Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bad ideas in menu planning

Want a side of bread with your bread?

Have you noticed how breadsticks have become the customary add-on to pizza?  They cost so little, yet allow the place to jack up the price a dollar or two because dumb people think they're getting "extra value."

I want a pizza that comes with a big side of salad.  Or maybe 15 matching carrots to fit neatly in the space around the pizza.  They could even keep the red and white stuff to dip the carrots into if they wanted to make us think we're getting extra value.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Waste, waste

How much do you suppose it cost, in money and trees, to make this cute little box for my cute little pizza?

Just because the cardboard pizza box has become the norm for carry-out and delivery, must we use it for eating in the restaurant?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New ideas in eggs

Bet you didn't think there were new ways to sell eggs.  I didn't either, until I popped the cover on a dozen we bought on vacation in Florida.

old style

new style

we like this!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hey -- I'm trendy!

For the last several months I have been reading that Brussels sprouts have become trendy among food aficionados.  For once I'm out there with the trendsetters!  I don't think I ever ate Brussels sprouts until five years ago, but since then it has rocketed to the top of my list.

Since discovering that I liked the little darlings, I most often cooked them by slicing them in half down the axis and sauteeing them.  Often I would add some white wine to the pan after the cut halves were browned, then cover the pan and let them simmer for a bit.

my old way -- halved

But recently I tried a new method that I think will become my new default: slicing them a bit less than a quarter-inch thick.  Because they're thinner, they cook faster and don't need the additional simmer time, or the white wine.  I do think they benefit from a bit of acid, so have taken to squeezing lemon over the top when they hit the plate.

my new way -- sliced

We had some people over for dinner before Christmas and I thought why not be trendy and serve Brussels sprouts.  To my amazement my fashionable menu was met with emotions ranging from guarded neutrality to outright disapproval.  One wife proclaimed, "If you can get my husband to eat Brussels sprouts it will be a miracle!"  The guests helped themselves to teaspoonfuls and politely declined seconds.

I guess you have to choose your audience carefully before you exhibit your trendsetting credentials.  I am pleased to report that everybody loved the pot roast and gravy, a big trend from the 1930s.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Supermarket savings

We've learned through experience to be alert when the grocery people are ringing up your order or weighing your purchase.  Experience like this:

Here's what the label read:

Let's contemplate that label.  We didn't buy whole cooked lobster (although it does sound delicious), but even if we did, I have a hard time thinking that it should cost $864.  I wonder about that $288.27 per unit price -- apparently we bought three units, so the unit price must be $288.27 per 4 2/3 ounces (sure, that's the way I'd do the pricing if I ran the fish counter....).

But I was pleased that thanks to our Kroger card, we paid only $5 per 4 2/3 ounces and thus saved $849.80.

So after they tried again:

But wait -- why doesn't it point out on the yellow stub that we saved $859.90?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Road food -- two recommendations

Eating lunch when you're on the road, far from home, is always a crapshoot, especially if you hate the national fast food chains.  We often wish for a nice independent restaurant but can't always find one.  The helpful signs on the interstates, warning you of impending food options, must cost a lot of money because you rarely see local places listed.

If you're ever driving on I-26 through South Carolina at lunchtime, I heartily recommend Bill and Fran's at exit 74 in Newberry.  We discovered this place several years ago en route to a favorite vacation spot  on the coast, and have stopped there many times.

It's one of those restaurants that was shiny and new thirty years ago and hasn't changed much since.  Including the prices.

One of the things we love about Bill and Fran's is that when you order a sandwich you get a sandwich -- not a huge 2000-calorie plate with french fries and two meals worth of food that you either struggle to finish or  leave large parts of behind.

Coming back home we found ourselves on a new stretch of road -- I-75 in south Georgia -- and no clue as to where to eat.  We heeded the advice of a billboard and found ourselves at Sonny's BBQ at exit 18 in Valdosta.  Apparently there are several Sonny's in this part of the world so you might find one elsewhere.

In contrast to Bill and Fran's minimal food, Sonny's serves you a big plateful, but we found it eminently eatable.  We decided to chow down at lunchtime and basically skip dinner.

We both ordered the pulled pork barbeque plate, which was a delicious pile of food, and had fun trying out the four different sauces.

For what it's worth, we'd go to either of these places again, very happily.  If you find yourself on one of these roads, you could do worse.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy new year!

In our household, New Year's Eve requires herring, and we prefer the version with wine sauce rather than cream or tomato.  This is a traditional good luck food in Poland and Germany, which describes the ancestry of everybody at our New Year's Eve table.

I don't know whether our Polish and German peasant forefathers drank champagne with their herring, but we did, and it was great.