguration Day. And that is Army and Lou’s. Oh,  we all heard about Valois, the  Greek American local gathering, “See Your Food”* being cooked restaurant in Hyde Park where Barack, and I often dined, dh, too, even before we met, and Barack frequents Dixie’s Kitchen and Bait Shop as well, but I bet the President elect made the short trip down to the south side’s Army and Lou’s Soul Food Restaurant a few times, too. See their menu here:

So, for Inauguration Day, where we shall comfortably participate in the
crowning of our newly elected President and eat some down home style soul
food, which I love and miss so much. Here’s what is on the menu at my house:

For breakfast we there will be butter grits, soft eggs, hoe cakes and hot honey tea.

For lunch we’ll eat some stove top corn bread with bone in ham (I’ll throw in some pineapple slices for the state of Hawaii, Obama’s birth state.) and unsweetened iced tea.

Dinner will see pan fried chicken and greens with bacon fat and milk.

I’d like to work in a sweet potato pie, one of Barack’s favs, but I think
we’ll wait til the week end for that.

Happy Inauguration Day! and God Bless America! Blessed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Fantastic Black History Month of February!  There, I think I got them all covered now. :)
*”See Your Food” is Valois’ motto or hook line.

Bright’s Award for Generosity of Heart-Retail Category

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Right now, Beef o’Brady’s (I call it BOB’s) on Heritage Drive and Hwy 3, is hosting a free dinner night for those amongst us who are less fortunate. It’s a real inspiration, and while I am sure a lot of us are doing something really nice for somebody somewhere, Beef O’Brady’s, its owners and volunteer staff, is the most apparent to me at this time. SO, you go BOB! I think they are pretty much booked to the hilt right now, but if you can help, give them a call.

Happy Holidays, you all!

NGC Again

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

This is about my fourth or fifth time writing about the food at Northfield Golf Club, and I should apologize, but I won’t because we tried yet some more of the wonderful dishes of the endless creations and inspirations brought to fruition in the kitchens of Raphael and his team of excellent chefs.

D had the aged prime rib, baked potato, baby asparagas and salad bar. Iced tea and his usual creme brulee’ were also devoured. During this wonderful meal, he didn’t talk much, just ate. I thought the prime rib was the best looking piece of beef I had seen ever. And at $19.95, one cannot go wrong. D thought it very tasty, very lean and was 100% satisfied.

This night, I had the best sandwich I have ever had. I didn’t want it to end. It was a balsamic chicken sandwich with a mozzarella cheese that clung to the chicken so perfectly they seemed meant for one another. There was an aged balsamic vinegar marinade and a perfect hamburger bun. It was lip smacking super tender, juicy, very, very good.

I also tried the homemade tomato bisque soup. Again, I could have eaten that all through a viewing of any longer than average movie you could think of. And the side salad was just right, with tomatoes that were red and solid and tasty for December. I finished D’s baby asparagas, cuz he said he had some to spare, :) and I tried out his baked potato.

He stops eating the baked potato as soon as it is without butter and sour cream which he piles on on top of the potato and eats mostly the butter and sour cream, leaving the bottom half of the actual potato for whomever comes along, which would be me who loves the taste of a good potato all by itself. He also put the horseradish sauce which was included for the prime rib on the potato, because he feels about prime rib the way I feel about potatoes, don’t mess mine up with all the extra stuff, if you please! (I do apologize for all the change in tenses and confusion, but if you read the last two sentences again, the meaning will become clear.)

Then, we polished off some chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce on it, and a creme brulee’. D had to help me out with the ice cream cuz I got brain freeze half way through. I usually have two bites of D’s creme brulee’ but as I looked over to get some, he was putting the last bite away. That’s what I get for not feeding him that much all day.

But it’s okay as I am still watching my figure. Hence, my ordering a side salad instead of some of the best waffle fries ever. And I left a good third of my hamburger bun on the plate and gave three ounces of my balsamic chicken to D because it was so good, I felt I needed to share with him. He was quite glad I did, too.

The evening topper was a 25% off in 2009 coupon for dining with them at this Christmastime dining event.

Remember to call for winter hours and reservations…and you don’t have to be a member. And, no I am not being paid, but wish I was. :)

Happy Holidays, All, and no happy holidays if you don’t want well wishes of this type. Good night or good day or just good bye! Next week, Culvers and the Mexican grocery store, LaVencedora.

Doolittle’s Air Cafe

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Doolittle’s Air Cafe

2140 Cliff Road
Eagan, MN 55122

Doolittle’s Air Cafe is a wood fired grill and bar restaurant. It’s big, with four different areas for seating.

We go there a few times a year, to meet friends cuz it has that kind of atmosphere that is conducive to chatting but not so that no one can hear anything. In other words, the acoustics, which I often complain about is good as the seats are leather covered, the floor is carpeted, the ceiling in part is wood with air spaces. There is some great airplane poster art on the walls which don’t help or hurt sound quality much but I thought the description fit in here well anyway. :)

We ordered two dinner dishes. Me, a crab and shrimp stuffed halibut with wild rice and mushrooms and julienne zucchini and carrots in butter, and my favorite Arnie Palmer iced tea with lemonade and real lemon hunk. Bread with butter is always served prior to the dinner coming on and it is always a light Italian style bread with a toothy crust, thinly sliced. Just right. My dh ordered a big slab of ribs with French fries. The ketchup they serve in a side dish (none of those plastic bottles, thank you very much) is pretty good. and so are the pink smoked ribs with sweet baked in sauce. The slab is a big slab, but dh managed to finish it off. The strange part for me was that I finished before he did, almost unheard of, but I still wonder how that happened.

We didn’t have room for dessert this time, but we have had their creme brulee’ in the past, and it is about the same as anywhere, which is darn good.

I like Doolittle’s, because they have a wide variety of food, most if it is as good, or almost as good as it gets, the black cloth napkins and excellent service are nice touches, the atmosphere is a notch up from the average family place, a bit upscale, but not dressy, in other words, comfortable and casual and almost affordable.

Doolittle’s can be a splurge, $50 for our big lunch, but that will last awhile. ;) You can get a burger or other good sandwiches there for under $10. It’s a great place for a special outing, or just a quick burger.

Doolittle’s is handicapped accessible and has modern and clean facilities. I give it a B.

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Thursday 11am – 12am; full Menu until 11 pm
Friday-Saturday 11am – 1am; full Menu until 11 pm
Sunday 11am – 11pm; full Menu until 11 pm

General Manager: Jon Borman

Fried Egg Sandwich

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Fried Egg Sandwich

Some of you might remember the old timey diners where you can stop in for a quick fried egg sandwich on white or wheat toast with a hamburger pickle slice on top and a cup of coffee for $1.95 plus tax and tip.

Sometimes, late at night, when I am a little hungry after a light dinner,
I think about the new and improved modern fried egg sandwich, one with two 3/4 inch slices of fine toothed and sturdy, evenly and lightly browned toast, an easy over egg fried in a pat of real butter with a slightly raw egg yolk that drips just enough to leave a little puddle on the plate in the middle of the two sandwich halves. Then a thin slice of white American cheese, the real kind. Next, several two inch pieces of thin to medium thick bacon, very meaty, somewhat crispy, not too flexible, not too salty. Add a very thin slice of seeded red tomato, and finally a bit of shredded greens. Nothing to tear into, but an incredibly tasty combination of egg, bacon, tomato, cheese, and greens in between two slices of toast that feel like one delightful element with slight variations. The sauce, only butter and yolk, and only a little bit. Pepper, maybe, sometimes. To me, it is the classic of all classic sandwiches.

Now, serve that with a nice green salad and some iced tea or black coffee and you have a food lover’s dream meal.

You can make that at home for a couple of dollars. Or you can go over to the Northfield Golf Club and let Raphael and his team make it for you. Enjoy all the service, lovely view, and nice getaway from dirty pans and dishes…at a slightly higher fee. Or you can just lie in bed and dream about the classic fried egg sandwich.

Just for FUN!

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Hi! I am starting a new category for you because I know you need a little break, a laugh and a hit of odd stuff to make your day. So, here’s the first Just for FUN! link. I promise you will be entertained for a few wonderful moments.

1. This menu is from a place is in Manhattan, as far as I can tell.If you ever run out of ideas on the age old question, “what’s to eat?”, worry no more.

2. Lark Toys, Kellogg, Mn-collectible and new toys, on the way to Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, MN, just past National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN, A fun day trip along the Mississippi River, gorgeous scenery, Lake Pepin that never freezes.

Fermentations Wine Bar and Bistro

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Fermentations Wine Bar & Bistro
236 Railway Street, N.
Dundas, MN 55019

When we walked in, we were pleasantly surprised at the butter yellow walls and oddly unmatched artwork. French? maybe, maybe not. But the tables were nicely set with small vases and flowers, salt and pepper shakers and cloth napkins and mini candles. The rooms seemed sparkling clean and the seating is fairly comfortable.

Right away, let me say, make reservations! We saw several groups get turned away the hour and three quarters that we were there, and the people were so disappointed- so plan ahead!

The food was good, but the prices are high. We nearly spent $100 for two, no wine, no appetizers, just tea, entree and desserts. The service is pretty good, but I have to compare Fermentations, which I have lovingly just nicknamed, Fern’s, to Cosmos, cuz the prices are the about the same…see my Cosmos blog…but the service was lacking.  (And, I had let them know that I would be blogging our experience a week ahead of time.)

Here is how I compare it…when you run out of tea at Cosmos, it is immediately replaced. When you are done with your plate, it is immediately removed. Within a bite or two, you are asked if everything meets with your expectations. When one course is done within a minute, the next is presented. The table water is pure tasting. Pretty much we had good service at Fern’s, but we had to ask for everything and call in the hostess at one point. This is not the level one expects at these prices.

On the other hand, it is nearby and saves time and gas and car wear and tear. That is big. Unless you are going into the cities for a play or meeting or family, or so on, stay here and eat at Fern’s.

I ordered Butternut Squash Lasagna. I had to send the first plate back. No chef should send a plate out like that, especially at $22 a hit. It was overdone to the point of part was unchewable and the other was rubbery. Homemade noodles shouldn’t be rubbery or chewy. No. I sent it right back and within moments got another one which was so much better, I raved about it to my hubby for several minutes. I gave him some and he agreed, it was very good. The server thanked me for telling them.

I do recommend sending things back. It puts the restaurant on notice that not all customers are going to be such nice victims as they might hope. And the rest of us won’t have to go through that as much. To be fair, I’ll repeat myself and say the lasagna was great. A sauce made from the squash, and a delicious, sweet ricotta cheese and homemade noodles, very rich, but not too rich. Highly recommended.

My husband orderd the Lamb Scallopini. It was like that dog says that got his teeth brushed for the first time in the commercial for the “Chihuahua” movie. He says it was “minty!” The lamb was also curiously chewy, even though thinly sliced. Hmmmm. Dh said at Cosmos prices, it doesn’t compare. The pureed potatoes were very plain, and the carrots were fine and sliced on the bias. The gravy or sauce was minty, and I am not sure we like minty gravy on our potatoes. It may be a French thing. Please comment and help us out here, if you are a gourmet of the French persuasion.

We had for desserts two wonderful items which we lovingly shared. I had the Molten Chocolate Mint Ice Cream. Now that’s where the mint is fantastic. I don’t like the chocolate mints from Marshall Field’s, some may know. I always thought that they tasted chalky. This combination from Fern’s was not at all anything bad. It was good. Very good. I think I will go back right now and get another one. hahaha. Just kidding. Gotta watch my girlish figure. The name describes itself, so I’ll move on.

My dh had the Cinnamon Creme Brulee’. We both thought it, too, was fantastic. A very good job. Just skip the entree’s and order three desserts each. You wouldn’t regret it, or would you?

Here’s my hubby’s version, he wrote it himself!


Lamb Scallopini $29
Local Sunshine Farms Leg of Lamb, Proscuitto, Mint, Pureed Potatoes, Mint Glace de Viande

Cinnamon Crème Brulee $8

The experience:

I was hoping to get a good meal for the $30 in Dundas, and I went with the servers’ recommendation that the lamb was “great.” Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The lamb portion was razor thin with small portions, yet still chewy. The mint overwhelmed the taste of the lamb, rather than compliment it. They could have just served mint and done nearly as well. Nowhere near as good as other lamb meals I’ve had at other restaurants. The “pureed potatoes” were simply plain, white mashed/whipped potato, same as you can get at most any cafe across the country for a couple dollars, with nothing particularly special about them. Not even any gravy, though the mint sauce was reasonably good with them. The vegetables were simply carrots, which were OK.

Now, on to the dessert. When the Cinnamon Crème Brulee arrived, I wasn’t expecting much after the main course. It looked very dark, so I wasn’t holding out hope. It was actually very good, with a delicious cinnamon flavor, a creamy texture, and the top was surprisingly not burnt.

The verdict:

Compared with other places of a similar price range, Fermentations fell well short. A better route may be to get a main course some place better and stop off for dessert, since dessert was the best part of the meal and though a bit on the high priced side was very good. I doubt I’d return for the main course, though. I can see why wine is sold as such an integral part of the meal at Fermentations. I suggest the slogan should be “You don’t have to drink to eat here, but it helps.” The price honestly far exceeded the quality of the meal and the service.

This is me, Bright, again; Fern’s has a full bar, wine intense and an ever changing menu, check their website every two weeks. They also have special events and you will need to sign up for them.

Unfortunately, this restaurant is not very handicap accessible…and the two parking spaces in front of the restaurant are taken by Fern’s catering trucks. Not very considerate, imho.

I like to leave on an up note, so I shall say that all in all we had a good evening, the mood was light and the room was full of talk and chatter and I even got to hear a little music in the background.

Peter’s Ribs

Monday, September 29th, 2008

This one is mainly for private pilots around town or anyone travelling northwest about 100 miles or so.

We flew out of Stanton Airfield today with a rented Flight Design CT headed out to Litchfield.  Seems hubby needed his yearly fix of Peter’s Ribs, a legendary rib lovers restaurant on Lake Ripley.   Read all the particulars at

We had the ribs, and the lunch buffet.  The ribs are succulent almost fall off the bone pork, the sauce, sweet and light. Fries were munchalicious.  I had the build your own sandwich and salad with choice of three soups buffet.  I love a good buffet.  I made a turkey, ham, cheese and coleslaw with green olive sandwich on a hamburger bun, and had chicken dumpling soup with lettuce, cottage cheese and peaches,  sweet peas and black olives, oh, a few mushrooms, too.

Afterward, we ordered a piece of carrot cake.  I asked the waitress to bring two forks. Regular readers know I usually just have 1-3 bites of my hubby’s dessert, so the waitress slices the cake in to two slices the hard way, and brings two plates.  Neat.  I still only ate the small non iced half of that, but it was good with powdered sugar sprinkled over it.  Big thumbs up for the service, though.

Peter’s is pretty good size place with party rooms, a fireplace, a view of Lake Ripley and a golf course. We don’t golf, we fly, but if we can figure out how to golf in the sky, we might try it sometime. For now, we will just rate the ribs as so good, they are worth flying out 100 miles.  This was our second time, so we know, it’s a nice little trip.  We saw a lot of colorful trees, and the farmland looks so interesting.  It’s wonderful to see from 2500 feet, the many shapes from and sizes the farmed sections take on as farmers try to maximize irregular shaped landscapes.  I took 200 photos.

It took us about 47 minutes at 115 knots on the way out with a nw headwind up to 12 knots.  We had a nice tailwind coming back, so we got back in 35 minutes.  Don’t forget to get your passport stamped while you are out at LJF.