Tastes to Tempt

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

You would think traveling back and forth across the country would allow us to explore a variety of cuisines. Unfortunately, we always seem to be in the same place, at the same time, with limited options for variety in dining pleasures. We prefer to by-pass the usual chain restaurants. We can eat that at home, if we wanted to, which we don’t.

So Yelp has become my friend when we are on the road. A few years ago we discovered a fabulous hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in San Diego. We have learned not to judge a place by its exterior, but rather by the words of reviewers.

Gallup, New Mexico seems to be our stopping point for some meal no matter if we are traveling west or east. For years we have resigned ourselves to Cracker Barrel, (sigh) until Yelp told me about a burger spot. My eyes lit up when I found a place called 505 Burgers with an abundance of good reviews. I LOVE a great burger! I was not disappointed! It took a few tries to locate this place stuck in a strip shopping center.

Not much to look at, but what a treat inside!

Not much to look at, but what a treat inside!

The list of burgers was long and tempting, but finally we each decided on one. (The menu is either burgers or wings.) When the waitress brought our plates I had to push the fries aside to uncover my burger. The burgers were great and the fries incredible!

 

Before eating

Before eating

After eating my fill

After eating my fill, and I ate a lot, there was still a serving for two left on the plate.

I know we will be stopping here again. I just hope we don’t travel on a Saturday, they close at 5:00.

As we head east, we need a lunch spot and here we are in Gallup once again. What does Yelp recommend? The West End Donut and Deli. photo 1 (24)I must say, I agree! The six inch sandwich is more like ten to twelve inches. They are not fancy, but it hits the right spot when you are tired of fried and more fried food. One day I suppose I should try a donut.

photo 2 (25)

 

A Tasty Bite

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Would you eat here?

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If not, you would never know the one-of-a-kind experience you are missing. This Quonset hut restaurant has been in existence in Springfield since 1909. In 1909 it was housed in another location but it has been in a Quonset hut since 1949. In 1985, the restaurant moved to this location.

What’s so special about Casper’s you wonder? It is a no frills kind of diner and they are known for chili. Actually, the only thing I’ve ever eaten here is Frito Pie. A plate of Fritos as the base, covered in a unique chili, topped with cheddar cheese. When it is delivered to your table, you are warned the plate is hot. Brave souls can add raw onions on top of the cheese. The chili is creamy and like no other chili I’ve ever tasted. This treat must be savored because we only get it once a year.

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While you are waiting for your order, you are entertained by all of the bric-a-brac that adorns the curved walls. It is like a 60’s explosion from Berkeley, CA and it all landed in this hut. This is a time warp of memorabilia.

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Let me know if you are in my neighborhood, I will be more than happy to let you experience Casper’s.

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Here’s Casper’s today. Looks pretty much the same as the photo at the top.

 

New Life

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

There they laid, softening, freckled with age spots. They had reached the point of no return. No one would want them in this state of moldering. A hand reached out to snatch them from the counter and deposit them into the trash. But the magic word . . .  muffin sent that hand into retreat.

Bananas past their prime wait patiently to learn their fate.

Bananas past their prime wait patiently to learn their fate.

The cookbook is opened to a curdled page. No longer is the page slick and shiny, but instead gritty from flour or other items that have fallen on it in the past. No longer does it lie flat, but instead ripples of paper rise up to meet the hand who tries to smooth it down. Here is the tried and true formula for aging bananas.

This page has been used often.

This page has been used often.

Stir together dry ingredients, make a well for the wet ingredients, mix. A short time later the oven delivers a delightful morning treat.

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Not everything that ages needs to be tossed aside. Yum!

 

If You Make Corned Beef . . .

I love corned beef, so I am thrilled when stores put this meat on sale around St. Patrick’s Day. After the dinner with corned beef,  a domino effect influences our meals for the next week. If you make corned beef, you might have some leftovers. Those leftovers will make a great Ruben sandwich.

So if you plan to make a Ruben sandwich, you will need sauerkraut, but you won’t use all the sauerkraut in your sandwich.

Now I need another dinner where I can use sauerkraut. Dillyburgers* on the grill require sauerkraut. But you have to be sure you have propane in the tank for your grill.

Once you have procured the propane you have to install the tank, but you can’t remember how the pieces attached. So you look for the manual, but it is no where to be found. You use Google to find the pdf of the manual for your grill. Now the propane tank is back attached to the grill.

Since you are grilling dillyburgers, you might as well grill a pan of veggies too.

Finally, all the odd ingredients have been used and the dominoes have stopped falling. Now I wonder what’s for dinner tomorrow?

*A dillyburger is a double hamburger patty with a filling of sauerkraut, chopped dill pickles, onion, and mustard between the two thin patties of beef. It is eaten with a knife and fork and not on a bun. We tend to apply a generous portion of ketchup to this meat.

Not Your Mama’s Mac ‘n Cheese

What’s for dinner? The budget was small, the family was large (five kids, two adults). You would think mac ‘n cheese would make a regular appearance on the nightly menu, but it didn’t. Meat and potatoes were the staples on the dinner table. Once and a while we would have spaghetti. Not once was mac ‘n cheese served.

I don’t know where or when I discovered mac ‘n cheese, but I fell in love with its creamy goodness. Favorite meal at school (as a teacher) included mac ‘n cheese.

Flipping through the Southern Living, years ago, I saw a recipe for Mac and Texas Cheeses with Roasted Chiles. My mac ‘n cheese radar went into high alert. I scanned the recipe, and thought I can do this, even though I had never worked with poblano peppers before.

Carefully I followed the recipe. First step is to broil the peppers. Get them as blistered as possible.

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Once they are charred, quickly put them in a ziplock bag, seal, and the steam will loosen the skin of the pepper, which makes it easy to peel that skin away.

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Once the peppers were prepared, I could concentrate on the macaroni and the sauce.

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Mix all components together and bake.

IMG_0768Delish!

This is now the only mac ‘n cheese that I prepare. Of course this only gets a showing once a year because it will wreak havoc with a diet, but oh so worth the splurge!

If you look at the recipe, you may notice it calls for bread crumbs on the top and my picture does not have bread crumbs. I’m not a fan of bread on my mac ‘n cheese. Besides, who needs those extra carbs, right?

 

 

Pie

The date (3-14) sent me to Google for a place lost in my memory. Quick search of pie shops in St. Louis and there it was, Pie Oh, My! Quick snap of the phone camera of the address and my mouth began watering.

Oh my, pie . . . what kind of pie will I get? Visions of coconut cream, key lime, or perhaps a fruit pie. I love pie! I imagine the difficulty I will have making a decision.

Google maps helps us find the most direct route to the pie shop. Of course, it wasn’t easy sailing, we missed a turn, tried again, traffic prevented us from the exit, but finally we located the shop. Lucked out on a parking spot, anticipation was high.

We entered the shop and joined the line slowly making our way to the register. My eyes searched for a menu board to list the pies, no list. My eyes turned to the cases where pies should be, none in one case, two choices sat on the counter. Concern began crowding thoughts in my mind. Where was the pie?

Finally we are at the register to learn that apple and pecan are the only slice choices left. I am crushed with disappointment, my visions of pie evaporated.

“We do have these five inch pies,” the girl behind the counter offers. Hope springs forth in my heart as she brings out two choices. “This is a blueberry lavender or a caramel apple chile crumb pie.”

“Let’s try the caramel apple,” my husband says. They have just added empanadas to the case. “And let’s get two empanadas,” he adds.

She rings up our order and I’m taken aback by the high price, but we pay and leave. The empanadas are not what we expected. They must have just come out of the fridge, they were stone cold. The pie was saved for home.

Once we are back home, I split the pie.

Caramel apple chile pie

Caramel apple chile pie

I would like to say it was the best pie ever, but I can’t. It was okay, glad we tried it, but I won’t be rushing back. Pie, Oh, My! you let me down, you were not the pie shop of my dreams.

Pay Attention!

Grilled cheese for lunch is great, but it can be a lot of work if you follow my How-To from a previous post. Some days, I take a shortcut and have an open-faced broiled cheese. Much quicker, however not as satisfying.

A properly broiled cheese sandwich

A properly broiled cheese sandwich

Some parts are the same, still using sourdough bread, but usually a single slice. I still want two cheeses, but they are alternated on the bread, not a double layer. Sadly there is no butter. Just place the bread under the broiler to toast to the shade of brown you prefer. Then flip the bread over, add the cheese, and return to let the broiler turn that solid chunk of cheese into a mass of ooey, gooey, melty cheese.

Yesterday, I had the bread broiling, the cheese cut, so I decided to read a few posts that landed in my inbox on my iPad. I began reading Megannora’s post My Mother, the Trendsetter! (read it if you haven’t). I was engrossed in her post, but still kept an eye on my bread while it browned. I grabbed the cookie sheet in the nick of time, bread was perfectly browned. Quickly laid my cheese out and popped it back under the broiler so I could finish the post while it melted the cheese. (If you are sharp thinker, you should be thinking uh-oh, you skipped a step.)

Cheese melted, post read, I’m waiting for the cheese to cool, and thinking about my comment. Still thinking of my comment, I tear the bread in half (it was really long), take a bite, and recoiled a bit. Where’s the crunch from the toasted bread? This is . . . soggy! I flip the bread over and it is as white as the canvas from yesterday.

Quickly I realized that I pulled the bread out, piled on the cheese, and did not flip the bread over. Now what? I turned the broiler back on, laid cheese side down, and toasted the white side . Yes, I know my cheese will melt onto the pan, but I can scrape it up and slather it on my double toasted bread. Which is what I did.

So what did I learn from this? Pay attention!

Cheese disaster! But still tasty. :-)

Cheese disaster! But still tasty. :-)