Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

The house has been critter free since last week's terror. We had a hard time actually getting in touch with someone to come check the house for us, and when we finally did, the weather was and still is rainy, so we have to wait for a sunny, dry day. Hopefully next week. Since an "expert" hasn't checked things out, I'm pretty jumpy. I'm "tip-toeing" around and peering around corners and into rooms, looking for any home invaders. My brain understands the logic and reason behind SP's belief that it was likely an isolated event. But fear seems to be getting the best of me. I'm not happy about that. I'm actually embarrassed & frustrated. I don't like being so pathetic & weak. I thought I'd calmed down from the event, but earlier this week I jumped and shrieked at a squiggly brown thread on the floor and every time SP goes to work, I listen for how long the garage door is open and then spend the day wondering how long it takes for something to crawl in. One day I couldn't remember hearing the garage door close, so I went into the unheated, super cold sunroom to look & see if it was shut. It was. I've had some dreams about more of them coming inside and I wake up gasping. I know SP checked things out as best he could and blew all the leaves away from the house and says he sees no possible entry points, but...

Yes. I'm losing it a bit.

What We're Eating:

  • Leftovers from Max's Allegheny Tavern
  • Italian Helper
  • Dessert: Madeleines

What We're Watching:

  • I watched Megan Leavey and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. ML was good. TBOEM was excellent. If you haven't seen it, you should.
  • We're behind on our TV shows. The DVR is filling up.
  • The Americans is back! Last night's first episode of the final season was excellent. So excited to see how it all plays out.
  • The Alienist ended and it was a satisfactory ending. Kind of wrapped up nice & neat, but not too nice & neat.

What I'm Reading:

  • I read The Fire Pit from Chris Ould. It's the third in a series. I've really enjoyed this trilogy and I liked how Jan Reyna's story wrapped up. 
  • I'm trying to tackle the magazine pile, which grew a lot last weekend when MIL gave us some magazines to read. I had to split the pile in two because one pile kept toppling over.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Max's Allegheny Tavern

This past Saturday, Saturday Dinner Out was at a place we haven't been to in a while: Max's Allegheny Tavern. I had been in the mood to try it again and then my mom asked me about it because she & dad were interested in trying it but unsure of where exactly it is and wondering how the food is. So we made plans to go to their place after our nephew's birthday party and then go to dinner.
For drinks, I had fresh iced tea, mom had pinot grigio, dad had a Spaten, and SP tried the beer sampler.

We ate a lot of food:
Everyone had Fresh Spinach Salad with Max’s Hot Bacon Dressing (crisp leaves of spinach garnished with slices of mushrooms, onions and hard-cooked eggs. Topped with our own hot bacon dressing.). This salad is just as yummy as I remember. Everyone liked it and mom said it was just like the one she makes but the dressing was much tastier than hers!
Bread basket with a cabbage spread and apple butter.
I ordered the sampler platter. I chose (from top of plate left to right) Count Esterhazy Schnitzel (Vienna-style veal lovingly crowned with a sauce of fresh mushrooms, peas, sour cream, onions and carrots), Chicken Viennese (boneless chicken breast delicately fried to a golden brown. Topped with a sauce of sour cream, finely chopped vegetables and delicately seasoned with herbs and paprika, served over our homemade spatzle), and  Jäger Schnitzel (Vienna-style veal covered with a delicious mushroom sauce).  My mom had the Jäger Schnitzel for her meal. For my 2 sides I chose potato pancakes with sour cream and German potato salad. I really like the potato pancakes. I like the potato salad, but the sauce it a lot sweeter and tangier than the sauce we make for German potato salad.
SP also chose the Sampler Platter. He chose Baked Kassler Rippchen (smoked pork loin chops slowly simmered in our homemade sauerkraut and served with mustard sauce)Chicken Viennese, and Leberkase (finely textured sausage loaf made from a blend of pork and beef, seasoned with spices imported from Bavaria. We grill each slice lightly and serve it smothered with sauteed onions). He said it was all delicious.

My dad had the roast pork for his meal: Roast Loin of Pork Stubenkuchen Style (this all-time favorite at Max’s is served over our special recipe apple raisin dressing and topped with a rich brown gravy). He must've liked it because he ate it all.

Everyone had potato pancakes and SP was the odd one, choosing sweet & sour cabbage (the rest of us had potato salad).
 We shared 2 desserts. Apple Fritter with ice cream, above.
And Black Forest Cake. I'm not sure which I like better! The fritter is fried dough with melty ice cream while the cake was chocolate and light, not dense, and the chocolate filling was really, really good.
We all enjoyed our food at Max's. Parking is street parking, but it wasn't hard to find a spot. There is a smallish step to get inside, but they have a portable ramp they'll put out. Our server was very friendly and helpful. She gave us plenty of time to take in the whole menu (which is printed inside a newspaper) and then decide what to order and described a couple other desserts for us since they all sounded really good. The receipt says her name was Jamie, which is a little funny because the nephew with the birthday party is called Jamie, so it was a day of Jamies.

I like Max's a lot. I like the casual atmosphere, the history of the building, the old Deutschtown feeling/decor with floral wallpaper, dim lighting, old framed photos, a cuckoo clock. The food is basic German, hearty, filling, and tasty. Definitely a good choice on a chilly day.

  Max's Allegheny Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

SP brought me flowers on Tuesday. They were to cheer me up after what we're calling The Snake Incident.
We live in Robinson. Close to major roads and shopping. Not rural. But there is a woods area on the hill behind our house. It's not very large, we can see the homes down the hill through the trees, but apparently it's quite healthy and critters thrive. I knew our neighbor on the left found snake skins in her attic. I knew the neighbors on the right found a dead snake and a live one in their basement. I knew we had snakes because I'd seen them in the grass, on the front patio, and let's not forget the deck incident. But I never really thought we'd get any inside - surely we were sealed up tight since we had someone check things out in the first 2 years we were here. And we had a handle on the mice thing - the house had been checked for holes, and we had cats for a while and they handled the mice. It was safe.

Safe until Tuesday when I went to make lunch, rounded the island on my way to the english muffins and toaster, and suddenly I stopped short and was seized by terror because there it was. On the floor. In the kitchen. By the baseboard. Exactly where I needed to go. Of course my phone was in another room. I zipped off to get it. I didn't know who to call. SP was at least 45 minutes away. The neighbors and our friends were all at work, far away. Was a snake in the house 911 worthy?

So I called my dad and said something like,"Daddy I need you come quick there's a snake in the house." It took him a few seconds to respond. He said to call 911. So I did. I could barely do it because my hands were shaking so much. My heart was racing, thumping so hard I really thought it was going to burst out of my chest. I was afraid to look at it, but also afraid to not look at it because what if it disappeared? I'd never be able to be in the house if I knew a snake had disappeared somewhere. The 911 lady was very nice and calm, apparently a snake is 911 worthy. I think I even apologized and asked her if it was OK to call 911 for a snake in house problem. She just kept calmly taking my name, address, etc.

I think the 11-12 minutes it took for the policeman to arrive were the longest, scariest, most stressful of my life. He came in, I pointed at it, and he was all, oh yea, a baby garter, reached down, and picked it up. Eeewww and baby? OK probably technically a baby, "only" about 22" long (I measured later on from where its head/tail were). He took the snake away. I called my dad back and told him I was safe. Then I called SP and as soon as he answered I think I started sobbing about how it had finally happened and I wanted to move because I was sick of all the snakes, stink bugs, spiders, ground hogs, squirrels, birds, house centipedes, wasps, etc. He came home right away.

It took me a bit over an hour to calm down and stop shaking. I'm disappointed in myself. I know they're harmless, I know they're scared of me, and yet every time I see one I am seized by terror and shaking. SP has gone on snake patrol several times - using a flashlight and poking around the rooms and closets and under furniture. Today is the first time I've been alone at home since the incident and I'm disappointed in myself because I'm pretty tense.

I hope the snake got buried in the  snow and froze to death. I know, that's mean, he didn't mean me any harm, but I don't care. Get the eff out of my house and stay out.
Speaking of snow, apparently Tuesday-Wednesday was the biggest snowfall since Snowmageddon in Feb. 2010 when we got 21". This time, in the area near where we live, we had 10.4" officially at 5 pm last night, but it was still snowing and snowed for a few more hours so we figure we got close to 11". SP was again super happy we bought a snowblower a few years ago. Happy Spring!
As always, we filled out brackets for the March Madness tournament (men and women). Sadly, I have many wrong picks and am probably going to be the loser. Darn Virginia. Darn Xavier. Of the four of us (me, SP, mom, dad), it looks like SP, the one who doesn't follow basketball, might be the winner.

What We're Eating:

Dessert: Cappuccino Biscotti
What We're Watching:

  • The final season of The Americans starts next week - so excited! The only downside is that it's on at the same time as Designated Survivor, so we'll have to delay watching one of them.
  • We're caught up on McMafia and enjoying it quite a bit. For some reason, it reminds me of The Night Manager.
  • One more episode of The Alienist. I'm curious to see who the murderer is, or if they leave it as a cliffhanger and make a season 2 even though I thought it was supposed to be a limited series.

What I'm Reading:

  • I finished Island of Sweet Pies & Soldiers and enjoyed it.That's 3 books in a row set during WW2 (Korea, TN, Hawaii).
  • I read Plum Tea Crazy from Laura Childs. It's the 19th in this series, so at times it feels a little tired. Everything is always so delicious, so perfect, the descriptions of recurring places/people tiresome when you've read all the books in the series.
  • New issues of magazines are arriving. I flipped through the new Food Network Magazine yesterday and took the Veggie IQ Quiz. I didn't do as well as I expected.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Smallman Galley

Several weeks ago we decided to finally check out Smallman Galley in The Strip. Smallman Galley is a food hall that serves as a launch pad for new restaurant concepts in Pittsburgh. It showcases four restaurants at a time, has a full bar, and offers a coffee & espresso bar. We didn't check out the first four restaurant concepts. Smallman Galley is now on the second round of concepts: Iron Born (Detroit-style pizza), Brunoise (American), Colonia (Latin American), and Banhmilicious (Vietnamese). We found a spot at a table before SP went to order our food since having the wheelchair in the food ordering area seemed like a bit of a tight squeeze. He visited each restaurant station since we tried something from each place. He also visited the bar to get me a chardonnay and himself a beer (there also are bottles of water on the tables). As you can see from the above photo, we had a lot of numbers displayed on the table for servers to find us with our food.
First to arrive was Croque Madame from Brunoise (ham, smoked swiss, dijon, bechamel, sunny side egg). The sauce was really good. I would have liked more ham on the sandwich. For me, personally, I would have liked my egg cooked a bit more but for SP, the egg was perfect. But that sauce - so good.
Next to arrive was the food from Banhmilicious. This was all for SP. I don't remember exactly what he ordered. I think he had a rice bowl with smoked salmon, jasmine rice, pickled vegetables, cucumbers, and a sauce that he really liked.
He also ordered these rolls. I think they were filled with rice noodles, carrot, cucumber, and there was a dipping sauce. He said they were yummy.
I had been hearing an awful lot about the Detroit-style pizza from Iron Born. I didn't even know Detroit had a style of pizza. It has a crisp edge crust with cheddar cheese and while it looks like a lot of thick crust, it's a very light crust. Sort of spongy. Not spongy gross/flavorless like a certain pizza chain I enjoyed as a child but despise as an adult. Rather a spongy delicious and flavorful crust. The menu says the cheese was mozzarella-brick. The red sauce is on top the cheese.
Side view of pizza. I liked it. Everyone has their personal favorite style of pizza and while this is not my personal favorite style of pizza, it is a darn tasty pizza that I would happily eat again.
After the main meals, we decided we had to have churros from Colonia for dessert. They were a little thinner and crisper than other churros I've had but just as tasty. I liked the swirled, snake-like presentation and it made it easy for us to break off pieces for dipping in the chocolate sauce.

We enjoyed our food at Smallman Galley and would go back for these four restaurants or to try the next four whenever they change. I like that there are four different concepts. The people working there were very helpful, finding us a table that worked for the wheelchair and checking on us. They were very good at clearing empty plates. When I totaled the receipts from the four restaurants, I was a little surprised at how much we spent on food & drink. Then again, we over-ordered because we wanted to try a lot of dishes. Next time, I'd be a little less indulgent. We ate the entire Croque Madame & all the churros but took home half the food from Banhmilicious and Iron Born, which made for a nice lunch on Sunday.

Smallman Galley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 19, 2018

Bob's Diner in Carnegie

A couple weeks ago, my mom and I were out and about when it got to be lunch time and we were hungry. The usual back & forth discussion of where to eat started, with each trying to make the other decide. Finally I said, OK, Bob's, because you always mention them and we never go. So we went to Bob's Diner in Carnegie.
Mom had coffee and I had hot tea, served in Bob's Diner mugs.
I ordered My Dad's Favorite (2 eggs [scrambled for me], one bacon, one sausage, home fries, one pancake, and toast).
I asked for a blueberry pancake. I liked my food, I just couldn't eat it fast enough (things cooled off) nor could I finish it. I was really hungry, but even so, this was a lot of food. I never did get the toast, but I didn't complain because I knew I'd never touch it. 
Mom chose Hot Roast Beef Sandwich with fries - she wanted gravy fries! That's one of her weaknesses and she remembers eating a lot of gravy fries when she was a kid. She liked her sandwich and fries, but couldn't finish it all.

I hadn't been to Bob's in a while. Our server was friendly, she brought mom a second mug of fresh brewed coffee before she had finished her original cup, food arrived quickly, it was tasty. I'd go back to Bob's for breakfast/breakfast for lunch.

Bob's Carnegie Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend we went to see Waitress and then to dinner at Meat & Potatoes. We each had 2 cocktails. For me, my favorite Old Fashioned. For him, a special of the day (top photo) and then a Barrel-Aged Manhattan.
SP ordered a special of the day for dinner: Duck Gnocchi. I tried a gnocchi and oh my was it delicious. There was a runny egg on top the dish:
I had an egg, too, but I asked for my yolk to be cooked, not runny. My favorite sandwich, the 3 Little Pigs:
Look at it. Glorious. Pork schnitzel topped with pork belly, ham, Swiss, and an egg.
For dessert we shared Brûléed French Toast, which was very good. Apple, spices, soft, eggy bread, other stuff I don't remember...
Our indoor herb garden is growing like crazy, especially the dill, so we made omelets with dill:
Filled with ham and cheese:
Last week we made our favorite macaroni and cheese from Cover & Bake. I forgot to post a photo, so I'm posting one this week. We added tomatoes:
We also made breaded, fried chicken, which is one my favorite things, especially with mac & cheese:
In non-food news, we replaced the Blu-ray player in the living room but not in the sunroom. I doubt we'll replace the one in there.

SP got a new hub thingy set up so I can turn on the lamps from my phone/tablet or verbally tell Google to do it.

The stupid thing in the laundry is still periodically beeping. It just won't stay muted or off. So a new battery has been ordered.

Sometime this year we'll figure out a new mattress, a new car, and some other things. Everything is suddenly old and problematic!

What We're Eating:

  • Sunday & Monday were leftovers: macaroni & cheese, chicken, Meat & Potatoes
  • Tuesday-Friday: chicken noodle soup., Every day. For 4 days. 
  • Dessert: Leftover cookies/candy.

What We're Watching:

  • Worst Cooks ended. We liked both the final competitors.
  • Spring Baking Championship has started. The ombre cakes were pretty but using coriander or parsley in a cake? Weird.
  • We started watching McMafia. Just the first episode. So far, we like it.
  • March Madness Basketball starts tonight. I filled out my bracket. Tonight Bucknell plays. I'll be cheering for my school though I expect Michigan State will easily win.

What I'm Reading:

  • I have 5 library books on my table. Four are due this weekend. I've read 1.5. It's Thursday afternoon. I hope I can renew the books. Also, there are 2 more requested books ready for pick up. Yikes.
  • I read The Atomic City Girls. I liked it. I hadn't known about Oak Ridge and the work done there to develop the atomic bomb in WWII so the historic part of this fiction was interesting.
  • I'm halfway through Island of Sweet Pies & Soldiers, also set in WWII but in Hawaii not TN.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Homemade Popovers

Ever since SP gave me the popover pan, I've been wanting them every weekend. We have not made them every weekend. We actually have not made them in about a month and I told SP last night that we were going to fix that this weekend.
Light and airy and yummy. I'm surprised that when I first tried a popover 6 years ago, I didn't especially like it.
That changed on our trip last fall to NH and ME. I fell in love with the popovers I ate in New England. I was sad that I haven't seen popovers on any menu here in Pittsburgh. So the popover pan was a great surprise holiday gift.
I've read that you can use a muffin tin. I like the popover pan. It's heavier and sturdier than our muffin tins. It has straight sides. It does a great job of turning out mushroom shaped popovers.I like to peer in the oven window and watch them rise and pop over the top.
Fresh from the oven:
Kind of like choux dough for profiteroles, etc., very open inside. But a nice, browned, crispy exterior.
Sometimes we spread on butter and/or jam, sometimes we get some lunch meat and cheese and make a popover sandwich.
But mostly, I rip one open and start eating.
So. Good. We've only tried one popover recipe, from Baking Illustrated. So far, we like these ones so much that we don't really want to try the other recipes we have.

Recipe here.