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 – 2019

Archive for the category “Meals”

Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “Going Back For Seconds”

Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “Going Back For Seconds”

 

turkey1A CRISIS HAS ARISEN. For a number of years we have gone out for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. With just the three of us doing it all at home seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.

When we dined out we headed to a local hotel that put on a buffet worthy of the Roman Emperor’s Palace. There was enough of everything edible there that it would make the Front Line of the Chicago Bears faint dead away.

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During the course of the day several hundred hungry Hautians (not Haitians) would show up and eat until they embarrassed themselves. I heard that the Chefs and Bakers were on the Weight Watchers hit list. (But that was just a rumor.)

I must admit that we did our part in this Festival of Gluttony. We gave thanks for all of the usual things, plus the fact that it came only once a year. Any more often and they could have just shifted it all to the nearest Emergency Room.

The hotel did put on a buffet for Easter, but it paled in comparison. It was like trying to compare two squirrels fighting over an acorn to World War Two. The hotel Thanksgiving buffet had become a family tradition.

turkey3But now…

The Hotel Corporate gods decided that our hotel needed renovation and expansion. Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Get me some carrot cake.) has a number of really fine hotels. The universities and larger businesses have a lot of people coming in and out of town all the time. In late May there is the Indianapolis 500 auto race and the Terre Haute hotels fill up with racing fans.

With the announcement of the coming hotel renovation our hearts began to flutter. How long will the hotel be closed? What about the buffet? It turned out that it was to be a two year long project. They pared the hotel down to the structural steel skeleton – no buffet.

Time to Panic!

Wherever shall we go? Whatever shall we do?turkey5

For our family the immediate solution was obvious – we got an invitation to dine with friends. That was last year. That invitation won’t be coming again this year. They are out of town, the clever devils.

What are we going to do? The local options are not up to snuff compared to The Buffet.

Some of the possible alternatives that have been discussed are:

  1. The Red Lobster – Thanksgiving must have turkey. Sorry.
  2. Taco Casita – Now, that’s not funny! Sorry.
  3. Bob Evans – I don’t know. I…
  4. Help!

So, you see our dilemma. I suppose we could put together a very nice Thanksgiving dinner at home. After all, we are bright, creative, and fully capable people, but it just wouldn’t be the same. After all, the hotel buffet has become our tradition.

I’m going to put on my Thinking Cap and investigate further.

If anyone has any ideas, short of going out and shooting a turkey, they would be appreciated. We do want to have our family dinner – and Marie Callender is not part of the family.

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Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “The Good, The Bad, And The Crispy”

Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “The Good, The Bad, And The Crispy”

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I LOVE PIZZA. CORRECTION: I LOVE MOST PIZZAS.

Pizza is a very simple dish (or pan). It is not difficult to make. I suspect that you could make a passable pizza in one of those old “Suzy Homemaker” or “Easy-Bake” ovens.

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NO! NO! NO!

The only way to screw up a pizza, IMHO, is to use ingredients that just don’t belong. Strawberries? On a pizza? Some chef has posted a recipe for a “Strawberry, Balsamic Pizza with Chicken, Sweet Onion, and Applewood Bacon.” Really? I suppose I could pick off the strawberries if I had to.

“Deep Dish Apple Pizza?” That’s not a pizza – that’s an Apple Pie. Blasphemy! I don’t think that fruit belongs on a pizza. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but – I’m right. Get over it. And there is no such thing as a Breakfast Pizza or a Dessert Pizza. No!

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Where Anchovies Belong

I also think that one should omit Olives and Anchovies. Olives? That’s like chewing on erasers. Anchovies? I’d bet that Anchovies were first put on a pizza as a prank. The eating of Anchovies should be left to other, larger, fish in their food chain.

The reason I bring this up at all stems from a chance encounter last week involving pizza.

It was a Sunday Evening and both my wife, the lovely and pizza knowledgeable, Dawn, and I were both pooped. It was about 7 PM and neither of us had the energy or desire to go into the kitchen for any reason beyond using it as a shortcut to the Toyota.

“Why don’t we order a pizza?”

More excellent words could not have been spoken. I took my phone and actually used it to place a real phone call for the first time in weeks.

“Yes, a medium, thin crust, Pepperoni with extra cheese.”

Now, THAT is how you order a pizza!

Twenty minutes later I cut a path through the kitchen and drove off to pick up our pizza. I don’t

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mind taking the effort to pick up a pizza. It makes me feel like I have worked to put the food on the plate. It’s a guy thing – part of that Hunter-Gatherer mystique. Hit the dinosaur on the head and drag it home to feed everyone in the cave.

When I got to the Pizza Joint (All places that sell pizza are, by definition, “Joints.”) I had to wait a few minutes for our pizza to finish baking. It was then that I heard someone calling my name.

“Krafty. Hey, Krafty.”

Sitting at a table were two members of the Usual Suspects away from their pew at St. Arbucks. Being the sociable sort that I am, I toddled over to their table. It was then that I had one of those “Run that past me again” moments. One of the Suspects asked me…

“Are you here to get some Pizza?”

There I was standing in the middle of a Pizza Joint surrounded by about 20 other people munching away on pizza. The air was redolent with the heavenly aromas of the pizza ingredients and I was standing next to two people who had a Pepperoni Pizza on the table just

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inches away from their mouths – and he asks me, “Are you here to get some Pizza?”

I gathered all of my Grown-Up civility and politeness skills before answering – then I realized who I was talking to.

“No, I came in here hoping to find some new shoes.”

Our Pizza was delicious and there was just enough left over to make a truly classic breakfast. No strawberries. No Olives. No Anchovies. Just some real Pizza.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

Spending a week or two in a foreign land is one thing, but going for seven weeks changes the way you see and do things.

Being in Ireland brings to mind an old quote from, I forget whom – Maybe Mark Twain, maybe Winston Churchill, maybe the Spice Girls,- that noted that, “The U.S. and the U.K. (forgive me if I lump Ireland into that mix) are two great nations separated by a common language.” I say this because, just as at home, there is more than one accent in play. It all depends on what part of the country you are in and your social status.

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016 – “A Soft Irish Morning – It Comes With Chips”

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016 – “A Soft Irish Morning – It Comes With Chips”

THIS MORNING IS ONE OF THOSE MORNINGS that the Irish call “A Soft Irish Morning.” That means that it is chilly, a bit rainy, along with some fog.

I’m not complaining mind you, but looking out through the window and seeing all that, the word “Soft” is not one that pops immediately into my thought. But you know the old saying, “When in Belturbet do like the Belturbeters do.” It’s only polite. Read more…

I Know Cliff

WHEN MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND CELEBRATORY QUEEN, DAWN, AND I want to put on the dog we pull out all the stops and let all the rockets fire at once.

This past Sunday to celebrate the fact that…that…that it was Sunday we went out to lunch at a local gourmet restaurant – The IHOP! Do we know how to cut loose or what?

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “Cereal Killer On The Loose”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Cereal Killer On The Loose

TOO 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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Earlier this week he told me of his latest trip to Kroger’s to buy some breakfast cereal. He had some coupons in his hand.

When he got to the Cereal Aisle he saw that the object of his hunt was also being discounted. He smiled I’m sure, bordering on a leer.

Many of the “discounts” on the store shelves are as phony as a politician’s promise – The item sells regularly for $1.49, they change it to $1.79 and slap on another tag reading, “Marked Down to $1.49!” Instant Non-Discount.

Sometimes the discounts are real – usually because a buyer screwed up and they are stuck with ten truckloads of the stuff. Of course, some discounts arise after a news report says that the product can make your kids grow extra thumbs or decide to go to college and major in “Organic Bongs of Medieval Japan.”

Back to my tale of Nuclear Couponing in the Cereal Aisle.

In addition to your garden variety discount was another tag offering even bigger markdowns if you bought the cereal boxes 10 at a time. The buyer must have really screwed up. My Friend The Shopper felt like he had just found the Lost Dutchman Mine. He made a trip to chat with the store manager to verify that everything, as he saw it, was kosher. The Manager said that he was entitled to all of the posted discounts – plus – another “Instant Coupon” that would be given to him upon checkout. The coupons he walked in with were those super-duper double coupons and all of this back and forth with the store manager meant that he was getting into some serious high finance negotiations with Kroger’s. For a guy with a degree from Columbia University and a resume that includes a lengthy stint on Wall Street, this was heaven.

Cutting to the chase!

This man, who just wanted to buy some breakfast cereal for himself and his daughter, ended up walking back to his

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car with 48 boxes of Post and Kellogg cereals – and a bottle of cranberry juice.

He hadn’t really wanted the cranberry juice, but after the dust settled at the checkout cash register, the store owed him $1.79.

The Manager was concerned that the Home Office in Cincinnati might pop an aneurism if the transaction showed up as a negative cash flow. To circumvent this he grabbed a bottle of cranberry juice off the shelf that cost $1.79 and they called the whole deal a push.

When I heard him tell this story my first thought was, “I hope you and your daughter really like cereal, because you’re going to be eating it every day for a year.

As he told this story I could see a fire in his eyes. This experience has spawned a monster. He said that he has found a cable TV show all about serious “couponing” and “It’s really interesting.”

I told him that I thought it all seemed like something that ended up with a very cult-like fanaticism.

If he keeps up with this “couponing”, I half expect him to shave his head, move to Battle Creek, and start banging a tambourine at the airport.

“Om, mane pay me coupon om.”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “Hey, Butterball!”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 –

 

 

Hey, Butterball!

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.

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Tubular Meats

 

“TUBULAR MEATS” IS NOT A PHRASE YOU HEAR VERY OFTEN. It might even be rarely heard. You just have to be in the right place at the wrong time.

Let me first define the term.

Tubular Meats: “A Classification of a certain style or configuration of foods such as hot Dogs, Sausage Links, Kielbasa, and even the often neglected Vienna Sausages. Pigs in a Blanket are not included unless the blankets are removed.”

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Throwback Thursday From July 2015 – “18 For Lunch”

Throwback Thursday From July 2015 – “18 For Lunch”

18 For Lunch

phone booth crowdedIT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO CARRY ON A CONVERSATION over lunch when there are 18 people huddled around the table. It can be hard enough when there are only two people, but the additional sixteen can really throw a monkey wrench into the process.

It ends up sounding something like this:

“So, how have you…seen my green beans, they…flew in last Thursday on…your Aunt Martha just before she…slid into third base.”

Eighteen was the headcount at our Family lunch down in Texas last week. Six orders of Catfish, Four Chicken Fried Steaks, Two Fried Shrimp, Five Fried chicken and one Salad Bar.

Somebody had to keep the cholesterol count down.

When you get together with the family it can be a real crowd and, while they are a lovely bunch, I grew up in a different set of familial circumstances.

My father was an only child and his father was an only child as well. That fact right there seriously cut into my count of cousins, aunts and uncles. I was one of two children and my brother had two daughters.

The Norman Rockwell picture around the Thanksgiving table is turning into a snapshot at the lunch counter.

On my mother’s side of the family they were more fertile. She had three sisters and one brother who made it to adulthood. My Uncle Tony was a great guy who was never married except to his job selling cold cuts at the Central Market and golf. Aunt Nellie was married to Uncle Paul and I think one of the conditions of the Potsdam Conference was that they never have children.

For a next generation on that side of the family we must turn to Aunt Annette and Aunt Anne. They both had two kids each. Of those four only one – Cousin Florence got into the baby production game. She had, if I recall, five or six kids. The other three cousins had a grand of one and even that is more or less an apocryphal child. Nobody has seen that cousin for thirty years, so there is no concrete proof like fingerprints, wanted posters or an appearance on “America’s Most Wanted.

You put all of this together, and the knowledge that those kids are scattered from California, to Ohio, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and you can see that getting 18 around the table for lunch would necessitate hiring some extras to sit in for dessert.

So, you can see why I relish the blessing of squeezing around the table with them. I have married into this family that has accepted me and welcomed me – even though I see them sneak a peek at me every so often with that look that whispers, “There’s something funny about that boy”

By marrying into the family I have become a Texan-in-law and I think that has some kind of real legal status. It’s not on my Driver’s License or anything, but I know that it does entitle me to swagger on certain holidays. Of course, with my limp and galumphing stride, any swagger I have could easily be mistaken for an attempt to walk while under the influence.

 

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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Finger Lickin’ Good

 

I JUST READ THE DARNDEST THING – a restaurant review that made me lose my appetite.

Straight from the home town of Godzilla and Hello Kitty comes a story that, under other circumstances would probably reconvene the courtrooms of Nuremberg. (Under 40? Look it up.)

The restaurant named “Resoto Ototo No Shoky Ryohin” has opened its doors in Tokyo and somehow gotten all of the usual permits and government approval to become the first eatery in the world to legally serve (Brace Yourself) Human meat. The name of the restaurant translates into English as “Edible Brother.”

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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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That Is One Ugly Dog

There are dogs everywhere in Terre Haute (That’s French for “That is one ugly dog.”). I like dogs, but a dog is not always what it seems.

The other day I was about to head off from home to take care of some errands and chores around town. I’d already had my morning coffee and I was ready to face the day.

I got into the Toyota and headed down the driveway. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed some motion coming my way. “Oh,” I said to myself. “A dog is coming down the street.” I stopped the car out of sheer courtesy. As the dog approached I again spoke to myself. “Oh, that is one ugly dog.” Then the dog passed right in front of me as I sat in the car. It was then that I spoke to myself yet once more – this time out loud.

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A Basket Of Brisket

WELL, HERE WE GO – OFF TO TEXAS! Surprisingly our flights were uneventful – which is what you want. Eventful airplane flights make the news and that is never a good thing. Things even went smoothly in our dealings with the TSA aerobic organisms. I think they were having an “On-The Job Slumber Party. They were just waving people through without even looking at them. I bet I could have walked through there toting a Howitzer and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It always makes me feel so safe.

Once we got to our ultimate destination (Corpus Christi) we did what any sensible person would do – we stopped for lunch at Whataburger. It’s a tradition that goes back to the days of the Alamo and Davy Crockett I think. A Family thing, you know.

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Back Home Again In Indiana

“LUCY, I’M HOME”

OK, so I don’t really know anybody named Lucy, but we are home – back in lovely Terre Haute (That’s French for “You don’t have an accent anymore.”)

After about ten days in the deep south we have crawled our way back north, into the land of, if not milk and honey, then Half and Half and Sweet n’ Low.

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Look Out! She Has A Clipboard.

I THINK I LIKE IT HERE. I have made a friend in the cafeteria. For two days now when I have gone to have lunch with my wife, the lovely and officially present, Dawn, I have selected what I wanted for lunch and I have dutifully marched up to the cashier. That is where the magic happens.

Dawn, as an official part of this Gathering, has her meals included. I, as a mere spectator, do not. That’s understandable.

However…

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Rooty, Tooty, Point And Shooty

NAME THREE ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS:

1) Sky Diving

2) Space Travel

3) Breakfast

The first two are pretty obvious, but the third can be downright deadly.

About a month ago in the town of Decatur, Illinois the pancakes went flat at the local IHOP when some customers became a bit unruly and the Manager stepped in to make everything Fresh and Fruity once more.

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016

Throwback Thursday – from Ireland

Grocery Shopping Can Be Fun

supervaluYOU CAN EVEN SURPRISE ME once in a while – and that’s not easy anymore. After being so long on this planet one sees most things and the variations on those things that crop up along the way.

While I make no claims to any superpowers. I barely have any skills at all other than an active imagination and decent powers of observation. I do notice things.

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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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