Sued51's Blog

{January 25, 2016}   Monday Menu Mix-Up

Pear and Cheese Wrap

My roll-up before I added the lettuce.

Sometimes I just get tired of “breakfast” foods. I am definitely not a Seinfeld type; no eating “cereal” for dinner for me. So every once in a while I need a menu mix-up: something for breakfast that is not traditional breakfast food.

A friend sent me some pears from Harry and David for Christmas. They took forever (well, a couple of weeks) to get to me. When they finally arrived, they were a little worse for their travel adventures. I was grateful for the gift, but I thought I should let my friend know. So, Harry and David sent out another set of pears, which I received after Christmas. Thus, I have been eating a lot of pears!

The other morning I put a twist on things and decided to have a pear and cheese roll-up for breakfast. The pear was wonderfully juicy and ripe. I had one spinach wrap left in the fridge to use up, so I cut up my pear, shredded some extra sharp cheese, put a little pepper on it to give it a little zing, and added a couple of pieces of red leaf lettuce. It was delicious, and kept me from being hungry for a few hours.

My experiment made me think: why hasn’t anyone developed these types of breakfast sandwiches? (At least not at any breakfast establishments I have been to.) I was thinking how good waldorf salad might be in wrap form…mmmm.

{September 14, 2012}   Live Fast — Eat Warm Figs!

There are certain produce items that are good for such a short period of time you have to check them carefully at the supermarket to make sure they aren’t already moldy before you even bring them home: raspberries, blackberries and figs to name a few. When you buy them, you had better plan to eat them immediately! And some items are sold only a couple of weeks a year, when they are in season. Figs are part of this group as well. When the supermarket advertises fresh figs, my husband and I are first in line!

For most of my life, all I had known of figs was fig newtons. No fun at all. As a child I watched my father take those cookies to work in his lunch every day and I never saw the attraction; he didn’t have to fight off us kids for THOSE cookies. Then I went through a phase in my life as an adult when I ate them because they were low in fat and “good” for me, but that only lasted as long as any well-intentioned diet.

That changed a couple of years ago when I had a fig epiphany. Living in Tennessee, my husband and I went to a “green” restaurant in Chattanooga called 212 Market. We had a warm fig salad with blue cheese. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. (As I wrote this and inserted the link I noticed that right now they have a special of  Harrison figs stuffed with blue cheese & bacon drizzled in honey & fried pimento cheese okra.) Wish I still lived near there!)

The next best thing though is that my husband started making a warm fig salad at home. We just had a simple one the other night: he sautéed the fresh figs in a tablespoon of butter and olive oil and served them on a bed of romaine with some grated Asiago cheese on top. No dressing, just a little of the olive oil and butter drizzled on the lettuce.

It may not be news in places like California (where most of our figs come from), but here in the Northeast I really look forward to the few weeks a year when the fresh figs are available to us and try to spread the gospel of their warm deliciousness to as many people as I can!

You’ve probably heard of Wordless Wednesday? Well, I thought I’d do Thirsty Thursday. My husband made this BLT Bloody Mary for me for my birthday. I LOVED it!

You take the lettuce, tomato, and bacon, dip them into the Bloody Mary, and put them together with the Texas Toast. It’s messy, but delicious!


The final piece to the food puzzle for me was learning to appreciate the extra dimension that the right beverage adds to the meal.

When I crossed the momentous bridge in America that is the legal drinking age, I drank cheap American draft beer even though I hated it. When I went out to a club, I would splurge on a Kahlua Sombrero or — horrors — a Sloe Gin Fizz (the thought of it now makes me sick), but that was only to loosen up and have fun. It was almost a necessary evil; I hated alcoholic beverages because I drank the cheap stuff.

I was never crazy about soda even when I was very young, so my usual beverage with a meal was water or milk. Although sparkling water is my go-to beverage now (and I find it helps my digestion), I like to have a craft beer every once in a while, or a special wine when it adds an extra dimension to the meal; the most common example would be a special beer with mexican food or red wine with Italian food. There’s nothing worse than the wrong red wine with an Italian meal that makes the tomato sauce taste acidic!

When I first started drinking red wine, I started with less tannic varieties like Merlot or Pinot Noir. My husband and I pretty much drank Merlot with everything back in the 90’s when it was the IT wine; I rarely touched white wine. As years went by, we have tried other varieties. Right now I love the Italian table wines like Montepulciano and Sangiovese with our pasta meals. And the summertime means I’m finally enjoying Rose and white table wine. I’m working at a wine distributor so I am branching out more and more and loving it! I still have to ask our resident wine expert at work for suggestions when my husband is making a special meal, but I’m learning. The right wine with the right food is truly something to savor.

This is an example of a healthy meal in my world: no meat and a vegetable is prominently featured. But it sure tasted decadent! Anyone who has read my food posts knows that my husband is a fabulous cook; he believes life is too short to eat ordinary. Every day for dinner we have something incredible. He loves cooking for me because I love food and I am open to food experiments. In this case, he took a recipe for pumpkin pappardelle and made it with buttercup squash. He used fresh ground nutmeg and fresh parsley — mmmm.

My husband is French so he likes to cook with butter and cream. I appreciate the wonderful food he cooks for me; I am a lucky woman. But I don’t appreciate the fat collecting around my middle and having to burn over 600 calories in my workout just so I don’t become HUGE! I can’t complain about the food…I am so grateful that I eat well and that he cooks for me. But I am so conflicted! I barely eat the rest of the day and seem to be always hungry.

Should I just keep working out like a fiend? Should I work harder on accepting myself with some fat on my body? What’s a former borderline anorexic to do??

{April 18, 2012}   Cooking vs. Baking

My husband is a terrific and creative cook. He loves to read recipes, but he rarely follows them. He has been cooking for so long, he can rely on his experience and instincts, and the food is usually delicious. (Lucky me, I get to be the guinea pig for what later becomes a dinner party meal.) He used to ask me to do the baking, figuring I would like it because I love to focus on one thing and follow instructions, but he couldn’t stand the state of the kitchen while I worked!

He had never done much baking because his impression was that it was rigid and exact, and there wouldn’t be room for his creativity.Over the last year, however, he has started to try baking: some desserts (for dinner parties), pizza (dough), and artesian bread. (We rarely buy bread from the grocery store anymore.) Though most of the bread is of the no-knead variety, he has sometimes varied the ingredients to change its flavor, and it has been getting better and better! He has discovered that with practice and experience, he now has a sense of what the dough should be like in terms of color and consistency, and he knows when he needs to add more flour or more water. The Baker is emerging!

An ingredient in "made-up" milk

Bringing up a family with 7 children on one modest income meant my mother and father had to stretch a dollar and cut corners wherever they could. As an adult now trying to make ends meet, I respect and appreciate their efforts; as a child there were times I wished I had more, but I had ENOUGH. That being said, I wanted to write about a couple of my childhood food adventures that I vowed I WOULD NOT repeat.

“Made-Up Milk”

To make the milk go further, my parents would mix one-half gallon of powdered milk and water with one-half gallon of whole milk. My older brother and I had to take turns making the powdered milk in a plastic container and stirring in the whole milk; thus, we called the concoction “made-up milk.” We used to argue about whose turn it was to do it. It makes me laugh now to think about it; it probably took all of 5 minutes to do, but we whined about it. I couldn’t wait until I was on my own to drink whole milk…it seemed so decadent. Of course now I drink skim milk for health reasons and it probably tastes closer to “made-up milk” than whole milk. The joke’s on me.

Frozen Bread

I recently heard some coupon divas on the Nate Berkus show talking about going to the bakery outlet store and stocking up by freezing the bread to save money. My parents did that when I was growing up; we would make the trip to the “bread store” and come home with bags full of loaves of bread (usually Wonder bread). I hated seeing the bread go into the freezer. My peanut butter and jelly sandwiches didn’t taste great with thawed-out white bread — I swore it had a “freezer” taste (no wonder I never liked sandwiches). Of course, I’m talking white bread here, so it ONLY tasted good when it was soft enough to make breadballs (but that’s another story). Although the invention of the microwave changed that somewhat — I think you can now “defrost” frozen bread quickly and it will stay soft and not get soggy — I vowed when I grew up that I would not freeze bread. And guess what? My grown-up compromise is that my husband and I do freeze whole grain bread or English muffins and we only use them for toast.  No frozen white bread though.

So…I compromised my “vows” due to economics…hmmm. I know my parents enjoyed seeing that. 🙂


{March 22, 2012}   Family Size and Eating Habits

I recently read a thought-provoking blog by MindMindful. Her blog got me thinking about how factors in our upbringing affect our eating habits. I brought the subject up at dinner at a friends’ house and it created a lively discussion.
I related a story of sitting down to dinner with a roommate. She had baked a package of 10 dinner rolls and put them in a basket on the table. I proceeded to take 5 and put them on my plate. “You don’t have to take your allotment,” she said. We laughed, but it was an “ah-ha” moment for me. I had grown up with 6 brothers and there were no second helpings for me. I had to take the serving size I wanted up front. It is work for me now to think about how much food I put on my plate and try not to overeat.
My friend’s husband then related that because he grew up in a small family, he hates leftovers. He said they never wondered what would be for dinner on Monday because it was always leftovers from Sunday dinner, and sometimes Tuesday would be the same. His wife, on the other hand, who came from a family with 9 children where leftovers were unheard of, doesn’t mind eating them for lunch the next day. Like her, I don’t mind leftovers; we didn’t have any at my house either.
So, readers, I’m wondering, did family size or structure affect your eating habits as an adult? I’ll bet it did, even if it meant you purposely went the opposite way (which I think I’ll write about in another blog)…

I watched the show for the first time last night and I admire what he is doing. I think it is a wonderful thing to teach kids about food and nutrition.  It is one of those practical skills that working parents don’t have time to teach their kids.  I have always been of the opinion that there should be more “life-skills” taught in high schools: personal finance, nutrition, and parenting — not the old-fashioned “Home Economics”, but more like kitchen science.

I think the rise of celebrity chefs in the media has been good for society.  I have recently become a fan and have learned a lot about food and cooking, as well as business and world cultures, from the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsey.

Cooking, as a vocation was and still is to a great extent, hard work.  In the past, the potential to make a lot of money from it was almost nil.  Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” gives a good picture of this world.  But the new celebrity chefs are not just “cooks” or even “chefs”; they are authors, businessmen, and marketing experts.

This is the new world and the new economics.  I sometimes pity the children growing up now; to succeed they will need a multitude of skills and for the most part, they will have to fend for themselves to make a living.  The best thing the older generation can do is recognize this, and prepare them better.

Sometimes it’s the perfect relationship where taste and smell work together to create a transcending experience. For me, that is the case for basil, cilantro, rosemary, and peanut butter to name a few.  Orgasmic!

Sometimes the smell is better than the taste. For me coffee is on this list; I LOVE of the smell of fresh ground coffee, though I’m a tea drinker. And of course there are many things that taste a lot better than they smell (come on, who really likes the smell of fish?!). Many alcohols are on this list for me, especially beer and whiskey.

Then of course there are all the things that smell great, but can be poisonous or can’t be eaten.  Many flowers come to mind.  This makes me wonder about evolution. Why do we like the smell of things that we may be allergic to?  Why doesn’t our body instinctively keep us away from these things?  I love the smell of fresh cut grass, but it doesn’t take long before I start sneezing.  I also love the smell of Russian sage, but I am highly allergic; every time I try to trim my plants, I have difficulty breathing.

I started thinking about this because I wanted to make a list of my favorite smells but kept finding myself writing qualifiers after many things on the list.  I found the task I set for myself, was not so simple, but of course that is what made it challenging and fun.  Try it and see if it is simple…maybe it is just me.

et cetera
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