Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

Exciting News: We finally have heat in the car! Way back in Nov.-Dec., SP told me the heat didn't seem to be working. The next time I was in the car, I discovered he was indeed right. Thank goodness the seat warmers were working! "Cool heat" was not pleasant on those 10-15 degree days. It took awhile to get around to having it checked out. You'd think it would have been a higher priority in winter, but with the holidays and him being on call for 2 weeks, well, it got pushed. Yesterday was finally the day. Having heat is nice. The cost to fix it, not nice.

He took a slight detour on his way home and brought me a paczki from Bethel Bakery. My first of the season. Yum! I think they're around until March so hopefully I'll get to enjoy a few more.
Last weekend we stopped in Prantl's Bakery. I'd never before tried anything from Prantl's. We got a lady lock and a travel burnt almond torte. There are people who swoon over Prantl's burnt almond torte. The Huffington Post called it "possibly the BEST cake America has to offer."
Keep in mind I don't really like nuts and definitely don't like them on dessert. I also am not a huge fan of plain white cake and white icing. So I was unimpressed. I know. What's wrong with me? I can see why people like it. I just don't. At heart I am a Bethel Bakery girl so while Prantl's lady lock was good, it's not a good as BB's (to me).

Meals This Week:

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Season 2 of The Man in the High Castle. We really enjoyed the show and are looking forward to seeing where it goes. 
  • We started watching Victoria on PBS. We were surprised to see Rufus Sewell, who plays the American turned Nazi in TMITHC, portraying the Prime Minister. Kind of disconcerting to go from seeing him as Nazi right into seeing him as Prime Minister!
  • Last weekend we watched Kubo & the Two Strings. We both really liked the movie.

What I'm Reading:
I read Daisy In Chains by Sharon Bolton. I read Little Black Lies and loved the book so I decided to try another of Bolton's novels. I liked this one a lot, too. I remember reading LBL and at the very end, the last 2 pages, being shocked at the twist. I remember re-reading the last part of the book 3-4 times! DIC didn't surprise me quite as much, but it still had a good twist. I wasn't a fan of the "style" of book, the letters in different print, but I was interested enough in the story to stick with it.

Last Sunday we watched the Steelers beat the Chiefs. It was a little stressful! This Sunday is Steelers-Patriots and the winner goes to the Super Bowl. I am a Steelers girl. I have a deep dislike of Shady Brady & Bellicheat. I'm not sure if I should be allowed to watch Sunday's game! I tend to get a little... worked up. Go Steelers!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Last weekend we went to Mercurio's for dinner. Turns out, it had been 10 months since we last ate there. I didn't think it had been that long, especially since we really like their pizza. But it seems we only get there once a year. I'm not sure when it happened, but they no longer offer fresh brewed iced tea. That makes me super sad. I do not like that fake tea taste of pre-made teas, even if they're unsweetened.
Their menu is different, too, although that could have happened 9 months ago and we wouldn't know. Usually we share the Della Casa Salad but this time we tried the new-to-us Burrata e Prosciutto appetizer (burrata, prosciutto, arugula, grape tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil). It was very good - lots of salty prosciutto with creamy cheese and crisp arugula.
As usual we shared two pizzas. This time, above, the Lasagna Pizza (tomato sauce, house made mozzarella, Italian sausage, ricotta, oregano, extra virgin olive oil) and below, the Pizza Della Casa (tomato sauce, house made mozzarella, grape tomatoes, arugula, Prosciutto di Parma, parmigiano, extra virgin olive oil).
Both were tasty, as usual. I really like the ricotta and oregano flavors on the lasagna one. The other pizza is probably my favorite pizza - something about that combination of flavors.
I wasn't going to have gelato for dessert. It was chilly outside, gloomy & rainy, and I usually only enjoy frozen desserts on warm days. SP is always up for gelato and he chose the blackberry, above. It had a lovely light flavor. I changed my mind when I saw they had a peppermint gelato.
Ever since we made peppermint ice cream, I've been in love with it. Like the ice cream we made, this gelato had candy cane bits in it. It was so good. Worth it to make myself chillier than I was.

We still like Mercurio's a lot and will go back. I wish they'd bring back the fresh iced tea, especially since I don't like soda and am not always in the mood for wine (and never beer!).

Mercurio's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

It's a gray, gloomy, rainy Thursday, but at least it's warm, 65 degrees right now. Quite nice after last weekend's miserable frigid weather.

I spent a long time today trying to use the site for my health insurance. It's unbelievable how darn slow that site and the prescription site are. Ridiculous. Excruciatingly slow. Trying to do health stuff online is just as painful, difficult, and time consuming as trying to call and getting stuck in an automated system hell before being placed on hold and then talking to a person who never fully answers your questions and insists no answer is binding because everything just "depends" on stuff out of my control. Which means I can never definitively know if/what is fully/partially/not covered and how much I might have to pay.

I was seriously told last fall that that whether or not my doctor appointment was covered as a yearly/annual wellness exam or as a regular office visit (which are covered at different rates/co-pays) depended on what additional tests the doctor may or may not order during my appointment (but that I would not know ahead of time) including any blood work (which apparently means it's not an annual exam - ?). Meanwhile, the same insurance company is sending me letters telling me I am past due for my yearly/annual wellness exam, as if I am shirking responsibility for my health. But I see the same doctor every fall for a check up - it's just billed differently every single time.

Meals This Week: Braised Lamb with smashed parmesan potatoes and roasted cauliflower for 4 dinners. The other 2 dinners are eggs with toast, sausage, and arugula. Dessert is holiday cookies from the freezer.

TV This Week:

  • We finished season 1 of The Man in the High Castle and started season 2. Only 2 more episodes until we finish season 2. Watching those is the plan for tonight. It sure would be nice if Amazon would actually consistently work. For the past 2 weeks, every time we try to watch something, it gives us these messages about the network connection being down, disconnected, cannot connect, whatever, but when we switch to Netflix it's fine, everything works, so...  Grr. It's Amazon, not us, I'm positive, and it's really annoying.
  • I wasn't really enjoying last Sunday's Sherlock until the last half hour or so. The payoff was worth it.
  • Bones is back, and it's nice to see things sort of starting to wrap up since it ends this May. It's time for it to end.
  • Grimm & Sleepy Hollow are back and we're again watching both. Grimm ends this May, too, so we're excited to see how it ends. As for Sleepy Hollow, I had been annoyed with the show, but so far it seems to have been given a pretty decent re-boot. We'll see.
  • I recorded the first episode of Taboo on FX with Tom Hardy but haven't watched it yet. 
  • Despite being unsure of Good Behavior on TNT, I watched the whole first season. I like watching Lettie & Javier, but I just want to shake them and tell them to stop being such bad people even as I root for them.

Magazines: I read new issues of Food Network Magazine and Food & Wine but didn't find much of interest. Usually, winter recipes don't much interest me.

Other: I have 2 library books and 4 more ready for pick up. Oops. I deliberately didn't add anything to my request list from mid-Dec until last week because I knew we'd be busy over the holidays. Sure enough, the majority of the books I requested became available at the same time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Roast Goose

Obviously given the plate the sliced goose is piled atop, this is from a few weeks ago. I am just now getting around to writing about the Roast Goose that SP made on Christmas.
Every year when we talk about if we're going to have anyone over and what to make at Christmas, he immediately starts talking about the goose he made several years ago. Every. Year. The stupid goose. He swears his family loved that super tasty goose.

One day while baking with mom, when she asked what we were making for Christmas Eve, I said I didn't know but I mentioned SP's goose obsession. Like me, she wasn't into the goose idea. But for some reason, she later mentioned it to my dad. He got excited about goose. Ugh. So then there was a whole week of goose talk. Where to buy one, how to cook it, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, what else to serve. I tried to not participate too much in these discussions. I didn't want to encourage the goose.
We didn't make goose for Christmas Eve for several reasons:

  • We weren't sure the niece/nephew would like it. 
  • We weren't sure what else to make in case the goose wasn't tasty (the goose would take up the entire oven and the obvious crock pot meats had problems because some people don't eat certain meats/foods, etc.). 
  • After making some calls, I discovered goose was $7-8/pound and the Internet told me that for 8 adults and 2 kids I probably needed a 10-12 lb goose. So the goose would cost $70~$96. 

So I told the goose supporters absolutely not on the goose idea for Christmas Eve. But I caved in and said that if my dad really wanted goose, if they bought a small goose, we'd cook it on Christmas Day at their place for the 4 of us. So mom tracked down a frozen goose and SP cooked it.
I should probably be a vegetarian because  I don't like dealing with raw meat, especially something like this. I realize SP was the one handling the goose, but I was disgusted by the cracking sounds as he broke the legs/wings and nipped and tucked and trimmed fat and prepped the goose. Gross. We stuffed it with chopped apple, orange, and lemon. You have to poke the fat on the goose. They are fatty. And then as it roasts, you have to continually drain the fat. Goose = fat machine. Every 20 minutes, SP went out to the oven and used the turkey baster to suck out the fat accumulating in the roasting pan. Here's the finished roasted goose:
After resting for a bit, SP carved it. Goose is a darker meat.
Look at that fat! Honestly, I think all 4 of us were disappointed with how much fat is on a goose given the cost of goose. There's not really all that much meat for the price.
My mom made a cranberry-apple sauce for the goose.
But how did it taste? My dad & SP ate most of it because they liked it. Not loved, liked. My mom said it was OK. I didn't like the piece I tried. It was chewy and tough and had a funny texture. 
To be fair, I ate ate a well-done piece, but... Definitely not something I want to again eat.
I'm sort of glad we tried the goose. At least now maybe SP won't bring it up every year. It was sort of fun for something different but I am really glad we didn't make it on Christmas Eve when we had both families here. I think it's an acquired taste. Many say it's similar to duck, and while I like the bites of duck I've stolen off SP's plates at restaurants, it's not something I'm ever going to order as a meal for myself.

Christmas 2016: Year of the Goose. Hopefully the only one.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pork & Beans

This past weekend we finally made it to Pork & Beans, the latest restaurant from Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group and with Keith Fuller from the now closed Root 174 as chef/co-owner (more info here). We met our friends S&R after we saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. We had made reservations for 5 but the show ended a bit earlier than we expected and since it was so darn cold outside, we didn't want to walk around town. So we went over and happily, they were able to seat us a bit early.

We were a bit apprehensive about seating because of me in the wheelchair. Meat & Potatoes is fine, but at Butcher & the Rye, there is 1 step up to the the non-communal seating or we can sit at the communal tables, which isn't the best option because of the long benches and trying to fit the wheelchair in and not be in the way or be disruptive with shifting the bench and/or table. täkō isn't wheelchair friendly at all - I believe when SP was there he said it was all high top tables and it was super crowded so it would be difficult if not impossible to maneuver the wheelchair. When he asked about a wheelchair person, he was told they would seat them next door at B&tR, which is a reasonable accommodation, but eating täkō food at B&tR isn't really the same as eating täkō food at täkō.

In the front part of P&B there are a lot of high tables, but in the back are the communal tables which, happily, are not all bench seating but have chairs so one can easily be removed. The are some booths, but they are up a step.
SP started with a cocktail: Suffering Bastard (Hennessy VS, Tanqueray, lime, Angostura Bitters, Natrona Ginger Beer). Later on, he had a Pickleback: Traditionalist (Jameson Irish Whiskey &
Kosher Brine). I wanted an iced tea while I thought about cocktails, but sadly, P&B doesn't serve iced tea. I was really surprised - no iced tea in a barbecue/smoked meats place?! I ended up enjoying 2 glasses of Chateau Tassin Bordeaux Blanc 2015, France (Draft). For beer lovers, there are a lot of beers available.
The decor made me think of southern smokehouse shanty. Mason jar lights, lots of wood and brick, rustic, a wall of wood for smoking.
We ordered 4 appetizers and shared them.
There was no way on earth I was not going to order the Pimento Cheese (house pickles, jalapeño, scallions, ritz crackers, green tomato mostarda). Pimento cheese is one my favorite things ever. Personally, I like the version we make at home. It's very basic, very simple. But I get that there are lots of versions and I certainly enjoy other versions. This was yummy. I think I ate most of it. I just cannot control myself around pimento cheese. It's like Chex Mix.
Deviled Eggs of the Day: with a mini parmesan crisp and bacon (pork belly?) with a chive. Also yummy. I never get my yolk filling that creamy and smooth.
Pork Rinds (Chicharrones) (manchego cheese, tajin, chipotle remoulade). These were devoured. Much crunching and dipping.
BBQ Chips (crispy pig ears, Alabama white BBQ sauce). There was a lot of crunching and munching and dipping as these, too, were devoured.
There was a special of the day that we felt compelled to order: BBQ Donut: smoked brisket, brioche donut with BBQ glaze, 6 min egg, scallions. This was good, but for me the star was the brisket & egg. The donut was just kind of there to sop/mop up the sauce and yolk.
S ordered a special of the day: Lamb Neck with beans. It was enormous. He said it was good.
R & SP both chose the brisket. It's served with pickles, cabbage, and onion. SP chose Burnt End Beans as a side. I thought R ordered broccoli slaw, but the online menu has broccoli salad or ranch slaw, so I'm not sure what she ordered.
I think SP would have been shocked and disappointed if I didn't order the Kentucky Hot Brown (aka Devonshire) (house smoked turkey, bacon, tomato, cheese sauce, sourdough bread). It's one of my favorite dishes from when I was a kid. Delicious toasted sourdough bread topped with smoked turkey, thick bacon, tomato, and and just enough cheese sauce. It left you wanting more sauce but knowing that if there was more sauce on the plate, it'd be too much sauce. But you still wanted more.
J & I ordered coffee after dinner. The men didn't. I wanted decaf, but P&B doesn't serve decaf coffee. What?! No iced tea and no decaf?!! Since I am a tea drinker (iced instead of soda because fizzy drinks bother my tummy; hot tea instead of hot coffee), when I do drink regular coffee it usually makes me a little jittery and it sometimes bothers my stomach but I figured I'd just eaten a ton of food so my tummy was "insulated" plus it was still early-ish so the caffeine wouldn't keep me awake. It was a large cup and tasty. SP helped me drink it all.

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal at P&B. Our server was fantastic. We weren't rushed at all. Our food was smoky and yummy and there was plenty of it for us. SP & I both brought home leftovers for lunch on Sunday. I've been thinking a lot about that pimento cheese, so that's a sign it was a good meal.

We'll be back.

  Pork & Beans Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

Somehow, another week has passed and I haven't blogged. Too many other things on my mind, I suppose. And feeling a little under the weather this week.

SP had a 4 day weekend last weekend. We spent Friday being lazy before heading out to do some errands and having dinner at Burgatory. It was New Year's weekend and they had their usual shake special: Strawberry Almond Pizzelle. It's my favorite shake, even better than the eclair one, even better than the Choco's Taco one.

Saturday morning and afternoon were spent taking down all the holiday decor and then cleaning up the glitter, dust, and pine needles. Then SP did some of the shopping and met his family for a birthday dinner. I didn't go because it was at a Chinese place and Chinese seems to always bother my stomach. Also, it was drizzly/rainy, which stinks being in the wheelchair because my legs get very damp. He brought me a chicken salad sandwich from Central Diner.

Sunday we watched football and got ready for a holiday party, but I ended up not going because we were worried about the stairs at our friend's new house and navigating them in the dark (eventually, our friend will have a ramp since a family member is in a wheelchair, but the first ramp purchased didn't work out).

Monday was a lazy day.

Somewhere in there we watched the new Sherlock episode on PBS, started watching The Man in the High Castle on Netflix (we've watched 6 episodes and so far are really enjoying the show), watched the first episode of the new season of Worst Cooks in America (where do they find these crazy people?!), and I watched The Magnificent Seven (which was OK).

I've flipped through my new cookbooks, but no other reading. The magazine pile is growing.

No cooking this week. We decided to have chef salad for dinner. Every night this week. Sometimes with ham, sometimes with chicken. Eggs. Cheese. Leftover sharp provolone, or leftover fontina, or smoked gouda. Basic vinaigrette. Kalamatas and tomatoes and cucumber and carrot. On the side, leftover dinner rolls from Christmas. I'm back to toasted English muffin with roast turkey and Swiss for lunch. Yogurt and/or fruit for breakfast. And leftover holiday cookies for evening dessert.

Hope everyone is having a good 2017!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

As usual, this time of year is busy and zips by quickly. We had a nice Christmas Eve here with our parents and Googer. It was warm enough that SP was able to grill the leg of lamb. We also had my grandma's ham balls (ground pork & ground ham), roasted cauliflower, asparagus with vinaigrette, green bean casserole, and rolls for dinner. Dessert was  cookies, nut roll, and chocolate covered pretzels. 

After everyone left, we cleaned up, started a load of laundry, and exchanged gifts. Santa Claus was very good to both of us.

Christmas Day we had a lazy morning, eating nut roll and Chex mix and trying the gingerbread coffee we received. Then we went to my parents' place and SP helped my mom make goose. We also had more ham balls, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes & mozzarella, and twice baked potatoes plus cookies for dessert.

It was weird to watch a Steelers game on Christmas. It was weirder to hear the crowd cheering/booing at Heinz Field before we saw the play on TV (my parents live on Mt. Washington and can see Heinz Field from their balcony so we could easily hear the crowd). What a fantastic finish to the game! 

And that was Christmas.

Monday was an exciting day: SP finally got to see Rogue One! The showing we tried to see was sold out so we bought tickets for the next show and just hung out at the theater. The parking lot/shopping center where the theater is located was a disaster of traffic and no parking. We had to park pretty far away from the theater. Note to self: avoid seeing movies around the holidays.

The movie was very good, we both enjoyed it, and that's all I'll say because even though I feel like we were the only ones who hadn't yet seen it, I'm sure there are actually many who haven't.

After seeing Rogue One, it was a little extra sad the next day when we saw that Carrie Fisher passed away. Playing Princess Leia isn't her only accomplishment in life, but for me, she is Princess Leia, the first real female role model I felt like I had. I was 6 years old when Star Wars came out and everyone I knew, including my family, went to the theater many times to see it. Little me never liked baby dolls, hated Barbie dolls, didn't like Disney princess stories. I was so excited to finally see a princess who could kick butt and who wasn't just a silly, simpering damsel in distress, looking for her prince charming to rescue her and marry her and stick her in a castle. She didn't need a glass slipper or a kiss to wake her up - she could grab a blaster and shoot a stormtrooper.

It's a short work week for SP. For dinners, we've been eating leftover lamb, ham balls, and goose. 

Books: I read Turbo Twenty-Three from Janet Evanovich. I still enjoy the books, but I kind of wish the characters would grow a bit. 

Movies: Last night we watched Finding Dory, which was fun. We both liked little Dory and her short term remembory. Adorable! We also recently watched The Nice Guys, which was funnier than we expected, and Florence Foster Jenkins, which was good but goodness her singing was tough to take! 

Magazines: The pile is again growing.

Hope everyone has a great New Year's weekend this weekend!