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The Barista Cup

Are you a coffee-on-the-go drinker? Have you seen the new Barista Cup yet? Let me tell you about it.

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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.

Opening the box to the Barista cup

 

This box is perfect for gift-giving with just a tag, isn’t it?

 

Barista cup instructions Barista Spirit cup certificate of authenticity

 

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.

Making Coffee

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.

Washed cup in three parts

This is everything.

 

 

The Barista Cup, removable bottom

The “secret” to an instant cup of coffee without buying instant

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.

The Barista cup with rubber sleeve

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.

The drinkng screen

Genius!

After you wash it completely, the process is simple. Boil your water, pour it in first:

Pouring in hot water

Do this 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.

Pouring coffee into hot water Adding sweetener

And this is what you get:

Coffee

Coffee!!

Now you see why the screen in the cup is so handy. You don’t ingest that at all. Again–genius!

Warning

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.

Filters

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.

Downsides

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. . . .

Enjoy!

 

Front of the French Truck Coffee shop on Magazine Street
French Truck Coffee

What do you do when you want a coffee but don’t know where to go? Ask someone. I found a new coffee spot I like, French Truck Coffee. It’s a two-block walk from the SGI-USA Community Center, although there are multiple locations. Boy, I’m glad I asked!

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Hello, Again, Dear Readers:

Here’s another post about coffee–good coffee. If you’re like BF and don’t drink it, well, pass it along to someone who does. Especially if they’re heading to New Orleans anytime soon.

On Strike

Y’all, last week I’d had about enough of it. I told BF I would no longer cook for him, and so far, I haven’t. I made the Citrus Spice Chicken recipe I covered a few years ago, but I shouldn’t have bothered. BF didn’t like it–said it tasted “sour.”

Oh, and to make matters worse, he also wouldn’t try cauliflower rice I’d made with it. I blitzed up a whole, organic cauliflower in a food processor, and cooked it in a big cast iron skillet with butter, olive oil and the Paula Deen House Seasoning I make and keep around–delicious. Nope–wouldn’t touch it, even after telling me, “I’ll try anything you make.” I reminded him of this, and he was undeterred.

He barely ate the Knorr “four cheese risotto” from a package that isn’t a real risotto, because it doesn’t have arborio rice. (I’ve made risotto before.) I called it “cheesy rice,” and the dogs ate most of it.

After that incident, I haven’t cooked anything for him since. Nada. Nuffin’. He ate a bowl of cereal last night, and has cooked food once. Last time he made “red beans and rice,” with red beans from cans, I took a taste and was unimpressed. (I will eat it occasionally, just to be nice, and he puts sausage in it.) When he wasn’t looking, I grabbed that bottle of Tabasco Sriracha Sauce from the pantry, opened it, and went once around the pot. Mixed it in really well. It was about a tablespoon, I think, in that big pot. Now THAT tasted good!

I know, I know. . .but I’m on strike for a while, darnit.

Coffee In The Crescent City

One of the many things I always told people in Houston is that if they were going to New Orleans, don’t go to Starbucks for a coffee if you can help it. Find a local coffee chain–any one will do–and go there. Much as I’m a fan of Starbucks, local chains like PJ’s Coffee and CC’s Coffee (Community Coffee’s retail chain) are even better. (I also discovered that there is a PJ’s in the Conroe Medical Center, north of Houston. That was a surprise.)

Another place is Orleans Coffee, where I’ve ordered delicious flavored decaf coffee from many times while I lived in Texas.  (Because decaf chocolate raspberry is hard to find.) They used to have a little cafe in the Quarter, but after Katrina and all that, they now have two cafes, and I don’t know where they are.

Well, I found another one, and I was able to visit again before the April activity.

Arriving Early

When I go to New Orleans for a Buddhist activity, I leave as early as I can, at least 90 minutes before I want to be there. That way, if there’s traffic, or a diversion, I have time. Sometimes I hit Trader Joe’s for non-perishable items before the meeting, then head elsewhere after the meeting.

For the November activity, the E Man told me to do my shopping afterwards this particular Sunday, not before. The Saints were having a game, and some kind of tailgating thing, so it would be better to get there early and shop later.

I get off the freeway at the St. Charles exit, and I’m more than an hour early. Driving a little on St. Charles in a half-ton pickup is a bit of a pain (I miss my Saturn.) So I park it and ask one of the guys outside where to get a coffee. Known as “Soka Group,” they’re the guys that hang around outside and help with traffic management and getting people inside safely. Since it was looking like rain this particular day, they’re armed with umbrellas.

He looks up on his phone and tells me that there’s a shop about a two-block walk from the SGI-USA Community Center via Erato Street. I don’t quite know where I’m going, so I’m walking cautiously in my flats with my purse tightly under my arm. (It’s November, so of course, it’s warm this day in NOLA.)

But it wasn’t that far. I carefully crossed the street twice, and saw this on Magazine Street:

Front of the French Truck Coffee shop on Magazine Street

A small building with great coffee

Neat little place. I walked in, and of course, the smell is awesome:

 

Barista at the counter

I talked to this man to order my coffee

And I walked around and took a few pictures while I waited, because for decaf, they do a pour-over:

Wall of French Truck Coffee on shelves

Oh, boy!

If you’re hungry, they’ve got you covered with croissants and things:

Glass case with pastries

These look delicious

I did ask about the “Yankee Apple Hand Pies” in the bottom left of that picture, and asked if they had many Yankees come in. He didn’t know, and I said, “Well, we can’t get rid of the Yankees in Texas.” No comment. . . .

Burlap bag as wall art.

This is a coffee bag that they framed. Love it!

Wall art in French Truck Coffee

The burlap bag is just one of the many pieces of coffee-related art on the wall by the counter

I waited a few minutes and had a sip of water from the big jar they put out with cups. But of course, I forgot to get a picture of that. And they also serve lunch or something:

Dining menu

This is their menu, which I’m sure is available every day

 

Coffee map

This map of where all the coffees come from is interesting. (Yes, that’s me snapping a pic like a tourist.)

They were busy that Sunday, and so I had a wait while I watched them go at it behind the counter. When they called my name and handed me that coffee. . .mmmmmm. . .oh, yes, definitely worth it. Freshly roasted coffee, freshly brewed.

Highly recommended!

They Have Multiple Locations

French Truck Coffee has six locations, including two on Magazine Street, with two more coming. They also sell their delicious coffees in local grocery stores like Rouse’s. What? You’re not near a Rouse’s? You can order it, too. They also have a page so you can learn to brew your coffee at home.

The company is all about freshly roasted coffee, as the founder describes here on their web page. Honestly, it’s what Starbucks wishes it could be, or maybe used to be. French Truck Coffee is smooth and delicious. I haven’t bought any in the store yet, but that may happen soon if I can find the decaf.

If you’re planning a trip to the Crescent City, find one of these. You won’t be sorry.

When I went before the April meeting. . .there was a big chicken walking around Erato Street. At 9:00 am. A CHICKEN in the middle of the street. I hope the owner found it before someone with a pot did.

On The Way Home

I lost track of The E Man, and so I tried to get into Trader Joe’s. No parking available! Well, I ended up getting everything I needed across the street at the huge Rouse’s on Veterans.

As I hopped onto I-10 West, I was just listening to my music and driving. Until I got outside of Kenner, past the airport, on my way to I-55. . .and I saw that I-10 East was backed up. WAY Up. Like, way past the I-55 exit backed up.

Anytime The E Man tells me what to avoid, I generally listen. Boy was he right. Thanks, Dude!

Other Local Coffees

I’ve also been buying this other local brand of ground coffee for everyday:

Two bags of DEcaf New Orleans Roast

Made in Covington, New Orleans Roast is also available at Rouse’s

Back of the New Orleans Roast bag

More about the company

And of course, the brand that’s also available in Houston:

Bag of Community Cafe Special Decaf

Both are used in the pot and in the iced coffee maker.

And on a recent morning when we found ourselves with no power, I packed up my laptop and spent most of the day working at the local PJ’s, where they had Internet. Well, they were very nice, and I drank some coffee and had a yogurt parfait.

I’ve done this on many occasions at the Hammond Starbucks, where they are also very nice. Before we had Internet, and BF was sent to another work location, I got on Google Maps and found the closest Starbucks. Most were within 2 miles of his work place. I drank fresh coffee all day, worked in a new place, and we were both happy.

Additionally, PJ’s also offers military and veterans discounts. So now BF likes PJ’s even more, and he likes some of the tasty things they have there. He still won’t try coffee, but he now sees that there is nothing bad about him going into a coffee shop. They have things even he might even enjoy!

Happy Easter!

This weekend is the “bunny holiday,” also known as Easter. Yes, I know what Easter is really all about, but popular media simply shows us bunnies and chocolate. If there is a chocolate bunny made with sugar-free chocolate, I’ll indulge, but I’m sure my chocolate will be the regular sugar-free stuff. We may go visit BF’s father, maybe not.

The Goddess of the Slow Cooker, Stephanie O’Dea, sent out an email last week offering Easter recipes for the slow cooker. And why not?

For all you Texans, know that HEB will be closed. . .but I think Kroger may be open.

Whatever you do, have a great holiday weekend.

Enjoy!

Caulipwer Pizzas
A Tale Of The Pizza Pair

Frozen pizza: two words I never thought I would agree with. But there are healthier versions of it available now, and I’m very glad I found it.

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

I’m still enjoying the chorizo, but like the sweet potatoes and hummus butter, BF still won’t touch it. Good thing, because then I’d never get any. Friend of the blog AK lives way up in Idaho. When I posted a picture of it on Facebook with some scrambled eggs on top, she replied, “Would you please come visit and bring your culinary skills with you?” Honestly, I haven’t gone anywhere in a while, and still haven’t made it back to visit Houston yet.

Allergy update: the honey and stuff worked for a while, but I’m back to needing nasal spray and tissues. Too much sugar! I’ve purchased some heavier-duty allergen air filters for the HVAC and will be looking for a small, inexpensive air purifier to suck up the pollen and other allergens in here. If it works out, I’ll see about getting bigger one later for the whole house, or a couple for rooms.

In other news, the lovable pussy-cat pit bull is now 75 pounds. I swear, he’ll roll over and purr one of these days.

An Attempt At Backlinks

I got an email from Joan at TipsBulletin about cleaning and sealing granite, quartz and other countertops. If you’re interested, and you have these kinds of fancy-dancy countertops, here you go. The countertops here are what I would call “vintage Formica,” and is what you find the most in this part of the country.

New Favorite Frozen Pizza

How did we get to this point when Amy approves of frozen pizza? Like the tamales, it was an accident. I was walking through the Rouse’s in Hammond looking for something or other, and literally looked over and found this:

Caulipower Pepperoni Pizzas

Seriously? With Pepperoni?

Cauliflower crust pizza! Low carb! Healthy! How did I miss this? Immediately, I grabbed one and put it in my basket. Having made one or two “regular” types in my life, I knew how to cook it:

Caulipower pizzas

When I took off the plastic, I arranged the slices nicely

Didn’t take long, and I had some lunch. Taste? DELICIOUS! No kidding, and I ended up eating. . .the entire pizza. Admittedly, I was really hungry, and it’s not a HUGE pizza.

Caulipower pizzas

Cooks up nicely

What does it taste like?

Very tasty, and everything you want a pizza to be.

Our Valentine’s Day

For a handful of reasons, I told BF what I wanted for Valentine’s Day—dinner at home and a nice movie to watch. That means nothing with the words “alien,” “predator,” “blood,” “killer,” etc. I picked out a movie that I thought we could both enjoy: the animated movie called Sgt. Stubby. It tells the story of a little pup that might have accidentally joined the US Army in WWI. He actually went to war with his owner, and was in France on the front lines. It did involve war, but is “kid-friendly,” so it satisfied BF’s need for that.

Because he was a dog, he had hearing that could pick up incoming missiles before the humans could.  It also helped to save an entire French village from a gas attack. When his owner and French counterpart took shelter in a barn, they realized there was no gas mask for Stubby, so the Frenchman wet a small cloth and put it over his face. He survived just fine, and the people in the village were so happy, they constructed a canine-fitted gas mask for Stubby.

Awwww. . . .

You can read more about this amazing doggie here, and the DVD is (or was) available at Redbox.

Dinner For Two

Because Valentine’s Day can be fraught with peril for many who want “the perfect” day/night/whatever, I figured frozen pizza would be right up BF’s alley, and somewhat controllable.

So for me, it was Caulipower. For BF, it was his typical Red Baron:

Red Baron Pizza

Yes, this is still BF’s favorite

White flour crust and all, and it cooks up just like he likes it:

Red Baron Pizza

BF is happy with this

And I had mine. Together we watched the movie, had some delicious pizza of our choosing, and it went pretty well.

But BF still won’t taste the Caulipower pizza! (He says I haven’t tried to kill him in a while.)

Ingredients

So what’s in these? You can see the ingredient list for the uncured pepperoni version here. Not only is it gluten free, it’s low carb, because it doesn’t have a lot of high-carb ingredients that are common in gluten free products. Remember, there’s gluten free, and there’s “gluten-free.”

There is a whole listing of these products, and you can also buy a box of two plain pizza crusts, which friend of the blog MJ in Houston buys frequently.

I don’t know how I missed this. . .but I’m glad I found them, finally. Right up there with frozen tamales, although I’m more apt to eat one of these than fool with a few tamales.

Haven’t Tried It Yet

I’ve seen and heard about cauliflower pizzas for a while, and Ree Drummond has used several recipes on her show. You can find these recipes here, on The Food Network’s site.

It is a bit of trouble, and a tad messy, but that never stopped me before. I’ll have to try it one of these days for myself, BF optional.

Why haven’t I done this before? I dunno. . .I like cauliflower, and all, but it’s one of those things I just haven’t gotten around to trying yet. It’s not like I have a lot of taste testers here. . .and BF is a fussbudget about it. He also doesn’t like cauliflower, but I’m thinking he never had *good* cauliflower, either. Guess I need to break out one of those frozen crusts from the freezer and make him a pizza waffle again soon.

More Flour Foibles        

As if there wasn’t enough reasons to quit eating white flour, here’s more on the subject from the Living Traditionally blog. Anya has some interesting information on a lot of health subjects, including the dreaded soy. She also talks a lot about wheatgrass and collagen, but also has some generally good health information about a lot of everyday things.

A Third Option

A week later, I was walking around our local Walmart, breaking a 12-month personal boycott, and found another cauliflower crust pizza:

RealGood Pizzas box

What’s this stuff?

It was a little more than the Caulipower, and it looked like it was bigger.

Realgood pizzas

Looks to be the same

Well, the box was. So I bought it, and anticipated a delicious lunch. “Anticipate” being the operative word here.  Looks good, with more pepperoni on top:

Realgood Cauliflower pizzas

Just like the other type, sort of

Into the toaster oven with it, and when it came out, I cut it with BF’s round pizza knife into 8 (or was it 10?) slices:

And let it cool a little, since there’s nothing worse than a burn from hot pizza, folks. But this pizza burned, even when following the directions on the box, which were similar to the Caulipower.

Burned slices of RealGood Cauliflower pizza

Not so RealGood

Verdict: C-. It’s OK, but it’s not really very good. Tasted like the Chef Boyardee variety my Mom used to make in the 1970’s. If you’re suddenly thinking, “hey, I remember those!” You can actually still buy them, no kidding. But it just tastes like a cheap imitation of Caulipower Pizzas. Had I not tried the Caulipower, I might have liked the RealGood better. But I don’t. Only if you’re in need of a pizza and can’t get anything else should you try this one.

Ready For Healthy?

I’ve bought Caulipower locally at both Walmart and Rouse’s, and I’m sure they’re available at HEB, Kroger and other big grocery stores. There’s a locator on their website, so you should be able to find it easily.

If you’ve not tried the Caulipower version yet, I highly recommend it. (If you try the other version, you’re on your own there.)

Happy Dining!

Muslin bag of Texas Tamale company
Texas Tamales At La Casa

If you’ve left Texas, or even if you haven’t, you know how important tamales are. But they can be laborious and time-consuming to create at home. The solution? Texas Tamales!

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Hello again, Dear Readers:

Spring is finally here, at least, according to the calendar. And that means all kinds of wonderful things, like asparagus, bike riding, and Daylight Savings Time. If you’re not in a part of the US that’s snowed under right now.

It’s still kind of cool-ish here, too cool for planting tomatoes and things, so I guess I’ll be the lazy gardener again and be late. We probably won’t have any tomatoes in odd spots this year, but ironically, the ones that grew best were around the septic tank. We got a number of little “racks” of tomatoes there, and I’ve got the seeds to try and plant more. Since avocados have been relatively cheap for a while at Winn-Dixie, I’ve been eating them and saving the seeds. Those golf-ball sized pits have taken over the kitchen window, and BF is asking, “is this your latest science experiment?”

Lots to tell, let’s get started.

Finally, Allergy Relief

Ok, so, last year I did what has long been told to me, I got what I thought was “local raw honey” to help with allergies. Honey from your area works similar to an allergy shot–it de-sensitizes your immunoglobulins to the pollen and allergens in the area. (An allergy shot actually tamps down on the histamine response, but doesn’t de-sensitize.) Well, I went back to the same place I went last year, and bought some more of the same honey, which didn’t work. (The place is subject to an upcoming blog post.) Well, I was explaining to the clerk (around sniffling and sneezing) that I needed it for allergies.

It didn’t work last year, but everyone told me it would! Well, I was going through two or three kinds of OTC allergy meds last weekend, and it made me downright grouchy (and swearing at BF again.) I explained this to the clerk, a nice older lady, who said, “where do you live?” I told her. She asked, “then why are you buying honey from Ponchatoula?” Cause it’s local! Well, it’s not local enough, she said, and the honey right next to it came from–surprise–my neck of the woods, and it was a dollar less. (It was also a smaller bottle.) Honey and money was exchanged, and now I have truly “local” honey.

Elderberry Syrup

She also told me about some locally made elderberry syrup that people were buying for not only allergies, but flu. Three local schools have been closed because of flu outbreaks, and people are buying this elderberry syrup along with the honey.

Bottle of Andi Lynn's Elderberry Syrup, 16 ounce bottle.

This magic concoction is thick and really sweet.

I bought a bottle of that as well, at $21.99 for a 16-ounce size. It’s tasty, too. I’ve never heard of Andi Lynn’s, but they’re in the Baton Rouge neighborhood of Walker. I’m glad to know about it, and they also have some homeopathic allergy drops, which may or may not be in the place I bought the syrup. Next time.

On top of that, one of my Buddhist friends gave me an essential oil mixture to try, and I’ve been rolling that on at night.

Educating BF

He loves me. But sometimes he doesn’t understand. I explain.

BF asked, “what’s the deal with the local raw honey?” (He doesn’t have this problem, because this is his “native area.” Not mine.) It’s like this: the bees from your area are sucking on the flowers that are around you. When you ingest their honey, you ingest some of that pollen to de-sensitize yourself from those allergens. But if you’re using local raw honey from Ponchatoula–or Texas–you get the stuff from those bees, and they’re sucking on the flowers over there. That’s not going to help you if you’re not in Ponchatoula, or Texas. (I still have a half-bottle I bought from a vendor at the Nassau Bay Farmer’s Market.) By getting the honey and pollen from the bees sucking on local flowers from the area in which you live, you get the local “neighborhood” pollen to help alleviate your allergies to the same pollen. Make sense?

I can’t say what’s exactly working, but I’m a LOT better! Still a bit of sniffling and sneezing, but not like it was. Finally, I got the right stuff.

Coffee To Go

Nick Usborne at Coffee Detective has found a new way to make your coffee when you’re walking out the door: The Barista Cup. No kidding, the darn thing makes your coffee start to finish in a specially designed cup. Just chuck everything–grounds, sugar, milk, etc., into the cup, then pour hot water into it, and off you go. At $25, they’d better be worth it!

I don’t have one myself, yet, but of course, because Nick says it “works as advertised,” I’m extremely interested in getting one. After all, Nick’s the one who originally taught me to make iced coffee.  (Note: these aren’t available on Amazon, only on the company’s website.) And Nick considers himself a coffee expert, and writes about it as a side thing to his web copywriting business.

The Barista Cup company has an office in the UK and in Winter Springs, FL, so they’re multinational, and working on saving the planet, one cup at a time.

Princess Coffee Maker

Here’s a coffee maker for young girls who want to be like Mom and Dad:

Pink Prnincess Coffee Maker toy for girls

Don’t you just WANT one?

It’s a toy, and it doesn’t actually make real coffee, but it does make the gurgling sounds of a certain type of coffee maker. I halfway considered buying it to annoy BF.

Winn-Dixie Listens

Speaking of coffee, our local Winn-Dixie finally has some new baskets with coffee holders on them:

Winn Dixie Grocery Baskets With Coffee Holders

FINALLY!!

Yes, more than two years after I asked, PLEASE, our little corner of the world got baskets with coffee holders. Just one, because after all, you only need one, right?

HEB baskets have two as well, but some of the smaller baskets at Winn-Dixie only have one. Even with BF, I’m the only one drinking coffee anyway.

View of multiple grocery baskets with coffee holders

Another view of the basket type

They still have the full-size baskets without them, and everyone uses those. These are smaller, kind of like the ones we saw back in the 70’s with a shallow basket area. So now when I visit Winn-Dixie, I can get my coffee at the nearby PJ’s first and head on in to grocery shop. Our store doesn’t have as many of these, and it seems like I’m the only one who knows what they’re for, so there’s always one available for me. Thanks, Winn-Dixie!

The Magic Tamales

You know how one day, you just want something? Over the holidays, it was tamales. And I didn’t take pictures.

Now, for those of you not of Hispanic or Texas descent, you might not know that tamales are a bit of work. So much so that many Hispanic families make the tamales only at Christmas time. Other times, they rely on buying them, or finding a good “tamale lady” or abuela (grandma) who makes them for sale all year long. Because, let’s face it, when done correctly, tamales are delicious.

In Robb Walsh’s The Tex Mex Cookbook, there is a picture of President Gerald Ford on the campaign trail in Texas eating a tamale. He was at The Alamo in 1976.  Unfortunately, none of his aides (or any locals) told him that you take them out of the corn husks first. They’re steamed in the corn husks, which are like a really tough paper, and you take them out to eat them.

The most awesome Stephanie O’Dea sent out an email one day with her recipes for tamales in the CrockPot. With a name like O’Dea, she’s probably about as Hispanic as the Irishman from El Paso. Intrigued, I informed BF that we would be having tamales for Christmas dinner, (it was just us two) and that was it. Well, and whatever else we wanted.

Finding Masa Harina

I set out to find the ingredients that were staples in every grocery store I ever went into in Houston. After paying $6 in Whole Foods for a bag of masa harina that I discovered in the local WD for $3 or so, my district leader OR told me that Walmart has an entire section of Hispanic goods. Well, what do you know, they had everything, and I grabbed the corn husks before anyone else did.

I also had a nice conversation with two young men who were driving from Mandeville to Brownsville, TX. I told them next time they went into HEB, to think about me.

Obviously, I wasn’t about to use hydrogenated anything, but I did have an unopened jar of Epic Pork Fat in the pantry. It came with me from Houston, when I went to the closing of the Webster Fresh Market. Fortunately, it’s readily available at Whole Foods. I think Rouse’s has it, too, and I have since bought a fresh jar that’s in the pantry.

Chicken Christmas Tamales

I had a few pieces of chicken that I roasted and cut up small, and followed Stephanie’s directions to the letter, otherwise. Well, I pulled out my stand mixer, and mixed the masa until I was sick of hearing the motor run. Little bits were flying out of the mixer if I ran it too high (next time, maybe half?) Guess I need a pouring shield for it. Balls of masa never floated, and I finally gave up and used it as is.

I made the components in the days before Christmas, and BF sat down and helped me put them together. It didn’t take too long, and we only had about two dozen, but that was OK.

I forget what else I made with it, but BF and I were perfectly happy with what came out:

Chicken Tamales steaming in a 6-quart Crockpot

Just like Stephanie’s, the tamales steamed nicely in the Crockpot

Verdict: they tamales were good, but a bit bland, and Stephanie admits that. It was the first time I made them. We had some of the filling and masa left, which went directly into freezer bags and into the big freezer. I have permission to jazz them up if I ever make them again. Chorizo, maybe?

Christmas Chocolate Raspberry Dessert

Oh, wait, that’s right–we also enjoyed a delicious raspberry chocolate cheesecake from one of the Wheat Belly books for dessert:

Raspberry chocolate cheesecake from Wheat Belly

Doesn’t it look wonderful?

I subbed out the stevia extract with erythrytol, but next time I’m going to get me some stevia extract and start using it. BF liked it–it’s quite rich–but it wasn’t quite sweet enough. Low carb, much dairy, no wheat/gluten/flour. I’m done with yeast free for a while.

Tamales In Target

My regular Buddhist activities are at least an hour’s drive away. I commonly go to the Mandeville area, which is still on this side of Lake Ponchartrain, and 90 minutes from New Orleans. That’s OK, and I get to go to Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, or wherever else I want to go that we don’t have nearby. Additionally, if I shop right after the meeting, I’m not too tired like I am when I make it to Hammond. So I frequent the Target in Covington, since it’s on the way home, and there’s a Cost Plus World Market next door and a Starbucks in that Target.

I’m walking around with my list on my phone, and I pass by the frozen foods section. Normally I don’t pay any mind to what’s in there, unless I’m looking for frozen veg or fruit. But this particular evening, I happened to look to my right and saw this in the freezer case:

Muslin bag of Texas Tamale company

This little muslin bag holds some of the most delicious food available.

AAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

Texas Tamale Bag Bag with ingredients and company contact information

OMG!! THEY’RE MADE IN HOUSTON!!!

Not knowing what to expect, I bought a bag of the Beef Tamales. There are also pork, chicken and black bean available at Target.

How did I miss these all this time?

Text To BF

After examining these closely, I sent a text to BF telling him that dinner the next night was covered, and it was a surprise. He doesn’t like when I tell him that, but he’s patient and will try something once, so he says.

I brought them home and told him ALL about the tamales. He gave me the usual, “sure, Honey, I’ll try anything you make” comment with a pensive (read: slightly scared) look on his face.

For $6.99, you get a pack of one dozen perfectly rolled tamales packed in corn husks, which is traditional. They’re sealed in a square food-grade plastic package and then bagged in the little muslin bag. (I’m keeping those because I know they’ll be useful somewhere!) The instructions say to steam them in a steamer, preferably standing with the cut edges up. Well, I have this old pot with a strainer insert, and it works pretty well:

Steaming tamales in a strainer pot

Just like this, and they cook perfectly

If we decide the night before that tomorrow is “tamale night,” then I’ll take them out of the freezer and leave them in the fridge for the next day where they thaw a bit. You can also cook them right out of the freezer.

The directions say it takes 20 minutes, but if I cook them from frozen, I’ll give it 25 minutes. They’re a bit tricky to remove from the pot, because now they’re soft, and the only thing holding them together is the corn husks. I personally don’t care if they come out imperfect, because I’m going to be loading them onto a plate for eating. But BF isn’t used to real tamales, so I try to make sure his look “perfect.”

Tamales

Dinner. Done.

Verdict: absolutely delicious, the way a tamale should be.

I didn’t take many pictures because we were too busy stuffing our faces with them. Yes, we found a winner for me AND for BF.

They’re Around, Just Look

Since then, I’ve discovered that Rouse’s sells them for about $8.50 a pack, and another place sells them for $10 a pack. So when I know I’m going to Covington, and I have enough money, I buy a few packs for the freezer since they’re priced better at Target. However, I’m glad to know that I can get them in Hammond if I can’t get to Covington. Our big freezer has a stock of them now, and a tasty tamale dinner is just 20 minutes away.

The chicken, we found, was a bit too spicy for us, but the beef and pork are spicy enough without being overbearing. We haven’t tried the black bean type, because BF doesn’t want to. I eat six, he eats four and saves the other two for later. Or we eat four and split the other two later. Or he leaves the rest for me, because I bought them and I’m in love with them. They’re that good.

Texas Tamale Company

Look, when you live in Texas, tamales are everywhere, right? Just like kolaches, chips & salsa, and big bags of masa harina and corn husks. Hatch chiles in nearly anything. It’s like the furniture, Texas flags and the Texas star decor–it’s always there.

Move out of Texas, and you suddenly miss everything. Longtime readers know that I’ve missed everything Texas since the day I got here, and we *still* haven’t made a trip back to visit for a handful of reasons (mostly time and money, we always  have one but not the other.) I still want to go, of course, and visit, (not to mention shop) but I can at least have real Texas tamales whenever I want them.

The Texas Tamale Company is on the west side of Houston, and has been in business for many years making “gourmet” tamales. Well, after 30 years, they’ve become quite the company, and you can find these magic morsels nationwide. They even have Hatch Chile Tamales, although they’re not available here, yet. (That’s my next “ask for” project.) You can read their story here.

HEB has its own brand of tamales with some interesting flavors, including Asiago cheese. I’ll try to get some of their interesting flavors whenever I get to shop there again.

Understand that I have no problem driving to the Clear Lake Blvd HEB and buying my regular groceries, even if it’s a ten hour round trip. Easier said than done, of course. BF would probably not like me to do that, either, but I can be tempted.

If you can’t find them locally, you can order them online. I haven’t tried ordering them yet, but I’m probably going to do that one of these days if I can’t get Rouse’s to carry the Hatch chile type.

Local Tamales

You know how if you think of a certain type of car, suddenly you see them anywhere? (Concentrate on a red Land Rover, or a blue Hyundai Sonata, and you’ll see what I mean.) Well, someone in Louisiana came up with the idea of. . .crawfish tamales:

Pack of Crawfish tamales

Crawfish tamales? Heresy!

Personally, I think it’s wrong, but they could be pretty good. They’re also twice the cost of Texas Tamales (at Target), but we might try them one day. I know, shop local and all that. Subject of an upcoming blog post, honest.

Since then, when we decide break open a pack of these Lone Star State wonders for dinner, I walk around singing, “Ta-MA-LES!” to the tune of Dean Martin’s Volare. I haven’t re-written the words, I just sing that part of it.

So are you ready for some delicious Tex-Mex in your life in 20 minutes?  Whichever tamales you choose, just remember to unwrap them from the corn husks first.

Enjoy!

 

 

Sweet-Potatoes-with-Tahini-Butter
A Quick Post With Sweet Potatoes

Hi, again, Dear Readers:

Once again, other stuff has got the best of me, and I haven’t posted since November. My apologies, because I’ve had some delicious things to tell you about. They’re in the draft folder, as usual. Coffee, tamales, and a tale of two frozen pizzas. No kidding.

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Our dysfunctional weather means that the grass, trees, and other things think it’s spring and they’re blooming. The allergies are choking people around here, and I can’t seem to find the right “thing” to control the sniffling and sneezing. We’ve gone through a large amount of tissues, and my desk trash can fills up quick. Wunderground says it’s grass pollen, so that would make sense with the grass turning green and the weeds and stuff flowering. I don’t remember the tree pollen in Houston being this bad, even when it coated the cars with yellow “snow.”

The Blog Lives On

The good news is that I paid the bill for the domain and hosting for another year. Woo hoo! Maybe I can publish six posts this year.

I did mention in a chat conversation with my hosting company that I couldn’t believe so many people were that bored that they tried to hack into this blog. The response was that it’s bot systems that try to get in. There is no user called “admin” on this site, so they can try a million passwords and it won’t work. I knew how to do that a long time ago.

The irony is that I’m learning more about SEO, and how to make this blog findable! With useful, keyword-rich content! And frequent publishing, of course.

I’ve bought another website for my copywriting side, but I haven’t gotten around to finishing setting it up. I started it. . .much like a few of my sewing projects.

Speaking Of Sewing

We haven’t had the freezing cold that we had last winter, nor any snow. But I was ready for it!

I found this pattern, Simplicity 8738, and fell in love with it. Version B is very easy (version A is just longer), it has five pieces, and stitches together easily. I couldn’t find any sweater knit locally, and the last time I went to a Joann Fabrics in New Orleans, the clerk wasn’t very helpful. So online I went, and bought some lovely sweater knits, including two southwestern patterns. It only needs two yards, and I’ve made six of these casual tops. They’re comfortable, large and boxy, and work well with jeans.

If you decide to make one, make sure to include the little “thumb portals” in the end of the sleeves. You’ll thank me later. (I’m thinking of you, Aunt Ruth.)

Tasty Sweet Potatoes!

I do have a delicious recipe to share, and I just made it this evening.

Last year I was gifted a free one-year subscription to Bon Appetit magazine because Sur la Table was giving them away with a purchase over a certain amount. I don’t really get to read the magazines as I would like, but I did manage to flip through the March issue (featured: Korean Comfort Foods) and find something that I wanted to try.

This evening, I made these Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter, and they are very, very good. They’re also gluten free (check the labels on the tahini) and low carb (I think.)

Sweet-Potatoes-with-Tahini-Butter

Sweet Potatoes With Tahini Butter (picture from Bon Appetit magazine’s website)

I had all the ingredients on hand (but we’re now nearly out of butter.) While it took a good bit of time, the results were very much worth it. It’s also true that you think the butter and tahini won’t mix with the liquids, but you have to keep at it. Once it started to smooth out, I just began whisking it with the fork until all the liquid was perfectly emulsified into the butter and tahini. Then I used a small spatula to smear it over the hot potatoes, just like putting soft cream cheese on a bagel. Then I sprinkled them with toasted sesame seeds. It’s SO good. I’ll be eating this all weekend.

What did BF think of it? Well. . .I’m kind of upset with him this evening (long story.) I didn’t cook dinner, we had plenty of leftovers. Ordinarily I would have pestered him to try the sweet potatoes, but that’s not what I did. This time, I let him know that they were “not made for you,” and that he wouldn’t like it. In other words, I don’t care if he didn’t like the looks of them. I know he wouldn’t like them because of the quarter-cup of lime juice in the tahini butter.

BF doesn’t like anything tart or acid, like limes, lemons, or any kind of vinegar, and I’ve found that out the hard way. I’ve made one or two things with a small amount of balsamic vinegar for him, but it’s not a strong taste, it blends into the background. He was warned that they weren’t suitable for his tastes. As far as I know, he didn’t touch anything. If he had, I’m sure I would have heard about it.

When I read the recipe, I was thinking about when I would make it, or half of it. This evening, I just decided to go for it, including toasting some sesame seeds. It’s an unusual taste, and the lime juice taste does stand out, but doesn’t overpower. If I ever make it again, I might try cutting down the lime juice to half. When I make hummus, I add half the amount of lemon or lime juice, because it’s too strong for me and ruins the taste.

As For Writing

I’m still working primarily with lawyers, but as I get better with SEO, that could change. I wrote this piece on blogging and the First Amendment not long after my last blog post in response to an inquiry about a couple of previous postings that, apparently, didn’t sit well with someone who happened to read about herself, but not by name or any personally identifiable information (PII.) Approximately three people knew her identity, including herself. Well, I’m protected by the First Amendment, thanks very much, and by the case of Obsidian vs. Cox, 2011, from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that bloggers are, indeed, journalists, and are entitled to the same protective provisions as journalists who work for a news organization. One of my lawyer clients, who I’d mentioned this to, said that as long as you don’t post something untrue, you’re good. Well, I didn’t, and everything I publish is true to the best of my knowledge. But the research to find the case law led me to suggest the post to a different client, and the project manager assigned it. So, girlie, if you’re reading this, yes, I do know what I’m talking about, and I can have lawyers back me up on it. Irony alert: a simple phone call asking, “hey, can we talk about this?” would have yielded a completely different ending. But, whatever.

I’ll write what I want, thanks very much.

Until Next Time

I’ve got a number of projects working, in addition to making sure we have clean clothes, washed dishes and dinner, so blogging. . .I’m trying. And WordPress just changed the interface, so now it’s even more tedious to post and add pictures. GRRRRR. . .I’ll get there.

Try the sweet potatoes this weekend.

Enjoy!

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