Friday, November 2, 2012

Love at First Bite: New Truck and New Tastes

It was Food Truck Friday at Manchester Center Farmer's Market today. It was also the innaugural appearance of the Benaddiction Food Truck, and what an impression it made on this blogger. Not often that I'm rendered nearly speechless, but this was one of those times. First off, the man, James Caples himself, was out front, greeting and taking orders, and we got to see what a motivated, entrepreneureal go-getter this young man is. I sincerely think he's going to be the one to really ignite the food truck scene in this town.

But on to reason for being...the food.. oh man.. are you KIDDING ME? I am like a schoolgirl with a new crush.. I shared a "Joker", salmon, avocado, perfectly runny egg, Hollandaise and bacon, on a toasted English muffin. That salmon, wow..perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned. Great bacon, lovely avocado..every ingredient tasty and just right. I would advise LOTS of napkins for this one though.. it's a messy sandwich!

Another delight was the smoked chorizo chowder. There is SO much going on here and the aroma alone will make you drool. Manageable chunks of chorizo and veggies in a roasted red pepper scented broth. It was the perfect thing on a foggy Fresno day.

My husband got the Santa Monica, a monster breakfast sausage dipped in some wicked cross between funnel cake and pancake batter, and deep fried. On a stick. Served with syrup this is better than any other breakfast-on-the-go option you've ever experienced.

We were also fortunate to get to try his "Tribute" french toast chunks rolled in cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I believe), and deep fried. Much thanks for that langiappe! Those were toasty, sweet bits of breakfast decadence!
Benaddiction Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Frankly, after all that, I was kinda done...but..hubs was ready for pie and who was I to turn down one of Summertime's finest strawberry cream cheese? (I shared it at least as not to be a total pig). Hubs had the blackberry, which reminded me of the very first pie I ever had as a child..ah nostalgia!

Stopped by the Tako bbq truck to say hi, grab a soda, and enquire about the success of their first foray into CartHop. I was given a surprise tasting of a potential new item, kind of like a California roll with spam! Um YES PLEASE! Spam and rice and marinated veggies oh my! Spamifornia here I come!

It was with a full tummy, a happy heart, and a coupla bags of fruit from the fine produce vendors that we drove home. Another successful Food Truck Friday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust's 10th Anniversary Celebration

Weather is ALWAYS a concern in Fresno, but yesterday's couldn't have been more perfect for this event. Not too hot, not too cold (like Goldilock's porridge)and blue skies as far as the eye could see. If you've never been out there, its a real hidden gem (we seem to have a lot of those around here).

There was music, art, a self-guided historic home tour, a hike, things to amuse the children, a raffle, farm goods for sale, and food...oh the food..

It was like walking into Christmas morning with a tree loaded with presents and not knowing where to begin! There was P*de*Q, Tako BBQ, La Elegante, Mattie's Wood Fired Pizza, Express Grill, Summertime Pies, and Ooh De Lolli ice pops.

I had to start with the one thing I'd been neglecting for too long, P*de*Q, (Pao de Quejio). A kind of South American cheesy bread ball made with tapioca flour, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. They are naturally wheat and gluten free as well. We tried the parmesan and the jalapeno (they also had chocolate and carrot raisin, but I wasn't ready for sweets). Luckily they had just taken them out of the oven and they were everything they say, crispy on the outside, soft and cheesy inside. I really enjoyed the jalapeno because it gave some real oomph to the gentle tasting dough.

Next on the eating agenda was Tako BBQ truck, an old fave, the owner even remembered me as that "foodie chick".. its nice to be remembered! My hubby went for the Spicy Pork Quesadilla, and my daughter and I shared the Eggplant Korta. As usual everything was amazing. The quesadilla had plenty of meat and cheese, with a delicious sauce on top. The Korta (Korean/Torta), has been my new fave for a couple of weeks now, but this was our first time trying the Eggplant. Delicious! You don't even miss the meat because the eggplant seems to be marinated and chargrilled and cut into meaty chunks.

While waiting for our order, I sent the girl over to Summertime Pies to secure a new Chocolate Chess Pie, something this Southern girl had been dying to try ever since I heard about it. It was perfect. Not too sweet, very rich, and chocolatey good!

My last food stop was Ooh De Lolli for ice pops. I'd been chomping at the bit ever since I heard she was doing a pop made from the Chicken Pie Shop's legendary rice pudding, oh man! She had mixed it with our local persimmons for a rich, subtly fruity treat that I can't stop thinking about. My daughter got the roasted banana, and if you love bananas this is for you! It tasted like bananas, amped up with a rich, roasted flavor. A stop at this beloved cart always reminds me of the scene from Willy Wonka where they're tasting the wallpaper..and he says, "the snozberry tastes like snozberries".. everything she makes tastes exactly like what its made you're eating that thing, in ice pop form!
Sorry about the bite taken out of mine...I couldn't wait!

We wandered around for a bit, taking in the lovely scenery, chatting with dog owners and the helpful docents, taking a tour of the lovely historic house, and overlooking the water.

By that time I was ready for a nap! (Gimme a break, I'm old..), but I am looking forward to their holiday fete on November 17th! Again, its a beautiful place and it helps preserve one of our natural treasures, so please, visit when you can.
San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust
11605 Old Friant Road
Fresno, CA 93730
Hours: M-F 9 am to 5 pm, and Sat: 830 am to 3pm.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cooking Inspirations

I've been branching out lately with my cooking.. here are a couple of successful dinners worth of pics and semi recipes.

Old School Chicken Dinner
I've always loved chicken dinners. I grew up on them. But I've never been able to recreate my grandma's and mother's chicken recipes. I still can't (I leave that up to Come and Get It Chicken and Waffles.) But I can finally make a damn fine fried chicken (I've always been able to make biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes, etc.. no gravy this time but the rest was lovely.)
I overcame my fear of frying, and started out by seasoning four chicken legs with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. I let that sit for a bit for the flavors to soak in. Then I shook them up in a bag with cornstarch, then dipped in egg/milk seasoned with Sriracha, then shook them in another bag with flour mixed with crushed cornflakes and salt. Then deep fried them @400 degree oil for 15 minutes, turning halfway through.
The biscuits are my standard recipe:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
mix everything together til it forms a dough ball, then knead about 10 times. Form into 8 balls and place in greased pan(rolling to grease all sides) and bake at 450 for 14 minutes.
The mashed potatoes were just peeled red potatoes, boiled, and mashed with mayo, butter, milk, and salt. And here you are:
Then tonite, I was craving Chinese American food so I made:
Chinese American Style Sweet and Sour Pork and Fried Rice

I make my fried rice by cooking regular rice ahead of time (2 cups water, 1 cup rice, bring water to boil, add rice, turn down to medium low and cook for 25 minutes covered, then remove from heat and keep covered for another 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and spread on cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray to dry for at least an hour.) Scramble 2 eggs, set aside. Cook 1 cup of peas/carrots, set aside. Add small amount of oil in pan on medium high heat, mix rice with eggs, veggies, green onions, grated garlic and ginger, salt, sesame oil, sugar, and soy sauce (amounts vary). Fry til brown on bottom, and mix. Set aside and keep warm while you make sweet and sour sauce:
1 cup water and/or pineapple juice 1/3 cup vinegar 3/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute (or less to taste) 1/4 cup ketchup 1 1/2 TBSP cornstarch Mix 1st 4 ingredients and boil over medium high heat, mix cornstarch with a bit of cold water or juice and add to boiling sauce, turn down heat and cook til thick. You can add pieces of pineapple and/or veggies afterwards.
I then cut up 3 boneless pork chops into small pieces, salted and peppered them, and dredged them in cornstarch and fried them in about a half inch to one inch of oil til brown. I tossed those into the sauce. Here are the results!

The eggrolls were from the freezer section of the store and were pretty crappy. But everything else was just delicious!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Impromptu Gluttony (no pics, sue me)

I was STARVING this morning... and I came this close to going to Carl's Jr for their breakfast glad I didn't...because another muse hit me. Charlotte's Bakeatery (Bakereatery, Bakery..whatever) was on my must try list, based on various reviews etc. Now I've never quite understood the whole cupcake phenomenon, never having had a cupcake worth much in my estimation. I've tried many in town, just to see if I could figure out what the appeal is.. to no avail...these overly frostinged, overly sweet, creations were more pretty than tasty.

Then this morning I had an epiphany after visiting Charlotte's... first off the service (while understaffed) was as sweet as could be.. I wish all counter people could be as sweet and friendly as this girl was. I wanted a variety of things to test their abilities. I ordered the lemon lavender and chocolate chocolate chip cupcakes, a mixed berry tart, and a loaf of garlic wheat bread. and the bread was still warm...

As I mentioned before, I was VERY hungry, so on the way home I bit into the chocolate cupcake...ohhhh THIS is what they're supposed to taste like! Dark chocolate cake with chocolate chips, and dark chocolate frosting applied in a normal manner. Not too sweet, not overly frostinged (is that even a word? it is now!) Oh and get this...vegan AND gluten free! Who knew? Then I bit into the bread...oooooo! garlicky! wheaty! yummy! Couldn't wait to get it home to enjoy with the Irish butter I'd just bought.

Once home the goods were shared round... to much appreciation. The lemon lavender was in one word: AMAZING. Very lemony, not too sweet, with that background note of lavender. The "tart" (more of a semi open turnover) was also could taste fruit, not just sugar, and the pastry itself was expertly made. And the bread...with butter...couldn't stop eating it...HAD to make myself stop eating it..

So now here I sit, full, happy, and understanding the cupcake thing. My only warning would be to understand that these goodies are pricey. 14 plus for 2 cupcakes, 1 tart, and the bread. But SO worth every penny! So my advice to you would be to get yourself down to the Tower District (just west of Teazer, across the street from The Revue and Piamonte's), and indulge. You'll be glad you did!

Charlotte's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The End of the Af-Fair

Dear Big Fresno Fair,

I hate to say this, but I'm breaking up with you. It's not you, it's me. I just can't take the fried foods, the sweets, the heat, and the crowds anymore. Your exotic animal exhibit WAS interesting, and I even enjoyed playing those marimbas. The racing pigs are adorable, the splashing puppies are great, and I wanted to take home every animal in the SPCA truck! But I'm old and tired, my constitution is more delicate, and even though your discount days are great, I'm just not up to the noise, the weather (usually too warm for me), the food (the healthy options just aren't why I came to the fair), and the number of people. Not to mention it comes at a difficult time of year financially, and they've raised prices on everything.

I used to devote days to the fair every year.. I also used to enter (and win) multiple competitive exhibits. It wasn't uncommon for me to go at least 5 times during the run of the fair. I entered this year, 2 items, and got a 2nd place for my cupcakes, but the thrill of competing just isn't there anymore. I've got a wall full of blues and reds, I think that's enough. I've got my hands full with a new husband and a teenager I'm still trying to adjust to. I also used to go to multiple concerts..but now, unfortunately, I don't have the time or the energy to stand in line for the free seats anymore.

So its with a heavy and exhausted heart that I say "farewell".. its been good and we'll always have some great memories that I will always cherish.

Fair Food n' Stuff

It was with a heavy heart that we found out that Chicken Charlie, the premier fried food vendor and innovator would NOT be bringing his brand of deep fried goodness back to the Fresno Fair this year. I don't remember when he first started appearing, but he's been a staple for many years now. I found out it was a combination of bad timing, a new 2nd trailer, and a new baby that was keeping him away this year. Hopefully he'll be back.

However still hopeful and ready for anything, my family of four went to the fair on opening day, to check out the food, the exhibits, and to see if my two baked goods entries (double chocolate cookies, and tropical cupcakes) had won anything.

The teenager of course took off to meet a friend with a 20 in her pocket. The rest of us immediately pounced on Garlicky's, a whole menu of garlic infused food..who could resist that? We settled on the Garlic Dog, basically a garlic infused sausage cooked corndog style. We gobbled it down before we could take a pic..but it just looks like a corndog. It had a mild garlic flavor, but hardly worth the 8 dollar price tag.
Then the eldest suggested we go see if my 2 entries had won took forever to spot my cookies (they keep moving things!), but they hadn't won. We found my cupcakes right away to find a red ribbon. We then headed towards the fine arts building so the eldest could check her exhibits, 2 photos and a drawing. Sadly no ribbons there. While we were waiting on her we went to the Indian Taco booth and ordered one. Deep fried deliciousness with chili, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. Here's a partial pic.

I was starting to get full! And I was already exhausted from the heat, so I suggested Gelato, which we all thought was a good idea. The eldest and I shared a strawberry cup, and the hubs got Lemon Ice.. both were absolutely delicious, especially on a hot day. Yes I know I promised lots of pics, but you all know what gelato looks like... the strawberry looked and tasted like fresh strawberries and the lemon ice was tall and cool and refreshing.

I was curious about the latest "Discover the World" exhibit so we walked there, and here are some pics of the interesting animals. Btw, if for no other reason, visit this area because it's one of the coolest(tempwise) parts of the fair

By this time I was really tired..still needing something cold and needing to grab a bag of kettlecorn to take home. We grabbed the kettlecorn, and headed for another ice cream stand, this time to grab a giant frozen chocolate covered banana. (After making absolutely sure those were peanuts only..because it would be stupid to die at the Fair)

So there we are.. my Fair experience for 2012! Whee!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Morning Quickie..

After being taunted with delicious pictures and descriptions for weeks, I finally hauled my butt down Wishon to Cafe Corazon... Like the Tardis, its tiny on the outside, bigger on the inside, and full of wonderful delights...

This particular morning, I was after 2 things: a cup of decaf and a croissant. They sound so simple and at some places they are...but not here..

A good cup of coffee should stand on its own, no sugar or cream required, it should be bold but not overpowering, it should have well rounded and well defined flavors, without that acrid burn that lesser coffees often have (I'm looking at YOU, JarJarBucks). And especially with decaf, it should be indistinguishable from the high test stuff.

I'm here to tell you that the decaf at Cafe Corazon is all those things and more. Clearly roasted and brewed by folks who know what they're doing, I would say its the best in town.

Now on to the croissant. Definitely not your ordinary croissant, it is sturdy, doesn't leave your hands greasy even after being heated, soft without being doughy, shatteringly crisp without being dry. Made of red wheat and rye, it is more substantial than your every day pastry.

With plenty of places to sit and sip, and excellent service, the place is a comfy spot for enjoying a cup of joe with something delicious to nosh on. So if you haven't been yet...GO..NOW.. you'll be happy you did.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ooh De Lollilicious, What an Art Hop!

Hubby, eldest child and I spent a delicious, delightful Thursday evening at our first art hop, and first time trying the absolutely yummy icy confections put forth by the lovely lady of Ooh De Lolli!

We had dual purposes tonite of taking a proper tour of Warnor's Theater, and finally trying those ice pops we'd been hearing so much about.
We got to Warnor's (parking at CVS again) a bit early, but it looked like the tour was starting ahead of time, because there was already a crowd gathered before the tour guide.
We hurried over and joined the crowd. But there was something interesting about them..they seemed...homogenous...all dressed alike, all the same age range (early 20's to early 30's). Coincidence? Not being shy, we dove right in and joined the tour...
What can I say.. I am an architecture-ophile, and Warnor's is breathtaking, inside and out.. I could have stood all night, just staring at the interior ceiling and every single detail (and there were many). The tour was much more extensive than I expected (under the stage, behind the scenes kind of thing), and our tour seemed to take longer than the next one. After listening in a bit, we discovered we were apparently, inadvertantly on the "young professionals" tour.. oh was a blast...even with all those stairs, and being like a thousand degrees in was worth every minute. I would recommend it to anyone seeking eye candy and hidden delights in Fresno.

After all that exertion in the heat, we needed something to cool off...and this led to the other reason we had come.. Ooh De Lolli ice pops! Situated conveniently right outside Warnor's, there was already a line..a very good sign! I already knew what I wanted, and my sometimes picky lovebug hubby even found something he would try, and the daughter hurriedly made her decision as we counted out our pennies, and stepped up to order.

The first lovely surprise was the pretty lady who owns Ooh De Lolli (sorry I didn't remember your name!), actually recognized me from our emailings on Facebook! Second lovely surprise was how intensely wonderful my choice was.. Buttered Caramel Popcorn..she managed to capture the roasty toasty popcorn essence, along with the richness of buttery caramel, in an ice pop! SO GOOD! Of course, me, being the clumsy thing I am, opened my treat incorrectly and plopped it on the ground... and she, being the sweet, gracious lady that she is, gave me another. Yay!
My sweetie chose the cantaloupe/orange flower water.. so fragrant.. he kept commenting how it was just like eating a cantaloupe. My eldest chose the strawberry balsamic.. it was..intense, fruity, sweet and tart at the same time.. you could taste everything!
After that we went and explored a bit, saw some art, heard some tunes, and went back to our car..contented and excited by what we saw and tasted...
So thank you Warnor's for the beauty...and thank you Ooh De Lolli lady, for putting the YUM into our nite..I would suggest that everyone go and taste...again and again..

Monday, September 3, 2012

Something More Important Than Food...

Tonite my husband took my face in his hands, and asked, "are you beautiful?", and without a moment's hesitation, I answered, "yes". Only took me 50 years~!

This is something women all over the world struggle with every single day, in various ways. From nitpicking our perceived physical flaws, all the way to serious, life threatening eating disorders. No matter what we look like, no matter how big, how small, how proportionate or disproportionate, how "perfect" or "imperfect" by whatever societal standards, there is almost no woman who is satisfied with her looks or her body.

There are many culprits involved. The media, the fashion industry, changing social standards, the diet industry, the medical industry, the nanny state government, men, and other women.

Women are NOT always kind with each other, we can be very competitive, snarky, bitchy, and mean. We project our own insecurities on other women. We judge. We ridicule and belittle.

It won't stop, but it needs to. We are killing our daughters, our friends, our sisters, our mothers. Murdering them inside and out. Making them feel that they need to resort to surgery and unhealthy eating habits, spending untold money on products to make them feel human, worthy, loved.

Words like "fat", "skinny", "old", "ugly", and other judgemental, hurtful words that add up to socially acceptable bigotry need to be banished from our vocabulary. We need to start being mindful of reversing the trend and stop showing the awful side of our personalities. We need to stand up and say NO to hurtful words and ideas that lead to self hatred based on what we look like.

Sadly, I don't hold out hope that this will become the norm. Not as long as the fashion industry uses anorexic models on a regular basis, not as long as the medical industry pushes plastic surgery, diet pills, and the flawed idea that dieting can conquer the "obesity epidempic". Not as long as people have this sick idea that Barbie has a perfect body. Not as long as human beings are unhappy enough with their own lives that they relieve that unhappiness by unloading cruelty on others. Not as long as women think they need to compete with each other. Not as long as we all stand by and accept this behavior.

So for what it's worth, I AM BEAUTIFUL, because I am a good mother, because I am a good wife, because I love my friends and family beyond measure, because I love animals, because I AM willing to stand up and fight for all those things that are important to me, because of a million little things that are good inside and outside. I know a LOT of beautful women and men whose hearts and souls make them beautfiful. And that should be the ONLY measurement that matters.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Livin' That French Thang...

After some initial resistance, my teen has decided that she likes our new dinner style after all...(even if she doesn't care for our taste in dinner music (classical), or my homemade salad dressing (sweet/hot mustard).

Last nite WAS really good, I must admit that, and watching Nigella every day for actual cooking tips (as opposed to eye and ear candy) is paying off.
We had no appetizer as I was running low on supplies, but the rest of the menu was thus:
Really great bread, thanks to Pillsbury Simply Bread (yes its from a can, but it really does taste homemade.)
Asian noodle/vegetable soup
Roasted Sausages/potatoes/garlic (I'm really getting hooked on roasting meats with veggies and whole garlic, it's So easy!)
Romaine salad (nite before last I added raspberries and I think only half of us liked it)
Cheese plate (the last of the mozz, aged English Cheddar (which hubby is now addicted to,) cream cheese, and dill havarti with crackers)(Those weird ThomCord grapes I got from Trader Joe's the other day aren't really working out).
Blackberries topped with fresh whipped blackberry cream.

One of these days I'll get pics..... pinky swear...

Friday, August 24, 2012

CArtHop and Other Delights

I was blessed to be able to attend the innagural day of CArtHop at the Fulton Mall yesterday. In case you haven't heard about it yet, here's the story; basically food carts/trucks meets art meets music equals good times!

We arrived too early to get the full effects, (art, Kopi, crowds) but we did eat some really yummy food! Around 11 am my husband, my eldest, and myself found a parking spot at CVS (free parking if you don't stay too long!) and wandered down the Fulton Mall (a place I hadn't really explored in over 40 years. There was Summertime Pies, Casa De Tamales, Mattie's Wood Fired Pizza, and of course, Dusty Buns, making their truck's triumphant return.
We made a beeline for Summertime Pies, (not knowing about the blackberry or coconut cream, which we will try today at Manchester), where my hubby had the baked cherry, and the eldest had the pulled pork empanada, finding it even more delicious than we remembered.

We also sampled the KMK special at Mattie's, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, bacon, onions, garlic, fresh sage, and fontina, and because I read the menu board wrong, I had to order another minus the onions.. and it was amazing! I'd forgotten how good really fresh produce could taste, and the crust was chewy, crispy, delish!.

Next on the agenda was a revisiting of Le Grilled Cheese from Dusty Buns, full of bacony,cheesy,tomatoey goodness..oh how we've missed you!
Then I went for the vegan option (gotta live dangerously sometimes) from the uber friendly folks at Casa De Tamales, the portobello/asparagus. And don't miss that homemade guac! That topped off the morning just right!

Later that evening, taking a departure from our recent French eating flight, I decided to try yet another foray into making fried chicken. Despite the fact that I am descended from a long and distinguished line of fried chicken makers, I have never been able to get it right.. leaving it to the experts at Chicken Man, or Come n Get It, to satisfy my family's fried chicken cravings. Well last nite I finally got it.. I only had to cook 3 drumsticks, so I put them in a bag with a buttload of garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, and sugar..a sort of non liquid brine, and left them for a few hours. I think dunked them in an egg/milk mixture, and coated them in flour with only black pepper mixed in. I think because I waited for my oil to properly heat up, they fried successfully..tasty and juicy inside, crispy and brown on the outside...yay me! I even made gravy out of the drippings...
no pics of that of know how I am.. but just looked like chicken...correctly fried chicken. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another "French" Night.....

Experimental dinner number 2: Rule 1: Don't use Slivovic as an aperitif. For those of you who don't know, Slivovic is a strong Serbian plum brandy. It's clear and tastes like jet fuel, and as the lady at the Serbian fest advised me rightly, you SIP it, don't slam it. And even in the sipping only half a shot glass.. you will get tipsy... tipsy enough to slip on the marble stairs during the Serbian church tour. My husband, who is an accomplished and veteran drinker, felt a rush from a single sip. That's how potent this stuff is. So of course we bought some for our wedding last year, and we still have over half the bottle left.

all this is leading up to why you should not sip Slivovic and try to construct a multi-course meal. Luckily there was no fires, no bloodshed, and everything turned out reasonably delicious. There was a small issue with possibly overcooking (and flipping) the frittata, but the bigger issue was just me trying to remember what I was doing, and navigate my way around the kitchen...and knives...and hot stoves. It's just best not to drink and cook.

Now the public service announcement is out of the way, on to the menu! Tonite the appetizer was sweet bbq glazed sausages (with toothpicks even! I must have been tipsy and brave...I'll tell you the toothpick impaling story another time.). You all know what the aperitif was. Then we had curried noodle soup (with my famous 'crack' broth), a chicken/potato/carrot/green onion frittata, romaine salad with a homemade (mind you)sweet hot mustard dressing, the cheese plate du jour(cream cheese spread, dill havarti, and aged English cheddar), and the dessert that I totally killed with: Butter toasted lemon pound cake, topped with homemade hot cherry sauce, freshly whipped cream, and blackberries.

I finally am feeling like I'm living up to my potential as a cook.. like that wallful of red and blue ribbons really means something.

Dinner, French-Style, Part Deux

So last night we gave the "French Eating" principle a trial run. I put a tablecloth on our coffee table (where we usually eat due to the lack of dining room), turned OFF the tv (what we normally do during dinner), and put on some music (Big band and swing to start, classical to finish).

We began with an aperitif made of white wine (something Italian, not sure, couldn't translate the label), cherry juice, and a little sugar. We also had an appetizer of devilled eggs. Then came the minestrone. There was good bread (sesame and jalapeno/cheese baguettes, sliced, and real butter on the table at all times.

We moved on to an main course of slowly roasted chicken thighs in an asian sauce, along with roasted potatoes and carrots with garlic. Then it was time for the salad, simply baby romaine with a homemade vinaigrette.

After that was a cheese course (Snofrisk, a soft, edible chevre; whole milk mozzarella slices; and an aged English cheddar, along with crackers and cherries, and more wine.
For dessert, lemon pound cake topped with macerated blackberries and freshly whipped cream. Dinner took nearly 2 and a half hours to complete. We took time between courses to talk and let our food settle a bit, and the portions on everything were small.

The whole experience was very enjoyable, without the telly on, we could concentrate on our food and talking to each other. How all this will fly with my 14 yr old teen terror who can't normally be torn away from the computer for dinner remains to be seen when she comes home on Friday. Her computer has been blocked from the hours of 4 pm to 6 pm (which I may extend to 7 pm), and she won't be able to eat in her room, so getting her used to this may unsettle the current soothing aspects of dinner temporarily, but I am determined to get into this new groove to promote better eating habits and better health.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Intuitive Mediterranean Moderation.....(It's a long one)

I've been reading ALOT lately. Mostly about eating and I've learned some very interesting things and come to some conclusions. One of the things I've learned is about the French way of eating. I'm not a fan of the French people for the most part, they have not been helpful to us in the past, and regardless of how helpful we've been to them, they've got an imperious, shabby attitude towards us. But they do know a thing or two about food and wine. And how to eat and live apparently, because in spite of the fact that they, as a rule, eat butter, cheese, bread, and dessert regularly, and drink wine like it was water, they have a miniscule obesity rate compared to ours, likewise for their rates of heart disease, one of our top killers.

The differences seem to be in portion sizes,(quality not quantity) the fact that they make mealtime a priority, they eat slowly and savor their food, that they shop for fresh food (not processed) almost daily, and that they walk everywhere. And here's another shocker, their children will eat pretty much pickiness, no having to fix separate foods for a fussy child. They are raised to appreciate and love all food. Contrast that to our whiny, demanding kids, who are unhealthy from too many McGoodies that they MUST have or else. And contrast their markets and lifestyle when our lives here are flooded with diets and "diet foods" and our obsession with working out at the gym. In between the fast and processed foods, our markets are full of fat free this and sugar free that and low carb nonsense. And yet we are still in poor shape, inside and out. We are simply living too fast, driving too much (hard not to do in California, sadly), spending too much time with our "devices" and not enough time with our loved ones, enjoying life.

I've also been learning about "Intuitive Eating".. the idea that our bodies know when its time to eat, what we need to eat, and how much. Again, it's a matter of slowing down, listening to our own bodies, and eating purposefully and thoughtfully, i.e. when we're eating, we should just EAT.. not watching the tv or running off to a meeting or playing on the computer.

And what if you combined these two ideas.. slowing down, enjoying food, enjoying life, doing things purposefully, eating well, but not eating too much all the time, eating fresh, and moving around much more? I'll let you know how that goes, the trials and tribulations of re-defining the American diet and the American lifestyle. I don't expect miracles immediately, and I don't expect there won't be speedbumps along the way. But it has to be better than what we're doing now.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Brief post on a brief dinner... aka Douggy Fresh Pizza

Since I left Reedley, and Valentino's was sold to extraneous, untalented family members, I've been on the hunt for "the" pizza.... the one that could come closest to mimicking the deliciousness that was the old Valentino's. Still haven't found it, don't know that I ever will.. but I'll always look for good pizza wherever I can find it here in Fresno.
Since it was just me and the man for dinner, we finally picked up the Douggy Fresh 4.99 large pepperoni carryout. Unlike Little Skeezers, it's made fresh. It was a decent size, a respectable amount of pepperoni, the sauce (unlike most in this town) was actually pretty right on, with no dominating odd flavors or saltiness...very balanced. There was plenty of good cheese too. The crust was an oddball... very very soft with a slightly crisp outer crust, like a good dinner roll. All in all, a very reliable source for inexpensive, tasty pizza, that is also convenient to where we are at various times (now with 3 locations around town).

Douggy Fresh Pizza 1585 N Palm Ave 237-3800

1835 Ashlan Ave Ste 102 Clovis 348-1300

newest location @ Chestnut & McKinley
Douggy Fresh Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What's a Little Fried Chicken Between Friends?

So out of the blue yesterday, I get a FB message from Chuck..   "Thinking about Chicken and Waffles tonite, you guys interested?"    Are we interested?  Is Fresno hot in the summertime? Of COURSE we're interested..  not only being huge fans of chicken (and waffles) but being huge fans of Chuck (who we hadn't seen for awhile, which is normal for Chuck), we immediately agreed.  Well, *I* agreed and told my man that Chuck wanted us for chicken and waffles that nite.  He looked temporarily perplexed, shrugged and said, "ok".

With the sad demise of Stuft Waffle (it's a sentimental thang...I'll show you the video someday)., There is only one place in town that I know of to get chicken and waffles on a regular basis, and that's Come And Get It, Chicken And Waffles.   As with many of my fave places,  the neighborhood can be..questionable for some people,  in the vicinity of Tulare and E-ish.  And the hours can be confusing..  Fridays and Saturdays only, 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.   and Saturday lunches 10 am to 2 pm but only sometimes...  the point is.. it's all worth it.

The people who run it are welcoming,  our service was excellent..and really..the only decision you have to make is how many pieces of chicken and how many waffles you want.  They occasionally have special side dishes or desserts to show off, but their main business is in the title.

The waffle itself is fresh, hot, soft, and has a slight spice note I can't quite identify.  But to me, the chicken's the thing.  You will wait at least a half hour to get your chicken...  because they fry it to order, properly, in a skillet..and chicken this good takes time.   You will want to dive right in because the smell will drive you crazy..  be's hot..and it stays hot...temperature wise.   The spice mix in the coating is definitely plenty of salt n pepper... and a blend of beautiful secrets.   It's the first time I've ever found anything approximating my grandma and mother's fried chicken.   I can cook, but I could never come close to it..  and now I don't have to. 

So if you love good, authentic, delicious fried chicken...go...brave the neighborhood, brave the hours and go... your tummy will thank you.   Mine did.

Come and Get It! Chicken & Waffles on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

To the person who has been commenting Anonymously lately...

You are clearly a troubled individual...   clearly a person with too much time on their hands...  clearly immature, mentally unstable, drugged, lonely... who knows...   But no matter what you say,  God hears you and feels for you as His child...  He will also deal with you accordingly...  To me, you're just another person in a sea of people....  Lots of people have nothing better to do then to try to bother others...  but you don't bother me..  all it makes me do is to feel sorry for you.  Because happy people don't say ugly things, fulfilled people don't try to hurt others,  and no matter what you say, you can't erase the fact that my life is good, that I have dozens of blessings, that I am happy, and you are not.   So whatever your issues are brother, they are not mine to deal with, I will just add you to my prayer list and go on with my life, and maybe someday you'll grow up, or get help, or achieve something with your life so that you won't need to waste it here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Enchilada Casserole on the cheap

This delicious casserole that serves 4, was made with the meat from 3 leftover chicken drumsticks, a 77 cent packet of shredded garlic jack, part of a 1 dollar 10 pack of flour tortillas, 33 cents worth of cilantro, a 10 cent lime, a dollar can of green enchilada sauce, 1 dollar tub of cream cheese, 25 cents worth of green onions, a quarter's worth of cherry tomatoes, and spices I had on hand.

You know how I am with recipes, so I will do my best to tell you what I did.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Preheat oven to 350 F.
1 regular can green enchilada sauce
1 2 cup package shredded garlic jack
a handful of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup cilantro
meat from 3 drumsticks
1/2 bundle green onions (green part only)
small tub cream cheese
5 or 6 flour tortillas, regular size
Chili powder, salt, and cumin to taste
zest and juice of 1/2 small lime.
1/4 cup crushed tortilla chips

Place a quarter cup of sauce on bottom of 8 inch round cake pan.
Place 1 tortilla over sauce.
In food processor, mince chicken, set aside in medium bowl
In food processor, mince half of greens and tomatoes, add to chicken.
In food processor, mix other half of greens,lime zest and juice, and tomatoes with cream cheese, add to chicken bowl. Add spices and mix together well.
On first tortilla, spread a couple of heaping TBSP full of mixture, top with a bit of cheese. Repeat until you run out of chicken mixture, reserving 1/4 cup cheese. Top with final tortilla and rest of green sauce.
Top with crushed chips and bake for 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Let set for about 15 minutes to become more firm.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another Rant Thing....

I debated as to whether or not to post this on this blog or on my "Stuff Only I Care About"..otherwise known as "shit that I say".. Since this is obstensibly food related, I chose here...lucky readers...

I was watching Bizarre Foods America: Miami, tonite and was fine until they got to a restaurant that served extremely expensive items.. a "Kobe" hot dog, a "Wagyu Beef" steak (33 dollars per ounce), both things I learned from an article in Forbes don't even exist in this country. Also, Japanese spider crab for 200 dollars, and a large prime rib chop for 400. I don't know who to be angrier at, the restaurant for charging these prices or the consumers who gladly plunk their money down. I'm a firm believer in capitalism, but I have a real problem with restauranteurs who both perpetrate fraud with the whole "Kobe" thing, and who charge ridiculous prices. There was also an ice cream truck with pole dancers. I liked the various ethnic vibes in Miami (Cuban, South American, Jewish) but I disliked the whole Roman Orgy feel of the hedonistic excess and focus on image.

I've said it before, as much as I occasionally dig the pampering vibe when I need it, I"m a barefoot Okie girl at heart.. I like places 'of the people' and 'for the people'..real food for real folks, and if Miami has so much focus in the wrong direction, think I'll just avoid it, thanks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Food Truck Friday @ Manchester!

This is just a quickie post since I'm supposed to be staying off the computer this weekend to destress!
Friday was our usual day at Manchester Farmer's Market to see what's new with the food trucks.   First the good stuff:
Summertime Pies has been expanding their menu lately and Friday was no exception...  can you say Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie or Pulled Pork Empanada with a Cilantro Lime Sauce? YUM!!!
The strawberry pie was baked in their 5 inch round tin, lovely flaky crust, a layer of sweetened soft cream cheese, big juicy glazed strawberries, and whipped cream applied til you say "when".  It's perfect for summer and my new fave pie from Summertime. 4 bucks and worth every penny.  The picture is testament to the fact that we dug in before we realized we needed a pic.

Then there was the pulled pork empanada, tender bbq pulled pork, ensconced in that flaky crust, drizzled with a new sauce that was redolent of cream, cilantro, and lime.  I know there are other things in that sauce but that's their secret.  Double Yum!

I apologize again for the pic, it was wrapped in foil and a bit stuck to the top which I promptly licked off unashamedly.

Now on to the Tako BBQ truck..  we've eaten our way through most of their menu, and last week's incredible Shrimp mango tacos, and Korean Philly was so good I thought that might be the pinnacle...wrong!  How about Spicy Spam with Grilled Pineapple tacos?  Oh YES!  These are my new fave from this vendor.  Sweet, heat, meat, what more could could you want?

At a mere 2 dollars apiece, how could you not indulge?

My only complaints for this day, was that we went looking for K's Pasta who had promised to trot out his newest creation, a breaded and fried chicken or beef torta with homemade potato chips.  But alas, when we went at 11:30, they weren't there!  I hope all is well with these good folks.

I also saw that more people are coming out to Manchester Farmer's Market and patronizing the trucks...and I'm happy to see it.  So keep making Friday, food truck day!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In Honor of "Restaurant Week" in Fresno

I'll admit, I'm somewhat of a reverse snob when it comes to restaurants, I think more people should be eating at small mom n pop type places as opposed to expensive northside trendy joints.   The restaurant bigwigs in this town don't need my money and they probably don't want it frankly.  My husband and I don't have the "right" clothes and we don't drive the "right" kind of car for places like that.  We don't look like the kind of people who normally eat on the northside, even when we have the money to do it.  Don't get me wrong, I like interesting food in a "nice" atmosphere and I have paid big money to get that.  But I also expect big service for my big money, and frankly it doesn't exist much on the northside.   I also expect a decent amount of food for my money, not some precious little miniatures artfully arranged in the middle of a too big plate.

I prefer small places in dicey parts of town, run by real people whose livelihoods depend on my dollars.  People who work hard for their money, people who don't open restaurants because they're bored, people who don't hire management companies and PR people to run things for them.  People who are genuinely glad you stopped in.   People who learned to cook from moms and grandpas, and other family members.  These places usually have food that is fairly ethnic or downhome and come in decent portions.    The "atmosphere" isn't always great, because these people work with what they have...and they might not have time for you right away because usually the owner is also the cook and the waitstaff...  but its REAL and REAL GOOD.  

I've found good food all over Fresno,  but I feel like the best food is that served with love and determination and sincerity.  Even when the owner or staff is grumpy because they're tired from working so hard, I prefer places like this to ones where I'm treated with fake love because the waiter thinks I'll tip better if he kisses my ass.

So this "Restaurant Week", go to some  "real" restaurants for a change ,and help stimulate the economy of some "real" folks.  Believe me, they will appreciate it more than you know.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


After an amazing pair of shrimp tacos from the Tako BBQ truck at Manchester yesterday, I realized that I haven't given proper dues to these guys.  After all, they must be good, since my whole family has pretty much eaten our way through their menu..  But one gets starry eyed over pies and pasta and potential trucks looming on the horizon, and forgets to say Thanks to one who's been here for a bit.  

So without further ado, this is why we love Tako BBQ.  

First off, how can you go wrong with anything asian inspired?  This is my fave ethnic cuisine period.  And I love tortillas... And when you put marinated meats and kimchee and rice and sauces into tortillas the way that Tako does, you have an inspired mix.   The tacos are mini bites of love,  just enough to get your taste buds going but not enough to make you stop there...    the burritos... packed full of everything you love, meat, sweet, and heat...   it's a lovely hefty package that should make other burritos blush in shame.
Then there are the odd bits...  Korean Philly? really? YES....  there's that MEAT again... so good, and so much of it...packed with cheese and sauteed onions into a sesame seed roll...   How about a Tako Dog?  Are you kidding me?  It takes at least 2 of us to finish this bad boy..   There is so much going on in there I can't even tell you...      oh and those sliders....  tasty bits of the meat of your choice on a soft hawaiian style roll..  can't get enough.

I still have my eye on the Kogi burger and the Kimchee quesadillas... but I promise I'll get to you next time, my pretties....  I even love plucking the Jarritos from the ice on a hot day.

But I saved the best for last...  the new shrimp tacos...    marinated shrimp, mangos, kimchee, and this ...sauce...this amazing sauce...  its sweet, its's korean/latin love!

So..please forgive me, friends at Tako BBQ truck...   I have been taking you for granted because you seem to be doing pretty well...  but never again...

And to my not hesitate, get on Twitter or Facebook, and find out when and where...and yourselves..the prices are reasonable, the service is friendly, and the food is amazing.
Tako BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 12, 2012

This just in..... I'm Totally Cereal here you guys!

About darn time, that's all I have to say... This is THE place to eat that perennial fave, cold cereal.  It's in a cool downtown location, with assorted local artwork on the walls, good music on the intercom, and one of the nicest proprietors you will ever wanna meet.  Oh, and did I mention, it's inexpensive?  The 3 of us stuffed ourselves for 11 bux.  How many places around town can you say that about?  The hardest part is deciding what to have...there are SO many choices!
You choose your cereal(s), you choose your toppings, and your milk type from a long list.   I finally decided on the Corn Pops with blueberries, pecans, and horchata.  My beloved chose Frosted Mini Wheats, bananas and raisins with whole milk, and my daughter got the Reese's Puffs, Cocoa Krispies, and marshmallows with chocolate milk (I'm getting this next time).

So go, eat cereal, in any weird, quirky, yummy configuration you choose... and no one will judge you for your crazy cereal choices...  they're just happy you're there.  Wouldn't it be great if everything in life worked out like that?

Cereal Trip on Urbanspoon

Cereal Trip
907 Van Ness Ave (NW corner, 2nd door from the corner, green awning)

Birthday ramblings...

Thanks to some lovely family members, I spent my birthday cold, wet, and dirty...  yes, while the rest of you poor souls were sweltering in our lovely Fresno summer,  I was on the beach in Cayucos....where it was 67 degrees..tops..   it was cloudy, foggy, breezy, perfect.   The cold came from the weather, the wet came from splashing in the surf when it warmed up enough to do so and I got used to the cold water... and the dirt? Sand of course (I think Cayucos has the glueyest sand anywhere.. that stuff sticks to EVERYTHING).  Also, I found out that seagulls don't just care about your food... they will try to take off with whatever you've got in a packrats..
However....  No matter how much time I spend over there, its never really enough...  as much as I've become somewhat cozy with Fresno in the last few years...  the central coast is still my first love...  hope to retire there someday...  in my dreams, Fresno has a coastline.

But this IS allegedly a food, on to the food (sorry... too busy having fun to take pics...  you know me...)
I came closer than ever to finding pizza bliss at Ocean Front Pizza.  My daughter and I shared the "Surfer's Special" (thank goodness they don't limit that to surfers...), which was 2 slices with your choice of beverage.  I got cheese because that's how I judge pizza.. if you can't do something as simple as cheese, covering it in toppings (at least for me) isn't going to help.
The crust, was nearly a thin version of Valentino's (the highest praise available for any pizza in my world).  Crispy in some places, chewy in others...with real flavor.  The cheese was plentiful, mozzarella only (I despise mixed cheeses, especially cheddar on a pizza)., and mottled with brown specks from the oven.  My only disappointment, was the sauce....thin and flavorless...   so close and yet so far.  I do have to mention however, that the service was very friendly!

Ocean Front Pizza on Urbanspoon While I was waiting for the pizza to come out of the oven (got there as it was cooking), I popped over to Ruddell's Smokehouse  (see this is why I love Cayucos, everything you need is RIGHT there).  Not wanting to spend 6 dollars on a single smoked shrimp taco (not where I come from, amigos),  I opted for a package of smoked Ahi jerky for 4.50.  Do you love fish? Do you love smoked food? Then this is the place for you.  I cut through the vacuum sealed package and instantly attracted a cadre of interested seagulls...   it smelled of smoke, and the sea.   Extremely smoky, and delicious!  And as with the pizza place...  great service !
Ruddell's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon
Before a walk on the pier, I walked over to Cayucos Candy Counter and got a dark sea salt caramel, a "crispy peanut butter chewy delight" (or some such thing), and a small raspberry/white chocolate gelato..   the candy was puzzling... the caramel in both candies LOOKED right... but not only was the consistency weird (like silly putty), but there was almost no flavor to it...    the gelato on the other hand was delicious but very tiny for the 3.25 price.   The service at the actual candy counter was nonexistent (they need better training and more staff when its a little busy), but the service at the ice cream counter was very friendly.
On the way home we stopped at the revamped gas mart at the light south of Kettleman proper to get snacks..    Honey Sesame Sticks from Plano Jerky (out of Porterville), and 2 of the new Girl Scout Cookie themed crispy Nestle's Crunch bars (Thin Mint and Samosas ((caramel and coconut))...yummy! They nailed the flavors we love.

I also got some sweet freebies in my email this week...  free corn dog from Weinerschnitzel (why do they call it that, since weinerschnitzel is a pounded and breaded meat product), free cone from Baskin Robbins (that new chocolate and Oreo flavor? Da BOMB..since it seems to have chocolate covered Oreos in it.), and a free Grand Slam from Denny's..

So even though there were no fireworks, circuses, or giant ass kicking parties, it was a beautiful day all around..   Even though most of the first 50 were kinda hard.... (with the exception of the last few years with my beloved), I know the next 50 will be awesome..  because when you hit that milestone, you try harder to make sure that every day is deliberate and has something good in it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

With a Little Help From My Friends

I'm all for local business,  and if its a good business and the people are good people behind it, then I really want them to succeed.  This is the impetus behind me asking my readers and friends to PLEASE patronize Summertime Pies (who I've previously reviewed.)  They have a great product (who doesn't like pies????), they are hardworking, really nice folks who deserve to succeed here.  Right now they could use a boost up.  So please..  if you enjoy a good fruit pie (apple, cherry, blueberry, or peach....  baked or fried,  ala mode or with cinnamon sugar), or a great empanada (baked or fried....chicken or beef), then please get your pie loving butts over to Manchester Farmer's Market on Fridays and bring your friends.    Let's give these folks the success they deserve.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I promised you people wedding food pictures... and here it is nearly a year and I'm just getting around to it...  sorry! (Said in best Gilly voice).

Not as many as I'd like... but there you are...