Adventures in Dining

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When one travels the same route multiple times a year for many years, one tends to know where to stop for each meal. However, when one alters the start time by five hours, one must find new eating establishments.

A simple search of “best places to eat in (insert name of city) on the phone yields choices one would never discover on their own.

Hungry for some barbecue? Check out Watson’s Barbecue inside the Tucumcari Ranch Supply store in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Soon Google maps calmly gave directions that led us right to the store. We had to laugh at the sign as we parked.

Opening the door found us in another world. If there is something you need, you can find it here. It’s not just a ranch supply store.

We followed the signs to find the barbecue spot. Soon our order was placed. While we waited, the owner came out with warm samples of green chili apple cobbler. It was quite good! Lunch arrived and we filled up on Frito pie (chili over Fritos) and a barbecue brisket sandwich. All meals included a cookie for dessert, so we had no room for the cobbler. Watson’s Barbecue did quite a bit of carry-out business while we ate.

Then it was time to get back on the road. Gallup, New Mexico was our destination for the night. We were able to return to 505 Burgers for dinner. I wrote about this burger place here.

The next day we were again looking for someplace for lunch.  Google found another fun place. Think Eagles song and here are a  few lyrics to remind you, “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona . . ” Yes, we were at that corner because there’s a restaurant on the corner too, the Sipp Shoppe.

Green chili chicken soup was the soup of the day. Spicy, but oh so gooood! Another winner in our book of where to eat while traveling down Highway 40. In fact, we ate there on the return trip too.

Sometimes it does a body good to get out of the usual routine.

Every December

Every December

My kitchen fills with sweet scents

of sandbakkel* cookies.

(*pronounced like sun buckle)

Reindeer prance across

the lid of my box of tins,

tiny, fluted tins.



Butter softening,

Tins sorted into three lines

To rotate baking.




Old Mix Master from

Grandmother begins mixing.

First, softened butter.



Sugar is added.

Flour addition thickens dough,

use muscles to stir.




Thumbs push and press dough.

Bake until golden brown, cool.

Will cookies crumble?




Some cookies shatter when pressed.

Who will eat those? Me!



Sandbakkels to share,

Sandbakkels to enjoy with

my morning coffee.



Every December,

these Norwegian cookies keep

traditions alive.

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Day 27: Reaping Rewards

Background information: My husband loves cars. He especially loves a clean shiny car. Washing a car is not a chore to him. He finds it relaxing and when he is finished, the product is something to be admired because it looks so darn great! It’s not just the outside that gets tender loving care, but also the inside. He works hard to keep his cars looking great. So once in a while he gets a request from someone to make their car look like his. . .

Once upon a sweltering August day, my husband performed his car magic for his father’s neighbor. He told her no compensation needed, because she keeps an eye out for dad when we are not around. She didn’t listen to him. A gift card to Spiro’s Greek restaurant arrived in the mail. Unfortunately, we were unable to get to St. Louis to check out Spiro’s until recently.

We walked into a time warp, we were transported back to the seventies. The decor was the seventies but the clientele was in their eighties and even nineties. This dining room was beginning to look a lot like a cruise ship dining room. I said, “At least no one is pushing a walker.” I spoke too soon. Walker after walker came rolling through. I thought to myself, at least there’s no motorized scooter. Yes, you guessed it, one came rolling in. Perhaps it had something to do with the time of day. It was the early bird special hour.

Greek custard with honey and cinnamon sauce

We couldn’t complain about the food. We had more than enough and it all tasted great. Since it was the early bird special time, we still have cash on the gift card. So a return visit will be in our future. Perhaps we should try a different time slot to see if a younger crowd shows up.

I love reaping the rewards of my husband’s hard work!


Day 18: Eat Fit Go

It was lunch time. I had wandered, sampled my way through the new grocery store. I needed to pick up something for lunch. I didn’t feel like fighting the crowds to find a tasty morsel in the new store, but I had an idea of where to go.

I love to try out new restaurants. A new place opened recently that I had not yet visited. It’s not really a restaurant but it has food that you can eat there or take home. It is called Eat Fit Go. Their brochure says, Eat Well, Stay Fit, on the Go.

I walked into the store/restaurant (?) to face a  wall of refrigerated containers. Thankfully there was a young lady ready to explain what I was looking at. She handed me a brochure that listed all the ingredients in their meals. Everything is already cooked, it only has to be warmed in the microwave.

I studied the labels and menu before I selected a Fajita Smart Chicken bowl for my husband and Citrus Salmon with asparagus for me. They were quite good.

It’s a nice healthy option for my husband if I would be out of town for a night or two or when I don’t feel like cooking. It’s kind of nice to let someone else do the preparation and all I have to do is heat and eat.

A wall of prepared meals and snacks


Day 16: It’s Open!

TV news reporters, headline article in the newspaper, the town’s a-buzz over the new grocery store opening. The signage on the outside promises “Good Food for All.” Of course, I had to be a part of this excitement. Don’t you just love wandering a grocery store when you don’t have to collect the weekly groceries?

They opened at 6 a. m. but I waited until about 10:45 to make my way over. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed every spot was filled and there were cars roaming the lanes looking for a spot. Was that a spot on the side? Darn, someone pulled in front of me to claim it. Now it was serious business, it’s just like the challenge of Christmas mall parking. Follow the people to their car and wait to claim your spot. Just as I was rounding the corner, a man got into his car to leave. Victory for me in the parking lot!

I really intended just to roam about, no cart needed, but right at the door they had fresh pineapple for $.99. How can I resist? Another score for me because there was a mini-cart available. What other treats could I find?

I meandered through the store noting that their prices weren’t especially great. In the wine section I found the Merlot we like on sale. This store has a bar and tap room tucked into a corner.

Other unique features found here:

  • a juice bar as you enter the store
  • a Starbucks (not so uncommon anymore)
  • a chop shop (they will chop your vegetables or fruit for you, $3 for five minutes of chopping)
  • an extensive bakery section (of course they had samples of several breads for patrons to try)
  • a brick oven pizza where you can buy a slice or whole pizza
  • a chocolate shop (they make the candy there, I may have enjoyed a couple of samples)
  • huge meat and seafood counter
  • a cheese area (sampled an expresso coated cheese, quite tasty)
  • a section of ready prepared food or boxes with ingredients assembled for you to prepare

I’m sure there are more sections that I will discover when I return another day. Hopefully there will be fewer people and more parking. New grocery stores don’t open up every day, so you have to seize the moment when one comes along.

Wine area, boxed meals to prepare, produce section, bakery



Day 12: Food Naan-sense

Last week, Shaggers Picchu’s Blog posted and linked some of her favorite recipes. I’m always interested in new cooking experiences, so I clicked through the links. I thought I’d like the Feta Quiche, but that was loaded with mushrooms. I don’t do mushrooms. I will think about what else I can substitute for the mushrooms. However, the Naan bread piqued my interest. Recently, I bought some Naan for pizza crust, but it was rather pricey for the three pieces.

I read through the recipe, but discovered it had yeast. My heart dropped a bit, I don’t have very good luck with yeast. Apparently I’m execute yeast with the heat of the water. So after a moment of hesitation, I added the ingredients to my shopping list. Yeast, you will not defeat me!

With the support of my brother-in-law, I tackled the creation of Naan. First up, mix yeast, sugar, olive oil, and water. I brought out my instant read thermometer to check my water temperature. Good, it’s not too hot. I expected gurgling bubbles to form, but it just made a foamy mix.

Ingredients gathered, stirring, kneading, rising

Next step, stir in flour, then knead the dough. Once that was accomplished, I put it in a warmed oven (turned off) with a bowl of warm water for an hour. Yes, it did rise, but perhaps not as much as I thought it should. I flattened it and cut it into eight pieces, which were rolled into balls.

I used my pizza roller to roll out the dough. My brother-in-law was in charge of watching and turning the Naan in the cast iron skillet. The first one was our learning curve. First of all, the skillet wasn’t hot enough. Also, I didn’t get the dough thin enough. We weren’t getting the bubbles in the dough like the picture on the recipe showed. So we adjusted and the rest were great.

We ate them alongside our Chipotle Corn Chicken Chowder and even had some hummus with them. I have a couple left which will become pizza crusts. When I asked my brother-in-law what he thought of the Naan, he said it seemed like a lot of work for what you got. Yes, it was a little work, but I think I may have found my new pizza crust.

Another fun food adventure. I wonder what else I might try this month.

Day 11: Small Celebrations

Saturday is a day to revisit the week and recall the celebrations that pop up each and every day.

My week was bookended by taking my mother to medical offices. On Monday an abscess was treated, then Friday was a long put-off appointment. The abscess is healing, but as the doctor said,”It will take a long while for the abscess to heal.” Now that doesn’t sound like much of a celebration, but the fact that I was able to be there for her is the celebration.

The in-between days were filled with coaching teachers through guided reading lessons, developing comprehension skills, and extending teachers’ thoughts about the role of talk within their literacy block.

An added bonus to the week was family from Phoenix arrived to spend a few days with us. It’s always a treat to have them visit.

Of course that means cooking needs to be ramped up a notch. Usually there is some special dessert, but this house is under a restricted dietary rule (self imposed). What to do? The answer is a healthy brownie. Healthy? How can that be? How about a brownie that does not contain eggs or flour, but it does have a can of black beans. If that sounds intriguing, check out Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog for the recipe. They are very fudgy and gooey, not cake-like. Quite tasty!

Today is a wintery mix for weather, so we will be cooking up a crock pot of chicken corn chowder. Wish you all could stop by for a bowl of soup and brownie for dessert. Happy Saturday!

Day 6, Eat the Rainbow

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

How can I resist when the snippet of email came through with this invitation –


I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. I enjoy creating great tasting food. I like the challenge of trying something new. But, I get tired of figuring out what to eat every night for supper. So when something new comes along, I will give it a try.

I scanned their bouquet of recipes and found two that piqued my interest. (Why couldn’t I be happy with just one recipe?)

Rainbow Vegetable Spring Rolls – I love fresh spring rolls at the Thai restaurant we visit, but I have never made them before. Rice paper wrappers might be a challenge. Plus, they are to have a mango in them. I’ve never bought, let alone cut up a mango.

Thai Green Curry with Spring Vegetables – I do enjoy a Thai curry and especially one with a coconut milk sauce, another new challenge for me.

After printing out the recipes, I made my list of items I would need to create these dishes. I found most of the items needed at the grocery store, but not the rice paper wrappers. I needed to visit the Asian img_1287grocery store for them. When I walked in, I thought about asking someone where I would find the rice paper wrappers, but when I looked up, my problem was solved. Then I spent a little more time just looking around (I do love wandering a grocery store).

Here are the special ingredients needed that I didn’t have already in my kitchen.

I began around 3:30 chopping, slicing, dicing. I wanted extra time to prep. The recipes give suggested prep time, but that’s never accurate for me. I must be slow at preparation.

First up, the Rainbow Vegetable Spring Rolls. I stirred together the dipping sauce in the recipe. Uh-oh, the recipe says sweet garlic chili sauce. My jar does not have that word sweet in it.img_1291 I googled the difference. Hmmm, seems like I don’t have the sweet, but it’s only 1/4 teaspoon, so I go ahead and use it. The prep was complete, I just needed to assemble them at the last minute.

Brown basamati rice needed to get cooking, it takes forty minutes plus another ten to sit. Then I tackled the curry sauce. Since I had everything chopped, it went together perfectly.


img_1292Putting the spring rolls together were a little tricky, but with practice I think they will look better in the future.

Finally the moment of truth. Is this a bust (where the recipes will go to the trash) or epic (where the recipes will enter the cabinet where hundreds of other recipes reside)?


It was totally . . . epic! Both recipes are a keeper! They were scooped up and sent to the cabinet to be used again and again. The only change I would make is not to make the spring roll sauce on the recipe (it was fine) but to go to our Thai restaurant and buy their peanut sauce for dipping.

If you have a hankering for some Thai, click on the links above. These two recipes will hit the spot and the bonus is they are vegan and vegetarian friendly. Bon appétit!



What’s for Lunch?

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

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

Entering Jason’s Deli, I was surrounded by the sounds of people chatting while enjoying their lunch. As I was scanning the multitude of choices, I overheard several of my co-workers announce they were having a Rueben sandwich. My taste buds tingled with anticipation. Yes, that is what I want too!

Soon the sandwiches arrived. With a sigh, I lifted the top slice of bread to rearrange the corned beef and sauerkraut. (I find it annoying that it is all piled in the center.)

How is one to eat this arranged like this?

How is one to eat this arranged like this?

Yum! Half a sandwich consumed.

I remove the top slice of bread to begin the process of rearranging the corned beef and sauerkraut on this the second side. What’s that embedded in the sauerkraut? Something dark. Thinking it is a cabbage leaf, I prod to remove it. It is NOT a cabbage leaf. It is the full body of a dead moth! Ewww! My appetite has just disappeared (and perhaps several others at my table).

The manager is called over to examine my plate. He is rather flippant as he refers to the moth as additional protein. However, he gives me a plate for the salad bar. At least I can examine my food for foreign objects as I build a salad. I am not that enthusiastic about the salad, but I manage to eat a bit.

The best part is at the end. I ask for a new salad plate, but instead of returning to IMG_0922the salad bar, I visit the ice cream machine. A little vanilla ice cream surrounded by chocolate sauce helps to erase the memory of the sandwich.

Post note: I will NEVER visit Jason’s Deli ever again!


Peaches Galore!


Branches quiver with the weight as a breeze makes it way over and under.

Peaches cling to the branch, waiting for that moment of ripeness.

Sheets protected tender blossoms from dropping peachestemperatures in March.

Summer sun and rain produce a bumper crop of peaches.

Each bite is filled with juicy sweetness.

Not all peaches wait to be picked. 😦

IMG_0892 (1)


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

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