Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Dinner”

I’m Still Not Hungry

WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HIT ME WITH A BRICK if I ever suggest going to another “All You Can Eat” buffet for Thanksgiving Dinner.

It was just the four of us at our table – Me, my wife, the lovely and eternally practical, Dawn, our son, Alex, and the spirits of Genghis Khan and his Horde – all of us eating until we blacked out.

Why is it that all sense of Reason and Proportion disappear when confronted with an endless supply of Mashed Potatoes and Roast Turkey? A nearby mountain of Crab Cakes doesn’t help either.

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Has Anybody Seen My Pot Stickers?

WHENEVER WE ARE DOWN IN TEXAS visiting family there is one thing we do as a group – and we do it very well.

We eat. Man, do we eat.

During this currant voyage to the bottom of the State someone suggested that we order “Chinese Food.”

“OK by me!” “Sounds good!” “Let’s eat!” “I want Crab Rangoon!” “Me too!” “Me too!” “Me too!”

I don’t like Crab Rangoon. And Rangoon isn’t in China anyway. So much for authenticity.

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I’m Not Making Any Accusations

I’M GOING TO BE PICKY TODAY. Actually, I’m picky on a fair number of days, so this will be just one more.

My wife, the lovely and intensely selective, Dawn, and I have just returned from San Diego where we attended the annual meeting and conference of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. Don’t waste too much time trying to figure out what all of that is – just think “The Pilgrims” and “Plymouth Rock” and you’ll be fine.

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Who Wants Seconds?

 

LET’S HAVE A SHOW OF HANDS. How many of you have eaten in a restaurant this week?  (Pause while I count digital hands)

OK, that’s about average. According to my in depth research I have learned that approximately (statistical wiggle room) 58% of us eat out at least once a week. The other 42% are still waiting for a table at the Texas Roadhouse.

I have to admit that we eat out more than we should. It is expensive, time consuming, not always healthy/nutritious, and leads us all into eating more than we should. But it is fun and I think that is why we do it so often. Let somebody else do all the hard work and the cleanup. Oh, yeah.

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Back It Up Over Here

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF WONDERFUL PEOPLE who follow this strange blog and who are into recipes, cooking, and the very creative Culinary Arts. I’m not really all that sure what they are getting out of it, but I am most grateful for their attention. I mention this because today’s blog is about food. Specifically it is about the monthly special at a local eatery.

Every Thursday Dawn and I take our son, Alex, out to dinner and just a mozzarella stick’s throw from Alex’s house is “Charlie’s Pub and Grub.” It is just a neighborhood bar that has transformed itself from a real Punch Palace roughneck bar into a nice place to go for a casual meal.

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Were You There?

IT’S EASTER ALREADY? I guess that it has sort of sneaked up on me this year. I was just putting away all of the Christmas stuff when – Poof! I turn on the TV and it is filled with all of the Jesus Movies. That’s what I used to call those Biblical Epic movies when I was a kid.

The 1950s was a big decade for Jesus Movies – “Ben Hur,” “King of Kings,” “The Robe” with Richard Burton chewing the scenery like a rabid Schnauzer. We saw them all as soon as they hit the Wide Screen.

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Throwback Thursday From 2015 “One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib”

Throwback Thursday From 2015

“One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib”

SOMETIMES THERE IS A BENEFIT when the conversation takes a turn to something boring. This morning over coffee one of the Usual Suspects started to talk politics. My brain glazed over and my eyes began to wander. It was then that I saw a teeny-tiny online mention of no import.

“McDonald’s opens restaurant in 120th country.”

Sonovagun. I never would have guessed it was that many.

While voices muffled by politics faded in the background I read on.

The newest nation to allow Ronald the Clown to cross their borders is – (Fanfare!)

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Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 – “I Go Out Wokking”

 

Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 – “I Go Out Wokking”

6a58f7ba-cc89-459a-a2a3-e2cb2c7a3cf0EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE I GET A CRAVING for Wonton soup, Pot Stickers or Sweet and Sour Something or Other. That is when I stage a full out assault on the “First Wok.”

First Wok is one of those small, family run Chinese Food To-Go shops that can be found in strip malls around the world.

First Wok may, or may not, be the first wok in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “My plastic fork is broken.”). They have some tables for those who want to eat there, but I’d wager that 90% of the customers get their General Tso’s Chicken To-Go in those little white paper cartons with the wire handles.

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Blowing In The Wind

I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT DINNERTIME CONVERSATIONS can sure get weird. The other night as the family was scarfing down some basic Comfort Food the flow of the conversation took a definite turn to the unusual.

“If you get cremated what do you want done with your ashes?

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Now He Belongs To The Ages

Pizza! Food of the gods! A seven course meal all on one slice! The Ultimate Survival food for when the Zombies attack!

But who can eat just one slice? Nobody I know.

Last night the whole Texas clan gathered around the dining room table and ate like there was no tomorrow. There was Meat Lovers Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza with extra cheese, Pepperoni Lovers, and Chicken with Bacon and Buffalo Sauce Pizza.  That was good for starters. Along with the big square boxes there were other boxes filled with Garlic Breadsticks, Cinnamon Breadsticks, some rather odd Potato thingies, and some little apple pie-like pastries. Oh, yeah, and two gallons of iced tea.  Gotta love those “Meal-Deals.”

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I May Just Skip Lunch

THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I WONDER why I get on to the internet at all. I am eternally hopeful that I will find something interesting and/or enlightening. I know that out there in the cyberworld there is something that will make me want to jump for joy and break into my happy dance. I want to be educated, inspired, entertained and feel that I am connecting with the finest fibers of the universe singing of the wisdom of humanity – and then, before I have even had my first sip of coffee, I run into this.

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Let’s Hear It For Gluttony

THERE AIN’T NUTHIN’ LIKE A GOOD BURGER. It doesn’t have to be fancy (and probably shouldn’t be). It doesn’t have to be expensive. It sure doesn’t have to be in some high class restaurant. But it has to be prepared with gluttony in mind.

About a five minute drive or twenty minute crawl from home is a small neighborhood joint (that’s the only appropriate word) that does a burger right.

This particular watering hole has been around for about two million years. It is on its third or fourth owners now and doing well. It is probably also on the Hit List of the American Heart Association.

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Thank God Texas Has A Lot Of Room

TAKE ME TO THE BUTTER CHURN is a cry I hear on a regular basis when we go south to visit family. “The Butter Churn” is a restaurant/feeding station aka buffet just a waddle or two away from the family home in Sinton, Texas. And every time we visit, along with an assortment of several generations of nieces and nephews, we go to The Butter Churn.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “One Person’s Trivia…”

One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib

mcd firstSOMETIMES THERE IS A BENEFIT when the conversation takes a turn to something boring. This morning over coffee one of the Usual Suspects started to talk politics. My brain glazed over and my eyes began to wander. It was then that I saw a teeny-tiny mention of no import.

 

“McDonald’s opens restaurant in 120th country.”

Sonovagun. I never would have guessed it was that many.

While voices muffled by politics faded in the background I read on.

The newest nation to allow Ronald the Clown to cross their borders is – (Fanfare!)

KAZAKHSTAN.mcd kazak

I do have to admit that my knowledge of Kazakhstan is rather limited, but as a McDonald’s stockholder for the last 30+ years I feel obligated to learn what I can. So, here goes.

Mcd pres

Nursultan Bazarbayev

Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked nation on earth (ergo: not much of a navy).

It has a population of about 18 million souls, and now, 1 McDonald’s.   The Capital city is Astana. The President of Kazakhstan is Nursultan Bazarbayev. He is generally considered to be an authoritarian ruler (read “dictator”). It is unknown at this time whether or not he likes the McRib mcd mcribSandwich.     

That’s it. That’s all of the relevant information about Kazakhstan I could dig up.

McDonald’s, with its new restaurant in Kazakhstan, has well over 36,000 sets of Golden Arches worldwide. They employ 1.9 million people. I would wager that most of them are either teenagers, senior citizens, or people who were just not Taco Bell material. I may be wrong, but my personal observation of the McD’s here in Terre Haute (That’s Kazakh for “Where’s my Shamrock Shake?”) tell me that I’m not wrong.

In my own personal experience I have been in McDonald’s all over this country and in Ireland. I have no intention of trying to visit all of them. There are people who try to do that, traveling all over the map in a quest to visit them all. These are people who will eventually work at McDonald’s. Who else would hire them after looking at a resume with a twenty year gap during which they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner next to Ronald the Clown.

In an effort to gather information for this snippet of reality I went to the McDonald’s Corporate website to learn more about their worldwide operations. Fascinating.

mcd irelandMcDonald’s has blanketed Europe. There are more than 50 Mickey D’s in Ireland. While I’m there (leaving for Dublin in just a few days) I may visit one to satisfy my need for fries (chips), but I think we will eat at home most days.

I learned that there are 11 McD’s in Lithuania, ancestral home of my mother’s side of the family. Europe is definitely well served.mcd lith

The one glaring gap on the world map is on the continent of Africa.

There are about 23 McDonald’s in Egypt – more than I expected.

There are 200 stores in South Africa. That is way more than I would have guessed.

That’s it. Egypt on the north coast of the continent and South Africa at the other end. In between – nada.

If you live, let’s say in Burkina Faso (another landlocked country) and you have a craving for an order of Chicken McNuggets – you are SOL – Snack Out of Luck. You are going to have to hoof mcd burkinait across the Sahara to Egypt or, if you’re not in a hurry, pack a sandwich and head south, way south.

 

I admit that I have not delved deep into the subject to determine if there might be a Burger King or even a Subway (Sans Jarrod) in Burkina Faso. If there is – all I can say is “You deserve a break today. Boy, do you ever.”

mcd nuggets

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

joy1HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!

The sun is back rising in the east. Up is up. Down is down and Baseball is soon to reappear and…

My favorite little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant is open again. It was closed last August when two “youths” decided to burn down the Dollar Store next door. A brilliant move it was not. Not only did the fire gut the Dollar Store, but smoke and water damage destroyed my favorite little family run restaurant. All of this just a bagel’s thrown from St. Arbucks. But now…

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Puppies And Kittens And Snakes, Oh, My!

schroedingers-cat-is-alive-deadLIFE IS A SERIES OF CHOICES. The choices that some people make mystify me. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have the right to make their choices – I just don’t get the why and the how sometimes.

What I’m talking about today is People and their Pets.

Don’t get me wrong. I love animals. I love pets. I have been a pet owner many times and cried like a baby when they died. I’ve had dogs, cats, fish, and, for a short time, a parakeet. That bird and I just didn’t get along. I’d give him seeds and he’d throw them back at me. I got him to perch on my hand only once. He called me an obscene name, bit me, and went back into his cage, slamming the door. I gave him away to a friend who owned a cat.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Cereal Killer On The Loose

Coupons 2TOO MUCH EDUCATION CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING.

I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.

Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.

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I Am Leftovers

food1YOU WOULD THINK THAT AN ENTIRE WEEKEND would be enough time to recover, but I still feel like that beached whale. I am still giving thanks – only now it is thanks that I’m still alive, having survived my gluttony.

By this time of life I should know better and be more into a Zen-like state where I don’t engage all of my senses in a spate of overdoing it at the dinner table.

“Oh, Grasshopper, you are personally responsible for the famine in Asia. Because of you millions of people will go to bed without any pumpkin pie. The children will never know the meaning of Kool-Whip.”

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An Encore Presentation  – “Hey, Butterball!”

Throwback Thursday 3

On Wednesday . ..

From November 2015

 

Brace yourself, America! It’s that time of year again when,a39f71f4-51bf-4f24-8b9e-4fe70b5801cb all across the country, people will be preparing Thanksgiving Turkey Dinners by the millions.

For most it will be a joyous chore to feed family and friends, but for many it will be a challenge comparable to trying to fly to the moon in a lawn chair powered by some helium balloons from the dollar store.

Despair not, help is available!

This year, as it has for the past 34 years, the fine folks at Butterball will be running their Turkey Hotline to answer questions and help salvage those Thanksgiving dinners for the less than expert chefs. Not everybody can be Julia Child – nor would you want to be – she’s dead.

Over the past 34 years the folks answering the calls at Butterball from mystified cooks have had to both give clarifying information and not scream or laugh out loud at the same time.

“I carved my turkey with a chainsaw. Is the chain grease going to adversely affect my turkey?” The answer is YES, don’t serve it or it might kill someone. I can’t think of a worse way to top off Thanksgiving dinner than having the diners keeling over at the table.

“How do I roast my turkey so it gets golden brown tan lines in the shape of a bikini?” The recommendation was “strategically placed foil.” I really don’t want to know why they wanted this information. That is between them and their therapist or defense lawyer.

And then there was the man looking for a quick way to cook his turkey who put it in the oven in the self-cleaning mode. While that certainly would be quicker than recommended by Butterball, so would napalm or a thermonuclear explosion.

Finally, there was the woman who called the Hotline for advice on how to get her Chihuahua out of the turkey. Let’s not go any further with that one.

Most of the calls to the Hotline are, Thank God, rather mundane, such as:

“How long do I cook it?”

“How long does it take to thaw out?”

Thankfully, there are very few questions that are matters of life and death. But as one generation of cooks learns the ropes, along comes a new crop of would-be Emerils to pull the pin on a turkey grenade.

In the last decade or so the concept of deep frying the Thanksgiving turkey has caught on. Unfortunately, it seems to be most popular with men who think that, since they can change the oil in the pick-up truck, they can deep fry a turkey. It’s just a different kind of oil. Right?

Deep frying a turkey brings its own set of caveats, warnings and instructions, none of which bear any resemblance to servicing the Ford F-150.

The Butterball people list them on their website and instruction #1 hints at what must be a recurring problem among deep frying novices:

#1 – Before deep frying – take the wrapper off of the turkey!

Really? You mean I shouldn’t leave the little net bag and plastic wrapper and labels on the bird? Why not leave it in the plastic bag from the supermarket as well?

When you try deep frying your first turkey it is firmly suggested that you wait until the bird is completely thawed – unless you actually want a geyser of hot, and possibly flaming oil, launched over you, the kitchen and, eventually, the smoking ruins of your house. If this happens you might ask the firemen who will be putting out your house fire if they know the way to the nearest Denny’s or IHOP. Both places will be serving Thanksgiving dinner all day long.

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Let’s Do Lunch

deer2WHAT’S FOR LUNCH TODAY? If you’re anything like me it is a last minute decision about some form of organic matter on a plate. After a quick scouting mission through the kitchen I usually end up with something that falls under the general heading of “Leftovers” – also known as “Muzgos,” – as in “If we don’t eat this today – it Muz Go.”

This morning while driving down to St. Arbucks Sunrise Service/Brewing I heard something on the radio that might change the concept of Lunch for millions of people.

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