Sunday, March 30, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
I have not, as yet, been indoctrinated into the addictive world of online game Candy Crush, but I swore my internet obsessions (as far as games are concerned) would end with Words with Friends. My last post's ode to kid mustard got me thinking of some childhood candy crushes of my own, though. Suddenly, my pop-culture saturated brain was awash with 70s images and with the groovy American Hustle soundtrack as background music, I was practically tasting the mellow vibe again, man...
Later in the day, I would walk the other way to the county pool and after swimming for a bit, my friends and I would head down to see Dink Snively at the concession stand. Dink would also be the very soul of patience while I weighed whether to have a Chicko-Stix or a blue Freeze Pop. Man, if only I had my Merlin to help me figure it out....
..aw hell, I know which one it will be...the blue Freeze pop. After all, how else will I get my tongue blue?
When the day was once and truly spent (and in those youthful summer days, we wrung every bit of possibility out of the day we could), I would saunter home and an evening snack might consist of a toasted strawberry Danish-Go-Round or if Mom was feelin' crazy, we might make a Wrapple.
I would go a couple of rounds with my Comp IV, get frustrated and eventually retreat to my dream-world where I would look through Mom's or our neighbor Mary Alice's magazines and fantasize about my future cosmopolitan life. I saw myself strutting about my fabulous 70s pad in satin disco jacket. I would have a martini in one hand, a platter of sophisticated hors d'oeuvres in the other and stroll up and down the sleek round spiral steps entertaining my guests while Live and Let Die played in the background.
Again, I was twelve.
And of course, anyone who's known me for five minutes would know I would have toppled off those round steps in no time, landing unceremoniously on the floor; wearing both the martini and the hors d'oeuvres, but I digress...
I suppose this is a bit of a cautionary tale. I couldn't eat sugar like this without some form of cosmic payback and I had the pudge and bad skin to show for it. However, it doesn't change the fact that each of these were of a taste of childhood summer for me and that makes them timeless treats for me. Of course, I was happiest when silly and laughter was prevalent in those dewy-eyed days. After all, I was already nursing my future love for satire by collecting every Wacky Package possible.
My childhood had its challenges but it was a happy one. Full of wonder and play at its most imaginative. Just seeing these images whisk me back to those childhood days of yore. Is that Seals
and Croft I hear playing? Someone get me a Blue Freeze Pop, stat. Oh man, will it ever be possible to return to that wide-open, carefree feeling of childhood?
Friday, March 28, 2014
Fair warning: this will seem like the most product placement-y post I've ever done. In order to tell the story accurately though, its just gotta be done. Nor did I get paid. Unless someone wants to pay me.
Sure, you can read a multitude of my blog posts and assume that my palate has matured over the years. As a kid, I certainly demoed the expected pickiness and did my damnedest to fight off the produce in favor of the processed. The usual suspects included Kraft macaroni and cheese, sugary cereals and Miracle Whip. No judgments here, much of this stuff was cheap and easy and Lord knows my folks wielded every trick in the book to get me to eat healthy fresh fruits and vegetables and remembering my family's bountiful vegetable gardens, I could kick myself for the homegrown goodness I denied myself in the younger days. Luckily, I was not a lost cause in these respects and by middle and high school, the budding taste buds starting to embrace the homegrown cucumbers, peppers and greens. Some, like tomatoes, took me all the way to the college years to appreciate. Looking back, its hard to believe I was ever that particular, but live and learn, right?
Some favored tastes for my childhood never go away, though. Chief among these is my unbridled adoration for French's yellow mustard. The first time I had it was on a ham and cheese sandwich and it was a taste of mustardy magic for me. My friend Kaki calls it kid mustard and I actually ate mustard sandwiches as a kid. Picture it, St. Marys, West Virginia, in my Dad's dusty garage aka My Childhood Clubhouse, with the back garage doors wide open to the summer breezes; the small wooden Magnavox radio tuned to WXIL 95.1 playing some Top 40 hit of the time like Shannon or Undercover Angel or Disco Duck; my Mom making my bestie Kristy and I mustard sandwiches with a side of kosher dill pickles. And yes...it had to be French's. French's is a taste of childhood as are many things, but unlike some childhood food loves, the gripping passion I have for French's mustard has never waned. To this day, my go-to burger toppings are yellow mustard and dill pickles. I know that I am also a part of a not-so-secret society.....there are many folks I know who swear by it, whether they admit it or not. In fact, I know of one well-to-do KC native who insists its available just about wherever he goes.
Mustard is indeed my favorite condiment and there are many that I love. I typically have creole and Dijon mustard in the fridge and have occasional flirtations with beer and hot mustard. None have or probably will ever have the exalted position that French's yellow mustard holds for me. Just about everything is better with French's.
Check out the video for some other vintage French's goodness...a classic French's commercial from the 80's.
Posted by Confounded Cook at 6:01 PM
Thursday, March 27, 2014
I spoke of a Chamber luncheon I attended last week where the culinary students from Excelsior Springs Job Corps hosted and showed off their honed cooking and service skills at the Montgomery event space. Today, my coworkers and I went to Job Corps itself where the culinary students were truly able to strut their culinary stuff in a more intimate dining room setting. Once again, it was so gratifying to see these students demonstrate these new skills they've learned.
Rock on, Job Corps culinary students...you have much to be proud of.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The long hours involved in the past couple of days did yield new opportunities to try some of the new menu offerings at my place of business, the Elms Hotel and Spa. My MOD dinner last night was the first of these opportunities and there were a couple of dishes to sample.
We also could not hold off dessert completely and had to try the vanilla panna cotta with fresh raspberries, strawberry-balsamic reduction and pumpkin seed crumble (pictured top of the page).
Working my way through new menus are definitely a work highlight.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Leave it to the ever-present genius of New Yorker cartoons to sting me with another all-too-familiar scenario. I am ludicrous with my phone....especially in restaurants. Someone should get me one of these Elizabethan collars (typically given to dogs to keep them from licking wounds) post-haste. I wonder if the folks who make Jerry Garcia ties could do some matching E collars...
Monday, March 24, 2014
Yeah, it's the Chia Pet, complete with the Ch-Ch-Ch- Chia song in my head. If I eat these healthy seeds, will an internal organ form into a Chia Pet? Will my receding hairline grow back in green, leafy form? Worse, will I turn into this....
...the Duck Dynasty version?
I think it's (relatively) safe to say that none of these things will happen. In fact, we did indeed buy them and add them to our morning smoothie and here's the factoid that finally convinced us to do so. Keith found that the protein powders we typically add mess with his system. I found an article on Buzzfeed that suggested multiple ways you can add protein to your smoothie without resorting to the chemical powders. Chia seeds were one of the leading sources and also contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds. Add in a good amount of antioxidant and fiber power and these seeds are tough to beat.
Better yet, unlike flax seeds, chia seeds don't have to be crushed or ground. Chris McDougall wrote about them in Born To Run, his book about a tribe of ultrarunners in Mexico who eat lots of them and add them to water to super-hydrate themselves for long runs. We added a couple spoonfuls to our smoothies in place of protein powder as well as a spoonful of almond butter and now have an even more natural early boost to the day without sacrificing taste.
So, I think it's safe to say I won't have any unexpected sprouts anytime soon. Now if I could just get that damn song out of my head...
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Keith chose this month's Posse dinner and we went with a bit of an unorthodox choice in comparison to our usual dining choices: Helen's JAD (Just Another Dive) Bar and Grill. We drove past this nondescript Armour Road tavern more than a few times and admittedly didn't give it much of a second thought, but one day I saw that it had been voted Best Tavern In The Northland, so I took a shot and searched for Helen's on Yelp. I was pleasantly surprised to learn Helen's scored some righteous reviews for food and service; frequently lauded as a local "best-kept secret" (Yelp gets a bad rap these days, but I have to say this is one example of why I'm glad it exists). Helen's has actually been around for a long time; one of the oldest in the Midwest. It was built in 1885 and has been a popular tavern since the 40's. Word is they tried to remove Helen's name at one point, until a vocal contingent convinced them otherwise.
So hit it up we Posse crew did and I have to say, we enjoyed the hell out of it. It was a chill spot but with some cool decor, particularly the Boulevard-inspired wall murals and wooden tables.
Great things can come from unassuming dive bars...great moments with cherished friends, killer grub and soul-stirring music among them. Just another dive? Not to me.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Keith has been reading up on Bob Greene for healthy ideas that will also serve as fuel for the training runs. Greene says don't fear the taters, as long as they're not fried, so bake them we did. This will be great go-to healthy grub for the coming year. Of course, I'm a very easy-to-please customer at mealtime...unlike a certain fussy, finicky feline who shall remain nameless.....URSULA.....