Archive for December, 2008

A Beautiful Sight

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Today, we went over to the Northfield Golf Club for brunch. It was a beautiful morning with the sun shining, the blue sky creating perfection all around and the snow showing her gleaming diamonds and dark blue shadows from the tall evergreen trees and hills. Footsteps and machine tracks and bunny hop marks all around.

Then, we saw something move, a large something, two somethings in back of a large hedge of bushes. We looked hard and nothing moved, but something was definitely there, through the window, over the snow and out a way. Suddenly a small movement and then another and another. Sure, it was a deer, and another deer. Oh, one stumbled, then they were off to the next cover of dark mass. Now, a leap, one was running a little more away from where we were each time. The other, not making it quite as quickly, more awkwardly, the first one waits for the slower one. The first deer, a large white tail female, runs again, scampering quickly over the open space, crossing halfway between the line of trees where they had been hiding and over the fairway out in the open. She stops and waits. The second one, another large animal, female I should think, came along, gettting started seemed to be the most difficult part, through the half foot of snow, but come along she did and then they were both off.

Meanwhile, I had been able to grab my new video camera, turn it on and point it out toward the deer and hope that I got all this on camera. We had just arrived at the restaurant when we saw the two beauties. D was hungry, so I let him go ahead and get some food while I stayed back to organize my things. I have not been this happy to get any shots since I got the skateboarders jumping artistically last July 4th. Why ?

Firstly, I could show D what I thought he missed while grazing, (he didn’t, everyone at that end of the restaurant was watching it all, too) and secondly, I wanted to have this touching beautiful scene on cd so I could see it over and over again. The compassion, the tenderness, the complete ability to give to another, and the ability to let a friend help you out…it is truly a blessed Christmas…thank you to the four leggeds for telling us that story.

Cook, Exercise, Lose Weight, Save Money, and Eat Out!

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

No joking around. After many years of practice I have finally and finely perfected my technique of doing all of the above title actions during one session in the kitchen.

First rule, always cook twice as much pasta or rice as you and one more person will need. Eat half, refrigerate or freeze half. This saves time and energy because 4 cups of pasta or rice cooks almost as fast as 2 cups.

1.Start out with 2 cups of leftover pasta or rice dish from last night or the night before…no more than two days in the frig. Set that aside to warm up a bit.

2. Take a onion, a small pat of real butter and sautee’ cut up pieces of onion, any way you wish, sliced or diced, into a non stick open frying pan over medium heat.

3. Meanwhile take one green pepper and slice or dice half to all of it and throw that all into the pan with the onion. The onion takes longer so be sure to put that in first.

4. Toss in some garlic cloves, one or more to taste. I usually go with 3 to 5 cloves, it’s so good for health and taste.

5. Now here comes the fun part. If you have eaten out the night before and have some leftover meatball sandwich, Chinese egg foo yong, or tacos, take that out of the frig, cut it up into unrecognizable chunks and toss it in the pan, taco shell, hot peppers and all. Mix it all up and warm it thoroughly but don’t kill the flavor by overcooking.

6. Now, take the rice or pasta, put that in a bowl so that you can scramble in one or two raw eggs. Once all the pieces are covered with good for you, good tasting eggs, toss it in the pan. If you have a big pan, you can separate it from the earlier ingredients if you want.

7. Place two slices of your favorite melting cheese, I use provolone for the low fat content, over the gathered mix of food and place a lid over it so the cheese will melt within 4 or 5 minutes over very low heat.

8. Serve the mix over the rice or pasta on a bed of fresh greens on a pretty plate and wahlah! add some sour cream or drizzle a little olive oil on the dish and you can claim Iron Chef awards from your self at least.

Okay, I guess you are saying, well what about the other things? The exercise, the saving money?

Just do three or four knee bends between each step of cooking or while you are waiting for something to heat up take that moment to bend side to side, put your hands on the sink edge and do some push ups, or raise up on your toes five times. Before you know it, you will have put in five minutes of exercise. Over a week that’s a over a half hour of exercise, and you wouldn’t even miss it. Plus you have used up that extra food you would have forgotten about and thrown out or wouldn’t take the time to heat up, but that would make the special little difference in the dish to send it over the top. Before you know it, you’ll never stand idly around again, you can always work in a mini work out and over a day that can burn up 2 or 300 calories. Good for you!

If you need a name for this recipe, I call it Bright’s Marvelous Brunch Dish, but you can add your own name. :) and your own variations.

Hot Tip for Easy Painless Charity Giving

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

If you search through http://www.goodsearch.com, you can designate a charity and everytime you search through good search, they will give one penny to your charity. It’s amazing the way the pennies add up. This site was recommended on ABC’s Good Morning America and I chose Catholic Charities as my favorite because I know they rate at the top or very near the top when looking to see how much of the donations actually get to the needy. You can choose a Catholic Charities in your favorite area, too.

Otherwise, they have many other charities listed and it’s a good thing to search through good search.

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!

Culver’s

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Welcome, Culver’s. We just got back, Friday afternoon about 1:00 PM we hustled ourselves into the new Culver’s on Highway 3 where the Southgate Cinema used to be. I haven’t been this happy in a week. We sauntered up to the counter and ordered our lunch right away. There was nearly a full house of people already seated, but we found a table near an outlet for my oxygen machine and waited with our number 59 and watched people order from the drive through and saw the incredible variety of highway traffic just beyond.

I waited for my North Atlantic Cod sandwich with fries and a lemonade/iced tea drink, known as an Arnold Palmer in other circles, and D had his usual double bacon cheeseburger and unsweetened iced tea.The food came within four minutes, hot and with a smiling server who offered and brought us ketchup and napkins.

We have eaten at three other Culver’s around the area, and so far, this one is by far the best. The biggest portions, the best service and the happiest servers. Oh, and the cool Frank Sinatra holiday music. To elaborate, the fish is juicy, tasty and tender, and so are the burgers. The fries are perfectly done, a little crispy, a little creamy and a lot of them. We love the custard, too, but watch those calories and split one with a friend. Save the blue silverware for a fourth of July picnic.

D said he likes Culver’s better than the Southgate, which we attended only twice about five years ago. D didn’t like it because he could see the screen flicker too much and I didn’t like it because my feet froze all through the movie, even though I had boots and heavy socks on them. So, good by Southgate, Hello, good food Culver’s! Next time I am going to try the chicken sandwich and buy the $25 gift card because you can get a free double hamburger when you do. We will surely find someone to use the card and I don’t think we will have to look far at all. :)

Oh, and kudos for the state of the art no touch rest room facilities!

Located at: 28175 Hopewood Drive, Northfield, MN 55057. 612- 251-6704

Culver’s is handicap accessible.

Amenities, Circuses and Ambience

Monday, December 15th, 2008

When we go to a restaurant and pay for the meal, we are also paying for a great deal more. I do this all the time…think about the value of the food I am about to choose for breakfast, lunch or dinner and never think about the other amenities, circuses and ambiance that go into making the restaurant experience a complete sensual and practical experience.

Not only our we paying for the food, dishes, silverware, glasses, tables, chairs and heat or air conditioning, lights, music, staff salary, taxes, kitchen appliances, parking lot and building maintenance and repair, insurance and telephone bill, not to mention the wall decor, napkins, straws, water, the new hand towel dispenser at NGC, and in the case of Kurry Kabob, some lovely new hand embroidered table decorations that lie under glass and new decorative wooden room dividers. They also have one of the most beautiful crystal chandeliers I have ever seen .

So, now that i have digressed a bit, let me say that our last meal at Kurry Kabob, on Sunday the 14 of Dec, was so good…the buffet had a new dish, to me, of chicken in a almond and cashew based spicy hot sauce, oh it was good. Now, if you do not like hot and spicy, or if it doesn’t like you, it’s okay. You can ask the waitperson to get some mild version. No problem, they love to do it for you. Very accommodating people.

There was music, too, and I loved it. I really miss having music in restaurants. I know a lot of people find it distracting, but I find it stimulating to conversation and often, if it is music new to me, I find it serves to expand my field of knowledge and experience. I will sometimes ask the manager to give me the name of the artist performing and then buy that music if I can find it. Then, I go home and make a version of the food I liked, play the accompanying music, light the lights and pretend we are on an exotic island in the middle of nowhere. Sort of a mental mini vacation.

In conclusion, let me say that $8.95 isn’t too much for a hamburger when you look at all you are getting with it.

That’s my blurb for today, unless I think of some more before the hour is up. :) Until then, stay warm and stay tuned!

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.

Gloxinia

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

These are the last days of autumn. Snow is on the ground by it’s own decree. The clouds cover the blue of the Minnesota sky like they have the right to do. And I am finally missing my garden of flowers and colors and surprises.

I have been keeping busy writing some stories of my life down for the next generation and while doing so, I recalled the years my work in a floral shop in Chicago. There were so many great memories of those high school days at that lovely and large shop. I learned so much about plant life and how to care for it and how to arrange flowers and so much more.

As I was visualizing the time, one plant stuck out in my mind, however the name escaped me for hours until I saw a color on TV that reminded me of the color of some of these large velvety bell shaped flowers with big oval leaves. The Brazilian blooms come in many colors in the purple to pink scale with sometimes white outer coloring. Do you know what are yet? Well, the common name is simply gloxinia.

Perhaps you will remember the gloxinia appearing around Christmas time, as a showy house plant that can live for years with proper care, and is said to be related to the more demure violet plant. Like the violet, the gloxinia loves temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees F, warm water from below, and well drained soil. Never wet it’s leaves or bloom and never over or under water.

Eat Cheaply at Home (so you can go out and splurge!)

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

This week, I decided to see how cheaply (and still healthy) we could eat at home-we meaning my dear husband and me. Most of the time we eat pasta and sauce with chicken or without or some variation of tomatoes, pasta, vegetables, or a big salad with a half dozen varying ingredients. In between there is chicken soup, or broccoli cream soup with potatoes.

Fritata with noodles and eggs, salsa and cheese is another of our favs: Cook any sort of pasta noodles, put them in a large frying pan, add scrambled uncooked eggs, mix up, add small bits of cheese and allow to melt, then add a a half can of Rotel Salsa, and save some for topping the dish right before serving. Add breakfast meat if desired.

This week, I went for rice dishes. At first I make enough rice for four dinners, which is about two cups of dry rice to begin with. Cook the rice with one can of chicken broth and one can of water.

The first night, I added carrots, 1 chopped yellow onion , 6 cloves of garlic, and baby greens which serve as the bed to place the rice and vegetable dish upon. The second night, I take the leftover rice and vegetables and add three scrambled eggs with half jar or can of red salsa. Then form four patties and cook them in a large teflon frying pan until they lightly brown on both sides. Because I am presently on a mild diet and because oil goes rancid when you fry it, I fry the patties in nothing. You could have use a little oil or butter though. Serve the rice patties over fresh greens and top with some of the salsa or sour cream, or any other sauce you might like. There will also be three or four more rice patties to cook.

You can add black beans, ham or chicken, any kind of meat or beans or fish really. I sometimes add pasta to rice dishes. It’s kinda of weird, but it’s fun and a good way to use up that leftover bit of pasta or rice.

Lately, I have been adding a teaspoon or so of curry powder and a splash of milk to plain rice dishes. It is delicious, easy and a few ounces of pineapple makes this dish exotic.

Another way to fix rice would be to add some cut up apple and raisins with cinnamon. Oh, and don’t forget rice pudding. There are many variations, but Mainly, it’s about the same amount of eggs, milk and rice, cooked on top of the stove or in the oven. I’ll let you look that one up online or use this good one I make…
2 cups cooked white rice, jasmine if you have it

Add 1/2 cup water and simmer covered for 2-3 minutes.

Add 2 cups of milk and boil gently, stirring for 5 minutes.

Add slowly to a mixture of

2 beaten egg, large ones
1/2 cup of sugar or honey
1 tsp of vanilla

Add raisins or currants or cherry craisins about 1/2 to 1 cup

Grate nutmeg or sprinkle cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice on top

Bake in a ban marie for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.

I use a glass bread loaf pan in a 12×12 inch glass pan with
water up to one inch once the rice pudding pan is in the pan of water.

That keeps it from burning on the bottom. Enjoy!

We Still Go Out to Eat

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Hi, folks! While I have been blogging about this and that and not so much about restaurants, I want you to know we are still going out to eat, albeit the same ol’ places. It seems like the digestive system gets used to a certain diet and likes to stick with it. I am just the vehicle for my stomach, so I don’t much question that…maybe I should though…this after making myself a double fried egg sandwich on toasted Italian bread for lunch with a glass of cold Yorkshire tea, just what the stomach ordered. :)

Anyway, we have been back to George’s where I have created my own special meal. I was thinking one day, hmm, I want spaghetti and this Is a pizza joint, so they have lots of different ingredients that I could eat on my spaghetti…so I ordered mushroom spaghetti, where they put in a half a cup of chopped cooked mushrooms atop the spaghetti sauce. Then, I take some of D’s Greek Yogurt sauce that comes with the Gyros Sandwich and mix a small dollop of that into my spag sauce and walah! An incredible gourmet meal with a side salad for me! I skip the Texas toast, though…too many calories and it doesn’t taste good the next day.

Ever since I was in kindergarten school, I loved to mix my food. Why, you might ask? Well, mostly because I couldn’t stand peas or onions or carrots and I found out that if you mix them in the potatoes, or available gravy or sauce, they didn’t taste quite so bad. That was the start of it all.

And we still go to Hogan’s all the time, though I seem to notice a shrinking of the bread, and contents. It may be my imagination, and I won’t complain cuz I started putting on a little extra weight lately and I should cut back now before it gets out of control. The first thing to go is French Fries, and then bread, cut it in half…or eat Italian bread which is half the calories of the whole grain breads. Knock off all but two of the mini candy bars leftover from Halloween and those Pearson mints I love so much that we bought for Christmas, but which are mostly gone already.

We do have to get over to Sweet Lou’s and try their new sandwiches pretty soon, and we can’t wait for the new Culvers’ to open. We always stop at the Apple Valley location and they, too, are shrinking food portions. It’s okay though. I’d rather have smaller portions and the same quality, than higher prices.

I make up for the smaller portions by eating slower. Usually.

Kurry Kabob’s afternoon buffet is still a great deal, and last time we were there, they lowered the price, but took off some lettuce and fruit. No problem, I can have those at home, but don’t take any of the cooked food, cuz that is hard to come by!

Perkins is still a nice place to go. I had the Butterball turkey dinner and D had the beef roast and they were really good. We ordered the sampler appetizer and had pie and tea, too. Our annual Thanksgiving family gathering got delayed a week, so we made up for it at Perkins and we weren’t sorry at all. I often order the turkey and dressing as I can never wait until the big day, and try to be thankful everyday, so it really works out for me. :)