food review, haPPY, health, recipe, Uncategorized

W4D?

The age old question:  What’s for Dinner?

Kids ask, girlfriends ask, spouses casually slip in the question…..This question crosses the lips of all families across our land.

I have an answer for you!  Friday night dinner idea is taken care of.  done.  you’re welcome.

The Lenten season is fast approaching. Lots of folks will be trying to do away with some meat and dairy products. Maybe you just need a fresh new to you idea for dinner tonight?  Maybe you want to know what the heck your vegetarian friends eat for supper?  Maybe one of your resolutions was to eat with a healthier twist?

Giving up familiar items or trying new things can be tricky and frustrating.  Change is hard for everyone.

Adding something new to the dinner line up has to be slipped in carefully for some family members.

What’s For Dinner?  Secret insider information…. when I am plum out of ideas, I send a message to girlfriends…. W4D????  That means I am looking for dinner ideas, please help!

I thought I would share a dinner solution….we enjoyed last night.

falafel-2Vegetarian, quick, delish and you can build your own.  You can cut open a piece of naan, you can build your Falafel sandwich folded between the naan, you can even cut it up and make your own little stacks of goodness.

Tasty, great texture, filling, packed with flavor and pretty darn easy to make.  You can make the mixture early in the day, cover and refrigerate.  When dinner time comes around, you just use a cookie scoop (or spoon) and flatten them onto a pan or put into a black iron skillet.

Did you know there are restaurants in Europe and the only thing on the menu are Falafel???

While the Falafel patties cook, you have plenty of time to set the table, and chop some cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. 20170209_172248-1_resized

I do not own a Tandori oven, I buy Naan Bread (Trader Joe’s has some for $3.69).  Sprinkle with a bit of water, heat in a 400* oven for 3 or 4 minutes, brush with garlic butter.  If you can’t find Naan Bread you can always use pita bread.

Serve with plenty of Tzatziki sauce and a big ol bowl of hummus.

Falafel Patties  http://www.myhdiet.com/Fall-In-Love-With-Food-Again/

1 onion, quartered, 3 garlic cloves, 2 cans of chickpeas, drained (or 3 cups of cooked chickpeas),  2 Tablespoons tahini, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon olive oil , 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 2 to 3 Tablespoons flour, pinch cayenne

Recipe notes:   When did the world started calling Garbanzo beans , Chickpeas?  I sometimes leave out the coriander (because I am too lazy to reach to the top shelf), I always use way more parsley than they suggest, I never use cayenne and I use a gluten-free flour blend.  For just the two of us, I make a half a batch. Sometimes I bake, other times, when I want it fast, I use a little oil and get that outer crust pretty crispy, yum. 

Process the onion and garlic in a food processor until well chopped.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed and fairly well-chopped.  Scoop and pat into patties on a baking sheet, then bake at 400* for 35 minutes (flip over after 20 minutes) or saute in a skillet for about five minutes per side. 

Say grace and dig in.  Use lots of napkins, these beauties can get sloppy and messy and oh so good.  🙂

Here’s to our good health!

In this together, friends.

Chat soon.

cooking, food review, friends, friendship, pure goodness, sewing, Uncategorized

Guest Author, Chef Natalie

It gives me much happiness to introduce to you,  my guest author, Chef Natalie.20161220_131129_resized_1

I wrote about our adventures in a previous post.   https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/5-star-soup-10-star-chef/

Housekeeping:  Because my guest is under 18 years of age, I have asked  and was granted permission of her parents to share some pictures.  

I am delighted to share this post with you my kind hearted & charming readers.

Please leave a positive, uplifting comment, send my guest Good Karma and by all means please share this post on your blog or on Social Media.  Thank you, kindly.  I appreciate your kind feedback and I know for sure, she will.

I have this funny feeling, we are all in on the ground floor of ……. something pretty special. 

Please welcome my friend, Chef Natalie!

Hi, my name is Natalie and I’m 10 years old and I love to cook. I started cooking with my mom when I was 3. I love helping my mom cook and I love seeing people like my food.

I spent the best day ever at Miss. Daleens house. We started the day by making a delicious 20161220_090844_resizedsmoothie. It was a banana, strawberry, spinach, lime juice, chia seeds and coconut smoothie. I got to crack open a coconut with a hammer and a coco jack. we used the meat scraper to get all of the meat. The tools that we used to open the coconut were so much safer than using a knife and a hammer which did not work out for me before. I had to get 3 stiches! Oww! Once we were not hangry any more we made palmiers. p.s hangry means your so hungry that your grumpy. The palmiers are like a light fluffy 20161220_105041-1_resized_1crossont covered in sugar. They were my favorite cookie of all because they were sweet but not too sweet. They were super easy but looked like you spent hours on them.

Next we made the dough for Daleens Famous molasses cookies. While that was chillin we tried facon!  Its coconut, tamari, liquid smoke and maple syrup. It tasted surprisingly like bacon. After that the dough was chilled so we scooped it into marble size balls. We baked them for 14 minutes. Once all those were finished we moved onto the pizelles which tasted wonderful.

20161220_124152_resizedPizelles are like a flat pretty waffle cone. But it was not a cone. They can be flat or you can wrap them around a wooden cone shaped mold but you have to wrap it around when it comes out of the burning hot pizzelle iron. It was really hot. I think I20161220_125817_resized_1 burnt of 3 layers of my skin! Even though it hurt, in the end it was all worth it. For my family I filled them with ice-cream and put whipped cream on top. We loved them. You can also fill with ricotta and powdered sugar mix. For a fancy vibe you can add whipped cream on top. They 20161220_131653-1_resizedwere delicious and beautiful.

 

Ok time for a break, Im getting hangry again. Lets have lunch. For lunch we made vegetable bisque and cheese crackers by putting parmesan on a baking tray with parchment paper and baked it at 350 for 15 minutes. The soup and the cheese crackers together were fenomenal. We laughed talked and had a good time. We

talked about presentation for our food and how important it is because people eat with their eyes first. Also you need to put some of the ingredients in your food on top so if 20161220_115822_resized_1people are allergic to something they can see it on top and know they cant eat it. You have to be careful of allergies when your cooking for other people. Ask them ahead of time if they have any allergies and stay away from those things. For example nuts are a very common allergy

Back to work.

First we did the dishes and cleaned up. Into the sewing room to make the last thing, pot holders. We made a practice one and then made my mom two. They were so 20161220_144736_resized_2easy to make. It was good for my first time using a real sewing 20161220_155827_resized_1machine. Its cool to see how it works. Miss Daleen taught me a little bit about the parts. Its important to iron so you have clean

 

sewing lines and it looks more professional. Later when my mom came home I gave the pot holders to her for an early Christmas present. She loved them so much

All in all it was a great day hangin out with my best pal Miss Daleen. Hope we can do it again soon.

 

food review, haPPY, happy marriage, healing, health, recipe, recipe comfort food, Uncategorized

pulled pork sammies

It was a three, paper napkin kind of lunch.

Messy, sloppy and drippy good.  You know what I am talking about.  You take that first bite, a little sauce drips into your hand and then drips down near your wrist, as you are reaching for a napkin, you try and catch it all of a sudden it drips a bit down your forearm.  Then you lick your finger and try and clean up all while trying to take that next bite.  haha20160730_132131_resized

Boy Howdy, the flavor was dancing (with jazz hands) and the texture was spot on.

You all know how I love to make something on Friday to have ready for weekend lunches?  Well, this hit the spot and then some.  Easy to put together and actually tastes a touch better the next day.

One of the pickles about eating the way we do, we can’t just drive through a place and grab something to eat.  However, being honest here, we enjoy a quick made lunch full of flavor and goodness like the next family.

So once home from morning grocery shopping, we unloaded and then sat for a minute or two with a really great lunch. It went together lickity split and it was sumptuous and filling at the same time.

I won’t go into all the reasons why we don’t eat meat in our home.  If you want to have an intelligent chat, I would love to do that sometime.  One reason; I have to keep my system ph balanced and meat products rise the acid levels and we all know that elevated acid levels cause sickness, inflammation and arthritis to name a few.  Actually, it’s been about 25 years since we have eaten pork in our home.

Oh, I get it that not everyone thinks this is the way to eat.  Actually, I wanted to write this down to save it for me.  A gentle reminder what goodness I create now and then.

Needless to say we no longer put air quotes around the word pulled “pork” sammies.  No one in our family asks, “is this really pork”?

Okay, Dana over at Minimalist Baker, rocked our lunch on Saturday.

http://minimalistbaker.com/?s=pulled+pork+sandwiches

She is a gem to share her creations and boy howdy did she deliver!  Who would have guess that cooked lentils, some smashed and shredded carrots and onions and spices and BBQ sauce would deliver an amazing, mouth-watering, messy creation?

I make our own BBQ sauce, but you certainly can use store-bought.  Also, I just looked at her pictures and realized, she used purple cabbage and I used green.  So, apparently, you can make substitutions and it still ends up as a glorious lunch.

I used toasted buns (I must say the texture of the crunch was the perfect addition, don’t skip this delightful layer of crunch.)  I sliced the cabbage nice and thin and made a quick slaw.  Then I sliced Walla Walla sweet onions for an added punch of flavor. 20160730_131822-1_resized

The flavor was deep and rich.  The texture was great.  It was “stringy” like you would expect in a pulled pork sammy.  We were both clean plate club members.

Update:  We had the same lunch two days in a row.  Such flavor, we both cleaned our plates once again.  The really good news?  We have enough in the freezer to have one more fast food, spur of the moment lunch.  Yum-tastic.

Next time you invite a non meat-eater over for a casual lunch or BBQ, might I suggest you offer up something this spectacular?  Or just maybe, remember you and your family are worthy of a beautifully made meal that is both beautiful and nutritious.20160730_131937_resized

Quick, say Grace and pass the napkins!

 

food review, Uncategorized

honor food

Today, I have a treat for you, yes you,  my super terrific, wonderful readers.  I have a guest author.  (Between you and me, I gave him an A+ and a Gold Star sticker.)

It is my pleasure to introduce to you our oldest son, Dustin.  His gifts, talents, palpable energy and generous spirit make me puff up a bit when I type his name.

My “kids” never, ever cease to astound me.  When your adult children end up being humans that you (and others) would love to go to a long lunch and end up talking for 2 hours, you get this sneaky suspicion that you did something right.

I have a favor to ask, if you like today’s post or have something to add in the way of conversation, PLEASE share.   Please leave a comment. Please share on social media.  Please share with your friends.   Please add to this conversation.  It is a topic near and dear to our hearts.

We would love for this topic to be the springboard for conversation around your dinner table tonight.

 

Honoring the ingredients and the guests

 

I am not a chef.  My wife is a chef.  She has spent countless hours in schools and kitchens and classrooms perfecting her art.  She is a master in the kitchen and gives back to the epicurean world by empowering countless classes of students as a culinary arts professor at a community college in a rough part of town.  She inspires healthy eating, or creative cooking, or passions hidden deep down inside of people.  Some of these passions have been repressed by years on food stamp programs or eating unhealthy, cheap food.  The gift she selflessly gives away every day is amazing.

My mom is a food writer and aficionado of not only healthy eating and living, but of ingredients.  She has a wealth and breadth of knowledge about so many foods and ingredients, herbs and spices that it boggles my mind.

So with all of this in mind, it’s humbling beyond belief when someone tells me, of all people, they liked the food I cooked for them.  It’s an even more powerful statement when I’m told that some humble, meager dish is one of the best things this person has ever eaten.  It’s truly a one of a kind experience to know I honored the ingredient and the guest.

Let me back up.

I’m son #1.  Call me Dustin… yeah that’s a good internet name.  Dustin….  I’ve known the author of this blog for almost 34 years now and am finally brave enough to submit a piece of work as a guest author.  I have been interested in food as long as I can remember but that interest has changed significantly in recent years as I have evolved from a creature of habit to one of exploration and expectation.

I have only informal culinary training but have passion for good food that transcends almost any other passion in my life.  I love ingredients.  I love food.  There are so few things I don’t like it’s incredible and yet I’ve only tried a tiny portion of the number of tasty things out there!

Currently, I’m taking steps to lift my pop up restaurant off the ground (shameless plug incoming) find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/prixfixemobile   Creating a pop up has taught me a few things about people and ingredients and I’d like to share them with you.IMG_3695

First, you bought too many daikon radishes.  Yep, that’s something I’d like to pass on.  You bought too many and now you’re stuck.  They smell terrible, they are taking up a lot of room in your fridge and quite frankly, you made the one thing you were going to make with them and now you are stymied.

You have to be aware that this is your golden ticket to do one of two things.  Create something amazing or let it rot.  When we started out, I spent WAY too much of our precious few dollars making sure we had enough food.  Never mind that we are serving 4-7 course meals, I damn well wanted to make sure everyone had full portions of everything.  I think we needed maybe two cups of daikon pickles for a Vietnamese dish we were doing and I bought three HUGE daikons.  By the time we finished eating those things I was sick of daikon.  That’s a sad thing actually.

I LOVE daikon and I should have used the opportunity to dial up 1 of a 100000 different recipes out there to honor my ingredient and try to push its boundaries.  Honor the farmer, the trucker, the buyer, the seller and the hundred people along the way that brought that daikon to your fridge!   Try to only grab enough for what you need, but if you wind up with too much, EXPLORE!  Use the opportunities presented to you for good and expand your universe!

Next, people will eat bugs if you cook them right.  It’s true.  We served a very traditional Mexican dish at one of our dinners called Chapulines.  For those that don’t know, its grasshoppers roasted and spiced with chili.  We made tacos out of them and they were excellent actually.  Point of order here, I didn’t want to eat them, cook them or serve them, however my partner vetoed me.

He took the time as we are both apt to do, to research the bejeezus out of preparation methods, reliable, ethical and sustainable sources for the bugs, and how to best present the final dish.  In short we took the time to get to know more about grasshoppers as food than I ever cared to.  The end result of serving grasshopper tacos to 18 people dressed to the nines and expecting anything but grasshoppers, was only one of the 18 tacos coming back uneaten.  IMG_3670

There is a craft to honoring your ingredient by knowing it.  The more you know the better you can honor it.  Anyone can eat a bug because it’s a gross out extreme type thing to do.  Honoring the ingredient lets you serve a room full of people carefully crafted works of art that no one is afraid to try.

Lastly, (for now) whether you are cooking or eating, trust that the person you are connecting with over food has your best interest in mind.

This may come off a little rant-y, however even with my limited experience behind the stove, I’m already really, really tired of special requests.  If you choose to go to a seafood dinner and you have a shellfish allergy, trust that you’ve made a bad choice and are not honoring the chef or their ingredients.

Immerse yourself in the experience that is eating food that someone else prepared.  You can sense, feel and taste their culture, their influences and their art when you let go and just eat what the chef made for you.  Give ten chefs ten pieces of tuna and tell them to sear it and serve it, chances are you’ll get ten distinctly different pieces of fish, each honoring the guest by having had love, time, experience, effort and personal touches poured into them.  If you know you don’t like one particular thing, don’t order it!  If you still want whatever it is, then just pick out the part you don’t like!

By the way Millennials, I’m looking at you.  You’re not special, just eat it.  You’ll like it.  Taste buds change.  If you don’t like it, at least you can say you tried it, and move on.  No one wants to make you something special just because you freak out at your beans touching your pork chop which by the way also touches your salad which you specifically ordered without tomatoes because thinking about tomatoes makes you itchy but you can tell there were tomatoes near your plate because while not itchy.. well….,  you have a small rash over there near your butterfly tattoo….  I’ll show you butter flying… at your head….!

Conversely, if you are cooking and you chose to use pre-tubed garlic, get out!  Who doesn’t have time to chop garlic?!?!  Your guests can dump boxed pasta into water and pour some jarred tomato product over it, but can they craft a quick marinara from scratch?  It takes seconds to learn, minutes to cook and years to perfect, but it honors the guest you brought to your table.  Don’t take short cuts when the better way takes mere moments more.IMG_3451

In conclusion, find ways to honor your guests.  Find ways to honor your ingredients more and find ways to up your food game.  It’s a short life, do you want the last thing you ate to be a yellow sponge cake filled with processed HFC “crème” or a Chioggia Beet salad with first press olive oil, cracked tellicherry pepper and French feta cheese?

Live well, eat better and raise a glass once in a while!!!!!

 

 

food review, permission

permission, yeah right

soupThe other night, a friend made a comment and it sort of stuck in my brain and swirled around.

Yes, this is how some of my blogs take flight.  They swirl and twirl and grow wings of their own and before I know it, I can’t create or accomplish anything else until I address the topic.

permission

Somehow, as life has marched on, we tend to forget that our lives belong to us.  

We are ALLOWED to take accountability for our actions.  

Oh yes we are!.  I don’t give a hoot what others say or think, I have to take full accountability for what goes into my body.

We were chatting about hospital stays.  I begged her, if she ever went into the hospital to please, please tell me.  I said, for the love of mike, do not eat one bite of that food.  I promise to cook for you and bring you food that will heal you not harm you. She said, “oh, they don’t allow you to bring in outside food”.  I said, I would get a bigger purse.  done.

Somewhere along the way, it has become easier for all of us to follow the rules.  We seem to need a permission slip to eat what we believe will heal our bodies and souls.  Parents are needing to defend what they are sending for their children to eat for lunch. Somewhere along the way, it became acceptable for a child to bring a “lunch-able”  and boxed sugar drink with no questions asked. However, if a parent sends in a vegan lunch, with homemade peanut butter and homemade crackers & a smoothie…..it is called into question.

While in the hospital,  I politely said no thank you to a Salisbury meat product with instant mashed potatoes and gravy made with chemicals, and a small piece of cake.  I said no thank you to cereal and french fries.  I said no thank you to pudding and jello and fruit cups.

I did say yes to homemade soup and fresh fruit, that Mr. Right brought from home.    No it is not “allowed”. However, I am worth more than following the rules. 

My friend is certainly worth more than processed cereal or a slice of processed white bread or jello with sugar and chemicals.

Unfortunately, recently, one of our sons was in the hospital.  The food was certainly not for good health and healing.

I can say with some authority, I was not able to eat any of the food offered to me in the last couple hospital stays.  Every single thing I put into my mouth is aimed at healing not harming me.  So that means, I choose not to eat MSG or sugar or dairy or meat products or anything processed and on and on the list goes.

Of course, I rarely want to have a discussion about this.  The discussion quickly turns into a HOT topic and someones feelings get hurt.  Food is so personal.  If it is not a sacred topic, one of the parties ends up feeling like they are being judged. However, if you ever want to have/share/participate in an informed discussion, you know where to find me.

Not many folks believe as fervently as I do, that food can heal the body.  I am still working on healing and spending every soup 2bit of extra energy on doing just that.  I hardly ever spend time, trying to convince others to think this way.  Yes, it breaks my heart when I hear the poor choices some children are given.

I try to combat that with sharing a recipe or two with someone I know will give it a try.

My life depends on it.  My friends’ life depends on me not following the rules.

Today, while you are feeling fit as a fiddle, make a plan.  Ask someone close to you, if they would bring in a thermos of homemade soup if you should ever have to be admitted to a hospital.

I am now old enough and wise enough to write in bright red lipstick across the bathroom mirror

“HONOR YOUR OWN LIFE”

food review

right, right, wrong

In an effort to stay fresh, motivated, moving forward……….this month, I am trying 6 new food products.

Here are the first three reviews:

20150111_150554Peace Cereal. I chose the Baobab Coconut.  On sale at the Health Food Store for under $4.00.  While, I do not eat cereal out of a box for a meal (nor should anyone), I will say, around 3:30 pm when it is time for  another glass of green juice & a piece of fruit, a couple handfuls of this crunchy, yummy snack hit the spot.  A nice crunch, everything organic, didn’t leave any weird taste, the different textures was a bonus and you know I loved the coconut.  They had 5 or 6 other flavors to choose from.  Mr. Right gave it a thumbs up.  The dog munched away.  (this is the same dog that will not eat a pretzel or piece of cucumber, but years ago, would scarf down a half a pop tart, so take her opinion for what it is worth) yes, it contains wheat, honestly, I did not check to see if they had a gluten-free option.

I would say this was the right choice.  I can actually see myself, getting a mini (that means 1/2 cup) bowl of this treat to have in place of popcorn some evening.

I would certainly buy again.

 

Next up, was a HOME RUN.  This company is called purely elizabeth.  I found it at the Health food store, however, they also sell it at Albertson’s.    I paid $5.49 for a 1020150111_151023 ounce bag. (alert, Health Food/Co-op Health Food prices can be a tad high)  I tried the Ancient Grain Oatmeal.  (Thank you SO much to Debbie and family for the suggestion.)  Don’t “cha” just love folks who share great finds?  I know I do and I really appreciate the help in seeking out and finding new goodies to try.    I made a bowl this morning for breakfast.  Quinoa, Amaranth, Flax, Hemp and chia.  Gluten free, no sugar, quick to cook.   I used Almond milk to make mine.  I put it over a bed of bok choy.

Note:  one of my new choices is to add one more servings of raw greens to my daily life.  I decided to add a layer to my hot cereal bowls, each morning.  You KNOW I get oodles of greens all day long, just wanted to add one more element of health and wellness to my life.  This means instead of buying 8 bunches of leafy green goodness a week, we now buy 9.  

Mr. Right was long gone this morning and I saved one little bite for the Sweet dog.  She lapped it up and licked her bowl.  So I am taking that as a two paws up!

I would have to say this was a very good choice.  I can promise you, I will finish this bag this week.  So good, such a perfect blend of flavors.

I would certainly buy again and again and again.

 

Into every life some rain must fall.

back story:   For 50+ years, come the middle of February,  this girl has gotten a heart-shaped box full of sweet treats.  Okay, a couple of years ago, Mr. Right filled a jaunty red tea kettle (not a heart shape) with some delicious goodies.  You know what I mean, sweet girls like to receive sweet treats.  It is a fact.  Even if a certain sweet girl no longer does the sugar thing, she still likes a treat now and then.  So I have been looking for and trying new sweet things.  Fingers crossed I will find the perfect Valentine treat.

Yes, I am well aware that vegan, high quality, organic, fair trade, blah, blah, blah………..cost a fortune.  I am looking for a mini box of sweet treats that do not contain toxic chemicals, flavorings, colors or sugar.  Maybe a small heart-shaped box with three or four pieces of pure goodness.  What I have done, is try out different companies.  NOTICE how I have not shared any great companies with you ? Still searching.   While I did receive some mighty tasty chocolate covered almonds (they had evaporated cane juice) in my Christmas stocking, I was looking for something a little more fancy.

20150111_150808I found a very expensive mini bar of chocolate at the Health Food Store.  Score!   Righteously Raw. They sold a small 2 inch square as a sample of the same chocolate.  It cost .79 cents.  Perfect.  We saved it until late in the evening Saturday night.

We had planned on sharing.  The wrapper looked so lovely.  I was so excited and happy.  I tore open the pretty little package.  I took the first bite of ……………wait for it………………………..I ran to the kitchen and actually spit out the little “piece of heaven”.  BLECH.  URGH, WIPE MY TONGUE.  GET IT OFF.  VERY UN LADY LIKE TO SPIT OUT FOOD IN THE GARBAGE CAN.

Mr. Right was chuckling.  It couldn’t be that bad?  He took his bite.

Yep, the girl sitting next to you, was one smart cookie to SPIT IT OUT.

It was the weirdest texture, sandy, crumbly, bitter, oodly cool, brittle, funny tasting piece of yucky waxy brown stuff I have ever tried.

(dogs cannot have any chocolate of any kind, no she did not get offered any)

While it did indeed “only” cost .79 cents, I would have been better off throwing the .79 cents into a wishing well, wishing I had spent my money on something that tasted better.

I would say,  Righteously Raw, Righteously Wrong!

So there you have my review round up for today.

We are in this together.  I would love to hear about a new product you have tried this month.

 

book review, food review, haPPY, healing, wellness

the hunt for…..Food glorious food

While on vacation, eating can be a tricky, enlightening and eye-opening. Eating out during vacation can also be amazing and wonderful and the best thing ever.

20141008_111316May I gently suggest a little planning, a book suggestion and an open mind?  For us, part of vacation means exploring and trying new things.  Different things.  While yes, the lure of the familiar establishments has a magnetic pull to others………….we shy away from every restaurant  we “have back home”.  We are looking to fill up our scrap-book with new and different.  We set out with open minds.  We are on vacation to experience new and fresh and sumptuous.

Several years ago, while traveling in France, why yes, yes there was a McDonald’s.  No, we did not eat there.   One afternoon, we took the boys to Q-Quick.  A fast food place they have.  We each have a story about Q-Quick.  I am guessing we would not have a European story to share  if we ate at the familiar American joint.

First and foremost, this vacation, we were traveling by car, we used a cooler.  Yes, spend the money on a good quality cooler.  Fill it up.  I travel with coconut cream (yes, an excellent cup of coffee, just the way I like it, will make the day so much better, trust me or ask my driver, ha).  Our cooler was packed with humus, almond butter, fruit, seeds and assorted snacks to get us through until we were at the new (to us)  restaurant, pub or diner.

With so many nice hotels offering “free” breakfast included, we did enjoy that option several times.   A good hearty breakfast goes a long way to setting the tone for a good travel day.

Yes, we all have our familiar and favorite restaurants “back home”.  Let it go, people.  Let it go.  You are on vacation.  Get out there.  Explore, expand your mind and your palette.

Before we headed out on our California Adventure 2014 vacation…. still working on a catchy name.   We searched for a book that would give us some ideas.  Anna Roth wrote a book perfect for us.  We live on the West coast, so this gem of a, now dog-eared book, notes scribbled, was heaven-sent.  Well, if you go into Barnes and Nobel and give them some money, you too can have this heaven-sent book. “West Coast Road Eats”.  20141028_105953

It does not list the usual chain restaurants.  You can do that on your own.  boring, but have at it.  This book lists places that you need to drive around the corner and look for the address.  I might add, all were exceptionally easy to find and the book was truthful.  While I did not always agree …. Anderson Split Pea soup is the best soup on the planet (she says nothing to write home about….URGH, I LOVE it and I am writing about it.)

In all honesty, we loved the review on every place we tried.  Well worth the money we paid.  Side note, if a restaurant was found and not mentioned in the book, we collected the  business card and taped it into the back of the book with notes and comments.

Picture yourself, driving on a Sunday night, after a long day’s drive…… you still want to go another three hours….. you have booked your hotel room ahead………………. however, you need dinner.  Do you :

A.  skip dinner and become the grouchy, unhappy couple trying to make it to the hotel?

B. take the next exit and eat at a fast food joint?

C.  take exit 551 in Ukiah and drive one mile off the freeway to the BEST, most amazing food you have tasted in ages?  The mushroom, grilled onion toasted sandwich was the perfect find.  Hello Ukiah Brewing Co. & Restaurant!  You rocked our world with Falafel so good and flavor packed I can still sort of taste it.  While your beer made with yarrow flowers was interesting and will not be ordered ever again, your great service, great atmosphere and garlic fries were so delicious that we have reminisced with smiles already.

C.  was the correct answer!

Here’s the way it works; you find out where you will be for what meal and then look at that town or area for restaurants.  Some might be heavy on the meat, others will give vegetarian options.  While a couple of towns only seem to have desserts spots and “100 flavors of fudge”….. there are amazing gems of hidden places across our great land.

You know you want to eat at those off the beaten path places.  The good spots where people grab their coats and boyfriend and head out for a casual Sunday dinner.  Those special, unique restaurants that have the most amazing deep-fried french fries with deep-fried capers?  (Hello, Republic in NH)

Speaking of amazing…………… Linn’s of Cambria, California.  It just happened to be Canadian Thanksgiving and we were road warriors.  We wanted something “thanksgiving ish”.  So Turkey with cranberry sandwiches fit the bill.  While driving we read about Linn’s.  They are known for their preserves, pies and sauces.  They are FAMOUS for their Olallieberry pie!  The berry was first developed in 1949.  The characteristics of the classic blackberry, but it is genetically about 2/3 blackberry and 1/3 red raspberry.  So we shared a piece of pie.  One of our better choices on this trip.

Sharing.  Yes, we have crossed over to the old person side and proud of it.  We order one main dish and share.  We order one dessert and share.  Telling ourselves if we want more we can order another.  With today’s portions, it has never happened.  We have never still been hungry.  20141013_160215

So after we became clean plate club members and set down our dessert forks, we paid and decided to stretch our legs a bit.  We walked through a fun, small, tourist town with hundreds of scarecrows!  Yes, they were having a contest.  Boy did we get lucky.  This was their second year and it was super happy and fun to walk and choose our favorites.  Funny, happy, well worth the stop.  The scarecrows, the town shop keepers and yes the Olallieberry Pie.

Question:  Do you rely on old stand bys or are you adventuresome and try the local fare?

I would love to hear your favorite “find” on the road.

We are in this together, please share something sumptuous that you have indulged in while on vacation.

Have I mentioned lately how lucky we are to live in this great country of ours?  Get out there and explore and for heaven sakes……………..EAT!