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Yin and The Yang

Hello, Dear Readers:

Faithful reader Aunt Kathy sent me this comic a couple of weeks ago, and I forgot to add it to last weekend’s blog post. She knows that I’m always looking for gluten-free stuff (Twinkies notwithstanding) and passes these things along. In this case, of course, she was right:

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The comic strip is called Rubes, and it offers a slice of the absurdities of everyday life. And now we have gluten free cartoons. Cool!

Remember about a month ago I became infatuated with McDonald’s Pomegranate Blueberry Smoothie?  Since it’s been so hot–well, it is Houston–I got really tired of eggs and decided to make a smoothie at home. Granted, it hasn’t been the same as the McCafe, but they’re passable. I bought a book on smoothies, and I’ll tell you more as I get through it.

Now onto a more important subject that affects us all: grocery shopping.

Last week’s Wall Street Journal featured an article on the Elf Electric Pedal Car. Now, alternative forms of transport are great. Many, like this one, are just so darn cute. But it begs the question: is there room to bring home your groceries in it? Well, if you want one, that’s for you to consider. At $5K, it’s an investment, and about as much as a good used car with a petrol engine on Craigslist.

Speaking of grocery shopping. . . .

One of the best parts of being a foodie is that you can find an adventure in places most people wouldn’t think about. Sure–white water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, motorcycle road trips and other endeavors are adventurous, but I’m less likely to get badly hurt in a grocery store. Not to say I wouldn’t consider doing them, but I don’t have health insurance right now, so I’m not inclined to climb anything more than a stepladder.

Some years ago, when I lived in town (known locally as “Houston proper”), I had an Avon lady who lived on the west side, and she introduced me to this funky little store in the inner corner of a strip center called Phoenicia Foods. It was an import grocery store that you might just miss if you weren’t either looking for it or paying attention. She said they had great prices on olive oil, and that’s true, but that was just one reason to go in there. They carried coffees, teas, spices, and my favorite—cookies—from all over the world, and things like Turkish coffee sets that were just gorgeous. I loved going in there, even though I had no idea what a third of it was or what it was for.  I bought olive oil there as well as occasional other things, too, like nuts from Jordan, chocolate from Italy, or big jars of capers from Italy. You never know what you’ll find in there. Those cookies from Poland are simple but incredibly delicious.  They were $1.29 a packet (likely a little more now) and they had orange, raspberry, apple and other filings with a thin layer of chocolate on the inside. No American cookie comes close to this one. I brought them to the office sometimes after a trip, and everyone loved them.

A few years ago Phoenicia expanded to a 55,000 square foot store across the street, with a newly designed logo, an on-site bakery, and a deli with cheeses literally from all over the world. (They have several different kinds of feta, both foreign and domestic.) They also have the best price in town that I’ve seen for delicious Manchego cheese, my favorite. In addition to meat, produce and frozen foods, they also bottle their own spices and package their own nuts (raw and roasted.)  It’s a fantastic place if you’re looking for an unusual ingredient, and for any foodie who wants more.

In addition to their flagship store on the west side, Phoenicia has also opened up a downtown market store for the folks who live and work downtown. Near the George R. Brown Convention Center on Austin Street, there is parking on the street and in a garage across the street. It’s also accessible by downtown’s new Greenlink bus, the LNG powered shuttles that take you around for free.  One of my former coworkers gave me a gift card from Phoenicia, and I just never got around to going back to the flagship store. But a few weeks ago, I embarked on what I called a “Friday adventure,” and went over to the downtown Phoenicia.

Smaller than the original, they carry much of the same thing as the large store, just less of it. There is a deli with takeout, such as sandwiches and spaghetti and meatballs, and even stuffed grape leaves.  There is a wine selection upstairs, as well as a selection of olive oils and vinegars from all over the world. This gorgeous creation a real temptation in the bakery:

Oh, that is a temptation beyond belief. . . .

Oh, that is a temptation beyond belief. . . .

No, I didn’t touch it. I even sent that picture that to my neighbor. But I thought about it a lot. I mean, how could you not? That’s not a huge cake, BTW.

This is how far I go for my friends—I texted said neighbor that I would be going, and be home an hour later than usual—do you need anything? She texted back, “Lacy would like you to pick up a can of Greek olive oil; I’ve got cash, and I’ll pay you when you get home.” This is the neighbor who jumped my battery recently when I left my lights on one morning at the park & ride, so I’m definitely saying yes. And she graciously fed the step-kitty when she got home, so I didn’t need to worry about that part. I just needed to know what brand of olive oil she wanted. Lacy sent directions to find it, but I wasn’t 100% sure I was looking at the correct one, so I sent a picture of what I was looking at to my neighbor, and about 15 minutes later, Lacy sent back the picture of what she wanted. It was to the right, not the left—either they moved it Lacy’s been there last, or she’s dyslexic, but I’d bet on they moved it. With the picture, I was able to quickly identify the correct brand; I grabbed that can and walked out the door. (Yes, I paid for it all first.)

I’m usually carrying a purse and my commuter bag, and on this day, I’ve added a grocery bag with the can of olive oil and some stuff I bought for myself. First on the Greenlink, then on the regular bus home, then in my vehicle and finally to home. On the way, I texted my neighbor, “Tell Lacy her olive oil is on its way!” Kitty was fine, since she’d been fed, a good time was had by all, and Lacy didn’t need to make a trip into town. I was already there, so I didn’t mind—and the bags weren’t grossly heavy, either.

ADVENTURE! Foodie Style. I’m sure the Barefoot Contessa would agree.

Now if you want a REAL food adventure, there’s another kind of grocery store–the Yang–you can check out, but you definitely need a strong sense of adventure for it. And maybe a friend with the same sense.

What you see in your regular grocery store, whether it’s a local mom-and-pop place, a regional one like HEB, Winn-Dixie or Publix, or a nationwide one like Wal-Mart or SuperTarget, is what makes it there through the shipping process. Sometimes. . .they don’t. Cans are dented from an impact. Delays happen, and sometimes things don’t arrive when they should.

Enter the salvage grocery store.

Salvage grocery stores are places that buy up these imperfect items and sell them at a deep discount. However, there isn’t a consistent flow of goods, it’s just whatever they get that’s available. Some may have day old bread; most will have canned and frozen goods; you may find out-of-date coffee, tea, or other packaged goods whose sell-by date doesn’t mean it’s bad; some stores may have meat from auction. It’s similar to a bakery outlet store, but with more.

That’s why it’s a real foodie adventure, folks. You never know what you’ll find. You may get lucky, and it may be a bust. But that’s the fun in finding out!

Admittedly, I haven’t been in one in some time; there aren’t any salvage grocery stores in my neighborhood, but when I lived in town, there was one across the street where my ex-husband and I shopped occasionally. However, there’s a famous one in New Orleans that, unfortunately, closed 3 years ago from what I found online—and everyone knew about Suda Salvage.

Suda was just this funky old warehouse tucked away in and industrial area back in the 1970’s. They carried railroad salvage of all kinds, including building materials, which is what attracted my father to it. Although we didn’t go in it too often, I do remember it being quite interesting. Then again, I was about nine, so it didn’t take much for me to be fascinated. (It was a simpler time before things like voice mail, texting and YouTube.) Many years later, they moved to another funky, run down building on Jefferson Highway, so you could stop right in, no need to go out of your way. You could even take the bus if you were so inclined, since the Jeff Highway bus passed right in front of it.

Suda indeed carried day old bread and pastries, canned/packaged goods of all different kinds, some dairy, and they even had a section of drugstore kinds of things, like bandages and medicine. They were not always the brands you know and love, but they were the same thing, and they were CHEAP.

I went in a few years ago on one of my last ventures to the Crescent City (about 2008) and found bottles of Central Market Organics brand Herbes de Provence for about 69 or 79 cents a bottle. Now, to someone in NOLA, that likely means nothing; it’s some kind of cheap herb blend. Bt since I shop at Central Market, I know it’s a good price. You see, that same bottle of dried herbs sells for about $7 or $8 in Central Market—and yes, they’re unopened bottles. Now do you see why it can be a good thing?

Of course, as in any grocery shopping, you must pay attention to what you’re picking up to make sure it’s not bad. But everything I’ve ever bought from Suda was in sealed packages. I even have a container of holiday print paper muffin cups I bought in Suda, with the tag still on it. Oh, maybe in 1995? (It’s not like they go bad or anything.)

PIctures of Suda are on Flickr where some devoted soul has immortalized this magical foodie heaven for all to see. I don’t know why those ships are there, they’re not parked nearby. Hilarious reviews have been posted at Yelp, and one serious review at CitySearch for all to enjoy.

This evening I called a friend of mine, a faithful Suda customer, to get the full scoop. Turns out that the owners retired a few years ago and sold the business to a distribution company called Marque’s Foods. Marque’s in the same location, but a completely different business, although it is open to the public. Here is also a story with more information, if you’re so inclined to know more.  (Haven’t been in Smilie’s since the late 80’s.) If ever I go back for a visit, maybe I’ll stop in.

If you’re interested in checking out new, cheap places, you can find out about these salvage stores at Frugal Village, and a number of other sites. Do a search to see if there’s one in your area. There are some in Houston, but none close to me that I’ve found. Yet. And even if I do find one, again, it’s an adventure to find out what’s available (and the limit of your tolerance, if it’s the right place.)

Grocery shopping can, indeed, be an adventure.

Enjoy!

 

Tastes like chicken

Good evening, Dear Readers:

Sorry I haven’t written in a while; it’s been busy. Lots to tell, so let’s get started!

Ok, foodies, I have big news—Hostess Twinkies return next week! Along with Hostess Cupcakes (upgraded with dark chocolate) as well as a few other of your favorite Hostess goodies. The new Hostess, LLC, is rolling them out as we speak, and they are due to be in stores on Monday the 15th. Can you believe it?

You didn’t buy a bunch of them on eBay, did you? Well, soon you’ll be able to replace them with fresh ones.

Remember the joke about how Twinkies had a shelf life of “forever?” They really didn’t, but the new Hostess company is working on extending the freshness period. Originally, Twinkies had a shelf life of about 30 days. Are you ready for this? They’re going to deliver some of them frozen, so that stores can stamp their own freshness date on them, and extend the freshness date to 45 days, or longer.

Oh, YEAH!!! Just take some into your fallout shelter, and you can stay there a lot longer.

The new company is also going to start investigating different ways to make a Twinkie, including whole wheat , low-calorie, and yes. . .gluten free. That’s what it says in today’s Wall Street Journal. Woo hoo!

Friend of this blog MK says, “so now when the zombie apocalypse comes, you can be gluten free.” What a guy. The new versions of Twinkies may be available as early as later in the year.

Rest assured I’ll be on the case and report back to you on this important development.

In other news, I discovered a new taste to love. Cold-smoked salmon.

Sunday I did some shopping while in town, and I didn’t plan on getting hungry. Oh, well, I did. While in the area of a number of my favorite eateries (and the location of many more), I ended up having lunch at. . .IKEA. Yes, that Swedish bastion of the flat-pack and Allen wrenches, derided by many (and even parodied in season 10 of British comedy show Red Dwarf, an episode called Lemons.) I needed a couple of things and decided to have lunch while I was there in the café on the second floor. It’s simple Swedish (and some American) food, for the most part, and no, I didn’t have the meatballs. (That was only an issue in Europe, anyway.) Normally, I would have the open-faced shrimp sandwich on multi-grain bread. Topped with a hard-boiled egg, a mayo dressing and a sprig of dill, it’s one of my occasional indulgences that I have in IKEA, and occasionally, one of their interesting chocolate desserts.

Until now. Now I’m gluten-free. No bread. No cake. Now what?

I could get that sandwich and eat just the top of it. But, eat the filling without the bread? Well, that’s half the enjoyment of the sandwich. No, I would have to find another thing to eat, maybe the chicken salad. I didn’t make it that far. The gentleman in front of me went smoked salmon and dill dressing, and I decided to be brave and try something new. I got the one next to it, smoked salmon with a pile of lime-marinated tiny-diced veggies, sitting right next to what he picked up. Called Najad Salmon, this is how it was served:

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If you’re not familiar with this kind of thing, it’s a preserved salmon using salt and herbs that’s very thinly sliced crosswise with a flexible thin blade. Honest, I’ve seen Martha Stewart make this kind of thing on one of her early shows, but I’ve never had it before. Just not something that’s part of traditional New Orleans cuisine, you understand. So, I decided to be brave and try something new.

Salmon preserved in this manner is softer than you may be used to. Between the herbs and the salt, it softens the flesh and infuses lots of flavor into it, taking out the “fishy” taste that salmon has when cooked, in the same manner that ceviche does to shrimp. Being from New Orleans, I would have never known what this was without seeing Martha Stewart making it on her show and adding it to one of her many cookbooks. Still, being more familiar with baked/poached/fried salmon and the stuff in a can, this kind of thing just isn’t something that would normally cross my path were it not for Houston being such a diverse and international city. With an IKEA cafe’ right in the middle.

So, you likely have at least once in your life asked someone, what does (whatever they were eating) taste like? You may have heard the old yarn, “Tastes just like chicken.” (In some cases, the individual may have a sarcastic streak.) Well, this cold-smoked doesn’t taste like chicken. . .but it does taste like thinly sliced deli ham. No kidding, that’s what it tasted like to me. Ham, sliced. Go figure. It was salty, a bit sticky and quite delicious.

Guess what? It’s my new gluten free favorite at IKEA! (I hope.)

I did try to roll up the salmon, burrito-style, around the tiny diced veggies and eat it that way. Nothin’ doin’, the salmon was too soft. Ended up being like scrambled eggs at that point, but it was very tasty. Of course, if I had a tortilla, it might have worked, but it wouldn’t have been gluten-free, either.

According to the nutrition information on IKEA’s website, it has less than 300 calories. Not bad!

I added a side salad from the salad bar, which consists of iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, croutons and sliced black olives. Added a bit of olive oil and what looked like balsamic vinegar and I was in business. Skipped dessert this time, and went on with my afternoon.

After I’d paid for the other things I went in for, I headed over to Trader Joe’s, where I proceeded to have another DUH moment while looking for almond flour. It’s considerably less expensive there, so I bought extra. I went to where I thought I picked it up last time, where all the bagged nuts are, and just could not find it. Looked around where I was standing, too—nothing. So I asked someone. . .and it was right where I was standing earlier, at knee level on me.

DUH!

Maybe I should have stayed home. Well, at least I have more almond flour to make some delicious Wheat Belly Biscuits with. Sometime.

Now and again, it’s good to take a chance and find something new. You might even find a new favorite.

Don’t forget:

THE TWINKIES ARE COMING!! THE TWINKIES ARE COMING!!! GET READY!!!

Happy Dining!

My new arrival! (Mid-week update)

Happy Thursday, Dear Readers:

Well, it’s a bit premature, but here is my first tomato, picked fresh from the HeatCageKitchen garden tonight:

Isn't it a cutie?

Isn’t it a cutie?

Granted, it’s not a BIG tomato, about 2″ across, 6″ around,but that’s OK–it’s mine!! Of course, if I hadn’t been so impatient I could have let it ripen a day or two more. But I wanted to get it before any outside creatures did. (Snails are so gross!) There are two more tomatoes growing on that plant; I haven’t seen any flowers on the second tomato plant yet.

The first of five bell peppers are growing well, as are the mint, green onions and rosemary. Rosemary grows in a drought–but we’ve had some good rain this week, and the parsley has started to sprout leaves again. Heck, the basil I chopped down to the nub is already sprouting leaves. I even found a flower growing on it already–and I harvested for pesto last weekend. Hmmm. . .how much more pesto can I make this year before winter?

I suddenly found myself with a painful throat infection on Monday night that causes a swollen gland, then two painful swollen glands with throat constriction and severe pain when swallowing. Tuesday I made it to a local walk-in clinic in the Friendswood HEB Grocery, and I walked out with yet another prescription for antibiotics. You bless these things when you can swallow again, but if I find myself with heartburn, I’ll be back on yeast-free and either the stuff I bought last time or another round of Nystatin and Fluconazole from my regular doctor. Oh, boy.

Since I’m no longer one of those folks with health insurance and paid sick time, I went to work, weak and barely able to talk or swallow. No sneezing or coughing or anything like that, just feeling like I needed to stay home. Fortunately, it was a slow day with many folks on travel, and while I didn’t do my usual 30 minute walk in the tunnel, I did go down there for something else, but I didn’t know what.

I wandered through Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, and a couple of the upscale convenience-store style shops down there, but didn’t find what I wanted. No coffee or chocolate for me, thanks. Then I went somewhere I generally don’t go, and found the very thing. Cold, sweet, and pretty healthy, in the last place you’d expect to find such a thing.

I went to McDonald’s. No kidding.

Now, I’ve been to McDonald’s on many occasions, just not very often. Sometimes it’s the only thing in proximity. Sometimes it’s convenient and right there. My biggest issue with MickeyD’s is that while their coffee is pretty good, they only offer Equal and sugar to sweeten it. No Splenda or Sweet ‘N Low anywhere. I have to make sure I have some pink stuff on me in case I end up somewhere that saccharin is not available, and that’s one of them. At least Starbucks has Sweet ‘N Low, and even honey in packets.

The McDonald’s in the Houston Downtown Tunnel is usually quite busy when I pass by during the crowded lunch hour, but yesterday it wasn’t crowded since it was about 2 when I went. I knew they had some new stuff on their McCafe menu, so I decided to walk over and take a look. Then I spotted it on the wall, and I wanted some.

The McCafe Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie.

With a throat infection, after drinking hot tea all morning, you understand why this hit the spot. But it’s also incredibly delicious! It’s gonna be all I can do not to have two of these a day:

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I actually went back for another round today, and got a large. I’ll be spending money on this one for quite a while.

Holy Shish Kebab.

I did ask the clerk about what was in it–last thing I need is to ingest a lot of sugar, or, heaven help me, find out it has gluten as a thickener. You never know. She said, “it has just pomegranate and blueberries.” I also think she didn’t speak enough English to understand my question, because I found out when I got back to my desk that it has some fat-free yogurt in it. That’s fine, unless you have a dairy allergy. Thankfully, I don’t, but there are folks who read this humble blog who are allergic to dairy, hence the warning.

MAN this is a good find. I had to get sick to find this out? Move over Starbucks–this smoothie’s my new favorite!!

Starbucks and Seattle’s Best actually do have smoothies, but the berry smoothies are lower in carbs than ones with banana, pineapple and other fruits. Bananas are particularly high in starch, that’s why I avoid them–and if you’re diabetic, you should too. I might try the strawberry smoothie at Seattle’s Best one of these days, but McDonald’s definitely has a winning formula with this one.

Sometimes you just find things along the way. This delicious smoothie will keep me going back to McDonald’s, especially this hot summer in Houston.

I did discover that New York City had a high of 65F today, with a 100% chance of rain, and a low of 55F tonight, as a result of the storm that passed through Chicago and other areas last night. Heck, here in Houston, that’s a perfect fall day!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch a little comedy DVD and hit the Nordic Track. Rupert Murdoch is going to be a free man soon, and I need to be ready when he comes a-callin’!

Just kidding–I’m going to make up the exercise I missed today by not walking the tunnel. I wasn’t up to it, but the antibiotics are killing the infection and I’m feeling better.

Happy Dining!

Cupcakes. Ceviche. Bell peppers.

Happy Sunday, Dear Readers:

I’ve got a lot to tell and not much time, so here goes.

I’m now done with this round of the yeast-free diet. Know what that means?

I can haz cheezburger. (Just no bread.) Woo hoo!! Love cheese.

I had to stop at Staples for an errand this afternoon, and the nice man who waited on me, Anthony, mentioned that he wanted to learn to cook. He’s a big dude from Trinidad-Tobago, and I asked him what he was doing stateside. He married an American woman, you see. “She kidnapped me.” Ah, he’s enjoying it. So of course when he told me he wanted to learn to cook, well, I sorta talked his ear off. But I just want to make sure he doesn’t burn an egg and give up, thinking he can never be in the kitchen. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was anyone’s expertise.

Now onto the rest of the weekend.

So, after an off-kilter Friday at this company downtown, I got home, changed into a t-shirt and shorts, and was chowing down on my salad from a jar when an email came in. One of my folks from Boeing was retiring, and one of the invitees invited me to meet them at Cafe Adobe. Fifteen minutes later I was there, parking and laughing with everyone else. So glad to see my peeps, even if it was just a couple of hours. So what do you have when you’re not real hungry, in a Mexican restaurant and are gluten free? Check the appetizers and order ceviche:

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Yeah. And take a look–there’s cooked shrimp in there. You know why I like to order shrimp in a restaurant? Let me explain: my Mom used to go find people who caught shrimp and bought coolers full of them to freeze. Only, she wanted them peeled before they were frozen. . .guess who took off the heads, the feet and the shells with bare hands? ME. So now, I order shrimp in a restaurant for one reason.

They are shrimp I don’t have to mess with.

I had half and took the rest home to toss over some lettuce from the jar on Saturday. YEAH.

They also had a cake after dinner, and while I took home a piece, I brought it home for my neighbor, who’s a bit over 65 (OK, 75) and is a really nice lady. Just don’t cross her.

In the HeatCageKitchen garden, there is big news–the basil is growing again:

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Still, I bought a container of Butoni pesto today, because it was on sale, and stuck it in the freezer, just in case. But I think I’ll soon be harvesting for pesto. We had rain today, but no more is predicted for a while. So I’ll be watering a lot.

Also a fantastic discovery from one of the plants I bought last week. You remember the tomato plant I bought with three tomatoes already growing on it? Looks like I’ll be getting some bell peppers, too:

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Hot dawg! But I don’t remember if I got red, orange or yellow bells. DUH. Oh, well, it’ll be green until I find out what color it will be.

Well, I’ve been really wanting a cupcake, and of course, it has to be gluten free. Now, it would be easy if I lived in The Woodlands, because I could head right over to Frost Bakery and get me one. But no, I live on the other side of Houston, sort of on the other side of the tracks. Not a particularly bad part of Houston, just, not as nice as The Woodlands. I’ve called five bakeries down here, and nobody has gluten free. One said, “we’re working on it.” That does me no good NOW, but I’ll live, I guess. Darnit.

So with the news that three new cupcake shops are opening in the Houston Downtown Tunnel, HeatCageKitchen is on it, and went to investigate.

It’s what “journalists” call a “slow news day.” But at least I have some nice pictures.

First stop (before heading to the office, no less) is New Addictions, where they’ve been open since Tuesday (day after Memorial Day) and business has been very brisk. When I stopped by on Tuesday during my lunchtime walk, I got to talk to one of the owners, Mena Frazier. Nice lady, and I told her what I wanted to do (take pictures, and write about them.) When I went back Friday morning, she wasn’t there, but two of her very nice employees were, and told me more. The owners, Justin & Mena Frazier, also have a shop on the east side of Houston called Cupcakes & More, where they bake the goods for New Addictions.They are currently working on a gluten-free model, but are also  working to get to the point where they can have a separate kitchen to avoid cross-contamination of gluten. They realize that many folks would like a healthier option, and would like to provide the best offering they can.

If you’re not gluten free, however, you’ll be in heaven:

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Nirvana, right this way:

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And let’s not forget chocoholics like myself:

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They also have cake balls, if you’d like that instead:

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And cute little cupcake candles!

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Meet Ivy and Nicole, who were nice enough to tell me everything:

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I asked them what their most unusual flavor is, and I think Ivy said it was their PBJ combination. When I left and looked at their small card, I see one called Maple Bacon. I kid you not–and I think that would be my vote for most unusual. But hey–whatever floats your boat, right?

You can read about Cupcakes & More here and visit New Addictions Facebook page to see more. If you’re downtown, check out their shop for a nice little dessert you won’t soon forget.

Remember: cupcakes are ONE SERVING. Maybe one and a half if you get one with top hat icing.

At lunchtime, I headed over to Gigi’s Cupcakes, which was quite a hike (read: cardio), but I made it. I’d spoken to the owner a day or so before I took my camera, and he said that they only did gluten-free on Fridays. They use almond flour, and that’s more expensive (I know!) and so only Friday, and the cupcakes were more. How much more? Twenty five cents. I thought he meant they were like $17 each! But no, only a quarter more than their regular cupcakes. I made a promise to get there on Friday. I wanted one!

Gigi’s actually has Wedding Cake cupcakes. Yes, you can buy one. Supposed to taste like wedding cake. Long as there’s no groom that comes with it, I’m game.

So I take The Lunch Purse (a small bag you carry just your wallet, cell phone, etc. when you go to lunch in the Tunnel) and I head down there. WAY down there. Asked which one was gluten free today. “None.” Um, it’s Friday, why not?” The employee’s comment, with a straight face:

“I never took the time to order any gluten free.”

And I won’t take the time to go back and see if they did order any. From the comments on the Houston Chronicles’ website, I’m not missing anything. I mean, if you want customers, how about “I’m sorry, but we didn’t get any in today,” or, “I’m sorry, they weren’t available today?” Even “we ran out” would have been polite. It sounds like she didn’t care, so I don’t either.

I haven’t made it to the third cupcake shop yet. I’ll let you know when I do.

So, darnit, what am I gonna do? I want ONE CUPCAKE, GLUTEN FREE.

What I always do. I made them. Along with a breakfast quiche, some Yeast Free Brownies and some biscuits.

From the Wheat Belly Cookbook, I made the only cupcake recipe in there, with almond flour and a chocolate/cream cheese icing that is really stiff when it’s cold. Like the delicious biscuits, they have a heavy, chewy texture that satisfies but is likely not what you’re expecting. That’s OK. I’ll get more almond flour next trip to Trader Joe’s.

My dishwasher has finished, and I’m fading fast, so I need to get back in the kitchen and finish up so I can eventually go to bed and get some sleep. I’ve had an interesting weekend. I’m tired.

Happy Dining!

The Sunday Cooking Spree

Happy Sunday, fellow Foodies:

Boy, have I been busy today! I’ve been baking, I’ve been cooking, I’ve been washing. We had some good rain last night, and even had gravel-sized hail for a little while. I thought my neighbor’s lovable pug wanted to come in and get at the cat food again. Hoping for lots of basil so I can pack my freezer with pesto this year. Supposed to rain all week, so I’ll be extra careful on the short drive to and from the park and ride.

The dishwasher is running for the second time today, and while I put out garbage yesterday morning, I also had to put it out again a little while ago. I sewed most of the day yesterday, as well as made a pot of chili. I finished some handmade gifts and a little repair work, and will finish that shirt and suit next weekend. But before I tell you about today’s cooking spree, let me tell you about something fishy I read in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. . . .

The European Seafood Exposition was recently held in Belgium, and, if I read it correctly, it is to current trends in seafood is what the Houston Metro Cooking & Entertaining Show is to food and cooking. I think. (I went in 2011 and had a blast; nearly everything I sampled was either chocolate, garlic or olive oil.) Fish wasn’t exactly on the menu at this conference, but other forms of “aquatic cuisine” were available. Craig Harrison of Britain’s Big Prawn Company have been trying to win the Prix d’Elite with all sorts of, um, temptations. Creations like Fresh Seaweed in Sea Water, Black Pudding with Squid Ink and spreadable algae were available to tempt (or test the strength of) the taste buds of judges in Belgium. Oh, and one piece de resistance from last year’s contest was called simply, Jelly Shots, consisting of alcoholic seafood jelly shots with a jumbo shrimp floating in a mojito jelly. Um, what? “Mr Harrison claims that British night-clubbers fell for the drink hook, line and sinker. ‘Unfortunately, it didn’t sway the judges.'”

NOOOOOO. You think????? Maybe it was the alcohol the night clubbers had BEFORE the Jelly Shots, which the judges didn’t have the benefit of?

Then there is the “oceanic greenery” they want to start calling “sea veg.” In other words, seaweed. And now, because “French beaches are strewn with it,” Christine Le Tennier of SAS Globe Export is harvesting and promoting “gourmet algae.”

Algae is what develops in your swimming pool when you forget to put the chlorine in it. “Gourmet algae” is like like “clean dirt.” You can have it.

Now look–I love shrimp, crab, crawfish, regular fish, and the occasional scallop as much as the next seafood fan. But I can sum this article up for you in one word.

EEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW.

Reminded of the songs my brother has frequently written (or re-written) about my cooking, I sent him the column. Let’s see what comes back.

So, my goal is not to have to cook at all this week, except maybe for some breakfast, and I’ll think about that soon, too. My toaster oven has been baking nearly all day, and I have completed, since 8:00 am, the following:

Not included is a pot of chili made yesterday and a small spaghetti squash I roasted yesterday, all for lunch and dinner this week. Glad I finished the last of the Spicy Shrimp Marinara, too.

I’m thinking baked eggs and some kind of meat with it. I’ll think about it some more. Since the yeast-free diet is coming soon, I’ll have to think carefully, since so many things are verboten, like cheese, butter and milk.

Oh, and in order to make that meatloaf, I had to go out and get a few things: one carrot, some celery, and. . .tomato juice, which I have never bought in my life. But I do it, ’cause I don’t mess with the recipes the first time I make them. I didn’t go to my my HEB, or even Kroger. No, I went to our neighborhood Food Town. . .and if you are in Houston, you know what that is–local, and basic, No almond milk, gluten free anything or sugar snap peas, but lots of biscuits, pizza and ice cream. It’s close, so I went. I didn’t take a picture, but they had something called Tastykake Dreamies, which look suspiciously like. . . Twinkies!  No, I didn’t buy any, even though they were not expensive. But with all the hoopla surrounding the end and the new beginning of Twinkies, obviously it wasn’t long before someone got the idea to replicate them while they were away. Let’s see what happens when Twinkies begin to populate grocery and convenience store shelves again. Holy Shish Kebab.

Well, that’s the capitalist free market system, isn’t it? Give the customer what they want, customers vote with their dollars, and the best one will win. If the Dreamies taste as good, or better, than original Twinkies, then they’ll be the favored brand. If not, they will be bought once, and if they are found to be inferior, then, nobody will buy them and wait for the Twinkies. If the new Twinkies are bad, then the market is open for someone else to “build a better Twinkie.” It’s that simple.

Yes, in America, we take our junk food VERY seriously the way the French take their wine and escargot seriously. That’s what makes us a great country!!

Anyway. . . .

I had planned to utilize a crock pot today, but I never got around to it, so that’s one less thing to wash up. That’s OK, I’ve gone through some soap this weekend!

I started doing the weekly cooking/ironing on Sunday back when I was a student at Tulane and worked 40 hours a week. THEN I went to work for Tulane while I was a student, and made a salary, had regular employee health insurance, paid holidays, and eventually, an employee tuition waiver. I had to take Sundays for setting up for the week,  because I didn’t have time to get all that done in the morning, especially if I got home at 10:00 or 11:00 pm at night, which I did frequently. If I went to bed late one night, I didn’t get to catch up until Saturday. (Nobody seemed to understand that for a long time.)

Even though I’d mostly kept it up while I was unemployed, I still did some cooking during the week. Now, this may not work with large families, or even couples–but for me it works like a charm. If you’re thinking about how to make it work for you, a crock pot would work wonders, IMHO–but you gotta do what works for you. Freezer meals may be what you come up with, and a lot of people do it that way–either on the weekend or making “one extra” of something and stashing it in the freezer.

In any case, I highly recommend “cooking ahead,” especially if you are of the busy sort. If it’s just you and a spouse and y’all aren’t picky, well. . .but if you’ve got a schedule of any kind and not much time to cook, carving out a few hours and/or putting out that crock pot is essential.

And let’s face it–how nice is it to come home, take your shoes off, get comfy and heat up a home-cooked dinner?  Yeah, I Know, you can just buy frozen dinners . . .well, if you want to. Me, I’m gonna keep pushing the limits of my kitchen and having home cooked dinners ’til I can’t cook anymore. (Remember that Julia Child cooked after the age of 90, although she wasn’t make Boueof Bourignon anymore.)

Now onto the wardrobe setup for the week with our rainy, somewhat chilly Houston weather this week.

Happy Dining!

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