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 tag “Food”

Today is Throwback Thursday… From 12/9/2014

 

Throwback Thursday… From 12/9/2014

I Should Buy Some Purple Spandex

Baskin Gym

I LIVE VERY CLOSE TO MY favorite gym. It is only about a five minute walk from my home, but, of course, I don’t walk there – I drive.  It has all the latest equipment and a highly- trained staff that can help design for you a really healthy and vigorous workout program. You can also get top notch diet and nutritional planning advice there as well.

I don’t care about any of that crap.

It’s my favorite gym because it is right next door to a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store. I can just imagine myself doing a really healthy cardio workout in the gym and then zipping next door for some hand-packed peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. I’m never going to do that, but I can imagine it. I’m so glad that the two places are so close. Talk about your city planning! I should send a “Thank You” card to the zoning board. They got something right for a change.

I really do love going to that gym – really, I do. I just stand outside, with my ice cream cone and watch the folks inside sweating and grunting. Every once in a while someone comes outside and joins me. I think they realize that I’m having a better time than they are.

One time some yutz came out from the gym and started to berate me for my dissipated lifestyle. That was his phrase – “dissipated lifestyle.” – And how he was a much better person than me. I licked my cone and nodded, but didn’t say anything. That really fried his Twinkies.  He flexed his muscles and got right up in my face and said that when we both get to 50 years of age I’ll probably have already dropped dead and he’ll still be healthy. I told him my guess was that he’d stroke out on his Stairmaster long before reaching 50, and that, anyway, I’m already way past 50 years old and “you can lick my Rocky Road.”

I Would Never Lead You Astray

DESPITE MY CURMUDGEONLY REPUTATION I really do try to be a helpful sort of person. Like yesterday afternoon when a stranger asked me for directions. He was passing through town and wanted to have lunch at his favorite restaurant – “Chili’s” and he needed help finding it.

I was proud that I could give him simple and accurate directions. Follow my directions and an imbecile could find that restaurant.

“Just go down this road. When you get to the big courthouse-looking building, turn left. Keep going for a few minutes, then go under the Interstate. Keep going until you see their sign. It’ll be on your right.”

Simple, not too complicated, and absolutely accurate.

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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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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.

It is a day to be with Family and Friends.

Wherever you are – enjoy this day and we will see you tomorrow.

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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Emotional Lunch

 

I SAW A SIGN ON THE FRONT OF A RESTAURANT YESTERDAY and it set me to thinking (I know, a dangerous and often toxic undertaking.).

When I saw this sign it made me come up with a number of questions – the first of which was, “What is an Angry Chicken?”

I can understand why any individual chicken might be angry at being cooked and eaten, but I’ve never really thought about a chicken’s moods.

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Reblog From The Koolkosherkitchen “Immersion Pie”

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s blog is originally from the Koolkosherkitchen: A blog that is about both Food and Life. I am sure that you will enjoy it – even if you don’t take the recipe into your kitchen.

Enjoy!

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/

Immersion Pie Featuring Freud, Elephants, Polar Bears, and Noah’s Ark

This story was shared by Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson, a fantastic public speaker with a great sense of humor. A renowned psychologist was giving a lecture on his theory of the flood. According to him, a myth about the flood of catastrophic magnitude has been present in every culture and religion in the world. He postulated that it was primitive people’s way of expressing their insecurities and fears for the future. He unequivocally stated that there has never been an actual flood. One of his listeners asked permission to comment.

“And what if there really was a flood? What if it isn’t a myth?” he asked.

A stunned silence enshrined the audience of professional, highly educated men. After a prolonged pause, the lecturer replied, “My teacher Zigmund Freud would ask who is stronger, elephants or polar bears. He would then answer that it is impossible to judge as they never meet; they exist in different climates. You and I, sir, are an elephant and a polar bear; we exist in different climates: you allow that the flood might have happened, and I don’t. We will never meet.”

Mount Ararat and the Yerevan skyline in spring (50mm).jpg

There are several different locations where Noah, a righteous man in his time, supposedly parked the Ark when flood waters receded. Amateur archaeologist Ron Wyatt, among others, claimed that he found the remains of the Ark and some artifacts to prove the veracity of his findings. His discovery has been highly disputed, but the location is spot on: Mount Ararat, as it is identified in ParshasNoah (the view is from Armenian capital Yerevan). The following video is shot by a drone flying over Wyatt’s discovery.

Take it with a grain of salt, if you will, but today hardly anybody disputes the flood itself. “Now the earth was corrupt in G-d’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11), He got outraged, and set out to obliterate everything. It was a total immersion: “The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth… and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered” (Genesis 7:18 and 7:19). We can’t help but reflect upon the Biblical flood as thousands of people in (sic) Huston are trying to cope with a disaster of the same nature, torrential rain that flooded the city, leaving its inhabitants, human and animal alike, homeless and in need of help.

 

 

160817142359-08-la-flooding-0816-exlarge-169

Among many photographs of immersed buildings and drowned cars, there are quite a few of “modern Noahs,” righteous among the people of our times, boating four-legged friends to safety. As the waters are receding now in Huston, and relief is pouring in, this Immersion Pie might serve as a reminder to love and care for each other and all His creatures.

Blu Imm Pie 1.jpg

The idea is to imitate earth boiling under torrential water, so there is no crust. You mix spelt or gluten free flour with soy or almond milk,  add some brown sugar and cinnamon, a little baking powder, and a pinch of salt.

Blu Imm Pie 2.jpg

You can immerse any berries or diced fruit, but blueberries are still in season, huge and juicy, so first I immersed them into a mix of vanilla extract and brown sugar. They should sit and contemplate their fate, while you are mixing the rest of the stuff. After all, Noah spent 120 years building the Ark, to give people a chance to abandon their corrupt ways and make corrections, so give your blueberries a chance for 10 – 15 minutes.

Blu Imm Pie 3.jpg

Since my first rule of dessert clearly states that it’s not a dessert if it doesn’t have chocolate, I also mix in unsweetened cocoa powder. It looks like mud already!

Blu Imm Pie 4.jpg

The process of immersion is about to start! Melt Smart Balance or any butter substitute of your choice and pour it into a pie baking form. Pour your mud – batter, that is! – into it and spread it evenly. Empty your blueberries, juice and all, on top of batter and also spread them evenly.

Blu Imm Pie 5.jpg

Let it bake at 350 F for an hour or so, and the immersion will occur naturally while you are not even looking – the batter will rise and cover most of the berries. There is another, much more positive meaning of the term total immersion. It is one of the most effective methods of language acquisition: drop a person into target language environment where nobody speaks his native language or any other language he knows, and, according to S. Krashen’s Natural Language Acquisition theory, he’ll start communicating in target language. It’s a sink-or-swim method, and Krashen is right: in about three months, give or take, they start swimming, i,e, talking. By the same token, I choose to believe that dropping a person into a loving environment full of kindness will force him to acquire the same behaviors. From there – Existence Precedes Essence! – is only one step from behaviors to attitudes, and from attitudes to values!

Blu Imm Pie 6

So sprinkle some more cocoa powder on top – the more chocolate, the better! – add some crushed walnuts, if you like, and cut yourself a nice juicy piece of the Immersion Pie – total immersion in love and kindness!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup fresh berries or any fruit cut into small chunks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup spelt or gluten free flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ cup soy or almond milk
  • ¼ cup Smart Balance or other butter substitute
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder plus more to sprinkle
  • Optional crushed walnuts

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  • Mix berries with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and vanilla extract, put aside for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon,  add soy or almond milk. Do not over-mix.
  • Melt Smart Balance, pour into the bottom of baking pie form. Pour batter over melted Smart Balance, spread evenly. Spread berries, including juice, on top of batter, spread evenly.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and crisp around the edge.
  • Remove, sprinkle with cocoa powder and crushed walnuts. May be served warm or cold.

Enjoy!

 

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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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.

 

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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Nay! Nay!

 

I’D SAY THAT CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER. I noticed while driving about the neighborhood yesterday that there was a new announcement on the sign at the Taco Bell.

“Employee of the month is ‘Nay Nay’.”

Yes, Yes – it’s Nay Nay.

I know that appears to be somewhat contradictory, but it’s not. Yes, it is not.

I don’t know Nay Nay. I don’t know if Nay Nay is a He-Nay or a she-Nay. All I know for sure is that Nay Nay is a good employee at Taco Bell.

If I worked at Taco Bell and I wanted to become the Employee of the Month I’m sure that the Boss would say nay. I’m not Taco Bell material. In my heart I know that I’m not. I’m no Nay Nay. No way am I a Nay Nay. I am closer to a “No Way” than I am to a Nay Nay.

Way to go Nay Nay! Yea for Nay Nay!

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Throwback Thursday – From June 2015 – “I’m On A Mission From God”

I’m On A Mission From God

square donuts

WELL, NOT REALLY, BUT CLOSE. I was on a mission from my wife.

Last Friday was “National Donut Day.”

We’re talking about the pastry and not the parking lot maneuver done by drunken teenagers with the family car on Saturday night.

There is a fact little known outside of Terre Haute (That’s French for “Can I have some more.”), Indiana, but we produce the best donuts this side of everyplace else.

I’m talking about “Square Donuts” here. Not round. Not triangular, and certainly not Kremed and Krispy. I know that taste is subjective, so after an extensive fact finding mission I can “Objectively” state that I am right.

Anyway…

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Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “The Cake That Wouldn’t Die”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 

The Cake That Wouldn’t Die

Circus cake

IF YOU RECALL, about two weeks ago there was a posting here called

“Now THAT Was A Surprise Party”

https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/now-that-was-a-surprise-party/

It all had to do with an effort to do something nice for someone. We should have known better.

For Newcomers and Amnesiacs I will give a brief reminder of the circumstances.

One of the baristas at our local Chapel of St. Arbucks was leaving to go be a circus performer – flying on the high trapeze to be exact. A few of us regulars here (AKA “The Usual Suspects”) decided it would be nice get her a cake for her last day on the job. One Suspect volunteered to assume the task of getting the cake from the nearby Kroger’s Supermarket. This is where it all began to fall apart.

He ordered a cake that was to be decorated with little plastic figures giving it a circus motif. He was to pick it up at 7:30 AM and bring it to the party.

At 7:30 AM he went to the Kroger’s and they told him it wasn’t going to be ready until 7:30 PM. Major Snafu. He showed them the receipt saying clearly “7:30 AM.” They panicked and told him to come back in 30 minutes.

Snafu Number Two

When I arrived at St. Arbucks I was informed that the young lady had decided to blow off her last day on the job. No cake, now no Guest of Honor.

Great. Just great.

Fast forward a few days. Kroger calls our Cake Orderer and says, “Come get your cake, Bucko!” He goes to the store and a confrontation ensues that results in the Bakery Manager chewing out the clerk, the clerk being upset, and Kroger tearing up our bill for the cake. Now the circus cake is THEIR PROBLEM.

Jump ahead to this past Wednesday when our innocent Cake Orderer goes into the Kroger to do his shopping. As he walks past the Bakery counter he clearly hears the same chewed out clerk tell a fellow clerk, “There’s that guy.”

He is now officially, “That guy.”

Unable to resist the chance to throw kerosene on a fire I went into the store yesterday afternoon. I browsed the cakes on display. The aforementioned clerk asks if she can be of assistance.

“Yes, thank you. Do you have any cakes with a circus theme?”

Her back got stiff and her eyes got skinny.

“Who is this for?” she asked.

I gave her a cock and bull story about a coworker leaving. It made no sense, but it seemed to satisfy her.

“”Well, we had a circus cake last week, but not anymore.”

“Can you make another one for me?”

“No.”

I didn’t push the issue. I never argue with someone who is skilled in using kitchen knives.

Last night our original Cake Orderer went back into the store. He spoke with someone else at the Bakery who gave him a behind the scenes glimpse at what had gone down.

It seems that this cake fiasco caused quite a furor inside their little frosting covered world. There is bad blood behind the counter now. I advised my fellow Suspect to do his shopping elsewhere.

All we wanted to do was to have a little going away party for a nice young lady who likes to hang upside down thirty feet in the air and who can make a good cup of coffee. What was wrong with that?

I guess this goes to prove that no good deed goes unpunished.

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “I’ve Never Had That Happen – Exactly”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 

 

I’ve Never Had That Happen – Exactly

PerkinsLAST NIGHT, MY WIFE, the charming and lovely Dawn, and I were watching a show on Netflix where the two main characters in the story were thrown out of a bar. Dawn turned to me and asked, “Have you ever been thrown out of a bar?”

I quickly thought back over the decades of my life and answered her truthfully, “A bar? No, I’ve never been thrown out of a bar – exactly.”

That answer did, as you might expect, elicit a call for my definition of the word “Exactly” in this context.

Have I ever been thrown out of a bar? No.

Have I ever been asked to consider my continued presence an unsafe extension of privilege? Yes.

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Down, Boy! Down!

SOMEONE KINDLY INFORMED ME this morning that this month has been designated “National Dog Bite Prevention Month.”

Who knew? Nobody told me about it until today. More importantly, I’d like to know if anybody bothered to inform the dogs of the world about this.

I have never been bitten by a dog – other than the playful nips of puppies. To be truthful, I’ve suffered more bites from humans than I ever have from animals. I have been scratched by dogs, but that happened while the dogs were showing me how glad they were to see me. “

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Throwback Thursday from April 2015 – “You Are Not Pizza”

Throwback Thursday from April 2015

 

You Are Not Pizza

 

 

 

Pizza you are not

I WENT TO SEE MY NUTRITIONIST yesterday morning. His task is to help me to change my eating habits, thereby losing weight, thereby lowering my blood pressure, thereby continuing to be alive.

So far so good.

According to him I have lost four pounds since my last visit – and I did so without amputating any body parts or pretending I was a prisoner in a Northern Ireland jail. I have tried to alter my food choices – that means cutting back on pizza and eating more fruits and veggies.

I can do that.

He told me that if I can lose seven more pounds I will officially move from being considered “Obese” into a category labeled “Overweight.” He said the difference is that as an “Overweight” category resident it becomes conjecture about whether my excess weight is fat or muscle. I assured him that it isn’t muscle and hasn’t been for about forty years. After he stopped giggling he gave me that seven pound weight loss as a goal for our next appointment which is set for late July. In essence, he has given me the go-ahead to stay alive for another three months.

I’m jiggy with it.

I didn’t use that phrase with him. Not only is it about ten years passé, but he is also from India and I doubt that he was a “Fresh Prince” fan. With him I just mumbled an “OK.”

Since I started seeing him I have lost about 45 pounds. At first it was easy – “at first” lasting about three weeks. After that it became more difficult. At one point I considered having all of my internal organs removed. My wife discouraged me from doing that saying that “Zsa Zsa Gabor did that and look what happened to her.” I haven’t been able to discover what actually did happen to her, but it probably wasn’t good from the sound of it.

Instead I have lost the weight the old fashioned way: eating lots of fruits and veggies and implementing “Portion Control.” I can now spot a 3 oz. piece of chicken from across the room. I’ve always used potion control but just with different parameters that my Nutritionist has in mind. In one frame of reference half of a large pepperoni pizza is portion control. In a different frame it is – Oh, how shall I say it – NOT!

You can’t make everyone happy.

He asked me the same question my other doctors have asked me lately: “What are you doing for exercise?”

I gave him the same answer I’ve given them: “I stumble.”

You see, when I walk, I honestly have no idea what my left leg is going to do. There have been times when I want to go straight ahead, but my left leg decides on its own to go left. Why? I don’t know. It’s just being rebellious perhaps. Or it does those wacky things in retribution for two early childhood surgeries on the leg. Or maybe it just saw something more interesting off to the left. So, when I walk I do so carefully. Not too fast, not with steps larger than the distance I am prepared to fall face first into the pavement.

I honestly think, along with my wife, the Wonderful and Understanding Rev. Dawn, that I get most of my exercise pushing the shopping cart up and down the aisles at the Kroger store. I can put in some mileage there depending on how long the shopping list is that day. And the cart offers support and something to hold onto in case “Lefty” decides to wander off.

Ergo!

I chalk up yesterday’s trip to see the Nutritionist a success. He was happy. I was happy. My wife was happy. And remember:

You can’t make everyone happy. You are not pizza.

I Have Made Myself Hungry Again

WHAT CAN I SAY? IT’S A HABIT. IT’S A WEAKNESS. It’s a bagel. A morning is not complete without a bagel. If I don’t have my bagel I feel cheated. I feel depressed. I feel hungry.

Finding a decent bagel in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Pass the cream cheese.”) is not easy. Real, honest to goodness bakeries are hard to find. What most places offer up as bagels are just a half step above hamburger buns and just won’t do. But, as in any time of famine, one gets by with whatever one can find.

I think that you have to be in or within commuting distance of a big city to find a genuine, legitimate, my grandparents came from Eastern Europe, bakery that boils their bagels and is sold out by 9 AM.

Kroger’s don’t cut the Nova Scotia.

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I Am In Control, But Bus Your Own Table

I CHECKED MY E-MAIL THIS MORNING like I do every day and after deleting 95% of the messages that are trying to sell me something, scare me about something, or to get me to help out some Nigerian Princess, I actually find one or two that are worth reading.

This morning I learned that today is officially “National I am in Control Day.” Well, I’m glad that somebody is – I just didn’t know that it was me.

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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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