Keto: have you heard of it? Are you interested? Can you have delicious Italian food that’s Keto? Let’s discuss.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Here’s the next in my series of cookbook reviews courtesy of the nice folks at Callisto Publishers. They’re not sponsoring my post, they just sent me great books for review. I’ve received a number of interesting new books, and I continue to receive more in exchange for reviews. I like them all, I can’t say anything bad so far. There is a low-carb book, a fast and easy vegan cookbook, and a cook book for folks with Lyme disease, plus a couple more cookbooks coming. Additionally, there is a book on modern etiquette, plus a few other non-food topics.
But today it’s all about the keto.
The John Walton Celebration Of Life
So it finally happened on July 28th, and we picked up The E Man and went to Generations Hall. Everything was first class, well done, and we met so many other fans of The Walton & Johnson Show. Everyone had a great time, a fantastic band called Superchargers played classic rock music, there was all kinds of fancy food, an open bar (BF and I abstained), and just a great time to celebrate the life of a veteran radio broadcaster.
Ken Webster is the show’s producer they hired seven years ago, and he stepped on the air fulltime when John Walton became ill. Well, Mr. Walton passed away suddenly on July 1, and now Producer Kenny is on the air in Mr. Walton’s seat. He’s doing a great job carrying the torch, and they have decided *not* to change the name of the show, or much else.
John Walton always said that when he left this world, he wanted a big, New Orleans-style going-away complete with a brass band and a second line and all that. It was provided, and I hope that he was with us in spirit (since his ashes were actually in the facility.) I don’t *do* second line, but everyone else did. Steve Johnson said during the event that they made a few phone calls and everything was just done–they had everything they needed. They definitely called the right people!
I’ll post more of my pictures in another blog post, including the very stylish food that was created especially for this first-class event.
What is Keto?
The term is short for “ketogenic,” which is a condition that makes your body burn fat. This is different than “ketoacidosis,” which is a dangerous condition if you are diabetic.
But going keto is pretty much going low-carb, with some restrictions. That is, you eliminate rubbish food out of your diet, and increase your healthy fat intake. I say “healthy fat,” because hydrogenated vegetable/soybean/corn oil isn’t what that means. There’s a fat-to-protein ratio to follow, making it more complicated than regular low-carb, and different than Paleo.
Unlike the 5-Ingredient Italian book, there are few pictures. But the recipes are clear and well-written, and work easily. Each recipe tells you how long it takes, if it’s “gluten free,” “nut free,” etc. Prep and cook time are included, along with calories and all that. And the food looks pretty tasty.
There is even a dessert chapter–didn’t think Jen would leave that out, did you? For a sweetener, she uses Swerve, which I’ve talked about here before, but she also uses stevia in some recipes.
Trying Out The Recipes
Personally, I think the recipes I’ve read all look delicious. Unfortunately, I live with someone who doesn’t agree with that statement.
I made the delicious Saltimboca alla Romana on a Sunday, when our unexpected dinner guests showed up. The next night was a previously enjoyed Giada recipe for a turkey meatloaf–I can’t believe he likes the feta cheese when it’s baked in.
Tuesday was the ketogenic dinner.
Now, to be fair, sometimes we get a little short on funds, and so we’re not popping down to Walmart or Winn-Dixie for some chicken, pork chops, ground beef or something else. I buy meat occasionally when I find good sales and stash it for later. So this particular week, we’re digging through the big freezer (I still need to write a post on that) to see what’s there and what we can whip up for dinner.
Well, it was one of these periods that I decided to “freezer dive,” and I was right–there was some kind of frozen fish in there that someone gave us a long time ago. I let it thaw in the fridge, and just needed a few ingredients to make it happen, like lemon and capers. (I did another freezer dive this week and made this Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce with just a few ingredients from Walmart and the ground turkey in the freezer. He said it was OK.)
I selected two recipes for dinner. Baked Lemon-Butter Fish is on page 84 in the book, and Parmesan & Pork Rind Green Beans is on page 121. Pictures of the recipes are below.
Well, I needed capers. I used to have a big jar in my fridge that I bought from Phoenicia Foods, but I guess that was left behind in the move. Don’t have an unopened jar, and of course, Walmart has these *teeny tiny* jars for about two dollars or so. But you know me, I gotta make it according to the recipe the first time.
I also decided on green beans, since we really like them. I only needed a few ingredients from the store to make these dishes, including. . .pork rinds. No kidding.
His Fish Is Always Fried
I didn’t tell BF what I was doing, which always makes him stammer nervously, “I’ll try anything you make, Honey.” (Actually, that’s not completely true. And he’s still afraid of my cooking and my driving.) He asked if the fish was fried, and was very disappointed when I said it wasn’t. I wasn’t trying to break his heart, but I guess that’s what I did.
Let me put it this way: If I told him I would prefer Ford over Chevy, it would be along the same lines of disappointment, since he’s a Chevy devotee.
I used the countertop oven to make it (another thing I’m late telling you about) and baked the fish first, then the green beans. Dinner was ready in about 30 minutes.
These dishes took 15 minutes each to make, and the fish was still hot when we sat down to eat. And now I can’t find all the pictures of the prep.
But here it is:
I thought both dishes were delicious. However, BF had other thoughts on the subject.
He thought the fish tasted “slimy.” That’s why he doesn’t like baked fish. Frying it takes away the “slimy” in his mind.
Then the green beans–a different taste, roasted, and they aren’t over-cooked. I asked BF what he thought of the green beans. He didn’t look at me when he said, “oh, they’re delicious.” I said, “really?” BF still didn’t look up at me, and replied that they were “magnificent.” I thought he was serious. Then he started giggling. Then I started giggling. He was trying not to tell me he didn’t care for this form of cooked green beans.
Finally, I asked him what he thought of the green beans, and he said he wasn’t crazy about them. Why not just tell me? He was trying to be nice, and said he’d have a bowl of cereal later if he got hungry (and he did.)
Later he reminded me of one of his local car guy friends who, before his “chicken fanger weddin'” last year (with catering by Chick-Fil-A, my sarcasm added), decided with his intended to lose some weight by going keto for a while. (I didn’t attend the “weddin’,” either.) The guy did successfully get his weight below 300 pounds for the first time since high school (but he’s well over six feet).
BF’s comment: “He lost a lot of weight on that keto diet. And now I know why.”
BF is also a smart aleck. Here are the recipes.
No, he didn’t like these either.
I wasn’t deterred by BF’s reaction, and I kept reading the book. (I’ve since left a review on Amazon.)
I planned on making the Double Pork Frittata on page 58, until I couldn’t find the diced pancetta that I *thought* I had in the freezer. Since I can’t remember where I bought it, I tried to acquire some at the local Walmart’s deli department. Of course, when I asked for it, the clerk thought I said, “da cheddah,” and told me all the cheese was against the back wall, close to the milk. When I told her it was a bacon-y kind of thing, she said, “oh, we don’t got dat.” So maybe next trip to Hammond or New Orleans.
I would have to cut my brain stem to work for Walmart.
With that idea scotched, I chose the Mushroom Frittata on page 59. Frittatas have been adopted by low-carb dieters as the ideal throw-it-together food, and there are so many ways to make one. I like this one, because it hits all the right buttons.
At least I could get goat cheese at our local Walmart, as well as bacon, mushrooms and fresh spinach.
NOTE: watch what you’re doing with spinach, especially in Walmart. I nearly bought spinach mixed with kale! I also realized later that I didn’t need the dill, that would have been for the other dish. But I’m not adept with photo editing, so it stays there.
Making The Frittata
I like measuring out everything before I actually start cooking.
So I cooked the bacon in the little oven (saves a lot of mess), let it cool, and cut it up.
While that was going on, I began to make the rest of the dish.
Then you add in the chopped bacon. Start cracking the eggs into a bowl or big mixing cup:
Pour the eggs into the pan to cook with the mushrooms and spinach. Lift the edges of the frittata with a spatula so the runny, uncooked eggs get underneath the surface. This takes a few minutes.
Then sprinkle on the crumbled goat cheese:
Then bake it for 16 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I’m skint on pictures here, but this is what comes next:
Verdict: tasty, delicious, and great anytime.
I offered some to BF, explaining what was in it. He looked like he would accept a bite, then smiled and said: “Nope. It’s a trick!”
I can’t wait for him to head out of town for Drag Week.
Dessert Is Da (Keto) Bomb!
Undeterred, I tried one more recipe.
I considered making that subhead “The F-Bomb,” but I’m thinking about Aunt Ruth looking at her screen and thinking, “certainly she isn’t going to say that!” No, you’re right, but the F stands for “fat,” not the other f-word. After seeing so many copywriters and others swear like sailors in their marketing materials, I’m a firm believer in *not* using that kind of language in my blog, no matter what I shout at others while driving.
You hear me, marketing departments of America? Don’t do that. We close your page, delete your emails, trash your direct response long-form copy letters and ignore you completely. Knock it off! Anyway. . . .
Of course, the other concern I have is with the Secret Service, FBI and other law enforcement agencies getting my little SEO-optimized blog caught in their scanning systems looking for troublemakers. Yeah, I make trouble for BF, not the kind they’re looking for. Well, if they do find me, I hope at least one agent tries this recipe.
If the web is your cookbook, “fat bomb” recipes are literally available in every corner. They’re quick snacks to make sure you get enough fat in your keto/lowcarb/paleo diet, or just to have something sugar-free and tasty to keep you away from the stuff you want to leave alone. Let’s face it–there’s nothing like a chocolate bar. Find a way around it, and you’re doing good.
Making A Mess
I was making some Cashew Bread one morning and cleaning a huge mess from the night before. (I finally found cashew butter locally at Target.) So what do you do? Make more of a mess! Enter these chocolate treats.
So this “f-bomb” is actually called “Spiced Chocolate Fat Bombs,” and it’s in the dessert section on page 138 of the book.
I had everything handy except the liquid stevia. But did that ever stop me?
Not that the jar on the right is CHILI powder, not cayenne powder. It isn’t hot. If you decide to make these and add the hot stuff, you’re on your own there.
The coconut oil was already melted, so I put it on the stove to make sure the almond butter melted into it:
Carefully spoon this mixture into the cups:
I got most of it into the papers. Then you refrigerate (or freeze) them until they’re solid, which takes maybe 15 minutes or so, less in the freezer.
Despite the powdered stevia, they were pretty good; I used three packets. The chili powder isn’t hot but adds a different nuance to an otherwise straight-chocolate thing. And now I have a stash.
These are great, and I’m glad. Much as I love chocolate, I’m getting burned out on Yeast Free Brownies.
Recipes That Are Not For Everyone
I know if Neighbor E were here, he’d enjoy the green beans, at least, and probably the frittata and dessert. Dunno about the fish. Miss Alice would probably enjoy it too, she has a wide-ranging palette. Can’t answer for the GER, I never know what he’s going to like or dislike. BF just gets the shakes when I say the word “frittata.” Even his sister is perplexed, because it’s just baked eggs with other stuff in it.
But when you’re cooking for yourself, you’ll enjoy what you like, and others may or may not agree with your tastes. So if you’re cooking for someone who thinks rice goes with everything, well, you’ll have some alterations to do. That is, make yourself some Cauliflower Rice, and make regular rice for anyone who wants it. Add options like that, and everybody’s happy (you hope.)
I Like This Book
Honestly, I do like the kind of food that’s in this book, keto or not. I’ve long had the preference for low-carb foods, and this one checks all the points. The next recipe I want to try is the Double Pork Frittata on page 58; I’ll have to source more of the pancetta. The other thing is that these recipes are, for the most part, easy to make and don’t seem to require a lot of hard-to-find ingredients. If I can find pancetta and prosciutto here in Central Louisiana, they’re not that hard to find–especially in Houston.
The thing about Keto is that you follow a ratio to stay in ketosis, that is, the condition that burns off fat:
- Carbs, 5%
- Proteins, 20%
- Fats, 75%
This is on page 4 of the intro, also called the 5/20/75 ratio. She says it’s up to you to find the balance that works for you.
I’m not an expert, and I get the theory behind it, I’m just not really good at math, especially in my head. You’d think that someone who has been sewing since age 11 would be better at fractions, decimals and percentages, but I’m not.
Whether or not you want to go keto, this is a book with good food in it–and that’s always my first criteria. If you decide to go keto, you’ll need to do more reading, of course, and understand what it’s all about. Once you do, you can turn whatever you want for dinner (including Italian food) into a keto-friendly feast.
I’m also going to look at Jen’s next book, because. . .I’m thinking seriously about getting an Instapot soon. More on that later.
Until Next Time
I’ll try to get the recipes posted soon (another thing I’m late doing.) Many thanks to Callisto Press for offering me the chance to receive publisher’s editions to review books–I definitely appreciate it, and am enjoying reading them and looking at “new foods.” Sure, it’s still food, but new recipes that are faster and easier (so far.) Nothing wrong with a new recipe to expand your repertoire, right?
I’ve got more of these great new books to review and blog about, so if these two books aren’t appealing, maybe the future books will.
Until then, enjoy!
Italian food fan? I’ve got the book for you! Prefer easy, quick meals? I’ve got a new book for you, too!
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Remember the two free cookbooks I received last week? Well, I used the first one over the weekend. I also had two surprise dinner guests who didn’t know they would be taste-testers. I also heard from Neighbor E, who was visiting our HEB over the weekend and had. . .free ice cream! Oh, the things I miss here. Let’s get started!
National Ice Cream Day
Ok, somewhere, it became this holiday, and I heard about it on Facebook. HEB brought out a truck to the Clear Lake Marketplace to celebrate, and Neighbor E was kind enough to send some pictures.
I’m sure that in the heat of this summer, everyone was happy to see that when the arrived.
Is that not a happy sight?
Speaking of friendly faces:
Hi, Miss Lei!! I was so happy to see your face when he sent me this pic. Hang on, what were you serving?
Speaking of friendly faces, Neighbor E enjoyed his ice cream and hammed it up with one someone from the local aerospace community:
Loved this picture too.
Ahh, HEB ice cream. . .another thing to look forward to one of these days.
The 5-Ingredient Italian Cookbook by Francesca Montillo
As I mentioned last week, I was gifted two cookbooks by Callisto Press, and this book was one of them. I really like this book, even though it doesn’t have as many pictures as one by Giada de Laurentiis. It has good food and some pictures, as well as good info. That’s a good one in my book (pardon the pun.)
When I explained it to BF, I reminded him that “Italian food isn’t all about spaghetti.” We’ve been to Olive Garden a few times, and he responded, “If you’ll notice, I order the Alfredo.” As in Fettuccine Alfredo, and that’s still like spaghetti, and it’s PASTA. I giggled at him and explained the difference. He looked at me funny, as usual.
The introduction answers the question, “What Is Italian Cooking?” Ms. Montillo goes into the regions, and the different things you’ll find in each. “When it comes to Italian cooking,” she says, “the quality of ingredients far outweighs quantity.” I wholeheartedly agree. Italian food in Italy is cooked in this fashion, while Italian food cooked in American kitchens tends to have more ingredients because it can. Everything is clearly explained, with cooking time, designations like “kid friendly,” “family friendly” and “30-minutes or less.”
The Accidental Dinner Party
Let me say here that I always appreciated Neighbor E’s honest input when I tested recipes in Houston. And that I’m going to test his resolve now, but will post the recipe soon.
So, Sunday BF was home, and asked his cousin from Mississippi to come for a visit and help him work on a car. He did, and I figured I’d cook for him. At some point, I went outside and asked BF in an officious voice, “has this man been notified that he will be used as a taste-tester?” He was, but right before I began cooking, he was called home. The man lives about 30 minutes away, just north of the LA/MS border on the “L” part of the state, so it wasn’t like going back to Houston. But he had to leave, and then it was just me and BF.
I worked until 7 pm, and then got started right as he left. When it was ready, he said, “Oh, JE is here!” Say what? Yes, JE and his wife J dropped by to drop off a motor for BF to evaluate. They drove up from Baton Rouge, about an hour away. Now, he gets those calls frequently: “I’ll drop by after while,” and they never show up. But not this time!
I was getting hungry, annoyed, and it was getting late, so I sat down by myself and had some of this delicious chicken. When I was finished, BF walked in and said, “I’ve got two more taste testers for you!” Again–say what? He invited this husband and wife to dinner!
Let me say at the outset that they are very nice people, and I certainly didn’t mind them coming to dinner. As a rule, I’m not really happy to get surprises. But this one was good, and they enjoyed themselves. They didn’t even know what I cooked up, unless he told them “chicken.”
Saltimbocca alla Romana
Dinner was from page 103, Saltimboca alla Romana, or “Jump-In-Your-Mouth Chicken.” That, Ms. Montillo says, is what “saltimboca” means. I also made the stir-fry broccoli from one of Suzanne Somers’ cookbooks to go with it.
But the chicken is the focus here, so I won’t bore you with the broccoli stir fry.
The recipe calls for 4 thin breast cutlets that are pounded out to a 1/8″ thickness. Of course, this was the day Walmart didn’t have any, so I asked BF to get whole boneless/skinless breast pieces. I cut them flat:
And pound them a little:
And then slice it in half:
Next up is a light salting (kosher salt is fine) and adding the next step:
Then top each with that paper-thin prosciutto:
Then dredge it in flour, and carefully shake off the excess. In this case, I used coconut flour, same stuff I used in Gumbo La Casa. I could have also used oat flour too, but this was I put my hands on first:
Grabbing the first dish I could find, I started coating the chicken, which is difficult when you’re trying to hold the prosciutto and sage in one place.
Cooking The Chicken
Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to fry them in a pan with two tablespoons of butter and three tablespoons olive oil:
Although the pan was big, I had to cook them two at a time:
At this point, BF started talking to me, and I forgot to take additional pictures. But what you end up with is this when they’re finished cooking:
Then you add to the pan the other two tablespoons of butter and the quarter cup of broth and let it boil. Put the chicken back in the pan for a couple of minutes in the sauce, and it’s ready.
Another thing I did differently was to put a cover on the pot so the chicken would cook faster. They were cooked and done, but didn’t have a “crust” on them like they would if the pan was uncovered. Didn’t affect the taste at all, and BF said it was just fine.
The Reaction–Dinner Is Served
So, this is what we all had for dinner:
Understand that these two drove an hour from Baton Rouge, and, as I was told later, were actually talking about where they were going to get some dinner when BF invited them in. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
They take two bites of the broccoli, and tell me that it’s really good. The husband takes a bite of the chicken, looks up and asks, “are you married?” We respond: “no.” Husband: “She cooks like this and you ain’t married? You better marry this one!” We were laughing at that one, but normally, it’s one of those topics not for discussion. We didn’t mind, but I think he’s going to take BF ring shopping one day.
Dinner was three thumbs up, plus I liked it too. BF and I knew what the broccoli tasted like, but nobody knew what the chicken would be like.
I didn’t make a dessert, but BF bought one of those frozen “chocolate silk” pies when he thought his cousin would be having dinner with us.
Well, I asked them to try a bit of my favorite Yeast Free Brownies. Once they did I explained that they were made with oat flour, coconut oil and erythrytol, but no sugar. Two thumbs up, and the husband said that you’d never know it didn’t have any sugar in it.
Then BF cut the pie and brought each of them a piece, which they didn’t refuse. Needless to say, J&J left very happy.
I’m sure J&J will be back for dinner again one day, so I’d better make sure I have a menu ready and in my pocket for them. Many thanks to them for sticking around for dinner, giving me another opinion, and great conversation that lasted a little later than we should have been up.
I’ve got another book to review and try, this one on Keto, so that will be in an upcoming blog post.
Meantime, if you’re interested in delicious Italian food you can make on a weeknight, quickly without a lot of ingredients, check out The 5-Ingredient Italian Cookbook by Francesca Montillo, priced at under $20 (last time I checked.) You’ll be pleasantly surprised by a fast, delicious dinner that’s as good or better than any takeout you can find.
Hubig’s Pies are coming back next year!
Only an hour after I published my July update post yesterday, I go into the living room and there’s a blip on the news about the return of the old New Orleans favorite, Hubig’s Pies. There is rejoicing in the land tonight.
I wrote about these iconic treats a few years ago, when I was still living in Houston. I think I was looking for something else to blog about. When I stopped traveling around Houston and trying different places, I struggled for new blog topics that were interesting. And, quite frankly, there were times when I just didn’t feel like writing anything.
But I couldn’t believe my luck–I knew I should have waited before I published, but I just wanted to get a quick update out.
Since 2012, people in Louisiana have patiently waited for the return of a beloved hand pie that was available about anywhere for 90 years. Their patience has finally paid off.
In a joint press release, Governor John Bel Edwards and Hubig’s owner Andrew Ramsey announced today that the company would resume producing the famed pies in a new facility in Jefferson Parish, not Orleans parish where the company lived for 90 years.
The State of Louisiana and the Parish of Jefferson offered multiple business incentives, that, apparently, Orleans Parish wouldn’t. But whatever–people are overjoyed, and who cares if they’re made in Jefferson Parish? They plan to use the same recipes, and not change anything, so that should ensure consistency and happiness again.
Not So Fast
However, they note that they don’t have a place yet, but they are working to get one, and get started. Mr. Ramsey was quoted as saying,
“I don’t have a facility yet. I don’t have a place where I can press a button and start making pies,” he said in an interview.
“This (loan guarantee) is a part of the puzzle to get the business back again,” he said. “Everything has been coming together; we’ve had a tremendous amount of support. But I don’t have a timeline yet.”
But after seven years of nothing, this is definitely good news.
The manufacturing equipment they need is going to be highly specialized, so that’s probably going to be their biggest hurdle. The factory will bring something like 30 jobs to the suburban parish, likely in Metairie or Kenner.
Side note: the Govna is from the area where I live. I’ve met a couple of his relatives because I happened to be in town, and BF introduced me. BF actually shook hands with him at a funeral a year or so ago, and went to school with a few of his relatives. The Gov lives here and commutes to Baton Rouge every day, something I thought I’d be doing when I interviewed at LSU in 2016.
There’s more information here in this news story.
What’s The Big Deal About Hubig’s?
In a state that doesn’t always value health and wellness, local food is one of those things that people hold onto and take very seriously.
The Hubig’s Pie affair is bigger than the Twinkies affair, because Hostess pretty much already had a buyer waiting going into bankruptcy court. But I’m sure Mr. Ramsey has been able to learn from the Twinkies re-set and will be working with new, more agile, manufacturing practices.
Things like king cakes and other regional favorites have become wide spread. As I mentioned originally (and probably a few other times), king cakes are available in bakeries in Texas, and New Orleans bakers ship the cakes nationally. Check your grocery store for “Louisiana” or “New Orleans” foodstuffs, and you’ll find things like Tabasco, Zatarain’s, and maybe even Tony Chachere’s spices. I bought a wide range of things at HEB in Houston, so I know they’re available elsewhere, and online if you know where to look.
But Hubig’s Pies didn’t really make it out of Louisiana. It’s just one of those regional favorites, like kolaches in Texas. They were just always available, in every grocery store, convenience store, truck stop, gas station, and everywhere snacks were sold in the region. When they went away, as I mentioned in the last post, people missed them terribly, and have been asking for them to come back ever since.
The Devotion To Hubig’s Pies
Ladies and Gentlemen, your patience will be rewarded next year. Hubig’s Pies will make Louisiana great again! (I’m sure that’s what they’ll say, anyway.) You’ll be able to buy them online, too. How about that?
This article on NOLA.com (full of garbled code written by a monkey, I presume) details all the ways people have kept the flame burning for Hubig’s Pies. One lady kept a blueberry Hubig’s in her freezer all these years as a souvenir. Another has one sealed up in a plastic freezer bag in her closet. (EEEWWW!!) And as you saw in the last blog post, Mardi Gras costumes abound for people who are waiting for their Hubig’s Pies to return.
There’s even a comment by the Governor himself, speaking at a campaign stop, about his love for the missing pies. I’m guessing he’ll be using that in his re-election platform. Well, let’s face it, wouldn’t you?
Let me reiterate, as stated the first time I wrote about Hubig’s Pies, that there is nothing healthy, sugar-free, or gluten-free about these things. They are, like a lot of Louisiana foods, primarily white flour, sugar, starches, and likely unhealthy oils. Enjoy at your own risk. . .because everyone else here will take that risk once they are being sold again.
I’ll have a small bite of BF’s, just to satisfy my curiosity.
The Divided Dinnertime
Last night was one of those nights where we ate from our “pre-relationship menus.” BF calls things like Hamburger Helper “the pre-Amy menu,” and I referred to the roast chicken leg quarter as one of my “favorite single-girl payday meals.” Because it is, like the perfectly cooked flat iron steak that’s sliced against the grain and laid on top of a crisp salad with lettuce, tomatoes (grape, please), sugar snap peas, maybe some avocado, and a quickly whisked dressing of EVOO and a raspberry vinegar. Oh, and a bit of Celtic of pink Himalayan sea salt to finish it.
I asked why he would make such a thing, and his response was, “Well, you’re always telling me how great Pea & Pesto Soup is, so you can have that tonight.” I found the chicken leg in the freezer next to the ground beef and claimed it as my own.
We’ve been doing that sometimes, when he feels that Hamburger Helper, or a frozen Swanson dinner is just the thing. I’m sticking to the healthiest things I can eat here, which occasionally involves something like rice, which I don’t normally consume. But if it makes him happy, oh, well.
BF and his twin brother are planning to make the pilgrimage this year to Hot Rod Magazine’s annual Drag Week. BF went last year with another of his “car guy” friends, but they were only gone a couple of days. This time, the twin mechanics are planning the entire week of smelling like the exotic scents of car exhaust, motor oil and transmission fluid, as well as eating at various local greasy spoons. For this red-haired foodie, it means:
- I will be alone and free to be myself for an entire week
- I can cook and eat whatever I want all week long without criticism, critiquing or fake retching
- This includes the absence of comments such as, “She’s tryin’ ta kill me!”
- I can watch my own TV and sew as much as I want
- I can invite over whomever I want, including, but not limited to
- BF’s brother’s wife and 5-year-old daughter
- “Car guy” girl JJ, and possibly her daughter if she’s interested
- Friends J&A who live a couple of miles away; A is one of BF’s collegues, and J is her boyfriend
- BF’s father who lives up the road (although he won’t come unless there’s an emergency)
- Anyone else who appreciates gourmet cooking and lives close enough or wants to drive up here
- Or nobody at all
I’m not planning a dinner party, although I probably could. But as I’ve told BF several times, I’m making plans for my “Drag Week Menu.” I’ll be cooking all manner of delicious, healthy food to enjoy while he’s across the country. The recipes may come from the new cookbooks I’ve bought, too. So what if he can’t say “Braciole?”
Remember when we went to Mr. Earl’s Barbecue? BF knows Mr. Earl from Drag Week, since he works on these kinds of cars at his shop outside of Baton Rouge. That New Year’s Eve gumbo fest and barbecue event is a yearly thing he does for all his “car guy” friends. (We missed it last year, maybe this year.)
Honestly, Drag Week is a networking event for petrolheads. BF knows so many people from Drag Week, I can’t tell them apart. But they have a great time, make new friends, meet up with old ones (supplemented by Facebook) and have fun while they’re there.
On a basic level, it’s like AWAI’s yearly copywriting Bootcamp. I streamed it live again this year, and I loved it all. But I do wish I could go in person next year. You never know, you might meet an automotive copywriter there!
Until Next Time
I plan on blogging again before too long, honest. Meantime, thanks to everyone who keeps reading my foodie-related rantings with SEO optimization.
Can you believe it’s already July?
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Here it is, the middle of July, and I’m still trying to find time to a) blog, b) exercise regularly, c) cook in advance more, and d) enjoy the summer while it’s here. Haven’t changed the futon cover to the “summer fern” one, either. I’m having enough trouble keeping up with the laundry.
It’s been a month since my last post, and although I have topics, I haven’t gotten around to writing about them. What I did write about last night was a legal principle called “The Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree Doctrine. “ It has nothing to do with agriculture. It’s a legal principle related to illegally obtained evidence that makes the evidence inadmissible in court.
And the truth is, I knew exactly what it was, because I’ve written about it before. So I’m writing this on the fly to send out so you know I haven’t forgotten to write.
What I am able to do is enjoy my Barista Cup, and use it just about every afternoon. A month later, I’m still thoroughly in love with it, and tell coffee lovers about it. However, Aunt Ruth let me know that she wasn’t a coffee drinker–but that’s OK, you know someone who is, right?
One of BF’s “car guy” friends, JJ, has finally purchased her own Kitchenaid Cold Brew Coffee Maker. I noticed it was on sale on their website recently, so I mentioned it on Facebook one day, and tagged her so she’d see it. She ordered one immediately, it arrived two days later. JJ and her kids love iced coffee, but not the expense of getting it in the coffee shop. We saw her at a 4th of July party, and she was so happy to finally have it. However, she said that she had to rescue it from her teenage son, who was under the impression that it was a Halloween decoration of a decapitated head. He’s 17, we have no idea where he got that idea.
BF, despite 22 years in the National Guard with two stints on active duty, including a year-long stint in Iraq, still doesn’t drink coffee.
Last weekend we were supposed to get a visit from BF’s former roommate. The occasion was the memorial service of regional radio personality John Walton, part of the duo of Walton & Johnson. He passed away on Monday, July 1, after being ill for some time.
He was receiving treatment, but decided to stop treatment for whatever it was he had, and he passed away a few days later. (They didn’t disclose what the treatment was for.) According to their producer, Ken Webster, he had a number of conditions such as arthritis, and had periods where he couldn’t walk very well. He also didn’t follow doctor’s orders well, scarfing down a BLT when he should have been eating better. “Producer Kenny,” as he’s called, began filling in when Walton took ill, and they were under the impression he would return to the airwaves on Monday July 8th. However, Ken will continue the show with radio veteran Steve Johnson, who supplies the character voices. They will continue the long-running show “as long as the listeners want it.” Fortunately, John Walton mentored Kenny very well, so he was able to pick up on air where Walton left off.
The Houston memorial service for John Walton was on Friday, July 12th in Katy, TX. Walton wanted a big New Orleans style sendoff, complete with a brass band and second-line. The New Orleans “celebration of life” was scheduled for Sunday, July 14th. Unfortunately, a guy named Barry decided to barge in that weekend, so the New Orleans memorial was rescheduled for July 28th. BF and I plan to attend.
BF’s former roommate was planning to attend the NOLA service, having been a huge fan of W&J. This guy met them on one or two occasions, and has the picture of the three of them plastered on his Facebook page. He called the show regularly, although less regularly since he moved to Pennsylvania. Roommate also called in when they did their first show after Walton’s passing on Wednesday the 3rd, and called in right before 8:00 am. Both BF and I heard it from our respective locations; I was home, he was on his way to work.
Roommate is planning to return with a friend to attend the memorial on the 28th, and they were able to reschedule from the 14th. I’m happy, because we’ll be able to give him the rest of his rubbish he left behind when he moved. But if and when he comes in the house, he will be in for a shock. Lots has changed since he’s been here, and since I’ve been here. I’m hoping the reaction is positive, but you never know.
Surviving Barry’s Visit
I really didn’t think it would be a big deal for us, and it wasn’t. East Texas got some rain out of it, but in Houston, it was more hit-and-miss. But BF was sure we were going to need the generator and the camping stove, so he bought extra batteries, gas bottles, and of course, a case of bottled water, which now sitting unwrapped under the kitchen counter. We moved things and battened down the hatches, waiting for this middle of July event.
Someone posted a warning meme on Facebook that if you eat all the hurricane snacks too early, you might not fit in the rescue basket. Another said to post a picture of yourself without the filters so that when your body floats by, everyone will know who it is.
July Storm Prep
We gathered up all the flashlights, bought extra batteries, and put them all on the table. I even made a pot of what I called Hurricane Crockpot Beans. (Of course, I forgot to take a picture of it.) Two cups of baby green lima beans, some cut bacon ends, some cumin and coriander, and water, of course. Cooked it all night on Friday the 12th, so we would have food on Saturday during the hurricane. What did we do? We ate beans and rice all day!
Barry was like a bad date that arrives late and wouldn’t end (another FB meme.) He’s making landfall in the morning, then late morning, then mid-afternoon, and finally Saturday night, he showed up onshore. We got the visit sometime on Sunday, mid-morning, when the power went out. . .for fifteen minutes. Seriously. That was it. It flickered a few times, and out it went. Didn’t even rain that much. I figured I’d be doing all those things I didn’t have time for when I had power. Nope. BF wasn’t even awake yet when I told him. By the time he started shuffling around and became somewhat upright, the power came back on. Oh, well.
I subscribe to a number of blogs, including those related to working from home, copywriting, marketing, and law. One of those blogs is The Work At Home Woman, written by Holly Reisen Hanna. She recently published her book on time management, and announced it in her blog. I planned to get it when it was released, until I got an email from the publisher asking if I’d like a free review copy in exchange for a review on Amazon.
A free book? Thank you!
I got the book the day before it was released, and I read it as fast as I could, then left a lengthy review. I also notified the publishing company that it was posted and live.
And More Books
On Monday, I got another email from the publisher. . .we have more books to review, are you interested? I clicked on the link and saw. . .two cookbooks. No kidding, two new free cookbooks. I clicked on both, and they arrived today. They are The 5-Ingredient Italian Cookbook by Francesca Montillo, and Keto In 30 Minutes, by Jen Fisch of KetoInTheCity. I’ve never heard of this blog (which means nothing) but I might have to check it out. She’s actually published her fourth book called Keto In An Instant. However, I do not have an Instant Pot, nor do I really want one.
I already know what recipes I want to try from the Italian cookbook just by flipping through it, and I think BF will enjoy the chicken bundles if I don’t use the word “Braciole.”
In addition, I have also purchased Laura Pennington Briggs’ new book on starting a freelance writing business, and participated on the launch team. I didn’t get any money for it, but she did send out some great free stuff. As much help as she has given me, I felt like I owed her one.
All three of these books arrived today. I’m way behind on reading!
I am still enjoying the Gazpacho that I wrote about last time; I make it when I run out and have it at about lunchtime. It’s as delicious as the first time I made it.
I was so happy to find out how good it was that I wrote an email to Ina Garten, explaining that I tried it, mentioning Red Dwarf and Gazpacho soup is served cold! Included a link to the clip and warned that it was frat-boy humor. About three weeks later, I got a short email from one of her assistants. She said that Ina was “delighted” to read about how I got to trying the Gazpacho and that I liked it, and sent her best wishes.
What do you want to bet that they watched the YouTube video?
Until Next Time
I’ve got to get it together and find time to blog. Maybe I should set a time, like Monday morning, and get started. I do some marketing on Monday, but like most writers, I’m always marketing, really. So I’ll have to figure something out. I have more to talk about. And with the new cookbooks, new recipes to try and report.
Are you a coffee-on-the-go drinker? Have you seen the new Barista Cup yet? Let me tell you about it.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
I’m sorry that it’s been so long. There’s been a lot going on around here, and now it’s summer. But piggybacking off my last post, I would like to continue the coffee thing with something that will make nearly any coffee drinker very happy.
Still On Strike (Sort Of)
Although I have cooked some food for the both of us, mostly, me and BF generally do not eat the same thing much anymore. It makes him happy to eat frozen pizza, and I’m at the point where I just say go for it.
However, recently after one of our discussions of food, I decided that I would make myself something delicious. Remember the sweet potato sheet pan dinner?
I told him that I was making it for myself, and that he was not welcome to try it. However, when he saw the amount of bacon that was involved, he was willing to overlook anything else. Asparagus is one of those things that he “knows” that he doesn’t like, because he had it one time at his friend’s house. This is a friend who is a car guy and also fancies himself a chef. Clearly, he isn’t. But I don’t say much, and I really don’t like him. (We’re not invited over anymore for whatever he’s grilling anyway, so that’s a good thing.)
Well, because this dish is roasted a high temperature for quite a time, the asparagus also gets nicely roasted. Guess what? Turns out the BF actually likes roasted asparagus. Who the heck knew this would happen?
I think we must’ve used too much bacon, because I used to make it in the toaster oven. This time, we had to put it on a bigger sheet pan in the big oven. That’s OK, we ate it more than once, happily. And now this asparagus-hating BF is one who will happily eat it, as long as it’s roasted.
Gazpacho Soup Is Served Cold
You may have heard of this soup, a cold tomato concoction that’s usually served as a starter. If you haven’t tried it, well, I have, finally.
What you may not of heard of, especially if you don’t hang around me for a long period of time, is an old British TV show called Red Dwarf. I’ve written about it before, and it’s been on the air intermittently for about 30 years now, with the 12th season wrapped up a couple of years ago. It used to be on PBS and BBC America, but it’s now just for the British and for die-hard Americans who love it. (The entire series runs on the paid streaming service Britbox and Amazon Prime Video.)
In one of the early episodes of Red Dwarf , (I think it’s series 1, might be series 2) there was a reference to Gazpacho. One of the characters, Arnold J. Rimmer, is a hologram of one of the dead crew members. At the time of the accident, his last dying words were “Gazpacho soup.” The last living human alive, Dave Lister, found out about it, insisted on knowing why, and deviously got a confession.
He Didn’t Know
It turns out that Rimmer was once invited to have dinner at the Captain’s table, and Gazpacho was served as a starter. However, Rimmer took one taste of this cold concoction, and called up the shelf and demand that he take it back into the kitchen and heat it. During the period all of his dining companions were laughing at him while he ate his piping hot Gazpacho. Because why? He had no idea that “Gazpacho soup was served cold,” and nobody told him. He never ate at the Captain’s table again, leading him to believe that that was the end of his career, and he would never progress past being a chicken soup vending machine repair man, second class.
You can watch the interchange here on YouTube. It’s frat-boy kind of humor from 30 years ago, and you should use your own discretion if you decide to watch it at work. Depending on your company, it might invite the ire of your IT Security people if their parameters are set high. If you’re not sure, wait until you get home, or watch it on your own smartphone.
Why Do I Mention This?
One recent Saturday morning while sewing, I was watching the Barefoot Contessa make some food for a weekend barbecue. One of the things she made was this Gazpacho soup with goat cheese croutons. It was really simple, and everything was done in the food processor. First words out of my mouth were, “Gazpacho soup is served cold.” It’s a knee-jerk reaction. And then I realize, in all the years I’ve been cooking, I’ve never made Gazpacho. I don’t know why, I just never did. So, I went to Walmart, got a few ingredients, came home and made it.
Then I tried it, and asked myself, “why have I never made this before?” It taste like fresh salsa!
Please, promise me this summer that you will make this very simple and delicious recipe for Gazpacho. I’m going to make my fourth batch this week, and eat it every day. Why, in the middle of summer, wouldn’t you?
I will point out that I did not make the goat cheese croutons, primarily because I don’t eat bread, and because I know that I would never hear the end of it from BF. He has not touched the Gazpacho, and I told him that this was not for him either. I actually think he would like it, but I don’t want him touching it, anyway. If he likes it, I’ll never be able to keep it around.
The Barista Cup
So, a funny thing happened after a recent blog post. This is what happens when you practice SEO backlinking.
After I told you about Nick Usborne of Coffee Detective, and his discovery of the new Barista cup, I got an email from Elaine in the company’s marketing department. She had one question: would you like to try one?
Seriously? <Insert smiley face here>
Here’s the deal: they send me a barista cup to try out for myself and write a blog post in return with a review. I can handle that!
I was more than surprised when I got her email. In fact, I was wondering if it was a scam email. But when I did a little checking, I discovered that yes, indeed, she was telling the truth and she really was who she said she was. I sent my address so that she could send me the cup. Because the team was busy with two conferences in Europe, she said, it might be a while before I saw it. That’s OK – I just said thank you.
There were a few delays, so I emailed Elaine for an update a month or so later, and she sent it by UPS. With everything that she had going on, I certainly didn’t mind the wait and wasn’t going to complain.
The Cup Arrives
One thing I did request was anything but camouflage. There’s enough of BF’s stuff from years his in the military in this house that I don’t really need my coffee cup to blend in so I can’t find it. Besides, things get lost in the vortex around here if you’re not careful. And, as I always say, I don’t do cammo. I mean, unless I’m in a situation where I need to blend into the forest or something, I just really don’t need it. Elaine was happy to comply with my request and sent me the Komodo Dragon style, which Is a lovely blue slate color.
This box is perfect for gift-giving with just a tag, isn’t it?
There are a number of styles available, including camo, so there is something for just about everyone. If you like your camo, have at it–you can tote your coffee around in it.
So what’s it like to use? Well, it’s pretty straightforward. Like anything else, it’s simple as soon as you read the directions.
The cup comes in three parts, and there are two gaskets involved to keep liquid from leaking out of it.
That cup sleeve is actually heavy silicone–but it feels like a rubber tire. No kidding. Super thick, keeps your fingers and hands from getting burned, and lets everyone know what kind of cup that is.
And here is something that I’ve never seen on a travel cup before: a little drain screen to keep you from drinking the grounds with the coffee. That alone is an improvement over any other coffee cup out there.
After you wash it completely, the process is simple. Boil your water, pour it in first:
Then add your coffee, sweetener, milk, or anything else you like in your coffee. Stir up a little, carefully, and then carefully screw the lid on.
And this is what you get:
Now you see why the screen in the cup is so handy. You don’t ingest that at all. Again–genius!
One thing you’ll have to be careful of is not to overfill the cup. The cup lid screws on, doesn’t pop on and off. Therefore, there has to be a little bit more room to allow for that. I say this, because I’ve done it. And yes, I have spilled coffee on the counter. Fortunately, I have a very plentiful supply of dish towels.
Honestly, it’s almost like instant coffee, but tastes much better. Once you put the lid on, you can take your barista cup anywhere you want. I could have used one of these when I was working, especially at Boeing, where I was one of the few decaf drinkers. I had a French press on my desk, after seeing one of the executives have one in his office. But then I joined the coffee club, and we always had decaf coffee brewed. And of course, I had to put up with comments about “wussy coffee.” But that’s OK, I could have good coffee anytime I wanted it.
Barista Cup vs. French Press
Aficionados of the French press know that it’s a great way to make coffee, it’s ecologically friendly, and the coffee really tastes good. I still have several, and use them occasionally. However, the Barista Cup eliminates the pot part. In other words, instead of making your coffee in a pot, then pouring it into a cup, you just make the coffee in the cup. You only wash one cup, instead of a pot and a cup.
Another benefit to the Barista cup is that your coffee is always fresh. Unless you like making coffee in your regular coffee pot, the coffee will not sit around for any length of time. You’ll be making a fresh cup for each cup of your coffee.
Better Than A Pod
If you’re thinking, “But I have one of those K machines,” I bet you didn’t know that those little plastic pods are almost impossible to recycle. I know that Nespresso does the recycling thing, but the plastic K-cups are not recyclable. In fact, I found out recently that the man who invented the Keurig wished he hadn’t done it. Why? Because of the un-recyclable pods. I’ve never bought one, because I don’t like the extra trash.
Look, I’m all for new inventions and free market capitalism. But just because you can invent something, doesn’t mean we need it. Sure, the K-thing is a great convenience and makes great coffee. But the environmental impact is another matter altogether.
The Barista Cup makes great coffee, quickly, fresh every time, with whatever kind of coffee you want, and eliminates those extra little cups, too.
No, I’m not environmentalist. I just hate all that needless extra trash going to landfills.
Another advantage is that there are no filters to wash or throw away. The filter is built into the part of the cup where you drink, so you won’t adjust them. There are no other filters involved. You just empty the grounds out into your compost bin, or your trashcan if you don’t compost.
Note: if you work in the Boeing building, please do not put your grounds down the sink drain. You’ll stop up the drain and upset a number of people if you do.
OK, you knew there had to be a downside of this cup well, I don’t really see them as a “downside,” but some of you might.
- If you start using the Barista Cup instead of your regular coffee maker, your coffee maker might feel neglected and start to complain. I do use our regular coffee pot, a small 4 cup model, when I haven’t washed the Barista Cup. But in all seriousness, your regular coffee pot may feel a bit neglected, and you may wonder why you have it after a while.
- If you’re accustomed to having a cuppa coffee waiting for you right after your alarm clock goes off and you stumble into the kitchen, having to make coffee “from scratch” may be a bit of an issue for you. After all, the purpose of having a timed coffee pot that has your coffee ready at a certain time is because you are incoherent and are very morning challenged. If this is you, you may choose to have your regular coffee pot make your 1st cup of coffee, and the Barista Cup to make the coffee that you take on the way out the door. There’s no waiting, because you literally put everything in the cup at one time. So it’s certainly a win-win situation, not really a downside.
Like Nick Usborne mentioned, think about all the coffee machines that go into landfills. The electronic parts that go into it, and the plastic that may never biodegrade. This is definitely an improvement from all the stuff that can be slowly eliminated and left out of landfills, especially the little cups.
Where Can I Get One?
So far, the Barista Cup is only available on their website. The cup is $25, and honestly, I was planning on buying myself one anyway, because it just looks like such a cool thing. It really is, and it’s worth the money you spend for it. Highly recommended.
When you buy your barista cup, it comes in a beautiful circular box:
Inside the box is, of course, your cup, plus a replacement gasket for the bottom portion. The instructions, of course, as well as three packets of their own coffee.
I’ve tried the coffee, and it is very good. However, because it’s regular coffee, it’s a little too strong for me, so I’ll have to stick with my decaf. I have not seen anywhere about the coffee is available for sale, but that may be coming later. (Then again, I may have missed it on the website.)
The Barista Cup As A Gift
So now it’s the middle of June, and we are smack dab in the middle of wedding season. If you know two coffee lovers that are getting married, this would be a great shower or wedding gift. A pair of these cups in their favorite individual colors, with a pound or two of their favorite coffee, would make a great shower or wedding gift. It would also be a great gift for any coffee lover’s birthday, any time of year.
It maybe too late to get a graduation present for someone going to college, but if you haven’t gotten a gift yet, this is an excellent time to do so. You have time to get it before they head off to classes in the fall, especially if they’re going to be doing the dorm room thing.
And if you’re the coffee lover, there’s never a bad reason to order yourself one, right?
Washing The Cup
OK, I saw one issue: the bottom of the cup says “dishwasher safe,” but the instructions say, “hand wash only.” Who’s right?
I asked Elaine to clarify, and she said that although it’s “top rack dishwasher safe,” the design may not last in the dishwasher. She recommends hand-washing, which isn’t difficult at all once you empty out the grounds. (It wouldn’t fit in the top rack of my countertop dishwasher, anyway.)
Also, I caution you not to lose the gasket out of the top of the cup, which will quietly fall out if you bang it in the trash can to remove the grounds. You’ll see what I’m talking about if it happens–that thin piece of black rubber keeps it from leaking while you drink. That is, if you screw the top on correctly. . .never mind how I know this.
I Love The Barista Cup!
Honestly, when I see something like this, I wonder: why hasn’t someone thought of this before? But we have it now, so what’s enjoy it now. It really is “a coffee machine in a cup,” and you just need hot water.
To be fair and give full disclosure, I really was graciously sent this cup in order to try it out and write a review. Like Nick Osborne says, it does the job they say it will do, you’ll use a bit less coffee, and it’s a good thing. (I would tell you if it wasn’t.) So I really can’t say anything bad about The Barista Cup, even with the “downsides” I mentioned earlier.
Many thanks to Elaine at The Barista Cup for finding my blog and offering me the chance to try this cup. I highly recommend it. And a special thank you to the gentleman who invented it, Aziz Patel, who just wanted a better way to make a cup of coffee while reducing waste in the process.
As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a good thing. Just heard my kettle boil. . . .