a surprisingly good fish outcome

Phil’s blog entry prompted me – we have flounder in the freezer which i’ve been resisting eating – but tonight i agreed to give it a try.

google brought me to a tasty sounding cooking process – steaming the flounder fillets over a bed of greens mixed liberally with ginger, garlic and soy sauce. the flavors were supposed to infuse the fish.

the first night i really felt sick, we ate salmon, so i was quite nervous about eating fish. initially, my doctor suggested i may have developed an allergy to seafood (or nuts, or citrus, or dairy…)

the allergy idea seemed preposterous – as far as i know, the only things that give me histamine reactions are the usual, like poison ivy. but it has stuck in my mind.

the end result, however, was just fine. the fish was tasty, the greens were intense, and i had no perceptible reaction to eating any of it.

in fact, in general i have been feeling pretty good this week, although i still seem to need to eat small amounts of protein-rich food continuously throughout the day. which isn’t so bad so long as no one steals my cheese out of the communal fridge. not that any of my cow-orkers would do such a thing. right? oh, no…

MY EYES MY EYES

Well, my inner eyes. Actually – i can’t imagine this, which is _really good._

“Artist Alex Gardega is painting a nude, 6-foot portrait of the ‘charming and sexy’ Rachael Ray, using paprika mixed with EVOO as his ‘paint,’ “:http://foodnetworkaddict.blogspot.com/2009/01/another-rachael-ray-product-we-do-not.html

And in a similar, food-network-related moment, I was in a book store, saw the cover of the following book out of the corner of my eye, and thought, _did I really just see that??_

It turned out that I had. Jason couldn’t believe it either when I showed it to him.

2dudes1pan.jpg

If you don’t know what it references… you don’t want to. Really.

Char-Grill in Durham

yes! there is now a char-grill in durham, and tonight we ate there.

things that are the same:

* the fries

* the burgers

* you write your order on a little slip, and put it down a chute

things that are different, and therefore heretical and wrong:

* there’s an inside

* with individual tables and chairs – no picnic tables

* and music, heat, and presumably air conditioning

* you don’t automatically get fries and a drink

* there’s a place to check off ketchup and mustard for your burger, you don’t have to write it in.

* you get your own drink and condiments

it’s over by woodcroft, and it’s in durham, so i’m sure it will be populated by people who have _no idea_ what the char-grill is. but that’s okay. the guy at the window i talked to worked at the original store for three years and i’ve decided that he’s okay.

more champagne. less caffiene. taking the poo out of spacepoo.

i’m in Va this weekend. for as long as we’ve been together, J and i have kept lists of restaurants we want to visit together, one in his area and one in mine.

this weekend J decided we should try what is perhaps the fanciest of all the places on the list (or maybe both lists): The Inn at Colonial Williamsburg. they have brunch there, one of our favorite meals.

oh my. here’s how it worked: it was a fixed price menu. you select an entree, and then help yourself to the extensive tasting table which included an omelette station (of no interest to me, but of great interest to J). the tasting table had many hors d’oeuvres, salad, and small desserts. they brought a basket of little bread things to your table (strudel, coffee cake, muffins, and of course real southern biscuits) and– surprise– all the champagne you can drink. a man who i assume was the sommelier (from the possessive way he spoke of the wine cellar) just kept stopping by and topping off our champagne flutes.

for me it was more like dinner than breakfast or lunch, because i didn’t want an egg-based entree. for J it was like breakfast with a side of lunch, i think.

-:|:-

and in our continuing wide world of food, we had breakfast at CW yesterday too– at The Lodge, which is, as the woman at the pancake station said, the “red-headed stepchild” to The Inn. i told her that no place that offered large piles of bacon and sausage next to a large pile of hash browns could really be considered in such a way. they had a quite good buffet, and we only wished we’d gotten there earlier.

we also tried a chain restaurant for dinner last night. i think i had never been to one, and J had not been to one in many years. i hesitate give them free advertising, but the initials are R.T. discerning the name can be an exercise for the reader. i was quite pleasantly surprised. they seem to have re-made themselves from being a burger joint to being something a little nicer. i had strawberry lemonade made from fresh strawberries and lemons that they mix at the bar. very tasty. the food was good, but the strawberry lemonade was the highlight.

-:|:-

a week ago i eliminated caffeine from my diet. the result has been surprising. as i hoped, i am more relaxed, less stressed and have been sleeping quite well. i am surprised to find myself less hungry and far, far less prone to having blood sugar crashes. in general i just feel much better. i did finally have some coffee today after brunch because the champagne gave me a splitting headache, but i plan to continue to lay off the caffeine for a while to come as it seems to suit me.

-:|:-

i have to hand it to the folks at the carolina auto spa in cary. i gave the spacepod over to them to try and get rid of the rotten leaf and mildew smell that has permeated his interior since fall of ’06. they impregnated the porous surfaces with hospital disinfectant, shampooed and extracted, ran an ozone machine in the car for an hour with the engine on and the a/c on full blast, then overnight with the engine and a/c off. finally, they put down another layer of chemicals on the seats and carpets and detailed the interior.

the odor, as far as i can tell, is gone. there’s just no trace of it. i am not fond of the disinfectant smell but J says he likes it. i have been letting the car air all weekend, though.

they said that if it creeps back they can re-treat it for up to 30 days for no extra charge. i can also get free car washes during that time.

it cost more than our brunch this morning (even including tip), but after living with the stank for a year and a half, i think it’s worth it.

late menu

so, aside from watts grocery and mellow mushroom, where can one get a good dinner after 10pm on a Friday night around here?

i never feel like cooking then, and that’s when J tends to get into town when he comes on Friday.

waffle report

I preferred the bacon waffle. J preferred the sausage waffle. we put whole pieces of bacon or sausage into the waffles. i think crumbling the pork product would be a better approach, in both cases.

on saturday night we cooked small bits of fish and shrimp in broth over a live flame– fondue, but not cheese. a very civilized, slow way to have dinner.

Fully waffle-enabled

Waffle irons get a bum rap from proponents of de-cluttering and home organization, but you know what? When I owned a working waffle iron, I used that sucker all the time.

I’ve really missed my waffle iron, but wanted to hold out for a model with removable plates that I could clean easily. Surprisingly rare!

So. I found one:

wafflebaker.jpg

I think it may be the exact same model my mom had when I was growing up. The plates snap out, flip over, and then you can make awesome grilled cheese sandwiches that are all pressed flat. Since I grew up with pressed flat grilled cheese, this is how I believe grilled cheese is meant to be eaten. Even better was when you’d forget to flip the plates before heating the grill, and you’d have to make a grilled cheese on the waffle plates. Awesome.

This one also lays flat, giving you a perfect flat surface for, say, pancakes. A little minimal if you’re doing pancakes for a lot of people, but still probably better than trying to do them on the stove in a frying pan.

So, a little pricier than I thought a waffle iron would be, but it’s not just a waffle iron, so I guess that’s okay.

This weekend’s plan is to replicate the bacon waffle I got on my sole trip to Vegas. J says he’ll eat pretty much anything I cook, so he’s in.

it’s all about the dairy fat

a low sodium day, if you don’t count the bacon. this was my comment as i realized i’d forgotten to salt the pasta water tonight.

three meals cooked in my kitchen, eaten at my dining room table. have not done that… well, ever.

breakfast was buttermilk pancakes and bacon; eggs for J (no eggs for me, thanks). potent coffee and fresh squeezed oranges J’s mom sent up from Fla.

we walked the dog to the farmer’s market after breakfast; too late to get any eggs, but we did get fresh farmer cheese and raw honey.

went to the open house/tour at “triangle brewing company.”:http://www.trianglebrewery.com/ thanks to bb for tipping us off to that. very tasty golden belgian; did not like the stout so much. i bought a half-gallon jug of the belgian (a growler, in brewing parlance); i can get a refill during any open house for $8. much daydreaming about living in a warehouse in downtown durham.

lunch was the farmer cheese with ham and mayo on bits of soft oatmeal bread. the cheese was very fresh and tangy, the salty of the ham was good with it.

for dinner we made fresh pasta and tossed it with melted butter, cream, and parmesan: fettuccine alfredo. the dairy fat quotient was so high neither of us could eat much, which was fine.

in the checkout line at the store i spotted bars of “vosges bacon chocolate”:http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/product/bacon_exotic_candy_bar/exotic_candy_bars which i have wanted to try for some time now. the cashier tried to convince me to just try a sample first, but i confidently put it in my stack of purchases. she was quite incredulous that someone might actually like the stuff. in fact i know at least three people who like it. so there, doubting cashier lady.

J is doing some handyman stuff and i am waiting until he is done to break open the chocolate. start the day with bacon; end it with bacon. now _that’s_ a motto.

freedom toast, redux

sunday morning we decided to go to IHOP for breakfast, but found it a little on the crowded and people standing on the sidewalk waiting side, so we headed on to other sources of pancakes.

we wound up (after much driving, and finally calling w. for directions) back at the place that has, no kidding, freedom toast on the menu. i’ve mentioned this place before. it’s right smack next to langely.

so J ordered the freedom toast this time. i could see he was having trouble keeping a straight face while ordering. i looked away to keep from cracking.

i asked him how it was.

_it’s good,_ he said. _it tastes like VICTORY._

benefits

my company is well known for its employee benefits. way beyond excellent health care, vision and dental.

a little known service of our company cafeteria is after hours food. you can go online and order a sandwich to pick up in the late afternoon. and you can sign up to receive leftovers from the hot food menu. the food is company subsidized, and payroll deducted, so financially, it’s like having takeout from a restaurant without any of the financial pain.

it’s been years since i’ve even thought about signing up for leftovers, much less actually did it, but tonight i decided to give it a go. i’m overdue for a trip to the grocery store, so coming home with a good dinner seemed like a great plan.

wow. what an awesome benefit! i brought home what they consider to be one portion of veggie lasagne. cost me maybe $4, if that. i heated it up in the oven with some marinara sauce and it’s really two portions, and oh so very tasty and delicious. plus, vegetables, yay.

plus, the walk over to the cafeteria is a nice way to break up the afternoon and get a little exercise. sweet.